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House of Commons Hansard #17 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sort of at a loss watching the sound and the fury coming from my colleague. His debate is taking place amidst an international meltdown of confidence.

Again, I recognize that people would not necessarily believe that the Conservatives have any real agenda that would actually bring about corporate accountability, but I have not heard the Bloc address the issue that across the various jurisdictions in Canada there has been one stock scandal and fraud after another. We have been known as the wild west for penny stocks. It has happened in jurisdiction after jurisdiction. We have some of the dodgiest derivatives markets in the world.

Saying that this is an unfair intrusion into the affairs of Quebec does not change the fact that there needs to be confidence. I have not heard anything from the Bloc in terms of how those members would address the people who are watching this country and ask where the accountability is in terms of ensuring investor and consumer confidence and making sure that each of the jurisdictions is doing the job it is supposed to do.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is not for me to make suggestions regarding the Autorité des marchés financiers, since it falls under provincial jurisdiction. What we are asking for is to maintain the status quo. We want the existing structure to remain the same, because it is working.

Moreover, the Autorité des marchés financiers has uncovered scandals in Quebec. White collar criminals are a reality. We had some in Quebec, such as Vincent Lacroix and others. I could give names.

This structure is working. The market can regulate itself and the Autorité des marchés financiers is able to do its job effectively.

Since they are asking for a suggestion, I will give them one: let us keep things as they are and maintain the status quo.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I was somewhat surprised when I read the motion moved by the hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain, the motion currently before the House.

There are two parts to the motion. The first has to do with the national securities commission, which would be voluntary, and second, the motion attacks the increases to equalization that the federal government pays Quebec.

As for the voluntary securities commission, on behalf of the Government of Canada, I am proud to announce here today that the securities commission proposed by our government will be voluntary.

I would also like to announce that if a province does not wish to join, it will not be forced to do so. Clearly, this announcement makes the Bloc Québécois' motion redundant and pointless. I would like to mention one other thing.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

Regarding the securities commission, I was very surprised to learn that the hon. member wanted to take away provincial jurisdiction over this matter. What he is saying is that the provinces should be forced to refrain from voluntarily participating in a common system. For instance, he is telling Ontario that it no longer has the right to choose whether or not it will join the other provinces in a voluntary system. He just announced that the Bloc Québécois no longer believes that this falls under provincial jurisdiction. We recognize that it falls under provincial jurisdiction, so we are giving provinces the choice. Once again, if Quebec or any other province decides not to participate, they will not be forced to do so.

I do not wish to appear sarcastic, since the question before us is so serious, but if I infer a little from what my Bloc colleague said, I could conclude for example that inviting someone out for supper can be considered a terrible intrusion upon their privacy.

And now for the issue of equalization, the second component of the motion tabled in this House by the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain. First of all, I note that my colleague has said nothing about the fact that Quebec will continue to receive significant federal transfers from Canada.

Equalization payments of $8.3 billion, an increase of $3.5 billion, will go to Quebec. That is a 74% increase since 2005-06. I will repeat that. The Conservative government has increased equalization payments to Quebec by 74% since 2005-06. That is a huge increase. Quebec receives the largest amount of equalization payments of all the other provinces. Quebeckers are celebrating the fact that our Conservative team in Quebec kept promises made to their province. The 74% increase and, I repeat, the fact that Quebec receives the largest amount of equalization payments of all the other provinces, indicates that the Conservative team is keeping its promises made to voters and fellow citizens. The Bloc has never accomplished anything and that is why all it does in this House is complain.

Under the Conservative government, Quebec has made major gains, especially the 74% increase in equalization payments over three years. The benefits to Quebec by being part of Canada demonstrate the extent to which the sovereignist plan would instead go against the interests of Quebec. The real reason why the Bloc is upset with the Conservative government is because we are showing Canadians that our country works, that it is successful and that citizens of all provinces, including Quebec, benefit greatly from being part of our country.

I now invite questions from my distinguished colleagues.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Vincent Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the parliamentary secretary's speech. He talked about giving us a choice. The choice he is giving us reminds me somewhat of a person who would receive his or her paycheque and be told by a neighbour, “You should give me your paycheque and I will tell you how you should spend it.”

I believe that the person who worked for that paycheque should be free to spend it as he or she pleases.

The parliamentary secretary would have us believe that we have a choice. However, it is basically a provincial jurisdiction. Therefore the government does not even need to do the thinking for us. It has enough thinking to do to take care of its own business without having to meddle in somebody else's business.

