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House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

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

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will respond to the hon. member's comments, although I hope I will not be as patronizing as he has been. I understand that the last issue he raised has been addressed by a committee of the House and that there is a report prepared on that issue that goes some way to addressing those important issues. I acknowledge that those are important issues.

I do not need to be lectured by the hon. member about aboriginal housing. The NDP does address the issue of aboriginal housing and includes aboriginal housing needs in the proposal that we made and negotiated. I recognize that is a crucial thing.

The amount of $295 million in the original budget does not go a long way to addressing the third world conditions that exist on reserves in this country. We need a far more significant commitment to that. I am glad that in negotiating $1.6 billion for housing that we included the needs of aboriginal Canadians within that as well.

It is with some unmitigated gall that a Conservative member would stand up and lecture a New Democrat about deficit financing, given the Conservative record in this country. Given the Mulroney government of deficit after deficit, it added to the debt that we are still trying to pay off in this country. It was not the New Democrats who were responsible for that debt; it was the folks in that corner of the House who piled up those years of deficits in this country. For them to suggest that we do not understand the importance of financing, and that we do not understand the importance of a balanced budget, is the absolute height of hyperbole and unmitigated gall.

I will not take any lessons from that corner of the House on how to finance government because over many years New Democrats have shown that we clean up the messes left by the capitalist parties in this country. We put things in order and we restore people's confidence in government financing in this country.

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

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure tonight to put some comments on the record because I have sat here all afternoon listening to speeches from members opposite. The creative ways I have heard of balancing budgets and providing programs for Canadians have left me a little puzzled as to the reality of Bill C-48.

The Conservative Party of Canada believes that every person in this country has a right to the highest standard of living possible. Every Canadian in our country should proudly have a job. Every Canadian should have a future and a vision for their families. When we talk to families, what do they want? They want violin lessons. They want hockey lessons. They want to go on family vacations. They want to have opportunities.

If we look at the stats, particularly among women, the small business entrepreneurs in our nation are growing at a great rate. It has been one of our greatest contributions to our nation's economy.

It is about giving families the ability to have the post-secondary education of their choice, to go to summer camps, and to develop their lives in the direction that they so choose. It is about giving Canadians a choice, a choice to live the way they want to live in the highest possible standard. It is imperative to talk about the differences between what our party stands for and what the members opposite stand for.

At this point in time there is such a blurred line between the Liberals and the NDP that they have become almost like one party. Ordinarily speaking, when we come to the House of Commons, the government in power puts forth a budget and we vote on it, and we put our points across. There has been the most unusual experience of the Liberals and the NDP getting together to put forth a quick put-together budget that has a horrendous amount of promises in it with no plan behind it. When ones spends these horrendous amounts of dollars, there has to be a plan attached to it.

There is one thing that also occurred to me as I was listening to the speeches. In our democratic society, we stand for democracy. That means that Canadians have a right to vote for whomever they want to be in government. There was nothing before the last election to suggest that Canadians voted for the Liberals and the NDP to run the finances of this country. This country was very afraid to put things out because there was a lot of fearmongering before the election and the fearmongering was all based upon the scandal and what would happen with the Gomery commission.

Just to review, the Gomery commission was shut down, just left there and neglected until after the election. I can see now that the present government did that for a very good reason. If that kind of information had come out about the scandal and about the misuse of dollars, about how bags of money were handed to Liberal friends, about how taxpayer money was spent on the last Liberal election, the Liberals would never have been elected.

In retrospect, it was probably a very clever, though devious, political move to push that election forward before the Gomery report was allowed to come out and actually addressed what was happening in Canada.

It is very unusual that another party would prop up a government that has a proven scandal. To this extent, it is the greatest scandal that our country has ever experienced at this high level of government. We have the NDP shoring up the government. It is agreeing with it.

Originally, our side of the House supported Bill C-43. It was simple. On our side we saw some aspects of the budget bill that we could live with. We did not like everything, but we thought of Canadians. We were thinking about the fact that Canadians did not want an election. We were trying to be considerate. We were trying to work together and then all of a sudden in the dark of night in a hotel room in Toronto, there was another deal done. All of a sudden there was another budget bill to deal with.

It is difficult to support this kind of underhanded manoeuvring by the Liberals and the NDP. We thought we had one corrupt party in Canada, but now we have two. We cannot shore up this kind of thing in spite of the fact that originally we had the full intention of shoring up the government for as long as we possibly could for the good of Canadians, so that no Canadian family had to go into another election.

We not only have the budget, but we have another issue as well. There is legislation that is absolutely irresponsible, and totally injurious to the population. The redefinition of marriage is one of those issues. There is no need for this bill. In a conversation the other night with some of my constituents, one of my constituents said that this bill had been presented for one reason and that was to deflect the attention off what was happening with this horrendous scandal, and it certainly did that.

