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House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

The House resumed from May 3 consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

When the matter was last before the House the hon. member for Oak Ridges—Markham had the floor. There are four minutes remaining in the time allotted for his remarks.

I therefore call upon the hon. member for Oak Ridges—Markham.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, instead of focusing on dollars for prevention, the Conservatives are focusing on more law enforcement and more prisons. This is definitely not what Canadians want. The Conservative approach to crime is clearly one of hang them high and hang them higher.

Residents of my riding of Oak Ridges—Markham are very concerned about environmental issues. After all, my riding contains much of the famous Oak Ridges Moraine. The Oak Ridges Moraine, for those who do not know, is an ecological treasure and a natural habitat, providing a home to numerous species and a system that acts as a powerful filter for the millions of people living within and around its domain.

Nothing in the budget gives Canadians hope that the Conservative government places any importance on Canada's environment or its environmental jewel like the moraine. The budget does nothing to address present environmental concerns. The budget only mentions that $2 billion would be allocated over five years for this made in Canada climate change initiative that is still under construction.

The Conservative budget represents a 93% cut to environmental funding and does nothing to reassure future generations that Canada is a mindful custodian of its environment. The budget represents a 100% cut in funding for climate change ensuring that Canada will be unable to meet its Kyoto commitments.

The Conservative budget is a lot like the Conservative Speech from the Throne. It offers no real vision for the country. The throne speech focused on a few narrow priorities at the expense of other areas that require leadership. The budget focuses on misguided tax cuts, destroying signed child care agreements and lip service to the environment. The budget does not advance Canada in any way and does not offer an overarching plan for Canada's future.

Nonetheless, I am pleased to offer my comments on the budget today and I look forward to debating it further with my colleagues.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely astounded that the member would begin the debate on this beautiful Monday morning by being so shy on facts. The observations that he declared about our budget and throne speech are just the opposite of what is actually contained in those documents.

We had many years of Liberal government where the Liberals had a long list of commitments just to try to persuade Canadians to vote for them. Did they fulfill those commitments? Did they keep those promises? No, they did not.

In contrast, during the campaign, in our throne speech and in the budget, our party focused on the main priorities. It is really so novel. I talked to several people who said that it was unique for a new government to actually, as its first action, implement the things it ran on in the election.

I must challenge the member's statements and invite him to rethink what he said with respect to the evaluation he gave of this government and of the budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is assuming too much when he comments that I do not know the facts. If he were to revisit last year's program that the Liberal government delivered, he would see that it was within 14 to 16 months that we delivered the Kyoto agreement, child care and the Kelowna agreement for communities and cities. It only took the Conservations one month to cut all of those programs.

We worked very hard for Canadians to ensure the Kyoto protocol would be enforced within a short time and the new government took only a few days to cut that very program that would have helped Canada and Canadians.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I know the member has only been elected for the second time but to suggest that the Liberal government was able to increase emissions under Kyoto by 30% over the target in just 14 months is not true. Everybody knows that Kyoto was signed many years ago and it took the Liberals four or five years to achieve that 30% increase in emissions.

I know it is one of the few areas where we have managed to exceed the United States. The Americans, who did not sign Kyoto, only increased their greenhouse gas emissions about 14%. However, the Liberals, a track record which the member is so proudly defending, increased greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.

It reminds me of the fellow who threw himself for mercy before the court after murdering his parents arguing that he should have mercy because he was an orphan. That is the Liberal approach on the environment. Under the Liberals' watch and after they signed Kyoto we have seen a 30% increase in greenhouse gases and then they stand as the defenders of Kyoto.

Could the member explain that contradiction and how the Liberals were able to create that increase in emissions so quickly?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the contradiction is not on this side of the House. The contradiction is that once the Crown enters into an agreement and another government comes into power within a few weeks or months, the new government can cut the commitments made by the previous government. Canadians can see right through this. They know that this sort of action will not be very good for the future of Canada and Canadians.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, now we see that it took a budget document for the Conservatives to finally acknowledge the legacy that they inherited from the Liberal government. If members do not believe me they should listen to the quote from the budget speech on page 15. It states:

--Canadians have reached a level of accomplishment few other countries can rival.... Canadian workers and business people have shown the world what talent and hard work can do.

