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House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

Question No. 133Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has received notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Hochelaga. Does the hon. member wish to address the Chair?

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, in all likelihood, within the next few days, the American Congress will pass legislation allowing drug imports. I know that all parliamentarians have heard arguments from individuals and pharmaceutical companies about the potential depletion of Canada's supply, leading to drug shortages.

In my opinion, it is important that the House provide clear guidelines to the Minister of Health on what our plan of action should be, under such circumstances.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Despite the letter and argument presented by the hon. member, the Chair is of the opinion, at this time, that this request fails to meet the requirements of the Standing Orders in this regard. Consequently, I cannot approve the request at this time.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Perhaps the Chair could seek the consent of the House to debate this issue this evening, as if it were an emergency debate. I know that the Minister of Health is very concerned about this matter, as are our NDP and Conservative colleagues. I think the House may consent to taking the time to determine our plan of action and express our opinion on this issue.

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalDeputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on that point of order. The hon. member is well aware that the House leaders of all the parties traditionally meet on Tuesday, which is today. This matter could certainly be raised at that meeting.

If the leaders of all the parties in the House agree, we could proceed accordingly. I suggest, however, that the member—

Request for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. For now, we will let the House leaders deliberate on this matter.

The House resumed from April 22 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

May 17th, 2005 / 10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak in the House today in support of budget 2005. I believe this budget will bring about real investments in real people that focus on real priorities of people in communities across New Brunswick and in Saint John, Rothesay and Quispamsis.

Our government has eliminated deficits and recorded our eighth consecutive budget surplus while reinvesting in our social programs and paying down our debt. We can now move forward and focus on our number one priority: improving the quality of life for all Canadians.

In my home province of New Brunswick and in my riding of Saint John, we are working hard, together, to improve our quality of life and grow our community. We need true growth. We have made great strides forward, but there remains much work to be done.

In September 2004, first ministers signed a 10 year plan to strengthen health care, which has provided $41 billion over 10 years, $927 million of which goes to New Brunswick. Budget 2005 builds on this. This money goes to reduce wait times at hospitals and to support for nurses. Our hospitals are the largest employers in Saint John, New Brunswick and our government is committed to ensuring that health care and our health care system remain strong in our community.

Saint John also needs more units of affordable housing. We have one of the oldest housing stocks in Canada. I am glad that the Minister of Labour and Housing was able to visit Saint John in January and assess the specific needs of our community. The minister has already responded to a request made by the Saint John community during his visit and opened a new housing office to address the distinct affordable housing needs of Saint John.

Budget 2005 invests a further $1.6 billion in affordable housing in Canada. I am committed to building 100 new units of affordable housing per year in Saint John. I am working together with our provincial government and our non-profit housing sector to ensure that this happens.

I am excited by the work currently being undertaken as part of the vibrant communities initiative and the non-profit housing sector in greater Saint John to provide safe and affordable housing for individuals and families. We recently announced $150,000 to assist this organization, which came from the Minister of Public Safety. The Government of Canada will continue to be a proactive partner in improving the quality of life and reducing poverty in Saint John.

Child care is another important item in the budget of 2005. Last week we were hoping to have the Prime Minister and the Premier of New Brunswick visit Saint John and announce a child care agreement. It is unfortunate that the province has decided not to sign this agreement yet, but we believe that Saint John and New Brunswick need this agreement, especially in Saint John, a city where one in four children lives in poverty. It is my hope that we can put partisan politics aside and sign this agreement as soon as possible.

The children of our province are our greatest asset. Budget 2005 provides the funding that will help them make a better tomorrow for our future.

Budget 2005 is also good news for the seniors of my riding. The guaranteed income supplement benefit for low income seniors is rising by $2.7 billion in this budget. Simply put, by January 2007, for a single person in my riding of Saint John, New Brunswick, that is $36 a month and $58 a month for couples.

The new funding for the new horizons program for seniors is also being increased in this budget. I recently announced funding for new horizons projects in Saint John, New Brunswick, for St. Joseph's Hospital's community health centre. I look forward to more announcements for seniors in the months ahead.

Clearly, budget 2005 also recognizes the enormous debt of gratitude we owe our seniors and this is especially fitting as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of the second world war, for the year 2005 is the year of the veteran.

Budget 2005 also reaffirms our commitment to regional development by supporting agencies like ACOA. Projects in Saint John like Lily Lake, Harbour Passage, the Quispamsis Park, Fundy Trail and Enterprise Saint John have all been beneficiaries of ACOA. ACOA continues to help Saint John, New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada build and grow.

