House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was alzheimer's.


The House resumed from April 15 consideration of the motion that Bill C-43, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10 a.m.


Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is important this morning to put some comments on the record regarding this very important bill. This is a bill that has some very big difficulties.

It is an important bill that should have been passed in the House of Commons this session. Unfortunately, there are things within the context of the bill itself that are very worrisome and which impact in a very negative way on Canadians, particularly Canadians on the east coast with the Atlantic accord and the Kyoto accord.

In a manoeuvre that appears to disclose a hidden Liberal agenda, Bill C-43 arrogantly disregards the best interests of Canadians. What should have been a straightforward implementation of the budget is in fact an attempt to pass legislation that deserves open discussion in Parliament and specific individual attention, namely Kyoto and the Atlantic accord.

The Liberals knew that the majority of the House would not approve their Kyoto measures if they were presented in stand-alone legislation, so they attached it to Bill C-43. This move has, at the very least, delayed legitimate budget measures from implementation and may even put their implementation at risk. Canadians deserve better than this.

Why is it that some of the measures in this bill are not reflective of how they were presented in the budget document? For example, the Department of Finance website assures Canadians that the Liberal government will “deliver on commitments made in the 2005 budget”. The budget stated that the amount of the share of the gas tax would rise to $2 billion annually or 5¢ per litre by 2009-10. While part 11 of Bill C-43 allows the transfer of 1.5¢ per litre of the gas tax to the provinces, territories and first nations for sustainable infrastructure projects, the Liberals have reneged on the remainder of their commitment.

In a recent survey conducted by the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Automobile Association, respondents nearly unanimously agreed that Canada's roads and highways are a part of health and safety. They are a health and safety issue. The same group unanimously agreed that the federal government must reinvest more of the gasoline excise taxes collected in roadway development.

The days of neglect must be reversed. Further delay is not an option. Prior to the last election there were grandiose announcements about how this issue would be addressed, yet this issue has not been addressed.

In light of the glaring need for immediate action, how is it that the Liberal government only authorized gas tax transfers until 2005-06? Instead of fulfilling its 2004 election campaign promise and providing critical infrastructure assistance, the gas tax transfer has simply become another example of an election promise gone unfulfilled again.

Doing what we say we will do means planning how to fulfill a promise. That is again planning how to fulfill a promise, not planning on how to make excuses. Canadians deserve better. The Liberal government once again violated the trust and confidence of the Canadian people.

Senior adults in nursing homes deserve our respect and care. In my riding of Kildonan--St. Paul, as in the rest of Canada, low income seniors do not have time to wait for years to see increases to the guaranteed income supplement. Senior adults have invested in our communities for most of their lives, making them better places in which to live. They deserve to have their basic needs met with dignity and compassion.

As Bill C-43 stands, our senior adults in subsidized nursing homes may never see the guaranteed income supplement at all. Ironically, the nursing home operator or the province could become the recipient. Why are safeguards not put in place, ensuring provincial programs will not claw back part of the GIS increases?

Low income seniors in my riding frequently tell me they are struggling to put enough food on their tables. The GIS increases do not go far enough or occur fast enough to provide a substantial benefit to the low income senior adults of Canada. Senior Canadians deserve better.

The Conservative Party will continue to hold the Liberals to account for wasteful spending. Over a decade of Liberal waste, mismanagement and scandal has clearly revealed that billions of dollars sent to Ottawa would have been better managed if they had been left in the pockets of Canadians.

Our low income seniors could have had the means to live their sunset years with dignity and respect. With more gas tax revenue, our towns and cities could have had the resources to maintain roads and highways. The way Bill C-43 was put together was a very crafty way of doing it, so Kyoto would be passed.

I must speak to the Atlantic accord briefly because it is a very important aspect that needs to be pushed through to help the people on the east coast. The Liberals are holding the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia hostage by linking the Atlantic accord provisions, which most members in the House of Commons support, with Kyoto measures, with which many in the House of Commons have voiced concerns. The Atlantic accord provisions in Bill C-43 could be passed in one day if the Liberals would table stand-alone legislation.

It is critical that this game playing with the futures of Canadians be stopped. The fact that the Kyoto measures have been put in are a great concern. The Liberals knew the majority of the House would not approve their Kyoto measures if they were presented in stand-alone legislation. That 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.

There are things in traditional budget bill measures that are very important and there are things that need to be put through, but when other aspects of a bill are linked together that cause grave concern, then obviously a responsible government would ensure that these are taken out and put in a stand-alone position.

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 Canadians. All Canadians deserve better.