Unemployment is at a 30 year low. We have low inflation, strong consumer confidence and corporate profits are at record levels.

It says exactly the same thing in French:

Les réalisations des Canadiens font l'envie de nombreux pays.

— les travailleurs et les gens d'affaires du Canada ont montré au monde ce que peuvent apporter le talent et le travail acharné.

— les Canadiens ont plusieurs raisons d'avoir confiance. Le chômage est à son plus bas niveau en 30 ans, notre inflation est faible, les consommateurs sont très confiants et les bénéfices des entreprises battent des records.

Clearly this happy outcome is a result of focused, strategic investment in our economy and in our people by the past Liberal government. On examining the budget, Canadians of course are right to ask, “What does the Conservative plan for the future do to enhance those strategies or improve on the conditions they so heartily applaud in their budget document?”

Not much. The Conservatives' focus on five simplistic priorities is designed to beguile and to deceive, but not for the purpose of national interest. Hence, for them, an increase in the personal tax rate for low and middle income Canadians, from 15% to 15.5%, becomes, are we ready for it, a reduction. So much for accountability.

Let me quote again from page 16 of that same budget document:

--accountability means...the numbers must be presented clearly. It means we have to be frank about where we stand financially.

And the French says:

[Cela] signifie que les chiffres doivent être présentés clairement. [L'imputabilité] signifie que notre situation financière doit être présentée avec franchise.

However, they are not frank in this document.

Yet, awash with cash as a result of Liberal economic management, they choose not to invest but, as my colleague said, to dismantle. They begin with distortion. That is the first step to dishonesty.

So a reduction in investment in post-secondary education from $2.5 billion, under the Liberal plan, to $200 million in this budget plan is touted as something progressive. For those out there who are looking for investment in the future, $200 million is touted as progressive.

How can we build for the future without investing in the creation of a skills and intelligence infrastructure? In an era when 70% of all net new jobs being created will require more than a high school diploma, the Conservatives are oblivious, first, to the need to invest in new, innovative and hence productivity-enhancing technologies, second, to the need to expand on the commercialization of those innovations, and third, to the fact that the early school leaving rate will create a class of permanently underemployed and vulnerably employed Canadians.

If we want to become productive and competitive in the world economy, we must invest in skills development and graduate research and become a nation that can export its talent, innovation and technology, a nation that can attract foreign investment because we have the labour force and the talent to guarantee a good return on that investment.

Instead, the Conservative plan tinkers with tactics and abandons overall strategic investment. Deception, that is the order of the day, whether it is with older workers, immigration, the environment or infrastructure.

With older workers, for example, the government plans to use them to make, and I quote the budget document once again,“Canada more competitive in the global market”. But how? It promises to “undertake a feasibility study of measures to help such workers, including the possibility of income assistance and retraining”. Can members believe this?

The government will undertake a feasibility study of measures to help such workers, including the possibility of income assistance and retraining.

It is absolutely laughable, as is the claim that the Conservatives will increase immigration settlement funding by $307 million. In fact, the Liberals had already negotiated with provinces and started to roll out a $1.3 billion amount to invest in the settlement, integration and retention of new Canadians to meet the labour market and demographic needs of the country.

However, with classic bait and switch tactics, with which the Conservatives are familiar, the budget talks about a country “built by people seeking a better life for themselves and their families”. It offers the velvet glove of a reduction in the right of landing fee, to $490, for those who actually get to make it here, but delivers the iron fist of deportation and removal through the Canada Border Services Agency, going so far as to have officers forcibly remove children from classrooms in front of their friends.

It is a classic Conservative approach to demographic challenge and immigration: send them back and keep them out. This ”to heck with you” approach permeates the entire budget document. Gone is the $5 billion investment in environmental strategies and climate change. Hello, $400 million for local programs, still, according to the budget document, “being developed by the Minister...”.

What have the Conservatives been doing for four months? No, I am sorry, what have they been doing for 12 years? They have been aping or copying our strategies. Envious that Liberals could think big, could plan macro, they focus on acting small. They attack us for our infrastructure program, but note that their plans will:

--maintain the...current funding under existing infrastructure initiatives...the existing gas tax funding commitment under the New Deal for Cities and Communities, and the full GST rebate and the federal portion of the HST paid by municipalities.

