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House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigrants.

Topics

Response to Oral QuestionPoints of Order

10:05 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Briefly, Mr. Speaker, if I may, I want to correct an answer I gave in the House yesterday. In an answer to a question on one of the immigration issues, I indicated that the Chinese head tax originally was introduced by a Liberal government. That in fact is not the case. The head tax was introduced in 1885. I want to correct the record in that regard: it was not introduced under a Liberal government.

I obviously confused it with Laurier's government, which increased the size of that head tax tenfold, and of course the 1923 Chinese immigration act that banned all Chinese immigration to Canada, which happened under King's Liberal government. I want to make sure the record is corrected. It was not introduced under a Liberal government originally.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.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, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to eight petitions.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-532, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (low-cost residential rental property).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table today a private member's bill entitled an act to amend the Income Tax Act (low-cost residential rental property). The bill is seconded by my colleague, the member for Victoria, and stems from her deep interest in and work to find solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Canada and from her experiences as a city councillor in Victoria and member of Parliament for that city. The member for London—Fanshawe has also worked to develop this bill.

The bill proposes to amend the Income Tax Act to provide a tax incentive to encourage landlords to invest in the purchase of low-cost residential rental property. It calls on the government to develop regulations which would allow for the rollover of recaptured depreciation on the sale of rental property in cases where the proceeds from the sale of such property are reinvested in the purchase of low-cost rental property in the same year.

It is the intention of this legislation to encourage the maintenance of and stimulate an increase in the stock of affordable rental housing in Canada. Affordable rental housing is key to the needs of many Canadians and their families.

This measure is only a small part of an approach to dealing with the affordable housing crisis in Canada. No single measure and certainly no measure as specific as this one can replace the need for a national housing program that actually builds affordable housing in Canada. Tax measures, building programs: no stone should be left unturned in finding a solution to the housing crisis.

The member for Victoria and I believe this measure is one that deserves the serious consideration of the House and that is why we are tabling this bill today.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Security and Prosperity PartnershipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table two petitions today. The first comes from dozens of people in my riding in the greater Hamilton area who are against the proposed security and prosperity partnership. They call upon the Government of Canada to stop further implementation of the security and prosperity partnership of North America with the United States and Mexico until there is a democratic mandate from the people of Canada, parliamentary oversight, and consideration of its profound consequences on Canada's existence as a sovereign nation and its ability to adopt autonomous and sustainable economic, social and environmental policies.

These petitioners represent just a small number of the tens of thousands of Canadians who are counting on the government to listen to their concerns and stop the SPP.

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

The other petition, Mr. Speaker, that I am pleased to table today is yet again on the urgent need for the House to adopt BillC-390. The bill would allow tradespeople and indentured apprentices to deduct travel and accommodation expenses from their taxable income so that they can secure and maintain employment at construction sites that are more than 80 kilometres from their homes.

This time the petitions have come from St. John's, Glace Bay, Sydney, Fredericton, Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Val Caron, Sudbury, North Bay, Owen Sound, Windsor, Chatham, Port Elgin, Cambridge, Kitchener, London, Sarnia, Toronto, Brandon, Winnipeg, Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Kamloops, Nelson, Castlegar, Victoria, Whitehorse, and of course the Golden Horseshoe, in an expression of support that is truly national in scope.

Unfortunately, another budget implementation bill that is before the House today ignores yet again this modest request by Canada's building trades. All they have been asking for is some basic fairness. I will continue to represent their issues in the House and will gladly introduce all of their petitions until the government finally lives up to its commitment to act.

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I would remind hon. members, as far as is possible, to just present their petitions and not expand them in such a way as to raise questions in the House about the appropriateness thereof.

Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Mills Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition signed by 1,233 people from my riding of Red Deer and from Alberta. These citizens are outraged at the violent beating of a 61-year-old apartment caretaker by repeat offender Leo Teskey. The petitioners therefore demand that Parliament pass tougher laws regarding repeat and violent offenders and adequate compensation for victims of violent crimes.

