House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.


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

12:25 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated my hon. friend's comments, particularly with respect to the fishery. One of the things I enjoy about the House of Commons is the fact that we gather here from all parts of Canada to learn and to study together.

I am trying to think which province is farther away from the ocean, but I believe my province of Saskatchewan is the most removed. It was an education for me to listen to the member, especially when he talked about predatory fish in Cultus Lake. I did not totally understand where this fish came from or all the details about it.

I hope the hon. member can enlighten a prairie boy, someone who is more used to beef than to fish, on the predator fish. From where does it come? Is it naturally occurring or is it part of some government transfer program? Perhaps all members could listen and learn something from his expertise.

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12:25 p.m.


John Cummins Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my friend's question is important. From where did these predator fish in Cultus Lake come? Cultus Lake is one of several lakes in the area that flow into the Fraser River. This pike minnow does not exist in Harrison Lake, which I believe Mr. Speaker is in your riding, or in Pitt Lake. From where did the fish come. Did someone dump an aquarium? Was it part of some provincial or federal transfer program to enhance sport fishing? No one really knows. Those kinds of answers are necessary.

The minister made an announcement a few day ago. When he makes announcements about British Columbia fisheries, he does not go to British Columbia to do it. He does it here at a press conference in Ottawa. It saves the taxpayers travel money, but more important, the minister does not have to stare down the people who are most concerned about this, the people who have an interest in fisheries in British Columbia. He does this by way of teleconference from Ottawa.

In the recent teleconference he talked about spending $5.2 million to strengthen enforcement, implement new catch monitoring programs and to improve scientific research. The type of research being done is probably more politically motivated than it is motivated by a real desire to understand the environment in which these fish operate and live. Particularly in the issue of Cultus Lake, I am unaware of any money being directed to that fishery. The department is remiss in conducting base level research on a variety of issues whether it be the pike minnow in Cultus Lake or the effects of high water temperatures on returning sockeye. The base level research really is not done.

I was talking the other day with a fellow who was doing some research for the Sierra Club. I pointed out to him the problem that was experienced from the set net fishing in the Fraser Canyon. This is an ongoing problem. It is a problem that is recognized throughout the fishing community. I have had conversations with members of the Native Brotherhood, which is the oldest commercial fishing organization for native people in British Columbia. I think it is about 75 years old. I have talked with the Chilcotin Indians just west of Williams Lake in the central and coastal areas of British Columbia. They are concerned about the set nets in the Fraser Canyon.

The fish, which are navigating through the canyon, are under huge stress, not just from the fast flowing water but at from high temperatures as well. However, they manage to navigate through the canyon by hugging the canyon walls and scooting from back eddy to back eddy. The government allows a set net fishery in that canyon which adds to the stress of these fish. Some research has been done by other folks, independent of government, who demonstrated how hard that was on the fish, but no one is doing anything about it. Government is not doing the kind of research that is necessary to protect our fisheries resource.

I do not see it in this budget. It is important for the government get on track and start to address some of its core responsibilities. One of those is the protection of wild fish and their habitat.

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

12:30 p.m.


Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I heard my hon. colleague speak before and I think we should have more members in the House to hear him give his speech. I do not think we have quorum right now.

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

12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

We have quorum. Resuming debate the hon. member for Prince Albert.

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

12:30 p.m.


Brian Fitzpatrick Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to look at this with a chronological approach. Back in Saskatchewan, I observed the goings on in Ontario in the early 1990s with the Bob Rae government. From my recollection of that government and what I read about it, there was massive unemployment during that period. By the time he left office, a million people were on welfare, more people than in the entire province of Saskatchewan. Taxes were very high and fiscal imbalances were really out of whack, something unbelievable in Ontario.

I remember seeing a sign in Buffalo. The Buffalo chamber of commerce put up a huge sign naming Premier Bob Rae as its man of the year. He was the man of the year for Buffalo because he had driven so much investment and business out of Ontario and into Buffalo that it thought it should acknowledge the benefit of NDP socialistic policies in Ontario.

Fortunately, in 1995 the people of Ontario put that party out of existence. It had caused so much damage in the province that for a few elections afterward not a single NDP member was elected to the federal Parliament. It was that bad. That is the NDP record with spending when it gets its hands on power.

The Conservative Party opposes this bill because we have seen what Bob Rae type governments have done to the economy and how it sets back the nation. We do not like to see that happen.

From a Saskatchewan standpoint, I have to oppose the budget because it does not address BSE issues. It does not address the forestry problems. A forestry sector in Saskatchewan is hurting very badly for a whole host of reasons. It does not help the grain producers who have been hit by drought, frost and income problems. It is unbelievable. The farmers in Saskatchewan are looking at a net income situation that is massive this year, unparalleled in the province's history.

Then there is the equalization formula. Of all provinces, the province that I think is most unfairly dealt with under the equalization formula is Saskatchewan. Every elected official, including the premier of the province, knows this. We are all united in an effort to get this thing changed, except for one, the Minister of Finance. I have to remind myself to keep mentioning that point.

None of these things are addressed in this budget. Rural communities in Saskatchewan are reeling from these sorts of problems, but not one step has been taken in this deal to address those issues.

Let me go back to the vote on the first budget bill. Our party had a lot of concerns about the budget. There may have been some good things in the it but there were a lot of negatives. We respected what people were saying across the country, which was to let Parliament work. Canadians did not want an election so we held our noses and abstained on that.

The leader of the New Democrats and his 18 New Democrat members voted against that budget and pointed fingers toward the Conservatives and said, “How dare you prop up this corrupt, incompetent Liberal government”. There was not one announcement in the budget for agriculture. New Democrats sent out ten percenters and news releases to Conservative ridings condemning the Conservatives for abstaining on the first budget. Lo and behold, a few months later, here we are.

Let us review another aspect of this whole thing. It is quite clear that history will show that this is one of the most desperate Prime Minister's in Canadian history. He goes from one crisis to another and will do just about anything to stay in power. That is how history will judge the Prime Minister.

Back in that period of time, the Prime Minister, through Tim Murphy and other people in his office, started trolling for opposition members of Parliament to prop up and support his government. They trolled and trolled. They caught one fish, a little fish in a big pond, but they did catch it and get it on the other side. They tried like the dickens to get more people. However, at the same time, three of the Prime Minister's own people left his ship. So much for his leadership.

Lo and behold, the Prime Minister had a meeting with the leader of the NDP in a five star hotel in Toronto. I am sure there was champagne. They had their luncheon and their meeting and so on, and they signed themselves a deal. It was an unholy arrangement, I would say. It solemnized something that I am not exactly sure would receive blessings from any divinity, but they did have Father Buzz there. Father Buzz Hargrove gave it his seal of approval.

