He needs help. Debt reduction is one of the top priorities of Canadians for obvious reasons and should not be a discretionary matter.
Again, those of us in the official opposition should take some pride for being a bit prophetic about these things. When we proposed, as we have for years, the idea of a legislated debt reduction plan in law with an annual requirement of at least $6 billion in debt reduction, we did that for a purpose. We understood that when times got tough, Liberal politicians were likely to let debt reduction fall right off the chart. That is what they have done.
We have been completely vindicated in our call for debt reduction legislation, which we proposed would require, at bare minimum, an annual debt reduction of $6 billion plus 75% of any unanticipated surpluses. This is legislation that has been adopted and which has worked practically in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. There are other less stringent statutes in other legislatures, which have been very effective.
The government has given us an object lesson in the need for a debt reduction strategy and today we renew our call for that kind of statutory fiscal discipline so that an irresponsible finance minister does not have the discretion to pass onto future generations a burden which belongs to us. It is a moral responsibility and one which we must take up.
The failure to pay down the debt, the risk posed of a future deficit and the reality of a planning deficit imperils our economic security. The government, as I said at the outset, had two obligations in this budget. One was to provide for national security. The other was to provide economic security. Again we submit that it failed on both counts.
In terms of economic security, Canada is still suffering the effects of a decade of decline and economic drift, mainly under the management of this government. In 2000 the total tax burden was 44.3% of gross domestic product, up from 1999. However the Canadian standard of living has been falling for 20 years. Personal disposable income is below where it was 18 years ago.
The gap between Americans and Canadians, in terms of personal disposable income, increased by $2,900 between 1989 and 2000. That gap now represents $7,557. Those figures are in Canadian dollars or dollarettes.
That is a $7,500 gap between the average Canadian and the average American thanks to a decade long decline in our standard of living, our personal disposable income, our productivity and our competitiveness, fuelled principally by these destructively high levels of debt and taxation, as well as a burdensome regulatory regime which crushes much of the creative energy out of our economy. That is the long term economic challenge facing this nation; a $7,500 gap in the personal disposable incomes of the average Canadian versus the average American.
If we extrapolate that to an average family, as the current Minister of Foreign Affairs did when he was Minister of Industry at a speech he gave in the spring at the Empire Club, $7,500 times four, the average Canadian family is about $25,000 behind or poorer than its American counterpart in terms of personal disposable income. That is a consequence of the decade of drift. On an annual basis, our labour productivity is growing at half the level as that in the United States.
The best evidence of our relative decline in wealth and productivity as a nation is very obvious to any one of us who has followed the sad story of the Canadian loonie. That lame loonie, under Liberal management, reached 62.37 U.S. cents three weeks ago, the lowest value of our currency in its history.
We know that the value of a currency reflects the international market's perception of the value of an economy. The international currency markets have clearly given the government and its fiscal management a failing grade with the value of our currency. The government has said that it is just an aberration, or that it is just because of low commodity prices or it is a flight to safety in the United States. It is excuse after excuse. Every time we reach a record low, we hear another excuse.
The reality is that since the government came to power in 1993, we have seen a reduction in the value of the loonie of over 20%. We have lost value over the past couple of years against the Mexican peso, against the British pound sterling, against a number of other currencies, including the Japanese yen. In fact, the Bank of Canada reports that we have lost 20% of the value of our currency against a basket of six major international currencies over the past several years.
I submit that this budget ought not to have simply addressed the immediate fiscal agenda of the government but rather the long term economic agenda of Canada. We cannot afford to take a break in the race to international productivity and competitiveness. We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and say there is an international recession or a security imperative that we must address. That is not an excuse. There is no excuse for complacency in the fight to improve the standard of living of working families in Canada.
We must be relentless and tireless in moving to reduce our debt levels, our tax levels and our regulatory burden and to liberate our labour markets so that we can see more wealth in the country, more investment, more savings, more employment and a higher level of personal disposable income that real people feel in their real lives. That should be the first economic responsibility and priority of the government, yet it clearly is not. Not only is the government threatening a deficit and neglecting to pay one cent on the national debt, it did not offer one dime in new tax relief in the budget. When a nation has the highest level of personal income tax as a percentage of national income in the G-7 and the government does not offer a dime in new tax relief as the country goes into a recession and people are losing their jobs, it is shockingly irresponsible.
