Mr. Speaker, to begin, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Sherbrooke, for the opportunity to join the debate and to take 10 minutes to express my views on this economic statement. Before doing that, since this is the first time that I have spoken officially in the House in this session, I would like to thank the voters of Terrebonne—Blainville who, for the fourth time, have given me their confidence. I thank the voters, the volunteers and my own staff who helped me to a great victory. I will not hide the fact that all the members of that devoted group are ready to start again tomorrow, if necessary.
One would have expected, after an election fought over the economy, that the economic statement would be filled with figures. You will remember that we were thrown into an election campaign because this Prime Minister and this government said it was time to talk about the economy. Regretfully, we have been given an economic statement that resembles nothing so much as more laissez faire. It is an ideological statement that shows no signs of compassion towards the people and the companies having trouble getting through this crisis, because this is now a global economic crisis.
We know that all the countries around us—even the European countries—have injected billions of dollars to support their economies and to help people get through this crisis. The European Union has injected $200 billion and the United States has injected $800 billion. We believe that if our government had not been so disconnected, if it had shown the compassion it should have for the people who do not receive the same salaries as we do, and who do not live in the same conditions, possibly this government could have injected some money and introduced economic measures to help the people of this country.
As the head of the Bank of Canada said, we could even go into a temporary deficit that could be repaid over a period of time. But this government does not want to hear about deficits, anything but that. We know that, in economic terms, when we are faced with a crisis we must expect a little deficit that can be offset later.
Instead of stimulating the economy and providing some breathing room for the country, this government chose to strangle it. Most appalling of all, instead of the economic measures one might expect in an economic statement, what we received was a big slap in the face; a real blow. It is as though there were only some sectors that needed to be knocked down, instead of helping the country in general.
Those blows, that slap in the face, have led to the formation of the present coalition. The Conservative leader, and this government, decided to abandon our businesses and our people. All countries agree: when there is a full economic crisis, in principle, we should be creating jobs. We could have people working to build houses for those who need them. We could, perhaps, put people to work developing transportation and transportation infrastructures. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. Nothing was announced.
The Bloc Québécois has already put forward proposals. We put forward a whole series of measures but those measures were not listened to and not taken into consideration. They could have suspended the compulsory repayment to the home buyers’ plan for a year.
We are all familiar with these young couples who are in trouble. They were told they could use virtual RRSPs as their down payment on a house. Not only must they pay their mortgage, but they must also pay for their virtual RRSPs—which do not exist and were loaned to them—and their taxes. Both spouses must work, and they feel economically and socially suffocated. That is also difficult. No one ever thought of giving these people a little breathing room.
They could have done that by giving people jobs, by creating a fund that provides money for home renovations that will improve energy efficiency. In my riding, people tend to heat their homes with oil. I have an older house and heat with oil. Why? I could not heat it with electricity because it would cost more. The house is not insulated for electric heat. I for one would have liked to see an eco-energy program.
The equalization formula could have been fully respected. It was a brutal slap in the face to Quebeckers when they were told they were being denied the equalization surplus. The guaranteed income supplement for our seniors could have simply been increased gradually. Their old age pensions increased by about $2 a month, sometimes only $1.09. That is barely enough to buy a cup of coffee. Also, seniors who were eligible for, but cheated out of, the guaranteed income supplement could have been gradually reimbursed.
They could have expanded access to employment insurance and eliminated the waiting period. They could have provided more support for people who work in agriculture. They could also have extended the ecoAUTO rebate program that suddenly disappeared. These were good programs. Unfortunately, they are not being given any consideration. Those programs could have helped ordinary people. But ordinary people are not important to these people. What is important to the government opposite is industry. But there again, they have not helped it. They have not created loan guarantee programs that would have provided cash to invest, for example. Last week, two companies in my riding closed down for lack of cash flow. The cuts to the technology partnerships program could have been stopped. They could have given them a shared risk program.
They could quite simply have modernized Canada's outdated antidumping laws and brought them up to the same level as what other countries in the European Union have. In fact, I introduced a bill to that effect, Bill C-411. They did not do it. They can also, as the Bloc said, even use government procurement as a lever for economic development. How many of our businesses would be happy to help Public Works and Government Services Canada, but are not allowed to because PWGSC buys from American subsidiaries? They could have implemented specific policies for the industrial sectors that are facing special challenges, such as traditional industries.
They could have done a lot of things, but no, what we got from this government was a slap in the face. That is not what an economic statement is. Unfortunately, the present government is the author of its own misfortune. We who believed when they talked about action, and compromise, and openness, at the time, we have, in a sense, been had. The public has been had, because it was not expecting this kind of economic statement, not remotely. We get email after email from people who are disappointed, even anglophones in the western provinces.
This statement is clearly devoid of any compassion for the people of Quebec. We will therefore quite obviously be voting against it.