House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Oral Questions
Points of Order

10 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order arising from conduct in the House yesterday. I am doing it at this point as I did not have the opportunity to raise the point yesterday because of an order the House was following with regard to the address by the Australian Prime Minister.

Yesterday the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister stood in the House and appeared to quote statements made by the member for Toronto—Danforth.

Mr. Speaker, I am looking for some direction from you as to the best procedure, but I would suggest that what we require is a withdrawal of those comments by the parliamentary secretary and a direction that Hansard be corrected. I will leave that in your hands.

What occurred at that time was some debate on other points and then the accusation by the parliamentary secretary that the member for Toronto—Danforth had uttered certain words. The parliamentary secretary said that the member for Toronto—Danforth would do ill-will to Mr. Morgan, who was in a prospective appointment by the Prime Minister, as a result of certain comments that Mr. Morgan had made. The parliamentary secretary was alleging that he was quoting the member for Toronto—Danforth saying, with regard Mr. Morgan, that he was going to do him ill-will and then went on to say that the member for Toronto—Danforth would tear him to pieces. He used those types of words. He was alleging he was quoting the member for Toronto—Danforth.

The only tearing to pieces that we see here is the truth. In that regard, we also are seeing a pattern and I think there is the necessity of drawing it to the attention of the House. This is not the first time this has happened. We are seeing this type of smearing of members of Parliament on a regular basis by members from the government side. We had the situation with the member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin putting words into the mouth of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

I am being very categorical. The member for Toronto—Danforth never spoke those words and that was a complete fabrication on the part of the parliamentary secretary. We are asking for a determination to be made on the basis of the facts and for the parliamentary secretary to withdraw the comments, to apologize and for Hansard to be corrected.

Oral Questions
Points of Order

10:05 a.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I certainly will take the matter up with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and I will review what is in Hansard and what has been reported. I know the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister is very careful, analytical and sure of the comments that he makes in the House.

Mr. Speaker, you have known the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for many years. I know he is a careful individual but I will take the matter up with him. We will have a look at it and get back to the House in due course.

Oral Questions
Points of Order

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the government House leader for indicating that is the course that will be followed. I will take the matter under advisement and if there are further submissions on the matter I will hear them.

Off the top of my head it sounds like a point of debate but I will check the words that were used to see if there was a problem. I have not seen the exchange that the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh has referred to but I will examine it and, after hearing further submissions, I will come back to the House. If there are no other submissions I will come back anyway.

I thank the hon. member for raising the point.

The House resumed from May 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the budget implementation act. I will begin by quoting the member for Markham—Unionville who, as finance critic for the official opposition, raised three key points on the budget and the budget implementation act in his remarks. I absolutely think they are right on target.

He said that the budget was dishonest, it was visionless and it was mean-spirited. There is no jurisdiction, no industry and no segment of Canadian society where those points ring more true than for farmers and for rural Canada, and I will explain why.

Dishonest the budget was in that the Minister of Finance portrayed the budget as having more money for farmers, implying that there was more money than what previous governments had put in place. Actually, when we compare all commitments last year and this year, we find that the budget falls short even with its additional money of $1.5 billion, which we welcome by the way, but let us not say that it is more than it is. It is short by $255 million than the commitments of the previous government.

It is further dishonest in that the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and even the Prime Minister have left the impression that the $755 million for the grains and oilseeds announced last November was money for this spring, but that is not the case at all.

The previous finance minister booked that $755 million for the grains and oilseeds industry as an ad hoc program and it was booked for the grains and oilseeds industry for the losses it incurred in 2005.

The new government through its budget has not put one dime of its own money toward the farm community as yet, although it is trying to leave the impression with the general public that it is doing something.

During the election and since that time, when there were 10,000 farmers on the Hill demanding immediate cash, when 21 farm organizations and farm leaders came together and made the point that they needed immediate cash for spring planting, members on the back bench over there indicated there would be immediate cash. The member for Essex even said so during the election but that is not what happened.

There is no immediate cash for spring planting coming from the government opposite, not a dime. Members laugh over on the other side. This is not a laughing matter.

