House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-48.

Topics

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion which was agreed to on the following division:)

Extension of Sitting Period
Government Orders

8:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

Devils Lake Diversion Project
Routine Proceedings

8:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties. I believe that you would find consent for me to move, with three seconders, the following motion concerning the Devils Lake diversion. I move:

That this House unanimously request the United States to immediately agree to undertake an independent, time-limited, binational scientific assessment of North Dakota's proposed Devils Lake diversion in a manner that is consistent with the Boundary Waters Treaty and the role of the International Joint Commission and that, pending completion of this assessment and implementation of measures to mitigate risks of invasive species and to water quality, the outlet would not operate.

Devils Lake Diversion Project
Routine Proceedings

8:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. Does the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Devils Lake Diversion Project
Routine Proceedings

8:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Devils Lake Diversion Project
Routine Proceedings

8:45 p.m.

The Speaker

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

Devils Lake Diversion Project
Routine Proceedings

8:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed from June 22 consideration of the motion that Bill C-48, an act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

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

June 23rd, 2005 / 8:50 p.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood
Ontario

Liberal

John McKay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I think this is the fourth or fifth time that I have spoken on this bill. Apparently the message is not getting through.

The merits of this bill are self-evident. This bill anticipates the spending of something in the order of $4.5 billion in four key areas previously identified by the government where investments of great significance have already been made, namely, affordable housing, post-secondary education, foreign aid and the environment.

Mr. Speaker, I know of your interest in all of these areas, particularly affordable housing. That is an area of investment that currently receives in the order of $1.9 billion on an annual basis. That investment houses something in the order of 640,000 families who are given shelter by virtue of the investment by the Government of Canada on an annual basis of $1.9 billion. This bill proposes to add an additional $1.6 billion to that base funding of $1.9 billion, which in and of itself should contribute to housing many more families.

I know members opposite criticized this bill on account of the fact that it does not specify which house, city or community the money is supposed to go to. I point out to members opposite and those who may be listening that this money is allocated in the same fashion as would any other moneys in any other budget document. I suggest that the level of detail proposed by motions that have been put forward on the floor previously generally do not get incorporated into a budget or a budget implementation bill.

It is rather interesting because in the area of affordable housing once the government turned the ship of state around and broke the back of the deficit, one of the first investments by the government was in the area of affordable housing. I know the area of homelessness was of great interest in particular to those of us in urban ridings. In my case, the riding of Scarborough—Guildwood is at the eastern most part of Toronto. At one point it was the entranceway to Toronto until Highway 401 was built. As a consequence, there are quite a number of motels along Kingston Road. Along the same road, we were sheltering a number of families in housing which frankly was unacceptable.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House that I will be splitting my time with the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek.

The moneys that were allocated through the supporting communities partnership initiative, otherwise known as SCPI, have been extremely important to my riding and indeed I know to quite a number of other ridings. They have in fact addressed the issue of affordable housing for homeless people or people who are near homeless. That has resulted in 1,400 homeless people in my riding being reduced to 75 over the course of a number of years, which means now only about 75 people are seeking shelter on a night by night basis as opposed to 1,400. Bill C-48 builds on initiatives such as that.

I know as well, Mr. Speaker, that you are interested in post-secondary education. It is near and dear to your heart because you come from Kingston, which of course is home to the university from which you and I graduated, namely Queen's University. These moneys, the $1.5 billion contemplated in Bill C-48, will be addressed to making that university, along with all of the other great universities in Canada, more accessible to students, so that students may enjoy the benefits of higher education.

As members know, the life and well-being of people who actually seek and obtain higher education is greatly enhanced by post-secondary education and training. I anticipate that these moneys, the $1.5 billion, will be added to the $15.5 billion that the Government of Canada currently puts into post-secondary education and other social grants and programs.

That money is roughly divided evenly between cash and tax points. This will be a significant infusion of cash into that field. As I say, those students at Queen's and other universities around our country will enjoy the benefits of this significant investment, building on the previous investments of the Government of Canada.

I know as well, as do all members, that the environment is something that Canadians probably rank if not first now, certainly second, vis-à-vis health care. Health care and the environment are linked, as the hon. member for Peterborough indicated. We cannot really separate the two. We cannot have good health unless we have a good environment, so I would anticipate that again, members opposite would be very supportive of $900 million that is contemplated as an investment in Bill C-48.

