House of Commons Hansard #3 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd 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

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, in opening this debate, the leader of the official opposition mentioned the Olympic Games. In keeping with the spirit of the opening ceremonies of those games, we see that Quebec is absent from the budget. Quebec was not present; Quebec does not exist and this is just like the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games.

We went on a major tour, a real tour. My colleague from Alfred-Pellan and all the other Bloc Québécois colleagues and I talked to Quebeckers face to face. We did not invite them to meeting rooms or round tables here in Ottawa. We went to see them and not just at chambers of commerce, but at FADOQ, youth groups, unions, community agencies and cooperatives. They gave us their thoughts on a budget that would have helped Quebec.

For example, we realize today that Mr. Dubuc was right when he said in yesterday's La Presse that this government merely showed its lack of talent and interest in innovation, research, development and helping to improve the competitiveness of Quebec companies.

After reading the budget, we must say that Alain Dubuc was right yesterday. Today Alain Dubuc says:

This budget is not very credible at all.

And he goes on to say:

What is more, despite the financial situation, he did not resist the temptation... to distribute a catalogue full of goodies.

For two days in a row, we have agreed with Alain Dubuc. I think that is a first for the Bloc Québécois.

What did we see in social terms? Nothing. Regarding the social aspect, I met with people from FRAPRU. Just like François Saillant, these people are disappointed today that the end of the investments will leave nothing but crumbs for the poorly-housed and the homeless, whose numbers have increased as a result of the economic crisis.

Something incredible is happening with respect to cooperative housing. The end of the agreements between CMHC and cooperative housing is such that those who manage cooperative homes are being more selective in terms of their new tenants. They are saying, but not in writing, of course, that they have to be careful and try to rent to people with higher rather than lower incomes. This goes against the purpose of social housing and cooperative housing. The absence of the CMHC from these agreements will distort social housing in Quebec and elsewhere.

As we have heard, there is nothing for homelessness. As we said yesterday and we are explaining again here today, the problem of homelessness is increasing right now. It does not appear at the beginning of a recession. At first, people start losing hours of work. Then they turn to EI benefits and welfare. This drives up provincial deficits. It is not until later that people find themselves on the street or forced to spend 125% of their income for housing, because they no longer have an income or a place to live.

What did we see yesterday? Nothing. Nothing for the programs to fight homelessness.

As for employment insurance, we submitted our document to the Minister of Finance's office, not just once, but twice, three times even—first by mail, then in person, and a third time at the end of our tour—asking him to improve the EI system. Employment insurance involves a presumption of good faith; increasing the maximum insurable earnings to 60%; eliminating the waiting period; and standardizing the eligibility threshold at 360 hours. It is false to say that two unemployed workers from the same company are different because they live in two different towns. We proposed all of this to the finance minister. Yet, the budget contains nothing for employment insurance.

As for income security, for example, an increase in the guaranteed income supplement, once again there was nothing. Some people in Quebec are being left out in the cold again.

Regarding forestry, on page 259 of this magnificent volume—the government has certainly shown foresight—we see that $9.718 billion was granted to the auto sector, while just $170 million is being spent on marketing and innovation in the forestry sector.

It is shameful. This is like giving $9,718 to workers in the auto sector and $160 to forestry workers. That is how the math works. This situation is unacceptable. I say bravo to the Quebec caucus of the Conservative Party, bravo to the minister from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean: they obtained 57 times less than the ministers from Ontario in this budget. Bravo to the Conservative members of Parliament.

As for tackling the deficit, on page 174, it clearly states that the deficit should shrink to $1.8 billion by 2014-15. That seems clear, but what is less clear is where the government is going to find that money.

On page 180, a table illustrates very well what employment insurance benefits will be. For last year, benefits total $18.4 billion, while on page 176, the employment insurance premium revenues indicated are $26.6 billion. This boils down to stealing $8.2 billion out of the EI account to finance a $1.8 billion expenditure. That is not made clear in the budget. One has to cross-check the information on various pages. In terms of disclosure, the Conservative government scores a big fat zero.

