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House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was recovery.

Topics

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would hope, and I am quite certain, that every single member in this House wants what is best for their constituents.

There is one very distinct difference between the other parties and the Bloc Québécois members and that is because they are here for a specific purpose. It is not just in the best interests of their constituents. It is to try to undermine this federation called Canada. It is for that reason that we have to be suspicious whenever the Bloc Québécois does or does not do something because its ultimate aim is to render this place ineffective.

I do not think any of the other—

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. I should perhaps just inform the House that the first five hours of debate have concluded. From now on the speeches will be 10 minutes, and the question and comment period will be 5 minutes.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate this afternoon on Bill C-51. I will not surprise anyone in the House by saying that NDP members will be voting in favour of the bill. The entire first part of the bill implements the ways and means motion that we supported in the House just last month.

In particular, I want to highlight the inclusion in the bill of the first time home buyers' tax credit and the home renovation tax credit. Both of these measures have been well received in communities right across the country, and although it may be hard to believe inside the bubble of Ottawa, most Canadians had actually thought that the home renovation tax credit had been enacted long ago. Why else, after all, would the government be spending so many tax dollars promoting this program on television and on those big envelopes it is distributing for saving receipts?

Canadians did what their government asked of them. They stimulated their local economies by investing in home renovations, assured by their government that they would be eligible for a tax credit if they spent the money before February 1 of next year.

Let us not kid ourselves, voting against this tax credit now, after our constituents have spent their money in good faith, would be victimizing them yet again during the worst recession since the Great Depression. My constituents deserve better. All constituents deserve better. When I tell them that I am here to make Parliament work for them, I will walk that talk by voting in favour of this measure. No, it is not good enough to vote against this measure now and say we will implement it later, just look at what is ahead on the horizon.

In the 2009-10 provincial budget, the McGuinty Liberals announced that they would be harmonizing the provincial sales tax with the federal government's goods and services tax, effective July 1, 2010. This is terrible news for Ontarians because many items that we need and use every single day, from gas and electricity to newspapers and the Internet will now be subject to a full 8% tax increase at the point of purchase. It will also be charged on all labour costs incurred during home renovations. If the home renovation tax credit is delayed, any benefit from the program will largely be eaten up by the increased tax burden of the HST.

While I am on the HST, let me add this. This blatant tax grab might never have happened had the federal Conservative government not bribed its provincial Liberal counterparts to introduce it. Apparently Dalton McGuinty was reluctant to introduce such an unfair tax during this recession, so the federal finance minister urged him along by offering the Ontario government an additional $4.3 billion of federal tax money to introduce this new tax increase.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

An hon. member

He went along with it.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

That is right. Canadians' federal tax dollars are hard at work buying them a big fat provincial tax increase. No wonder voter cynicism and apathy is so high. Canadians are rightly asking themselves whether anyone is committed to making Parliament work for them.

I am proud to say that New Democrats are doing just that. We are absolutely committed to making Parliament work for the seniors who built this country and for the hard-working families who need their government's help to survive this devastating recession.

I ran for public office because I wanted to fight for residents of Hamilton Mountain and to stand up for our community. Before I was elected, we had a government MP representing us for 13 years. Yet, the concerns of our riding were rarely articulated and even more seldomly acted upon by the government. While some may believe it is important to elect an MP from the government side, our experience in Hamilton Mountain suggests the opposite. Instead of electing a yes person to the Prime Minister, Hamilton Mountain residents know that it is much more likely that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

I take that responsibility seriously and I am proud to stand up for my community. That is why my very first motion in the House was on comprehensive reform on seniors' issues. It dealt with everything from income security to health care to drug costs to safe and affordable housing, and for lifelong opportunities for learning and recreation. I was thrilled when that motion passed in the House. In fact, I am delighted to see that some of the principles embodied in that motion are now reflected in the bill that is before us today.

The amendments to the Canada pension plan in Bill C-51 clearly enhance the income security of seniors, particularly those who want or need to collect their CPP before the age of 65.

Similarly, I had the privilege of tabling a motion on comprehensive EI reform in the spring of this year. That motion too passed in the House. In Ontario, where the recession has hit the manufacturing sector particularly hard, the ripple effect of job losses has impacted workers in the biggest plants and in the smallest of businesses. Those workers are the truly innocent victims of this recession and they deserve the government's help.

