House of Commons Hansard #101 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Business of Supply
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

An hon. member

No.

The House resumed from May 17 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 18th, 2005 / 3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today. We look across the floor at a government that is corrupt and ruining our country's finances. We have seen this corruption exemplified by the Liberal ad scam, the $2 billion gun registry and the $1 billion boondoggle of HRDC. However, in the latest effort of the government in its NDP budget, we find a more egregious waste of tax dollars.

I suggest that perhaps the most outrageous example of hidden costs contained in the budget are found in its seemingly altruistic promise to bring in a government day care bureaucracy. Liberals are telling the Canadian people that they can bring in a government day care bureaucracy, applicable to every child, at the cost of $1 billion a year. In reality, we know the cost of this program is approximately 10 times that amount.

The government day care bureaucracy will impose a $10 billion a year burden on taxpayers and take away choices from women and families. I will demonstrate that today irrefutably with the evidence I have on my desk. However, better than that, I will bring hope to Canadians by proposing an alternative that gives choice to women and families. The Conservative Party and its leader believe in a woman's right to choose how to raise her children. That right we are prepared to defend on the floor of the House of Commons.

Let us start by demonstrating that the Liberals' plan is 10 times more costly than they are prepared to allow Canadian people to understand. Recall that the Liberals said that the gun registry would cost only $2 million. It is now 1,000 times over budget. We on this side of the House gave warnings, which were unheeded. Thus, today we have a $2 billion monstrosity that not only harasses duck hunters and farmers and takes choices away from them, but imposes greater burdens on taxpayers.

Likewise, we have before us the government day care bureaucracy. I will look at the evidence. The government tells us that the program will cost only $5 billion over five years, in other words, approximately $1 billion a year. However, let us look at the words of minister responsible for social development. I do not know if he realized that he was being recorded when he made this promise at a community event. He said:

And the nice thing about it all $5 billion over five years does not create a system. What it does is set things in motion.

He went on to say that the $5 billion would only be enough to create bits and pieces and fragments of a system. If it is going to cost $5 billion over five years to create bits and pieces and fragments, how much is it going to cost to make universal the government day care bureaucracy?

It is not just a rhetorical question. I have with me a list of organizations, most of them government funded, that support the day care bureaucracy proposed by the minister and the Liberal government. I have visited their research studies on the cost of the program. Remember that all these organizations are supportive of a government day care bureaucracy. Let me give an example of what they have said.

I have here a document from the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada. It indicates that the full cost of a government day care bureaucracy, the kind that the Liberals are proposing, is 1% of GDP. That does not sound like a lot, but that 1% is deceptively large. We are talking about $10 billion per year, not $1 billion as the government claim. This means there is a $9 billion black hole in the government's day care bureaucracy promise.

Where will the government get that $9 billion? It cannot merely be pulled out of thin air. It will have to be taken from the pockets of parents through higher taxes. A $9 billion obligation, whether it is borne partly by the provinces and partly by the federal government, there is only one source of revenue from which that $10 billion can come and that is out of the pockets of taxpayers. If the government claims otherwise, it has to demonstrate which other programs it is prepared to cut, health care perhaps, or whether it is willing to run a budgetary deficit.

However for the government to claim that it can bring in a universal day care bureaucracy for only $5 billion over five years is deceptive, as has been admitted by the minister responsible who says that $5 billion over five years “does not create a system”, and who then goes on to say that it will merely create bits and pieces.

The organization I quoted gave us this document entitled, “From patchwork to framework: A child care strategy for Canada”, which is the same strategy that the Liberal government is proposing. Actually the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada is very accurate because if we take the cost of the Quebec day care bureaucracy and calculate it over the size of the entire Canadian population, the cost would be in the neighbourhood of $10 billion.

We have evidence that the Liberal Party is trying to hide $9 billion worth of costs associated with its latest election promise. That is the Liberal hidden agenda on child care.

