House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was inuit.


Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

8:30 p.m.

An hon. member

Good question.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

8:30 p.m.


Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

I think it is a good question too, because I agree that it needs to be reformed, absolutely.

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8:35 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

You voted against it, though.

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8:35 p.m.


Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

No, I am sorry, but I have never voted against. I did not vote against that. I would never vote against it. I agree entirely that it needs to be reformed. I support it and I always have.

The other thing I want to say is with respect to the earlier comment the hon. member made on the Supreme Court decision. Yes, there was a decision that is going to have some impact. This is why I am saying we need to take this seriously and we need to address the reform of our system to ensure that in fact we address the shortages of doctors and health care givers and the wait lines that exist.

We have a timeline for 2007. I think we need to bring that forward. I think we need to have a much more aggressive approach in the short term, the medium term and the long term, together with the provinces, to ensure that the system is reformed as quickly as possible. We need to ensure that every Canadian gets quality service and timely service and timely surgeries, first of all to discourage private sector care. At the same time, we need to look at what we can do to ensure that the private sector does not grow in this country.

In fact, to answer an earlier question with respect to the U.K. and other places, Roy Romanow, who did a massive consultation and visited all of the other jurisdictions in the western world, basically came back and said there are no better systems. In fact, allowing private care does not help the lines and does not make it better because all it does is siphon off the resources over to the other side. It does not make it any different. It does not shorten the lines. It does not provide better quality at the end of the day.

Our job is to ensure that we fight and that we fix the system as quickly as possible, because at this point it is no longer an issue of resources. It is an issue of reforming and strengthening our system to ensure that the private sector in fact is kept out of our system. As we can see from the media in the last couple of days, the American for profit companies are looking very keenly over the border to see how fast they can move in on some of these areas. I certainly would not want to see that happen.

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8:35 p.m.


Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in this debate that is so very important for our country.

I want to indicate at the outset that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Edmonton—Spruce Grove, who is one of the most impressive young women to come into the House in many years. I am honoured to be sharing my time with her tonight.

The previous speaker indicated her position on a number of issues. In particular, she spoke at some length and with passion about the health care system. The question I would have asked her, had I been given the opportunity, with respect to her plans and her government's plans for health care, is quite simple: what was stopping them for 12 years?

What was preventing the Liberal government from taking some of the very innovative and, I would suggest, very useful measures that she spoke of in her remarks? What on earth prevented the Liberal government from doing so?

In fact, when one reads between the lines and reads outright the words of the Supreme Court of Canada, that is essentially what they say. It was a scathing condemnation of this government's administration of the Canada Health Act.

Without a doubt, the state of health care today is in ruins as a result of the administration of the Prime Minister, who as finance minister made the brutal unilateral cuts to transfer payments to provinces that resulted in the deterioration of health care. No one in the country is more to blame for the abysmal state of health care than the Prime Minister of Canada today.

The blunderbuss omnibus bill that we see before us as the budget is typical in its approach as far as the Liberal Party is concerned. It reminds me of the old parable of how a loaf of bread is stolen and some crumbs are then given back to the thankful plebs. That is how the Liberal government tends to administer the money and the finances of the nation.

Bill C-43 is a bill which the Conservative Party sought to improve and, I would say with some confidence, did improve. Our position has been consistent. We saw this as initially a Conservative bill, but in need of improvement, with serious flaws that in fact would have been detrimental to the livelihood of Canadians.

In fact, we have been responsible in trying to make this a better piece of legislation and have done so. We have brought forward amendments that in fact, ironically when one looks at it, restored some of the initial tax relief that was put forward by the Minister of Finance before he was co-opted by the Prime Minister's deal with the NDP.

I think what we may find at the end of the day is that what the NDP has been promised will amount to a hill of beans because, like much of this budget, it is post-dated. It is a promissory note. It will happen years from now. In fact, the immediate impact of this budget is $16 to the average Canadian, the cost of a medium pizza.

I do not think that is good enough when we think of the number of working Canadians, of single mothers, of hard done by Canadians who are out there trying to get by. Far too many of those Canadians are still on the tax rolls. They should not be paying tax. The government should raise the basic personal exemption and take some of those working Canadians off the tax rolls. They are the working poor. This budget does not speak to those hard done by Canadians.

This bill, with 24 separate and in most cases unrelated pieces of legislation, has a lot of unwarranted and, I would suggest, unwanted measures and has caused regional divisions in the country. I am speaking, of course, of the Atlantic accord.

The Conservative Party made several very concerted efforts to pull the Atlantic accord out and have it presented to the House as a stand-alone piece of legislation, which would make common sense and which was in fact the original intent of the Atlantic accord, as we all know. It was consistent with the approach that the Conservative Party had taken in saying that we must deliver to Atlantic Canada, and to Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia in particular, the ability to benefit from their own natural resource revenues.

This approach that the Liberal government took to bury it in the budget was clearly an attempt to renege on that commitment. We have taken a positive and constructive approach throughout in trying to deliver on that promise to Atlantic Canadians.

We wanted to build a better budget. We wanted to improve the quality of life for Canadians. Again, I would suggest that we have. This is a compassionate, conservative way that is very much in keeping with the type of governance we want to bring to Canada, one that we will continue to pursue with passion and in a progressive way in the coming days and on in through the summer.

We want to protect the livelihoods of thousands of Canadians by preventing a Liberal-NDP coalition that will remove tax relief for Canadians. The tax relief was very much about improving competition, improving the job market, and improving the ability of companies to employ thousands of Canadians. We are going to continue to fight for hardworking and overtaxed Canadians.

This bill is a massive, cumbersome and convoluted bill. Yet what we see at the end of the day is an attempt to buy people with their own money. The government has really sunk to new lows when it comes to buying people with their own money, or buying members of Parliament even.

In contrast, the NDP add-on budget, if I can call it that, has three clauses and is one page. Imagine allotting $4.6 billion in spending and scratching it out on a page and a half. There is no plan or fiscal framework whatsoever. It is an absolutely abysmal and irresponsible approach to governance and fiscal management, such as the sponsorship program, for example, or the gun registry, or the HRDC boondoggle, or many of the contracts that were cancelled that again were an absolute pillage of the public purse. They were consistent with the government's approach for the last 12 years that included irresponsible and out of control spending practices with no consequences. Well the consequence has come. It is called the Conservative Party of Canada.

This attempt to have the NDP on side was of course also about a shameless attempt to cling to power. Much of what we hear from the NDP in the House now, the rhetoric and criticisms of the government, mean nothing because the NDP is propping the government up. Since this budget was announced, we know that all pretense of fiscal prudence is out the window. It was all about partisanship and buying the temporary support of the NDP. That house of cards will crumble soon enough.

We now have an additional $26 billion in spending outside of the budget. This is all since the Prime Minister took to the airwaves with his much publicized mercy plea to wait for Gomery. We have seen in recent days attempts for the old Chrétien and current Prime Minister coalition to come together again to somehow derail Gomery through a secret deal that would allow Mr. Chrétien to file an objection to the Gomery report and most likely prevent an election that was promised by the Prime Minister. This is the Prime Minister's little election escape hatch.

Some members in the House, not many, may recall that Jean Chrétien's fiscal policies as finance minister brought about an 83% net increase in the federal deficit from 1977 to 1980. I do not think even you were here at that time, Mr. Speaker. We often hear from the Prime Minister about the deficit that he inherited, the much ballyhooed deficit that was inherited by the Liberal government in 1993.

