House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on that point of order. The hon. member is well aware that the House leaders of all the parties traditionally meet on Tuesday, which is today. This matter could certainly be raised at that meeting.

If the leaders of all the parties in the House agree, we could proceed accordingly. I suggest, however, that the member—

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. For now, we will let the House leaders deliberate on this matter.

The House resumed from April 22 consideration of the motion that Bill C-43, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

May 17th, 2005 / 10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak in the House today in support of budget 2005. I believe this budget will bring about real investments in real people that focus on real priorities of people in communities across New Brunswick and in Saint John, Rothesay and Quispamsis.

Our government has eliminated deficits and recorded our eighth consecutive budget surplus while reinvesting in our social programs and paying down our debt. We can now move forward and focus on our number one priority: improving the quality of life for all Canadians.

In my home province of New Brunswick and in my riding of Saint John, we are working hard, together, to improve our quality of life and grow our community. We need true growth. We have made great strides forward, but there remains much work to be done.

In September 2004, first ministers signed a 10 year plan to strengthen health care, which has provided $41 billion over 10 years, $927 million of which goes to New Brunswick. Budget 2005 builds on this. This money goes to reduce wait times at hospitals and to support for nurses. Our hospitals are the largest employers in Saint John, New Brunswick and our government is committed to ensuring that health care and our health care system remain strong in our community.

Saint John also needs more units of affordable housing. We have one of the oldest housing stocks in Canada. I am glad that the Minister of Labour and Housing was able to visit Saint John in January and assess the specific needs of our community. The minister has already responded to a request made by the Saint John community during his visit and opened a new housing office to address the distinct affordable housing needs of Saint John.

Budget 2005 invests a further $1.6 billion in affordable housing in Canada. I am committed to building 100 new units of affordable housing per year in Saint John. I am working together with our provincial government and our non-profit housing sector to ensure that this happens.

I am excited by the work currently being undertaken as part of the vibrant communities initiative and the non-profit housing sector in greater Saint John to provide safe and affordable housing for individuals and families. We recently announced $150,000 to assist this organization, which came from the Minister of Public Safety. The Government of Canada will continue to be a proactive partner in improving the quality of life and reducing poverty in Saint John.

Child care is another important item in the budget of 2005. Last week we were hoping to have the Prime Minister and the Premier of New Brunswick visit Saint John and announce a child care agreement. It is unfortunate that the province has decided not to sign this agreement yet, but we believe that Saint John and New Brunswick need this agreement, especially in Saint John, a city where one in four children lives in poverty. It is my hope that we can put partisan politics aside and sign this agreement as soon as possible.

The children of our province are our greatest asset. Budget 2005 provides the funding that will help them make a better tomorrow for our future.

Budget 2005 is also good news for the seniors of my riding. The guaranteed income supplement benefit for low income seniors is rising by $2.7 billion in this budget. Simply put, by January 2007, for a single person in my riding of Saint John, New Brunswick, that is $36 a month and $58 a month for couples.

The new funding for the new horizons program for seniors is also being increased in this budget. I recently announced funding for new horizons projects in Saint John, New Brunswick, for St. Joseph's Hospital's community health centre. I look forward to more announcements for seniors in the months ahead.

Clearly, budget 2005 also recognizes the enormous debt of gratitude we owe our seniors and this is especially fitting as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of the second world war, for the year 2005 is the year of the veteran.

Budget 2005 also reaffirms our commitment to regional development by supporting agencies like ACOA. Projects in Saint John like Lily Lake, Harbour Passage, the Quispamsis Park, Fundy Trail and Enterprise Saint John have all been beneficiaries of ACOA. ACOA continues to help Saint John, New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada build and grow.

Finally, budget 2005 delivers on the Government of Canada's new deal for cities and communities, providing a commitment on the gas tax for revenues to increase important infrastructure for Saint John, Rothesay, Quispamsis and Grand Bay. These are important benefits that we need in this community now. New Brunswick's share is about $116 million and the funding is absolutely critical to greater Saint John.

The new deal recognizes the reality that municipalities need reliable, predictable and long term sources of funding. I am happy that this budget is able to do that. The renewal of existing infrastructure programs is of critical importance to Saint John because, let us be clear, our number one future priority is the Saint John's harbour cleanup. This is the number one environmental issue. It is a public health issue and an economic development issue.

