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House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.

Topics

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague, a fellow classmate from the class of 2000. Some in the House say that was probably one of the strongest contingents of members of Parliament who arrived in the House for many years.

In response to the last question, he talked about the eco-energy tax deduction. Any time the government puts forward a tax deduction, it is to initiate and improve behaviour in a particular area and we have seen the outcome through the tax deduction for the retrofits.

He talked about the tax credit for sport. If we look at the participation rates in the country over the last 10 years, they are fairly gradual and we can pretty much determine that each year they grow by so much. This was introduced in 2006 and there was no discernible increase in participation rates in 2007, 2008 or 2009. It remained the same.

The one time there was a big spike was in 2003 following the gold medal performance of the women's hockey team in Salt Lake City. Does he see that sometimes targeted investments in leadership, facilities, coaching, those types of things, have even more impact than a mere tax deduction?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member acknowledging our election back in the year 2000. There are few of us left from that particular class. We all have a certain measure of camaraderie having survived a few elections to remain in the House and the challenges that represents.

I know the member is a very enthusiastic sports promoter. We put a lot of money into the Olympics. That motivated a lot of Canadians. It is great to see Canadians from coast to coast taking an interest, the young girls out playing soccer and so many sports activities. We are trying to broaden that.

I appreciate the member's comment. There is more than one way to achieve the objectives but we think they have a cumulative effect in encouraging Canadians to become physically active. I thank him for drawing that to our attention.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak today to the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a plan to keep taxes low and to create jobs and growth. This is a budget that is truly good for all Canadians from a government that is here for all Canadians.

Before I begin, I would first like to thank my wife, Neetu, our children, Jatin, Chetan and Arisha, and, of course, our campaign team and all of those friends and constituents who supported me in my election to serve as a member of Parliament for Calgary Northeast.

It was not our choice that Canada was swept into global economic crisis but we had learned from past events. Our Conservative government acted quickly and boldly with unprecedented fiscal stimulus. Our decisive actions then is the reason for our favourable position now.

Canada has the highest employment growth among the G7 nations. In fact, Canada's employment rate is higher today than it was before the global recession began. Canada has created nearly 560,000 net new jobs since July 2009. In May 2011 alone, Canada created over 22,000 new jobs.

That is all good news but I want to caution anyone who thinks we are completely out of the woods. Despite our stimulus measures, our strong banking sector and the hard-working Canadian public, we must not become complacent. Global economic forces outside our control remain uncertain and we need to keep our guard up.

The budget gives more exactly where we need it the most. It supports job creation, families and communities, invests in innovation, education and training, and preserves Canada's fiscal advantage.

Our government understands that it takes a low tax environment to allow businesses to thrive. Our government is providing a temporary hiring credit for small businesses to encourage additional hiring. We are expanding the work sharing program and the targeted initiative for older workers to help keep people in the workforce.

We also understand that investing in technology not only creates jobs today but saves us money in the future. Energy costs are one of the fastest rising costs for Canadians and Canadian households. That is why our government is renewing the $100 million investment over two years for research and development on clean energy and energy efficiency.

We are also extending the popular eco-energy home retrofit program to make our homes more energy efficient. This program also has real benefits for businesses in my riding. Lux Window and Glass is a multi-generational family-owned business in Calgary Northeast that supplies windows and doors to home builders and renovators.

The president of the company, John Petrillo, told me that in 2009, when we established the eco-energy home retrofit program, his company saw an outstanding number of customers looking to renovate. It was thanks to our 15% tax rebate. With regard to the extension of the program in this budget, Mr. Petrillo said, “The eco-energy retrofit program would help Lux Windows to keep over 120 plant employees and 10 installation crews employed”.

Another business, the North West Group, located in my riding, specializes in the generation of high quality digitalized geo-spatial mapping information for clients across all sectors. Tim Crago, the vice-president, had this to say about our government's low tax plan:

Creating a competitive, low tax framework for businesses in Canada creates a highly attractive environment not just for big firms, but small and medium sized companies like the North West Group in which to invest and grow.