With that trolling on that date, that desperate Prime Minister really hit pay dirt. He got 19 New Democrats to join his incompetent and corrupt administration. They were caught hook, line and sinker on that day. They bit big time. With all the trolling that carried on, the Liberals got one person from the Conservatives, but on that day they got 19 New Democrats that just went right into bed with them and solemnized this unholy arrangement.

What is this great Liberal-NDP budget? I have it here. If we throw off the front page, it is just legalese. Paragraphs one and three are legalese. The bill is one-quarter of a page long. What does it say? I will put this from a Saskatchewan standpoint. I am trying to find out how the farmers in Saskatchewan and the equalization issues and so on are addressed by any of these points. Maybe I missed something and the NDP members can point out where I am wrong.

For the environment, including public transit and the energy efficient retrofit program for low income housing, there is an amount not exceeding $900 million. I do not see anything about farming there. I do not see anything about BSE. I do not see anything about forestry and I do not see anything about equalization.

The second point deals with training programs and enhanced access to post-secondary education to benefit, among others, aboriginal Canadians, in an amount not exceeding $1.5 billion. Yet again, I do not see anything for agriculture. I do not see anything about equalization. I do not see anything for tax relief for small business people in Saskatchewan.

The third point deals with affordable housing, including housing for aboriginal Canadians, in an amount not exceeding $1.6 billion; and the fourth point deals with foreign aid in an amount not exceeding $500 million.

I do not want to be interpreted as being meanspirited in the area of foreign aid, but quite literally, I have communities in my riding in Saskatchewan that are reeling big time. We have a government in this country that is deaf and blind to the problems in those communities. We need some foreign aid in our own country as well because we have some big time problems in different parts of the country.

There is a lot I can say about this unholy arrangement between the NDP and the Liberals, but it still boils down to the fact that there is nothing really of any substance for the people of Saskatchewan. There is nothing for grain producers, nothing for BSE, nothing in the way of equalization, and nothing for a very troubled forestry industry. There must have been too much smog in Toronto that day and the leader of the NDP could not see Saskatchewan when he made his one-quarter page deal with the Liberals, but he did join that corrupt and incompetent Liberal administration when he signed that deal, and so did the other 18 members of the NDP.

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12:40 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca B.C.


Keith Martin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, Canadians listening to the diatribe across the way would be aghast at what they heard. Most Canadians are not really interested in the silly hijinks that often occur in this place.

What do they care about? They care about having a job. They care about health care when they get sick. They care about education for their children. They care about ensuring that we have a vibrant private sector that would enable us to create jobs for them. They care about social programs that would be there in perpetuity. They care about the aged to ensure that they are going to have care when they get older. They care about their pensions being there for a long period of time. They care about their environment. They care about their cities.

Those are the things that Canadians care about. Those are the things that we have been seized with. Those are the things that are in our budget that we released. We put infrastructure money for cities. We put money in to ensure that kids have a headstart and that their basic needs are cared for, not to supplant parents but to work with them to ensure kids have the best chance possible. We have ensured that our budgets are balanced. We have a budget that is the eighth consecutive surplus budget.

Is it perfect? No, it is not perfect. However, it goes a long way toward addressing many of the concerns Canadians have, in a pragmatic way, in a financially stable way, and in a way that addresses their concerns. No government can do everything that is asked of it, but I would submit that we have gone a long way to addressing many of the concerns of Canadians.

The member mentioned that there is nothing in the budget for Saskatchewan. The member obviously has not read, or understood, what the government has done with respect to its cities agenda. We put money in not only from the gas tax but we have ensured that we have moneys for the GST. GST moneys are going to be removed from municipalities and those moneys can be used to help the infrastructure needs of those communities.

Does the hon. member not acknowledge that Saskatchewan is going to get substantial amounts of moneys from the GST rebate and also money from the cities agenda that we have actually managed to hammer out or are in the process of negotiating with the various provinces? Does he not think that would be a good thing and if he does not, what is his party's plan to deal with the infrastructure needs of cities?

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

12:40 p.m.


Brian Fitzpatrick Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, we presented a motion last year and the member should remember it. I think he was an independent at that time. We recommended that 5¢ go back to the provinces on the condition that it be used for roads, bridges and municipal infrastructure. That was a firm commitment by us. It was a platform issue we had last time.

The member has been here since 1993. This is 12 years later. All of a sudden, the Liberals see the light that there is an imbalance at the municipal level and they need some cash to pay for something if they had some important things. The light finally went on. The leader of the Liberal Party is basically stalled on a page from the Conservative platform on fiscal balance and the municipal infrastructure issue. The Liberals are on that page and it took them 12 years to do it.

I have a point regarding gas tax rebates. Saskatchewan, because of its economy, is getting back its revenues on a per capita basis, but it uses twice as much per capita as any other province in the country. One could almost argue, under this arrangement, that Saskatchewan, whose per capita income is well below Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal, is in fact subsidizing major infrastructure programs in those centres.

If the member opposite thinks that is a fair arrangement, taking from a province with a per capita income of $19,000 and transferring it to cities where the per capita income is $55,000, I am afraid I have a serious disagreement with him and I have a problem with his mathematics as well.

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

12:45 p.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Prince Albert mentioned a number of items that were not in the budget. He mentioned forestry, equalization, farming and BSE, and obviously, they were not in Bill C-43 when it came before the House. However, $4.6 billion in tax cuts for corporations was in that budget, which in essence the Conservatives supported by way of not voting against it. In essence, they were voting for a budget that did not have farming, BSE, equalization, forestry and a number of items.

We worked out a deal where some additional dollars could help out Canadians with education and affordable housing. My colleague again mentioned and criticized the foreign affairs dollars which were supported by his own colleagues and are still supported by his own colleagues within his party. So they had better get things together because they are starting to sound like the Prime Minister and the finance minister.

If all those things were not in the budget, why did he not vote against the budget and why did his party not make some effort to get that budget changed so that it would reflect the needs of Canadians?

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

12:45 p.m.


Brian Fitzpatrick Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I find the whole discussion kind of convoluted and hard to figure out. There were some tax cuts for the business sector including small, medium and large size businesses. Part of the deal made with the champagne socialist leader and the Liberal member in that five star hotel was to take away all those tax cuts.

The Minister of Finance was left right out of those negotiations, but he came back to the House after three different budgets were introduced in one week and he is still standing. He is a little bit shorter, but he is still standing I guess. He said he would take the tax cuts out and then put them back through another deal, but the Leader of the NDP said that they must come out. However, here they are still in their unholy alliance despite these acknowledgments. I find that interesting.

