House of Commons Hansard #80 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was veterans.

Topics

The House resumed from October 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud, as always, to stand in the House and represent the wonderful people of Timmins—James Bay and to speak to the implementation of this budget bill.

What has become very clear over the last number of years with the Conservative government is a pattern, and a very disturbing pattern, of reckless spending, reckless attacks on the credibility and the institutions of public office in this country and a sense of entitlement that we see again and again of who one knows in the PMO. If one is a buddy of the Conservatives, things happen.

We are looking at the largest debt in Canadian history but, as we would all agree, some of that debt was necessary in order to stimulate a very broken world economy. However, when we look back at what we have after spending the $50 billion, I think future generations will wonder what the Conservative government was thinking.

For example, the Conservatives blew money right across the country on personal pet projects. For instance, in the industry minister's riding, they paid stimulus dollars to heat the seats in the hockey arena so that the derrieres of Conservative voters would not be discomforted while they were watching amateur hockey.

Meanwhile, there is no plan for national broadband across this country. In Australia, under the Labour government, it made a commitment to hook up 93% of Australia by massive broadband implementation, while, in my riding, they are still talking about dial-up as being a standard for duty to serve.

We could have had a massive infrastructure program to retrofit homes across the country so that people could live better. Instead, we again see personal pet projects, like draining a lake in Muskoka, building a fake lake in Toronto, blowing through $1 billion on a weekend, blowing $17 billion on stealth fighter jets to fight a Cold War that has long since past, $17 billion on a single source contract and no justification, and $10 billion for prisons at a time when crime rates are dropping. The latest figure is that the Conservatives will spend $155 million on 570 jail cells, which amounts to $270,000 per jail cell.

Meanwhile, in my communities of Attawapiskat and Kashechewan there are no grade schools and the government says that its pockets are bare. Children in Oxford House First Nation cannot go to school because it has been poisoned with mould. The government says that the cupboard is bare for them.

Again, if one is a buddy to someone in the PMO there is always money to be found.

We need to look at a few glaring examples. I think the Conservatives are sending the signal that if people are one of them, they should put the touch on them and they will look after them. Nowhere is this more glaring than in the fact that, as I raised in the House earlier this week, there is a NAFTA challenge by an American named Vito Gallo who is demanding $355 million from the Canadian taxpayer for the failed Adams Mine project. We have a number of NAFTA challenges at different times between investors in foreign countries and, as much as we have raised problems with chapter 11 of NAFTA, we have never seen anything as outrageous and bizarre as this.

Ten years ago, Waste Management Incorporated walked away on the Adams Mine project because of the issue of liability, in the same way that the second largest waste management company in North America, BFI, Browning-Ferris Industries, walked away just a few years previous to that because of the issue of liability. The deal died and the city of Toronto made it clear that it would never entertain this garbage project again because it was so reckless and so unfounded. It was also subject to a federal EA, so that if anyone even wanted to try to take on this bizarre scheme, they would have to face a federal environmental assessment because it had been identified as a threat of groundwater contamination on the Timiskaming First Nation territory.

Long after that deal went south, a group of Conservative businessmen set up a numbered company in Toronto. They secretly bought the site but they did not do anything with the site. They did not put any money on it nor did they bid on any contracts. It was just a numbered company.

The interesting thing is that Mr. Vito Gallo claims to be the sole owner of this site. He says that he is owed $355 million from the Canadian taxpayer. When we look at who invested in this site, we see connections to the present Conservative Party. It is quite staggering.

For example, on May 8, 2003, the Globe and Mail identified the owners of this numbered company, 1532382 Ontario Inc., as being the Cortellucci-Montemarano Group. The Globe and Mail reported that “A major contributor to...[the] Conservative Party has quietly bought the Adams Mine...in Northern Ontario.... The contributor, the Cortellucci-Montemarano Group, is attempting to buy 2,000 acres” of crown land beside this site.

