Madam Speaker, I am pleased to follow that member of the Mike Harris cabinet across the way talking about his very conservative budget. I see he is putting his earphone on. I said that I am very pleased to follow that fan of Mike Harris who spoke on the budget a few minutes ago.
The ghosts of Liberals past must be rolling over in their graves when they think of the sharp turn to the political right, this very conservative budget, this mini-budget we had delivered in the House yesterday by the Minister of Finance.
I have seen many budgets over the years but this is the most conservative, right wing budget I have seen in the last 25 years in the House of Commons. It is more conservative than Brian Mulroney, more conservative than the former Prime Minister who is now the leader of the Conservative Party.
This is a millionaire's budget. It is a Bay Street budget, with $100 billion in tax cuts skewed to the wealthy and the rich. If someone is making $300,000 or $400,000 a year, if someone is a millionaire or a golf partner and buddy of the Prime Minister making $400,000 or $500,000 a year, he will get anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 in tax cuts depending on capital gains. A single person making $30,000 in Pembroke receives a tax cut of only $521 a year. Compare this to the millionaires who are going to receive $40,000 to $80,000 a year on tax breaks. That is a sharp turn to the right by the Liberal Party which has been influenced by the Canadian Alliance and by the politics of Mike Harris. The ghosts of Liberals past, leaders like Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau and Allan McEachern must be pretty disgusted with the government they see across the way.
Let us look at the facts. There are $100 billion dollars in tax cuts with only about $21 billion going into health care, social transfers, welfare and education. That brings us up to 1994 levels only. There are also at least $31 billion in terms of paying down the national debt.
The very size of government programs is dropping faster now than at any time in the history of Canada. The government is taking money away from social programs. When it took office at the end of Brian Mulroney's term, government programs amounted to 17% of the GDP. They now amount to about 13% of the GDP. The projections in the mini-budget, by the end of the next term if it is a majority government that lasts four or five years, will be under 11% of the GDP.
The government is taking money out of health care and education. It is providing less money for the environment. It is doing nothing about our farm crisis. This is a government leading a country, one of the few countries in the world without a national highways program, that has decided not to put money into highways. This is a government that is devising a tax system that is not as equitable as it is giving big breaks to wealthy people. This goes in the wrong direction.
If we look at results of polls and surveys we find that most people in Canada want more money put into health care. If we had a poll and asked people what to do with a surplus, whether it should be spent on massive tax cuts that favour wealthy people or put into health care and education, about 75% of the people would say that we should put more money into health care, education and the environment. That is the direction in which the Canadian people want to go. Those are the values Canadians want pursued. The Liberal Party, like the Canadian Alliance, wants to give more tax cuts to wealthy people.
Why is this done? The Liberal Party has been drafting a very cagey election program and strategy. What we saw yesterday was a move to the political right to capture votes from the Alliance and the Conservative Party in the 905 belt around Toronto, the wealthy areas around Toronto, the Mike Harris belt around Toronto. The big issue there is tax cuts so the Liberals are going to cater to that and they have taken the Canadian Alliance program. The Liberals left the Leader of the Opposition without a plank.
We are going to see the election announced on Sunday. The Liberals will come out with another red book and then they will shuffle to the left. They will talk about investing in education, in the environment, in people's programs and things of that sort. That is what the Liberal Party is doing with this particular economic statement before the House today. This is like the steak and the sizzle. This mini statement is giving a lot of steak to the wealthy and the privileged and only the sizzle to the poor and ordinary citizens.
There are many programs that should have been enhanced. Health care is the very best example of that. In 1995 we had the biggest cutback in our history in health funding than we have ever seen. That came from a party that at one time initiated a national health care system where the federal government paid 50% of health care. Before some of the money is reinstated, through the agreement of the first ministers' about a month ago, the cash funding for health care had fallen from 50% to 13 cents or 14 cents on the dollar. Even with the $21 billion in social transfers, the cash into health care only goes up to 1994 levels.
Where are the priorities? The Canadian people fought to get rid of the deficit. It is the Canadian people, through their hard work and their energy, who have created a surplus in this country. I argue that the majority of that surplus should be spent on the social deficit that was created by the cutbacks of the Liberal government from 1995 on.
I am sure that if the minister of financial institutions across the way had his way he would agree with me that more money should be spent in the social pocket rather than on wealthy tax cuts for his big powerful friends on Bay Street. However, that is the way the government has gone and that is not the right way to go. That is not the vision of a new Canada. That is not a vision of equality, a vision of justice or a vision of sharing. Those are the values that the Canadian people stand for and the Canadian people want.
If we look through the mini statement from yesterday there are many things not mentioned at all. I think of my own province of Saskatchewan. I have already talked about health care. Health care was started in Saskatchewan by the CCF, by Tommy Douglas and by James Shaver Woodsworth many, many years ago. After fighting against the Liberals year and year out, health care became a reality.
The Liberal Party promised health care in 1919, the year that the minister for financial institutions was born. It was promised in 1919 but it did not become a reality until the mid-1960s, 40-odd years after promising it to the Canadian people. It is only there because it was pushed and prodded by the CCF and the NDP who started health care in Saskatchewan back in 1961.
