House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economic.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-51, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and to implement other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Thornhill, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Thornhill, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I stand today to begin third reading debate on Bill C-51, the economic recovery act.

Ideally, this will be a short debate ensuring this important legislation, which includes key provisions from budget 2009, along with other vital initiatives, continues on its path to becoming law.

I want to begin by thanking all members of the finance committee who put partisan politics aside on this legislation. Acknowledging how important this legislation was for Canada's economy, we worked together to expedite our consideration of Bill C-51 at committee stage. We, nevertheless, had the opportunity to hear from strong witnesses who spoke in favour of the economic recovery act. These witnesses spoke of the importance of its timely passage. I will highlight a few of those comments later in my time today.

Why is the economic recovery act so important? As an extension of Canada's economic plan, this legislation continues our Conservative government's focus on the economy, a singular focus that people who elected us here have demanded, a focus from which we will not be distracted.

Implementing Canada's economic action plan, protecting the economy must be our top priority. Our plan is rebuilding Canada's infrastructure, slashing taxes, investing in research and development, supporting the unemployed and much more.

This multi-year plan is working. It is protecting and creating jobs and it is helping shield Canada from the worst ravages of the deepest economic downturn since World War II. Indeed, nearly all independent observers are uniform in their assessment that Canada has remained and will continue to remain in one of the strongest positions to weather this economic storm.

During his recent appearance before the finance committee, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, declared, “--it is likely that Canada will return to our path of potential quicker than the other crisis-affected economies.... ...that's something one sees over the fullness of time and that's what ultimately will matter”.

A Canadian Business magazine editorial pronounced:

--Canada has come through this economic crisis in relatively robust health. Our recession promises to be shallower and briefer compared with many others;....

...we're in an enviable position compared to other developed countries.

Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer asserted, in his recent economic and fiscal assessment update, said, “Thus far, the Canadian economy has weathered the global recession better than most economies”.

While we have recently seen early signs of a potential global economic recovery on the horizon, they are merely that, early potential signs. In the words of IMF managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, “The good news is that in our view the recovery really has started. That does not mean, and I want to be crystal clear, that the crisis is over. It's too early to crow victory”.

Clearly, we need to stay on track. Early progress made in securing a Canadian recovery will be lost if we allow ourselves to be lulled into distraction and deviate from the course that we have set.

In the words of the recent G7 finance ministers and central bank governors communiqué, “In recent months, we have started to see signs of a global economic recovery and continued improvement in financial market conditions. However, there is no room for complacency since the prospects for growth remain fragile.... We will keep in place our support measures until recovery is assured”.

The economic recovery act is one way we are staying the course and helping to secure a strong sustained economic recovery.

As I mentioned, not only will it legislate measures from Canada's economic action plan but also it contains other diverse but critical measures. In my time remaining, I will highlight the importance of but a few of these measures.

Among the most high profile and popular measures in the economic recovery act is the temporary home renovation tax credit, or the HRTC. This job-creating measure has been overwhelmingly well received by Canadians assisting them to improve and add value to their own homes.

It is estimated that, through the temporary HRTC, millions of Canadian families will receive significant tax relief on eligible renovation projects. Already we have clear statistical proof that the home renovation tax credit has had a measurable impact on the economy.

According to Statistics Canada, even as the overall economy contracted, the volume of home renovation investment had spiked by over 2% in the second quarter of 2009, an increase of 9% on an annualized basis. Without a doubt, the home renovation tax credit has been an awe-inspiring success since our Conservative government first introduced it last January.

All MPs have heard stories of how this tax credit is working in their own communities. They have heard how it is encouraging their constituents to invest in their homes, how those investments are helping employ men and women in the construction and other skilled trades, fueling the purchase of building materials from Canada's forestry sector, supporting local hardware stores and stimulating the local economy when it is needed most.

Indeed, during the finance committee hearings on Bill C-51, all members on that committee heard witness after witness sing the praises of the home renovation tax credit. The Canadian Home Builders' Association told us, “The HRTC is having a significant and positive effect on the level of home renovation activity across the country. In their work with customers, renovators report that the HRTC is a significant factor in motivating homeowners to initiate home renovation projects. This view is reinforced by building material retailers, who also report increased sales as a result of HRTC”.

