Mr. Speaker, I was just bringing my point home when my hon. colleague rose. He seems rather impatient, so perhaps he should just sit back and listen to a few more facts. It will all come home.
Vito Gallo has decided to hit Canadian taxpayers for $355 million, which is a staggering amount. One would think the Government of Canada would stand up against such a spurious claim. However, in his statement of claim against the people of Canada, Mr. Gallo has a quote by the federal finance minister who supports his claim against the people of Canada. The minister made the statement when he was running for the leadership of the provincial party and getting direct financial commitments and investments from this same group of investors.
I will go back to what I said at the beginning of my remarks on this. The government is all about who it knows. A man, who nobody has ever heard of, wants to hit Canadians for $355 million. Vito “mysterious” Gallo is now taking claim for a company that was obviously tied to Canadian investors with the Conservative Party of Canada. I do not think he would ever have the nerve to hit on Canadian taxpayers unless he knew he had a lot of good friends. A lot of them hang out at the same Hollywood restaurant that was writing the cheques in an attempt to buy the land.
I will get back to the bigger picture of a government that is based on entitlement and on reckless spending for ideological purposes.
Yesterday, the member for Crowfoot, who was shouting and heckling from the backbenches, was denouncing the concept of an obligation on the part of government to have a national housing plan for seniors. He asked if we wanted the government to buy every citizen a car as well. Senior citizens in rural Timiskaming cannot afford to heat their homes. People living in old farmhouses heat with oil. I received a letter this morning from a woman in Matachewan who has to pay $70 this month in HST for her home heating.
The government has nothing to say to those people. It is not interested in them. It is only interested in big prison contractors. It will blow $10 billion on big prison contractors. Can anyone imagine what $10 billion would do if it were invested by a responsible government? We could put some of that money into our health care system to help people in small communities who are dealing with locums because they have no local doctor. We could put some of that money into a national seniors housing plan, which Conservative backbenchers have denounced as socialism, but it is something we have done in the past and we know that it works.
Crime rates are not going up. What is going up is the number of seniors living in poverty.
For about half of the $1 billion the Conservatives blew on the 24 hour binge in Muskoka, we could have improved the guaranteed income supplement to get every senior citizen out of poverty. That would take $600 million. That is less than any of the prison extensions that the government is going to do. Every senior citizen in this country would have been taken out of poverty with $600 million. However, the government does not have the money for that because it is not a priority.
What were the priorities of the government? It spent $300,000 for bug spray for a 24 hour lark that went to the pork-barrel king's riding of Muskoka. What can anyone do with $300,000 worth of bug spray? I want to know where all that bug spray is. I am sure we could stop malaria in a mid-sized African country with $300,000 worth of bug spray. However, the government blew that amount of money for a 24 hour lark in Muskoka. I imagine there is probably a warehouse full of bug spray somewhere in the PMO that the Conservatives might give out at their fundraisers. This was a priority for the government. It is staggering.
While the Conservatives were nickel and diming our veterans and trolling through their personal financial records, they were at the same time signing a $17 billion single source contract for stealth fighter jets to fight the last Cold War. The best they could come up with was a statement that some of those Russians and those rusty old migs were flying 4,000 miles north of us and that it had to spend $17 billion on fighter jets. It will spend $17 billion on fighter jets and $10 billion on prisons. It will spend $27 billion on two ideological vanity projects. It is absolutely staggering.
Of course, we know what is coming next. The government blew through $13 billion worth of surplus like drunken sailors. It went through massive corporate tax cuts. It knew that we would be in deficit before it even started the stimulus spending. Now it is out blowing the money on prisons, fighter jets, and putting little bum warmers in hockey arenas in Muskoka. It has spent the money on every possible thing it could, except on a national plan to improve this country.
Now the government is going to turn around and say, “The cupboard is bare. Now we have to start cutting. Now we have to start trashing the civil service. Now we have to cut down on the few federal programs that still remain to help people”.
It is reckless, it is ideological, and it is a poisonous way of doing politics, because any civil servant who stood up to the government has had his or her personality trashed and undermined. Very credible international diplomatic people such as Richard Colvin, who had the nerve to stand up, were trashed. The government lied about our chief statistician. He had to resign in order to restore credibility to the office of the chief statistician. This is a government that is based on recklessness, on an ideological pursuit of whatever bizarre agenda is over there.
When we get back to the issue of the budget, it is about making priorities. Rather than spending $27 billion on vanity projects for the defence minister and for the security minister who is running after phantom criminals that they cannot find, we need a national broadband strategy linking all of rural Canada, because we are starting to fall massively far behind. We are looking at 1.5 megabits per second as a standard for rural Canada, if we even get to that, when in Australia they are going to gigabyte capacity. All across Asia they are going to gigabyte capacity, and the government thinks we are going to be able to compete when it is severing off rural Canada. Instead of money on prisons and fighter jets, we need a national broadband strategy.
We need to invest in pension protection. The government said it had thousands of complaints against the long form census, but then when it was asked to produce them, it could not find any, so it said, “We had one complaint. If one complaint is enough, that is good enough for us”. Meanwhile it had tens of thousands of complaints, begging, families from Nortel, families from Abitibi. It did not have time for them and it still does not have time for them. It has no interest at all in pension protection in this country, but that is what a credible government would do at this time. A credible government would say that we need a national overhaul of our pension plan and to improve the guaranteed income supplement so that our seniors come out of poverty. We need to protect the pensions of companies facing bankruptcy, such as Nortel and Abitibi, and find a way so that for the workers of today, the many hundreds of thousands of people who have no chance of paying into a pension, we have a system in place.
That would be a budget plan of a forward-looking government, instead of supporting blindly the pillaging of the tar sands. There is nothing wrong with the development of the tar sands, but what we are seeing is the way they are being developed, the amount of money that is being put in to cover the basic costs of what industry should be covering.