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

Questions Passed as Orders for Return
Routine Proceedings

11:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker, (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Return
Routine Proceedings

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 140
Routine Proceedings

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

With respect to the Federal Economic Development Initiative in Northern Ontario (FedNor): ( a ) what was the global budget of FedNor and its programs from 1993 up to and including the present day; ( b ) how much of FedNor’s economic development funding and other funding it administers went to projects and initiatives in Northern Ontario from 1993 up to and including the present day; ( c ) how does FedNor define the boundaries of Northern Ontario and has this definition changed since 1993; ( d ) how many jobs were directly created in Northern Ontario, as well as other regions, by FedNor programs and other programs it administers from 1993 up to and including the present day; and ( e ) what is the complete list (by location) of all full-time employees and equivalents working for FedNor?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 140
Routine Proceedings

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Madam Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions by allowed to stand.

Question No. 140
Routine Proceedings

11:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Is that agreed?

Question No. 140
Routine Proceedings

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

11:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

The Speaker has received a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul. I invite the hon. member to state her request.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Madam Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 52, I seek leave to move a motion for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing North Dakota's intention to proceed with the Devils Lake diversion.

The member for Selkirk—Interlake, the whole Manitoba caucus, and the people of Manitoba are very concerned about this issue. It is feared that this diversion will have significant adverse environmental ramifications for water in Lake Winnipeg, which is already compromised with troubles of its own, the Red River and the Hudson's Bay watershed.

The Canadian government has claimed that an agreement has been reached which would delay the opening of the diversion. In fact, the real reason for the delay is because of wet weather and the high water levels of the Red River.

Madam Speaker, I know you will take this under advisement and I look forward to your reply.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

11:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

I thank the hon. member. The Speaker has asked me to convey to you that this request will be taken under advisement. He will return to the House later today to render his decision.

The House resumed from June 20 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 / 11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to take part in the debate that really boils down to what could only be described as a prop up NDP add-on budget to the Minister of Finance's original plans which included none of the back of the napkin spending spree that is outlined in this particular document.

The legislation was not dreamed up in the staid boardrooms of the finance department. It was cooked up in a hotel room between the Prime Minister and the leader of the NDP, high on his own new found power as a king maker.

In contrast, my colleague, the member of Parliament for Medicine Hat, has presented Canadians with an eloquently outlined and hopeful vision of how the Conservative Party would move Canada's finances forward. It would include a competitive and productive effort to bring Canada forward, striving for national potential with an invigorated, motivated youth who would have a place to work and participate in the economy, and having programs that were compassionate, forward looking and focussed on prosperity. As my colleague from Medicine Hat has said many times, a prosperous nation is a country that can generate wealth that can then be a generous nation.

We want to provide citizens with a better quality of life and Canadians should look to their government to be able to help them in that regard, to find a job anywhere in the country, and find a job in their home town should they stay and be with their families. What is more fundamental than being with your loved ones?

We want every young Canadian to have the ability to go to university without graduating with a huge debt that is the equivalent of a mortgage. We should be the most educated and most forward looking intellectual country in the world. We have the capacity to achieve that goal.

We want Canadians to be able to start a business if they want, to prosper in their communities, and to participate fully in the economy. Canadians want to succeed and Conservatives want to help them do just that because success should be celebrated. Holding Canadians back is what is happening under the current regime. It is holding Canadians back because of repressive and regressive tax structures. There are punishing payroll taxes. Having the basic personal exemption raised would remove many Canadians from the tax rolls altogether.

We want people to have quality health care. We want Canadians to have the assurances that they will be comfortable and taken care of in their retirement. Nobody is more responsible for the abysmal failure of our health care system than the current Prime Minister. In his capacity as finance minister, he presided over the country's finances for over 10 years, was responsible for brutal cuts that drastically led to the deterioration of health care in Canada.

Canadians want to have the ability to work within this current process. They want to work under the Canada Health Act but they clearly need to move in a direction of innovation. There clearly has to be greater input from the health care providers, the provinces and from those on the front lines of health care delivery.

We want to ensure that the tax structure is fair. Tax relief is very much about improving competition, improving the job market, and improving the ability of companies to employ thousands of Canadians. That was a priority because it appeared in the first budget, but this add-on budget very much neglects that element of the economy. We have too many hardworking, overtaxed Canadians who again are being held back.

