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House of Commons Hansard #169 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was million.

Topics

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would urge all members to deal with a great deal of caution when talking about honesty and truthfulness. I did not specifically hear the member for Richmond make that direct comment. I certainly will take a look at the blues. I would urge, however, the member for Richmond, if he did say words that were unparliamentary, to retract them and to try to stay away from imputing motives on any other hon. member.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I could rephrase that by saying that the Prime Minister and his party members are electoral opportunists who are more concerned with holding the reins of power than they are interested in the health and welfare of our nation.

In a word, budget 2007 is so divisive because it has pitted province against province, the rich against the poor. It is full of broken promises. It has slashed and burned effective programs only to later re-brand them and replace them with sad imitations.

The Conservative budget has taken gross advantage of British Columbians to pay for political gains in Quebec and central Canada. Keith Baldrey from my local newspaper, the Richmond News, stated:

--the new budget provides each British Columbian with $163 over the next two years--compared to a whopping $446 per Quebec resident over the same period.

My constituents are crying foul, and they are not the only ones. B.C. Revenue Minister Rick Thorpe said this about budget 2007: “The budget was more about politics in Quebec and Central Canada than it is about strategic importance for British Columbia and Canada”.

According to the government's own official budget tables, B.C. is the only province that will receive less funding two years in a row in major federal transfer payments. B.C. is losing in the Prime Minister's divisive funding game, down $1 million this year and $339 million last year.

At the same time Quebec is getting a $3 billion increase in this budget for this year alone.

But do not just listen to me. Jeffrey Simpson from the Globe and Mail stated, “[Quebec] will be getting more than $7-billion in additional payments in coming years, meaning that, by definition, about $5.5-billion will be transferred from elsewhere”. Don Cayo from the Vancouver Sun said, “Quebec is the big winner. Indeed, when it comes to equalization, it's the only significant winner”.

Budget 2007 is so unfair and unjust that it does nothing for students, for the poor and for the most vulnerable. The budget does not put a penny in the pockets of Canada's undergraduate students and the vast majority of students get nothing at all.

This budget does nothing to address the shortages of affordable housing in our communities. Laurel Rothman, the National Coordinator for Campaign 2000, said:

There's not a word on affordable housing, which is important not just for low- and modest-income families but for the health of our neighbourhoods across this country

Budget 2007 is so unfair that it actually increases the gap between the rich and the poor. It does nothing for single working mothers because people making less than $30,000 per year cannot benefit from the Conservative's so-called child care plan.

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

The budget contains no broad-based tax relief for low and average income Canadians and ignores the problem of poverty in our communities. It does increase the tax rates on Canada's lowest income earners for the second year in a row, from 15% to 15.25%, to 15.5%.

Taxes began to go up literally the day the Conservative government took power. The Conservatives have also decreased the amount that can be earned tax-free in 2006.

The budget's tax hike on the first $35,000 of income will cost Canadians $1.4 billion, which actually cancels out the benefit of the Conservative's so-called child care benefit.

With such a large surplus inherited from the former Liberal government, why should the working poor be forced to pay off the Prime Minister's big spending and political promises?

The Conservative government has spent more in this budget than in any other budget in Canadian history. Andrew Coyne, from the National Post, said on CBC Newsworld:

With this budget, [the Minister of Finance] becomes officially the biggest spending finance minister in the history of Canada. That's after inflation and population growth is taken into account. They've now increased under this Conservative government; we've now raised spending by $25 billion in two years.

With such a large budget, it is shocking and shameful that the budget is so irresponsible. It is irresponsible because it has no strategy to deal with three of the most important challenges that our nation is facing today: the global competitiveness of our economy, the huge social deficit, and climate change.

This budget is a long sad story about irresponsibility and missed opportunities, all for the benefit of the Prime Minister's short term political interests and all at a great cost to Canadians.

John Bennett of the Sierra Club of Canada has repeated the fact that:

This government has abandoned its obligations to the Kyoto protocol and abandoned its moral responsibility to keep our international commitments. This government has no intention of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It has every intention of trying to sound like it does, but has no intention to actually do it.

The government and its budget has failed to help Canadians safeguard our environment and to effectively address climate change. It has cut back our commitment to renewable energy from 5,500 megawatts to 4,000 when we should be increasing our support for clean and sustainable energy production.