Our port in Saint John needs to balance finding new jobs for our workers with the recent development of our cruise ship business in the harbour. If we are going to attract new ships and new industry in tourism, we must clean up our harbour. If we are going to improve our health, we must clean up our harbour. If we are going to attract and convince young people to stay in our community, our harbour needs to be cleaned up.

Looking for new opportunities for our port workers and harbour cleanup go hand in hand. This is not something that the city of Saint John can do alone. In this regard, we have been working hard as a team in Saint John to bring forward our common priorities for Saint John and our region. Last fall I brought the mayor and council of Saint John to Ottawa for meetings with various ministers of the government, including our Prime Minister and the Minister of State for Infrastructure, and of course our regional minister for New Brunswick, the hon. member for Fredericton.

We continue to present a united front for our community. Our community is committed to harbour cleanup. Earlier this month, Team Saint John meetings continued with our minister for infrastructure, where we had councillors Glen Tait and Chris Titus, along with our commissioner, talking about the follow-up to important meetings for harbour cleanup. The federal, provincial and municipal governments are all working together in our community of Saint John. We realize that the renewal of existing infrastructure programs is of critical importance to Saint John.

In conclusion, our work has just begun. We need to work with the province to develop solutions for Point Lepreau. We need child care. We need to further reduce wait times at hospitals. We need to equip our nurses with better tools. We need jobs for young people and jobs at our port. We need safe housing and we need a clean harbour. I urge the House to put partisan bickering aside and get to work passing the budget bill, Bill C-48, and doing the work that Canadians sent us here to do.

I move:

That this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Saint John has moved that this question be now put.

The hon. member for Cariboo--Prince George.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make some comments following the speech by the member opposite.

In connection with the gas tax rebate that the government has promised, it is important that Canadians know that my colleagues, who joined me in the House in 1994 and who have been in the House ever since that year, have been fighting tooth and nail to get the government to recognize that it has been keeping a very large, disproportionate share of fuel taxes and not returning them to the provinces and the communities, as was the original plan when the fuel taxes were added way back when for infrastructure and maintenance of roads.

Every single time we put that motion forward, either in the House or in committee, the Liberals defeated it. Since 1997, following the exorbitant taxation which allowed the Liberals to balance their budget in 1997, they had surplus funding in every instance.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there a problem with interpretation? Just a moment, please. We are going to take a moment to check with translation services to ensure that we have proper interpretation at this time.

We are ready to proceed. The hon. member of Cariboo--Prince George.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, since 1997, the Liberals, as a result of dramatically increased taxation to both working people and corporations, have had a surplus. They have failed to heed the request from opposition parties, our party, to return a reasonable portion of gas taxes to the communities.

We are talking eight years since the budget was balanced. The Liberals have still not returned one penny of fuel taxes to the provinces and municipalities.

After all that time of ignoring the request for fuel taxes from not only us but from the communities, is there any reason why Canadians can trust the government when all of a sudden the Liberals have had this revelation to return some of the fuel taxes? Is this just election talk and another promise that will be made but broken?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well that this is not election talk. This is a commitment that was made and the people of Saint John, the people of New Brunswick, are waiting for this money because they feel it is time to reinvest in Atlantic Canada. The smaller communities in our country need the gas tax money. It is part of the new deal of rebuilding our communities. I would urge the hon. member to put his partisanship aside and vote for the budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, by all accounts, at least from all of the reports I have read in The Economist and so on, Canadians have not gained in terms of their standard of living or disposable income and that kind of thing for the past 15 years in real terms.

I would like the hon. member to tell me, what is in this budget to address that problem? It looked like there was one thing in there that might have done that and now the Liberals have removed it. Perhaps he can respond to that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, there is regional development, strategic infrastructure, and the list goes on and on. Those are important economic and social benefits for Atlantic Canada.

I must tell the hon. member that I am very pleased to support the budget and I would urge the hon. member to do the same, especially because of its significance to Atlantic Canada and some of the regions in our country where we need a strong national government. We need a government that understands community development.

