House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-12.

Topics

Democratic Representation Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise on this somewhat eventful afternoon. In a few minutes, the Minister of Finance will deliver his budget speech. I hope all members will have the opportunity to listen to what I have to tell them, because the message that the Bloc Québécois wants to convey about Bill C-12 is very important.

Madam Speaker, I see that you are concerned. Sure, you can call members to order and tell them to listen to me. Go ahead, that is fine with me.

Bill C-12, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Democratic representation), is a bill that reduces Quebec's political weight within Canada. Unlike the Liberal member who just spoke, I do not think that is acceptable. Reducing Quebec's weight within Canada is yet another attack by this government—and the previous Liberal government—against Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois, which stands up for Quebec's interests, cannot accept this legislation, and it is asking the House to refuse to give second reading to Bill C-12, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Democratic representation), because it would reduce in an unacceptable fashion the political weight of the Quebec nation in the House of Commons.

In the Charlottetown accord of 1992, all the partners of the Canadian federation had agreed to guarantee Quebec 25% of the seats in the House of Commons. Even though the accord was rejected through a referendum, the specific needs of Quebec, the only province with a francophone majority, were highlighted. That specific issue had been recognized by all the partners of the Canadian federation. Not only was the issue recognized, a solution had also been found. Indeed, Quebec was guaranteed 25% of the seats in the House of Commons.

A few years later, after the referendum was lost, people began to say that this was a minor issue, that it was not important and that what really mattered was that elected members should express their views in the House.

Last Sunday, I watched a television program on Radio-Canada. I know that 75% of the members of this House do not listen to Radio-Canada on a Sunday evening, but that program is watched by over one million people in Quebec, somewhere around 1,2 million, 1.3 million or 1.5 million, depending on who the guests are. The ratings for last Sunday have not yet been released, but the TV show Tout le monde en parle is very popular in Quebec.

Jean Lapointe used to be a Liberal senator. Do you know what he said? He was reminiscing about his experiences as a senator and he was clearly not too proud of himself or of what he had seen and heard. He said this: “Since I left the Senate, the federalist in me has died a bit. I am not yet a separatist or a sovereignist, but it would not take a very big push to make me one.” Of course, he said that in his own characteristic manner. We understand that to mean that federalists who come here to Ottawa to this House or the other one and who see all the injustices against Quebec and all the attacks by Quebec and who care about Quebeckers are a lot less federalist when they leave here or the other place. As Jean Lapointe said, “it would not take a very big push” for them to become sovereignists.

But do not worry, Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois will give him that little push. As a senator, Mr. Lapointe witnessed many injustices against Quebec. He saw those injustices up close and he saw Canada attack Quebec, try to take away its place, try to impose its values on Quebec and ignore its needs, as is the case with Bill C-12. That bill is a good example of an injustice against Quebec. It shows once more that Quebec and Canada are two distinct countries in one, two solitudes. We do not talk to each other or if we do talk, we do not say much. Anyway, the conversations are often difficult because we do not speak the same language. When we talk to each other, we do not understand each other. Bill C-12 is proof of this.

Quebec federalists arrive in Ottawa with a romantic image of Canada as a great bilingual country with beautiful Rocky Mountains. The reality in Ottawa is quite different; the reality is Bill C-12, and there is nothing romantic about it.

This Conservative government is multiplying its injustices, aggressions and attacks. Yesterday morning, I was speaking to someone in my riding I did not know at all. She was determined to talk to me. She could not understand why the Conservative government is so aggressive towards Quebec. She wanted to know why the government was rejecting tax harmonization and refusing to pay the $2.2 billion it owes Quebec. It would only be fair since it paid compensation to Ontario, British Columbia and the maritime provinces, but not to Quebec. We have been pushing for this for years. For the past year, we have been asking questions every week and demanding that the government pay Quebec $2.2 billion as compensation for the sales tax harmonization it implemented several years ago, but the government is not responding. It is not giving us the real reasons. If we knew the real reasons, perhaps we could do it. Is it a matter of negotiation? Do they think we do not deserve it? We are not getting any answer. Once more, this is an unjustified attack against Quebec. Quebeckers do not understand why this government is always attacking Quebec.

