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House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the hon. member across the way for some clarification.

We are discussing Bill C-48 today which is not the Liberal budget. The Liberal budget is Bill C-43, the budget I thought the government believed in and which contained its plan for the country for the next year.

The Liberals, essentially, have gone to the NDP in a move to hang on to power. Although they think that Bill C-48 is the life preserver they have been looking for, I actually think it is a noose.

Some of the things in this budget were definitely not included in the finance minister's initial budget because they were not deemed important enough back in February when he tabled the budget. What they are doing here is bringing forth a very hastily put together bill that, in their own opinion, would not accomplish the things that the NDP hopes they will.

Does the member honestly believe that the policy announcements being made in Bill C-48 will ever come to fruition? I also want to know if they will accomplish anything. I really think that what is laid out in Bill C-48 is something that will cost our children and grandchildren a pile of money without any real plan. It opens up the possibility of hastily put together programs that will not be administered properly and could lead us to more government mismanagement and corruption.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, this amendment, which will be supported by the Liberals and the NDP, is one we strongly support because it meets our core principles and deals with the priorities of Canadians, that being health care, the environment, city agendas and the arts, and it meets our commitment to the international community.

Beyond that, this government has for the past eight years delivered eight consecutive balanced budgets and we will continue to do that.

In no way, shape or form do these amendments take away from our fiscal responsibility. We are a government that strongly believes in fiscal responsibility. We have done that in a prudent way with all the measures we have taken forward in the last many years and we will continue to do that.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am quite curious when I hear the member and several other members in the House consistently suggest that they know the priorities of Canadians. I am curious because obviously they represent less than 50% of the population. I believe that particular member is from Toronto.

I have two questions. Where in the world does the member think he has the mandate of Canadians and knows the priorities of Canadians? Is there some secret poll out there? Did the government do a poll when it cut $22 billion in health care or when it spent $2 billion on a gun registry system that does not work? First, I am wondering where this member gets this idea that they speak for all Canadians.

Second, I would appreciate hearing the member's comments specifically in relation to the plan the government had but which changed dramatically when it found out it could buy the NDP votes. I wonder how the member feels about throwing money out without having any kind of plan, any agenda and any security that it actually will get to the places where it is allocated.

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4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's view is that Canadians' priorities are health care, the environment, the arts, housing and cities. These are initiatives that we, under the Prime Minister, have been moving forward for the last year.

I would be hesitant to comment on what he feels his priorities are but I would think all of us should share in those priorities. If my colleague feels that those are not the priorities for Canadians then he should say so.

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4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, not so long ago, the Minister of Finance rose in this House to praise his fantastic budget which, as far as he was concerned, was perfect, the eighth wonder of the world. Today, because of Bill C-43, the Minister of Finance got the slap on the hand he deserved from his Prime Minister who, not so long ago, tried to buy the conscience of Quebeckers with dirty money, and is now trying to buy an election with taxpayers' money.

Bill C-43 is an empty shell. I heard the member opposite say that he knows the priorities of Canadians and Quebeckers. I believe that in Quebec, like in the rest of Canada, people are asking for something more specific than a bunch of figures that mean absolutely nothing.

The member had a lot to say about post-secondary education, which is currently funded by the federal government to the tune of approximately 11%. The few extra bucks provided do not make a big difference. The member also had a lot to say about lowering tuition fees. I have news for him: tuition fees in Quebec are the lowest in Canada. Is that what he calls knowing the priorities?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times already in the House, the priorities of the government are quite clear. This budget delivers on the government's priorities and commitment to the people of this great country. We as Canadians have to look after one another. The budget talks about everything from child care to seniors and our priorities for health care and for our universities. All of those are priorities for the government. I believe very strongly that this budget delivers on those priorities and we should move forward with the budget.

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4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to address Bill C-48. I want to start by underlining that the Conservative Party believes strongly that Bill C-48 will hurt Canadian farmers, seniors, people who are trying to create jobs in this country and families with children.

We believe strongly that Bill C-48 is taking Canada off track financially. We also believe that it is a pretty obvious attempt to cover up the allegations of corruption being levelled at the Liberal Party and the government. We believe that is a pretty important reason to oppose Bill C-48. I will expand on some of those things in just a moment.

I want to go back to a point I was making earlier about how fundamentally Bill C-48 completely contradicts the government's own finance minister. Going back to last February, I was in this place when the finance minister spoke about how important it was to follow the principles laid out in Bill C-43. One of those principles was that there had to be tax relief for large employers in Canada.

