House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lake.

Topics

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as the experienced member knows, we are not allow to use gimmicks in the House. I am sure he will apologize to the House when he gets up for his answer.

Let us just recap, for those who were not here yesterday. As members will remember, yesterday morning the Conservatives embarrassed themselves by not having anyone who could discuss the bill. In the afternoon a member made an excellent presentation on affordable housing. However, the rest of the members were using the same speech from the researchers, with the exact same sentences and words. It looks like they are starting down the same path today by not speaking about the bill.

He mentioned 10 topics and none had anything to do with the bill. However, perhaps the member could comment on the elements of the bill. I know it is very difficult. I have sympathy for the members opposite. Their party is the only one in the House that could possibly argue against transit, or clean air for Canadians, or foreign aid for those in need in other nations, or assistance for children who cannot get even one full meal a day, or affordable housing so other people in Canada can have a chance to have a house for their families like the rest of us and or post-secondary education, especially for aboriginal people who may not have that opportunity.

Could the member comment on one or four of the elements in the bill?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the three or four areas of spending that appear in Bill C-48 as a result of the hotel room deal that was made with Buzz Hargrove and the NDP may have some merit in the essence of them, but there is no defined commitment or detail on where the money will go.

The government and the member for Yukon are basically asking us to accept that the ministers would be given a blank cheque of $4.5 billion to develop some programs on whatever the flavour of the day might be. Business is not done that way. If they thought those programs were so important, then they should have been included in the original budget. When the finance minister was creating the 2005-06 budget, which became Bill C-43, those items should have been included in it and defined in a way that would show how the money would be spent and what the results of that spending would be. Then it could have been sent to the finance committee for debate and amendments rather than trying to ram Bill C-48 through the House as a result of a deal made on the back of a napkin with people who are not even politicians. This deal was made with the NDP to help the Liberals keep their sinking government ship afloat.

There is a procedure to introduce spending in the House and it must be accompanied by a defined plan on how the money will be spent and how it will be accounted. That is not present in Bill C-48. We will never support a bill like that in the House. It is absolutely irresponsible. The Conservative Party is not an irresponsible party. We are responsible and we will show that when we form the government in the next election.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are insisting that something is missing out of Bill C-48. They are insisting there is no indication in the bill as to how the money would be spent. If those members would be honest and upfront with Canadians, they would tell them the truth. The approach used in Bill C-48 is the same approach in each and every budget. It is written down in a general way where the money will go, but we do not get all the specifics.

Just for once those members should try to be honest with Canadians.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I implore the Liberals to be transparent with Canadians, to be accountable to Canadians, to be honest with Canadians when they put spending amounts forward in the form of legislation. Bill C-48 contains nothing of that. The Conservative Party and I will not vote in support of it, ever.

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:25 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 this evening's proceedings pursuant to Standing Order 52 and I believe you will find consent for the following motion. I move:

That during today's proceedings pursuant to Standing Order 52, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be entertained by the Speaker.

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-48, an Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

June 21st, 2005 / 3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to take just a minute to speak on Bill C-48.

Contrary to what the opposition has been claiming, this is not the budget. The budget per se of course is a document that is read in the House and tabled under a ways and means motion. We then have a list of companion bills to implement the overall thrust of the budget.

The first one, the main budget bill, was Bill C-43. It was adopted and sent to the other place. Now we have the second, the companion bill, pursuant to an agreement that was made between two parties of the House, and which I must say in my opinion improves upon the document that was there already. It delivers additional benefits to Canadians.

It does not rewrite the budget. It is not a new budget. It is nothing of the sort. That is simply nonsense. If we did all that, if it was an overall change of the kind described by the Conservatives across the way, we certainly would not be affecting only a small fraction of the budget.

Let us get a few facts straight, because we are a little short on facts today. That is mainly due to the fact that too many Conservatives have spoken and not enough Liberals. That would provide a shortage of facts. This is definitely too heavily weighted on the Conservative side.

Let me bring a few things in balance which might assist the House, hopefully convince the Conservatives of the error of their ways, and perhaps even convince them to vote for Bill C-48.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

An hon. member

Oh, oh!

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

I hear the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke heckling. I was writing my memoirs and reminding myself of the day that I went to make an announcement in Haley Station in her riding. The evening before, my staff gave advance information to the hon. member. Instead of respecting the usual rules of confidentiality, she leaked the whole thing to the media, trying to grab a few of the headlines, and even invented for herself some praise as to how she had influenced the process.

The story gets a little bit funnier, because a little later after the announcement was made we returned to the House and the hon. member's seatmate was standing right beside her questioning the same program that she had been praising in her own riding just a few minutes before, namely, the technology partnership program. Thus, we had an Alliance MP, now called Conservative, which is the same thing anyway, standing in the House telling the Prime Minister that, first, it was terrible that we had the technology partnership program and, second, that it assisted companies like Bombardier.

Meanwhile, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, still wearing egg on her face from what she had just done, was sitting right beside the member and it was obviously unbeknownst to her that her colleague was criticizing the program that not only was she complimenting but was taking credit for bringing to her own constituency.