Visitor VisasPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition signed by residents of my riding of Bramalea—Gore—Malton. The petitioners call upon the government to institute a system of visa bonds for temporary resident visa applicants wishing to come to Canada as members of the visitor class, to give immigration counsellors discretion over the creation of visa bonds, to establish minimum and maximum visa bond amounts as a guideline for immigration officials, and to allow the visa bond to apply to either the sponsor or the visitor.

Unborn Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured today to present yet again over 1,500 names on a petition in support of my Bill C-484. These petitioners, recognizing that when a woman has chosen to have a child, the right and that child should not be taken away by violent means, ask Parliament to enact legislation that would make it a separate offence to cause the injury or death of an unborn child. Today's petition brings the number of petitioners' signatures in support of this bill to over 13,000.

Security and Prosperity PartnershipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition that calls for the suspension of the security and prosperity partnership that is going on now. The petitioners, some 200 from the lower mainland region of Vancouver, are adding their names to the many thousands that have been presented by New Democrats here. They say that the implementation of the SPP further advances the goal of continental economic integration and that there is a very big concern around security, energy, food and health standards, and the shrinking opportunities for Canadian policy makers and governments.

They call on Parliament to stop further implementation of the SPP and ask for a democratic mandate from the people of Canada, for parliamentary oversight, and for consideration of its profound consequences on Canada's existence as a sovereign nation. They ask us to conduct transparent and accountable public debate on the SPP, involving meaningful public consultations and a full legislative review. These 200 names are added to the thousands that already have been presented by New Democrat members of Parliament on this very important issue for all Canadians.

Unborn Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being able to present this petition before the last person to present. This petition today calls upon Parliament to enact legislation which would recognize unborn children as separate victims when they are injured or killed during the commission of an offence against their mothers, allowing two charges to be laid against the offender instead of just one. There are nearly 1,000 signatures on this petition and in polls we have seen clearly that 72% of Canadians support this important legislation, Bill C-484.

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this morning I am pleased to present yet another income trust broken promise petition from a number of signatories from Forestburg, Stettler, Calgary, Edmonton and Vegreville, Alberta. The petitioners want to remind the Prime Minister that he had promised never to tax income trusts but he recklessly broke that promise by imposing a 31.5%--

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

An hon. member

Oh, oh!

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the assistance of the government House leader during my great presentation. I hope he will carry on, because it tells me that I am on the right track.

The petitioners say that the Prime Minister did recklessly break that promise by imposing a 31.5% tax, which permanently wiped out over $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, particularly seniors. We must remember our seniors.

The petitioners therefore call upon Parliament, and particularly the minority government, first, to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions, as was demonstrated in the hearings before the finance committee; second, to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by this broken promise; and finally, to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts. This brings to 50,000 the number of names already submitted to the House with regard to this reckless broken promise.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.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, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Response to Oral Question by Committee Vice-Chair—Speaker's RulingPoint of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Before proceeding to the orders of the day, I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on Friday, March 7, 2008, by the hon. Government House Leader alleging the inappropriateness of the response provided by the Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer, to an oral question raised by the hon. member for Churchill during oral questions that day.

I would like to thank the government House leader for raising this matter and the hon. member for Wascana for his intervention.

The government House leader contended that in response to a question posed by the member for Churchill regarding the agenda of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, the answer provided by the member for Hull—Aylmer was inappropriate because it was substantive and partisan and, therefore, did not follow the usual practice for this kind of response. He also added that this constituted a breach of the rules of the House that was deliberate and calculated.

The opposition House leader argued that the response given by the committee vice-chair was within the rules of the House since it referred explicitly to the agenda of the committee.

Let me begin by putting this point of order in context. It is well established that questions to committee chairs, with the emphasis on questions, should be strictly restricted to requests for information concerning matters of simple committee administration rather than the substance of their proceedings.

In a ruling on May 20, 1970, on page 7126 of the Debates, Mr. Speaker Lamoureux clearly defined the limits of this line of questioning when he stated:

… the only questions which are acceptable when directed to the chairman of a committee are questions which relate to procedural matters—whether a meeting is to be held, whether a committee will be convened, at what time a committee will be held, and so on; … I think there has to be a very strict limit on questions that may be asked chairmen of committees.