Finally, budget 2005 delivers on the Government of Canada's new deal for cities and communities, providing a commitment on the gas tax for revenues to increase important infrastructure for Saint John, Rothesay, Quispamsis and Grand Bay. These are important benefits that we need in this community now. New Brunswick's share is about $116 million and the funding is absolutely critical to greater Saint John.

The new deal recognizes the reality that municipalities need reliable, predictable and long term sources of funding. I am happy that this budget is able to do that. The renewal of existing infrastructure programs is of critical importance to Saint John because, let us be clear, our number one future priority is the Saint John's harbour cleanup. This is the number one environmental issue. It is a public health issue and an economic development issue.

Our port in Saint John needs to balance finding new jobs for our workers with the recent development of our cruise ship business in the harbour. If we are going to attract new ships and new industry in tourism, we must clean up our harbour. If we are going to improve our health, we must clean up our harbour. If we are going to attract and convince young people to stay in our community, our harbour needs to be cleaned up.

Looking for new opportunities for our port workers and harbour cleanup go hand in hand. This is not something that the city of Saint John can do alone. In this regard, we have been working hard as a team in Saint John to bring forward our common priorities for Saint John and our region. Last fall I brought the mayor and council of Saint John to Ottawa for meetings with various ministers of the government, including our Prime Minister and the Minister of State for Infrastructure, and of course our regional minister for New Brunswick, the hon. member for Fredericton.

We continue to present a united front for our community. Our community is committed to harbour cleanup. Earlier this month, Team Saint John meetings continued with our minister for infrastructure, where we had councillors Glen Tait and Chris Titus, along with our commissioner, talking about the follow-up to important meetings for harbour cleanup. The federal, provincial and municipal governments are all working together in our community of Saint John. We realize that the renewal of existing infrastructure programs is of critical importance to Saint John.

In conclusion, our work has just begun. We need to work with the province to develop solutions for Point Lepreau. We need child care. We need to further reduce wait times at hospitals. We need to equip our nurses with better tools. We need jobs for young people and jobs at our port. We need safe housing and we need a clean harbour. I urge the House to put partisan bickering aside and get to work passing the budget bill, Bill C-48, and doing the work that Canadians sent us here to do.

I move:

That this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Saint John has moved that this question be now put.

The hon. member for Cariboo--Prince George.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make some comments following the speech by the member opposite.

In connection with the gas tax rebate that the government has promised, it is important that Canadians know that my colleagues, who joined me in the House in 1994 and who have been in the House ever since that year, have been fighting tooth and nail to get the government to recognize that it has been keeping a very large, disproportionate share of fuel taxes and not returning them to the provinces and the communities, as was the original plan when the fuel taxes were added way back when for infrastructure and maintenance of roads.

Every single time we put that motion forward, either in the House or in committee, the Liberals defeated it. Since 1997, following the exorbitant taxation which allowed the Liberals to balance their budget in 1997, they had surplus funding in every instance.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there a problem with interpretation? Just a moment, please. We are going to take a moment to check with translation services to ensure that we have proper interpretation at this time.

We are ready to proceed. The hon. member of Cariboo--Prince George.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, since 1997, the Liberals, as a result of dramatically increased taxation to both working people and corporations, have had a surplus. They have failed to heed the request from opposition parties, our party, to return a reasonable portion of gas taxes to the communities.

We are talking eight years since the budget was balanced. The Liberals have still not returned one penny of fuel taxes to the provinces and municipalities.

After all that time of ignoring the request for fuel taxes from not only us but from the communities, is there any reason why Canadians can trust the government when all of a sudden the Liberals have had this revelation to return some of the fuel taxes? Is this just election talk and another promise that will be made but broken?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well that this is not election talk. This is a commitment that was made and the people of Saint John, the people of New Brunswick, are waiting for this money because they feel it is time to reinvest in Atlantic Canada. The smaller communities in our country need the gas tax money. It is part of the new deal of rebuilding our communities. I would urge the hon. member to put his partisanship aside and vote for the budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, by all accounts, at least from all of the reports I have read in The Economist and so on, Canadians have not gained in terms of their standard of living or disposable income and that kind of thing for the past 15 years in real terms.

I would like the hon. member to tell me, what is in this budget to address that problem? It looked like there was one thing in there that might have done that and now the Liberals have removed it. Perhaps he can respond to that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, there is regional development, strategic infrastructure, and the list goes on and on. Those are important economic and social benefits for Atlantic Canada.