In fact, next year the government will be raising those taxes that are most sensitive for the labour market. It will be raising payroll taxes. Combined payroll taxes will be going up next year by 6%. There is a $40 billion cumulative surplus in the employment insurance account which, parenthetically, is more than twice than what is necessary, according to the auditor general, to finance benefits in the most extreme downturn. Notwithstanding that, there is a cumulative surplus of $40 billion and an annual surplus of $6 billion in the EI account. Yet the government has announced a rate reduction per $100 of premiums of only five cents for employers and employees next year. That will be far outstripped by the largest increase in CPP premiums in Canadian history, which means that the average employee will be spending an extra $300 next year on payroll taxes split between the employer and employee.
What does that mean when we are in a recession where unemployment is going up, as it did last week? Last week Statistics Canada reported that unemployment had risen from 7.3% to 7.5% with a loss of 43,000 full time jobs. Yet the government, starting January 1, will increase the price of a job. It will make it more difficult for small businesses to hire people on the first rung of the ladder in the labour market. That is irresponsible as we move into a recession.
What we need to do is make it easier for people to be employed. We need to reduce the cost of hiring Canadians by reducing payroll taxes. We could reduce the combined employer-employee EI premiums by 25 cents to the break even level. The government would still be left with at least a notional surplus of $40 billion. We could also look at more meaningful fundamental reform to secure the future of public pensions. By giving younger workers an option to direct a portion of their savings into regulated private savings vehicles, we would allow them to increase their returns at lower cost, thereby decreasing the overall payroll tax burden even further.
Yesterday in his budget speech the finance minister said that in the mid-1990s some Canadians were concerned about the sustainability of the public pension system but they no longer are. He is dead wrong. Canadians who understand the demographic time bomb and the dynamics of the aging population know that the changes made to the Canada pension plan in 1997 and 1998 simply are not sufficient to manage the enormous future expectations of our retiring population.
The government has failed to provide stimulus to the economy in the midst of a recession into which it has led the Canadian economy, even though Canadians want and understand intuitively that tax relief helps create wealth. According to a Léger poll from November 18, 74% of Canadians prefer tax cuts to spending as a key to jump-starting the economy. Almost precisely the same result came from an Ipsos-Reid poll published last Friday. Three-quarters of Canadians said they wanted to see tax relief in this budget to stimulate growth in this recession and a majority of Canadians said they opposed new spending if it meant moving us into a deficit in this recession.
Canadians get it. They understand, after all the pain we have gone through over the past decade in the country, that leaving more money in the pockets of entrepreneurs, working families and home-keepers does more to create wealth and jobs than giving that money to government politicians and bureaucrats like the ministers of industry, culture, heritage and HRD to waste. They understand that and so too should the government.
The government might say there is no more room for tax relief. First, the government alleges that it is providing, get this, $100 billion in tax relief over five years. When we go to Wal-Mart and see something priced at $9.95 we understand that is a marketing gimmick. It is choosing a price level for marketing purposes. The finance minister, when his bureaucrats were trying to come up with a tax plan last year, said “We have to make this $100 billion, a nice big round, three digit figure. We have to get that number as close as we possibly can to the Alliance's vigorous $125 billion tax cut”. He said “Whatever you do, boys, add up the numbers so they come up to $100 billion”. That is exactly what they did. It was a joke.
The fact of the matter is that the real value of that tax cut was $42.5 billion. Of the $100 billion the government claimed, $7.8 billion was increased social spending, transfers to persons, through the program known as the Canada child tax benefit. It is not a tax cut. It is an interesting and worthwhile program, but it is a spending program, not a tax cut. There was $29.5 billion eaten up by the increase in CPP premiums that I just talked about. Of the government's notional tax cut, $20.7 billion was the effect of indexation of the tax brackets, of the thresholds and the exemptions.
Let us just think about that for a moment. The government is saying “We will no longer tax you on inflation and that non-taxation of inflation will count as a tax cut”. The government is saying that it is counting as a tax cut a non-tax increase. Based on that logic and accounting, with revenues of $130 billion and an economy of one trillion dollars it could say that there is an $870 billion tax cut. When we net all that out, the total real tax reduction, for which we give the government some credit for grudgingly moving in our direction, was $42.5 billion or $58 billion less than advertised.
Even after it is fully implemented, that will still leave Canada with the highest income tax burden as percentage of national income in the G-7 and in fact in the G-8. Let me just say that Russia is experiencing an economic turnaround today. It has doubled its tax revenues and is improving its balance sheet. Why? Because it adopted a single rate tax of 13% two years ago. Sometimes good ideas, when given a practical chance, actually work.
