Mr. Speaker, I am privileged today to stand in the House of Commons and speak, not only on behalf of the taxpayers of Elk Island, but also, I believe, on behalf of the taxpayers of the whole country on the implementation of the latest budget.
It is interesting that we have not yet fully implemented the previous budget. We still have some bills to pass. Today we are talking about the current budget.
When I think of the implications of the budget, I immediately think about families. Some time ago I read that one of the most important factors leading to marriage breakups and family stress are financial factors.
I read somewhere that husbands and wives argue more about money than about anything else. There is no doubt in my mind that our tax regime and the government intrusion into our economy and governments, of which the federal is only one of the three levels of government in this country, but the combined levels of government confiscate from the average taxpayer approximately half of the earnings of that taxpayer. Psychologically, that is very discouraging.
It means that as we earn money in order to provide for our families that we actually get to use only half of it. The rest of it is taken from us. Consequently, it makes it very difficult for people to make ends meet and, as I have just said, this is what adds to stresses in families because there is an argument as to where the limited resources of the family should go.
I would like to preface my statements today on the budget simply by emphasizing again that this is an anti-family government. The Liberals do not do what is good for families. They do not do what is good for children. They tax families to death and then somehow they try to get out that they are doing all these wonderful things by giving families money.
The government has no money. The money that it has is what is confiscated from taxpayers and all it does is redistribute it. It takes it from the pocket of one taxpayer and puts it into someone else's pocket. The degree to which this government does it is excessive.
I would like to also say that there is no implication here that I do not believe in helping those who are less well off. I believe their taxes payable should be even less and that benefits for people who are in dire straits should be there. How they are delivered is a matter of great debate. I, frankly, think that a distant federal government in Ottawa trying to figure out how to distribute the taxpayer's money and to identify people who need it is just wrong.
We have noticed in the last couple of days that the government has transferred a lot of money through Bill C-23 to a group which statistics show are above average in income. The government's anti-family agenda continues. I think it is time that we replace this government and that we start having some policies and principles in Canada which are pro-family and which allow families to keep more of their earnings to pay for the things that they need.
The previous speaker from the Progressive Conservative Party spoke about the debt. This has been one of my chief complaints about the management of the government. The message from the PR department of the government is that everything is fine. The Prime Minister likes to have people think everything is okay, “don't worry, be happy”.
Yet the facts belie the situation. The government gets the people to feel better by giving messaging that puts it in a very good light. As a matter of fact the documents, the actual facts, the numbers in the book, show a completely different picture. They emphasize that the facts are not that rosy and what the government, the finance minister and the Prime Minister do is to simply try to persuade the people that things are really good.
I happen to have here a copy of the 2000 budget plan which is the basis of the bill today. The bill we are debating is the implementation of parts of this budget. I happen to have a copy of the budget here. It is a fairly big document. It has about 350 pages in it. I think it would be wonderful if Canadians would take the time to actually get on the Internet site and look at these budget documents and see what it is that they really say.
I am on page 52 of the budget plan 2000. With respect to the debt, it says “Net public debt”. We see in 1998-99 it was $576.8 billion. In 1999-2000, the year for which the books are not yet quite completed, although the fiscal year has ended it will take a while for all of the government accountants to check up, the number for the debt is exactly the same, $576.8 billion. We look at the current budget. What is the government's plan to reduce the debt? It's plan to reduce the debt is zero since it has budgeted for a net public debt at the end of the year of $576.8 billion. Then we have the projection for the next budget for planning purposes. This is not part of the bill we are discussing today, but it is what is expected to happen the year following this budget. What is the number? It is $576.8 billion. The plan this government has to reduce our indebtedness is zero.
When I first ran in the 1993 election, one of the things that I did shortly after the election was make a number of visits to schools. I still do a number of these, but for some reason or other the number of calls that I get to come into the schools has diminished a bit in the last couple of years, but at first I had many visits. I used to begin my little talks to those students by apologizing from my generation to the young people of that generation. I used to say to them “I am so sorry that people in my generation somehow did not exercise our political clout to turf the people out who were putting this generation into debt”.
We have young pages in this place. Earlier today we had a number of young people in the visitors' gallery. All of the young people across the country are asked to pay the bills that we in our generation have rung up. I take partial responsibility for that because I sat on my hands. Yes, I always voted. I voted for the PCs most of the time who were at that time the least of all of the bad options. We were hopeful in 1984 when we finally elected a Conservative government that it would do something about the debt which was increasing continuously under the Liberals. We had a great amount of hope that when the PCs took power in 1984, that would be the end of the spiralling growth of debt, the end of deficit spending. Did that happen? It surely did not. As we well know, we had record deficits under the PCs.
I heard my colleague from the PC Party speak a little while ago and he addressed the debt question. He said, “As a matter of fact that debt was simply the compound interest on what the Liberals left them”. Mathematically he is correct. Let us take the debt that the Conservatives inherited in 1984 and simply apply an interest of around 9%. I did the calculation one time. If we use an interest rate of around 9% or 10% it does bring us to the level of debt that the Conservatives had when they were brutally kicked out of office in 1993. That was because it took us about nine years to discover that the debt that the Liberals had built was not going to be eliminated by the Progressive Conservatives since in that same time they allowed it to continue to grow. Program spending was not greater than the amount of their revenues, but every year they borrowed. The numbers are obvious. The interest payments on the debt were around $35 billion, the deficits were around $35 billion. In the last year it was over $40 billion. It is simply true that they did not look at the debt. They pretended it did not exist. They did not address it.