On May 9, 2003, the Toronto Star reported that Mario Cortellucci had admitted that he was one of dozens of investors. This is not like Vito Gallo, who nobody had ever heard of, claiming to be sole owner. He claimed to be one of dozens of investors.

The article in the Toronto Star is very fascinating. It starts off with the line:

Walking into the Hollywood Princess off of the string of strip malls along Highway 7 in Concord is like stepping into another world. The massive banquet centre is all about glamour, complete with fountains, mirrors and white columns that have served as the backdrop to countless wedding receptions and, perhaps more significantly, dozens of high-priced Tory fundraisers. This is the world of Mario Cortellucci....

The address of the Hollywood Princess restaurant just happens to be the same address that a cheque was written to the Ontario government in an attempt to buy 2,000 acres of Crown land secretly from this numbered company. It is the same address, which is 2800 Highway 7, Concord, Ontario. We see direct money from Canadian businessmen in this numbered company. We do not see any Americans or any mention of Mr. Vito Gallo.

I am sure members are wondering why a guy like Vito Gallo would be so brazen as to think he could hit up the Canadian taxpayer for $355 million for a project that he never put a dime into or bid on any contracts. We would think this to be a spurious claim but when we look at the financial connections between those backers and the government, it is quite astounding.

For example, Mr. Mario Cortellucci gave $5,000 to the federal Conservatives in 2004 and $5,000 to the federal Conservatives in 2006. Ginesia, Nicola and Rosanna Cortellucci gave $5,000 each to the Conservative Party in 2004. Three others, Fabrizio, Nicholas and Sabrina Cortellucci, gave $2,500 each to the Conservative Party in 2004 and then gave the maximum of $5,000 each to the Conservative Party in 2006. Five other Cortelluccis gave $17,500 to the Conservatives in January 2004.

Now, through their numbered companies, which is where it gets interesting, Four Valleys Excavating and Grading Ltd., which is tied to Nina Cortellucci, gave $12,170 to the leadership bid of the present finance minister and then $5,000. Also, $10,000 was given to the leadership bid of the present industry minister.

Eiram Development Corporation, which lists Mario Cortellucci as director, gave $10,000 to the present finance minister. Another company, 1532382 Ontario Inc., the very company that is going after the taxpayer claiming to be an American company, gave $4,000 directly to the present finance minister in his leadership bid.

We have a number of other companies but I will not go through more details.

The fascinating thing about this--

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. While all of us are enthralled by the fact that the member stayed up all night writing this novel, it has little relevance to the issue that is being discussed today. Perhaps he could force himself to get away from his fairy tale and get back on the subject.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I must say that I was wondering myself what this had to do with the budget implementation bill. Perhaps the member could make that clear in his comments so we understand he is addressing the second reading of the bill now before the House.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:10 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was just bringing my point home when my hon. colleague rose. He seems rather impatient, so perhaps he should just sit back and listen to a few more facts. It will all come home.

Vito Gallo has decided to hit Canadian taxpayers for $355 million, which is a staggering amount. One would think the Government of Canada would stand up against such a spurious claim. However, in his statement of claim against the people of Canada, Mr. Gallo has a quote by the federal finance minister who supports his claim against the people of Canada. The minister made the statement when he was running for the leadership of the provincial party and getting direct financial commitments and investments from this same group of investors.

I will go back to what I said at the beginning of my remarks on this. The government is all about who it knows. A man, who nobody has ever heard of, wants to hit Canadians for $355 million. Vito “mysterious” Gallo is now taking claim for a company that was obviously tied to Canadian investors with the Conservative Party of Canada. I do not think he would ever have the nerve to hit on Canadian taxpayers unless he knew he had a lot of good friends. A lot of them hang out at the same Hollywood restaurant that was writing the cheques in an attempt to buy the land.

I will get back to the bigger picture of a government that is based on entitlement and on reckless spending for ideological purposes.