On corporate income tax the government did nothing yesterday. It was not just the Alliance that again had recommended further tax relief. In fact, the finance committee in its report tabled in this place a couple of weeks ago recommended the immediate elimination of the capital tax, which is an insidious tax on innovation.
Virtually every single business group that came before the finance committee echoed this recommendation, which is why it found its way into this report. That quote is:
The Committee recommends that the federal government encourage a harmonization of the capital tax base, and the elimination of the capital tax.
There was a Liberal majority on the finance committee. I see one of the members here who approved this. Are they upset that did not find its way into this budget? This is not a huge revenue item. It would represent notionally forgone revenue of $1.3 billion a year, which is a relatively small piece of revenue. It is less than the finance minister throws around as baubles to his leadership campaign friends, for TV producers and high speed Internet programs and such.
It is $1.3 billion, but every major business group in the country says this must happen. For instance, Bruce Burrows of the Railway Association of Canada stated:
At the risk of sounding repetitive, by eliminating the capital tax...the federal government would be sending a strong, positive signal to investors at a critical point in the business cycle. What better way could you provide a step to further encourage the deployment of new energy-efficient and productive assets to serve the economy?
The government talks about its innovation agenda, but when businesses, the leaders who actually innovate in our economy, who create wealth, who make profits and who employee people, say that this is the best way to help our economy innovate, the government does not listen. Instead, it gives $110 million to the industry minister to hook up people to the Internet. What is the government thinking?
There is no capital tax relief and there is no further corporate tax relief. There is no tax fairness for the resource sector, which is still being penalized at a second level of 28%. Over half a million Canadians work in the energy industry involving oil, gas and mining. It is a core industry in Canada. Those industries are being penalized by the government with a discriminatory rate of 28%. Every major group from that sector has called for changes, but none have been offered.
Let me say, lest I sound too polemical, that there were some minor technical tax changes in the budget that we approve of. We are pleased to see that after vigorous efforts on our part the government accepted certain technical changes to the treatment of venture capital. We also are pleased to see that the government accepted the recommendations we made allowing more generous treatment in terms of capital gains for gifts of shares to registered charities. This was something that was pressed for very effectively by Nesbitt Burns vice-chairman Donald Johnson in Toronto. Those are some baby steps in the direction of tax reform.
However, there is no personal income tax relief contained in this budget. Payroll taxes have been increased. There is no capital tax relief. The government ignored the public's call for further tax relief. In fact, to close out my remarks on taxation, the government, believe it or not, is increasing taxes and revenues in this budget. With the $1.2 billion increase in CPP premiums next year, the new air traveller security charge announced and a $430 million tax increase presented to us in the supply motion currently before the House, we are talking about $2 billion in additional taxes next year.
The finance minister claims that he is providing stimulus for the economy in this recession. He says there will be what he claims is a $20 billion tax cut in the calendar year 2002. Nonsense: if we do the real accounting the actual tax cut the government is offering is in the range not of $20 billion but of $9 billion. If we net out an additional roughly $1 billion in tax increases proposed in this budget for that year, it comes down to $8 billion, which is a measly portion for such an overtaxed economy.
The government has failed to get its priorities straight when it comes to tax relief, when it comes to the long term slide in our economy, when it comes to reallocation. Let me address this now in terms of government expenditures.
I talked about the huge spending increase proposed in this budget, but the government will say that it is important spending. For instance, it will say that the delivery of $160 million for fetal alcohol syndrome and youth health care programs delivered by the Department of Indian Affairs and the health care department is important spending. I do not think any of my colleagues would disagree with that.
We understand that one of the moral imperatives of the government must be to address the root causes of poverty and despair on our aboriginal reserves, but let us be clear. There is $10 billion of combined spending from all three levels of government on aboriginal persons. There is $7 billion alone at the federal level. While that department has received the largest spending increases of any department over the past six or seven years, we continue to see the standard of living of people who are the ostensible recipients of that generosity deteriorate, the despair increase and the hope disappear.
Something is wrong with the way in which we are actually allocating those moneys. Certainly the auditor general has identified at length the waste, mismanagement and frankly, corruption in the administration of programs through aboriginal affairs. I have a 10 page briefing note of misuse of taxpayers' money by band councils which was extracted from the auditor general's report. There were hundreds of millions of dollars of waste. My colleague from Vancouver Island North, the official opposition critic for aboriginal affairs, will be detailing some of the waste.
