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 budget.

Topics

Official Languages
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-3 would make part VII of the Official Languages Act justiciable. The government is in favour of this objective, with some amendments in order to better delineate the scope of the bill.

The question is quite simple. I am being asked whether the government is prepared to speed up consideration of this bill. The government would welcome the unanimous support of the opposition parties to proceed more quickly with consideration and passage of this bill.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Dr. Saleh Abdullah Bin Hemeid, President of the Shura Council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

The House resumed 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, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to address Bill C-43, the budget implementation bill. It is a little confusing this year when dealing with the budget. We do not know if we are talking about the Liberal budget that was presented in the House a while ago, or if we are addressing the NDP budget that came in some time after that or the billion dollars a day the Prime Minister has been promising since then. Someone once said, “a million here and a million there” and pretty soon we are talking about real money.

It seems unbelievable that the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister could bring a budget to the House that would give direction to the country, that would give an economic plan to progress the country to the next five to ten years, then within a month throw it out the window, broker deals with other parties in the House and go around and promise another $22 billion. What is the economic plan of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to lead Canada?

We have seen some nervousness in the markets, our dollar and other issues that directly affect Canada as far as investment is concerned. People are not sure of the direction the government. That nervousness is reflected in the lack of confidence that investors have in Canada.

We need investment in industry. We need investment in the issues that Canadians need on a day to day basis. We need investment in research and development. We talk a great deal about putting money into research. Some good dollars do go in to it and some good research is done. In my riding of Lethbridge, at the university and the college, at the Lethbridge Research Station, animal disease research centre, great research is being done. However, the investment in development afterward to bring the research and those ideas to reality is not there.

Corporations, citizens, businesses, average mom and pop operations are being overtaxed and they are unable to put that money back into the development of the country. If this is allowed to happen, it spurs on more business and economic activity. The Liberal Party in all of its time in government in the last 12 years has missed the fact that the engine which drives the economy is not the government. It is businesses, small and large, that create the kind of economic development, create jobs and stability for families.

We support a couple of issues which we have pushed the government on recently and in the last number of years, particularly the Kyoto protocol. When I was first elected in 1997, I was deputy environment critic on the environment committee. One of the first questions I asked in the House had to do with the government's plan on Kyoto, when it went to sign the protocol. We are still asking.

Billions of dollars have been spent. Targets have not been reached. The targets that are there are not reachable. The smog in cities is as bad or worse than it was. There are no better water systems in the country. We are still asking the question, what is the plan? While the Kyoto protocol is not something that we will support, we will create a made in Canada solution to these issues and we will put real resources toward it. It will be a real plan to clean up the air, the water and the land. I tell the schools in my riding that I am not very proud of the record that my generation has when it comes to the environment.

It will be up to the younger generation to clean up the mess that we have helped make. However, we have to lay the groundwork now to enable them to do that. The Kyoto protocol will not do that. It will further drive our country down in its productivity and its ability to compete with other countries. Let us have a made in Canada solution and that is something we propose.

The government brought forward a $16 a year per taxpayer tax relief plan. It is hard to imagine that it could even come up with a figure that would adjust someone's take home pay by that much. It is absolutely ludicrous. We need substantive tax relief for low and middle income families.

We need a day care plan that does not give money to bureaucrats and organizations. We need a plan that puts money into the pockets of the parents so they can decide how to take care of their children. If we did that, it would be a substantive tax relief to families so they would have some choices. We do not have to look very far. We only have to look within our own families. They struggle to make ends meet at the end of every month and in many cases are unable to do it.

We talk about record credit card debt at outlandish interest rates. Many families are getting into these issues and these kinds of problem.

It is no different in my riding of Lethbridge. We have a very vibrant community. The city of Lethbridge has 75,000 people. It has a university and a college. It has a strong economic base of mom and pop operations. It has an industrial park. We have the surrounding area which is agriculture, intensive livestock, irrigation. A lot of dollars get turned over in the riding in a month or in a day. We need that type of activity in the country on a more general basis to foster economic growth.

