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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

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, our principal legislative objectives continue to be Bill C-43, the third reading vote of which will take place after question period, and Bill C-48. The government believes these bills reflect public interest and the enactment of both of these bills is required before the House adjourns for the summer. As the hon. member mentioned, if the House does not pass Bill C-48, we will be here in July and August. Consequently, we will continue to give these bills priority until they are disposed of.

We will then consider report stage of Bill C-38, the civil marriage bill; Bill C-25; Bill C-28; Bill C-52, the Fisheries Act; Bill C-47; Bill C-53; Bill C-55, the bankruptcy bill; and Bill C-37, the do not call legislation.

The House resumed from June 15 consideration of the motion that Bill C-43, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005, be read the third time and passed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 3:07 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-43.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

Budget Implementation Act, 2005Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to inform the House that, because of the recorded division, the period provided for consideration of government orders will be extended by 11 minutes.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-48, An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

June 16th, 2005 / 3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to continue with my speech on Bill C-48.

The Liberal government has had 12 years to implement a lot of the wish list that the NDP put forward in Bill C-48. I am wondering how the NDP feels assured that any of this is going to happen. The timeframe speaks to the fact that there will be an election before any of this actually comes to pass, so how does that party feel that this is going to carry over?

Daily we see the leader and other members of the party rising and questioning the Prime Minister and ministers on the front bench as to the very issues that the NDP are asking for in Bill C-48. I do not think the New Democrats feel reassured that they ever will come to pass. There was a kind of deathbed conversion by the Prime Minister to stay alive, at least until the summer recess and into the fall by buying the NDP favour over there.

Those members make a big thing that we sat on our hands at second reading of Bill C-43. I feel a lot more content sitting on my hands than using my hands like the NDP members used theirs to prop up the most corrupt government in Canadian history.

The papers are now saying that $5.4 million ended up in the Liberal Party coffers and the Liberals have set up a $750,000 trust fund to pay that back. That has not happened since the loaves and fishes. They are going to have to pony up a lot more money than $750,000, if it ever did show up.

I guess there is going to be a fairytale ending to this. Canadian taxpayers will be relieved to see that none of this is going to come to pass. An election will put an end to all of this and we will get on with a government that will use taxpayers' money in a proper way, that will rise to the challenges that face governments in this country.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Carr Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would say to the hon. member that people believe we will do it because of the things that we said in the last election, thinks like health care, with $41 billion, and the child care program with $5 billion, which we said in the election campaign we would do and we have. Tomorrow there will be an announcement in Richmond Hill, close to my area of the country. The Prime Minister will announce the money for the gas tax. That is what we said we would do in the election. Those are three of many things.

What part of Bill C-48 does the member not agree with? Is it the $1.6 billion for affordable housing? Are you against affordable housing? Is it the $1.5 billion going to post-secondary education? Can you tell me how you can go against giving $1.5 billion more to post-secondary education? There is $1 billion for the environment. Is the member opposed to helping the environment? Finally, there is the $500 million for foreign aid. I say very clearly to the member and all members, what part of that do you not agree with?

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the member repeatedly directed his comments straight over to the member over here without going through the Chair. We would urge all members to follow the Standing Orders and direct their comments through the Chair.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I quite agree with the member for Nepean--Carleton. I did not hear the remarks. I was having a discussion with someone else and missed it. When I listened in after seeing him rising on a point of order, I only heard one such error and it was the word “you” which I assume, of course, was not directed at me.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Carr Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member may know, I was Speaker of the Ontario legislature. I definitely know the rules and I was going through you, Mr. Speaker, to the hon. member. I will always say “through Mr. Speaker”.

Mr. Speaker, through you, I ask the member, and I want to be very clear, Mr. Speaker, through you, what part does the member not agree with in Bill C-48?

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the rookie member over there realizes that rookies do make mistakes and of course the leader of the NDP, as a rookie member, made a huge mistake in trusting the Liberal government to deliver on any of this.

As to what part of it we like or do not like, it is really a sidebar agreement. The member talks about putting money back into health care. Excellent. Nobody disagrees with that. The problem we have is that it is never going to happen because we have seen the reality of $25 billion in cuts over the last 10 years under the Prime Minister as the former finance minister. The government can throw a few dollars back at it but it will never catch up. Provincial ministers and premiers are saying to the federal government that they cannot operate on what the federal government is providing.

