Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to address Bill C-43, the budget implementation bill. It is a little confusing this year when dealing with the budget. We do not know if we are talking about the Liberal budget that was presented in the House a while ago, or if we are addressing the NDP budget that came in some time after that or the billion dollars a day the Prime Minister has been promising since then. Someone once said, “a million here and a million there” and pretty soon we are talking about real money.
It seems unbelievable that the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister could bring a budget to the House that would give direction to the country, that would give an economic plan to progress the country to the next five to ten years, then within a month throw it out the window, broker deals with other parties in the House and go around and promise another $22 billion. What is the economic plan of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to lead Canada?
We have seen some nervousness in the markets, our dollar and other issues that directly affect Canada as far as investment is concerned. People are not sure of the direction the government. That nervousness is reflected in the lack of confidence that investors have in Canada.
We need investment in industry. We need investment in the issues that Canadians need on a day to day basis. We need investment in research and development. We talk a great deal about putting money into research. Some good dollars do go in to it and some good research is done. In my riding of Lethbridge, at the university and the college, at the Lethbridge Research Station, animal disease research centre, great research is being done. However, the investment in development afterward to bring the research and those ideas to reality is not there.
Corporations, citizens, businesses, average mom and pop operations are being overtaxed and they are unable to put that money back into the development of the country. If this is allowed to happen, it spurs on more business and economic activity. The Liberal Party in all of its time in government in the last 12 years has missed the fact that the engine which drives the economy is not the government. It is businesses, small and large, that create the kind of economic development, create jobs and stability for families.
We support a couple of issues which we have pushed the government on recently and in the last number of years, particularly the Kyoto protocol. When I was first elected in 1997, I was deputy environment critic on the environment committee. One of the first questions I asked in the House had to do with the government's plan on Kyoto, when it went to sign the protocol. We are still asking.
Billions of dollars have been spent. Targets have not been reached. The targets that are there are not reachable. The smog in cities is as bad or worse than it was. There are no better water systems in the country. We are still asking the question, what is the plan? While the Kyoto protocol is not something that we will support, we will create a made in Canada solution to these issues and we will put real resources toward it. It will be a real plan to clean up the air, the water and the land. I tell the schools in my riding that I am not very proud of the record that my generation has when it comes to the environment.
It will be up to the younger generation to clean up the mess that we have helped make. However, we have to lay the groundwork now to enable them to do that. The Kyoto protocol will not do that. It will further drive our country down in its productivity and its ability to compete with other countries. Let us have a made in Canada solution and that is something we propose.
The government brought forward a $16 a year per taxpayer tax relief plan. It is hard to imagine that it could even come up with a figure that would adjust someone's take home pay by that much. It is absolutely ludicrous. We need substantive tax relief for low and middle income families.
We need a day care plan that does not give money to bureaucrats and organizations. We need a plan that puts money into the pockets of the parents so they can decide how to take care of their children. If we did that, it would be a substantive tax relief to families so they would have some choices. We do not have to look very far. We only have to look within our own families. They struggle to make ends meet at the end of every month and in many cases are unable to do it.
We talk about record credit card debt at outlandish interest rates. Many families are getting into these issues and these kinds of problem.
It is no different in my riding of Lethbridge. We have a very vibrant community. The city of Lethbridge has 75,000 people. It has a university and a college. It has a strong economic base of mom and pop operations. It has an industrial park. We have the surrounding area which is agriculture, intensive livestock, irrigation. A lot of dollars get turned over in the riding in a month or in a day. We need that type of activity in the country on a more general basis to foster economic growth.
However, the basic industry that drives the rest is agriculture. We asked questions of the agriculture minister a few minutes ago. We asked him what he would do if our border was closed to not only live cattle. R-CALF, the protectionist group in the United States, has now asked the court in Billings, Montana, the court which did not allow the border to be opened to live cattle when it was supposed to be, to expand that injunction to include boxed beef. If that happens, the price of cattle in this country will just take a nosedive like we have never seen before.
The minister sits here day after day talking about the wonderful things he has done to improve capacity. The loan loss reserve program that the government has implemented is not working. Bankers have told us that as far as they are concerned it does not exist, that it is a hindrance not a help. We need some major work done on increasing our slaughter capacity and finding other markets than traditional markets for our beef.
The judge in Billings has three options to make. He can throw out the injunction and open the border, or he can uphold the present injunction and close the border to live cattle or can expand it. We have asked the minister what his plan is if it is expanded. We have received fluff answers. We have not had any concrete answers from him. That needs to be addressed in a very serious manner.
I am getting calls from others in the agriculture community, from the grain farmers. My colleague from Wild Rose mentioned a case that has been brought to his attention. I have similar cases where people have been expecting substantive help through the CAIS program. When they actually get it, it is $140 which is not even enough to buy one tonne of fertilizer to help pay the fuel bill.
Since it was implemented, we have been after the government to do something about that program, to make it work for producers. We pushed for the government to waive the cash deposits and it did that. However, the program cannot be triggered for those who need it, and something has to be done about that.
The NDP stands in the House and pretends that it is supporting farmers. When we saw the special side deal between the Prime Minister the NDP, there was nothing in it for farmers. There was nothing in it for seniors. Why was that not addressed? The Liberals missed it in the original budget and they did not address it in the NDP budget. The Prime Minister has been crossing the country spending a billion dollars a day on average since then and he has not addressed those issues either.
We know that these are not priorities for the government. We know we will see a continuation of overtaxation and overspending. The priorities of Canadians are not being met, and we need to bring this back to reality.
Then there is the gas tax money for municipalities. It is amazing how the Liberal government has spun this. It was this party that brought motions to this House to put some of the gas tax back into infrastructure. We pushed that issue. We pushed it time and time again. Now we find that the Liberals are threatening municipalities that if the budget does not pass they are not going to get that money. We have made the recommendation that they will get that money.
We cannot continue to bring forward budgets like this with shotgun programs that do not direct and project the economic growth of the country for five or ten years down the road.