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House of Commons Hansard #129 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report on the Canadian parliamentary delegation to Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali from January 8-16, 2007.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the pleasure of tabling, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the 15th annual Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, which took place in Moscow from January 21 to January 26.

HealthCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Health, entitled “Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to table the report from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts dealing with the protocol for the appearance of accounting officers as witnesses before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. If I may say so, I consider this a historic report.

With the passing of the Federal Accountability Act, deputy ministers are designated accounting officers. This report sets out the protocol as to the accounting officers' appearance before the public accounts committee.

There was a major dispute. The Privy Council and the Treasury Board Secretariat felt that it was their job and their job alone to determine how, why and in what manner accounting officers appear before Parliament, but as everyone in this assembly knows, that is not the case.

I am very pleased and honoured to present what I consider to be an historic report.

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. In accordance with the order of reference of Friday, May 19, 2006, your committee has undertaken and has completed its review of the Anti-terrorism Act as required by section 145 of the act.

I had the honour of chairing this committee and I want to commend members from all parties who took part in this study. The report was first undertaken in the 38th Parliament. It is now complete and is tabled today in the House. All members of the committee worked very hard and worked well together, but I do want to pay special tribute to the member for Scarborough Southwest, who really went above and beyond and did a great job of learning all of this. I am pleased to table this report.

Canadian Soldiers' and Peacekeepers' Memorial Wall ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Inky Mark Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-417, An Act to establish a Memorial Wall for Canada’s fallen soldiers and peacekeepers.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this morning to present a bill to establish a memorial wall for Canada's fallen soldiers and peacekeepers.

Since 1885, over 115,000 people have shown unconditional sacrifice and have died in the service of this country. Before 1970, by Canadian law, those who had fallen were buried in the country in which they died. These individuals either were lost at sea or were buried outside Canada, in 73 countries around the world.

A memorial wall would be the only national memorial to properly honour all those who have given their lives in war and peacekeeping duties. It would allow Canadians and visitors the opportunity to understand the magnitude of the sacrifice that was made to ensure we maintain the rights and freedoms we enjoy today.

In closing, I want to thank Messrs. Ed and Robert Forsyth, who did yeoman service on this issue. Those who have a greater interest in this issue can look at their website at www.memorialwall.ca.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-418, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of remuneration).

Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Hamilton Mountain, and indeed right across this country, hard-working families are increasingly recognizing the existence of a prosperity gap. They do not feel that they are benefiting from the economic growth they keep hearing about. They are right. The numbers back them up. Not only is there a growing gap between the rich and the poor, there is also an alarming erosion of economic security for middle class families.

In 2005 Canada's top 100 CEOs were earning 240 times the salary of the average Canadian worker. By 10 a.m. on New Year's Day, the top CEOs have earned more than most Canadians make in a year. A recent poll showed that 82% of Canadians believe that one of the ways to narrow that prosperity gap is to close the tax loopholes that allow wealthy Canadians and corporations to pay less than their fair share of taxes. That is precisely what my bill does.

This legislation will no longer allow companies to write off against their business taxes the salaries of their CEOs and corporate officers in excess of $1 million. This is particularly important in communities like Hamilton, where companies that are seeking CCAA protection from the courts are protecting the multi-million dollar salaries of their key executives through court-supported KERPs while they are exacting wage, pension and benefit concessions from their workers.

I want to thank my colleague, the member for Winnipeg North, for her support. I hope the House will recognize the inherent fairness of this legislation and pass it quickly.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Visitor VisasPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

March 27th, 2007 / 10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have the honour of presenting a petition signed by almost 800 citizens and collected by the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce. The petitioners strongly urge the government to adopt Motion No. 99 and thereby follow the lead of the United Kingdom by lifting visitor visa requirements for Croatian nationals.

Croatia has made huge strides in recent years and today is a democratic free market country on a par with most European states. Croatia is also contributing internationally, standing shoulder to shoulder with Canada in Afghanistan, and is currently the second largest non-NATO troop contributor to the Afghanistan mission.

It is time for Canada to lift visitor visa requirements for Croatia.

Superintendent of BankruptcyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of petitioners in my riding and across Ontario who feel that a bankruptcy that took place in September 2001 was poorly reported by the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. They ask that the report of the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy be rescinded and the necessary steps taken to cause a corrected report be released.

Labelling of Alcoholic BeveragesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with deep regret that I present this petition on behalf of many Canadians, who also regret the fact that I have to continue to present this petition. This has to do with the fact that almost six years ago Parliament passed a motion to put alcohol warning labels on all beverage containers.

