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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

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

The money was booked. You guys didn't see it.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

The money was booked, Mr. Speaker, and in fact what has happened is that the choice the Conservative government has said it offers, as I mentioned, is really no choice.

In respect to the member's question about the hours of day care, day care operations in British Columbia operate for more than just eight to five hours. In fact, because workers start their day early many day care operations start their child care services very early in the morning, and those children can stay later, so there is flexibility. It is flexible when we have professionals who are able to provide that service.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the concerns in this budget was the way in which resources were distributed. I think of the analysis that was provided by a politician not that long ago when we were talking about the fiscal imbalance. It was said that the services are delivered by the provinces and that Ottawa has the money.

That seems to be the way the government has looked at it. That kind of framework means that the cash is handed over and we just walk away. This is really what has happened. We saw that recently in Quebec.

In fact, Canadians do not get the service guarantee. The so-called health care guarantee that the government talked about is not being delivered. I do not see nurses being hired. The nurses are going south. We do not see the infrastructure being put in place.

By the way, it was Bernard Landry who gave us that overview which the government seems to have embraced. That is an abandonment of what we hold dear as a country, which is to have some sort of national standards across the country.

I would like the member's take on this idea that the federal government is only an ATM machine for the provinces. Should we not have some national standards for the country?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the whole concept of our child care program was early childhood development, not babysitting, not simply paying someone to look after our children but to help them develop.

The quad principle, which was part of the root of our program, was quality, universality, affordability and developmental. It is the developmental part that gets lost, as I see it, in terms of the government's approach to child care.

Certainly national standards make sense. Canadians should be able to move from province to province without feeling that there is a substantial difference in the kinds of basic services that are provided, such as health care and child care.

In the case of health care, for example, we put strings on the money we provided to the provinces, stating that we wanted to focus on reducing wait times.

There are times when the money from the federal government can be given totally to the provinces to decide their priorities. There are other times when, because the federal money is supplementing provincial programs, there should be direction and guidelines provided. We have done that in the past.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for North Vancouver spent his entire speech on what is not in the budget and what he thinks should be in the budget.

I wonder if the member would tell Canada all the goods things he thinks are in the budget?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is basically the problem. I would be happy to comment on the things I like in the budget but I am only given a certain amount of time.

My role as an opposition critic is to point out the shortcomings of this budget and point out areas where the government, hopefully, will listen and make improvements.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this budget debate.

I thought the opposition leader nailed it when he said “never has so little been done with so much”. I think he is exactly right.

After years of fiscal prudence by the previous Liberal government, we end up with a so-called new Conservative government that is sitting on tons of cash. However, instead of allocating the money intelligently between debt relief, income tax relief and program spending, we get a huge spending spree with Canadians' hard-earned income tax money.

I thought I would start by quoting Andrew Coyne, hardly a friend of the Liberal Party of Canada:

With this budget, [the Minister of Finance] officially becomes the biggest spending finance minister in the history of Canada.

And that is after inflation and population growth is taken into account. Under this Conservative government, they have now raised spending by $25 billion in two years.

Does that not remind members of another Conservative government?

Is this what the Conservative voters wanted: no sense of priorities and not a nickel in real honest to God tax cuts of any kind? There is a lot of spending programs disguised as tax credits for children, et cetera, which may be fine programs but they are programs, not tax cuts.

John Williamson, again no friend of the Liberal Party, a past president of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and of course employed by the Prime Minister when he was between jobs. said:

The fellow working the line or anyone with a salary income and no children will receive no tax relief. That's disappointing. Ottawa is running huge surpluses. This is a good time to cut the rates for all taxpayers up and down the economic ladder. Government decided to broadly target, for example, seniors, not tax relief in this document for all taxpayers.

Those are the Conservative Party's best friends.

It was not supposed to be this way. The so-called new government stood for accountability, honesty, openness and transparency. Instead, what do Canadians get? Spending increases--$25 billion in two years is a pretty serious increase--broken promises, innuendo and drive-by smears.

This is a budget that exemplifies unfairness, divisiveness and incompetence.

A lot has been said about this spending spree and the “peace in our times” speech by the finance minister. Some peace. Six out of the 10 premiers slammed the budget as fundamentally unfair to their province. One premier, however, had a very Cheshire cat like smile as he received a 29% increase in his transfer payments and then passed on a $750 million tax cut to the residents of his province.

The folks in New Brunswick, on the other hand, got a 1.8% increase. The folks in New Brunswick must be wondering why it is that the Prime Minister so dislikes them.