Some say that the latest round of EI reforms brought forward by the government was not enough, and that is absolutely right. However, it will help over 180,000 laid off workers and, by extension, their families. How could I not support that?

It reminds me of the story of the man walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a girl going back and forth between the surf's edge and the beach. Back and forth this child went, picking up a starfish and throwing it into the water. As the man approached, he could see that there were thousands of starfish stranded on the sand as a result of the natural action of the tide. The man was struck by the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish.

As he approached, the girl continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf. As he came up to her he said, “You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can't possibly make a difference”. The girl looked at the man, stooped down, picked up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. She turned back to the man and said, “It sure made a difference to that one”.

That is what working in Parliament is like. We do not always win every fight, but we will lose them all if we are not even in them. Often, even the smallest victory makes a profoundly positive difference for thousands of Canadians. That is why, lost in all of the partisanship that drives the media coverage of this place, much of the really productive work on behalf of our constituents goes largely unnoticed.

Many observers were surprised last week that New Democrats would vote in support of a government motion. The inference was that it was unprecedented in the House. Despite the fact that I am as fiercely partisan as any other member in the House, I have actually voted with the Conservatives 37 times on government legislation and I am going to do it again on this bill. The test for me is simply whether the matter before the House is good public policy.

When we had to put an end to the Liberals' election financing run amok, I voted with the government to improve accountability after the sponsorship scandal. When we had the opportunity to deal more effectively with criminals convicted of offences involving firearms, I voted with the government.

When we established the Public Health Agency of Canada, I voted with the government. When we amended the Youth Criminal Justice Act, I voted with the government. When we protected the safety and security of Canadians with respect to human pathogens and toxins, I voted with the government and I did it again when we amended the Employment Insurance Act to increase benefits. To me, that is the essence of good representation.

Yes, it is the role of opposition parties to oppose and expose the weaknesses of government proposals in debate, but we are doing that because we are motivated by wanting to effect change that will improve the lives of our constituents. That is how we make Parliament work. It is by voting in favour of good public policy and against flawed pieces of legislation. Because no bill is ever perfect, sometimes members have to weigh the pros and cons in making their decisions.

The bill before us today is a case in point. I support the first part, as I have outlined. Some of the changes to the CPP are not just welcome but overdue. The extension of the CBC's borrowing limit is something that New Democrats have been advocating for months. The housekeeping amendments on other items in the bill are necessary, albeit not remarkable.

The only clause that gives me pause is the one relating to the Bretton Woods agreement and I want to reserve my right to speak against that at a later time. As always, the devil is in the details and when it comes to amendments proposed by the International Monetary Fund, due diligence demands closer scrutiny.

Again, we cannot pick and choose which parts of this bill we support and which we oppose. Our role in the House is to cast a straight up and down yes or no vote and, taken on the whole, I am proud to support this bill on behalf of my constituents.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that in Bill C-51 there is a provision dealing with a first time home buyers' tax credit, which is being introduced on a permanent basis. Yet, we have what is a very popular home renovation tax credit system, which was brought in on a one time basis only.

Seeing as how the government has invested huge amounts of money advertising this program, maybe more than all the taxes that people are going to save in the entire program, I would suggest the government announce an extension of this program so that Canadians can have the benefit of this program on a long-term basis.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome that suggestion because it would help the hard-working families and seniors who are trying to do the right thing, not just by stimulating the economy but who rather are serious about maintaining retrofitting, greening their homes and who do want to do their bit to help us fight climate change. I think an extension of the program would absolutely be welcomed by them.

More important, we need to have a look at the people who are involved in providing the labour for those home renovations. This economic downturn is having a devastating impact on them as well. One of the things I worry about, because the HST, starting in July 2010, will be applied to the services they provide for home renovations, is that entire part of our economy will be driven underground.

By extending the home renovation tax credit, not only would it help homeowners, but it would ensure that part of our economy would not to be operating underground but would be participating as normal participants in this economy. Although the government always seems to be in a rush to support big businesses and banks, it needs to ensure it does its fair share to protect the small businesses in all of our communities.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was listening intently to the member's desire for supporting and representing her constituents and her desire for social justice. She has supported the government when it suited her constituents, but why did she not support the early learning and child care strategy? Why did she vote against aboriginal health and well-being under the Kelowna accord? Why did she vote against the environment?

