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House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was claims.

Topics

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

March 9th, 2005 / 3:25 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-2, in the name of the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar, is acceptable to the government and the documents are tabled immediately.

That an Order of this House do issue for a copy of the letter that the Chairman of the Board of the Canada Post Corporation wrote to Mr. André Ouellet on September 21, 2004, requesting receipts that the Minister of National Revenue referred to during the Oral Question period on Wednesday, October 6, 2004.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House that Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-2 be deemed to have been adopted?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

I would ask that other Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed that the remaining Notices of Motion be allowed to stand?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from March 8 consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

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3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my valued colleague from Ottawa—Orléans.

I am extremely pleased to have the opportunity today to speak to what I see is an outstanding budget. Budget 2005 has in it specific measures that will benefit my riding of Kitchener Centre.

I am proud of the new initiatives announced in the recent budget. It points our nation in the right direction, a direction that will benefit all Canadians.

Budget 2005, entitled “Delivering on Commitments”, responds to Canadian priorities with responsible measures that invest in people and achieve a stronger environmentally responsible economy.

I happened to be parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment when Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol in 2002. Canada's changing climate is simply everyone's responsibility. In my opinion, nothing is more essential to our health and to the quality of life than clean air and clean water.

Climate change is a global problem and it requires a global solution. This solution is reachable through our Kyoto accord agreement. There is no doubt that this change will be a challenge, but dealing with climate change while ensuring a robust economic growth is something we can do together.

How we address climate change can help us meet policy objectives in the areas of innovation, energy efficiency, clean air, mass public transportation, agriculture and forestry.

Good climate change policy will contribute to a better quality of life and better health for Canadians today and for future generations.

Canadians have demonstrated, whether it is at work in industry or in their homes, that they are ready to be part of the efforts to preserve our natural environment and to address climate change. That is why it makes good sense to expand on the successful EnerGuide for houses retrofit incentive program so more Canadians can renovate their homes for future energy savings.

Kitchener's business community as part of Canada's technology triangle is very keen to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented in developing energy efficient technologies.

Industry has already demonstrated that greenhouse gas emissions can substantially be reduced in ways that are cost effective and that generate ancillary benefits to improve companies' competitive positions.

Across Waterloo region, companies such as Teleflex GFI, Arise Technologies and ATS Automation Tooling Systems have become industry leaders in developing technologies that address our environmental responsibilities while improving productivity.

Our government's strategic investments in ideas and enabling technologies, $810 million in this year's budget, will continue to contribute and support research and the development, and new technologies.

Businesses across Waterloo region spent over $277 million in research and development in 2002 according to an industrial research and development study that was prepared for Canada's Technology Triangle Inc.

Budget 2005 continues to reflect the federal government's commitment to building a world-class research environment. It has measures such as $375 million over five years for three federal research granting councils; an additional $165 million to Genome Canada to sustain its support for breakthrough genomics research; and $75 million over five years to help meet the indirect costs of federally supported research in hospitals and universities.

Education and health care have continued to be two priorities in my community and across Canada since 1997.

Business growth is a critical part of any economy. Small businesses across Canada but especially in Kitchener attract investment to stimulate economic growth as well as job creation.

Last year I had the opportunity to meet some of Canada's most dynamic women when I travelled with the Prime Minister's task force on women entrepreneurs. We met women in every province and territory of this great nation.

Many businesses are succeeding through hard work and good ideas, but there are other businesses that require government resources in order to thrive. I am pleased to see that budget 2005 includes a commitment to work with business organizations to further improve the productivity environment for Canadian small businesses. Small business is the fastest growing sector in our economy and the one that is creating jobs at the fastest rate.

To support business development, budget 2005 proposes to reduce the statutory corporate income tax rate by two percentage points by 2010 and to end the corporate surtax. This is good news for the economy of Canada.