I know that some of the farmers who were on the Hill started to plant wheat but had their credit cut off. They could not put fertilizer on it. They decided because they had the seed to continue to plant the grain believing what the members opposite said and what the Government of Canada said, that there would be cash there and that in the spring they would be able to top dress that crop with fertilizer.

They know now, although the government is trying to portray it as otherwise, that there will be no cash because the government is not coming through with cash. It is difficult to believe that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food missed what farmers were saying.

However, we must assume they heard what the member for Yorkton—Melville was saying when the headline in a news release on March 29, 2006, read, “Breitkreuz conveys farmers' distress to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food”. The news release quotes the member for Yorkton--Melville as telling the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food that, “We need to get money into the hands of our farmers right now”.

Clearly, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food knew what the farming community was calling for and stated in the House on April 6 that they understood. However what a difference a year makes.

Last year, the then minister of agriculture announced $1 billion in March, taking money out of the surplus to put into farmers' hands so they could get a crop in the ground. Then we announced the $755 million in November.

Let us go back to a year ago when the then leader of the opposition, now the Prime Minister, told the House:

We are looking at severe problems...as we approach this year's planting and seeding. This problem has to be addressed now.

That is from Hansard of February 3, 2005.

That is what the Prime Minister said then. That is what he demanded of the previous government: that it put money into the farmers' pockets “now”, in the spring. Now this very same Prime Minister has the Conservatives' propaganda machine operating, there is no question about it. They have that machine working and well oiled up, because the Conservatives are leaving the impression they are doing something when there is not a single dime of cash for farmers this spring.

Worse yet, the situation according to Agriculture Canada's own numbers is that farm incomes have been reduced by a 16% further decline, so the need is even greater. In fact, we have called for a $1.6 billion immediate payment for spring to assist farmers to get a crop in the ground. That matches what the Saskatchewan agriculture minister is saying. It is a little less than what the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is calling for, but that is really what is needed this spring.

Worse yet, and it is hard to believe that it can get worse, the Minister of Agriculture and the Prime Minister would not answer questions in the House in a direct fashion and admit up front that there is indeed no money this spring. Farmers needed to be assured of support in a predictable and a bankable way and they did not get it from the government.

Still tied in with the budget, the Minister of Agriculture trumpeted his budgeted commitments in a press conference yesterday. The farm community understands what he said and did not say, but the general public does not. The general public is on side with the farm community. It wants something to be done for farmers, and because of the words missing from the government opposite, the public actually thinks something is being done when in fact it is not.

The Minister of Agriculture announced yesterday the $950 million that was part of the $1.5 billion in the budget, and we welcome that, but it does nothing for spring. It is moneys that are going into the CAIS program. If we recall correctly, those members opposite, even the Prime Minister himself, said the CAIS program was unacceptable. The Conservatives were going to can that program. They were going to cancel it. They were going to do away with it, saying that it was administratively difficult and did not get the money to farmers in a proper fashion. And this is the program that the government is going to put the $950 million out through?

Yes, there have to be changes to CAIS, but when will that $950 million get to farmers? They need the cash now. Farmers will be lucky to get the cash in September or November. Will that money deal with the problem of cash expenses this spring? Will that deal with the problem of assets and liability? No, it certainly will not.

As well, yesterday the minister announced the $100,000 interest-free cash advance. I welcome that program, but what he is doing is leaving the impression with the general public that there is $100,000 for farmers. I ask members if they have received those little envelopes in the mail from the credit card companies where they offer you $50,000 at a low interest rate, say, 6.6%. This is the same thing.

This is not $100,000 coming from the Government of Canada. This is farmers borrowing their own money with a little bit of an interest break. One cannot borrow oneself out of debt. It cannot be done. The interest break is welcome, but that is not $100,000 for farmers from the Government of Canada. It is a little break on the interest. It is money that has to be paid back. It adds to the farmers' debt. What they needed was compensation for the losses of selling product into the market at low prices as a result of the international subsidies that are going on all around the world.

