House of Commons Hansard #102 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

In the G-7 and in the world. We have a plan for Canadians to deal with the issue of climate change.

There are some in the House, unfortunately, who do not believe the ice age occurred and they do not believe that climate change is a problem. We on this side are realistic. We know there is a problem. We know that Canada must take an active leadership role. This country and the Minister of the Environment are doing that.

Bill C-48 proposes a further $900 million for further environmental measures focusing primarily on public transit and a low income energy retrofit program. This investment builds on the government's continued focus on the environment, including the measures contained in budget 2005, which is the greenest budget in Canadian history.

Who could vote against the greenest budget in Canadian history? If members really believe in climate change, if they really believe that the environment is important to Canadians, they will make a difference tonight when they vote for Bill C-48. And if they do not, any rhetoric I hear on that side is simply that.

In the budget there is $1 billion over five years for the clean fund, the climate fund. This is very important. It will encourage cost-effective projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is very important. We have the fiscal instruments to move forward on climate change.

There is $250 million in the budget to create a partnership fund for projects that are best achieved through cooperation between the federal government and the provincial and territorial governments. We will work in partnership. Again, who could argue against working in partnership?

In the budget there is $225 million over five years to quadruple the number of homes retrofitted under the EnerGuide for houses retrofit incentive program.

There is $200 million over five years to further stimulate the use of wind power. We talk about alternate energy sources. Again, here is an opportunity for members to stand in their places tonight and vote for it.

I could go on highlighting how important Bill C-48 is, but I know hon. members and all Canadians know it is important. Tonight we will demonstrate that leadership.

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3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has me a bit confused and I hope he can help me out.

He has gone on about how important the things in Bill C-48 are, but they did not show up in Bill C-43 when the government had the first crack at it. This really makes me question how sincere the government is in these so-called priorities. It looks as if the government is buying the votes of the NDP.

We all saw the agreement on TV. It looked like they borrowed a Sharpie from somebody, found a blank page and scribbled out these things on a napkin. These do not look like real priorities to me. I would like to see the plans for them. If they are so important, why were they not in the original budget that the Liberals thought was so good that they said it could not be cherry-picked?

I am confused about another thing too. The corporate tax cuts are not reflected in Bill C-48 as far as I can tell from my reading of the legislation. My recollection is that this agreement between the Liberals and the NDP committed to removing certain corporate tax cuts. I am not sure if this is in Bill C-48 or whether it is going to be done separately or is the government pulling the wool over the NDP's eyes? I would like some clarification on that too.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the party across the way originally supported the budget. I assume at that time the hon. member supported more money for the environment, which is in Bill C-43 and Bill C-48. I assume at the time the member across the way supported more money for affordable housing. I assume he supported assistance for Canadians in terms of affordable housing, which was very important. We announced that. It is an enhancement within a strong fiscal framework. I am surprised that the member's party would say that it would support Bill C-43 tonight, but not to enhancing it, making something even better.

We said from the beginning in the House that the government was prepared to work with other parties to ensure that we had good government for Canadians. We worked with the NDP and now have a budget which Canadians support even more so because it is fiscally responsible and is a good investment.

If the hon. member is going to stand up tonight and say that he supports the environment so he will vote for Bill C-43, then I applaud him. However I presume the member is then going to stand up on Bill C-48 and say that he cannot support it because it has another $900 million for public transit, for wind power, et cetera. The member cannot have it both ways. He cannot support one part of the budget but not the other part, because obviously the government would fall.

I hope the member will reflect and realize that if he really supports these good investments, he will have to support them across the board. We are committed both in terms of small and medium tax cuts, which is in Bill C-43. The minister has made it very clear in the legislation dealing with corporate taxes.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, my Liberal friend seems to get his lexicon a bit mixed up. He keeps on talking about investments instead of expenditures, an additional $4 billion of expenditures.

He also seems to have picked up the NDP disease. Those members do not realize that corporate taxes are not paid by corporations. Corporate taxes are paid by the corporation's customers.

The member seems to know a bit about business. Surely to goodness he would not think that telling the NDP that the government is not going to be going ahead with the corporate tax reductions is a good move. The member, particularly coming from Ontario, knows it will cost thousands of jobs if we do not get those corporate tax reductions. How can he possibly vote for Bill C-48?

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me make it very clear. The government supports and continues to support tax reductions. We had the largest personal income tax cuts in Canadian history of $100 billion over five years. I heard a member over there earlier talk about 10 years, but it is five years.

Bill C-43 includes tax cuts for small and medium business. If the member's party votes against Bill C-48, then those reductions will not be there. On the corporate side, the member well knows that he will have an opportunity after this evening to continue to support the government when legislation is introduced on the corporate tax side.

If the member wants to support tax cuts generally, he has to vote for both Bill C-43 and Bill C-48. If the opportunity arises, he will be able to deal with the corporate issue.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, my constituents have told me not to vote for the NDP budget because they said that the Liberals are corrupt, they are ruining the country's finances, which this bill is proof of, and that in the process they are putting Canada's unity at risk with the damage they have done to the federalist cause in Quebec.