If she is truly concerned about social justice, can she explain why she voted against those very major issues, social justice agenda issues that would have made a difference in the lives of a lot of Canadians?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish I had been here to vote against all of those things. Unfortunately, I was not elected at that time. The member appears to be going back four years before I was elected here.

However, during that particular election campaign in 2006, I remember my constituents saying that the Liberals had been in power for 13 years and had promised early child care for 13 years, had promised significant help for aboriginal communities for 13 years, and had talked about the Kyoto accord and acting on that, although not for 13 years because they were late converts to that process, but, nonetheless, for a significant amount of time before that election.

For 13 years the Liberals talked but they did not act and did not deliver. I think the representation that constituents deserve is not just MPs who talk the talk but members of Parliament who will walk the talk.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech and I was happy to hear that she supports good government policy. She has voted with our government. I am very pleased that there seems to be an epiphany over there and that now they will be supporting the good policies coming out of this government.

I want to ask her a little bit about the past. Particularly important to me is the auto sector. We put in an auto innovation fund that supported the auto sector and her party voted against that. It voted against our support for the auto sector in this past budget. Does she not think that was good policy?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said during my speech, it is absolutely critical for us to vote on packages as a whole because we do not have the opportunity to pick and choose.

One of the problems with the government is that it wants to choose its own winners and losers. I come from Hamilton where our steel sector is being devastated. Forestry sectors are being devastated in other parts of the country. We need a comprehensive package to fight this recession, not—

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, automotive industry; the hon. member for York West, veterans affairs; the hon. member Laval—Les Îles, official languages.

Resuming debate. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand here today and speak in support of Bill C-51, the economic recovery act.

Before I start illuminating many of the reasons why this bill deserves the support of all members of this place, «i will first add to the chorus of congratulations we heard many times throughout the day in stating the fact that our finance minister, the member for Whitby--Oshawa, has received a very prestigious award from an organization called Euromoney magazine, an international magazine that has been around for about 27 years. It is a real earmark and spokesmodel for the economic climate worldwide. I want to say that for the first time in 27 years since this award has been handed out, we have a Canadian finance minister who has won the prestigious award of finance minister of the year.

I wanted to point that out because there is a real strong reason for that. It means that the world is watching Canada with great envy as we deal with this global economic crisis that has seized almost every industrialized nation in the world, which is one of the many reasons that our finance minister won this very prestigious award.

Why should our finance minister have won this? There are very good reasons. The economic recovery act speaks to the implementation of many of the temporary stimulus measures that we brought forward to combat this global recession, things such as the homeowner's tax improvement credit and the first-time home buyers' credit. These temporary measures are meant to kickstart our economy and get our economy back on track.

Where other industrialized nations throughout the world are struggling, our economy seems to be showing signs of recovery and that is due in large part to the chief architect, our finance minister.

I also want to say that we could not pass this legislation without the support of other members and other parties in this House. Therefore, I really do want to quite sincerely congratulate, applaud and thank our colleagues in the New Democratic Party for offering their support when this legislation comes before the House for a vote. I must say that it is a bit of a surprise but a very good surprise because on many occasions in the past, at least 79 times, the New Democratic Party has opposed every initiative that we have brought forward.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, I think you will remember, as I do and members opposite remember, when we brought down our budget in January, the New Democratic Party said that it would oppose the budget without even reading it. Something has changed but I do not know what that is. Perhaps it is because it had an epiphany. Perhaps it has just discovered that our government is handling our economy with great due diligence. I want to thank our colleagues in the New Democratic Party for finally seeing the light in agreeing with us that our approach to managing Canada's economy is the correct approach.

I wish, on the other hand, that many of the members of other political parties in opposition would take the same approach, a considered and studied approach that the NDP has taken, to closely examine what we are attempting to do and in fact take a close look at the accomplishments that we have made over the course of the last several months. If they did, I am sure they would join the chorus of NDP members who have stood in this House, applauded our recovery efforts and said, quite clearly and quite graphically, that they will be supporting this legislation when it comes to a vote.

Once again, on behalf of all of us on the government side of the House, I applaud and congratulate members of the NDP for finally seeing the light when it comes to what is required to stimulate an economy that has been in trouble.