Having seen the events that have happened in the House since the beginning of the session, it is high time that serious consideration be given to taking a closer look at legislation that would be better for Canadians and not manoeuvring legislation, so that pet projects get to be put through, regardless of what Canadians think.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:15 a.m.


Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talked about the Atlantic accord in her opening comments. In my constituency, we sent out a survey asking people for their thoughts in regard to the Atlantic accord and whether the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia were being used as pawns in the game. At that time the survey response was overwhelming. I was not only surprised but very impressed at the grasp and understanding that people in western Canada had of the issue.

I would ask the member to comment on some of the comments she has heard in her constituency and also the relevance of the game playing that appears to be going on by including the Atlantic accord in the budget as opposed to a stand-alone bill.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:15 a.m.


Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, my riding is in the centre of Canada and my party is concerned about our whole nation. When things happen on the west coast, on the east coast, in Quebec or anyplace in Canada, we as a party are very concerned about the well-being of the people of Canada.

In response to that question, let me say that the Atlantic accord is extremely important. As I said in my speech earlier, that accord could be passed in one day. The reason it is so important is that it increases the quality of life for people on the east coast. It is what they deserve.

There is unanimous agreement within the House that the Atlantic accord should be passed. Everyone is anxious to have that happen. Unfortunately, through typical Liberal manoeuvring it was hooked into Bill C-43. It became a part of that bill. In order to have everything passed we have to make sure that every element of Bill C-43 is best for Canadians. Kyoto was linked in as well. It is well known that people in the House have strong feelings that there are definite problems with some of the Kyoto aspects of the bill.

What we are saying today is that the Atlantic accord should be lifted out of this legislation and made into stand-alone legislation. Let us get this passed in one day, because we are concerned about the people of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador and those all along the east coast. They are Canadians who have contributed to our country in a major way. At this time they have an opportunity to be the recipients of resources that have been owed to them for a long time. This is our concern.

The Conservative Party of Canada is appealing to the government to take a closer look at Bill C-43 and make sure that the stand-alone elements are lifted out so that we can make sure the people of Atlantic Canada are taken care of.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:15 a.m.


Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her speech and also for her knowledge of the situation as it pertains to the Atlantic accord agreement and the benefits that should be accruing right now to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and to Nova Scotia.

She mentioned taking the single piece of legislation pertaining to the accord out of this omnibus bill. The Liberals have countered with “pass the bill and everything passes”. I will ask her if this is reasonable. When we compare one two-page piece of legislation, which has been agreed to by the provinces and by the Prime Minister, with an omnibus bill, is it fair to ask people to make that comparison?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:20 a.m.


Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, absolutely and very clearly in my opinion, it is not fair. The Atlantic accord should be stand-alone legislation and it indeed could be passed in one day. The sad part of this is that people's lives are being used; men and women and families at their breakfast tables in the morning are being put at risk because it does not allow them to get on with planning their futures and their financial well-being.

We know why governments are in place: for the well-being of the people of Canada. That is what we should be concerned about. The political game playing and that kind of thing is of no interest to anybody outside these walls. Clearly that is important.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:20 a.m.


Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this morning to Bill C-43, the budget implementation bill. I am especially pleased to be able to speak the day after the Prime Minister's address to the nation.

This budget is consistent with the Prime Minister's address to the nation. In other words, this budget ignores the public interest, and it is based on the purely political interest of saving his own party. In fact, this budget is strategically designed as a campaign tool.

First, this budget totally ignores the priorities of Quebec. Implementing this budget would clearly contradict our own purpose, which is, first and foremost, to defend the interests of Quebeckers, who have given us the mandate to come here as a strong majority, in terms of members from Quebec.

Bill C-43 should have been an opportunity to make significant improvements to the budget. However, it includes initiatives we find unacceptable. It supports the agreements with Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia and, with regard to Kyoto, it sets out measures based on the polluter-paid principle, instead of the polluter-pay principle.

The minority Liberal government should have seized the opportunity presented by Bill C-43 to make real compromises and reflect on the political situation and the message it is getting from all across Canada about the changes that need to be made to government policies.

This morning, my remarks are intended, naturally, for the Liberal members. In particular, I want to warn them that they will take the fall, and even if the majority of the country does not want an election, one will be necessary given the position in which the government is putting the Canadian public.

I was saying earlier that Bill C-43, to implement the budget, is consistent with the Prime Minister's speech yesterday. Last night, the Prime Minister appealed to the nation. It was quite pathetic, because usually a national appeal is in the interests of the entire nation. This means that the head of state, in his official capacity, must speak from on high in the best interests of all Canadians and particularly, in this case, Quebeckers, given the serious damage inflicted on them by the Liberal Party as a result of the sponsorship scandal.