Regarding income tax, the tax reductions are very well illustrated. It would appear that some of last year's tax reductions for Canadians apply this year. Let us take a look at what these tax reductions represent. A family with an income between $100,000 and $150,000 will benefit from tax relief of $1.96 per day, as compared to $0.67 per day for a family with an income between $30,000 and $45,000. And this, at a cost of $3.2 billion to the public purse.

Yesterday, much was made of the universal child care benefit. A very nice table was published in La Presse today, which shows that families with an income of $150,000 or more will receive $140, or 38¢ per day, those with an income of $50,000 will receive $70, or 19¢ per day, and those whose income is less than $30,000 will receive 0¢ per day. This whole thing is a waste of $3.2 billion.

We have suggested that the Minister of Finance check his own statistics. He would see that 324,160 Canadians have a taxable income of more than $150,000. Together, they have earned $52 billion. We have asked him to collect 2% on that income. That would represent $1.56 billion.

Also, there are 189,450 Canadians with a taxable income of more than $250,000. Let the Minister of Finance collect 3% from individuals whose taxable income is greater than $250,000. That would represent $3.1 billion.

Basically, what we are suggesting is that, instead of giving $1.50 to wealthy people, more money should be collected from those who have the most money. This way, $4.2 billion in revenue could be generated, instead of wasting $3.2 billion.

That is the difference between the strategy for distributing wealth put forward by the members of the Bloc Québécois and the Conservative Party's strategy, which distributes wealth among the wealthy.

Why was nothing done yesterday about the outrageous tax bills sent to seniors who had entrusted their savings to criminals? Why was nothing done about that?

The Minister of National Revenue said that he could not change the Income Tax Act. Unfortunately, he was right. Only the Minister of Finance can. Yesterday, no changes were made to the tax position of those poor people who have been fleeced by the Earl Joneses of this world. They could have been allowed to deduct the fraud losses from their income, but there was nothing about that.

A small effort has been made with regard to tax havens. Yesterday, we saw that the government is capable of making small changes with regard to high-income earners who are given stock options. We know very well that someone who receives options cashes them in at some point and the capital gain realized is taxed at 50%.

In the private sector, many people are paid in cash. Therefore, there was a tax loophole and the minister filled that, which is perfect. He showed a certain flexibility but we are asking him to do more.

Corporations have $3 billion in tax havens and banks have $2.3 billion. The minister has all the information. Nothing was done about that. They are going to sign an agreement with Panama to increase the number of foreign subsidiaries and take advantage of the resulting tax haven.

That is shameful.

As for the Quebec securities commission and the Autorité des marchés financiers, why interfere with something that is within the jurisdiction of Quebec, its government and Quebeckers? It affects not only those working for the AMF but also all those professionals who have been trained and who work in lawyer's offices or in consulting offices, as well as all those working in SMEs. Quebec is a hot spot for SMEs.

If the Conservative project goes ahead, what will all those who do business with the AMF do? They will be forced to send emails in English somewhere else in Canada. And yet it is within Quebec's jurisdiction. What is the Conservative government doing? It is ignoring this jurisdiction, it does not care.

The government is going to be hearing from us about to the AMF and the securities commission.

Another example of the government's lack of respect has to do with Hydro-Québec. Hydro-Québec is a subsidiary of the Government of Quebec, and Hydro One is a subsidiary of the Government of Ontario. Why are these two companies treated differently?

In a long letter, the former Minister of Finance of Quebec explained this very clearly to the current Minister of Finance of Canada. Why is Hydro One not treated the same way as Hydro-Québec? Why does this benefit the Government of Ontario and disadvantage the Government of Quebec to the tune of $250 million a year?