Before my closing remarks, I want to point out a few things that perhaps members of the Liberal opposition should recognize. Canadians at this point in time, in the midst of an economic recession, do not want to see an unwanted and unnecessary election. I beseech the members opposite to pay careful attention to this because if other members of this House, particularly members of the Liberal Party, paid careful attention to some of the information we were gleaning from polling companies, they would find out that Canadians do not want an election. However, members of the Liberal Party, the official opposition, seem bent on forcing this election upon Canadians who desperately want to concentrate on getting our economy back on track.

I can honestly say from our standpoint that we have no intention and no desire to enter into an election at this time.

When we examine the polling numbers of all major polling firms in Canada, the great irony is that it seems that only one party would benefit if an election were held today and that is the Conservative Party, and yet we are the only party that has consistently said that we do not want an election. The reason we do not want an election is that we understand the need to concentrate on economic recovery. That is all we want to do right now. The economy is fragile. Yes, it has shown strong signs of recovery but we are not there yet.

We will still face some heartache and some hardship. Unemployment numbers will continue to be higher than we want. We understand that but we also understand that as a Parliament we need to work together to focus on economic recovery and put in place elements of our economic action plan that will help stimulate the economy.

The stimulus package that we are talking about today is temporary in nature. We are only looking at a two year window but it dovetails nicely with the ongoing efforts that our government has made to keep taxes down, to create a regulatory environment that attracts new business into Canada. I think we have done that.

A good shining example of what we have been doing to attract business to this country is the recent announcement that Tim Hortons, a Canadian institution, an icon, is coming back to Canada to set up its worldwide operations. Why? It is because this government understands the reasons that businesses want to come to Canada, or to any other jurisdiction for that matter, to do business and that is lower taxes and an understanding government that wants to promote economic achievement.

For too many years, in fact for 13 long, dark years, the previous Liberal government did not understand that fundamental truism, and so taxes rose. The Liberals drove companies out of Canada to other jurisdictions worldwide where they could find a better tax regime. Now we are finding that companies want to come back to Canada. They want to open up their shops in Canada and do business in Canada, and that is because of the vision of our Prime Minister and our finance minister.

We may hear opposition members yelp, complain, whine and catcall, but the reality is that Canadians understand that this government is acting in their best interests.

Business leaders, both small and large, understand that our government wants to lead the world in terms of economic recovery. We want to lead the world in terms of giving businesses an opportunity to create employment opportunities for their people.

This, in simplistic terms, is what the economic action plan is all about. It is a plan to attract businesses, to increase jobs, to increase employment and to ensure that Canadians can feel the strong effects of our efforts to improve their lives on a day to day basis.

Let us not forget that in the first four years of our government we have reduced the GST by two full points. We are on the way to reducing business tax to the lowest level of most of the G20 countries. In fact, by 2012 or 2015 at least, we should have a combined personal and corporate income tax of 25%. That would be so much of an attraction to businesses to open up their shops in Canada and also be of benefit to average Canadians who want to take more of their hard-earned wages back home with them, put it in their pockets and spend it so they can put it back into the economy.

However, what we cannot afford at this time is an election. We cannot afford to destroy the good work that this government has done over the past several months to get Canada into a position where we will come out of the recession stronger than we have ever been before. That is because of the vision of our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I only have one minute to ask a question, yet I have about 100 questions I would like to ask the member.

If anybody were ever to believe the great story the member just told us, it would make us all think we were in great hands. However, we know that is not the case.

Clearly the award the Minister of Finance received today was probably for how he dealt with the $13 billion surplus left over from the Liberals, rather than how he has dealt with the current crisis we are in today.

In any event, going on to the fundamental issues about the thousands of unemployed, issues like Nortel, the companies that are going bankrupt and people losing their pensions, I do not hear any comment about what we are going to do with all those people who are struggling to deal with a variety of issues.

What is the hon. member going to tell people like the pensioners who are losing their life savings and other seniors whose pensions going to drop 30% because those companies are going bankrupt? What are you doing to help them and what are you doing to help those companies to prevent them from going bankrupt?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would remind members to direct their questions through the Chair.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her kind words about my remarks. I also thank her for once again raising the issue of our finance minister who has been awarded Finance Minister of the Year by Euromoney magazine. This is a 40-year-old publication that deals in financial markets worldwide and is highly respected. I point out again that he is the first Canadian finance minister to ever win this.