Kitchener's manufacturing sector is pleased to see measures in budget 2005 that ensure equipment cost analysis rates are better aligned with the useful life of these assets. More realistic depreciation rates will encourage companies to continue to invest and grow. What is good for business is good for Kitchener and is good for Canada. Budget 2005 includes important initiatives to achieve productive and sustainable economic bases.

The success of an economy can be judged on its ability to secure its social foundations. The government's prudence in managing Canada's public purse has provided the opportunity continued investment in order to meet our social needs and to ensure a greater equality of opportunity in every community across Canada.

During the last Parliament I was a member of the Prime Minister's task force that looked at seniors issues. I met with seniors in Kitchener and across this great nation. It was clear that Canada's seniors needed support from the government in order to ensure a quality of life in their golden years.

Budget 2005 responds to these needs with improved support through the guaranteed income supplement program. This program benefits low income seniors and it will be increased by $2.7 billion over the next five years. The result will be monthly benefits that are increased by $36 for single seniors and by $58 for couples by January 2007.

Further, budget 2005 commits funding for the redevelopment of the new horizons program for seniors, to promote voluntary sector activities and to support seniors. If I heard one thing across Canada during my task force work dealing with seniors issues, the reinvestment and reinvigoration of the new horizons program was a key theme.

There is no greater investment a government can make than in our children. A good start in their earliest years can level the playing field, inspire confidence, foster life skills, encourage ambition and make possible greater goals for our greatest asset, our children.

Budget 2005 delivers on the Liberal government's commitment to work with Ontario to build high quality, universally inclusive and accessible early learning and child care. This commitment translates to $5 billion for early learning and child care initiatives across the country.

I have a great appreciation for the kind of vibrancy that the arts community contributes to Kitchener. Whether it is the Waterloo Regional Children's Museum or our incredible Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery or Theatre & Company or the kinds of productions that we see at Centre in the Square, we see through these initiatives our artistic heritage, our creativity and our national identity played out for us.

The tomorrow starts today program is an essential part of ensuring that Canada's arts and culture is given a voice, a stage and a venue. Budget 2005 extends this important program for another five years.

I have seen the kind of investment and creativity when the government partners on the ground with the arts community which is alive and well. For example, there is the Waterloo Regional Arts Council, as well as the Open Ears festival of music and sound.

As we look forward, the investments in this budget of an additional $300 million over the next five years to support immigration settlement and integration services across Canada can be no more appreciated or better reflected than in the services that are provided by a multitude of agencies in my riding of Kitchener Centre.

In conclusion, budget 2005 is both a responsible and a visionary document. I am proud of the Liberal government's track record. I am proud of these commitments that we are delivering on.

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3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member extolled the virtues of the great government babysitting bureaucracy that her government is proposing at the expense of the choices of women and families. I am wondering why the government feels it has the right to take the choice away from women and families on how to raise their own children.

Let us face it. This new babysitting bureaucracy is going to involve massive new costs well beyond the $5 billion laid out in the budget. Those new costs are going to be picked up in the long term through higher taxes for middle class working families. This means those families will have even less capacity to make their own child care decisions. They will have fewer dollars in their pockets and will be required to work longer hours. It will force them into a system of child care that they do not want.

The Vanier Institute conducted a comprehensive study. The Vanier Institute by the way supports the government's child care initiative. In that study, 70% of the parents questioned, and this is especially true of women, said that they would rather have the option of keeping one parent in the home with the children instead of having a government bureaucracy raise their kids for them. In fact government day care was the second last option, the fifth out of six, for the vast majority of Canadian parents.

The minister responsible has said that the decision and the sacrifice of keeping one parent in the home is nothing more than a frivolous luxury akin to having ice cream once a week or chocolate twice a day. In light of that fact, how does the member feel about her colleague and this initiative which will take choice away from women and families and put it in the hands of government bureaucrats and politicians?

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3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell my colleague opposite that as the mother of four children I did have the choice of staying home, which I did until our youngest son entered grade one.

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3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

So why do you want to take that away?

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3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

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3:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Order. We are trying to listen to the answer. The chief government whip has the floor.