On this budget, Mr. Crago said:

We are also pleased to see that Budget 2011 reaffirms that the Government of Canada will be giving priority to its Digital Economy Strategy, to make Canada a leader in the creation, adoption and use of digital technologies and content.

However, those are not the only success stories in my riding of Calgary Northeast.

Burhan Khan, born in Pakistan, moved to Canada in 1986, an MBA and registered public accountant in business for 20 years, running his BK accounting firm in my riding with a team of five employees, said, “This budget a is a small-business friendly and great for young and eager entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create jobs for the good of Canada. The low tax climate also gives me the flexibility to hire and train more apprentice workers, which makes me very proud as a Canadian of Pakistan origin”.

It is clear that our Conservative government has a plan and the plan is working to keep taxes low and create jobs and growth.

The government is also solidifying Canada's reputation as a great place to invest and to do business. In fact, it was under this government that Tim Hortons decided to move its corporate headquarters back to Canada to reap the benefits of our new low tax environment. Certainly Tim Hortons serves as a popular icon for all Canadians, from Calgary Northeast to Kandahar. We are glad to have it back.

We want all Canadians to enjoy a high standard of living. We are enhancing the guaranteed income supplement for those seniors who rely almost exclusively on their old security. We are providing new top up benefit of $600 annually for individual seniors and up to $840 annually for couples. This will improve the financial security of more than 680,000 Canadian seniors, many of them from Calgary Northeast.

This Conservative government understands that more families are sacrificing to take care of their ailing loved ones inside their home. That is why we have introduced a family caregiver tax credit and an enhanced medical expense tax credit that removes the limit on eligible medical expenses that can be claimed on behalf of a dependent relative.

We are also providing a new children's art tax credit to support Canadian families as they pursue the arts.

We are the first Canadian government to provide a volunteer firefighter tax credit for those who serve their communities and put themselves in harm's way.

Our government is investing in its greatest assets: its people. We are expanding eligibility for Canada student loans and grant programs for full and part-time post-secondary students. We are also helping apprentices enter into the trades by making their examination fees eligible for the tuition tax credit. We are investing in innovation, education and training to keep Canada on the leading edge.

We may not have all our wishes fulfilled in this budget but, just as families balance their budgets at the kitchen table, Canadians expect the government to balance its books.

Our government has committed to returning to surplus by 2015-16 and we are on track to achieving this, without raising taxes, without cutting funding to seniors, families or the unemployed, and without cutting transfers for health care and social services, all under a strong, stable, national, majority Conservative government.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague is far too good a member of Parliament to actually believe the talking points that he was sent in here to read today. The arguments are full of holes and lack any empirical evidence to back up the claims that he is making regarding, especially, the tax credits.

I would say, by way of a preface to my question, that we are in the process of doing an analysis, perhaps the first in-depth analysis, of many of the tiny incremental tax credits that the Conservatives have offered Canadians over the last two or even three budget. We are breaking this down by quintile to see who is actually availing themselves of the tax credits being offered.

What we are finding, and it is not ready for publication yet because it is not quite finished, is that the tax credits that are targeted for the sports tax credit or the children's art and music tax credit, for instance, will probably not help many poor kids participate in sports who would not otherwise be participating or participate in music, dance, theatre or art who would not otherwise be participating. It is those who are availing themselves of it who are already participating in that program.

If we take the cumulative total of all the small incremented, badly targeted tax breaks of the past three, four or five budgets, they do not add up to the untargeted scattergun $6 billion corporate tax cut, explain the--

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. member for Calgary Northeast.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for touching on the issues tax credits or tax cuts.

Let us go back to our government's record. Our government's record shows that when we talked about the tax cuts we did cut the taxes. We cut the GST from 7% to 6% and then to 5%. As I mentioned in my budget speech, we may not be able to fulfill all our visions in this budget but we started addressing the issues. We started addressing the matters that concerned Canadians, whether they are credits or tax cuts. This budget is a re-introduction of the budget presented and tabled in March 2011. Canadians were told before they voted for us that this budget would be re-introduced and it was accepted by Canadians on the whole.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Calgary Northeast on his re-election here.

