Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to speak on Bill C-48, a budget bill that was introduced by the Liberal government.
What is important about Bill C-48 is the backroom deal that was made by the NDP and Liberals for the government to stay in power. Originally, Bill C-43, the budget bill, had a lot of sense to it, but when the Liberal government felt threatened it suddenly made a deal with the NDP in Bill C-48, which committed $4.6 billion extra as demanded by the NDP.
Without thinking, without consultation and without any kind of plan, the deal with struck. Now we have a bill before the House that has an additional $4.6 billion for expenditures. It is causing concern across the country because we do not know how the money is going to be spent.
Of course there are vague ideas such as housing, foreign aid and things like that, but there is absolutely no concrete plan because this was struck very quickly. Neither did the NDP members ever have an idea about what they wanted to spend the money on, but because there was an opportunity presented to them they signed a deal and said they wanted $4.6 billion to be spent on certain areas, which they identified.
Now Canadians are stuck with it. Today we are debating the bill. It is not possible under any circumstances for any person who is fiscally responsible to support the bill, because this bill, in its generalities, is just about spending money.
Of course one of the areas that has been targeted is foreign aid, which the NDP keeps thinking is its domain. I have been in Parliament for almost eight years and have constantly heard from the NDP that it wants to increase the foreign aid budget to 0.07%, because this was a figure that was pulled out of the air and now the United Nations is committed to it. I think that is a substantial sum of money.
But the dynamics have changed. I come from the continent of Africa, which has been a recipient of the largest amount foreign aid for years and years and I have seen the effects when foreign aid is given without a plan and how it becomes a completely ineffective tool of development. Today, Africa and Latin America have not--and I repeat, have not--borne any fruit from the money that has been poured into these countries with good intentions. Today Africa has the highest levels of HIV and poverty. It has an education system and a health care system that are collapsing. So does Latin America.
People have the idea that if we throw money at this, which is what this budget is all about and what the NDP came up with, for some reason or somehow the extra money will solve the problem and we do not need to have a plan.
Even this week Mr. Lewis was crying that there needs to be 0.07%. What I do not understand about the 0.07% issue is how the money is going to be spent for these people. As a former critic of international development, I have gone round the world. I have been to Europe and I have seen the foreign aid budget for Ireland and for the Netherlands and the foreign aid budgets for all these countries that are pouring in more and more money, but for what and how are we going to use it?
Let me give a small example. When the tsunami disaster took place, the world responded with generosity. Suddenly there was all that money coming in, but there was no plan for how to spend it. The money was there, but how would we spend this money? That today is the issue of foreign aid.
The finance ministers at the G-8 have just wiped out the debts of all these poor countries. I do not see anything wrong with that because those countries were being burdened by their debts. They could not spend money on education and social services that were required in their countries because they were paying this heavy debt. There was no tangible economic benefit received for the money that had been borrowed because nobody was interested in seeing how development took place in these countries.
Now we have the same scenario. We have cleaned up the debt. Fine, but what have we really done? We have changed the fundamentals. Let me explain. Yesterday, even the World Bank president admitted there was a serious flaw. Unless we correct the fundamental flaws that cause poverty in these countries, we can throw as much money as we want at them but nothing much will happen. Let us talk about these fundamental flaws that are causing concern around the world.
Trade barriers to these countries are the largest impediments to development. Farmers in these countries cannot sell their products to us at all because we put artificial barriers on them. The subsidies that we give out, the thousands and thousands of dollars to agriculture, are hurting all those farmers in those countries. If they cannot sell their products, they will remain beggars. We come along and throw a couple of dollars at them and call it foreign aid, but it does not work. That is a fundamental flaw. We need to change that. The WTO is saying that change is required if we want to take Africa and Latin America out of poverty. That is one of the critical factors.
Another factor is good governance, responsible governance. NEPAD has come into place in Africa to provide good governance to Africans. That is fine. One can understand that we would support NEPAD. If Africans can police themselves well and bring in good governance, we would be happy with that, but the case of Zimbabwe shows that NEPAD has a serious flaw. No one is holding Mr. Mugabe accountable for the simple reason that Mr. Mugabe fought for independence in that country when it was under white rule. Out of courtesy to him and out of courtesy for that war that he fought in the bush, nobody is willing to hold him accountable despite the fact that every factor indicates that Zimbabwe is going down.
How could we expect that these kinds of people will be brought to justice? Mr. Mugabe did his job but it was time for him to move on and he did not. These examples keep going on and on. It does not take long for countries that are not sound to fall down. We need to stand behind the African countries and tell them they have to have those institutions. We need to support those institutions.
Only recently, CIDA narrowed its focus to 25 countries. Prior to that we were in 106 countries giving a few dollars and doing what? I do not understand what we were doing. Today my colleague questioned the Minister of International Cooperation as to why we give aid to China. China itself is giving foreign aid to other countries and Canada gives foreign aid to China. Somebody needs to knock their heads here. In answer to our questions we hear, “No, we do not give aid to China. We give it to the other institutions to help them”. They have the money for their institutions to move forward. WTO negotiator John Weekes is working to help China in the WTO.
I could go on and on about foreign aid. It is difficult to support this budget because there is no plan. There is no plan on how we want to spend this thing out here. Hopefully, somebody will hold the government accountable because these are Canadian taxpayers' dollars that we are talking about.