House of Commons Hansard #148 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Resignation of Members
Oral Questions

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with a twinge of sadness that I address you today. I am winking slightly when I say that the reason I am in politics today is somewhat the Liberals’ fault, because of employment insurance in particular. I would also like you to know that the most important thing I take with me, after being here for four years as the assistant to Jean-Yves Roy and as a member since 2004, is two words: respect and honour.

I have always thought that no matter who comes to see us in our offices to ask for help, be it large or small—and ultimately, I do not think there are large or small cases, there are just cases—the first thing we have to do, and I think that most if not a large majority of the people here do this readily, through their staff, is treat the people who come to see us with respect, regardless of their political allegiance or their problem.

The second is honour. It is an honour to have been able to represent the people of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine. I am very honoured. And I would invite you to visit the Îles-de-la-Madeleine in the next few weeks, for the seal hunt, which will start soon, or in the summer. The Îles-de-la-Madeleine and the Gaspé are wonderful places, and one day they will enjoy the benefits of greater development.

In closing, I would simply like to say that the work I have been able to do is also a matter of teamwork with my staff, both my assistants in Ottawa and my constituency assistants.

It is our supporters who make it possible for us to be elected, when that happens, or to be re-elected. I would like to thank the people in the Gaspé and the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, whom I will be seeing again soon. I am coming home.

Resignation of Members
Oral Questions

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have been thinking a lot about my future for the last while and have concluded that after 17 and a half years in active politics, the time has come to retire. I will therefore not be a candidate in the next election.

I will be 70 this fall. I am still in good shape, both physically and mentally, but at the dawn of a new decade, I can say my years are numbered. I would like to take a few of them, therefore, for the things I have always wanted to do but for which politics left me too little time.

First, spend more time close to my family. Then visit the two little twins our daughter has given us, their little cousin our son just had, and the grandchildren that will undoubtedly follow. Spend more and better-quality time with my wife of nearly 40 years, who has suffered too much from the absences forced upon me by the diabolical pace of political life. Share in some of the joy of my own children, who have become loving, capable parents, responsible adults, and professionals who are much appreciated in their workplaces and who also devote time to volunteer work in the community.

Travel, for sure. Read, listen to music, and take advantage of the wonderful cultural life in the city where I live. Spend more time with friends and more time doing my favourite sports: cycling and skiing—good balance sports. I will be just as active, but less stressed out.

I was most honoured to serve as a minister in Quebec City and a member of Parliament in Ottawa. Those are great privileges, given to few. I did my very best to be equal to these onerous responsibilities. The time has come, however, to leave that privilege to younger people.

Resignation of Members
Oral Questions

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it has been an honour to represent the people of Burnaby—Douglas. As a gay man, it has been an honour to represent the queer community in this place.

My work here has been possible thanks to that of many others, including comrades in my offices: Jane Ireland, Sonja van Dieen, Ayesha Haider, Caren Yu and Andrea Emond, Lynn MacWilliam, Corie Langdon, Gillian Chan and many interns. Their professionalism, creativity and service to the community and this institution have been outstanding.

I am inspired by my leader and caucus and many party activists. I salute my brothers and sisters in my union, CEP 232, for their dedication to ensuring that what we desire for ourselves we seek for all.

I want to thank the employees of the House of Commons without whom I could not have done this job.

I want to thank my family, my partner Brian Burke, my parents Bill and Pat, in what we came to know as the “Whitby office”, and to thank Keith Gilbert, Brad Teeter, Russ Neely and my brother David and his family for their steadfast love and care. I have also been blessed with the best riding association, thanks to the commitment and talents of many folks, including Lil Cameron, Lila Wing, Michael Walton, Marianne Bell, Jaynie Clark and Doug Sigurdson.

I will miss working in solidarity with dedicated people. The transgender and transsexual communities have taught me so much about our humanity and courage. I wish we had a bit more time. I have learned much from peace, anti-war and nuclear disarmament activists; from gay and lesbian couples determined to walk through the front door of the important institution of marriage; from those detained and working to repeal security certificates; from war resisters; from local activists on homelessness and poverty, the environment and industrial and transportation safety; from animal rights activists; from the labour movement and refugees, immigrants and temporary workers and their allies; from supporters of CBC/Radio Canada and those seeking more open government.

My predecessor, Svend Robinson, once remarked that the highest duty of a member of Parliament was love. Love should be our daily agenda, a daring, justice-seeking and tender love. Some day, even here, we will find that path where all that we do we do for love.

Resignation of Members
Oral Questions

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have had the honour of representing the people of Brome—Missisquoi in the House. I am proud of being a sovereignist and proud of being a Quebecker and a member of the Bloc Québécois. On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I have had the honour and pleasure of being responsible for the social housing and homelessness files, as well as natural resources and the environment. I have derived great satisfaction from my debates with all the hon. members, and I thank them for it. I also appreciated your way of presiding over the House, Mr. Speaker.