I will blend the question that I posed to the member from Nanaimo—Alberni, along with the comments made by the hon. colleague from Winnipeg Centre, which is that the targeting of certain tax provisions is not making a lot of sense. Whether my three boys played hockey or took part in soccer was a decision made between my wife and I at the kitchen table. We did not sit down and say that we might save $70 this year because the government is giving us $70 back.

I am sure my accountant had access to those credits, but it is a loss to the treasury if there is not some kind of discernable positive change in behaviour. What we did not see was any increase in participation rates in this country because of that tax rate.

Are we targeting youth activity or are we targeting soccer moms?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his congratulations and wish him the same.

On the issue of taxes, I have spoken with many constituents in Calgary Northeast and I have not found one family that is not happy with the e tax credits introduced by our government. In fact, families are encouraged and now they are talking about putting their children in the arts. They want their children to go to gyms and all those things. They are fully supportive of this budget and they are fully concerned about the questions raised in this House of Commons by the opposition.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Before we resume debate, I would just like to remind all hon. members that the Chair appreciates your co-operation in the question and answer period. When there are 10-minute speeches, there are 5 minutes for questions and answers and we try to get two questions and two answers, so a bit more than a minute per person. However, in order to ensure that all hon. members have the opportunity to participate, I would ask for your co-operation at that time.

The hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier.

It is a great pleasure to be back in the House. I want to thank the people of Cape Breton--Canso for expressing their confidence in me once again. The 41st Parliament will be my fifth Parliament, and it continues to be an honour and privilege to be representing them here in Ottawa.

Some members have been to my riding in the past. The rugged coastlines and landscapes are spectacular. It is a part of the world that is rich in culture. I encourage all members of the House if they have not been there yet and are still working on summer vacation plans to take a trip to Cape Breton or the northeastern shore of Nova Scotia through Guysborough and Canso. I think tickets are still available for the Stan Rogers Folk Festival. During lobster season and crab season it is a great place in Canada to visit.

I should add that one does not succeed unless there is a group of people around one who wants one to be successful. Each of us is here because there was a group of people who believed in him or her. In my case, I have had campaign workers who have put in countless hours, pounding in signs, making phone calls, writing cheques and going door to door. We are here because of them.

Then there is family support. I was fortunate to have my sister, Kim Bedecki, act as my campaign manager this time around, and she did a tremendous job. My wife, Lynn, and my three boys, Mitch, Scott and Brad, put up signs and then the sign team would fix them up as well. Everyone who is here does it with a great deal of family and other support from those who believe in them. I am fortunate and am thankful for everyone's efforts.

Much has been said about past Parliaments and the fact that, quite often, the decorum here in the House has been ultra-aggressive or very adversarial. There is a focus now and a commitment to making sure that we try to be a little less aggressive in our debate and throughout question period. It is in that spirit today that I will be making my points.

In speaking to the budget, I am going to look at some of the measures on which the government was close to making some good decisions. I will not talk about the jets. I will not talk about the jails. I will not talk about the corporate tax cuts, though I know the member for Winnipeg Centre will be disappointed about the latter. However, anyone who pays any attention at all will know that these decisions will have a huge impact on this country and the citizens of this country for years to come. I want to talk about some of the things the government was close to getting right in the budget.

The first one was the government's rollover of two provisions of the employment insurance rules, those being the best 14 weeks and working while receiving benefits. The government extended them for one year, and that is a positive thing, because it will make a difference in the lives of those people who are working in seasonal industries but who are actually not seasonal workers. Many times they work in rural or remote communities.

When this pilot project was first announced in 2005, it focused on allowing these people to stay in those communities and support the business that needed access to a workforce. That is why these measures were implemented back then. They were put in place for a period of three years as a pilot project and have been renewed since then. They have been rolled over yet again in this budget.

When this budget was presented back in March, many interventions were made by people who live in rural communities, who said that these provisions should be made permanent. If there were ever two pilot projects that could be justified being made permanent, it would be these two particular measures.