What is never mentioned and what is always overlooked but is factual, as Yogi Berra said, “You could look it up”, is that the incoming Conservative government in 1984 inherited a $38 billion deficit from the Trudeau years. It is all about convenient memory and selective quoting when it comes to fiscal figures.

The Liberal government came to office promising to clean up government. However, since coming to office the Liberals have been involved in the sponsorship scandal, the envelopes of cash being passed around in restaurants, and the unbridled, out of control corruption that we have seen. This has all been playing out before the Gomery commission. The Liberal Party is being exposed day by day and the dance of a thousand veils is over. We see it laid bare. It is the proverbial emperor without clothes now that we have before Canadians.

It is perfectly clear. There is now an opportunity for Canadians to judge for themselves, based on factual information, what they want. They want an ethical, clean government that is going to provide health care and direction on important matters of fiscal concern to them dealing with trade, the economy, and issues relating to national defence, the justice system and the environment.

It was interesting to hear Elizabeth May from the Sierra Club recently describe Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as Canada's greenest Prime Minister, compared to the Kyoto disaster that is still being peddled by the government. The government is attempting to dupe Canadians that this is good for them and that we are somehow going to reach those unrealistic targets. That by buying foreign credits we are going to actually improve the Canadian environment. That is just not true.

For the last 11 years we have seen a government that has consistently made poor decisions that have hurt Canadians, hurt our economy, and hurt our international reputation. This budget is a chance at least to bring back some semblance of fiscal prudence without the NDP add-on.

I will now forfeit the floor to my colleague from Edmonton—Spruce Grove who will enlighten the House further as to her insights into what we should be doing in the future with respect to fiscal management.

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8:45 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario


Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I was just looking at the budget with respect to Nova Scotia and I see that under the gas tax, revenues amount to $145 million to communities in Nova Scotia. The economic development rising tide initiative is at $700 million.

Economic development throughout the four Atlantic provinces includes the renewed $300 million to the Atlantic Innovation Fund and $290 million for the new innovative community programs directorate. The NRC technology cost alone in the Atlantic is another $110 million. ACOA has an additional $41 million. That is $205 million over five years committed in this budget.

Community futures will receive $8.4 million, Atlantic salmon endowment will receive $30 million, and the Coast Guard will receive an additional $276 million. I could go on naming the oceans action plan, aquatic resources, Genome Canada, big research investment in the Atlantic provinces, and so on.

I wonder if my colleague would care to comment on the fact that he is opposing a budget which is bringing so many benefits to the province of Nova Scotia.

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8:45 p.m.


Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that all of these measures are on the face good for Atlantic Canada but are contingent and in fact will not flow to that region for at least a year, if at all. Contingent upon many different economic indicators including the fact that the NDP add-on budget may jeopardize the ability to deliver on any of these programs.

I am also quick to point out that it was his government that has now waited 11 months to keep its commitment with respect to the Atlantic accord. Each week that passes, this is costing the province of Nova Scotia $900,000. In Newfoundland and Labrador it is $1 million a day. This is preventing the ability to invest in roads, hospitals, education, and in those many important areas in which the province of Nova Scotia is looking to improve the quality of lives of their citizens.

To my friend opposite, it looks good. It is the optics, the press releases, and the continued announcements that Canadians are getting sick and tired of. We are doing well in Atlantic Canada in spite of, not because of the measures that have been taken by the Liberal government.

I recall in 1997 when I first arrived here, after four years in government, Atlantic Canadians had seen what the Liberal government was up to. It had made brutal cuts to transfer payments, particularly in the area of EI. That issue alone resulted in all Liberals being kicked out of the province of Nova Scotia. All 11 Liberal seats were removed.

If they keep up these kinds of shenanigans and chicanery, that is what is going to happen again because Atlantic Canadians are very astute and they watch politics very closely. They can see the shell game that is being put forward through this budget and other measures that we have seen in the past.

This tune has been played far too many times by the Liberal government. Atlantic Canadians and Canadians generally are prepared to do what they did in the province of Nova Scotia in 1997 and that is sweep the Liberals from office and get on with a good, clean Conservative government that will deal with the priorities of Canadians.

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8:50 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, a policy statement was made by my hon. colleague across the floor with respect to Kyoto. I have asked their environment critic a number of times to clarify two things for me. First, is the concept of anthropogenic climate change a reality for the Conservative Party? Second, if this fictitious notion of actual forming a government were ever to come to some unfortunate reality, would the Conservative policy be to withdraw itself from Kyoto or to actually meet the targets?

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8:50 p.m.


Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, we would actually go beyond Kyoto. I believe the hon. member takes this very seriously and he will recognize that the Kyoto accord is not the answer. Although Canada has signed on to this international agreement, we will not meet those targets.

As far as whether there is a problem with climate change, we would have to be living in another solar system to not know that there was a problem in this country with climate change, but it goes beyond just greenhouse gas emissions. The hon. member would know that Kyoto does not cover smog. It does not cover some of the browning and the problems going on in big metropolitan areas like his own.

The Conservative Party takes the issue of climate change, green energy and all efforts made to clean up our environment very seriously, as we have in the past. Jean Charest, as minister of the environment, brought about the green plan, the acid rain treaty that was signed with the United States. We need a made in Canada North American solution. That is where the Conservative Party will go in the best interests of Canadians.

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8:50 p.m.


Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Central Nova for sharing his time with me. I am sure my remarks will be much less exciting than his.

It is a pleasure to rise and speak to the budget today in its final stage. The budget has been without a doubt one of the most watched pieces of legislation in Parliament.

I would like to spend some time today speaking about how the budget relates to my critic portfolio, intergovernmental affairs, and how I think it could have better reflected the priorities of Canadians.

The provinces, which are part of this great federation, grew up a very long time ago. In fact, several of them were around long before Canada came into being in 1867. Since that time, they have come to assume responsibility for the programs and services that Canadians care deeply about.

In fact, it was on February 6, 1885, that Sir John A. Macdonald aptly described the division of powers that would come to characterize our nation. He stated:

All the great questions which affect the general interests of the confederacy as a whole are confided to the federal Parliament, while the local interests and local laws of each section are preserved intact and entrusted to the care of the local bodies.

The division of powers in Canada were clearly written into the Constitution and, consequently, have become enshrined by our history. Federal-provincial fiscal arrangements play a fundamental role in the delivery of the most important priorities of Canadians: health, education and social services.

However, the Liberal approach has served to undermine the very social and political fabric of Canada, endangering future funding for social programs and, frankly, jeopardizing federalism.

The Liberals have done this by using the federal government's ever growing fiscal capacity to control and manipulate the provinces with money and conditions. They pressure the provinces into developing expensive programs, raising the expectations of Canadians and then give them only cents on the dollar to pay for them.

We have watched the government and the Prime Minister, in particular, continue the dangerous game of pitting province against province, family against family. The government does this by signing side deals that simply epitomize unequal treatment.

The Liberal's budget continues these trends. It is an archaic way to conduct intergovernmental affairs, it fails to recognize the maturity, the strength and important modern role of the provinces. Most important, it fails to contain a national vision.

