Mr. Speaker, I am glad to stand to talk about our fiscal update. We have heard a lot of talk about how tough things are in Canada and yet we just heard this morning that the third-quarter of 2008 saw the GDP increase of 0.3%.
The global economy is struggling. We know many countries are already in recession but, because of the actions that this government took, we are riding through this troubled time.
We know there is hurt. We know people have lost their jobs but as a government we took the right steps to ensure we stimulated the entire economy.
In our economic update in 2007 and in budget 2008, we put in place the spending, the programs and the tax cuts that would have a long-term benefit for all of Canada.
We paid down $37 billion on our national debt. That was huge, to have $37 billion wiped off the national mortgage. We have made over $200 billion in tax cuts. That is putting money back in the hands of everyday Canadians to ensure they spend it on their priorities and not on the priorities of political operatives.
Tax cuts this year alone are over $31 billion. That represents 2% of GDP that is being given back through tax relief. That is significant and important, and that is helping our families, our students when they are buying their books and paying tuition, and it is helping workers with tools and those who are in apprenticeships. A big part of this is our cut in the GST from 7% to 6% and then 5%. That is a huge savings and it helped stimulate consumer spending.
We have accelerated the capital cost allowance for businesses, allowing them to purchase the tools and equipment to make themselves more competitive, increase their productivity and increase their ability not only to earn profits but to employ more people. I think that is significant.
We also put in place the tax-free savings account which comes into effect January 1. It will be a huge benefit to Canadians who are just trying to save some extra dollars, to put that into their pocket, to generate the dollars that they need as a down payment on a new home, to buy a car or to take a vacation. It is done in a way that encourages them to save the money and I think that is important for all Canadians.
We are hearing a lot, especially with the talk of the potential coalition that is taking place, about eliminating our business tax cuts. That is $50 billion of tax relief for businesses. It puts us as a government in the position to pick and choose who the winners and losers are but allows businesses to generate the profits, to employ more Canadians and to increase their overall scope of business within the community. We just cannot see those dollars just disappearing. When we want to talk about being regressive, removing these tax cuts is the regressive policy that the NDP wants to bring in.
We need to remember that 98% of corporations in this country are small and medium-sized businesses, the self-employed. Two-thirds of employed Canadians work in those small businesses. They benefit from these tax reductions but, at the stroke of a pen, the potential coalition wants to wipe that out. I will not stand for it and I do not believe anybody in this party would support such a foolish idea that would take us backwards rather than moving us forward.
We have been very stringent on what we have done in spending to ensure that it is being spent in a way that benefits all Canadians. What we are looking at with the potential coalition, the separatists, Liberals and socialists, is that we will go back to the big tax and spend.
We do not need to see, at this point in time in the economy, more taxes and more crazy spending. I have heard a lot of people talk about what happened under the Mulroney government. We know what happened. It inherited a huge national debt and huge deficit generated by the former Liberal government, the Trudeau Liberals.
I just heard someone mention interest rates and where interest rates are.
In 1984 I took out my first farm loan and the interest rate at that time was 22%. There is no way any government could manage a deficit when it is looking at a national debt with an interest rate of over 20%. There is just no way when 20% of all income coming in would have to go to just paying interest, never mind being able to do any other new spending initiatives. We had to get the economy under control.
Through the work of Don Mazankowski and Michael Wilson, they planted a garden and we saw interest rates come down. We saw that spending was coming into line. All that Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien did was pick the flowers and in the process of picking all the flowers did a lot of terrible slashing in certain spending areas. They cut equalization payments, which hurt the provinces, so they could not deliver health care nor education. This offload was very regressive right across the country.
We also saw them gut our military. They took away all our military spending. We do not want to go back to the times of high spending and slashing away the core fundamentals of Canadian public interests: our military, our schools, our health care. That is what I am afraid we are going to be looking at here.
We do not want to see it go back to the government spending on its own self-interest. All we have to do is remember ad scam, Shawinigate or the David Dingwall school of entitlement. We do not want to turn back that page. We want to make sure we are moving ahead and that is what this government has been doing. We have been making real investments that benefit all Canadians long term.
The $33 billion building Canada fund is the highest level of spending in infrastructure investment that this country has even seen. That is going to generate programs like the private public partnerships where government dollars can be used in collaboration with private interests, municipalities, the provinces, and actually leverage even more dollars to generate not only new jobs but long-term infrastructure that all Canadians are going to benefit from.
There are $12 billion going into the municipal gas tax fund to help municipalities directly in their infrastructure needs. When I talk to representatives of rural municipalities, towns and cities, they love getting this money because now they can make the long-term planning and investments in their communities to generate the type of infrastructure that their citizens expect.
There is also funding for small communities with populations under 100,000. Everything seems to be on a per capita basis these days. We have to have some dedicated funds to help out smaller businesses and communities so they can access some of these infrastructure dollars as well and make the proper changes in their overall infrastructure.
In budget 2007 and 2008 we started looking at some of the problems that we had in the financial sector. This government did not wait until there was a meeting with the G20 to start working on that problem. We acted last year and we were acting this summer. We put $75 billion into the insured mortgage purchase program. This is going to ensure there is liquidity in the marketplace, that banks have the ability to continue to offer loans to small businesses and individuals. It made sure that banks were in a position to keep interest rates low.
