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

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Charlottetown
P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, as the minister knows, we have certain challenges in Atlantic Canada as we move from the traditional economy to the knowledge based economy. Some of the initiatives that have been led by the minister and by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency have helped immensely.

The minister referred to the Rising Tide initiative which was developed by the members of the Liberal caucus. The executive responded with a certain funding increase to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency which will increase the amount going to industry-led innovation, to skills training in Atlantic Canada.

Is this funding, which I believe has the support of all members of Parliament from Atlantic Canada, conditional upon this House passing Bill C-43 and Bill C-48?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, five years ago for the first time, through “Catching Tomorrow's Wave”, a $300 million fund was established for Atlantic Canadian businesses and universities to try to catch up with the R and D initiatives that were available to the rest of the country, particularly in central Canada, and to a lesser extent in western Canada. Still western Canada was way ahead in the R and D funds available as compared to Atlantic Canada.

Because that fund was so successful and the uptake was enthusiastically applied for, the fund was really too small to address the appetite of the universities and entrepreneurs in order to do what they wanted to do in the area of research and development and commercialization of that. This fund, as with all the other economic initiatives, necessitates the passing of this budget on Thursday. We look forward to all Atlantic Canadian MPs on both sides of the House supporting this budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this bill. I will need to cross over between the two bills a little, if members will excuse me. Traditionally a budget is presented as one bill to Canadians, but in this case two bills deal with the Canadian budget.

I want to emphasize that I have had the opportunity to sit in a provincial legislature where when a budget is presented, it is presented as a plan, a blueprint for the future of the province. In this case, it is the country. Debate takes place. Amendments are put forward and in certain cases accepted, but more often than not, in my experience, the government moves forward with the agenda that it presented to the Canadian public as the government agenda on what should be the fiscal spending plan for the following year.

In fact, the Minister of Finance told this House many times, as did the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, that this budget could not be stripped away piece by piece. That was particularly in response to our questions asking the government to move the Atlantic accord, which is a two-page, nine paragraph document that could be approved by all. Every day we have asked the government to do that, yet it has chosen to refuse. Instead, the Liberals want to wrap it in an omnibus budget bill with a part deux from the NDP and want to force us to vote for or against it based on the entire package.

This is interesting after having the Liberals telling us day after day that this could not be a piece by piece budget. There they were, in a dark room, I presume, with the Leader of the New Democratic Party and Buzz Hargrove, in a dimly lit corner where no one could see them. I suspect there were people on guard outside the door. It was there that the government of the day moved to increase spending to Canadians by $4.6 billion.

At the whim of the NDP leader and Buzz Hargrove, the Prime Minister caved and gave $4.6 billion of new spending to his budget, undercutting the finance minister's position, undercutting everything that the finance minister had said to Canadians about how the budget could not be taken apart, could not be dismantled and passed piece by piece. The Prime Minister did the exact opposite.

Not only did he do that, but while he was doing it he agreed to toss out the tax relief that was offered in the budget part one, which would have created thousands of jobs. In fact, many are saying that it would created hundreds of thousands of new jobs for Canadians. He did that in a matter of moments.

Yet when the Prime Minister was confronted with this and discovered that perhaps the Canadian taxpayer and the Canadian business associations that are the job creators of the country were offended by the Prime Minister allowing this to happen, he said, “No. Wait a minute, Canadians. That isn't what I meant”. What he meant was that he was going to give the NDP and Buzz Hargrove their $4.6 billion in new spending, and although he told them that he was going to take that tax relief out of the budget, really what he was going to do was not take it out of the budget, introduce it in a separate bill and try to please everybody.

In the short time that I have been here in the House, I have been amazed by the Prime Minister's many changes of position. It baffles me that not all Canadians are starting to question the motives of the Prime Minister, but in reality they are. They are starting to question the willingness of the Prime Minister to make a decision and actually stand on that decision.

We have seen a Prime Minister who has been tagged by most Canadians as a ditherer who is unable to make a decision. When confronted by forces that suggest he might not be sure, he moves his position. He moves where he stands on the issue and tries to please all Canadians.