The Conservatives have kept tax breaks for new oil sands expansion in place until 2015, but has slowed our plan to clean up Canada's lakes and waterways. The Conservative plan reduces funding to our provincial partners by half. It has cut effective energy saving plans only to relabel, repackage and then resell them to Canadians with smaller budgets and less impact.

The simple fact is that in this budget there is no effective Conservative plan to address Canada's environmental responsibilities or to make sure that polluters pay for using our atmosphere as a free garbage dump.

On global competitiveness this budget has failed. Journalists from The Vancouver Sun have stated, “--rather than focusing on creating the right conditions under which all Canadians can prosper, [the] budget resorted to picking winners and losers”. This budget contains no broad-based relief for average and low income Canadians and it also fails to position Canada for the 21st century global marketplace.

In 2005 the former Liberal government initiated the CAN-Trade strategy that provided a $485 million investment over five years to help Canadian businesses succeed in emerging markets. It should be no surprise that the Conservatives scrapped this program and have now replaced it with a mere $60 million--

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was astounded while listening to the member's speech, which focused on nothing positive. He was focusing on negative rhetoric that he should stop to ask himself about.

He mentioned help for lower income families, child care, the environment and, what I think was done intentionally, he refused to even check back on his own government's record. In all of these particular areas, the Liberals failed Canadians so miserably that we had to start cleaning up the mess on this side.

How many spaces did his government create for child care? The Liberal government promised it for a decade. What did it do for the environment? Let me remind the House that it went 33% over the Kyoto targets. It is outrageous.

One thing he did fail to mention and I know that the constituents in his riding of Richmond have great links with Asia. Overall, we set some unprecedented funding in infrastructure. Over $800 million is flowing into the province of British Columbia when it comes to the Asia-Pacific gateway initiative. Maybe he should comment on how his constituents would welcome that sort of funding, especially because we value that trade link with Asia-Pacific.

Perhaps he can comment on something positive. I would like to hear something positive from the member.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about British Columbia and how this budget was so untruthful on the funding for B.C.'s Asia Pacific gateway project.

In the 2006 budget, the Conservatives cut the Liberal funding by hundreds of millions of dollars in the first five years. In this budget, the finance minister partly restored the funding that he had cut the year before, then added $450 million in new funding and hailed it as proof that B.C. is somehow a big winner. The problem is that B.C. will not start receiving the new money until four years from now.

After studying the budget in detail and reviewing the responses from across the nation, I can only agree with most analysts that the Conservatives' 2007 budget is very divisive, unfair, unjust, untrue and irresponsible.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's speech. He is a gentleman who has an intuitive grasp of and a real passion for social justice issues. He well understands, arguably as much as anybody in this chamber, that one of our tasks in government is to slowly but surely narrow the gap between those who have and those who have not. I am sure he is as disappointed as I am that the gap between those who have and those who have not certainly has been widened as a result of this budget rather than narrowed.

I am thinking particularly about single seniors. I would like to ask my colleague about this. As much as the Minister of Finance talks about pension splitting, which yes, to an extent will assist senior couples, there is no mention whatsoever of and certainly no provision in the budget for single seniors, 70% of whom are women, obviously living alone and struggling to get by. I am wondering if the hon. member could comment on how that will impact on his riding. Certainly it has impacted on mine.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his very precise question. I could not agree more that the impact of this budget was so badly felt in my riding. This budget was so unfair that it actually increased the gap between the rich and the poor.

There is no mention of affordable housing. My riding is supposed to be an above average riding, but we do have poverty in my riding. There are many people waiting to get into suites that they can afford. Also, because they are not in good living conditions, this has impacts on their health, particularly for the single women, as the member said.

One thing we should try to do is make our economy more competitive so that more people can get into jobs that pay better.The sad thing is that we do not see this in this budget. As Nancy Hughes Anthony, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said:

We don't see any broad-based tax relief either for taxpayers or businesses. The government promised in November that they were going to make Canada more competitive and control spending and I think they broke that promise--

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. We will have to move on to the next speaker.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud today to rise in the House of Commons and have the honour of speaking on Bill C-52. Unlike the previous speaker, I will focus on some really positive initiatives that I think Canadians are very proud of when they look at our government.

