Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of my constituents of Don Valley East and debate budget 2007, the second budget introduced by the Conservatives since assuming office in 2006.
Budget 2007 will go down as the most visionless and meanspirited budget in Canadian history. In fact, with $12.5 billion in new spending, the finance minister has distinguished himself as the biggest-spending minister in Canadian history. This is quite a feat.
When the Progressive Conservatives were finally defeated in 1993, they left the Liberal government with a $42 billion deficit and a declaration from the Wall Street Journal that Canada was on the road to becoming a financial basket case. While the Conservatives love to repeat the empty rhetoric that the Liberals did nothing for 13 years, the fact remains that it was the Liberal government that turned around the desperate financial crisis, eliminated the deficit and began paying off Canada's national debt as early as 1998.
Let us fast forward to 2006,when the Conservatives inherited a $17 billion surplus and the lowest unemployment rate since 1970, and what do we see? The largest spending spree in Canada. But what did they spend it on? They spent it on gimmicks, pure gimmicks. So much for the Prime Minister and his Conservative talk about responsible government. Never before has so little been achieved with so much.
What are some of the gimmicks?
I asked the Minister of Finance a simple question. How has his budget helped real people with real problems? As for Marie who earns $40,000 and Judy who earns $22,000, how do they benefit from the working income tax benefit or from the child tax credit? They are either too poor or too rich. At $40,000, for pension splitting, how do they benefit?
When Canadians filed their income taxes, they also discovered another gimmick. The Conservatives claimed that they made a tax cut. Instead, those earning $36,000 a year or less actually experienced a tax increase from 15% to 15.5%. Does that sound like fairness?
Why is it that the neo-conservative budget is at the expense of the very vulnerable in society? This put 20,000 Canadians, most of them seniors, back onto the tax rolls. As an example, a person earning $15,000 actually experienced a tax increase of $149.
The Conservatives have squandered an opportunity. What did budget 2007 say about affordable housing? It said nothing, zip, zero.
How about day care spaces? Sadly, there was not one single space. In budget 2006, the Conservatives' hare-brained scheme to give tax breaks to the private sector crashed and burned when CEOs across the country universally rejected the plan.
How about the bombshell the finance minister dropped on October 31 when he wiped out over $20 billion in retirement savings with the decision to cut income trusts?
I would like to ask the minister or his representative how the government intends to assist Canadian investors, many of them seniors, who lost as much as 50% of their retirement income when the Conservatives broke their election promises.