We have had great debates here because we on this side believe that the definition of marriage is the union of a man and a woman with equal rights given to same sex couples. Every same sex couple in the nation has the choice to live the way that they want with all the benefits. This is the democratic choice. In a democratic country people have the right to choose who they want to live with, how they want to live within the parameters of the law, and what church to go to or not to go to. There are certain things, as long as the laws are abided by, that people in our nation can do.

What the NDP and the Liberals are also doing is shoring up the decriminalization of marijuana. This legislation that is coming forth is nothing short of appalling. We are talking about the budget, we are talking about corruption, we are talking about this irresponsible legislation, and people across our nation are totally flabbergasted by the lack of responsible government, the lack of democratic government, and the sort of godfather type of thing that says that the government will do business the way it wants to do business, whether Canadians like it or not.

The problem is that this is all done with taxpayers' money. When there is a tax and spend government, like the Liberal-NDP alliance, with no plan in place as to how that money will be spent, we have a horrendous problem in this country. Families need to grow, and families need to make decisions about their own spending, but in the House of Commons, the Liberals and the NDP are taking control of Canadian families.

We heard it across the way in terms of the national day care program. On this side of the House we believe that families should have a choice of whether they want to send their children to day care, whether they want to have their children at home, or whatever they want to do. That should be out of government hands.

On this side of the House we have tried to put forth a very responsible policy that allows families to make their choices. Today, standing in the House of Commons, I am appalled at what has happened here with the NDP members hitching their wagon to the corrupt Liberal government and not only liking it, but promoting it and putting all their wrath on members of the Conservative Party of Canada because they want to rule. I ask, what backroom deal was done to make this happen?

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

7:15 p.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood Ontario

Liberal

John McKay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes her argument based upon corruption, waste and mismanagement. I do not know how many times she repeated that phrase, but apparently the Government of Canada is corrupt for the purposes of Bill C-48. However, for the purposes of Bill C-43, it is not corrupt and her party supports it.

The hon. member and her party cannot have it both ways. Either the Government of Canada is in fact corrupt for Bill C-43 and Bill C-48, or it is not corrupt at all. Why did the hon. member vote in favour of Bill C-43 which apparently keeps a corrupt government in power?

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

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the member's question, members on this side of the House always look at each piece of legislation in a very responsible manner. We do not just say something is bad because it comes from the governing party. What we do is take a look at the legislation to see what we can take out of it, how we can make it good and how we can help.

Indeed, in the House I think our first consideration should be the people of Canada. I think it behooves any government to clean up its act and make sure Canadians are well taken care of.

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

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been interesting to be in the House to listen to New Democrats talk about fiscal prudence. I am trying not to laugh because I remember the Rob Rae days in the province of Ontario where I could not visit my doctor some days because there was no money to support doctors. There were deficits in the billions of dollars.

On the issue of fiscal prudence, in the last election I remember a Conservative platform that had deep tax relief, plus further investments in necessary programs. We were loudly criticized over there as being fiscally reckless and having a $40 billion black hole. It is interesting that the $40 billion black hole forms the basis of surplus projections that the NDP keeps talking about in this room available for Bill C-48.

Looking back, there have been $90 billion in surpluses since 1997. They were actually larger than that because there was a lot of year end spending to whittle it down so that taxpayers would not get sticker shock.

As the NDP crows that this is fiscally responsible, that it will be great and it will get what it wants, are the Liberals likely to fritter away the money before it ever gets to them? Are they actually going to get anything in the end even though they are up here crowing about it? It has supported a corrupt government but will get nothing in the end.

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

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-48 is heavy on the public purse and very light on details. I have to say that is the whole problem. It is very hard to believe that the money will flow.

Regarding the member's point about what happened a decade ago, the current government has been in power for over a decade. When we look at the health care question and what the member is talking about in terms of going to see his doctor, I can say that balancing the budget over a decade ago was on the backs of the health care system in every province. As a result, we now have very long waiting lists. People are waiting in lines for tests. We have a real problem in health care.

It has been very puzzling as to why any party would ever prop up a government that has shown this kind of fiscal irresponsibility.

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

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has laid out a very strong case for why Bill C-48 is actually a recipe for disaster. As I travel around my riding and indeed across the country, I hear the same things, that it will be just like the agricultural program known as CAIS, the gun registry and the sponsorship scandal. When we look at Bill C-48 and the fact that there are $4.5 billion with no details, I wonder whether the member would not agree that this is simply another recipe for disaster for the Canadian taxpayer.

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

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member's point is extremely well taken. In actual fact, the only way that programs can be paid for is through tax dollars. Canadians across this nation are very happy to pay fair taxes. They want to build the economy and ensure that social programs are put in, as we do on this side of the House, but in actual fact there is no plan and there are only so many dollars. How are those programs going to be paid for? What tax level does the ordinary family have to meet in order to sustain this ill-gotten bill?