Now that we have addressed the enormous cost with which taxpayers will be faced by this Liberal day care bureaucracy, I would like to address an aspect of this issue that is even more troubling yet.

I have before me a quote that illustrates the very unfortunate attitude of the social development minister, the misogynistic attitude, the paternalistic attitude, the attitude that borders on sexism. I want to read this to the House. I was here when these words were stated on the floor of the House of Commons on February 15. He said:

A recent study, as was cited by the Vanier Institute of the Family, has found that most moms and dads with pre-school children would prefer that one parent stay home and take primary responsibility for raising the children. Again, that is not surprising. As parents we all feel guilty about the time we are not spending with our kids. However, if we asked the same group of people or any group of people if they would like to lose weight, 90% would say yes. If we asked them if they would like ice cream once a week and chocolate twice a day, about the same percentage would say the same. The question, as in all of these matters, is not what we would like to do, but what we will do, and what we do.

Let us review. The fact that the Vanier Institute demonstrated that the vast majority of parents prefer an at-home child care option over the day care bureaucracy could merely be explained away by feelings such as guilt and the desire of a parent to stay in the home with the child is akin to nothing more than a frivolous desire for ice cream or chocolate. That is the attitude that drives the Liberal commitment to this day care bureaucracy.

This is an outright contempt for a woman's right to choose how to raise her own children. The government would take away that choice by imposing higher taxes on families that make the sacrifice to keep a parent in the home or pursue another child care option.

We in this party pursue a more hopeful and choice driven option. We would put child care dollars right into the pockets of parents to let them decide how to raise their own children. We would work our way toward income splitting that takes away inequities that are imposed on families with a stay at home parent.

This is all in the interest of choice and economizing taxpayer dollars and I am proud to stand for these values.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by commenting on the Conservative member's speech which I found to be an attack on all families that are trying to juggle work and family responsibilities.

The member talked about patronizing, chauvinistic and sexist attitudes. Let me point out that is the member who is suggesting that this is a woman's problem, that this is a matter of choice for women, not a matter for families, for parents with children who are trying to do the very best for their children.

Let me ask a couple of questions of the member based on two aspects of this issue, the first one being economic.

The member likes to pretend that this is a lot of money going into a deep, dark hole and tries to gloss over the fact that the proposal by the Conservatives will cost a lot more than the perhaps $10 billion we are talking about today. If he is genuine in providing real choice for families, then he must actually acknowledge that his program will cost well over $40 billion a year if one includes the fact that he would have to provide tax breaks of such a magnitude that day care spaces can be built and created and parents can access them at a reasonable cost.

He also must factor in the lost revenue by virtue of the fact that many women will be forced to return to the home full time when they would like to be in the workforce contributing to our society, when they have made a choice to be both good parents and good contributors in terms of our paid labour force.

Let us not forget that for every $1 invested in child care in this country there is a $2 return for children who are growing in nurturing, caring environments under the care of professionals who have been trained to provide absolutely safe, secure, high quality care.

Finally, let me suggest to the member that he should stay calm for a moment and try to understand this issue. I doubt very much that he has had children and I want to speak from the point of view of someone who has had two children, who has benefited from the use of quality non-profit day care in the province of Manitoba, and who could not do this job if it were not for the fact that we have such high quality day care in the province of Manitoba.

For the member to stand in the House and suggest this idiosyncratic approach, this idiotic approach that giving money to families through taxes will magically create day care centres out of the blue that parents can access at reasonable cost, he is absolutely living in Technicolor. He ought to reassess his position and actually talk to some women, perhaps talk to women in his own caucus to get a full understanding of his approach and perhaps understand the reality of working women and working families in our society today.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I am saddened by the hon. member's extremely intolerant approach and the fact that she is suggesting that this is not an issue that affects women. She is suggesting that I was wrong to point out that this is a matter that is deeply concerning to women, particularly young women.

