Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak here today on behalf of the Bloc Québécois regarding Bill C-50, the 2008 budget implementation bill. I am especially pleased that the Bloc Québécois's judgment has always been irreproachable in its analysis of Conservative government budgets.
I will list the reasons why budget 2008 and Bill C-50 should be defeated.
We all know that Quebec and part of Ontario are currently facing an unprecedented crisis in the forestry and manufacturing sectors. Yet this budget offers no direct and immediate assistance to those sectors. The problem will not be solved by announcing a diversification program.
Ultimately, what the Conservatives want to do, despite the fact that the forest continues to grow, is to rid that economic sector of its expertise and try to force workers into doing something else. That is what the government proposed in its budget, which offers no direct assistance, no programs to modernize businesses, no programs for refundable tax credits.
I do not need to remind the House that in order to benefit from tax credits, one must first be able to pay income tax. But businesses in the forestry and manufacturing sectors are declaring deficits and losses. Therefore they cannot take advantage of tax credits, unless they are refundable. The Bloc Québécois has always defended such a measure, proposed by the industry itself, in this House.
Once again, the Conservatives have decided to ignore the appeals from people in the industry. Yet they are the ones best suited to analyze the situation. The Conservatives, however, decided as always, based on their philosophy and ideology, to let free competition run its course and let market forces prevail. That is the Conservative way. Of course, in a market left to its own devices, usually, the big fish swallow the smaller ones, but the Conservatives do not seem to realize that this time the big fish are swallowing each other, and even the big ones cannot survive.
This is yet another example of the right-wing ideology that is still not working. When an entire sector is in crisis and does not receive help, it will disappear. What the Conservatives have proposed in the budget is to change the economy. The economy is being diversified and the fate of the manufacturing and forestry sectors is being decided. They want to create call centres and retrain the employees. For example, they will be asked to learn about computers, regardless of their age. That is unacceptable.
It is unacceptable for the regions. We cannot take all the workers in a region and send them elsewhere. The Minister of Labour even had the gall to say—although he later retracted his statements—that there were jobs to be had in western Canada, in the oil industry. When the oil companies, nuclear power plants and our military need help, the Conservatives are there; there is no problem. But when it comes to helping the manufacturing and forestry sectors or seniors, the Conservatives are nowhere to be found, because those matters are not important to them.
This brings me to the second part of my speech. The budget did not provide for any assistance for workers or for an older worker adjustment program, such as the one abolished by the Liberals, which ensured that workers over the age of 55 would have an income until they retired. This program provided compensation for workers by helping them find a new job and retrain. The program always covered the salary they were earning up to a certain percentage—70% or 75%. The difference was covered until they turned 65. This program cost only $70 million.
Once again, the Conservatives told us that there were jobs available elsewhere. That is basically what the Minister of Labour came out and said. Workers are being asked to move and go work in areas were jobs are available. But if workers do that, it will empty out the regions of Quebec, and the Bloc Québécois will never agree to that.
Once again, no measures were proposed to help seniors. There was a vote concerning the guaranteed income supplement program. The member for Repentigny introduced a bill here that was passed by a majority of the members. The bill sought to return to seniors what had been taken from them, but the Conservatives, once again, did not support it. Those entitled to the guaranteed income supplement were granted just 11 months' retroactivity, but we asked for full retroactivity because the government has owed that money to seniors from the time the supplement was first paid out.
It is just like income tax. When people owe money to the Canada Revenue Agency, the agency can go back as far as it wants, any number of years, if money is owing. We wanted justice and equity, and we wanted the government to increase guaranteed income supplement payments by $100 per month. Seniors certainly deserve it, because everything—drugs, insurance, fuel and groceries—is costing them more and more. The price of everything is going up.
We wanted the guaranteed income supplement to go up by $100 per month, but once again, there is nothing in this budget for seniors.
Worse still, the government has taken advantage of this bill to sneak in a measure giving more power to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to reject applications without having to provide any justification for doing so, and to prioritize certain classes of immigrants. They want to bring in economic immigrants to develop some parts of the country rather than others.
That is the Conservatives' way of doing things. They like to dispense patronage. They managed to do that with immigration. Now they are planning to engage in even more patronage in the sector. They are governing just like the old Conservatives did. As it turned out, the old guard disappeared from the political landscape because citizens were sick and tired of having masters of patronage in power. That is the truth.
Just as unacceptable is the fact that the Conservative Party includes members from Quebec who, quite simply, have poor judgment. The member for Beauce, the former minister of foreign affairs, who was a rising star in the Quebec wing of the Conservative Party, proved that in spades. Imagine what the others are capable of. He lacked judgment, so what does that say about the other members from Quebec who have seats here? It says that all of those members lack judgment and toe the line without considering Quebeckers' values and interests. That is what it means to be a Conservative member from Quebec.
Therefore, this is not of interest to us. Obviously, it is no better being a Liberal member. I was listening to the member for Laval—Les Îles grandstanding earlier about immigration measures being introduced through the back door. Quebec's Liberal MPs simply have no judgment because they simply will not vote. It is fine for them to talk and do what they want, but then they are going to let these measures through. That shows either a clear lack of judgment or that their decision-making is driven by monetary concerns. They do not have the money to head into an election and the leader does not have the money to repay the debt incurred in the leadership race. Thus, they let bills pass that run counter to the interests of Quebeckers. We, on the other hand, defend our citizens. The member for Laval—Les Îles said that she would stand up in the House. Well, she will stand up, but she will not vote.
We were elected to exercise the right to vote and to use that right to the fullest as the representatives of the voters in this House. They did not elect us so we would stay seated and wait for our party to have the money and our leader to have repaid his debts to run in an election. That is the reality.
The New Democrats are no better, because they wait before making a decision. They wait to see what the Liberals will do. If the Liberals oppose a measure, they support it. If the Liberals are in favour, they vote against it. That is no better.
All that to say that the only party representing the interests and values of Quebeckers is the Bloc Québécois. We are not afraid of elections. We are not afraid of anything at all. We are not even afraid of power because we do not want it. The only power of importance to us is the power entrusted to us by the citizens who elected us. We are proud to rise in this House to vote against Bill C-50, which runs counter to the interests of Quebeckers.