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House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-47 today, which, once again, is one of the budget implementation bills that we are dealing with before this House.

I have heard a lot of good speeches here today on this particular bill, and a lot of good speeches from the Liberal members as well. However, at the end of the day, the viewing public should know that the Liberal members, regardless of their criticism of this bill, the budget itself or in fact the government, will make certain that enough of their members are not here so that the government does survive. The Liberals have been doing this for the last couple of years, keeping the government in place.

It is great to hear some of the criticisms of the members but the reality is that when it comes time to actually stand up and vote in the House, the Liberals have not had enough of their members consistently here to vote and cause the government to fall.

Regarding Bill C-47, there are a number of implementation issues that are involved with this particular bill. I could get into them one by one, and I am sure there would be very interesting explanations, but I do want to give special attention to one or two items.

One of the big concerns I have coming out of this budget is the increase in the air travellers' security charge by 50%. Up until now, the air travellers' security charge was the second highest in the world, next to Holland. Now, with the 50% raise in the budget, Canada would be the highest taxed in the world for this particular tax.

It only stands to reason that if we are highest taxed in the world, there will be some resistance to that. I will get into what sort of resistance we are finding on the part of the consumers in Canada in a minute. I did want to state that the revenues collected through the tax over the last five years have exceeded the amount spent on security.

Over the last five years, the government has collected $3.3 billion on the taxes, and I think the public would understand if in fact it were spending the same $3.3 billion on airport security. However, that would not be true. The government is only spending $1.5 billion on security. Why would the government increase the tax by 50% when it is only spending a fraction of what it is currently collecting on security in the first place?

What is the result of this move on the part of the government? The result is that the government is turning out to be the best friend of the United States airline industry. We now have information that 50,000 Manitobans are streaming to Grand Forks to fly with United States carriers. I can assure members that 50,000 people are a lot of people.

A very recent article in the Winnipeg Sun detailed what was happening. I have been aware for probably two years now of people driving down to Grand Forks to take flights to Las Vegas and other places. They are finding that the airlines there are able to provide the service for a much lower price.

I have an example for a January 9 flight, a flight that has not even happened yet. The members can simply go out and check their computer and they will find, if there are any seats left, that they can fly from Grand Forks, North Dakota to Los Angeles on January 9, 2011 for $95.98. That is not just the airfare, because the common lead-in with airlines is to give us the low price and then whack us with the taxes. The air fare is $69.99 and the taxes are $25.69, for a total of $95.68.

The equivalent WestJet flight out of Winnipeg is $258 for the ticket and $83 for the taxes, for a total of $341. We can see that is a savings of over $200. If we multiply that for a family of four, we are talking about a significant amount of money. All people need to do is drive the extra two hours to the United States, park their car and fly to Las Vegas or, in this case, Los Angeles.

We are losing business to these carriers and we have a combination of reasons why that is. The strong dollar is certainly an issue here, but we have the issue of the increase in the air tax. Why we do this when we know our tourism is faltering?

We have a Conservative member here who has a bill dealing with a national hunting day. One of the reasons he presented that bill, which, by the way, I hope will get unanimous support in Parliament, is that the tourist operators were complaining. They are suffering. There have been reports of tourist camps that are practically going out of business after being in operation for many years, going through several generations of one family. Now they are having to close their doors because their traffic has dropped off considerably. This is as a result of, once again, the strong dollar, but also the taxation question on the air fares and the issue of passport charges.

This past summer, I happened to be at the Midwestern Legislative Conference. All of the American states are members of various conferences but this conference involves 11 legislatures from midwest states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin; and three Canadian provinces, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan. I think Barack Obama was one of the delegates to this conference. I have been there probably six years now and in the first year or two, he was one of the delegates.

This group of legislators, composed of Republicans and Democrats, discuss and pass resolutions at their conventions. I was lucky enough to get a resolution passed this year dealing with a reduction in passport fees. We literally had it unanimously passed. As a matter of fact, one of the Liberal Party MPPs from Ontario was the seconder of the resolution at the U.S.-Canada committee of the conference.