When one looks at the bill, on the face of it, it is $4.6 billion. We hear the Liberals sometimes say that it is only $4.6 billion. That means $205 for every voter. That is the cost of the agreement to buy the support of the leader of the NDP.

However it is only part of the bigger spending spree that we have seen in recent weeks.

Bill C-48, this NDP budget, is part of a larger fiscal framework but it is really a spending and pre-electoral vote buying project by the Liberal government. It has announced $25 billion since April 21.

What does that money mean for each voter? It means that the cost for each voter is $1,114. That is the cost for each vote they are trying to buy with this spending spree. However, guess what? That cost also comes from those voters. In fact, if we were to take the whole population of the country, that cost is $757.50 per person.

Therefore it is no surprise that the people in York--Simcoe do not like this budget. For a typical family of four, with the husband and wife both working, what is their share of the Liberal pre-election spending spree? It is $3,030 which has to come from somewhere and that is from that family. They cannot afford $3,030 of their money to prop up a corrupt Liberal government.

For years now, spending has been out of control up here in Ottawa. Program spending has been going up over 10% a year. Ask my constituents if they have enjoyed 10% more in services from the federal government. I have yet to meet a single constituent who tells me that he or she has. They are not getting more services but all along the public service continues to grow and the spending continues to grow.

Bill C-48, the NDP budget--if I can paraphrase the comments of the hon. member for Newmarket--Aurora today for her comfort--is not a complex bill. In fact it could have been written on the head of a pin without using special equipment. It is but a few sentences long and about only chunks of money that will be thrown at target areas.

That is too often the way the Liberal government works. It takes a chunk of money, identifies it and throws it somewhere. There is no plan and no details. I know we would find a more detailed financial breakdown on a McDonald's menu than we have in Bill C-48. A grocery bill has a more detailed financial plan and breakdown than we find in Bill C-48.

The substantive part of the bill is about four sentences long and about seven or eight figures get stated. That is not a plan. That is simple, straightforward vote buying. It is $4.6 billion out the window and overall, in this whole $25 billion spending spree, $3,030 from each family in my community that they have to find a way to pay. Those are their tax dollars.

What do they really want? My constituents tell me that they want a chance to achieve their dreams. What would $3,030 mean for each of them, if it were in their pockets, to achieve their dreams? Having $3,030 less while the government tries to tell them what their dreams are and tries to force its solutions on them is not what they had in mind. They had other plans for that $3,030. They had plans to pay down their mortgage, to pay for some long overdue car repairs, to put the kids in hockey for another year or buy a couple of new bicycles as the kids get older. That is why $3,030 lost to them means a lot.

What they want is the opportunity to spend that $3,030 on the things that are important for them. Why are they losing that $3,030? It is because a deal was made with the leader of the New Democratic Party to prop up a government that is corrupt, that is desperate and that is willing to do anything to win. What they want to see is an end to this government waste.

My constituents are not unique. All Canadians want to see this. None of this is here. There is just a new bunch of more government waste. This is a typical government solution: identify the money, throw it at the target but have no plan for what to do with it. To me the worst example of how government waste happens is when there is a chunk of money looking for something to do.

Let the people of Canada and the people of York--Simcoe choose how they want to spend their $3,030.

Housing is supposed to be a priority in this bill. Well, $3,030 would go a long way for each family in my constituency to help deal with their housing challenges; $3,030 would go a long way to help pay down the mortgage; $3,030 would go a long way to help pay their rent, because that is what the Liberals are taking from them in spending priorities elsewhere that they cannot spend on their housing.

What could $3,030 do for training and post-secondary education? If each family could have that money they could put it away and save for their children's education and for the future. People could go through an entire community college program for $3,030 in tuition. If that was their dream, if that is what they wanted to do, to make a brighter future for their families, is that not what they should be allowed to do. Instead the leader of the New Democratic Party is taking that money from them, along with the Prime Minister, to prop up a government and make it look like they are doing something for Canadians. In fact they are really taking from Canadians.

We want to see Canadians achieve their dreams.

Another priority, supposedly, in Bill C-48 is the environment. My constituents in York--Simcoe want to see money spent on the environment in their community to clean up Lake Simcoe. For years and years the federal Liberal government has stubbornly refused to part with any money to support cleanup and environmental improvements to Lake Simcoe. It will do it for the rest of the Great Lakes but it will not allow any money for Lake Simcoe which is the centre of the Great Lakes basin.

Tens of thousands rely on Lake Simcoe for their clean drinking water. It is a critical part of their environment. The government talks about helping the environment and yet stubbornly refuses to allow that money to be spent right here in Canada, right in York-Simcoe where people have real priorities. Those are the priorities that we find the people of York--Simcoe want when they want to see spending on things like the environment.

I ask how I can in good conscience, knowing the dreams, hopes and aspirations of a typical family in York--Simcoe, support the waste of money, the confiscatory taxation, the fact that this NPD-Liberal budget means $3,030 out of the pockets of every family in my constituency?

I see some Liberals over there smiling but they should know that $3,030 is not a small amount of money to the hardworking families in York--Simcoe. It is a serious amount of money. It takes a lot to earn $3,030 and to have that taken away from them is taking away the freedom to achieve their dreams, the freedom to build a brighter future for themselves and their children, the freedom to pay off the mortgage and the freedom to save for their future and their education. It is taking away from them the opportunities to do that.