I guess the NDP has adopted the Liberal approach which is to take a bunch of money and give it to a few Liberal friends in the corporate and commercial world and make all the other businesses suffer, rather than give everyone the benefit of tax cuts, including small, medium and large size businesses. This way they can all prosper and compete on a level playing field.

The NDP would prefer to give grants to General Motors rather than give General Motors a tax cut so it can get some breathing room. That is the NDP approach.

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

12:45 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to the bill. To give a little history of where I am coming from and what I am speaking to in this bill, I will go back to the original budget bill because, as has been well established, this is budget bill part two.

On the morning right before the finance minister brought forward the bill, I had an S. O. 31 member's statement about what the priorities were for people in my constituency, what the people of my province cared about. I want to revisit that.

In that statement I talked about my good friend, Andrew Duff, a farmer who works on a feedlot in eastern Saskatchewan. I talked about some of his priorities for his family. I want to go through a few of them again.

One of his priorities was tax cuts. He is on a farm and makes no money, yet he still pays taxes, some of which admittedly are provincial and municipal, but largely because of the unequal equalization, those taxes are difficult to lower. Other taxes are through his job, such as his EI premiums, which are applied in Saskatchewan. As a farmer he is ineligible for unemployment, so that is nothing more than a payroll tax. Of course there is the fuel tax, the inputs on his fertilizer for his grains and so forth.

One of his priorities was to have a tax cut so that he could afford the farm, something which is being productive and supplying jobs for other people through his purchases in the community.

Another of his priorities was a real and sustainable plan for agriculture. We held our noses the other day when we voted for the other piece of legislation that really did not do anything for agriculture. We did that because of the dire straits of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, a province which has been shortchanged repeatedly by the federal government. That province needed help and needed the prosperity from its own natural resources returned to it, as it rightfully should be. We in this party, even though we knew that there were large elements of the larger budget bill that were not good, reached out to help a part of the country receive its rightful due.

There was nothing in that plan for agriculture. There is nothing in this part two of the plan for agriculture. I am not talking about announcements of money, because as has been proven, announcements of money often are not delivered. What is needed is real substance, a real plan to be delivered.

Finally, the third thing my friend and his family would need, and which is true for many young families in rural Saskatchewan, is the child tax credit, something that could help them raise their families. My friend and his wife come from a dairy farm. The children are a part of the farm. They work. They cannot just run to and from town to an organized government day care centre. It is impractical. It costs more for them to drive in, drop the children off and then come back to work. It just cannot be. The only way they are going to get any help is if there is a direct child tax credit given to them. In the original budget and in this new piece of legislation that we are debating, it is not there. The priorities of Canadians from my riding and of Saskatchewan residents in general were not brought forward.

Another reason I am unhappy, displeased and opposed to this legislation is the lack of accountability. This point was brought up, quite succinctly I might say, by some members during the debate last night. A major priority and the main purpose of Parliament, of the people's representatives, is to hold the government to account for the spending of the dollars.

That is what all the battles were about. When we go back into British parliamentary history, in dealing with the problems of the funding, the king would not recall Parliament because he did not like Parliament's views, but he was forced to because Parliament ended up controlling the spending. We have seen the English civil war, various reforms, Gladstone and Disraeli, et cetera, as history has gone forward. Accountability is something of extreme priority that we must hold to.

One thing that is most disturbing about this current piece of legislation that we are debating is there is no plan and no real guidelines. As has been stated, that is true for the previous legislation. That is the justification and rationale used by some members who have been saying during the debate that there has been other inept, ridiculous, poorly thought out legislation which I and my hon. friends in the Conservative Party held our noses and supported, so why not support all future legislation that is poorly thought out and poorly planned?

We are sometimes forced to support things for the greater good. This legislation has absolutely no greater good to it. There is no accountability. The point has been raised over and over again that when we read the substance of the bill, it is very sketchy. There is nothing there.

I remind my hon. friends in the NDP that if they really believe in the deal they got, perhaps they should take a look at past history. Whenever the Liberals have promised something, it has taken anywhere from five to 15 years to deliver that promise.

I remember the great campaign when the Liberals promised to take apart the GST. They promised over and over again to do it. A former member from Hamilton ended up having to resign her seat. In the end the promise that was said over and over again was not delivered.

There must be accountability. It is the primary purpose of Parliament. We look at past follies, and it has been said that a member from Saskatchewan will bring this up every time, but it affects so many people in our province. Firearms, rifles and shotguns are the tools that we use on our farms. They are used by hunters and for recreation; they are part of our culture.

The gun registry is perhaps the largest fiasco and the most ill thought out, ill conceived, unaccountable policy ever presented in the history of this country. It has cost $2 billion to register duck hunters. They are not the people who use handguns. Handguns have been taken care of since 1935. The gun registry was another one of those Liberal plans with no accountability. The Liberals just went out there and did what they wanted to do without thinking about it.

I want to briefly touch on some of the macroeconomic effects of reckless spending. This was demonstrated in the previous coalition between the NDP and the Liberals in the 1970s. I know the criticism will come that there were other reasons for the wild and reckless spending and the way interest rates got out of control. Fiscal prudence and accountability are important in all that we do.

One of the major concerns I have about reckless out of control spending is higher interest rates. It is fairly well known that when there are unproductive, irresponsible fiscal pressures on the demand side, the pressures then lead to higher rates of inflation.

The Bank of Canada has wisely followed a strict monetary policy. This is something which was not done and was part of the problem in previous eras, the lack of a conservative monetary policy. The Bank of Canada responds by hiking interest rates to crack down on inflation.

I want to ask everyone who reads these words or who is watching on television or any member listening in the House to think what higher interest rates will do for small businessmen and for home owners with mortgages. For example, if a carpenter is watching, he or she should think of how it will impact on his or her job in the future. Continued reckless spending by the NDP-Liberal coalition will help to kill that job.

Most people who own a home in Saskatoon, in my riding, in Burlington or anywhere have a mortgage. Young families have mortgages. I myself recently took out a mortgage when I purchased my first home. I am not looking forward to the macroeconomic disaster that the government's reckless spending is going to create.

I want to give some positive suggestions to the government so that the Liberals in the future have some positive ideas. I listed my priorities earlier, but let me state one of them again. I mentioned a cut to EI. This is a cut to what is essentially a payroll tax. I have particular personal empathy with this one because I worked in a bakery at minimum wage for a year prior to going to university.