Once again, I am proud of the excellent work that the finance minister has done in constructing a budget that meets the needs of ordinary Canadians. Our budget package provides a plan that will aspire to create a stronger, safer and better Canada. This will be achieved through restoring fiscal balance, reducing the tax burden on working families, investing substantially to protect the environment, and promoting our health care system.

In communicating with my constituents from the riding of Edmonton—Strathcona, I have received tremendous support for this new budget. Edmontonians feel confident that Canada's new government is continuing to speak to their needs by providing a focused fiscal agenda, something the previous Liberal government failed to do for 13 years.

Specifically, budget 2007 speaks directly to the students at the University of Alberta, to business owners and entrepreneurs on Whyte Avenue, and to ordinary parents and grandparents who put a premium on family. It is these individuals who get up every morning and go to school and to work in order to better their lives and those around them. Canada's new government wants to help them be successful.

In the past, the previous government sought to impose one size fits all solutions for very real problems. Our vision is different.

Canada's new government does not claim to have the answer to every problem or to be better prepared to address all the problems ordinary Canadians have.

Canada's new government is willing to listen to Canadians, get an understanding of their issues and provide them with the resources necessary to achieve their goals and realize their dreams. That is what Canada's new government has done and what Canada's new government will continue to do.

Students at the University of Alberta will benefit exponentially from the money allocated in this year's budget. Building upon the targeted tax relief outlined last year, budget 2007 will invest substantially to improve Canada's post-secondary education system. Our government will allocate $1.3 billion to science and technology research, coupled with a 40% increase in funding for Canada's post-secondary institutions.

In addition, budget 2007 outlines 14 supplementary monetary investments that will specifically target areas of R and D, employment training and post-secondary scholarships. All of these investments will ensure students at the University of Alberta are receiving a world class education and the necessary skills to compete in a globalized economy.

I am proud to say that Canada's new Conservative government has once again delivered for students.

Students graduating from university, technical schools and other institutions of higher learning want to know that employment will be attainable immediately upon graduation. That is why budget 2007 proposes a number of measures that will enhance infrastructure and the necessary resources for business to succeed.

For example, a small business owner on Whyte Avenue in my constituency can expect to benefit from the government initiative to reduce the paper burden by 20%. Less time will be spent on excessive government red tape and bureaucracy, and more time can be spent on driving the economy, thus creating jobs.

Furthermore, the capital gains tax exemption for small business owners will be increased to $750,000 from $500,000. Undoubtedly, this will help business people in Edmonton--Strathcona reap additional benefits from their investments.

Additionally, budget 2007 speaks to the needs of ordinary families across Canada and in my riding of Edmonton--Strathcona. Since taking office, our government has always made working families a number one priority and I am proud that we have proven that once again in this budget.

Working families in my riding can expect to receive a new $2,000 per child tax credit for children under the age of 18, along with the elimination of the marriage penalty on single earning families.

Additionally, Canada's new government also wants to help parents save for their children's post-secondary education. That is why the Minister of Finance has transformed the RESP program to allow parents to contribute more on a yearly basis and has increased the lifetime contribution limit. Education is important to Canada's new government and we want to help parents help their children to succeed.

Finally, budget 2007 sets out comprehensive funding to reduce greenhouse gases and improve air quality. Undoubtedly this is something that will benefit all Edmontonians by making a cleaner, healthier environment.

Some examples of these environmental initiatives include: rebates of up to $2,000 on new fuel efficient vehicles; investments in biofuels; the $1.5 billion ecotrust to help clean up our land and water; $22 million to enforce environmental protection laws; and, of course, a new national water strategy.

In closing, I would like to say that the government cannot spend Canadians' money better than they can spend it themselves. This budget recognizes that Ottawa can do more with less and Canadians can do more with more.

I am delighted that my constituents finally have a government that recognizes the need to support them in their choices by giving them more resources with which to shape their own future.

In short, by offering a broad based fiscal plan that targets their specific needs, budget 2007 will make a difference in the lives of Canadians and particularly the lives of people in Edmonton—Strathcona.