I have a high regard for the typical family in York--Simcoe. The people in that community do not believe the government owes them a living. They do not believe anyone owes them a living. They just want the freedom and the opportunity to go out and work to achieve their dreams. They just want someone to allow them to keep a little more in their pockets for the hard work and toil they do. They want the opportunity to make a better life and have a brighter future for their families. The spending plan of the Liberal government in Bill C-48 leaves them $3,030 further behind in achieving those dreams.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague on an excellent summation of why anyone who works hard for his or her paycheque should be concerned with the amount of money the government takes out of their pockets and about the NDP deficit spending amendment to the budget.

We in Saskatchewan have seen what Liberal programs mean. We have heard the huge announcements of spending, the billion dollar promises to help with BSE and the money to help with drought. We have heard that it will put more money into CAIS and more money into loan loss programs or any number of things.

However, not only does the money never get to the farm gate or any of the people who need the money, but oftentimes the forms are not even available for months and are often not even available for people who need the money to even apply for it.

We have heard many ministers say that we had better get the budget passed because all this money is on the hook for that and yet we know that there is a long way between a Liberal announcement of dollars for a program and anyone ever actually getting any money out of it.

Would the member agree with me that directly putting money back into a taxpayer's pocket immediately in the form of a rebate is better than some vague promise that we have heard for 12 years that consistently never actually gets to the people who need it?

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

May 19th, 2005 / 3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know how hard the hon. member works for his constituents which is why he understands the challenges they face.

He understands that with every solution that comes from government something gets lost along the way. I might call it, lightly, postage and handling. The government gets us to send in the money. It takes off two-thirds, half or whatever for postage, handling, bureaucracy and processing. Then, when something dribbles back in the form of a program, in the form of a payment or a subsidy, it is a fraction of the hard-earned tax dollars that were originally sent by the people.

When we are talking about simple things that are not complex, where people want to achieve and pursue their own dreams, it is often better for the government to let people have the freedom to do that, instead of the government saying that it will do it for us and then telling us to send the money to the government and it will decide what is best for us and what our priorities are. It is a fundamental principle of who gets to choose what future they want and what their priorities are for their families.

The people in my community are probably no different from the one's in the Speaker's community or that of the hon. member. They want the freedom to make those choices themselves.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member if he heard the same thing I did from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment who just spoke before him. I thought I heard the parliamentary secretary say that the Liberals would not do the tax rollback and then that they would. I was a little confused about it. It strikes me that either they have a deal with the NDP that they will roll it back or they do not.

I am a little confused. I wonder if the member could help clarify that for me.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I regret but I cannot clarify that because I think it is like so many things that the government does. It says one thing to one group of people and says the opposite to another group of people. That is one of the sad things about democracy and government in this day and age since the Liberals have been in office.

People can no longer have confidence in their political leadership. No longer can they listen to their government and count on what it says as being the truth. That is something that corrodes the process of democracy.

It does not matter what the Liberals have promised or what they have said, when they are putting forward the amount of spending talked about here, $25 billion, $3,030 for each family, it is academic what is promised. The possibility of any tax relief is eliminated as the government sucks up that amount of money and takes it into its own coffers to put into programs.

There can be no future, no hope for tax relief for working families if Bill C-48 and the Liberal program proceeds.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to take part in the debate on Bill C-48, which sets out the agreement between the Liberal Party of Canada and the NDP.

This is an opportunity for me to condemn a two-part hoax. First, the leader of the NDP thinks he won points for the agreement set out in this bill. Second, the Liberal Party of Canada, through the current Prime Minister and with the help of the leader of the NDP, is inferring that this bill improves the budget, known as Bill C-43, which was totally unacceptable to the NDP and to us when we first debated and voted on it. We voted against it, as everyone knows.

Unfortunately for the Liberals, only the NDP truly believes that this agreement will do something for Canadians and Quebeckers. I saw the embarrassment of some NDP candidates in Quebec as result of this agreement. They had a great deal of difficulty understanding why, in exchange for so little, the leader of the NDP agreed to support a government that, clearly, according to witness after witness before the Gomery commission, appears to be led by a corrupt party.

Obviously the leader of the NDP and his MPs will say that they obtained $4.6 billion for social housing and the environment, among other things. It is all just smoke and mirrors. I will have the opportunity to easily demonstrate this.

I want to come back to the fact that the Liberal Party of Canada and the federal Liberal government specialize in this kind of hoax. Its other specialty, obviously, is believing that taxpayers' money belongs to both the federal government and the Liberal Party of Canada.

That said, I want to come back to this series of hoaxes. Unfortunately, I have just a few minutes, so I will not be able to name them all.

The 25th anniversary of the 1980 Quebec referendum on sovereignty- association is approaching. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Liberal Party leader who campaigned for the no side said, in the Paul Sauvé Arena “—we are willing to lay our seats in the House on the line—”.

With what result? A unilateral constitutional agreement that Quebec is not party to and has never signed, despite the fact that both the Liberal Party of Quebec and the Parti Québécois have formed the Quebec government. It caused a constitutional crisis that has yet to be resolved.