I must tell the hon. member that I am very pleased to support the budget and I would urge the hon. member to do the same, especially because of its significance to Atlantic Canada and some of the regions in our country where we need a strong national government. We need a government that understands community development.

I can tell the hon. member that in my community of Saint John the presence and importance of the Government of Canada is well understood and recognized as a team player. I must tell the hon. member that I am very pleased with the strategic infrastructure fund because that will have a real significant and important effect in Saint John.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of my party on the budget bill, Bill C-43.

With your permission, for the sake of those listening to us, and for the Liberal Party, as well as the colleague who has just spoken, I will read from a newspaper article which will serve as an introduction to my speech on the budget.

These are excerpts from an article in the May 13 La Presse , over the byline of Stéphane Paquet. It is titled “One billion a day for three weeks: the Liberal government of—I must say “the Prime Minister”, since I cannot say his name—has made announcements totalling $22.5 billion” in a matter of three weeks. I will read a few excerpts from the article:

In three weeks, the Liberal ministers' announcements have averaged out at $1 billion a day. Between April 20 and last Monday, government ministers have made no fewer than 178 announcements across Canada. That makes over 8 a day, for a total of $22.5 billion.

When a journalist requested a list of the projects announced from the PMO, he was referred to the government web site, where there were indeed 175 projects listed.

In two announcements alone, Ontario—which is, I scarcely need point out, the key battleground in the next election campaign—got close to half the $22.5 billion pointed out by the Conservatives. First of all, there was the $5.75 billion over five years announced last Saturday to reduce the Ontario “fiscal imbalance”.

Which they acknowledge exists in Ontario, but not in Quebec.

Two days later, it was the turn of the country's airports to divvy up $8 billion to be delivered over 47 years. Since Toronto's Pearson Airport is the biggest one in Canada, it gets the lion's share, five of the eight billion. As for Trudeau airport, in Montreal-Dorval, it gets $500 million.

So, $500 million compared to $5 billion.

In short, this article describes the process of buying votes at the rate of one billion dollars a day. It just so happens, moreover, by sheer chance, that the Liberals are putting the money where they want to gain seats in the imminent election, that is to say mainly in Ontario.

At the same time, they want us to debate the budget. Since this party, this minority government, does not respect the majority decisions of the House, be it one confidence vote or all votes—as in the case of the people whose property was expropriated in Mirabel—why should it now respect the vote on the budget, should it win it? Why in fact does it even need to have a vote on the budget, when, although it had not been approved, the government has spent $1 billion a day for three weeks in an effort to buy votes throughout Canada, and primarily in Ontario?

The Bloc Québécois opposed the budget from the start. What would the Bloc have liked to see in the budget for it to support it? The Liberal member was saying earlier that partisanship had to be put aside and the benefits of the budget recognized, and everyone should then vote in favour of it. That said, my colleague from Montcalm asked my why, this time, we should believe the Liberals, when they have been preparing budgets for 12 years saying, “We will pay attention to health, postsecondary education and seniors”. Every year, they fail to keep their word. For 12 years they have been in office, seven years after the annual surpluses, year after year the problem remains unchanged, except on the eve of an election or when the government is trying to buy votes in Ontario.

The Bloc, however, opposes the budget. Is it only because we are the “wicked separatists” and they want absolutely nothing for Quebec and Quebeckers?

We will try to find arguments a little more substantial than those the Liberals are using to show why the Bloc opposes the budget.

First, as we did discreetly with the throne speech, we wanted the Liberals to recognize the fiscal imbalance in the budget. They did so indirectly in the throne speech. We would have liked tax fields to be transferred rather than have them promise amounts annually conditional on our good behaviour. We will get them if the premier is Jean Charest, but if it is Bernard Landry, we will not. Perhaps it is the Liberals who are being partisan in this regard. We would therefore have liked the fiscal imbalance to be recognized and tax fields to be transferred accordingly.

We would also have liked some recognition of the problems with employment insurance. Even the agreement with the NDP does not mention this. We would have liked an independent employment insurance fund and commission recognized in the budget. My mind turns to the member for Acadie—Bathurst, who often goes on in this House about doing more for employment insurance. But our friends in the NDP forgot to include it in the deal between their party and the Liberals. For us, it was important before the budget and it is still important after the budget. It is important for people who unfortunately have to turn to employment insurance when in difficult situations. We would have liked the unanimous decisions of the Subcommittee on the Employment Insurance Funds to be included and acknowledged in the budget, but there is no sign of them. That is another reason why the Bloc Québécois cannot support this budget.