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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I concur with the hon. member opposite, who someday may have the life experience that I have had. Choice is absolutely fundamental. All parents whether they choose to work inside the home or outside the home should have a choice.

When I was a trustee with the Waterloo County Board of Education I happened to be president of seven child care centres. I acknowledged that regulated, consistently high quality, education focused child care allowed parents exactly the kind of choice that the member opposite is asking for.

Our investment in child care will be tailored in partnership with the provinces. There is some amazing work being done right across the country.

There is a child care centre in Waterloo region called the Butterfly Learning Centre which is non-profit and has been invested in by Conestoga-Rovers. “Let's talk science” is a syllabus which is now being taught to two-year-old children and older. Junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten teachers are rotated through the centre so the children are not displaced.

This provides the peace of mind to those parents who for whatever their motivation choose to work, that they will have high quality regulated child care to choose from.

I would also point out that yes, this is a women's issue, but it is also a community and a societal issue. If we look at the kind of remuneration early childhood education providers get, there needs to be capacity building so that the workers who are taking care of children in regulated child care centres earn decent money so that they too can realize their dreams.

We are offering choice to Canadian parents.

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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Godbout Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the chief government whip for sharing her time with me.

As the member for Ottawa—Orléans, it is a privilege for me to have the opportunity today to speak on behalf of my constituents on the recent budget tabled by our government.

More specifically, I want to elaborate on the highlights of the budget and the provisions that apply more to the challenges faced by several Canadian communities, such as Ottawa—Orléans, which are in full growth.

In my opinion, we have a solid, balanced and responsible budget. It is a budget of vision, audacity and fiscal prudence. In keeping its promises, our government is ensuring our economic and social future by providing a realistic strategic framework applicable over a 10-year period.

Budget 2005 proposes an equitable and competitive tax system without endangering our productivity and economic growth. Under the measures set out in the budget, the amount of income that Canadians may earn without paying federal income tax will increase to $10,000, which means that 860,000 taxpayers will be removed from the tax rolls, including 240,000 seniors.

RRSP annual contribution limits will also be increased to $22,000. The corporate surtax will be eliminated and the 21% general corporate income tax will be reduced to 19%, maintaining our tax rate advantage relative to the United States.

These measures that have been taken are by no means small. We must recognize that our government is working hard at prudently paving the way toward the reduction of the Canadian fiscal burden.

I also consider the budget as a green budget. The preservation of our environment is an important issue for all of us, and especially for the people Ottawa--Orléans. In order to address climate change and ensure a sustainable environment, I am pleased that the government is making a major investment of more than $5 billion over the next five years for initiatives such as the clean fund, the wind power production incentive and the green municipal funds.

I believe that an initiative such as the green municipal funds perfectly illustrates the strong partnership that has been established between our government and the municipalities. Indeed, we trust that the municipalities are more qualified in identifying and developing projects that will help keep our cities clean and green. It is a fact and we took steps to recognize it.

In the same vein, I was also pleased to note in the budget that our government demonstrates that we have a people's agenda we intend to follow. Several commitments have been made in this regard.

Our government, for instance, has always been committed to health. It represents the one social policy Canadians constantly identify as their number one priority. Accordingly, under the Liberal government's 10 year plan to strengthen health care, Ontario will receive $16 billion in additional health care funding. Of this amount, $13.9 billion will be for core health programs, $194 million for medical equipment and $2.1 billion for reducing waiting times. I must admit that such commitments to strengthen and secure Canada's social foundation make me proud to be part of this government.

What social foundation could be more important than our children? Our government rightly recognized that high quality child care and early learning opportunities are essential to support children's physical, emotional, social, linguistic and intellectual development. In that regard, the budget is granting $5 billion over five years to start building, in cooperation with the provinces and territories, a framework for an early learning and child care initiative.

This is quite an achievement. Imagine that every dollar spent in this program could save up to $7 in the long term. As a trained educator, I believe this is an important way of supporting young parents of Ottawa--Orléans in the care of their children.