Let us talk about child care. The $5 billion allocated for child care is over a number of years. Studies prove it would take $10 billion to $12 billion per year to come up with any sort of a plan that is being floated out there. When the government talks about a 40% increase in child care spaces, the reality is that we are going from 7% capacity, 7 out of 100 kids, to 10 out of 100 kids. It is nowhere near good enough for a program that throws $5 billion at something without any kind of a plan. I guess we have a problem with that.

When we talk about the gas tax, this is about the third year we have heard those promises. We heard about GST rebates to the municipalities. It is not happening. We have seen the gas tax and the vast majority of that is going to go to downtown Toronto. Good for Toronto, but there is a lot of country besides downtown Toronto, so I guess I have a problem with that.

We have spent $2.2 billion over the short term on housing. What has been done? There are no benchmarks to show that there has been any kind of positive reaction to any of that and now another $1.6 billion is being allocated with no specified plan and no specified term involved.

The groups that have studied what the government proposes on education with its NDP sidekicks say that students would save at this rate about $200 and it would cost them $5,000 when they go to pay it back. There is a little bit of short term gain for some serious pain.

I have a real problem with the environment in my area. There are no credits for what my farmers have done and will continue to do. The government is going to buy credits from the Russian mafia and the Chinese triads instead of coming up with a made in Canada solution for Canadians.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to reflect on one part of what my colleague mentioned. He seems to be very critical of Chinese immigrants coming to Canada and the whole issue around that, but we in the New Democratic Party have been absolutely amazed that when it came to selling Canada's natural resources to China, the Conservatives were supporting it. We are kind of at a loss as to where they are coming from.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no validity in what the member just said. I did not say anything against Chinese immigrants. They are great people if they come here and do not jump the queue.

I talked about buying credits from the Chinese triads. We are going to finance the crime and corruption in China by buying carbon credits so that we can offset and everybody keeps polluting. China does not fall under the Kyoto accord, and the member well knows that, and it is building 500 and some coal fired energy plants. That flies in the face of what we are trying to do globally. China just rejected buying a Candu reactor. In fact, we could probably argue about whether it paid for the one it has. Let us clean up the globe if we are going to have a global solution. Kyoto does not do it.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am particularly pleased to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-48, which the NDP, in this corner of the House, gave rise to. It is important. Indeed, after two years of Liberal inaction and budgets causing despair among Canadians, it is thanks to the NDP that we have a better, balanced budget.

I would like to begin by talking for a few minutes about some of the important aspects for Quebec. It is quite clear, in our opinion, that neither the Liberal Party of Canada nor the Bloc Québécois has defended the interests of Quebeckers. For many years, in this House, we have been aware of the pressing needs of Canadians. However, neither the Liberal Party nor the Bloc Québécois has proposed anything in response.

I would first like to read remarks by a few Quebeckers who think what the NDP did is important. They come from all parts of Quebec. It is very important that Quebeckers be heard. Through the changes the NDP has made to the budget, we have touched on a few aspects that, we hope, will improve the situation in Quebec.

That said, I would like to read from a letter from the Centre d'alphabétisation de Villeray in Montreal. This is only one of the many comments we have received from people in Quebec. The centre's representative wrote:

After some people have waited more than 10 years for decent housing at a price they can afford, we feel it is essential to tell you it is high time for you to show some common sense and help one part of the population recover some of its dignity.

That is only one of the many comments we have received showing the importance of this budget for Quebeckers.

Here is another from the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain or FRAPRU. It is a well known organization in Quebec, as you know. François Giguère, FRAPRU's president, appeared before the Standing Committee on Finance. He said that Quebec had exhausted its funding under the current initiative—he was speaking about housing, of course—and really needed the additional funds promised in Bill C-48.

It is obvious, as FRAPRU indicated, that when the Bloc Québécois opposes this bill, it is opposing something that the most experienced people in the area of housing in Quebec are promoting as a solution to the current situation in the province.

The Liberal Party of Canada has done nothing to solve the housing problem there. The Bloc Québécois is trying to block a bill that will make a difference. FRAPRU clearly stated that the interests of Quebeckers are well served by Bill C-48, for which the NDP is responsible.