I leave very content with my time here and with having worked with a leader, the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, who is both so exacting and so nice. I thank him for having made a place for me on his team. I would like as well to thank all my colleagues for their support and solidarity.

I also want to take advantage of this opportunity to thank the voters for their confidence in me. Finally, my greatest thanks go to my wife, Estelle, for her support, her help and her love. I will now have the great pleasure of returning to live by her side.

Thanks to all and sundry, and farewell, Mr. Speaker.

Resignation of Members
Oral Questions

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would like to thank all those hon. members who spoke today.

I know that all colleagues have enjoyed them very much and I congratulate each member who has spoken. Since I am joining this group, I will say something tomorrow.

At 5:30 p.m., there will be a reception in Room 216.

I invite all hon. members to join us for a celebration of the work of the members who have spoken today. I hope they can all come and that other hon. members can join us.

We will have an opportunity to say goodbye to our colleagues then. The reception will start at 5:30 p.m. in Room 216.

Message from the Senate
Oral Questions

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act and the Pension Act.

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

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

I would like to make one thing very clear: this budget is a good budget. As a member of Parliament, I take my job very seriously. I represent the wonderful riding of Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar and I am honoured to have the important role of ensuring that this government delivers for my riding.

This budget delivers.

Unfortunately, the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition has already formed. It has indicated that it will vote against this budget. Let us look at what it is they are voting against.

They are voting against seniors. What is worse, they are voting against the poorest of the seniors. Through the prebudget consultations held in my riding, I heard one thing over and over, that seniors need more assistance.

We listened. There is real affordable help for seniors in this budget, but the NDP, with its Liberal leader, has said no to help for seniors. This is a great shame because the NDP used to stand for something. Its members claim to stand up for the little guy, but when push comes to shove they would rather try to grab power in a coalition government supported by the Bloc Québécois than support measures that make sense for Canadians.

Another common theme raised in the prebudget consultations in my riding is that we need to stay on track, keep taxes low and eliminate the deficit. That is exactly what this budget does.

While the opposition coalition is coming out firmly against the best interests of Canadians and the best interests of Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, our Conservative government is delivering to Canadians exactly what it promised, focusing precisely on the priorities of Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, this budget would see an increase in transfer payments to Saskatchewan of $1.2 billion. That is $1,182 for every resident of Saskatchewan. I asked the only Liberal member in Saskatchewan, the member for Wascana, how he would explain to his constituents that he voted against this.

This budget provides for tax relief for Canadians. In fact, the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition will vote against $60 million in tax relief. It is voting against a family caregiver tax credit, which would provide $2,000 for caregivers, or over $13 million for Saskatchewan families, and against an investment of $3 million toward the development of community-based end of life care. This is something I am particularly proud of as a founding member of the parliamentary committee on palliative and compassionate care.

I ask the following: How can someone claim to support hard-working Canadian families and vote against measures such as this? How can someone who claims to represent the middle class vote against the children's art tax credit, which would provide families a tax credit of $500 per year? That is another $19 million for Saskatchewan that the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition would rather families did not get.

What about our volunteer firefighters? Do they not deserve some credit for putting their lives at risk to help our communities? We have put a $3,000 tax credit for them in the budget, and the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition members just cannot find it in their hearts to support it.

Conservatives know that we cannot go on with deficit spending indefinitely. Our Conservative government knows that fiscal responsibility is important to Canadians. That is why we are staying on track to eliminate the deficit by 2015 without implementing risky and reckless new spending programs that would force us to raise taxes or keep us in a deficit for our children and grandchildren to pay off. That is why we have taken action.

We have already cut the deficit by a third from last year and are on track to balance the budget by 2015. What we are not doing is balancing the budget on the backs of the provinces. We are not cutting transfer payments to Saskatchewan. In fact, we are increasing them.

Our Conservative government knows that health care and education must be properly funded. The Liberals cut funding for health care and for education, but we did not. We know what is important to Canadians and we will keep fighting for their priorities. We know that infrastructure is of vital importance to cities like Saskatoon and rural municipalities like Delisle, Asquith, Biggar, Herschel, and the many others that make up my great riding.

This budget has delivered for municipalities. We are making an annual investment of $2 billion in gas tax funding permanent, so municipalities would be able to forecast accurately the funding for their community.

However, the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition voted against that as well. Actions speak louder than words, and it looks like the opposition does not support sustainable and stable infrastructure funding for rural municipalities. We should not be surprised because the Liberals and the NDP have a history of voting against what they claim to support. The Bloc, on the other hand, has always been very clear on its intentions, and that is to vote against the best interests of Canadians because the Bloc only cares about one thing, breaking up this great nation of ours.

