Mr. Speaker, it is worth bearing in mind the reasons that we now have, and we will see if they applaud this part, the highest deficit in the history of Canada. I do not hear any applause; I was just checking. They broke the previous Conservative record for the highest deficit in the history of Canada. I am waiting for the applause; it is not there.
How did we get there? It is because of some of the things in this budget bill.
For example, after the Liberals stole $50 billion from the employment insurance account, transferred it over into general revenue and made that money disappear so it would not be there when the workers needed it when the grave crisis hit in the fall of 2008, the Conservatives in this budget bill, now that the money is gone, are just putting double locks on the door.
Let us look at that, because a lot of people when they hear that will say, “What does it really matter? It was government money before; it was in the EI account. Who cares if Paul Martin and his gang of merry men transferred it over to general revenue? We cannot really say that was stealing money. It was all government money before and it is still government money now”. But there is a big difference.
The money that was put into the employment insurance account was put in by every single company and by every single worker. Why is that important? Since the Conservatives arrived, they have been destabilizing the erstwhile balanced economy that we had in this country, that we had built up with painstaking work since the second world war: a strong primary sector with timber and mining, and a strong secondary transformation manufacturing sector, and of course more and more, an important service sector in this country.
When I say they have tilted it, they have skewed that formerly balanced economy, what they have done is this. They have created the fiscal space to hand over $60 billion in tax decreases to Canada's wealthiest corporations. The argument on the other side often comes back that it is not just to the wealthiest corporations, that all corporations got those tax reductions.
That is a false argument. If a company, especially in mining, forestry or manufacturing, in those areas was not making a profit, of course it did not pay any taxes. If it was losing money and it did not pay taxes. How could it profit from a reduction in taxes? It did not.
Who got the money? Companies like Encana, those that are piling up the poison goo behind the world's longest dikes near the tar sands.
Let us look at what is happening in Europe right now with one dike holding back the poison from one aluminum factory, maybe one one-thousandth the volume of what is behind the longest dikes in the world at the tar sands. Imagine what is going to happen inevitably the day they break, because we have never internalized the cost of the tar sands. As they have their phenomenal profits the reduction in taxes goes to them as more windfall. Hundreds of millions of dollars go to just one company like Encana since these tax reductions have come into place.
How does that connect with the employment insurance account? Easy. Every company, whether it was losing money or making money, was paying into the EI account. That money was brought into general revenue to create the fiscal room to accord those tax reductions for the richest companies. In effect, that money of the workers in those companies that were losing money in manufacturing in Quebec and Ontario in particular, was being paid over to the people in the tar sands and to Canada's chartered banks. That is what the Conservatives' policy has been all about.
Look at the chartered banks with $15 billion in profits for the first nine months of this year, but we should not worry as they are planning to share it with each other. They are going to give themselves $7.5 billion in executive bonuses for the first nine months of this year. You heard that right, Mr. Speaker. That is what the Canadian banks are doing. The government continues to sit on its hands and wants to give them further tax reductions.
Now, every time we hear the Liberals with their new-found conviction that these tax reductions are a bad idea, we should remind the Liberals that they have voted every step of the way for the $60 billion in tax reductions for Canada's richest corporations.
We should remind the Liberals that they voted on the last budget to scrap the Navigable Waters Protection Act. They voted with the Conservatives to remove a woman's right to equal pay for work of equal value. I know that sounds surprising, but that is what the Conservatives put in the prior budget bill. At that time the Liberals actually stood up and voted with them as the Conservatives were scrapping the environmental assessment program and policies and practices in Canada that were competent, that existed. It is a little different this time. The Liberals are doing the snake walk toward the back of the room and they are hiding behind the curtains. They do not even have the courage anymore to say they are backing the Conservatives. They simply absent themselves in sufficiently large numbers to allow the Conservatives' budgets to pass.
