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House of Commons Hansard #56 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was million.

Topics

The BudgetOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative agenda, supported by the Liberals, is making the wrong choices for the automotive industry. The budget is cutting overall automotive spending by 14% per year, and will be a $40 million cut after five years alone.

There is nothing in the budget for parts suppliers nor for tool, die and mould making. There is no plan on auto policy. There is nothing for trade to open up markets.

Why has the government abandoned the automotive workers of Ontario and misled the public? Will the Minister of Finance explain why he is cutting funding to the automotive industry when workers, employers and the communities supported by the auto industry have demanded intervention?

The BudgetOral Questions

3 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

It is apparent, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member did not listen to the budget.

There are $250 million for a green technologies auto innovation fund. There is already a commitment of $400 million for the access road for Windsor-Detroit. There are $34 million for research. More than that, there are more than $1 billion in tax relief for the automotive sector, which is coming into play this year, 2008.

That is a healthy total benefit package for the automotive industry of in excess of $1.6 billion.

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Government House

Ottawa

February 28th, 2008

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 28th day of February, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. for the purpose of giving royal assent to certain bills of law.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila-Marie Cook

The Secretary to the Governor General

February 28th, 2008 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In recognition of tomorrow, February 29, being the first International Rare Disease Day and the efforts today by members of the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders to inform members of Parliament about the problems facing Canadians with rare diseases, I would like to ask for unanimous consent to adopt Motion No. 426 which stands in my name on the order paper. It deals with adopting a Canadian definition for rare disorders and examining the feasibility of a national “Chance for Life” fund to be designated for therapies for rare disorders.

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to proceed with the adoption of Motion No. 426?

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Business of the HouseRoyal Assent

3 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have several questions continuing from question period, but I will resist the temptation.There is a lot of grist for that mill and we will follow it very carefully.

With respect to House business, I wonder if the government House leader could indicate what his intentions are for the period of time that remains between now and the Easter adjournment which comes at the middle of March, bearing in mind that part of that time is occupied by the budget debate, part of it will probably be occupied by some resumption of the discussion about Afghanistan, and he has to, in that period, work in seven opposition days in the space of time that is only twelve days.

I wonder if the government House leader would specify which days in the next very few he intends to designate for all these various purposes.

Business of the HouseRoyal Assent

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it pleases me to stand here today and say that this afternoon the tackling violent crime act will be signed into law. The bill is literally the result of years of hard work by the government to make our streets and communities safer by getting tough on crime. I hope that all members of the House will show their support for the bill by attending the royal assent ceremony today at 3:30 p.m. in the Senate.

In keeping with this week's theme of sound fiscal and economic management, the House is debating the third balanced budget introduced by this government.

We are asking the House to adopt the Budget 2008, which is a focused, balanced and prudent budget that is responsible and rooted in reality. It builds on decisive pre-emptive action taken in the 2007 Fall Economic Update to lower taxes for people and businesses, pay down debt and provide targeted support to troubled industries.

Members of the House will continue to debate and then vote on budget actions to help troubled industries by extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for new manufacturing equipment, establishing a $250 million automotive innovation fund to help automakers meet the challenges for the future and extending support for older workers.

Members of Parliament are being asked to approve a powerful new incentive for Canadians to save for their priorities, a tax-free savings account, which is the most significant personal finance innovation since the introduction of RRSPs.

Budget 2008 also invests in key priorities of Canadians by providing funds for more frontline police officers, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and improving the safety systems for food, consumer and health products.

Yesterday, we started debate on Budget 2008. Today, we continue debate, with the first vote tonight on the Bloc Québécois sub-amendment.

Next week we will build on last week's theme. It will be confidence in the Conservative government week.

On Monday we will continue with the debate on budget 2008. That evening we will vote on the amendment put forward by the Liberal Party, which seeks to express non-confidence in the government.

Tuesday will be the last day of debate, with a vote on the main budget motion that evening, also a confidence motion.