Yesterday, the member for Crowfoot, who was shouting and heckling from the backbenches, was denouncing the concept of an obligation on the part of government to have a national housing plan for seniors. He asked if we wanted the government to buy every citizen a car as well. Senior citizens in rural Timiskaming cannot afford to heat their homes. People living in old farmhouses heat with oil. I received a letter this morning from a woman in Matachewan who has to pay $70 this month in HST for her home heating.

The government has nothing to say to those people. It is not interested in them. It is only interested in big prison contractors. It will blow $10 billion on big prison contractors. Can anyone imagine what $10 billion would do if it were invested by a responsible government? We could put some of that money into our health care system to help people in small communities who are dealing with locums because they have no local doctor. We could put some of that money into a national seniors housing plan, which Conservative backbenchers have denounced as socialism, but it is something we have done in the past and we know that it works.

Crime rates are not going up. What is going up is the number of seniors living in poverty.

For about half of the $1 billion the Conservatives blew on the 24 hour binge in Muskoka, we could have improved the guaranteed income supplement to get every senior citizen out of poverty. That would take $600 million. That is less than any of the prison extensions that the government is going to do. Every senior citizen in this country would have been taken out of poverty with $600 million. However, the government does not have the money for that because it is not a priority.

What were the priorities of the government? It spent $300,000 for bug spray for a 24 hour lark that went to the pork-barrel king's riding of Muskoka. What can anyone do with $300,000 worth of bug spray? I want to know where all that bug spray is. I am sure we could stop malaria in a mid-sized African country with $300,000 worth of bug spray. However, the government blew that amount of money for a 24 hour lark in Muskoka. I imagine there is probably a warehouse full of bug spray somewhere in the PMO that the Conservatives might give out at their fundraisers. This was a priority for the government. It is staggering.

While the Conservatives were nickel and diming our veterans and trolling through their personal financial records, they were at the same time signing a $17 billion single source contract for stealth fighter jets to fight the last Cold War. The best they could come up with was a statement that some of those Russians and those rusty old migs were flying 4,000 miles north of us and that it had to spend $17 billion on fighter jets. It will spend $17 billion on fighter jets and $10 billion on prisons. It will spend $27 billion on two ideological vanity projects. It is absolutely staggering.

Of course, we know what is coming next. The government blew through $13 billion worth of surplus like drunken sailors. It went through massive corporate tax cuts. It knew that we would be in deficit before it even started the stimulus spending. Now it is out blowing the money on prisons, fighter jets, and putting little bum warmers in hockey arenas in Muskoka. It has spent the money on every possible thing it could, except on a national plan to improve this country.

Now the government is going to turn around and say, “The cupboard is bare. Now we have to start cutting. Now we have to start trashing the civil service. Now we have to cut down on the few federal programs that still remain to help people”.

It is reckless, it is ideological, and it is a poisonous way of doing politics, because any civil servant who stood up to the government has had his or her personality trashed and undermined. Very credible international diplomatic people such as Richard Colvin, who had the nerve to stand up, were trashed. The government lied about our chief statistician. He had to resign in order to restore credibility to the office of the chief statistician. This is a government that is based on recklessness, on an ideological pursuit of whatever bizarre agenda is over there.

When we get back to the issue of the budget, it is about making priorities. Rather than spending $27 billion on vanity projects for the defence minister and for the security minister who is running after phantom criminals that they cannot find, we need a national broadband strategy linking all of rural Canada, because we are starting to fall massively far behind. We are looking at 1.5 megabits per second as a standard for rural Canada, if we even get to that, when in Australia they are going to gigabyte capacity. All across Asia they are going to gigabyte capacity, and the government thinks we are going to be able to compete when it is severing off rural Canada. Instead of money on prisons and fighter jets, we need a national broadband strategy.