If we go to the budget documents, we can still find the page where it talks about how important that is for attracting investment to this country and accumulating capital, so that businesses can take that and invest it in training for their employees, buy new equipment and expand their operations. These are things that would put people to work.

Since that time a study came out from the C.D. Howe Institute saying that if the government followed through on those tax breaks for large employers, it would generate 340,000 jobs. I believe that. I believe what the finance minister was saying about that. I think those things are so important.

Canada is in competition with other countries around the world. When we do things that create jobs, do hon. members know what that does? It is not just creating 340,000 jobs. Those are jobs for real people, people who live in my community and the communities of all the members in this place, people who, today, do not have jobs and want nothing more in the world than to have some meaningful employment and the ability to earn a decent wage, so they can look after their families. That is a pretty reasonable thing.

That is what the finance minister argued very persuasively, persuasively enough that, although we did not support the budget, we did not bring down the government on the budget. We basically abstained from voting on that.

Later on we found out that the government added some things into the budget, like some of the Kyoto provisions that we did not agree with, but after that point, I heard the finance minister on many occasions defend his budget against the NDP. He said that we cannot cherry-pick the budget. We cannot just pick and choose what we want in the budget. He said it when he was standing right there. He said, “You can’t go on stripping away piece by piece by piece of the budget”. That is what he said. It is in Hansard. If we check the record, we will find it right there, and he defended that.

When it became apparent that the government could lose a vote on the issue of the budget on a confidence motion, the Prime Minister struck a backroom deal with the NDP while the finance minister was back in Regina. The finance minister obviously knew nothing about it. All of a sudden a deal was struck where the tax relief for large employers was cut out of the budget, so that the government could increase spending dramatically on other programs.

We should remember that we have already had the largest increase in spending back in the February budget that we have seen in 30 years. We have seen spending go up by about 50% since 1997-98 in this country. That is 50%.

We have seen the cost of bureaucracy go up by 77%. However, that was not enough. The government added more in the February budget. Now it has added even more spending again in Bill C-48. That troubles me because the reason we are doing all this spending is to allow the government to cover its tracks on this corruption scandal. It knows it is up to its ears in trouble because of that scandal, so it is trying very hard to get people's attention away from that.

However, what worries me is that by rushing to do this and by just throwing money at things, we are going to replicate exactly the same situation that led to the firearms registry. Where the government was faced with the problem of gun violence, it threw a bunch of money at it, hoped that would fix it, and created a firearms registry. It said it would cost $2 million, as my friend from Edmonton pointed out a while ago. It ended up costing $2 billion. We saw the same thing--

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

An hon. member

It did not cost $2 billion.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

My friend across the way is sounding a little bitter and angry. However, I want members to know that RDI, which is a media outlet, an arm of the CBC, reported it would cost around $2 billion. If my friend takes issue with those figures, he should take that up with RDI.

I will also point to another situation where the government saw a problem and just threw money at it. I remember very well those shocking images on TV of young children who were stoned on gasoline at Davis Inlet. It was an awful thing. Prime Minister Chrétien, at the time, was shocked by it. We were all shocked. However, the government did not have a plan. It just took a lot of money and threw money at it. It said, “That is terrible. We have to deal with it”, and just threw money at it.

What happened? The government moved some 900 people from the community of Davis Inlet to another community a few miles away and gave them new housing. It cost $400,000 a person. Guess what? All of the problems went with them, not surprisingly. Again, that is what happens when we react without a plan and just throw money at things. All we do is create more problems. We do not get results.

What we have now is the government trying to hide from one vote-buying scandal in Quebec, the sponsorship scandal, and spending $4.6 billion to acquire the votes of NDP members in this place in the hope that it could hang on in a confidence motion.

I am worried that this same problem is being replicated all over again. There is real evidence for that. When we look at the bill itself, Bill C-48, what does it say? It does not say that money would go into specific programs, programs that are established today that we can scrutinize. It says that money shall be spent via order in council. It would be up to the cabinet to decide how to spend it. I worry about that. I guess as the opposition finance critic I should worry about it. It is my job.

However, Canadians should worry about that because this looks like another blatant attempt, initially, to get over a vote-buying scandal in Quebec and, second, to buy votes from the NDP. Now it looks like the government is going to use this to buy the votes of Canadians in order to support it in possibly an upcoming election.

