Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak on the budget bill. However, before I speak on the topic of the budget I would like to talk about something which is extremely important that happened yesterday and I would like to bring it to the attention of the House, to the Canadian public, and to the Solicitor General.
Yesterday evening I was in a grocery store shopping. As I was walking down the aisle a gentleman walked by. That is incorrect. He was not a gentleman. He walked by and said to me, “Muhammad, you bloody” something. He walked away mumbling these words. For a second I was stunned and shocked. I turned around and walked over to him and said, “Exactly what did you say. Did you abuse me? Did you use racist remarks?” He was a little stunned that I had stopped him and wanted to talk to him. I told him that this kind of behaviour was not acceptable. He then tried to say that he did not say it, but the next words that came out of his mouth were “September 11”. I asked him what he was trying to say.
In light of the fact that there is war going on in Iraq, the fact that there is tension among communities, and that there are those who are against something, this should be totally unacceptable.
I want to say to people of visible minorities and others who are targets of these kinds of racist remarks to challenge the people who make these racist remarks, ask them to repeat it, and tell them that there are hate crime laws in this country that will hold them accountable. We should not tolerate this kind of comment or insult against the dignity of Canadians. Every Canadian, irrespective of race, religion or creed, has the right to walk down the street with dignity and respect. We should tell these people who make these comments, especially now, that in Canada this is unacceptable. I hope and I am sure every member of the House will send that message out that it is unacceptable.
I will now go back to my speech on the budget. The finance minister talked about the prosperity of Canada, and how that would lead Canada down the road. If I recall correctly the Minister of Finance talked about how great the budget was and that it would put Canada on the road to prosperity.
My colleague from the other side who spoke about five or ten minutes ago talked about the strain in the relationship that is now being experienced between our country and our greatest trading partner. He was trying to blame this side of the House but because his riding is next to the U.S.A. he could feel the pressure coming on.
This strain is a cause of concern, as he rightly mentioned, although putting the blame on this side of the House is something that only somebody who has his head in the sand could think about. I do not understand why he could not make that speech to his own members of Parliament to refrain from doing that.
Business leaders and other political leaders across the country are now sounding the alarm. Fine. I buy the argument that there are those who will support the war and there are those who may be opposed to the war. That is acceptable; that is democracy. It is everybody's right to make a judgment with their conscience.
It is absolutely wrong to abuse somebody for that, to call someone names, to get down to the level of personal insults. This is not an argument. A person loses an argument when he or she makes personal insults. If someone has an argument to make against a cause, then that person should stand up and make it, but when it gets to the abuse level, the person has lost the argument.
If someone wants somebody else to respect his or her argument, then he or she should learn to respect other people's arguments. There may be dissent over it. It could be a different argument, but an individual must learn to respect other people's arguments if he or she wants people to listen to his or her arguments. As far as I am concerned, certain members of the governing party have lost their marbles.
Today two witnesses appeared before the foreign affairs committee. One gentleman was from Carleton University and the other was from IRDC. The committee is dealing with a review of foreign affairs as requested by the foreign affairs minister. Both gentlemen outlined the danger of what is happening in our relationship with our greatest trading partner, which in turn will have financial consequences for Canada.
The budget presented by the finance minister should be chucked out the window because it has no relevance. What he projected will not happen. Over 40% of our economy is tied to overseas trade, out of which over 80% is tied to one country. This decision was not made by the government but was made by Canadian business people about where they are going to trade. They made the decision to trade with the U.S.A.
With those numbers, external factors play a major role whether we like it or not. Our economy is tied to the U.S.A. Over 40% of our GDP is in exports. Naturally outside influence has a major impact on our living standards. This is something that members on that side need to understand. They need to understand that if they strain this kind of relationship it will come back to haunt us on the level of prosperity.
The have provinces of Alberta and Ontario are already raising flags. It is not an issue of being for or against the war. It is an issue of whether we are insulting them because we are not with them. Could we not give them a hand? That is the issue and the government has failed.
I do not know what those members are afraid of considering that the Prime Minister has been in politics for 40 years and considering that our trade has been tied to that country for a long period of time. He should have known because he has had so many cabinet positions. It is all right to stand up and say that we are independent. That is good because we are independent. That is what this House is for. That is why we are standing and talking here. By having a close and good relationship with our friends does not mean that we cannot be independent.
Every time we talk about an issue with our friends in the U.S.A. or other allies, we bring up the issue of our sovereignty. The United Kingdom is sovereign, as is Spain. Why does it have to be here in Canada that we lose our trade relations? Britain does not have a strong trade relationship with the U.S. and neither does Spain. We have to make a judgment of strategic interest to Canada.
