Madam Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-28. As we come back from our break newly minted, rested and enthusiastic, what red meat does the government throw in front of Parliament to really do something on behalf of the Canadian people?
It throws in front of us a 464 page bill that was introduced just before Parliament broke last time. To help us understand this bill there are 578 pages of explanation that say things like the individual is not entitled to deduct any amount under division c, computation of taxable income over the year except under section 111 of the act, lost carryovers. You get the picture, Madam Speaker.
Here we are with the country facing some pretty major problems: a falling dollar, unemployment, low incomes for Canadians, problems with education, declining health care services. What do we discuss here? Our first few days back with all the energy and enthusiasm that we brought from meeting with our constituents and talking to the people of Canada, we talk about changes to the Income Tax Act, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Canada pension plan, Children's Special Allowances Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the Cultural Property Export and Import Act and at least 12 other acts and sets of regulations.
I challenge the government to get real about what is important to Canadians. As many of my colleagues have said, it is not housekeeping that we should be dealing with, it is the real meat of Canadian life, and that is what this government is trying to avoid.
Canadians care deeply about taxes because that is what eats in to the resources they have available to build a life for themselves and their families, to meet their needs and those of their children and seniors in their families, and yet those resources are being depleted.
What this act really says to Canadians is that the government can decide how you should spend your money better than you can. It gives a little here, it takes a little here, it adjusts a little there, it nudges there, it puts up a carrot here, it puts up a stick over there and whacks us and says do this, do that. We will support this with your money. That is what this government has done for so many years. It knows better. It can tell the rest of us peasants who just earn the money how it should be spent.
I was just astounded with the government speakers, as this bill was introduced into second reading, just praising this bill, saying things like it is going to encourage charitable donations. Out of what? We have families in this country whose income has been steadily decreased because of Liberal taxes and bracket creep and hidden tax measures. What are they going to do to have charitable donations?
Yet here is the government saying it is going to encourage charitable donations. It is the same government that cut back on transfers to the provinces by 40% for social services to help the needy and vulnerable in our society. Now it says it will encourage charitable donations. Perhaps it does not know the meaning of the word hypocrisy but it sure does demonstrate it in its legislation.
Then the speakers opposite said we are going to increase the contribution limit for registered education savings plans. Aren't we wonderful? You can save more for your children's education. Feel good about this.
The same government has cut funding for post-secondary education by billions of dollars and now says but feel good, you can now save a little more for your children's education. They are going to have to because this government has cut funding for that important resource, the training and education of our children in the future workforce.
What are Canadians going to save with when family incomes are declining and being eroded not only by taxes but by increased service charges and every aspect of government is costing us more and more?
Then speakers opposite said we are going to get rid of tax shelter abuse. Goodness sake, it would be terrible if Canadians tried to shelter some of their income from the tax man or the finance minister, who of course knows nothing about sheltering income.
Again, here we have a government just intent on getting every single nickel out of Canadians possible, taxing everything that moves through the grass. Do members know why? So the finance minister can get up in three weeks and say aren't I great? We are now living within our means. We don't have to borrow money. I guess not, because he has gouged every nickel possible out of hardworking Canadians.
Their taxes have gone up billions and billions of dollars under this finance minister's administration, $24 billion over the last three years. That is why he does not have to borrow so much money. He has taken it out of the pockets of Canadians rather than getting his own house in order, cutting spending and having program after program designed to tweak this, give a little extra to this and encourage that and support this politically good cause that the Liberals think is so important.
That is exactly why he is able to have some bragging rights. It is on the backs of hardworking Canadians. We need to know that. We do not need to let him get away with it.
We talk about promoting film video production in Canada. We do not have health care. Our young people carry massive debt just from trying to get training so that they can have a decent living, if they can find a job in this country. Yet the government has nothing better to do than to just continue to tinker in industry when study after study has shown these tax measures have unintended consequences that very often have exactly the opposite effect and the government brags.
The last one is so amusing. We are going to make it easier to facilitate transfers from registered retirement income funds.
We just had an Industry Canada study that showed that Canadian saving rates have fallen from 12% to 2%. People are collapsing their funds because they simply do not have enough to live on by the time the finance minister's tax man gets off their doorstep.
We have retirement security in this country being cut time after time by this government, yet here we have members opposite saying they are going to do this little thing that will make it easier for them.
It is hypocritical. It is contemptible to treat Canadian people that way. That is just a sample of the kind of tinkering that this bill does instead of really giving some meat and some real substance and some real vision to the Canadian people.
I was struck in question period by the same kind of rhetoric and hypocrisy that we had before where a question was asked to the defence minister about the shabby treatment of our armed forces and the low pay, where people at the lowest levels of our armed forces actually are on welfare in many cases to support their families. They live in substandard housing and have second jobs delivering pizzas to meet the bills.
What did the minister do? He got up and said we really have to support our armed forces who stand on the front lines and protect us and who are there to help us in times of emergency. Rah, rah, flying the flag.
He knows the actions of his government lead to the poverty and to the strained circumstances in family after family in the armed forced. Yet he has the nerve to stand up and say boy, these guys deserve our support, and then not give it.
There is a saying that in America politicians can say whatever they want as long as they do the right thing. In Canada they can do whatever they want as long as they say the right thing. That is exactly how the Liberals operate.
They always say the right thing. Everyone says boy, these guys really have our interests at heart. They feel our pain. What do they do? They continue to inflict the pain on us while saying nice things.
It is time that we woke up and started doing what was right for Canadians instead of just saying nice things, giving reassuring words with no substance behind them. That is just another example of what we have to fight here.
If we really want to help people in our country, if we really want to give relief and a good living and bright futures to our citizens, then we have to recognize that we cannot spend their money better than they can.
We should take the minimum out of their pockets to give them good services where it is important for them to do so and let them decide how to spend the rest, what causes to support, how to help others and how to care for their families' futures.
These made in Ottawa government managed programs are destroying our future, our hope and our standard of living. I appeal to this government to start recognizing that.
The government is like a running cafeteria. It has different dishes laid out for people to choose from. Then it finally decides that the people who are eating at the cafeteria are malnourished. They are not getting good nourishment. What do they do? They decide well, instead of having so much spaghetti we will have more beans. Instead of having lasagna maybe we will have bacon and eggs. Instead of making a wholesale change in the way nourishment is provided they are just changing the dishes around a bit.
The Reform Party has a new and vibrant approach to giving real hope to Canadians by getting rid of the mortgage on their future and by letting them keep their own money to meet their own needs. It is time we moved in a new direction for the country and that is what we will be working toward.