I would urge Canadians to say no. This is our money. We know that there are other ways to spend this money. If we do not have good plans in place to spend it, then we should not spend it at all. Leave it in the pockets of homemakers, farmers, fishermen and the business people who create jobs in this country. They could use that money, very often, far more effectively than a bureaucrat or a politician. That is certainly my experience.

When I think about what we could do if we left some of this money in the pockets of taxpayers, I think of a family I know, who are goods friends of my wife and I, who have four kids and a modest income. Of course they want their children to go to university. Would it not be a great thing if they were allowed to keep, say, $1,000 extra every year because their taxes were a little bit lower and they were able to save that money to put into a fund for higher education for their children?

Maybe they have other priorities. Maybe they have children who have to go to the dentist. Maybe they have children who have extra needs medically. They could use the money for those things. My point is that parents know better than anybody else what is important to them and how to use that money. Believe it or not, they know more than bureaucrats and politicians about what is good for their family.

Simple decency requires that if the Liberals have no plan and if they are swimming in cash, then this money should be allowed to stay in the pockets of the people who earned it in the first place. That is just being decent.

The government has not skimped on spending. Spending has gone through the roof in the last number of years. Since 1997 and 1998 spending has gone up 50%, not including the February budget, and not including the $4.6 billion that is in Bill C-48.

I would argue that the government has spent more than enough money in the last number of years and now it is time for a substantial break for Canadians. Many friends across the way may say they are going to lower taxes in the budget for everyday Canadians. The tax break in the next tax year for Canadians amounts to $16. That is unbelievable.

There was no shortage of money for Liberal friends when it came to the sponsorship scandal. There were envelopes and suitcases of money for Liberal friends, for Liberal ad executives, and ultimately for the Liberal Party. What do the regular working people get? They get a $16 tax cut. That is shameful. That is ridiculous. That speaks volumes about the government's real priorities.

I want to speak about some of the myths that the government across the way has been perpetuating. I have heard members in this place say that if the budget does not pass then the offshore accord will not go through. Atlantic Canada in particular, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, will not get the money due to them as a result of the signing of the offshore accord. I want the House to know that a Conservative government would deliver that money as soon as humanly possible.

The member for St. John's East and the member for St. John's South--Mount Pearl have worked relentlessly to push the government to allow that piece of the budget, the offshore accord, to be split off, so it could pass through the House quickly and be delivered to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador right now. The government opposes it every time. Does the government really care about Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador? If it did, it would split that part of the bill off right now and get that money delivered to those people.

It bothers me as someone from Alberta, someone who comes from a province where at one point we received equalization at the same time as we were getting revenues from oil and gas. We on this side of the House had to fight hard to get the government to accept that point of view, and now it is playing politics with it. The government is now holding Newfoundland members of Parliament hostage on this issue, knowing that it could push this through right now if it wanted and get the money to Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, but it will not.

On the issue of the gas tax, some of my Liberal colleagues across the way, and frankly some of the big city mayors who basically may as well be a part of that caucus over there, are playing the same kinds of games. We have made it very clear many times that we would deliver gas tax revenues to the municipalities via the provinces to ensure that they could look after their infrastructure.

We made that case way before the government ever conceived of the idea. In fact, we moved a motion in this place some time ago calling for the government to do that. The government voted against the idea. Government members thought it was a crazy idea. Imagine taking the excise tax on fuel and giving it back to municipalities. That is basically what the government argued.

A few months later the then finance minister, now the Prime Minister, went to the FCM in British Columbia and argued that should be done. It is going ahead and doing it. Now Liberals are telling Canadians falsely that we would not deliver that. We would move heaven and earth to get that money to municipalities so they can look after their infrastructure. We know how important that is. It is very unfortunate that the government is telling people things that are not true about what our plan is. We absolutely would deliver that money.

I want to say a couple of words about some of the games the government is playing today with the fiscal framework. It was not very long ago that the finance minister argued how important it was to maintain a contingency reserve and prudence factor of $4 billion a year. He wanted to increase it by $1 billion a year going out over the next number of years because he was worried about uncertainty in the world. He was worried about the impact of things like terrorist attacks and what it would mean to our economy if those kinds of things occurred. We could go into a tailspin and it could mean that we could end up in a deficit again.

