This is the Prime Minister who has twice led Quebec and Canada to a constitutional impasse. He is in part responsible for the shocking deficits we face at this time, and the $583 million debt. He is now reverting to type, in order to get his name in the history books.
The people of Quebec know him, and they know that by attacking Quebec—blinded as he is by his disdain for Quebec—he is leading Canada into a dead end. That is his new version of federalism.
The provincial premiers clearly called for him to withdraw from areas that are not under federal jurisdiction, and to put transfer payment money back. That is not what the federal government is doing. It is launching into a series of new programs. Everyone in Quebec says it makes no sense. No problem, it is just that the Prime Minister wants people to know where the money is coming from.
Even as regards the student loans and scholarships program, out of $500 million invested annually in Quebec, only $74 million comes from the federal government, not 90% as the Prime Minister tried to tell the public yesterday.
This is what they call flexible federalism. I say it is the same old approach, the “Ottawa knows best” approach. This is the type of federalism that will prevail in the next millennium. As for us, we are more and more convinced that we need to have our own country by the year 2000, to get out of the mess that the Prime Minister is creating once again, because setting up new programs will generate new deficits, unless the Prime Minister simply intends to once again force taxpayers to make huge efforts to promote his party's visibility and his own.
Let me go back to some responsible proposals made by the Bloc Quebecois, which are included in the budget. Indeed, the government followed up on at least three of our suggestions. Last year, when the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe proposed the creation of an employment RRSP, we were told the idea was ridiculous. I can still hear the Prime Minister say “this is not what RRSPs are for”. This year, the government came up with an RRSP initiative to help people rejoin the labour force. It might as well be called an employment RRSP as it is the same thing.
Take a look at the employment insurance program: young people aged 18 to 24 will get a break on premiums. This was also proposed by us last year. Congratulations to the government for following up on our suggestion. Then, there are the tax measures relating to the repayment of students' debts. We agree with these three measures.
Still, we asked that the money be given back to the provinces. We also asked that employment insurance benefits and eligibility be improved, because the unemployed have been hurt by the government's measures. Third, we said that there had to be targeted tax reductions such as, on the one hand, EI premiums, which are much too high, and on the other, indexed tax tables, because there has been a covert increase in taxes for too many years now, although they tell us taxes have not gone up. I think a basic accounting course would show us that, without indexing, there is a real increase in taxes. Fourth, we told them to freeze programs and quit interfering in areas outside their jurisdiction.
Finally, there should be an anti-deficit law to bring the Liberals down to earth. Those are our proposals, responsible proposals that reflect the needs of Quebec, of Quebeckers, of the provinces, of all Canadians, of taxpayers, of the middle class and of the most disadvantaged members of our society.
I am telling Quebeckers it is time we left all this behind. It is time to get out of this nuthouse. I am saying to Canadians that they should condemn this government for taking money needed by Canadians and using it to try and buy the young people of Quebec.
I will close with a thought from Gilles Vigneault. I remind the Prime Minister, with his millennium fund attempt to buy young people, with his lack of respect for Quebec, that Gilles Vigneault once said that people were wrong to think we did not notice.