Mr. Speaker, the member for Brandon—Souris is absolutely right, and I apologize. I have been translating, but sometimes one needs to keep a step ahead so that one uses appropriate Parliamentary language when reading emails.
I will continue with the email: “The government's budget does not include reductions in the atrocious cost of the Senate. What's needed in the 2012 budget is a start on abolishing the Senate.”
Jack Layton, the former leader of the NDP, called for a freezing of appointments to the Senate so that through the years there would be a gradual diminishing of people in the Senate. However, the Prime Minister has ignored this and has filled every vacancy with Conservative supporters.
The email continues, “Abolish the Senate as it serves no useful purpose. It costs many dollars, but the benefit is zero. I live in a riding held by the Conservatives.”
Another tweet has just come in, and I thank the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for monitoring Twitter and Facebook so that we can get up-to-the-minute updates.
Here is another comment to the NDP: “Thank you. It's hard to admit, but I'm really afraid for my generation's future, and just hearing someone talk about it is comforting.” We thank that young Canadian for writing in.
Here's another, from the Ontario riding of Leeds—Grenville.
This individual, Mr. Irwin, says, “I was watching the debate in the House today in regard to the budget. I would just like to state that I'm very glad to see you listening to Canadians in regard to their concerns over this extraordinarily shallow budget from the Conservatives. I am unfortunately not in an NDP riding. I am in the riding of Leeds--Grenville, which is a Conservative riding in Ontario. I am a student in university with ever-increasing tuition and rising debt. I am not sure if I can afford to even complete my degree. Thank you for standing up for Canadians today. I appreciate it very much, and keep up the good work.”
We thank Mr. Irwin for writing in and letting us know his views as a young Canadian who will be impacted by the budget.
We get these responses from young Canadians time and time again. Young Canadians have a profound belief in the future of our country. They believe in the environment. They believe government plays an important part in ensuring that families are protected, in ensuring that the economy works well, in ensuring that there is access to post-secondary education, because that not only provides for a better future for those families but also provides a better future for all of us in this country.
I am particularly gratified with the number of young Canadians who are tweeting and posting on Facebook and sending in emails and their comments. They believe in Canada; they do not believe in the budget, but they believe in Canada and in the future of our country. They believe that together we can build that better Canada that we all aspire to. They believe that Canadian families deserve better than the budget that was given to them by the Conservative government.
I will move on to Kitchener, another Conservative-held riding. Here a lady has written to say, “I heard your response to the federal budget and want you to know I agree completely with your opposition to this plan to dismantle our social safety net.
“I am recently retired, having worked for a social agency most of my life. I am very upset about the proposal to destroy the universality of old age security. This plan totally ignores that a number of studies have made it clear that OAS is a very sustainable program. By delaying OAS until age 67, many of the most vulnerable seniors will also be deprived of the GIS supplement.
“It is ludicrous to assume that ordinary people can save sufficient money to fund their own retirement. With the massive layoffs in the manufacturing sector, many people are having difficulty with surviving, and savings are just a dream. Moreover, it seems patently unfair to expect that in the current precarious financial climate, ordinary people are put at the mercy of the stock market to attempt to grow any savings.
“The glaring lack in this budget is any attempt to reform the Canada pension plan in order to make it a sustainable solution for all the people for whom the private sector has failed to provide any pension security. Instead of attempting to drive divisions between those who have earned pensions and those who are deprived of pensions, a reasonable government would attempt to provide security for everyone.
“I am also very concerned about the plan to make deep cuts into the public service. I live in Kitchener, Ontario, and we have a federal women's prison in our area. In spite of the expected influx of more prisoners thanks to the omnibus bill, cuts to the staff will inevitably cause serious destruction of programs that now attempt to address some of the serious problems that led to the incarceration of the prisoners.
“I am also concerned that staff cuts in other federal programs will cause serious delays in such programs as the delivery of unemployment benefits.
“Another area that causes me concern is the cuts to regulations that protect me from contaminated food.
“The proposed streamlining of environmental reviews, coupled with the attack on environmental organizations who would challenge such plans as the Gateway pipeline seem to me to be another way to suppress dissent to this government.
“Speaking of suppression, I was upset but not surprised, that after raising some very serious indication of organized voter suppression tactics in more than 200 ridings in our last federal election, Elections Canada has had serious cuts to their budget. Thank you for voicing the concerns of ordinary people whom this government seems happy to treat with contemptuous disregard”.
We thank her for writing in.
This is absolutely the issue we are talking about. The OAS cuts also lead to commensurate GIS cuts. What we are talking about is an overall cutback to the whole foundation of retirement security. As so many people are writing in to say, this is simply unacceptable. It is a real concern to many Canadians. Fundamentally, what I think these Canadians are saying as well is that we are going to see far more seniors living in poverty.
We had a previous letter indicating already that in most OECD countries, almost all of them or three-quarters of them in fact, the retirement age is actually 65 or under. Canada is one of those few countries that is so regressive with its own seniors, so lacking in respect for the contributions seniors have made to the country, that what the current government is actually doing in this budget is upping the retirement age from 65 to 67. That is a real shame because Canadian families deserve better than that. They really do.
I would like to move on now to another Conservative riding. It is no secret that what we are trying to do is to make the case against this budget step by step, brick by brick, by raising constituents' concerns in ridings that are represented by Conservative MPs. I do not think anything could be clearer than to have all of these letters, tweets and Facebook comments flooding in, all of which address Conservative members of Parliament. In all cases, they are saying, “My Conservative MP is not representing me if he or she votes for this budget”. I think that is a very important thing to underscore, that what we are doing through the course of this debate is establishing the case that, effectively, Canadians living in Conservative ridings are making their voices known.
If I were a Conservative MP, with a bad budget like this that will guarantee fewer jobs, less growth, less prosperity, I would think twice and say, “Hold on. My constituents are reacting. They are reacting to all of the various components of this agenda. Maybe I have to think twice”. Perhaps we will see, over the course of the debate, Conservative MPs standing and saying, “I'm going to represent my constituents. I'm going to vote against this budget because this budget is not good for families in my riding and not good for the country”.
Maybe we will see that. As we read out these letters coming from across the country from Conservative-held ridings, maybe we will see Conservative MPs standing and saying, “We're going to vote for what's good for the country. We're voting against this budget. We're going to vote for a budget that actually creates jobs”.