We anticipate that this will build upon the $1 billion over five years in the clean air fund, the $250 million that is in the partnership fund, the $225 million over five years which will quadruple the number of homes retrofitted under the EnerGuide program, the $200 million for the windpower initiatives, $300 million contemplated in Bill C-43 for the green municipal fund, and an equivalent of $5 billion over five years out of the federal gas tax revenues.

All of those are initiatives that have been taken in Bill C-43, the original budget, along with previous budgets have been put forward by the government, voted upon by the House, and have been found by Canadians to be a very acceptable and useful way in which to deploy tax dollars.

The other area where an investment is contemplated is foreign aid. Bill C-48 anticipates something in the order of an additional investment of $500 million in international assistance. Canada's recently released international policy statement put out by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for CIDA sets out a vision for Canada and its role in the world. This new international policy framework delivers on the government's commitment to invest in the international role which builds our presence around the world.

We had increased international assistance by $3.4 billion over the next five years and we anticipate that we will be doubling levels from 2001-02 through to 2010-11. We anticipate that we will be doubling the aid to Africa from its level in 2003-04 by 2008-09.

This reflects the government's commitment to alleviate the poverty that is in Africa. It reflects the commitment by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to address those problems in an effective way.

I anticipate that this bill will receive a great deal of favour from members opposite. I cannot imagine why members opposite would vote against investing in foreign affairs, in affordable housing, in the environment and in post-secondary education. I urge all members to support Bill C-48.

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

9 p.m.

Conservative

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that right now there is very little to distinguish the rhetoric, although maybe there never has been and maybe I just noted it more now than before, of the Liberal members on that side of the House between the rhetoric the NDP members, the socialists, on the left. The rhetoric seems to be identical from both of those particular parties. I have been listening to it all afternoon and it does not really seem to change.

The issue of socialism runs rampant in those parties. I guess that is mantra coming from the parliamentary secretary.

The member talks about affordable housing initiatives but basically that is all directed to provincial affairs and it always has been. The governing party wants to look after people from cradle to grave. The dominant theme of everything the Liberals do and say it seems is to take private initiative away. Instead of concentrating on the economy and ensuring jobs are created and there is not that dependency on state, they want to look after people in every way, shape and form.

I can go back into another life when I was a police officer. When I joined the Calgary City Police way back when, the issue of affordable housing was even on the agenda at that time but it had taken a completely different stance.

Today I see ministers and parliamentary secretaries on that side of the House running helter-skelter all over the country with cheques in hand for various municipalities and provincial governments all to do with so-called affordable housing projects. I have seen mausoleums being built with this money. Does it really benefit the community overall? I have that question in mind every time I see a new structure going up that makes it affordable for those who are maybe less fortunate.

Instead of helping the less fortunate people out of their situation, they create this dependency. However there is really nothing they can put on their own agenda to say that they own a piece of property. It is not that way at all. It is some wonderful structure that the Liberals have designed as their answer to poverty, when they should be looking at creating jobs and helping people out of that situation.

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

9 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure there was a question there but I am not sure what it was.

First, I have been described as a lot of things in this life, particularly in my political life, but generally socialist is not one of them. Some of the people who know me would probably find that very difficult to believe when thinking about me.

The hon. member complains about intrusion into provincial affairs. I want to point out to the hon. member that this is kind of a false dichotomy. The Government of Canada contributes significantly to the issue of affordable housing and has had, for instance, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for years and years, about which virtually no one complains because it is a mix of private and public.

I will give an example in my riding. He is worried about taking away initiatives from the private sector. In my riding, CMHC is contributing to buying down the costs of mortgages so that people who want to get out of rental situations can get into ownership situations. Actually, it is a very good example of a mix of public and private initiative that gets people into the very situations in which the hon. member wishes to them to be.

I cannot imagine what is so objectionable about trying to put up a further significant sum of money that goes toward the very initiative to which the hon. member wishes it to go.

As to the intrusion into provincial jurisdiction on the environment, frankly, the environment respects no jurisdiction. When the Ottawa River is flowing down here, is it an Ontario river, a Quebec river or a national river, or does it just need to be cleaned up? We live in the great nation of Canada and in fact we live in an area of mixed jurisdiction.

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

9:05 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-48, a bill that deals with several very important issues.

As hon. members know, the bill contains a commitment to pay down at least $2 billion of debt on an annual basis. With the additional money we will investment in affordable housing, in transit, in foreign aid and in post-secondary education.