Furthermore, House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 429 states:

Questions seeking information about the schedule and agenda of committees may be directed to chairs of committees. Questions to the Ministry or a committee chair concerning the proceedings or work of a committee may not be raised.

Our practice in this regard seems quite clear.

In fact, as recently as February 12, the Speaker had occasion to address the issue of questions to committee chairs and hon. members will recall that he reminded the House of the narrow parameters of questions that are acceptable.

He also took the opportunity to underline the Chair's very limited powers in determining what constitutes an appropriate response to such a question. Specifically, he acknowledged that the Speaker was not the judge of the nature or quality of the response and that the Chair was, in the matter of responses to questions, limited to the language used. Thus, he stated in part:

If the response is not an answer to the question, I cannot rule the response out of order unless unparliamentary language is used in the response....

Accordingly, in the case complained of, while it appears that the response includes remarks that were unnecessary simply to provide information about the committee’s schedule, in the view of the Chair, those remarks--superfluous to requirements as they may be--nonetheless cannot be construed as unparliamentary and so there are no grounds for ruling them out of order.

I confess that I am somewhat surprised to find the Chair being asked to examine the procedural acceptability of a response during question period. Whatever certain commentators may claim with regard to the prerogatives of the Speaker, the House of Commons has never, to my knowledge, required the Chair to be the arbiter of the appropriateness, completeness or even relevance of responses given to questions during question period. Hence, the old saw that this 45 minute period each day is called question period and not answer period.

However, I must say that I have some sympathy with the concerns that continue to be expressed by members about this category of question. Questions to committee chairs, once rare and exceptional, have lately been used more frequently. This trend and the repeated procedural squabbling it has occasioned prompts me to inform the House that in future when considering the procedural acceptability of such questions, the Chair intends to demand strict adherence to the intended practice, namely, the scheduling and agenda of committee meetings. I am counting on the cooperation of all hon. members in this regard.

At the same time, I strongly encourage committee chairs or vice-chairs, who are the only members in a position to answer these kinds of questions, to do so in a spirit of fair play and in keeping with the very specific information-seeking strictures that apply to members asking these questions.

I thank the House for its attention.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

April 3rd, 2008 / 10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to lead off this second reading debate and speak on behalf of our Conservative government on Bill C-50, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 26, 2008 and to enact provisions to preserve the fiscal plan set out in that budget.

Bill C-50 reflects the responsible leadership provided by our Conservative government at home and abroad, leadership that gives Canadians good reason to be confident about the future, despite the economic uncertainty beyond our borders. In fact, we have the strongest fiscal position of any G-7 country.

That position has allowed the government to take important action in support of our long term economic plan entitled, Advantage Canada, a plan that was introduced in 2006 that benefits Canadians today and for the years ahead.

For example, the fall 2007 economic statement took important steps to jump-start the plan by providing broad based tax relief for individuals and business, vitally important measures totalling $60 billion, prudent measures taken at the request of the finance minister and our Prime Minister in anticipation of impending global economic turbulence.

It is important to recognize the actions taken in the economic statement that have been recognized by a wide range of observers as extremely important in the maintenance of Canada's solid economic fundamentals. Observers, like BMO's economist, Doug Porter, who said:

It was brilliantly timed. Just as the economy was running into serious heavy weather we had some serious fiscal stimulus.

The Conference Board of Canada noted that:

The Canadian economy will weather the storm of uncertainty....

...recent changes, such as tax reductions announced by the federal government...will maintain the momentum.

A recent Calgary Herald editorial praised the Conservative government for using the economic statement and stated:

...to strengthen consumer demand, notably the one per cent GST reduction....

...for once a government seems to have been ahead of the curve.

Additionally, we took further action through the $1 billion community development trust, a program that assists workers and communities experiencing difficulty due to international economic volatility.

Budget 2008 directly builds on that important action. It confirms our commitment to strong fiscal management by reducing the federal debt by $10.2 billion in 2007-08. It reduces taxes to the lowest level measured as a share of the economy since the Diefenbaker government. It invests in the future of Canada.

Budget 2008 will support Canada's economy with a plan that is real and one that is committed to responsible spending. Unlike the reckless Liberal opposition that would plunge Canada into a massive $70 billion deficit, our Conservative government is committed to a balanced budget.