During the 13 long dark years of Liberal rule, previous to our taking over the reins of government, we had many prominent Liberal politicians occupy the post of finance minister. The current member for Wascana was finance minister. Did he ever win finance minister of the year? No. The former finance minister, the former prime minister, Mr. Paul Martin, did he ever win finance minister of the year? No. We even had a former prime minister beyond that, Mr. Jean Chrétien, who for a time in a previous government was finance minister. Did he ever win finance minister of the year? No.

It just shows that international institutions and international jurisdictions recognize the fine work our finance minister is doing for our country.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to get back to Bill C-51. With regard to the CPP amendments, the bill offers greater flexibility and choice for people approaching retirement years. It would reduce incentives for early retirement and increase incentives to stay longer in the workforce. It would improve the averaging formula and would boost pensions below the maximum. There are also voluntary contributions for post-65 claimants allowed for secure pension enhancement to age 70.

There are some flaws to this. It does not amount to a significant increase in security for seniors. More important, at least 30% of Canadians are still without retirement savings.

I know the government is doing a study into the whole pension issue. Could the member enlighten us as to the future plans for pension improvement?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, once again, I thank my hon. colleague from the NDP for having the vision and the foresight to recognize the fine work our government is doing in handling Canada's economy.

I understand the member was probably a little misguided for the several months prior to his conversion, when he did not realize the depth and the due diligence we had done to handle this fragile economy. However, whether it be an epiphany or whether it be because he has finally discovered that our efforts are having a positive effect, I thank the member.

NDP members deserve a lot of credit for changing their minds. It takes a big person to stand and say that the members were wrong those 79 times when they opposed the government, that they were wrong when they said that the government did not know how to handle the economy.

On behalf of this government, I thank all member of the NDP for admitting their mistakes and finally realizing this government is on the way to taking Canada back to the strongest position financially of any country in the G20.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, with all the talk about the Minister of Finance winning his award, I have to dampen a little of the excitement. Our friend and colleague from Wascana, the former finance minister, apparently had to go to outpatients today. He pulled a muscle in his back.

Apparently it is attributed to the fact that the current Minister of Finance has been hanging off the coattails of the member for Wascana, who put in place the financial fundamentals to carry us in such good shape into this current situation. I think everybody recognizes that. I know, with his good health, our colleague will be back here tomorrow.

I have not been in on the debate all day, but from what I have seen, each person who has spoken this afternoon has given a bit of a history lesson. Even in question period today, the leader of the NDP helped out with a bit of history. I know one thing about the House. When something is said inside the House, the other parties will do their very best to remind the individual what was said years prior.

The Leader of the Opposition had weighed in today with a comment that came directly from our current Prime Minister, during the whole debate about the HST and the impact it is having. During the GST debate, the Prime Minister had said that there was collusion between the provinces and the federal government to impose another tax on the people. The leader of the NDP reminded him of that today, and that is worthy.

One thing we see time and time again from the government is this selective amnesia. Its position today does not necessarily reflect the way it was talking weeks, months and certainly years ago. It is a completely different story. In my comments during my brief time here today, I would like to remind the government of several things.

When I first came to the House, I was a member of the Chrétien government. I remember the attacks that were levied on the government at the time. I remember the attacks that were levied on our finance minister, former Prime Minister Paul Martin. One of the most ruthless members in the House would have been the current Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

I remember him going after the finance minister day after day at that time because the amount of surplus was too big. That surplus was always applied to the debt, but it was too big. One year the finance minister had anticipated a $3 billion surplus. It came in as a $6 billion surplus, which was applied to the debt that accrued prior to 1993. The members were outraged that we were able to put that much money on the debt.

I think Canadians will look back to those days when a government was in a position to apply $6 billion to the debt and think of them as the good old days of government in Canada.

Another thing has been talked about a fair amount through this crisis. One of the things that has served us so well through this global economic crisis, and Canadians are unified on this, has been the banking system and the regulation of it. We have seen the meltdown south of the border. We have seen other countries and the problems that they have had.

I know, on several occasions over the last weeks and months, the government has been taking credit for our banks being so solid and performing so well. We on this side know, and most Canadians know, that during the whole debate on deregulation of the banks, Reformers voted 100% for that deregulation. It was successive Liberal governments that stood by the banks and regulation in the banks. That is the reason why our banks have been able to survive this financial storm.