He was worried about the high cost of oil and what it would do to the world economy or the U.S. housing bubble. There were all kinds of uncertainties that the finance minister pointed to and said that it was essential the government have a big contingency and prudence factor. No sooner had those words quit echoing in this place, the Prime Minister was undermining his own finance minister saying that it really did not need $4 billion. It only really need $2 billion. He wanted so badly to strike the deal with the NDP that he was prepared to possibly sacrifice the financial well-being of 31 million Canadians. That is unforgivable and it is simply wrong.

It comes on top of sacrificing the well-being of all the people who would have had jobs if the government were serious about following through on its commitment to lower taxes for the large employers. However, it cast that out as well.

I am arguing that it is very cynical for the government to do this in the face of the sponsorship scandal. It was so desperate to hold on to a few more votes from the NDP that it completely caved in and threw all its principles out the window simply to cling to power. That is not acceptable.

I argue that if there is a party in Canada today that is standing up for families, seniors, small business people and people in businesses of all sizes who create jobs, it is the Conservative Party of Canada. Conservatives are opposing Bill C-48 because we think it imperils the ability of Canadians to have a bright future.

I will conclude with this. The most dangerous thing of all about Bill C-48 is how the government is trying to cover its tracks on sponsorship by buying votes in a way that I am afraid will drive federalists in Quebec into the arms of the separatists. Instead of dealing with the corruption problem head on, what the Liberals are continuing to do is allow federalism in Quebec to be tainted. By refusing to deal with this issue head on, they are breathing new life into the separatist movement in Quebec.

If this is allowed to go forward without dealing with the separatism issue and the corruption, it will be on the heads of the members of the Liberal Party of Canada if this causes the breakup of our country.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I find it strangely ironic. If the Conservative Party forces an election, it will be itself that will be causing the separatists to gain more political strength in the province of Quebec, and he knows that full well. The separatists have the ear of the Conservative Party because they would like to have an election.

I am amazed at the way the member for Medicine Hat and the members opposite talk about the deal we have made with the NDP. The Conservative Party reneged on its support of the budget. Given the fact that Canadians want to see this Parliament work, the government had to look around for some other allies, and the ally was the NDP.

There have been some numbers bandied about regarding the cost of the agreement. The reality is that the net cost is about $9 billion and that will be funded out of budgetary surpluses over the next few years and will be fairly readily accomplished.

The member for Medicine Hat and his colleagues try to paint a picture of a government on this side that is not fiscally responsible. I guess he forgets the fact that the government is the darling of the OECD countries in terms of the performance of our economy. We have had a steady growth at 3% per year. We have paid down our debt to below 40% of GDP from a high of 67% to 68%. We have low unemployment, below 7% which is setting new records. We have low interest rates and low inflation. Canadians are able to buy homes when they could not before. The reason the government is able to make a deal with the NDP is because we have this strong economic performance, with eight consecutive budgetary surpluses. It is unsurpassed in the OECD and the G-8 nations.

I would like to come back also to the notion of the gun registry. I have heard the figure of $2 billion before and it is a total fabrication, not unlike the $1 billion boondoggle of HRDC that was captioned in that way by the Reform Party and the Alliance. Of the $1 billion boondoggle, probably $35,000 is unaccounted for.

With an expenditure of $55 million a year for the gun registry, if it is saving lives, does the member not think it is worth that kind of expenditure?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, what would save lives is if that $2 billion went into front line policing. Police chiefs everywhere are asking for that today. We have seen an explosion in the illegal use of hand guns in Toronto, for instance. We have Police Chief Julian Fantino, who was initially a supporter of the firearms registry, say that it should be scrapped and that money should go to front line policing. I agree with him. I wish the member across the way, who happens to be from Toronto, would agree with his police chief.

However, I want to take on a couple of things the member said. He has said that the government is doing wonderfully and all the surpluses are great. The government and the bureaucracy are doing wonderfully because all those revenues have gone to expand government. What is the net benefit for Canadians? Are people seeing a 50% increase in the value of the services being delivered to them today? Has anyone here tried to work with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration lately? It takes years to deal with it.

In terms of the government's record, back in January Don Drummond, a former deputy finance minister in the Department of Finance, brought down a report. He pointed out that take-home pay in Canada had grown by only 3.6% since 1989. That works out to $84 a year. A report came out last week from Statistics Canada which pointed out that take-home pay last year went down.

It is time for a new approach. It is time to lower taxes for Canadians, create economic activity and leave that money in the pockets of families. They are the people who know what is best for their own families. They know how to spend that money in a way that benefits them. It is not going to be my friend across the way or a bunch of bureaucrats who know that.