I can tell the hon. member that in my community of Saint John the presence and importance of the Government of Canada is well understood and recognized as a team player. I must tell the hon. member that I am very pleased with the strategic infrastructure fund because that will have a real significant and important effect in Saint John.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of my party on the budget bill, Bill C-43.

With your permission, for the sake of those listening to us, and for the Liberal Party, as well as the colleague who has just spoken, I will read from a newspaper article which will serve as an introduction to my speech on the budget.

These are excerpts from an article in the May 13 La Presse , over the byline of Stéphane Paquet. It is titled “One billion a day for three weeks: the Liberal government of—I must say “the Prime Minister”, since I cannot say his name—has made announcements totalling $22.5 billion” in a matter of three weeks. I will read a few excerpts from the article:

In three weeks, the Liberal ministers' announcements have averaged out at $1 billion a day. Between April 20 and last Monday, government ministers have made no fewer than 178 announcements across Canada. That makes over 8 a day, for a total of $22.5 billion.

When a journalist requested a list of the projects announced from the PMO, he was referred to the government web site, where there were indeed 175 projects listed.

In two announcements alone, Ontario—which is, I scarcely need point out, the key battleground in the next election campaign—got close to half the $22.5 billion pointed out by the Conservatives. First of all, there was the $5.75 billion over five years announced last Saturday to reduce the Ontario “fiscal imbalance”.

Which they acknowledge exists in Ontario, but not in Quebec.

Two days later, it was the turn of the country's airports to divvy up $8 billion to be delivered over 47 years. Since Toronto's Pearson Airport is the biggest one in Canada, it gets the lion's share, five of the eight billion. As for Trudeau airport, in Montreal-Dorval, it gets $500 million.

So, $500 million compared to $5 billion.

In short, this article describes the process of buying votes at the rate of one billion dollars a day. It just so happens, moreover, by sheer chance, that the Liberals are putting the money where they want to gain seats in the imminent election, that is to say mainly in Ontario.

At the same time, they want us to debate the budget. Since this party, this minority government, does not respect the majority decisions of the House, be it one confidence vote or all votes—as in the case of the people whose property was expropriated in Mirabel—why should it now respect the vote on the budget, should it win it? Why in fact does it even need to have a vote on the budget, when, although it had not been approved, the government has spent $1 billion a day for three weeks in an effort to buy votes throughout Canada, and primarily in Ontario?

The Bloc Québécois opposed the budget from the start. What would the Bloc have liked to see in the budget for it to support it? The Liberal member was saying earlier that partisanship had to be put aside and the benefits of the budget recognized, and everyone should then vote in favour of it. That said, my colleague from Montcalm asked my why, this time, we should believe the Liberals, when they have been preparing budgets for 12 years saying, “We will pay attention to health, postsecondary education and seniors”. Every year, they fail to keep their word. For 12 years they have been in office, seven years after the annual surpluses, year after year the problem remains unchanged, except on the eve of an election or when the government is trying to buy votes in Ontario.

The Bloc, however, opposes the budget. Is it only because we are the “wicked separatists” and they want absolutely nothing for Quebec and Quebeckers?

We will try to find arguments a little more substantial than those the Liberals are using to show why the Bloc opposes the budget.

First, as we did discreetly with the throne speech, we wanted the Liberals to recognize the fiscal imbalance in the budget. They did so indirectly in the throne speech. We would have liked tax fields to be transferred rather than have them promise amounts annually conditional on our good behaviour. We will get them if the premier is Jean Charest, but if it is Bernard Landry, we will not. Perhaps it is the Liberals who are being partisan in this regard. We would therefore have liked the fiscal imbalance to be recognized and tax fields to be transferred accordingly.

We would also have liked some recognition of the problems with employment insurance. Even the agreement with the NDP does not mention this. We would have liked an independent employment insurance fund and commission recognized in the budget. My mind turns to the member for Acadie—Bathurst, who often goes on in this House about doing more for employment insurance. But our friends in the NDP forgot to include it in the deal between their party and the Liberals. For us, it was important before the budget and it is still important after the budget. It is important for people who unfortunately have to turn to employment insurance when in difficult situations. We would have liked the unanimous decisions of the Subcommittee on the Employment Insurance Funds to be included and acknowledged in the budget, but there is no sign of them. That is another reason why the Bloc Québécois cannot support this budget.