That tells us of the Conservatives' inconsistency and how they can be wrong about good Liberal programs. In that case, and it is a rare exception, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke was right in praising the program. She was wrong in taking credit for it, of course, and we all know that, but she at least was on the right track in that regard.

In any event, let us get back to the fiscal and economic facts of Canada. It is important for us to note that under this very competent Liberal government we have had eight consecutive budgetary surpluses, reducing our federal debt by $61 billion.

The House would no doubt want to know how many times the previous Conservative government had a balanced budget and a budgetary surplus. How about zero for the previous Conservative government? It never had a balanced budget, not even once, let alone the repayment of old debt. More than half of the accumulated debt of this country was generated between 1984 and 1993 when I sat on the opposition benches there, watching the Conservative government of the day.

Canada was the only G-7 nation to record a surplus in 2004. You would know that, Mr. Speaker, being the independent, objective person that you are. Canada is the only G-7 country expected to remain in surplus in 2005-06, that is, with the passage of Bill C-43 and Bill C-48, we will be the only G-7 country to be in a surplus.

I remind the House of what I said a few moments ago about the Conservative years. That is the reality. They can try to spin it every which way they like, but it does not change facts.

Let me get to some other facts here. The debt to GDP ratio of this country, that is, the debt to gross domestic product ratio, is now 41%. Shortly after we took power it had risen to 68%. It went from the second highest in the G-7 to now the lowest debt to GDP ratio, thanks to the Liberal government that we have now. The hon. members across the way obviously did not know of this when they said they were against Bill C-48. Perhaps listening to these clarifications will make them change their minds.

Furthermore, there are tax cuts of $100 billion for Canadians. The Conservative members do not mention this, of course.

We could talk about corporate taxes, which are in many ways more advantageous here than in the States. The Economist says that, in terms of a political environment attractive to investment, Canada is second in the world behind Denmark and ahead of the United States. This is an achievement of our government.

The members opposite do not mention this. They might do well to listen. Better yet, I have statistics that might convince a reasonable person who thought otherwise. This might leave out some of the members opposite, as they are not always reasonable.

We have increased our commitment to health care. There is a lot of discussion about that. We made $63 billion available in support to the provinces for health care between 2000-01 and 2007-08. We provided more money for the child tax credit. We improved the Canada pension plan by investing funds and by creating the regulatory framework that everyone is familiar with.

We have invested. A little earlier today, one Conservative member was speaking about investing, a member for whom I have a lot of respect and who is usually knowledgeable on issues involving research and so on. I am sorry, but I forget the name of his riding. He talked about not investing enough in research and innovation.

I do not know how much is enough, but we have invested $13 billion in research and innovation, turning Canadian universities and research centres into world leaders, including, for instance, the synchrotron in the province of Saskatchewan, which I had the pleasure of visiting during my last days as a minister. I guess time flies; it is a year and a half now since I have had such a function.

Let us end by talking about unemployment. The Canadian economy created 35,000 jobs last month alone. There is 6.8% unemployment now in Canada, compared to 11.2% when we took power, and three million more Canadians are working today than when we were elected. I will be leaving in the next election, but I will be proud that three million more Canadians are working since I crossed from the opposite side of the floor to this one.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister spoke in this House when he was talking about his budget. He said he had consulted many Canadians and had arrived at a balanced budget. In fact, when the Leader of the Opposition spoke to him to see if he would make any changes to the budget, he said only technical changes, not substantial changes.

Yet when the government was faced with a non-confidence vote, it was prepared to spend $4.6 billion to buy the support of the NDP members, simply for the purpose of staying in government. In addition to this, we found that constitutionally when a motion of confidence is raised in this House, directly or indirectly, there is an obligation on the Prime Minister to call a non-confidence vote of his own. For a week, without any constitutional authority to continue to govern in this House, in my mind, he used the levers of power and the levers of government to buy additional votes simply to stay in power.

Furthermore, the member has indicated that he has visited Saskatchewan. He should have visited Saskatchewan more recently, when there were 49 auction sales in my constituency and 179 auction sales in Saskatchewan. Farmers are going through the greatest crisis of their lifetimes. Husbands and wives and sons and daughters are working to try to survive on the farm. It is the greatest crisis they have ever faced.

Meanwhile, this government is throwing around $4.6 billion. It is making a deal with the NDP and spending $4.6 billion but with nothing for the farmers of Saskatchewan in that deal when they are in the greatest crisis of their lives. Why is that?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I sympathize very much with the plight of farmers, both in the constituency that I represent and the hon. member's riding.

I do not think the hon. member was here in the previous Parliament, or perhaps he was, when a number of us worked together in the hay west campaign to assist people in another part of the country. The member may remember my involvement in that campaign. The Saskatchewan federation of municipalities gave me recognition in that regard and I appreciated it very much.

On the issue of assistance to farmers, the hon. member will know, of course, that although it is not part of the companion document, it was part of the other one. The hon. member will know that.