The premier neglected to mention that $750 million would be put into a tax cut when he was arguing that Quebec did not have sufficient revenue to discharge its constitutional responsibilities. The voters were not impressed last night. The voters in all the other provinces were even less impressed. However, this exemplifies the politics of division by the Prime Minister.

I do not know what members think about last night's election, but $2 billion does not seem to get one very far these days. The Prime Minister did pretty well everything he could to intervene in a provincial election to ensure the re-election of the premier of Quebec except possibly knocking in a few lawn signs.

Here is what happens when people get friendly with the Prime Minister.

First, they come within a hair of losing their seat. At one point, the premier had actually lost his seat during the election last night but apparently a recount actually secured it. They also come within a hair of losing their government. The province now has the first minority government in 129 years with a majority of opposition members made up of either separatists or quasi-separatists who believe in some oxymoronic policy called autonomy within Canada.

Mr. Charest must be wondering whether his good friendship with the Prime Minister was such a brilliant idea. With friends like that he does not need too many enemies.

The only question the government had when making up the budget was: What would it take to bribe a sufficient number of voters to get them to vote Conservative? The only question the government ever asked was what is the bribe, to whom and good public policy be hanged, which is why we do not see broad based tax relief.

Instead of taking the base threshold rate down to 15%, which is where it was when the Liberal government left office, the Conservatives actually raised it up to 15.5% in order to pay for this potpourri of incoherent initiatives.

Did Canadians notice the abandonment of the second cut in the GST? It is pushed so far off into the future that we will need field glasses to see it from here to there. The dopey campaign promise about deferring capital gains was abandoned as unworkable, as it should have been, and replaced by a general rise in the capital gains threshold, a good idea and part of the Liberal commitments.

The government chose the budget to remind folks of its broken campaign promise not to tax trusts. Instead of taking up the much more sensible Liberal approach, the Conservatives continue to charge around like bulls in a china shop, ensuring and consolidating the $25 billion destruction of hard-working Canadians' pensions and savings.

Speaking of pensions, did anyone notice the cute little diversionary tactic of offering pension splits to those pensioners who just had their life savings destroyed? If my e-mails are anything to go by, the seniors do not seem to be terribly impressed by this smoke and mirrors budget of “Here is your pension split, sorry about your savings”. The government seems to take people for fools.

Another story that is yet to play out is the fundamental unfairness among various categories of seniors. Single seniors get absolutely nothing out of this budget. I hope for their sake they did not have any money invested in income trusts.

A senior couple gets the split as long as they remain together. However, if death or divorce ends their relationship, the surviving senior is in for a bit of a rude awakening. Now the surviving senior will get a sympathy card from the tax man saying, “We are deeply sorry about your loss. P.S. We have enclosed your adjusted tax bill. Please pay up within 30 days”. This is the new government's idea of grief counselling.

Does the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have anything against all taxpayers? What about the ordinary Joe who goes to work every day and has no kids or the kids are all grown up and he would like to sock a little money away for retirement? He is not old enough to retire so the pension split is useless. Since the kids have moved on the RESP changes are useless and the tax credit is even more useless. However, if his health holds up and he works long enough, he will not need to retire now at 65. He can retire later and with whatever few leftover pennies he has he can put them into his RRSP until he is 71.

If Joe or Josephine were to say, “Thanks for nothing, Prime Minister”, they would be right because nothing is exactly what they got out of this budget.

I am sure someone will get a memo from the Prime Minister saying, “I know you're a little past prime but you could actually start a family over again but if that's not realistic take your meagre savings and get into a pension split early”. If we handle it right we could be broke for a long time.

This budget fails on all kinds of levels. It pits province against province and taxpayer against taxpayer. It is a bad budget for Canada and I will not be supporting it.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's very thoughtful dissertation of the budget of the Minister of Finance. Like him, and I am sure all members of this chamber, I have received a number of emails from constituents, one of which I received on March 20, the day after the budget was tabled.

A single senior wrote to me expressing her profound disappointment with the budget. She said, “there's something in the budget for married seniors, but not for single seniors”. This lady was widowed some years ago. She has raised five children on her own and has never asked the government for help.

With a surplus of some $13 billion, is there any rationale whatsoever that my hon. colleague can think of why there was not some token or modest provision in the budget for a senior who is single, who has never asked the government for a penny and who needs some money now in the twilight of her life to help her eke out an existence?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is what is perverse about this budget. It pits groups of seniors against each other. The hon. member rightly identifies that single seniors are up the creek on this budget. Worse still, when seniors are married, get the split for a year and then their spouses die, its bingo time for them. Not only do they have to deal with the grief of losing their partners, but they now have to pay an additional amount of tax. As I said in my speech, this is a perverse way of grief counselling.