Finally, tomorrow as well as next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be opposition days, all of which will potentially be confidence motions.

We are optimistic that after all these confidence votes, this House of Commons will have confirmed the soundness of next week's theme, confidence in the Conservative government.

Business of the HouseRoyal Assent

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the House leader is obviously very interested in the upcoming confidence motions, but I would like to ask him how he plans to meet the deadline that he himself set in terms of the continuation of the debate on Afghanistan, and the timing he would set for a vote on that.

As we know, we had debate on Afghanistan, a very important issue before this Parliament, on Monday and Tuesday. Given the tight timeline with the opposition days coming up and the estimates to be voted on, the deadline that he set was to have this debate done and a vote on it, I believe, before the end of March.

I would like to ask the government House leader how he will meet the deadline that he set on this important issue.

Business of the HouseRoyal Assent

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are of course all aware of the constraints of time in the calendar. If the hon. member is interested in our scheduling additional evenings for debate, we are happy to consider and discuss that, but it is the intention of this government to have a vote on the extension of the Afghanistan military mission, which is supported of course by the government and the official opposition, sometime in the month of March.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak on the budget. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso in the hope that one day he will split a dinner bill with me, but I live in hope.

There are a number of things I would like to talk about today on the budget. My colleagues and other members have spoken about a number of important issues. I want to talk about four things: the impact in my province of Nova Scotia; post-secondary education; literacy; and poverty, in particular women and children in poverty.

I do not believe that the government understands Atlantic Canada. I do not believe that the government addresses Atlantic Canada very much. I do not think the government particularly cares for Atlantic Canada. We saw that a year ago when last year's budget torched the Atlantic accord.

The immediate reaction of Atlantic Canada, and I would generally agree, is that this is a pretty non-event budget.

The Nova Scotia minister of finance, a Conservative, said his initial reaction was disappointment that there was not more in the way of direct funding for infrastructure projects, especially for the province's universities. He said that it is likely revenues flowing from Ottawa to the province, from equalization and the Canada health and social transfer will be flat, creating a “huge pressure” on his spring budget.

This is a headline in today's The ChronicleHerald: “$21 million less expected from Ottawa. Premier: Federal budget lowers the projected offshore windfall”.

We lost the Atlantic accord. The premier of Nova Scotia, Rodney MacDonald, scrambled around to try to save face and cut a deal with the federal government and now we find, as a result of this budget, that $21 million less is going to Nova Scotia. It is not a very attractive start. There is not much in the budget for Nova Scotia.

I certainly have talked about post-secondary education in this House on a number of occasions. On many of those occasions I have talked about the millennium scholarship foundation. We have asked questions in this House about the government's plan on the millennium scholarship foundation.

The millennium scholarship foundation was set up some years ago by the Liberal government. It has kicked out a lot of money for students, almost exclusively students in need. This year, for example, the amount was $350 million for students in need.

In this budget, not surprisingly, considering what we saw with the summer jobs program last year, the government got rid of the millennium scholarship foundation and replaced it with its own needs based granting system. It is the government's right to do what it wants, but the reason the government used, the direct quote from the budget was that the millennium scholarship foundation was an intrusion into provincial affairs.

Yet the millennium scholarship foundation worked with every province and territory, unlike the student loans program, including Quebec, where its office was based. It worked with every province and territory to provide grants for students. Every province and territory wanted the millennium scholarship foundation renewed. They wanted it replenished, because of the fact that it was working for students, but the government has chosen to take that $350 million and put it into a student grant system. There is no more money for students. It has changed the programs and has decided to put that money into a new system through HRSDC.

I would like to read a comment from the Educational Policy Institute, which is a very good think tank on post-secondary issues. It has some issues with this, not the least of which is, why would the government kill a program that was working and then create a new system when there already was a platform for one that worked?

The institute also has concerns that the new granting system will apply to more students, but not based on need as much. It suggests this will be good news for students from middle income families but bad news for low income families who will now be receiving less aid because the average grant amount is going to go down.