The point is that we should be putting money into fetal alcohol syndrome, youth education and health care for aboriginal people, but we should be finding that money by taking it away from the waste and corruption that the auditor general has identified. Instead of increasing overall spending and ignoring the wasteful spending, we should cut the wasteful spending to target it strategically in areas like fetal alcohol syndrome. That is called priority setting. That is what the government has failed to do. It does it in various departments.
Look at some of the waste in the budget. First, we just need to refer again to the auditor general's report last week. She referred to grants and contributions of over $16 billion which are rife with waste. She said that there is waste and abuse in at least 16 departments. She identified grotesque examples of this kind of waste. We all know what they are. That has been added to in the budget.
The finance minister has given the Minister of Industry, as I mentioned before, $110 million for his pet project for the Internet so that he could say that he won something in the budget in the bizarre ego game that goes around the Liberal cabinet in the budget-making exercise.
There was $160 million for the Minister of Canadian Heritage's friends in the TV industry. What is that about? We are talking about kids starving on aboriginal reserves, about Canadians waiting six months for critical operations, about a military with equipment that dates from the 1950s and we are giving $160 million to TV producers? Where is the government's priorities?
There will be $170 million given to the Minister of Health for health programs that will not actually deliver any health care to people.
Andrew Coyne said in his article today that he is not sure when it was decided that the leadership campaign should be publicly funded but at least the Minister of Finance should have been told. In other words the Prime Minister seems to have written the budget.
There is waste. We have identified $6 billion to $7 billion of low priority spending which could be reallocated to the urgent and high priorities of national security, tax relief and health care. Some $6 billion of waste. There is at least $1.2 billion in corporate welfare grants from the government. There is $1 billion a year in regional development schemes like western economic diversification.
Often when we talk about regional development in this party people think we are picking on one region. I will offer up, and I think my colleagues from the west would agree with me, we do not want western economic diversification and its $300 million of business welfare. Let it go into the private sector along with FORD-Q and ACOA. There is $1 billion there.
There are subsidies to bloated crown corporations like the $1 billion annual subsidy to the CBC. We know that company could offer it more effectively by raising capital through the private sector.
We have talked about waste in the department of aboriginal affairs, not core spending but waste. As well, there are certain tax expenditures that the government could crack down on to save taxpayers money. For instance, we are losing about $800 million a year on a tax break that is being abused by certain people in the film production business. That should be cracked down on.
The Mintz commission recommended over $2 billion in base broadening measures for the corporate tax system which have not been implemented by the government. These measures alone could be implemented so that we could afford the tax measures for the resource sector and afford the elimination of the capital tax.
My colleagues remind me that in terms of priorities, our farmers are going bankrupt because they are on the losing end of an international trade war being subsidized by the treasuries of the United States and the European Union. It is virtually not even an issue on the foreign policy agenda of the government.
We have asked for $500 million, a relative pittance in international terms as emergency support for our agricultural sector. The government has been able to find $160 million for TV producers, an $800 million tax break for movie producers that it still has not closed, but it cannot find $500 million for farmers who are going bankrupt and are losing fourth and fifth generation farms. The government does not have its priorities straight.
As I was saying, we have identified $6 billion in waste and low priority spending. I would include in the list over $2 billion in equity positions which the government still has in Petro-Canada and Hibernia. The government made commitments to sell those shares years ago.
It was in the 1997 budget that the finance minister said the government would liquidate its shares in Petro-Can, shares which reached historically high values about six or seven months ago and which are now on the decline. The government has already lost an opportunity for $2 billion that could go to debt reduction which would reduce the interest payments by a couple of hundred million dollars. That is $200 million that could then go to health care and agriculture.
The government is holding on to Petro-Canada and Hibernia shares because the Prime Minister has some strange 1970s twisted dream about government ownership of the energy sector. He does not want to lose hold of that symbol of the national energy program.
Instead of reallocating, instead of making choices as the finance minister said he would do, instead of selling redundant assets, instead of allowing crown corporations to raise their funds in the private sector instead of from taxpayers, instead of ending corporate welfare, the government has not done one of those things. This is why we find ourselves driving into a big fiscal hole.
I have not been able to calculate the full effect of yesterday's budget, but before yesterday's budget, it was very clear that the government was missing a $50 billion opportunity over the next four years to get its priorities straight. Let me explain.