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

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak tonight to Bill C-48, the second budget bill produced by the government, the Liberal-NDP budget.

It probably will come as no surprise to anyone to find out that I am strongly opposing the legislation for various reasons, which I would like to lay out before the House.

It should be noted that what the government has done to the budgetary process in Canada has basically thrown every parliamentary tradition surrounding budgets out the window. The Liberals have taken every fiscal framework in this country and thrown it out the window.

In the last election the finance minister from Regina stood up and said that there was no way we could afford these Conservative promises because we only had a $1.9 billion surplus. Months later, it turned out that the forecast was actually a $9.1 billion surplus. Obviously the government was not revealing the accurate figures.

In that respect it is nice to know that people like the member for Peace River, vice-chair of the finance committee, has actually rectified this by having some independent experts provide some forecasting so we can have some confidence in the numbers the government is producing.

It is so amazing to see a government in which a Prime Minister, without even phoning or consulting his own finance minister, meets with the leader of the NDP and Buzz Hargrove in a hotel room and rewrites his own budget that he presented in the House on February 23. The finance minister found out later on that the Prime Minister had completely rewritten the budget.

Imagine if the former prime minister, Jean Chrétien, had done that to the present Prime Minister when he was finance minister. This is a man who was ready to resign over the fact that his friends at Earnscliffe were not getting enough contracts. Imagine what he would have done if the prime minister at that time had changed his own budget.

It is unprecedented for a government to introduce a budget, saying that it is the budgetary document that has been worked on for a year, and then, a month later, say that it made a big mistake and that $4.5 billion of tax cuts will be taken out and put back in another budget.

As the member for Peace River pointed out, the Prime Minister stood in the House and said that we could not tinker with the budget because it was perfect and it was the ultimate document, but then a month later he stands in the House and says that it was a $4.6 billion budget but, “oops, I missed the $4.6 billion. We will put it into a new piece of legislation”.

That brings me to my second point. This legislation is the worst legislation I have ever seen and that has probably been produced in the history of this country. It contains no fiscal framework whatsoever.

Just for the reference of members, the 431 page budget plan 2005 lays out a lot of specifics as to where money goes. We could debate the specifics all we wanted. Then the government introduced Bill C-43, the budget implementation bill. Again we could debate the pros and cons of the legislation

Let me read some specifics: Increase the amount that Canadians can earn tax free; increase the annual limits on contributions to tax deferred retirement savings plans; extend the scientific research and education tax incentives; amend part 6 of the Excise Tax Act. Another good one is that part 2 amends the air travellers' security charge to reduce the air travellers' security charge for domestic air travel to $5 for one way travel and to $10 for round trip travel, for transport air travel to $8.50 and for other international air travel to $17, applicable to air travel purchased on or after March 1, 2005.

Why am I saying this? It is because this is how we introduce a piece of legislation. We can debate it, but all Canadians know that if they go to the website and pick up Bill C-43 they can see where their money is going. They either like it or they do not and they can debate it.

Bill C-48, with $4.5 billion on two pages, is the most ridiculous piece of legislation ever introduced. This is what it says, “This enactment authorizes the Minister of Finance to make certain payments”. That provides a lot of solace to those taxpayers working till June to fund the government. He will make certain payments. What will he fund? He will fund things for students. What will he fund for students? I do not know. The Liberals do not know. They will just fund things for students. They will go to universities across the country telling students that they will not have to pay as much for education. How will the Liberals do that? They do not know but they will do it because they will ensure there is a contingency fund of a few billion dollars.

They are going to fund foreign aid with $500 million. Where is that going to go? It does not say. This piece of legislation, at the very least, after they threw out the entire budgetary process of the Parliament of Canada and the Government of Canada, ought to have stated exactly where the $500 million would be going so we could have actually debated something, rather than debating a nothing piece of legislation.

I encourage all Canadians watching the debate to go to the parliamentary website or pick up Bill C-48 and read what an absolute farce it actually is.

Thirdly, the bill is fiscally irresponsible. The Government of Canada has been on a spending spree like no other in our history. From 1999 to this fiscal year, we have seen a 44.3% increase in spending that is unsustainable in the long term. It has completely forgotten about the debt. We have a $500 billion debt in this country. We have debt payment charges on a yearly basis of about $35 billion to $40 billion. I believe it is the largest outlay every year by the Government of Canada from a fiscal sense and the government is not even addressing that.

What that means is that the government is basically mortgaging our children's future to pay for present programs. That is fundamentally wrong and it is unjust to future generations of Canadians. The debt ought to receive the proper attention. We need a true debt retirement program over a 20 year period.

Another point is that this does not respect taxpayer dollars. It is very easy for MPs, especially on the left side of the spectrum, to stand up and say that we should spend more and more and that there are wonderful areas that need to be addressed. In fact, as members of Parliament we could all stand and say that this is a very good initiative so we should spend more on it.

