Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to speak on this motion concerning a ways and means bill, which deals with the government's budget intentions as well.
Of course, I will take the same position as the previous speaker and say how disappointed my constituents and I are with the budget.
This morning, I watched the Liberals enter the House and I understand why their heads hang low. I understand their disappointment. They have just spent a week with their constituents in their ridings and I suppose that they had the same reactions as voters in my riding. They probably said, "What kind of budget is that?"
Yesterday, I met a doctor, who said to me, "I was expecting to pay, I was expecting to be taxed, but no, they did absolutely nothing, even though I was prepared to make an effort as long as it covered the deficit".
I also met officials from the labour movement in the Sorel region, including Mr. Lachapelle, who told me: "Why did the government not present a budget? It presented intentions".
The Conservatives were always consulting and you push consultation to an extreme. That is what people in my riding told me.
Some thirty committees will be formed to consult, but throughout the election campaign, they went around with the red book saying, "We have a solution for everything. Elect us and you will see us present a budget with the government's intentions for each department". But no. They tell us: We will consult you, we will go off on consultations again and consult the same people who were consulted before the red book was prepared.
Now they do not have the courage to react. They are falling into the same problem as the Conservatives, presenting the same kind of budget as Mr. Mazankowski or Mr. Wilson, with economic forecasts of 2.5, 3.5 and 4.2. The Conservatives did the same thing. They made overly optimistic budget forecasts and, as the previous speaker said, we will wind up with a budget deficit of $46 to $48 billion, just as the Conservatives were doing.
Those words are full of promises and consultations, but contain nothing concrete. Worse-and that, hon. minister, is unacceptable-is the fact that a quarter of the $4 billion in cuts are made on the backs of the unemployed, who are not lazy. When former minister Valcourt attacked the unemployed, he at least announced his intention to go after those who take advantage of the system. At that time, the Liberal members opposite, led by the Deputy Prime Minister, rose to express their indignation. But what have we here? A regular attack against honest people who have lost their jobs.
It is not true that, when a plant closes, these people choose to go on unemployment. According to the minister, the government's intention is to encourage people to stay in their jobs for longer periods by reducing the number of weeks of benefits. People are told to expect 30 or 20 weeks of benefits instead of 40, maybe 35 if they work for 50 weeks. They reduce the number of weeks while telling people this will encourage them to keep their jobs. These people do not go on unemployment by choice but because of the recession, because of plant closures. It is unemployment, not the social fabric that must be tackled.
Mr. Speaker, we are witnessing not a cut but an increase in expenditures and revenues due to a wider tax base. What a nice new thing to say, "We will increase taxes in other sectors, just like the Tories did". We hope-like the previous speaker said-for Canada's salvation. We are told it will come from external demand, from our exports. But they refuse to change the system. As I was saying earlier, with these hopes, we will end up with a $46 billion to $48 billion deficit. One year lost.
But I understood when they talked about the red book, because the Liberals are expert at using words with a double meaning. Remember Trudeau when he fought against Stanfield over price and wage control. He said, "Never!" Six months after coming to office, he implemented Stanfield's very policy. Remember when the Liberals talked about the just society. I remember my father shopping for shoes; when the salesman asked him how they fit, he replied that they were a little tight or "juste" in old French slang. It is like the just society they were talking about. We thought they meant a just society in social terms. But they just meant "tight". That is their vocabulary. Today they talk about the red book. I thought it was named after the party with the red logo. But no, it is because they want to write Canada's economic history in red. However, our financial book should be written in black. Then I would understand.
They tell us they will be good managers, good administrators. I remember that, after going to see my 92-year-old aunt Laura on her deathbed, my father told me, with tears in his eyes, "Son, we need a priest to administer the last rites". They use the word "administer" in the same sense, to administer the last rites. They want to bury-but we are used to their language. They can remove their masks now that we have recognized them.
I can see the disappointment on your faces because you are back from a week of consultations in your constituencies which was extremely disappointing for you. Yet, when you first arrived here in January, you proudly said that votes would now be different. Indeed, you were going to comply with the good intention and resolution of the Prime Minister and vote according to your conscience. The time has come to do so. The vote will take place in the next few days, so now is the time to
express yourself, to represent your constituents the way you said you would during the first week of the session.
Mr. Speaker, this budget does not respect at all the commitments made during the election campaign. Contrary to what the red book said, there is no incentive for small businesses, there is an increase of the tax burden, there is no job creation initiative, no employment strategy and no help to exports, but there are cuts to regional development. This budget is a disappointment and does not satisfy anyone in my riding nor, for that matter, in the whole of Quebec. This is a budget which takes deadly aim at the unemployed, the elderly, the regions, and, which is even worse, at the have-nots, the low-income workers, and particularly the jobless. At the same time, the minister's friends, who are millionaires like he is with a fortune estimated at $40 million, will not suffer at all. At the same time too, the Prime Minister attends banquets at $200, $300, $400 or $500 a head. He says to his friends: "See how good we are to you because you financed our party. We acknowledge that and the budget does not adversely affect you. We go after the unemployed, the have-nots, the elderly, but you the wealthy with family trusts and money hidden in tax shelters, we protect you". The Prime Minister then gets an ovation from his business friends and forgets about Canadians in general.
However, all of you ordinary members of Parliament who were elected by Canadians should tell the minister that you have uncovered his ploy.
We thought the minister would give the example and deliver a budget to eliminate waste, but it does not even propose solutions to the unemployment problem. Instead, the government targets the middle class as well as seasonal workers and forgets about family trusts.
What are some of the measures which could have been taken in this budget? Let me give you examples of cuts. Former minister Séguin in Quebec said this: "The decision not to give $1.2 billion to Gulf is a conflict triggered by the interpretation of the definition of petroleum development revenue and it could have been avoided by simply amending the act". How was the government able to think and decide to eliminate the helicopter contract in Quebec yet not do so in the case of Hibernia? Why was there no in-depth review of the construction of a fixed link between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick? Why did we not make an in-depth review of tax havens, foreign affiliates which cost us $25 billion, the reduction of the government capital expenditures, cuts to non-restrictive grants provided to major corporations which total almost $18 billion, the reduction of the government vehicle fleet, the application of the GST on listed shares, which are all recommendations made by the Auditor? We could have cut $5 billion right there.
Because of a flawed resource allowance income tax provision, the government lost $1.2 billion, as was also mentioned in the report. That is all I will say on this issue. I could give you many other examples where we could have cut, but the lack of a rigid process to analyse government spendings is quite obvious. The federal system is completely out of whack and the government is unable to manage it. Instead, it is launching new programs and increasing the tax burden by more than $18 billion for the next two years.