Mr. Speaker, let me try to respond to that very simplistic view and certainly inaccurate representation of our position.
If members read very carefully the speeches that I and others in our caucus have made, they would know that mainly we are talking about Liberal promises. We are talking about broken Liberal promises. We are trying to get the government to live up to its promises and to move on its promises to Canadians.
For example the national child care program is the longest running broken political promise in the history of this country. Affordable accessible housing has been denied to many Canadians because the government chose to leave the field. It vacated this important public policy area because it just was not important enough in terms of the overall mandate of the federal government. And what about the Kyoto accord which the government signed?
What about the promise to ensure sustainable health care and preserve medicare? The government pretends it is in support of that even though every time we turn around it seems to be more interested in privatization and for profit enterprise in the health care field than in standing up for universally accessible, non-profit publically administered health care. I could go on and on with the numerous broken promises of the Liberals.
When we talk about how we would do this on a fiscally responsible basis, may we also remind the Liberals of their promise to do it by taking the surplus and dividing it equally among program spending, tax cuts and debt reduction. If we even had that much from the Liberals today, students, farmers and workers would not be facing the serious situation that they are facing right across this country. The government could have lived up to that promise instead of putting 90% to tax cuts and debt reduction and 10% to program spending.
That is the imbalance we are talking about. Is that a balanced approach? No. All the New Democrats want is a balanced approach. How do we get there? We are not suggesting cutbacks in any of those valuable areas that have been listed. We are talking about using the surplus dollars.
Talk about tomfoolery going on, it is the government that has underestimated the surplus for all these years, leaving over $80 billion in unestimated surplus and it has gone automatically against the debt. Is that fair? Is that reasonable while students are facing huge tuition increases, while young people cannot even think about their education, while patients line up in emergency wards? Does that make sense? No.
We suggest that the government take a good chunk of that surplus which it keeps lowballing, the contingency fund and the prudence fund, and start looking at the fact that there are contingencies that have to be met today. It is raining in Canada and Canadians ought to have the support they deserve. After taking the hit and helping out the government for 10 years, they ought to be given a break today. They ought to be the first priority of the government.