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House of Commons Hansard #151 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

A message from Her Excellency the Governor General transmitting Supplementary Estimates (B) of the sums required for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2002, was presented by the hon. President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

A message from Her Excellency the Governor General transmitting Estimates for the sums required for the service of Canada for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2003, was presented by the hon. the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Jerry Pickard Liberal Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present this morning.

The first petition requests parliament to resolve the issue of residential school litigation outside the court system, specifically for the federal government to assume the responsibility for the Mohawk Institute lawsuit thereby recognizing that the Anglican Diocese of Huron was never a party to the operation of that residential school.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Jerry Pickard Liberal Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition requests parliament to ban human embryo research and to direct the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to support and fund only promising ethical research that does not involve the destruction of human life.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am pleased to rise and present a petition to the House of Commons regarding professional skilled immigrations, specifically Mr. and Mrs. Premakumaran from Edmonton. They have rights according to the charter.

Several constituents in Edmonton who are very concerned about the fact that Nesa and Prem, as they are known, are a couple who were misled by immigration, via the Canadian High Commission, into believing that their education, skills and experience would be recognized in Canada and that they would readily acquire decent jobs within their field. These are both professional people and there are constituents who are very concerned about that.

Seemingly, the government welcomes these people into the country and yet this couple has had a great deal of difficulty.

The petitioners call upon parliament to request that their plight be looked into very seriously; for the government to change the misleading point system for immigrants; to look into the false advertising that induced such immigrants as this couple to come to Canada; clear present labour standards and resources; make sure there are sufficient jobs available before bringing more skilled labour into Canada; to pass a legal precedent with regard to professional skilled immigrants that avoids unnecessary misrepresentation; and finally, to adopt a new position on globalization where a uniformed standard system with regard to recognition of qualifications, skills and experience can be accepted nationwide.

Nesa and Prem are in a difficult position and the petitioners beg parliament to do something about it.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, petitioners from my riding express concern about the exclusion that was made in the case of John Robin Sharpe, dealing with child pornography, particularly the number one self-created expressive materials.

The petitioners feel that this fails to uphold the rights of children to autonomy and dignity as guaranteed in the charter of rights and they therefore request that parliament reinstate section 163.1(4) of the criminal code.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

moved:

That, in response to Canadians’ desire to save Canada as a sovereign nation and strengthen our distinctive contribution in the world, this House calls upon the government to reflect in its budgetary policy the New Democratic Party 12-Point Plan to Save Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased on the NDP opposition day to introduce the motion which you have just read. As you were reading the motion my colleague sitting next to me, the NDP House leader and member for Winnipeg--Transcona, said some things are worth doing. What he was responding to was the motion which simply puts forward the proposition that Canada is worth saving and that as parliamentarians we need to get on with seriously addressing that question.

Today we are putting forward this motion in recognition of what we believe is a growing sentiment of Canadians: they desire to save Canada, they care passionately about the future of Canada as a sovereign nation and they want to see us strengthen our distinctive contribution in the world as well.

I intend to set out a 12 point plan that the NDP proposes which we would like to put on the table for debate. Not just debate here this morning within the Chamber but debate among Canadians about how we will reinforce Canada as a sovereign nation. I will outline what are some of the ways to do that.

The NDP does not pretend that it has the only program. We want to challenge members of the House and Canadians from coast to coast to coast to take up the project that ought to engage the passions, energies and attention of us all.

Before I outline the NDP proposal I want to say a few words about why my caucus chose today to devote our opposition day business to this topic. Over the last couple of weeks we saw an incredible outpouring by Canadians of what would be described by anyone looking on as a passionate display of enthusiasm and love for the country. Some will say that was just because Canadians love sports and were cheering our Olympic athletes to do their best.

It is true that Canadians love sports. Some may say they particularly love hockey, which is known as our national sport. When we won both the men's and women's world Olympic championships there was a lot of cheering and flag waving.