Since it is a provincial jurisdiction, we do not need the Conservatives to tell us what to do. They should work on other issues, like the economic crisis. I think it would be much better for everybody if they focused on something that would be really useful to workers, like the program for older worker adjustment.

There are far more important things than trying to find solutions or trying to create institutions just for the sake of it. This area falls under provincial jurisdiction. The government should really focus its efforts on initiatives that are relevant, not irrelevant.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to stress the fact that all provinces have a choice. If a province wants to join the common system, it can do so. If it does not want to join in, it does not have to. It has a choice. On this side of the House, we respect the will of all provinces.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the entire world watched the Bre-X fraud being perpetrated on thousands of investors. It started out in the penny stock capital in Calgary and moved to the TSX. When it all came down, at the end of the day the RCMP had to say they did not have enough evidence to charge anybody with fraud or to go further.

The international community of investors pointed to Canada and said that we were a laughingstock in terms of our willingness to take on corporate fraud of the kind that had taken place with the Bre-X scam, with the other scams that had gone before it and with the other scams that came afterward.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague, even if we have a national regulator such that one can opt in or opt out depending on how one is feeling on a particular day in a particular province, what further steps will there be to ensure corporate accountability so that the kinds of flagrant scams like Bre-X and so many others will not continue to be perpetrated just because we have a single regulator, as opposed to a patchwork system?

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for what I think most members of the House would agree was an excellent question.

We need to crack down on corporate fraud and we need better systems to ensure that never again do these sorts of financial catastrophes happen. We think also of the thousands and thousands of investors who lost livelihoods in the Bre-X affair.

That is why a number of provinces are choosing voluntarily to come together in a common system. We as a federal government are not going to take away their provincial jurisdiction by blocking them from their voluntary efforts to form a common securities commission to tackle problems just like this one.

I would encourage more discussion and I look forward to seeing what voluntary decisions the various provinces make in improving the way in which we regulate and monitor our capital markets.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Questions and comments.

This will have to be a very short question.

The hon. member for Shefford.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Vincent Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to tell the House why the government wants to establish a national financial institution for Canada instead of leaving things as they are. What does the government stand to gain from that?

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, what we want is to provide choice for the provinces. They can choose to work together within a common system. Those who want to join in will be able to do so.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, several reasons have led me to take part in this debate on the motion tabled in the House by the hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain, calling on the government to remove two measures contained in the latest budget.

I would first challenge the relevance of this motion, the wording of which is perfectly unintelligible. The budget was passed democratically by this House. Yet the Bloc Québécois—which is never lacking in imagination—is now calling on the House to revisit that debate and remove certain aspects that it believes ill serves Quebec's interests, which it purports to defend tooth and nail, hand on heart.

I do not believe that the Bloc's attitude, as reflected in this motion, serves anyone's interests. Quebecers, like all Canadians, are pleased with the passage of our government's economic action plan. And like all Canadians, they understand all too well how the current economic situation impels the Government of Canada to take strong, targeted measures in response. And that is exactly what we have done.

What is more, we have done so in a spirit of consultation and cooperation. We have consulted extensively with Canadians, governments, municipalities and First Nations. Contacts have been established and meetings have taken place with all governments. The opposition parties have also been a part of that process.

On December 17, the Minister Finance met with his provincial and territorial colleagues in Saskatoon. I would point out that the provinces were informed at that meeting of the changes to the equalization formula. On January 16, our Prime Minister met with the premiers and territorial leaders to reach agreement on measures to stimulate the Canadian economy.

At that meeting, the country's political leaders agreed to work on carrying out a number of those measures with the main objective of strengthening the domestic economy and making new, substantial investments to ensure ongoing access to credit and protect Canadians' pension plans. For workers and job seekers, they agreed to change two aspects of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), thus enhancing labour mobility. On infrastructure, they agreed to take immediate measures to get projects up and running and to fast-track funding for projects starting in the 2009 and 2010 construction season.

The economic action plan tabled by the Minister of Finance reflects the intentions expressed by the premiers and territorial leaders on January 16, notably by making new, substantial investments in the budget to support the economy in the short term and also prepare it for longer-term challenges. Through that budget presented by the Minister of Finance, our government is firmly committed to the path of economic recovery, and we hope that our partners will be as well, in light of the results obtained at the meeting with the premiers and territorial leaders.

That was the spirit in which the budget was designed and prepared. So I am astonished that the motion by the honourable member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain talks about, for example, an unacceptable intrusion into Quebec's fields of jurisdiction, in the case of a national securities commission. What does that mean, exactly?