Here we are, many years later and two or three governments later, and still there is no action. Canadians are very upset and disappointed that parliamentarians say one thing at one moment and show support for dealing with fetal alcohol syndrome and then in the next moment refuse to implement this. That goes for Liberals and Conservatives. It is time, the petitioners say, that this motion was passed and action taken.

Foreign Credentials RecognitionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of tabling two petitions today.

The first is signed by hard-working families on Hamilton Mountain who are concerned about the recognition of foreign credentials. They state that Canada's failure to recognize the credentials of qualified, skilled and professional foreign-trained immigrants is not only hurting the economy and immigrants alike, but it is also contributing to unacceptable levels of child poverty and is increasing the strain on social services.

They are petitioning Parliament to create a foreign credentials recognition agency that will ensure foreign-trained immigrants meet Canadian standards while getting those who are trained and ready to work into the workforce as quickly as possible.

ImmigrationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

My second petition, Mr. Speaker, is with respect to my colleague's bill, Bill C-394, the bill that we in the House call the once in a lifetime bill. Family reunification must be a key component of a fair immigration policy. The current family class rules, as we well know, are too restrictive and mean that many close relatives are not eligible.

The petitioners are asking the Parliament of Canada to ensure, by passing Bill C-394, that Canadian citizens and landed immigrants are given that once in a lifetime opportunity to sponsor a family member from outside the current family class as it is currently defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from March 26 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn ConservativeMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand and talk on the budget today. I will focus my comments on the budget, specifically with reference to British Columbia and, obviously, how it affects my Department of Natural Resources.

I want to begin by saying at the outset that this is one of the best budgets that we have seen in this place for a long time. The budget is balanced, it cuts taxes for working families and it protects priorities like health care and the environment. We have seen long term committed investment in infrastructure. It restores the fiscal balance to provinces and gives them the resources they need to deliver frontline services to Canadians right across the country.

In my home province, the economy is very strong. Last month, British Columbia led the nation in job creation with over 32,000 jobs. We are seeing the lowest unemployment in British Columbia that we have had in 30 years. We have an unprecedented level of construction, over $110 billion of activity planned between now and 2015. The Port of Vancouver alone saw a 56% growth in traffic with China last year and British Columbia is the gateway between our two continents. With one of the strongest economies that we have seen in a long time, our budget will continue to build on this to ensure we have continued strong economic growth.

One of the greatest strengths in the budget is that this government is one of the first governments to ever deal with equalization. The days of political gerrymandering of equalization formulas days before a budget to ensure one province gets more than another are gone. Again, this is something that was long overdue.

British Columbia is not one that is used to being a recipient of equalization. The equalization program started 50 years ago, the year I was born, and it was only once in 50 years that British Columbia has ever had to rely on equalization. I cannot help but note that it was only after 10 years of disastrous mismanagement under the provincial NDP government. British Columbians commonly refer to that time as “B.C.'s dismal decade”. It is something British Columbians never want to go back to.

The budget contains a number of very positive initiatives. One of the greatest strengths in the budget is the long term commitment to infrastructure. More than $33 billion has been committed to infrastructure in the next seven years and, of that, $4.8 billion will flow to B.C. The money will go directly to things like roads, highways and bridges to ensure our province's economic growth.

The budget contains an extra $1 billion specifically committed to the Asia-Pacific Gateway where that money is already flowing. We have made a strong commitment to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Our government will accelerate the investments in own the podium program to support athletes who will compete against the world in Vancouver-Whistler. This is over and above the $55 million that our government committed this year to cover cost overruns, adding to the almost $400 million we have committed.

Some other very important criteria in the budget is the 50% straight line write-off provisions for manufacturing equipment. This will result in $57 million in income tax relief for B.C. manufacturers. Again, this will be a welcome addition to the forest industry where it will be able to invest at a greater rate in modernizing some of the mills in British Columbia, which I think would be a very positive step forward.

Obviously, one of the cornerstones is families. British Columbia families alone will receive over $300 million through the new $2,000 child tax credit, the working income tax benefit and increases in the basic spousal support.

Another strong focus by our government is on the environment. The budget contains a number of initiatives. The Prime Minister announced in a number of provinces the $1.5 billion ecotrust part of this budget. Coming back to British Columbia, $200 million will allow British Columbia to pursue its priorities where it believes it can make the greatest reductions in greenhouse gases and other emissions.