The effect of all of this has been to produce the greatest budgetary deficit in Canadian history because when the incredible crisis hit in the fall of 2008, the cupboard was bare with regard to employment insurance. The NDP was there, thank goodness, in the summer of 2009 to demand that the government increase the money available for EI and we got over $1 billion of that added to what was there. My colleague from Acadie—Bathurst in New Brunswick worked so hard on that file. The leader of the NDP had meetings with the Prime Minister to make sure that the money was there in the toughest times for workers.
Now we are looking at the perfecting of what the Liberals put in place in terms of robbing the employment insurance account. It was a bit rich a couple of weeks ago to hear the Prime Minister accuse the Liberals of having emptied the EI account. All we have to do is read what is in Bill C-47 to realize that now that the Conservatives have taken the money out and closed the door, they are locking the door. They are perfecting the theft that was indeed perpetrated by the Liberals, but the Conservatives are the ones who are completing the job.
There is no way for the Conservatives to avoid that any more than the Conservatives can hide from the HST, the new sales tax that is being added. There are seniors in places like Timmins and Sudbury right now who are realizing that they are going to pay $50, $70 or $80 a month more, stretched out over the whole year, for their heating. What the Conservatives do not understand is that when people are on a fixed income, they do not have another $80 a month. Yet the Conservative government here in Ottawa with the McGuinty Liberals in Toronto are foisting that tax increase on our poor seniors, especially in the northern areas who are going to pay it as heating oil prices go up as this new tax comes into force.
That is one of the reasons the NDP is proposing that we remove those taxes immediately.
It is also one of the reasons that we look at what the government is doing. It has money for the military. It has tens of billions for military equipment, but it does not have a penny for seniors.
To govern is to establish priorities. The Conservatives have been clear in their priorities. Take care of the banks. Take care of the oil companies. Do not internalize the costs of the tar sands. Let them sell oil artificially low, bringing in an artificially high number of U.S. dollars, pushing our Canadian dollar ever higher and making it increasingly difficult, with the high Canadian dollar, to export our goods, setting up a vicious circle of job losses, especially in the industrial heartland of Ontario and Quebec.
Before the current crisis hit in the fall of 2008, according to Statistics Canada, we had already bled off 300,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector, in those provinces in particular. How did that happen? The policy of allowing the blind, unlimited, uncontrolled, and environmentally dangerous exploitation of the tar sands brought in a large influx of U.S. dollars and pushed the Canadian dollar ever higher. Not only was the government giving them the tax breaks out of the money that had been put aside by those manufacturing firms, it was killing them as it continued to apply those policies.
As for the internalization of costs of the tar sands, it is a simple proposition. It is one of the basic tenets of sustainable development. If someone said that he or she had a factory that was producing widgets for a price far lower than that of other companies, people would want to visit the factory and see why they were doing so well. They would notice that they were pushing a lot of stuff out the back door. They would want to see what they were up to. But the owners would keep putting them off. In this case, people pushed and went to the back door, and they realized that the owners were taking all the garbage from their factory and putting it into the river in the back. They found that this was not the real price of the widgets, because the owners had not been paying the normal cost for disposal of the waste from the factory.
That is exactly what we are doing with the tar sands. We are bequeathing to future generations a $60-billion debt for next year, and, at the same time, we are bequeathing them the obligation to clean up the mess from the tar sands, which is one of the principal causes of the destabilization of our economy.
Do not get me wrong. Anyone who has looked at the economics realizes that, long-term, the tar sands can and will be one of the sources of wealth in this country. If exploited correctly, in a manner that is environmentally, economically, and socially responsible, according to the principles of sustainable develpment, the tar sands can be a source of wealth.
However, what we are doing now is the antithesis of sustainable development. We are behaving like a third world country. We are exploiting the tar sands too rapidly. The Americans have asked us to put in too many pipelines too fast, pipelines with names like Trailbreaker and Southern Lights. These are the pipelines that are being put in. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the application of the proportionality rule means that we could not even reduce what we are sending to the Americans through these new pipelines, unless we reduce proportionally the same amount that we are getting from them.
Therefore we continue this unbridled exploitation of the tar sands, but we have never internalized the costs. We have never paid for the garbage we are putting out there, either in greenhouse gas emissions or in what is being held behind those dikes, namely, seas of unimaginable and unnameable poison. This is not being taken care of.