I cannot emphasize enough the fact that I have heard from so many people who are pleased to see a focused fiscal plan. I have had a number of phone calls and emails over the last number of weeks and months since the budget was tabled in the House, with particular examples of how families feel that the government understands their concerns and needs. In particular, there is a breadth of knowledge and there is the diversity of my riding, with Canadians who range from seniors to students to business owners. They all feel that this budget was very focused in its delivery and that it aims to help a number of them.

In particular, I will emphasize the University of Alberta. It is clear from the work done in the previous budget and then in this budget that we can see the support this government is giving to the future, particularly when we see what is happening in Edmonton and in Alberta with their current economic growth and the challenges we are facing in managing that growth. This government has implemented a number of measures to support that growth and to build on it to enhance what is happening with all the growth in Alberta.

I think back to the last budget when we made simple changes that were never made by previous governments, one being to allow foreign students the chance to work off campus. So many of them come to this country looking for new opportunities.

My family still operates a small business, as members know. I had very humble beginnings before I came to this place. I ran a small business on Whyte Avenue for a number of years. A number of our family members and others benefited from this change last year, especially in a really hot labour market where we have had a challenge in finding and retaining people.

Now we are able to have that opportunity for students who are looking for new or better opportunities in coming to Canada. Not only is it an opportunity for them to make the most of their education, but it is also an opportunity for them to then afterwards get value from that education by being in the Canadian workforce. Hopefully many of them will decide to remain here in Canada and we will benefit from those skills.

Our government even has opened up the opportunity for them to be able to look at staying here. Unfortunately, the previous government talked a lot of talk when it came to immigration opportunities and supporting students, but it really delivered very little. That seems to be the legacy of the previous government. That is something we wanted to change when we took office.

We have had a Prime Minister and a finance minister with clear leadership. When they put certain directions or changes on the table it is to deliver real results. Not only have we seen that in the budget, but we have seen environmental changes put in place. The previous government's record is unacceptable. As I mentioned earlier to the member for Richmond, a 33% increase in emissions under the Kyoto protocol is not real results. We are looking to improve air quality and the health of Canadians in working with them to implement those changes.

That is why many of the changes we have implemented in budget 2007 will help to actually integrate Canadians in working with their governments and helping shift behaviour. Those changes will benefit Canadians in the long term with real results, something that has been missing in this country for a number of years. That is the type of feedback I am getting from my constituents, who are proud to see a government and a finance minister with the vision to lead, for a change, and not follow.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was quite interesting to listen to the member go on about all the government's accomplishments. Let me tell him that I am very proud of the accomplishments of our government. A big accomplishment was producing an $11 billion surplus that was left to the current government in regard to deciding what its priorities were. Clearly we know where its priorities lie, and they do not lie in serving a lot of the people referred to by the member in regard to the area he represents.

Clearly he understands what it is like today for many of our communities that are struggling and also for individuals who are struggling. Some of those individuals have been hit on the income trusts. Some of them are the same families that the hon. member referred to. They saved for many years for their retirement and invested their life's savings in income trusts. They believed what the government and the Prime Minister committed to and made additional investments only to find out very soon that millions of dollars in savings were lost for many of those people. I think the loss figure last quoted is $25 million.

I wonder what the hon. member says and feels about that whole issue and how it was handled. He seems to be very proud of his finance minister, contrary to a lot of what we read elsewhere. I would like to know what the hon. member thinks about those issues and about those people who lost their savings and are struggling to get by.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start off by disagreeing with the hon. member. There are many segments of the Canadian population who are proud of the finance minister's initiatives on tax measures, on help to families and in a number of areas that I spoke about. I think there is some really strong delivery when it comes to results. I think the member may have missed that part of my speech when I talked about results, something which we did not see from the previous government.

It is astounding that we still see members of the previous government, that bungled the whole income trust file prior to it being voted out by Canadians in the last election, stand up to defend large corporations not paying their fair share, which is putting more burden on Canadians. It is astounding in this day and age that we still see members like her stand up and defend that and defend their friends in big corporations.

Our finance minister took a leadership stand to bring fairness to the tax system, to bring balance to the tax system. In doing so, we actually implemented something that I know one of the members of her party has been so strongly behind and has somehow become completely silent on: pension splitting for seniors. These measures offset many of the negative effects initially of the income trust changes.