When this resolution was introduced and it went through the committee of the conference, it received instant acceptance. It was the one issue of ten or eleven issues that they discussed in the committee that took up about half the time of the committee, with literally everyone there wanting to speak in favour of this resolution. We had legislators from the United States saying what an aggravation it was to have to go through the passport process and pay upwards of $500 for a family of four to be able to come to the conference. These are the legislators saying this. Can we imagine what the average citizen of the United States and Canada would have to say about this?

Through the security provisions that have come about since 9/11, we have continued to fortify the border and solidify the security around the border. Some would argue that it is questionable as to how more secure the border is as a result, but we certainly spent a lot of money doing this.

In a way, however, we have actually harmed ourselves because, when the Americans established the rule that their citizens needed a passport to get back into their country, they cut a lot of activity along the border. When I talk to the border legislators, whether they be Republicans or Democrats, they are of one mind on this. They accept that the bad guys do not stand at the border to try to get through legitimately. The bad buys simply smuggle whatever they are going to smuggle by going around the border, thereby thwarting these increases.

A politician in South Dakota or North Dakota is getting complaints from constituents about the border issue and about not getting enough tourists doing business in their country. On top of that, on the Canadian side of the border we are getting the same complaints about businesses not getting support from Americans. Americans used to come to Canada regularly for many years and now they are not doing it. The dollar has been strong before. During the Diefenbaker years, the dollar was as high as it is right now.

It is a combination of elements that have come together and conspired to make life very difficult for tourism in this country. Rather than coming to grips with the issue and trying to deal with it, the government is throwing roadblocks in the way. Why would there be a problem with 11 American states, Democrats and Republicans who do not normally get along that well with one another on many issues, getting together in conference and passing a unanimous resolution? Coupled with that, there are Canadians from three provinces, Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats, all agreeing unanimously to call on the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States to do something about this.

This was in August. What has happened with this issue? Why would the Prime Minister not take a moment from his many important international trips and conferences to look at this file and pick up the phone and call Barack Obama? Both of them have received this letter from the legislators conference. It is tantamount to getting a letter from the premiers conference in Canada. I am sure when the Prime Minister gets a letter from the premiers conference in Canada, he does not ignore it. I am sure his office responds to it and tries to deal with the issue.

We have all of these legislators showing interest and passing the resolution. The question is why the Conservatives have not done something at this point to encourage the Americans to pull back on this issue. If they have not done it by now, when will they do something?

Many ideas came out of the conference, and it will be up to the governments to come up with whatever the solution might be, but one of the ideas that has been talked about is a two-for-one passport renewal process or two-for-one passport applications in a limited time. The idea is to get the number of passports up. Only about half of Canadians have passports, but only a quarter of Americans have passports. Unless or until we can get the Americans to respond positively to this, I think we will have this continual drag on business at the border.

There are many things the government could be doing. I recognize the strategy of the government is to marshal its resources in such a way as to give it maximum possibilities for a majority government at some time.

We in opposition know that the cupboard is bare, that the Conservatives are running a $56 billion deficit right now. The projections for the future are pretty bleak, and not only will they not be paying down the deficit anytime soon, they will be adding to it and accumulating an even bigger deficit in the long run to offer the Canadian people enough incentive to vote Conservative in the next election.

If the Conservatives plan to introduce a budget in the next few months, I do not really think they will introduce one that says, “Well folks, there is nothing here. We are not going to offer you anything in the election.” That will not work. It has rarely worked in the past. I would be very surprised if they used that approach. No, they will offer a bunch of goodies to the public to try to get their majority and they will hide the fact that the financial situation is worse than what they say it is. This has happened with many governments over the years. I think in one case it was called the “fudge-it budget”, where the government hides the true financial situation in the jurisdiction to get itself beyond the election, and then, surprise, surprise, things are not what they seem.

Let us look at corporate taxes. There are so many issues that one could deal with here with the government. I recall a Conservative member asking a question about tax reductions, and she is obviously a big supporter of them. She was asking a question of the previous Liberal member who spoke. She was talking about corporate tax reductions. I think she said corporate taxes made up 13% of the taxes collected and rest are personal income tax. I have news for her. I do not have the statistics here right now but I know they are available, and within her lifetime there was a time, not long ago, maybe 20 years ago or thereabouts, where the amount of corporate taxes collected in this country roughly equalled the amount of income tax collected. What has happened through successive Liberal and now Conservative governments is that the proportion of taxes raised by the government through taxes on corporations is actually being reduced, and of course, the shortfall is being made up by the public.