The most serious way in which this budget fails the provinces is in its complete failure to address the growing fiscal imbalance between the federal government and the provincial governments. Put simply, the federal government continues to collect far more revenue than it needs to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities. The provinces, meanwhile, are feeling pressures to not raise their taxes because in the end there is only one taxpayer.

I was fortunate enough to sit on the subcommittee of the finance committee that investigated the fiscal imbalance. This was a very enlightening experience. I sincerely wish that our recommendations could have been incorporated into the budget, as I believe they would have gone a long way to making this a lasting budget.

The Conservative Party of Canada agrees with the majority report submitted by the subcommittee on fiscal imbalance, which concluded that the fiscal balance existed and was a growing problem for all orders of government.

The Conservative Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party and Bloc Québécois unanimously agreed to a number of recommendations. The Conservative Party, however, went farther in its recommendations. It believes that any proposed solutions to the fiscal imbalance and changes to the equalization formula must be made with the following principles in mind.

They must reflect leadership with a national federalist vision. They must reflect a collaboration to ensure that changes to the equalization formula or proposals to address the fiscal imbalance are done in consultation with the provinces and the municipalities. They must also reflect the right of all Canadians to quality health care, education and social services regardless of where they live. They must also reflect the equality of all provinces. They must reflect the respect for the unique needs of Quebec within a collaborative federalist framework. Last but not least, they must reflect the belief that Canada's most essential national program, equalization, should be used for what it was intended, which is neighbours helping neighbours in times of need.

These principles are not reflected in the Liberal's approach to fiscal federalism. In a rush to buy votes before the next general election, the Liberals have abandoned any commitment to multilateral negotiations, disrespect of the need for a collaborative and comprehensive approach to fiscal federalism and undermine the security of important social programs.

The Liberal solution to the fiscal imbalance continues to be to deny that it exists and a reliance on a quick fix of patchwork federalism. The Liberals have abandoned fiscal federalism in the name of political expediency by signing a series of side deals and bilateral agreements with no national vision.

By signing these ad hoc bilateral side deals with provinces outside of the fiscal framework of the equalization program, the Liberals are ruining equalization, what I consider to be the most essentially Canadian national program. By abusing their federal spending power, disrespecting the constitution and approaching negotiations with provinces in an unfair and inconsistent manner, the Liberals have engendered mistrust between all orders of government and turned their back on collaborative federalism.

The Liberals have pitted province against province and Canadian against Canadian by neglecting the emerging fiscal imbalance between the provinces and the municipalities and the increasing pressure on provinces and municipalities to deliver core social services. The Liberals have now set cities against provinces and mayor against premiers.

In addition, our committee heard from witnesses who argued that the equalization formula must be revisited and reformed. A number of issues must be addressed, including the impact of the floor ceiling that was stipulated in the new equalization framework, reached in October 2004, and the treatment of resource revenues in the fiscal framework of equalization must also be revisited.

From those observations, the Conservative Party of Canada, in our recommendations, believes that non-renewable natural resources revenues must be removed from the equalization formula in order to encourage the development of economic growth in the non-renewable resource sector across Canada.

Additionally, the Conservative Party of Canada believes that the federal government should take a multilateral approach in examining the horizontal fiscal imbalance and equalization framework. Building upon the framework and resources already established by the provinces, through the council of the federation, we support the development of a consultative process which also includes representatives from the federal and municipal orders of government.

Most provincial governments clearly stated that the vertical fiscal imbalance has made it increasingly difficult for the provinces to engage in long term financial planning and to guarantee essential health and social programs. The Conservative Party of Canada believes that in order to help correct the vertical fiscal imbalance, the federal government conduct an indepth review of all tax fields, federal fiscal transfer mechanisms and consider transferring an appropriate level of income tax points to the provinces.

Most important though, for the state of federalism, the Conservative Party of Canada recommends that if the federal government initiates new spending in areas of exclusive provincial or territorial constitutional jurisdiction, it should have an agreement from the majority of the provinces to proceed and that provinces should be given the right to opt out of the federal program and continue to receive federal funding so long as the province offers a similar program with similar accountability structures.

However, the budget is about more than just fiscal federalism. It is the spending plan for the actions of the federal government. We have been consistent with regard to our position on Bill C-43. In committee we were able to make it better legislation and as a result, Canadians will be better off. The Conservative Party of Canada carries the sole responsibility for making this stronger legislation and we are proud of that.

By keeping in tax relief for our nation's largest employers, we have secured Canadian jobs. By making our environmental legislation more accountable, we have helped prevent future scandals. We will always fight for a made in Canada solution to the environmental issues of our time. We led the charge to remove part 15, the CEPA provisions, from this omnibus spending bill and we attempted to ensure that the government could not purchase foreign Kyoto credits to ensure that money stayed in Canada to support our environment.

On committee, we also fought for accountability and ensured that the Liberal appointed advisory board, which is administered under the Canadian emission reductions incentive agency, will make its advice public.

Furthermore, I look forward to the future when Canadians will have a Conservative budget, a budget that contains real tax cuts for Canadian families. That was something that was truly missing from this major spending initiative. We on this side of the House will always remember, and Canadians agree with us, that without fiscal restraint the social programs we cherish cannot be maintained and sustained.

Sadly, this is not the only budget bill that we are debating in the House. When the Prime Minister struck a deathbed deal with the NDP giving away the fiscal accountability and responsibility in exchange for a few NDP votes, the House was left with two budget bills. The House and the Canadian people can be assured that we will continue to hold the Liberals accountable for their undemocratic, wasteful, out of control spending contained in Bill C-48 and the other billions of dollars of announcements since then.

We kept our word to Canadians. We helped move this budget through committee and made important amendments to make it a better budget for Canadians. It was the Liberal Party that slowed the passage of the budget by filibustering to avoid a confidence vote until it had bribed opposition members to support it.

I look forward to the budget passing so that we as a country can move forward.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9 p.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood Ontario


John McKay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the contribution of the hon. member to the functioning of the finance committee. She is a refreshing and reasonable voice, which is sometimes missing.

I want to pick up on a couple of her comments about the impact the Conservative Party had on the amendments to the budget bill and, therefore, it is so much better because of these amendments.

The first point is the budget bill contains 24 parts. Of the 24 parts, the Conservative Party had a somewhat modest impact on part 15, which had to do with the word “toxicity” should or should not be in the budget bill at all. Because there was some ambiguity, the government agreed.

The second impact that I recollect was whether the minister could have one or more technology funds. To my knowledge, that is the sole contribution of the Conservative Party.

In other respects, when the Conservatives started out, they supported the budget bill. Then during the process of the budget moving through the House, they decided not to support the budget bill. Then when it went back to committee, they supported the budget bill. Now I understand they still support the budget bill. It is an interesting juxtaposition between the reality and what actually happened in the exercise of the budget going through the House over these many months.

I am very pleased to enjoy the support of the Conservative Party and I encourage hon. members opposite to confine their remarks so we can proceed to pass the bill.

With respect to the so-called fiscal imbalance, just what it is that is unacceptable in the minister's creation of the committee on fiscal imbalance? This is an ongoing exercise of continually looking at sources of revenue and seeing whether they are appropriately balanced. What is wrong with the proposal of the minister to have a committee review the equalization formula?

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9:05 p.m.


Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, I too have enjoyed sitting on the finance committee with him. It has been a great learning experience.