With all the turmoil happening in the marketplace and the global economy, we know that a lot of people are pulling in their horns. They are taking their dollars and stuffing them into their mattresses I guess, but we are not seeing them buy mortgage bonds. It is great to know that the Government of Canada is providing that $75 billion, but at the same time we know that these dollars are insured, that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is insuring these dollars so that the government will probably make money on this investment in the long term. We have the Canadian Lenders Assurance Facility which has also helped banks and financial institutions through this difficult time.
That is why we are not in a bank bailout situation like we are seeing in the United States, Europe and Iceland where people are running for cover and wondering whether their deposits are secure. We made those investments. We made those decisions ahead of the curve. The opposition parties are blaming us for not doing anything. For quite a long time we have been ahead of the curve, making sure that Canadians were in a better situation.
If we look at what we have done in military purchases, those dollars are generated back into the economy, whether it is shipbuilding or the aerospace industry.
The community development trust that we announced last year was $1 billion to help communities that were struggling with things like the forestry industry, the livestock sector, and to help those communities transition through those difficult times.
In this fiscal update we announced we were giving another $700 million to the Business Development Bank of Canada and the Export Development Canada to ensure that businesses that were having some trouble getting funding through normal financial institutions in normal commercial ways could come to BDC and get those loans, or those who were engaged in export activities were able to ensure their receivables. That is important for an exporting nation.
We are making sure that we protect people's pensions. We made some changes this year to the registered retirement income funds, RRIFs, but we know more needs to be done.
We met with the G-20. We were definitely on the leadership side of what steps need to take place. There are more tools that the government can use. That is what budget 2009 will be all about. There would be proper investments to ensure that all businesses and all Canadians would benefit. We will look at reforming the global finance system, ensuring sound budgeting, not only here in Canada and through the provinces but internationally. We want to talk about securing jobs for Canadian families and their communities. We want to expand investment and trade. We are a trade-based economy in agriculture, automobiles, forestry and energy. It is all based on strong international trade.
We want to make sure the government is more effective, but there will be a requirement for further stimulus. We will need all the tools the government has at its disposal to go ahead in 2009.
I want to stress to my colleagues across the way that as they entertain the thought of a coalition, we are only a month and a half away from budget 2009. We will make sure we have the fiscal packages that people think we may need as things evolve over the next month and a half, especially with a new president in the United States coming into the White House. We want to make sure that anything the Americans are doing to stimulate their economy, that we are in lockstep with them where it makes sense.
There was shock in my riding this week with the talk of a three way coalition. It is creating a great deal of outrage. Western Canada will not buy into this deal that was put together over the weekend by the Liberals in the backrooms. The NDP and the Bloc have been working on this for months. Actually, what may happen here might destroy the country. Do the Liberals and the NDP really want to legitimatize the Bloc separatists? Do they really want to give them that type of power? Canadians will pass judgment at some point in time on this move. I cannot believe that the party of Laurier and Trudeau would want to legitimatize a party that wants to destroy the country. As I said during question period, I cannot believe that Tommy Douglas would ever have envisioned that his party would support and legitimatize separatism in Canada.
While they are doing this, they are also fanning the flames of western alienation. Western Canadians overwhelmingly rejected the NDP and the Liberal Party in the last election. They are already contacting our offices. They just cannot believe what Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the big cities, essentially members of the NDP and the Liberal Party, want to do to the rest of Canada.
I am sure that if we sat down and had a logical discussion, we could find middle ground. But if we cannot, if we have lost the confidence of this House, as everybody has been saying, then let us get on with it, defeat us, and let us do the right thing. Let us go back to Canadians and ask them if they support this coalition. Nobody in Canada voted for a coalition. Nobody even talked about it through the entire campaign. Canadians do not even know who the leader will be, who will be the prime minister if this actually takes place.
We know that when people enter the polling booth, they are not only voting for their local candidate and for the party that has their support, they are also voting for the next prime minister. I do not believe that what we are going to see come out of this is going to, in any way, shape or form, respect the will of Canadians in the last election. This is a coup d'état. There is no question about it.
We have to look at how this is going to affect us long-term. I hope that it is just not all about a money grab here, a grasp for power, a greed. If we really want to act in the best interest of the country and if the opposition parties do not believe that the Conservative Party has the confidence of the House, then the correct thing to do is let us go back and call for an election. I know nobody wants to go back and hit the campaign trail one more time. I have been here for just over four years now and I have been on the campaign trail three times. But if we have to do it again, that is the right democratic response. Forming a coalition is not.
I do want to make sure that we work in here collaboratively as nation builders because anything that we do for short-term gain could result in long-term pain.
I think that this is an interesting time. This is something I never envisioned I would be in a position as a member of Parliament to witness. But let us make sure that we do take the proper steps ahead. Maybe we need to have time to just consult and talk with each other, even just go home and talk to our constituents and see what they really want, and then come back here and look at the budget, which the finance ministger has already said would be presented January 27. It is going to be the earliest presented budget in history. Then we can make the proper assessment as to whether or not that is going to cover us off during these difficult times.
We have already been saying that we are in a turbulent economic crisis and I have always been telling people we have to make sure we put on our seat belts and ride through the turbulence. I sure hope I do not have to go home as we start moving toward something that Canadian voters did not pick and tell them to assume the crash position and get ready for a real big crash, not in the marketplace but in the way democracy is being treated in this country.
I am more than happy to entertain questions and I am looking forward to an upscale debate. I notice my friend from Moncton is anxious to go. So, with that, I will take any questions.