I worked at the bakery with people who had been there for 10 or 12 years and who were ineligible, because of the vagaries of the system, to collect employment insurance. Yet year after year they were paying higher premiums than they deserved to pay. This is a job killer. Nothing stops small business from hiring more employees than pressures on the payroll and higher costs.

I know the government thinks our unemployment rate of 6.8% is wonderful. Any politician south of the border with such a rate would be defeated. Our unemployment rate needs to go down. There needs to be continuous pressure. This is only one item. There are many other things the government could do to have productivity and an agenda that actually creates growth for the country, instead of merely looking around to redistribute the wealth with no plan, no thought and no wisdom.

The priorities the government has brought forward are not the priorities of the constituents of Saskatoon--Humboldt. They are not the things I stand for. That is why I will be voting against Bill C-48.

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

12:55 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca B.C.


Keith Martin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe the member's speech with its staggering number of inconsistencies and outright untruths. It was absolutely amazing to hear the lack of veracity for the facts that he was tossing around in the House.

The member thinks that somehow we have mismanaged the economy, but let us look at the facts. Canada has the most robust economy of all 26 nations in the OECD. Our unemployment rate is the lowest we have ever had. Our interest rates are the lowest we have had in decades. We are paying down the debt.

The member was correct when he said that to have a robust economy we need low inflation rates and low interest rates. That is important in order to have a robust private sector that can create jobs.

Does the member not read the economic indices of this country? Our economy is providing jobs. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the history of our country. We have the lowest interest rates and lowest inflation rates that we have ever had. I am sure his constituents would support that. Does he not support that? Does he not acknowledge that is the situation in this country? Does he not acknowledge that is good fiscal management?

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

1 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting to listen to my friend comparing economic statistics around the world. I do not really care how badly many of the other economies in the world are run. Canada needs to do what is best for Canada.

He was comparing Canada with other countries around the world. Let us take a look at Germany, a country that is not partially run by his ideological allies, but completely run by his ideological allies. Germany has a 12% unemployment rate. That country followed policies similar to those in which the government is engaging.

The hon. member was crowing about a 6.8% or 6.9% unemployment rate. The President of the United States, and I have some pretty harsh criticisms of his economic platform too, almost lost the last election because that country had a 5% unemployment rate. That is using calculations which are stricter than what we have here in Canada.

I am not quite sure what the hon. member is tooting the government's horn about. Great Britain has a lower unemployment rate than Canada has, to a large degree caused by the previous Tory administration which followed a strict monetary policy that emphasized tax cuts, growth, ownership society.

I am really not quite sure where the hon. member is coming from. He is claiming credit for low interest rates, low inflation, et cetera, but let us take a look at the record.

I agree that previous Tory administrations did not follow correct and strict monetary policy. They were Keynesian in their approach. The member is taking credit for that. The Liberals criticized that for many years. Pressure was put on our economy to force up inflation because of reckless policies followed in the 1970s in this country and in other countries around the world. It is known as Keynesian economics, spending to prop up the government, put it on the demand side, and end up with stagflation, higher unemployment rates, lower productivity, no growth, no future, no plan.

That was why the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, chambers of commerce and so forth condemned the government. The government knows how to take credit for everything that was done before it, but it does not know how to actually get things done. It knows how to surf.

Hon. members on that side heckle about a previous administration. I am not here to defend any previous administration. In the 1872 election I would have voted Liberal because that was the party of honesty and integrity back then, something which the present Liberal Party is not. We have a duty as members to speak for policy now and policy for the future. I really do not care about previous governments. They all need to stand on their own record in history. We need to stand for what is right now.

I was too young to vote on all these issues that many members are discussing. I am one of the younger members in the House. My job is to look forward to the future. My job is to look forward to the future for my riding, the future of the people of Saskatoon--Humboldt, the future of all Canadians, young, middle age, old, however Canadians describe themselves.

Canadians need a growing economy. They need a robust economy. The low expectations of 6.9% that the government has made are simply not good enough. Canada should have the greatest economy in the world, the lowest unemployment rate, and the highest standard of living. This country has the natural resources and the talent. We have everything we need to make Canada the greatest nation in the world.

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

1:05 p.m.


Rick Casson Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise and speak in the House with you in the chair, Sir. I was going to say with you, Mr. Speaker, ruling the roost, but I am not sure it would be a compliment, although hopefully it will give me a couple of marks that I can use later.

We are here today debating Bill C-48. This is a budget bill that was put together for the prime purpose of keeping the present government in power. It was a $4.6 billion deal between the NDP and the Liberals to get NDP support to prop up the Liberal government.

This was at a time when not only were the Liberals buying a party, and they did buy a whole party through this process, but they were starting to try to buy individual members in the House. I think that goes a long way toward explaining why there is so much cynicism in the country. When Canadians sit back and look at some of the action the government has taken on just to stay where it is, it appalls them.

I have a couple of issues to start with and then I would like to get into what my party and I think about where the country should be and what kind of country it could be if it were properly managed.

What we have now is a $4.6 billion budget bill that is two pages long and does not have the programs or the regulations to back up spending that money. The authorization is given to cabinet to “develop and implement” the programs, as it is stated in the bill, and to pay out the funds as it sees fit.

Does that not remind us somewhat of what happened with ad scam? Money was thrown around, hundreds of millions of dollars of our money, without proper authority and without the proper regulations, checks and balances in place to make sure it was being spent properly.

Here we have $4.6 billion that will be dispensed through the authorization of the cabinet without any documentation to back it up or to bring to the House so Canadians can have a look at how it is going to be spent and if it is going to be spent wisely. That in and of itself is a huge problem.

When we look for some of the things that are not in Bill C-48, as many of my colleagues have alluded to, it is quite alarming. In the NDP priorities that were part of the deal made with the Liberals, things were left out and forgotten. We could go on about agriculture and a few other things, but we will move on.

Before I get into it too deeply, I would like to thank the members of the Conservative Party who sat on the finance committee. As we know, there were many late nights with long hours and pretty intense debate. I remember one night being here until almost midnight when the finance committee was in a parallel sitting to the House to deal with this bill.

The members for Medicine Hat, Portage—Lisgar, Peace River and others who sit on that committee did a tremendous job of trying to hold the government to account and also of bringing forward good, solid amendments. Had those amendments been accepted, we would be able to move forward. The government completed rejected most of those issues.

As it ended up, the bill that came back to the House was a title with nothing below it because we could not agree on any of it. We are very concerned, as most Canadians are, that this money is going to be spent and spent in a way that is not open to public scrutiny and could be mismanaged.

We as the Conservative Party stand and criticize the government to hold it to account, which is part of our mandate, but our other mandate is to have alternatives to what the government is doing and to have our own vision of where Canada should go.