In my constituency I probably have the highest percentage of young families of any constituency in Canada. They are telling me that they do not want to pay higher taxes to afford a $10 billion day care bureaucracy. They are telling me that they would rather have the dollars put right into their pockets.

The hon. member asked about the cost of our program. Because our program puts dollars directly in the pockets of parents, we cut out all the bureaucracy. Second, it is easily calculated because the amount that we will put directly into the pockets of parents is merely multiplied by the number of children for whom that credit is provided. We can provide these dollars without bureaucracy and we can allow parents and women to decide for themselves how those dollars are spent.

The United Nations has recognized that the system of taxation that the government has in place is discriminatory because it does not recognize the economic and social value associated with stay at home parenting. The United Nations points out that it is an offence to basic human rights that the government taxes families with single incomes at a higher rate than families with dual incomes.

We would put an end to that human rights violation. We would put child care dollars directly into parents' pockets and let women and families decide for themselves. I am proud to say that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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3:50 p.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Social Development (Social Economy)

Madam Speaker, before I proceed I want to put it on the record that what the hon. member is referring to is a $300 tax break but he forgets that we also have a national child tax benefit that is provided to all families. The party seems to somehow forget that. In any case, I will get to that in my speech.

I also want to ask the hon. member, perhaps when he asks me a question, why the hon. member for Edmonton--Spruce Grove said that her party will honour all the agreements that we have signed with the five provinces.

I will begin my speech first by emphasizing this government's commitment to early learning and child care. We are not only talking about child care. We are talking about a national system of early learning, our commitment to seniors and our commitment to unpaid caregivers. Each has been identified as key priorities in the budget 2005.

We know that a healthy social and economic environment leads to healthy communities and ultimately to an improved quality of life. On this note, allow me to also outline our advances in the area of the social economy, which is my specific area of responsibility.

The social economy is made up of all entrepreneurs and non-profit corporations. These enterprises produce goods and services for the market economy, but they manage their operations with a view to redirecting their profits in pursuit of social and community goals; basically, they are reinvesting their surpluses in the community.

These businesses use their skills and services for social goals, whether it is protecting the environment, revitalizing neighbourhoods or helping disadvantaged groups reach their full potential.

The Government of Canada is determined to foster the social economy in all its diverse forms so that it becomes a key component of Canada's social policy tool kit. May I say that in Quebec, the province in which I was elected and in which I have spent most of my life, some of the day cares are run under the auspices of something called the social economy.

This government has made a commitment to inject $132 million over five years in the social economy, to support financial initiatives to increase lending to social economy enterprises, reinforce the capacity of community organizations involved in economic development, support community based research on the social economy, and improve the access of social enterprises to programs and services for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Just last month I announced, together with my colleague, the hon. Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, the key measures that will be implemented in Quebec to promote the social economy and contribute to the success of the enterprises operating in Quebec. These measures will include $5.1 million over two years for capacity building, and $30 million over five years for the Social Economy Patient Capital Fund.

These measures will enable the social economy to reach its potential and they will benefit all Canadians. We must invest dollars now if we wish to secure a healthy social economy for Canada's future.

This government has always focused on the priorities that are important to all Canadians: our children, our youth, our cities and communities, and the health and well-being of all Canadians. Our record of balanced budgets proves this. The budget and its accompanying bill once again prove this. The Liberal government has always and will always put Canadians first, and it also puts a united Canada first.

I would just like to make it clear to certain members of this House in connection with this budget and the accompanying bill that it is good for Quebec, good for Canada, and good for all Canadians.

Our vision of Canada on this side of the House has always encompassed all the provinces, all the territories, all Canadians, and Quebec. We have always believed, and continue to believe, in a united Canada.

The Liberal government's record has always demonstrated our commitment to all Canadians. This budget and the accompanying bill reinforce that commitment. I see that in my own riding of Ahuntsic.