The budget clearly states that the government will first set up an office to plan the transition towards the new system. In addition, it will consult participating authorities on tabling a securities bill later this year. Moreover, the government is working with willing provinces and territories to establish a more efficient, streamlined system for regulating securities, reflecting regional expertise and interests.

You will note that I referred only to the provinces and territories “willing” to take part in this process. Those that are unwilling will not have to do so, as they are invited on a voluntary basis. And a voluntary basis in no way means an unacceptable intrusion into a field of provincial jurisdiction.

I hasten to point out our Prime Minister's renewed commitment to respect provincial fields of jurisdiction, which has always been a cornerstone of our government's relations with the provinces. So much for the first part of the motion.

The second pertains specifically to equalization. Equalization payments have increased by 56% since 2003-04, and they were already increasing at an unsustainable pace, given the recent volatility of natural resources markets. The government is acting to ensure that increases in equalization payments are more in line with economic growth, so as to ensure the viability of the program and protect the provinces against any overall decrease in equalization payments.

Transfers will continue to increase, at a rate of 6% a year for the Canada health transfer and 3% for the Canada social transfer. Equalization payments will continue to increase at the same pace as the economy. Total assistance to the provinces by the Government of Canada, including for infrastructure, will reach a record $60 billion in 2009-10.

Under this budget, Quebec will continue to receive substantial federal transfers in 2009-10, to the tune of $17.6 billion, up $700 million over last year and roughly $5.2 billion more compared with 2005-06. That longer-term support is increasing. And that means that Quebec has the resources it needs to provide key public services and contribute towards common national objectives, including in the fields of health care, post-secondary education and other key components of Canada's social safety net. With respect to equalization, Quebec will receive over $8.3 billion in 2009-10, an increase of $3.5 billion, or 74%, since 2005-06.

One of the criticisms in this motion regarding the equalization calculation suggests that Quebec would be treated unfairly with respect to Hydro-Québec dividends. The difference is that Hydro-Québec, unlike Hydro One, which is mentioned in the motion, is a corporation that produces hydroelectricity. That is why it is included in the natural resources revenue base.

With respect to the Canada health transfer, Quebec will receive $5.8 billion, $279 million more than it did last year. Quebec's share of the Canada social transfer amounts to $2.5 billion, up by more than $373 million, or 17.4%, since 2005-06.

I could talk at length about the support that the Minister of Finance's budget provides Quebec in other spheres of activity. Quebec will receive $1.9 billion for skills upgrading, $1.9 billion more in employment insurance benefits and $4.5 billion to keep down employment insurance contributions in 2009-10 forecast at the national level.

The province will obtain its fair share of the $4.5 billion. That is a lot.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my hon. colleague from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

The first thing he said was that today's motion seemed odd to him because a budget was passed not too long ago in this House. I would like to point out to the member that the Bloc Québécois was instrumental in getting a budget put before the House.

Let me just say that, when Parliament resumed, all the government tabled was an economic update that offered absolutely nothing. It contained a number of attacks on the unemployed and many on women, but that was about it. On the Bloc Québécois' initiative, a coalition was formed, which forced the government to prorogue Parliament for three weeks, just long enough for the government to put together in a mad rush a budget that had not yet been prepared. Now, they come and tell us that a budget was passed. Ours is the only party that put forward a real budget plan, which was more or less included in the current budget. None of the other parties, whether the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party or the NDP, put one forward. So, do not come and tell us now that, because a budget was passed, we should move on. We are well aware that there is a budget; it is thanks to us that there is one.

It has to be in bad faith that my hon. colleague from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country claimed not to understand why this motion was put forth today. The reason is simple: we introduced this motion to ensure that the Constitution is respected. Provincial law has to be respected, not by choice, but by force of law as written.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, if there is a difference between the Bloc Québécois and the Government of Canada, it is that the Government of Canada hears what Canadians are saying, whereas the Bloc Québécois does not hear the people of Quebec. There were many consultations during the few weeks leading up to the tabling of the budget in this House. That is why we now have a budget that is not a Conservative budget, but a Canadian budget that holds the promise of a healthy future, with a robust economy for all Canadians, for Canadians from Alberta, British Columbia and also Quebec.

That is not surprising, since that is the very reason for the Bloc Québécois's presence in this House. That is why the motion before us is so lacking in credibility. And that is why I call on my fellow members to oppose this motion.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way is from British Columbia, as I am. I know that he will be well aware of many of the scams and frauds that have been perpetrated on the people of British Columbia and across the country out of the Vancouver stock exchange.