I will read a third letter. I could read them for half an hour or even two hours, but I do not think that I would be allowed to continue like that. This letter is from Gabrielle Vena, president of L'Ombre-Elle, which is a home to assist and shelter women who are victims of spousal violence. She wrote:

We are writing this letter to ask you to rapidly adopt the NDP's amendment to provide $1.6 billion over two years for new social housing and $0.5 billion to make affordable housing more energy efficient.

As you know, in recent years, there has been a rental housing crisis in Quebec, and low-rent housing is even harder to find than before.

This is particularly evident in shelters for victims of domestic violence and their children. These women stay longer because they cannot find affordable housing, which in turn means that there are fewer beds for new admissions. Women and children are at risk, while others just need housing in order to leave. This situation is intolerable.

There is another indication. By opposing this bill, the Bloc Québécois is not working in the interest of Quebeckers. And the Liberal Party of Canada, by ignoring the needs of Quebec, is doing exactly the same thing.

I have one last letter. It is from the Association des personnes handicapées Clair-Soleil in the Laurentians, in north- central Quebec. Danielle Harbour-D'Anjou, who is the director of this association for the disabled, wrote the following:

We are writing this letter to ask you to rapidly adopt the NDP's amendment to provide $1.6 billion over two years for new social housing and $0.5 billion to make affordable housing more energy efficient.

Based on all these examples, Quebeckers are sending the House a very clear message. Furthermore, by writing to all the members of this House, they are telling the Liberal Party of Canada that, finally, thanks to the NDP, here is something that has some effect on the lives of Quebeckers and that the Bloc Québécois should not try to oppose this bill.

I would also like to speak for a few minutes about the whole issue of effective management of our resources.

I spoke yesterday in the House about the deplorable record of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party of sound fiscal management of the collective resources of Canadians. The fact is 85% of Liberal government budgets between 1981 and 2001, if we take both provincial and federal governments, were in deficit, the worst record of any Canadian political party. Two-thirds of the Conservative budgets at the provincial and federal levels were in deficit as well.

I mentioned as well the appalling record of the Conservative governments in the 1980s, the record deficits that have never been matched. I should mention as well that n the last federal election campaign, we saw the Conservatives come forward with a platform that was the most expensive in Canadian political history, even before we throw in the aircraft carrier which the leader of the Conservatives threw in at the last moment.

We have seen both Liberal and Conservative mismanagement of finances. A member of the Conservative Party talked about the level of corruption in the Liberal Party before I rose to speak. In this corner of the House, we are waiting, with great interest, for Justice Gomery's report so we can move to take action. Meanwhile, we will continue our work in this corner of the House.

It is important to contrast the corruption of the Liberals with the corruption of the Conservative Party. As we know from Stevie Cameron's book, On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years , the Mulroney Conservative years were just as bad as the years that we are seeing now.

In both cases what we see is corruption at regular levels and bad fiscal management. Over the past 12 to 15 years, we have seen is a decline in the quality of life for most Canadians because of program cutbacks. We have a lack of health care and longer wait lists. We have a crisis in post-secondary and housing. We have longer and longer food bank lineups and more and more child poverty. We also know the average Canadian worker earns 60¢ an hour less and that there are fewer and fewer full time jobs available, less than half of what is created. Most jobs are temporary or part time in nature.

We have seen this steady decline in the quality of life. The NDP budget amendments are designed to stop that decline and to start the country moving forward. We will continue to work, in this corner of the House, for a better balanced budget. We have been pushing this forward. We will continue to work to get a health care policy that stops privatization, which is rampant in this country, and brings a decline in our waiting lists.

Rather than spending money on pharmaceutical products through the evergreening provisions, which means Canadian taxpayer dollars for health care are instead spent to profit the most profitable industry in North America, we will be pushing for home care. We can reduce health care costs that way and channel more money effectively into patient care and reduce waiting lists. We will continue to work for all of these things.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, the NDP member covered quite a bit of ground. However, I would like to point out to him, when he talks about corruption, that he makes a serious error when he uses the words “Liberal” and “Conservative” in the same sentence. I do not think he is being at all honest. I do not know how else I can say that in a parliamentary fashion.