Insofar as the Kyoto protocol is concerned, money was appropriated for it in the deal between the government and the NDP. However, this money was provided to promote the polluter pays principle. There is money for encouraging the automobile industry, which has signed an agreement. That is not what we want. As the Bloc critic for the environment has often said, we want the money put aside for the implementation of the Kyoto protocol used to develop renewable energy and clean energy, such as wind.

The fourth reason has to do with agriculture. It is really strange that the budget agreement between the NDP and the Liberals does not have anything for agriculture. The Bloc Québécois would have liked some recognition of the problems faced by farmers, who unfortunately have had to pay the price for the problems between the United States and Canada. We would have liked to see more support for them, especially when there are budget surpluses.

In regard to international assistance, the Prime Minister has said—the accolades he shared with Bono were supposed to underline it or confirm it—that Canada would reach the rate of 0.7% of GDP for international assistance. Once again, with the budget surpluses that we have, the inclusion of this commitment in the budget would have been another reason for the Bloc Québécois to support it.

Let us say a few words now about respect for Quebec's jurisdictions in the areas of day care and parental leave. It is pretty strange that, here too, agreements are signed with everybody. But in Quebec on the other hand, where a system is in place and when we were told that everything was ready to go, no agreement can be reached on day care. And there are problems with parental leave. It has all been very annoying.

There you have five or six rational, non partisan, solid reasons why the Bloc Québécois cannot support this budget. To those smiling across the way I would say the fiscal imbalance, employment insurance, agriculture, international aid and the environment, although very important issues, are major oversights in the budget and reason enough for us to oppose it. The budget is imperfect and we would have liked to have improved it, but the Liberals were not interested in that.

I want to touch on another important section, part 7 of the budget, which would allow the Auditor General the right to oversee the foundations and crown corporations. This is the first time we have seen the government copy or plagiarize a private member's bill, Bill C-277, and take credit for offering the Auditor General such a right. If that is not partisanship, then what is?

In committee, I asked the President of the Treasury Board to give me another example of a private member's bill that the government had plagiarized for its own gains. He was unable to name any. I also asked him how he squared that circle since, for five years, every time the Auditor General asked, the government said it could not introduce such a bill because it would take away from the independence of the foundations.

Why now, in 2005, on the eve of an election, on the heels of the sponsorship scandal, is the government able to introduce such a bill without taking away the independence of the foundations? That is another unanswered question.

Those are the non partisan, rational, solid reasons and sound arguments why the Bloc Québécois opposes this budget and will continue to oppose it, despite the so-called agreement between the NDP and the Liberals.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention a number of items before I get started. Prior to joining Parliament, I was in the financial services business for 20 years serving Canadians, helping them deal with their financial planning, from pension planning to insurance and investments, et cetera.

We live in a world where 800 million people go to bed hungry at night, where someone is infected with HIV every 60 seconds, where a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds and where someone dies of poverty every 3 seconds. It is a world where the clock is ticking and time is running out for the poor. Yet it is also a world in which Canadians from all walks of life are increasingly engaged, a world where Canada is investing considerable resources to fight poverty, a world where Canada is determined to make a difference.

Like all Canadians, I was shocked by the impact of the tsunami that struck coastal communities in the Indian Ocean last December. The scale of human suffering and devastation was beyond imagination, yet the outpouring of generosity from Canadians to those in need was also unprecedented. In response the Government of Canada agreed to match dollar for dollar the more than $210 million that was donated by Canadians. This was part of a five year $425 million commitment from the Government of Canada for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction in affected communities.

The sheer scope of the tragedy was a stark reminder of the links between poverty and devastation caused by natural and human-made events. The poor are least able to anticipate, escape or adequately respond to a crisis and when tragedy strikes, they are the most affected. However, the daily tragedy of absolute poverty occurs away from the TV cameras and the headlines. Every 10 days the same number of people die of poverty-induced maladies as were killed by the terrible tsunami, every 10 days, year in and year out.

The proposed increases to official development assistance will go a long way toward helping Canada do its share to achieve the millennium development goals, an ambitious agenda to cut global poverty in half by the year 2015.

Building a better world for all is in our best interests. Canadians recognize that what happens in the rest of the world affects us at home. The time is gone when each country or even continent could look after its own security. Canadians from coast to coast to coast recognize that Canada has done much to respond to these threats but that as a country we must do better. The millennium development goal helps Canada focus on this monumental but doable task.

What exactly is Canada doing to contribute to building a better world for all?