“I think there's no question it's increased economic activity, it's created jobs, it's definitely shown consumer confidence in renovating their homes, and I think it's done a lot of good for the industry and for consumers as well”.

“I think it obviously has kept the industry stronger in these tough times and in job creation as well”.

Home Depot Canada reported to the finance committee that the HRTC, “--has been a motivating force for consumers”.

“We have seen the results of the stimulus in increased demand for products and services and believe the stimulus did much to temper the impact of a rapidly worsening sales environment across our industry....”

“From the beginning, the HRTC captured Canadians' interest, but the HRTC has done more than capture interest. It kept many contractors in work, and put other contractors back to work. It restored consumer confidence, improved retail sales, and directly and positively enhanced the sustainability and growth of the Canadian home improvement industry”.

Home Depot Canada also revealed at committee that the HRTC has been so successful that, “--we're in a situation where our sales are growing versus the prior year and we're actually having to hire in order to be able to look after the sales that are coming into our stores. I'm sure our competitors are feeling the same”.

We also heard from the president of the Canadian Labour Congress, Ken Georgetti, not someone usually supportive of our Conservative government, however, when asked about the home renovation tax credit he said, “--there's no doubt anecdotally that a lot of people are accessing and conducting home renovations. I'm sure the program is an incentive. We've encouraged and endorsed it as a good incentive to help offset the job losses that are occurring in manufacturing”.

However, this is not the only important tax relief included in the economic recovery act. For instance, to help alleviate some of the costs associated with buying a home, we have introduced the first-time homebuyers' tax credit that will provide up to $750 in tax relief to first-time homebuyers.

Another important provision will relax conditions regarding temporarily imported shipping containers by increasing the amount of time that such containers can remain in Canada on a tariff and tax-free basis from 30 days up to 365 days.

We are also enhancing support for those struggling to get ahead with our improvements to the working income tax benefit, or WITB, as our finance minister likes to refer to it. This was originally introduced in budget 2007 by our Conservative government. The landmark WITB is a refundable tax credit that supplements the earnings of low-income workers. WITB helps ensure that these workers are financially better off by getting a job, and thus helps people stay off social assistance.

The economic recovery act would enhance WITB by $580 million for 2009 and subsequent taxation years, effectively doubling the total tax relief provided by the working income tax benefit.

The OECD, in its September 2009 employment outlook, heralded this measure, noting:

[r]ecent moves to increase the generosity of Canada's Working Income Tax Benefit are welcome, particularly given that the benefit is strongly targeted to the lowest-income households.

Other measures in Bill C-51 include steps to modernize the Canada pension plan. These reforms were unanimously agreed to by federal, provincial and territorial governments, which jointly manage that plan.

The reforms would provide greater flexibility for older workers to combine pension and work income if they wish to do so, expand CPP coverage, and improve fairness in the plan's flexible retirement provisions.

We are improving transparency and accountability in the way government uses taxpayer dollars.

Fulfilling a commitment included in our Conservative Party's 2008 election platform, we are legally requiring all federal departments and crown corporations to produce and publish quarterly financial reports, an idea individuals like Tom Axworthy, chair of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen's University, have advocated for.

Axworthy, writing an op-ed article in a major national newspaper, said:

Canadians will be surprised to learn that quarterly financial reports, a standard accounting requirement in the private and not-for-profit sectors, are not [in fact] required in the public service....

Parliament has many duties, but one of the very first, since the Magna Carta, has been to assess the spending decisions of the executive and provide resources to the state through taxation. Yet this first function of Parliament has, somewhat amazingly, sunk into decrepitude. By depending primarily on reports of the Auditor General, which are made years after the fact, Parliament does eventually fix problems, but millions of dollars are wasted in the meantime....

Quarterly reports would certainly have alerted Parliament to the exponential rise in spending for the [long] Gun Registry program.

Bill C-51 would also mark the historic resolution to the crown share saga for the benefit of the people of Nova Scotia.

It would fully implement the crown share agreement and authorize an initial payment of nearly $175 million to Nova Scotia for 2008-09, as well as 2009-10.

We all understand this is tremendous news for Nova Scotia which, after a decade-plus of neglect under the previous Liberal government, has finally found a partner in our Conservative government to resolve this issue.