If we look now at the markets the value of the income trusts have come back up to a very significant level. It is a shame that we still see members like her defending corporations not paying their fair share of taxes.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, speaking about broken promises, I remember in the last election there was a big fanfare. The Prime Minister said that he was going to provide $50 million to prevent youth crime. There would be activities for young people. It was not just about being tough on crime but he said he would also do a lot for young people to prevent them from joining gangs and so on. I do not see one word in the 2007 budget about youth crime prevention. Where is that $50 million?

I saw in the 2006 budget, the old budget, that there was an investment of $10 million a year but there is nothing booked for 2008, and there is nothing in the 2007 budget. There was some mention in the 2006 budget, but what happened to that campaign promise of $50 million per year to prevent crime? It disappeared. That is another broken promise.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I know my time is short but I simply throw it back in the member's court and ask, where is she on supporting mandatory minimum sentences, where is she on a number of our justice bills that we put forward to get tough on crime? Members of her party talk the tough talk during an election but when it comes to actually putting their money where their mouths are here in this place, we have introduced a number of bills, but they are being held up in committee by members like her. I would like to see the member stand up and actually support those bills.

To address her concern about the $50 million, we have outlined in our budget a number of initiatives that actually will prevent crime and will support our law enforcement officers. We have a lot of credibility on those particular issues of justice, unlike the hon. member who just spoke.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak in the debate on the budget bill.

A little while ago in my riding of Newton--North Delta I had the opportunity to attend the Surrey Children's Festival Breakfast, an annual event organized by Sheila McKinnon, who does such great work in our community. This event gives the people in Surrey and Delta an opportunity to celebrate the most important citizens we have, the future of our families, the future of our communities.

That event was the perfect opportunity to reflect upon all this budget represents and all it denies for those children in the coming years. Many of them are first generation Canadians. Their parents were newcomers to Canada, many of whom qualified to come here as professionals. They had high-paying jobs before they arrived here and were told they met the standards to be qualified professionals here in Canada. Now they are working far below their earning potential and have no hope in finding positions they were educated for before they came to this wonderful country.

The budget scrapped all plans to provide for a one stop agency to deal with the foreign credentials recognition problem that we face day in and day out. That was probably because the government discovered it did not work. If the government members were honest, perhaps they would admit that they knew it would not work all along. Any real consultation with licensing bodies, trade organizations and educational institutions would have told them that a lot earlier, but like most things with this budget, the Conservatives clearly chose not to listen. If they had consulted at all, this would not be the situation.

We see the same thing happening in the Atlantic provinces. The government simply chooses not to listen.

Two budgets later, the parents of these children are no further ahead in getting the jobs they came to Canada for. Even if all those children became doctors, health care professionals and skilled tradespeople, we still would not have enough here in Canada to fill the gap.

By 2020 we will not be able to produce enough tradespeople and professionals here. We will be relying on immigration. Members might think I am talking about immigrants, but this is not an immigration problem. When I talk to the businesses in my riding about the labour shortage in British Columbia, I listen to them. This government is not listening to their concerns about getting recognition of the credentials of those technicians and tradespeople so that they can be productive members of our society. Members might think that this budget would have addressed that problem and would have made it a priority. Once again they would be disappointed to learn that they are wrong.

In fact this is a budget that cares very little about what we are really facing in the future, even though time and time again all the research tells us that the future of our country and of our economy lies in more and better immigration and immigration services than we provide.

People like Mumtaz Khan and Monica Verma in my riding, who run the Self Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Society, SEEDS, not only for new Canadians but for men and women who want to start new small businesses, can tell us that in four short years we are going to run out of professionals and skilled workers. This budget does nothing to address the fact that the answer is in new Canadians. The answer is to deal with the backlog of immigration applications. What does the budget offer? Nothing.

The answer is to deal with family reunification. Extended families can offer some of the child care services that the government is so unwilling to provide. What does the budget offer? Again, the budget offers nothing.

The answer lies in speeding up citizenship processing times and also the refugee applications. Again, the budget offers nothing.