Human Resources and Skills Development has announced $215,000 for older worker pilot projects, which includes the textile and garment workers. There has been $275,000 from the Department of Labour for the supported communities partnership initiative, and another nearly $100,000 for three agencies in my riding of Ahuntsic from the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

The Liberal government has made a commitment to our children, our young people, our cities and communities, and we keep our commitments. This budget and the accompanying bill respect and reinforce our commitments. They deliver the goods to all Canadians.

I am sure we will all agree that our children are this country's most precious resource and that they deserve early learning experiences that will point them toward a positive and successful future.

I assure the House once again that this government's heart is in the right place when it comes to family. We actually give real choices to families. That is why the Government of Canada made children a priority in the budget. We cannot and must not let them down.

Budget 2005 will provide $5 billion over five years for an early learning and child care national program. The impact of this $5 billion will vary across the country depending on the priorities identified by each province and territory.

I am very proud to say that in the province of Quebec, as always on other important issues in the country, we already have a system in place. I want to tell the hon. member who preceded me that in fact I was also a working mother. When I was elected, my children were a year and a half and three and a half years old. They had nine months with their mother, two years with their grandmother and the rest of the time in day care until they entered kindergarten and school. I have known the benefits of all three systems. I still believe that for those working mothers there is a great need in this country to have an accessible universal day care and early learning system.

We already have agreements in principle with five provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia. Others are slated for signature with the other provinces and territories in coming weeks.

We must not confuse child tax deductions with child care, as did the hon. member who preceded me, along with other members of his party.

This government made a commitment to build a national early learning and child care system, one that will not in any way infringe on parental rights or choices. Rather, the goal of this initiative is to ensure consistency and quality in the delivery of early learning and child care.

Aboriginal children, too, will benefit from a national early learning and child care initiative. The Government of Canada already has committed $45 million over four years in the 2003-04 budget to enhance the established federal aboriginal head start on reserve program and first nations and Inuit child care programs.

Budget 2005 will provide an additional $100 million over four years to further enhance these programs, with an emphasis on quality early learning and child care for first nations children living on reserve.

Our government has not forgotten its commitment to seniors either. We want to give them an income supplement and care when these are needed. This is one of the ways the government plans to strengthen the social foundations of this country.

Budget 2005 contains a number of initiatives designed to address the needs of today's seniors and the aging population that will follow in their footsteps. To help address the immediate needs of low income seniors, the government will increase the guaranteed income supplement, the allowance and survivor's allowance by 7%.

Starting January 1, 2006, the guaranteed income supplement will increase by $18 a month for single recipients and by $29 a month for couples. Those rates will increase by the same amount again on January 1, 2007, putting an extra $432 a year in the pockets of single seniors and an extra $700 a year for couples. Over 1.6 million seniors who currently receive the GIS will benefit from this increase and up to 50,000 more seniors will qualify for partial GIS benefits.

The government also wants to help those seniors who are financially able to plan better for their future. Budget 2005 will raise the annual contribution limit for registered retirement savings plans to $22,000 by 2010 and will increase corresponding employer sponsored registered pension plans.

Although I have more to say, my time is up, but let me note that funding for the new horizons program for seniors, which I had the pleasure of announcing in my riding with the minister responsible, will grow to $10 million in 2006-07 and $15 million in 2007-08 and subsequent years, bringing the annual budget to $25 million.

I will conclude by saying there is nothing more important than the adoption of this budget. If the opposition members in fact care about children, seniors and our environment, then I encourage them to support Bill C-43.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened attentively to my hon. colleague from Ahuntsic. I would say to her that I am very involved in social economy, and my question concerns it.

I was the chair of the social economy committee in my riding in the region of Rouyn-Noranda at the time of the Chantier Défi-Emploi. We had a social economy table to promote enterprises of this type and develop them. They are very important in regions such as ours and have made considerable advances in recent years.