We have also made a commitment to Canadians to reduce taxes and we are proud to say that we are keeping that commitment. We are reducing taxes for all Canadians and we are proud of that.

To date, our Conservative government has taken actions that will provide nearly $200 billion in broad based tax relief and $140 billion of that relief will benefit individuals directly. These are permanent reductions that hard-working Canadians will see each and every time they file their income taxes. Taxes will continue to decline thanks to our government's tax-back guarantee. This represents our commitment to dedicate the effective interest savings from federal debt reduction each year to permanent and sustainable personal income tax reductions.

Moreover, I am privileged to be part of a Conservative government that introduced one of the single most important personal savings vehicles ever introduced, one which the C.D. Howe Institute described as a “tax policy gem”: the tax-free savings account. This groundbreaking, flexible and general purpose account will allow Canadians to watch their savings grow tax free. It is an historical first for Canadians and here is how it works.

First, Canadians can contribute up to $5,000 every year to a registered tax-free savings account, plus carry forward any unused portions to future years.

Second, the investment income, including capital gains earned in the plan, will be exempt from income tax, even when withdrawn.

Third, Canadians can withdraw from the account at any time without restriction. Better yet, there are no restrictions on what they can save for.

Finally, the full amount of withdrawals may be recontributed to their tax-free savings account in the future to ensure no loss in a person's total savings room.

The new tax-free savings account will help Canadians save for whatever is important to them. I would encourage Canadians to visit www.fin.gc.ca to find out more about this innovative new program. There is an on-line calculator that will help them deal with this. This will demonstrate just how Canadians can save by investing in this tax-free savings account.

Let me share with my colleagues that the savings can be substantial. For example, assuming a modest 5.5% rate of return, a person contributing $200 a month to one of these new accounts for 20 years could enjoy a tax savings of $11,045 compared to saving in an unregistered account.

Of course, not everyone is able to save each and every year. Those who cannot contribute $5,000 in a given year will be able to carry forward their unused contribution room to future years.

Saving can be difficult, especially for some low and modest income earners, which is why an important component of this proposed legislation is that there will be no clawbacks. This means that neither the income nor the capital gains earned in a tax-free savings account, nor the withdrawals from it, will affect eligibility for federal income tested benefits. As a result, the tax-free savings account will be of tremendous benefit to all Canadians.

The praise for this initiative has been almost universal. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation said:

This is an excellent policy proposal. Canada needs to reward people that save because their investments fuel economic growth and job creation.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business added that “it was an inspired measure”.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce heralded the measure, saying it will “encourage savings, a measure which the Chamber has sought for many years” .

Bill C-50 has an important measure to benefit Canada's seniors, measures that build on earlier actions we have taken. Many seniors in Canada are living on a fixed income. This can sometimes make it difficult to make ends meet.

To help those Canadians, our Conservative government has taken action that provides about $5 billion in tax relief each year for seniors and pensioners, including doubling of the pension income amount of $2,000 and increasing the age credit amount by $1,000.

We have also increased the age limit for maturing RPPs and RRSPs and, for the first time ever in Canada, introduced pension income splitting for seniors and pensioners.

We are continuing on that path to supporting seniors in Bill C-50 by increasing the guaranteed income supplement exemption to $3,500 from the current maximum of $500. This means that seniors can earn up to $3,500 before having any GIC benefits reduced. This measure will benefit low and modest income seniors who chose to continue working.

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons commends our Conservative government for “listening to many of its recommendations over the years and taking steps in the right direction”.

The Conservative government is also committed to making Canada an even greater place to create and expand a business.

Last fall we set out a long term plan to reduce the federal corporate income tax rate to 15% by 2012. This initiative will give Canada the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G-7 by 2010 and the lowest statutory tax rate in the G-7 by 2012.

As the Canadian Council of Chief Executives declared, and I quote again, “The federal government clearly has done everything it can to reduce tax rates within the boundaries of prudent fiscal management”.

We are also taking targeted action to assist Canada's manufacturers as they face challenging economic circumstances. For instance, in budget 2007 we brought in a temporary accelerated capital cost allowance. This measure is helping Canadian manufacturers make the investments needed to build modern facilities here at home to take on the world.