However the counterbalance to that is that we in the House do not produce this money. We do not generate the wealth. We do not generate the jobs that generate the wealth across the country. It is Canadians working hard until June. Canadians work until June to fund the government's activities and yet it seems so little in the House do we hear from the other side any recognition of the fact that very moderate Canadians of modest means work until June to actually fund the activities that we fund.

It is very easy to spend other people's money. This is very sensitive to me. I want to indicate that I was raised in a very middle class home by two parents who were school teachers. They never made more than $65,000 per year, most of the time on one income, whether it was my mother or father working. They raised four kids and were paying 40% of their income in taxes and paying more and more in taxes and user fees each year. That is where the money is coming from.

All the NDP talks about is corporate tax cuts. Fine, let us not debate that right now, let us debate the fact that we are taking money out of the pockets of average Canadians who cannot afford the little things in life that they would like some money to actually afford, whether it is for music lessons or a two week holiday that year. What the government and the NDP is doing is taking money away.

We ought to rephrase the way we actually talk about taxes in the country. We are not taking taxes. We are taking people's life energy because what they are doing each and every day is getting up, going to work for 8 to 12 hours a day, pouring their life energy into something. What the government does, without respect for any of that hard work, is it takes away that life energy and spends it indiscriminately, wastes it on all sorts of programs, whether it is Kyoto, the firearms registry or whatever one wants to say.

That is why the whole paradigm, the whole shift needs to occur. We cannot just say that money grows on trees and that we will spend it in whatever way we please. We actually have to start realizing that taxpayers are working hard to produce this money and we should treat that money as funds in trust. This is not our money to spend. It is money to divert to the priorities of Canadians but at the same time we must have respect for the fact that they work until June for the government to even fund all these activities. It is fundamentally wrong and it needs to change but it will only change as a result of a Conservative government in Canada.

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

7:30 p.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood Ontario

Liberal

John McKay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's speech. He kept talking about whether this is unusual legislation. In truth, it is unusual legislation. We are in a happy circumstance where we anticipate, over the next five years, surpluses.

What would the hon. member rather have? Does he want to be in a situation where there is no plan on the part of the government as to how to deal with surpluses? Or would he prefer to be in a situation where we are actually saying to the people of Canada that in the event of a surplus this is what we would spend the money on?

I put it to him that he should review the remarks of the Comptroller General of Canada, who said, first, that this is enabling legislation, not mandatory but enabling. Second, he said it is the first time that spending authority will be provided once there is a minimum fiscal balance, in this case, $2 billion. Third, he said that it is a prudent approach. Fourth, he said that there is a cap on the amount of money being spent, namely, $4.5 billion. Fifth, he said it gives some lead time to the government and the people of Canada to determine the ways in which such a measure should be approached. Sixth, he said that all initiatives will require Treasury Board approval.

It is unusual legislation, it is novel legislation and it is unplanned surplus legislation, but I put it to the hon. member that in fact it is well within fiscal guidelines and is an intelligent, reasoned approach to unplanned surplus.

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

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for the member. I know that he has a fine mind, but he is twisting himself into a pretzel to defend this legislation.

The fact is that he and his colleague, the Minister of Finance, defended the first budget bill as a perfect bill and a month later they are twisting themselves into pretzels, saying, “Whoops, we missed $4.6 billion. We are going to have to put this in”. It is a perfect budget now, they say, after they have changed it by $4.6 billion.

He talks about the issue of unplanned surpluses. The reality is that the finance minister in the last election stood up and criticized our party when he said that there was no way we could afford those things we talked about because the surplus was $1.9 billion. We all know what he said after the election. He said, “Whoops, I got that wrong too. It is actually $9.1 billion”. Maybe he is dyslexic and he got the numbers mixed up, but that shows what this government is doing with its own surpluses. It has no idea. That is one of the concerns: it has no idea in terms of fiscal forecasting.

Second, on the whole issue of “enabling legislation”, that is a euphemism. This is a $4.5 billion slush fund. That is what this is. After closely watching this government operate for 2000, I have absolutely no confidence whatever in its ability to manage or spend taxpayer dollars.

I will give another example of that. In the budget of February 23--

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

7:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Eight surpluses in a row.

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

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Because the government has been overtaxing Canadians.

In the budget of February 23, the government said that if it spent $5 billion it would implement the Kyoto protocol. Three weeks later, the government said it was sorry, but it got that wrong and it was going to have to spend $10 billion.

At the environment committee, I know that the member for Essex and the member for Red Deer looked at where the money is going. They cannot find out where the money is going. It has gone off into various programs. We cannot find out where it has gone. While the government has actually spent about $2 billion, emissions have gone up.

That is the fiscal record of this government. It is absolutely disastrous. The only reason it has surpluses is that it has been overtaxing Canadians.