We need to invest in pension protection. The government said it had thousands of complaints against the long form census, but then when it was asked to produce them, it could not find any, so it said, “We had one complaint. If one complaint is enough, that is good enough for us”. Meanwhile it had tens of thousands of complaints, begging, families from Nortel, families from Abitibi. It did not have time for them and it still does not have time for them. It has no interest at all in pension protection in this country, but that is what a credible government would do at this time. A credible government would say that we need a national overhaul of our pension plan and to improve the guaranteed income supplement so that our seniors come out of poverty. We need to protect the pensions of companies facing bankruptcy, such as Nortel and Abitibi, and find a way so that for the workers of today, the many hundreds of thousands of people who have no chance of paying into a pension, we have a system in place.

That would be a budget plan of a forward-looking government, instead of supporting blindly the pillaging of the tar sands. There is nothing wrong with the development of the tar sands, but what we are seeing is the way they are being developed, the amount of money that is being put in to cover the basic costs of what industry should be covering.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

That would be the oil sands.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:15 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

It is funny how they get so upset whenever we say the words “tar sands”. That is what they are. It is in the tar. They are burning the tar and they are doing it recklessly because they want to make as much profit as quickly as possible, and really, to heck with the rest of the planet and to heck with the rest of the country.

Rather than having a long-term development of the tar sands, we could be putting that money into the retrofitting of every house in Canada and every major business so that we actually start to reduce and we actually start to make life more affordable for Canadians.

It is about choices and the government consistently makes the wrong choice. The one choice it made very clear was that if people know someone in its gang, it is going to look after them. No wonder these crazy, outrageous schemes, such as the Vito Gallo hit for $355 million against the taxpayers of Canada, are being brought up at this time, because they think these guys are going to go along with it. I challenge the government to stand for Canada and say clearly that it will not negotiate with Mr. Vito Gallo, whoever he is, that it will not give a dime of taxpayers' money just because he and his buddies and their numbered company have been good financial friends of the present industry minister, good financial friends of the present finance minister, and good financial friends of the Conservative Party of Canada.

We have to do politics a different way. If we follow the money trail, we always end up back in that cesspool of Conservative backwater corruption.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure anybody watching these deliberations this morning is, at best, getting some humour out of the rhetorical rantings of the member for Timmins—James Bay as he paints his storybook pictures for Parliament today.

I want to make two points. These are actual facts. I say this to the House and to all the people who are watching, particularly those in his riding of Timmins—James Bay and the other NDP ridings.

Fact number one is that when this government presented its economic action plan, which created hundreds of thousands of jobs all across this country, including hundreds of jobs in the ridings of these NDP colleagues across the way, when we presented that action plan to put workers back to work and to keep families together and able to make their payments, that party, that member, those NDP MPs voted against that plan. They voted against putting laid-off workers back to work. They voted against projects in their communities that would help the social and economic structure of their communities.

Fact number two is that the member for Timmins—James Bay talks about brazen acts. Here is a brazen act: a member who goes to his constituents over the years at every election and tells them, “When that long gun registry comes up for a vote, I am going to vote against it because it is useless and ineffective”, a member who says, “Folks, you vote for me and I am going to vote against that registry as soon as I can. I promise you”, and then he stands and brazenly votes to keep the long gun registry that has cost us billions of dollars and is costing us tens of millions of dollars every year and does exactly nothing to fight crime in this country and put the bad guys away.

These are two facts. The NDP voted against the economic action plan, jobs for laid-off workers and families; and the member for Timmins—James Bay promised his constituents during the elections that he would vote against that stupid, ineffective, costly gun registry the first chance he got. What does he do? He stands and votes to keep it.

That is all I want to say.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:25 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, there we go. Look at them. We are talking about the fact that the Conservatives are blowing $17 billion on stealth fighter jets and $10 million on prisons, and seniors in northern Ontario cannot afford to heat their homes. What does he want to talk about? He wants to talk about long guns.

I am a gun owner. The one thing I know, being a gun owner, is that we cannot heat our houses with guns. However, the Conservative Party thinks that is the only thing that rural Canadians are concerned about. Maybe it thinks people are dumbed down. But we are talking about people who are falling further and further behind.

