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House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

It is a George Bush slogan.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

This government has long said that we are getting things done for all of us.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

No, you're not. You're getting everything done for George Bush.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

The slogan of the Liberal Party could have been “getting things done for some of us”.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

What about prorogue?

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, our party does not believe in getting things done for some of us. We believe in getting things done for all of us. We do not pick favourites in the budget. We do not pick winners and losers.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

They're all losers.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

We believe that fairness--

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Order, please. The hon. member for Peterborough has the floor for another minute and a half. If we can all be patient, there will be 10 minutes of questions and comments afterward and I will recognize as many members as are interested in asking questions. For the moment, he has the floor and I would like to hear him.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate that you want to hear what I have to say because it is important. Canadians at home want to hear about how good this budget is for them.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

No they don't. They want you out.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Yes, they do. Even Dalton has said that this budget provides capacity to the province of Ontario so that we can address child poverty, so we can address homelessness, so we can address the mess that was created in health care, so we can address the fiscal imbalance.

We know the former government did not believe that fiscal imbalance existed. However, our government has moved to solve the fiscal imbalance. Quite honestly, the province of Ontario, in fact all provinces are better off after this budget. More is more. More money means more money. It is more money for every region, even Saskatchewan. In fact, it is a lot more money for Saskatchewan.

We know that the Liberal government tried to make a lot of ground by saying we are giving less, but it is really more. Our government is giving more so that the provinces can do more. We are giving them more so they can provide more services, better health care, better post-secondary education.

We are standing up for Canadians. We are standing up for the provinces. We are standing up for Canada. We are--

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Order, please. The member's time is really up now.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Saint Boniface.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very anxious to ask the member a few questions.

First, the only things that those members seem to be able to brag about are surpluses, low unemployment and a strong economy. Does the member actually think that the Conservatives had anything to do with that? The Conservatives have been riding on the Liberals' coattails on that for the last couple of years.

Second, the Conservatives campaigned on a promise that they would not have a budget that would be higher than inflation. The budget actually was over 6% and the baseline budget had an increase of 11.5%. I would like the member to explain that to Canadians.

The last time the Conservatives had an actual budget that was not attributed to somebody else was in 1923, not during Diefenbaker's time, not during Mulroney's time, but in 1923. When they get up and talk about the prowess of the Conservative government when it comes to budgets, I find it very laughable.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is laughable is that the Liberals constantly take credit for it being their money. It is not their money. Actually, I think it is Canadians' money.

What is really laughable is when a government decides it is not going to pay its bills and it creates a huge fiscal imbalance and significant problems in all of the provinces with their capacity to pay for things that Canadians depend on, like education and health care, and to deal with homelessness. When a government takes credit for that and calls it sound fiscal management because it is not paying its bills, I guess that is the Liberal thing to do.

We do not believe in that. We believe in fixing the fiscal imbalance.

The Liberals talk about $42 billion. I want to tell them what the $42 billion is. That $42 billion is only the interest on former prime minister Trudeau's debt. He was the prime minister who created the national debt. This is not up for debate. This is a fact, but the Liberals do not like facts.

Sometimes I find it really hard to listen to some of the Liberals' criticism. They often campaign like the NDP, but we know that is not what they stand for. I acknowledge that I have some philosophical differences with the NDP, but I will also acknowledge that the NDP members legitimately believe in what they speak about. The party opposite clearly does not. The Liberals say one thing and do another.

We have a clean government now. The Liberals should celebrate that. There are no brown envelopes with cash in them being passed around.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I can only say that the member's intervention shows what kind of dysfunctional, delusional and incestuous discussions they have within the Conservative caucus.

What he said is simply not true. Eighty per cent of Canadian families are actually earning less now than they were in 1989. The delusion that somehow Canadians are prospering when it is only the banks, the oil companies and the very wealthy that have any money just shows to what extent the Conservatives are out of touch.

I was interested in what he said about financial management. The Department of Finance did a study of governments and actually found that the NDP manages money best, the Liberals are the worst and the Conservatives are just as bad as the Liberals in many cases. It did a long term study and it turns out that the NDP manages money better.

The budget has a number of elements. First, we know P3s are much more costly to the taxpayer than simply investing in good public infrastructure. Second, there is the billion dollar subsidy to the oil and gas industry. It is the most profitable industrial sector and the Conservatives keep shovelling money off the back of a truck to that sector. There is $9 billion in corporate tax cuts. What a ridiculous situation it is when there are record corporate profits and the Conservatives are shovelling more money at that sector. Finally, there is the $400 million that Hollinger was supposed to pay and the Conservative government said, “We forgive. You don't have to pay taxes if you're wealthy”. That is $400 million on their watch. The Conservatives forgave that money.

