House of Commons Hansard #36 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigration.

Topics

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre has four and a half minutes remaining his allotted time.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will use my four minutes to address Bill C-28, but I will preface my remarks by stating how I can barely give my speech on Bill C-28 because I am so angry. My blood is boiling over the way the Liberals and the Conservatives conspired to deny me my right to vote.

I am serving notice right now that I will be raising a question of privilege at a later time. I will be filing a formal complaint in that vein because these guys and you, Mr. Speaker, have been cobbled into this compact between the Liberals and the Conservatives to deny us our democratic right to vote.

I think you have been used by these guys, Mr. Speaker, and I draw your attention to the fact that the very chapter and verse that you cited said--

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The member for Wild Rose is rising on a point of order.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think there is a time and a place to deal with the Standing Orders that exist. That is the way we do it and I would ask for the member to get on topic.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member, I believe, is making a point on relevance and I think he makes a good point. At third reading, remarks should be limited to the legislation before the House.

The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised by the intervention by my colleague from Wild Rose, who I know is a democrat and who I know believes in the democratic process. I believe the member for Wild Rose worked just as hard as I did to get here and earn his seat in the House of Commons so that he could vote in a democratic way.

We should all be outraged when two parties conspire to deny the right to vote to the third and the fourth parties in this House.

Everyone here knows that the rule you read, Mr. Speaker, says that by agreement of the government and the opposition whips they may agree to curtail the bells and come and vote. It does not say that the government and the official opposition whips can come together to deny the vote of any other minority party in this House. This really, really bugs me. It is not even that important a vote.

Let me reverse, then, with what little time I have, to talk about why we are opposing Bill C-28, which clearly is the irritant that motivated the government and the Liberals to conspire against democracy today and deny me my privilege, my right to vote in the House of Commons. That is because we oppose Bill C-28. We oppose the fall 2007 economic update for a number of very good reasons.

First of all, it simply takes Canada further in the wrong direction in terms of economic policy for this country. It is not a balanced approach. It is weighted heavily on the side of this ideological vision of the Conservatives that all of our social ills, all of our economic ills and all of our problems with the manufacturing sector can be solved by deeper and deeper corporate tax cuts. That ideology has been disproved any number of times.

I point out that we are the victims of a kind of game of chicken, a race between the Conservatives and the Liberals as to who can cut corporate taxes faster. The Minister of Finance, when he was first crafting this economic update, was saying that he would reduce corporate taxes from 22% to 19.5% to 18%.

The Liberals then said they would do it even faster and deeper if they were in power, so the Minister of Finance said that if the Liberals wanted it deeper, here was deeper. Then he decided to move it to 16.5% in 2011 and to just 15% in 2012. This is literally a reckless, irresponsible game of chicken, which results in the squandering of the fiscal capacity of this government and future governments to meet the social deficit and all the other necessary spending that we promised Canadians.

Fair taxation policy is an economic instrument for the redistribution of wealth. It is a way that we can all benefit in the bounty of this great nation by investing in public services so that people from all income strata can benefit. Those guys over there are completely and 110° in the wrong direction.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Before we proceed to questions and comments, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Yukon, Aboriginal Affairs; and the hon. member for Pickering—Scarborough East, Justice.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Western Arctic.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that my hon. colleague did not really have his four and a half minutes to speak. I want to go back to some of the other provisions within the act which we see the Liberals now supporting, in particular, the reduction of the GST by 1%.

Originally the Liberals said this was not a good idea. They stood up and said over and over again that this did not work in the economy. It is a decrease of about $5 billion a year in the country's revenue.

Basically, then, we should take these 100 members--or 95 members, as the Liberal caucus keeps reducing--and divide that number. The Liberal Party's fear of an election has reduced the government's ability to govern by about $50 million a member over on that side. The Liberals' fear of the electorate has driven them to this incredible point in parliamentary democracy.

I will ask my hon. colleague if he can understand the rationale of the Liberal members. How can anyone stand here representing and speaking for Canadians from the point of view that has carried them through elections, but then turn around and do this to the citizens of Canada? How does that strike my hon. colleague?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Western Arctic for his thoughtful analysis of the economic update that we are dealing with today.