Let us talk about the Conservatives' great action plan.

They continue to try to change the channel on what they did. They came in here at the beginning of the worst recession since the Depression. What was their economic action plan? Spending zero dollars on stimulus. They were not going to run a deficit. They said they were going to attack the right to pay equity of women, because that was the most important thing.

Number two, they said they were going to trash the environmental assessment process federally.

The third thing was that they were going to get their little partisan kick at the other political parties by getting rid of public financing for elections, because we know what they want to do. They want to go back to the good old ways where they got their money in the pocket from people like Vito Gallo's friends. That was their plan. They almost lost government over it, because it was known across the world that if they decided that they were going to turn off the taps for ideological reasons, Canada would have sunk into a depression. These guys panicked because suddenly they thought they were going to lose government. Then they came back, but they did not have a plan. They just started to blow money in all their ridings. That is the truth behind the economic action plan. They only did it, as they always do, to save their own skins. They blew through $50 billion without a plan.

We never had a problem with the stimulus spending. What we had a problem with, and it still remains in this budget bill, were the choices as to how they were going to blow that money.

Even after they have blown all that money, they are now going on another spending binge. They are going to spend more than $27 billion, at a time of the biggest deficit in Canadian history, on bizarre, whacked-out, personal ideological vanity projects.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:25 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay has raised a lot of interesting and disturbing points about the spending of the current government. I wonder if he would like to comment a little about where Canada is getting the money that we are wasting these days when we have more regressive taxation, huge tax cuts to big oil and big banks, et cetera.

I know the member is knowledgeable about this. Could he share a few perspectives on the revenue stream?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague raises a great question, because one of the fundamental principles of economics is how we pay for something when we do not have the money. When there was a $13 billion surplus, the Conservatives blew through it as fast as they could and it was not spent on targeted tax investments.

Targeted tax investments play a really crucial role in stimulating necessary elements of the economy. The Conservatives blew it across the board. Big profitable corporations got lots of money, and a struggling forestry company got zero money because it did not make any profits. Now they have put us in a deficit position because we do not have the revenues anymore to sustain major national projects and they are adding to the deficit, which we are going to have to pay for through borrowing.

A great example is Canada's forestry industry, probably the second or third largest industry in this country. What did the government do with forestry? As soon as it was elected, it wanted a quick, desperate deal with the United States, so it signed on to the softwood agreement. Basically, whatever the Americans wrote on the paper, it signed on to, even though Canada had won every single legal challenge under international trade law.

We had won every single challenge, but the Conservatives came in, and with a stroke of a pen, crossed out all those rights. They not only crippled our industry but our access to markets and we have not recovered. Then, of course, we add the crisis in the United States and the fact that our major competitors in the U.S. in the forestry industry are subsidizing their own industry again and again, so our pulp and paper companies cannot compete.

Abitibi decided that it was not going to invest anymore, that it was going to walk away, and Danny Williams stood up to Abitibi and said, which is what should have happened in Ontario, that Abitibi had access to the forests and waters of Newfoundland as long as it was willing to invest. It was an agreement between the people of Newfoundland and Abitibi so that both would benefit.

Danny Williams took the position that if Abitibi was not going to make its share of the investment, then the resources of the people of Newfoundland should go back to the people of Newfoundland.

What did the government do? It sold out the people of Newfoundland and Canada. It said if a big company such as Abitibi wanted some cash, it would give it to it, and not give a tinker's damn for the rights of the people of Newfoundland.

Once again, we have a government that will do anything ideologically, without a long-term plan for the development of its economy. That is a very shameful way to run a country. We see it in its handling of the long form census and in its vicious attack on the privacy rights of veterans who speak up against it. We see it at every single level of the government.