To have a granting system targeted at those most in need, one would think the money should go to those most in need. Middle income families all have pressures; there is no question about that. But if the purpose of the program is to assist students most in need, why would the government give it to more students but less to those who need the money the most and reduce the amount at a time of increasing tuitions? I do not think it is a very sensible proposition.

We have been asking about student loans. The minister has been telling us not to worry, that there is all kinds of good news about student loans, that a review is being done on the student loans program and there is going to be some great stuff. It turns out not to have been quite so great. There are some initiatives in there that should help students who have student loans navigate the system, which has been outdated, and I think we would all agree with that.

However, the biggest issue with student loans is the rate of interest charged. One of the champions of that issue in the last number of months, and perhaps even years, has been a group called the Coalition for Student Loan Fairness. I want to report what coalition members had to say about the budget. They gave it a D. The reason they gave the budget a D was that there is no reduction in the rate for students.

Right now we charge students over 8% for their student loans. The cost of government borrowing is probably about half that, if that. So why, at a time when we had the opportunity to review the program, to make it better, would we not reduce the rate? That is the big burden that students are bearing.

There is no promise to create anything like an ombudsman or commissioner of student loan fairness, somebody who could actually help students navigate the problems they have with the system.

However, there are some improvements in the student loan program, or at least we think there are, because it is very difficult to tell with the government, which cobbles together little bits and pieces and chunks of money from here and there. Some of it may be new, some of it old, some may be borrowed and some may be blue. We never know. We cannot tell when we first see what is coming out of the government. With student loans, it is the same problem.

The Coalition for Student Loan Fairness gave the government a big fat D on what it did. The coalition had big hopes that there might be something significant for students in the budget, but it did not come.

On research and innovation, there was again some money for the granting councils and CIHR, but CIHR needs hundreds of millions of dollars to maintain the momentum that came out of the incredible investments of the Liberal government of six, seven or eight years ago for the granting councils, for NSERC, SSHRC, CFI and CIHR. Alan Bernstein has now left CIHR. That is another great scientist that Canada has lost.

On SSHRC, the social sciences and humanities funding body, there is so much to say. We had a breakfast this morning on the Hill that highlighted the work and research done by the social sciences and humanities. An increase of $12 million a year is simply not enough for an organization like that.

Other nations in the world, the OECD nations, the European nations and even the emerging nations of China and India, are starting to put a lot of money into research. If one travels Canada, and I recommend all MPs should, one can talk to some of the researchers. The brain drain is not an issue like it was 10 years ago, but if we take the foot off the accelerator on research, we are going to lose an awful lot of those researchers. We simply cannot do that.

What I really want to talk about is what bothers me most, not specifically just with this budget but as a small continuation of what we have seen, and that is the issue of poverty. Much was made of the fact that because it is tough times the Minister of Finance went to have his shoes re-soled instead of buying new shoes. I think he should ask for a refund because there is absolutely no “soul” in this budget. It offers nothing for those who need the very most.

The National Anti-Poverty Organization, which has the Canada Without Poverty campaign, said:

The budget shows that individuals earning $15,000 per year can expect $215 in reduced taxes in 2008-09, while those earning $150,000 will pay $3,265 less in taxes.

It stated:

--the budget is virtually silent in helping to address poverty in Canada. There is zero, for example, for affordable housing and for child care spaces, two of the most pressing needs of low- to middle-income families.

The Canadian Association of Social Workers said:

After so many years of scrimping, eliminating the deficit, and paying off debt, the time has come to give back to Canadians. This latest Conservative budget fails to do so.

Pamela Cross, director of advocacy and public policy with YWCA Canada, said:

This budget continues to help those who need it least. The Tax-Free Savings Account--

The much vaunted tax-free savings account, I might add.

--introduced in the budget will be of little interest to most of Canada's women who earn just 60 cents for every dollar earned by men and who do not have $5,000 burning a hole in their pockets to put into a savings account. Most of us are much more interested in social programs such as housing and child care.