Let us turn our attention now to tax harmonization. Yesterday, the Premier of Quebec was a bit embarrassed to say that he was disappointed. I understand how he feels. He is negotiating with someone who has a sledgehammer. The Finance Minister and the Premier of Quebec were being polite yesterday, because Quebec is supposed to be receiving $2.2 billion, but deep down, they are fed up because Quebec has been waiting for the money for 18 years. There is no respect for tax harmonization.

People are asking themselves for whom, how and why this budget was prepared. They should be saying against whom, against what.

We on this side of the House have had it with the government's incompetence when it comes to recognizing Quebec. We do not know where the government is coming from or where it is going, but we know where we are going.

The budget excludes Quebec and treats Quebec as if it does not exist, but Quebec does exist. Quebeckers are not fools, and that is why most of the members from Quebec are sovereignists from the Bloc Québécois. We will not deceive Quebeckers. We will not hide when it comes time to vote. We will not be absent from this side of the House on the day of the vote. We will vote against the budget. We will do that, unless—and I would like to move a motion, seconded by the member for Joliette:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after “That” and substituting the following:

“this House shall not support the government’s budgetary policy unless the government eliminates the tax benefits given to the oil industry, thereby enabling it to compensate Quebec for harmonizing the QST and GST, enhance the Employment Insurance Plan, strengthen the Guaranteed Income Supplement and establish a credible assistance plan for the forestry industry, and unless the government abandons the idea of establishing a national securities commission”.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member's speech should be followed by a 10-minute question and comment period. It being almost 11 o'clock, it may be a good idea to postpone the vote until after oral questions.

Victory in Europe Student Tour
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to honour 58 individuals from Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock. They will be participating in the victory in Europe student tour taking place this May in the Netherlands. This group is the largest custom tour group in Canada attending the 65th anniversary of the victory in Europe and the liberation of the Netherlands.

As part of the program, students will each be representing a soldier from Oxford who fought and died during the liberation of the Netherlands. Each student has undertaken extensive research to learn more about each soldier's life and will be representing them at a candlelight vigil ceremony in Amsterdam.

Together with thousands of Canadian and Dutch high school students, veterans, dignitaries and local citizens, they will celebrate, remember and pay tribute to those who fought for our freedom.

I would like to compliment Melissa McKibbin, a teacher from Huron Park Secondary School, on her work in arranging this trip and working with the students.

Please join me in wishing the students, staff and friends of Huron Park Secondary School a safe and memorable trip.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, nearly a week has passed since the wrap-up of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games and yet Canadians are still feeling that exhilaration and pride.

Our athletes represented us with more patriotism, grace and sportsmanship than we could have ever imagined. Their performances, whether on the podium or not, were truly world-class.

The games were not just about sports. They represented something even bigger than the new gold medal world record they set. The 2010 Olympics brought our country together in unprecedented ways. The national pride we demonstrated every day and the way we welcomed the world with open arms and our big Canadian hearts will forever be remembered by all.

To the entire Olympic family, the volunteers and everyone else, congratulations for a job well done. To our athletes, congratulations. They are all winners in our eyes for they made us proud. Their efforts gave us a record golden Canada for so many golden moments. We thank them. Merci.

Roland Janelle
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the performing arts community awarded Mr. Roland Janelle the RIDEAU “Reconnaissance” prize for his work as a passionate networker displaying enlightened leadership within his community and professional environment, an efficient manager, a good communicator, a skilful negotiator, a project designer, and even a society builder.

Mr. Janelle's career has been absolutely remarkable. His talent, determination and leadership have allowed Drummondville to become a key stop on Quebec's presentation circuit. It will be even more so after the cultural centre facilities have been expanded and modernized in the next few months.

Obviously, this honour bestowed on him by his peers is reflected on the entire region. What a great opportunity to draw attention to his significant contribution to the development and promotion of our community.

Congratulations to Mr. Roland Janelle.