In 1995, in response to a question on sovereignty and a partnership with Canada put to him while he was campaigning for the no camp, Jean Chrétien declared his love for us, “We love you, stay with us”. I do not think he convinced very many people. He was nonetheless confronted with a very close vote on referendum night.

What came out of this great declaration of love by Jean Chrétien and the rest of Canada? The clarity legislation. While this does not make any difference, attempts have been made and continue to be made to convince Quebeckers that they are not the masters of their own destiny. That is another federal Liberal hoax.

During the election campaigns of 1997, 2000 and 2003, we were promised a massive overhaul of the EI system. Each time, the elephant gave birth to a mouse. I clearly recall that, in 2000, the member for Bourassa travelled to Jonquière, where the steelworkers were furious. Before this audience, the Liberals made the promise to carry out this reform if they voted for them. The steelworkers did not believe a word they said; they are clever, they realized it was a hoax. As it turns out, the Liberals did not do a thing.

They did the same thing in 2003. They carried out a mini-reform, adding $300 million to the program, when the surplus in the employment insurance fund was $46 billion. That money was diverted to pay back the federal government's debt. In fact, my colleague from Chambly—Borduas questioned the minister on that earlier. The minister recognized that this was a very complex issue. Why would it be so complex? The Liberals, who have been promising reforms since 1997, should know how long it takes to examine an issue. Committees have made recommendation upon recommendation. One more hoax.

I am sorry to say that the Liberal Party of Canada attracts primarily billionaires, be it as leader or as Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. I hope that, unlike the Prime Minister, the minister is not building her fortune on tax havens.

I can guarantee that I will conduct an inquiry into this matter.

During the last election campaign, at the leadership debate in French, the Prime Minister made a public promise to overhaul EI to make it accessible to the unemployed by reducing the number of qualifying hours. Nothing happened.

I could mention the foundations used to hide the surpluses. I could mention the equalization program, which was unilaterally amended, amendments that have cost Quebec dearly. I could mention the fiscal imbalance that only the federal Liberals, in Canada and Quebec, deny. I could mention supply management, which the government boasts about defending, while it lets in modified milk products from all over the world, thereby jeopardizing this supply management system.

I could also mention Kyoto. Major international commitments are being made, but there is no action plan to ensure that we will achieve the objectives we have committed to. What is more, this is going to hurt Quebec.

Today, we heard another hoax. Yesterday, it was announced that a $750,000 trust fund had been set up. On the one hand, we have learned today that this trust does exist, but that it does not contain $750,000. On the other hand, this amount represents a very small percentage of the dirty money taken by the Liberal Party of Canada. This trust fund is just an empty piggy bank. It is a small empty pig created, once again, to try to deceive Quebeckers and Canadians.

Today, there was yet another hoax in the shape of Bill C-48. It implies that the government is going to improve Bill C-43, the Budget Implementation Act, 2005, which was tabled by the Minister of Finance in February. The leader of the NDP must have been surprised when he realized that his agreement with the Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party was not attached in amendment to the budget, but was instead a separate piece of legislation marked Bill C-48. This means he will have to vote in favour of Bill C-43, although he voted against it at first reading.

I must say, moreover, that the only party that has been consistent since the start of this budget debate is the Bloc Québécois. Quebeckers know that. We were opposed to the budget from the start, we still are, and we will be tomorrow. The little amendments brought in with Bill C-48 will not convince us otherwise.

In fact, when one reads the bill, one can see as I have said that it is nothing but smoke and mirrors. I will therefore read an excerpt from Bill C-48.

Subject to subsection (3),...in respect of the fiscal year 2005-2006—

This paragraph says that all payments made by the Minister of Finance may not exceed $4.5 billion over two years. So:

subject to subsection (3), ... in respect of the fiscal year 2005-2006—

The same thing for 2006-07.

the Minister of Finance may... make payments out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund up to the amount that is the difference between the amount that would, but for those payments, be the annual surplus...and $2 billion.

This means that above $2 billion, if there is a surplus, the Minister of Finance will be authorized to use this surplus to comply with the agreement with the NDP. Well, last February, the Minister of Finance was telling us that there was no leeway and he had gone as far as he could go. Suddenly, he finds money. Over the last few weeks, he has discovered $22 billion for promises. This is much more, by the way, than what the leader of the NDP obtained. And why $22 billion? Because the government is under pressure to have an election. I must say that this has paid off much better for Canadians and Quebeckers. Half of this amount is going to Ontario. These are not election promises? It is totally unacceptable.

Earlier I described a bit the federal Liberals' propensity for hoaxes. The only thing that the government can do therefore—and knowing this, it will surely do it—is spend money all over so that there will not be a surplus if it does not want to comply with its agreement. And that will be completely consistent with the bill.

The leader of the NDP failed, therefore, to obtain any guarantees at all regarding this $4.5 billion. It also states in the bill that the maximum is $4.5 billion. For each point, it is the same thing.