What is frustrating is that this could have been done in so many other ways. If we want to deal with the income tax disadvantages of seniors, then we could have created a split system which would start at a certain threshold and end at a certain threshold. That way we would not be pitting one set of seniors against another set of seniors. However, no, the government threw out the pension splitting idea because it had completely balled up on the income trust. The Conservatives lied to the Canadian people repeatedly on the income trust. In order to create a diversionary tactic, they gave seniors income splitting. This is total incompetence and dishonesty to the Canadian people.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am listening to the member and wondering where was his party when it was the government. For 13 years, the Liberals neglected to pass any type of legislation. They governed in such a way that was discriminatory to seniors.

Seniors were penalized for making sacrifices in their early working years and going into retirement with additional pensions other than CPP only to have this onerous tax burden of the Liberal government placed upon them. They found out that by making sacrifice to provide a little extra for themselves, they faced the wrath of the tax department. The Liberals did nothing to help seniors for 13 long years.

We acted to help seniors. We increased the age tax credit. We allowed for the splitting of incomes for seniors. We brought in a GST cut for seniors. We brought in a lower tax rate for seniors. This government is doing things that the Liberals never did when they were the government and when they had the chance. They are seeing all the great things that our Minister of Finance has done in the budget. The Liberals are displaying budget envy. That is why they are over there now. They never did anything in 13 long years when they had a chance to and this is just budget envy that is going on here.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, we had 13 years in government and we spent the first 5 years cleaning up messes left behind by the previous government.

What the hon. member does not seem to understand is that everyone is a taxpayer. That means people with families are taxpayers, singles are taxpayers and seniors are taxpayers. The only fair way of doing it is raising thresholds. That is how we do public policy. That is what we did when we were in government. We gave $100 billion in tax relief between 2000 and 2005 and $30 billion in further tax relief in 2005.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate on behalf of the people of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission in this debate and I will have the last word on it. When my constituents ask me if this is a good budget for B.C., I say, no, this is a very good budget for B.C.

It is a balanced budget that restores fiscal balances and cuts taxes for working families. It invests in important priorities like health care and the environment and it reduces our national debt. The budget cracks down on corporate tax avoiders and makes our country safer with the introduction of a national drug strategy.

To sum it up, budget 2007 builds a stronger, safer and better Canada, and that is what my constituents want.

We have restored fiscal balance in the budget. One of the ways we have done that is by addressing equalization.

Equalization is not an easy issue and many people do not understand it. If it were easy, the provinces would have reached a consensus on how to develop a program that satisfied them all. They could not and we have had to do that. Now we have a principled formula based program in which every province will be better off.

Equalization is not the biggest part of the transfers from the federal government to the provinces and territories. In fact, it is only about a quarter of the money that flows in that direction. The biggest part of it is the Canada health and social transfer. These transfers touch every Canadian. They are produce better roads, renewed public transit, cleaner oceans, rivers and lakes, air and better education and training.

We also see fairer taxes in the budget. The numbers are big, but for the individual constituents in my riding it comes down to the $2,000 per child tax credit. That will flow about $180 million to B.C. alone.

In the budget we have ended the marriage penalty and made the spousal amount that is available to one earner couples and single parents the same as the basic amount. That will be about $35.2 million to B.C.

We have strengthened the registered education program. We have supported seniors by raising the age limit of RPPs and RRSPs to 71. We have allowed older workers to stay in the labour market by permitting phased retirement.

In fact, the Vancouver Sun said in an editorial that budget 2007:

—deals head on with one of the most critical issues facing the country—the aging population...

The budget...clearly has principles and a vision. The demographic challenge can't be denied. The Conservative government has taken significant steps towards coping with a potential crisis.

We are helping parents as well save toward the long term financial security of persons with severe disabilities with a new registered disability savings plan. That is a good idea and people recognize it as such.

There are many more things and I would love to share them with the House. However, on behalf of my constituents, I support the budget. I am disappointed that not every member in the House will. It makes a stronger, safer and better Canada.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of ways and means Motion No. 14.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #139

The BudgetGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from March 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-35, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (reverse onus in bail hearings for firearm-related offences), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Pursuant to order made on Friday, March 23, 2007, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-35.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to the motion presently before the House, with Conservative members present this evening voting yes.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?