The bill has had a lot of debate and discussion and there have been different perspectives on it. However I think all of these areas, it is fair to say, are coherent, complementary and follow the same theme to what was presented in Bill C-43 and preceding budgets, which are investments built on sound fiscal strategy. We can go back to budget 2003 and to budget 2002.

The bill also reflects the priorities of Canadians. When we look at the examples that are in this bill in terms of the types of investments that are made, we look at the investment in affordable housing. Over the past number of budgets the government has put significant sums of money into affordable housing. We think of the significance of the $1.6 billion that will be invested in affordable housing and the fact that in this particular case it is not attached to matching funds and that it also includes aboriginal housing.

We can look at some of the previous funding that has been made with respect to affordable housing. We had a program in place where we had matching funds from the provinces and other entities. Therefore the investment that we are making in Bill C-48 to affordable housing is on top of the previous investments that the government has made in affordable housing. It is very important to ensure that Canadians have an opportunity to have a household and prosper in this great country. It also builds upon the $2 billion that has already been put toward homelessness and affordable housing over the last number of years.

The investments made do a couple of things. They certainly look to address a specific number of challenges and problems that may be faced by people in our society. We think of the additional funds that the bill proposes to put toward an increase in accessibility to post-secondary education, the $1.5 billion, which again builds upon a whole other set of initiatives that have been put in place.

We can think back to previous budgets, budgets that have been called education budgets where there were all types of different incentives and investments for Canadians to receive additional training and to gain further access into post-secondary education and to assist with the cost of that further education. We know that with training and education we can further improve our economy and people have an opportunity to further prosper in this country.

We can think of the $900 million that is being proposed to be invested in public transit and energy retrofit. Again, when we look back to previous budgets, Bill C-48 builds upon Bill C-43 with a number of different initiatives.

Finally, we can look at how the bill contemplates the additional investment of $500 million in international assistance, again a priority of the government and certainly a continued priority and a future priority of the government.

These investments, along with those made in Bill C-43, were made possible not only because of the performance of the economy but also because of the financial management provided by the Minister of Finance in ensuring that we do have the ability to pay down debt and we do run balanced budgets, which is the cornerstone of budget-making, in that the government takes the approach that we need to pay our way.

Like Canadians in their own households who earn money and try to live within their means, governments need to live within their means. It was in the decades previous to 1993 when governments were living beyond their means and saddling citizens of this country with debt, debt interest and debt payments.

The cornerstones of the budgets that the government has put forward going back to 1993 are certainly balanced budgets and looking at continuing to make debt repayment, not because debt repayment is the goal but because debt repayment frees up additional money and reduces the burden on future generations. It frees up additional money to make smart investments to ensure our country can continue to prosper in the future, to ensure Canadians have an opportunity to participate in this economy and to ensure the country can lead the G-7.

As the Minister of Finance said earlier today in question period, while we lead the G-7 in terms of our balanced budgets and our budget making, we need to now focus on leading the G-7 in terms of the productivity of our country. The Minister of Finance has taken some steps and articulated that in his speeches.

I know in the future, in working and speaking with Canadians and working in the House, there will be an opportunity to exchange ideas and focus on initiatives and programs that deal with the productivity question. At the end of the day, it is about ensuring Canadians the opportunity to participate in the economy, to prosper and to create wealth. With that opportunity, we think the country will be a better place.

Providing opportunity for all Canadians at all different socio-economic levels is important. That is why government makes investments in different areas to ensure there are opportunities for people. It is not only an ideology that might exist with certain parties in the House. It also is an approach that benefits Canadians. Canadians need an active government, a government that will support them and enable them to participate in areas of the economy, where they, their children and their children's children can benefit.

I would hope hon. members in the House reflect upon what the bill is looking to accomplish. I hope they know that the bill is in the interests of Canadians and that it will advance those interests.

When members get the opportunity to vote on the bill, I hope they support it. Then they can spend the summer in different parts of the country talking to Canadians about what has been accomplished in passing the bill. They can talk about the investments we have made.

In closing, an agreement has been reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(2) with respect to the third reading stage of Bill C-48, an act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments. I move:

That in relation to Bill C-48, an act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments, not more than one further hour shall be allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the said bill and, at the expiry of the time provided for in this order for the consideration of the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage shall be put and disposed of forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

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

9:15 p.m.

The Speaker

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