So we could forgive the working person in Edmonton—Strathcona or Elmwood—Transcona or any of our constituencies when they look at this and say, “Well, the government is talking about restraint”. Everybody knows there was a slight blip in the economy and a bit of a recession and we are trying to get out of it right now. I think the average member of the public is prepared to say, “I will give a little if you give a little”. But when the public sees that the initiatives of the government are to lower corporate taxes, what is that all about?

The federal government is just arbitrarily reducing corporate tax, phasing it down to 15%, when the Americans are in the range of 30%. For the Americans, I think it is almost double. What kind of studies were done? What kind of advice are the Conservatives taking that would prompt them to just arbitrarily say that they have to start reducing corporate taxes? We are already lower than the Americans, but we will go ahead and reduce them some more.

When my homeowner, my voter, looks at the statistics and sees that during a recession the banks where he is depositing his earnings made $15.9 billion, and then when he finds out that the bank president, the CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada, Gordon Nixon, and TD Bank's CEO, Edmund Clark, earned $10.4 million, we have to forgive him for being a little bit confused in wondering what this is all about.

We see the same situation in the United States, where the taxpayers have begun to revolt because they see these big corporations being bailed out. The government likes to pretend that it did not happen but we bailed out the banks. We say that we did not bail out the banks. Yes, we did. We underwrote the mortgages. Remember back in the tough times in 2008 when the Prime Minister was campaigning in his sweater and suggesting that his mother treat the stock market downslide as a buying opportunity? At that point in time, the fact of the matter is--

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Perhaps the hon. member can add some comments in response to questions and comments.

The hon. Minister of State for Democratic Reform.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher ConservativeMinister of State (Democratic Reform)

Madam Speaker, this member and I are both from Winnipeg. We represent ridings in Winnipeg.

Listening to the member speak, I have to say that it is very disappointing. The member talked about airline taxes. This is the same member who introduced a private member's bill that would penalize airlines for delays and other things, even inclement weather and other factors outside the airline's control.

In fact, we would not have airlines in Canada if the member got his way with the bill. So it is a bit rich for the member to talk about airlines.

The Winnipeg International Airport is in my riding, and also Magellan Bristol and a lot of aerospace companies. The member is against all these initiatives of this government. All these initiatives, the airport and the aerospace industry, are real jobs, on-the-ground jobs. I recall the Prime Minister making an announcement on the economic action plan and the place was packed with CAW members, Canadian auto workers, and this member is against those members having jobs. I think that is very offensive.

I wonder if the member will admit that the rejection of the NDP in last night's byelection is as a result of the zany, kooky, whacky, irresponsible policies presented by the federal NDP.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the government and its air traveller security charge increase now make Canada the highest taxed jurisdiction in the world. We have that distinction, which has forced 50,000 Manitobans to flee from the hon. member's constituency, from his airport in our city of Winnipeg to go south to avoid his taxes, because the airlines cannot afford to pay the rent and pay the taxes that his government is charging.

Furthermore, with regard to the air passenger bill of rights, if the airlines followed the rules, it would cost them nothing. The rules we were proposing under my air passenger bill of rights have already been in the European Union for the last seven years now. Air Canada operates in the European Union. Air Canada pays compensation for overbooked flights, cancelled flights and flight delays in the European Union. When that happens, they would have to do the same in Canada. Inclement weather has nothing to do with it. That would be excluded. The member should know that, if he has read the bill. The fact of the matter is that the bill is no different from Europe's. It would have cost the airlines nothing.

However, this airline tax costs the airlines big time, because 50,000 of their customers are going to the United States and that number is only increasing.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP member said in his opening statement that he was going to address the viewing public. He asked why the Liberals continue to allow the government to survive. No matter what, he wants us to defeat the government. That is not a new statement. They wanted us to do that right after the last election.

The member says he wants to be responsible to Canadian taxpayers, that he does not want to waste money. Canadians have repeatedly told us that we must work together. We could not afford an election a year and a half ago. An election would cost over $500,000,000, in these trying and challenging times. Canadians are asking us to try to work things out. The NDP is saying it wants us to defeat the government, that it does not matter.