While the Bloc Québécois is defending Quebec's interests, the Conservative government is attacking Quebec. Quebeckers cannot understand why this is happening, and yet there have been countless attacks. We can try to understand the government's attitude, but it is beyond comprehension. In November 2007, this House recognized Quebec as a nation, which was only fair since it is indeed a nation. In French, we call this a lapalissade, which means stating the obvious. La Palice was a man who used to say obvious things. For instance, he would say that a man was dead because he was not living any more. This is a lapalissade. For those who are watching, I am very pleased to enrich their vocabulary with this word. Recognizing Quebec as a nation was therefore a lapalissade, a truism. Yet Quebec's numerous claims remain unanswered.

Quebec has been asking for a long time that the responsibility for arts, culture and communications be transferred. Even the Conservative Minister of Foreign Affairs, when he was the Liberal Minister of Communications in the Quebec government, asked that the responsibility for telecommunications be transferred to the Quebec government. On March 23, 2009, Quebec Minister of Culture Christine Saint-Pierre asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage to set up a negotiating committee to transfer the responsibility for communications, arts and culture.

On June 19, 2010, Claude Béchard, the former Minister responsible for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs who is now deceased, said to the daily Le Devoir:

... we are working on “a new approach” to conduct successful bilateral negotiations with the federal government in order to obtain certain constitutional amendments...These amendments would deal with “culture and communications”...“It might also be interesting to include the whole issue of the nation in the constitutional talks.”

Those words are from Claude Béchard, the former Quebec Minister of Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and MNA for Rivière-du-Loup, who is now deceased. He was stating, on behalf of the Quebec government, his intention to continue to ask for the responsibility over arts and culture, because it is normal, because we are a nation, because those are our values, because in Quebec we respect our artists, our culture and particularly—because these days this is very important—we respect the value of the work done by artists. In its Bill C-32, this government did not add insult to injury, it added contempt to injury by depriving artists from $126 million in copyright revenues annually.

We are not talking about subsidies but copyrights. This is money that artists deserve. It is their salary. However, the bill introduced by the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages is going to deprive artists of $126 million every year. Such an attitude is totally mind-boggling. As I said, it is not an insult to artists. To deprive people who earn an average of $23,000 annually of the money that they used to get is showing contempt towards them. Bill C-32 is totally unacceptable. It is another attack on Quebec, as is Bill C-12.

In conclusion, Bill C-12, which is against a fair representation for Quebec in the House of Commons, should be withdrawn.

Democratic Representation Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand the frustration that my colleague is experiencing. After 20 years, she is still a member of the opposition and has nothing to show for it. I am proud to know that we resolved the fiscal imbalance and that we have done a lot for the people of Quebec. This afternoon, the Minister of Finance will have excellent news for Quebec. I am anxious to see whether the member will support the budget and, in doing so, ensure that Quebec's economy will continue to prosper and create jobs.

I find it surprising that my colleague did not mention René Lévesque, given that she is pro-sovereignty. Many people here in the House have the greatest respect for this man, who was a great democrat. The principle of representation by population—one person, one vote—was very important to him.

Is my colleague a democrat? Does she think that it is right for the members of this House to represent the people in their part of the country, taking into account population growth, as true democrats, or does she have a narrow vision of Quebec, seeing it as surrounded by walls? This bill protects the interests of Quebec and may even give it the opportunity to receive additional seats should its population grow.

Is the member a true democrat? Does she intend to support the best budget Canada can have for Quebec?

Democratic Representation Act
Government Orders

March 22nd, 2011 / 4 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, rather than siding with his Minister of Finance, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse should side with his constituents, the workers at Davie Shipyards.

Democratic Representation Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member will be able to continue with questions and comments the next time the bill is before the House, but I must interrupt her now. She will have two and a half minutes left.

It being 4 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Ways and Means Proceedings No. 11 concerning the budget presentation.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

moved:

That this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Mr. Speaker, today our government presents to Canadians the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth.

Since 2006, our government has worked hard to deliver real benefits to Canadians, real support for the challenges of the real world. We cut the GST twice, from 7% to 6% to 5%. We introduced the $1,200 per year universal child care benefit. We established the tax free savings account. We removed more than one million low income Canadians from the tax rolls. The list goes on. We delivered these benefits to support the financial security of Canadian families, while protecting health care and pensions.

In good times and challenging circumstances, our government has made responsible choices. When times were good, we paid down debt. We strengthened our already strong financial sector. We delivered more than 120 tax cuts for Canadian workers, families and job-creating entrepreneurs. We also rejected calls from the opposition to impose a job-killing carbon tax.

