Mr. Speaker, I will follow on the comments that were just made in the House. In regard to Bill C-10, they were quite appropriate. However, the reality is that there will be no shipbuilding industry left if the Liberal Party does not stand up for shipbuilding when the carbon amendment comes before this House in the next few days. I certainly hope they will, and the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour has indicated that he is considering it, which is very important. We are making some progress.
Where we are not making progress is on Bill C-10.
What we have seen over the past 20 years is a slow and profound crisis in this country. Family income over the past 20 years has been steadily declining. That is even before the very sharp and acute crisis that we have all felt over the past six months and what Canadians have been living through.
Most Canadian families have been living through a slow and prolonged decline in the resources they have to feed their families, to keep a roof over their heads, to do all the things that Canadian families feel strongly about doing and all the things they hold dear.
Under both the Liberals and the Conservatives, we have seen a steady decline in the quality of life and income over the past 20 years. This comes at a time when Canadians are working harder than ever. It is up over one-third during that period but the lowest income Canadians have seen a catastrophic fall in income. On average, they have lost about a month and a half of real wages every year since 1989, which was the year of the implementation of NAFTA. Working class families have lost about two weeks of income per year over the last 20 years. We would find it hard to live on two weeks less of income than what we had 20 years ago. Middle class families have lost about one week.
In short, we have seen a slow and steady economic catastrophe developing and the last six months has put that even more clearly in the public eye. Over the past six months we have seen the collapse of many of our economic sectors, such as the softwood lumber sector, which started with the softwood lumber sellout that cost tens of thousands of jobs across this country, and we continue to pay. We saw with the arbitration last week that it was inevitable under a softwood lumber agreement that the anti-circumvention clause prohibits any sort of support for softwood lumber and the industry. We have seen Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba all having to cough up money.
Two years ago, the NDP said that was exactly what would happen but, unfortunately, Liberal and Bloc members refused to heed what we told them. They ended up voting for a softwood lumber sellout and the result has been a catastrophe.
It is a catastrophe that has hit Quebeckers particularly hard. The people whom the Bloc say they are supporting are those who are losing their jobs and whose communities are having to absorb tens of millions of dollars in penalties because of the softwood lumber agreement.
This catastrophe in an industrial sector could have been avoided if the other parties had studied the agreement more closely.
It is not just softwood and shipbuilding. We are now operating at one-third capacity and that one-third capacity will be killed off under EFTA. We are seeing in the automobile sector that our exports are falling by about a third. It is catastrophic. It is tens of billions of dollars every month in lower exports. In the manufacturing industries we are looking at about a quarter of a million lost jobs over the course of the last few months alone.
We are seeing, in short, a catastrophic and sharp economic crisis that brings to bear a focus on what has happened over the last 20 years. What is the remedy? The Conservatives, with Liberal support, are bringing forward a budget that does not deal with any of those realities. There is no industrial plan or sector-by-sector strategy being brought in.
Essentially, the Conservatives want a $3 billion slush fund to use for whatever political objectives they may have. At the same time, they want to tie any other funding to investments that are first made by municipalities, cash-strapped cities and hard-hit province, so taxpayers at those other levels of government have to cough up first before there is any relief from the federal government.
It is hard to say that this is an economic stimulus package when it is tied funding and there is a slush fund of $3 billion set aside, we fear, for political means. We have been asking for transparency around that money.
My colleague, the member for Outremont, has been calling for that in committee and here in the House. So has the NDP leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth. Yet, the Conservatives refuse any sort of transparency or clarity around the money that they intend to spend. They basically want a blank cheque from Parliament to use that money however they see fit. We saw from the sponsorship scandal that that is not a good idea.
What is in Bill C-10? If it does not deal fundamentally with the economic stimulus and the industrial strategies that we need, what is in Bill C-10? Members in this corner of the House have been saying very clearly what is in it. This is an ideological attack on many principles that the Conservatives have wanted to attack for some time.
Now, because they have a functional majority, since the Liberal Party has given up any sort of opposition role, they are making those attacks. They are attacking collective agreements and not only collective agreements in the public sector but public sector agreements that affect hard-working RCMP officers, stopping them from fairly-negotiated wage increases. All public sector workers and public servants who have been working very hard with less and less over the past few years are stymied. Bill C-10 is effectively an attack on collective agreements.
Bill C-10 attacks students. It treats them very harshly. This is the same government that believes that corporate tax cuts should be shovelled off the back of a truck. However, in this particular case what they want to attack are students who, through no fault of their own, because of a complete lack of support for post-secondary education that we saw develop under the Liberals and continued under the Conservatives, may end up with tens of thousands of dollars of student debt. Instead of the government providing some measure of debt relief, it is treating those student debtors even more harshly.