That is my final point. The Liberals have no concept of the fact that average Canadians are working harder and harder, even according to Don Drummond, and there is no increase in their take-home pay. That is fundamentally wrong and it needs to change.

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

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Charlie Penson Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thought the member for Edmonton—Leduc really hit the nail on the head when he talked about the irresponsibility of this Liberal-NDP coalition budget. It is really illegitimate.

I was on the finance committee during the prebudget hearings. We heard from a lot of Canadians about what they wanted. We thought the budget in Bill C-43 set out the priorities that government thought important. We thought that was its agenda for the year. Then we found out that they had an illegitimate meeting in that no-tell motel room in Toronto and produced an illegitimate budget as a result.

The member for Edmonton--Leduc was talking about the debt. I would like to ask him a question. Was it not the irresponsible spending during the last coalition of these two parties, the NDP and the Liberals, that ran up this massive debt and cost interest charges of $35 billion to $40 billion per year, which Canadians are having to pay?

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

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will address the last issue first. It was the debt; it was the increase in spending that started in the Trudeau years, from 1968 until about 1984, that caused the increase. There was a $200 billion debt at that time because of the way the system was set up.

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

7:35 p.m.

An hon. member

Mulroney figured it out before that.

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

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

The member knows there is a lag in terms of when economic policy is implemented and it actually takes effect.

The fact is that the Liberal-NDP coalition set it up so that the Conservatives had a very difficult time in office. Operationally there was a surplus in terms of incoming money, but the problem was what I referred to earlier: the debt was so big at that time. The yearly payments to service that debt were so large that it caused an increase in the debt up to $400 billion.

Those members created the problem and they are making it worse with what they are doing right now.

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

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in today's debate on Bill C-48. I have listened to presentations that have been made here today and in the past.

As members know, I am a rookie member. As one of my colleagues pointed out, I am approaching the end of my rookie year. It is my understanding that Bill C-43 is actually the budget, that the government goes through a budgetary process every year, and this year when that document came forward, it was named Bill C-43.

The Minister of Finance spent months working with his officials and stakeholders to develop a fiscal framework that would serve as a budget for the country for a year. Bill C-43 is called “An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005”. First reading was on March 24.

It is important for Canadians who may be watching this on TV tonight to remember that there is one budget, Bill C-43. That is the budget and it has been passed. I might add that when this was brought forward in the wintertime both the Bloc and the NDP quickly said they were going to vote against the budget. It was very clear to us as the official opposition that if we opposed the budget we would actually trigger an election in the wintertime.

While we did not support everything in the budget, and while there were several provisions we liked that did not go far enough or fast enough, we concluded that we did not want to defeat the government and cause an unnecessary election at that time. We abstained on that bill.

Subsequently there have been a couple of changes made to Bill C-43. That has caused our party to vote in favour of it. As we have said all along, it is not perfect, but it takes several steps in the right direction and we can live with it. That is really what it boils down to. Some of my caucus colleagues had to hold their noses when they voted for it, I think, but at the end of the day we did vote to support Bill C-43.

Bill C-48 is not the budget. It is not a budget, it is not the budget, it is not part of the budget, it is not an amendment to the budget and it is not a supplement to a budget. It is an illegitimate child conceived in a hotel room in downtown Toronto between the Prime Minister and the leader of the NDP; I can picture the two of them sitting there on the ends of two beds talking about what they were going to do.

They drafted Bill C-48. It would be interesting for Canadians to actually see a copy of Bill C-43. It is 110 pages long and filled with all kinds of complicated language and references to other supporting documents. If they were to see a copy of Bill C-48, they would see that it is only two pages long.

The rigour that went into the budget and the legions of bureaucrats who spent time knitting this together as something that could work for Canada were not in that hotel room. There were only two people in that hotel room and they wrote something that even in both official languages is only two pages long.

I have had some debate with my colleagues about whether this was initially written on a napkin; we debated whether it was and then whether they had to use both the front and the back of the napkin to get it all down. We all know that not so many years ago the previous prime minister presented what was essentially a handwritten note on a napkin and suggested that it had legal status and the people of Canada should have believed that it was a legitimate document.

Bill C-48 was a deal cooked up between the Prime Minister and the leader of the NDP and it served no purpose other than trying to defend the Prime Minister and keep him in power for a few more months. That is the bottom line. I would argue that the brevity of this document, the fact that there is almost nothing here, is proof of that point.

I remember when this came out. The leader of the NDP crowed that it was a great deal for Canadians. He crowed that it was a great victory for his party. He threw that $4.6 billion number around. He crowed about the fact that the corporate tax cuts he disagreed with had been removed.

Since that time it has been interesting to watch the government backpedal on this, saying that it is not really $4.6 billion, that the government will only spend the money if there is an unexpected surplus. Given that the government is setting the budget, one would think if it was being honest with Canadians and there was going to be surplus, it would know about it in advance.