What we saw from Canadians over the last couple of weeks was something far more profound than that and far deeper than that. It was not just about nationalistic fervour in support of our Olympic athletes.

It unleashed in Canadians something they have been wanting to have reason to do for a very long time. They wanted to cheer not just for Canada's successes in the Olympics but for the Canada they love, a Canada that truly stands for something and has a unique contribution to make to the world. It is a set of values that they care deeply for and passionately want us to preserve. They want us to get on with building Canada based on those values.

I believe that the celebrations of the last couple of weeks in every village, town and community, whether anglophone, francophone or allophone, were very important, very special and very deep-seated. As parliamentarians, we must build and rebuild our commitment in order to reinforce special values and the Canadian sovereignty for the future.

That brings me briefly to the second reason why we chose to introduce this motion today and to launch a debate on what we need to do to save this country that we love so dearly.

Two weeks ago there was an op-ed article in the Toronto Star submitted by a new Canadian, someone who chose to come to this country, by the name of Charles Pascal. I would suggest that all members, in fact, I would like to see all Canadians read that article of February 5 because it puts a very important challenge to all of us. Mr. Pascal said:

I have been a proud Canadian citizen for well over half my years, but that pride of late is giving way to frustration. When I jumped over the 49th parallel to sign up to be part of this great experiment called Canada, I couldn't believe there was a country so committed to ensuring a balance between individual and community, between nation and enterprise.

But now, thirty years later, I am asking myself, why should we save Canada? It is hard to find one Canadian political leader who is asking, and answering, this query. The Canada I signed up for, the Canada that informs our nice press clippings around the world, is dying on the vine.

From where I sit, there seems to be too much political management and not enough leadership. I think it's time to put our leaders to the test regarding the Canada they say they want and how they plan to get there from here.

The Canada I fell in love with was one where an active respect for diversity trumped the more passive concept of tolerance, where what we owed each other as neighbours was expressed by our investment in universal health care and public education. I chose a place where peacekeeping was valued as a strong and significant role to play in the world. And of course I chose a Canada with Quebec as a key feature of the Canadian experiment.

When I first read the article I had a bit of a defensive reaction as did my New Democrat colleagues. We asked how this commentator, observer of Canadian political events, could say that no political leader or no political party was addressing the questions?

I quickly parked that defensive response. It is a challenge that each and every one of us in the House of Commons, all 301 members, must take seriously. Canadians want us to address the question of how to make Canada a better place, how to reinforce Canada's special contribution to the world each and every day, in each and every piece of legislation we pass and in each and every budgetary decision we make. That is the point of our motion today.

I challenge all members to address the questions that have been set out in that very provocative article. That is not the only person asking these questions. The questions that have been put to us, that we must take seriously, are in a way both brutal and unsettling. I can only assume they were meant to be brutal and unsettling.

I hope that in response to our putting that challenge to all members, particularly government members, there will not be the sound of a shrug from 168 shoulders from the government benches opposite.

We all know that on September 11 the horrible terrorist atrocities that occurred in the United States shook the world. They certainly shook Canadians. In addressing the question of Canada's role in the world and our commitments to ourselves as well as people around the world we have failed to respond to the true call for leadership. We have reacted, we made it clear that we abhor terrorism, and yes the Canadian government leaped to respond to become part of a military offensive in Afghanistan.

However, as the events unfolded and the government made decision after decision, building on a record of far too many years of decisions that eroded the very sense of what Canada is all about, Canadians have slowly begun to say we could and must do better than this. This is why we have a federal government.

Canadians have moved from a sense of frustration and disappointment. In talking with people there is a strong sense of exasperation. They ask: what good is government anyway if it is so systematically eroding the things that we as Canadians care about?

That is not the whole story. I took the article from the Toronto Star and sent it to a number of people. I asked them what they thought after I outlined the 12 point program which is our response to the question of why save Canada and how we can do it.