This country is blessed with natural resources and an expanse that should allow every citizen of Canada a good life and an ability to work, to feed their families, to plan and save for the future, and to have the wherewithal to educate their children. These are the issues that most families talk about when they come to talk to me.

They would like to see some substantive tax breaks for families so they can decide. We can get into the child care situation the government is promoting, in which it is going to create many day care spaces, not worrying about people who work shift work and not worrying about people in rural areas. That will be for just certain aspects of society.

We in the Conservative Party are saying that all families should be given a tax break so they can make the decisions and have a choice as to how they raise their own children. Most parents, when it comes right down to it, would prefer to raise their own children, but most families are now are two income families. Both parents work because it takes six months out of every year just to pay their tax bill.

Parents have to work half their lives just to pay taxes. That is the reason they have to work. If we were able to restructure the tax system and leave the money in the pockets of parents, they would have choices as to how their children should be cared for and they would have a few bucks to save for their future, their retirement and their children's educations.

A lot of Canadians will never realize the hope and dream of owning a home because they do not have the funds left over at the end of the month to put toward a mortgage. We have to change that. Everybody should have the opportunity to have affordable housing. That is right in the Conservatives platform. We support Canadians having affordable homes.

As for this idea that we have to take the money away from all Canadians so we can direct it back to them, should we not leave it with them and let them make the decisions on how they are going to spend their funds? Does that not add up?

There is a regional disparity in Canada. There is this financial imbalance we talk about. This is another thing that we as a nation need to be addressing. We need to make sure that all areas of Canada have the opportunity for economic growth and stability. With that comes the opportunity for citizens to enjoy a good quality of career, to own their own home and to have peace of mind knowing that they have been able to put a few bucks away to educate their children or for their own retirement.

When people are empowered in that way, when they make those decisions for themselves, it also blends into creating a society that looks more toward itself to solve its problems than anywhere else. That is where people should be looking, but we have to give them the means to work through those problems. I think that if we levelled out the economic situation across this country and gave everybody that hand up instead of a handout, that is the way to improve things.

Part of the deal the NDP made with the Liberals is really amazing. It cost them $4.6 billion to buy an entire party on the premise that the Liberals would get support in the House. There still were not enough votes to ensure the Liberals' success, so they had to try to buy off more people in the House. They were successful in some cases and unsuccessful in others. Part of the deal was that the NDP wanted the tax cuts taken out of the budget, so the Liberals said they would do it, they would take them out of the budget and then bring them back in another way.

Therefore, not only did they spend $4.6 billion to buy some votes that were not enough to sustain them in the House, they reneged on the part of the deal regarding tax breaks, because those tax breaks are still going through and the NDP is still in the House to prop up the Liberals. It is almost as ridiculous as some of the backbench Liberals who are so opposed to Bill C-38 and are continually propping their government up long enough so they can pass Bill C-38. Some of these people will need to answer to their own constituents.

I would like to get into some of the party policy that Conservatives think needs to be implemented in this country to keep it strong and viable, to make it an even greater country than it is, to make it as great as it should be. As I say, I am from Alberta, and Albertans are blessed with resources, many of which are as yet untapped. We have oil, coal, farmland and forests. Everything is there.

I suppose that those of us living in Alberta have an advantage due to that, but because of the way this country is structured and because of the willingness to share shown by provinces that have more than others, we should be making sure it is done in a way such that the people who do not have as much are brought up to the same standard.

We believe that in order to have a strong economy and maintain good health, Canada must have strong, coordinated and achievable environmental policies. A Conservative government believes that responsible exploration and development, conservation and renewal of our environment are vital to our continued well-being as a nation and as individuals.

Being from Alberta, I say that because of the oil and gas exploration and the many things that go on there. At the same time that we explore and develop those very necessary resources, we have to be conscious of the environment. It is a proven fact that when the economy is going well, the most attention is given to the safeguarding of the environment.

In many of the classes in which I speak, like most of the members here who do the same when they go around to schools, I note that the environment is a key issue to the young people in our country. Good for them, I say. I am not so proud of what my generation has done to the environment, but the next generation is going to be prepared to fix it. We have to ensure that the tools are there to do it. Responsible development and responsible exploration, with an eye on both, and being able to facilitate that while protecting the environment, is part of what needs to be done and it is part of what we believe in.

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1:15 p.m.


Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, to respond directly to my colleague's comments, he mentioned that the Conservatives support good, quality education so I am at a loss as to why they would not support the additional dollars the NDP has ensured in Bill C-48. They were not in Bill C-43, the budget that the Conservatives were willing to go along with. They are in Bill C-48, yet the Conservatives are talking about not supporting it. That is speaking on two sides, and I imagine we will see both coming out in the pamphlets that the Conservatives will send around in the next little while.

In the member's last statements, he talked about supporting the environment. Again, on the road to improving support for environmental initiatives, it is in the NDP budget, Bill C-48. It is there. It hit that right on the mark. He talked about the need for affordable housing. That is in the NDP budget, Bill C-48.

I am really at a loss as to what the problem is that the Conservatives have with this budget other than the fact that corporations may not get $4.6 billion in tax cuts, the corporations that the Conservatives are here to represent rather than representing all the people of Canada. Tax breaks for small and medium sized business are still in the budget. That was part of the deal as well. Those members can talk about them not being there all they want, but the reality is that they are still there.

If the Liberals can come up with another $4.6 billion for tax cuts, we will deal with that next time around, but what we are saying is that if they can give this $4.6 billion after already giving billions of dollars in tax cuts in the last number of years, they can give back to Canadians. Why are the Conservatives against dollars going back to ordinary Canadians?

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1:15 p.m.


Rick Casson Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is interesting. In my remarks I asked how we are to know where this money is going. There is a lot of assuming going on here on behalf of the NDP. If those members are going to make a deal with the Liberal government, they had better get it spelled out pretty clearly as to how it going to be applied. There is no indication of when and how this money is going to be dealt out. I think the NDP members are in for a big surprise. When all the smoke clears, I think they are going to end up getting a very small portion of what they have agreed to.

The member talks about giving some tax money back to Canadians and asks why not. That is exactly my point. Why take it in the first place? Why take it and then give it back? The most equitable way to do this is to leave it in the pockets of the people who earn it and let them make the decisions on how they are going to spend it. There are certain areas that the government needs to be dealing with, such as the security of our nation, the funding for the armed forces, the international issues that face us and monetary policies. All of these issues need to be dealt with by the federal government.