It is important to remind Canadians about that. It is certainly important to remind the House about the banking system and the way the position has changed over the last little while.

I know we are talking about the financial bill, but the Prime Minister's new position on the G20 is one that hits us all. When Paul Martin brought forward the idea of the G20, he was very aware that Canada had a responsibility. If Canada wanted to be a world leader, it had to be a bigger player in the world. He talked about China, India and emerging economies. When he talked about the G20, he was vilified. The current Prime Minister said it was a sign of a weak nation, multilateralism absolutely bad, G20 was a bad idea.

Now the Prime Minister wants to be the poster boy for the G20. He invented it. Time and time again, issue after issue, we have seen what has been said before and what is convenient to be said now. They are completely different stories.

The one that hurts and scares us most is this. Last year the Conservatives were trying to reinforce in the minds of Canadians that all was well, that there were no problems with the economy, that we would get through this and that people were nervous Nellies about the economy. We on this side were telling the government to get its house in order, to ensure we would have a plan coming into this downturn. Nothing was being done by the government. It had said all was fine. The Conservatives called an unnecessary and illegal election at the time. Through that election, they said they would balance the budgets, that there would be a small surplus. We have seen how that has evolved. We have seen the end of the story.

However, maybe we have not seen the end of the story because we get chapter after chapter added on. First we had a $13 billion surplus, then it went to an $18 billion deficit, up to a $30 billion deficit. It is up around $54 billion to $60 billion. We anticipate that by the end of December it may reach $70 billion. If Conservatives are not looking at addressing that for three years, it would mean adding $210 billion to the debt of this nation. My kids, my grandkids and probably great-grandkids are going to be saddled with that. Canadians deserve better.

In the context of the remarks, I come back to why Canadians should be concerned. We have not seen anything that gives us confidence in the amount of money that is being spent and the amount of money that is coming in. What is going to be at the fiscal end and where is this all going to end? There is reason for concern—

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member suggested that the election called last year was illegal. That is false and there is a court action at present. Before making accusations like that, the member should really have his facts correct. I ask him to withdraw the remark.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am not sure that is a point of order, but I see the member for Cape Breton—Canso rising. He has one minute left in his remarks.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that was a point of order either, but the four year election plan was put forward by the government and was adopted by the House. Maybe he would prefer if I use the word inappropriate or the word unnecessary. Maybe my colleagues could help me out with that one. I am sorry. There are probably a number of other words I could have used.

We cannot rely on information that comes from the government. We cannot put any trust or faith in the numbers that come from it. When the few numbers do come forward, it seems to be a big surprise at the end of each quarter and the surprise gets worse and worse. As we go forward, I do not know where this will end, but I know the mess we had to clean up the last time. That is going to be the good old days when we look at the mess we are going to have to clean up this time.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, through you to the chief government whip, there is a growing sense of urgency in getting the final stages of the home renovation tax credit through. Building suppliers in my riding are saying that having this is the difference between keeping their heads above water and not. We have new-found support from the NDP. In fact, it is even asking to extend the home renovation tax credit into next year.

My question for the chief government whip is, even though he is requiring that his MPs vote against the home renovation tax credit, is he going to allow them, when they do their home renovations, to take advantage of the tax credit themselves?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Chief opposition whip, Mr. Speaker. She is seeing into the future.

With respect to the home renovation tax credit, we all know that what the government is putting forward is merely smoke and mirrors.

The fact is no ways and means motion has to be passed by this House in order to implement a tax credit. If we were going to impose a further tax, then yes, a ways and means motion would have to come to the House, and would have to be debated and would have to be voted on. However, for a tax credit like that, it is not necessary. Again, it plays into the overall game, it plays into the strategy the government is employing to try to make good guys and bad guys, winners and losers.

We have no faith that there is any truism in the numbers coming forward, certainly in the action on this home renovation tax credit, it just underlines our concern.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the National Post on Friday, May 23, 2003, the current Prime Minister, at the time a member of the Alliance Conservative, whatever we want to call it, said about a G20 initiative of Paul Martin:

Canada now relies on what is essentially a “weak nation strategy”--multilateral participation to conceal and deny dependency on its key ally.

Perhaps my hon. colleague would like to comment on this.