We have invested $30 million in the Great Bear Rainforest. In R and D, we are committing $15 million to the Brain Research Centre at the University of British Columbia. We have another $30 million in the budget for the Rick Hansen Foundation. We all know the great work that Rick Hansen is doing with people with spinal cord injuries and the practical applications that will help to improve their quality of life. The budget also contains $40 million to implement the immunization program to combat cervical cancer.

All of those are very real, practical applications that will help every Canadian in every corner of the country.

I will now come back to the environment. The budget contains an incentive to buy fuel efficient cars and it imposes a levy on those that are inefficient. Those are very strong commitments to take real action. I know that my department has invested $2 billion in our ecoenergy initiatives. Again, all of those are initiatives that will have a significant benefit to the environment.

I will quickly touch upon those initiatives. First, we looked at where we could make the greatest gains on reducing greenhouse gases and emissions and we decided to really focus our priorities. We have invested $230 million in targeted research on things like clean coal technology and CO2 capture and storage where we can remove almost all the emissions out of coal-fired generation plants. That is where this technology is going. We want to put 4,000 megawatts of renewable energy on the grid; absolutely clean energy that is emission free, things like wind, solar, biomass and small scale hydro. Those are important initiatives to which our government is committed.

We also want consumers to do their share. We announced our ecoenergy efficiency initiative where consumers will be able to have an audit done and get a grant of up to $5,000 to make their homes more energy efficient.

All of those initiatives are real, practical applications on which we will see real results.

On a larger scale, we have launched our CO2 capture storage task force where we are working with the Alberta government to find out what we need to do to start sequestering CO2 gases, capturing them, putting them into a pipeline and putting them back down into the ground in the geological formations where they are best stored.

Those initiatives show great growth and great promise. The technology is there but it has never been done on a commercial scale of this magnitude. This is a priority for our government. We think there is an enormous promise and opportunity there, as well.

I want to mention some other really specific areas to natural resources. The one that is long overdue is our $60 million commitment to streamline the regulatory approval process. In the budget, our government has committed $60 million in resources over the next two years and $150 million over the next five years to create a major projects approval office for all Natural Resources' major projects. Under previous governments, it was quite a painful process. The applicants quite often would need to go through a number of federal agencies. We want to streamline that process so they come through a single window approach, which would provide certainty. We will also get a much stronger result for the environmental process as it will be focused again.

Those are a number of initiatives that our government has undertaken. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the budget will continue to ensure strong economic growth, that we will see great initiatives to protect the environment and that there will be even more coming forward. Those are the types of things that Canadians, in every corner of the country, have been asking for.

We are very proud to deliver this budget on behalf of all Canadians. I look forward to receiving support from all corners of the House as this budget will have a very strong impact on the lives of everyday Canadians.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the prior government had a program that was commonly referred to as the EnerGuide program where Canadians could have energy audits done on their homes to determine their condition in terms of energy efficiency. The Government of Canada would subsidize the audit fee by $100. After any work was done and to get the credit that was offered under the program, a post-audit was required to ensure the work was done and that it would translate into valuable and necessary work to make the home even more energy efficient and that the investments and the credits being offered by the government was money spent wisely. That generally was the program that was in place.

The minister outlines that Canadians can also now apply for up to $5,000. I wonder if the minister could explain to the House the mechanism that will be in place so that all Canadians can be assured that any moneys that are being contributed for the work done on their homes are subject to some scrutiny so that the investment that the Government of Canada is making is a wise decision.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Conservative Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to answer the question. What the member is specifically referring to are the audits. Under the new ecoenergy efficiency initiative, all homeowners will need to have an audit done before and after. One of the major differences is that the homeowner will need to pay for the audit because we want to get their participation early on.

In one of the programs under the previous Liberal government, after people had government subsidized audits, 70% of them did nothing. They did not do any renovations. Only 30% of the people actually went on to do any retrofits. Over 50¢ of every dollar was being doubled up in administration, which is inefficient for an efficiency program. There were absolutely changes made.

I will give another example. Hundreds of the programs of the previous government lacked focus and direction. We are trying to really focus our programs so we get results and there is accountability.

One program that comes to mind was another energy efficiency retrofit program for commercial buildings which was actually doing some good work. Ironically, when I looked into it further, does the member know who the Liberal government was giving cheques to under that program? It was giving cheques to the Royal Bank, to Zellers, to MacDonald's, to Famous Players Theatres and the list goes on and on.