We do not disagree with what the member said about the airport tax and the cost.

Does my colleague think there would be some benefit if we defeated the government? What would the outcome be? Everybody is predicting that if an election were held now we would have another minority government, whether it be Liberal or Conservative.

I will tell the member, once and for all, we did not defeat the government because we chose to be responsible and we listened to Canadians. We do not believe that wasting more than half a billion dollars would get a different result. With the NDP, it is easy come, easy go. Maybe last night's election is a reflection of Canadians' distrust of the NDP.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member walked right into it. The Liberal candidate got thrashed in Vaughan last night. So I would assume that the member is going to be pretty careful in the next little while. I expect him to be backing up the Conservative government for many years to come. On the basis of what happened in Vaughan, I would suggest that he is probably afraid of losing his own seat right now and it is probably going to show over time. My prediction is--

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Why don't you challenge me?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member should just go over and join the Conservatives, because he practically belongs in their caucus. He should just--

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

What is the relevance?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, can I continue?

I think the member should just bypass the--

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. As I asked hon. members earlier today, the Chair would certainly appreciate it if one member at a time asked a question and one member at a time answered the question.

There is enough time for one more question and comment. The hon. member for Edmonton--Strathcona.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member and a number of other speakers have raised the issue of perverse incentives in the budget. It is reported that, by 2014, given the cuts to corporate taxes that the government has announced, $60 billion worth of Canadian taxpayers' money will be lost at a time when our deficit is rising.

It is one thing to talk about the dollars and cents that are actually in the budget bill, but we need to look at the parallel initiatives of the government that go along with the budget, an example being the terrible, perverse incentives that it is providing to major industries by delaying important regulations to clean up the environment and to reduce greenhouse gases. Billions of dollars are being banked by these corporations as a result of the government's failure to act. That is far worse than the direct perverse incentives of cutting their taxes.

What about the perverse incentives of the government's enforcement of foreign investment law and its decisions on foreign investment, putting lots of money in the coffers of multinational corporations that are not even based in Canada? It is also denying thousands of Canadians badly needed jobs so they can buy Christmas presents for their kids.

So in terms of lost tax revenue, lost jobs, and lost benefits to Canadians, I wonder if the member could speak to that and the perversity of this budget.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for her question, but I do want to deal with the member for Scarborough Centre's concerns.

Forgive me if I am a little confused about whether he really is a Liberal or whether he really is a Conservative. Not only are the Liberal Party's actions concerning the budget votes of some confusion for the people in the House and in the public but its position on the military involvement in Afghanistan is a really good issue.

Over and over again the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party leadership have indicated that we will be out of Afghanistan after spending $18 billion and getting questionable results. We were going to end our involvement there, but at the end of the day we find out it was the Liberal Party that was the conduit for getting this deal put in place to extend a training mission for two years at a cost of another $2 billion.

This is when the country is running a $56 billion deficit. We have already spent $18 billion on this war, which has lasted almost 10 years. Now the LIberals have gotten into bed with the government to facilitate once again something that even they did not think they could—

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The member's time has expired. We will move on with the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be here today to take part in the debate on Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures.

My speech will be very simple; I would like to discuss two main points. First of all, the Conservatives are mismanaging public money, and the way they waste money is shocking. Second, the priorities they set out in the budget do not meet the needs of Canadian families.

Starting with my first point, this is a government of shockingly bad wastage of public funds and mismanagement.

Of course we have heard already from many of the speakers about the record $56 billion deficit. Having been part of a provincial government wrestling down a deficit, which was in place when the government I was part of came in and took responsibility, I know how difficult it is to reduce deficits.

We have a huge challenge over the coming years. This is a government that does not appear to understand the value of money and does not appear to understand the importance of taking every taxpayer dollar extremely seriously and ensuring that every dollar is put to its highest and best use in the public good.

What we are anticipating from the current government's plans is $156 billion in new debt between 2009 and 2014, which would cost taxpayers $10 billion a year. Every single year, each and every year, that is $10 billion that will not be available for all of the many other things that are priorities for Canadians. That money would essentially be wasted. It would be taken out of the productive economy to pay interest costs.