Clearly the member for Markham—Unionville was right when he said as one of his key points that the budget was really dishonest. In agriculture, the government has clearly misrepresented what it is actually doing, because it is doing virtually nothing at all in the immediate term when farmers need the money the most.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is passing strange to be listening this morning to the member for Malpeque go through a litany of reasons why he thinks this government has not done anything. Why was this member not concerned when the Liberals were slashing agriculture programs under the former prime minister and when this same member voted against supporting Canadian farmers with emergency aid in 2001? Why did this member vote against standing up to U.S. protectionist policies on May 28, 2002? Why did this member vote against sending a delegation to the U.S. to try to get the border opened for ranchers? Why did this member vote against helping farmers hard hit by the mad cow crisis?

In less than 200 days our government has stepped forward, and I am very proud to say that our minister has provided for loan enhancements for these farmers to double the loan maximum for spring advances to $100,000 and to keep the loan interest free. All these things are coming forward to replace the CAIS program that is available now and to support farmers in a real way. The previous government had 13 years to do all the things that the member opposite is complaining about now. The member opposite should be supporting all the things that our government has put forward to help farmers. This government has done a lot.

Why is that member, after the record he has, not now supporting the good things for farmers so that farmers can carry on with their spring seeding and their land programs?

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite mentions the spring seeding. That is the point. The government has not put 13¢ into farmers' pockets for assisting with spring seeding. That is the reality.

We are not disagreeing with many of the other programs that have been announced. In fact, those programs are along the lines that our government had proposed.

The fact of the matter is that the government has put less money in its budget than previously committed. The government has not met the demand for immediate cash for spring seeding that many Conservative members said would be met. The government has not met its obligations and promises. It certainly needs to be pointed out that the government has failed dismally in terms of getting immediate cash to farmers this spring.

While I am on my feet I should mention that the Minister of Transport even broke an agreement with the FRCC, which would have given the farmers some control over their destiny. The farmers would have had control over the hopper car fleet. Instead, what did the Minister of Transport do? He broke that agreement and turned the railway cars over to the railways in the same old way, with a little bit of a reduction in transport costs, so the railways can continue to gouge the farm community. That is not performance. That is going against what the party opposite said it would do for the farm community.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, during his speech, the member talked about a very important issue: agriculture and the financial crisis facing this sensitive economic sector.

There is also another serious crisis going on, this one among the unemployed, particularly among older workers. They need a new assistance program. Such a program once existed, but the former government cut it.

Can the member tell the House what he thinks of the Conservative government's inaction on this matter?

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing in the lack of action in terms of the unemployed and the socially disadvantaged is just what we expected with a basically neo-conservative agenda. That is what we are seeing. It is kind of hidden in some ways. The budget tries to hide some of those facts. When we look at the budget we see a number of tax breaks, but overall the fact of the matter is that with the dropping of the 15% on income tax and putting it at 15.5%, the government is in effect increasing taxes.

I do not think we should be surprised. This is the government's first budget. This will be the kindest budget that this particular government produces. In the next one, the Conservatives will get to their real agenda, which will be cutting and slashing the kinds of programs that mean something to the disadvantaged and the less well off in society, while they contribute to their corporate friends.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure for the first time in many years to have the opportunity on behalf of the Northwest Territories to raise a critical voice about a federal budget. My comments will focus on three areas: how the revenue is being generated, impacts on the north, and protection of the environment, or rather the lack thereof.

A long time in municipal politics has taught me to first look at the revenue sections of a budget. It is pretty clear where the Conservatives plan to get their money and that is out of the wallets of ordinary Canadians. A 2% reduction to the general corporate income tax rate, doing away with the federal capital tax and the elimination of the corporate surtax will do nothing to help more working families.

Corporations, unlike ordinary citizens, can pick and choose where they will file their taxes. For the past few years the provinces and territories have been competing with each other in a race to the bottom for the lowest corporate tax rates. The federal government should take the opportunity to raise revenues from corporations while the provinces are giving them all these breaks.

Thanks to the Liberals, Canada already has a corporate tax rate well below the United States. Also, the corporations here have the benefit of public health care for their employees, so it seems unlikely that further reductions will do much more to attract corporations to this country.

The Conservative corporate tax breaks are nothing more than a crass political move to win favour with large corporations while those neo-cons turn their backs on ordinary Canadians. If the Prime Minister and his finance minister really wanted to help their constituents, they would have used the surplus found in the budget to deal with issues that matter to Canadians, such as health care, environmental improvement and post-secondary education.