In the United States, we see the poison waters of the Tea Party. What we are seeing here are the poison waters of the “me party”, an autocratic ruler who says it is his way or the highway and has never encountered a piece of reality that has stopped him from pursuing his agenda. He is rewriting the rules on everything. Who knows? When I am walking past the West Block, will I have to walk past construction helmets with “Hells Angels” on the back?

What is happening under the government's watch is outrageous. We need some accountability, transparency and a measure of prudence in the decision-making on how money is being spent.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act
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10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today. First, I would like to say that I will share my time with my dear colleague from Gatineau.

As many of our colleagues have said, we will support sending this bill and its budget measures to committee to be more closely studied. However, it is clear that the Standing Committee on Finance will have a great deal of work to do in the coming weeks because this bill, which could be considered yet another omnibus bill, contains a number of clauses regarding taxes for individuals, businesses, and different levels of government.

Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, would implement certain measures. It is true that the Bloc Québécois rejected the latest Conservative budget because it was unfair to Quebec. This government gave tax breaks to the oil companies and heavily subsidized the auto industry in Ontario at the expense of the forestry industry in Quebec, which was experiencing a major crisis. For these reasons, and many others, we voted against this budget. Since 2006, this government has done essentially the same thing as the Liberals. Unfortunately, it forgets about the least fortunate members of society.

A close look at these measures makes it clear that the government is still subsidizing industries and banks that are making billions and billions of dollars in profit and putting their money into tax havens around the world without necessarily paying taxes. And what did the last budget do about it? The government brags about cutting corporate taxes and about giving companies tax breaks. At the same time, it continues to steal money that belongs to the unemployed, as it has done for years. That word has serious implications, but sometime words like that need to be used in the hopes of waking the Liberals and Conservatives up. Nearly $60 billion has been pillaged from the employment insurance fund. Yet the last budget contained no help for the unemployed and no employment insurance support for people who lose their jobs.

During the last crisis in my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, a crisis that hit the rest of Quebec and Canada as well, numerous people lost their jobs. Many of them came to our constituency offices because they did not have enough hours to qualify for employment insurance. There were young people who were in their first job. They worked 15 weeks in seasonal jobs. They did not have enough hours to qualify for employment insurance. What can we say to these young people and these workers? In Quebec, we told them to go to social assistance for support because they were not eligible for employment insurance, to which they had been contributing, some of them for their whole lives.

And what about the employment insurance fund? There was a $55 billion surplus. The surplus disappeared with the last budget. The Liberals and Conservatives were complicit because they knew they were both in the same boat. They simply decided to spend the surplus. There is nothing left. They have told the unemployed that they cannot help them. It is shameful to have so little empathy for the least fortunate in our society.

We see the same insensitivity when it comes to the guaranteed income supplement for seniors. Yesterday, the Bloc Québécois presented petitions with thousands of signatures from FADOQ, a Quebec seniors' organization, calling on the government to improve the guaranteed income supplement and pay the people who have not received their supplement. FADOQ is also asking that people be registered automatically for the guaranteed income supplement and that it be paid automatically. It is simple. The government has tax data and could automatically pay low-income seniors the supplement. But there is no will. The government has no money for seniors.

The government is investing billions of dollars in weapons, billions of dollars in oil companies that are making a fortune, and billions of dollars in other initiatives. It is investing outrageous amounts of money in the rich and famous and institutions like the banks that have huge sums of money stashed in tax shelters.

We are talking about people, children and families. Quebec is in the midst of a heated debate about whether health care should be privatized. We need money. Quebec needs larger transfer payments for its health care system.

Yesterday, I listened to the debate, and equalization came up. Quebec was described as a have-not province that needed a certain amount of equalization. But the government is investing $20 billion in weapons and giving oil companies huge tax breaks. This money, which is given away and does not come back as tax revenue, cannot be redistributed. These exorbitant amounts are not factored into equalization.

A sovereign Quebec could control its own tax revenue and its own economic, political and social levers. Yesterday, during a speech here on the budget, one member said that a sovereign Quebec would not be viable because Quebec currently receives equalization. I do not think a sovereign Quebec would choose to invest billions in F-35s. Because of its ideological bent, this government is aggressive when it comes to military spending.