Most important, when the global recession hit, Canada was able to meet the challenge head on. Through Canada's economic action plan, we delivered further tax cuts to help stimulate our economy.

We enhanced unemployment benefits and expanded retraining for those hit hardest by the global recession. We also made historic investments in roads, bridges, public transit and higher education—creating jobs across the country, and building the foundation for long-term growth.

As a result, Canada is emerging from the global recession as one of the world's top performing advanced economies. Throughout the recession, the world has looked to Canada as a model and an inspiration, but still there is more to be done. The global economy is still fragile. The U.S. and other trading partners are facing challenges. Compared to other countries, Canada's economy is performing very well, but our continued recovery is by no means assured. Many threats remain.

In this period of global uncertainty, our government is focused on the number one priority of Canadians. We are focused on securing our economic recovery. We are focused on improving the financial security of Canadian workers, seniors and families. We have a plan to achieve these goals—a plan that is working—and we need to stay on track.

The next phase of Canada's economic action plan is critically important.

To secure our recovery from the global recession, Canada needs a principled, stable government. Now is not the time for instability. It would make it harder for Canadian businesses to plan and to expand. It would drive investment away to other countries. It would jeopardize the gains we have made.

Our government will provide a steady hand needed to secure our recovery and strengthen the financial security of Canadians. We have a balanced plan to achieve these goals, a low tax plan for jobs and growth.

Today, Parliament faces a choice. It is a choice between stability and uncertainty. It is a choice between principle and opportunism.

Our government is focused on securing our recovery from the global recession. We will keep taxes low. We will undertake additional targeted investments to support jobs and growth. We will control government spending and stay on track to eliminate the deficit.

We will not cut transfer payments for crucial services like health care and education. We will not cut those transfers for health care and education like the previous Liberal government did. We will not give in to opposition demands to impose massive tax increases. This reckless policy would lead to continuing deficits and higher taxes for all Canadians. It would stall our recovery, kill hundreds of thousands of jobs and set families back.

Sustained growth comes from the private sector.

We will help businesses to create jobs. We will not raise taxes on growth. This is a key principle moving forward in the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. I encourage all the hon. members of this House to examine in detail the comprehensive plan we are presenting today. For now I will mention just a few highlights.

First is our low tax plan to create jobs.

Since July 2009, the Canadian economy has created more than 480,000 new jobs, more than were lost during the recession. Still we remain concerned about the number of Canadians looking for work. We need to keep protecting and creating jobs now. We need to keep building the foundation for long-term growth. A key part of that foundation is low taxes.

Our government has delivered tax relief for all Canadians. There are cuts to the GST and personal income tax. The average Canadian family of four today is saving more than $3,000 each year. Our tax cuts are also helping employers to invest, grow and create jobs.

Our commitment to low taxes is supported by strong consensus that protecting Canada's tax advantage is key to securing our recovery. It is key to creating jobs now and to ensuring long-term growth. That means greater job security for workers and greater financial security for their families. Our government will preserve this advantage for Canada. We will keep taxes low to keep creating jobs for Canadians.

Even so, in the current global economic climate, many businesses remain hesitant to invest and hire. Now it is time for the private sector to invest again. Our government will take further action to encourage it to expand and create jobs.

To encourage small business to hire new employees, we will provide a new targeted incentive. The hiring credit for small business will provide a one year EI break for some 525,000 Canadian small businesses. This measure will reduce payroll costs for new jobs and encourage hiring.

We will also take further action to help the manufacturing and processing sector to encourage investment and job creation. We will extend the 50% straight-line accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing or processing machinery and equipment by an additional two years This will help businesses and exporters to invest, improve productivity and stay competitive. It will benefit a broad range of industries, including pulp and paper, primary manufacturing, computers and electronics, and the automotive industry.

To support the Canadian forestry industry, we will extend the current forest innovation and market development programs.

In addition, through a consultative process involving the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada and their member firms, we will conduct a comprehensive review of policies and programs to develop a federal policy framework to maximize the competitiveness of Canada's aerospace and space industry.

Beyond this, we will promote new export opportunities for all Canadian businesses. Canada is one of the world's great trading nations. We need to keep expanding our access to foreign markets to create new jobs here at home.