I will share a small number of excerpts from some of the responses to the question from people and also some of the commentary in the public domain where people are genuinely and earnestly trying to address the question.

I will briefly address our program, the program put forward by the NDP to improve Canada, reinforce our values, our place and our position in the world.

First and foremost, enhance Canada's environment, including a national implementation plan for reducing greenhouse gases, and before the end of 2002 ratify the Kyoto accord. If we cannot protect our environment, then there is no future, and that is not hysteria. That is a fact.

Second, strengthen the role of aboriginal, Metis and Inuit people in the Canadian family. Let us never forget that the first people, the first nations of this country, continue to occupy a second and third class status in the Canadian family. If we are not up to the challenge of tackling that problem, then we do not deserve to exist as a parliament.

Third, reaffirm Canada's international peacekeeping role and rehabilitate Canada's reputation as respected internationalists. The government has squandered away that reputation, but it is not the reputation that we are concerned about so much as the fact that we are neutering ourselves, we are eroding our very credibility as a true internationalist in a world that cries out for international co-operation and international solutions.

Fourth, the federal government must be again an equal financial participant in public and non-profit services in the areas of health and post-secondary education.

We have built something very precious in the country and it is under severe strain. It is a system of public services, health and education foremost among them, which held in them the promise of what it truly meant to be a Canadian. No matter where we lived, no matter what our financial circumstances we could depend upon these vital services. They have been a critical part of the Canadian dream and the Canadian reality that has been slipping away because of government decisions.

Fifth, we must develop a comprehensive strategy to eradicate child poverty.

It is a national disgrace of monumental proportions. The government came to power on a promise to eliminate child poverty. Every member of parliament stood in their place and voted to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000. I will not dwell on the disgraceful record of the failure of the government to seize this challenge. However let me remind all members that poverty during this period has remained at 18% among children. Let us compare this to Sweden, as an example. When parliament voted in 1989 to eradicate child poverty, Sweden's child poverty was 19%. Today it is at 2%. Why? Because its government understood that it was the programs, the services and the economic and social policies it adopted that were the means of eradicating child poverty.

Sixth, we must make sure that all commercial agreements provide protection mechanism for labour standards, human rights and the environment.

I am very briefly going to summarize the remaining elements of our 12 point program.

Seventh, enable primary producers and Canadian farm families to compete with foreign subsidies and reject continental energy and water policies that endanger Canadian control over our natural resources.

Eighth, strengthen Canadian communities, large and small by reversing the deterioration of our municipalities with stable funding and strategic infrastructure investments.

Ninth, celebrate immigration as a cornerstone of Canada, restoring respect for diversity and humanity in our immigration practices.

Tenth, reaffirm fair taxes, sound monetary policy and full employment as critical tools for accomplishing our collective economic and--

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

We have a fire alarm. The House is suspended to the call of the Chair.

(The sitting of the House suspended at 10.32 p.m.)

The House resumed at 11.05 a.m.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

When the House was suspended the hon. the leader of the New Democratic Party had four minutes left in her speech.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will resume almost in mid-sentence to outline the 11th point in our 12 point NDP program for saving Canada and reinforcing our sovereignty.

Eleven, strengthen the pluralist and democratic speech by limiting corporate concentration in the media and by supporting arts, amateur sport and culture.

Twelve, strengthen the Canadian democracy through a reform of the parliamentary institutions and of the election process that would include proportional representation.

Today the NDP has called for a debate on the whole question of why and how to save Canada. However let me also say that we are inviting every Canadian who cares about this to enter the debate by logging on to the NDP website at www.NDP.ca to contribute their ideas, solutions and policies because the government and the country need all the help we can get.

Last night I attended a wonderful event on Parliament Hill, the celebration of the Canadian Muslim and Canadian Arab community, which holds out the dream of what Canada can be perhaps more brilliantly these days than anyone because they are a community under attack.