New Canadians now realize they have to work around the government, a government that fails them time and time again. The government fails not only new Canadians. We can see resentment coming from all provinces, starting with Atlantic Canada and going to Saskatchewan and British Columbia. That is why the government is trying to push the budget forward. The government wants the resentment that is coming from different regions to be taken out of the public eye.

We know what it takes to ensure a real future for Canadians. The government's budget is a denial of the realities that hard-working Canadians face every day.

Let me return to the children at that breakfast. We are now two budgets into the government's mandate that denied child care, a mandate that said parents should have the right to choose whether to have child care or not. The first budget gave them a $100 cheque each month and what was supposed to be funding for new spaces. This budget does nothing more.

In my province, a little research will show what this has meant. Not a single new child care space has been created. None of that money has ever been accessed. In fact, many spaces have been closed down in the last year.

After two budgets, parents who have nothing but an extra $100, which is also taxed, could not afford to put their children in these child care places, even if they existed. These same parents, perhaps like myself, would like to bring their parents over to look after their children, and this budget fails on that front too.

We see the vicious circle the budget has put in place with its failures: children without child care; parents who cannot find the jobs in their chosen fields, and who cannot even look to their own families to provide the care the government denies because their family members cannot get into this country sooner and faster.

The government is failing to meet the future, to honour its potential with a budget like this. What is worse, this is only one example of how the impact of this failure is being felt by hard-working Canadian families in my constituency right now.

I have not even gone into the failure of a viable so-called green plan the government is talking about so our children and their children could have a livable environment.

I have not even gone into the budget's failure to address the rising population of young native Canadians and what it will mean for their future.

The point is that with this budget, we are a long way away from the 11% increase in after tax income that working families received under the previous Liberal government. Under the previous Liberal government there was real child care, money for child care spaces and more money for real solutions to foreign credentials recognition, and not the fake solutions of the two Conservative budgets, and not the kind of budget that would look to the one area of funding for our young people to get them into the workforce, the summer jobs program.

With all these cuts, this is a budget that imagines that hard-working Canadian families do not want real vision and leadership. The government is thinking that way in planning for our future. We can only go on with the vision, but not the cheque writing strategy.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to what the hon. member had to say. I suggest that perhaps the member was not listening when we were making the announcements with respect to foreign credentials recognition and working toward interprovincial standards for designations. The member can be assured that the government is moving forward on that. As a grandson of an immigrant family, I am very proud of that.

One thing I did not hear mentioned in the member's statement was productivity. We know there are major productivity challenges in Canada. This budget makes significant investments toward improving Canada's overall productivity in post-secondary education, in the skilled trades, in critical infrastructure like the Pacific Gateway, something the member should care about a great deal.

Why does the member stand in the House and not mention anything about the effect of the Pacific Gateway, the effect of investing in productivity in our country and what it will mean for future generations? I want to believe he believes in future generations. I know families in Canada do. Why is he not standing up for productivity in Canada?

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, in fact, I am very proud to be Canadian by choice, and the only for reason for that was because we had a bright future in Canada.

The member has asked me three questions. The first question was on credential evaluation. I came to this country as an engineer. I had to go through a lot of difficulties. That is why I personally understand the issues and the problems.

The Conservative government, when it wanted to buy votes, promised to set up an agency that would solve the problem. It knew at that time that it would not work. That is why there is no money now. It has cancelled that.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

That's wrong. It's in the budget.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Those members should not be yelling at me, Mr. Speaker. They should be yelling at their own members who are leaving that side of the House to sit on this side. They should be worried about the vote on that side.

We have to come up with a real solution to the problem of foreign credentials for the businesses that are suffering right now. We had put $62 million into that program.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:50 p.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, it is indeed a pleasure to speak in this chamber today to Bill C-52, the government's budget implementation bill.

I am particularly pleased to speak because I want to ensure I have the opportunity to dispel some of the half-truths and outright fallacies being propagated in debate, particularly today, by members of the opposition.

The first thing I want to talk about is the complete untruth that somehow we have been stifling debate on this important bill. We have heard it from the member for Wascana and the member for Vancouver East. They have consistently stated that the motion we brought in for time allocation today was an attempt to further curb debate on this very important bill. I assure members that is the furthest thing from the truth.