However, a lot of what the federal government is doing here, with the support of the NDP, I might add, is pushing more and more into provincial territory. The gas tax rebate is something we support but we want to do it in a very different way. To get that money to municipalities there must be provincial involvement. For the federal government to say directly to a city or a municipality that it is going to do this, thus bypassing the authority of the province, is a dangerous precedent. If we are going to do it, let us get involved with the provinces and let us make sure there is an agreement for them to pass that money forward.

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1:20 p.m.


Wajid Khan Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party has just demonstrated why it has been in opposition for 12 years and I anticipate it will remain there for another 12.

Let me set the record straight. Before I do that, the rambling speeches that I have heard in the last couple of days are full of inaccuracies to the extent that they could probably make the Guinness Book of World Records .

The fact is the deficit, unemployment, interest rates and the bankruptcies were soaring when that party was in power. Surplus after surplus after surplus has brought nothing but good to the Canadian people. The rates are low, affordability is high, tax cuts of $100 billion have been given to the people over the last five years and the country is prosperous.

I cannot understand why the government was so corrupt when Bill C-43 was before the House and the same corrupt government, supported by the Conservative Party, voted in support Bill C-43. Initially the Conservatives opposed it and then they supported it. Now Bill C-48 is corrupt. Will they make up their minds and support Bill C-48? It is for the greater good of the people.

Members opposite said that the deal was recorded on a napkin. It does not matter where it was recorded. They also said that the government saved its skin by making the deal with the NDP. We have saved the skin of Canadians who do not want to be burdened with the deficits, tax burdens and all those things that party wants to impose on them. Why did they support--

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1:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Lethbridge.

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1:20 p.m.


Rick Casson Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the one thing on which I agree with the hon. member is the Liberal government is corrupt. I will just repeat what he said.

We are short on time, but one area of the economy that the hon. member boasts about is the agricultural community in the country. The agricultural industry last year was in the red. If we add it up, the entire industry lost money. That is due to the Liberal government's failed attempts at negotiating fair deals for our producers. It is due to the high taxation policy of the government. It is due to the government taxing the industry into the ground.

As the hon. member said, one of the basic pillars on which the country was built is the agricultural community. As an entirety, it lost money last year. It is a damning statistic that comes from the government's failed policies, whether it is agricultural, economic or trade. They have all contributed to that.

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1:20 p.m.


Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Oshawa, I will be speaking against Bill C-48. By supporting it, it would be encouraging and allowing reckless spending, spending that is being deployed by the government in a desperate attempt to hold on to power.

The Conservative Party will not allow the government to spend without a plan and we will not allow the Liberal Party to buy the votes of Canadians. We cannot give our approval for an irresponsible budget to a corrupt government that lacks the moral and constitutional authority to govern. The Conservative Party is committed to standing up for Canadians and Bill C-48 is clearly not in the best interests of Canadians.

In exchange for NDP support, the Liberal government has made careless promises and is engaging in reckless spending. Even before the deal was made with the NDP, program spending under the Liberal government soared by $18 billion, or 12% more than last year to more than $158 billion. The Liberals have now committed to spending an additional $5.1 billion over the next two years, funded entirely through contingency funds set aside for unforeseen circumstances.

To fully implement all the programs included in this bill, the government would need to post $8.5 billion in surpluses over the next two fiscal years. Leading economists have warned that these spending commitments rule out fiscal flexibility to cut taxes, reduce the debt or increase spending over the next few years. The Conservative Party will not support such irresponsible fiscal policy.

If enacted, this bill will have detrimental effects for Oshawa, as it would for many cities in the country. Let us not look at the fact that this is a bill to spend without a plan, but let us look at where the Liberals claim the money will be spent.

The Liberals say that this is a bill to lower tuition for students, but when reading the bill, not once does it say student and not once does it say tuition. It is not mentioned. It talks of supporting training programs and enhancing access to post-secondary education. This is an example of misleading the Canadian public. This statement could mean anything. If the Liberals wanted to lower tuition, why did they not just say so?

They claim the bill is for the environment, for low income housing and for improved public transit. Recently we have learned that by far the greatest benefactors of the gas tax are the big cities. For example, Toronto, which only has 20% of the population in Ontario, will receive half the gas tax. The NDP mayor of Toronto was recently quoted as saying that he was thrilled with the results of the public transit deal. That is not a surprise, considering Bill C-48 disproportionately benefits big cities.

I stand here today on behalf of the hard-working taxpayers of Oshawa who are sick and tired of subsidizing these big cities. According to my calculations, Oshawa pays approximately $30 million per year in gas taxes, which means $150 million over five years. According to the Toronto Star , that Liberal paper right from the centre of the universe, over five years Oshawa would receive back a total of $11.3 million. In other words, we take out of Oshawa $150 million and we get back $11.3 million, a difference of $138.7 million.

This is not acceptable. This bill is merely an attempt by the Liberals to buy big city votes while taking advantage of small-town taxpayers and rural Canadians.

Experts agree that to fund its budget, the Liberal government will have to use up the majority of the federal emergency reserves, a move that rules out any potential personal tax cuts at a time when Canada is dealing with near stagnant economic growth. Experts argue that this is just one more sign of the Liberal government's failure to acknowledge Canada's productivity crisis.

Over the past decade, Canada has ranked 18th out of 24 industrial nations in average growth, labour and productivity. GDP per capita is estimated at just 84% of that of the United States as a result of lower productivity growth in Canada. A recent Statistics Canada report indicates that last year was Canada's worst performance in terms of productivity in almost a decade. The finance minister commented on it and blamed the corporations. As a result, our standard of living is at risk.

Experts say that to improve this situation, Canadian corporations desperately need the $3.4 billion in tax relief that the government offered in its original budget. By reneging on this commitment, the Liberal government is ignoring the productivity crisis in the country and allowing the prosperity gap between Canadians and Americans to grow.

The government's agreement to scrap the corporate tax cuts in exchange for NDP support will also damage manufacturers and exporters that are already burdened by over regulation and an uncompetitive tax regime as a result of Liberal policies over the last decade.

The government has been warned that if these policies do not change, we are unlikely to be the number one trade partner to the U.S. five years from now if it refuses to address this reality.

I represent Oshawa, the jewel of Canadian and North American auto manufacturing. The manufacturing plants in Oshawa recently won the J.D. Power award for top automotive quality in North America. This is something of which I am very proud. For someone who worked on the line at GM while growing up, I know how hard the employees work and how much pride they take in their achievements.

Over the past few years General Motors, along with other Canadian industries, has dealt with a 30% appreciation of the Canadian dollar that has consequently harmed competitiveness and productivity. In other words, with our greatest trading partner, the United States, everything that we put across is costing 30% more.