Respected journalist Haroon Siddiqui shared some very wise advice when he pleaded for parliamentarians to understand that criticism of American foreign policy ought not to be confused with anti-Americanism. I think that is the same sentiment we heard from the former foreign affairs minister, Lloyd Axworthy. He said that we were on a slippery slope speeding toward integration with the U.S. and that we needed a full scale debate on whether this was the future Canadians want.

If integration is what Canadians want most, then we had better get it over with quickly and decisively. However, if most Canadians would prefer to be Canadian, then we had better decide, in the post September 11 environment we now find ourselves in, what it means to be Canadian.

I hope Canadians, as they tackle the challenge of this subject, will take inspiration,as I have from the many messages that are being shared with Canadians. Let me just finish with one very brief such message from a distinguished author and filmmaker by the name of Munroe Scott who said the following:

The key thing is that the success of the Canadian experiment is of great importance not just to ourselves but to others. Strangely enough, those most likely to benefit directly from our success are the people of the USA. They, even more than ourselves, are in the grip of a corporate-driven materialistic ideology that exploits, and can ultimately destroy, both humans and the environment.

He went on to say:

At the moment the world is trapped between Eastern religious fanaticism as personalized by Osama bin Laden and Western economic fanaticism as personalized by George W. Bush. It is in the Canadian laboratory that we can prove that neither one is viable and there are alternatives.

That is our challenge. I believe Canadians are up to the challenge. I believe Canadians want their elected members, all 301 of us, to rise to that challenge. If we are incapable of doing that, not only have we failed in our responsibilities as politicians but we have failed our children and future generations who will be deprived of a Canada that they can love as deeply as we do.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Simcoe North Ontario

Liberal

Paul Devillers LiberalSecretary of State (Amateur Sport)

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will split my time with the hon. member for Hillsborough.

I am very pleased to take part in this debate. I realize that it is the role of opposition parties to oppose the government's measures and policies, but I am really disappointed when motions such as the one before us today talk about saving Canada, because it implies that our country is in danger and that we have much greater problems than is actually the case. This type of motion is exaggerated and has more to do with the credibility of opposition parties than with the values that they seek to promote.

We believe, based on international surveys and studies, that Canada is among the top countries when it comes to living standards and conditions. We are truly proud of our country. It is sad to present motions suggesting that Canada is not what is should be.

This being said, I want to discuss the 11th point of the NDP plan. Throughout the day, my colleagues will deal more specifically with the other points.

In reference to point 11 on arts, culture and sports, we only have to go back to the announcement made on May 2, 2001 by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Canadian Heritage of a new program, tomorrow starts today, where the Government of Canada would be investing in arts and culture. It was the largest investment made in 50 years. Also, the government will be investing more than half a billion dollars over the next three years. That speaks to the dedication and the value that the government puts on arts and culture.

The NDP leader began her speech by talking about the Olympic Games. The games are over, but we saw that Canadians were very proud of their athletes. In larger as in smaller urban centres, people took to the streets to celebrate after the last hockey game, on Sunday. That is not the reaction of a country that feels a need to be saved. Rather, this was a reaction triggered by the pride felt by Canadians, who are very proud of their country and of their athletes.

We went through these Olympic games with the Canadian team winning 17 medals, the best Olympic results in the history of Canada. The victories in women's and men's hockey proved that Canada remains the leader in hockey and that is what Canadians were celebrating out in the streets.

These Olympic games demonstrated the power of sport in inspiring and uniting our country and our celebration of our country. We celebrated not only our athletes' results but also their strength of character, their poise and the grace and dignity they displayed regardless of the outcome of their competitions. Just like in the arts, extraordinary sport performances can stir our souls and make us aspire to what is best in us and others.

The hon. leader of the New Democratic Party made reference to how Canadians are perceived in other countries. I would like to inform her that I was in Salt Lake City throughout the whole Salé-Pelletier controversy and we were stopped by citizens from around the world who recognized the unique character of our Canadian athletes and complimented us as a nation for their conduct. It truly was inspiring and not at all along the lines described by the leader of the New Democratic Party when she says that Canadians are not perceived in that light.