This budget also includes good news for our seniors. Guaranteed income supplement benefits for low income seniors will be increased by $2.7 billion over five years. Funding for the new horizons program for seniors will also be increased from $10 million to $25 million a year to promote voluntary sector activities by and in support of seniors. There is little doubt in my mind that our community will benefit from this, Ottawa--Orléans being considered by many as a wonderful community in which to retire.

As for our many welcome and appreciated newcomers, budget 2005 provides an increase of $298 million over five years for settlement and integration programs for immigrants. Ontario alone will receive approximately 60% of this funding.

Ottawa—Orléans is a bustling community. It boasts a high level of skill, dynamism and leadership and benefits from broad cultural and linguistic diversity, which is not only one of the true jewels of the Ottawa Valley but a gemstone of our Canadian mosaic.

However, like so many other Canadian communities, Ottawa—Orléans is currently in a context of rapid growth and change and must face many challenges. That is why, with the participation of my provincial and municipal counterparts—whom I wish to thank—we have set up a public partnership so that the different levels of government can work together.

That concept is behind team Ottawa—Orléans, a joint initiative that—I am proud to say—was launched with great success a little over a week ago. I know this type of innovative partnership will benefit from the programs and initiatives available in this budget.

We have shown clearly that we are listening to the needs expressed by the cities and communities. We know they need additional funding. We need simply to recall that in the 2004 budget, we adopted important measures to give the municipalities $7 billion over the next few years in the form of a full GST rebate.

I applaud the fact that Ontario will receive $1.9 billion over the next five years as a result of our decision to transfer a portion of the federal gas tax revenue to municipalities. By year five, Ontario will receive $746 million per year in stable and predictable funding representing 5¢ per litre. This means better roads, an improved transit system and more sustainable infrastructure.

Although Ottawa--Orléans is more than ready to assume its rightful place in the national capital region and at the federal level, I strongly believe that it is still far from having reached its full potential. The incredible population growth the region has been facing for the past 20 years has created enormous economic, social and cultural needs that must be addressed.

As previously mentioned, I am more than pleased by the government's budget commitment toward Canadians and especially toward their communities. I think it is a faithful reflection of our election promises, both nationally and locally.

I can be counted on to work hard so that the rural parts of Ottawa--Orléans may eventually benefit from the municipal rural infrastructure program. I also hope that a portion of the funds allocated to the municipality through Canada's strategic infrastructure program will be reserved for social infrastructure. For instance, in Ottawa--Orléans such an investment could be used for the creation of an arts and culture centre, an athletic complex and a multi-service centre for seniors.

I was also pleased to note that the Canadian Forces will benefit from a $12 billion investment over five years, the largest increase in a five year period in the last 20 years. Another $1 billion over five years will be delivered in support of key national security initiatives. In addition, the government is committed to expanding the forces by 5,000 troops and the reserves by 3,000. What a great way to back our troops here and overseas.

In conclusion, I would have liked to see more attention paid to other needs, such as the development of official language communities or post secondary education. However, rest assured, I will defend the next budget.

Although we are all aware that we can do even more in the years to come, I truly believe that the budget presented by the hon. Minister of Finance reflects the integrity and sense of responsibility of our government. You will agree that he has illustrated our determination to meet our commitments while maintaining a balanced budget.

As the member of Parliament for Ottawa--Orléans, I am proud and feel privileged to represent and serve my constituents. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, we are more than ever dedicated to improving the well-being of all Canadians. I strongly believe that this budget is a step further in the right direction. Therefore it has my full support and I congratulate the Minister of Finance on a job well done.

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3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, over the last several days I have been listening to the budget presentations and particularly to government members who are getting their speeches from the PMO. This is pretty well the mantra of the Liberal Party.

The Prime Minister told Canadians that this would be a budget for all Canadians. He also told Canadians that the alienation of different parts of the country would end under his rule.