I would not want to make these claims without backing them up. We know that today Canadians are still burdened with a costly, wasteful, inefficient, and useless long gun registry because the elected members of Parliament for the NDP broke their promises. They promised and even campaigned on scrapping the long gun registry. When push came to shove, though, the NDP could not be trusted. It pretends to understand rural Canadians, but it does not.

As for the Liberals, it is almost a waste of time to point out the hypocrisy. Everybody knows that the Liberal Party is the party of broken promises. Among them is its promise to remove the GST. That is another of the promises made, promises broken.

Conservatives do not make empty promises. We said we would cut the GST to 5% and we cut the GST to 5%. We promised we would fight to scrap the wasteful long gun registry and we have fought to do so. If the NDP did not flip-flop on campaign promises, the long gun registry would be gone right now.

We promised to work to reform the Senate. We have introduced legislation that would limit senators terms to eight years and provide an opportunity for Canadians to vote for their senators. The NDP claimed to support Senate reform, but when push came to shove, it voted with the Liberals instead of with its constituents.

I call on members opposite who claim to represent their constituents and not their leaders. I call on them to support this budget. Do not vote against Canadians. Do not vote against seniors and families, and jobs and growth.

If members vote against this budget, then they are sending a clear message to Canadians. If Canadians want a member of Parliament who will represent their interests and their priorities, they should elect a Conservative in the next election.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, before I put my question to the hon. member, I did omit one thing in my final speech. First, I really wanted to thank the constituents of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for their enduring support. Second, I wish to thank those who work in my offices, Jeff Silvester, Vikki Simmons in Victoria, as well as Jesse Dickinson and Jeff Guignard in my office here. Without their help and support, I could not have done what I have. And, to the volunteers over the 17.5 years who have enabled me to do what I have done, our victories are their victories, and I thank them so much for what they have done.

To my hon. colleague, I wonder if she does not agree that we need an innovation agenda in our country where there are going to be strategic investments in the private sector for research and development, education and infrastructure. Does she have an idea of how the private sector could be incented to make those strategic investments so we could improve our productivity?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend my congratulations to the hon. member as well and wish him all the best in all of his future endeavours.

As far as the member's question goes, we are making tremendous investments in research and development. We are making tremendous investments through the P3.

We do understand that Canadians do not want an election. Because of these investments, we do not want an election while our economy is in recovery. We know that these investments are very important in terms of business development and in terms of our country moving forward.

This is why we have introduced the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a plan that will ensure that we go forward through business development and by encouraging the private sector to get involved in research and development.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats put forward a proposal to lift every senior in this country out of poverty. We estimated that it would cost approximately $700 million to $800 million to do so.

The government responded by putting $300 million toward seniors poverty in this country, which would mean that after this budget half of the seniors in this country who are living in poverty would continue to live in poverty.

I am wondering if the hon. member could tell me her view on this. In an economy where the government has just given $3 billion in corporate tax cuts, does the member think that is a higher priority than simply adding another $400 million to ensure that every senior in this country does not live in poverty?

Would the member not agree with me that shifting $400 million from corporate tax cuts to seniors in poverty is a higher priority and a better use of Canadian taxpayers' dollars?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, time and time again during pre-budget consultations, as I mentioned in my speech, I understood, and heard from seniors, that we needed to do something to provide more assistance for seniors.

Again, that is why we have introduced the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. It is a plan that will keep taxes low to promote jobs and economic growth while supporting Saskatchewan families and seniors. It includes supporting job creation, strengthening our families and communities.

It is a plan that Canadians expect in times of fiscal restraint. I believe that seniors across this country are going to thank our government for the measures that we have implemented in this phase of Canada's economic action plan.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly my privilege to speak to our economic action plan, phase two, and our low tax plan for jobs and growth. I think it is especially important, following those very wise words of all the members who are just leaving. So, that actually was special to hear and I think really adds to the debate that we are having right now.

I think there are a few things that have been missing in this debate to date.

First, this budget has been widely described as responsible. It is looking at a return to a balanced budget. It is targeted. It is providing very special opportunities, whether it be through innovation, whether it be through seniors, but it is targeted because we know that we cannot, obviously, do everything that we might like to do. It is also reasonable.

The opposition is really standing in isolation of many people out there, many organizations out there, when it is critical of this budget because most people are saying this is a good budget, this is a reasonable budget, and this is a budget for Canadians.

It sounds like there is very little time left. This might be the only day of debate in spite of our House leader's optimism, so I think it is really important that we listen carefully. There is still a bit of time, perhaps, for members to change their minds.

To look at why this is really a budget for Canadians, I would like to first talk about the process in my riding, in terms of consultation. First, I made telephone calls that reached out to every single household in the riding. We had many people who provided input into this budget. We ultimately topped this off with a round table with the finance minister.