Presuming that the Minister of Finance actually intends to deliver what he said he was going to deliver in the budget, there will not be an unintended surplus, in which case this will never happen. It raises the question as to whether the Prime Minister was being disingenuous with the leader of the NDP, whether the Minister of Finance was being disingenuous with the people of Canada, or whether it was the leader of the NDP who was being disingenuous with the people of Canada. That is on the spending side.

On the tax cut side, the leader of the NDP crowed that he had killed the corporate tax cuts. One of the parts of the original budget that we supported was the idea that there were corporate tax cuts. We thought they should have been introduced more quickly and that the cuts should have been deeper, but we at least agreed with the principle that we needed to move in that direction. We thought it was something we could work with moving forward.

The NDP ideologically disagreed with that at the time and that was to be expected. The leader of the NDP puffed up his chest and said that the NDP got the corporate tax cuts killed. Now we hear the Minister of Finance saying that is not really true, maybe they will be taken out and maybe they will not, but even if they are, they will be reintroduced later.

Again I ask the question of who is not telling the truth in this story. When we consider what the leader of the NDP has said, what the Minister of Finance has said, and what the Prime Minister has said, they do not add up. Somebody is being misled. Either this is meaningful, it means something and real consequences will come as a result of this bill, which is what the NDP suggests, or as the government now suggests, nothing very substantial will come as a result of this, “We will put the tax cuts back in somewhere else. We were honest with Canadians when we laid out our initial budget. We are not expecting an unexpected surplus and we can only spend these dollars if there is an unexpected surplus, so it actually does not meaning anything”.

In conclusion on this point, I say to Canadians that Bill C-43 is the budget. Bill C-48 is not the budget. It is a deal that was cut later. It is a piece of legislation before the House. Many of my colleagues today have argued very eloquently that their problem with this bill is that there was no due diligence, that there is no plan. There is $4.6 billion in proposed spending with no provisions for how that money is going to get spent. That is a very legitimate concern.

At the end of the day this bill is a political convenience, a piece of politically convenient politics. The two principals that negotiated it are arguing almost the opposite outcomes of what it is going to mean. It behooves all members of the House, in particular those in the opposition, to exercise their due diligence. It is part of our responsibility as members of the House, as watchdogs on the government, to make sure it is spending our money properly and doing things in the proper way.

It is inconceivable to me that anyone would suggest that Bill C-48 was developed through any appropriate or reasonable process or that there was ever any due diligence or anywhere close to the amount of due diligence that was necessary. The irony, of course, is the actual title of Bill C-48, “an act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments”. Someone should have put in brackets “the Minister of Finance who was not even there when the deal was done”.

My last point is that all Canadians know that there was great stress between the previous prime minister and the previous minister of finance, but I do not think the previous prime minister ever took the feet out from underneath his finance minister the way the present Prime Minister took the feet out from under his finance minister with this shoddy piece of legislation.

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

7:50 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was going to sit back and just let the Conservatives go back and forth at each other and enjoy the humour of a lot of the comments, but I cannot help but make a few comments through you to the self-pronounced rookie.

It is crucially important for him to recognize, as I pointed out to one of his colleagues earlier, that the same process which is in Bill C-48 is in Bill C-43. Bill C-48, whether he likes it or not, is a piece of budget legislation as pronounced by the government, because until we get rid of the Liberals as a government, they get to make that decision. We have to work and try to come up with the best possible solution for Canadians, but it is a bill. As I pointed out to his colleague earlier, the same process in Bill C-48 is in Bill C-43. Bill C-43 does not give any more of an indication of how the money is going to be spent. It does not say that this amount will go to Regina for this and this amount will go to Saskatoon for that. It does not do that. That is not what budgets are about. Bill C-43 follows the same process. It is probably something he will understand in time.

The other comment I want to make to the self-pronounced rookie, through you, Mr. Speaker, is on the innuendo that two people were holed up in a hotel room and were writing on napkins. The reality is that a good number of hours were spent working and negotiating a deal. While the Conservatives were wallowing somewhere around Canada, not representing Canadians, a deal was being made to make sure that Canadians, not just corporations, benefited from that budget.

Everybody in this Parliament who has been around for any length of time knows that there is more of a surplus. One would have to be without a mind to not know that there is more of a surplus right now. We know the government has fudged those figures. If there is more money for the government to come up with some other dollars to spend on things, so be it. The reality is we got $4.5 billion or $4.6 billion to go back to Canadians.

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

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am a rookie. It is not self-professed. I have been here for less than a year, so I am not a self-professed rookie; I actually am a rookie, for at least two more weeks.

In response, I want to clarify two points. The first point I was making was on the kind of deal making which led to Bill C-48, the notion that people sit in a room and make a deal and before they come out, they not only agree to what they will put on paper, but they agree on what both parties will say, “You say this, and then we'll say that we made an offer” or they did not make an offer, but I guess that is another story.

