House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


Business Of The House

March 18th, 1996 / 12:40 p.m.


Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order, immediately after the completion of the divisions scheduled for this day, the House shall take up proceedings pursuant to Standing Order 38, but, at the conclusion of the said proceedings, the House shall not adjourn, but shall continue to sit to consider the second reading stage of Bill C-10, an act to provide borrowing authority for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 1996;

That, during this portion of the sitting, the Chair shall not receive any dilatory motions or quorum calls;

That, when no Member rises to speak, but, in any case, no later than 10 p.m., the debate shall be adjourned and the House shall be adjourned; and

That, no later than 15 minutes before the expiry of the time allotted for consideration of Government Orders on March 21, 1996, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted and all questions necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the said bill shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Business Of The House

12:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to move the motion?

Business Of The House

12:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to.)

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

The Budget

12:40 p.m.


Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my comments on the budget debate I would beg the indulgence of the House. I would like to put on record a clarification and a correction to some comments I made in the throne speech debate in which I referred to events or the notion of a distinct society in Quebec as being inherently racist and tribalist in nature.

On reflection and seeing those comments in print I was most uncomfortable because I felt the linking of the term racist was inappropriate; it was wrong. By any inference I would not want Hansard , the official record, to show in any way that I would suggest separatists are racists and that Quebec society is racist in nature. In my experience it is not.

I reiterate Quebec society is very tribal. There is tribalism and a sense of the necessity to circle around a group. I think tribalism is a very accurate description of what is going on with the separatists in Quebec. Again, I would beg the indulgence of the House to allow me to correct the record.

The Budget

12:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I do not believe Hansard can be changed two weeks after the fact. However, the member has clarified the matter and what he said will appear in today's Hansard .

The Budget

12:45 p.m.


Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. All I wanted was to have it on the record.

It is really puzzling that the country can be in the state it is in today and yet the people are not out in the streets rioting. They do not seem to be particularly upset. One has to ask what it is about the human nature and the body politic in Canada which does not hold the Liberal government accountable for 30 or 40 years of mismanagement of the economy. It got us into this mess in the first place.

If you are looking for ground zero on what screwed up our economy, we are looking across at it right now, the descendants of this paternalistic liberalized state. Why are the people not enraged, particularly the young people in our society who are in university or high school and are looking at their futures? Why do they not feel some sense of passion at the fact that their generation is going to be paying the bills and will have a substantially diminished lifestyle because my generation and the generation that preceded me lived beyond its means?

What it is about human nature and about being Canadian that allows us to accept this? I know we got into this mess gradually. We all know the story about the incipient nature of gradualism and why, we got up this morning and noticed that we had a debt and we were paying almost 40 per cent of every dollar that goes into the federal coffers to pay interest on money we have already spent. Nobody would have envisioned that 30 years ago. Even the Liberals would say it was irresponsible to do that. It was a gradual thing. We gradually grew into it so that we did not have that shock to our system.

Everyone sees what is going on now in the country and where it is our responsibility to pay. As a society we have elevated certain demands. As individuals citizens we expect certain things from government that we used to expect from ourselves. Once we expected to be personally responsible but over the last 30 years or so we have come to count on the federal government to be responsible for our welfare and how we get along in life.

I give this government and the present finance minister full marks for taking the first tentative steps to do what has to be done. Perhaps that is the difference between this government over others. Could you envision the Liberal government opposite, even taking the tentative steps it has in the right direction, if it was facing the kind of opposition that the Conservative government in 1984 was facing? The body politic in Canada has shifted so much that the Liberal members are now looking across at us and we are telling them what to do but to do it with more vigour and more fire in their belly. We are saying that the sooner and faster we do it the better our children and grandchildren will be.

The Liberal members look across to us and we are telling them to get on with the job. However, the Conservative members in 1984 were looking across at a Liberal opposition that cried bloody murder every time the Conservatives made a tentative step in the right direction. That is why the Conservatives lost the will of the people. They did not have the courage to stay the course. They were elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility. They did not do it and now the Conservative Party is dead across the country.

Today the Liberals are tentatively taking the first steps in the right direction, urged on by the Reform Party. The Bloc really does not have a philosophy. Every once in a while its members will say "do not do this" and "do not do that", but they really do not understand or do not have a sense of passion other than getting Quebec out of Canada.

The Reform Party is making it possible for the Liberals to do what the Conservatives should have done. The Liberals know in their hearts what must be done because they got us started on this terrible path 30 years ago. That is the reality of the situation. However we have to continue to ask, how did we find ourselves in this situation? How did we allow this to happen?