Insofar as the Kyoto protocol is concerned, money was appropriated for it in the deal between the government and the NDP. However, this money was provided to promote the polluter pays principle. There is money for encouraging the automobile industry, which has signed an agreement. That is not what we want. As the Bloc critic for the environment has often said, we want the money put aside for the implementation of the Kyoto protocol used to develop renewable energy and clean energy, such as wind.

The fourth reason has to do with agriculture. It is really strange that the budget agreement between the NDP and the Liberals does not have anything for agriculture. The Bloc Québécois would have liked some recognition of the problems faced by farmers, who unfortunately have had to pay the price for the problems between the United States and Canada. We would have liked to see more support for them, especially when there are budget surpluses.

In regard to international assistance, the Prime Minister has said—the accolades he shared with Bono were supposed to underline it or confirm it—that Canada would reach the rate of 0.7% of GDP for international assistance. Once again, with the budget surpluses that we have, the inclusion of this commitment in the budget would have been another reason for the Bloc Québécois to support it.

Let us say a few words now about respect for Quebec's jurisdictions in the areas of day care and parental leave. It is pretty strange that, here too, agreements are signed with everybody. But in Quebec on the other hand, where a system is in place and when we were told that everything was ready to go, no agreement can be reached on day care. And there are problems with parental leave. It has all been very annoying.

There you have five or six rational, non partisan, solid reasons why the Bloc Québécois cannot support this budget. To those smiling across the way I would say the fiscal imbalance, employment insurance, agriculture, international aid and the environment, although very important issues, are major oversights in the budget and reason enough for us to oppose it. The budget is imperfect and we would have liked to have improved it, but the Liberals were not interested in that.

I want to touch on another important section, part 7 of the budget, which would allow the Auditor General the right to oversee the foundations and crown corporations. This is the first time we have seen the government copy or plagiarize a private member's bill, Bill C-277, and take credit for offering the Auditor General such a right. If that is not partisanship, then what is?

In committee, I asked the President of the Treasury Board to give me another example of a private member's bill that the government had plagiarized for its own gains. He was unable to name any. I also asked him how he squared that circle since, for five years, every time the Auditor General asked, the government said it could not introduce such a bill because it would take away from the independence of the foundations.

Why now, in 2005, on the eve of an election, on the heels of the sponsorship scandal, is the government able to introduce such a bill without taking away the independence of the foundations? That is another unanswered question.

Those are the non partisan, rational, solid reasons and sound arguments why the Bloc Québécois opposes this budget and will continue to oppose it, despite the so-called agreement between the NDP and the Liberals.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention a number of items before I get started. Prior to joining Parliament, I was in the financial services business for 20 years serving Canadians, helping them deal with their financial planning, from pension planning to insurance and investments, et cetera.

We live in a world where 800 million people go to bed hungry at night, where someone is infected with HIV every 60 seconds, where a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds and where someone dies of poverty every 3 seconds. It is a world where the clock is ticking and time is running out for the poor. Yet it is also a world in which Canadians from all walks of life are increasingly engaged, a world where Canada is investing considerable resources to fight poverty, a world where Canada is determined to make a difference.

Like all Canadians, I was shocked by the impact of the tsunami that struck coastal communities in the Indian Ocean last December. The scale of human suffering and devastation was beyond imagination, yet the outpouring of generosity from Canadians to those in need was also unprecedented. In response the Government of Canada agreed to match dollar for dollar the more than $210 million that was donated by Canadians. This was part of a five year $425 million commitment from the Government of Canada for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction in affected communities.

The sheer scope of the tragedy was a stark reminder of the links between poverty and devastation caused by natural and human-made events. The poor are least able to anticipate, escape or adequately respond to a crisis and when tragedy strikes, they are the most affected. However, the daily tragedy of absolute poverty occurs away from the TV cameras and the headlines. Every 10 days the same number of people die of poverty-induced maladies as were killed by the terrible tsunami, every 10 days, year in and year out.

The proposed increases to official development assistance will go a long way toward helping Canada do its share to achieve the millennium development goals, an ambitious agenda to cut global poverty in half by the year 2015.