I applaud the government for recognizing the pilot projects for a year. However, it would have been far more beneficial had the government made them a permanent provision of the EI system going forward. It would certainly have been more beneficial for the businesses, seasonal businesses, and workers in those rural communities that were most impacted. Therefore, this was just a half measure.

The other half measure I want to talk about and commend the government for is the firefighters tax deduction. Again, we made these comments when the budget was presented the last time, in particular, that the proposed budget did not include all of the people in the community. If we were serious about recognizing volunteer firefighters, then we would have a refundable tax credit. However, this sets up a two-tier volunteer fire department: those who qualify for the tax credit and those who do not. I have 50 volunteer fire departments in my riding. Many of the volunteers are older and many work in seasonal industries. Those who do not make $22,000, and there are a fair number of them, receive no benefit from this at all. In volunteer fire departments that pay their volunteers an honorarium, we already have a provision where the first $1,000 of that honorarium is tax exempt. However, under this provision the volunteers would have to pick one or the other, and so there is really no net benefit for those already accessing the $1,000 tax exemption.

We are asking all of the volunteer firefighters to do the same job. When the whistle blows or their pager goes off, they are all expected to have the same level of training and know exactly what to do. These are the guys rushing into the fire when everyone else is rushing out. They are all going into the same burning buildings and taking the same risks. When they show up at head-on collisions with the jaws of life, they all have to know how to extricate the victims, such as a young 18-year-old splattered on the dash of a car. However, what the government is saying with this tax credit is that one of the firefighters is worth more than the other who is not making $22,000. That is not fair.

Again, I commend the government for this first half step. We made it aware of this in the last budget discussion, and I wish the government had taken it that one step further. We only have about 100,000 volunteer firefighters. This could have included everyone.

To summarize, there are some aspects of this budget that are like a bouquet, a bouquet of thorns with a couple of roses dropped in it. Once we get into the weeds, into the detail, we see that the government, with a little more effort, could have done better for all Canadians. It could have done better in levelling the field for all Canadians.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I always listen with great interest when my friend starts criticizing us.

I want to make sure that I heard him correctly and would like to get his permission to quote him. He actually commended the government, this from the opposition. Can I quote him and say that the Liberals have actually commended the government for the firefighters tax credit? Recognizing the fact that more than half of his caucus voted against it in the last budget, it is important for me to get his permission so that we can quote a key Liberal member of Parliament commending this government for this tax credit.

Do I have his permission?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, does he need unanimous consent for that?

Just as a point of clarity, when those members of our caucus who are still with us voted against the last provision, it was specifically because the private members' measure did not include everyone. It was a non-refundable tax credit. Therefore, it was about this group of committed volunteers, this group of firefighters, who took the same risks and did the same job but were to be treated them differently. That is why the opposition was there.

Some might argue that the provision was only for the honorariums received through firefighting. Whether it was for that or for general revenues, it does not matter. It did not level the field. It was not fair to all firefighters and that is where we had a problem.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, sometimes I think the Conservatives view Canadian taxpayers the way P.T. Barnum used to view circus-goers, because there has been a bait and switch in this budget. There has been a sleight of hand. It is like pulling a sedated bunny out of some tattered old top hat and trying to convince Canadians there is something good and new and magic about this.

In fact, the bait and switch came with a series of little rinky-dink populist tax breaks that very few people will avail themselves of, certainly not those in need, and not the 52% of children in my riding who live below the poverty line. Not a single one of them will play hockey because of the rinky-dink, little tax credits.

The really big ticket items, the really expensive items, in this budget are the billions of dollars of jets and billions of dollars of prisons and billions of dollars in corporate tax cuts. All of their little accumulative, minor tax credits pale in comparison to the one big corporate tax cut, which, frankly, will do nothing to elevate the citizens of my riding out of poverty.

Would he not agree with me there is something P.T. Barnum-like about the Conservatives with their sedated bunnies and their tattered top hats?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, we will stay away from Hugh Hefner and sedated bunnies.

The member for Winnipeg Centre, I think, hits it right on. What we have seen is not a focus on changing behaviours; what we have seen is a contrived and very deliberate political approach to try to curry favour with various segments of the population.