The changes that we made to the budget are important. They speak to productivity, responsibility and accountability. Those are three important values that Canadians hold, as do we in the Conservative Party.

In terms of productivity, we are responsible for forcing the Liberals to keep tax relief for large employers on a similar time line. Tax relief is important to Canadians and it is an extremely large part of the budget, albeit only one section.

We are also responsible for a more responsible solution for the environment, as he referred to, by taking out the toxicity issue around CEPA. The environment is important and this is a important section of the budge. A large part of the industry and, frankly, a lot of environmental groups were concerned about it.

We also fought for accountability and won. Overall, that is extremely important to Canadians right now, particularly because of the environment within Parliament right now. Based on advice provided by the Liberal advisory board to the Minister of the Environment that these projects could be very politicized, the Conservative Party forced an amendment to ensure these recommendations would be made public.

Canadians are interested in a government that reflects transparency and accountability. We are very proud to have added more responsibility and accountability to the budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:05 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Windsor West.

I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-43 tonight, not because of what the budget originally contained when we began discussions on Bill C-43 but because of what the NDP has brought forward to help make this budget a better balanced budget.

I will begin by talking a little about the history of budget making in this country. In the most recent history, in the 1980s under the Mulroney Conservatives, we saw the largest deficits in Canadian history. This was systematic when the Conservatives were in power. Year after year they had the most bloated budgets and the largest deficits in Canadian history throughout the period of the 1980s and the early 1990s.

I will come back to that in a moment because it is important to note the fiscal irresponsibility of the Conservative Party when it was in power.

We then replaced the Conservatives with the Liberals. The Liberals managed to balance the budget, fiscally and financially, but, as it was with the Conservatives, it was a very wrong-headed approach to budget making. We saw that while the Liberals managed to balance the budget, they were gutting employment insurance, which was unemployment insurance at that time, and misusing those funds for their own purposes. At the same time they were gutting health care. We certainly saw the impact of that last week with the Supreme Court decision. They were also gutting housing and poverty programs, and gutting post-secondary education, which I will speak to a little later on. We also saw the net impact on jobs.

While the Mulroney Conservatives certainly made Canadians pay through their irresponsible approach to budget making, we saw under the Liberals, in the 1990s through to today, an equally irresponsible approach to budget making where everything was and is carried on the backs of Canadians. While they managed to balance the books, which was a rare occurrence in the Liberal Party's record, they did it on the backs of Canadians across the country.

It is interesting to note that after a study was done last year of all the fiscal returns, not the budget documents, of all of the political parties in Canada over a 20 year period, from 1981 to 2000, the Parti Québécois, the Social Credit Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the NDP in both provincial and federal governments, the study found that the worst record in balancing the books actually belonged to the Liberal Party which were in a deficit 85% of the time. The second worst record belonged to the Conservatives who were in deficit two-thirds of the time. Of course I am counting those outrageous bloated deficits of the Mulroney Conservative years. The best record, the party that actually balanced the books in the actual fiscal period returns more often than any other party was the New Democratic Party.

This is a situation that is actually based on cold hard facts, not the kind of baloney that we often get from the Conservatives and the Liberals. Based on cold hard facts, we see that the NDP has the best balanced approach to budget making. It is very interesting that the NDP carries not only the best record in social programs, not only the best record in approaching post-secondary education and health care, but it also balances its books more often than any other Canadian political party.

This certainly does not mean that we are perfect but we do it better than the other two parties in the House.

Therefore we had with Bill C-43, in the original version, this other Conservative-Liberal approach to budget making, which is basically to make Canadians pay and do it on the backs of Canadians. What the Liberals wanted to bring in, which the Conservatives supported and the Liberals were pushing it forward, were bloated corporate tax cuts. It was again just shovelling money off the back of a truck for the corporate sector. This is the corporate sector that is experiencing record levels of profit.

It is important to note that this is something to which the other parties often pay lip service. When we talk about competitiveness, we are actually talking about how Canadian cities and Canadian regions compete with others in North America. The most competitive areas in North America are actually in Canada.

The Price-Waterhouse study that was done last fall clearly showed that Canadian cities are more competitive for the corporate sector. Why? It is because we have a public health care system. Because of that, those companies and those corporations that are based in Canada actually get a competitive advantage out of a public subsidy that we provide to health care. Yet that same corporate sector, those same corporate boardrooms, do not want to pay their fair share of taxes to pay for, thanks to what the Canadian public provides through our health care system, a major competitive advantage.

It is interesting that we started off with Bill C-43, the bill that was to shovel money off the back of the truck for the corporate sector, and thankfully the NDP caucus stood up. The NDP caucus actually fought in this corner of the House to turn that bad budget into a better balanced budget to address a number of areas, such as housing, homelessness and poverty.

We have an increasing number of poor children and homelessness. In my province of British Columbia, homelessness has tripled. A better balanced budget actually addresses that through Bill C-48 and makes Bill C-43 a much more tolerable initiative.

In terms of the environment, because we have seen greenhouse gases actually increase by 20% when they were supposed to decline under Liberal inaction, we are addressing that through our better balanced budget.

Post-secondary education is a crisis that the federal government has done nothing about . Through the NDP's better balanced budget, we are finally addressing that.

A lot of people like to talk about international stability. International stability comes with a better balance and addressing the gap between the wealthy and the poor around the globe. The NDP's better balanced budget addresses that need for international stability through supporting poor people around the world and supporting development that brings everyone up to a tolerable standard of living.

It is true.There are a couple of areas on which we will continue to fight. One is the issue of jobs, because we have seen a decline. Most jobs that are created now in this country are part time or temporary in nature. The average Canadian worker has suffered a significant drop in real income. We will be continuing to fight in this corner of the House for that.

The other issue I would like to briefly address is the issue of health care. The Liberals are starting to address that issue, thanks to NDP pressure and pushing hard to finally addressing these issues around health care. This is an extremely important issue. We saw with the Supreme Court judgment that came forth that the issue of longer waiting lists needs to be addressed. We also need to have a more effective approach to health care costs.

As I mentioned earlier, given that the NDP is the most fiscally and financially responsible party in this country, as shown in a rigorous study of the actual fiscal period returns across the country from 1981 to 2001, we also want to address health care. We founded and built the health care system. Tommy Douglas, the greatest Canadian ever, as voted by Canadians, put in place a health care system that we know today.

Despite Liberal and Conservative irresponsibility when it comes to the health care system, we will continue to fight to reduce health care costs in two key areas: first, the evergreening that takes place with pharmaceutical products, the fastest growing and most profitable component of our health care costs.

My colleague in Windsor West has been pushing very steadily to ensure we start to reduce. Rather than paying our health care costs to the multinationals, we should have a much more effective pharmaceutical program in place.

The second key area is home care. We know that when we support people with health issues in their homes rather than taking them to hospital, we actually save almost two-thirds of the cost of taking care of that patient. Yet the Liberals have done absolutely nothing for home care. These are two areas where we can save money and divert more resources to getting those waiting lists down.

In this corner of the House, we have made a bad budget into a better balanced budget. We are fighting this tendency of the Conservatives and the Liberals to just throw money away and hurl it off the back of the truck at the corporate sector whenever they get a chance. We are going to continue to fight for better health care and for better quality jobs in this country.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:15 p.m.


Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague's speech on Bill C-48. I have a question that is perhaps off topic. It is not about economics necessarily. I think all the social programs that some of this money would go to are very important, albeit that I think they were arrived at in a very unfortunate manner.

However one of the things the member opposite has not spoken to is the undemocratic nature with which this agreement was reached. From a party that speaks a lot about democracy, and on this side of the House it is something that we respect very much so, this deal was reached without the presence of the finance minister, without the proper accountability in terms of going through the finance department, without proper budgetary oversight and without coming to Parliament first. It was extremely undemocratic the way it was reached and there was no consultation with the provinces, the municipalities, Canadians, the finance minister or any of the opposition parties.

I am wondering if, in a minority Parliament, where the member opposite and the party opposite speaks about democracy all the time, if perhaps the member could talk about the undemocratic nature of this agreement.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:15 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe democracy is a fundamental component of Canada. Democracy, to my mind, means as elected representatives we come to this House and we vote and we make those choices because we have the responsibility as elected representatives.

I was as shocked and appalled as anyone else in this House when Bill C-43 originally came up in this House. Elected representatives, people who were elected to do a job from across this country, including at that time 99 Conservative members of Parliament, refused to do their job. They did not show up to work. They sat at those desks and refused to vote.

Now they may have said that Bill C-43 was a good budget, and I certainly would have disagreed with them, but they had the right to stand and vote and exercise the democratic mandate that they were given by their constituents or they could have joined with us and said no to those corporate tax cuts and voted against. They did neither. They sat in silence in this room and refused to exercise the democratic mandate accorded to them by their constituents. It is shocking and appalling. It is unprecedented that elected representatives, receiving a generous salary and all the generous benefits from Canadians, would refuse to stand and vote, would refuse to exercise the mandate given to them by their constituents.

I come from British Columbia. We have a proud democratic tradition. Yet the majority of British Columbia MPs refused to vote on Bill C-43. That should be a source of shame to every member of the Conservative Party that is left. I know some of them have already left, or whatever, but those who are left in this House should be ashamed of themselves for not having exercised that democratic mandate that was accorded to them by their constituents. I am sure if any one of them had said during the election campaign, “Elect me and I won't show up to work”, I do not think they would be sitting in this House now.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:20 p.m.


James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I always find it laughable when New Democrats, especially those from British Columbia, come to this House and preach about fiscal responsibility. Now, as a lifelong British Columbian, that is laughable. The $400 million that the NDP threw away on the fast ferry project could have gone to save lives, to help in waiting rooms and to help students, and yet this member has the gall to stand in this House and say that they stand for fiscal responsibility. What a joke. It is no wonder that that party was reduced to two seats in that campaign and it is no wonder that its leader left to go across the floor to the Liberal Party.

I cannot believe the member would actually get up in this place and start talking about how members of Parliament come to this place and do not do their jobs.

We recognized that the Canadian public wanted to make sure that Bill C-43 was thoroughly debated, and we did that. It is the Conservative Party that passed amendments at committee. The New Democrats did not pass a single amendment at that committee. We in the Conservative Party did our due diligence.

As for the issue of voting in this House, the most comprehensive and difficult social policy that this House has seen probably in a generation, the definition of marriage, our party had a free vote on that issue. I stood and I had the ability to freely vote and disagree with my leader on that issue. I had the capacity to vote and to speak freely on that issue because I happen to believe and support Bill C-38.

What did the New Democrats do? They told the member for Churchill to sit in her place, shut up, do not vote and do not represent her values. That is the New Democratic Party of the year 2005 and that is why that party is going nowhere.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:20 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two points. Obviously the hon. member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam does not come to British Columbia very often. There was an election a few weeks ago. It is not two members of the NDP; it was the most significant breakthrough in Canadian provincial political history. There are now 33 members of the legislative assembly from the NDP and barring a couple of recounts, there will be more.

The other point that I think is a little laughable coming from the hon. member is his talk about deficits. I am sure if he came to British Columbia more often, he would realize that the largest deficits in British Columbia history were under the Gordon Campbell Liberals. The largest deficits in British Columbia history were under --

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I am afraid the time allotted for the hon. member's remarks has expired.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:20 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-43.

We certainly do not have any western alienation in the House of Commons tonight. We are having a great debate about British Columbia and the different politics there, but I would like to continue the debate on Bill C-43. I want to talk about its importance with regard to moving this country forward in this fiscal year, and also some of the changes that we can make to address some of the significant problems that we face as a country.

Earlier in tonight's debate, I missed the fact that the member for Beaches—East York actually voted in favour of my private member's bill, Bill C-274. I would like to thank her for that. She was one of the few members opposite who joined with us on that very important bill. We are talking about the health care reform issues that are so important.

We are talking about the budget bill right now. The first ministers agreement regarding health care is coming late in the day and there are many problems with it. Hopefully, it will at least provide an avenue to address some of the health care problems. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that private insurance coverage can be purchased in the province of Quebec.

My Bill C-274, which the member for Beaches—East York voted for, actually addressed one of the issues, the issue of evergreening. That is one of the regulatory issues that has to be changed.

This budget has significant investments in health care, something that has been well noted. Health care is an important backstop in terms of Canadian culture. The fact is that Tommy Douglas, the greatest Canadian, helped to found this great nation's health care system. Health care has also been a tremendous source of economic investment and prosperity for the country.

General Motors in the United States is undergoing significant layoffs, around 25,000 people, because of some of the problems that GM has. The most notable is the cost of health care for GM's workers. In fact, the cost to General Motors in the United States is about $1,500 per vehicle. The private insurance scheme in the United States has failed miserably. That is why U.S. legislatures have started to address the issue of evergreening. My bill did as well, but it was defeated in the last session of Parliament unfortunately.

There is a need to rein in and control the incredible cost of drugs in the pharmaceutical industry. The costs are spiralling out of control because of patent issues related to evergreening. That is where there is an automatic injunction so that after 20 years, when a generic company is entitled to produce that drug for the Canadian public, the drug company can automatically say that others are infringing upon its patent without any proof whatsoever.

Imagine that. In any court anywhere in this country without any shred of evidence or proof, the company will automatically get a two year extension to its patent. No other industry has that privilege. We are the only country left in the world that has that provision. Even the United States under George Bush changed this policy. It is unbelievable. It is a scandal in itself.

With Bill C-43 and the NDP improvements in Bill C-48, we are putting significant revenues into health care. We want to make sure that we maintain the Canadian identity and cultural tradition of medicare for all people in Canada. We are investing in it significantly, but at the same time we are allowing ourselves to be fleeced. On top of that, when drug companies received the patent extension deal from the Liberals to extend it to 20 years, they were supposed to put 10% back into research and development which had to be done in Canada. They negotiated a deal where it was not compulsory. It was voluntary. Voluntary agreements with the pharmaceutical industry have not worked. They have never met that 10%, even when they include packaging as part of that research and development, and I do not see how packaging and research and development go together. Nonetheless, the companies do not even meet that 10% commitment.

That is why when we are talking about a budget, we are talking about investing in Canadians. It cannot just be about spending money. It is also about regulatory changes.

We did not like the corporate tax cut that was in the budget Bill C-43. We said that from day one. We said it was not acceptable. I did not mind the tax cuts for small and medium size businesses, but the large corporations have had record profits. A Report on Business survey once again had corporate profits surging 21% in the first quarter.