Instead, the Prime Minister and his Minister of Finance decided to use the surplus contained in the budget to buy support from the largest corporations in Canada, in other words, to act like Liberals.

A further revenue concern I have with the budget is the cut to the GST. This ill thought out measure will also create turmoil in the way provincial sales taxes are dealt with. Once again, pressure will be on the less fortunate provinces with sales taxes to take up the tax room vacated by the GST cut.

As a northern MP, however, I must admit that the GST is a very unfair tax to people in remote communities across the country where the cost of living can run as high as 250% of that in southern Canada. The northern residents tax deduction was supposed to compensate for this, but the impact of this fixed amount of relief has been severely degraded by inflation over the 17 years since its inception.

With all the Prime Minister's talk about the importance of the north during the election, I had half expected to see a budget loaded with good things for the north. Apart from some urgently needed housing money, the Conservative budget does not provide anything that was not already promised by the Liberals.

First, there is reconfirmation of the $500 million fund to deal with the impacts to the Northwest Territories communities by the construction of the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline. However, it is unfortunate that the fund has been tied to the project going ahead. If we wait until the project is going ahead, it will be too late to begin preparing for the impacts of the project. Funding is needed now to do the planning and preparation for mitigating the impacts of the pipeline's construction. Trying to put together the structures needed to deal with these impacts while they are occurring will cause them to never be efficient and effective.

It was also interesting to read this passage in the budget:

In order to mitigate the negative socio-economic costs of the project, and in light of the significant federal royalty revenues to be generated by the project, the Government of Canada will establish a $500-million fund.

It is rare that a passage causes me to do a double take, but this one really caught me. Do the Conservatives mean that royalties that should be going to the Northwest Territories in the first place will be used to provide for this fund? If that is the case, then once again we are being manipulated with our own money. Or does this passage mean the Northwest Territories will not be seeing resource revenue sharing and devolution for a long time?

I ask that because at the extremely low royalty rates set in place by the Liberals, it will take some time to make up half a billion dollars. As well, this royalty scheme in place on federal lands, established decades ago when oil and gas were relatively low priced, front loads all the tax and royalty breaks. It will be many years after project start-up before there are any revenues to speak of.

Is this any way for the government to manage for northerners their resource base, which is so vital to the development of the region?

A lot more money will be required to prepare the pristine Mackenzie Valley with its numerous small communities for the impact of a $500 billion gas industry, of which the pipeline is only the first step. A massive public works infrastructure fund, which should be funded from potential royalties, is absolutely required. Investment in infrastructure up front may see the significant reductions in project development costs, thus returning money to the public coffers.

On other northern funds in the budget, it was nice to see the finance minister understands the need for better housing in the north, but the approach the Conservatives have taken is, at best, a band-aid. A one time contribution of $50 million seems generous, but what has not been publicized is that the NWT will have to match this amount.

The budgets of the territories are already stretched thin due to federal cuts and arbitrary borrowing limits. Now these governments have to come up with additional funds to access the housing money. Just where exactly does the Minister of Finance expect the territorial governments to find the money? Mr. Speaker, I will tell you where they will find it; they will have to steal funding from other programs and services.

Finally, let me turn to how the budget deals with what is the most important issue facing all human beings, that of our changing climate. Dealing with Canada's commitment under Kyoto requires all of us to put conservation and energy efficiency first. The Conservatives, by name only, are firmly welded to the consumption bandwagon. The word “Kyoto” is not mentioned once in the budget. The words “greenhouse gas emissions” are only mentioned once and then only to give more funding to pulp and paper corporations to burn off their pollution to generate electricity. The words “climate change” appear only twice, both times to explain how funding to effective programs is being cut and shifted to a public transit tax benefit of dubious value.

This shows quite clearly that the government has no plan to deal with climate change. Without dollars, climate change plans announced by the government are nothing but window dressing. Without a major commitment to energy conservation, Canadians will suffer.

Canadians overwhelmingly want leadership from the federal government on the environment. Instead, we have a government that has become so focused on its few priorities it cannot see past its own nose, and a budget that buys votes today while selling out our future.