What we have seen in the past few months is a Prime Minister who has become desperate. He is prepared to do anything, such as cutting a deal with the NDP and Buzz Hargrove for $4.6 billion. He is prepared to try to spend his way through Canada, at a rate of about $1 billion a day since he made his national plea for mercy from the Canadian public. He has had absolutely no hesitation in spending as recklessly and carelessly as he possibly can.

What most amazes me is that after 12 years in government, during which the Prime Minister was the finance minister for a little over 10 years, I believe, suddenly everything that has happened in the last few weeks boils down to how “it must happen today”, how if it does not happen today and if the budget does not pass, all of Canada will come crumbling down.

I heard the child day care promise back in 1993. I heard it again in 1997. I heard it again in 2003. This is an endless story. The question I have and which I am hearing from people in my community is this: does he really mean it? Has he really committed to doing this or is this just what he is saying again today to get himself elected?

In the past we have seen a government in desperation announce all sorts of spending commitments without a plan behind them. I am going to give the House a few examples. There are more to come, which I would be happy to share. The firearms registry was a way of dealing with criminal misuse of firearms. The Liberals told us that it was going to cost $2 million. It has now cost $2 billion or very close to it. Again, that is spending without a plan.

We all witnessed national news television reports about the tragedy the children in Davis Inlet were facing with addiction. Without a plan, the community was moved into new housing a few miles away at a cost of $400,000 per person, and the problems went with them. Again: spending without a plan.

Canadians are only too familiar with the Quebec referendum that shocked the nation. The Liberals and the Prime Minister responded by throwing money at it, but they had no real plan. The result is what we are hearing and seeing on television news and in the newspapers every day of the week: hundreds of millions of dollars illegally funding Liberal friends and the Liberal Party. Even worse, that reinvigorated Quebec separatism.

The list goes on and on. We have continued to see the government travelling across Canada over the last several weeks, making promises and spending commitments without a plan. It becomes very obvious that a government with a treasury to spend without a plan is a government in trouble.

I will even cite a few new examples that are part of the current government's plan. Agriculture is a huge part of my constituency. In fact, I was surprised at the number: 84% of the economy in Brandon—Souris in Manitoba is generated in the agrifood industry. I was asked that question by the agrifood retailers. I took a guess. I said the figure was about 70%. I was astounded that it was so high. It is one of the highest in Canada on a per capita basis.

The government announced a savings program for our struggling cattle producers. Unfortunately there was no plan behind the money, and today our producers are still waiting. They are still anxiously filling out forms to access the money that was announced by the government.

I know that governments like to announce that huge amounts of money are being given to some segment of the Canadian society, but the bottom line is that the people do not receive it. The money is of absolutely no benefit to the people it was meant to go to and again we have spending without a plan.

Recently the Prime Minister signed a deal for health care that is worth $41 billion. It is a good plan. We supported it. Unfortunately we have yet to see how the plan will be implemented to actually shorten waiting lists. In fact, over the last several years we have seen waiting lists rise under this government's mandate.

As I said earlier, I was part of provincial government. I saw this Liberal government, this finance minister and this current Prime Minister gut health care. The Prime Minister did it all in the name of saving the economy, but unfortunately now he has to repair the sins of his past and it is a very hard thing to do.

Budgets are about the future. Budgets are about plans. Budgets are about making decisions on where to spend money, where to spend Canadian taxpayers' money, where it benefits and where it is needed by Canadians. It is not to be spent by a government at the whim of saving seats in an election, at the whim of satisfying its own personal goals. That is not what a budget is about, but that is what this budget is about. That is why I will not be supporting this budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Charlottetown
P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, my friend across the way talked about the Prime Minister changing his tune. I want to remind my friend that we had the budget tabled here in this House a couple of months ago. It was a budget that reflected the priorities and concerns of all Canadians. It talked about the environment. It talked about increased defence spending. It talked about increased funding for the cities and towns and communities right across Canada. It talked about funding for early childhood development.

It was received well by all Canadians. The first person out that door to support the budget and tell the Canadian people that it met his priorities and the priorities of all Canadians was the Leader of the Opposition. For some reason shortly after that, a poll or something told him that things had changed in someone's mind. He told Canadians that, first, he was not going to support the budget, second, he was going to make a deal with the Bloc Québécois, and third, he was going to call for an election that Canadians did not want. He subjected himself to ridicule and embarrassment.