It would be a tremendous opportunity for Canada to once again host the winter Olympic games. To that end the Government of Canada is fully supportive of the bid put forth by the Vancouver-Whistler bid committee to host the 2010 winter Olympic games. Should the committee be successful it would be assured of enthusiastic support to welcome the world and stage the best winter Olympic games ever. It is very important, too, that all Canadians get behind this bid. It needs to be recognized as Canada's bid, not just a bid from one region. I encourage everyone to get behind the bid and support the Vancouver-Whistler committee. It is the government's intention to work very co-operatively with the committee.

The Government of Canada is a proud partner in Canadian sport. We work closely with our colleagues in the sport community in the provinces, the territorial governments and the private sector to help create opportunities for Canadians to participate and excel in sport. Sports Canada's budget supports athletes and coaches as well as national sport organizations and national sport centres across the country. These organizations and centres organize and finance training and competitiveness programs for athletes and coaches.

The government has taken concrete action over the past few years to increase the overall funding allocation for sport. The Sports Canada program budget, excluding one time events such as major games, presently stands at $77 million compared to $48 million just four years ago, an increase of 38% over that time. This deals with the motion of the New Democratic Party which calls upon us to invest in arts, culture and sports. With the programs I outlined at the beginning of my speech and with the increase in the Sports Canada budget, I can say that we are addressing that already.

The direct financial support for high performance athletes is now at $16 million, compared to $8 million in 1998. The monthly stipend for athletes was almost doubled for most athletes in 1999. This has helped them to live modestly while representing Canada in international events.

The government also had a pilot project for these Olympic games called the podium 2000 program, which was a partnership of the Government of Canada, the Canadian Olympic Association, CODA in Calgary, which is the legacy program of the 1998 Olympics, and the private sector. To assist athletes who were very close to the podium, $1.2 million was invested. We will review the results of that program and hopefully will be in a position to continue a similar type of program in the future.

Canada will soon have a new sports policy which will be focused on both excellence and participation. There need not be any conflict between elite athletes and the participation part of sport, as one should support the other. That is the focus the government will be investing in so that participation sports will be there to act as feeder systems for the elite athletes and elite athletes will be there to provide inspiration to the participants. We will be looking for links with health and education and will work with our provincial partners in that as well.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, when I introduced the motion this morning I expressed the hope that we would not hear the sound of a collective shrug from the government members, the Liberal members of the House, but we have just heard the deafening roar of a shrug from government members.

The call from Canadians is for a vision for Canada. The call from Canadians is for us to be more than just flag wavers. I absolutely agree with the member that the example set by Salé and Pelletier truly inspired Canadians. It showed they understood that teamwork is important and that individuals have to reach for the stars and give their best. That is what Canadians are looking to this government to do and that is what Canadians are looking to all parliamentarians to do.

Does the member understand that Canadians are hungry to see some sign that the government is not just satisfied with the status quo in response to a challenge about how to save Canada and strengthen its contribution in the world? It is not just about trotting out the sports budget. Does the government member not understand that people are looking for leadership around the very ideals and values that make this country so important to Canadians and to people in many parts of the world who look to us for leadership in an internationally troubled world?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, no, I did not just drag out the sports budget. I made it very clear in my comments that other members would be dealing with other points in the motion.

It is important to address the motion and the 11 points in the plan where we have demonstrated that we are in fact addressing those issues. Considerable new money is being dedicated and committed to the arts, culture and sport. I do not think there is any shrugging going on here. It is simply a matter of responding to the motion and putting the information forward. That was the intent of the comments and I think the case has been made.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult for the Bloc Quebecois to take part in this debate because we are talking about a motion, introduced by the leader of the NDP, which proposes a 12 point plan to save Canada.