However, we kept running into the problem of funds for starting up or supporting social economy enterprises. In the budget we will be opposing, there is no provision for helping establish or start up social economy enterprises, which need such funds. Reference is made to a capitalization fund. Such a fund would help provide capital for a business already up and running, needing just a little help to make it.

So, my question is as follows: why does the budget contain no provision for a start up fund for social economy enterprises?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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4 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a good question. The hon. member might look at the announcement we made a few weeks ago. There were two parts to it: one concerns a fund and the other, pilot projects. The aim of the pilot projects is in fact to get new enterprises up and running.

Once again, congratulations go to Quebec. In social economics terms, it is in the lead. The social economy has existed there for 20 years. This is the first time the Canadian government has wanted to invest in a sector of economic development that is very important to Quebec's regional development. I am very proud we delivered that at Economic Development Canada.

I would like to know why the Bloc Québécois did not support the bill for Canada's economic development and why it is not supporting the budget, since they do have an interest in advancing the social economy?

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4 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to talk about choices and child care. Home schooling is very popular back home in my riding of Essex, as it is in Ottawa.

Home schooling parents in Canada will be paying high taxes to build what will eventually be a $10 billion per year Liberal child care and early learning system. What benefit will they get from this system?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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4 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

First of all, Madam Speaker, that figure of $10 billion is a figure that the hon. members are throwing around. We are talking about putting together a national system of early learning, and they keep forgetting the early learning part of it; it is early learning and child care.

As far as families are concerned, I did mention in my opening remarks that what those members are proposing is a $300 tax break when the cost of day care is $8,000. Second, I did underline the fact that there is a national tax benefit which benefits families with children, something that those hon. members always forget to mention whenever they are making their remarks.

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4 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member, who is very familiar with this program, being the parliamentary secretary to the minister. It is also, from what I understand, a good investment economically. I believe that David Dodge, the governor of the Bank of Canada, and Charles Coffey, vice-president of the Royal Bank of Canada, are on the record as saying that this is a good investment in the future of our country and our economy.

In fact, there is a return of I believe $2 for every $1 invested in early learning and child care, as later in life these children are successful in high school and in the workplace. Could she talk a little about that economic investment and how important it is to this country?

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4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, I agree wholeheartedly with what the hon. member has said. In fact, there are economic rewards in terms of setting up this system. I used the example of Quebec. In Quebec a lot of small enterprises are day care centres and employ teachers or other child care workers within that system. I have two children who were in that system and they benefited enormously in terms of what they learned.

As I said, and I want to underline this, we are creating a system, not what the hon. members of Her Majesty's loyal opposition are suggesting, which is just giving tax breaks. I thank the hon. member for putting that on the record too.

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4:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, as I rise to speak on the budget bill I wish to congratulate Carole James, who is the leader of the B.C. New Democratic Party, for her tremendous breakthrough yesterday with over 40% of the vote in British Columbia. I would also like to congratulate the new member of the legislative assembly for New Westminster, Mr. Chuck Puchmayr and the new member of the legislative assembly for Burnaby-Edmonds, Mr. Raj Chouhan, for their clear victories in that election yesterday.

I mention my communities because the context of this budget discussion is extremely important. When we arrived on the Hill last fall, we were dealing with a series of crises that have not been addressed for over a decade. We are talking about a crisis in homelessness where there are increasing numbers of homeless across the country. In my region of the lower mainland we have tripled the number of homeless at a time when we are reaping record corporate profits.

We have an increase in child poverty. As we saw last fall, we are now looking at over 1.1 million poor children in Canada which should be a source of national shame.

When we talk about the education system, I met, when I knocked on over 6,000 doors in the election campaign last year, dozens of young people who could not go into post-secondary education because of tuition fee increases. Not being able to go into post-secondary education is not just something that affects those families, it affects the entire community. It affects the entire nation when young people cannot go on to post-secondary studies because they are cut off. Increasingly post-secondary studies are for the wealthy.