Aviation Safety
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canadians learned that the government has secretly agreed to participate in the U.S. secure flight program. So, before Canadians can board an aircraft in Canada, even if they are flying to another Canadian destination, their private and personal information will be shared with the United States and that country will determine if Canadians can fly on Canadian flights.

In November 2008, just before they prorogued for the first time, the Conservatives assured the House that the secure flight program would not apply to Canadian domestic flights. The government then told the House that the U.S. had indicated the secure flight program would be exempt for countries with a comparable security system. This was in response to a tame question from the government's own benches.

I am not going to suggest there is anything really fishy going on here, but I can assure Canadians that our aviation security system is as good as the one in the U.S. Why the flip-flop? Why was this never brought before the House for debate?

Is the government as contemptuous for the privacy rights of Canadians as it has shown contempt for democracy? Why are Conservatives hiding?

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Richmond, I would like to thank all the Olympic volunteers who guided us through the games. Whether at the Richmond Oval, the Canada Line stations or in the O Zone, their role contributed enormously to the success of these Olympic winter games.

The torch relay alone drew over 35,000 people at Steveston. Another 25,000 welcomed Rick Hansen, a proud Richmondite, as he carried the torch through Minoru Park. During the games, Richmond was packed with athletes, visitors and local residents.

I would also like to congratulate all the Canadian athletes who made it to the podium, as well as all the other Olympians who participated in true Canadian spirit, including Alexa Loo, a Richmond constituent who represented Canada in the snowboard cross event.

As the Paralympics begin next week, I want to extend my best wishes to all who will participate in these games and wish team Canada every success. Go Canada go.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, Vancouver was transformed by the electricity of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. We enthusiastically welcomed athletes, crowds and the foreign languages heard in the streets. We celebrated our host first nations with pride. With all of Canada, we waved our flags and sometimes shed a few tears, touched by the display of human bravery, dashed hopes and triumphs.

And now, the outpouring of passion we saw in Vancouver has been revived by the Paralympic flame, which has started its journey west. It is now shining the spotlight on the Paralympic athletes, and highlighting their extraordinary courage and their achievements.

Sadly, the Prime Minister has moved to eliminate the break week scheduled during the Paralympics. However, I know my colleagues will strive to equally honour our Paralympians so they do feel recognized as they truly are: first-class athletes and a source of inspiration for all.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 2010 games have ushered in Canada's century, bringing together the greatest display of athletic excellence, volunteer spirit and patriotism our country has ever seen.

I am honoured that so many Canadians visited the riding I represent during the Olympic games. With me, they saw 25,000 volunteers welcome the world with the best of Canadian hospitality. They saw our athletes win an unprecedented 14 gold medals. They cheered with me as champions like Ashleigh McIvor from Whistler, and Maëlle Ricker from Squamish took us to the podium and got us singing our anthem. I invite them back to Whistler to cheer on our Paralympians.

As we savour Olympic memories and embrace the Paralympics, we must channel the momentum of the games to move all Canadians toward healthy living. I am therefore delighted that colleagues from the three opposition parties have joined me once again to invite all MPs and senators to accept the 2010 fitness challenge. As stated in our letter to each of them, we call on them to use their influence to promote health and fitness for all Canadians. Go Canada go.

Twentieth Annual Suicide Prevention Week
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Nicolas Dufour Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 20th annual suicide prevention week was held from January 31 to February 6. Hundreds of events were held throughout Quebec, with the theme of “Have you ever considered it?”.

Over the year, but in particular during this week, organizations and individuals devoted their energies to promoting awareness of suicide among men, women, young people and children.

Unfortunately, for reasons that we all know, we did not have the opportunity to mention this week in the House when the events were going on.

However, today I am reaching out to all parliamentarians in this House, all partisanship aside, so that we can join together to highlight the importance of continuing to fight against this scourge that too often affects our young people, and so that in the future, the answer to “Have you ever considered it?” will always be no.