There was never before in Canadian history a scandal of the magnitude we face in the country right now. Not only are the members and the leadership in the governing party, but also the frontbench of the actual government, in collusion in funnelling money from taxpayers into the coffers of the Liberal Party. That has never been seen before in Canadian history.

The fact that those members would collude to prop up that totally corrupt government is a total affront. I will not say that any government, whether it is an NDP government in British Columbia, Saskatchewan or Ontario, or whether it is one of the other governments in one of the provinces or in this place, was ever perfect. That is an unattainable goal. However, the depths to which the government has sunk has indeed set new records. I wish that he would acknowledge that and be a little more careful when he uses the words “Liberal” and “Conservative” in the same sentence. I am challenging him on that part.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am equally concerned about the use of public funds for private fundraising purposes, which we have seen through the sponsorship scandal and through the Liberal Party's mismanagement of public resources. These are public resources that belong to all Canadians and they were misused for private fundraising purposes of the Liberal Party of Canada.

However, where the hon. member errs is by saying that it is without precedent. If he reads the hundreds of pages of documentation that Stevie Cameron put together for her book On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years, , he will see, through the PC Canada fund, the Mulroney Conservatives did the exact same systematic thing by using public funds for private party fundraising purposes. That is what was so deplorable about the Mulroney government, about the Conservative government in power. That is why the Conservatives were virtually wiped out afterward.

Now the Conservatives are coming back and saying “we have changed”. It is up to the Canadian public to determine that. Very clearly in both cases, Conservative and Liberal, we had a systematic use of public funds for private fundraising purposes. Whether it is the Liberal Canada fund for the PC Canada fund, it is the same dirty money. We in this corner of the House oppose both approaches.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the affordable housing initiative. I wanted to point out to the member that this is a problem from coast to coast to coast. In my riding, Nanaimo—Cowichan's Working Group on Homelessness recently did a study. It took a look at the number of homeless in the streets of Nanaimo. Fully 50% of those people on the street are women and many of them had young children.

In addition there was a recent study in the Statistics Canada Daily. It talks about the number of women who are in shelters. Seven out of ten women are reporting physical abuse in shelters. One of the things that contributes to this is the lack of affordable housing.

Could the member specifically comment on how important this better balanced budget will provide affordable housing to women and children in this country?

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to praise the member for the tremendous work she has been doing as an advocate on behalf of all the people of Vancouver Island on the housing crisis which we are currently experiencing in British Columbia.

In my area of Burnaby—New Westminster we have seen a tripling of homelessness. We are seeing record levels of child poverty and people having to go to food banks to get through their month. It is a real tragedy. The Gordon Campbell government has worsened a situation that was already bad enough through federal government neglect. We have the federal Liberals eliminating funding for housing and we have the provincial Liberals doing even worse things, particularly when we talk about single parents, women and children who have been abandoned by the system.

I compliment her on all the work that she has done. She has been a fearless advocate on housing issues in the House. I agree with her that this problem is widespread across the country resolved--

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join the debate on Bill C-48 which would authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments.

However I believe in this debate we cannot just look at this bill by itself standing alone. It must be seen in the larger context of the entire budget, Bill C-43, the budget presented by the Minister of Finance. From everything I have seen, read and heard, it is a budget that meets with almost the unanimous approval of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Budget 2005 is this country's eighth consecutive surplus budget. It is a good budget, a solid budget and a budget that Canadians want this House to pass.

For almost four months now, Canadians have been telling us three things. First, they have been saying to pass this budget. Second, they have been saying that they do not want an election. Third, they have been saying that they do not want a Conservative government. Those are the three things that Canadians have been telling me and other members of this House.

Canadians have been saying that this budget addresses not all aspects, that it is not perfect, that it is not 100%, but, by and large, it addresses their values, their concerns and their priorities. Canadians have also been saying that they want their elected officials, each and every one of them, to work together in committee, in this House and in the Senate to get together to get the budget through.

I cannot stress how important these two budgets, Bill C-43 and Bill C-48, are to Canadians. They contain major initiatives that people all across the country have applauded. Canadians expect and have ever reason to expect these initiatives to be put into place, such as a national system of high quality, universally inclusive, accessible and developmental early learning and child care. This government has committed $5 billion toward this initiative which aims to give all Canadian children the best possible start on their future.