I would ask my colleagues across the way if they actually believe it would be easier for the next generation to pay down this debt that they are incurring on behalf of Canadians as we speak. It will be much more difficult when there are fewer people in the workforce, when there are more people receiving pensions, when there are more people at an age that would put pressure on our health care system.

When we spend tomorrow's money, it has to be very wisely, and that is exactly what the government does not understand. Apparently, wisely for the government is in pursuit of votes and in pursuit of seats. That appears to be the vision of the current government, unfortunately for Canada and unfortunately for Canadians who deserve and need a vision to address the challenges that we have facing us in the future, the competitive challenges, the environmental challenges, the social challenges.

The wasteful spending has become a hallmark of the current Conservative government.

Again and again we have seen evidence that tax dollars are treated as though they are the private preserve of the Conservative members and cabinet.

I would call part of their wasteful spending the P3 plan. I wish the P3 plan were a plan about partnerships to create value for the future, public-private partnerships to build and create. However, the P3 plan of the current government essentially is about the planes, prisons and photo ops. That is the huge commitments of dollars, the billions of taxpayer dollars that are being committed unwisely and wastefully; for example, $16 billion for the stealth fighter planes.

We begin to trip over the word “billion” as though it did not have meaning. A billion is the number of minutes since Christ was born. A billion is a huge number. If one were to plant a tree every eight feet, a billion trees would be a swath of trees around the equator 400 feet wide. That is a billion. That is a huge number. We need to somehow find a way to have the government understand the scale of a billion dollars when it commits $14 billion or $16 billion for a stealth fighter program without a rationale as to why that actually is the equipment that our troops will need and that our government strategy to protect Canada or to protect our Arctic territory will require, when there is no clear rationale.

In fact, there is a refusal to respond to the Liberals' request for a clear rationale for why this particular equipment with this incredibly high price tag is the right one. That was not forthcoming. Second, these planes failed to have a competitive bid and failed to secure jobs in Canada.

It is just one of the reasons why I have to shake my head, seeing a group of members of Parliament who claim to be pro-business using such woefully inadequate practices for making their decisions in such a way that is so wasteful of the public dollars.

Another issue in the P3 program is the prisons, which appear to be heading towards $10 billion to $13 billion in spending of tax dollars at a time when crime is going down, as I want to remind the members opposite. This is a proposal to focus a huge amount of borrowed public funds, which will need to be paid back by workers in the future, on prisons when the evidence is very clear. In California for example, one in ten Californians is in jail. What has that done for the economy of California? It is not a very positive story.

I would ask the members opposite why the Conservative prime minister of Great Britain is coming forward with a goal of reducing the number of prisoners by 50%. He is a Conservative prime minister. Why would that prime minister be looking at reducing the need for prison cells and reducing the number of prisoners? It is because that is good public policy. What the government is doing is the opposite.

Not only is this an expensive use of borrowed public funds, not only is it bad public policy, but the government attempted to deceive the public as to what the costs of its crime agenda, its punishment agenda, would be. The government claimed a certain bill would cost $90 billion and was then outed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer when in fact the tab was some 100 times higher for the projected costs of prisons that the government will be foisting on the Canadian public.

It is wasteful spending on prisons, planes and photo ops. There has been much said about the photo ops. Again, it was $1 billion for 72 hours of the Prime Minister having his face in the newspapers and in the news coverage. Is that really a priority for Canadian citizens?

Rather than more for less, which is what the business community strives to do, more value at a lower cost, this is a government that has been delivering more borrowing and spending for less result and less value. There has been more borrowing to spend $30 million more on a census that is universally condemned across the country and outside the boundaries of this country for what it will do to frustrate researchers who are trying to provide services to Canadians.

There was more spending on a historically high ad budget that is highly focused on partisan signs to promote the government's agenda. There was more spending on the Prime Minister's office, up $10 million, to increase the Prime Minister's ability to control and spin information, leading to another one of the major critiques. For example, the journalist associations from across Canada, in a public letter, have said that our democracy is at risk with this increasingly secretive government that makes information difficult to access, that holds back freedom of information requests and that hides information and makes it unavailable to journalists who are then finding it very difficult to hold the government to account.

The fourth estate is an essential tool of our democracy to hold the government to account and to enable the public to know whether they are being properly served by their elected representatives, on the government side or not.