Yesterday, we would have expected the Prime Minister, rather than addressing the nation to ask it to save his party, to apologize for not doing something about the current situation in Canada. We would have also expected him to acknowledge that he was responsible in large part for that situation because, when the Prime Minister was the Minister of Finance and, thus, the custodian of public funds, cheating occurred on the other side of this House for many years. He should have acknowledged that he made a mistake not only by failing to watch more closely over those who were dipping into the fund, but also by withdrawing support from municipal infrastructure.

I am also referring to the Guaranteed Income Supplement and how the government simply decided to deny seniors information about their rights. Today, as a result, seniors are still owed $3.3 billion and the government is preventing that money from getting to them. Yet, these people are among those who need it the most. He should have apologized and said that the situation would be corrected.

In terms of infrastructure, he should have arranged to have measures in place to prevent municipalities from fighting over who wins the jackpot. He should have also acknowledged what we owe to seniors and give them back the money they are entitled to and put money back into the fund for social housing.

The government made these promises in the mid-1990s, and did not start financing these sectors again until 2001. He should have told the public last night that he was sorry, that he made a mistake and that he mismanaged things. He should have added that, effective immediately, since the money is available, he will make amends.

Families are owed a major apology, all of the families of Quebec and Canada, because of the Unemployment Insurance cheat, the $46 billion taken from it. The Prime Minister pulled off a David Copperfield style magic trick to make $46 billion disappear, and now he says this was virtual money and no longer exists. Yet that $46 billion had been accumulated by reducing benefits to the unemployed, even though they and their former employers had contributed to it.

Today, a mere 38% of them can hope to receive EI benefits if they end up unemployed. There ought to have been an apology and a commitment to put that money to its proper use. Instead we are being told today that the money does not exist and that it is all virtual.

Are these employee contributions to the EI fund, and the contributions by employers, who pay $1.40 for every $1 the employees contribute, virtual? Do they exist or do they not? That deduction on people's pay stubs, are we to understand that the government did not keep it? That it was returned? If that was the case, then it has gone somewhere. Into the party's fund? I hope not. So it must be somewhere.

This talk of virtual and non-existent money is tantamount to deceiving the public. The Prime Minister ought to have told us that last night, ought to have admitted that he had deceived us. Only then would he have gained any credibility. He ought to have made a commitment to put the money back into the fund. Then he would have been credible.

So where is that money? It is being used as a hidden tax in order to decrease the debt, although that burden must be assumed by the entire community and not just one part of it. It is even worse when the money diverted has a specific purpose at a time when people are losing jobs and in difficult situations. If they are impoverishing families in this way, is it surprising that there are so many poor people, so many children living in poverty in this country?

If there are children living in poverty, it is because there are parents living in poverty. If there are parents living in poverty, it is because certain people are passing measures to prevent them from receiving benefits after losing their jobs, despite having contributed their entire lives. It is an outrage and the Prime Minister should be ashamed. Why did he not mention this yesterday evening? He would have had credibility, had he done so. He would have been speaking in the interest of the country and of Quebeckers, too, who have taken the fall for him for the underhanded dealings and fishy business connected to the sponsorship scandal.

Tying the election to the Gomery commission means making Justice Gomery shoulder a burden that is not his to carry. It is the same as saying that, when he renders his decision and tables his report on all the testimony he has heard, he will be telling the public which way to vote. That is not the judge's responsibility.

The judiciary has nothing to do with politics. The issues raised by the sponsorship scandal are directly related to public interest. This is political. The Canadian public, and not Justice Gomery, has to make that decision as soon as possible, to stop these people from getting their sticky fingers on the cash.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca B.C.


Keith Martin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, one thing I think most people in the House know very clearly, with the exception of the Bloc Québécois, is that our country is better than the sum of its parts. The province of Quebec, my province of British Columbia and all provinces in this wonderful nation, including the territories, are better together than individually.

Our government has continued to treat all provinces and individuals, be they from Quebec or from any other part of this wonderful country, as precious Canadians, as individuals to be respected. We have ensured that the concerns of all Canadians, be they individuals in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, the Yukon, aboriginal or non-aboriginal, immigrant or non-immigrant, are handled with grace and tact.

With respect to the Gomery inquiry, our government wants to lay out all the facts about something any member of Parliament or Canadian would find distasteful, where a small group of people misappropriated funds. The Prime Minister opened an inquiry to ensure that all Canadians would understand what went on, and the person who would be responsible for that inquiry would be Judge Gomery, an independent individual. I do not know anything more that anyone else could possibly do.