There is the gas tax revenue sharing initiative which will be worth $5 billion over five years, with $6 million of that due for this year alone. This is a much needed investment that will help Canada's cities, towns and communities to meet their needs with long term, reliable sources of funding.

Much has been said in the House about the so-called notion of a fiscal imbalance. I personally do not agree with it. We have two levels of government. We have the federal level and the provincial level. The provincial level of government has more taxing powers than the federal level. If the provincial level needs additional sources of revenue, it is very easy for them to raise taxes, if that is their desire or their wish.

When I analyze the situation I see a fiscal imbalance that is here and is growing between the federal and the provincial government on the one hand and the municipalities on the other hand. By the municipalities I mean the cities and towns. These incorporated communities do not have the capacity to raise taxes. I see that as a true imbalance. This provision would go a little way, although I will not say all the way, but it takes one step to help correct that imbalance.

I would also like to highlight this government's commitment to regional economic development. In 2003, I chaired the Atlantic caucus subcommittee on regional economic development which produced the Rising Tide report. This report, among other things, emphasized the need for the creation and growth of a knowledge economy in Atlantic Canada. I was very pleased that this government responded with a $708 million investment to the Atlantic Canada region.

The Atlantic initiative will include a renewed $300 million Atlantic innovation fund that will support university research, commercialization and innovative companies. The Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will be making a further announcement on this initiative a week from Friday. It will also be supported by a $41 million permanent increase in ACOA's annual budget, totalling $205 million over five years.

Atlantic Canadians have even more to look forward to in this budget. For example, there is the new funding of $110 million over a period of five years to the National Research Council of Canada. In my home province of Prince Edward Island, construction is underway on the National Research Council Institute for Nutriscience and Health, which will anchor a worldclass research cluster. This is an investment not only in the region but in Canada.

Prince Edward Island is also recognized as a leader in alternate energy sources, most notably wind power. There is an existing facility in North Cape, Prince Edward Island and there is a second facility being planned for construction in the eastern part of the province. That is why I am especially pleased to hear of a $200 million investment in wind power, which includes the government's promise to quadruple the wind power production initiative.

The government has also been responsive to the needs of seasonal workers with significant and meaningful changes to the employment insurance program being tested by pilot projects. These include taking the 14 best weeks of work or since the start of the last claim, whichever is shorter. This will mean that for individuals with sporadic work patterns EI benefit levels will be more reflective of their full time work patterns. It removes a certain disincentive in the system and will not only help seasonal workers but also some of the seasonal companies.

Pilot projects are also testing an increase in the working while on claim threshold that will allow individuals to earn the greater of $75 or 40% of weekly benefits in an effort to work without reducing benefits. These changes were called for and needed. As long as we have seasons in this country we will have seasonal workers and these changes were fair, equitable and, in my view, took out of the system a certain disincentive that existed.

When we look at the entire budget package, Bill C-43, Bill C-48 and some of the announcements that precluded the last budget which took place last fall, there are issues I want to speak briefly to because they are all part of a continuum and are vital to Canadians living in every region of this country. The two I want to speak to are the accords on health care and equalization, which of course, as everyone in the House knows, continue to be priorities for all Canadians.

Canadians stand to benefit tremendously from the new deal on health reached between the federal government and the provincial first ministers. This historic agreement was reached last fall just a few months into this government's mandate.

Over 10 years more than $41 billion of new funding for health care will go to the provinces and territories, which in turn have committed to produce information on outcomes so that Canadians can be assured their money is being spent where it should be. The new deal recognizes the need for flexibility by allowing provinces and territories to target specific provincial health care needs.

Provincial and territorial needs are also being met through a new framework for equalization that will see an increase in payment by over $27 billion over the next 10 years. This represents the most significant improvements in this program in the history of it. It introduces and provides stability, predictability and increased funding which will assist the provinces and territories in meeting their social and economic development needs.

Last June, Canadians chose a minority government and they expected that government to work, and rightly so. This government, I submit, has worked. I have said before, when the budget came out in February, that the handprints of all parties were on it. It contained elements from every party.