Building a better world for all is in our best interests. Canadians recognize that what happens in the rest of the world affects us at home. The time is gone when each country or even continent could look after its own security. Canadians from coast to coast to coast recognize that Canada has done much to respond to these threats but that as a country we must do better. The millennium development goal helps Canada focus on this monumental but doable task.

What exactly is Canada doing to contribute to building a better world for all?

Canada is renewing its commitment to advancing Canadian values of global citizenship as well as Canadian interests regarding security, prosperity and governance. It is working hard to reduce global poverty through a focused approach that matches Canadian experience and expertise with developing country needs in coordination with other donors.

Since 2002, when it launched its strengthening aid effectiveness policy, the Canadian International Development Agency has been working to strategically refocus its activities. This involves building government-wide consensus on key elements of Canada's role in the world. It means coherent domestic and international policies, country-led development, sectors of expertise, countries of focus, a results-based approach, good governance and an engaged civil society. The proposed increases to official development assistance will contribute much to these important efforts already underway.

Canada is better coordinating efforts with other donors and developing country governments and it will keep doing so.

Canada is also thinking carefully about ways in which it can add value. Canada knows its strengths, sectors such as health care, private sector development, education, environment and governance. It only makes sense to offer Canada's proven expertise in these areas to other countries, countries that are well governed and can use our aid effectively.

These principles and ideas are the heart of Canada's recent international policy statement. CIDA will achieve much greater focus in its geographic programs. It will deliver at least two-thirds of bilateral aid to a core group of 25 development partner countries by 2010. These are countries that can use aid effectively and prudently and where Canadian expertise and resources can truly make a difference.

More than half, 14 of these countries, are in sub-Saharan Africa. This greater concentration in Africa is in keeping with Canada's commitment to double assistance to the continent by 2008-09 from its 2003-04 level.

That said, it must be emphasized that Canada will continue to support other countries. CIDA has earmarked up to one-third of its bilateral budget for countries of strategic importance in other countries where Canada can continue to make a difference. It will use its multilateral and partnership programming to address the plight of other low income countries.

CIDA is also pursuing greater sectoral focus. Canadian assistance will target and concentrate programming in five sectors directly related to meeting the millennium development goals, namely: promoting good governance; improving health outcomes; including HIV and AIDS; strengthening basic education; supporting private sector development; and advancing environmental sustainability. Ensuring gender equality will be systematically and explicitly integrated across all programming within each of the five sectors of focus.

With these actions, Canada is increasing both the quality and quantity of its aid, but more and better aid is not in itself enough. That is why the international policy statement reflects a comprehensive, whole of government approach. It enables Canada to harness all the tools and instruments at its disposal such as promoting greater market access, more debt relief and more support for the private sector in developing countries.

Canada is poised to reclaim its rightful place in the world. As the Prime Minister has said, “We must seize the moment to reassert ourselves on the world stage--to speak up with a persuasive voice for equality, human rights, and a fairer globalization”. Canada is already making a difference in the world. The increased funding for official development assistance will enable Canadians to make more of a difference.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his insights. These comments are not often brought to the floor of the House within the context of the budget, comments that reflect on our international responsibilities and accountability which we have shared over the last number of decades, from a developmental and an exchange of ideas with the developing communities of the world. This is nowhere more reflected than in the cities' relationships through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the city to city, municipality to municipality international exchange that exists with developing countries.

One of the highlights of the budget is to emphasize that the new deal is more than a gas tax for infrastructure in Canada. While that may be very important, it is also to empower municipalities to reach out as part of that Canadian signature that reflects our compassion and outlook to the global community, in particular, developing countries.

Would my colleague perhaps expand a little on how he thinks municipalities could be more effective, given that they have been given the empowerment, through the highlight in the throne speech of the new deal and through Bill C-48, which increases the capacity of cities to become part of a much larger new deal at home and perhaps an international new deal in the global context?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the House is aware that through this budget we have committed a substantial amount of resources to communities across the country to assist them with infrastructure projects which they have undertaken.

The GST is another area that has been given to communities and municipalities. They no longer have to pay GST on their purchases.

All this will help communities be much better. It will help them to improve and embrace the growth for the coming years.