Our government has signed a trade agreement with 8 countries and we have launched negotiations with some 50 other countries, including India and the European Union. To support these expanding trade relationships, we will modernize Canada's customs tariff legislation. This will cut red tape and make it easier for Canadian businesses to compete internationally.

Also, we will extend Export Development Canada's temporary powers to support Canadian businesses in the domestic financing market for an additional year.

We will also enhance Canada's engagement with India through stronger bilateral ties among businesspeople, public servants, researchers and academic institutions.

In the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, our government will also take further action to support families and communities to build a higher quality of life for all Canadians. We will provide greater financial security for Canadians and practical help to help make ends meet.

Canadians work hard, looking after their families and contributing to their communities. Many individuals and families have added responsibilities in caring for infirm parents or relatives. These family caregivers make special sacrifices, often leaving the workforce temporarily and forgoing employment income. One may be caring for her mother, just as her mother once cared for her. Another may be at home full-time to look after her young son, who has a disabling illness. Another may be helping his wife as she faces the challenges of MS. Each family caregiver is unique, but all of them are generous Canadians. They are our neighbours, our friends, our family—and they deserve some extra help.

To recognize and support Canadians caring for infirm loved ones, we will establish a new Family Caregiver Tax Credit. This new tax credit will be on an amount of $2,000 and will benefit more than 500,000 Canadians caring for loved ones. It will include, for the first time, those caring for infirm spouses, common-law partners and minor children.

We will also take action on other fronts to help families make ends meet.

For so many Canadian children, involvement in the arts is a part of growing up. Whether it is dance, music lessons or art camp, it is a great way to make friends and develop their creativity. However, for some families the fees and other costs involved can be beyond their reach. To help parents in providing these important opportunities for their children, we will establish a new children's arts tax credit covering up to $500 per child in qualifying expenses for eligible arts and cultural activities.

In addition, we will further help families make their homes more energy efficient by extending for one year the eco-energy retrofit homes program. This will help families lower their energy bills and support jobs in home renovation.

We will also take action to help low-income seniors. In communities across our country there are seniors struggling to pay their bills each month. Often they are women. Often they are widowed. They worked hard their whole lives for their families and communities but lack any pension income. To provide greater support to seniors most in need, we will provide a top-up benefit to the guaranteed income supplement. This new measure will provide up to $600 extra per year for single seniors and up to $840 per year for senior couples. It will improve the financial security of some 680,000 Canadians who helped build our country to help them live their senior years in dignity.

Our government will also provide additional help to Canadians saving for retirement, including self-employed Canadians, through a new, affordable pension option. We will work with our provincial and territorial partners to implement the pooled registered pension plan as soon as possible.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments are continuing work on options for a modest enhancement to the Canada pension plan. Any changes to the CPP will require a consensus among governments and reflect the need to protect Canada's economic recovery.

As I mentioned earlier, through Canada's economic action plan, we have implemented the largest federal investment in infrastructure in over 60 years.

Going forward, we will work with the provinces, the territories, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other stakeholders to develop a new long-term plan for public infrastructure. We will also introduce legislation to confirm permanent funding for municipal infrastructure through the gas tax fund. This will ensure a stable and predictable source of revenue for the renewal of local infrastructure, to improve the quality of life in our cities and towns.

Our government will also take action to strengthen rural and remote communities.

The number of doctors and nurses in Canada has increased in recent years, but Canadians in some regions of the country continue to experience a shortage. We will help address this problem by forgiving a portion of federal student loans for new doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who agree to practise in under-served rural or remote areas.

We will provide $52 million over the next two years to support programs for aboriginal communities across the country, including those in the territories. These investments include support to assist first nations to upgrade and replace their essential fuel tanks on reserve.

We will also take action to support volunteer firefighting services in rural communities. Volunteer firefighters sacrifice their time, and some incur expenses, to provide a crucial service. As we were reminded just days ago by the tragic fire in Listowel, Ontario, they are also willing to sacrifice their lives to protect others. We will recognize the importance of this noble, necessary work, and help sustain volunteer fire departments by establishing a new volunteer firefighters tax credit.

In addition to these concrete measures to strengthen communities, our government will keep investing in the knowledge and skills Canadians need to prosper over the long-term in the global economy.

Since 2006 we have made major investments in research and development, in post-secondary education, and skills training. As noted in a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Canada is increasingly attracting top talent from around the world. Canada has gone from “brain drain” to “brain gain”, and the world is taking notice.