This was not a partisan approach to this budget. This was a Canadian approach. Included in this round table with the finance minister, we had people who represented all sectors, we had people who represented the aboriginal community, we had young, and we had old. So, again, it was a very representative group of people who sat down with the finance minister to provide their input. It certainly was not a partisan effort, in terms of our area.

What was really also very interesting was that the majority of them were very reasonable. They were very practical. They did not want to leave a legacy of debt for the children who were coming behind them. I certainly remember the words of one of the students from the university who was there, imploring us to look in terms of the legacy of debt for even his children.

They did, however, recognize that some additional help was needed in some key areas. They also clearly articulated that there was a need for growth, innovation, education investment and training, and those would be the key things to drive our economy into the future.

Out of this conversation, they also got into some very specific issues. When I listened to the finance minister when he delivered this budget earlier this week, I listened with pleasure to hear 10 things that were at our table that were represented in this budget. We did not ever think that 100% would be included, like some of the opposition members that believe 100% of their wish lists can get in. The very practical, non-partisan group recognized that responsible governments have to make decisions.

I would like to share some of the things that did get in, and again I am not going to say it was just the input from our riding because I think there were similar messages, in similar forms, from across the country that drove the creation of this budget.

One item was the GIS. We really supported it. The Canadian Labour Congress said:

This is a win for every senior living in poverty in Canada and we're proud to have played a significant role in that campaign on their behalf.

Another was workshare. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said:

The economic measures announced in today’s budget will continue to support the economic recovery and help Canadian businesses prosper and compete.

It also was very appreciative of the low tax plan.

The mining exploration tax credit came up at our table. The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada said:

--I am pleased that the federal government has proposed that the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit be extended for another year...it is encouraging to see the federal budget propose that the program be continued--

I can keep going and I am going to go through all 10.

Firefighters were absolutely thrilled. Not only did we lose someone in Listowel, we lost a volunteer firefighter in my riding just a few months ago. Again, it is a measure I have heard about since the start of my job.

On forest innovation and market development, the Forest Products Association of Canada welcomed “the forest industry measures contained in today’s Federal Budget which support the industry and the 240,000 Canadians it directly employs..."

It went on at length to talk about how important it is.

Eco-energy retrofit is a great program. The Canadian Home Builders' Association said, “This budget marks a careful and responsible transition from stimulus spending towards creating the conditions that will renew private sector--”

I will take a minute for a quick plug from Kamloops where there is a home that was built in partnership with the Canadian Home Builders' Association, the university students and CMHC. It is a net zero green home. It has had about 60,000 people through it to see what we have done to create a net zero home. Those people want to make changes in their own homes and they are looking for an eco-energy retrofit program.

I will spend more time later talking about the rural physician and nurse opportunities. We have the manufacturing flow through and I can quote from many industries in terms of that particular piece.

Unlike the opposition, people were not expecting 100% satisfaction, but they did believe that the measures were reasonable, appropriate and have broad-based support. It was quite stunning when the opposition quickly indicated, in some cases before they read it, that they were not going to support it. However, it is truly a budget for Canadians.

I will speak quickly on health care, especially after hearing the NDP critic in terms of the health care opportunities.

People might know that health care has a special place in my heart. I have long experience in that area. It is very easy to throw billions and billions of dollars at the health care system, but we responsibly had a partnership with the provinces and have given 6% more per year. The accord does not expire until 2014 and the provinces are getting a 6% increase. There is money through Canada Health Infoway for electronic health records. A responsible government would ask if we have had an impact on wait lists. We cannot just throw billions and billions of dollars at the health care system. Let us evaluate the very significant commitments we have had and move that forward.

To the suggestion that the manpower in Canada is evenly distributed in terms of doctors and nurses and that we do not need incentives to get people into rural communities, perhaps the opposition do not know that right now a new nursing graduate from Thompson Rivers University cannot get a full-time job at the Royal Inland Hospital. Other hospitals in rural areas are desperate for employees. Again, we need to provide incentive for a better disbursal of our resources.

In summary, we are heading towards a balanced budget. Our expenditures to GDP are going down. I ask the opposition to please come to its senses and support this very important budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments, but I have one question.

Is it of any concern to her at all that since the last election and change in government that it is recognized the portion of what the government has added to the debt per Canadian citizen is now $30,000 greater than before the Conservative government first came to power?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, everyone recognizes that we had a global recession. We had some significant stimulus money that we had to provide and we had the support in the House to do so.

I find it ironic that one minute the opposition members are saying to spend more money and the next say they are concerned that perhaps the debt has risen.

It is very important to point out that Canada is in an extremely good position in comparison to many of the other OECD countries.