Indeed, the NDP premier of Nova Scotia, Darrell Dexter, cheered:

Nova Scotia is seeing progress on the Crown share file. The federal government introduced legislation...that will pave the way for regulations to be enacted.... I congratulate the federal government for moving forward to seal the deal. This is good for Nova Scotia, and good for Canada.

Considering the landmark nature of this measure for Nova Scotia, I am very surprised that the five Liberal members of Parliament from Nova Scotia actually voted against it, and so casually.

Clearly, the Liberal Party of Canada never cared enough about this important issue for Nova Scotia to fulfill its original promise.

I would be remiss if I closed without quickly reviewing other initiatives in the economic recovery act to help provide the stability our economy needs. They include helping farmers by extending the existing tax deferral currently available in regions affected by drought to those in regions affected by flood or excessive moisture as well; ensuring the dependability of public broadcasting by increasing the borrowing limit for the CBC; promoting global growth and cooperation by giving small and low-income countries a bigger voice at the IMF while strengthening Canada's commitment to debt relief; and there are many others.

Our Conservative government has been clear. We are ready to do whatever is necessary during these tough economic times to protect Canadians. The economic recovery act would build upon that commitment and help lay the foundation for long-term growth.

I urge the House to give this legislation its quick approval, allowing Bill C-51 to be introduced into the Senate in a timely manner.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Speaker, I was much charmed by my hon. friend's happy little speech about all the sweet and lovely things that are going on in this place. I congratulate him on his immense work of fiction.

Unfortunately, the hon. member did not mention that under the Conservative watch, we have gone from a position of surplus to a position of endless chronic deficits, probably totalling in the neighbourhood of about $175 billion over the next five years.

The government has run the fiscal framework into the ditch. Its excuse is that it had do this because of this worldwide recession. It put in all the stimulus money and the world has been raining Conservative cheques, Conservative logos, Conservative signatures and Conservative happy faces all over the place.

When the Parliamentary Budget Officer asked to be shown how this was working, the government's response was to stonewall and then to dump 4,000 pages' worth of stuff on him. Then in this morning's paper we read that Canada now has the highest rate of unemployment it has had in 11 years.

I ask the hon. member if in fact he can stand in his place and tell the House that anyone should have confidence in the government's management of our nation's economy.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague on the other side was rather instrumental in making sure this bill finally passed through committee, and I urge him to speak to his colleagues in the Senate to make sure this economic recovery act gets through the Senate when it clears this place.

As to the question of whether Canadians should have faith in this government and believe that there is hope, the answer is that they absolutely should, and this is the government that is willing to provide it to them.

Canadians elected a Conservative government in 2006 and re-elected us again even though we were going into a recession. No one knew how serious the recession was, but they voted for a Conservative government because they knew there was leadership there. There is a reason that the Liberals are not in power and have lost in two elections. It is because Canadians are not confident that they understand the economy in this country.

Liberals talk about having handed a surplus to the Conservative government. That is because they overtaxed Canadians and Canadians are not happy with that. Canadians expect us to provide services to them. They do not expect to be overtaxed and not know where those dollars are going.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Manicouagan, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the Conservative member's speech. It was clear that there are some major oversights in Bill C-51, and the forestry industry is one of them. When the government gives the entire Canadian forestry industry $70 million as part of the economic stimulus, and then turns around and gives the Ontario auto industry $10 billion, that is a double standard.

Then there are the unemployed. People have lost their jobs, for example in the mining industry, or in other industries where they had job security. With the economic crisis, plants and paper mills have been shut down. Given the current economy, the Bloc Québécois proposed much easier access to employment insurance. We wanted to create a 360-hour eligibility threshold and to eliminate the two week waiting period.

The parliamentary secretary is bragging that with this bill, the Conservatives have done everything to stimulate the economy, but they forgot about workers, the unemployed and the forestry industry.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, that is certainly a false accusation.

Our economic action plan that was put forward in January reflected the seriousness of this global recession, and it reflected it to each and every sector of this economy. We put in place assistance for the forestry industry. We put in place assistance for the auto industry. We put in place tax cuts for individual Canadians.

Through our actions since we have formed government, we have taken 950,000 Canadians completely off the tax roll. That is more money in their pockets so they can choose to either invest it or spend it wherever they like. That is what we need to stimulate this economy.

