Mr. Speaker, before I get into my personal remarks, I would point out that in questions and comments our time is very limited. Because our men and women in uniform play such an important role in making this country what it is today, not just within our borders but outside of them, I want to go a step further.
I am glad the hon. member spoke about our military. I asked him a specific question to obtain a specific answer but all he responded was that the government had appointed an ombudsman. That was part of the recommendation. What does an ombudsman do? He takes complaints.
I want to inform members that I chaired that committee and I saw parents and men and women come before committee in tears, reaching out, asking for help. They did not want an ombudsman. Yes, that helps but what they wanted was access to service, which takes funds. That is again where the government has failed our men and women in uniform. It has not provided funds.
As I open my participation today in this debate, I want to congratulate our Paralympic athletes who did us very proud. The Paralympic Games just closed. I believe Canada is sending a signal that we are here not just to stay but to grow.
In referring to our athletes as a whole, Paralympic and others, in the throne speech of April 4, 2006, the government, which had just been elected at that time, was kind enough to acknowledge the Liberal government's investment in the Own the Podium program. I thanked it for that. It is covered on page 3 of its first throne speech.
The other day the chief executive officer, Mr. Jackson, of the Own the Podium program was on television and acknowledged that without the funding for this program that was initially put in and continues to be put in, our athletes would not have been able to compete at the level they did which has allowed us to celebrate with them.
Dick Pound, who we all know has been associated with our Olympic initiatives most of his life, has also commented positively that this program has done well for us and it must continue. I read the other day in The StarPhoenix how Britain will now copy our Own the Podium program. I congratulate Britain. At least Canada is setting another example. We are very proud of our athletes.
Because the Prime Minister and the government, it seems, have been underestimating the intelligence and memory of Canadians, I will, in the 15 or 20 minutes I have, talk about how in the Speech from the Throne, which coincides with the budget speech, the government has misrepresented, or there are discrepancies, within the figures. The numbers just do not add up.
I will also point out how the government says one thing and does the opposite. For example, in the throne speech and in the budget it says how it will lower taxes. I will use the most recent example that occurred in this honourable chamber on Friday when my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour talked about how students who are doing their doctorates have been taxed. People can read it in Hansard. Students were not paying taxes a year ago and this year they will be. In the throne speech the government says that it will be lowering taxes, but on the other hand, students are now paying more taxes.
I will show how the government has financially damaged our seniors. This goes back to the promise that was made in the 2006 election when the then leader of the opposition, today's Prime Minister, put in writing how the Conservatives would not touch income trusts, how they scared Canadians and how they scared seniors by saying that the Liberals would damage the future and destroy pensions. However, what was one of the first things the Conservatives did? They put a 31.5% tax increase on income trusts. Shame, indeed.
Not only that, the Conservatives have weakened the ability of Canadian companies to compete on an equal footing internationally by not allowing them the interest deductibility that all other nations have. I will point out how they have done literally nothing in health care and how they have mismanaged the economy. I am surprised when they are described as good money managers because a good money manager is not one who inherits a surplus like they did in 2006 of $13.2 billion and then, a short three years later, we find ourselves in a deficit of almost $56 billion, although we do not know the exact the figure. However, if we add $56 billion and $13-something billion, we have had a turnaround of almost $70 billion in a short three and a half years. That is mind-boggling.
When the hon. member of the new Conservative Party spoke earlier, he said that we have a solid banking system and that financial institutions have carried us through this recession. He is absolutely correct, and that is thanks to Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin.
I remember when I was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of Industry waking up to the news that the banks had decided they would amalgamate. What did the Government of Canada do? The Liberal government did the right thing and the responsible thing and told the banks they could not do that because we realized that would have put our financial institutions in a very vulnerable position. Who criticized that policy at the time? It was the current Prime Minister who said that we should stay out of their noses and leave them alone. He said that we did not want regulations.
Today, however, when the Minister of Finance, after he did a number on Ontario in the Harris government, and the Prime Minister go out to international forums they say that we have the best banking system in Canada because of what they have done. If truth be told, we know factually who made those moves and it was the Liberal government under Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin.
I will talk about how the government's policies are causing us to lose jobs, not just today but jobs of the future, and how our companies, as I said earlier, are vulnerable. I will point out that it was the then Liberal government that made sure we made the right investments, not just for the jobs of today that we needed then in terms of addressing the concerns of employers with EI for example, but also the concerns of the jobs of the future and the right investments that we made between those difficult years.
The Prime Minister today has caused, I believe, and I have heard from many other people, Canadians to be concerned. It boils down to a matter of credibility which brings about trust. Less than a year ago, the Prime Minister shut down Parliament because he said that a coalition was organizing, et cetera, and it was not elected. We all are elected democratically and we make up Parliament. This is not a presidential system like it is in the United States. This is a totally different system, a much better system, if I may say.
However, what did the Prime Minister do? We know what happened the first time around. He went to the Governor General, put a bit of pressure on her and she made the decision to grant prorogation. Forget the word “prorogation”, he shut down government, period.
We know what happened after that. Instead of coming in to the House and presenting a stimulus package of how the Conservatives were going to help get Canadians back to work, all the Prime Minister really said to the opposition was that he would take away the tools for us to run a party. That got everybody else upset, and we know the history.
Not too long ago, the Prime Minister, with just one phone call, shut down government. That is pretty scary when the first minister of the land can pick up the phone and say that he wants to shut down government.
However, I am also concerned because I think the Governor General should never have said okay. She should have thought about it and looked into it. I do find some fault with respect to the Governor General. She should not just simply grant it, especially something that happened within less than 12 months.
I would like say why this is a concern. I will quote a gentleman who said:
Well, I don't know that there's much strategy behind it. I think his problem is that the government's talking points really don't have much credibility. Everybody knows that Parliament was prorogued in order to shut down the Afghan inquiry, and the trouble is that the government doesn't want to explain why that was necessary.
That is a direct quote from a gentleman by the name of Tom Flanagan. He was the Prime Minister's campaign manager, the Prime Minister's main strategist. He, too, is now questioning the Prime Minister's credibility.
I would like to read some other quotes, only because some people have asked why the Prime Minister should not do this. The reason why he should not do it is he has a tendency, as I said about the income trust, to say one thing and do the other.
On April 18, 2005, the Prime Minister said to the Canadian Press, “When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent...is when it's rapidly losing its moral authority to govern”. In essence he today has lost the moral authority to govern, and that is what he should carry out right now.
The Prime Minister also said the following, in the Hansard of October 20, 2003:
Now is it true that the government will prorogue the House so that it will not be held accountable for its shameful record?
Obviously the Prime Minister prorogued because he did not want to be held accountable for his shameful record.