In fact, I point out, particularly for the members opposite, we have so far debated Bill C-52, this year's budget implementation bill, for 15 days. On the last two budget implementation bills presented by the previous government, now the official opposition, in the two years combined, the government had only allocated 14 days debate between the two years. In other words, to put things in context, we have spoken more days on this one bill than the last two budget implementation bills by the previous government combined.

For them to say that we have been curtailing debate is an absolute fallacy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Now that we have that settled and put it to rest, let us talk about the bill itself and some of the benefits that apply to Canadians.

In particular, we know now that the fiscal imbalance situation, a concept that the previous government, and the leader of the official opposition in particular, failed to recognize, has been put to rest. More money has been paid to provinces in the form of transfers, whether they be health transfers or post-secondary education transfers, than has ever been done before, and we are very proud of that.

In addition, we have brought in initiatives to help families with child tax credits. We put money toward infrastructure. We put money toward a biofuels industry. We put money toward agriculture to help our farmers who have been suffering a decade long of income crises, from one crisis to another. We have provided Canadians from coast to coast to coast with a type of budget, presented by the type of government, that they deserve, for the first time in 13 years.

What I really want to talk about in the few moments I have before we get into question period is the question that has been predominating the airwaves today, and that is, the entire topic of equalization, whether it be the Atlantic accord or equalization as it sort of plays itself out with all the provinces besides Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. I will give a particular perspective and insight into what it has been doing to Saskatchewan because Saskatchewan has been unfairly portrayed as a province that has been hurt by the new equalization formula changes.

Again that is, at best, a half-truth, and I would suggest a complete fallacy if members really want to know the truth. Saskatchewan has not only resulted in receiving $878 million in new money, which is a $230 per capita payment, the highest of any province in Canada, but the changes we have made to the equalization formula itself are actually there to protect Saskatchewan in an essence of fairness across the board.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

The changes we have made in budget 2007 to the equalization formulation are, as promised, 100% removal of non-renewable natural resources after extensive consultations with the provinces. Both of those elements we talked about in the election platform. We promised to make those changes, and we did.

Now the question seems to be, particularly for members opposite, is that somehow we treated the province of Saskatchewan unfairly because we put a fiscal capacity cap on the formula.

Let me just say what a fiscal capacity cap is all about. This is nothing more than something that maintains a convention that has been in effect with the equalization program for the last 50 years.

Since equalization was first announced in Canada in 1957, and later enshrined into the Constitution in 1982, there has never been an instance in those 50 years where a province that receives equalization payments ends up with a higher fiscal capacity than a province that has paid into the program. Why is that? It is a matter of absolute fairness. Because the name “equalization” means simply that all provinces should have equal abilities to deliver services at relatively the same level of taxation.

This program is not intended to make a have not province richer than a have province. In fact, I point out that had the program, which introduced in budget 2007, been in effect in the 1990s, when Saskatchewan was considered a have not province, Saskatchewan would have received an additional $4 billion in revenue.

These figures are not my own making. These figures come from the department of finance in the province of Saskatchewan. Why is that? Because with a have not province, at least in the particular case of Saskatchewan, the $400 million a year that it would have received over that decade would not have put its fiscal capacity higher than that of Ontario. In other words, Saskatchewan would have received 100% of all the benefits flowing from their non-renewable national resource revenue.

What happened? Why did Saskatchewan not receive it? Because the previous Liberal government did not address the equalization program, even though there were repeated calls from the province of Saskatchewan to consider at least removing non-renewable natural resources from the formula. The previous Liberal government did absolutely nothing.

The member for Wascana is proud to stand in the House and say that when he was the minister of finance, he gave close to $800 million in his last budget to the province of Saskatchewan, and he did. Why? To try to redress all the inequities hoisted upon Saskatchewan for the previous decade.

Even with that $800 million, he was woefully short of treating Saskatchewan fairly. As I mentioned just a few moment ago, had the provisions we have placed in budget 2007 been in place during the 1990s, Saskatchewan would have received $4 billion in additional revenues.

Unless the member for Wascana commits to coming up with another $3.2 billion to give to Saskatchewan, what he did over 13 years amounts to absolutely nothing in terms of fairness. What we have done is redress that. We have made the equalization formula not only principled, but fair to each and every province.