The federal government right now is passing off to the provinces responsibility for social programs, for the infrastructure of our way of life that had previously been paid for by the federal government but is now paid for by provincial governments. It is not sending money along to pay the bills. Therefore it is the provincial governments that have to pay the piper. The federal government is calling the tune, the provincial governments are paying the piper.

We see even now the strangest of all things. Miracles can happen. The ex-leader of the official opposition, Mr. Bouchard, is now the premier of Quebec. All of a sudden there is a revelation. He finds that there is another priority. If Quebec does not get its financial house in order what difference does it make if you are bankrupt and broke in French or English? Perhaps he is starting to get his priorities together.

The problem with this budget is not its general direction. The problem is that it is not honest. Over the years the federal government has set up an expectation of delivery of services across the country. It cannot afford to do it but it does not have the courage to say: "My friends, we have been living beyond our means. It is time to tighten our belts. We must do it without sloughing off the responsibility to other orders of government. We must take the heat ourselves".

That is the great tragedy of this budget and in my opinion the great tragedy of the Liberal government as a whole. It has the ability right now to do what it knows must be done and to do it with vigour instead of backing into it and being embarrassed about it. It has to be done with vigour and it has to be done with dispatch because the longer it drifts, the more pussyfooting around that it

does, more of the problems of our grandparents are going to be put into the hands of our grandchildren.

As parliamentarians our responsibility is not to our grandparents. It is to our grandchildren. Everything that we do should be done with an eye to the future.

I expect I will receive a few questions from those opposite. I see some of the members are busy scribbling some information down and I know that soon they will be rising from their chairs, hopefully to take me to task and to ask me to defend my thesis that they started it and that they do not have the courage to take it as fast and as far as they should to solve the problem. I would use as a foundation for that statement the fact that the Prime Minister in his budget address passed off responsibility to the private sector for job creation.

The Liberal government campaigned on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs, getting rid of the GST, saying and doing whatever it took to get the maiden out. The Liberals were doing whatever it took to get the votes in order to get here.

The Reform Party philosophically differs from the Liberal Party in a number of areas. One major area is that we understand very clearly it is the role and the correct area of our economy for the private sector to create and deliver jobs. Job growth in the future will come from investment in the private sector by the private sector. It will not come from the public sector.

The government challenges the private sector to help. There are some good things about it, such as the challenge to hire students during the summer. That is a good challenge. The private sector can take it up and hire students. It can create work so that the flowers of our future will have a sense of self-worth. We all must buy into that.

I do not think it is necessarily bad to say: "We have to come together. We have to do it". However, the responsibility of the federal government is to create a climate which will allow the private sector to do what the private sector must do: be efficient and innovative. To do that a climate must be created which will allow the private sector to retain earnings; to retain wealth. It is the reinvestment of private wealth that creates jobs. If entrepreneurs decide that they are going to risk everything in order to create a business they must know that they will be able to retain some of the fruits of their labour.

The job of the federal government is to create the lowest possible tax environment, with a good infrastructure, that will allow the private sector to compete in the global marketplace.

I would like to mention some of the budget considerations with respect to divorce, child support and so on. I have a great deal of experience in making maintenance payments. I believe that the government is moving in the right direction. When people bring children into the world, it is the responsibility of the parents, whether or not they are divorced, to raise, nurture and care for their children. The government is taking the first steps in the right direction.

The Budget

12:55 p.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, now I can complete the question which I tried to ask earlier when I was cut off because of time constraints.

On page 29 of today's Quorum there is an article entitled "View from the West" which states that Michael Walker, boss of the Fraser Institute and the chief guru of the Conservative movement on economic matters says that he was frankly impressed and reassured by the finance minister's budget. "Far from being a do-nothing budget, it is probably the most significant budget produced by the federal government in the late 20th century".

Among other things he said that it showed the government is on track to reduce the deficit to zero by the end of the decade. It showed that federal spending cuts were actually more severe than those of the Klein government in Alberta. It showed that Canada was borrowing less than any other G-7 country.

That third point is very important. I hope the hon. member will compare his notes with this article and tell us where he stands on the issue.

The Budget

12:55 p.m.


Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member opposite most graciously for giving me the opportunity to rise once more to address that article.

Visitors to Washington know the famous Lincoln memorial which is dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, who was considered to be the number one reformer of the Americas. It was the Reform Republican Party that Abraham Lincoln started. He, as everyone here knows, is regarded as one of the most pre-eminent politicians in modern history. He said: "If you do not care who gets the credit, there is no end to what may be accomplished".

