Mr. Speaker, I thank the member from Acadie—Bathurst for very forcefully putting into words what many in the room are thinking: that the redistribution of wealth through federal transfer payments may be the single greatest achievement of Canadian federalism and the most important instrument for fostering Canadian unity. That point has not been made often enough in this room. I thank him for making it very poignantly.
The question I have is more specifically about the methodology and formula for the Canada health and social transfer. The hon. member pointed out, and other speakers have mentioned, that when the government introduced the CHST the federal transfer was about $19.1 billion. When the CHST kicked in it was $11 billion. It is only now inching forward. In other words, the total aggregate amount of cutback the government has ripped out of the federal social transfer is $30 billion to $35 billion, arguably even more.
Would that not constitute a breach of the whole concept of Canadian unity? Are we not jeopardizing the fragile thing we call the federation of Canada when we rip the heart out of the very programs that make it worth belonging to? Would the hon. member care to comment on the impact felt in ridings like his when the Canada health and social transfer ripped the heart out of so many social programs?