Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-43, a bill reflective of the arrogance of the government. Before I speak to specific financial items, let us discuss why this piece of legislation is so large and includes items that should be put forward as stand-alone legislation.
I refer to the Atlantic accord, a promise made to the people of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, that is buried in this legislation.
The Prime Minister feigns support for this accord, but holds the provinces hostage by linking it, or perhaps I should say burying it, in the bill. The accord should be presented as stand-alone legislation. The government has dictated to the country for too many years and this level of legislative manipulation must stop. I and the Conservative Party see it, and the people of Canada agree.
The other item lumped into the bill is the so-called Kyoto plan. This conniving government knew the Kyoto measures were distasteful to the majority of the House, so it piled them into the bill to delay legitimate budget measures or at least put them at risk.
Let us turn to the budget measures in the bill. We should ask ourselves of the unfocused and wasteful practices of the government and allow Canadians to decide if the people handling our purse strings have the right stuff.
Certainly in the areas of projecting surpluses we have been woefully represented in the past and in the present, and using past behaviour to predict future ability, the government will not be able to predict correctly again.
Let us speak of our surplus predictions which in fact continue to result in the overtaxation of the Canadian people to the tune of billions and billions of dollars each year.
If honest business people in the country were to inadvertently overcharge their customers, I believe in each case an attempt would be made to find the customer who has been overcharged and rightfully refund the difference. However, the government chooses not to attempt to return this overtaxation to its rightful place. It uses it at its whim.
I may have just made two mistakes. I compared the government to the honest business people in Canada and with the current reputation of the government, I am afraid I have insulted the business community. I also said that if persons were inadvertently overcharged and the surpluses were inadvertent; however, I do not believe these surpluses were inadvertent.
That having been said, about the inability of the government to predict financial outcomes, is the reason why the Conservative Party continues to ask for the creation of an independent parliamentary budget forecast office. The government has announced so many items in the budget which will simply not occur for years to come. Most, if not all, of the tax relief in the budget is back end loaded. It will not be a benefit to the hard working people of Elgin—Middlesex—London and indeed all of Canada for several years.
The government has made announcing an art form. Every piece of news is announced again and again, and sometimes even again and again. Canadians continue to be retold each idea. Is this the trial balloon method? Does the government simply announce plans to the Canadian people in budgets and throne speeches to test the drive of Canadian voters with its schemes?
It announced this year's tax relief schedule for some time in 2009 to provide some perverse guidance as to whether anyone out there likes it or not. If they do not, it does not really ever take place anyway. I suspect that a great many items in the budget fall into this category.
The personal tax relief measures in the bill are insufficient. They amount to a reduction of no more than $16 next year and if we can wait until 2009, there are plenty of paltry goodies for us. This is a bait and switch game that the taxpayers of the country do not want to play.
Let us discuss tax cuts. I have already mentioned the personal tax cuts. Let us discuss the increase in the guaranteed income supplement, as paltry as it is, and the years of waiting it will take for it to come into effect. It may all be for naught as provincial governments allow for clawbacks or seniors in subsidized nursing homes will have this amount simply taken by the nursing home. Is this how we honour our seniors?
Let us discuss the air travel security charge. This is a tax on business, tourism, and on travelling Canadians. A meagre reduction of this tax will not result in any meaningful difference in airline fares. This continues to be yet another tax grab by the government.
Here is an example of the changes. The basic tax for flights in Canada is now $4.67. This is a reduction from $6.54. That is $1.87 per flight. Wow, I can buy a cup of coffee. Wait, no I cannot because airport rents in Canada are so high that any savings must be eaten up by increased airfares to cover these rents. What happened to the airport rent reductions?
The Conservative Party members in the last election set plans and priorities for both tax cuts and investments committing nearly $58 billion over five years. They were told by the government that they were being irresponsible, that the Conservative Party was just wrong. However, just 10 or 11 months later here we stand with a budget to almost the exact amount we had said.
Not only were Canadians being told it was affordable all along, again we have the arrogance and manipulation that only this government can be right. If anyone else finds a better or more responsible way, they are wrong, at least temporarily wrong until the government takes their ideas to make them its own. So again, it was just a political ploy at election time to discredit the Conservative Party and to prevent Canadians from electing a good, honest government.
This brings me to the area of management and I may repeat some, but it needs repeating. We as Conservatives have asked the government for tax relief for low and middle income Canadians. It has become more and more evident of late that despite bragging about great reductions in taxation, Canadians continue to say “show me the money”. Despite stated reductions in taxation, the hard-working people of Elgin—Middlesex—London and the rest of Canada have less money in their pockets.
We must find a way to both offer needed services for the citizens of this great country and to stimulate growth of our economy. We must ensure that all money taken from Canadians in the form of taxes or taken in payroll deductions or in fees by the government is treated with the respect it deserves.
We must remember the source of these funds: the pockets, the wallets, the bank accounts, and the piggy-banks of Canadians. These funds belong to the people, not the finance minister. It is the job of the government to wisely collect, account for, and prescribe spending that this country needs to support its people remembering that the money belongs to the people. We must ensure that only the amount needed to accomplish the needs of Canada is taken from citizens and that the habit of huge surplus budgets must end. We must, as suggested, implement a fully independent process for forecasting the government's financial situation.
The government has proven that either through deceit or ignorance it cannot be trusted to take billions and billions more from the taxpayer. If we just leave these funds with Canadians in the first place, we will save the cost of collection and influence the disposable income of all Canadians. The government must also ensure that tax dollars and other funds sent to the government must also be treated with the respect they deserve. We must erase waste. The government has a legacy of waste, mismanagement, and now corruption.
Canadians value their earnings more than the government. The waste of the sponsorship debacle, the gun registry fiasco, and budget errors, all have permanently set into the minds of all Canadians. Many Canadians cringe each time they send money or have it taken from them. They think of the wasteful way in which it is about to be spent.
Canadians are fully aware of the hoax of our employment insurance funding. So many young, low income earners are stolen from on every paycheque, EI deductions are made for a program they can never use. Employers then pay matching contributions into a fund that should be used as an emergency support fund to assist workers. Out of no fault of their own, the government uses their money as it sees fit.
In summary, let me say that this bill and this budget have some glaring faults.
It is a disservice to the people of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to have the Atlantic accord lumped into this bill. The Conservative Party continues to believe that its separation into stand-alone legislation would be best for Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.
The Conservative Party and most of this Parliament would like to see the Kyoto measures separated from this budget so they can be discussed on their own merit or lack thereof.
If one practises something long enough, one gets good at it. Over a decade of Liberal waste, mismanagement and scandal, billions of dollars sent to Ottawa would have been much better left in the pockets of Canadians.
The Conservative Party has said that it will strive to make this minority Parliament work so long as it is in the best interests of Canadians. Currently this bill is not reflective of that principle. We will work to try to turn this bill into legislation that is in the best interests of Canadians.