In supporting research and development our goal is to promote innovation—and ultimately to create good, new jobs for Canadians. In the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, we will build on our successful investments so far.

We will establish additional Canada Excellence Research Chairs. We will invest in world-class research through support for the Perimeter Institute, Brain Canada and the Institut national d'optique. We will extend advanced research funding to students and researchers at Canada's colleges and polytechnics.

We will establish 30 Industrial Research Chairs at colleges and polytechnics across Canada. We will also provide new support for joint commercialization projects between colleges, universities and companies.

Alongside our investments in research and development and in higher education, our government has also made substantial investments in skills training. Our goal is to help Canadian workers reach the next stage of their careers and to seize new opportunities in the years to come.

To foster competitiveness in the digital economy, we will encourage colleges to work with small businesses to accelerate the adoption of information and communication technologies. We will promote student enrolment in post-secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.

We will also provide tax relief for Canadians who are required to certify their skills in carpentry, in medicine, and other fields by making their exam fees eligible for the tuition tax credit.

To respond to increased demand for help in career transition through post-secondary education, we will enhance the Canada student loans program for part-time students.

To help older workers who may need special help to re-enter the workforce, we will extend the targeted initiative for older workers.

Over the past two years, work-sharing has protected almost 280,000 jobs. Our government will continue helping businesses to retain employees and keep Canadians working. To continue protecting Canadian jobs, we will enhance and extend the work-sharing program.

We will also take further action to support the outstanding Canadians who have served our country in uniform. We will build on our continuing, substantial support for career transition services through Veterans Affairs Canada. In addition, our support for the helmets to hardhats program will help former Canadian military personnel to find work in the construction industry. Our brave Canadian veterans have earned our deepest gratitude and highest respect. This is just one more practical way to provide the support they deserve.

The next phase of Canada's economic action plan is designed to build on our actions so far. It is our plan to create jobs now and sustain economic growth for years to come.

Looking ahead, Canada's leading private sector economists project steady growth over the next few years. Still, the plan our government is presenting today is based on a cautious estimate of Canada's economic growth in the near term. It reflects our government's consistent, responsible and balanced approach to the economy.

A key part of that balanced approach is our commitment to sound fiscal policy.

Among other things, sound fiscal policy requires that we protect the integrity of the tax system.

As promised in the Speech from the Throne last year, we will keep taxes low, while taking action to close unfair tax loopholes that allow a few businesses and individuals to take advantage of Canadians who pay their fair share.

Beyond this and most of all, sound fiscal policy requires that we return to balanced budgets. Canada’s deficit is much smaller than that of most other advanced countries. We are emerging from the global recession with the lowest net debt to GDP ratio of any G7 economy, by far. Even so, we must not be complacent.

We must ensure that Canada remains financially sound, so that we can continue building a future of hope and opportunity for all Canadians.

The global recession required extraordinary investments to protect Canadians, to stimulate our economy, and to create jobs. Canadians understand that a temporary deficit was necessary to limit the impact of the global recession in Canada and all parties in Parliament agreed.

Going forward, to secure our recovery we must now focus increasingly on controlling government spending. We must complete the transition from providing temporary stimulus to ensuring long-term economic growth.

To that end, we will continue implementing our plan to eliminate the deficit and return to balanced budgets by 2015-16.

First, we will complete our stimulus package, as promised.

Second, we will continue specific measures to restrain the growth of government program spending.

Third, we will complete, within the next year, a comprehensive review of government spending. This strategic and operating review is designed to realize substantial additional savings through greater efficiency and effectiveness. It will place us in a strong position to resume paying down government debt, and to continue investing in priorities and supporting Canadian families.

Our government has laid out the next phase of Canada's economic action plan—a low-tax plan for jobs and growth.

It is based on our extensive consultations with Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

It reflects their values and responds to their priorities.

Our plan does not say “yes” to every demand; it does not contain massive new spending—because that's not leadership.

Leadership is about finding a balance between needs. It is about staying focused on our number one priority: securing our economic recovery by creating jobs and growth now and in the years to come.

We believe that the hon. members of the opposition will recognize that our plan addresses practical concerns with responsible solutions. As I said earlier, today Parliament faces a choice, a choice between opportunism or working together to secure our recovery and strengthen the financial security of Canadians.