We have raised the issues of fiscal responsibility in the House of Commons. We have made it politically correct to be fiscally responsible. If not for the Reform Party day in and day out holding the Liberal's feet to the fire, telling them to pay attention and change what the Liberal Party has been doing for the last 30 years, pay attention to fiscal concerns and make sure we do not leave our grandchildren a legacy of debt, if not for Reform Party singularly pushing this issue year after year, time after time, the Liberals would not have had the courage or the fortitude to do what in their hearts they knew they must.

We can thank Abraham Lincoln and thank the Reform Party. Remember these words: "If you do not care who gets the credit, there is no end to what may be accomplished".

The Budget

1 p.m.



Morris Bodnar Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, after hearing the speech by the member for Edmonton Southwest I cannot help believe I have heard those words before. It appears he simply paraphrased the budget speech of the hon. Minister of Finance.

He also talked about creating at atmosphere for business. There was a major announcement by the Minister of Industry last week dealing with science and technology. He indicated there is a need to create at atmosphere for private business. Friday's Calgary Herald said: "The Liberals have moved on settling the economic table for private business".

I ask the hon. member whether he approves of the budget, of the atmosphere being created by the Minister of Finance. In effect is he putting his stamp of approval on the budget speech?

The Budget

1 p.m.


Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, anywhere strong hand and courage are seen, they should be appreciated and respected. I can imagine the Minister of Finance in his caucus has had some the most egregiously difficult times in changing the direction of the Liberal government of 30 years, making members look carefully in a mirror and asking: "Oh my God, what have we done to our country, to the future of our country? What have we done to our grandchildren?"

For the minister to have the strength to go into his caucus and pull half the caucus along grudgingly, that must be respected. While I do not agree the budget is fast enough or strong enough, the last Liberal budget is a light year ahead of the last 30 years of Liberal budgets.

The Budget

1 p.m.


Len Hopkins Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest because probably unknowingly in his speech he gave credit to 40 Liberal MPs who sat in the House between 1984 and 1988 for scaring the blazes out of 212 Tories in the House. Then he gave credit to some 80 Liberal members who sat here between 1988 and 1993 for polishing them off and putting the government in place to run the country.

No matter when budgets are delivered in a parliamentary session and regardless of the fiscal issues surrounding a budget, each budget in turn has its impact on various segments of society.

The last two budgets have been aimed at getting federal finances in order. This budget is no exception to recent fiscal policies because there are benefactors and then there are others who get hit negatively.

The Minister of Finance does not have an easy role. Unlike his predecessors in the Tory days, when he sets a target he has every intention of meeting it. With all this scenario, it behoves us not to lose sight of those things in our economic structure that have served us well in the past and which will build a good future in the days ahead.

Sometimes there is a very thin line between cost cutting to save money and cost cutting which in the long run does not serve as well as hoped.

These are the challenges that face the Minister of Finance and the government today. There are a host of positive things in this budget and there are other items that lay the groundwork for difficulties to come.

We are ensuring a secure, stable and growing system of federal support for medicare, post-secondary education and social assistance through the Canada health and social transfer to the provinces. There will be no further cuts in the transfer to the provinces. We have announced a firm funding commitment for a five-year period beginning in 1998-99.

For the first two years the Canada health and social transfer will remain constant at $25.1 billion and for the next three years it will increase each year. For the first time the federal government has set a cash floor for transfers. The cash component of the Canada health and social transfer will never be lower than $11 billion a year during this period.

We are acting to restore confidence in the old age security system by creating a new seniors benefit to take effect in 2001 designed to help those who need help the most. That is the way it was when I first came into the House.

As promised, current seniors will continue to receive the benefits they receive now. The changes will ensure the sustainability of the system for years to come. Canada's future depends on our ability to show innovative technology leadership, and the government's commitment to jobs and growth was reinforced in both the speech from the throne and the budget.

The budget outlined priorities for investing in our future in three strategic areas: creating better ways to get young Canadians into the job market, expanding our efforts to increase international trade, and accelerating the development and use of technology. Technology is a priority because it is fundamental to increased economic growth in this country or any other modern day country.

In his budget speech the finance minister spoke about investing in the future, about providing hope for jobs and for growth. He

said: "If our future is to be brighter, we must invest in it". Clearly this is good business and it is also good government.