Almost every private sector economist and business group has encouraged the government to limit its program spending increases to 3% per year on average, which would be the average combined rate of inflation plus growth in population. In fact the finance committee reiterated its longstanding recommendation that the government limit spending increases on the program side to 3% a year. If we were to do so, that is the combined level of inflation and population so it would mean no absolute cuts in program spending but, as I have expressed, the government has been raising spending at rates of 6%, 7% and 8% per year. If the government were to restrain its program spending to the level of 3% that we have recommended, it would have over the next four years an additional $50 billion available for tax relief, debt reduction, health care and agriculture, in other words, the priorities of Canadians. That does not even account for the effect of the reallocation of $6 billion a year that we in the opposition have suggested.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance often says that our numbers do not add up. If he takes out a calculator and extrapolates the program spending line of 5% minimum, which is what the Liberals are on, versus the 3% that we recommend, he will find an extra $50 billion that could go to working families to improve their standard of living, to eliminate capital taxes, to pay down the debt, to reduce payroll taxes, to improve the quality of and access to health care for Canadians. In other words it would get the priorities straight, which the government has failed to do.
Let me now turn to the last section of my remarks regarding national security. The government has agreed that the budget must address the urgent imperative of national security. We do not need a lot of poetry about what happened on September 11. We all suffered an abrupt wake-up call on that morning. It has changed our world but I really do not think it has fundamentally changed the government's priorities.
Three months ago today, violence of the worst kind was inflicted on our neighbours, friends and relatives to the south. We realized that the idea of globalization is not a concept; it is a reality and it is here, particularly for those of us on this continent. We share such a marvelous relationship with that great democracy to the south.
We must do our part. We have a moral obligation as a free and democratic nation not to be a grudging or half-hearted participant in the war on terrorism but to be there on the front line, shoulder to shoulder with the United States of America and our treaty allies every step of the way.
In the budget yesterday the government outlined some $7.7 billion in ostensible security measures over five years. Again with its goofy accounting some of these measures are over two years, some over three years and some over five years, but we do not have the time to break down the accounting here.
Suffice it to say that of the moneys it is proposing for security areas, first of all, it is not all security. Some $600 million of it is for infrastructure at the borders, which is good. We endorse that. We recommended half a billion dollars for infrastructure at the borders so that we can accelerate trade.
We endorse and support a number of the measures: increased resources for screening incoming immigrants and refugees; prescreening overseas; hopefully new technology for passport screening; biometric identification technology or at least we hope prototypes will be experimented with; and additional personnel at both customs and immigration. These are all measures we support.
Indeed the government actually has taken a step in the right direction in terms of funding for both the RCMP and CSIS. However I would point out the reason it had to take a step in that direction is that since 1995 the government has cut resources drastically for our front line police and security intelligence services. It is proposing a $1.6 billion cumulative increase for these two agencies.
The CSIS budget, even after these increases, will fall far short of where it was in real terms in 1993. It will still be 20% lower than the $244 million it was at in 1993. In fact we in the official opposition have recommended a much larger increase to the intelligence agency. We have proposed a $100 million annual increase and the Liberal budget breaks down to a $55 million annual increase. We proposed an increase roughly twice the size of what the government has.
Just as an example, we currently spend less than $200 million Canadian on intelligence. The United States spends some $30 billion U.S. on intelligence. We literally spend a fraction of one per cent of what the Americans do in relative terms.
In terms of the RCMP, it saw its budget gutted. As a result the RCMP saw the amount of federal officers decrease by 16% from 5,200 in 1994 to 4,300 in 2000.
Over $100 million a year is needed just to reverse the decline in officers. RCMP resources were already stretched to the limit before September 11. We do not think the funding increase for the RCMP is adequate. It falls short of the minimum $250 million needed for 2,000 new officers. That is why we have called for a $315 million increase to the annual RCMP budget.
We support the border measures and new infrastructure to expedite trade at the 49th parallel. However the sharp edge of national security is our military and national defence. It represents our ultimate power as a nation to assert our values in defence of freedom and democracy. The budget is an embarrassment and an abject failure when it comes to providing adequate resources for our men and women in uniform.
There are some 56,000 people, 44,000 less than there were in 1993, who wear a uniform which symbolizes their willingness to die for Canada and its values. These are people who stand willingly to make the ultimate sacrifice. We as a parliament, and indeed taxpayers of the country, must be prepared to make a sacrifice for them by giving them the equipment they need to do the job we assign them.
Yesterday's defence budget was an embarrassment. The government announced $1.2 billion for the military over five years, an average annual increase of just $240 million. That is far short of the $1.3 billion minimum the auditor general said is required to bring the forces up to a level of minimal operational effectiveness and further short of the $2 billion the Conference of Defence Associations has recommended for operational effectiveness.
