Madam Speaker, I rise on behalf of the citizens of Calgary Centre-North to address Bill C-48, legislation which carries a rather euphemistic title “An act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments”.
The “certain payments” which the legislation refers to total $4.6 billion and the net effect of this legislation is to create a fund of surplus taxes from which the Liberals can purchase 19 NDP votes in the House of Commons. Never before has a government spent so much to acquire so little. In fairness, the NDP has not been purchased, it has just been rented.
This is surely no way for the Government of Canada to go about its business. My objection to this legislation starts from the fact that the Liberal government has become completely confused about the difference between taxpayer money and its own.
Let me cut to the chase. This bill purports to create a $4.6 billion political slush fund which would be financed from surpluses that the government expects to record in the 2005-06 and the 2006-07 years. The Liberals have promised the NDP, with all the sincerity of a daylight burglar, to spend that money on NDP priorities.
This is one of a number of very curious things which the Liberals are attempting to do in their efforts to cling to power at all costs. However, nothing which they have proposed is more curious than this. They are proposing to tax everyday Canadians at tax levels which would generate surpluses of $4.6 billion, so that they can have a blank cheque to spend those surpluses on purposes which suit their narrow political agenda. Only a government which has completely lost its fiscal and moral compass would propose such a thing.
As nearly as I can tell, the taxpayers of Canada have never consented to be governed in this way. Certainly the taxpayers in Calgary Centre-North have never agreed to that.
Where I come from, the taxpayers play by the rules. We pay our taxes and we expect that we are being taxed to pay our fair share of the cost of running this country. No one in my riding has ever consented to pay taxes at artificially high levels which would cover the cost of administering the Government of Canada plus the cost of accumulating a $4.6 billion slush fund to allow the Liberals to engage in partisan vote buying to mask their own corruption.
This is a vision of fiscal responsibility stood on its head. It is a legislative commitment to $4.6 billion in overtaxation coupled with a written commitment to squander it.
I object to this proposal on many grounds but also on constitutional grounds. This approach to taxation is unprecedented. In my view, it is entirely inconsistent with 817 years of parliamentary history, since something called the Saladin Tithe of 1188, in the reign of Henry II, in a far off place quite distant from here.
I would not want to lose my Liberal friends on a journey through parliamentary history, but it is noteworthy that since that time governments, parliaments and taxpayers have had a fairly uneasy but successful truce according to which Parliament approves the government's spending plans and Parliament consents to taxation to support those expenditures. No more, no less.
This approach has actually worked reasonably well throughout parliamentary history. In fact, the Saladin Tithe of 1188, which I spoke of, financed the third crusade which was, like the Liberal government, pretty much a complete disaster. On the third crusade, Frederick I of Germany drowned before he reached the Holy Land and Philip II of France retired, returning home, shortly after leaving. It all has a ring of familiarity to it.
However, after 817 years, the Liberals have a better crusade, that of overtaxation without representation. They will now ask Parliament for a blank cheque.
The government proposes to overtax all Canadians to the tune of $4.5 billion, and in return it offers to spend those surplus moneys on an assortment of promises which one would generously call ideas. Clause 3(c) of the statute would allow the government to make payments to anybody. Clause 3(b) would allow it to enter into an agreement with anyone.
It is all very perverse and it is all very irresponsible. Frankly, if there is no precedent to call it unconstitutional, it is only because it is so perverse that no one else has tried to do it in modern parliamentary history.
The chief economist of the TD Bank, who understands what is happening here, noted in a May 7 National Post editorial as follows:
--for years government has wanted an instrument that would allow it to allocate spending without having to say what it's for. This act will do it.
The residents of Calgary Centre-North want no part of this. The constituents of my riding will never submit to overtaxation, especially institutionalized overtaxation administered by a corrupt Liberal government.
The legislation undermines our nation's finances. What we need in the country is less government, not more, more efficiency in government expenditures, not less and more responsible and accountable taxation, not less. What we really need in the country is a responsible government with a strong new prime minister, aided by a group of decent men and women who would provide some stability and restore some common sense to our fiscal path. The hon. Leader of the Opposition will bring all of that to Canadians in the days ahead.
We need smart fiscal policies, not I would submit, Liberal fiscal policies. We need to reduce marginal tax rates. We need to reduce average tax rates. We need to constrain government spending and ensure that the men and women, for example, in my riding of Calgary Centre-North are able to keep more of their own money so they can make their own child care choices, their own choices for taking care of senior citizens and their own spending choices.
We need to eliminate taxes that penalize investment, that penalize savings and are punitive toward job generation. We need to free up the genius and the financial flexibility of the private sector, especially the small business sector which creates many of our jobs.
We need less regulation, less red tape and less punitive and confusing tax legislation. Instead the government brings forward a bizarre proposal of institutionalized overtaxation.
Who supports the government? It is not the people in my riding. The people of Calgary Centre-North pay their taxes and they do not support an artificially inflated tax regime that accumulates $4.5 billion of vote-buying money. Where are these citizens who want to be overtaxed so the Liberals can accumulate a $4.5 billion budgetary surplus, which I describe as a slush fund? They do not live in my riding.
I hear from parents who are struggling to raise their children. They do not want to be overtaxed. I hear from elderly Canadians, senior citizens in my riding. They do not want to be overtaxed. I hear from new Canadians, especially Asian Canadians in my riding struggling to make their way in this new country that they have chosen as their home. They do not want to be overtaxed either. I hear from single parents, students, white collar workers, blue collar workers, working mothers and stay at home moms. None of them have told me they want to pay taxes at a level that leads to surplus overtaxation.
Perhaps I am wrong in understanding my constituents. I can make a mistake just like anyone else I suppose. My staff and I checked through all the emails, letters, notes, cards and petitions that we have received. It turns out there is not a single person in my riding who has ever contacted me and asked that they submit to overtaxation.
I do not support the bill, which I regard as a perverse use of Parliament. It is overreaching and overtaxing. It undermines our nation's finances. It purports to be a finance measure when in truth it is nothing more than a naked attempt to impose surplus taxation, to write a corrupt government a blank $4.5 billion cheque so it can criss-cross the nation buying votes, attempting to distract itself and voters from its own corruption, scandal and criminality. I want no part of it and neither do the good citizens of Calgary Centre-North.