On employment insurance, the government talks about creating a separate arm's length commission. I am sure that my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso will talk to that, but there is not a mention about the workers on the whole page of the budget that talks about the new commission.

This is not a budget that moves Canada forward. At best we stand still while other nations rush past.

This budget, though, is not the turning point. It is obviously not the reason to have an election. The turning point was the election of the government in January 2006. Since then we have seen a government with a record surplus turn its back on the vulnerable, mismanage the economy with initiatives that generally help the fortunate, and bring us to a point where we face a faltering economy with a government incompetent to manage that crisis and uncaring for those who will be hurt the most. Canadians deserve better.

The budget treads water, enshrines inequity and cements unfairness. It is not the time for an election, I agree with that, but that time is coming, and when it does I will campaign to make things better for those in need and against this budget.

Message from the SenateGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed certain bills.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the remarks of the hon. member. Under different circumstances, I probably would be supportive of them, but I have to say this for many of us on the real opposition benches. To have the official opposition members stand up and give speeches criticizing and condemning the inadequacies of this budget knowing full well that their caucus is going to let this go by, whether two or three of them vote against it, whether they all march out again, as Canadians have seen them do, whether they sit down and do not do anything, or whether they just do not come into the House, whatever mechanism they use, the reality is that on the budget the hon. member is criticizing he knows that his leader has said they will allow it to pass.

I have a simple question. Does the member not feel that he has absolutely no credibility in terms of being an opposition member in this place when he is not prepared to put his seat on the line for the values he says he cares about?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I think the people who have the least credibility in this House are the people who yammer from a corner of the House against everything that comes forward. They have all the answers. They do not have to answer to anyone.

What that member should do is go out on the streets of Hamilton. He would probably find the same thing that I find in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. Nobody has called my office saying: “Mike, please, I want an election. I haven't had one for so long. I've got to have an election. I need a fix”. Nobody wants an election.

We will have an election. That time is coming. When that time comes we will bring our plans to the people of Canada and the people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, but the NDP will be irrelevant in that discussion, as they are in this House. The time will come for an election and it is coming pretty quickly.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the member's speech was excellent. He is well known in the House of Commons as the champion of students. I would like to ask him two questions concerning students.

First, the millennium scholarship was the biggest scholarship in history for low income students. More students were helped through this scholarship than at any time in history. I wonder why the Conservatives and the NDP will not support reinstating it now that the funds have run out. Also, does the budget have money for medical students in their residency period when they have very little income?

Finally, I would like to thank the member for raising the issue of women and poverty. In the north we had a remarkable study released a couple of months ago, which explained how many women are homeless and how they have lower incomes than anyone else, as he mentioned. In the north when the temperature is -40° they actually have to go into a house, so they may be in danger of a sexual attack or there may be other dangers. Was there anything in the budget for these women?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the millennium scholarship foundation was a very good program for Canadian students. It worked very well with the provinces. The Canada student loan program does not even exist in Quebec and the territories. The millennium scholarship worked with the provinces.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

You're voting to kill it.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Instead of the member for Hamilton Centre yelling “shut up” and every other kind of ignorant thing across the House, he should listen to some of this because he could learn a few things.

The millennium scholarship worked with the provinces. The provinces wanted it renewed. It worked for students. It was killed because it was a Liberal initiative. I do not think I am telling tales out of school here. It worked and it was a Liberal initiative, and that made it zero for two in the government's books. That is a shame.

We should have a provision for medical students, those who have a long, extended period of time in university and are actually paying back loans before they are making medical salaries that allow them to pay those bills more efficiently. That is a good program. We should do that. I wish we had done it, but we did not do it. The government should do it.