As well, I might add, they will pass off the highway border infrastructure fund, the municipal rural infrastructure fund, the cities strategic fund, the transit capital trust fund, and the Pacific gateway initiative as new--note that word “new”, although we had already put them in place and funded them--and as theirs. Can hon. members imagine this? After spending two years vilifying Liberals, with all Canadians watching, the Conservatives have now decided to offer Liberals the highest form of flattery. It is called imitation. That is what the budget document, through these programs, tries to do: imitate Liberal initiatives.

Regrettably, now that they have discovered that our government was replete with action, performance and achievement--let us see if we can get this right in German--the Conservatives' approach is now tentative and is identified by, “Let us hurry up and wait”. Except for the increase in personal income tax rates, disguised as a cut, which will come into effect with the passage of the budget, Canadians will have to wait until 2008, no, 2009, no, further, to 2010, to taste tax reductions in small business taxes or corporate taxes.

We might ask why. Surely if we believe in a competitive Canadian business sector, the time to make it so would be to cut taxes when the economy's performance, thanks to Liberal management, is producing unimagined surpluses. Liberals cut $100 billion in taxes when times were tougher, so why the timidity of these tax cut proponents in boom times? The answer is--

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Palliser.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, we are 20 minutes into today's session and, frankly, the level of partisanship is a bit unbelievable. The member, who seeks the leadership of his party, has taken sarcasm to new levels. Perhaps he figures that is the way to push him over the top. I am not sure if members opposite are going to buy into that or not; we will have to wait until December.

The member should realize by now that fearmongering simply does not work, nor do crying or deception. Canadians voted for change on January 23 and change is what they received. They knew what they wanted. They wanted something different. They were sick and tired of 13 years of Liberal corruption and mismanagement, they voted for change, and that is what they received in this budget.

As for the gall of that member and his suggestion about the great state of the country, yes, things are good in Canada right now, with the economy up and the dollar up, absolutely, but we know who deserves the applause for that: we know it is the hard work, the innovation and the competitive spirit of Canadians that deserves the applause. It sure as heck is not the Liberal government of 13 years. That is ridiculous.

The member has to look at the totality of the budget picture. He would realize that yes, taxes are down for all Canadians. That is a fact. He knows that is a fact when we consider the totality and things like the Canada employment credit. Let us go a little further. In terms of lowering the GST, the Liberals did not honour their commitment in 1993.

Here is my question for the member opposite. He talks about accountability. I would like to know from him, the pizza king, if he is not a bit red-faced when he talks about accountability and yet billed $134 for pizza for two. Accountability--

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Eglinton--Lawrence.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, it would have been nice if the member had actually done his research, because on this side of the House, what we did was put in place transparency and accountability measures that allowed people to examine everything that every cabinet minister did. I would be delighted if the member actually were to use an examination of those figures to find out that Canadians can examine what people do with the resources available to them. I am never going to apologize for doing a 100% job in my capacity as political minister for Ontario and in Toronto.

One of the things that the member opposite, who was talking about fearmongering, might want to explain to all Canadians is why the Prime Minister of Canada has no time for the premier of Canada's largest province and most populous province, but he has time to sit with a sleazy Republican strategist who says to dig up dirt, create dirt, deal with people as corruption, because they have actually produced the kinds of conditions that the member says are great for Canada.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his speech. I would have one exception, though. He talked about imitation in this budget, and there is a fair amount of that, and I would characterize it as the missing of a great opportunity based on the economy the Conservative Party inherited. There is one thing the Conservatives did not imitate, or one of many, I should say, and that was in the post-secondary file.

As a former minister of human resources and skills development, my colleague knows well the investments that we made in research and innovation, taking Canada to the top of the G-7 in publicly funded research. In the last couple of years, we moved significantly on student access, which I would suggest is now the big challenge. If our friends in the New Democratic Party had supported the economic update, many low income Canadians would now be getting the benefit of expanded Canada access grants. Economists say that if we want productivity, and that is the challenge, then we should invest in people, not cut the consumption tax.