Canada is renewing its commitment to advancing Canadian values of global citizenship as well as Canadian interests regarding security, prosperity and governance. It is working hard to reduce global poverty through a focused approach that matches Canadian experience and expertise with developing country needs in coordination with other donors.

Since 2002, when it launched its strengthening aid effectiveness policy, the Canadian International Development Agency has been working to strategically refocus its activities. This involves building government-wide consensus on key elements of Canada's role in the world. It means coherent domestic and international policies, country-led development, sectors of expertise, countries of focus, a results-based approach, good governance and an engaged civil society. The proposed increases to official development assistance will contribute much to these important efforts already underway.

Canada is better coordinating efforts with other donors and developing country governments and it will keep doing so.

Canada is also thinking carefully about ways in which it can add value. Canada knows its strengths, sectors such as health care, private sector development, education, environment and governance. It only makes sense to offer Canada's proven expertise in these areas to other countries, countries that are well governed and can use our aid effectively.

These principles and ideas are the heart of Canada's recent international policy statement. CIDA will achieve much greater focus in its geographic programs. It will deliver at least two-thirds of bilateral aid to a core group of 25 development partner countries by 2010. These are countries that can use aid effectively and prudently and where Canadian expertise and resources can truly make a difference.

More than half, 14 of these countries, are in sub-Saharan Africa. This greater concentration in Africa is in keeping with Canada's commitment to double assistance to the continent by 2008-09 from its 2003-04 level.

That said, it must be emphasized that Canada will continue to support other countries. CIDA has earmarked up to one-third of its bilateral budget for countries of strategic importance in other countries where Canada can continue to make a difference. It will use its multilateral and partnership programming to address the plight of other low income countries.

CIDA is also pursuing greater sectoral focus. Canadian assistance will target and concentrate programming in five sectors directly related to meeting the millennium development goals, namely: promoting good governance; improving health outcomes; including HIV and AIDS; strengthening basic education; supporting private sector development; and advancing environmental sustainability. Ensuring gender equality will be systematically and explicitly integrated across all programming within each of the five sectors of focus.

With these actions, Canada is increasing both the quality and quantity of its aid, but more and better aid is not in itself enough. That is why the international policy statement reflects a comprehensive, whole of government approach. It enables Canada to harness all the tools and instruments at its disposal such as promoting greater market access, more debt relief and more support for the private sector in developing countries.

Canada is poised to reclaim its rightful place in the world. As the Prime Minister has said, “We must seize the moment to reassert ourselves on the world stage--to speak up with a persuasive voice for equality, human rights, and a fairer globalization”. Canada is already making a difference in the world. The increased funding for official development assistance will enable Canadians to make more of a difference.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his insights. These comments are not often brought to the floor of the House within the context of the budget, comments that reflect on our international responsibilities and accountability which we have shared over the last number of decades, from a developmental and an exchange of ideas with the developing communities of the world. This is nowhere more reflected than in the cities' relationships through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the city to city, municipality to municipality international exchange that exists with developing countries.

One of the highlights of the budget is to emphasize that the new deal is more than a gas tax for infrastructure in Canada. While that may be very important, it is also to empower municipalities to reach out as part of that Canadian signature that reflects our compassion and outlook to the global community, in particular, developing countries.

Would my colleague perhaps expand a little on how he thinks municipalities could be more effective, given that they have been given the empowerment, through the highlight in the throne speech of the new deal and through Bill C-48, which increases the capacity of cities to become part of a much larger new deal at home and perhaps an international new deal in the global context?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the House is aware that through this budget we have committed a substantial amount of resources to communities across the country to assist them with infrastructure projects which they have undertaken.

The GST is another area that has been given to communities and municipalities. They no longer have to pay GST on their purchases.

All this will help communities be much better. It will help them to improve and embrace the growth for the coming years.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the hon. member. My question would be with regard to the fiscal responsibility contained in the new budget.

One of the key priorities that the leader of the New Democratic Party brought to his meetings with the Prime Minister was the trade-off of taking out the $4.6 billion in corporate tax cuts, which nobody ran on or had a mandate for, and replacing that with investments in protection for the environment, affordable housing, support for student debt and important infrastructure in municipalities.

Given that those changes were made and given that one of the prerequisites of the leader of the New Democratic Party was that there was to be a balanced budget, no increase in taxes and continue to paydown on the national debt, would the member please comment on the fiscal responsibility aspect of the better budget negotiated between the leader of the New Democratic Party and the Prime Minister?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, one man can only do so much, but when we put a couple of heads together, they always seem to come up with better ideas. The input from our cooperative situation in a minority government is definitely helping all Canadians deal with financial situations and plan for their future endeavours.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to address Bill C-43.