The Conservative plan for climate change is not made in Canada; it is made in the oil patch. It is a plan for increasing consumption of energy, which will do nothing but increase greenhouse gas emissions.

While a consumption based plan may be good for the Conservatives' buddies in the multinational oil companies, it is not good for the millions of Canadians who have to bear the full effect of climate change and the high cost of energy.

What was needed from the budget was a commitment to enhance and encourage the development of green energy sources. Instead of leaving huge tax breaks for the oil sands, the finance minister should have shifted the subsidies over to the green energy sector to encourage development there.

Once again, working Canadians are faced with a budget that places all the costs upon them, while those who could do more actually have an easier time.

The budget is nothing but a carny sideshow. It looks nice, it takes a poor family's money, but once we get past the elaborate facade, there is no substance.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP speaks a good line, but I would ask a question about that party's right to speak, or its legitimacy, on matters such as aboriginals, child care, social housing, all the things which the NDP purportedly supports when in fact by prematurely bringing down the former government, the NDP caused those things not to happen.

For example, had the government lasted longer, the child care agreements would have been implemented more fully. We would have had more progress and more achievements in that area. It would have been more difficult to end that plan, whatever the outcome of the election. The same can be said for aboriginals and social housing.

Why is it that the NDP was willing to sacrifice the interests of child care, sacrifice the interests of aboriginals and sacrifice the interests of all of those low income, vulnerable Canadians that I agree were really damaged by the budget? Why was the NDP willing to sacrifice the interests of all those people simply to get 10 more seats in the House of Commons?

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I do not really see much difference between Liberals and Conservatives when it comes to fiscal policy. While the Liberals were in power, we saw the corporate tax rate drop from 28% down to 21%. The Conservatives are going to put it down another couple of percentage points. This is giving up money.

There was a very interesting discussion about this in the newspaper a while back. An economist pointed out that this is costing our system an incredible amount of money right now and that money is not being reinvested by the corporations,. The corporate tax cuts that we have seen over the years have degraded the ability of government to provide the kinds of services that my hon. colleague across the way spoke so highly of.

I think we were all ready to see a change of government. It is a minority government situation, just like the last time. We have seen that there are votes again. We are dealing with a Conservative government that really has a fiscal policy similar to the one the Liberals had before.

The NDP is the only party that has really different answers for Canadians. That is why I was very happy to see the election happen when it did. Canadians will work with the results of that election.

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's comments about the budget. It is really important that Canadians take a precise look at the budget in the areas of what a former leader of the NDP used to call corporate welfare, and he had another adjective which I will not quote at this point. It is important because Canadians want to know the value for money argument. If large corporations are going to be given tax breaks and tax cuts, Canadians want to know where that money is going. They want to follow the money.

One of the concerns I heard expressed by economists is that the money that is going to corporate tax cuts is not going to be reinvested wisely and that it is going to go into excess profits. It is not targeted.

What kind of investments do we need to see from corporations and how might we get them to do that, if they are not going to be doing it in the manner that the Liberals provided and now the Conservatives have provided in their manner? How do we get good investment and reinvestment in our capital, for instance in terms of gas and oil, to make sure it is not dirty energy and that it is not going to harm our environment?

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, my position and the position of this party is that we need to do away with the tax breaks that were instituted for the oil and gas industry, especially the oil sands in 1995 with the Liberal government under a previous leader, whom I will not mention, along with the Alberta government. Oil was $12 a barrel and it is $70 a barrel now. Those companies can stand on their own two feet. Why are we continuing to support them when there are perfectly valid green energy companies that could be providing great employment, great opportunities in Canada and need this kind of subsidy?

Budget Implementation Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, all colleagues in the House today would agree that it would be somewhat of an understatement to say that this was an extremely interesting week in this chamber for a number of reasons. None more relevant was the fact that we were graced with the presence of our Olympians and our Paralympians on Monday past. These individuals are a great collection of wonderful Canadians, our best and most committed. It was a pleasure having them here so we could show our appreciation for their efforts on behalf of all Canadians.