I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on how little attention education has received in this budget, particularly post-secondary education, which is so important to our productivity.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The member has 30 seconds for his answer.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Thirty seconds, Mr. Speaker, but I would need about 300 minutes in order to describe the achievements of the Liberal government. We started by creating a culture of lifelong learning. We made investments in the Canada learning bond, with $500 on the birth of a child and $100 every year to establish a fund for education. We talked about a fifty-fifty format, whereby 50% of tuition in a student's first year would be picked up by the federal government, and 50% in the last year, and in between we provided relief for students in debt with access to loans--

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Lévis--Bellechasse.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook.

I rise today in support of the budget. This Conservative budget aims initially at moving us out of an era of spending and into an era of fiscal responsibility.

With costly programs, the previous government was spending taxpayers' money, but without really enriching or benefiting them. For years, Canadians have been overtaxed. The people in my riding, in Lévis, in Bellechasse and in Etchemins have been obliged to contribute to the welfare of the Liberal Party through the sponsorship scandal.

That has got to stop. We need to correct the situation and we need a government that will re-establish confidence. One of the three reasons I support the budget this morning is that it aims to re-establish the bond of trust between taxpayers and the government.

The sponsorship scandal remains fresh in our memories, encouraging us to take action and change things. The government proposes to lighten taxes in this budget. This shows that before, during and after the election we say and do the same thing, and that pleases me. We were not accustomed to such a practice with the previous government. It accustomed us to promises, which came without fulfillment or commitment. We are here to make commitments and to honour them.

Let us have a look at the promises in the election campaign. The reduction in the GST is included in the budget, as are the tax cuts we had not promised. We are giving more than our election promises indicated. We are giving parents a universal allowance. It is Canadians who know best how to manage their money. So we put it in the pockets of taxpayers so they can look after our greatest national treasure—our children.

We also are equipping ourselves to establish legislation on responsibility, accountability, ways that taxpayers can find out how Ottawa manages their money.

More concretely, some 655,000 low-income Canadians will no longer pay federal taxes with this Conservative budget. Families earning between $15,000 and $30,000 will save $300. Of course, those with slightly higher incomes will save a little more and so forth. This budget offers concrete tax cuts to all taxpayers and to all Canadians.

My primary reason for supporting this budget is that it respects our commitments and rebuilds trust, but I also support it because it addresses the federal government's priorities in matters under its jurisdiction. I am talking about national defence. The whittling down of the federal government's commitment to defence has forced us to turn to our allies to transport our troops and move our equipment. This is unacceptable for a large country like ours. It is important to reinvest in defence in order to ensure our sovereignty and the safety of Canadians and to pursue the humanitarian and military missions for which we are known. We must also improve security at our borders. It is the responsibility of the federal government to do so. These are the areas we must invest in first.

The Canadian Coast Guard has not purchased any large ships since 1987. It therefore performs its activities and carries out its mandate with an aging civilian fleet. As you can see, it is time to re-inject funding into our priorities.

Priorities such as immigration, justice and law enforcement, international aid and aboriginal peoples, who need assistance and who have inadequate water treatment systems. I know what I am talking about since I spent the last four years of career working on this.

They also need tools for improved accountability. That is what we promise to do in this budget. With this federal budget we will invest in federal priorities and allow our partners to have authority over their own jurisdictions, especially in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

You know the old adage: stick to what you know. That describes the proposed Conservative budget: a budget that focuses on the services the federal government is mandated to provide for Canadians. Among the government's responsibilities are infrastructure and the environment. We will therefore move ahead.

To those who object to this budget, I would say that it is a budget that addresses environmental issues and does not simply make promises. I would like to quickly list some of the measures in the budget.

First, the government is making a commitment to reduce the deficit. This will also have an impact on intergenerational balance and sustainable development. The government will spend $3 billion a year to pay down Canada's debt, which is a burden on future generations. As well, the government is making a commitment to establish a climate change plan, with investments of more than $2 billion over five years. And that does not include the transit pass credit and measures to encourage Canadians to invest in environmentally sensitive areas. In addition, this budget gives Canadians responsibility for dealing with climate change by encouraging them to adopt behaviours that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All these are environmental measures.

With regard to infrastructure, as you know, it contributes to the economic vitality of communities by providing them with safe, reliable water systems. It also allows efficient transportation of goods to market, which helps improve our productivity.