The tax deduction for sports registration is an obvious one. If the Conservatives want to help those who are making a decision on a financial basis whether or not to get involved in amateur sport, would that money not be better invested into programs like KidSport Canada? It is an organization that helps young Canadians get involved in entry-level programs.

Is the tax deduction for the arts not trying to curry that same political favour with a particular portion of the population? I believe it is.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to extend a more proper thank you to the people of Ottawa—Vanier for putting their faith in me for a seventh time during the last election. I can assure them that I remain committed to their well-being and to fighting for their interests here in this House.

That said, I would like to begin my critique of the budget by talking about the regional concerns surrounding the future of the public servants in our community.

The government is committed to balancing the budget. That is something the government should achieve and Liberals will certainly be supportive in that objective. The question is how it will attain it.

The government has said that it will not cut certain areas, such as transfers to the provinces and individuals. Therefore, essentially it has limited the universe in which it can effect cuts to about an $80 billion discretionary envelope. The cuts over the next four years will not be in the order of 5%, as some people have said. In terms of absolute numbers, it will be in the order of $1 billion in 2012-13, $2 billion the year after and $4 billion in each of the two succeeding years, for a total of $13 billion. Out of an $80 billion envelope, that represents cuts of almost 14%. Therein lies the rub.

Conservatives said during the campaign, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs repeated it ad nauseam during the campaign, that there would be no cuts to the public service and it would only be done through attrition. The average number of public servants who leave the government through attrition every year is about 10,000 and that represents a saving of about $1 billion on the basis that none of them would be replaced, which cannot be done.

The best guesstimates are that about a third need to be replaced, otherwise the delivery of programs would be crippled. The savings from attrition at most is $750 million a year. That is a far cry from $4 billion. Therefore, there will be cuts and the government has acknowledged that, after the election of course.

We are looking at serious numbers. Some have hinted at as many as 80,000 public servants, 40,000 by attrition if none are replaced, which cannot be done as I have mentioned, plus another 40,000. Depending on how and where it is done, it will have an incredible impact on certain local economies, this one in particular. The national capital region will probably be the worst affected. The individuals let go will have some serious fiscal problems of their own if they are not treated properly.

There has been nothing from the government in terms of how it will approach it, except that it put the President of the Treasury Board in charge, and I will say a bit more on that in a minute. We do not know the governing principles and we do not know what kinds of packages will be offered to public servants who will be let go, so on and so forth.

Right now in this area and other parts of the country where there is a higher concentration of public servants there are serious concerns. That is all I heard about over the weekend. People are wondering and are a little concerned about what is going to happen to their futures. The government has to be very transparent with its own employees, something it has not learned how to do in the last five years. Hopefully, now that it feels more comfortable with its majority, it will treat its employees a bit better than it has in the past. We will see.

Speaking of treatment, the basic fundamentals mean the government has to be transparent with its employees and has to treat them respectfully. We still have, despite the efforts of the government at times, one of the best public services in the world and employees deserve no less than professional treatment, transparency, honesty and forthrightness. I hope the President of the Treasury Board, as he embarks on this exercise, will be guided by such principles.

I go back to the President of the Treasury Board. It is rather ironic that he would be the one asked to do this after the Auditor General's report that was tabled in the House last week. What we have found out is appalling. Parliament has been misled by the government in terms of its expenditures and there has been a misuse of funds. An approved envelope meant for one thing was used for something else entirely. There has been an abuse of ministerial authority in determining how money is spent, without any documentary evidence whatsoever.

Talk about padding one's own host. The $50 million that were to be used to improve the flow of goods and people across the borders between Canada and the United States were used 300 kilometres away in the minister's riding, at his discretion. The Conservatives have the gall to put him in charge of cutting $11 billion over the next four years. We will have to see how that goes.

There are a few other matters that should be noted.

One of those matters is political party funding. I do not want the hon. members to worry about me personally, so I will say that it does not matter to me if the subsidies are eliminated or not. I have never received the subsidy and have never wanted to. Things are taken care of in my riding and there are no issues. But the irony runs deeper. We are facing an intellectual challenge: individuals who wish to contribute to a political party are limited to contributing $1,100 a year, while a third party can legally sneak in, get involved in campaigns in every riding and spend $3,000. Why the double standard?