We have heard a number of different people in the corporate sector say that the sky is falling. They are trying to create hysteria that this minuscule amount of money for corporate tax cuts taken out of the system is going to collapse the Canadian economy. We have heard from them on a regular basis how disastrous this is going to be. Despite the $100 billion in total tax cuts over the last 10 years, they say that this little piece of the pie, an insignificant increase in spending at 1.15% of total spending which is what Bill C-48 is going to add, is going to collapse the Canadian economy. They say we are going to lose jobs.

Ironically, what they said after they criticized the NDP amendment was that we need to put the corporate tax cut in. What they are saying is that they need choices. We do not accept their choices, especially when there is a 21% increase in their profits. That is fine. It is okay for profits to be good, but there has to be a balance. Right now in the corporate sector, let us look at the banks and insurance companies and the premiums that Canadians are paying. I do not know many people in my constituency who are calling me to say that the banks are not making enough money and that if we give them a little more of a break they will cut back their service fees, increase staffing and open more branches. That is not happening. That is not what is going on. All I know is that I am constantly meeting with branches that are closing in my community. All I know is that consumers in my constituency are paying record prices for insurance.

I do not believe it is balanced by giving the corporations a break right now. I do not understand the notion that if they are going to get an additional profit it is going to feed the economy automatically. It does not work that way. It has not worked that way for the auto industry. Despite all the tax cuts that we have had, we have had to have government intervention on sectoral strategies and targeted investments. That is what they have asked for in infrastructure improvements in order to procure the few plants that we have over the last 10 years.

It is unfortunate that we are still fighting for an auto policy. We need to get some specifics on the table, so people can see greater accountability. When we invest in an auto facility there should be greater scrutiny in the way it is developed and the way the funding is applied. There is no problem with that, but the corporate tax cuts have not brought the plants here. They have been going to Mississippi, Alabama, Mexico, Brazil and China. It does not matter if we give them another percentile or two, it is not going to make them build another plant here. The companies are going to say that they want some training and infrastructure programs.

It comes back to what we are investing in in this budget, health care. They want health care. General Motors has $1,500 per vehicle added into the actual production costs in the United States. In Canada, it is around $400 for health care costs. That is about a $1,100 savings. It is amazing.

Mr. Speaker, I know I have to wrap up my speech, but I do want to say that working together in Parliament can happen. I was pleased to be part of getting a change made to the last budget. Corporations were able to deduct penalties for pollution and crimes at the end of the taxation year. After being caught polluting our air and water, they would be fined through a criminal process. They were actually able to get some of that money back. The Liberals did not live up to their agreement to fix that. I moved a motion at committee, which was supported by the Conservatives and the Bloc, that installed another amendment to get them to fix that.

We do work together in Parliament at times and we can actually achieve results for Canadians.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:30 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the member's comments on the budget bill. I would like to come back to the issue of evergreening, because I know that the member has done a tremendous amount of work in that particular area to try to reduce those health care costs, which are going to what is an extremely profitable if not the most profitable industry sector in North America.

Canadians are having to pay for this at the same time that we are seeing waiting lists increasing and the actual quality of health care declining because of Liberal underfunding and Liberal inaction on these issues.

I will ask him directly. When it comes to evergreening, what would be the most effective way to reduce those costs so that we can put more resources into building a more effective public health care system and reducing those waiting lists?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:35 p.m.


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the first thing we have to do is get rid of the automatic stay of injunction, where there are all these frivolous lawsuits. By the way, the generic companies win over 80% of those lawsuits at the end of the day.

These lawsuits delay the introduction of drugs into the market in a generic form, which costs provincial and federal coffers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. they cannot get the generic form. It is not available and they have to pay a premium price despite the fact that it is beyond the 20 years. We need to have some regulations changed.

There is no problem with the fact that if companies are going to invest in a new drug they should get a return on that investment and have patent protection for the drug. Sometimes there are games played on both sides, but the single biggest abuse of the system is that we litigate, we do not innovate.

We actually allow somebody to get an automatic stay of injunction and get multiple patent protections. That is what is amazing about this. They can claim that they changed the coding of the pill or the colour of the pill. They can add sugar. They can do any of those things and that is called innovation. They get patent protection automatically for another two years and the generic firms have to prove that they are not actually violating an infringement. That is bizarre.

In the United States they have one stay. They can still claim patent infringement but they have to prove it. They have to go to court and present a logical argument that their product is being infringed upon, as opposed to just getting a stay automatically. I think that is a fair system, because it gets rid of all the frivolous lawsuits out there that are related to this industry.

Once we do that, we get cheaper drugs on the market right away. We ensure that the provinces will benefit and be able to do bulk purchasing at lower rates. If we can fix some of the other regulations, maybe we can take care of some of those other problems around the research and development area that cause people concern.

But this is the first thing we need to do. It is an important notion to speak about, because what we are arguing as New Democrats is that we cannot continue to just throw money at the health care system. There are regulatory reforms we can make that would increase savings, which can be put to actually making sure that we have shorter waiting times and people can get access to medicines more quickly.

People will be healthier and have greater wellness when they get access to the medications for their treatments. That would have a significant cost savings, not only to our medical system but to the individuals who get proper treatments on a regular basis, can afford their drugs and can take them the way they are prescribed. They are going to be healthier, live longer and be more productive in society.

This is something we can control through regulations. We are being fleeced far too often to sit on the sidelines. I cannot understand why we would allow this. I was very disappointed when my private member's bill was defeated, but I was not surprised. It is interesting, though, and I do know that there are other people in the House starting to think about it. After the vote, several members in the House came to me and said they could not support my bill but they would support me on “that evergreening thing”.

They did not understand that evergreening is just a term used for the practice, but the bill dealt with the specific legislative changes for notice of compliance to be removed. They did not understand that, for whatever reason, but I am glad that some members are starting to think about this again.

Maybe they will understand that we can make public policy decisions that not only allow us to put our resources to better areas, but more important, allow people to get access to health care. That provides an opportunity for them to be healthier and not have to depend on the system.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:35 p.m.


Charlie Penson Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on the budget bill today. I have been here since 1993, Mr. Speaker, and maybe you have been here longer. I know that there are certainly a few members who have. This is a very strange twist and turn story for the federal budget of Canada. It is the strangest story that I have seen since I have been here.

In fact, it is hard to tell exactly where the government is coming from. It seems to have two budgets now. The budget that could not be touched on February 23, according to the Minister of Finance, suddenly is open game, depending on what the government needs to stay in power. It is a desperation move that is costing Canadians now and will continue to cost them into the future.

I heard the other day that the Minister of Finance is suddenly talking about productivity, about the lack of Canadian productivity and how far we have slipped. He is a recent convert, I should say, but I welcome him aboard.

This is a subject that we need to deal with. When I was on the finance committee, as well as when I was on the industry committee, we heard many times from a lot of Canadians that this is an area we should be concerned about.

The reason we should be concerned is that it affects our Canadian standard of living. I will outline that a little further as I go through this, but what it means is that real Canadians are hurting every day because the government is not allowing the creative forces, the competition and the natural abilities Canadians have to compete, because of too much taxation and too much regulation.

