They can talk all they like over there, but again it is the reality. The reality is that the president of the FCM was here last week and said that the government does not understand the issue.
In order to address an issue people have to understand what it is about. The government does not get it. I do not think it will ever get it. The government did not get it when it was in power under Mulroney and under the present government it is not understood either, which is of course a failure. That failure means that we are seeing bridges collapse. We are seeing infrastructure that generally is not keeping up.
That report which was dismissed by many members of that government is an important report. It talks about where we need to be dealing with these issues. Whether these issues be roads, sewers or whether they be dealing with waste treatment plants, these things need to be addressed, not only for the environment but for health and economic competitiveness which is extremely important. It is rather disappointing.
In this budget the government fails to invest. It seems to think that investing is not a good thing. We need to be investing in these issues. The Minister of Transport might think that this funny, but I have to say that the members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities are rather shocked at the insensitivity of members of the government on this issue.
I certainly remember those very dark days under the Conservatives when we could not get a meeting with the minister. The prime minister would never attend the FCM. Under the Liberals of course we had all of that. Now, of course, it is fashionable for government ministers to come, but again they are short on delivery. They are long on talk, but they do not deliver. Of course that is very unfortunate because again we are not addressing the issues.
I do not hear the government talking about the innovation agenda. I do not hear it talking about the productivity agenda. These are important initiatives. On this side of the House, we support tax cuts. We support the issues dealing with paying down the debt. We support those kinds of issues. At the same time we believe in investment, whether that is in health or in infrastructure there needs to be a balance. Unfortunately, the government does not understand balance. I think that is certainly something that Canadians want and Canadians expect from the government.
On the transit issue the government recycles Liberal initiatives. The GTA transit is a good example where again the previous Liberal government put money forth. The Conservative government cancels it and then it recycles. I do not know how many times the same program can be repackaged and then resold as the same thing, but apparently the government likes to do that.
We know what the government's shameful record is on the environment. We were going to work with the province of Ontario in closing down some coal-fired generating plants. The Conservatives came to power and eliminated that. Now the government is trying to get back and trying to recycle that initiative. That was another Liberal initiative.
The fact is that at the end of the day we on this side of the House understand these issues. It is unfortunate that on the other side the Conservatives have failed to listen and to respond effectively to the mayors and councillors from across this country on this whole range of issues.
Our cities and our communities are critical if in fact we are going to be able to take leadership on the world stage. We need to make sure that we are doing that. It is unfortunate.
At the same time, this budget also fails to address some other fundamental issues. I suggest that when it comes to partnership it is not my way or the highway. We see that in the provinces. The government promised peace in our time with the provinces. We had two angry provinces going in and of course we have had about four or five that are still very unhappy with the government. Again, it is about partners. It is about listening. We have not had a first ministers conference.
The government is now suggesting that it will have a first ministers conference in January, 22 or 23 months after assuming office. Again, this is rather shameful. The fact is that the government needs to talk with its provincial counterparts. The government needs to talk with the FCM. It needs to be able to say what it can do in terms of having effective leadership in this country.
Unfortunately, the mini-budget fails cities. It fails innovation. It fails the productivity agenda. It does not deal with some of the core issues and core values that Canadians have when it comes to these issues.
That is why on this side of the House we are very disappointed and unable to endorse what clearly was a very lacklustre performance by the Government of Canada.