Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures.
This bill does not give us what we need. When the Standing Committee on Finance travelled and heard from witnesses, we saw that this bill is out of touch with reality.
For example, last month, we lost 72,000 jobs. The government continues to say that everything is fine.
This bill came out a long time ago. It does not take into account everything that is going on now. It does not take into account that 1,400,000 people are currently unemployed. If we include people who are discouraged and who have stopped looking for work, that number is nearly 2 million. That is huge.
Yet the government says that everything is fine, that it is carrying on as planned and that it will not make any changes to what it put forward, even though some economists have suggested investing in infrastructure and helping seniors by increasing their pensions. The government is still doing none of that.
Last summer the youth unemployment rate was 17.2%. That is much higher than before the recession, when it was 14%.
Once again, the government is not really looking at the numbers or at reality. It is completely out of touch with reality and with the people. And that is what we are seeing with those who are outraged as well as with the Occupy Montreal and Occupy Ottawa movements. People do not understand why this government is not listening to them. They protest, yet the government is still not listening.
And when it comes to household debt, for every dollar earned, a person owes $1.49. That is a ratio of 150%. How can the average family find a way out?
And what is the government's solution? It lowers taxes on big business. We have seen that lowering taxes on big business does not help those without an income.
Instead of moving in that direction, the government should listen to certain economists and even the Conference Board of Canada, who are saying that the gap between rich and poor is growing. And we have seen it.
Quebec's consumer protection bureau is also saying that lowering taxes on big business is contributing to this wealth gap. The government is sticking its head in the sand and refusing to budge.
If we look at the OECD figures, economic growth over the past 20 years has benefited the rich more than the poor. Bill C-13 is inadequate.
We want leadership and a vision for the economy. Why not invest in a green economy that is geared toward the future?
We can offer projects and research and development programs that could help Canada get ready for the future, for an economy that will not only bring us wealth and economic growth, but also provide wealth for our children and protect the environment.
The government has nothing for that.
We want concrete results.
To get back to the bill and the amendments we are proposing, the government tends not to want to debate or discuss the issues. We see that in the case of Bill C-10, and as far as Bill C-13 is concerned, everything is mixed together. All sorts of things are combined and we are told to just deal with it.
I sit on the Standing Committee on Finance, and we got an explanation for Bill C-13 while we were on a pre-budget tour. This illustrates the government's bad faith.
In this bill, one part addresses the $2 per vote subsidy.
Part 18 of the bill would amend the Canada Elections Act to phase out quarterly allowances to registered parties.
At a time when the government is completely out of touch with reality and people no longer trust certain politicians—especially on the other side of the House—the government is now eliminating a tool linked to the fact that people vote. It is an important tool. The reason why we are in the House today is because people voted for us. If we do not belong to a big political party, or if we have ideas but not the financial backing, things can be very difficult. We know that those on the other side of the House who stand for election already have a great deal of money because they are in government. They have their friends. There is a lot of payback.
The reason for the $2 per vote allowance was to prevent big business from funding election campaigns. It was to create a separation and give a voice to the people. This government is doing the opposite.
The $2 per vote allowance is an important equalizer that gives all parties, regardless of their presence in Parliament, a fair chance at equal participation in a general election and campaign. It is also a tool that rolls back the power of big money in influencing the outcome of elections and the policy agenda. It reflects also the support of voters and increases their motivation to vote. What we are doing right now is going against that. It rewards parties for convincing people to vote for them, therefore ensuring that parties have a message that is meaningful to all voters. It is also a way of facilitating a campaign donation.
The government says that if people have money and believe in the party, then give money to that party. Not everyone has money, but everyone has a right to vote and their vote should count. If people are poor or unable to pay their bills at the end of the month, they do not think of sending contributions to a political party. However, if they go out and vote and they know their vote helps the party, even though it does not win, even though it is not in government or even not sitting in the House, at least people feel it is something they have done and it helps someone else, without having to take the money out of their wallet, if they do not have any, and having to help the party.
Again, the Conservatives are successful in raising money because they are in government, so it is helping their friends and their friends helping them. That is why there is a policy right now. With this budget, the Conservatives are helping the big corporations, which are already profitable, by giving big corporate tax cuts.
There is a lack of understanding of what is happening with the population. There is a disconnect between the government and the population. For people who want their voice to be heard, the government is shutting them down and telling them their vote does not really count.
One thing is really disturbing. I stood for election in 2008. People told me that they voted for me. It was important to them that their vote count. It was also important to them that this advance democracy in some way. Now, this government is making us take a step backward.
With the votes that I garnered I was able to continue. It helped my party and moved things forward. This bill is anti-democratic for people with new ideas who do not yet have a party. This government's bill is a setback for democracy. For that reason, I will be voting against the bill.