On the millennium scholarships, it is too bad. We should give our thanks for a job well done to Mr. Norman Riddell and the people who worked on the millennium scholarship. It is too bad that this government is throwing it aside and trying to create a whole new bureaucracy, wasting all kinds of money in creating a new bureaucracy, but that is democracy.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter into this debate. It is always difficult to follow the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, who is generally recognized as one of the most informed and hardest-working members of this Parliament, as well as one of the truly great orators to pass the curtains in a number of years. I can see the overwhelming sigh of indifference from the chairman of the human resources committee.

There are a couple of things I want to focus on in my budget presentation. The first one is the lack of prudence. On the bigger scale, on the broader vision of this budget, when we look at it from 37,000 feet, obviously the lack of prudence in this budget is something that is stark and something that I think Canadians are going to become weary of as we go forward and the economy gets tighter.

In past Liberal budgets when we served on the side of the government, after slaying the deficit budget after budget, one of the first things to go in during the budget preparation process was $3 billion in prudence. It was essential to have that in. Before the surplus and before anything else, $3 billion annually in prudence went in.

If one thinks back to the years when we were on the government benches, there were some catastrophic events that took place during that time, i.e., 9/11, SARS, avian flu and mad cow. There was a very tough run. Each of those events really served as unexpected economic impacts, as economic shocks to our fiscal framework. Fortunately, we were there with prudence built into the budget, $3 billion worth, that allowed the government to take appropriate action, make investments where necessary and help Canadians where necessary. That is what is lacking in this budget.

We know that this year $2.2 billion will be the surplus. We know that next year $1.3 billion will be the surplus. Then it goes into the hundreds of millions after that. Those are probably realistic numbers, but that is if things go as planned. If one of those unexpected economic impacts or shocks comes up, then that is when the fiscal framework is truly tested. As a nation we are one bad news day away from going back into deficit.

We on this side of the House do not support that. We were the ones who took on the challenge to fix the economic well-being of this nation. There was a $48 billion deficit when we took over in 1993 and, with the cooperation of Canadians, we made those difficult decisions and tough choices. There were 45,000 employees who went home in 1995. That was no fun. Canadians worked so hard to make sure that they fixed the deficit situation that I do not think there is any appetite on their part to go back in. This budget certainly puts us very close to that edge.

I want to talk about some of what is in the budget and what people are saying. Some people commenting are certainly not Liberal-minded at all. One comment is from Don Martin of the CanWest News Service. He said:

It's a budget that borrows kinder and gentler ideas--the homeless, infrastructure and the auto sector packages are clear Liberal lifts....

That was from Don Martin, who is certainly not a big fan of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Bob Fife, the Ottawa bureau chief for CTV News, said:

He's stolen the Liberal idea on help for the auto sector. He's stolen the Liberal idea on job creation through infrastructure. And he's stolen the Liberal idea of making the gas tax for municipalities permanent.

With the crime bill just passing the Senate, the finance minister could get five to seven years of hard time for the theft that went on Tuesday during the budget presentation in stealing the Liberal initiatives.

I will tell this House what is tough and where things get a little rancorous. We all know the devil is in the detail and when programs are removed, modified or created, that is where the problems come in.

My friend and colleague spoke eloquently about finalizing the millennium scholarship fund. The government says that it is putting in $350 million for the new student grant program. All it is doing is re-profiling the money that was there for the millennium scholarship fund. There are very few new dollars. It was announced on Tuesday and already some of the best and brightest in this country are saying that it is just not enough.

Alex Usher, the director of education for the Educational Policy Institute of Canada, is saying that the bottom line is that the program needs $1 billion. The budget is only two days old and it is $650 million short already.

The government sort of slid in the ecoAuto rebate program, which is one that it cancelled. That program was in the last budget. We know that was a disaster. Since it was first announced, $160 million had no impact at all. It was a program that arbitrarily picked winners and losers. It gave an unfair advantage to some people in the auto sector and hurt many auto manufacturers in this country. A competitive disadvantage was inherent in this disastrous program and the government cancelled it. There is always concern when we hear that the government is altering programs. The devil is in the detail.