My colleagues opposite like to talk about Kyoto as if it were the last stage of the fight against climate change. It is just the beginning. We still have a lot of things to do, and the Conservative government has made a commitment to do them.

This government has a clear plan for Canadians, a clear plan for Quebeckers, a clear plan for my constituents.

The third reason I approve this budget is the new open and working federalism that is within.

This is something that Quebeckers have not seen for some time, a federal government that intends to work within and respect provincial areas of jurisdiction. It is nice to hear provincial premiers say that they appreciated receiving a phone call from Ottawa and that they were able to add their two cents' worth to the agreement concerning the softwood lumber dispute. Yes, everyone is a winner--every province and Canada as a whole.

I was in the red room last Friday to witness the successful and effective fulfillment of another election promise, namely, the UNESCO agreement that will allow Quebec's voice to be heard at that assembly. This is another example of the open federalism extolled by the budget.

Spouting rhetoric is all well and good, but money to back it up is also needed. The other aspect of this budget consists of restoring fiscal balance. This is why we have the support of our duly elected colleagues from Quebec. We are confident that the other members of this House will also support us. The 2002 report by the Séguin commission and many other studies here recognize that a fiscal imbalance exists and that balance must be restored between services provided by the levels of government and the sums of money that they receive.

It is simple: promises made, promises kept. Through the accountability act, we hope to restore confidence. We also hope to restore a sense of accountability to the citizens of Canada, as well as to the various levels of government. We promise to fight against climate change, we are moving towards open federalism and we hope to do something about the country's fiscal imbalance. For these three reasons, I support the budget and encourage all members of this House to do the same.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague for his speech. However, I would like to know what he thinks about the fact that there is absolutely nothing in this budget for women. Would he give the nod to an investment in women of $100 million through the Women's Program, among others?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question.

Over half the budget is aimed at women since they represent 50% of the Canadian population. There are also components for women who make different choices. I am referring to various tax measures including the $1,200 universal child care benefit. This measure allows women and parents to make different choices, to take on responsibility for them and to have some assistance from the government. It is a concrete measure.

Other measures support families, such as the $500 children’s fitness tax credit . Our society is in shape and that is part of the government's objectives.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, for some of the things the hon. member is supporting the hon. member should cross the floor and join us.

For instance, it takes a lot of nerve for anyone on that side to mention aboriginal people in a speech. It is almost shameful, the lack of commitment to the Kelowna accord which was a commitment by Canada as a nation, not of any particular party, with the aboriginal people of this country.

The other item he and the people of Quebec do support is the environment. Once again that is a disaster in that some 15 environmental programs have been closed. When the previous government decreased greenhouse gases because the economy was going so well, but in spite of that, the Liberals cut thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases with biodiesel, with cellulose, ethanol, with support for solar, with support for photovoltaic, support for wind energy, for geothermal, for landfill gas and for the housing retrofits. They cut thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Does the member think that all members on that side support the tremendous cuts that have been made to programs pertaining to the environment and aboriginal people?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question.

We should ask ourselves whether or not the Liberal plan, over the past 13 years, has had any effect on climate change.

After 13 years, Canada is at the back of the pack in terms of its environmental performance. It is disagreeable to state this in the House. The truth is that our strategy to fight climate change has not been effective. Furthermore, the proposed plan is a band-aid solution.

The real solution lies in an effective plan to fight climate change. This is what our government is committed to doing. I often tell my constituents that given how we are keeping our promises made during the election campaign, and the speed with which we included them in the budget, I am confident that we will be able to remedy the situation and put Canada on the road to truly reducing greenhouse gases.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned that there will be thousands of Canadians taken off the tax rolls. I would be interested in hearing how this will be done when the Conservative government is proposing to increase income tax.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

As I was saying in my speech, 655,000 Canadians will not pay income tax any more thanks to the Conservative budget. That is a fact. That is what the budget proposes. It is not a promise; it is a commitment. With the support of my hon. colleague it is now on its way to becoming a reality.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, since this is my first opportunity to rise in the House, I want to thank the constituents of the riding of Niagara West--Glanbrook for sending me back to the House.