On June 9 Statistics Canada released a report that says labour productivity in the Canadian business sector edged up by 0.2% during the first three months of 2005 compared with the previous quarter, continuing its anemic performance of the past two years. In the United States, productivity has increased by 0.6%, three times the rate of growth in Canada. That is a consistent story. If we look at 2000-04, we see that Canadian productivity growth came in at 0.9% over those four years. In the United States, it was 3.8%.

What does this mean? For the average family it means that we are enjoying a standard of living that is something like 30% lower than that of our major trading partner and competitor, the United States. That is not good enough.

Per person, that translates into roughly $6,000 Canadian. For an average family of four, that is $24,000 a year. One might ask what that $24,000 per family means if we compare it to a family in the United States. It would mean that the average Canadian family could put a payment of $2,000 a month more on their mortgage. What I am saying is that this simply is not good enough, because the average family of four is lagging behind the United States by $24,000 a year.

This is important because it is costing real people in terms of the standard of living. An article from the National Post of March 30, 2005 states:

Canada should put a premium on policies to improve its fiscal prudence and economic productivity, given the uncertainties surrounding exchange rates, global commodity prices and the continuing process of trade liberalization, the IMF said.

The story goes on. I have an article from the Financial Post of April 11, 2005. A respected University of Ottawa professor, Gilles Paquet, portrays Canada, and in unflattering terms, I might add, depicting it as “a risk-averse nation on the brink of becoming an ageing society”.

What does that mean? We know that our demographics are working against us. There are going to be fewer people working in the future, supporting a greater number of people who are going to be collecting pensions. Therefore, we have to get our standard of living up.

Business groups, chief executives, economists and, more important, David Dodge, the Bank of Canada governor, have sounded warnings regarding Canada's lagging productivity growth. Statistics Canada reported that last year in terms of productivity growth the country posted its worst performance in almost a decade.

I have to say it is not that the government has not had warning. A number of people have been warning the government for years that this is going to cost Canada.

The National Post article goes on to state, quoting Gilles Paquet:

--a failure on the part of the elected officials to underline the importance to Canadians of productivity growth. “Leaders must be educators, persons called upon to reframe the citizen's views of the public realm,” the economist wrote. “Most officials in Canada have been passively recording the results in opinion polls, and have not shouldered their responsibility...alerting citizens to the importance of productivity gains and innovation.”

Jacqueline Thorpe wrote an article on April 28. She quotes Doug Porter, the chief economist for the Bank of Montreal. Talking about the budget of February 23 at that point, I think, he stated:

If this deal is an indication of the type of fiscal decisions Canada will see, then the currency market should instead react to the prospect of a near-term election as positive.

That was when there was a possibility of an election.

Right after the budget was tabled, the National Post asked, “What letter grade would you give the budget?” Porter responded, “We give it a C”. With the revisions, in the NDP-Liberal budget, now he says, “We give it a D”. This is a respected chief economist at the Bank of Montreal giving this government very much a failing grade with regard to its budget and budget fiasco.

Actually there is one more point. We had a gentleman at committee just the other day. I see the parliamentary secretary discussing this with you, Mr. Speaker. It was David Stewart-Patterson from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. Here is what he said:

--no productivity growth, minimal growth in foreign investment, negative household savings and a manufacturing base that's struggling to stay afloat in a competitive, volatile, high dollar world do not bode well for the future prosperity of Canadian families.

He continued:

--lower taxes by themselves cannot ensure a prosperous future for Canadians, but if we want our economy to grow and our social programs to improve, we have to work harder at making Canada a place where more talented people want to live and work and where more investors want to create and grow businesses.

This is an important point. Investment is leaving Canada in droves. We have a net outflow of investment these days. Canadians are looking for better places to invest because this government's policies are driving them out of the country.

This is something we have been on for quite some time. I will go back to some of the reports that were done by the finance and industry committees when I was there.

This was the Conservative Party dissenting opinion to the prebudget process on December 14, 2004, in which we are talking about the record of this government not being that good:

A few basic statistics back up our contention that now is the time for major change--that more of the same is not good enough--that Canadians deserve better. First, during the past forty years Canada's GDP per worker has remained little changed compared with that of the United States--it remains stuck at about 85 per cent of the U.S. level.

...“Lest any Canadian thinks that the productivity gap is irrelevant, it more than accounts for the income gap of $6,078 per Canadian.” Surely we can do better--having a family of four with some $24,000 less income to spend than they would have in the United States is nothing to celebrate.

As for investment in productivity capacity, why is investment important? Because it creates jobs. The statement continued:

Throughout the hearings we heard that the productivity investment in Canada is lagging and that a number of key factors are the main culprits. Taxation levels affect the willingness of investors to build new industrial capacity in Canada. If taxation is too high and investment too low, the competitive abilities of Canadians cannot be unleashed. Countries like Australia and Iceland have shown the way and are benefiting from large gains in productivity investment--why can't Canada do the same?

Quite frankly, it is a very good question. It is the policies of this government over the last 12 years and the direction it has been taking that are sending all the wrong signals to Canadians. Cutting the corporate tax cuts that would put us on a more equal footing with the United States is a very bad signal to be sending to all the Canadians who want and need to invest in order to create jobs for Canadians.

Frankly, this government does not deserve to remain in power. The NDP budget is further evidence of its willingness to go to any lengths to cling to power. I think Canadians should put the Liberals out of their misery.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:45 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was a bit confused when the member spoke about a competitive advantage. Earlier the member for Windsor West talked about the advantage that General Motors, for example, sees in having a strong public health care system here in Canada as a cost per car that is incurred which is passed on to consumers.

In the member's last point he spoke about needing to get back on to a level playing field with the Americans, whereas when we look at the corporate tax rates between the two countries, we already have an advantage over the Americans because we are already lower. The member might be confusing his points of rhetoric.

The second part deals with fiscal responsibility toward the taxpayer. We ran some numbers recently and it is quite expensive to maintain the House on any given day. It is approximately $700,000 according to House of Commons officials. The Conservative and Bloc protest a couple of weeks ago cost us somewhere between $1.4 and $2.1 million to achieve we are not even sure what.

In terms of fiscal responsibility, I am wondering if the member would consider proposing a motion to his caucus members asking them not to accept their pay for at least those days in which they did not work and did not show up at committee. It seems reasonable and fiscally sound to say that if one is going to go on strike, which is the right of any worker in Canada, one does not expect to get paid for those days on strike by the company that does the hiring.

Could the member also answer the question relating to competitive advantage? As we have already gone through $100 billion worth of tax cuts over the last decade, what exactly is the member looking for?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:50 p.m.


Charlie Penson Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Skeena--Bulkley Valley for the opportunity to deal with the myth that the NDP and some of the Liberals keep perpetuating about the corporate tax advantage we have over the United States.

If that were the case, why would Canadians increasingly look to invest outside our country? They would naturally want to invest here, but the government has not allowed the kind of tax rates that are required in order for Canadians to do that.

Quite frankly, the member is confusing the fact that we might have equal corporate tax rates, but the effective or the real corporate tax rate is something like one-third more than that of the United States. We have not even caught up and the United States is going to move again. We heard throughout the pre-budget hearings widespread concern that Canada is not on an equal footing with the United States. We heard it over and over again. I think that is a well documented fact.