Bill C-48 does not guarantee any improvements to social housing, absolutely no correction of the fiscal imbalance, and no improvements insofar as the Kyoto protocol is concerned. In view of its mandate to advance the interests of Quebec, the Bloc Québécois therefore has no other choice, in all logic, than to vote against Bill C-48, as it will also vote against Bill C-43. Thus it will demonstrate both its disagreement with and its lack of confidence in this government, which does not deserve to govern the country any longer.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member for Joliette left out some very important aspects of the 2005 budget.

I would agree with him that the Bloc has been very consistent in the sense that members are consistent in their desire to break up this country and for the country not to work. They are very consistent in objecting to budget 2005 and every single budget before that because they do not want Canada to work.

I think there are facts that he omitted in his remarks. Maybe if he would go back to the budget he could remind himself of this later. The fact is that this budget builds on seven very successful budgets contributing budgetary surpluses. In fact, this is the eighth balanced budget with a surplus.

We delivered the largest tax cut in Canadian history, $100 billion, in the year 2000. We have low inflation. We have low interest rates so that many Canadians are able to purchase a home when otherwise they could not. We have relatively low unemployment. It is below 7%. Of course we could always do better. We have been paying down our debt to levels that are surpassing all the industrialized countries of the world. We are below 40%. We started at some 75% debt to GDP.

We have been managing the country's finances in a very fiscally responsible way. That is why we have surpluses from which we can devote more resources to things like moving portions of the gas tax to municipalities like the city of Toronto, so we can invest more in public transit and more in fighting crime.

Perhaps the member forgot. Or maybe he has not read the budget in full. Maybe he just decided this as a member of the Bloc who does not want this country to work at all and he forgot to read the budget.

My question is a very simple one. I wonder if the member for Joliette actually has gone through the budget to examine some of its very positive aspects.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is pitiful to hear such arrogance and disregard for our party, which is a democratic expression of a significant part of the population. The latest polls show that roughly 54% of Quebeckers would vote for the Bloc Québécois.

Does wanting to correct the fiscal imbalance prove we are against Canada? If so, does that mean Canada only functions as long as there is a fiscal imbalance? Does this also mean that all the other provinces, like Quebec, have to experience financial difficulties in order for Canada to function?

Is an accessible employment insurance system that provides adequate coverage a bad thing for Canada? If so, does that mean that if the people who receive employment insurance benefits in British Columbia, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces received an adequate salary replacement rate, this would be detrimental to Canada?

Is a plan with teeth for the Kyoto protocol that is fair to Quebec a threat to Canada?

If that is what it means to live in Canada, then it is time for us to get out.

What I was saying concerned Bill C-43. Now, what is the government doing with C-48. It contains no stable funding for health, education or the fight against poverty. In addition there is nothing for employment insurance, not even a reference. In the case of the Kyoto protocol, this poor plan favoured by the west and the major oil companies will cost Quebec more.

We therefore oppose C-43 and C-48. If Quebec were a sovereign country, this sort of aberration would not need to be debated. However, while we are here, we will defend not only the interests of Quebec and Quebeckers, but the interests of Canadian workers as well. They oppose the fiscal imbalance. They support a real employment insurance system and they want the Kyoto protocol to work.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, although I probably disagree with the Bloc on many items, one thing I would agree with is the fact that the Bloc has supported a national shipbuilding policy for many years.

I would like to give the member the opportunity to stand on behalf of his party and tell me why the Liberals have been so reluctant to support shipyards like Victoria, the Davie yard in Lévis, Quebec, Marystown and, for that matter, Halifax.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite right. For a long time, the Bloc Québécois has been calling for a policy on shipbuilding.

We note that Canada Steamship Lines—owned by the Prime Minister's sons—has its ships built in Korea. In the current negotiations, in the free trade agreement with the Scandinavian countries, specifically Norway, there is no concern for keeping some shipbuilding here. There is cause for concern.

The same problems are to be found in the textile, clothing and aerospace industries. There are a number of industries here in Ottawa that do not seem to be in this government's good graces and are being left to their own devices.

I conclude by saying that assistance with legal costs, for example, in the matter of softwood lumber, is minimal and will not be available until the end of the year. In the meantime, a number of businesses will have time to go bankrupt.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House today to speak in support of Bill C-48. It is a significant bill that vastly improves the budget, Bill C-43, which is also before the House.

I am very pleased to say that the bill was the result of participation, discussion and an agreement between the Liberals and the NDP. When we look at the aspects and the specifics of the bill, we can begin to see the significance of these investments. Over a two year period we are talking about a significant investment of $4.5 billion in areas that are really critical to the quality of life for people in the country, and I am proud of that.

Members of the NDP and our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, came to this minority Parliament with a real sense of priority about what we had to do and accomplish. We came here with a mission that our job was to fight for those things, the bread and butter issues like housing, help for students and education, help for our municipalities and to ensure that our environment would not destroyed for future generations. We came here with a strong sense of mission about what it was that we needed to accomplish.

I am proud that we saw the opportunity to significantly improve the budget, to make it more progressive and to zero in on the kinds of investments that were needed for Canadians. The fact that there is now an additional amount of $1.6 billion for affordable housing is very important. I know that the minister responsible for housing is probably very happy that the money is now in the budget. We have been saying for years that we want to see a national housing strategy, that we want to see the federal government get back into the housing program and that homelessness in the country is a national disaster and crisis. It is not something that people make on their own, it is because of a lack of supply of affordable housing.