We have also seen the environment deteriorating. There was a the Kyoto plan to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. We have actually seen an increase of 20% in greenhouse gas emissions.

That is the context in the community for the budget bill that was originally presented earlier this spring. This budget bill as we all know, presented as one of its foremost planks corporate tax cuts of $4.6 billion. We had just gone through an election campaign and there had been promises made and commitments made as they had been in previous elections by the Liberal Party, and indeed by the Conservative Party, to address some of these issues.

One of the fundamental aspects of the bill was corporate tax cuts of $4.6 billion and to my surprise, we saw the Conservative opposition actually supporting this kind of budget mismanagement. Some $4.6 billion shovelled out the door to the corporate sector that is currently experiencing record profits and the Conservatives did not say a single word.

That is the context for the NDP budget amendment, Bill C-48, which now makes Bill C-43 much more responsive to what we are actually seeing in communities across the country. I understand the Conservative opposition is going to oppose this because the Leader of the Opposition actually stated a couple of weeks ago he did not want to listen to what the MPs were hearing from their ridings and the public. Indeed, he said he would disregard those comments when it came to forcing an election.

However, in reality Canadians have had over the past 10 to 12 years a deterioration in their quality of life. The original budget did not address in a meaningful way all of those substantive issues that needed to be addressed.

The NDP pushed the Liberal government and negotiated effectively with it in order to bring in budget amendments that finally dealt with those issues. There is $1.6 billion in investment to finally start dealing with the housing crisis and the homelessness crisis that is growing, particularly in British Columbia. It was an issue in the provincial campaign and led to the substantial breakthrough that I mentioned earlier.

There is $1.5 billion to deal with the post-secondary education crisis to finally start lowering tuition fees, so that more young people and more adults can access training, post-secondary education, and those things that should be a right of all Canadians, and also in that way contribute to our economy and communities.

There is $900 million for the environment, finally providing back to cities support for rapid transit which is something extremely important if we are going to deal with the environmental crises and the environmental issues that we face.

At a time when we must be seeking more stability around this planet, there is $500 million in foreign aid, so that Canada starts to meet its commitment for foreign aid to address the appalling poverty that people around the world and that children around the world are facing.

We know that today, in this 24 hour period, 29,000 children will die of starvation and disease. These are preventable deaths, but they die these horrible deaths in part because there is not sufficient foreign aid to address the grinding and horrible poverty in which they live. The NDP budget amendment, Bill C-48, that now takes Bill C-43 and makes it a better balanced budget, addresses that in talking about $500 million in foreign aid.

What has been the response to these issues and the fact that the NDP has stood up on these issues that for so long have not been addressed? I would like to read into the record some of the comments. From the chair of the Canadian Urban Transit Association:

This move shows true leadership in making transit a focal point for sustainable urban development.

From the chair of the National Coalition on Housing and Homelessness:

Thank goodness reason prevailed. Canadians need to see real progress on social housing. We don't need another time out for an election. This revised budget should be passed.

From the president of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation:

With this deal, the NDP has pushed the Liberals closer to meeting Canada's international aid obligations.

From the Canadian Federation of Students:

The [Liberal-NDP] deal ensures that the funding will be available for provinces who are willing to take steps to make post-secondary education more accessible to low- and middle-income families.

From the Sierra Club of Canada:

There is no more time for politics on this issue. All parties must work together and for now that means passing the budget and getting action underway.

These are the kinds of comments that are being voiced in communities and main streets across Canada from coast to coast to coast. This budget now, because of the NDP amendment, finally addresses urgent needs that Canadians are facing.

The question we must ask ourselves is this. Given that the issues of education, homelessness, with numbers on the rise unfortunately, and the environment are being addressed, why do the Bloc Québécois members object to a measure that moves forward on things that Quebeckers need so much? Several elements of Bill C-48 are designed to improve people's the quality of life. That is not insignificant; it is important. I know that the Bloc Québécois shares these values.