I want to ask the member about improvements to the regulatory system. It is not enough, in my view, just to have prescriptive rules when the industry continues to circumvent those rules and continues to develop new products that can be changed faster than any legislative body can change the rules. I believe what we need is not just regulations but effective protection for the investors. We need whistleblower protection for employees in the industry who want to come forward and report unethical practices by some companies and know that they will not suffer retribution. Finally, what we really need is real punishment, some effective methods put in place to ensure that the unethical companies and people in the financial industry, some of whom are unethical, receive punishment for the frauds they perpetrate on the Canadian people.

I ask the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country to respond to those specific issues that I raised.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I admire the member's dedication to her community.

The national regulatory regime brought in with the budget has two aspects to it.

First, having had a career in international law and business, I have seen how hard it is to compete for international investment and international business. Having one regulator which can be understood by foreign business people as well as Canadians is bound to improve ultimately our whole securities system.

Second, consolidating resources at the national level would not, by any means, exclude the ability of provinces to participate in regulating this very--

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. We will have to move on.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Markham--Unionville.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share my time with my colleague from Bourassa.

First of all, this is not the time for making grand declarations and inserting controversial items into the budget. The reason is very simple: Canada is going through an economic crisis. That is perfectly clear.

It has been clear for months that we are in an economic crisis, and even in the last two days this has become clearer. Yesterday the stock market fell to its lowest level in, I believe, five years in Canada and twelve years in the United States. We heard this morning that house prices in the United States over the past year have dropped by a record 18.2%. The housing market in the United States is a critical element in the current crisis.

A Harvard professor has claimed that this recession could lead to bloodshed and civil war. I do not subscribe to that for one moment, but I am making the point that Canadians want their politicians to work together to do what is needed for the Canadian economy, to do what is needed for those who have recently become unemployed, and sadly, to do what is needed for those who will become unemployed as the year progresses.

That is why, notwithstanding immense weaknesses in the budget, we are determined to get it passed as quickly as possible in order that the money will flow for infrastructure projects and other things that will save and create jobs in this country. We are also aware that the government's record in this area is dismal, which is why we have set up a monitoring mechanism.

The general point I am making is that Canadians want us to focus on one thing and one thing only at this moment and that one thing is the state of the economy and measures that the government must take to strengthen that economy.

At the same time, Canadians want their governments to work together. The Conservative government has a lamentable record in breaking promises to provinces, in dividing provinces and behaving unilaterally. At this particular moment, at a time of economic crisis, now more than ever, Canadians want the federal government to work together with provincial governments to focus on the one thing that truly matters to Canadians at this time which is the number of jobs, unemployment and the state of the economy.

It does not help the cause if the federal government raises this very controversial issue of a single regulator, because that clearly creates a major fight among provinces and between certain provinces and the federal government. There are at least three provinces, Manitoba, Quebec and Alberta, which oppose this.

While I personally have historically favoured in the long run the creation of a single regulator for various economic reasons, I would also be the first to acknowledge that it is not an urgent matter. It is ridiculous, for example, to say that it was the lack of a single regulator that caused Canada's economic crisis, because both the United States and the United Kingdom have a single regulator and both of those countries have done far worse than Canada in terms of this economic crisis. As I said earlier, I do not think now is the time to move on this highly controversial measure when the priority has to be for governments to work together for the common good for the state of the economy. I would, however, add a comment for my Quebec colleagues.

My colleagues from Quebec who do not like this idea should remember two things: first, it is entirely voluntary, and second, this bill will not create a regulator. To do that, another bill will be needed in three years from now maybe, when hopefully we will have a new Liberal government. All that this bill does is initiate a process that might lead to another bill that would create a regulator. It is not all that important, therefore, because it is not the final word on the matter.

The Liberal Party also believes that any changes must comply with the Constitution. Many witnesses have told us that another part of the budget dealing with collective bargaining agreements is unconstitutional. In this case as well, we think the government should refer the matter to the Supreme Court to ensure that what they propose to do is, in fact, constitutional.

I am going to read a summary of the Liberal Party’s position on this issue: the Liberal Party is committed to studying the possibility of creating a national securities regulator in cooperation with the provinces and in compliance with the Constitution in order to improve the coordination and regulation of the market while making it possible to meet the needs of particular regions.

