Madam Speaker, I commend my hon. colleague from Cumberland—Colchester on his motion. Numerous members have talked today about the substandard highways we are dealing with and about the disrepair of our highways, that it is going to take $17 billion to bring them back to where they should be. For example, there should be four lanes when the traffic warrants so we do not have the killer highway that is just outside of Ottawa.
There is no question that people nationwide realize there is a problem. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been pushing to have dollars go into a national highway policy as well as into assistance with other infrastructure and highways throughout the country. The government has failed to do that.
This is another area in which the government lacks any vision whatsoever. It lacks any sound vision as to where Canada should be going. It is literally letting the nation fall apart in front of us with the underfunding of health care, the underfunding of education, with the EI surplus where dollars have been taken away from the EI fund and from the unemployed, those not able to get enough work. Money has been taken from the Canada pension plan. The government sings its praises on a wonderful surplus but fails to put anything back into the country.
The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester indicates it would be done with the partnership of the provinces. I do not think there is any question that if we are going to have a nation where the people can go from one end to the other, whether it be north, south, east, west, in any direction they choose to go, they need to feel comfortable and safe when they are travelling our highway system. They want to know that when they go through Saskatchewan there will be safe roads, that when they hit Manitoba they can continue on the same. They do not want to hit that provincial boundary and say, “Now we are going through New Brunswick, we are going to hit a toll highway, we are going to have to pay for it and my taxpayer dollars have already done that”.
They want to know that highway is safe. In order to not pay to go on that highway they will have to go on an unsafe road.
Canadians deserve to feel safe throughout the country, and they have in the past, but over the last 10 or 15 years it has gradually deteriorated. The point I want to make in that regard is it started during the time that the party of the member for Cumberland—Colchester was the government of the country. It failed to put funding in place as well. I do not want him to feel that it is all hunky-dory and rosy on his side over there and just blame it on the other side because they are both at fault.
Both those parties have failed when they had the opportunity to ensure that funding was there. If they want to use the gas taxes, by all means let them do it. In the past my party and I have not supported dedicated taxes. However, government time and time again does not put dollars into services and infrastructure. Then we start to think that we need legislation which says the government has to put money there. It will have to do that. It has failed to show Canadian people a true commitment to providing for the country, to ensuring that the dollars are going where they should be going.
Canadians do not argue about paying taxes. I do not know about the people here, but if I pay my taxes and education is there, health care is there, and we have decent roads and decent services, we will not hear Canadians complaining. They do not mind paying for what they get.
We all work hard and we do not want everything for nothing. We will pay our taxes but we want services in return. When our money goes to the federal government and we do not get it back in any kind of service that is when we get disgruntled. That is when we get parties like the Reform Party saying “Scrap the taxes. Scrap everything”.
What did the hon. member from the Reform Party say? No money is to go into recreational facilities. Can hon. members imagine putting no money into recreational facilities? It is common knowledge that every dollar spent in recreational facilities for youth in our communities will save $7 in the future on problems that may result from children not having somewhere to go and getting into lives of crime because they do not have things to do. When they become adults a good number of them will end up in jail because they did not have enough things to do when they were younger. This blanket statement of no funding for recreational facilities is wrong.
We need a cohesive country where we have dollars supporting all these different programs: infrastructure, recreational facilities, highways and post-secondary education. We need funding in all those areas.
Although I commend the hon. member and support his motion, I wanted to make those points. We had a much similar debate just a few weeks ago with the suggestion of dedicated taxes. As I said, the problems are there. There is probably about a $17 billion cost to improve our national highway structure. We certainly need a national highway policy and we need a national transportation policy. There is no question. We heard it all here today. With all of us knowing it, surely some good can come out of the discussion we have had over and over again and we will see the government make a real commitment to the country.