The Budget
Statements By Members

March 5th, 2010 / 11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, budget 2010 implements year two of our economic action plan. It will help create jobs and promote the economic recovery by implementing $19 billion in new stimulus to create jobs now, investing to create jobs and growth for the economy of tomorrow and planning a return to budgetary balance once the economy recovers.

The budget also creates and protects jobs, sustains Canada's economic advantage and lays a strong foundation for the future by extending the enhancements to the work-sharing program, supporting young workers through internships and skills development, supporting innovation, training and research and development to create the jobs of tomorrow, investing in keeping taxes low to encourage growth and make us more competitive, eliminating tariffs to position Canada as an investment and trade friendly country, and cutting red tape to reduce the burden on Canadian businesses.

Canadians can trust our Conservative government to continue to put jobs and the economy first.

International Solidarity
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the earthquakes that rocked Haiti and Chile in the past two months reminded us just how fragile everything is and how it can all be turned upside down from one moment to the next. They also reminded us of the importance of international solidarity in such tragic times.

Natural disasters strike without warning and can be merciless. When we work together, we reaffirm the dignity of human life in the face of nature's brute force.

Canada has a special role to play in helping its neighbours in the Americas, and I would like to take this opportunity to reassure our friends, our Chilean and Haitian brothers and sisters and their family members living here, that they can count on our unfailing support in these difficult times.

We stepped up for Haiti and Chile, and this House will always find a way to set aside its differences in times of crisis because, as a people, we know that there is a time for debate and a time for unity in the face of adversity. Chileans and Haitians know that they can count on our unfailing support.

Take heart; we are standing with them.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, this budget will deliver year two of Canada's economic action plan. It will help solidify Canada’s economic recovery. It will invest $19 billion in order to create jobs now; it will invest in targeted actions to create jobs and stimulate growth for our economic future; and it outlines a plan for returning to a balanced budget.

How will we do it? By improving the work-sharing program; by supporting young workers through internships and skills development; by ensuring innovation, training, education, and research and development; by keeping taxes low; by eliminating tariffs to make Canada a better place to invest and to do business; and by cutting red tape in order to ease the burden for Canadian businesses.

While the Bloc Québécois is trying once again to make Quebec look like the victim and mislead the people, Quebeckers and Canadians can count on the Conservative government to ensure that employment and the economy remain at the forefront of government priorities.

Earthquake in Chile
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians will know that early in the morning of February 27, 2010, an 8.8-power earthquake in southern Chile along with subsequent tsunami coastal flooding turned the lives of more than two million Chileans into a nightmare. While over 800 deaths have been confirmed, the search for bodies and any possible survivors is still ongoing.

After the initial priority to establish contact with family and friends was accomplished, the Chilean community in Winnipeg and elsewhere in Canada has been mobilizing to provide support to the affected people. As always, Canadians can be counted on to support both the immediate aid as well as the longer term rebuilding.

The question many Canadians are asking is, will the Canadian government be matching dollar for dollar the personal donations of Canadians for the victims of the Chilean earthquake and tsunami as it did for the Haitian catastrophe?

Taxation
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is a proudly self-described tax and spend Liberal. He believes the GST should be raised. He brags that he was the first Liberal to tout a carbon tax. If he becomes prime minister, he says he will “have to raise taxes”. The member for Parkdale—High Park even says, “Canadians are prepared to pay more taxes”.

The Liberals want higher taxes for everything: taxes for grandiose uncosted environmental plans, taxes for more Liberal social engineering programs, and taxes for megaproject after megaproject. Tax, tax, tax; that is all the Liberals talk about.

Liberals just do not get it. Higher taxes and unaffordable spending will not create jobs and do not encourage economic growth. These tax and spend ideas are a failed Liberal policy from the past. They did not work then and they will not work now.

Our jobs and growth budget maintains our funding commitments on health care, education and support for seniors without raising taxes. Our jobs and growth budget will help solidify Canada's economic recovery and sustain our economic advantage now and for the future without raising taxes.