However, the basic industry that drives the rest is agriculture. We asked questions of the agriculture minister a few minutes ago. We asked him what he would do if our border was closed to not only live cattle. R-CALF, the protectionist group in the United States, has now asked the court in Billings, Montana, the court which did not allow the border to be opened to live cattle when it was supposed to be, to expand that injunction to include boxed beef. If that happens, the price of cattle in this country will just take a nosedive like we have never seen before.

The minister sits here day after day talking about the wonderful things he has done to improve capacity. The loan loss reserve program that the government has implemented is not working. Bankers have told us that as far as they are concerned it does not exist, that it is a hindrance not a help. We need some major work done on increasing our slaughter capacity and finding other markets than traditional markets for our beef.

The judge in Billings has three options to make. He can throw out the injunction and open the border, or he can uphold the present injunction and close the border to live cattle or can expand it. We have asked the minister what his plan is if it is expanded. We have received fluff answers. We have not had any concrete answers from him. That needs to be addressed in a very serious manner.

I am getting calls from others in the agriculture community, from the grain farmers. My colleague from Wild Rose mentioned a case that has been brought to his attention. I have similar cases where people have been expecting substantive help through the CAIS program. When they actually get it, it is $140 which is not even enough to buy one tonne of fertilizer to help pay the fuel bill.

Since it was implemented, we have been after the government to do something about that program, to make it work for producers. We pushed for the government to waive the cash deposits and it did that. However, the program cannot be triggered for those who need it, and something has to be done about that.

The NDP stands in the House and pretends that it is supporting farmers. When we saw the special side deal between the Prime Minister the NDP, there was nothing in it for farmers. There was nothing in it for seniors. Why was that not addressed? The Liberals missed it in the original budget and they did not address it in the NDP budget. The Prime Minister has been crossing the country spending a billion dollars a day on average since then and he has not addressed those issues either.

We know that these are not priorities for the government. We know we will see a continuation of overtaxation and overspending. The priorities of Canadians are not being met, and we need to bring this back to reality.

Then there is the gas tax money for municipalities. It is amazing how the Liberal government has spun this. It was this party that brought motions to this House to put some of the gas tax back into infrastructure. We pushed that issue. We pushed it time and time again. Now we find that the Liberals are threatening municipalities that if the budget does not pass they are not going to get that money. We have made the recommendation that they will get that money.

We cannot continue to bring forward budgets like this with shotgun programs that do not direct and project the economic growth of the country for five or ten years down the road.

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties concerning the debate that is scheduled to take place later today on a motion to concur in a committee report. The motion is from the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île concerning the second report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

I believe that you would find unanimous consent to deem this debate to have taken place, the question deemed to have been put, and the vote requested and deferred to the end of government orders on Wednesday, May 18.

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to proceed in this fashion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed 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, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

May 17th, 2005 / 3:15 p.m.

Charlottetown
P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's comments about some of the economic statements he was making and in particular the interest rates.

I remind my colleague that when his party was in power and there are people in the House who do not recall interest rates being at 24% although I believe my friend does recall that, and he recalls the deficit being at $43 billion a year and unemployment at 11%.

When the member's party was in power, I never really heard a reason why the central government lost control of the fiscal and monetary levers to allow that to happen and allow the deficit to get to $43 billion and allow interest rates to get to 24%.

I have been watching the Canadian dollar fluctuate this week. The Leader of the Opposition is adamant that he is going to vote against the budget. He has made an alliance with the Bloc Québécois and he is going to throw the country into an election. That has caused the Canadian dollar to drop substantially. Today there seems to be a development that it may not be absolutely certain that the Leader of the Opposition will get his own way and the Canadian dollar is rising.

Can the member explain those two developments? Why did things go so astray when his party was in power and can he explain the recent movements of the Canadian dollar in the last five days?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of issues, particularly on the interest rate. I was referring to the interest rate on credit card debt. It is a fact that whether one is in the agricultural community trying to raise a family or in a business, the accumulated debt in this country has gone right through the roof since the government took over, and it knows it.

Last year the entire agriculture industry in this country lost money as a whole. That is a damning statistic that the government will have to live with because it drove that industry right into the ground. Members stand in the House everyday and say they are going to support farmers and this or that aspect of it. The truth of the matter is that as a whole the industry that feeds this country lost money last year.