Journalists across the country are putting up the red flags and sounding the warning bells that the Conservative government is secretive, hiding information and undemocratic.

The second point I want to touch on in my remarks today is about the priorities of Canadian families and the fact that the priorities of the government, with its P3 program and more borrowing and spending for less value, are not addressing the primary priorities of Canadian families.

First there is health care. I would like to emphasize the importance of care to better health.

Care is very connected with health and the government has ignored the needs for care. It has ignored the predicament of people who take care of their chronically ill loved ones or aging spouses and parents. There is no help for them. The government has ignored the gap between the rich and the poor and Canada's gap will only widen under the policies of the government.

I want to underline that this is a very serious proposition for the well-being of Canadians and our country in the future because the research is unequivocal. Countries that have a lower gap between the rich and the poor have better outcomes on an entire range of indicators that have to do with health, happiness and well-being. Countries that have a low gap between the rich and the poor have fewer suicides, lower child mortality, higher happiness of citizens, better health, stronger families and virtually every indicator of health, happiness and well-being. A country ranks higher on those very important indicators of the strength and the resilience of that country when there is a lower gap between the rich and poor.

The government is doing everything it can in its policies to increase that gap. Where is the Conservatives' anti-poverty plan? Nowhere. That is something on which a Liberal government is committed to providing leadership. Where is their housing strategy? Completely absent. It was embarrassingly obvious during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games that the federal government had completely taken itself out of the business of caring about providing leadership to ensure that affordable housing was available to those who needed it.

Not only are Conservatives not providing leadership to push things forward, they are undermining the leadership that the provinces and municipalities have undertaken to put a safety net under some of the most vulnerable, for example, the Insite facility in Vancouver. All peer reviewed research shows that facility saves lives. That facility puts a safety net under some of the most discouraged human beings in our country. It provides them with a safe place to engage with the health care system, to get the drugs they need to be well when they suffer from HIV-AIDS and to help them prevent passing that condition to others.

It is about compassion, but it is also about preventing the spread of disease and it is about saving lives. The government has gone to endless lengths in the courts to undermine Insite, not to support it, not to partner with the province and the city that support it, but to undermine and eliminate it. It is a shocking abrogation of human responsibility by the government.

These are some of the areas on which the Liberals will provide leadership on: the Liberal family care plan to support those who spend months or years to care for their loved ones, anti-poverty strategy, housing strategy, health care and education.

Education is the foundation of health, success, a wealthy society and a sustainable economy and the solution to the challenges of the future.

Education is very critical and that will be a number one priority of a Liberal government.

The government across the way has chosen to cut dollars for research in the universities, while spending the unimaginable kinds of dollars on signage. Every time the government does anything, it is forcing an expensive sign to be created.

When my constituents drive down the streets of Vancouver and see an economic action plan sign, they think that is another piece of playground equipment that cannot be purchased. The signs are costing an average of $2,000 to $3,000 each. The government wants to advertise its partisan ways using taxpayer dollars.

Why not use it for education? Why not use the dollars for making post-secondary educations more affordable for aboriginal people? Many young aboriginal people have the grades and are eligible but cannot obtain post-secondary educations. This is another equality issue that is tied in with education.

Protecting the environment is not a priority for the Conservatives. On the contrary, they see it as a barrier. They have relaxed the rules concerning the impact of development on the environment.

Shockingly the government is cutting funds for protection the environment. It sees protection as a barrier. Therefore, it is no surprise that it has cut la Fondation canadienne pour les sciences du climat et de l'atmosphère, the very organization that for decades was the steward of climate science. It has had its funding cut and those experiments are now to be abandoned.

They have slashed the energy efficiency program, the only major program for renewable energy.

The government has cut programs and it has cut the climate legislation. This is an uncaring, secretive, controlling, visionless and ruthless government and Canadians are getting tired of it. The bill is just one more expression of the misplaced priorities that ignore the real needs of Canadians.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have time for questions and comments the next time this bill is before the House.

The House resumed from November 25 consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Mission in AfghanistanBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 5:30 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 25 the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion relating to the business of supply.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #132

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion defeated.

The House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-465, An Act respecting a National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?