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.