Last night's speech by the Prime Minister was a superb intervention directly to the Canadian public. He talked about what he had done to get to the bottom of this. He also underlined the fact that he had asked the RCMP to investigate and that he would try to recover the money. He has made a promise to all Canadians that if any moneys, down to the dollar, have fallen into the hands of our party or into the hands of anyone else in an illegal fashion, it would be returned the Canadian public. That is the honest thing to do.

Could the member describe to me in honesty how our government has not treated the people of Quebec with absolute fairness and respect by ensuring that their social and economic concerns are met? I think he will be very hard pressed to come up with any credible criticism of that whatsoever.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:30 a.m.


Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked two questions.

The first concerns the advisability of waiting for the Gomery report. We would be prepared to wait for it if its contents were challenged by the Canadian public. Seventy-six per cent of Canadians say they do not believe the Prime Minister knew nothing, as he claims. Yesterday he said he was sorry and that he ought to have known. What he ought to have acknowledged, instead, is that he did know. Canadians know that he did. It is important to acknowledge this.

The second aspect relates to my raising the point of injustice to Quebec. This arises out of two things: first, the burden placed on the people of Quebec as far as the sponsorship scandal is concerned. The scandal is primarily linked to people from Quebec, people with whom we are not associated in any way, but from whom the Liberal Party is having a hard time dissociating itself. That is the first thing.

There are many injustices, but the most flagrant one of these is perhaps the economic injustice of fiscal imbalance. This involves a shortfall of a clear $2.4 billion annually. That money does not get back into the coffers of Quebec. The federal government has a broader tax base than Quebec, so Quebec, as we saw in Mr. Audet's budget yesterday, has all manner of problems in making ends meet. The situation will be the same whether the government is PQ, Liberal or anything else. Why is that? Because the obligations are in Quebec while the money is in Ottawa.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca B.C.


Keith Martin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the budget of this year is a landmark budget. I think what some Canadians do not understand is the balance between fiscal responsibility and social programs. There are some who would suggest that we should spend, spend, spend.

On a certain level, that is perhaps attractive. We have many needs in our country such as homelessness, poverty, people who would like to find jobs, individuals with drug problems and children in poverty. There are a whole host of social issues with which we have to be grapple, as in any country. Some people would suggest that we should pour money into many different areas and spend without taking into consideration the bottom line.

Why is the bottom line important? Why does the Canadian government not print money? Why does the Canadian government not simply pour money into all these programs without due responsibility to the bottom line?

When our government came into power in 1993, we had a mess on our hands. We had massive deficits and huge debts that were left by a Progressive Conservative government. Those deficits were added on to a debt. What does that do to the social programs? What does that do to the most vulnerable in our society? What does that do to the major income generators in Canada, which is the private sector? It crushes all of those.

To be fiscally irresponsible is to be socially irresponsible. To spend more than we take in and to engage in deficit spending hurts the most vulnerable in our society, damages the private sector, eviscerates our competitiveness and it destroys the pool of funds that we receive from our private sector, our tax base. By deficit spending and increasing our debt, we increase the amount of money we must pay in interest. That takes money from the sharp edge of what we need for our social programs and puts it into debt repayment, on the interest on the debt. That is irresponsible.

When our government came into power, we had to make some very difficult choices. We had to engage in a process of belt tightening to ensure we could get into a surplus situation. The Liberal government has over the last eight years produced those surpluses.

If we look at this internationally, it is very intriguing. The last few Economist magazines have shown that Canada is leading in the G-8 countries in terms of our economy, and that is exceedingly important. By having a strong economy, we can provide the tax base and engage in what are called the ying and the yang of what this job is all about: having strong fiscal management and a strong tax base which provides us with the moneys to provide the social programs that our neediest require. That is the responsible thing to do.

To do the alternative, which is to overspend, as some people would wish, or to go ahead and spend moneys that we do not have would only hurt the most vulnerable and damage our ability to pay for needed services.

I was formerly a part of the Conservative government. One of the reasons I left was the income and the economic plans for that party were absolutely irresponsible. Quite frankly, it shocked me.

A parallel to this is what is happening south of the border. The Republican party, a party that one would think would be right of centre and would have good fiscal management, is doing the exact opposite. It has engaged in a $470 billion deficit spending this year. That will crush the economic backbone of the United States. It is an irresponsible thing to do.

Mr. Greenspan, head of the Federal Reserve Bank in the United States, came out in the last 48 hours and made a very strong statement to the U.S. government, saying, “You must get your spending under control”.

That is what I found in the Conservative Party's missive before the last election. The economic budgetary plans for a Conservative government would have put us into a deficit situation. That is a line that we absolutely cannot cross.