Bill C-48 is but one page. It contains three clauses. It would spend $4.6 billion without any plan or detail. It would be an abysmal and irresponsible free-for-all spending orgy, like the sponsorship program, the long gun registry, and like the irresponsible and unaccountable spending in the HRDC department.

Bill C-48 is not a firm commitment. It will not even take effect for a year and a half if, I am quick to add, there is a surplus. It is a pie in the sky throne speech promissory note that will not take effect for at least a year and a half. The NDP clearly tried to exact as much as it possibly could from the government in its negotiations to prop it up. The NDP budget is something that will promote irresponsible spending without a plan.

Conservatives are behind the goals presented in the bill. We are behind better education, cleaning up our environment and ensuring adequate housing. We support helping poor nations as part of our commitment to the betterment of the global village. In terms of foreign aid as a percentage of our GDP, that is part of our platform for the coming election.

Let us not forget that it was a Conservative prime minister who was recently voted the greenest prime minister ever in the history of Canada by the Sierra Club and Elizabeth May.

As I said before, what we are opposed to is spending without a plan. This is what led to the problems we have seen in many of the programs that have gone out of control. We oppose raising expectations of individuals who assume naturally that a government would not make these commitments without having a concrete plan behind it.

Bill C-48 is a case in point. It is costly, insubstantial and it is a throwaway commitment that likely will never be met. The promises contained in the bill will only happen if there is a surplus.

Like the mythical story of Jack and the Magic Beans , I think the NDP is left with nothing more than a handful of beans, anything but a concrete commitment in terms of budgetary items.

Is there any possibility that the surplus will not be there and not be adequate to cover these expenditures? Well, time will tell. We are living in volatile times and the economy can take downturns, as we have seen, God forbid. We know the Liberals cannot resist this type of spending though. It burns holes in their pockets.

Since 1999-2000, program spending has gone from $109.6 billion to $158.1 billion, an increase of 44.3%. In contrast, the growth in our economy has been 31.6%, a compound annual growth rate of 5.6%. The economy is not keeping pace with the government's spending practices.

I spoke earlier about the tax implications. Trade is also a big implication. The dollar and the debt to GDP ratio and the interest on our debt that remains so high. The Liberals are dealing away their problems. They are throwing money at problems hoping they will go away. That is the case with health care, with law and order and with our military. This type of approach is not in the best interests of Canadians. It is not in keeping with fiscal management. It is not in keeping with accountability in this place.

The Conservative Party has a responsibility to rigorously examine these spending practices, and that is what we are doing. Despite the massive funding that is committed in Bill C-48, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness told my colleague from Yorkton—Melville that in 2004 the Canada Firearms Centre lost track of at least 46,000 licensed gun owners. This could have drastic consequences for police officers responding to a call where they believe no gun is present.

This is the type of inefficiency and waste in these types of programs that have ballooned in its spending and they do not work in the best interests of Canadians and take money away from other priority areas where it would have a more profound impact. It is about priorities.

With respect to national unity, let us take the sponsorship program where someone paid commissions to Liberal friendly ad agencies to promote unity. It was done through such means as putting up flags and banners but the money was then funnelled back to the Liberal Party through the sponsorship program. Well, as the former prime minister said, what is a few million when it comes to saving the country? How delusional and disingenuous.

This network of kickbacks, of money laundering and now the cover-up leaves Canadians with a very sordid image of government spending. However it is the Liberal Party. It is not Quebec and it is not all bureaucrats. It is the systemic corruption that runs through the Liberal Party that spawned the sponsorship scandal. It was a taxpayer funded program that was going for partisan purposes, mainly in the province of Quebec.

Let us just imagine the taxpayer funded lawyers working for the Department of Justice arguing that the current and former prime ministers should be completely exonerated of all responsibility for this disastrous program that is under criminal investigation. What happened to the mantra of “let Mr. Justice Gomery do his work?” That of course is a thing of the past when it comes to the partisan interests forwarded by our current Prime Minister. How disingenuous.

Clause 2 of Bill C-48 also deals with money for public transit and an energy retrofit program for low income housing. It talks about enhancing access to post-secondary education to benefit, among others, aboriginal Canadians. It talks about affordable housing and increased foreign aid. Those are all laudable goals, but again, no plan and many of them fall within provincial jurisdiction.