Our government does not feel that we need to be subsidizing those types of profitable corporations that can do the retrofits on their own. We absolutely made changes that we believe are in the taxpayers' interests.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a concern about the budget. While the manufacturing sector will receive a 50% capital cost allowance, which is probably good because it can invest in retooling and all those things that he talked about, I want to know how that helps the industry, especially the forest industry in Vancouver Island North and elsewhere in British Columbia where we have had so many mill closures because of the softwood sellout and raw log exports. What incentives are there for manufacturing to stay in British Columbia?

The minister spoke previously at the natural resources committee about being concerned about raw log exports but I have not seen anything in the budget that would stop that and would keep the manufacturing and the value added in British Columbia where we should keep our jobs.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Conservative Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, specifically, this manufacturing accelerated capital cost allowance is exactly the type of thing that will help the forest industry. It will be able to make investments and it will receive obviously some assistance or accelerate the depreciation on this equipment, which is badly needed.

Our government has also recently invested $400 million in the forest industry: $200 million to help them cope with the pine beetle problem, and another $200 million to help restructure the forest industry to ensure its long term competitiveness.

I am very proud to say that this is an unprecedented commitment. We have not seen these types of investments in the forest industry for many years. The industry itself, under FPInnovations, will be prioritizing these funds. It has brought research institutes together to decide where to best invest this money. This investment was strongly supported by the Forest Products Association of Canada and all the players. It was very well received.

These are the types of specific investments that we are making in the industry that will show results and ensure that we have a long term sustainable industry in every corner of the country.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Labrador.

I am pleased to have the opportunity today to comment on the recent Conservative budget. Like most Canadians, I was hopeful that the budget would provide substantial measures to address issues such as social justice, the environment, and economic development and prosperity. Like most Canadians, I was extremely disappointed when the budget failed to deliver on any of these priorities.

As the member of Parliament for Nipissing--Timiskaming, I was also looking for some kind of indication that northern Ontario and rural Canada would no longer be overlooked by the Conservative government, but once again, the budget proved that the Conservatives have all but abandoned the people of northern Ontario.

The budget made no mention whatsoever of regional development programs such as FedNor. Rural issues were simply ignored and precious little was done to address the needs of farmers.

What I find truly astonishing is that the Conservative government has increased federal spending by more than $24 billion over the past 14 months and yet the average Canadian has very little to show for it.

While the Conservatives are willing to invest millions of dollars to encourage youth participation in Canadian heritage sports like three down football and lacrosse, they seem unwilling to put money toward high profile areas such as municipalities, post-secondary education, and the fight against climate change.

Like most Conservative initiatives, the budget is big on rhetoric and small on substance. It serves as further proof that the Conservative government is more concerned about electioneering for the short term than helping the average Canadian succeed now and in the long term.

Take for instance the Conservative government's proposal to encourage Canadians to use fuel efficient vehicles. The Prime Minister would like us all to believe that this is a formidable way of addressing environmental concerns and promoting greener initiatives. Upon closer examination, however, we quickly discover that only eight vehicles will be subject to the full green levy of $4,000, seven of which have an initial price tag of $100,000.

Furthermore, for Canadians who are interested in buying more fuel efficient vehicles in the hope of qualifying for the highly touted rebate, most will be very surprised to learn that only 21 vehicles in all qualify for a rebate, and of those only four qualify for the full $2,000 rebate.

In truth, the Conservative budget that promised something for everyone neglects those who are most in need.

There is little relief for single taxpayers or childless couples. New cash for aboriginals and affordable housing is conspicuously scarce or missing altogether. The $250 million a year being spread among the provinces that agree to create child care spaces falls well short of the $1.2 billion promised by the former Liberal government in each of the next three years.

One only has to scratch the surface of the Conservative budget to recognize that the Prime Minister is aiming tax cuts and fiscal perks at politically popular targets rather than those who need it most.

For instance, new spending committed this fiscal year for aboriginal causes totals a paltry $21 million. The budget contains no new cash to repair, let alone replace, housing on more than 600 reserves that the Auditor General has warned is increasingly decrepit.

It is also worth noting that a Conservative government, that seems convinced that tax cuts are the only solution to the world's problems, has refused to provide any broad based reduction in Canadian personal income tax.

Lower personal income taxes are far superior to cutting the GST in terms of Canada's longer term prosperity and productivity. Lower income taxes induce people to save more and to invest more in improving their skills and education, whereas lower consumption taxes simply encourage spending.