I hear a lot of chirping on the other side and them saying “not true”. It absolutely is true. The member for Wascana knows it. I know it. I hope the people from Saskatchewan know it as well.

That is not the only thing these changes have done in terms of equalizing and ensuring that the equalization formula is more professional and a principle based program.

I understand that we have to go to question period. I will have a few moments left after question period and I look forward to continuing this discussion then.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons will have about two and a half minutes after question period to conclude his remarks.

Warkworth Community Service ClubStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay homage to the Warkworth Community Service Club, which was founded in 1947 by several businessmen in the village of Warkworth.

As a member and former president of the club, I am proud to recognize in this place the 60th anniversary of this great organization which has contributed so much to the life of the greater Warkworth community.

With well over 100 members, the Warkworth Community Service Club has helped build an arena, built and runs a medical centre and a modern pavilion. It has also helped build the Millennium park and trail. It contributes to the sustainability of the local Scouts and Guides, youth sports associations, as well as the beautification of the Warkworth village. These are but a few of its many accomplishments.

I say hats off to all service clubs, especially the Warkworth Community Service Club, that make Canada the best place in which to live and raise a family. I wish the Warkworth Community Service Club a happy 60th.

Atikokan Sno-Ho ClubStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the Atikokan Sno-Ho Club on its receipt of the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations' excellence award as Canada's outstanding snowmobile club for 2007.

This prestigious award is designed to recognize the club that distinguishes itself in management, trail quality, safety, promotion, development and community outreach. The award was presented at the International Snowmobile Congress on June 9 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Atikokan Sno-Ho Club's accomplishments include upgrading the trail to make it part of the Trans Canada Trail system, developing and promoting the new international circle tour, and publishing a new district trail map.

I ask all members to please join me in congratulating the Atikokan Sno-Ho Club on this significant achievement.

Haitian MemorialStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 18, the Montreal Haitian community gathered to commemorate the 204th anniversary of the Haitian flag and to inaugurate Place de l'Unité, a Haitian memorial in the Saint-Michel neighbourhood.

This public space was designed by the Haitian-Quebec cultural association, La Perle Retrouvée. They have installed statues of Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Catherine Flon, Alexandre Pétion, Sanite Bélair et Henri Christophe, six historical figures who contributed to the birth of Haiti, the first black republic in history.

This place of gathering and solidarity will allow the Haitian community in Montreal to celebrate its culture and to perpetuate the memory of the heroes of independence.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I congratulate La Perle Retrouvée for this vibrant testimony to the Haitian flag and the courage of our ancestors, and to the settlement of the Haitian community in Quebec.

Firefighters' FundStatements By Members

June 12th, 2007 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government reneged on a commitment it made when it voted in favour of an NDP motion calling for the establishment of a national benefits fund for firefighters.

In the United States, firefighters' families are compensated $275,000 in the event of death or total disability. In Canada, the vast majority of fire departments do not have benefits to provide for the families of fallen firefighters. This can mean real hardship for the families.

Such is the case with George Copeland, a firefighter in the city of Windsor who was injured permanently while doing his job. This is not how Canada should treat those citizens who put their health and lives at risk for the safety and security of the rest of us.

It is time for the government to do what it voted for and establish a national fund for firefighters. The Prime Minister should respect the votes in the House of Commons and, most important, respect the Copeland family and act now.

National Rivers DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, residents of the upper Ottawa valley who celebrated National Rivers Day this past weekend by boating on the Ottawa River may soon look forward to an eagerly anticipated event: the reopening of the beautiful sandy beaches that line the Ottawa River where CFB Petawawa fronts the river. The shoreline, over the years, was the location of military training exercises and was identified as a legacy site eligible for the DND UXO and legacy sites programs.

I am pleased to invite all members of the public to a community meeting hosted by DND on Thursday, June 14, at 7 p.m. at Troyes Cinema on base. The purpose of the meeting is to explain what work has been completed and what precautions, if any, boaters should take once the beaches are officially reopened for public use.

I am pleased to recognize the leadership that Lieutenant-Colonel David Rundle, CFB Petawawa Base Commander, has played on this and many other issues during his posting to Petawawa. On behalf of the Petawawa community, we wish him well on his next posting. We will miss him.