This is a balanced position. In view of the extremely precarious state of the economy, I do not think it is at all necessary to support the Bloc’s proposal. Maybe I should have said it a little earlier, but the Liberal Party will vote against this motion.

In regard to the second issue, equalization, we see once again just how badly the government has handled provincial relations. We well remember Mr. Flaherty’s famous statement at the time of the 2007 budget—

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member used the proper name of the finance minister. I ask him to use his title or the name of his riding.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I spoke his name and am sorry for that.

In tabling his 2007 budget, the Minister of Finance said, “The long, tiring, unproductive era of bickering between the provincial and federal governments is over”.

Well that was then and after that budget it seems that the Prime Minister launched into the longest, most tiring and most unproductive era of bickering that we have seen in the history of federal-provincial relations in this country. Not only did he break his promise on the Atlantic accord, not only did he suddenly rewrite the equalization formula, thereby affecting negatively a number of provinces, certainly including Quebec, but he also broke his promise to Saskatchewan. The number of provinces subject to broken promises from the government since that famous statement is I am sure greater than the number of provinces which have not been subject to broken promises by the government. The question of equalization is one of a long list of broken promises by the government in the area of federal-provincial relations.

I conclude by saying that a Liberal government under the current Leader of the Opposition would attach enormous importance to federal-provincial relations in which promises are kept, in which cooperation and fairness are the order of the day, and in which all relations are conducted with a shared respect that is essential if we are to run a successful federation. At no time is that shared respect in running a successful federation more important than at the time of economic crisis in which we find ourselves today.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, the member for Markham—Unionville, whose speech was brilliant, as is usually the case. He is one of the people I am happiest to see rise in the House to ask questions, other than the people in our party of course, because his questions are always brilliant, intelligent, right on the mark and well put.

That said, my colleague has just talked to us about the major economic crisis hitting Canada and the world as a whole. I think he is quite familiar with this subject. If I am not mistaken, he is an economist and has worked for the banks in the past. So he is very familiar with the situation. Personally, I think this economic crisis is going to be far more serious than is being forecast, and far more serious than it is at the moment. That is my own opinion. I am not an economist, I am a carpenter, but I can tell when things are level and square. At the moment, the economy is neither level nor square anywhere in the world and for a number of specific reasons.

The basic reason lies at the very foundation of the economy. As we know, what underlies today's economies are the broad theories of Adam Smith—production, work and consumption. And it is not working anymore. It is impossible to keep on consuming, producing and polluting indefinitely. Economic theory itself is going to have to be revised.

I think my colleague could discuss that. Every day, however, he rises, intelligent man that he is, to criticize the budget of our friends the Conservatives, opposite. However, at every opportunity, he rises and votes with them. How can such a brilliant man do something like that?

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from the Bloc for his very kind and even brilliant words. I especially liked the first part of his remarks.

I agree with him. Traditional economic theory is being questioned today. In a way, everyone has become Keynesian. Governments around the world are having to spend now simply because the private sector is not spending because it lacks the funds. It lacks the confidence as well. So the situation is serious.

As to my colleague's question, given that we agree on the economic situation, I think he would agree that there is some urgency to supporting the economy. Our options are simple. Either we support the budget in order to get this money as quickly as possible to people who are unemployed or might be or we reject the budget and by doing so precipitate an election and several months' delay at least before we can support the economy. Given the current economic situation, we think the first option is the responsible one, even though we have many reservations because of the budget's many weaknesses.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member. In the 39th Parliament, we were colleagues on the finance committee. I can recall when we started together. It was a very positive experience. The member for Markham—Unionville certainly thought there could be a productive session. It was a minority government and I thought we started off very well together. Since that time I have noticed he has taken his critic's role very seriously, specifically the word “critic”.

There is an opportunity during the 40th Parliament, during the passing of the budget, for us to take maybe a leap of faith to work together to ensure that we pass the budget that is before the House now.

I would simply ask the member, and give him the opportunity not to take on the role of being the critic, and I understand he does a very good job of that, but to actually take a couple of moments to say something positive to the House, positive in the outcome of what we will do here and which will mean something to the people of the country in terms of the economy. I challenge him and ask him to do that.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member seems to forget how lucky he is. We are supporting the budget. We are working to get the budget through as quickly as possible. I do not know what else he could ask for. If he wants us to praise the government for its totally untrustworthy relations with the provinces, for its failure to get money out the door, for many of its broken promises on income trusts, its incompetence on interest deductibility, and I could go on--

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. Resuming debate. The hon. member for Bourassa.