In 1961 when health care became a very volatile issue in our province, when there were organizations led by the doctors and others to stop medicare—they called it socialized medicine in those days—the Leader of the Opposition was Liberal Ross Thatcher. He was one of the leaders in the fight against health care in this country. He went into the legislative assembly with a photo op, and he kicked the door of the legislative assembly in opposition to health care in our province.
Health care was so popular with the people that public opinion was mobilized. Through the mobilization of public opinion it was forced on the Liberal government in 1965 or 1966 and the government of Lester Pearson brought it in across the country. The Liberal government had been forced by the CCF and the NDP, which shows the influence of a social democratic party as setting a popular agenda of equality for the Canadian people.
That whole agenda has now been highjacked because of a paranoiac fear of the Canadian Alliance. What the Liberals are doing is adopting the Alliance policy and moving sharply to the political right through $100 billion tax cut. Even the Minister of Finance himself a while back was ridiculing the then Reform Party for talking about a $50 billion or $60 billion cut in taxes. What does he do? He betters that with some $100 billion at the expense of the ordinary Canadian people and the programs that make this country so definitely unique from the United States of America.
We have the CA and the Liberal Party catering to the wealthy and to the privileged. We saw that last night at a dinner in Toronto where the corporate elite gathered. Tables were sold for this dinner. I watched the television last night to see how many ordinary grassroots Reformers there were from Wymark, Moose Jaw, or Kindersley, Saskatchewan or Brandon, Manitoba. I watched to see how many faces I would recognize of the ordinary people from Yorkton. Does anyone know how many I saw? I did not see any. I wondered why. Does anyone know why? It was because the cost of a table was $25,000. Some grassroots party, catering to the business arenas on Bay Street, to the big banks and the big financial institutions.
The old Reform Party is dead and gone, the so-called grassroots party that protested against this kind of elite gathering. We now have a new Bay Street party in the Reform Party; $25,000 a table. They were sipping champagne. They were pigging out on caviar. The party of the so-called grassroots people that rebelled against Brian Mulroney, rebelled against Bay Street, rebelled against this kind of imperial power, rebelled against these back room deals, has changed its skin. Now it represents the party of the wealthy, the rich and the privileged. That is the new Canadian Alliance, the old Reform Party.
What does the Liberal Party do? It gets scared. It is afraid. It is afraid of this new party that is rising so it moves sharply to the right. The member from British Columbia over there is crying in his seat. He is afraid as he weeps in the House of Commons.
What is in this budget? What is in this budget, for example, for the farmers of western Canada? I can see the headline “Farmers: An Endangered Species Survey”. A report from Statistics Canada says that there are 22,100 fewer farmers in the prairies this fall than last fall. The reaction it said was jaw dropping from economists across the prairies. Yet we had a surplus of $100 billion over five years to work with. What is there for the prairie farmer? There are 40,000 fewer farm workers in the prairies.
Farmers came to Ottawa last year asking for some help. The Europeans massively support their farmers. The Americans massively support their farmers. The government does diddly-squat. There is nothing in the budget at all.
We had a big deficit. The Canadian people won the deficit battle and now there is a big surplus. Where does the surplus go? It goes to $100 billion on tax cuts. Where does the surplus go? It goes toward cutting capital gains for speculators and wealthy bankers. The surtax on the rich is gone. The tax bracket was dropped in terms of what the rich pay in taxes in this country. All kinds of tax breaks have been given to the banks and we have 22,000 fewer farmers on the prairies.
I am surprised at the government across the way, but we have the Canadian Alliance going one step further. It does not like any support for farmers. The Alliance leader was in Regina back in August. Does anyone know what he said about the Canadian Wheat Board? He said that it should be voluntary. He said that if the Canadian Wheat Board was not a single best seller then it would eventually be eliminated and eliminated very quickly. That is exactly what the Canadian Alliance wants to do.
Then we had the member from Interlake who was saying a few days ago that the big drop in farmers is really a structural readjustment. That is the sensitivity we have from the official opposition.
What does the government do? It makes no response. There is nothing there to help our farmers in a time of need. These are things that were missing in the mini statement made by the Minister of Finance in the House of Commons yesterday.
I look again across my riding and across my province. I see a highway system that is collapsing because the government across the way has allowed the rail lines to be abandoned forcing farmers to take their grain to market in large trucks. The highways are being destroyed and yet there is no money for a national highways program to help rebuild the infrastructure of rural Canada and rural Saskatchewan.
Where is that money? That money has gone to Bay Street and to the wealthy. It has gone to pay down the national debt very rapidly and to pay off the bond holders on Bay Street. Where is the money for the ordinary people in Cupar, Dysart, Wynyard, Elfros, Raymore, Qu'Appelle and all those other places across Saskatchewan to make sure the highways are rebuilt?
It is a question of choices and a question of priorities. The Liberals made their choice and their choice does not synchronize at all with the preference of the Canadian people, which is to reinvest in people's programs and in a new deal for people.