To suggest that we are not respecting all sectors of this economy is an unfair accusation when we represent all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We have put in place measures that will help those who are unemployed, and we are very troubled by the numbers we see this morning regarding more job losses. However, we have said all along that this worldwide recession is impacting Canada, just as it is impacting other countries. Our neighbour to the south has lost far more jobs than we have. We need the United States to see recovery to help Canadians' recovery as well.

We put forward legislation this week to extend the time that Canadians can be on EI, and that will help those people who have received that bad news in this last month, but unfortunately, the Liberals actually voted against the economic recovery bill in this House. They voted against extended support for those on employment insurance.

I am glad I'm not going back to their ridings to speak to their constituents who have lost jobs, to try to explain to them why the Liberals voted against the bill. I am glad I am going home as someone who supports people who have lost their jobs.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, while the home renovation tax credit is hardly a new idea, certainly we have had critical home repair programs in Manitoba since the seventies, it has proven to be very successful, particularly at times when the economy is in some difficulties.

I would like to ask the member whether at this point he has any idea as to how many people are taking advantage of the program and what the tax losses would be to the government.

I would also ask him if he is prepared today to announce, because I noticed he said it was a temporary program, that he is planning to extend it for another year.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, that question does not surprise me at all because I believe, in the debate on the first budget bill, I had the same question from the hon. member. I respect his tenacity.

We have made no decision at this point as to whether or not it will be extended. It is tremendously successful. It has instilled confidence in consumers, in homeowners, the likes of which we have not seen before.

Canadians are concerned. They are very concerned about this economic recession, about the impacts to their livelihoods, about their jobs. We need to be able to make sure that we can quickly pass this bill through this House and deal with it at this point. Soon we will be looking forward to a new budget coming up.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, as further evidence that the government is razor-focused on recovery, the Windsor area, which has the highest unemployment in Canada, has the highest stimulus investments in the country.

Is that not proof to the member that the government is getting the job done?

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, I do need to recognize the hon. member's work. He is doing whatever is within his powers to make sure that those people who were unemployed in his region may actually have an opportunity at some new jobs and actually see some stimulus money going into that community.

That is partnership. That is working as a member of our government. That is working with us to make sure that his constituents receive the support that they need and they deserve.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Speaker, unlike the previous speaker, who was a work of fiction, I will be a work of fact. I am going to chronicle how our party has come to the position of losing confidence in the government. It is an interesting exercise.

In 1993 we took over from the Mulroney government. At that point, there was a $42 billion deficit that had accumulated over the eight or nine years of the Mulroney government. Each and every year, that government ran a deficit and added to the national debt. At the end of 1993, when the government changed, Mr. Martin and Mr. Chrétien had a nasty little surprise and it took them about four years to dig out from that hole.

The election of 1997 was a critical election. We barely held on to a majority government because of the decisions that Mr. Martin and Mr. Chrétien had to make with respect to getting the nation's finances under control. Thereafter, we ran about 10 years of surpluses and paid down the national debt significantly.

That is how we got to the change of government in 2006. In 2006 we had a nice little gift for the incoming government: a $13 billion surplus. It immediately took it without any thanks and added it to its own little rhetoric. The history is made of Conservative deficits and Liberal surpluses, and here we are four years later into the most massive deficit that this nation has ever experienced.

How did we get from there to here? One would have to work at it. The first deficit was not actually this year. It was last year, for the fiscal year beginning March 2008 and ending in March 2009. It was a $6 billion deficit. In two short years, excluding the year it inherited from the Liberal Party, the government was into deficit again. Things were back to the good old Mulroney years where spending could not be controlled, the revenue base was reduced and, Bob's your uncle, we were into deficit.

One of the reasons why it does not seem to be able to walk away from its fixation with deficits is that it does not seem to be able to control its spending. Many commentators were making the observation that the revenue base cannot be flatlined while expenditures were simultaneously running at a 7% or 8% increase on an annual basis. Revenues were being flatlined by the government.

In any household, we cannot carry on spending more money than we take in unless we run up the debt. That is what we are doing here. We are running up debt. The first deficit was not this year. The first deficit was last year. Now, we are into some rather massive amounts of deficit.

It is kind of interesting to quote the Prime Minister on these sorts of things. Apparently, in September of last year, he said that there would not be a recession in Canada and that we would be fine as long as we did not do stupid things such as running a deficit. That was only September 2008.