We were very disappointed that there were no new provisions for affordable housing, other than a small amount that was earmarked within the aboriginal community, in Bill C-43. The NDP, in working through this agreement, was able to secure this amount of amount of money over two years to ensure that there would be a federal supply of housing dollars and to ensure that it would not be based wait on provincial matching funds. This is a very important aspect.

I know that there are activists across the country, from the National Housing and Homelessness Network, the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada who see this measure as something very significant and important.

We have a need for social housing and for cooperative housing in the country. I just heard the member from the Bloc pan over Bill C-48. I want to tell the member that housing coalition in Quebec, FRAPRU, was very happy to see the amendment. It was happy to see Bill C-48 and the $1.6 billion for affordable housing. I know it has been making its point of view known to the Bloc members, that it is very disappointed that the Bloc will not support this housing investment.

When it comes to other areas, another significant investment is in post-secondary education. What is really important is that the investment of $1.5 billion will go to the students. That is very clear in the agreement and the bill. How many budgets have we seen where supposedly there was assistance provided for post-secondary education to improve accessibility, but in actual fact the debt load of students was increased? Again, this is a significant investment as a result of the bill. It will mean that money and funds actually will get to our students, students who have suffered under enormous debt loads. Why? Because of high tuition. Why? Because federal transfers have dried up for post-secondary education.

An important precedent has been set. A federal transfer has been dedicated to post-secondary education. We have not seen something like this for many years. That $1.5 billion is not contingent on provincial matching funds. It is real money and it will assist students in our country. We hope it will assist in reducing their tuition.

A lot of work needs to be done in implementing that proposal, and we recognize that. We have to start at the beginning. We have to start with step one, and this legislation provides these solid investments.

Other elements of the bill include $900 million for the environment, specifically a 1¢ increase over the next two years, and the gas tax transfer. The leader of the NDP, the member for Toronto--Danforth, has led the way both as president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and now as our leader. He has pushed solidly and has campaigned to have a significant investment for municipalities. He has been pushing the Prime Minister to deliver on his commitment on the gas tax for infrastructure and municipalities.

As part of the agreement and as part of the bill, it is important that there be an increase in the transfer of the gas tax. This will help our municipalities deal with their horrendous costs around public transit and infrastructure. Large urban centres as well as smaller communities in rural Canada are struggling with infrastructure costs and they cannot keep up with them. It is important for money to be in the bill that is directed toward helping those communities, whether they are small communities or large urban centres, to meet the fundamentals that move people around a city and that hold the infrastructure together in a smaller community.

These things are important for our environment. All of us are concerned about increasing smog days. We are concerned about the increasing rate of asthma in our children. We are concerned about increasing visits to hospitals because of asthma. These things are a direct result of climate change and of a lack of action to implement Kyoto. This is one specific measure in the bill that would deliver priority dollars where they need to go to help meet that commitment.

By no means is this the full picture. By no means is this a perfect budget. We would love to do more. Given the first budget and the addition of Bill C-48, we believe this is a much more progressive budget. It is based on fiscal responsibility. It is based on sound financial accounting. It will not result in a deficit. These things are affordable. They will be paid for through the contingency surplus. It is a very sound plan.

The last element of the bill is the $500 million increase to foreign aid. This is consistent with Canada's commitment to accelerate progress toward the international target of 0.07% of the gross national income being invested in overseas development. This is a special element of the bill. The three leaders of the opposition parties signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister urging the Government of Canada to live up to its international commitments and responsibilities to meet the target of 0.07% of GNI so Canada would be doing its best to meet its obligations in the international community.

Many time we have seen the commitments of the Liberal government fail. We have seen the government come up short on where it needs to be. This element of Bill C-48 is very important because it accelerates the progress that we are making to meet that goal.

I think Canadians believe we have an obligation and a responsibility to meet our commitments here at home. Our commitment is to ensure that people are not homeless on the street at night. Our commitment is to ensure that we take care of our environment. Our commitment is to ensure that we take care of our students. I think people equally believe that we have to meet our international commitments and the agreement does that.

I am very proud to stand here today to speak in favour of this bill and to give credit to the leader of our party for taking the initiative, for coming here to this place and working hard, for getting the job done for Canadians and for delivering on the commitments he made.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, before I start I would like to pay tribute to Elder Pearl Keenan, Senator Roach and John Bailey who are in Ottawa today.

I would like to commend the member on her speech. It was an excellent outline of the additions to the budget. I commend her for voting for the things that are important to her and to her party. What is sad about the configuration of Parliament right now is that another party, which was elected primarily to vote for those types of things, will not vote for them, at least a large number of them will not.

All members of the Bloc Québécois are going to have to look into their hearts and search their souls when they vote against lowering tuition rates for students, when they vote against affordable housing, when they vote against more money for foreign affairs, when they vote against more gas tax money to improve the environment, all things that they were elected to support. They have joined a right wing government that at least honestly says it is not in agreement with those expenditures. The party that campaigned on those types of things will vote against them.