Clearly, with regard to the budget surpluses that keep getting sprung on us, the huge budget surpluses every year for 10 years in a row, we get surprised by them, as these phantom surpluses seem to show up out of nowhere. The government's choice to squander half of that surplus on the 1% cut to the GST is simply not benefiting the people who most need assistance in today's economy.

It shows how out of touch the Liberals and the Conservatives are, because when the people in my riding, the low income riding of Winnipeg Centre, heard that the Conservatives were going to cut the GST, the people I represent thought they were going to cut their GST cheques. When people are poor, cutting the GST means cutting their regular GST refunds. They wondered what the Conservatives were doing cutting their GST. They asked what they heck they were up to.

The Liberals and the Conservatives are just so out of touch. The fact is that the really poor low income people are not going to benefit from the 1% GST cut because they get GST rebates anyway. Those guys simply do not understand.

We know who will benefit: somebody buying a brand new car. I suppose he or she will enjoy a couple hundred bucks of benefit. Somebody buying a brand new house would, I suppose, get a $2,000 or $3,000 benefit. That is all well and good, but this is a $5 billion price tag. I ask my colleagues to think of what we could do with that $5 billion that would make a meaningful impact.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

An hon. member

A national child care program.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

My colleague from Halifax suggests a national child care program. The entire Kelowna accord was $5 billion. There were meaningful things that we could have done with this $5 billion, things that would have made a difference. We would not have this squandering. The irresponsible spending of the Conservative Party is astounding.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Winnipeg Centre, who has spoken many times in this House about homelessness and poverty in his riding. We are seeing much more of that across the country.

In the statement I made this afternoon in the House, I said that we had just had a study done in British Columbia which showed that we have 10,500 homeless in the province of British Columbia. That was a study done in over 60 cities, not just downtown Vancouver, and it was not done in downtown Toronto, Ontario. Just in 60 communities in British Columbia, there are over 10,000 homeless people. That is a shame.

However, at the same time, we see the government giving huge tax breaks to large corporations. Some of those corporations are doing business in the tar sands of Alberta. Those companies are building pipelines to take the raw bitumen to cities in the U.S.A. to be processed. That could be a potential loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

I want to know why these large corporations, which are cross-border shopping for our oil and our natural resources, taking jobs out of this country, and making billions of dollars in profits, are being given such huge tax breaks while at the same time they are increasing their carbon emissions. They are making Canada's greenhouse gases go up at the expense of all these people in our communities who are living on the streets and in their cars. There are people who are in dire need of some assistance. They could have had that from the government instead of seeing it give all that money to huge corporations.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Vancouver Island North for pointing out another good reason why we oppose the fall 2007 economic update. It simply rewards, with wheelbarrows full of money, these businesses that do not need the support. It is a reward worth billions of dollars.

We usually use our tax strategy and tax policy to encourage good behaviour by some businesses and discourage bad behaviour by others, or to encourage growth in sectors that otherwise would not grow and need the support.

In other words, we do not need to support growth in the oil sector right now. That sector is doing just fine without yet another wheelbarrow full of dough delivered dutifully to them by the Conservative government.

I believe the Conservatives have squandered yet another multi-billion dollar surplus by misdirecting it. Instead of choosing the priorities of ordinary Canadians, they are choosing the priorities of the sectors they choose to pamper. I should point out that we might not be facing this difficulty if they would only implement the part of the Federal Accountability Act that would create a parliamentary budget officer. That is so we do not get blindsided by these multi-billion dollar surpluses that the Conservatives deny and deny, right up until the date they announce them, and then shovel them to their friends.

If we had more transparency in the budgetary process so that Canadians knew, or at least had some fighting chance to know, what the budgetary surplus really was, I think we would see Canadians mobilizing and demanding spending on the priorities they care about and not having the government squander it by blowing it all on its friends.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Independent

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to give us his views on an issue that affects many of us: the situation of our seniors. This situation is very disturbing, because we know that thousands of seniors are living well below the poverty line. Earlier, the member made comments about democracy. He just made other comments about the surplus.

I would like to know whether he believes, as many of us do, that the government should be focusing on rectifying the lack of action, the fundamental lack of concern about increasing the guaranteed income supplement and making decent retroactive payments to those people who were shortchanged. Bill C-28 does not address this issue.