At the outset I would like to pay tribute to the Liberal member for Glengarry--Prescott--Russell who I just spoke with a minute ago. He has been in this place for a long time and is retiring, and will not be running again. Although we have often been at odds in this place I respect him as a parliamentarian. He has put many years of public service into this place. I believe it is over 20 years now. I certainly wish him well in his retirement whenever that may actually come.

The Conservative Party deeply regrets how the government has changed this legislation and weakened it. We have other concerns about this legislation, but we regret that some of the changes that the government has made to Bill C-43 will hurt families, seniors, and large employers, the people who employ so many people in this country. The changes will also hurt farmers and people who provide necessary vital services in this country like our military and front line police officers. Those are the people who are going to be wounded by this legislation. Many people will be hurt by the changes that have been made to Bill C-43 and the adoption of Bill C-48, and I want to talk a bit about that today.

I just heard an NDP member ask a Liberal member about the removal of the tax relief for large employers in Canada and then talked about how it was important that the money instead go to affordable housing for instance. I would simply make the observation that if the tax relief for large employers is taken out, that will pretty much guarantee the need for more affordable housing in Canada because there will be a lot fewer jobs.

A study came down recently from the C.D. Howe Institute that pointed out that if the government had actually followed through on the tax relief for large employers, it would have created 340,000 jobs in Canada. I thought the NDP was the friend of labour. I thought that was the party that wanted to see more good paying jobs, jobs that would allow people to look after their families and put their children through university, and do the things that ordinary Canadians want and deserve. What they really want is some hope. Unfortunately, by the government doing the kinds of things it has done with Bill C-43, it is taking that hope away from a lot of people.

I want to argue too that there are other problems in Bill C-43. There are concerns about how tepid the personal tax relief is for Canadians. The income tax cut for individual Canadians in the upcoming tax year amounts to $16. That is it.

As I pointed out in the debate yesterday on Bill C-48, many Liberal advertising agency executives received their money. They received bags of money, literally, from the government through the sponsorship program. They received suitcases full of money amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. What do rank and file Canadians get? They get a $16 tax cut. That is not enough to buy a large coffee at Tim Hortons once a month. It sounds like Canadians are rolling up the rim and losing with the government, but Liberal ad executives have done extraordinarily well.

When the government wants to deliver money, it can deliver it by the suitcase full to the people it wants to deliver it to. However, when it comes to rank and file Canadians, the Liberals are all too prepared to sacrifice their principles to look after themselves. We saw it in the sponsorship scandal. We are seeing it now in Bill C-43. The government caved in to the NDP with the creation of Bill C-48. We will reap the whirlwind for this legislation.

I am not just talking about the impact on jobs and the standard of living. I hasten to point out, as other members have pointed out in this place, that since 1989 the standard of living, the take home pay in Canada, has only gone up 3.6%. It amounts to an $84 a year increase. That is unforgiveable in a country that should be so extraordinarily wealthy.

We should be the wealthiest country in the world. We have resources that are the envy of the world. We have tremendous human resources, people who are knowledgeable and have an education. We have a diverse population. However, that is not translating into a higher standard of living.

I argue that the reason is because of poor government policies. One of the greatest advantages of all is that we have this access to the U.S. market, the richest market in the world ever and 25% of the world's economy. We should be mining that, but unfortunately, we have very bad government policy. I am afraid that the government has just made it worse again. It has made it worse again by removing the tax relief for large employers which would have encouraged more investment in Canada. Many investors would use that to start businesses in Canada and then use the more or less open border to the U.S. to sell their goods and services.

That is what has happened in the past, but we are losing that. We are taking it away voluntarily now for some reason. We know why. It is because the government is too prepared to sell out Canadians in order to save its own skin by getting 19 votes from the NDP. That is simply wrong.

I want people to think about what could happen if we did not do the sorts of things that are being contemplated today. In Bill C-48 the government is giving the NDP $4.6 billion to play with. I did some quick math and that works out to about $150 per person in Canada.

I think about a family that I know, a great family that lives not far down the road from us. They have four children. If we took that $150 per person and allowed them to keep it, it would be $900 with six of them in the family. If the members of that family were able to keep that, imagine what they could do with that every year. That extra $900 could go into an RESP for education or an RRSP.

Let us say that they put it into an RRSP and let us say they got a really good yield on that. Let us say they got a 10% yield on average. I know that is a high yield, but I did some figuring and over 30 years it would amount to about $150,000 which would be a nest egg for them when they retired.