It is simple to be in opposition and promise the earth, as the Conservatives did in its defence plans. One reason I left them was that their defence plans were so large and expensive. In combination with the massive tax cuts in the spending priorities, that they would have put the country into a profound deficit situation. This would have eroded and removed the ability of a government to pay for needed programs, including defence. That is something a government in the 21st century simply cannot allow.

We need a government that spends within its means so it can do what it has to do. Indeed, we have made promises and we have fulfilled them.

Just this week we introduced a comprehensive veterans' benefit package, the best package in decades. We are helping those veterans and their families who have given so much for our country, a wonderful country in which to live. These Canadians have given their lives to preserve our peace and security.

We owe them for their service and our government delivered on that promise this week. Much of the information in the package came from veterans, many of whom live in my area of Victoria, British Columbia and my riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. I am profoundly grateful for the input of those veterans.

As well, we have delivered on a balanced budget for the eighth year in a row. We also will introduce new legislation for homelessness. This will happen in the next few weeks.

We have put into place the largest investment in defence in the last 20 years to ensure our men and women in uniform, who do a yeoman's job, will have the personnel, the equipment, the training and be taken care of when they do their job for our nation.

We have done a lot more. We have reduced taxes for some of the poorest people to address poverty. The Minister of Social Development and others are working on plans with respect to child care and early learning. To ensure our children have the best chances for the future, we must reduce the number of social problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome and youth crime. We must ensure that children stay in school longer and that they have a healthy start, or head start. They need to live in a loving and caring environment that is secure, with discipline parameters and good nutrition. They need to be engaged by their parents or parents.

We are working on this with the provinces, and we are committed to doing that. By engaging in that healthy start, that head start program, we will ensure that a whole host of social issues and challenges will be reduced.

I have seen that clinically on the ground as a physician. We can look at the work that has been done in the last 20 years, from programs in Ypsilanti, Michigan to the work done by former labour minister of New Brunswick and her husband Doug. This will ensure that kids will become well-adjusted, functional adults and that social problems will be reduced substantially.

Also, my province of B.C., of which I am very proud, is the first province to sign on with respect to the gas tax rebate. Those moneys will go directly to the municipalities for critical infrastructure. This is extremely important because the needs on the ground are extensive. Municipalities know the needs in their areas. The moneys will be directed to these critical infrastructure needs, in cooperation with the province and the municipalities. I want to thank the minister involved for that.

I am very proud of the budget put forward by our government. For the eighth year in a row we have surplus budget, which is the perfect compromise and match of good fiscal responsibility and social responsibility. I think all Canadians will see that in the future and they will see it in the next election.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:45 a.m.


Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's comments. Aside from the breathtaking, staggering hypocrisy, the shedding of his political skin is one thing but he also completely abandons any memory of the factual basis of the debt load in this country. He refuses to acknowledge that when the Conservative government came to power in 1984 the spiralling deficit left by the Trudeau administration was one never seen in a G-7 country in the history of the world.

I hear a lot of chirping coming from the other side. I know we have now changed the voting laws so that the Liberal government can now garner votes from inside prison but they may soon have an opportunity to campaign directly there for that support, Mr. Speaker, in your constituency.

The member shows dexterity in sidestepping some of the accountability of his own government and is very deft at refusing to mention that his government is mired in the largest fiscal scam ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. What he is actually demonstrating is something that a friend of mine, Donald, once described as podia-dexterity, which is the ability to put both feet in one's mouth at the same time.

I want to ask him a direct question dealing with the offshore accord, which was jammed into the omnibus, blunderbuss budget implementation bill that is before the House. What the government did, again in a very deceitful way, after having signed a stand alone deal with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to give 100% of the revenue stream from the offshore oil and gas to those very deserving provinces, is it hid it in with 24 other items and suggested that somehow it was an all or nothing offer to Canadians, that they had to take all of these unrelated items or take nothing and then somehow hold this over people's heads that they had to take this.

The people in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador understand what the government is trying to do. It is trying to back out of the commitment that the Prime Minister made in desperation during an election campaign and now it is trying to somehow weasel away from that commitment that is costing those provinces millions while the interest accumulates on their provincial deficits.

Why is it that the hon. member neglects to acknowledge that the offshore oil and gas accord can be a stand alone bill, brought before Parliament, passed immediately in the House with the support of all members and we can put that implementation process in place, allow those provinces to start receiving the revenue to deal with the infrastructure challenges and the education and health care challenges that they are still suffering under as a result of cuts of his now newly adopted government?

Why is it that he can stand in his place and be such an adamant apologist for a government he once so fiercely condemned when he was on this side of the House before he abandoned his party and his principles?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:50 a.m.


Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is because I am standing by my principles that I made that move and that is why I changed.

It is time that I cut through the political hyperbole that the hon. member is extremely adept at using to obscure the facts. What I will do right now is let the member know the facts for his own edification. He should look very carefully at where he is sitting in his party.

When I joined the Reform Party I was proud to do it because the party was standing up for getting our fiscal House in order. Unfortunately, if the hon. member were to look at his party's last budgetary projections, he would see very clearly that his party stood for the same Bushenomics that is taking place south of the border where it will be engaging in deficit spending. What the Conservative Party is pursuing with its large tax cuts in combination with massive spending will crush the economy of this country.

This government will not tolerate that for one second because, in doing that, not only would we be compromising our social programs but we would eviscerate and damage the private sector, which is a major economic generator. That is something we will not tolerate.

I ask the member to look at the facts. He might want to look at the $41 billion we put into health care. He may want to look at the gas tax rebate that we worked on with the provinces and the municipalities. He may want to look at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that said very clearly that they were profoundly grateful, deeply honoured and pleased to be working with the government to ensure those moneys get down to the ground for the infrastructure needs that the member is talking about.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:50 a.m.


Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this brief opportunity this morning to address Bill C-43, the budget implementation bill. I want to acknowledge the member for Central Nova for giving me the opportunity to be next to speak. I am sure my constituents appreciate that.

I have to say that, as I heard the last exchange between the parliamentary secretary on the government side and the deputy leader on the official opposition bench, I ended up shaking my head and thinking no wonder Canadians cannot make sense out of what on earth is going on in this Parliament today.

I am not going to follow the rabbit tracks and use up my time to try to reconstruct the absurdity of that member, who sat first in the Reform and then in the Alliance caucus, pushing and pushing the Liberal government to cut and cut until there was nothing left of some of our most basic services, such as infrastructure, as the member himself acknowledged, post-secondary education, health care and the broken child care promise. All those things that the government promised in 1993 that it would do if elected to office, his party across the way, the ultra cons, kept pushing the government to cut further.

Now he stands up and says that they on that side will repair the damage. However he does not quite say that he had a major role in pushing for the government to make these massive cuts in the first place.

This brings me to four brief points I want to make in the few minutes available to me. On the issue of the Atlantic accord, the government members and the official opposition members keep leading Atlantic Canadians to believe that they support the speedy delivery of the resources to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia that are contained in that accord.

However it is clear that instead of making this Parliament work, instead of taking the fact that if not every member, at least the vast majority of members are committed to doing that, the government, for its own cynical reasons, has tied up the Atlantic accord in the implementation bill in such a way that it is costing the people of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia dollars that they cannot afford out of the most basic services that they desperately need rebuilt as a result of the hacking and slashing by the Liberal government, egged on by the Conservatives.

If the government were serious about making this Parliament work, it would immediately do what it has been urged to do by the New Democratic Party. In this instance, one of those rare instances where we actually agree with the Conservatives, the government must take it out of the budget implementation bill, get the commitment of dollars flowing and remove the uncertainty and the threat that the Atlantic accord may go down the tubes because of the government's cynical and ham-fisted handling of it.

I want to pick up on the government member's bleeding heart comments about how important the government's commitments are to infrastructure. In my riding a few nights ago, hundreds of people came together in the fire hall in Ketch Harbour to say that they were desperate to get the new water and sewer facilities that have been withheld from them for 40 years.

The following statement was accurately reported by the provincial daily paper, the Halifax Herald , which reads:

While the municipality is kicking in $5 million, the provincial and federal governments are giving a little over $2 million combined.

In other words, the combined contribution from the federal and the provincial governments is less than one-third.

For many years we were able to put together infrastructure projects that were about clean water and sanitation with a formula of one-third contribution from the federal government, the provincial government and the municipal government.

The reality is that what is such a disgrace about the inadequate contribution of infrastructure funding to this project in my riding in Halifax is being repeated again and again all over this country because the government has systematically decided to give billions and billions of dollars in tax breaks to big corporations and the wealthiest of Canadians over the years, still including in the budget $4.3 billion in tax cuts to corporations while people go without the basics of clean water and adequate sanitation services. Those are the priorities that are still reflected in the provisions of the budget implementation bill that we have before us.

I want to say that hope springs eternal. Last night we heard the Prime Minister basically say that we had to get on with the job and do what needs to be done. I think every Canadian wants to see the government cooperating with the opposition parties to do what needs to be done but that starts today, this hour, this moment with indications from the government that it is prepared to do what needs to be done to make changes in the budget implementation bill that is before us.