The leader of the official opposition supported the budget. However, for some reason, whether it was a poll or some other development external to this House, he and his party changed their mind and they indicated that they would defeat the government on the budget.

However the government continued to work. It continued to work with everyone and with the NDP to bring about improvements, which is what Bill C-48 before the House is. It is an example of the type of cooperation that Canadians expect from their government here in the House of Commons.

However, when the Liberals and the NDP started working together for Canadians, suddenly the other parties did not like that.

It is unfortunate that I do not have more time because I could go on about the whole issue of the allegations from the other side about fiscal irresponsibility, but Bill C-48 is a good bill. It is very much part of the budget package, part of the continuum, and I urge every member of the House to support it.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, as I listened to the hon. member's speech I did have some questions. I know that it has been quite an unusual year when there are two parties blended here: the Liberals and the NDP. There is a very blurred line between the two parties. They are much the same.

We have had a terrible experience with the Gomery commission in terms of having to get to the bottom of a scandal that is bigger than any we have ever had in the history of Canada. We are now looking at two budget bills. Normally speaking, we would be looking at one budget because a ruling government party usually puts forward a budget and it is passed in the House of Commons based on the credibility and the confidence of the House of Commons.

In my riding of Kildonan--St. Paul in the province of Manitoba, we had a very big surprise when the Liberal government came with great fanfare to our province and made grand announcements about infrastructure. When I was on the fiscal imbalance committee sitting in the province of Manitoba, I listened very carefully to Manitobans' dismay at the fact that the gas tax money had not been put into place so they could utilize it. Suddenly the rules were changed with the gas tax money. It was the intention of our province to use it for roads and bridges.

Could the member opposite please explain why the money cannot now be used for the damaged roads and bridges that need to be repaired, as had first been promised by the Liberal government? Why have the rules changed and what is the government going to do about it?

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4 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, the first item I want to address is this allegation of two parties blended. I have seen no more disturbing development in this House since coming here four and a half years ago than the alliance that has occurred between the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois. We can see it in the House of Commons, in committee and in the corridors.

To give an example, we are talking about Bill C-48, which is about six paragraphs long and which is good legislation that talks about affordable housing, public transit and access to post-secondary education, but when it went to committee, the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois got together as an alliance, a very unholy alliance I should add, and they voted out every article in that act and returned the document with nothing in it.

I say shame on them and shame on the agreement. What part of this do they not agree with? Do they not agree with affordable housing? Do they not agree with public transit.

We also hear them talk about fiscal irresponsibility. Well I say to them that in 1993, when Brian Mulroney was incurring an annual deficit of $43 million, were they arguing fiscal irresponsibility? No, they were not. We are still paying that money back and that has put this country in a mess. We are finally getting out of it. We are starting to be able to spend money on programs and priorities that Canadians want, and that is why I urge everyone in this House to pass Bill C-48.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the member is refusing to answer this question about infrastructure money flowing from the gas tax because that was one of my questions as well.

I live in an area southwest of Toronto. It is a beautiful area. It has been dependent upon farming and agriculture for years. However, because of these Liberal policies, many of our farmers are losing their farms. Unfortunately, we do not have the infrastructure that would attract alternate jobs.

While the minister was gloating across the aisle a moment ago about all of the rural and economic development money that the government claims to have put into its budget, absolutely not one penny of it has been allocated to southern Ontario where it is also needed.

I am wondering why the minister is so proud of this budget, in terms of Bill C-48, because the government did not even bother to overcome that shortage. How can he be so proud of it and so proud of the infrastructure efforts if no money that was promised is actually getting delivered and no money is going to help revitalize areas that really need it because of that party's failed economic and agricultural policies?

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain paymentsGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, the so-called gas tax money is a program that is meant to, in some small way, help the fiscal imbalance between the towns, cities and communities and the federal and provincial governments.

However, because of the jurisdiction of the cities, the matter has to be negotiated with the provinces, and in the member's case, that would be of course the province of Ontario. That agreement, and I understand it was only signed yesterday, would dictate how this money would be spent. That would be an agreement made between the federal and provincial governments, with input from the federation of municipalities. However, it is a small amount of money now, over five years, but it is meant to continue on and the priorities of all Canadians will be taken into account as we go forward.