This budget is absolutely discriminatory to the province of British Columbia. Nowhere in the budget is there mention of the pine beetle crisis that is in B.C. right now and which is devastating the forests and threatening the forest industry in British Columbia. There is not one cent in that budget. It is almost like the government does not care.

In 2002 the Prime Minister, who was then the finance minister, was in Prince George at a Liberal fundraising event and he told the world that the pine beetle crisis had to be considered a national issue and that the federal government would be there to do its share. He said that it would be a priority for his government.

I guess one gets altitude amnesia when one flies back over the Rockies because that was all we heard about it.

I have to tell the members opposite that I honestly expected the Liberal government would have at least recognized in the budget, first, that there is a province called British Columbia, and second, that a huge natural disaster is going on called the pine beetle crisis. If it had been recognized I would have expected the government to commit a realistic amount of funding to help out in the fight against the disaster and help mitigate the damage.

How can the member stand there and talk about how great the budget is when the Prime Minister made promises regarding British Columbia and did not keep them?

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Godbout Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the member that I wrote my speech, not the PMO. I do not know where he gets his information but he is wrong on that.

The member said that British Columbia will not benefit from this budget. The transfer payments in the budget to the municipalities will see more than $22 billion being transferred to cities such as Vancouver, Victoria and the other magnificent cities of British Columbia.

For the member to say that we have not addressed the needs of British Columbia is saying that we have not addressed the needs of cities, such as the one the hon. member represents. I take offence to that.

As for the pine beetle, the minister has already said that we are working very closely with the Government of British Columbia to study the best way to eradicate that problem.

I think our record stands. We are the government representing all of Canada.

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3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was very shocked to hear the member even bring up the matter of gas taxes.

I assume the member campaigned in his riding during the election on a promise to deliver, through transfer payments, 5¢ a litre in gas taxes back to the cities for infrastructure and road upkeep. That is a promise made and a promise broken. We saw the finance minister stand up and talk about 1.5¢ a litre.

How does the member intend to explain to the people who trusted him to deliver 5¢ a litre, when he comes back with a paltry 1.5¢? This amount falls far short of his commitment, the finance minister's commitment and the Liberal Party's commitment in general.

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Godbout Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am more than proud of what we have accomplished in that respect. I have a letter here from the mayor of Ottawa, and I do represent the city of Ottawa--

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3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

What part?

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Godbout Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Orléans, which is just east of Ottawa. The mayor said:

The 2005 Federal Budget is historic for Canada's cities because it confirms your commitment to ensure municipalities have a seat at the table in nation building.

As Mayor of Canada's fourth largest city, I am pleased with your government's plan to flow through a portion of the federal gas tax starting at $600 million and ramping up to $2 billion a year by 2009-10.

If the mayor of Ottawa is satisfied, and I do represent the people of Ottawa, I think it is promise made and promise kept again.

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3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the budget and what it means for us as Canadians and the residents of Simcoe—Grey.

I would like to begin by saying that the Conservative Party of Canada does not believe the Canadian public wishes to go to an election, at a cost of close to $300 million, less than 12 months after the last one. Therefore, we will not defeat the government at this time.

It is interesting to note that positive items in the budget are taken from the Conservative platform and the government is following the Conservative Party's lead on areas that are important to Canadians. Such areas include: tax relief for low and middle income Canadians, as per the Conservative amendment to the throne speech; reduction of corporate taxes to help stimulate the economy, create jobs and raise government revenue, as per the Conservative platform; the caregiver tax credit, which again comes directly from our Conservative platform; and the removal of the CAIS cash deposit requirement, part of a Conservative supply day motion, supported by everyone except the Liberals.

I would like to add that our agricultural critic, the member for Haldimand—Norfolk, did an excellent job in identifying how the government could bring immediate support to our farmers, rather than the continued broken promises we see from the government that continues to ignore the brutal reality our farmers are facing on a daily basis.