In terms of the issue of why we should have parliamentary oversight and why we are putting the government through all this tough scrutiny, I think that is what Canadians deserve. That is why they sent me here.

The argument by the member for Skeena--Bulkley Valley that we should not be doing this because it costs money is similar to me suggesting that he should not get up and speak because the carbon dioxide that he gives off is contributing to global warming.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

9:50 p.m.


Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the members for Peace River, Edmonton—Spruce Grove and others who have in their usual cogent and analytical way broken down the budgetary process and shown clearly how the government would have been of benefit to Canadians if it had followed the advice which we had given.

We support Bill C-43 because we have concentrated on the budget and we have, with the skill of our members and by the force and persuasion of their arguments, and by Canadians backing us up, caused the Liberal government to see that improvements were necessary to Bill C-43. It was seriously flawed. It would have left our country and Canadians at a severe disadvantage in a number of key areas.

We are pleased that we did get the government to abandon its critically socialistic bent at thinking that the best way to advance and generate revenues into the treasury was to tax people and tax businesses as much as possible. By bleeding tax dollars out of Canadians and making them work harder to take care of an increasing tax load is not how the economy is invigorated. That has been proven wrong in every jurisdiction that has tried that particular process.

It is a matter of economic fact that when the tax load is reduced, yes, in the first year there may be some foregone revenue, it initiates a virtuous cycle. In fact, there will be more people working, whether it is because investment taxes are reduced and people do not mind investing in business, or because people think that they can keep more of their hard earned dollars to themselves. When that virtuous circle of more innovation is started with more creativity and more hard work, because people or businesses are paying a lower rate overall, we actually bring more revenue into the treasury for important social programs, such as health care and other programs.

The economic history books are filled with examples of how that works. It absolutely refutes the failed god of socialism that is embraced by the Liberals and the NDP. It refutes the vicious cycle that people such as John Maynard Keynes advanced for years. He said that if a person ever gets into trouble economically, all that person has to do is get into deficit financing. We would plunge the country into debt and deficit, borrow dollars, shoot that into the economy and everything would get invigorated and everyone would be happy. There is one problem with that. It is a two word problem called compound interest.

The government proved this, tragically, and especially through the Trudeau years when we saw the most radical increase in the deficit and debt in the history of our country. It was a vicious circle; it was not a virtuous circle. The Liberals just do not get it. Their idea is to always tax working people more. Tax them harder and tax businesses more and somehow it will create more. It simply does not happen that way.

On a provincial level, we can look at the Alberta tax cuts of the 1990s when the economy was turning down, the price of oil was down, and commodity wars were going on around the world. In fact, in that period of time Alberta lowered taxes and it increased revenue. It was an amazing thing. Predictable, but it still amazed people.

The same thing happened with the Reagan tax cuts. The people over there do not like to hear that. That started the same virtuous cycle of increased revenue. Of course there was also increased spending related to military spending. However, in terms of the revenue side of the ledger, revenues increased because more people worked, worked harder, and became more innovative because they were not being excessively punished for being hardworking, innovative and creative.

The Kennedy tax cuts of 1962 were, in terms of following and tracking that trend, the single most significant and deepest personal tax cuts of the century. They actually triggered a virtuous cycle that carried on for seven years. Then of course they were dampened by the democrat President Lyndon Johnson and his war on poverty, and the war that he launched in Vietnam. Thankfully, it took a republican to get the Americans out of there.

The members of the NDP and Liberal alliance just do not understand it. I am so thankful that our hardworking members were able to impress upon them and bring pressure to bear to recognize that the cycle of excessive taxation and excessive deficit is a vicious cycle.

They do not like to hear this either, but John Maynard Keynes was asked a question when the charts were put before him. It was pointed out to him that if we were to keep on that cycle of deficit financing and then have to deal with it through compound interest, even in the productive years, we would not beat compound interest. He was asked whether he though that the economy would eventually collapse in the long run? Do hon. members know what he said, which was what these people do not realize? He said “Do you know what? In the long run we will all be dead”. That is an absolutely irresponsible approach. That is John Maynard Keynes, the father of the failed socialist god that the Liberals and the NDP continue to worship over there.

We were able to correct that in Bill C-43 somewhat. The member for Peace River has shown how Canada is still disadvantaged. We were also able to ensure that the Atlantic accord came to be. It was Conservative members, especially from Atlantic Canada, who promoted the necessity for the Atlantic provinces to receive back a little bit of the promise of Confederation which drew them into Confederation in the first place. It was something that they had not been receiving under the Liberals. It was the hard work of our members that got that in place. We can support that in this particular budget.

We saw the environmental path the government was taking, especially with the NDP-Liberal alliance. After years of talking about Kyoto and after years of saying the government had this figured out, Canadian taxpayers' dollars are going to be used to pay polluters in other parts of the world, like China which is not even buying into Kyoto, to continue to pollute so that we could have credits here to help certain businesses continue to pollute. If that is not a bizarre approach to dealing with environmental problems, I do not know what is. I am thankful that with the hard work of our members here, we were able to correct that.

In terms of the gas tax provisions, we are finally giving some of those federal gas tax dollars back to the municipalities. That again goes all the way back to October 2003 when we proposed it. All of us have constituencies that have needs. There are development needs in the city of Penticton. This is desperately needed infrastructure money. There are needs in the water systems in Naramata. There are growth needs from Summerland to Peachland and Westbank. I am talking about Westbank, British Columbia, not the Middle East, and the demands on infrastructure are incredible.

It is not all about big cities. These smaller jurisdictions desperately need these dollars as well. They are growing too. The city of Merritt is growing at an incredible rate and needs those dollars. Near Merritt there is the city of Logan Lake. It does not sound like a large urban centre, but that city needs a firewall. It is located in a forested area and needs to protect itself from the devastations that we saw two years ago.

These are the kinds of areas where those federal gas tax dollars need to go. They need to go back to cash starved municipalities. We are pleased that members of our caucus were able to initiative the idea and then ensured that the Liberals carried through with it.

We still have some concerns. There will be some nose holding in terms of Bill C-43 because a number of areas have not been addressed that the Auditor General wanted to be addressed.

In the area of government waste, which we identified in the last election, there is some $6 billion still not being attended to. Three auditors general in a row used the same phrase. They kept asking, who is minding the store? That is a tremendous indictment against the government. The billions of dollars of government waste is not being addressed. It is tragic and it puts an unnecessary burden on Canadian taxpayers. That must be addressed.

The fact is that there are still large funds that are off-book, as the Auditor General calls it. The government has said that it does not want anybody looking at how these giant funds are audited. We are actually not allowed to see it. If the sponsorship fund is an example of what goes on in funds that the Liberals do not want anybody to see, it is all the more reason to look at those funds.

If my colleagues will forgive me, I will give a word of credit to the NDP members for doing what they did. It cost $4.6 billion to buy 19 votes. We should do the math. That is about a quarter of a billion dollars per person. The money that went into the sponsorship fund was about $250 million. There are about four million or so taxpayers in Quebec. That means the people in Quebec are only worth $60 apiece. The Liberal-NDP extorted a quarter of a billion dollars apiece. I give them some credit for that even though the things they want to spend the money on is a real concern.

I congratulate the hard-working members of our caucus who were able to bring to bear and improve the budget enough that we can support it. There are things in it that we have initiated and they will be good for Canadians.