If we had at least said, “From now on, you are going to develop the tar sands, paying the full cost, so that you do not leave it all on the backs of future generations”, it would have been sustainable. But we are not doing that. We are leaving it to future generations. We are skewing the balanced economy by killing off the manufacturing sector, because of the high dollar, which is directly related to this policy of the Conservative government.
Bill C-47 is to a large extent a reflection of the Conservative government's tendency to make sure that the military, the oil companies, and the banks are taken care of first and foremost. Meanwhile, seniors are left in the lurch, with new taxes on their heating oil. The government is betraying its essential nature. It is not there for Canadians. It is not there for people. It is there for the institutions, the powerful ones that put it in power and want it to stay there.
That is a difference in policy. That is a difference in priority. But at least it is clear. What is not clear is why members of the Bloc say they are against it, but will vote for it. What is not clear is why the Liberals talk against the tax decreases for the richest corporations when we know that they voted for them every step of the way. It was a shocker to a lot of people in environmental groups to see the Liberals vote with the Conservatives to scrap the Navigable Waters Protection Act, a century-old piece of legislation that was a model of sustainable development and way ahead of its time.
This year the Conservatives are scrapping the process of environmental assessment in Canada. The Conservatives would never get away with it unless the Liberals were complicit. How are the Liberals complicit? They take enough of their people behind the curtains at every vote on the budget to assure that it is passed.
The most disturbing departure from wise social policy is their removal of a woman's right to equal pay for work of equal value, something that has always been considered a tenet in our society. The Conservatives provided steep fines for any union that would defend a woman's right to equal pay for work of equal value, and the Liberals voted with them.
I am trying to find a synonym, because there are limits to what we can say in Parliament, to describe what the Liberals did when they voted to remove a woman's right to equal pay for work of equal value. This is contrary to what they say they represent, but they could have voted against it, preserving this important right.
Soon thereafter, the Liberals presented a private member's bill that is so far down the list it has no chance of ever being adopted. Here we have an example of speaking out of both sides of the mouth. The Liberals vote with the Conservatives to remove a woman's right to pay equity, to equal pay for work of equal value. Then, when they get caught, they table a private member's bill that they point to as proof of their support for pay equity. When it counted, when they could actually have done something about it, they were not there. But when it comes to presenting a private member's bill that will produce no effect, because it will never be adopted, they are there to position themselves.
That is what the Liberals have always been about in this country, positioning themselves. They have a leader whose writings were the source of consolation for the George Bush White House on the use of torture. They termed it “enhanced interrogation techniques”. What came out of George Bush's mouth a couple of weeks later? Enhanced interrogation techniques. Who gave him that terminology? The illustrious professor from Harvard who is now the head of the Liberal Party of Canada. He is the same person. He is not somebody else with the same name. He is the same guy who wrote in the New York Times that Canadians were a bunch of wusses for not getting involved in this great war that they were planning in Iraq.
That is the Liberal Party. The Liberals are always positioning themselves and posing as people who believe, as their name would tend to suggest, in liberty, in liberalism, in a vision of openness, but every time it counts, they vote with the Conservatives to take away the rights of citizens, to decrease the taxes of the richest corporations.
What it comes down to is that every time the Liberals had an opportunity to do something real to stand up for rights and preserve the balanced economy we had built up since the Second World War, they were absent, or even worse, they voted with the Conservatives.
More recently, they have adopted the clever trick of taking turns hiding behind the curtains. We see this, for example, every time a bill is brought forward to prevent the use of scabs in labour relations. Those on the extreme right wing of the Liberals—always the same ones—rise and vote against social legislation to prevent the use of strikebreakers. That is the sad reality of the Liberal Party these days. It is a good thing that as we see the right wing crumbling in Quebec, the right wing is crumbling in the Liberal Party, and the only social democratic party in Canada, the New Democratic Party, is still here to speak for the people, to talk about social, economic and environmental equity.