It has not been an issue until now because the per-vote subsidy levelled the playing field. When the subsidy is eliminated, it is crucial that Parliament review political party financing legislation to ensure that fairness is a governing principle. It is not right that one person can spend $3,000 in a riding and that another is limited to $1,100 in political contributions. Political parties are registered by law with Elections Canada to protect the interests of the various political groups represented here in the House. Since this subsidy is being eliminated, Parliament must address the issue.

We do need greater literacy in fiscal matters in our country. On that front, the government had created a body that looked at that and made some serious recommendations. One would hope the government would follow up on those recommendations. It is important that it does.

The level of individual indebtedness in our country is way too high. It brings about a risk factor that we could attenuate. Currently in some cities the housing prices are untenable and if for whatever reason, oil prices, worsening international climates or investments were to dry up, we would see a dramatic drop of up to 10%, 20% in some cases, of the value of real estate and the concomitant disaster in some personal finances because of the high level of indebtedness. We need to address that as a country and I do not see the efforts to do just that in the budget.

Those are two things to which I would hope the government would pay attention and that we would see better efforts to ensure that the financial situations of individual Canadians would be looked after.

We will be coming back to the whole issue of crime. The government's approach to this issue is completely backwards. The exact opposite is what is needed. We need to reduce crime, rather than throw people in prison for even longer periods and at increasingly exorbitant costs. We will come back to this, since an omnibus bill on crime is coming down the pipe. We will definitely be talking about this issue again.

Lastly, I would like to talk about post-budget questions. What worries me about the government's attitude is that it has said nothing about any investment in education, health care or the needs of Canadians once the budget is balanced. Instead, it talks about increasing the number of tax havens for the wealthy, when it should be doing the opposite. Therein lies the main difference between the Conservative philosophy and the Liberal philosophy. We Liberals try to strike a balance between the needs of Canadians and the need to create enough wealth to support one another.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member's comments.

It strikes me as a bit odd that the member would talk about not being open with Canadians about the tough decisions that need to be made when a government is running a deficit. I remember when the member's party was in government. I do not remember members of that party going before Canadians in that election and telling them that they would have to make the very difficult decision of cutting provincial transfers for things like health care, or when they made the difficult decision to cut education transfers, driving up the cost of education for every Canadian student. They cut science and technology. I do not remember them saying that they would cut a great many things that really were not in their jurisdiction. They were responsibilities to be transferred to the provinces.

Maybe the member would like to talk about the lack of transparency of that Liberal government and why he now believes he is seated where he is.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will let the last comment slip by. If I have learned one thing from the Conservatives, it is that defeats are not permanent.

The member should do his homework. I ran for the House for this first time in 1995 in a byelection. That was at the time of the budget. The budget, the toughest budget, that the Liberals presented at the time gave a recipe for what would come in terms of transfer cuts and in terms of our own government cuts. That is what I ran on in this city.

The member should go back and do his homework because I have been through that. It is only because we were transparent, put facts on the table and said exactly what we would do that people felt they could trust us. We did exactly what we said we would do. We cleaned up the mess—

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. When the House returns to this matter, the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier will have three minutes remaining in questions and comments.

Nipissing--TimiskamingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Conservative Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and distinct privilege for me to rise in this House for the first time. I wish to congratulate you in your new role as well as the members of the House for their election successes.

I would like to express my profound appreciation to my constituents in the great riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming for the trust they have bestowed upon me. I would also like to express a heartfelt thanks to my wife Joanne, my son David and my daughter Katie for their strength and support, and to all the members of my campaign team, my sincere gratitude.

I represent a beautiful region which is truly a microcosm of Canada. It is blessed with breathtaking lakes, two of which are namesakes for the riding, Nipissing and Timiskaming. It is also known for its mighty rivers and beautiful forests. It is truly a land of productive, innovative and creative people, and I am humbled to serve them.