How does the member think the Conservatives have any financial management credibility whatsoever when all we see from them is the same boondoggles we saw under the Liberals?

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess this is where the philosophical division that I spoke of a moment ago begins.

The member mentioned families. This government has specifically reached out and assisted families. We provided to all families a $2,000 tax credit for children under the age of 18. We provided the universal child care benefit to families. My brother and my sister-in-law have two young daughters, two and four, and that $200 a month comes in very handy. We are helping families.

I would also say that it is very easy to be a sound financial planner or a sound fiscal manager of funds when one does not generate any. We know the NDP policies would be catastrophic for the Canadian economy. They would not generate any money. It is very easy to manage nothing because that is what the NDP would create: less manufacturing, less wealth, less employment. That is what it would lead to. We cannot follow that strategy.

When we talk about reducing corporate taxes we talk about that because we are competing in a global economy. We have to be competitive. At the same time by reducing taxes it has been proven that we are not reducing the overall tax revenue because tax fairness leads to more people working with the tax system, indeed avoiding the tax system to a much lesser extent and paying their taxes.

With high taxes we find tax avoidance. Corporations will invest a lot of money into figuring out ways to avoid taxes. When we bring in tax fairness, when we ensure that the tax rates are as low as they possibly can be for all Canadians, there is less tax avoidance. Indeed it is a hotter economy that generates more revenue overall.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the presentation by my colleague from Ontario about what the budget does for Ontario.

I have a few things that I would like to point out for the province of Ontario. We are restoring the fiscal balance with federal support of $12.8 billion in 2007-08. This includes: $8.1 billion under the Canada health transfer; $3.8 billion under the Canada social transfer, including additional funding for post-secondary education; $664 million for infrastructure; $205 million available to the Ontario government for the patient wait times guarantee; $117 million available to the Ontario government to implement the human papilloma virus immunization program; the $574 million that will be paid to the Ontario government for outstanding commitments under the Canada-Ontario agreement; $298 million for gas tax funding for municipalities in Ontario; $400 million for a new road access for the Windsor-Detroit border crossing; and $963 million to fund transit projects in greater Toronto. That is only about half of what I have here.

I ask my colleague, is this budget good for Ontarians in 2007?

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, we could read the same list for every province and territory in the country. Budget 2007 is about that. It is about sharing the wealth of resources of the federal government with all Canadians, sharing it equitably among the provinces, coming up with a principled formula to share federal revenues.

I know the House has been talking a lot about equalization of late, but the much larger portion of funds that the federal government distributes comes under the Canada social transfer. That has been dealt with in a very equitable, fair manner. In fact, I have not heard a single province indicate it has any complaint whatsoever on the Canada social transfer. It has been dealt with in a equitable manner. It is good to Ontario, but it is also good to every province. It is good to everybody within Confederation.

Budget 2007 makes significant investments in all sorts of things. In my riding it means that Highway 407 will be completed back into Highway 115. I cannot tell the House how much that will mean to the economy in Peterborough. This budget is getting that done for the citizens of my riding. It is getting a lot done for the citizens of every riding.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recognize the member is new to the House, but when he talked about debts and deficits, what he failed to mention was this. The total national debt left by the Liberal government when the Conservatives came to power 1984, was $200 billion. In nine short years, after a record deficit, that $200 billion debt ended up being a $500 billion debt, a $300 billion increase.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals often forget that the national debt actually increased in their time in government. I hate pointing that out, but it is a fact.

The member is voting against the GST refund on school buses in his own riding, something his school board has been fighting for, for I believe seven or eight years. That is what he will vote against, money returned to his own school board.

Honestly, I find it incomprehensible that the members opposite—

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Before we resume debate, I would ask the cooperation of all members to check their cell phones and BlackBerries and turn them off. We are just about to hear a speech from the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso who has the floor.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, this has been a great Friday debate. There has certainly been an interesting exchange of views.

I want to go on record and say that the budget put forward by the government is not completely horrible. It is horrible, yes, but not completely. Some aspects of the budget, such as the tax incentive and capital gains provisions for fishermen, who are moving licences, make sense. However, it misses the mark so much and hurts so many of the most vulnerable Canadians that in no way can the official opposition support the budget.

The previous speaker, the member for Peterborough, indicated that governing is about making difficult choices, something that the official opposition did not know about when it was in government. That is just not right.