I see a member from Quebec entering the House. I would ask her—and the government members—to think about Quebec's social democratic values when she votes; to think about the people in her riding who need support, especially unemployed workers and seniors. She should be asking her government to increase health and education transfers, instead of investing in budgets dedicated to fighter planes, and in services and tax breaks that only help the wealthiest people in our society. That is the usual approach taken by this government: always reducing corporate taxes, increasing fees and cutting social services that help people in need.

At this time, the President of the United States is making huge efforts. He is aggressively attacking tax shelters. He wants to raise corporate taxes, because nearly 50 million Americans do not have health care. Here, the Conservatives are doing the opposite.

In the last budget, when the government decided to invest money to help the economy, the media and environmental experts alike, and everyone really, said that in addition to helping our workers more, the budget could have also included a green shift, an ecological shift. The Conservatives could have used that money to transform our economy into a green economy. What they did instead was to continue investing in dirty energy and continue more or less with the same old approach, that is, supporting the banking system and corporations. There was no shift.

In closing, I would like to say that Bill C-47, like budget 2010, completely disregards the economic situation Quebeckers find themselves in. It is high time for parliamentarians to address the real needs of Quebeckers and all Canadians.

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10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether the hon. member attended the technical briefing that was available to all of us on Tuesday evening. I attended it and took home a copy of the bill, which I read. I have a question for the hon. member that which puzzles me.

He said in his speech that the government had an ideological bias against the poor and that we were forgetting them. Has the member looked at pages 8 and 9 of the bill which talk specifically about making changes to the Income Tax Act to assist people who are the most vulnerable in our society, the people who are in need of RDSP and the opportunities for their families to make contributions? We have made some significant changes in that. Pages 30 and 31 talk about changes to the Income Tax Act for pensions plans. We have made changes on page 57 for CPP, also item 69 regarding employee benefit plans. Page 66 talks about changes to the act for the registered charities, which are specifically organizations that look to assist vulnerable people in our society.

Given the fact that we have had the support from the CFIB on a number of our initiatives and from the chambers of commerce across the country, my question for the hon. member is this. Has he read Bill C-47?

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10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois has indeed considered this budget bill responsibly. That is why we have said that some measures, those concerning single parent families for example, are a step in the right direction, as the hon. member mentioned. That is why we are supporting the bill.

I agree with the hon. member, but it is not enough. The party must end for the oil companies. It is time to get serious. When companies earn exorbitant profits and do not pay their share of taxes, whether we are talking about the banks or any other company, they are basically taking tax revenue out of the budget. This additional tax revenue would allow the government to create more measures to support the people and sectors in need.

I have spoken at length about the fact that the forestry sector in Quebec is in crisis. If there were more money available, we could provide more support to certain key sectors. We could also support more seniors and increase the Canada child tax benefit.

Indeed, some of the measures are good and that is why we are supporting this bill. However, we can do a lot more for the people in need. We can make sure that Canadian companies that hand out performance bonuses or make huge profits contribute more to the tax base.

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10:45 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's comments on Bill C-47. Yesterday the parliamentary secretary claimed that the Canada Revenue Agency was cracking down on over contributions to the tax free savings accounts, TFSA, but he said nothing about trying to collect tax on some of the $6 trillion to $10 trillion that are being held in tax havens around the world.

Four years ago the German government gave Canada the names of 106 Canadians with a combined total of more than $100 million stashed in Liechtenstein accounts. So far the Canada Revenue Agency has evidently closed only 26 of those cases. It assessed $5.2 million in back taxes, but has collected nothing, not one cent. However, since 2006, the Germans have recovered some 200 million euros and the U.S. is actively pursuing 150 individuals.

Why is the government unable to collect back taxes from tax haven investors when it has been given the names and the records?