In October he suggested that the market represented good buying opportunities for Canadians. In November, exactly a year ago, his failed economic statement promised a surplus for the next five years.

The government projected a surplus for the next five years. Finally, it was up to the Bank of Canada to tell Canadians, because the Prime Minister would not, that we were in recession in November of last year. By December, after a bit of a political crisis, he admitted that he would probably be running a deficit in the order of $20 billion to $30 billion. In the budget that was passed in January, it projected a deficit of $34 billion.

That was then and this is now, and $34 billion became $54 billion, $54 billion became $56 billion, and we still have not finished the fiscal year end and we do not know what the deficit will be.

It is a pretty impressive list of incompetent statements, possibly even misleading statements, and it speaks to the issue of confidence. If I stop right there, people may say that maybe the Liberals actually have it right and maybe they should not have confidence in the government. Indeed, that is the situation. We have ceased to have confidence in the government, and this litany of incompetence and misleading information just keeps on keeping on.

Then the excuse has become that it is a worldwide recession and because it is a worldwide recession and because all of these other countries need to stimulate the economy, we need to do the same thing. We in the Liberal Party say that is possibly a good idea, but only if it is a timely stimulus with, as the phrase goes, shovels in the ground. Stimulus two, three or four years from now is actually useless. Stimulus now and stimulus in the last number of months, when the economy was shrinking is, in theory and in practice, a useful exercise. We agreed that if we stimulated the economy with a temporary deficit, then fine, let us do it, and maybe we will ride through the recession as best we can.

That was the theory going into it, and then suddenly a whole bunch of Conservative cheques started raining down on the heads of Canadians, Conservative cheques with Conservative logos and Conservative MPs, and Conservative signatures. We had signs and cheques, and cheques and signs, et cetera. Clearly, the thing that has been most stimulated in the last few months has been the sign making industry and the cheque writing industry. However, it does not seem to have had really any impact on the economy.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer was asked to see whether he could establish whether the stimulus money that had been injected into the economy would have any impact, any real and measurable impact on the economy. First, he was sort of stonewalled. He asked and asked and did not get any response. Then after a period of asking and asking, he got 4,000 pages of incoherent documentation dumped on his lap and was told to figure it out. He said that was an unacceptable disclosure and asked for electronic formatted material. Apparently the government is unable or more likely unwilling to actually produce the numbers and disclosure with respect to the stimulus projects in any kind of fashion that would allow a coherent analysis.

It is one thing for the Government of Canada to stonewall the opposition. It is another thing altogether for the Government of Canada to stonewall the Parliamentary Budget Officer. That is exactly what it is doing. That is essentially an insult by the government to every member of Parliament in this chamber.

Let me read from the Parliamentary Budget Officer's observations with respect to the attempt to get information. He puts it in much better language than I could. He points out that we have uneven information regarding the implementation process, relevant benchmark outputs and expected outcomes of measures of the stimulus package. Uneven information, what does that mean? Unmeasurable outcomes of the stimulus package: inconsistent in its presentation, some measures have been dropped or renamed; lack appropriate disclosures regarding major components of the stimulus package, including infrastructure spending. What does that mean? The only thing that it can mean is that 4,000 pages were dumped on his desk and he was told to figure it out.

If the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is an officer of the Parliament of Canada set up by Parliament, is unable to discern whether stimulus has actually worked in this country, it does not lie in the mouths of government members, particularly the parliamentary secretary, who say that everything is wonderful and it is all working. There is no way to tell whether it is working.

The parliamentary secretary went on at great length about the home renovation tax credit and all that sort of stuff. He could not tell the NDP member who asked if it was actually working whether it was working or not. He cannot tell whether it has had any impact at all. The only thing he knows for sure is that the government has run up the deficit by $56 billion. That is the only thing that is a factual truth.

The hon. parliamentary secretary, and I assume Conservative speakers who will follow, will talk at great length about how this stimulus package is working, yet the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is an officer here to serve us, cannot tell. Nobody can tell.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer then goes on to say that we should compare how the Americans disclose their stimulus package with how Canadians disclose theirs. The U.S. has a recovery, accountability and transparency board. Canada does not.