The budget that was presented is now irrelevant. There are going to be strains and the budget will go out the window. It may be a good budget according to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, but I can tell him that with the events taking place elsewhere, it will go out the window. It is just a good budget that will remain on paper and there is a debate about whether it is a good budget. We do not agree, but it is going to remain on the paper. There are serious flaws that do not address the issues.
Of course the Liberal member on the other side is now saying that the Americans are great people, that the Americans will understand our childish actions and they will forgive us. It is not a question of forgiving anyone. Canada has to look at its own strategic interests.
We go out and trade. We have team Canada. The Prime Minister trots around the world with the 10 premiers trying to sell Canadian goods. We know our prosperity is tied with exports at over 40% of the GDP. It is quite an impressive figure. We need that. Money was spent on social services, on health care of which we are very proud in this country and rightly so, because our defence expenditures are very low. We rely on somebody else for our defence needs.
It is important that we look at our strategic interests, act accordingly. It is important that we do not act with emotions, do not pound our chests saying that we are sovereign and that we want to make a point, and in the process create a situation for which we will pay for many, many years.
I hope the Prime Minister does not leave a legacy for which Canadians will pay for generations in higher taxes, higher unemployment and a lower standard of living. I hope that is not the legacy of the Prime Minister because of events that are taking place outside the country. I do not even know why, because of a dictator who has never given democratic rights to his own people, we are jeopardizing our own future. It is beyond my understanding.
The government announced yesterday $100 million in aid to Iraq. We need to provide aid to Iraq. It is important that we provide aid to Iraq because the people of Iraq, as we have seen on television, are paying a heavy price. The country is being bombed. Innocent people are dying. Coalition soldiers are dying and Iraqi soldiers are dying because of a dictator. A unanimous decision was passed by the Security Council that he had to be brought into compliance with the request for disarmament, which he did not.
Naturally the $100 million which the Government of Canada has contributed to Iraq is extremely welcome. Our only concern, which we have expressed, is how effective it is going to be. We do not have our own presence there so we are relying on others to provide aid. How effective is that going to be? We have given money for this but we are not there. It is like giving it at a distance.
In the budget the Prime Minister has committed for the next 10 years an 8% increase in foreign aid. This will increase the foreign aid budget to close to $4.6 billion by 2010. Again, the irony of the situation is that he is not going to be in power. I do not know how it can be said that foreign aid is going to be increased until 2010 when the Prime Minister is about to leave. By February of next year he will no longer be the Prime Minister of Canada, so how that will work is beyond understanding. In talking to some of my Liberal colleagues, they expect it to carry on through pressure. The numbers that have been given are not going to tie the government down but they are hanging out there to make Canadians feel good that they are doing something.
Let us talk about doing something. Let us talk about real effective dollars that are being spent now. Let us talk about what CIDA's budget is now. Forget about 10 years down the road.
CIDA needs to re-prioritize its expenditures. Yesterday, the human rights subcommittee listened to the ambassador from Zimbabwe and talked about the dictator living in that country who has no regard for his own citizens. An extremely bleak picture presented by our ambassador on Zimbabwe. Yet sitting on the other side were CIDA officials talking about giving aid.
I understand it is not the people of Zimbabwe who are responsible for what their leader is doing. There are NGOs over there. We need to send to send a message. I am calling for CIDA officials to get out of Zimbabwe and to not give any legitimacy to that government. It is time to leave. The NGOs will carry on with human assistance. A strong message needs to be sent.
Today we are at war with Iraq because we need to send a strong message to a dictator. That is the reason we went over there. So why are we stepping back and saying that we will not send a strong message to the dictator in Zimbabwe? I am not saying we are going to invade the country. I am not saying we have to attack him. We have to tell him that he will get no legitimacy by our presence there. We need to remove our officials.
Will that stop humanitarian assistance? No. Sometimes we need to give responsibility to the other side. We seem not to do that. What we seem to do is say that we will take their travel rights away. Who cares? If we take travel rights away from this Mugabe fellow, it is not a big deal. The next minute, we see a big picture in the Globe and Mail showing the guy in France, with the president of France giving him a red carpet welcome. Imagine that. What travel did we stop? What kind of games are we playing with the poor people over there?
In wrapping up my debate, this is a budget only on paper. Events have taken it. I hope the government will realize the damage it is doing. Pretty soon the government may have to present a new budget, but hopefully by that time the Prime Minister will be gone.