In particular, the one area I would like the member to comment on is this. I am glad she will be supporting the increased funds for aboriginal people. We have started round tables, from the historic national round table, in the different areas where aboriginal people will need funds. There is money in the budget for aboriginal people for health and training. That party has decided to support aboriginal people and once again the Bloc Québécois has not.

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4:25 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question really reflects a very important issue, and that is, what is this minority Parliament about? Some of us came here willing to work within the minority Parliament setting and to get the best we could out of it. This bill is a demonstration of that. It is very unfortunate that for other parties the desire to go into an election has superceded everything else, and that has been true for the Bloc and the Conservatives.

We came here to work. Obviously other parties have other goals. It is political opportunism and their desire to have an election almost at any cost is quite breathtaking. People in our communities are telling us that they want to see these investments. They want to see this work. We are prepared to sit down and work that out and make it work. It is unfortunate that other members of the House do not want to do that.

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Conservative St. John's South, NL

Mr. Speaker, first, let me congratulate the member on a very good speech, but also for playing a part in getting this funding from the government. The topics she has raised, on which they intend to spend the money, are laudable indeed.

However I ask her this. In light of the fact that a number of members of her party, as late as today, have said that they do not trust the government at all, in light of the fact that the government did not put any money in the budget to cover the very topics which she had to fight to get, in light of the fact that they got their money through a meeting in a hotel room, on the promise of $4.6 billion to buy 19 votes to prop up a government that should be kicked out, in light of the fact that none of this money will ever go to them if the surplus is less than $2 billion and in light of the fact that agreements and promises have to be made with groups, does she think the government will be in place long enough or does she trust it to deliver what her party has asked for, and hope it can?

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of questions there. First, on the financial side, anyone who has read any of the forecasts could answer quite clearly that there will be a much greater surplus than what is anticipated in the budget, so these budgetary expenditures in 2005-06 and 2006-07 are totally solid.

The member raises an important question though. Who does one trust? How do we trust someone? We are adults. We come to this place hopefully with some sense of intelligence. We sit down with people and we negotiate something, we work through an agreement and then we proceed in good faith. I agree that something could go off the rails. That is why when we make an agreement, the procedures are worked out about how it will be done and what will the terms of that be.

There is no perfection in those guarantees for sure. We are all human beings and we all belong to political parties. However, at the end of the day, somebody somewhere has to sit down and have some sense of good faith about a genuine process to work something out and then live with that in terms of making it--

Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsRoyal Assent

4:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Morris Fish, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the schedule to this letter on the 19th day of May, 2005, at 4:05 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to: Bill C-10, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mental disorder) and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 22; Bill C-15, an act to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999--Chapter No. 23; Bill C-40, an act to amend the Canada Grain Act and the Canada Transportation Act, Chapter No. 24; Bill C-13, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act, Chapter No. 25; and Bill S-25, an act to amend the act of incorporation of The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, Fisheries.

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.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I fully believe the gaze of history is upon us. Our country is undergoing the stress of change. Bill C-48 is a symptom of what has gone wrong in politics and with this government.

Bill C-48 was born out of a sheer desire to hang on and cling to power, that pure desire for the sake of power alone. It is about being prepared to do what one has to do to cling to power. It is pathetic, really. It is not so much what is in the bill and it is not exactly what the NDP thinks is in the bill: NDP members have been duped.

What is more important is that whatever the negotiators would have required would be in that bill because they are prepared to sell principle to simply stay in power. The principle and what is in it are not so important to them.

The time has come for this government to be defeated. It shall fall and it must fall today or in the next short while. It has used every rule in the book to stay in power.

Let us look at the first budget bill, the precursor of Bill C-48. The finance minister said:

--this budget was not designed for election purposes. I am sure that it will stand the test of an election if that comes about, but what I was doing was listening to the clear voices of Canadians....

He put together a budget that he said encompassed comprehensively everything that he felt should be there and nothing more. He said:

When we vote on the budget we cannot cherry-pick one thing we like and one thing we do not like. We have to take the package together.

Just a few short weeks ago the finance minister warned that opposition to the budget could spark a financial crisis if one tried to play politics with a money bill. He said:

You can't go on stripping away the budget, piece by piece...If you engage in that exercise, it is an absolute, sure formula for the creation of a deficit.

He stood up in the House and he spoke on the throne speech and said “sound financial management” is very important. He said:

This is not just good economic management. It is good common sense. It creates the discipline of pay as you go, not spend as you like.

That is what he said and that is what the government's principle was, but what have the Liberals done? Since that time we have seen $40 billion and $30 billion, $70 billion for health--good--and also for the equalization payments, the Atlantic Accord, $2 billion, $830 million only after they were forced to do that by the opposition. Then they tried to make political hay out of that. For Ontario we saw $5.75 billion and then rent breaks for airports at $8 billion.

We have a finance minister who said that it is not really new money, that it is just new announcements. If we add them up since February 23, we are at $23 billion. What has happened to being fiscally responsible? What has happened to the statement that we do not touch the budget? It has gone down the tubes.

Then the finance minister said, “But really, when we look at what was announced in the budget, the $4.6 billion, plus the new announcements, that is $9 billion or $10 billion”. That is $9 billion or $10 billion since February 23 and this is from a minister who said that we should not tweak the budget, who said that we should not change any part of the budget. Where are we now?