Although the current government has taken some of the Conservative steps we have introduced, the Liberal budget does not go far enough or occur fast enough to have a substantial impact on the well-being of Canadians. As usual, we see a great deal of dithering. Most of the money is delayed until the decade, with no real plan. Lots of promises, with no intent to deliver. For example, the tax break I mentioned just a minute ago amounts to a savings of about $16 per person this year. What to do with all that cash?

The lack of immediate commitment in the budget illustrates the government is not taking warning signs that Canada's high priority programs could be put in jeopardy if comprehensive steps are not taken to grow the economy before the demographic crunch.

The facts with respect to the demographic crunch are very simple. In 2004 seniors, Canadians aged 65 or older, comprised about 13.1% of Canada's population. By 2030, this number will nearly double to about 25% of Canada's population.

The Conservative Party of Canada devised a standard of living strategy in a prebudget submission that if implemented, would have ensured that high priority social programs would be available to Canadians when they required them. These social programs include health care, agricultural support programs, national defence, environment, women's initiatives, affordable housing, infrastructure and senior's programs. Unfortunately, the Liberals did not adopt our policies.

The key components of the Conservative Party's standard of living strategy are: the encouragement of investment in Canada's productive capacity; a reduction of corporate, capital and payroll taxes; a streamlined regulatory environment; a more rapid reduction of the national debt; a reduction of federal spending to sustainable levels; the encouragement of education and training; and the promotion and stimulation of affordable housing development.

It is unfortunate that while the Liberals had a majority government, we saw nothing more than waste, mismanagement and scandal. I firmly believe the billions of tax dollars that were sent to Ottawa would have been better managed if they were left in the pockets of Canadians.

The facts are absolutely astounding. Did members know that Canadians have seen their real take-home pay increase by only 3.6% over the past 15 years? This amounts to a person earning $35,000 a year receiving an annual take-home pay increase of roughly $1.60 a week. However, since 1996-97, government revenue has soared by 40%.

A family of four in Canada has $24,000 less to spend per year than the same size family living in the United States. That amounts to $2,000 a month that could be paying down a mortgage, providing for a child's education or for investing in retirement.

I remind members of the billions of tax dollars that were mismanaged by this Liberal government that should have been put back into Canadians' pockets. Some examples of the mismanaged funds include the long gun registry, $1 billion and counting, wasted on a program that has done absolutely nothing to make us more safe as we see and hear on the news every day. I support gun control and I support gun safety, but I do not support the long gun registry that only penalizes law-abiding Canadians.

With respect to the sponsorship scandal, $100 million was misspent. Canadians are truly embarrassed by their government's behaviour and what angers most of us is the arrogance dripping from the Liberals. For example, the former MP for Simcoe--Grey insisted that the $100 million really was not much to be concerned about when we thought about how much the federal government was responsible for spending.

That $100 million would have made a world of difference in my riding to help with infrastructure costs and to support our farmers. The towns of Collingwood and New Tecumseth want and need recreation centres. Water and sewer systems and roads throughout the riding need upgrading. Residents of Simcoe--Grey would have liked to have seen a plan for infrastructure, but the budget failed to deliver the promise on infrastructure funding. Another promise made; another promise broken.

That $100 million is not a drop in the bucket. To top it off, we have seen an outstanding increase in bureaucracy. The cost of bureaucracy has increased by 77% since 1996-97, yet Canadians are not getting better customer service. Canadians are still forced to wait in long lines to fill out incomprehensible forms and to speak with numerous representatives before they get to the right person, if at all.

I believe that when programs fail to deliver promised value for money, it is cruel to those who depend on them and unfair to taxpayers who fund them. Canadians work hard to contribute their taxes for government services. Canadians do not mind paying taxes. We are a very caring people and happily accept our responsibilities to care for each other with pride, but Canadians do mind being overtaxed and underserviced, and clearly they are. The waste and mismanagement must come to an end. It is about time Canadians received value for their hard earned tax dollars.

I would like to tell the House what Canadians should have seen in the budget.