With respect to government-wide reporting, the U.S. has quarterly reporting on oversight and quarterly reporting on economic impact by the council of economic advisers. Here, we get a note from Finance Canada once every three months. There are agency recovery websites, agency recovery aid plans, agency IG recovery work plans in the United States. Canada has nothing. The U.S. has program specific recovery act plans and other activity reporting tied to agency level reporting. We have nothing. Recipient reporting, risk management reporting, award level reporting, all of that is available in the U.S. We have nothing.

When hon. members on the government benches say that stimulus is working, we on the Liberal side of the House will have to be pardoned for saying we have no confidence in what the Conservatives say about the effectiveness of stimulus. If the Parliamentary Budget Officer cannot analyze it, and if the government will not disclose it, then it does not exist. But it gets worse.

We have chronic deficits as far as we can see. We cannot measure the effect of stimulus. Then, in this morning's paper, there is a report which says that unemployment is at its highest point in 11 years.

The Globe and Mail states:

The recession has killed hundreds of thousands of jobs in Canada since employment peaked last October, with the jobless rate hitting an 11-year high of 8.7 per cent. More than 1.6 million Canadians are now out of work, with the steepest job losses among factory workers, though no sector has been spared.

There we have it. We have run up a huge tab on the government's dime, which is really our dime. We have chronic deficits as far as we can see. We cannot measure whether stimulus works or does not work, and unemployment is at the highest level in 11 years.

I do not know what would be required to turn one from confidence to a lack of confidence, but those seem to be rather fundamental parts of being in government. The government has to be able to run the fiscal framework of the nation. It cannot spend more than it takes in. It cannot run up the deficit endlessly.

We need to be able to measure the stimulus effects, where they are, how effective they are and whether they have impacted the economy. We want a recovery where the jobs are there and people are available to do them.

What do we have? We have a jobless recovery, if there is a recovery at all. We have a huge run-up in our deficit. We have a Parliamentary Budget Officer who has been stoned each and every day when he has asked for more information.

It is a pretty damning indictment of the competence of the government. I do not quite know how the parliamentary secretary will face his constituents. He will a lot of explaining to do to the folks in Alberta, who are generally of a Conservative persuasive, that he has run the bills up by $175 billion. Then he will have this cute little argument that the government paid down an amount of debt. The government only paid down about $39 billion of which $13 billion was left over from the Conservative government. Therefore, it has not done much of a job. Net, the government is probably up about $130 billion to $140 billion in debt.

Let us hope that the Governor of the Bank of Canada can keep the lid on the rates. I do not know if he can always do that. It is pretty low right now and we are pretty fortunate. Having racked up and anticipating racking up more and more debt, if the rates take off, then the problems of the government will pale in comparison to either inflation or the cost of borrowing.

It is pretty difficult to express confidence in a government that cannot control its spending, flatlines its revenues, runs up the debt, taxes the futures of our children, cannot and will not tell us whether stimulus actually impacts the economy and has an unemployment rate that is starting to go through the ceiling.

Forgive me if I express a lack of confidence in the government. The litany of incompetence, the litany of misleading information and this relentless propaganda machine that comes from across the other way would do credit to a totalitarian regime. There were $100 million spent on telling Canadians what good, fine folks the Conservatives were. Meanwhile the debt is through the ceiling, unemployment is rising and the government cannot tell us whether stimulus works.

I appreciate the opportunity to express this lack of confidence in the government.

Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus)
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, I am glad my hon. colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood begged forgiveness near the end of his speech because he needs to do that.

I know the Speaker listens intently to all speeches in the House but, Madam Speaker, as you and I know at third reading one is supposed to speak somewhat about the bill being debated. I did not hear a word in there that actually addressed Bill C-51.

I would ask, with all due respect, to either approve his forgiveness or not, whichever the Speaker sees fit, because I do not think his constituents will forgive him. He stood in the House and voted against the economic recovery act. Now he will have to go back and explain that. He referred to me going back to my constituents. I am going back proudly to say that I am standing up for Canadians and I am ensuring that they have all the tools available to them to withstand this economic downturn.

He talked about job losses. The United States lost 190,000 jobs last month. He says that he is worried about our jobs. Absolutely, we are worried about the jobs we lost in Canada, but did it help that when he and his party, just this week, voted against extending EI?

Now I am not speaking to the bill, but I have to ask if the member knew anything that was in that bill. We have seen both sides of it. In the House he voted against it and he supported us at committee. I wish him all the luck in the world when he goes home this week.