Although not specifically mentioned in the budget speech, one outcome of the prebudget program review has been a 42 per cent cut in the annual allocation to Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. The cut, to be administered over two years, was apparently the result of a purely business assessment, by government and by a firm brought in, of the short term needs of that crown corporation. It was based on bottom line logic from a consulting firm, not the vision for the future.

The government, through the Minister of Natural Resources, is attempting to find a new home for this one-half century of proven basic research that was started at Chalk River, Ontario about 50 years ago. What has only now become clear is that this 42 per cent cut in the business support spread out over two years has been transformed by AECL into the complete removal of all its basic research activities, some immediately and the rest within a year. It is cashing in on the very investment on which the future depends.

Basic or fundamental research is the search for scientific knowledge without a specific application in mind. This generalized search for knowledge is essential if real innovation is ever to occur because tomorrow's application of today's research usually cannot even be imagined today; we cannot command what we do not know.

A good example is about 170 years ago an accomplished British scientist was asked by the Royal Society to improve optical glass, a task which he felt he could not refuse. After 10 years of fruitless labour he wrote in 1831 to ask permission, "to set aside the glass work for a while that I may enjoy the pleasure of working out my own thoughts on other subjects". In other words, he wanted to do some pure research.

Within two months Michael Faraday had discovered electromagnetic induction and built the first prototype dynamo in world history. From those two months of basic research have come today's mammoth electricity generators that supply our industry and give us lights in the House.

There are two important questions that arise from this story. First, would the world today have been a better place if the Royal Society had insisted that Michael Faraday continue his efforts on the more practical application of glass? Second, is it likely that any government committee or task force in 1831 would have arrived at electromagnetic induction as a strategic technology worthy of public support?

The answer to both these questions is a resounding no. This historical observation is not lost on the G-7 countries today. For example, a document entitled "Science in the National Interest", issued and signed by President Clinton in late 1994, states: "We understand that the fruit of fundamental research initiatives may not ripen for some time. The time scale can be long and success may hinge on facilities and interdisciplinary research teams that take years to assemble. Even in the face of current budgetary pressures, considerations about fundamental science must remain integral to the agency planning activities. We cannot allow a short term mission focus to compromise the development of the intellectual capital vital to our nation's future".

Even more emphatic is the example of Japan. Its response to the recent downturn in its economy has been to double its spending on basic research.

In light of these facts, it is astonishing that we are now threatened in Canada with the dismantling of one of the best examples we have of a marriage of basic research and economically successful applications.

Basic research in nuclear science has been an essential part of the country's nuclear program since the mid-1940s when it was started under the National Research Council. It has supplied the fundamental knowledge required by the industry, provided many of its leaders and given lustre to the national effort by its international reputation for excellence.

As a result AECL and its partners have produced the best performing and most versatile reactor system in the world. They have done so at a fraction of the research and development cost of any of their competitors. The industry now employs 30,000 Canadians, contributes more than $3 billion per year to the gross domestic product and generates over $500 million in federal tax revenue.

In addition to its role in launching and sustaining this industry, the basic research components of AECL are also serving as national laboratories for university researchers and Canada around the world. They foster research in nuclear science and other related fields throughout the country. They offer facilities no one university could operate and maintain on its own. They give many university professors access to the frontiers of world science they could not otherwise find without going abroad. They train students who form the next generation of Canadian researchers.

These labs at Chalk River perfected the O ring for the U.S. shuttle when the previous shuttle had blown up. They manufactured and developed radio isotopes which are used in hospitals around the world today. I emphasize that at Chalk River our scientists and researchers handle radioactive wastes from hospitals across the country.

These national laboratories for basic research at Chalk River have been centres of excellence for decades. They have been examples of a partnership among government, industry and the universities. In short, they are exactly what the Canadian government seeks to create as we prepare for the next century.

I am hoping, and so are many others, that the Minister of Natural Resources will find a new home for such physics organizations as TASCC and Neutron Scattering and that environmental research will not be scaled back at Chalk River at this time.

These are the 260 letters that have been received from top scientists from across Canada and from approximately 30 countries around the world who respect the basic research that is going on in Canada today. I lay this before the House today because it is an important matter for the future of Canada.

The stress testing of aircraft parts of the aircraft we fly in has been done in these labs. The aerospace industry has benefited greatly. Bertram Brockhouse, our 1994 Nobel laureate, worked in the physics labs at Chalk River. His award was granted because of the work he did in the 1950s and 1960s.