Budget 2008 proposes to extend temporary accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for three additional years. This extension will provide the manufacturing and processing sector with an additional $1 billion in tax relief by 2012-13.

Bill C-50 contains proposed measures that will provide additional benefits to businesses in Canada. For example, small businesses can face challenges in accessing capital to finance research and development investments.

That is why an enhanced scientific research and experimental development, or SR&ED, with the investment tax credit of 35% will be available to small Canadian controlled private corporations on their first $2 million of qualified expenditures.

During the prebudget consultations many stakeholders noted that access to the enhanced SR&ED investment tax credit is phased out quickly once the taxable capital threshold of $10 million is reached. They suggested that medium-sized businesses should have access to some enhanced benefit. In addition, many suggested that the expenditure limit has not kept pace with technological innovations that have made startup research and development investment more costly.

In response to these concerns, Bill C-50 proposes to increase the expenditure limit from $2 million to $3 million and to increase the upper limit for the taxable capital phase-out range from $15 million to $50 million. The upper limit of the taxable income phase-out range will also be increased from $600,000 to $700,000. Increasing these limits will encourage small and medium-sized Canadian controlled private corporations to grow.

Canadians spoke and this government listened.

Budget 2008 includes new measures to strengthen and ensure the effective implementation of our government's plan to ensure a cleaner, healthier environment for all Canadians.

To that end, Bill C-50 proposes to commit $250 million for carbon capture and storage projects. This will allow for harmful emissions to be stored underground rather than released into the atmosphere.

Public transit is one of the keys to achieving a cleaner and healthier environment. That is why our government, under the leadership of this excellent environment minister who is here with us today, has made significant investments in public transit infrastructure.

Bill C-50 goes even further by proposing an additional $500 million to make further investments in public transit capital infrastructure. These are measures to encourage Canadians to leave their cars at home and assist Canada's municipalities.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association called this support, “a major boost to future access and mobility in Canadian communities”. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities called it, “good news for cities and communities”.

Canadians want a clean environment in which to live. They also want healthy and safe communities. To help ensure that safety, Bill C-50 proposes to build safer communities and put criminals out of business.

Speaking of putting some out of business, I want to take a moment to mention how damaging yesterday's NDP motion would have been had it passed. It would have put legitimate Canadians out of business. We do thank the Liberals for supporting and recognizing that it would have put Canadians out of work, and we do appreciate that support.

Most of all we do appreciate the fact that the Liberals did come and vote last night, but most of all, to support us. I look forward to seeing them in their place when it comes time to vote in favour of Bill C-50 as well.

The bill proposes to provide $400 million to hire 2,500 new front line police officers over the next five years. Support recognized an important step in helping “address the much needed resources for tackling crime”. That was said by the Canadian Police Association, who added that they were also very happy with the commitment that was in budget 2008.

Mr. Speaker, as you are no doubt starting to notice, this is a very comprehensive bill. Time does not permit me to describe all of the details of the measures in Bill C-50, but I would be remiss if I did not mention certain initiatives in it that would help Canada prepare for the future, our youth.

First, in recognition of the importance of education in our future, the bill proposes a new consolidated Canada student grant program to take effect in the fall of 2009. All federal grants will be integrated into one program, a program which will provide more effective support to more students for more years of study. In doing so, this will assist Canadian families who struggle with the cost of higher education.

Bill C-50 proposes an investment of $350 million in 2009-10, rising to $430 million in 2012-13. Additionally, Canadian students and their families also need simple, effective, financial assistance programs. That is why budget 2008 commits $123 million to streamline and modernize the Canada student loans program.

Measures will be put in place to improve service for students in a number of ways, such as: a new service delivery vision that will expand online services; more equitable supports for part time and married students; a new in-study, interest free period for reservists; and an enhanced flexibility for those students experiencing difficulty in debt repayment as well as including those with disabilities.

Canada's students responded enthusiastically to budget 2008. Groups like the College Student Alliance said, “It showed that the federal government is keeping an eye to the future and our future leaders of tomorrow”, or the Canadian Federation of Students who thanked the government for responding to “a longstanding call by students and their families”, probably a call that has been out there for 13 long years.