We talked about the $42 billion deficit. The previous government made the difficult decisions on behalf of all Canadians. It sent home 45,000 federal employees in order to balance the books. It made cuts in every department. Every Canadian felt those cuts. They were tough choices, but in doing so, we balanced the budget and righted the fiscal ship of the country. From 1995 on, we began to experience some real fiscal growth.

The bar has been set by the previous government for what it takes to provide financial leadership for the country. We can look at eight surplus budgets, tax relief in all those budgets going forward for every Canadian, reinvestment in important programs such as infrastructure, health care, education. We saw an attack on the accrued debt . Each year that debt was paid down to loosen up additional operational funds for the federal government.

The template and opportunity was there for the government to fall in line and continue to provide good fiscal management for the people of Canada, but it missed the mark. If the government's budget was a road map to prosperity for Canadians, it would be comparable to the people at Rand McNally doing a road map from Ottawa to Toronto and ending up in Boise, Idaho.

The government has missed the mark completely, especially when we factor in the fact that it inherited was the single best set of books ever been transferred to an incoming government. There was a $13 billion surplus. How does anybody mess that up? How could anybody possibly mess that up? However, it did and it hurt a great number of people. That is why I feel obliged to go on record today and identify the some of shortcomings in the budget.

I will speak about a group that I really do not believe has had a voice, certainly off the government bench. It is not talked about much. It is a community that means so much to us as Canadians, and that is the sporting community. If anybody was shortchanged in this budget, it is the sporting community.

The government loves to beat its chest. It made two promises. One promise was a personal tax deduction of $500 to anybody who registered their son or daughter in a sporting activity. What that really equates to, once the deduction is made, is probably between $80 and $90 a year.

I know, Mr. Speaker, you are the father of elite athletes. If you sit down at the kitchen table, I think the conversation goes a bit deeper than saying, “the Tories are offering me $80 and I cannot miss that opportunity”. We know it is good to involve our children in sports and that is what will motivate us. The $80 is a joke. It has no impact at all.

I have three boys myself who play competitive sport. Am I going to use it? Yes, I am, but they are going to play anyway.

The tax deduction has no impact to motivate parents to enrol their kids in sport. We know that if we can keep our youth active, if we can keep them involved, it is positive in so many aspects, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. It reaches into all aspects of those young lives and it is a positive thing, but the tax deduction does not do it.

The other promise that the Conservatives made was that 1% of their health care budget should go toward sport and physical activity. Where is that? Nowhere. There is no sign of it whatsoever. The sporting groups were let down. The sporting groups thought that they might have an opportunity with this promise.

This is what I got from the group called Sport Matters Group. It is from Ian Bird, senior leader for the Sport Matters Group. The Sport Matters Group is a collective of provincial and federal sport leaders that work toward improving the future of sport in the country. Ian Bird said:

Budget making is the central opportunity for governments to fulfill their commitments to Canadians....There had been clear indications from successive Ministers for Sport that today’s budget papers would how the government would invest in its own promise. We’re still waiting.

And they still will be waiting.

What we have seen is a shell game going on within the government in how it approaches sport. Had the government invested that 1%, it would equate to about $540 million annually that would go toward sport.

The template is there. The sports community knows what has to be done. We need a long term athletic development model, taking an active approach to investing in youth from the playground to the podium, working with the provinces and giving the provinces the resources they need, human and financial resources, so they can help deliver on these very important programs. They cannot do that if they do not have the money.

We understand fully as Canadians how important it is that we have heroes. Before there was a Sidney Crosby, there was a Mario Lemieux and a Wayne Gretzky, who was Sidney Crosby's hero. Before there was a Katrina Lemay-Doan or a Marc Gagnon, we knew that Gaétan Boucher was the greatest speed skater to come from Canada. It was his efforts and his gold medal performances in the Olympics that motivated these young skaters. We need the ability to create those heroes to further motivate our younger people to engage in sport.

The Conservatives took that away. Money was accelerated for the own the podium program. Was there any new money? Absolutely not a dollar. The Conservatives pulled the rug out from under the road to excellence program, which would provide funds to our summer athletes going to Beijing in 2008. The Conservatives turned their backs on our summer athletes by taking away those funds.

The Liberal Party talked about in our platform a specific envelope of money that we could invest in very specific sport facilities. I spoke on Wednesday night in Moncton at the Maritime Recreation Facility Conference. These are good people who work their tail off day in and day out to try to provide opportunities for our youth and for our populous to engage in sport. They work trying to keep costs down, keeping registration fees at a reasonable amount. However, the costs continue to rise and accumulate.

Infrastructure, refits and retrofits are expensive. We talked about an envelope of money that we could work with through the provinces so that investment could be made and the costs could come down. The buildings would operate in a more efficient manner, helping the environment and the operators on an annual basis.