My message today is: Let us find a new home for these facilities so that they are not lost, so that Canada's science community does not have a brain drain and that we continue to lay the excellent groundwork for years to come for basic research and development in Canada.

The Budget

1:15 p.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on the speech made by the most senior member of this House. The hon. member sometimes referred to the budget, sometimes to the speech from the throne, and sometimes to more or less concise interpretations regarding the budget.

I want to remind our most senior member that everything that goes up must come down. While it is true that the Liberal Party ousted the Conservative Party from this House, it is also true that, in 1984, the Liberal Party was severely decimated. What is there about job creation in the recent budget tabled by the Minister of Finance? Nothing, absolutely nothing, except that the government will double the very minimal amount allocated for summer jobs for students.

I am talking about job creation, because in 1993, in its red book, the Liberal government boasted about creating jobs, jobs, jobs. The fact is that when 20 jobs are created in one region of the country, 19 are lost in another region. So, when the government says that 560,000 jobs were created last year, let us not forget that there were massive layoffs almost equivalent in size. Consequently, the unemployment rate remains essentially the same, while at the provincial level, the numbers on the welfare rolls have increased drastically.

I wonder why the Minister of Finance, who is said to have consulted the majority of his colleagues, did not focus on job creation, instead of constantly talking about the deficit. After all, jobs are what people want. This government is no better than its predecessor; in fact, it is worse than the previous Conservative government.

The Budget

1:15 p.m.


Len Hopkins Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not go along with the scenario the hon. member just outlined. Everyone in this House who can add, subtract and divide knows full well that if we allow things to continue to escalate and get out of control, then interest rates will rise and there will be greater unemployment. The Minister of Finance is trying under very difficult circumstances to put a solid base on the financial structure of the country so that we will not have higher unemployment or high interest rates. Interest rates now are the lowest they have been in three decades. This alone will help businesses to grow. It is up to government to lay some firm foundations on which private enterprise can grow, bloom and hire people. Over the years governments have done this.

In the early 1980s the Liberal government, and I sat here with it, brought in deficit budgets. However I point out to the hon. member that unemployment was extremely high. Canadians across the country were having a very difficult time. World inflation was sky high. People said that never again would we see one digit interest rates in this country. That was in the early eighties and look where we are now. Interest rates are the lowest they have been in three decades. We have a solid financial plan.

The Minister of Finance is not delivering a powerful speech and then running away to hide and then give in to everything like the Tories did. As a result, the debt continued to grow under the Tories because there was no will in the Prime Minister and other members of the cabinet to back up their own finance minister. That is why the Tories are not in the House today. Canadians know the difference.

I remember when we sat across the way and criticized the Tory government on its many weaknesses. God knows, we did not have to look very far for those. I say to the hon. member that I too know how easy it is to get up and deliver a speech from that side of the House and try to attack the solid foundation which is being built for the financial structure of the country on this side of the House.

The Budget

1:20 p.m.

Hamilton West


Stan Keyes Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege and honour to rise in this place today in my capacity as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport and participate in the response to the budget.

Before I begin, permit me to make a short message. I want to recognize the excellent work done by the first round of parliamentary secretaries, particularly my predecessor and friend, the hon. member for London East. Along with my 24 recently sworn in colleagues, I acknowledge the significant role played by our

predecessors in bringing about the many accomplishments of the government during the first half of its mandate. My fellow parliamentary secretaries and I look forward to upholding that high standard set by them.

I also extend my congratulations to the hon. member for Madawaska-Victoria. Those of us who have had the pleasure of working with her appreciate her sincerity and dedication to her parliamentary duties. I am confident she will do a solid job in her new role as Deputy Chair of the committee of the Whole.

With regard to the budget, I have listened intently to the members opposite. We all realize it is easier to criticize good government than it is to provide it. Although constructive criticism is a valuable tool of democracy, the key difference between those who provide good government and those who merely criticize is courage. Good government is driven by courage and concern for the well-being of one's nation. Unfortunately in most cases, the destructive criticism offered by members opposite is driven by political opportunism, posturing and underwhelming tactics.

I am proud to say that on this side of the House the principles and practices of good government have been enhanced by the courage and constructive criticism within our own caucus. In recent days there has been a great deal of gloom and doom espoused throughout the country by those who seem to have overlooked our nation's great potential. The recent speech from the throne focused on ensuring opportunity for Canadians by means of a strong economy, providing security for all Canadians and bolstering a modern and united country. The budget secures our financial future. Our deficit reduction plan remains on track.

