House of Commons Hansard #129 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, although I could lean over and ask my colleague the question, it is important that I ask it for the record.

It is interesting that NDP members talk about infrastructure. The fact is that the topping up this year with $17 billion, to a record of $33 billion in infrastructure for Canada, truly addresses the needs of Canadians. The response of the municipalities, which know best where the needs are, has been maybe not as severe as the member might imply.

The NDP premier of the province of Manitoba has come out very strongly in support of this budget. In fact, he has encouraged the NDP MPs from the province of Manitoba to support it.

I am wondering if the member could tell us, if the premier of Manitoba supports this wholeheartedly and has gone out basically on the campaign trail to support what a great job our finance minister has done, why the federal NDP members cannot find it in their hearts to support a budget that actually helps Canadians.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the role of the federal NDP is to look after the interests of all Canadians. It seems that the Minister of Finance, in addressing this House, forgot that there was a province beyond the Rockies. In fact, my riding happens to be on the other side of the Rockies and many provinces did not receive a thing and were absolutely excluded--

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Whitby—Oshawa, ON

You're pretty selective when you read the budget aren't you? Maybe you don't even know about it.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

I do not know if I still have the floor, Mr. Speaker, but I have obviously touched a nerve with the Minister of Finance.

However, many provinces like my own were not only absolutely excluded from being considered in the budget speech, but were absolutely ignored in this budget, which is one of the many reasons that we are opposing this budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on budget 2007, a weighty document I have with me. But before I do that, when I was running for this office, I promised the constituents of my riding that I would bring their message here instead of the government's message to them.

One of the messages I have been getting loud and clear in the last few days is that they want me to address a disconcerting situation occurring in the House. As parliamentarians we try to put the sense of entitlement and arrogance of the limousine Liberals from the past government behind us, but during this debate it was brought to my attention, and of course being in the House I saw it firsthand, that we are now suddenly smacked with a new smugness from the Conservatives.

They resort to quips instead of substance. It is particularly insulting to the members of the House to hear a response to a serious question followed by another question asking if we had read the book or the budget. All hon. members present will know that all parties rely on the critics for their major evaluations needed to properly assess this particular 477 page document. Of course, as well, we rely very heavily as members on our research staff along with the resource facilities from organizations like perhaps the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, along with NGOs that are impacted by the federal budget.

As I am speaking, we can hear members of the Conservative Party laughing and chuckling. It is because their mikes are not turned on. They constantly berate or aggravate members in the House who are trying to do the business of the House.

I want to assure that the members of the House do do their due diligence necessary to properly represent their constituents' interests in this particular budget and all matters before the House. As I was rereading parts of the budget during question period, I found myself barely unable to hear because of the catcalls which prompted me to raise this today. There is ridicule heaped upon one another by the Conservative government and the Liberal opposition.

Canadians want respectful debate in this place, to be able to respect all members in the House. It is time for all parliamentarians to rise above the crass political gamesmanship and take our discourse to a level in Parliament that Canadians deserve.

The budget does nothing to close the every widening prosperity gap. My constituents tell me they believe the budget paid more attention to the boardroom table. They had hoped that they would be listened to, the ideas in conversations such as they have around their kitchen tables. I sent mailings out to my constituents prior to the budget during the so-called consultation phase that the government was going through.

Here are some of the responses that I received: “Jobs that are not through a temporary company”, “Without good jobs you can't pay the rent”, “Disallow corporations access to employees' pension and retirement funds”, “A starting entry liveable wage of a minimum of $9.50 an hour”.

The proposition in this House is of course for $10.

Another response said: “Tax cuts, not what Mr. Harper has done in his first budget but real tax cuts for low income worker--

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. I need to remind my hon. friend that we do not refer to other members by their proper name but by their riding or title.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

I apologize, Mr. Speaker.

They asked for more government help with tuition for students, so rich or poor have a chance to go. There are seniors rights and I could go on.

Specifically on this budget, for children and child care, over one million Canadian children continue to live in poverty and go to bed hungry at night. This budget will not help them. The $250 million for child care spaces actually represents a cut of $1 billion. In our estimation it is an admission of the failed 2006 budget in what was supposed to come out of that in child care spaces.

The transfer will not help to build a national child care plan, something the government apparently does not believe in, but in two-thirds of two parent families both parents have to work.

There is some modest support for cultural and recreational facilities which seems to rely heavily on the P3 approach but is unlikely to make a significant dent in the $15 billion deficit in amateur sport facilities.

In terms citizenship and immigration, there is $51 million over two years in the temporary foreign workers program. Temporary foreign workers are often the most exploited in Canadian society. There is nothing to indicate that any of this budgetary commitment will ensure conditions and wages for temporary foreign workers will be equal to Canadians. There is nothing to ensure Canadians who are available and trained to work have the first opportunity for jobs. There is nothing to address the existing huge backlog of the 800,000 people in queue trying to immigrate to Canada.

There is a foreign credential referral office which will be created with a $13 million investment over two years, but in 2006 the Conservatives announced $18 million over two years for the establishment of a foreign credentials agency. This year they are announcing $13 million in operating money, yet there is still no agency and no program.