Canadians would have liked to have seen a plan for our aging population, not just a few measly dollars thrown their way. A large group of seniors are living on such low levels of income that it is embarrassing for the government because it has done nothing about it. I consider it a human rights violation that such a large number of our seniors, who have given so much to our country, wonder how they will make ends meet. While we do welcome the promised increase in GIS, it is too little too late and it will take too long to get to our seniors. This is an empty promise.

To qualify for GIS, a senior needs to be making less than $13,000 a year. The fact that so many of our seniors have an income of only $13,000 is outrageous. Out of all those seniors receiving GIS, only 10% will qualify for the full increase about which the Liberals keep bragging. The remaining 90% will only see a portion of the increase. Ontario has GAINS. When GIS is increased by $1, GAINS is decreased by 50¢.

What I find most disturbing is that seniors will have to wait until January 2006 to receive the first half of the increase. They have to wait until January 2007 before they become eligible for all of it. The government brags about the $35 a month when in reality we know that is not the case.

I asked the minister if the government had consulted with the provinces about a possible GAINS clawback prior to delivering the budget to ensure that seniors actually saw the promised dollars. I did not get a sufficient answer.

Our seniors cannot afford to wait. The government should forward the money immediately and it should have assured us that provinces, like Ontario, would not claw back any of the additional funds.

My riding of Simcoe--Grey had what once was the largest training base in Canada. How it has deteriorated over the past decade. My home town of Angus, which is immediately beside Base Borden, and the entire riding were very proud that we had such a strong base. Now we find it embarrassing.

Residents of Simcoe--Grey want to know what an increase will mean for their community.

After having some time to review the budget, we have discovered that it really is not true. The government has bragged about the increased funding to the military of $12.8 billion, but the reality is it will only be $1.1 billion. This is not a good budget for the military. It is all about preparing the Liberals for the next election. Of this $12.8 billion, $5.8 billion is recycled money. Of the remaining $7 billion, approximately $5.9 billion is shown in the third, fourth and fifth years. This will never happen. We already know what the Liberals' track record is on our military spending, and they are asking us to trust them. Quite frankly, residents of Simcoe--Grey are having a hard time doing that.

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4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Promise broken.

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4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

That is correct. It is pure public relations. The real increase is $500 million this year and $600 million next year, for a total of $1.1 billion. The rest is pure fiction, and $1.1 billion over two years is not enough to get the military out of its hole. During the recent election campaign we promised twice as much, $2.5 billion over the same period.

I would like to read the amendment that was presented by the official opposition and my leader and voted on yesterday to remind people what the Conservative Party stands for. It states:

--but however [the Conservative Party] regrets that the budget does not reflect conservative principles since it fails to immediately implement the proposed tax reductions for Canadians; proposes spending to implement the fatally flawed Kyoto Accord instead of addressing real environmental issues; contemplates massive spending on a bureaucratic childcare program instead of delivering childcare dollars directly to parents; makes no commitment to the Agriculture sector and rural Canada to provide aid at a time when Canada’s regions need it most; does not eliminate the wasteful spending on the long-gun registry; does not immediately provide adequate resources for Canada’s military, so that our armed forces can become fully combat-capable as well as equipped for peacekeeping duties; continues to place billions of dollars in foundations and trusts contrary to the express recommendations of the Auditor General and indulges in a massive increase in bureaucratic spending.

The Conservative Party has said that we believe Canadians do not want to go back to the polls at this time. Therefore, we will not defeat the government.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, maybe I will start out with a bit of a refresher. There is a great book on the stands now. It might be worthwhile for the member for Simcoe--Grey to pick it up. It is the recent release by General Roméo Dallaire called Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda . He talks early in the book about his experience back through the late eighties when, under Conservative rule and during Conservative times, the military was gutted. Military budgets were hacked and slashed. It was the single most demoralizing time that he can remember senior officials going through. He said that he left Ottawa in total disgust.

Would the people who she represents in Borden be a little more pleased with this budget, more so than when the military was under Conservative rule?