This is incomprehensible to me, given that we are trying to introduce improvements. Granted, not all needs are covered. But there are only 19 NDP members. Had there been more of us, we might have been able to do more. Nevertheless, this budget is a definite improvement that will make a difference for Quebec, with $1 billion over two years. It will make a difference for Montreal and for public transit, as $20 million is earmarked for that. That is not insignificant. These are important elements.

I mentioned that, with 19 members, we had nevertheless managed to make considerable advances on issues of concern to people in the regions of Canada. We will continue to work in that fashion, to improve legislation in the House of Commons to ensure that Canadians can benefit from it.

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4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Madam Speaker, it is a distinct pleasure to speak to the comments raised by the NDP member. I come from the province of Saskatchewan and I can tell members I have some concerns with this budget bill that the NDP has arranged with the Liberals.

I know NDPers wake up in the morning along with a lot of socialist friends in the Liberal Party and ask, “How do we regulate people more? How do we interfere more and more in the day-to-day lives of Canadians? How do we tax them more? How do we get them under our thumb so they have to come, cap in hand, looking for subsidies or something?” That is the way they envision society.

In 1944 a Baptist premier was elected in Saskatchewan who said, “I'll take care of you people”. A few years earlier another Baptist minister from Saskatchewan moved to Alberta. He became a premier in 1944 and he had a totally different message. His attitude was, “Let's be fair with business. Let's have fair tax policies. Let's encourage entrepreneurship, investment and things along that line”.

Saskatchewan had 1,250,000 people in 1944. How many does it have today? It has 940,000 people. Alberta had 700,000 in 1944. How many does it have today? It has 3 million. Saskatchewan has the second largest out-migration of 22 year olds in this country. Where are they going? They are going to Alberta. They are doing that by choice. If we want a damning indictment of NDP policies and the effect they have on society, we have to look no further than Saskatchewan.

However, I do have a question for the member. When the champagne socialist leader got together with the leader of the Liberals and Buzz Hargrove in their five star hotel in Toronto, why did they not strike a deal to address a serious injustice in Saskatchewan and the unfair treatment of Saskatchewan in terms of equalization?

The province of Saskatchewan is simply getting, and I had better not use that language. The equalization formula is abhorrent for that province. It discourages real true economic development in that province. That province actually gets poorer by trying to develop its resources. I am ashamed that the NDP leader, in making his budget deal with this shameful outfit, did not address that issue and I would like an explanation.

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4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, the member referred, I thought somewhat derogatorily, to a Baptist minister from Saskatchewan who recently, with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, was voted the greatest Canadian of all time, bar none. After the most extensive voting process in Canada's history, people chose Tommy Douglas as the greatest Canadian of all time.

I know, having been to Saskatchewan often, that the people of Saskatchewan are extremely proud of that heritage, and extremely proud to have founded the first medicare system that was brought in right across the country because of the efforts of Tommy Douglas. They are extremely proud of the incredible work of the administrations of the CCF and the NDP that brought a province into the modern age in the most effective way possible.

So, for that member to speak derogatorily about someone who is not only dear to the hearts of people from across Saskatchewan but indeed the greatest Canadian, as voted by Canadians, I find somewhat perplexing.

However, I do want to touch on another point. He referred to fiscal management. As the member should know, and I am sure he does not because there seems to be some difficulty with financial literacy within that caucus, there was a study done of a 20 year period, comparing Conservative, Liberal, Parti Québécois, Social Credit and NDP administrations across this country from 1981 to 2001. It would be no surprise to the member that the worst fiscal managers, from the actual fiscal period returns, were actually the Liberals. Some 85% of Liberal fiscal returns were actually in deficit. The second worst were the Conservatives, where 66% of the fiscal period returns, not the budgets, were in deficit. The best record belonged to the New Democrats, where most of the time, when we projected surpluses, we achieved them and we did them without harming people and by building provinces where every one mattered.