Our government is focused on providing the principled, stable government our country needs at this challenging but promising time in our history. We will keep taxes low and preserve Canada’s advantage in the global economy to keep creating jobs for Canadians. We will strengthen the financial security of Canadian workers, seniors and families.

By implementing the next phase of Canada’s economic action plan, we can keep building a higher quality of life for our families and communities. By choosing to act in the best interests of our country, we can ensure a bright future for our children and grandchildren.

We invite all hon. members to support our low tax plan for jobs and growth.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, with this budget, the finance minister continues his record as the biggest spending, biggest borrowing finance minister in Canadian history.

The Conservatives continue to stonewall Canadians in Parliament. They refuse to tell Canadian taxpayers what they are intent on spending on U.S. style mega-prisons. There is a $43 billion black hole in this budget. There is no mention of the $30 billion for fighter jets. There is no mention of the $13 billion in costs for their U.S. style prison agenda.

The minister speaks about principles. What is so principled about treating Parliament and taxpayers with contempt? What is so principled about spending a thousand more on fighter jets than on post-secondary education? What is so principled about spending a thousand on prisons than investing in youth crime prevention? What is so principled about wasting more on one day on the G8 than a year of investment in seniors?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think there was a question in there somewhere. There may have been a question in there.

This is the same member opposite who voted in favour of the economic action plan. This is the same opposition that supported the economic action plan, that knew that we were in what is now called the great recession, and now we show our way out. Now we follow the plan, we show the way that we reduce the deficit and move to a balanced budget by 2015 and 2016, and we do that in a reasonable, moderate way so that we can sustain economic growth and create more jobs in our country.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, Quebec is expected to wait patiently in line while others get all the treats. Where is the $2 billion for sales tax harmonization? Nowhere to be seen. Where is the EI reform? Nowhere to be seen. Where are the flow-through shares for the forestry industry, and the loans and loan guarantees? Where is our $10 billion for the forestry industry? Nowhere to be seen. Where is the contribution for the Quebec City arena? Nowhere to be seen. Where is the support for new businesses? Nowhere to be seen. Where are the tax incentives to encourage graduates to go back to their home regions? Nowhere to be seen. Where are the homelessness and social housing dollars? Nowhere to be seen. Where is the court challenges program? Nowhere to be seen. Where is AgriFlex? Nowhere to be seen. Where will this leave us? Nowhere.

This budget and this government—

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Finance.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I have a question for him too: where is the Bloc Québécois?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nowhere to be seen.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not hire a choir behind me so I hope everyone will just give me a few minutes.

The people I have been speaking to back home have raised again and again the issue of pensions.

What I see over there is a group of clowns led by the vaudeville carnival barker. They tell us that the only thing people in northern Ontario ever cared about was guns, because they have nothing for pensions. A pooled pension plan is not a stop-gap. It is a bony little finger in a leaky dike. We need improvement in the Canada pension plan and we are not getting that.

The government continues to play games, it continues to walk away, and for the people back home who ask us again and again when the government is going to take the HST off the home heating fuels, there is nothing.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite refers to the “people back home”.

Where I am from in Whitby—Oshawa, the people back home expect me to vote according to what I say to them during an election campaign.

When the member opposite, in election after election tells his people back home that he will vote to get rid of the gun registry and then stands in this place and votes in the contrary direction then I think he has a lot to explain to them.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all members, let me applaud the finance minister for tabling the sixth consecutive budget in a minority Parliament.

The next phase of Canada's economic action plan is on the right track for jobs and growth. It shows our Conservative government is listening to and working for all Canadians, especially those in Atlantic Canada. I want to especially applaud the new volunteer firefighters tax credit. This will help recognize the hard work and dedication of the men and women who place their lives in jeopardy to protect our communities.

Could the Minister of Finance please inform the House how this new tax credit will work and benefit volunteer firefighters across this country?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to thank the hon. member for his support and his advocacy for Canada's volunteer firefighters.

I want to also acknowledge the work of the long-standing member for Lethbridge who originally championed this measure in Parliament.

The way the credit will work is a new tax credit on $3,000 available to those men and women who perform 200 hours of service annually or more.

I want to recognize those who serve our communities as volunteer firefighters. Although we can never truly repay them for risking their lives as they do to protect us, we can give thanks to them. To the wives, families and friends of Raymond Walter and Ken Rea, along with the community of Listowel, Ontario we send our deepest condolences on the loss of those two brave Canadians.