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4:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening with great interest to the Conservative spokesperson trying to rationalize his way through one of the most cynical and sinister marriages of convenience in history. For a party opposed to same sex marriage, it is amazing that the party leader is so quick to crawl into bed with the leader of separatists while they demonize separatists at the same time.

Could the member explain something that is totally puzzling to Canadians? We hear on the one hand that very capable communicator, and I do not doubt that for a minute, absolutely seething with rage and condemning the government for its reckless spending spree, ensuring that his party sideswipes the NDP every step of the way. At the same time he, his leader and every other Conservative whose partisan interests are served by it are going around the country with a pail and a shovel saying, “By the way”, following the Prime Minister's various commitments, “you can count on us to honour every one of these spending commitments”.

How does a sensible person, who knows and understands finances, rationalize that kind of fundamental contradiction, to say that it is reckless to make these commitments, that it is reckless spending, that it will break the bank, that it is fiscally irresponsible, but “vote for us” in an election that Canadians neither need nor want? They will get their pound of flesh for the scandal in due course, but vote for them and they will honour all of those reckless, irresponsible excessive spending commitments.

How does the member explain that kind of contradiction?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would argue that I am not seething with rage right now. I want my friend across the way to know that we oppose the budget because we think it is dangerous for families, for farmers and small business people.

In response to her question about enjoying the support of the Bloc Québécois, I have to point out to the member that in the last election campaign it was her leader who said that he would support a unilateral declaration of independence. It sounds like it is the NDP that is the biggest supporter of separatism of all.

In response to her question about the issue of supporting deals that the government has struck, we have said that we oppose the NDP-Liberal budget, Bill C-48. We will not support the expenditure of $4.6 billion. In fact, even the finance minister of the government does not seem to support it.

Setting that aside, we do support a number of the deals that have been struck under Bill C-43.

As the member knows, we said, at the time Bill C-43 came down, that there were a number of things that we supported in it. Therefore, we are being completely consistent with that. We believe that some of these things need to be done. What pains me is the government has now taken some of the things out of there that were the best parts of that budget, including the tax relief on large employers that would have created 340,000 jobs.

I am disappointed that my friend, who is supposedly a friend of labour, does not support that aspect of Bill C-43.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP budget, Bill C-48, proposes $4.6 billion in spending left out of the Liberal budget, Bill C-43.

The member for Davenport earlier said that this was money for Liberal priorities. If these are priorities, why have they been left out of the Liberal budget? Did the finance minister not get his priorities right the first time and needed a napkin passed to him to remind him of what Liberal priorities were?

We know the NDP priorities are fiscal ruin and a return to deficits. Could the member for Medicine Hat tell us what real Liberal priorities are?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think people in Ontario still have nightmares about the old NDP government in Ontario. However, my friend makes a very good point.

The finance minister said, when he brought down Bill C-43, that those were his priorities. These were the things that were right for the country. After that time, when the NDP was questioning him about some of the other things it wanted to do, he said that the government could not do them, that they were wrong for Canada and that his budget could not be cherry-picked and stripped away piece by piece.

Clearly, those were not the priorities of the Liberals but they became the priorities of convenience to simply grab the 19 votes of the NDP and avoid being defeated. It should make Canadians pretty cynical about how the Liberal government operates.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to enter the debate on Bill C-48.

In December 2003, the Prime Minister announced the creation of a new Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The creation of this new department and portfolio integrates, under one minister, the core activities of the previous Department of the Solicitor General, the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness and the National Crime Prevention Centre and the new Canada Border Services Agency.

The Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness serves as the central nervous system for a security portfolio that includes the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Firearms Centre, the Correctional Service of Canada, the National Parole Board and the Canada Border Services Agency.

In the face of the complex times in which we live, Canada requires, and the public expects, a comprehensive and integrated approach to public safety. Through the public safety and emergency preparedness portfolio, the Government of Canada has demonstrated its belief in protecting the safety and security of its citizens.

Since 9/11 the government has invested more than $9.5 billion in initiatives to strengthen domestic security, improve our emergency preparedness and response and contribute to international security efforts.

We must, however, continue to invest in stronger and smarter borders to protect both our security and our economic interests; to ensure safe communities by supporting crime prevention, gun control and Canada's corrections and parole systems; and finally, to maintain anti-terrorism measures, policing and preparedness for all types of emergencies.