Terrebonne—BlainvilleStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House for the first time on behalf of the people of Terrebonne—Blainville. As a new member of Parliament, I would first like to thank them for having confidence in me. I am very much looking forward to representing them here in Ottawa.

It is time to get to work to advance the priorities of the people of Terrebonne—Blainville: helping small and medium-sized businesses, helping families make ends meet and getting serious about our environment.

The people of Terrebonne—Blainville have still not recovered from the 2002 closure of GM, which cost many jobs in my riding, and there are concerns about the closure of Electrolux, which will affect 1,300 people in the Lanaudière region.

I will do everything I can to ensure that the people of Terrebonne—Blainville are heard in Parliament.

Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of CommerceStatements By Members

June 13th, 2011 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by sincerely thanking the people of Kitchener—Waterloo for re-electing me as their member of Parliament.

I am truly honoured to continue to serve and represent this dynamic community. My riding is well-known for its innovative and entrepreneurial culture, and one of the key drivers of our success is the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber has played an important role in the development of our region, providing support for local enterprises, and fostering collaborative relationships between business owners and the wider community.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce. I congratulate its members on this significant milestone, thank them for their service to our community, and wish them continued success in the years to come.

Cultural ScholarshipsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a young man from the first nations Mi'kmaq community of Conne River in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.

Mise'l Jeddore was awarded the 2011 cultural scholarship for St. Anne's School in Conne River. Despite his young age, Mise'l is proving to be an outstanding ambassador for the aboriginal culture. As part of the drumming group for his school, Mise'l has represented the school at events as far away as Japan.

Currently, Mise'l is attending Memorial University in St. John's Newfoundland, where he continues to actively promote the Mi'kmaq culture.

I ask all members to join me in saluting this exceptional young man.

SportsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize some great achievements by young Barrie athletes in the past few weeks.

The Barrie Spirit under-13 girls soccer team was in our nation's capital to compete in the Ottawa IceBreaker Soccer Tournament against a strong field of 24 teams. The girls won their first five games, outscoring the opposition 14 to 2, and faced the Ottawa Puri in the final with a winning goal after two sudden-death penalty kicks.

The Barrie Kempettes Gymnastics Club travelled to Newmarket to compete in the Shenderey Gymnastics Club's invitational meet. Our local athletes had an amazing competition, bringing home 28 medals. All Barrie gymnasts finished in the top 10 in their respective categories.

Our high school athletes competed in the OFSAA championships in Sudbury. Barrie again had an incredible showing, taking gold in many disciplines. Innisdale's senior girls' team won the school's first OFSAA banner in track and field in over 20 years.

Barrie's athletes and coaches are doing our community proud. I applaud their hard work and dedication, and congratulate them on such a strong showing.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Sana Hassainia NDP Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my supporters, the people of Verchères—Les Patriotes who, on May 2, expressed their will to have me represent them in the House.

I humbly accept this mandate and commit to serving them and to protecting their interests throughout my time here.

I would also like to thank my family, my friends and my husband for their daily support.

I also want to say that I am proud to be the first Tunisian woman to sit as a member of the Canadian Parliament.

On Monday the government presented its budget and there were certain positive aspects to it.

However, what is the government doing to help young graduates who are starting their professional lives with an average student debt of $25,000? Or to help families that have a huge debt load and are being crushed by astronomical credit card interest rates? Or to help the 5 million Canadians who still do not have a family doctor and have to go to emergency? What is the government doing to meet the real needs of Canadians?

By granting subsidies to the country's privileged, the government has made its priorities clear. And those priorities are unacceptable.

Saskatoon--Rosetown--BiggarStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I join my colleagues in the 41st Parliament. We are here with a clear mandate, after a historic election, a humbling and gratifying prospect.

I would like to thank the residents of Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar for providing me with this great honour once again. Saskatchewan, the land of living skies, is a wonderful place to live, to work, and to raise a family, largely because of the very friendly and supportive communities found there.

I recognize that it is through their faith and the hard work of many volunteers that I have the opportunity to serve my wonderful constituency and this great country over the next four years. For this I am profoundly grateful and eager to work on their behalf.