The accumulated debt in the agriculture community has multiplied tenfold or twentyfold since the government took power. Every credit card that farmers have are at the maximum. Their fuel bills are at the maximum, including grain bills, fertilizer bills, chemical bills, whatever. Everything is maxed out. They cannot even service the interest on the debt, never mind the debt. It is out of control.

For a Liberal member to stand up with some smartass remark about what happened today is out of line, in my mind. The parliamentary secretary is supposed to be showing some direction on how this country is going to progress through the next five or ten years. To degrade the debate like he is doing here is absolutely unacceptable.

The finance minister and the Prime Minister made a deal with the NDP. That will cost us $4.6 billion on top of the $1 billion a day the Prime Minister has been running all over the place promising people. It is still not enough to get the job done that he bought the NDP off for. He buys a party with $4.6 billion hoping to have enough votes to pass the budget knowing that he does not. I do not understand why that was even entered into. Some of the things missed in that extra $4.6 billion are pretty glaring.

I will go back to agriculture again because that seems to be where I end up most times. I want to talk about the court case in Montana that has been brought forward by R-CALF that the government did not seek intervenor status to defend our producers against a protectionist bunch of yahoos in Montana who do not know what they are talking about and are spreading lies and smears about our Canadian industry. The government did not even apply to be an intervenor in that courtroom.

The official opposition sought intervenor status and it is in court right now. We are hoping the judge will allow us to go there to defend our industry. Somebody has to do it because the Liberal government has not done it and has no intention of doing it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate today on the budget which is to be adopted, or not, this Thursday. Truly, the future of the government is at stake with this motion.

I have been in politics pretty close to 30 years. In 1975 I was about to become the MNA for Champlain, and since then I have worked with a number of premiers and Prime Ministers, both in Quebec City and here on the Hill. Despite all those years in politics, this is the first time I have seen discussions on a budget that, in my opinion, is not a budget at all.

We, both the party in power and the opposition, held rounds of consultations to find out what people hoped to see in the budget presented to us. I know we consulted numerous people before making our suggestions to the government on the budget as we wanted to see it.

This is one of the first times in my career that I have seen a budget spread over five years. We do not have any clear idea of what amounts are going to be committed. We know, for example, that promises have been made for the next two, three or four years, and the public is being led to think that this money is going to be spent right away. Take the business of seniors for instance.

There is talk of increasing the guaranteed income supplement, of billions of dollars to be invested in this program, but they neglect to say that this amount is over the next five years. It will start in 2006, and the supplement will gradually increase. By the end of the next five years, if they keep their word—which, as far as this government is concerned, is not a sure thing—people will have recovered some $2 billion in guaranteed income supplement. They also neglect to mention the fact that some people have been deprived of the GIS for the past 12 years. That amount is twice what they will get back over the next 5. Knowing that makes all the difference.

The government calls itself a good administrator. It is relatively easy to manage things the way they do. Take money out and 15 years later, return less than the full amount. They come across as generous, but they are not. The guaranteed income supplement will be increased in the coming years, but it is the seniors—many of whom, unfortunately, will no longer be here—who will have paid for it.

We see this is many areas. For example—this may be a pre-election period; we will know for sure on Thursday—in exchange for its vote, the NDP demanded a number of things. Among other things, it demanded $1 billion for social housing.

Nonetheless, this government acts with forethought. It has done nothing for social housing. In my riding, there are people suffering because of a desperate shortage in housing. In Wemotaci, there is 15-member family living in a single, unsanitary, barely livable house. The government has not done what it should have, if it had any respect for these people. It has not built social housing.

The NDP says it is pleased to have succeeded in obtaining an increase. However, it should be noted that CMHC has a $3.7 billion surplus for social housing. This amount could have been spent. Adding a billion dollars for social housing will not change much if there is no intention of spending it.

I think the NDP could have required the government to draft a quick policy to spend the money already accumulated for social housing.

It would have made more sense, in my view, to say that we will build housing for Aboriginals over the next year and at affordable prices for the people who need it.

I was one of those who consulted people, along with our colleague here. He went around Quebec, while I went around my riding. It is unbelievable to see the needs we have on all sides. There is talk about a budget increase, but there is no information about how the money will be spent and whether there will be surpluses at CMHC. I can tell you that an increase does not result in much and does not meet the needs of the people who are waiting impatiently for suitable housing.