This is just what the government did in budget 2005. By allocating the necessary funding to maintain the forward momentum of this important work, it reaffirmed a commitment to both public safety in Canada and meeting our global responsibilities.

Specifically, budget 2005 allocated more than $1 billion to support key elements of the national security policy. Hon. Anne McLellan, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, tabled this policy in this House just over a year ago and this week tabled a report on the progress of this important policy.

Under the national security policy, we are investing in emergency management, including $56 million over five years for emergency management initiatives and $34 million over five years in pandemic influenza preparedness.

We are also strengthening transportation security, by allocating $225 million over five years to further enhance the security of the country's marine transportation system and $88 million over five years for Canada to work with the U.S. to increase targeting and sharing information on high risk cargo.

As well, we are creating a more secure border through additional funding of $433 million to enhance the government's capacity to manage the flow of people and goods to and from Canada.

We are also investing $117 million over the next five years in the integrated proceeds of crime initiative, to seize profits and assets from criminal organizations in an effort to combat organized crime.

Finally, we are working to tackle crime before it happens by investing an additional $30 million a year over the next three years to support community based crime prevention initiatives as part of the national crime prevention strategy.

I have seen the benefits of that crime prevention program working in my riding of Etobicoke North, where we have had a record of some gun related and drug related crime. These programs are working.

This whole suite of issues and elements of the budget that I have described is comprised of these important initiatives. That is why we need to support the budget before the House.

There is no question that we are making progress. In fact, just this week, former U.S. homeland security secretary Tom Ridge praised Canada's cooperative efforts to guard our border and defend against terrorism. He said in Toronto on Wednesday:

I don't accept the thesis that Canada is lenient or hasn't done what it needs to do to...advance their interest and do their share to combat terrorism.

He said further:

The law enforcement and intelligence community collaboration is excellent.

Doing our share is also demonstrated by several other actions that have taken place within the public safety and emergency preparedness portfolio.

The government operations centre and the Canadian cyber incident response centre have been established and are operational on a 24/7 basis.

The Government of Canada is implementing the national emergency response system, which ensures that Canada is prepared for any type of national emergency by adopting an “all hazards” approach.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments have established a permanent, high level forum on emergencies. It held its first meeting in more than a decade in January 2005.

Finally, 18 federal departments participated in Triple Play, a joint Canada-U.S.-U.K. counterterrorism exercise from April 4 to 8, 2005.

That said, we clearly have a full agenda ahead of us. We will continue to strengthen cooperation with the provinces, territories and first line responders and look for new ways to leverage our capabilities. We also will aim to develop an integrated approach to emergency management and national security across government so that we are ready to adapt to changing circumstances.

Let me close by saying that we can be proud of what we have accomplished in a relatively short period of time. The public safety and emergency preparedness portfolio is becoming much more efficient and effective at delivering a truly fundamental public service: helping to protect the safety and security of Canadians. That effort now has a solid foundation on which to build, a foundation enhanced by the allocations in budget 2005.

The Government of Canada must play a fundamental role in securing the health and safety of Canadians, while ensuring that all Canadians continue to enjoy the benefits of an open society. That is why it is committed to ensuring that Canada's public safety and security systems remain effective, fair, progressive and uniquely Canadian, building on a culture of cooperation and engagement from neighbourhoods to nations.

The investments of budget 2005, rather than being just a reactive response to threats facing our country, represent investments that Canada needs and that Canadians want and expect to ensure their collective safety and security.

Such expectations by our citizens are their fundamental right, which is why we as a government must honour such a right and why we in this House need to keep this Parliament working, keep this legislation moving and pass this budget: so that Canadians can benefit both from these measures that affect our public safety and national security and from the many other excellent measures contained in budget 2005.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to put a question to the parliamentary secretary which I think raises real questions about the gap between commitments made on the eve of elections and the actual delivery.

I speak specifically with respect to my own riding about the virtual Liberal rally held on the eve of the last election, announcing with great fanfare a commitment of $115 million to assist ports and port facilities with security enhancements.

The issue of security in our ports is a very serious one. Halifax is the third largest port in the country. In good faith, the port authority submitted a proposal for I think $1.2 million in expenditures from that $115 million. It ended up with a tiny portion of that, about one-fifth of what was needed, about $220,000.