Bill C-10 allows, basically, for the fire sale of Canadian assets and businesses to go full rein. It is lessening any remaining remnants of foreign ownership qualifications. There actually is a vetting when there are takeovers of Canadian companies. Now they are opening up whole sectors that used to be considered Canadian because it was in the public and Canadian interest to do so. Bill C-10 ideologically attacks that provision for some vetting when Canadian companies are taken over and sold offshore.
We have seen over the past few years company after company purchased at fire sale prices. Canadian companies were bought up because of lax foreign ownership rules. In fact, of the foreign investment that has come into Canada, it is estimated 97% of it goes for takeovers, not for new investment or job creation but a simple takeover of what exists now.
Bill C-10 enhances that fire sale of Canada. So much for standing up for Canada. Conservatives are selling out Canada. We have seen it with the softwood lumber sellout, the shipbuilding sellout, the NAFTA amendments they are bringing forward with the relaxed foreign ownership provisions, so any Canadian company can be a target. The government will simply not stand up for Canadians.
I want to talk about environment assessments. Canadians feel very strongly about protecting our quality of the environment, our quality of life. Yet, Bill C-10 essentially strips environmental assessments from a whole range of projects. That is not in the public interest. No Canadian asked for that. In fact, if the Conservatives had promised that in the election campaign, there would be a lot fewer of them on the other side of the House. However, that is indeed what they are doing because the Liberals are giving them a functional majority with the new Liberal-Conservative coalition.
My colleague from Outremont called it the Conservative-Liberal Alliance party yesterday in the House. We remember the acronym that existed with the Conservative-Reform Alliance party, CRAP. It did not last very long. That was changed. Now we have a new one. Like the member for Outremont said so well, the acronym actually refers to venereal disease. Perhaps the budget is just as painful in its impact on Canadians.
Perhaps the worst aspect of the budget bill, the most ideologically meanspirited attack that we see in Bill C-10, is the attack on the fundamental human right to pay equity. It is simply unbelievable that the Conservatives would try to pretend that in some way, in some Orwellian twist of phrase, they are trying to save pay equity by killing it.
They have stood in the House and tried to confuse Canadians, and have pretended that in some way this is somewhat similar to something that other administrations have brought forward. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a full-fronted attack on pay equity. It eliminates pay equity. It does not in any way protect pay equity or provide recourse for pay equity.
Paul Durber, who is the former director for pay equity for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, said very clearly in his letter just a few days ago that he could not imagine any party in the House knowingly adopting a measure that would contradict such a fundamental value as the equality provision of section 15 of the charter.
It is very clear that this is an attack on pay equity. This kills pay equity. So much for a so-called economic stimulus budget. This kills a fundamental principle of Canadian law and the Liberals are well aware of it. They have said with crocodile tears that somehow they feel that those provisions on pay equity are unfair, but each and every one of them is voting for these provisions that kill pay equity. Canadians will not forgive that incredible shortsightedness and hypocrisy.
Pay equity is being killed and a whole range of other, meanspirited, right-wing, ideological measures are being proposed in the budget. The budget is not one of economic stimulus. The budget is not one that helps Canadians. The budget does absolutely nothing to help the increasing number of Canadians who become unemployed. Not a single, additional person will have access to employment insurance as a result of the budget at a time when tens of thousands of jobs are hemorrhaging out of this country, tens of thousands of people and families are losing their breadwinner.
Yet, not a single new person can claim employment insurance than those who qualified prior to the budget. There is no change to the harsh qualifications that legally the government cannot put in place, but under the budget we are in this Orwellian world where the government now redefines what its legal responsibilities are and redefines employment insurance in a way that half the workers who become unemployed will not be able to access it.
Canadians are not fooled by those few who qualify getting a few extra weeks at the end. They are not fooled by that because they know that in their communities people are losing their jobs as Canadian industries shut down one after the other, after 20 years of completely foolish and irresponsible economic policies from the economic illiteracy twins of the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party putting Canadian industry and manufacturing at risk with catastrophic implications today.
As their neighbours, friends and families lose their jobs, Canadians are not fooled by the fact that there are a few weeks at the end of employment insurance for those who qualify. They are concerned and the reason why they are coming to constituency offices across the country is because they know now that they do not qualify.
This is a meanspirited budget, not a budget that addresses the crisis that we are living in. It is an ideological attack on Canadians and for that reason, New Democrats are voting against this budget.