Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise in the House tonight to talk about Bill C-48. I think that Canadians should know how much information there is in the bill about the $4.5 billion that it covers. I will read it out so that Canadians understand the lack of detail. It states:
(a) for the environment, including for public transit and for an energy-efficient retrofit program for low-income housing, an amount not exceeding $900 million;
(b) for supporting training programs and enhancing access to post-secondary education, to benefit, among others, aboriginal Canadians, an amount not exceeding $1.5 billion;
(c) for affordable housing, including housing for aboriginal Canadians, an amount not exceeding $1.6 billion; and
d) for foreign aid, an amount not exceeding $500 million.
There is no detail. It is a blank cheque. Canadians should understand that there is no detail. Why would we support something of that nature?
The Conservative Party of Canada believes that every Canadian can live in a country with the highest standard of living in the world. Our goal is that every Canadian who wants a job should be able to get a job. Our goal is that every region of the country will enjoy economic growth and new opportunities for the people of those regions. Our goal is to make Canada the economic envy of the world. We want every mother and father in Canada to be able to go to bed at night knowing that their children will have the chance to live the Canadian dream. They will be able to get post-secondary education, find a good, well paying job, afford to start a family, buy a house, save for their retirement, and ensure that they can have a bit left over for summer camps and vacations. One can only do that if the government does not overtax Canadians and then recklessly spend their tax dollars.
Instead, in most Canadian families, both parents need to work, one just to pay the taxes. In my opinion, a dollar left in the hands of the family household or entrepreneur is more beneficial than a dollar left in the hands of a bureaucrat or a politician.
As the Conservative member of Parliament for Oxford, I am offended by these gross budget surpluses. They are nothing more than poor forecasting and overtaxing. If the finance minister had $4.5 billion left over after he created the original budget in Bill C-43, why did he not apply it to the national debt? Why did he not use it as a tax break for middle income families?
Bill C-48, which we have come to know as the $4.5 billion NDP budget, is a prime example of how not to govern a country. We have before us a budget bill that in effect promises money to be directed to social programs, contingent on the fact that there is a budget surplus in 2006.
This fairytale deal was born in a hotel room by a Prime Minister desperate to survive the Gomery inquiry testimony of Liberal Party scandal and corruption. His partner, the leader of the NDP, chose to ignore the stench coming from the Gomery inquiry and instead chose to improve his own public profile by making a deal that nobody, including the Minister of Finance, wanted. Today we find ourselves debating a bill that has no specific plan. I just read it out loud. It has no details, just pie in the sky promises on how to spend $4.5 billion.
Let us take a moment and think what $4.5 billion would have done for farmers in this country. In the main budget we have to use a microscope to find a mere mention of Canada's agricultural sector. In this add-on budget it aims to take away experimental farms that are vital to serving the different regions of the country. That is the Liberal way, cut here and spend it there.
What would $4.5 billion have done for the development of more doctors in this country? The Conservative Party has consistently opposed the Liberal approach to spending without an adequate plan, which is reflected in Bill C-48. The Liberal approach is cruel not only to taxpayers, but more importantly to those who depend on promised services.
Think of what we could have done with that money to address Canadians' concerns with waiting lists. How many more MRI machines could have been purchased to alleviate the wait for those who are suffering? No, instead we needed to earmark $4.5 billion to the ideals of the NDP. In turn, what Canada received was another 10 months of governing by a party that lacks vision, leadership and integrity.
Just because we are opposed to this budget of convenience does not mean my party lacks a social conscience. The Conservative Party wants to ensure the social needs of Canadians are met. We recognize that many Canadians are not receiving the level of assistance from the federal government that they deserve. This is a direct result of the Liberal government's approach to problem solving: throw money at problems without an adequate plan to ensure the level of service actually gets delivered and meets the targeted results it was created for in the first place.
It would be irresponsible and cruel to Canadians in need to know that more money is being thrown at programs that are not meeting their objectives. The responsible Conservative Party approach would be for the government to first ensure that existing money is spent effectively to improve programs and services to ensure that nobody is left behind.
At the finance committee the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition rejected Conservative Party efforts to restore prudent fiscal management, to include real solutions for Canadians, such as matrimonial property rights for aboriginal women and to ensure accountability and transparency.
At report stage the Conservative Party has tried once again to move amendments to make the spending in Bill C-48 more accountable to Canadians and to reflect a more prudent fiscal approach.
The Conservative amendment to clause 1 would raise the amount of surplus that would be set aside for debt paydown. The interest saved as a result of additional federal debt paydown is needed to prevent cuts to social programs as a result of the impending demographic crunch.
The Conservative amendment to clause 2 would force the government to table a plan by the end of each year outlining how it intended to spend the money in the bill. Spending without a plan is a recipe for waste and mismanagement. It is cruel not only to taxpayers but more important, as I said, it is cruel to those who depend on promised services.
The Conservative amendment to clause 3 would ensure that important accountability and transparency mechanisms were in place for corporations wholly owned by the federal government. Accountability and transparency should be paramount to any government, especially in this case, considering Bill C-43 advocates spending an additional $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money. Accountability and transparency, as I said, are important. We have lost that in the government and what we end up with is wasteful spending of taxpayers' money.
There has been a lot of discussion in the House today from the NDP and the Liberals questioning what it is that we do not like about Bill C-48. I would like to make it clear that it is not so much what is in Bill C-48 that we do not like, but has more to do with what it lacks. There is no concrete plan on how that money will actually bring reality to the promises made.
I would like to give some examples of why my party has no faith in the promises made by the Liberal Party. The Liberal record on spending without a plan should strike fear into any taxpayer in this country. Since 1999-2000, program spending has gone from $109.6 billion to $158.1 billion, an increase of 44.3%, a compound annual growth rate of 7.6%, when the economy itself managed to grow by only 31.6%, a compound annual growth rate of 5.6%. Once the Liberals had our tax dollars, they could not resist spending them even faster than the economy was growing.
It is not surprising there is so much waste with the government. Often the Liberal government responds in a knee-jerk way by throwing money at problems. The Liberals confuse spending money with getting results, such as throwing money at a firearms registry as a way to deal with the criminal misuse of firearms but with no explanation of how this would prevent criminals from getting and using guns. The registry was to cost $2 million. Reports now indicate that the actual cost is close to $2 billion.
Not long ago the Canadian public saw television reports of children high on gasoline and the Liberals simply threw money at Davis Inlet without a plan. The community was moved to new housing a few miles away at a cost of $400,000 per person but the problems went with them.
The Quebec referendum shocked the nation. The Liberals responded by throwing money at it but without a real plan. The result was the sponsorship scandal, a $350 million waste of money with $100 million illegally funnelled to Liberal friends and the Liberal Party. Even worse, it has reinvigorated Quebec separatism.
This bill will do nothing for Canadians. It has no information in it and no plans for spending.
On behalf of my constituents in Oxford, I believe that if there is a budget surplus in this country, Parliament should have a say on how it will be spent, not two leaders looking to advance their own political agendas. We need to keep in mind that this is actually Canadian taxpayers' hard earned dollars, not Liberal dollars, not NDP dollars, but Canadians' dollars.