It was not just the port authority that was very distressed, but the two terminal operators, Halterm and Ceres, and Scotia Terminals, and other stakeholders who have ended up saying, “What happened to the commitment that we needed to move urgently to make our ports more secure, and specifically, what happened to the rest of that $115 million?”

I wonder if the parliamentary secretary can indicate if that is going to be announced again on the eve of another election, or can we expect it to finally come through to actually deal with the real security threats to our ports that need to be addressed?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the specifics of the particular request from the port of Halifax, but I am happy to investigate.

That is why it is so important for the budget to pass and for Parliament to keep working: so that we can keep advancing this agenda. I should say at the outset that there is a demand for funding to provide additional security in ports, not only in Halifax but in British Columbia and other ports. There is a lot of interest there and not all requests and demands can be met.

As an example, the port of Prince Rupert is looking to expand its capabilities. Given the amount of trade that we have with the Far East, with China and other countries, and the congestion that is occurring at the Vancouver port authority, it makes some sense for us to invest and help the port of Prince Rupert expand its capacity and at the same time help ports like the Vancouver port authority and the port of Halifax to meet their responsibilities.

Finally, I should add that one of the elements of the spending on shipping and container initiatives is to interdict ships as they are being loaded in ports outside of North America.

We are cooperating with the United States on this because we do not want a vessel arriving in Halifax or Vancouver that has already had some dangerous materials on it that could cause some harm. We are working with the United States and other countries around the world to inspect vessels strategically while they are loaded, before they enter North American waters.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on the theme of the first question, which is that the government keeps saying over and over again that if the budget is not passed all these spending commitments are in trouble, something that was actually refuted by the mayor of Edmonton right after the signing this weekend.

I want to ask the parliamentary secretary about one specific thing. In November of 2003, the then minister of human resources said that the government would actually put at least $6 million toward library materials for the blind across this country. The government committed to it in the next budget.

The Liberals have now put it in budget 2005 and again it is the same refrain: that if the budget is not passed and if somehow this Parliament does not keep going, that will endanger the spending. The fact is that so many of these spending commitments were made years ago and they should have been acted upon years ago.

I would like the parliamentary secretary to answer why that commitment of November 2003 was not acted upon way back when. It has not even been up for discussion.

Why does the government keep saying that all these spending commitments will be endangered? It has had years to implement them and failed to do so. The fact is that it is more the government's responsibility than Parliament's to keep it going, with the Liberals making promises on commitments they made years ago.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot comment specifically on the commitment that apparently was made in 2003, by the then minister of human resources, for library materials. Clearly, that is a very sound initiative. I know the government has exerted a lot of effort on literacy and education. This is really the key to our future.

The problem I suspect the finance minister has is that there are so many competing demands that the resources to do everything simply cannot be made available each and every year. That is why the government is proud to stand on its record of eight consecutive surpluses. It is because of the surpluses that we are able to invest more today. We had to take the action earlier to allow that to happen.

Canadians I talk to want this Parliament to work. They think we are making good progress and want this Parliament to work. They do not want an election. I would like to see this budget pass, so that these initiatives can be funded.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to stand in this House on behalf of the constituents of Cambridge, and North Dumfries in my riding, to speak to the government's various budgets.

I will speak to Bill C-48, but I will also make reference to the other budget, the NDP-Liberal alliance, which I feel must be stopped in order to save Canada from the economic perils of overspending and job loss.

The Liberals have introduced an institutional type of child care legislation that they say will cost $5 billion over five years. That is $1 billion a year, but yet unbiased experts say that will never happen. The Canadian Council on Social Development says that the program will need at least $12 billion per year. That is an $11 billion shortfall. Where do we expect that extra money to come from? It will come from taxpayers, on the backs of taxpayers.

The offer that the Liberals have made is only for some children, not all children. What about all the other children who will be left out of the program? I am gravely concerned that too many parents in my riding will have to drive over an hour to partake or use one of these publicly funded centres. I am also concerned that there will be huge waiting lists, as there are in the Quebec system, and the extreme budget overruns into the tens of billions of dollars will occur at the expense of taxpayers.

Who chooses which children get to participate in this program? If we cannot afford health care today, how can we afford such a ridiculous over-funded endorsement. The Conservative Party has a much better plan that will work to address the needs of all parents without bankrupting all taxpayers. The Liberal system discriminates against stay at home parents, shift workers, and those living outside larger centres and ethnic traditions.