My question for my friend across--

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The hon. member opposite just referred to a “deal” that he knows was made between the Conservatives and the Bloc. I would ask the hon. member if he could table that deal.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I think what we have here is a point of debate. I do not think the hon. parliamentary secretary is referring to a particular document. He is talking rhetorically, I believe, but if the parliamentary secretary would put his question so the member could answer it, I would appreciate it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Yes, Mr. Speaker, and thank you very much. I was going to get to that, but before I do I just want to point out that I was not privy to that deal. If I had been, I certainly would table the agreement.

Here is my question for my learned friend. Do you agree with the actions of your leader in this regard?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I remind the hon. parliamentary secretary to address his comments to the Chair.

The hon. member for Brandon--Souris.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would have to advise the member opposite that we were not available for the deal that was made with the NDP leader and Buzz Hargrove. We have yet to see it. All we have seen is a document that suggests there will be $4.6 billion. We have seen no plan behind it.

In response to the question, it was his Minister of Finance who stood in this House and presented the budget. He said to all Canadians, “This is the budget that Canadians want”. My thoughts are about the Minister of Finance; pardon me, not the Minister of Finance, because he did not know anything about the deal. Why would the Prime Minister go out and make a second deal?

If the government felt so comfortable and the Liberals knew their budget would pass as first presented, why did he feel he had to go out and make a second deal with the NDP? That is the real question. This is the question that is upsetting Canadians. How does a Minister of Finance stand in this House and defend a budget that he did not write?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know it has been a hard day for Conservatives given the developments pertaining to the member for Newmarket—Aurora, but that still does not explain how the member for Brandon—Souris is imagining and seeing things that are not real.

He has been spooked by something and it certainly should not be the open and transparent deal that occurred between the Liberal government and the New Democratic Party in the interests of making a better balanced budget for Canadians.

The member for Brandon—Souris will know that the deal which is fully available on paper in great detail is based on the principle of not accruing any deficit. It is about a balanced budget. It ensures a minimum of $2 billion going toward a contingency fund, that means money will go against the debt. It is about transferring money that was going for another corporate tax break, to the tune of $4.6 billion, and putting it into education, foreign aid, and pressing issues of importance to Canadians.

What part of that better balanced NDP budget does the member not like? Is it the lower tuition for students--

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Brandon—Souris.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is very true and all Canadians should know that this is not a Liberal budget; this is an NDP budget.

However, it is not what Canadians want or what more Canadians want, it is who was left out of this picture for $4.6 billion? There was not one word mentioned about agriculture or the lumber crisis in this new deal. There was not one word mentioned about enhancing and moving forward the spending in our armed forces. There was none of that. I would suggest that if the NDP can be bought for $4.6 billion, how much more could it have received?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Boulianne Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today on this bill and the budget in general with great interest. The Bloc Québécois opposes this bill. Our logic is quite simple. We opposed the budget right from the start, because it is incomplete and inadequate, and it does not defend the interests of Quebeckers.

However, Bill C-43 should have been the opportunity to make significant amendments to satisfy the interests of Quebec. This was not the case. Not only did the Liberal government refuse to make the recommended changes to EI but, as my colleague from Saint-Maurice—Champlain said earlier, it also refused to correct the fiscal imbalance. It even went so far as to add things that are completely unacceptable to Quebec, such as the agreements with Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. Furthermore, it has adopted the polluter-paid principle with regard to the Kyoto protocol. Clearly, this budget does not protect Quebec.

We can name at least five reasons to vote against Bill C-43 and against all potential corrections to the budget.

The fiscal imbalance is one major reason. Even the word makes the government afraid. It cannot even say it, so it is far from recognizing it. The budget contains no additional measures to loosen the financial stranglehold on Quebec. Ottawa refuses to acknowledge this problem. Anyone who follows the political debates in Quebec City at all can see the effect of this financial stranglehold on Quebec's development and evolution. There is nothing in the budget for this.

The same goes for the agreements on health and equalization. Once again, it is clearly not enough, at the very least, to pay down the deficit.