Hard-working immigrants will continue to face chronic low income and struggle to have their skills recognized. There is no new money for the adaptation programs or language training. New immigrants will continue to struggle as they try to adapt to Canadian society. There is no support to deal with the flaws in the immigration act and no refugee appeal process. Landing immigrant fees have not been removed.

The budget continues to carry forward the $9 billion in corporate tax cuts contained in the first budget and it runs on to 2011. Though manufacturers will get a 50% capital cost allowance for 2007-08, the oil sands will keep its 100% capital cost allowance until the year 2010.

The budget fails to use tax incentives strategically for capital investments that are directly tied to upgrade the capacity, job creation, the implementation of environmental technology or skills training. Each dollar of corporate tax cuts adds about 25¢ to bank and insurance company profits.

In the area of culture, specifically the arts are basically ignored in this budget. There is no specific money for the Canada Council or promoting artists. Heritage is not on the agenda of the government and the minister has been extremely ineffectual up to this point in her tenure.

There are no tax measures for artists, ACTRA called for tax averaging, or support for arts programs for kids. The Canadian Television Fund remains without additional stable funding and museums have no support.

Under foreign aid, this budget actually decreases the percentage of foreign aid as opposed to gross national income from .34% to .31%, less than half the .7% that we internationally agreed to many years ago. The government says that it will increase foreign aid to $900 million but the only money it has actually allotted in this budget is the $200 million already announced for Afghanistan and the $115 million already announced along with the Gates Foundation.

Tax incentives to pharmaceutical companies are not the way to effectively meet the needs of people living with HIV-AIDS and other diseases in the developing world.

Further on health, there is a total of $2.6 billion in new health care investments, but there is no assurance that the principles of the Canada Health Act will be respected and that all Canadians will have equal access to quality care.

The government will establish a Canadian mental health commission to lead the development of a national mental health strategy. The problem here is that many people with mental health problems are ending up on our streets and there is no support for homeless people within housing.

Previous speakers have spoken to the fact that there are more and more homeless people on our streets. There are no new monetary commitments made to CMHC, low income housing, retrofitting or social housing programs. I have page after page of research that our staffs have put together, along with our own research that I could comment on, but I look forward to questions.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. Minister of Finance is rising on a point of order.

Notice of Motion
Ways and Means
Government Orders

March 27th, 2007 / 4:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), I wish to table a notice of ways and means motion respecting an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19.

I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of the motion.

Notice of Motion
Ways and Means
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Order. It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the two questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Windsor West, Automobile Industry; the hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche, Child Care.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Hamilton for his thoughtful remarks. Both the tone and the content of his speech I found very useful, in fact heartening in a way.

In his criticism of the budget though, we should acknowledge one thing that we have been asking for, for a long time. I was very pleased to see that we are finally doing away with this idea of tax motivated expatriation. That is the technical term for it. We call it sleazy, tax cheating loopholes of tax havens.

Finally, I believe this budget has eliminated this idea of tax fugitives hiding their profits in tax havens so they can avoid paying their fair share of taxes in this country. That I am willing to recognize as a very positive step and something the NDP has been calling for, for many years.

In the same vein, I would like my colleague's views on this. Many of us who have been watching corporate Canada and corporate America are of the view that white collar crime has become a blue collar issue. At least white collar corporate governance has become a blue collar issue, in that if we cannot trust the financial statements of the companies where our pension plans are invested, we all have something very serious to worry about.

Therefore, my question to my colleague is this. In the context of this year's budget, would it not have been worthwhile to revisit some of the practices regarding corporate governance, such as what led to Enron, which was tax auditors and tax consultants being one and the same person? In other words, there should be a wall between the people who audit the books and the people who are giving advice on the books.

Would he agree that this issue of corporate governance perhaps should be the next place we should be going in terms of reining in corporate Canada?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is what I would call a very easy question in the sense that yes, I would agree with the statement.

Further to that, I just read recently in the paper where there was a company that was supposed to audit the books of a company. It misstated its profits which affected the price on the stock exchange and it paid tens of millions of dollars in penalties for that act. There is the example of Enron and the loss to the people who invested in Enron. We have in this country, from time to time, as the member has indicated, called into question how the pension funds of the workers of Canada are invested. Who is accounting to whom and who has ownership has always been a significant issue.

This is deferred income for people for their retirement years and there should always be workers from those areas on the boards of these institutions. There is a court case in New York, I believe, that is taking place right now, where an individual went after the pensions of the Dominion store employees many years ago. Different people in different organizations have done very questionable things.

In light of the circumstances of Enron, where people are looking to the justice system for justice, it would have been a most appropriate time for the government to evaluate these processes.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention and analysis and the solutions he put forward.

I will talk about one of the things that troubled me about this budget. As my colleague said, it was fairly voluminous, but in the end it did not add up to much for many Canadians, particularly seniors. I was going door to door talking to seniors in the time we had off from this place. Sadly, I know the government is very vocal about what it has done for seniors, but it forgets to mention those who have lower incomes.

I would like the member's thoughts about what could have been done for seniors, because the government obviously missed the boat on that.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, the response is very simple and straightforward. We passed the seniors charter in the House. There was a clear direction from the House to the government as to what we wanted done for seniors and, to be very frank, the government did not get the job done.