Are we any better off under the Liberals? The answer is no. As a matter of fact, I happen to have the numbers here right at my fingertips because I looked them up in preparation for this speech today.
In 1993-94 the debt was $508.2 billion. Under the Liberals it grew approximately $37 billion in the next year, $32 billion in the next year, and $24 billion in the year after. My numbers are a little too high because those are the projected numbers. The debt grew to its present number which, as I have already indicated several times in my speech, is around $576 billion.
It is atrocious. While the Liberals communicate to Canadians that they are wonderful, that they have beaten the deficit dragon, the fact is that the deficits of some $40 billion a year have been overcome simply by the fact that the government is taking that much more in income tax revenue.
The Liberals say they did not increase taxes but they did. The tax revenues are up. It is right in the budget document. This is not political messaging; it is simply what we read in the document. If we look at the income tax revenue in previous years and compare it to income tax revenue now, it has steadily increased to the point where now the government is taking about $40 billion a year more out of the economy than it did when it first took office.
Hence the deficit has been eliminated but not because of good financial management by the government, but because it has allowed bracket creep to continue over the last number of years. Therefore the income tax revenue has gone up and it caused the deficit to disappear because the taxpayers were putting in more money.
The amount of actual program spending the government has cut is minuscule. It is essentially zero once we cut out what it has downloaded to the provinces through its reduction in transfer payments.
It is not at all attributable to the Liberal government that we are in better shape now. We are in better shape because the debt is no longer increasing. It has not been because of the Liberal government; it has been in spite of the Liberal government.
Added to that is all the wasteful spending which has been brought to light by the auditor general. The auditor general is a non-partisan officer of the House. His task is simply to report to Canadians on the management of the money. Over and over and over the auditor general reports that there are big problems. He does not use the word boondoggle, we do. The simple definition of that word is where money is being spent in great amounts without proper accounting and without proper control.
I have a surprise for a lot of people who do not know this. Many people think that we are now in a surplus situation, that we have money to spend and therefore we are really looking pretty good. I found something that the finance minister never mentioned in his budget speech. No one on the Liberal side has brought this to the attention of the Canadian people, but here it is.
Once again I am looking at the actual budget document printed by the Minister of Finance and delivered to the House of Commons on February 28. It says on page 76, “For 1999-2000, a financial surplus of $8 billion is expected”. The finance minister said this lower surplus reflects the assumptions of a balanced budget and lower sources of funds from the pension accounts, et cetera. In 1999-2000, the year just ended, the government expects a financial surplus of $8 billion.
We have to remember that was in the fiscal year in which we passed a bill in the House which allowed the government to do a bookkeeping entry by taking $30 billion from the pension fund of the civil servants of our country. Our party believes that probably the government was entitled to part of that, because clearly there were overpayments and there is a surplus in the fund. Undoubtedly the Canadian taxpayers via the government are entitled to a part of it, but a part of it at least is due to the employees of the government. The Liberal government defeated any amendments we had to correct that and took $30 billion from them.
It is also as a result of the fact that there are huge surpluses in the EI fund. Have the Liberals corrected it according to the actuarial standards? No, they have not. They have made some little mediocre changes. The actuary said that the rate of premiums for EI should be around $2 per $100 of earnings, but the government continued to take $2.40 per $100 of earnings. The Liberals brag that they have cut it, but they are still enjoying huge surpluses in that form.
The next paragraph is the one which will shock members. It will probably shock most Liberal members because the finance minister has not brought this to our attention and he was mum about it in his speech. It says on page 76, “For 2000-01”, the year this budget covers, “a financial requirement of $5 billion is expected, the first requirement in three years”.
We are back to borrowing money in order to run the operation of the government. This is in the cash flow part. These are the budgetary balances and the government is projecting for this year's budget that there be a requirement of some $5 billion worth of borrowing and it is keeping it a secret from us.
I have exposed the secret. It is in the book in a little paragraph on page 76. I am sure that everybody was instructed carefully, “If you see it, do not mention it, because we do not want people to get the impression that we are not perfect managers of the taxpayers' money”.
The lid has been blown off that one. We have seen all of the wasteful spending, the spending not accounted for, all the grants and contributions, the political slush funds. We have seen all of that. The government is not responsible. Now we see it communicating that everything is hunky-dory when in fact with this budget it is bringing us once again into borrowing.
It is a shameful thing that the government simply cannot get its act together. We live in a country which is rich in resources. We have minerals. We have mines. We have oil. We have gas. We have diamonds. We have forestry products. We have a tremendously valuable agriculture resource, probably the best in the world. Our farmers are the most efficient in the world. We have a hardworking energetic population. Certainly living in our climate we are a very hardy population.
There is no excuse in the world for this country not to be the very best in the world. It should be debt free. If the governments over the last 30 years had been dealing properly with our money, we would not have debt. We would not have some $40 billion a year in interest payments which siphon off from Canadian taxpayers the money that should be spent for programs like health care and education. Those are programs Canadians are demanding but which they cannot have because governments, both past and present, the Liberal government and the Conservative government, all of them in the last 30 years, have done this to our young people, to our families, to our country. They should hang their heads in shame because they have failed utterly.
We ought to get some people running the government who act like business people, whose objectives and primary goals are to do what is right for the people, to manage the economic affairs of the country properly. They have to forget that the primary goal is simply to get re-elected, which is what too often clouds the financial decisions in this country.
In conclusion, I wish I had another 20 minutes to speak but unfortunately the speeches of 40 minutes are gone from this section.