The problem is that there is a contradiction. The federal government has the financial means to do so much more. What is lacking is the political will, or else it is acting in bad faith and directing its interests elsewhere. It has the leeway. The Liberals have enough financial leeway to do much more. Now, there is talk of $50 billion over the next three years. This is a significant amount of money that could have been distributed to the regions to resolve the fiscal imbalance or, at the very least, alleviate it.

The second reason has to do with employment insurance, a topic we constantly come back to. A subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities called for a comprehensive reform. However, no improvement to employment insurance be can implemented immediately. The 2005 budget goes even further and prevents any improvement to the employment insurance system. That is the second reason Bill C-43, the Budget Implementation Act, 2005, or Bill C-48 resulting from the agreement reached with the NDP, cannot work.

There is a third major argument that we have always defended and will continue to defend: respect for jurisdictions. For some time now, regardless of what bill is being considered, the practice is to encroach on Quebec's powers.

On the issue of parental leave, an agreement was proposed. Simply put, Quebeckers' money would be returned to Quebec. It is like a circle. It has nothing to do with asymmetrical federalism.

The same goes for child care, as mentioned earlier. I think that, currently, five agreements have been reached. However, in Quebec, the child care agreement is still unclear. Even the Prime Minister promised to allocate federal money for child care with no strings attached. We are still waiting. Again, even though Quebec is a model in this matter, pan-Canadian standards are still applied as well as accountability. Respecting jurisdictions is a problem that is seen not just in these bills, but also in Liberal Party legislation in general.

In connection with the gasoline tax, there is another important piece of evidence involving the municipalities. It concerns the distribution among municipalities, a matter also clearly under Quebec's jurisdiction. Here again, interference is systematic.

The fourth reason concerns the Kyoto protocol. A number of people have spoken of it. It is a blank cheque for the major polluters. It is a failure of the Minister of the Environment. A voluntary approach is being proposed to the major polluters. Obviously, they will stick to that. The standards are not very strict or precise. There are a few, but they are within easy reach of these companies. This way, the objectives can be reached in part, but surely not the greenhouse gas emission reduction objectives.

Under the Kyoto protocol, the public assumes the financial burden, not the major polluters. The budget penalizes Quebec in connection with its progress, the infrastructures it has set up and the model it created under the Kyoto protocol.

Obviously, there are others. My colleague for Saint-Maurice—Champlain spoke of social housing. The federal government has totally ignored the repeated calls of the Bloc Québécois in response to social consensus in Quebec, where the needs are critical. Meanwhile, it invests, as we have mentioned several times, in sectors that are not priorities of Quebec or the people of Canada.

In terms of international aid, the government's commitment is very timid. However, it may be bumped up at some point in order to attract votes, as we saw with Darfur. It was a one time thing and served the interests of the Liberal Party.

There is no new money in the agriculture budget either. We will come back to the francophone community in Canada. Based on this bill it is impossible to say whether there has been any development in economic or infrastructure terms.

As far as Bill C-48 is concerned, a new bill has been introduced. It enables the Minister of Finance to make certain payments. This is the outcome of an agreement with the NDP on this matter, but proper scrutiny will show that the agreement in question has not been respected. We wonder how the NDP could have been so taken in, and yet still support this government. First of all, the government has not done what the NDP asked. It has not cancelled the corporate tax breaks. Second, new measures have even been presented in a new bill, which will not be effective.

Quite simply, we see this as just one more last minute addition to the true budget, which is why we were opposed to the budget. It is unacceptable to Quebeckers for the reasons I have already given: fiscal imbalance and employment insurance. They are thumbing their noses at everything Quebec has developed.

In conclusion, we will be voting against this bill, just as we voted against the federal budget in February, because once again it is ignoring the priorities of Quebeckers. We cannot therefore support this bill, and even less so its implementation. It is, in fact, obvious that this bill will have a negative effect on Quebec.

The federal government has, however, decided otherwise. It has decided to refuse to make any improvements to employment insurance and fiscal imbalance. Rest assured, we are going to vote against Bill C-43, that is, against the implementation of the budget and the budget itself.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, Correctional Service of Canada.

Message from the Senate
Government Orders

May 17th, 2005 / 4:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed certain bills, to which the concurrence of this House is desired.