Mr. Speaker, staying with the Halloween theme, the government appears to be trying to offer some goodies to the public, a rather seasonal approach. That is what I wanted to say just now when visibility was raised, rather than a vision of development and improvement of the general well-being of the population. The greater good must be kept in mind. This bill is aimed at the greater good of the Liberal Party.
There is a suggestion of major tax reductions, but if looked at more closely—the breakdown I gave a few minutes ago—if the surplus is $9 billion, or even $10.5 billion, there will be at most a $2 billion tax cut. That means $129 per taxpayer, based on 15.5 million taxpayers. The colleague is right in saying that even those $129 are at risk. If we have understood the bill correctly, with those $129, the government has every freedom to announce that, if other priorities arise, and if it sees fit, they will be dealt with before the others.
In reality, the government has tabled this bill just to look good. Even the Prime Minister was talking about the public receiving dividends as if the state were a private business. I know that his family business is of far more importance to him than the future of the state of Quebec. I am speaking of his international shipping business. Moreover, he has made that clear by his actions since 1994 in changing the tax rules for international shipping companies. In short there is far more concern with looking good. But as I have said, those $2 billion could have been put to better use.
The hon. member has referred to seniors and homeless people. Since 1995 there have been considerable cuts made to transfer payments to the provinces to finance income enhancement initiatives, so that the homeless can improve their lot and so that social programs can ensure that seniors do not end up the way they were in the 1970s. A large proportion of seniors were living in poverty at that time.
The government did not do that. My colleague from Saint-Maurice should be consulted on this matter. He has been fighting tenaciously to have the government pay the guaranteed income supplement to those seniors who were unable to get it. In fact, the existence of the program had practically been hidden from them. That is what is shameful, when we look at everything that has taken place. The government was rolling in surpluses, but hid the existence of the guaranteed income supplement. The forms required were not accessible to seniors with decreasing independence because they could not read the fine print, for example. That is the kind of form that was produced.
Thousands of individuals were ripped off that way. While surpluses were piling up, the most disadvantaged were being ripped off. Seniors were picked on. This has been going on since 1993, since this government has been in office.
The same thing happened to the unemployed; instead of them getting help to re-enter the labour force, they were put down and suspected of cheating the system. We have seen examples of that in our ridings, as the hon. member probably has in his riding. The moment there was a mistake or incorrect information on a form, the unemployed individual would receive a letter indicating that he or she had cheated. Once your name is on the black list, try to see the process through to get benefits.
That is what this government does. It picks on the most disadvantaged to make itself look good. Then, it wants to ride in like a white knight waving cheques to compensate for the hike in energy costs, and with minuscule bogus tax cuts which are likely to be even smaller once all is said and done. The government seeks visibility to distract from the sponsorship scandal.
The Gomery report will be released next week. The government wants to take the focus off the sponsorship scandal. See how good the wonderful Liberal government is to us: there will be tax cuts in the years to come. I have to tell my hon. friend that I find that sad.