Mr. Speaker, on February 1 I rose in the House to speak to hon. members about the policies and priorities that I believe should have been reflected in this budget. My comments today may reflect the disappointment that I feel in the lack of acknowledgement of what I felt were very obvious and valid suggestions. Much like the first few months of the government, there has been so little action on the real issues that affect Canadians.
The Liberal minority government across the floor is sinking deeper into crisis with nothing to fall back on. There is no defence review. There is no international policy statement. There are no solutions to something that is very important in my riding, and that is the issue of BSE. We are nearing the 24 month stage of this crisis. We have seen no results.
Canadians have rightly lost faith in their elected representatives. At a time when real leadership should shine like a beacon in the fog, so many ministers are making announcements with no real plans, giving speeches with no real substance, and spending money with no real strategic vision.
In February I directly addressed the issues in the international cooperation portfolio. In February the world was just coming out from underneath the shock of the tsunami aftermath in southeast Asia. In the cool light of hindsight, there were so many lessons to be learned from Canada's response to this disaster. The government did not have a coordinated plan to react. It did not have a grasp on the seriousness of the devastation.
On the eve of unveiling the international policy review, there is an opportunity to decide who we are and what we do in the world. I believe we have been on the eve of this policy review for several months now.
What is clear is that we will not be able to meet the expectations of the world or of Canadians under this budget. Do not be fooled by the well-intentioned words of the Minister of International Cooperation. The department is not growing under the minister or under the Prime Minister. In fact, Canada's official development assistance spending has systematically been gutted under the Liberal government.
There are some damning facts from the OECD. It monitors the world's commitments to development assistance. A peer review of Canada looked back on a decade of Liberal rule, and the OECD pointed out that the ratio of its official development assistance, ODA, to gross national income has been halved. Rather than going up, it has been halved, down to .22% of gross national income in 2001 from .45% in the early 1990s. I might mention that it was the former Conservative government that got it up to the .45% level.
Canada ranks 19th out of 22 development assistance committee members in terms of ODA. Those are not stellar records. This is all based in terms of official development assistance as recorded against gross national income.
Put very simply, the government has reduced our foreign aid budgets by half since it has come to power. This is not good enough. In fact, it is unacceptable. The 8% annual increases that it has suggested are just not good enough. This will not even return Canada to our former levels of generosity in the next decade.
Finally, I want to bring to the attention of the House to the shocking news released by CIDA itself only a few weeks ago. Despite the damning rebuke of falling aid levels by the OECD and commitments to raise spending levels by the Liberal government, CIDA's most recent statistical report stated that Canada's ODA spending for 2003-04 amounted to some $2.7 billion, which represented only .23% of gross national income.
We have not moved anywhere in three years. We have fallen behind in the 11 years of Liberal government and we have fallen off the radar screen in the world.
Clearly international aid suffers under Liberals, but it has flourished under Conservatives, so rather than try to help the government find its way out of this mess, I want to address the budget bill as it stands before us.
As my colleagues have said, the Liberals should have brought at least three separate bills forward instead of trying to bully members of Parliament into passing a mish-mash of legislation all in one bill. By dividing the bill into three parts, the House would have had the opportunity to consider Kyoto measures on their own merit, the provisions to implement the Atlantic accord, and traditional budget bill measures with appropriate seriousness.
This bill just shows how arrogant the Liberal Party has become after a decade in government. It is time the Prime Minister stopped governing like he has a majority and starts governing in the best interests of Canadians.
The Liberals knew that the majority of the House would not approve their Kyoto measures if they were presented in stand-alone legislation, which is why they attached them to Bill C-43. This move has, at the very least, delayed legitimate budget measures from implementation and may have even put their implementation at risk.
The Liberals have also shown their true national unity colours in the bill. The Liberals have become toxic on this topic. They are extending their ability to alienate Canadians on our eastern shores by linking the Atlantic accord provision, that most members in the House of Commons support, with the bill to pass Kyoto. Essentially, they are holding the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia hostage with their devious ways. The Atlantic accord provisions in Bill C-43 could have been passed in one day if the Liberals had placed it in stand-alone legislation.
The Conservative Party does not play games with the well-being of Canadians. It is high time the Liberals stopped playing politics and followed the lead of the Conservative Party by acting in the best interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.
In the last election, the Conservative Party committed to $58 billion in new spending and tax reductions over five years. Instead of following the leadership shown by the Conservatives, the Liberals have lined the pockets of their friends with taxpayers' money, hidden massive surpluses, and failed to address the real problems facing Canadians.
Many of the steps taken by the Liberals in the budget, as reflected in the budget, do not go far enough or occur fast enough to have a substantial impact on the well-being of Canadians. The personal tax relief measures in the bill are insufficient and are back end loaded. They amount to a reduction of no more than $16 next year. We will not have trouble spending that tax reduction. It is all of $192 when fully implemented by 2009.
The inadequate productivity enhancing measures in budget 2005 illustrate that 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.
Some of the measures in this bill are not reflective of how they were presented in the budget document. The Liberals have once again been caught behind their false numbers. The budget document was not telling Canadians the truth about how much surplus money is available in funds for priorities.
Last week, Parliament's four experts on budgetary estimates reported to the finance committee that on average their surplus projections, parliamentary numbers, showed a surplus of $6.1 billion. That is already double what the Liberals claimed in budget 2005. This is the same pattern we saw last year with the 2004 budget, where it started out at $1.9 billion and in fact, the reciprocal was $9.1 billion when all of the smoke cleared.
The Conservative Party will work in committee to strengthen the bill, so that it is more reflective of what hardworking Canadians want and deserve.
The Conservative Party will continue to hold the Liberals to account when spending is unfocused and wasteful. Over a decade of Liberal waste, mismanagement and scandal has shown that billions of dollars sent to Ottawa would have been much better managed if they were left in Canadians' pockets.