Premiers of Quebec such as Robert Bourassa and Daniel Johnson, as well as the former leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Claude Ryan, were not sovereignists. They never signed the constitution of 1982. These politicians, whether it be Robert Bourassa, Claude Ryan or Daniel Johnson, always denounced Canada's overlap and interference in provincial jurisdictions, in areas such as health, education and even the environment.

Avoiding such overlap could save the Government of Quebec billions of dollars. What Quebec is calling for, is to collect its own taxes and income taxes in order to be able to govern itself and manage that which belongs to it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Bloc Quebecois does not want to participate in a debate to save Canada. It is quite obvious.

However, as I said earlier in my comments, it is pity that another opposition party, a party that is not trying to break up Canada, is saying in its motion today that Canada needs to be saved. We, on the government side, are convinced that Canada is working well as it is and we will make improvements to ensure that it works even better. We have the vision to do it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak against the motion and urge all members on both sides to vote against it.

The first question on everyone's mind is why. Why would a person be against all the principles of the motion? It talks about full employment; a clean environment; lower taxes; and more money for our cities, health care and post-secondary education. The list goes on.

With all due respect to the mover of the motion, I am against it because I do not think it would work. All the principles are utopian. There are none, with the possible exception of numbers 3 and 12, with which I do not agree.

I will expand on that. We are living in Canada. Whether we like it or not Canada is part of the real world. In governing, whether it be a country like Canada, a province, a city or a business, priorities must be set. Objectives must be determined. We must determine when to undertake activities, on what timetable and how to pay for them. A government cannot do everything. A government cannot please every citizen every day. Governments have tried and they have failed.

As I have said, the principles are all laudable. I agree with most of them. If we were not in the House of Commons I would have thought they were written by Aldous Huxley. The only missing principle is that at the end of each day our mothers should give us a piece of apple pie and a hug.

This is not a perfect world. We have conflicts in Afghanistan. We deal in a competitive international trading arena. We have international interest rates. We have inflation. We have an economy. We have international movements of capital. Most importantly, governments, whether they be federal, provincial or municipal, do not have a bottomless pit of money to fund every conceivable program known to citizens.

One item is missing, and I invite all members who speak to the motion today to address it: How would we pay for all these programs, principles and points, of which there are many? The government must be responsible. We have a duty in the House of Commons to speak and act responsibly. We must clearly enunciate to the Canadian people how we would pay for new programs or enhancements to existing programs. I may be wrong and I stand to be corrected, but it is my understanding that there are only two ways to pay for such programs. First, we could increase taxes. Second, we could cut expenditures to existing programs.

I throw a challenge to all members who speak to the motion: We should not spend the rest of the day talking about its principles. Most of us in the House would probably agree with them except for perhaps number 12. Rather, the debate should be clear, specific and focused. It should state clearly the manner in which the programs would be paid for. I invite my hon. colleagues who support the motion to address the issue.

Point number 8 says we should:

Strengthen Canadian communities, large and small, by reversing the deterioration of our municipalities with stable funding and strategic infrastructure investments.

I support that principle. Since 1993 the government has done a lot with respect to the issue. It has announced at least three and possibly four major infrastructure programs. I agree with the NDP's position that more could be done. We have major issues with respect to urban transportation, water and sewers. They are issues every Canadian citizen and the House should be concerned about. However there is not a bottomless pit of money.

Two points must be made. First, I ask everyone speaking to the motion to figure out what the programs would cost. That is the easy part. With help even I could probably could do it.

Second, and this is much more difficult, in the debate today we must identify to the House where the money would come from. I am repeating myself, but there would be only two sources: raising taxes or cutting programs.

I invite my hon. colleagues to clearly and specifically identify to the House the taxes they would raise. One of the principles calls for a fair tax program. I assume that means lowering taxes. I invite my colleagues in the NDP to clearly and specifically identify the programs that would be cut to finance the programs in their motion. It would not be long before they met themselves coming around the corner.