This budget is not about beer and popcorn, parents raising future criminals, destroying the environment or even tearing up agreements, as the Liberals would have Canadians believe. The budget is about putting Canadians first. It is about giving everyone the opportunity to keep more of their hard earned dollars in their pockets, not just Liberal pockets. It is about real accountability.

Last Tuesday our government tabled its first budget, which has thrown open the doors in a new era in Canadian finance. The budget is a powerful example of Conservative promises kept.

During the election we promised to bring tax relief to hard-working Canadians. With this budget, we have kept this promise with $20 billion of tax cuts that will benefit all Canadians. With the budget, the Conservative government has liberated Canadians from the shackles of the oppressive Liberal taxation and has swept the Liberal culture of entitlement into the dust bin of history.

The Conservative government will use these tax dollars thoughtfully and meaningfully and will do it with clearly defined priorities. We will be prudent stewards of Canadian taxpayers' money. The budget is precisely what Canadians voted for when they went to the polls in January. Finally, after 13 years of being ignored by a non-responsive Liberal government, hard-working Canadians of every income tax bracket and every age group will begin to enjoy the long-awaited benefits they so richly deserve.

Our government recognizes that for far too long the tax burdens of Canadians were simply too great. Accordingly we have taken concrete measures in the budget to deliver tax relief to all Canadians, which is long overdue.

While there are many areas in the budget, which I will mention, let me begin by mentioning one example of particular importance to many of my constituents. It is the relief provided to small and medium size wineries. The budget has announced a reduction in wine excise tax that will assist small and medium size wineries to be more competitive, both domestically and internationally. It will help to grow their businesses, strengthen the economy and ultimately help to put Canadian wines on the world stage.

Our support for small vendors is one example of the attention and consideration the budget has given to all small businesses. The budget proposes to increase the amount of small business income eligible for the 12% tax rate. This will help Canadian businesses become more viable, encourage growth and bring jobs into communities across the country.

In addition, the Conservative budget also reminds Canadians of the importance of our skilled trades people by offering tax based incentives such as a new tax credit up to $2,000 to employers that hire and train apprentices, $1,000 grant for apprentices and a new tax deduction of $500 toward tools acquired in connection with their employment.

Budget 2006 will also put its support behind education and students. Almost 2 million full time students will benefit from a textbook tax credit of $80 per year as well as benefit from the elimination of tax on scholarships and bursaries.

Our support for Canadian families is also made unequivocal in the budget. The budget has captured the importance of Canadian families by including a universal child care benefit. Living in a riding with both rural and urban communities, it is clearly visible that a one-size-fits-all child care system could never meet the needs of all Canadian families raising young children. Unlike some hon. members of the opposition who seem to think that stay at home parents are raising future criminals, our Conservative government realizes that parents can be and should be trusted to raise their children. That is why we are providing all families with $100 per month for each child in the family under the age of six. In doing so, we offer a child care system that gives families the choice and flexibility they need to provide the best care possible for their children.

Canadian parents want healthy and active children. We are helping them to achieve this by introducing a tax credit to promote up to $500 in registration for children's physical activity programs. The government is clearly saying to Canadian parents that we recognize the cost of raising a child and we are on their side. This is saying to all those moms and dads, who take their children to early morning sports practices, that we understand and support their efforts.

Parents of children with a disability often face additional demands and pressures. To help alleviate these, our budget proposes to increase not only the maximum annual child disability benefit but also the amount of refundable medical expense supplement.

Just as Canada's children and youth are important to the government, so too are our senior citizens. That is why they can look forward to tax relief through an increased maximum amount of eligible pension income that can be claimed to $2,000. Moreover, 85,000 low income seniors can also look forward to being removed from the tax roll.

Finally, every Canadian will benefit from a reduction in the GST, beginning this summer. Whether purchasing a home or a pack of gum, every dollar one spends will now be saving money, assuming goods are not purchased on expense accounts.

Directly and indirectly, every Canadian will benefit from all these cuts, personal, income tax measures, sales and excise tax and business income tax measures. These cuts and reductions will put tax dollars into the pockets of consumers. This is a cornerstone of the 2006 Conservative budget.

As the government moves forward to fulfill election promises in support of the trades, small businesses, agriculture, family, senior citizens and every Canadian, the budget will also help to heal the Canadian health care system, which fell so ill at the hands of our Liberal predecessors. Canadians value universal health care, but they want a system that works. They deserve a system that works and we will deliver a system that works.