When the farmers were in a crisis in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and western Canada, this government could not find any money to help. Where were the farmers when this new deal was negotiated? Where was the money for them? The government said there was no money for them.

Some of the farmers are going through the greatest crisis of their lives. My learned friend from Alberta indicated that there were four suicides in Saskatchewan. They have the pressure of bankers, the pressure of suppliers and the pressure of not being able to get the crop in the ground. There is no money. There is no way to do it. But if the Liberals can cling to power they will pay whatever they pay to cling to it without any principle.

The minister went on to say, in the fiscal responsibility part of his speech, “It ensures that the decisions we make today do not become the debts our children will have to bear”. He said the government would “keep the federal books solidly in the black” and continue to set aside reserves.

What has happened to that? What have we come to?

Let us look at another point. This particular party attempted to have a motion of no confidence put on the floor and the government took away the supply days to ensure that it could not happen. It used every rule in the book to prevent it from happening and plugged up the House with legislation from committee.

The Liberals filibustered their own bill. They did everything in their power to prevent a confidence motion. They were running from the ability of Parliament and the people to decide whether they should stay in power. What is worse, as they were doing this, they were spending money, making announcements and attempting to buy votes.

If there was ever a time when there was a clear issue of confidence raised, it was when there was an indirect motion. At that point there was an obligation on the government to put its own issue of confidence before the House at the earliest opportunity. It failed to do so. It was either last week or Monday of this week and the Liberals chose not to do it. They postponed it to today. I think that constitutionally they lost the right to govern. At the first opportunity this motion should have been brought to the House, but they continued because it did not suit the whims or the desires of the Prime Minister.

What kind of country do we have? What kind of democracy do we have when it is the Prime Minister's convenience and not the constitutional law of the land that governs?

We have passed that point. During that time moneys have been spent on the Liberals flying back and forth throughout Canada, using taxpayers' money and using government jets, making announcements of millions in Regina, millions in Edmonton and millions in New Brunswick and Ontario, while we are past that constitutional point and the government should no longer be governing.

The responsible thing to do would have been to have the Liberals bring the motion before the House on Monday. What do they do instead? They try to influence people, to buy them through money, power or position, and in some fashion cling to power.

There is something wrong in politics. There is something wrong when we come to this place. There is something wrong when we use every available ruse. It is worse than what happened in the sponsorship scandal in Quebec. That was done under the cover of darkness. That was done with another set of books. What is happening here is happening in broad daylight and it is wrong. Sooner or later, the government will go down.

That is why I will not support Bill C-48. It was born in duplicity. It was born in the wrong place. We cannot support that.

We saw the leader of the NDP go fishing one day and ask if there was some chance that the budget could be changed, yes or no. The finance minister said:

The principles of the budget are the principles of the budget and we stand firmly by those principles. If there are technical issues to raise...[we will] hear them.

Since when is $4.6 billion a technical issue? And $3,000 for a family of four? What has happened to principle? It was sold out for the simple purpose of hanging on to power at all costs. That is wrong.

The price will be paid when the people of this country have a chance to pass judgment. It will not be Gomery but the people of the country who pass judgment and the sooner that happens the better.

That same leader of the New Democratic Party said:

Mr. Speaker, it is a little hard to determine if that was a yes or a no. Our frustration with trying to work with the Liberal government is growing day by day. Putting aside the issue of corruption....

How can that leader support a government that he believes is birthed in corruption for the simple purpose of gaining some money? It does not matter if one gets paid $4 billion or $2 billion or $1. One should not sell out one's principles for that. Since when has the NDP come up with the deal he thinks he has? When the NDP asked for this favour, the finance minister said:

Mr. Speaker, that is really like asking whether I would be prepared to buy a pig in a poke. Quite frankly, no minister of finance, acting responsibly, would answer that type of question.

Maybe he is not prepared to buy a pig in a poke, but the NDP was certainly prepared to buy a pig in a poke. Let us have a look at Bill C-48 and see what the government actually promised to get this deal. It states that “the Minister of Finance may, in respect of the fiscal year 2005-06, make payments out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund” provided there is a $2 billion surplus. The Minister of Finance “may”, in 2006-07, make a payment if there is a surplus of $2 billion.

A paragraph in the bill states:

The payments made under subsections 1(1) and (2) shall not exceed in the aggregate $4.5 billion.

The government did not say that the NDP deal will get $4.5 billion; it said if the money is there it might happen, but it will never be more than $4.5 billion, so no guarantee. In fact, let us look at the budget bill agreement. I have 10 seconds left and I have not even started yet.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties with respect to the present debate on Bill C-48 and I believe you would find consent for the following motion. I move:

That at the conclusion of the present debate on the second reading stage of Bill C-48, but no later than 5:30 p.m. this day, the motion from the member for Scarborough Centre concerning that the question be now put on second reading of Bill C-48 be deemed carried on division,

And that the main motion for second reading of Bill C-48 be deemed put, a recorded division requested and deferred to the end of government orders this day, just after the vote on Bill C-43.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The House has heard the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?