I hope the government will not literally drop the promise made by the Prime Minister last night across the airwaves and the very next morning turn its back on the commitment made. Let us see if the Liberals mean what they say, and that means changing the legislation that is within their control and the budget that is before us and begin to get the job done, which requires the government changing some of its ways.

The next thing I want to speak to is post-secondary education. During the election, the Prime Minister, in a desperate bid for votes in an all Canadian job interview targeting youth, the post-secondary education students, said he would return $8 billion to post-secondary education funding. I do not think anyone expected that he would return $8 billion of post-secondary education funding all in one budget.

We are dealing here with a Prime Minister who loves to talk about targets and timetables and who says that if we mean the commitments we make, we develop an implementation plan, develop timetables and targets and say how we will keep this promise of recommitting $8 billion to core funding and education, and at least begin to ease the burden that has been heaped on our students.

Has the government done this, even in the budget implementation bill now before us? Absolutely not. Not one red cent was recommitted to rebuild core funding for post-secondary education in the budget, and we know the disastrous results. The results are that tuition hikes continue. Students at Dalhousie University in the heart of my riding have seen almost a 10% tuition hike as a result of the $8 billion broken promise that was made by the Prime Minister on the eve of the election.

Finally, I tried to speak to what is happening locally and to what is happening nationally and internationally. It has to be one of the biggest disgraces of this budget that the Prime Minister and the government yet again have turned their backs on the long established commitment made by a previous prime minister, Lester Pearson, that Canada would lead the way in committing 0.7% of our GNP to overseas development assistance.

Again and again people before the foreign affairs committee have pleaded the case for us to honour our commitment to the millennium development goals, honour our commitment to actually be a good global citizen and commit to that 0.7%.

Not only was there no indication that they were prepared to do it in general, there was absolutely no implementation plan, no targets and timetables, to the utter disgrace and humiliation of Canada in the international community.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

11 a.m.

The Speaker

There will be five minutes in the time remaining for questions and comments for the hon. member for Halifax when this matter next comes before the House.

Multiple SclerosisStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Susan Kadis Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently participated in a very positive, inspiring event as the honorary co-chair of the Richmond Hill-Thornhill Super Cities Walk for MS. Richmond Hill Deputy Mayor David Barrow and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting many of the people who were involved in organizing this event, as well as many of those who have been affected by MS.

The Super Cities Walk for MS occurs across Canada annually, including over 75,000 participants in more than 150 communities, fundraising over $9.7 million. Our event had over 600 participants who together raised over $65,000.

Every day in Canada three more people are diagnosed with MS. Although there are many different forms of treatment for MS, much more still needs to be done to combat this disease.

It is the success of events like this which will eventually result in a cure being found.

I would like to heartily congratulate all those who organized the event as well as all those who participated with such great energy, dedication and determination. The commitment of all those individuals to this cause certainly brings great hope to the thousands across Canada who have been affected by MS.

InfrastructureStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, three days before the last election campaign, Ottawa Liberals held a fancy press conference in Barrhaven, where they promised $200 million in infrastructure.

One year later, they have broken their promise. The money still sits in the federal vault. The federal Liberals have not even signed a contract, just a press release.

Now they are playing politics again. The Liberal mayor and Liberal helpers on council have teamed up to threaten that if local voters do not choose the Liberals in the coming election, they will lose the dollars altogether.

Liberals could put an immediate end to this fear campaign by simply transferring the dollars now. No delays and no more excuses: they should just keep their word and pay up.

Our community cannot afford these political games. We need the Armstrong Bridge to serve Riverside South and Barrhaven residents. People in South Gloucester need to get across the river to the west side. This needs to happen. As their member of Parliament, I am--

InfrastructureStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Mississauga—Streetsville.

Parkinson Society CanadaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Wajid Khan Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to mention to my colleagues that April is Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month in Canada and around the world. Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of Parkinson Society Canada.

Today more than 100,000 Canadians suffer from Parkinson's disease. Sadly, experts are predicting that this number will more than double over the next decade. Also troubling is the fact that there is a diminishing number of neurologists who are able to assist and treat those who are suffering from the devastating impact of Parkinson's.

Please join me in offering our support to Parkinson Society Canada as it works to fund research for a cure and to deliver support programs that are essential to those battling Parkinson's today.

Homelessness in QuebecStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the City of Saguenay forum on homelessness provided an alarming picture of the extent of that phenomenon in Quebec and in my region.

In my riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, and in many other places in the Saguenay, there are twenty or so agencies in need of $5.5 million that have only $1.8 million.