Where is the accountability? How will we ensure that the expenditures of this money are actually committed to? The lack of a plan, the expected results and the lack of details of delivery characterize the minority government. It is similar to the institutional day care plan that was promised by the government without any details. It does not fit the diversity of the country.

Bill C-48 would authorize the establishment of an absolutely out of control type of spending that the Conservative Party cannot support, which is why moved amendments that would have improved the process. Canadians deserve better than blank cheques. In its desperate attempts to cling to power, the government appears willing to do just about anything. Canadians need a blueprint for the future, and that is what the Conservative Party would provide.

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

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey North Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I want to ask the very distinguished member for Central Nova a couple of questions about agriculture and what impact Bill C-48 would have on it.

There is not a word about agriculture in Bill C-48. It has not been mentioned at a time when farmers are hurting the most. In the province of Nova Scotia, in which the member and I share ridings, farmers are the part of our society who are hurting the most and facing the most challenges. Some of them are faced with losing their farms, losing their incomes, losing their profession and losing their homes, and yet there is not a word in Bill C-48 about agriculture.

To make it worse, it has been announced that the Nappan Experimental Farm in my area, which farmers depend on for science and research on our unique soils and terrain, et cetera, will be closed. We have also learned that the government is planning to close the experimental farm in Kentville.

I wonder if the member could speak a bit to that and tell us what he thinks should be in Bill C-48 to help farmers and to help agriculture.

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

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, my colleague has worked very hard on this particular issue and, as usual, his diligence has paid off in that much of his digging has uncovered the government's secret plan to close many of these experimental research farms which do, as he said, provide vital research and vital information to farmers who are combating many challenging times in terms of plague and viruses affecting animals. We have seen the effects that can result from terrible afflictions, such as BSE, and the impact they have on the entire agriculture sector. However it goes beyond that. All resource sectors were ignored in this particular add on budget on the part of the NDP and the Liberals.

Agriculture, a vital sector of our economy that provides food and that provides so much in terms of employment, lifestyle and a basic way of life for Canadians, has been completely ignored in the priorities set out in Bill C-48.

In regard to the member's question, the government and the minister from the area have been completely disingenuous in suggesting that closing the experimental farm in Kentville was just an off the cuff suggestion from the department. This was a concrete plan to withdraw funding and to eventually close the research station in Kentville, just as my colleague has seen in his own riding with the Nappan Experimental Farm. Commitments were made, then commitments were withdrawn and that facility is slated to close. That is very disingenuous to Canadians and the agriculture sector that relies heavily on that facility for the important research that it needs.

It is like withdrawing money from education or health care. Agriculture is a stable part of the economy of Nova Scotia as it is throughout the country. However the government seems to be blind in its misspent priorities and its complete adherence to the one priority, which is to cling to power at all costs. The Liberals will make whatever deal they have to make with the NDP or others to cling to power at all costs in order to preserve a hold over the partisanship that allows them to make appointments and control the industries and the ministries.

The government is out of step with Canadians, out of step in its priorities and is certainly letting Canadians down, particularly in our area when it withdraws funding from important research centres like the one my colleague has mentioned.

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

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, let us recall that Bill C-48 comes at the expense of tax relief for corporations such as Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.

In my community of Windsor, Ontario, in the first quarter of 2005 we are down 6,000 jobs and unemployment is up to 9.4%. Many of these jobs were in the auto parts sector that supply our major OEMs, such as Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler. The tax relief for these corporations is very important to preserve jobs here in Canada, high paying jobs that support a quality of life through charitable giving and tax dollars.

Would my hon. colleague comment on why the NDP is abandoning auto workers at this particular time by getting rid of corporate tax cuts that would have helped Ford, Chrysler and General Motors stay in Canada?

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

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, it seems inconceivable to me that the NDP would be advocating such an approach because, as he said, of the importance of the jobs and the importance to the community for individuals who are working in unions and, in particular, in the auto sector. They need that company to thrive and prosper. If the company does well, then the employees do well. It seems very much out of step with reality.

What is most difficult to comprehend is that the Minister of Finance himself was so clearly committed to this in the original budget and then he swallowed himself whole. Ralph the wonder invisible dog swallowed himself whole and committed to letting the NDP set the stage for the budget which did away with the tax cuts that would have helped the auto industry, my colleague's constituents included, and instead abandoned all principle to cling to power. That is what it was about.