I will give the House an example. It is easy to say we would raise taxes. Point number 10 of the plan says we would have full employment. All economists if not the vast majority support the principle that there is a correlation between lower taxes and job creation. It is easy as long as we do not have to explain it. I support lower taxes and I support full employment.

I hope my colleagues will accept my invitation to change the whole focus of the debate to two issues: First, how much would the principles cost? Second, how would they be paid for? It is incumbent on us today to have an informed and intelligent debate.

I am totally in favour of point number 7. It says we should:

Enable primary producers and Canadian farm families to compete with foreign subsidies, and reject continental energy and water policies that endanger Canadian control over our natural resources.

I come from a province where the main industry is agriculture. I support point number 7. I believe everyone in the House and in the country supports it. There is no question the government could do more. More should be done. I have met with the Minister of Finance and the minister of agriculture. Their response was that there is not enough money in the treasury to go dollar for dollar with the subsidies granted by the American government and the governments of Europe, mainly France, to their producers. We must do more with what we have.

If any government were to adopt the 12 principles holus-bolus Canada would not be saved. It would be destroyed.

I ask everyone to vote against the motion. The balanced approach being followed by the government is the correct approach. It has responded correctly to the terrorist acts of September 11. It has a sound, prudent and correct financial approach to dealing with the economy of the country. I am pleased with the way it is dealing with the troubled world and the conflict in Afghanistan. I am pleased with the balanced agenda it has set out. I urge everyone to reject the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the NDP caucus did not make the mistake of thinking the challenge could be solved today or that we would get inspiration or specifics from the government benches about how to strengthen Canada and reinforce our special contribution to the world. If we expected that we would have been sorely disappointed by the comments of the hon. member for Hillsborough.

I did not read the National Post yesterday. It is not usually my first source of information. However it made reference to the rookie Liberals who got themselves elected in the year 2000. It said we would not notice they were here unless they vanished. It made rather the same point about the comments made yesterday by the hon. member for Hillsborough. It said that is exactly what he did for half an hour. For 15 minutes today we saw him make a vacuous set of statements that did not address the issue.

I will address his comments briefly and ask him a question. The hon. member said there are only two alternatives if we are to strengthen Canada's social programs, rebuild our municipalities or support our primary producers: either increase taxes or cut programs.

Would the hon. member care to comment on the choice the government made when it went into the election crowing about a $100 billion surplus? It decided to give away 80% of the surplus in the form of tax cuts to people who least needed them. It then turned around and invited the B.C. Liberal government to massively cut programs and services and introduce new premiums for health care. It pretended this would not be heaping additional taxes on the shoulders of the people of British Columbia. We could go across the country--

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. member for Hillsborough.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question. First, the government has followed a balanced approach. It has undertaken a massive $100 billion tax cut. As well, 50% of the surplus has gone to tax cuts and 50% has gone to increased social spending.

The hon. member mentioned B.C. The province just had an election. It had an NDP government for seven years. I assume that government adopted, agreed with and embraced the 12 principles. At the end of the day did the NDP government save B.C.? If it saved B.C. why did the electors almost unanimously throw it out? Either they did not want to be saved or they could see through the principles and knew they were not workable. They did not work in B.C. and they would not work in Canada.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is blabbering. Why would we want to save Canada when the government is saying that all is well, that everything is going like clockwork and that we are on the right track, while the opposition tells the government every day that some things need to be changed and that it is not going very well at all.

Quebec never signed the 1982 Constitution. Quebec's National Assembly unanimously rejected the social union framework agreement. Under the Conservative Party, the then Prime minister, Brian Mulroney, also tried to amend the Constitution to change and improve Canada.

Moreover, without the failure of the Meech Lake accord and Charlottetown agreement, the Bloc Quebecois would not be here. Quebec should be recognized as a distinct society. Quebecers should be recognized as a nation.