It is the same as when Dalton McGuinty, the premier of Ontario, came to Ottawa with great fanfare. He spent many hours behind closed doors with the Prime Minister. Quite frankly, I think that is what delayed the Prime Minister from actually getting to Europe in time for the VE Day celebrations in Holland. It is the same thing. The two came out thumping their chests about $5.75 billion. Before Premier McGuinty got back to Toronto, the Liberals here in Ottawa were already backpedalling, saying, “It really is not $5.75 billion. We were already going to spend this. We were already going to spend that”.

That is my first point and the first part of my answer, which is that it is so disingenuous the way that this was presented to the Canadian people. Either it is a lot or it is not a lot. It cannot be both at the same time.

In terms of the way that Bill C-48 was conceived, my point is, it is not whether there is detail around implementation. My point has to do with before the fact, rather than after the fact. There was no due diligence. It is impossible to believe that there was a sufficient amount of due diligence that would require many experts, many bureaucrats and ironically, the Minister of Finance himself to decide whether a $4.6 billion expenditure was prudent and reasonable, could be afforded and was structured properly.

That is what I am referring to. When I say there is no detail, this very thin piece of paper is proof that it was a deal cut by two guys in a hotel room one afternoon.

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

7:55 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, as I make my comments on Bill C-48, I would like to recognize the fact that on a the bill which seems to be so generous and the Liberals as a government seem to be so keen in supporting, we have seen so few stand up and defend this bill and defend the spending that they have done.

As my colleague once said, it is a deal made in a hotel room over a glass of wine, I suspect with a candle. It must have been quite an interesting night with the Prime Minister, the leader of the NDP and Buzz Hargrove. It would be interesting to see who played the server and the servant, the towel boy.

The bill that we are debating is the same as Bill C-43 that we talked about earlier. It depicts a government that continues to spend and spend, with agreement from the New Democratic Party, without a plan. We have seen so much of this happening in so many ways. It is interesting that the people of Canada are being told how much more spending there is and what a great deal this is going to be.

When I sat in on the first budget, I read the book that the Minister of Finance put out. He stressed to Canadians that it was an all encompassing budget, a budget that included all Canadians and served the needs of all Canadians. It could not be changed or cherry-picked to help different areas. He assured Canadians time after time that all of that was included. He assured Canadians that the Liberals had done their due diligence, that they had done their homework. They had presented a budget that was for all Canadians.

Then, in a blink of an eye and in a deal of desperation, the Liberals committed to spend $4.6 billion more. I do not have the facts, but having some history in the province of Manitoba, I suspect that $4.6 billion is larger than some provincial budgets. In a matter of a heartbeat they spent that money.

I have looked through the bill. I have tried to come up with a plan of how they intend to spend this money. Normally there would be an indication as to what areas it would go to and how it would help to improve the lives of Canadians.

I think back to my previous life in business. I can imagine any of us, and I suspect most on this side have experienced it, but I doubt very much that they have on the government side. Imagine going to a bank with a three page document that lays out a rough idea of where the money will be spent, if the bank gives the money. We have to remind taxpayers that they are the bank. The taxpayers are the people who give the government the money for it to spend to help all of Canada.

What the government has done is it has said to Canadians, “We are going to spend a certain amount of money, an amount in the billions, in this area, but we really do not have a plan. You have to trust us. You have to take our word for it that we know how to spend it and we are going to spend it in the best way we possibly can”.

That is not good enough. I do not think that any financial institution, and in this case the Canadian taxpayer, is being served by a government that would do that to the public. I do not understand why the government reduced a job creating measure, the tax cuts for businesses which would create employment, which would create job opportunities for hundreds of thousands more Canadians, and instead turned it into a job killing measure.

It is not me saying that. It is the business community of Canada that is saying it, the people who employ the people who pay the very taxes, the bank, that the government collects to spend. The government has said to the public, “You can forgo your tax decreases. We will forgo the job creation that those tax decreases would create, and instead we are going to spend $4.6 billion of your money with no plan”.

We have certainly seen the government in the past come forward with spending plans without an implementation plan. We only have to look to the firearms registry. It is interesting that we were talking about it today. When I first heard of the firearms registry, it was going to cost Canadian taxpayers $2 million. Where are we today? We are at $1 billion plus, and continuing to spend and still there is no plan to implement it.

There is no plan that tells Canadians how the government will tax their money and how it will spend it. All it has told Canadians is how it will tax them. It has not provided a plan. This is done on a knee-jerk reaction in response to a situation to which the government reacts, but fails to have an implementation plan.

We have talked about Davis Inlet, where a whole community was moved. Unfortunately, because it was a knee-jerk reaction, hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent, but the problem was not resolved. Nothing was ever dealt with.