This was followed by a reception hosted by the minister responsible for sports. During the reception the Prime Minister spoke about his respect for the athletes and the fact that they understood the importance of hard work, commitment and sacrifice. That is why they are the best in the country and quite often the best in the world. They understand the importance of these attributes.

I could not help but think that the words somehow rang hollow coming from the Prime Minister in light of what he put forward to the House and the country in his budget. All Canadians remember the hardships and understand fully the difficult situations they faced through the mid-nineties. Tough decisions and sacrifices were made by all Canadians, so that the Liberal government could write the fiscal picture for this country. It was a committed effort done by the previous government and it created a great deal of hardship in many sectors. However, it was necessary and I believe Canadians understood it was necessary, and they were willing to sacrifice the short term pain for the long term gain.

We had to balance the books and create a surplus, so that the Government of Canada could then reinvest in programs important to all Canadians. We made significant reinvestment in health care and in our military. Through all sectors of federal responsibility, we were able to make those reinvestments. Furthermore, Canadians showed patience.

The Prime Minister does not understand that this is a time when investments should be made. It is time for Canadians to realize the benefits of the tough days they went through and the tough decisions and sacrifices they made. Instead, he put forward a budget that squanders a tremendous opportunity. Good things could have been done through this budget, but the Prime Minister has missed the opportunity and missed it poorly.

The budget is truly political in nature. It offers a great deal of short term excitement. I think it would be best termed a retail budget because a lot of fancy things, a lot of sexy things, have been put in the window. It is going to take a certain amount of time before Canadians realize that this budget is really just a facade. A member of the NDP indicated that what we see is not what we are going to get. This is going to play out more as we go down the road.

I began my comments regarding our Olympians and Paralympians who were with us on Monday.

When I look at some of the upfront tax deductions, the tax credit for sport registration looks impressive: a $500 tax deduction for one's son or daughter joining a sport. When it comes time to fill out one's income tax return, though, that will equate to $80. Will $80 make the difference as to whether or not a family enrolls their children in a sports program? I do not think so. That will not have any type of impact at all.

Previous members that spoke had indicated their disappointment in this budget and the approach that the government has taken on child care. Certainly, this budget falls far short in those areas as well.

Had this government followed through with some of its campaign promises and had this government, and I will go back to the sports credit again, identified in this budget the 1% of the health care budget that was supposed to be attributed to sport and fitness in this country, then I believe the benefactors would have been the young people of this country, the people who pay the price, who understand what commitment can bring, what hard work can bring, and what sacrifice can bring. It would have allowed the next generation to be inspired and to strive to attain those same types of heights as the athletes who graced us with their presence here in this House.

This budget falls far short. An $80 tax deduction for registering one's son or daughter is almost embarrassing.

We see the same thing with education. We know that the next great challenge here is allowing young Canadians access to post-secondary education.

Certainly, the proposal that was put forward by our party during the last election was one that, I think, made great sense: 50% of the tuition in the first year, up to $3,000, and the same in the last year. There was an incentive there to, first, pursue a post-secondary education and second, to complete that post-secondary education. That was real money that would be going to young people in this country to pursue an education and to make a greater contribution to not just our economy but, really, to our society. Those would have been real dollars.

However, what do we get from this government? We got a tax deduction on books. What is it going to be when it plays out? Perhaps a young student might get one free book each year. It is far too little and certainly falls far short of the mark.

There is going to be a realization, there is going to be a reality here, and that reality check will come next year when Canadians sit down to do their income tax returns and they find that the tax credits and the tax deductions that are obviously the theme of this budget just do not make it, just come far too short.

We have seen in the House this week, through the motion that was put to this House on Wednesday on Afghanistan, the threat by the Prime Minister that had that motion not gone through he was going to the polls within a year. We have seen our Minister of Public Safety talk about the gun registry and holding things over for a year.

I think this government wants to go to the polls before Canadians sit down and do their income tax returns next year. Put that on the record and now it is in Hansard. This government knows that Canadians will see through this veil of investment and they will see that there is nothing in this budget for them. Is it going to improve their lot in life? Is it going to close the gap between the rich and the poor?

They will realize at that time that this government has failed them and that this budget has failed them. I know that the Prime Minister understands that they will realize this, and that is why we will be at the polls before income tax time next year.