The issue here is of people being unable to meet their basic needs, unable to put food on the table or find suitable housing. I need not say more. The government has to make a commitment. Period.

The Bloc Québécois urges the federal government to make a promise right now to renew the SCPI program in order to help the least fortunate in our society.

Organ Donor Awareness WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week.

I was fortunate to attend the Brant County Organ Donation Awareness curling bonspiel held April 9 at the Brantford Golf and Country Club. It was very moving and inspiring to hear from those who had received the gift of life through organ donation.

Canada has one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the world at 13 donors per million population. Some areas, such as Toronto, have only 10 donors per million population.

In Canada, up to 30% of people waiting for a solid organ transplant die on the waiting list. There is a chronic shortage of hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers and bowels for transplant in Canada. There are more than 3,500 people awaiting organ transplants in this country.

In recent months there has been much attention focused on the idea of creating a living will. It is my hope that all Canadians will take the time to speak to their families about organ and tissue donation.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jim Prentice Conservative Calgary North Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the citizens of my riding to voice their disgust at the sight of the Prime Minister of Canada cowering in the shadow of the Gomery inquiry. May we never again witness the spectacle of a Prime Minister desperately pleading for permission to cling to power, arguing that he should govern Canada because Gomery might not convict him.

This is a Liberal government in crisis, stewing in its own fraud and corruption.

This is a Liberal Party that has debased our democracy through the theft of public money, the abuse of public trust and the commission of fraud, conspiracy and public money laundering. The Liberals have campaigned with dirty money, violating the rule of law, breaking electoral laws, referenda laws and the Criminal Code.

This government has damaged our country and its institutions. Today it can only feign moral authority to govern. This is a Liberal Party of cowardice and avarice.

Gomery is the judge, but Canadians will be the jury. An election will come, a judgment day which shall bring an end to this squalid Liberal Party that has embarrassed our country.

Earth DayStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, on April 22, 1970, the world celebrated its first Earth Day. On this the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, I commend all Canadians in communities across this country for their efforts in demonstrating their care and concern for our natural environment.

I know that in my riding of Davenport various events are planned around the community, including the planting of tree seedlings. These actions are practical and important ways for all people to show that they honour and have concern for our environment and the world.

It is what Earth Day is all about. This is our home. Today especially, we are reminded of our obligations to take care of it.

Soil Conservation WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Denise Poirier-Rivard Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the 20th anniversary of Soil Conservation Week, observed from April 17 to 23.

Let us use this week to reflect on the importance of protecting this critical resource, our soil. This conservation effort aims not only to protect the soil as the foundation for a sustainable agricultural industry, but also to promote its environmental role as a natural tool for reducing greenhouse gases.

Healthy soil can act as a natural carbon sink and, as such, may contribute to providing at least 20% of the solution in mitigating greenhouse gases.

If it is true that from the soil comes life, then the sustainability of our planet relies greatly on the health of this fragile veneer. May National Soil Conservation Week be an opportunity to live up to these forward-looking ideals and to recognize all those who give back to the earth to keep the soil healthy and productive for future generations

Earth DayStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Russ Powers Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, today over 500 million people from 180 countries will celebrate Earth Day.

This year Canadians have many more reasons to be hopeful about our environment and to continue to experience pride in Canada. Canada and this government boldly pursued Kyoto's objectives on the international stage, while here at home the Conservative Party denounced Kyoto and attempted to prevent its ratification.

Last February, thanks to the efforts of this government, Kyoto became international law. Immediately afterward, this government tabled Canada's greenest budget to date, followed by an ambitious and achievable plan that will allow us to honour Kyoto and ensure a competitive, innovative and prosperous green economy for generations to come.

Canadians are not fooled by the Conservatives' attempt to camouflage their opposition to Kyoto. Let me quote the Leader of the Opposition:

What I am supportive of is, frankly, not ratifying the Kyoto agreement and not implementing it.

The Conservatives' position on Kyoto is just another reason why the Conservatives are so out of touch with Canadians.

VolunteerismStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to recognize National Volunteer Week. This week is set aside to honour and recognize the 6.5 million Canadians who volunteer throughout this country.

In my riding of Elgin--Middlesex--London, I have met many great volunteers in many organizations. These are people of altruistic thoughts and deeds. Their actions are to make their home communities better places, to provide opportunities to their families and others that otherwise would not occur and to provide the community capacity to accomplish great things.

I would like to thank many of my friends in organizations as far-reaching as our local youth centre, the not for profit endeavours of our local Junior B hockey team, all the great coaches in minor sports programs and all the great mentors in organizations like junior achievement.

I ask members to please join me in celebrating 62 years of National Volunteer Week.