In order to ensure a strong and secure future for Canada, our immigration policies need to be closely aligned with our labour market needs. That is why our government is also making important new innovations in immigration, including changing the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In doing so, we will improve and speed up the application process.

Summing up, this Conservative government has taken care to strengthen Canada's economic fundamentals. The bill is prudent, focused and responsible in order to ensure Canada is well positioned to weather the uncertainty of today's global economy.

The Liberal Party of Canada's continued support for our Conservative government is a clear indication that we are getting the job done. We are on the right track for all Canadians, and on behalf of the government, I thank our Liberal friends for their consistent support of our initiatives, redefining the official opposition, and we congratulate them for that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the member's speech he said that time did not permit him to go through all the details of the Budget Implementation Act. He is quite right. There are a broad range of matters that are covered in this bill.

In fact, they are so broad that it does beg the question of where are we going with this? What is the vision? There really is no vision here.

As a matter of fact, if we look at the member's statement, one of the things we will find is that it has not laid out an assessment of where we are today, what emerging forces are facing Canada over the coming periods, and what security, prudence and contingency have been provided to ensure the continuity of providing the services and the care and protection for all Canadians on a consistent basis.

That is the purpose of debate here I believe. The purpose is not to see how much time can be filled up by listing a bunch of individual items without showing how they knit together and how they integrate into a vision.

Maybe the member would like to comment on one aspect of a vision and that would be the aspect of perhaps fiscal responsibility. I would say that in the government's own projections it is looking now in the second year of the forecast of being within one SARS event of going into deficit. That is of concern to Canadians.

We do not want to ever go back into deficit. Now, with the high level of petroleum prices, with the U.S. recession, and with the high value of Canadian dollar, all of these factors are putting great pressures on our economy. Many of those have been experienced in certain provinces versus others, such as Ontario in its manufacturing sector. Maybe the member could help advance this debate by telling--

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would love to advance the debate, especially with such an inviting opening line referring to fiscal responsibility.

It was only weeks ago that our Conservative government started to realize the exact numbers of pre-election promises where the Liberals would spend money. Out of a concern that we wanted to share with Canadians, we added up those numbers. These were hollow promises from the opposition if they ever were, heaven forbid, to form government again.

I can say what that number of promises added up to. It was $70 billion of uncosted promises. If the Liberals were returned to government, that is what they would hoist on to Canadian taxpayers: uncosted, unsubstantiated, rather scattered promises to get them back into power. As we have heard in the last few days, the only reason for the existence of the Liberals is to get back into power.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, while listening attentively to my colleague's presentation, I got the impression that I was listening to the captain of the Titanic mere hours before the boat hit the iceberg. He says that all is well. The budget has been presented as if there are clear skies ahead.

However, this morning, the American Federal Reserve confirmed the current recession in the United States. As well, the International Monetary Fund announced growth of 0.5% over the next three years in the United States. Given that we know how much the entire Canadian economy depends on the American market, since we export many products to the United States, it is rather surprising that the federal government is not acting.

Hence my question for my colleague about the budget for the year that finished on March 31. How could they have decided to put $10 billion towards the debt and not in any way have offered tools that could help our businesses become more competitive in the manufacturing and forestry industries? They could have announced refundable tax credits or funding to make our products more attractive to Americans. Now, by lowering the GST, they have only encouraged people to purchase more Chinese products.

I may be playing it up somewhat, but I would like to know if my colleague feels a little like the captain of the Titanic. Will he be changing course?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am a prairie boy. I have never had much to do with a ship the size of the Titanic. However, I am part of a team that has a firm direction of where it will go. Through the economic fall statement, we proved the government knew where it was headed. We knew there were concerns.

My hon. colleague is correct. The United States is having some difficult economic times. We saw that coming. This is leadership. This is being at the wheel. This is knowing that could very seriously impact Canada. This is why we took the position in the fall to cut taxes, to stimulate industry.

We see the economic fundamentals in the country today because we have strong leadership. We are not only dependent on the U.S. economy. We have diversified our economy. We have supported those struggling industries. A $1 billion community development trust—