It has been said that the primary role of a good government is to make things better for the governed. This government is offering hope and opportunity for all Canadians who are willing to show courage, resolve and faith in our great nation.

We are providing hope and opportunity by challenging the private sector to create jobs for young people in our country. We will also double the number of federal student jobs available this summer. This initiative will help to reduce the unemployment rate among young people and provide them with valuable work experience and decent wages.

Canada has a competitive advantage in the world with respect to aerospace and environmental technology. In fact there is some excellent science and technology research work being conducted at McMaster University in my riding of Hamilton West. In order to bolster our national and international strength in this area, the government has committed itself to the development of a Canadian technology network.

Since the Canadian economy is so heavily dependent on exports, the government will make every attempt to continue tapping into emerging markets abroad in order to further enhance our share of the international demand for Canadian goods and services.

With regard to security, we have to ensure that all Canadians are provided with an adequate social safety net. That means protecting vital social programs like medicare and making sure that Canadians in need of health care services have universal access to them. We must provide pension security for our seniors, as well as for future generations to come. A secure social safety net is too important to ignore. In fact Canadian core values are reflected by our social safety net and our willingness to preserve it.

With regard to employment, although Hamilton has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the entire country, there are still many people in my hometown and in other cities across Canada who are looking for work. To address this, the government remains committed to implementing a new employment insurance system this summer in order to help Canadians find jobs and keep them.

Canada is blessed with a highly employable workforce. Our job is to create a climate that is conducive to increased levels of personnel recruitment in the private sector and stable employment. With the help of the provinces and the private sector, we will achieve our goal of generating jobs and stimulating economic growth in Canada.

In the process of strengthening our nation and making things better for the governed, the Government of Canada has made significant progress in several areas.

In the transportation sector, with which I am most familiar, the government has taken steps to ensure that Canada has a safe, efficient, affordable, globally competitive and environmentally sound national transportation system.

In aviation the government has reached an agreement in principle with a not for profit corporation called Nav Canada to commercialize Transport Canada's air navigation system. This move will save taxpayers $1.5 billion and will eliminate a $200 million a year subsidy. A year after signing a historic open skies agreement with the U.S., Canada is reaping the benefits of increased air services to various Canadian and American destinations.

Transport Canada is also proceeding with the transfer of select Canadian airport facilities, such as Hamilton Airport, to municipal and local area interests. The transfer of various Canadian airports combined with the creation of a national airport system will strengthen Canada's air transportation system and make it more responsive to regional and community based needs and economic objectives.

In the rail sector, the recent commercialization of CN represented the largest and most successful initial public offering of shares in Canadian history. The government remains committed to implementing legislation which will make it easier for Canadian companies to move people and goods safely, efficiently and affordably across Canada by rail.

In the marine sector, under Canada's new marine policy, ports will be commercialized. A national ports system will be created consisting of those ports that are important to domestic and international trade.

These are just a few examples of the progress that is being made by this government in the transportation sector.

It is worth noting that over the past 28 months we have followed through on almost 75 per cent of our red book commitments. At the same time we have managed to reduce the federal budget deficit to its lowest level in two decades.

It is also worth noting that the budget contained no tax increases. The budget provides Canada with a framework for growth and security. Furthermore, deficit targets have been and will continue to be met. This should be comforting for all Canadians.

The government is following through with a new tax free seniors benefit which will be incorporated into the OAS/GIS pension income credit and the age credit; tax relief for recipients of child support payments; a $50 million allocation to the Business Development Bank which will allow for the extension of up to $350 million in loans to small and medium size businesses; over the next three years $315 million for youth job opportunities which includes doubling youth summer employment program funds from $60 million to $120 million.

One hundred and sixty five-million dollars over three years will be for education and skills development for young people; $270 million for technology and innovation initiatives; 25 per cent per month increase in the education tax credit; $170 increase in the tuition education credit; $500 increase in the registered education savings plan; $10,500 increase in the lifetime education contribution limit.

It was stated by the Canadian press news agency that the federal budget represents: "Deficit reduction without tears or taxes. The Minister of Finance delivered a good news budget on March 6 that adds muscle to his deficit fighting strategy with minimal sting for ordinary Canadians".

As we approach the second half of our mandate with the support and constructive input of concerned citizens throughout Canada, as stated earlier the government will continue to make decisions designed to make life better for the governed.

I am proud of our accomplishments and I am optimistic about the future of our great nation and the collective future of my fellow citizens. I consider it a great honour and privilege to serve my constituents and my country. I believe in good government. I believe the people of Canada deserve nothing less.