We now live in a country so overburdened with tax that one parent must work just to pay the family's taxes. We will put money directly into the hands of parents, so they can make their own child care choices. We believe that Canadian parents want and deserve child care options. It should not be up to the government to dictate the only option for parents nor how children must be raised. The only option that I have is to vote against something that removes choice, is completely without proper funding, and as such will either immediately or eventually let parents down.

I also have serious and grave concerns about our firefighters, police, border security personnel and corrections officers. Rather than redirect wasteful spending to shore up and protect those who are required to protect us, the government still refuses to cancel the failed and completely useless gun registry. Despite grand Liberal promises to reduce costs for a registry that was only supposed to cost $2 million in the first place, Canadians continue to see their hard earned tax dollars poured into this black hole.

We think that money should be put into the hands of our police, so that they can get criminals off the street. The government promised to put in place a national sex offender registry, but where is it? My riding of Cambridge, and North Dumfries, has over 200 offenders. Recently, one reoffended and the police had no idea that he had been returned to Canada.

The Deputy Prime Minister's office officials said that the police should have been told. The Canada border security said something completely different. The fact is that the registry, if there is one, appears to be a typical Liberal program that is voluntary. Heaven forbid we offend the offenders.

I am concerned about our border officers. Liberals believe our security is okay and that we have smart borders. The fact is that we have approximately 225 unguarded roads between Canada and the United States. I stood here in the House while members opposite defended what must be one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard. It was something to the effect that less border security is more safe.

That is not smart borders; that is dumb borders. What next? Are we going to nail pictures of guards into the booths of the rest of these border crossings? These crossings have hundreds of cars cross them, unseen, undetected and unsearched. Well, I guess that is voluntary, too. Maybe a few bucks spent here would catch all these illegal drugs and firearms this government thinks we need to register.

However, I cannot figure it out and that, too, is why Canadians will be pleased that we cannot support this budget. People are growing sick and tired of policies that put criminals ahead of victims, lawbreakers ahead of law abiders.

It is businesses that create jobs and the hardworking Canadians who drive our economy. It is these very people who have had the door slammed in their faces by the new NDP-Liberal alliance. This deal shows just how out of touch these parties are with real Canadians. This is simply a massive spending exercise by the Liberal government in an attempt to cling to the perks of power.

The NDP and Liberals think that businesses somehow take these tax cuts and stuff them into mattresses, and that they have billions of dollars in surpluses stuffed away in trust funds and trust accounts inaccessible to Parliament. However, the fact is these businesses reinvest. They build another wing to their factories. They buy more equipment. They spend money to become competitive, and guess what? They hire people to fill those new wings and to operate that equipment.

This budget proposes that we buy what looks like $10 billion in clean air credits from other countries. That will not give us one molecule of clean air for my constituents in Cambridge. The asthma rate in southern Ontario is at a life threatening increase. It is a life threatening danger to our children and a preventable burden to our health care system. I cannot support a budget that pretends to emphasize clean air and provide environmental protection.

I cannot support a budget, or this budget in particular, or the new NDP one frankly because it would kill jobs at Budd Automotive and other vital industries all across Ontario and Canada. It would not guarantee one molecule of clean air for Cambridge, Kitchener or Waterloo, which is very important to me. It would not provide one more doctor, save one life or help anyone secure a job.

I support the Conservative Party plan that would give parents choices, allowing them to make decisions on how their children would be raised. That is the way I believe it should be done. I support the Conservative Party plan to fight crime and criminals, and to protect our borders, not just talk about it. I support the Conservative Party plan to reduce taxes and put more of these huge surpluses back into the pockets of the very people who earned them and know best how to spend them.

Canadians need truthful fiscality. They deserve transparent accounting and accountability. Neither of these budgets, frankly, is good enough for Canadians. I understand the members opposite cannot do better than this, but Canadians deserve better just the same. I cannot support this budget or the other budget.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

May 16th, 2005 / 5 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties concerning debates that are scheduled to take place later today on three motions to concur in committee reports. The three motions are from the member for Vegreville—Wainwright concerning the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates; the member for Prince George--Peace River concerning the third report of the Standing Committee on Finance, with an amendment from the member for Calgary Southwest; and the member for Glengarry--Prescott--Russell concerning the 21st report from the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

I believe that you would find unanimous consent to deem these debates to have taken place, the questions deemed to have been put, and the votes requested and deferred to the end of government orders on Wednesday, May 18.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the unanimous consent of the House to proceed in such a fashion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-48, an act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.