Defence spending last year totalled $9.7 billion. That is $1.6 billion lower than the 1993 total of $11.3 billion in nominal, not real terms. The defence budget would have to increase to $12.6 billion just to bring inflation adjusted spending in defence up to the 1993 level.
The consequence of these drastic military cutbacks is that Canada now has the second lowest defence expenditure in NATO. To our everlasting shame we are virtually tied with the lowest defence expenditure, that of the Duchy of Luxembourg which has a standing army of 800 people. In relative terms it is the only country that spends less than we do on the military.
We spend less than half the NATO average. As a percentage of national income our defence expenditure is 1.1% of our gross domestic product. The NATO average is 2.1%. Our American friends whom by neglect we effectively force to subsidize our defence spend 3.3% of their national income on defence. That is three times what we do in relative terms.
Canada ended the second world war with the third largest navy in the world, the fourth largest standing army, and one of the most effective and respected air forces. It was a true valiant defender of freedom from 1940 to 1945. Now we are an open joke in international defence circles, not because of a lack of bravery, expertise or courage on the part of our fighting men and women but because of a lack of equipment, resources and personnel through government funding. It must end.
I thought September 11 would wake us to this new reality. If we were to simply raise our spending to the NATO average, not exceed it but meet it, it would require a doubling of our defence budget. Clearly that is something we cannot achieve overnight. It gives us a picture of how far behind we have fallen.
In yesterday's budget the government provides only $300 million for new equipment. About three-quarters of new defence expenditure announced yesterday will be allocated to new tasking being given to our military such as guarding important installations, nuclear power sites and so on.
We are giving the military a dollar but saying it must use 75 cents of it to do new tasks. We are giving it virtually nothing in terms of new equipment. It is no wonder the budget has been roundly condemned by experts in the Canadian defence community.
We in the Alliance Party have recommended an immediate increase of at least $2 billion in addition to the $1 billion or $2 billion for operational costs immediately associated with Operation Apollo so we can, it is hoped, eventually achieve something like the NATO average. My colleague from Lakeland, the opposition critic for defence, will be expanding on this.
This was not a security budget. The government took some small steps in the right direction in certain areas and thankfully followed our advice in some of those areas. However the war on terrorism is not over. The war in Afghanistan was phase one of a task that will take years and potentially decades.
Yesterday's budget reflects a basic flaw in Liberal political thinking. The Liberals believe peace is the ordinary condition of humankind. They believe in the perfectibility of human nature. They cannot understand that every now and then we are interrupted by violence and the reality of history. They cannot understand that there is evil on the planet from which we must protect ourselves and all other free nations.
I will say this one more time because I feel it so strongly. We have a moral obligation to do our part and no less. It is so wrong for us to get on our moral high horse, as Liberals so often do in Canada, and criticize our friends in the United States for their many failings while at the same time allowing and essentially forcing American taxpayers to subsidize our defence. It is wrong and it must come to an end.
The budget has failed to get the government's priorities straight. It has failed to present clear, easily understood and transparent projections for the future of the government's accounts. The government has put Canada into a planning deficit based on its previous accounting standards before it moved the goal posts in this budget. It has refused to give even a token acknowledgment of the need for debt reduction in a country with the third highest debt in the developed world. It has done nothing to respond to the recession into which it has led us.
There is nothing in the budget in terms of the tax relief three-quarters of Canadians are demanding. There is nothing to help us reverse the decade of drift we have suffered under the Liberal government. There is nothing to set priorities straight, reduce wasteful spending, reallocate spending and liquidate redundant government assets. The budget has fallen far short of what is minimally necessary to provide our military with the resources to defend and advance our national security.
In closing, the budget falls far short of what I expected from the finance minister. Once again it reflects the politics of his boss, the Prime Minister. It is a shame. It is a missed opportunity, the consequences of which will be clear to us in the years to come.
That the motion be amended by replacing all the words after the word “That” with the following:
“this House rejects the Government's Budget statement because it fails to provide adequately for the national and economic security of Canada by continuing to underfund Canada's military at the second lowest level of defence expenditure in NATO; by increasing overall spending at a rate nine times faster than the rate of growth in the economy; by failing to reallocate spending from low to high priority areas such as health care and agriculture; by failing to address the long-term slide in Canada's productivity and standard of living; by increasing payroll taxes in the midst of a recession; and by planning for no reduction in Canada's $547 billion debt”.