To that end, we will increase the number of doctors and other professionals through a foreign credential recognition program. The budget also proposes to make $52 million per year available to our health care partners to implement a national cancer strategy. Through these combined measures, Canadians will soon enjoy shorter wait times and better care.

I urge my fellow hon. members to listen to what Canadians have said and to support the budget, which responds to the Canadian health care concerns. Budget 2006 is proactive and addresses pivotal issues that will affect our country for years to come. By proposing new apprenticeship programs of $500 million that will benefit 100,000 apprentices and by investing in colleges and universities, the budget is a testament to our support of skilled trades and post-secondary education. Budget 2006 is evident of the commitment that the government is making to Canada's future.

A commitment to Canada's future also means a commitment to help ensure we have a dynamic and viable agricultural sector. Our finance minister has shown, through the budget, that the Conservative government is squarely in the corner of Canadian farmers. Under the Liberal government, farm income stabilization and disaster relief was woefully mishandled and wholly unresponsive to the needs of farmers. Budget 2006 aims to correct these long-standing problems.

Farmers and the goods they provide are imperative to Canada's future. There are farmers who have been extremely successful in efforts to improve efficiency. Their efforts are constantly challenged by falling prices, trade disputes and natural disasters. By providing $1.5 billion in new funding for Canadian farmers through the grain and oilseed payment program, farm support and assistance and the transition to overhaul the Canadian agricultural income stabilization program, our government is standing up for Canadian farmers.

The budget recognizes that we need Canadian farmers and that we will all reap the benefits of a vibrant agricultural industry. Through the budget, the Conservative government also acknowledges that in spite of positive measures this document contains and all the long overdue benefits it will return to Canadians, we can enjoy these benefits if our country is secure and our world is safe.

September 11, 2001, jarred us all. No longer could we take for granted that our extraordinary border relations with the United States would not be exploited by those wanting to do harm to law-abiding Canadians. In a departure from the previous government's blatant neglect of border security, last Tuesday's budget announcement places a much needed focus on Canadian security. By committing over $300 million in funding to implement a border strategy and another $101 million to enhance the ability of our border guards to effectively do their jobs, the Conservative government is committed to strengthening security at our border.

Unfortunately, threats to Canadian values and our long history of national safety also dwell within our borders. The budget directly addresses the rise in crime that has rocked so many communities across Canada. It provides investment funding to strengthen the RCMP. This will also work to ensure that safety will be restored to our streets, towns and cities. Budget 2006 can also begin to restore Canada's role in the international community.

Each of the measures represent a positive step, whether it is the support of families, an investment in agriculture, in supporting the enhancement of border security or any other measure in between. Our government supports measures that are fiscally sound, economically wise and socially conscious.

Contrary to what the Liberals would have everyone believe, the budget will let Canadians keep more of their hard earned money.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Blair Wilson Liberal West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member opposite on his first speech in the House. I wanted to clarify a few things and ask him a question.

Something I believe the member has forgotten in his speech is the fact that we have enjoyed 10 years of incredible prosperity in Canada. Canadians have to ask themselves, what has brought about the prosperity we enjoy in Canada? We had 10 years of a Liberal government that delivered eight balanced budgets and cut taxes to all Canadians, not only to the wealthy friends of the Conservatives, which this budget has put forward. The Liberals also took a balanced approach. We invested money in education and in the social safety net. Those are some of things about which the Conservative government has completely forgot and completely neglected in its budget.

The one thing the Conservatives have delivered, and I must give them credit for this, is tax cuts to their wealthy friends. The government has done that very well. What the government has completely forgotten, and this leads to my question, is the future. What is the government doing about the future? The government has set aside no money for investments for the future, be that paying down our debt, or investing money in health care, education and, specifically, post-secondary education.

The only answer the government comes back with is an investment of $80 for students. I went to university on student loans and $80 right now would probably buy me one textbook, if I am lucky. The Liberal fifty-fifty plan would have given $6,000 to students, $3,000 in their first year and $3,000 in their second year.

Where in the budget is there any money for education? Where in the budget is there any money for the future of Canadians?