Furthermore, the finance minister did not see fit to permit full income splitting whereby couples could file joint tax returns and split their combined incomes evenly between them, thereby reducing their total tax bite by thousands of dollars.

The promised tax exemption for reinvested capital gains is also nowhere to be seen, with the finance minister left saying he will do something at some time. That is not very specific.

In short, the Conservatives have implemented tax policies that look helpful on the surface, but their benefits are cancelled out by the tax hikes on low and middle income Canadians hidden in last year's budget which have still not been reversed.

During the last campaign, the Conservatives ran on a platform of fiscal discipline and economic prudence. The budget further emphasizes what Canadians have already come to expect from the Prime Minister and that is that he simply cannot be trusted to deliver on his commitments.

The Harper government wasted a year slashing funding and breaking promises instead of making--

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order, please. The hon. member knows he cannot refer to the Prime Minister or any other member for that matter by name and he just did. Do not do it again.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 2006 the Conservatives promised 125,000 new child care spaces over five years. Fourteen months into this mandate Canadian families are realizing that this promise was not worth the paper it was printed on. There have been zero spaces created in this past year.

What is worse, the so-called universal child care credit, which is neither universal nor child care, is fully taxable and the government will rake in an average of $400 per family.

The reversal by the Conservatives on income trusts caused Canadians $25 billion from their savings. The softwood lumber deal left $1 billion, money of Canadian businesses, in the hands of their U.S. competitors. The Conservatives decided to cut $1 billion from crucial social programs despite a $13 billion surplus.

Now the Conservatives are on a spending spree, repackaging many of the programs that were originally cut. They are misleading Canadians by re-announcing the programs as new, in a cynical strategy aimed at calling an early election.

The restraint that the Conservatives preached while in opposition is nowhere to be found in this budget. The $4.4 billion in new spending announced in this budget for 2007-08 comes on top of a normal rise in the cost of government and items announced in previous budgets. In all, it means that spending will rise by 5.6%, from $189 billion to $199.6 billion. It is interesting that the government kept the spending under the $200 billion. This may be something that it wants to brag about. The spending will go up again in 2008-2009 to $206.8 billion. It will lose its bragging rights then.

In other words, the Conservative government which pledged to keep a cap on expenses will have overseen close to an 8% growth in spending on new federal initiatives during its first year in office. Although the Conservatives tried to rationalize the numbers by including projections in future years, the fact is that 8% growth this year and 6% next year far exceeds the economy's projected growth.

It almost goes without saying that this kind of big spending approach is both irresponsible and unsustainable. In the words of one analyst, the budget demonstrated “a massive unconservative and fiscally irresponsible expansion of government”.

When the Liberals took office in 1993 they inherited a debt and deficit ridden economy from the Conservatives and turned it into the best economy in the G-7. Thanks to 13 years of Liberal government fewer Canadians now live in poverty, the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 30 years, and a strong economic base allowed us to build a better Canada.

What we are witnessing is a regression of epic proportions; an inflationary budget that could have devastating consequences on the Canadian economy for years and possibly generations to come.

In short, Canadians were expecting the Conservative government to put the long term economic growth and prosperity of the country ahead of whatever plans they may have for an early election. This budget clearly falls short.

On behalf of the people of Nipissing—Timiskaming I will be voting no on this budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, perhaps you will remember the days when we had to eliminate a $42 billion deficit. I remember you being here. It was a time when we made some serious decisions and trade-offs. The previous Liberal government eventually left surplus budgets to the Conservative government. I can say that it is unbelievable how many people the government has left behind in this budget when we consider the surpluses with which it is operating.

I want to ask the hon. member, what does he feel and what are his constituents saying about the failure of the government in relation to tax relief? The government has attacked the lowest income Canadians. The government has actually raised taxes. It did not reverse the mistake that was made in last year's budget.

There is the issue of the environment where the government cut back the Liberal commitment to renewable energy to 4,000 megawatts from 5,500 megawatts in support of clean and sustainable production. This goal is not reached either.

The government has talked a great deal about the end of provincial and federal bickering. It did not take long for the premiers of this country to criticize the manner in which the government is dealing with federal-provincial relations and now it has reneged on commitments it actually made.

I also want to ask my hon. colleague his feelings about the fact that the Conservative government has also failed in preparing Canada for the 21st century when it cut programs such as the CAN-Trade strategy and scrapped initiatives that relate to universities. The government offers absolutely no hope for students. The Conservatives have also not created one single child care space as the member correctly pointed out. How can a government with so much have done so little?