The Canadian automotive industry is facing unprecedented challenges and competition from the offshore auto manufacturers. The threat of an influx of Chinese automobiles right now in North America is a threat that needs to be taken seriously, not ignored.

Recently General Motors announced 25,000 layoffs in the United States. According to the CAW, there will inevitably be a fallout here in Canada. Canadian auto jobs are at risk. What did the NDP do, the supposed champions of labour, at a time of unprecedented offshore challenges and a high Canadian dollar? In conjunction with the Liberals they hit the automotive industry when they were down. By removing the corporate tax cuts, they are further putting Canadian jobs at risk. If the NDP thinks it can affect the automakers bottom line without directly affecting jobs, it is not fooling anyone.

When the NDP members had the Liberals on the ropes and the Prime Minister was willing to agree to almost anything, they failed to make Canadian auto workers a priority. They could have easily forced the Liberals to table their elusive auto strategy. We have been hearing about this auto strategy for months. Where is it? They claim it is in the works, but they fail to release a transparent auto policy for all to see.

Instead the NDP members sold their votes for a deal, a deal that will ruin the finances of the country by allowing the government to spend and to spend without a plan and without accountability. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

To support Bill C-48 would mean the Conservative Party of Canada supports a government that does not have the authority to govern. We stand strong in our belief that accountability and transparency in government are vital to democracy in our country and that the well-being of Canadians should come first.

I stand in the House today to assure the people of Oshawa and Ontario that I, along with my Conservative colleagues, will not support reckless legislation that will harm Canadians and put Ontario jobs at risk. Therefore, we will vote against Bill C-48, and our votes cannot be bought.

The Conservative Party of Canada believes that our goal should be to give Canadians the highest standard of living in this world. Every Canadian who wants a job should be able to get a job. Our policies should be reflective of this. Every region, such as Oshawa, in the country should enjoy economic growth and new opportunities for the people in these regions.

Our goal is to make Canada the economic envy of the world. We want every mom and dad, every child in the country, to go to sleep at night and know that they can reach the Canadian dream.

Every family and person should be able to buy a house, save for their retirement and ensure that they have a little left over if they want to go to summer camps or on vacations. Maybe Canadians want to use their money. We should leave it in their pockets because they may want to start a business some day. That can only be done if the government does not tax too much and does not spend too much.

Bill C-48 is just that. It is opening up a blank cheque for the government to reckless spending. We cannot support this bill.

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1:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario


Judi Longfield LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, I listened with some interest to the young member across who said that he was here to defend his constituents in the city of Oshawa. I would remind the member that I also have the great honour of representing the citizens of the city of Oshawa.

I was quite surprised to hear the member indicate that this government has not helped the city of Oshawa. What about the government's $200 million grant to General Motors for its Beacon project? This investment by the Government of Canada will allow General Motors to invest $2.4 billion in the very city he says that he wants to represent and where he wants to protect jobs.

How does this $200 million investment kill jobs and how does this investment not help his constituents?

The member says that he will be voting against Bill C-48 but he also says that he agrees with affordable housing and with cleaning up the environment. As a former chiropractor, I am sure he understands that clean air is what gives us all a better quality of life. When I read Bill C-48, I see money for the environment and for affordable housing.

If he were to talk to the chair of social services in the Durham region, she would tell him that Durham region is in need of affordable housing and that it is happy to have the money that this government is putting in.

If he were to talk to the chair of the region that he represents, who is also the president of AMO, he would tell him how excited and pleased he was about the gas tax rebate.

If he had attended the meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities he would have heard mayor after mayor from small communities extolling their absolute delight at the kind of cooperation they were finally getting from a federal government that considered them partners.

I am surprised that the member opposite is not listening to his constituents.

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1:35 p.m.


Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to say where to start and where the question was exactly in there.

In talking to the 40 mayors who came up to visit the Conservative caucus, they were concerned because for the last 12 years they have had no contact with the Liberal government. As a matter of fact, they said that they were happy with the little crumbs that were finally being thrown at them by the Liberal government after so many years of neglect and so many years of downloading from the Liberal government to the provinces and then to the municipalities.

What my constituents are telling me is that they are sick and tried of paying increased municipal taxes to subsidize the big cities where the NDP and the Liberals want to vote buy.

She talked about the GM Beacon project and how the government is investing $200 million. Well I say thanks very much, finally, for an investment in the infrastructure that General Motors is going to invest in as well. However this is just an example of the Liberal government's policy toward industry.

What the government first wants to do is overtax the corporations, then over-regulate them and then, as we have seen at General Motors Corporation, once they start to struggle, subsidize them. This is typical of the NDP and Liberal approach. What they want to do is choke off business by overtaxing them and when they are running into problems, hand them out money.

That is not our approach. We are not into giving blank cheques to corporations. We are looking very closely at the money given to General Motors. I am very pleased to see that we are finally getting an investment but it is just a little bit. I would liked to have seen a little bit more planning.

If we are looking at an auto strategy, the Minister of Industry has been promising an auto strategy for years, and an auto strategy is not about throwing money at corporations. An auto strategy is investing in the infrastructure required to make investment, not only automotive investment but all industry investment, here in Canada and in our province of Ontario.

Where is the new border crossing at Windsor-Detroit? When the NDP had these guys on the ropes, it could have talked about that. The recent Senate committee said that it was an emergency situation, not something that needs to be put off another 12 years before the government decides on it.

We need to see some leadership from the government to move forward to get that border crossing put in there, not 10 years from now but now. We needed it 10 years ago. Where is the planning and the looking ahead? The government fails to look ahead and fails to plan.

If the government does not understand the situation I will explain it. One in seven jobs in Canada is related to the auto industry. Over $1 billion in revenue goes across the Windsor-Detroit bridge every day. When will the government step up to the plate? When will it look at the regulatory problems, the infrastructure and a power coordination over the entire country so that when industry wants to invest and do business in Canada we will a have stable electrical and power supply? When will that happen? That is what I want to see from the government.

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1:35 p.m.


Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, putting together a budget is mainly a science, although not 100%. It is also partly an art with a little bit of a hope, on a wing and a prayer, because one is never sure in the upcoming year what kind of economic factors one will face as a country that may be out of one's actual control.

It takes a lot of work from a lot of people giving it a lot of thought to come up with a budget that they think will carry the nation through for a year, and with these Liberal budgets even further than that, and properly provide for the essential services based on the amount of revenue that will come in from a variety of sources.

However we need to take into account the interest rates, the commodity rates and what the price of oil and gas will be. It is definitely a science that has to be followed carefully and rules have to be applied and followed, otherwise the budget goes off track.