It has been in the news and I do not think it is a secret to anybody, particularly to most Canadians, but we have certainly seen what happens when we start throwing money at an advertising plan without a plan to implement it and no way to check if the money is being spent properly. It leads to corruption and to the charges that we have seen and the charges that will come.

My experience has been in the province of Manitoba and I have seen what New Democratic governments can do when they get their hands on the public purse. They spend without a plan. They tax people. They find ways of increasing service charges and fees and at the end of the day, are we better off? That has been summed up many times by our colleagues. If we look at the way spending increases have happened in the government and where the taxpayers are today, the two do not balance out. We have seen huge increases in spending and very little to increase the quality of life for Canadians.

We on this side of the House believe that Canadians want the best life that is possible. We believe that a government should allow those people to make their spending decisions for themselves. They have a far better chance of being successful and have a far better chance of creating a family environment where everyone in the family is encouraged to succeed and do better. That, in turn, creates a better Canada.

What we have today and what we have seen in the last several weeks is a government that continues to believe that it can spend our money, taxpayers' money, far better than we can. Our party just does not believe that. We believe in a policy and a system where people who are left with an extra dollar in their pocket will choose where they want to spend it, how they want to spend it, and more than likely will choose a way that improves the quality of life for their families.

Another example we have seen recently is the child care program. The government has committed $5 billion. It is not that it is shielding a plan from us. The minister has clearly stated there is no plan. He is not sure if it will be $5 billion, $10 billion or what the cost will be at the end of the day. However, come hell or high water, the Liberals will implement a plan because they feel they know what is best for families across Canada.

A budget is about opportunity. It is about generating a future for Canadians. It is about optimism. With the present budget Bill C-48, we have seen a deal that was made late at night by two people, one of whom was trying to save his political skin. At the start of Bill C-43, the original budget, we had agreed that we would not defeat it. The Prime Minister, in a fearful mood of where things were going in his political career, made a choice to spend $4.6 billion without consulting anybody, even his own finance minister.

I suspect the finance minister is kind of like the Maytag repairman. He is the loneliest guy in town right now because decisions are being made that affect his department and how he manages the department. He is not even at the table to make those decisions.

I will not be supporting Bill C-48. It has been foisted upon Canadians by an irresponsible government and supported by an irresponsible New Democratic Party. I hope that Canadians will see it for what it is. It is an attempt by the Prime Minister to maintain his grip on power, nothing less.

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

8:05 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is so political and some time soon we are going to get a chance to vote on this, but I want to ask the hon. member a question for clarification.

We are talking tonight about $4.6 billion. That is really over a two year period, not one year, so if we are talking about a one year budget it is $2.3 billion. That involves about $800 million for affordable housing, $750 for education, $500 million for the environment, and $250 million for foreign aid. That works out to roughly 1% of the $180 billion the government spends every year. I do not think it is irresponsible at all.

We are going to be dealing with some of this spending in the future supply votes next December, next June, and in the December that follows from that. It is not irresponsible. The OECD and the International Monetary Fund are saying that Canada is the only G-7 country that is going to remain in surplus in 2005 and 2006, precisely the periods that this budget is covering.

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

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting how the Liberals always portray their spending habits. What the member forgets to tell Canadians is that in the past 10 years, government spending on programs has gone up 50%. The Liberals neglect to tell people that. It seems like such a small amount when talking about percentages, but if we look at the actual increase in the spending of the government over the past several years, it is atrocious. It is reckless spending. It is spending without a plan.

If it is so important and if it is so great for Canadians, why was it not in the original budget? What caused the epiphany that night in that dimly lit hotel room that would drive the Prime Minister to increase spending by $4.6 billion?

What he also does not mention is that a lot of the spending that is talked about in this $4.6 billion is contingent upon other provinces and other governments spending money as well. That triggers an inflationary cost that is not even talked about, so I do not think that the member or the government can give anybody a lecture on good budgeting and good management of spending. It has been out of control for a long time and today Bill C-48 continues that process.

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

8:05 p.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the member across indicated that he saw firsthand the consequences of an NDP government. I saw firsthand the consequences of a Conservative government that was in power between 1984 and 1993. I have seen the amount of debt that was added. I have seen how the annual deficit was increased by the party of the member opposite in the last year in power, not by the $4.5 billion that we are talking about tonight but by $43 billion.

That government lost control of monetary and fiscal responsibility, interest rates were at 12%, unemployment was at 12%, debt to GDP ratio was at 73%, and the country was bankrupt.

How can we as parliamentarians ensure that the policies and the programs of the government are never ever visited on Canadians again?

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

8:05 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I suspect that the member is talking about the free trade agreement that brought wealth and employment to Canadians at a record level. But I ask the member, if he is so committed to his budget and to this added piece of legislation, why is he not standing on his feet to defend it? Why does he just question members on this side? It is because it is indefensible.