The one thing that frightens me the most is moving the EI program to the Canada employment insurance financing board. Red flags are going up all across the country. The government says that it is all about setting premiums. The one thing we know about the government is that it is not a big fan of the employment insurance program.

I served as chairman for the all party committee that put together recommendations on this program and only one party offered a dissenting report, the current government. It said at the time that it just wanted an in-out insurance program with no other benefits. It is saying that it will not play with the benefits but I do not have a great deal of confidence in that statement.

When we were in government, we brought the premium rates down. The contributions by employees and employers were brought down from the 1993 level. It was at $3 per $100 in 1993 and in the budget by Kim Campbell it would have gone up to $3.35. When we left government, the amount was down to $1.84. We brought it down each and every subsequent budget after taking power.

It is well within the purview of the government to set that rate. To help employees and employers, it should bring those premiums down.

I, however, am very concerned about the disrespect the government has for the EI program in general. I represent people who live and work in rural ridings in seasonal industries. They are not seasonal workers but they work in seasonal industries. If this is to be operated as a straight insurance policy, we will be losing workers from rural Canada. We will be losing workers in industries like the fishery, forestry and mining. The loss will be felt in any of those seasonal activities. The red flags are up on this.

We need to ensure that we keep the government's feet to the fire on the EI program because it is essential for communities outside the cities to know that the benefits will be there for workers when they need it. However, we know that it is not big on the agenda across the hall.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned the eco-Auto program of $114 million. This was a feebate program that was brought in with the help of the Liberal bureaucracy in the past. For those who are not familiar with it, the program allowed Canadian money to go to Japan, South Korea and to other places in the world because we shoved money outside of our country as we rebated this program. The program had no impact whatsoever on the auto market at all. All the studies that came in showed the exact opposite.

However, what is truly amazing about this budget is that the Conservatives closed that window for the automotive sector. We told them not to start this program like that and that it was fine to get rid of it and we would support that, but they started a new fund for the auto program that is deficient. It is less money.

During a time right now when there are executives, union leaders and communities demanding some type of official program that is accountable and transparent to win over projects going to the deep south, to Mexico, South Korea and to China, we actually are cutting funding by $40 million over five years.

I do not think the Minister of Finance has read his own budget or does not understand it because there will be less money going to the automotive industry when this budget passes than what it had in the past.

Why would my colleague support that? His provincial members have been crying out against the government asking it to do what the member for LaSalle—Émard would never do, which is an issue in itself, but the provincial McGuinty Liberals have been basically in a public embroiled battle with the minister. There are insults, name calling and innuendo back and forth to do something. This is sending a terrible message to industry investors.

Why is my colleague not supporting his provincial colleagues who are making this call that there needs to be action on this? Why is he supporting this budget? On that alone, we are losing opportunities. I would like to see the member stand and support defeating this budget to ensure that Canadian jobs will be protected.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, first I will give the member a little geography lesson. It is the provincial Liberals in Ontario who are calling for that and, being a Nova Scotian member, it is not as loud from the provincial Tories.

I have one other correction for my colleague from Windsor West. He said that the past eco-Auto rebate program had no impact on the industry. I would challenge that. I think it had an impact and it was a bad impact. It disadvantaged some manufacturers in this country. It had an impact on workers and closed plants. It was ill-conceived. I do not know where the member gets the idea that we supported that. We thought it was a bad program. We even pushed for years, while we were in government, to try to come up with something like that but it was so poorly laid out that it actually hurt the industry and it hurt workers in that industry.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, to listen to the NDP one would think there were mass rallies happening across Canada, filling town squares and church halls demanding that there be an election right now.

Has my colleague had a lot of calls in his area saying that there must be an election? Maybe he needs to get a bigger constituency office to handle all the protests of people coming in to ask that we have an election right now. How big an issue is it in his riding?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I am afraid the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso will have to wait. He is not going to be chiselled of his time but he is going to have to wait. We have a messenger.