Let us say that they only get a 7% yield. It would still be $80,000 or $90,000. It is a tremendous amount of money that they could use for their retirement. Why not allow people to keep more of this money in their own pockets, so they can make decisions for their families?

I think it is time for Canadians to get their cut. Liberal bagmen and the Liberal Party got their cut. There is no question about that. We have had confessions from three executive directors of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party, basically confessing to all the money coming back to the Liberal Party out of the sponsorship program. Bureaucrats and politicians got their cut. In fact, the bureaucracy in Canada has grown by 77% since 1997-98. That is a tremendous amount, but what happens to the take home pay of Canadians? It has gone up 3.6% in 15 years.

It sounds like the ones who are getting the short end of the stick are families, farmers and fishermen. When the NDP cut this deal, it claimed to be concerned about farmers, but did it think of farmers when it got all this money out of the government? No, not one penny for people on the farm.

We have the worst crisis in agriculture today since the Great Depression. That is not an exaggeration. That is an absolute fact. In 2003 we saw incomes fall on the farm into negative margins for the first time since the thirties. Did the NDP think of farmers when it cut its deal with the Liberals? No, it did not.

We must defeat Bill C-48. Bill C-43 has become deeply flawed. I urge my colleagues on all sides of the House to consider this as we prepare to vote on both of these measures on Thursday.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to address three items that are contained in Bill C-43, as they relate to environmental issues. The bill presents details of two funds announced in budget 2005: the climate fund, which was referenced in the budget as the clean fund and is now known as the climate fund; and the greenhouse gas technology investment fund.

In addition to that, the bill refers to and introduces amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to remove the word toxic from certain sections and place greater emphasis on the criteria in section 64 of the act. These changes will preserve CEPA's ability to reduce harm to human health and the environment.

Let me speak first of all to the climate fund. Indeed, this whole element of the greening of the Liberal budget was certainly not just an initiative by the Minister of the Environment or by his parliamentary secretary, who did an extraordinary job of bringing initiatives forward for the consideration of not only the Prime Minister and the finance minister, but all of my colleagues in this side of the House did an extraordinary job of looking at all elements of the budget from an environmental prospective through the green lens and as a result contributed to that element of the budget.

The purpose of the new climate fund is to create a permanent market based institution as one of the primary tools for Canada's approach to climate change. By tapping the potential of the market, Canada will stimulate innovation, enable Canadians to take action, encourage energy efficiency, deliver cost effective reductions and sequestration, and drive the adoption of best available technologies.

I had the pleasure, as did my colleague from Thunder Bay--Rainy River, of being involved with the national board of directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Through the strategic investment of the federal Government of Canada into green municipal funds or green municipal enabling funds, it put $250 million into creating a reference bank for those municipalities to access. Part of our investment in this budget is a further enhancement of $300 million, of which $150 million will be toward the restoration of brownfield sites. That is a perfect example of strategic investment of our funds.

The climate fund's purpose will be under the authority of the Minister of the Environment. It will be funded at a minimum level of $1 billion over five years. The fund's primary mandate is to promote domestic greenhouse gas emission reductions with a view to positioning Canada to compete in the 21st century.

This economy is very interesting from the standpoint that this new 21st century economy appears to be focused on a carbon restrained global economy, so not just what we do ourselves, but what we do ourselves affects the global economy and our neighbours. We just cannot do one-offs. We must work hand in hand and in concert with our global neighbours.

The fund will also invest in internationally recognized Kyoto emission reductions to the clean development mechanism and joint implementation, as well as thorough procedures for greening other international credits. Only green credits, that is, credits that represent real and verified emission reductions, will be recognized.

The proposed legislation says that the climate fund agency will be an agent of the Government of Canada, meaning that it would carry out all of its activities on behalf of the Government of Canada. The Minister of the Environment is accountable to Parliament for this agency.

A number of aspects of its mandate, such as how to assess the benefits to Canada from investment in international emission reduction, will be the subject of public consultations planned for later this spring. The funding levels reflect the reality of start-up for the climate fund agency receiving and reviewing applications and ensuring that Canadians understand that qualifying projects must demonstrate real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. As understanding of the fund grows and more and more quality applications are received, the funding levels will grow.

The funding levels as set out in budget 2005 are $10 million in this budget year, $50 million in the 2006-07 budget, $300 million in the 2007-08 budget, $300 million in the 2008-09 budget, and $340 million in the 2009-10 budget. That totals $1 billion, and that is a minimum of $1 billion.

