Mr. Speaker, I usually cannot even say hello in six minutes, but I will try to be as brief and concise as possible. It is difficult to be concise and limit one's criticisms of this budget because there are so many areas of fiscal policy for which to criticize the Liberal government. It has seriously failed to deliver to Canadians some vision for the future and some plan on how Canadians can achieve the goals and successes that many individually and collectively are seeking and at a time when some of our best and brightest are leaving Canada.
We have an unprecedented level of brain drain. As an Atlantic Canadian and as a Nova Scotian, I understand the notion of brain drain because for decades we have seen people leaving Atlantic Canada and going elsewhere within Canada seeking opportunities. Now we see that happening in provinces like Ontario.
Canadians are seeking opportunities in the U.S. and elsewhere because of the greater levels of opportunity and the disparate levels of taxation. In a general sense, as they pursue their dream of a higher standard of living and greater prosperity for themselves and their families, those goals are more easily attainable in other jurisdictions than in Canada.
Since 1993, the government has done absolutely nothing to build a fiscal foundation upon which Canadians can build their futures. In the last debate, the leader of my party, the right hon. member for Calgary Centre, posed a question to the Prime Minister. He asked him to name one accomplishment of his government since its election in 1993. The Prime Minister was unable to mention or present one major policy initiative or success that he had as a Prime Minister.
The fact that for the past nine years we have virtually had a cruise control caretaker type of government has come at an extraordinary cost to Canadians. That is reflected of course in the 20% loss in the value of the Canadian dollar compared to the U.S. dollar and a pay cut for every Canadian. The dollar reflects the lagging productivity rates in Canada. Therefore, we have to ask this question. What would we do differently as a government to address the productivity issues and lagging productivity levels?
Clearly, if the government were on the ball it would introduce a productivity agenda, with productivity focused tax reform, not just tax reduction but substantive tax reform addressing some of the most pernicious taxes in terms of their impact on growth, opportunity and investment, more specifically capital taxes, corporate taxes and capital gains taxes. It would also look at some of the other profit insensitive taxes like payroll taxes and would move toward more aggressive reductions in those areas.
Further, it would look at regulatory reform to address some of the regulations which are hindering and impeding growth and prosperity for Canadians. We have one of the highest regulatory burdens of any country in the industrialized world. High regulations have the same impact on growth and opportunity that high taxes do, and taxes that do not make sense. Just to give one example, the federal government ought to work more closely with the provinces to address the issues of interprovincial trade barriers.
We have team Canada missions where we send Canadian parliamentarians and business leaders to other parts of the world to promote freer trade, yet we do not have free trade within Canada. Maybe we should have a team Canada to Canada mission. Clearly, it does not make any sense from an economic perspective to deny Canadians and Canadian business the opportunity to achieve comparative advantages within their own country by having these anachronistic interprovincial trade barriers.
Beyond that we have to address government spending. The auditor general pointed to 16 departments with out of control government spending. When faced with an opportunity to find some waste in a $130 billion budget, the minister failed to do so. He also failed to address some of the priorities of Canadians.
Health care, national security, particularly in a post-September 11 context but before as well, the Canadian military, farmers, agriculture, all these imperatives were ignored in the budget. Health care is in a crisis across Canada because the Liberal government has neglected it and has cut the transfer payments since 1993. Never has it been in more of a crisis than it is right now.
My province of Nova Scotia does not have the tax base that some wealthier provinces have. When there are dramatic Draconian cuts to health care transfers to the provinces, we are hit particularly hard, especially when we consider the age of our population compared to some other provinces. On those demographic issues we are hit doubly hard.
I urge the government to stop focusing on polls and focus groups and start focusing on the priorities of Canadians in the long term and the success and prosperity of Canadians in 10 years time as opposed to what the focus groups and polls are saying next week.