Mr. Speaker, I know we will be going into question period a little later today so I would ask if you would give me a one-minute heads-up before we go into question period if I am still standing, because, as we know, with colds and flus going round one never knows when the voice will give out.
I will reference some of the many comments that we have been getting on Twitter. I thank Canadians who have sent their comments in on Twitter and Facebook and who have been sending in emails to both NDP MPs and MPs from other parties. The fact is that Canadians have been consistently phoning their members of Parliament and letting them know their comments about the budget. All of those are a pretty important exercises because what we are seeing is Canadians speaking out.
I will reference a few of the tweets that NDP members have received over the past few hours on our twitter accounts and on Facebook. There is no doubt that Canadians have very strong opinions on this budget. I can tell members that, overwhelmingly, the comments that I have been receiving are negative. They are negative about the raising of the retirement age. Canadians feel keenly about the impact that will have on future seniors who will need to work two more years of their lives, many them in low-income situations. Canadians are also concerned about the job losses that will come out of this budget.
As I said on Friday, the title of the budget more properly should be “fewer jobs, less growth and less prosperity”, because that is what the government delivers and that is what Canadians have been speaking out against. They are speaking out against cuts in the public sector that will lead to even greater cuts in the private sector. At a time when the economy is weak and slowing, what the government has done is guaranteed that there will be fewer jobs in the Canadian economy over the next year.
As I also mentioned on Friday, the budget documents of the government say very clearly that unemployment will go up in 2012. What the government is acknowledging is that, as a result of the budget, unemployment will go up. I think the nickname we have given the budget, “the fewer jobs, less growth and less prosperity budget”, is very apt and Canadians are certainly seeing that.
Canadians are also speaking out against the cuts in environmental protection. They are speaking out against the cuts to food safety. They are speaking out against the cuts to transportation safety.
They are speaking out about a whole range of cuts to statistical organizations. The government seems to have a real fear of facts, a fear of statistics, a fear that the truth will come out. We have certainly seen that in the budget with cuts to eliminate some of the organizations that actually provide the statistical foundation for government decisions.
Instead of supporting statistical decisions and providing additional supports, the government is eliminating them. It is eliminating the voices and the facts. One cannot hide the facts. Canadians are perceiving that the government is proceeding in a mean-spirited way. Canadians are perceiving that what the government is doing in the budget is exactly the opposite of what it pretends to be doing. That is why there has been such a strong and negative reaction to the government's initiative and agenda.
I will read a few of the tweets that have been received over the course of the last few days. Marionetta said the following on Twitter, “I am disabled. I am depending on OAS being there when I'm 65. What are disabled workers to do? Can't get welfare”. That is a poignant comment by a disabled Canadian who sees that the government will be forcing her to work two years longer.
From Regina, Saskatchewan, I received a number of comments from mskapay stating, “Using the penny as a smokescreen for the cuts is very tacky, Mr. Prime Minister. The government is clearly moving toward two tier health care with this budget. I cannot afford health care if that's what happens. Did this government forget that climate change is a reality in this budget? It's the non-green budget of all time”. Those are all comments coming from Regina, Saskatchewan on Twitter.
From Calgary, Alberta, calgaryrabbit said, “I'd say sir that it isn't that this government is out of touch but rather that they don't care about Canadians. Only the 1%
From St. Andrews, New Brunswick, I received a tweet from another Canadian concerned about the government's budgetary approach. It reads, “Those boomers whose OAS is unaffected still care about the younger generation, the environment, the CBC, health care, Katimavik, etc.”. That is a cry from New Brunswick saying that Canadians will not forget that.
From Ontario, Mr. Burbidge stated, “Canadians hitting volunteer agencies and services doing valuable community work. Not supporting the volunteer sector . He also said, “Child poverty is not addressed in this budget. The future is bleak for youth. Rich not treated equally to poor in this country. He went on to say, “The reduced Ministry of Environment staff will lead to environmental disaster as in the Ontario Walkerton situation. No savings of dollars at expense of the environment”.
I have another tweet from the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the UBCIC, a very reputable organization in British Columbia. It reads, “gutting the fisheries act to enable megaprojects like Enbridge pipeline denies our grandchildren's environmental inheritance”.
It is certainly is. My colleague from St. John's East raises the fact that this is in the budget.
Anna Ferraa from Toronto, Ontario, stated, “It's a less jobs, less growth, less prosperity budget”.
I think all of us, the 102 strong New Democrats in the House, say that is exactly what the government has done. It has provided fewer jobs, less growth and less prosperity.
As everyone can hear, I am getting comments from coast to coast to coast. Mr. Cameron from Vancouver, B.C., stated, “The government broke its own promises by cuts to pensions, provinces and health care”.
SimiSara from British Columbia stated, “OAS age means more poverty for seniors who will have to work part-time. This budget rips away environmental security with things like deep cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada”.
Ms. Chen from British Columbia said, “The cuts to Citizenship and Immigration will hard hit new Canadians as well in this budget.
I have many more, but I want to pace the tweets, Facebook comments and emails. We want a balanced approach on the budget feedback we are getting from coast to coast to coast. The member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is asking if I could just give him one more tweet.