It is not a lot different than preparing a household budget. Every family that is prudent knows that they have to take a look at what is coming in for the month, look at what the expenses are going to be and base their spending accordingly. Anybody who has ever put their household on a budget also knows that if one suddenly lurches from one's budget plan, one can be headed for trouble. There might be things that the family might look at and like to buy but we would consider those things in light of how much income there is or what is predicted to be coming in. Departing from that path could lead to a financial disaster in the household budget.

Canadians need to understand that this is precisely what has happened with the federal Liberal government. It came out with a main budget and when we looked at it as an opposition party there were some things that we did not like but there were some things in the budget that we did like. As a matter of fact, a number of the key factors in the federal budget, which was originally presented, were there because of our input. Our leader and various critics had gone over certain areas and came up with some suggestions. It was our suggestion that a portion of the federal gas tax go back to municipalities, so of course we support that in the budget.

We supported a lot of elements in the main budget but then an extraordinary thing happened. On the way to tabling the budget, which the Liberals did table and to which we gave tacit support because of our own input, all of a sudden there was a lurch and the budget went off the rails because the government made a deal with the socialists, the NDP, and came out with an unprecedented and unplanned amount of spending in the neighbourhood of $4.6 billion. This was out of the blue.

Earlier, when we had been proposing other measures, the government said that it could not be done because it had carefully budgeted, that it was a science and a bit of an art. It said that it had considered everything very carefully and that it had a budget. However, out of the blue, it put $4.6 billion on the table to buy 19 socialist votes. I ask members to do the math. It roughly works out to about a quarter billion dollars per vote. In a frantic effort to survive, the minority government went to the NDP and asked what it would cost and said that it would pay whatever the price. The price was $4.6 billion.

Some people have criticized the NDP members for striking this deal with the Liberals but I do not. I say, good for them. They said that each one of their votes was worth a quarter billion dollars. If we accept the amount that the Auditor General said the government blew in the province of Quebec on the sponsorship scandal, which was about $350 million, and we accept that Quebec has four million or so voters, that means that each voter in Quebec was worth about $80 to $85 to the government. However members of the NDP were worth a quarter billion dollars each. We are talking about egalitarianism gone wild.

The government just tossed out this $4.6 billion of taxpayer money. If we were to depart from our household finances as radically as the Liberals have departed from the finance of the nation we would get the attention of our bankers, our creditors and our suppliers who would be saying that we are out of control.

The exact same thing will happen here and is already happening. Outside sources monitor what Canada is doing. Governments have to contend with credit agencies and rating agencies because their bonds are based on the kind of stability and confidence these external agencies have in their projections. When we take a $4.6 billion lurch, that introduces a notion of instability in people who are banking literally on our bonds and on our credibility.

The $4.6 billion caught the attention of the Economist magazine, one of many, which is a non-partisan magazine, but pointed to the government being out of control.

I have heard Liberal MPs try to blame previous governments. We all know that it was in the 1970s moving into the 1980s when the Liberal government, under Pierre Trudeau, departed from all sense of economic reality. That is simply a fact. Deficit financing was introduced at a gigantic, unparalleled, unprecedented rate and the country was plunged into record deficits like it had never seen before. That is when it started.

Pierre Trudeau had bought into the philosophy of John Maynard Keynes who said that when we run into trouble we just keep borrowing. That is basically what it comes down to. When John Maynard Keynes was asked what would happen in the long run when deficits kept piling up and we started hitting compound interest, he said that in the long run we would all be dead.

That was an irresponsible approach and this was an irresponsible approach to throw $4.6 billion out the door just so the Liberals would not wind up dead in the next election. That is irresponsible to future generations.

The mayors and councils of municipalities in my constituency could not get away with tabling a budget one day and then, in a matter of days later, radically depart from that budget. The ratepayers would not allow them.

The mayor of Okanagan Falls; the mayor of Naramata; Mayor Perry in Penticton; Mayor Tom Johnston in Summerland; Mayor Bob Harriman in Peachland; the regional district in Westbank; Mayor Laird in Merritt; and Mayor Brown in Logan Lake; those people could not get away with departing from the budget and just telling the taxpayers to trust them and that the money will be there.

The former finance minister, who is now the Prime Minister, had built up a bit of a false legend about himself being a great deficit cutter. What he did to dig into the deficit was that he slashed the health care transfer to the provinces overnight by 34%. It was no act of genius.

Regardless, he had built for himself a bit of a reputation as someone who was concerned about a deficit, but suddenly, like a drug addict who had finished the rehab program, he went crazy when he had a budget and he thought he was going to be curtailed; $4.6 billion one day and in the next 21 days the Prime Minister went coast to coast after his sad appeal to Canadians on national television and announced spending of $23 billion, even outstripping the amount that he paid to buy off that NDP vote.

The other concern is with whom he has struck the allegiance. He has struck the allegiance with NDP members of Parliament, people who operate on a failed socialist philosophy, an NDP philosophy that plunged the province of Ontario into unprecedented debt and deficit and racked and ruined the economy. They did the same thing when they had the opportunity in British Columbia.

NDP policies are not built on reality. It will take whatever jurisdiction and plunge it into debt and deficit and therefore the inability to pay for essential services.

On this side of the House we are concerned about Canadians. We want to see essential services maintained, strengthened and, where necessary, expanded. We have already support Bill C-43, the main budget, but the only thing that will expand under Bill C-48 is the sense of recklessness that will lead to increased deficit and possibly even debt. We want to stop that. It is not wrong for opposition MPs to stand in the House and try to put a stop to the recklessness that the government is now putting on the shoulders of Canadians.

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1:45 p.m.


Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a short question for the hon. member.

Given that under Bill C-48 new spending only comes into effect if there is a federal budget surplus of $2 billion or more, would the member not call that budget bill a no deficit budget bill?

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1:45 p.m.


Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker, because the spending that the Liberals are talking about is unplanned. It is almost laughable. I do believe the member is being sincere here, so I am not laughing.

It is almost laughable when he talks about surpluses because we have seen the Liberal record when it comes to predicting or projecting surpluses. The Liberals tell us there will only be a certain amount at the start of the year. All the economists warn that they are way out of line, that the surpluses will be huge and that we should be giving money back to the people of Canada. They have been over on their surplus projections by untold amounts, so they have constructed for themselves a carte blanche.

They have drawn up an arbitrary figure of $2 billion and say that if they hit it, then all this spending kicks in. They can make that spending kick in at any time because their projections, according to every credible economic forecaster and every external commentator, is absolutely out of control. It is based on one thing and that is to have a hidden surplus near the end of the year or at election time so they can go on a vote-buying spending spree. We cannot trust that kind of surplus projection.