The climate fund will be established by legislation. Aspects of the fund's mandate, such as how to ensure benefits to Canada from investment in international emissions reductions, will be put forward for public review and comment very soon.

The second fund I referenced was the greenhouse gas technology investment fund. It is an innovative funding arrangement that will recognize qualifying investment in research and development as a way of meeting mandatory greenhouse gas emissions requirements.

As announced in the 2005 budget, in the coming weeks the Government of Canada will set out the details of a mandatory emissions reduction regime and emissions trading system for Canada's large final emitters, companies in the oil and gas, thermal electricity and heat intensive mining and manufacturing sectors. As part of this system, large final emitters will be able to make contributions to the greenhouse gas technology investment fund in exchange for special emissions credits. Companies can then use these emissions credits toward meeting their emissions targets.

The revenue generated by the fund will be used to make strategic investments in innovative technologies and processes that will reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.

The greenhouse gas technology investment fund will support the development and application of new emissions reducing technologies by large final emitters in meeting their greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Natural Resources Canada is best placed to manage the greenhouse gas technology investment fund as part of its ongoing operations due to its position as the lead federal department on energy technology development. This will allow it to apply the expertise and experience it has gained over the years in order to ensure that investments under the fund are allocated to projects that will yield optimal emissions reductions for large final emitters on a sector by sector basis. It will also encourage potential synergies between technologies for large final emitters supported by the fund and the department's responsibilities for management of other technology investment programs that support energy efficiency and emissions reductions on a more general basis.

Finally, I reference the changes we are proposing to CEPA, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Amendments are being made to CEPA to remove the word “toxic” from certain sections and to place greater emphasis on the existing criteria for assessing and managing substances under section 64 of the act. Part of that section would read “a substance may be added to the list in schedule 1 if it is entering or may enter the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity”. That is the intention of making those particular changes.

The proposed change is one in pursuit of smart regulation. It brings clarity by eliminating a confusing term without altering the Government of Canada's obligation and authority to protect our environment. It also positions CEPA as a viable regulatory tool for use by the government and Canadians to more effectively and efficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

When the Government of Canada was assessing and then taking action to reduce the risks from road salts and other substances, we heard numerous representations, including from members of Parliament, that the term “toxic” was confusing and misleading. We are responding with this legislative change to reduce that confusion.

The amendments proposed for CEPA are designed to not change the regime that was endorsed by the Supreme Court and therefore do not change the basis for the act's constitutional authority.

Further, budget 2005 set out the key parameters for a system to obtain greenhouse gas emissions reductions from industrial large final emitters. In this system, reduction targets will be based on emissions intensity in order to accommodate economic growth.

As with any other effective regulatory obligation, there will be penalties for non-compliance, but we do not expect non-compliance. We have modified the system to address industry concerns and we expect there will be broad agreement with our approach.

In conclusion, these three initiatives alone contribute in a major way to a very purposeful and contributing budget. The fact that we are able to address the concerns not only here in Canada but globally through the green lens is very important for all of us.

As I and other members have said, certainly what happens on a day to day basis is of concern. More important, it is not what affects me but what affects my children and grandchildren. The initiatives laid out in Bill C-43 are very positive and I encourage all members of the House to support that legislation.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the final comments of the member from the Liberal Party about the regulatory amendments the government is seeking and is going to be responding to. We have heard these weasel words before from the Liberal Party in many other instances.

Canadians, particularly those in the energy business, believe that the original inclusion of the word “toxic” in the changes the government made to the CEPA programs was part of a hidden agenda so that it would have the authority to impose another fossil fuel tax on energy producers in this country.

We can go back a number of years to the national energy program. A Liberal government brought in legislation which ultimately brought about the national energy program which decimated the energy producers in all parts of Canada. Canadians saw the inclusion of the word “toxic” and the subtle word changes as evidence of a hidden agenda that the Liberal government had to get into a position where it could unilaterally impose a fossil fuel tax. The government got caught, and rightly so, because Canadians are not that far removed from the national energy program which devastated the country's economy, particularly among the energy producers.

I get very nervous when I hear such phrases as, “we in the government are responding to it”, “we are going to seek amendments,” or “we are going to look for broad agreement” for the changes the member is talking about now. There is a big difference between “we should do this” and “we will do this”. The words Canadians are looking for from the government are, “we will make this change to allay the fears of people in the energy industry, and we will not seek to have regulations that will put a fossil fuel tax on energy resources”.

Can the member stand and say that his government will not allow regulatory change that will enable them to impose another fossil fuel tax and deny any type of hidden agenda to do so? Will he stand and be absolutely positive about that?