The member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier went around the various municipalities to see what people thought about the fiscal imbalance. People in Quebec are unanimous that the fiscal imbalance is nonsensical. We absolutely have to get back to common sense. We have to ensure that the money stops going to federal coffers when the needs are in the provinces.

Everyone rails against the fiscal imbalance: the Liberal party in Quebec City, the Parti Québécois in Quebec City, and all the political parties. In the provinces, everyone involved in finance decries the fiscal imbalance. The only one who fails to acknowledge it is the party currently in power, the minority Liberal party.

And yet this fiscal imbalance is extremely serious because, in a few years, the provinces will be unable to cope any more with their health problems and education problems. They are already having tremendous difficulty, but no one in the government thought about fixing the fiscal imbalance problem, and they do not even acknowledge it. They are the only ones who fail to see it. They give this situation all sorts of names, anything to ensure that they do not have to adjust the funding for the provinces and the federal government.

We consulted like never before and there was unanimity. But they do not want to recognize the situation, which results in the incredible overlap that we have now. People are talking about it. I do not know how many speeches I have heard here about the fiscal imbalance, but it does not seem obvious to the people opposite, they do not want to recognize it.

Some provinces, as I mentioned, are hurting from the lack of funding. Their needs are enormous. The federal government is wasting money and does not want to acknowledge the needs of the provinces—and this is true in all sectors.

I think that this is a good time to talk about wasting money with the Liberal government, in fact, anytime is a good time for that. We need only follow the Gomery commission inquiry into the sponsorship scandal, and every day the revelations get bigger and more unbelievable.

When taxpayers' money is being wasted and wonderful programs have to be cut, we must realize that, of all the taxpayers, the poor are paying the highest price.

I want to tell the House a story. In an Amerindian community north of La Tuque, Wemotaci, alcohol and drugs are a problem, not just for the residents, but for first nations in general. Anyone who wants to can check into a treatment facility. When they check out, they are supposed to be sent to a rehab centre, because if they go back to the reserve, they will immediately see the person supplying the drugs or alcohol and it starts all over again. They went to rehab for nothing.

We want our own homes. We are prepared to build in La Tuque, but we do not have $20,000. No one will give us the money. When I look at the sponsorship scandal, I can tell you that many Liberal organizers had that $20,000 in their pockets. It should be used to help people, but this is not going to happen because this money was wasted.

I could talk so much more about this, but the time allotted me is running out. Every time a problem arises in my riding and my constituents come to see me, I have to tell them I can do nothing for them.

If I had leave, I would like to continue my speech. I have a few facts to relate. I therefore request leave of the House to continue my speech.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

These sorts of things are important in human terms. I have no qualms asking people to tell me where the money is that is being denied them. It is easy enough. A person need only follow some of the proceedings of the Gomery commission. The people in the Liberal Party have lined their pockets. This money belongs to the taxpayers, and they are having problems, but we are having to say no to them, because this money was wasted.

When I am asked to approve a budget like this one, I cannot. It is not my aim to precipitate an election. Whether or not we had joined forces with the Conservative Party, we would have opposed the budget, because it makes no sense. The government must return to a modicum of honesty and compassion for the public and begin distributing and spending money as it ought.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the questions the hon. member had with respect to the issue of fiscal imbalance, is he aware that the parliamentary finance committee, of which I am a member, has a subcommittee, of which I am also a member, that has been travelling around the country looking into the issue of fiscal imbalance?

Is he also aware that we have had witnesses before that committee, largely political, who have argued that there is a fiscal imbalance? We also had witnesses, largely academic and in some cases business people, who have indicated to us that they believe there is a fiscal gap but they do not describe it as a fiscal imbalance.

Is the member aware that some provinces, while lowering their tax rates and boasting about having been able to reduce their taxes, are at the same time complaining about the alleged fiscal imbalance? In other words, by lowering their costs they have created this pressure and are now looking to the issue of fiscal imbalance.

Is the member aware that the government has put money through the provinces for the health accord, the gas tax money which of course flows through the provinces to the municipalities, which in many cases relieves some of the pressures the provinces are feeling in that area? I would also point to the renewed money through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for the municipal green fund.