The sporting community put this forward. It advocated very much for this type of opportunity to work with the federal government. There is no sign of this initiative whatsoever in this budget from the government.

It is not that the Conservatives just turned their backs on the initiatives that were being put forward by the sporting community, but they also did not deliver on the promises they made to the sporting community. It is shameful.

I would be remiss if I did not address a number of other things in my speech. Literacy, of course, is something that I think has impacts right across this country. Almost 45% of adult Canadians still have a challenge in reading, writing and communicating. If we give an adult the opportunity to engage in the economy, and to engage in the community and in education, we know that every increase of 1.5% in literacy increases the productivity of this country by 2.5%. That is a pretty significant return on our investment.

However, here is what we saw from this government with regard to the $13 billion surplus fund. The government said that of course what it had to do was cut literacy and make it tougher for the people who find it hardest to engage in our economy and our society. Let us make it a little bit tougher on them, said the government. The government carved money out of the literacy fund.

This should not have surprised anybody when the current Minister of the Environment is on record as saying that it is a waste of time teaching adults to read and write. If that is where the essence of it comes from, we are in a sad state here. Certainly this party on this side is concerned about the most vulnerable in our society and where they are going to arrive if we continue to see the reign of that government.

As well, we know that this has been discussed on a number of occasions over the last while. The previous speaker stood up and beat his chest about what they are doing for students. One of the single greatest things we can for our young people is offer them an opportunity to hold a summer job. It contributes to that student's life in so many ways. Many times, a summer job is the first work opportunity they have. They have the opportunity to put together a few dollars to go back and re-engage in the fall in their education.

We witnessed a debacle here over the last number of weeks with this government in regard to the money that was carved out of the summer student employment grants. Not only did that devastate community groups, but it as well just ripped the soul out of job opportunities for students across this country.

There is a question that has to be asked on the issue of the budget because there is a finite envelope of money in the HRSDC and Service Canada funding. The Conservatives have had to go back to try to clean up the mess because the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development has been inundated. I know that the opposition certainly has been pounding him on a regular basis to fix the mess he has made.

I think it was his predecessor that set the template, and the trap was sprung on the current minister, but he is wearing it and it is his job to fix it. He has to go back and fix it. The company line over there is that the government always goes with this second round of funding. Yeah, right, tell me that one now, I say. The Conservatives are going back to try to fix the mess. Any community groups that had a grant last year and have a current valid application on file are going to receive funding. They should receive funding. They should have received funding in the first place.

The government is going back to fix the mess, but it is going to cost this government a great deal of money. Where is that money going to come from?

I remember the Minister of Fisheries when he was in opposition. He was a pretty noble member. He would talk about all the fish plant employees when they would lose their jobs. He would beat the government, asking what it was going to do for those out of work fish plant employees and what it was going to do for the communities most affected. We have not heard a word from him since then.

Is HRSDC going to have to steal the money out of the money that should be going toward helping people like those in Canso, like those in the outports of Newfoundland who have seen their fish plants closed, those people who need that help and those retraining moneys now? There is only one envelope of money and these are the people who are going to suffer as a result of this budget and the actions in this budget.

We have talked about rural communities. It is unbelievable to see how the rural communities got dealt out of this budget. Let us talk about CAP sites. I am sure that all members in this House have received interventions from their constituents about CAP site closures. Now the Conservatives have come back to say that they will keep the sites open one for more year, one more time, but then, we know, there is a drop-dead date. These communities get a one year reprieve on the CAP Sites. CAP sites are essential in rural communities and this opposition will fight to continue to have CAP site funding provided for those essential services.

Regarding access to broadband, through Industry Canada we had an excellent program, the BRAND program, that allowed Canadians no matter where they lived in this country the opportunity for communities to partner with various agencies and stakeholders to bring broadband to these communities. It was a tremendously successful program.

Infrastructure is not just about water, sewer and roads. Access to high speed broadband is essential. If we want to grow those rural communities, the government should be investing in it, but we have seen no movement at all and no investment at all, and it is the rural communities that are going to suffer.

If I could have another 10 minutes on the accord, I would love to wrap up a Friday on that one, but my time is getting close to expiring. As I have said, this budget brings a great deal of pain to the people I represent, and certainly I come here each week to Ottawa to represent the views of my riding and its situation. In no good conscience could I stand and support this budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business.

When Bill C-52 returns to the House, there will be three minutes left for the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso, plus 10 minutes of questions and comments.

The House resumed from April 24 consideration of the motion that Bill S-214, An Act respecting a National Blood Donor Week, be read the second time and referred to a committee.