Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Chambly—Borduas, who does such fine work here in the House. He is one of the new members who are bringing great energy to the House, even when he rises on points of order. I would like to commend him.
I want to continue with the comments from this constituent who is from yet another Conservative-held riding. I would like to thank particularly the Canadians who currently live in Conservative-held ridings for their tweets, Facebook postings, emails, faxes and phone calls. They really help us understand what Canadians in Conservative-held ridings are thinking. They are very concerned about this budget, understandably. They are concerned that they were promised other things prior to May 2. It is certainly sinking in for constituents in Conservative-held ridings that they were promised that health care funding would continue, retirement security would continue, and services would continue, that things would not be messed up. Now they are seeing that the government is messing up on all of the commitments it made. Understandably, constituents in Conservative-held ridings are raising those things.
The next one is from Ottawa West--Nepean, the riding of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This constituent states, “This is a manufactured crisis by a government that treats its own constituents with contempt and other members of Parliament with disrespect. Today's younger workers say those under age 54 will pay doubly for OAS. We all fund this program with our tax dollars, but today's youth will be held off from benefiting from OAS for two additional years when they begin to access OAS by approximately 2030. The Conservative government has protected the interests of its key voter base today, while ensuring another government, federal or provincial, will be left to deal with the fallout for future generations. Compounding this problem is the fact that the boomer impact on OAS will wane in the early 2030s. This change to OAS makes absolutely no sense.”
Mr. Speaker, I asked the previous chair occupant to give me an indication at five minutes and one minute before the 6:30 p.m. adjournment. I would not want to overstep that time, unless there was unanimous consent to do that, in which case, with all the emails, tweets and postings on Facebook we are getting, it looks as though I could go all night. Just with comments from Conservative-held ridings I could probably go all night. They are flooding in. People are concerned about OAS and cutbacks in services. They are concerned about losing their jobs. We are being flooded with comments. If we did go all night, I would have a chance to read a lot more of the comments.
The constituent from Ottawa West—Nepean went on to say, “This change to OAS makes absolutely no sense. No plans are noted for those who, for whatever reason, cannot work past age 65, some even past age 60. This purposeful neglect is outrageous. I am sure you can perceive the intergenerational tension this will bring even in this email. Studies and surveys have noted that today's youth do not have much knowledge of what a good workplace pension means. Canadians across the board struggle to provide for family basics, like food, child care and school supplies, meet financial obligations like student loans and mortgages and save for retirement. Instead of manufacturing crises of sustainability and misrepresenting the financial facts of OAS, the government should focus on taking real action to help Canadians secure their retirement income. No investment is to be made in the environment. Subsidies for the most damaging industries will continue. In another portion of the budget, the government intends to address the contentious issue of federal public servants' compensation and pensions. One MP in particular was interviewed on an Ottawa radio station within minutes of the budget speech wrapping up. He said that the 4,800 jobs that would be lost in Ottawa in some form or another was nothing.”
We will find out tomorrow to what extent the national capital region is gutted by this budget because we will have a more accurate assessment of exactly how many tens of thousands of jobs have been lost here. A member of Parliament said that it is nothing, that these employees are nothing.
The individual from Ottawa West—Nepean said, “This is contempt at its worst. I am very worried about what future direction this contempt and disregard will take. The government's actions in this contempt cannot continue. I feel a responsibility to contribute in whatever way I can to ensure this does not continue so that the Canada I know and love and choose to live in and support remains for my daughter. Thank you for representing Canadians in the House today.”
Here is another tweet that is hot off the press. I am not sure I can say that about tweets, but I will in this case. Mr. Slepchik said that in solidarity with the NDP, he is staying at work until I am done speaking. He said, “Stand up for public servants, pensions and Katimavik with budget 2012”.
This next comment is from someone in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, which I know my colleague from Dartmouth—Coal Harbour feels very strongly about. This person said, “Today's budget breaks numerous Conservative promises. During the 2011 election, that party promised to leave the pensions of Canadian seniors in tact. Today's budget does a number of things, but what it does not do is preserve pensions. This budget kills 19,200 jobs directly, which will have a cascading effect on the Canadian economy of killing a further tens of thousands of jobs by lost spending in the local marketplace by the 19,200 federal employees whose jobs were killed in the budget. The budget maintains unnecessary tax cuts for big corporations, and while the tax cuts go into their pockets, middle-class Canadians like me get a massive tax cut of $2.09 a month, and a loaf of bread costs $2.29.”
This individual from Dartmouth is absolutely right. As study after study has shown, what has happened with corporate tax cuts is cash hoarding. Some $583 billion is being hoarded by Canada's companies, which is why with these tax cuts there are such severe job losses as we have experienced over the last few months. This is another individual pronouncing against the budget.
Mr. Speaker, I am trying to rush a bit, because I know as I am speaking there are more and more emails in our inboxes. More faxes are coming in. More tweets are coming in. There are more postings on Facebook. The comments just keep coming in. I am trying to rush a bit to get as much in as I can in the course of the next few minutes, unless of course we get unanimous consent to continue, but I have a sense the whip will not be willing to do that.
This comment is from someone from Vancouver Island North, another Conservative-held riding. The constituent said, “My concern is the number of public service jobs that will be cut in the budget. Not only will this affect individual families, this will cause economic stagnation”.
An individual from the Toronto region said, “I am stunned by the imposed 10% reduction in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's budget. I appreciate the service so acutely and can only imagine what it would be for those who do not live in an urban and resource bountiful region. I listen to it; I read it online; I watch it on TV. The CBC is my primary source of information and one that I count on for a sensible and honest relaying of news. I believe that the government is trying to cut the CBC down at the knees, as well as honest journalistic criticism. Secondly, I am appalled by the short-sighted dismantling of the round table on the environment and the economy. Certainly there are environmentalists who are capable of assessing the global and national state of the environment. We are sadly tied to an economic engine that must be fuelled and this round table would have served to do just that in the sustainable way that we desperately need.”
The person from Toronto continues, “I am shocked and fighting a profound sadness at feeling so powerless in the face of this Conservative government who seemingly trounce everything that I am proud of about this country. I have a baby girl and it's hard not to take the budget much more personally. We are no longer the international bastions of environmentalist action, free speech or plain politics, things I have been proud of since I was a young teen, things that I normally would have been looking forward to sharing with my daughter, not mention the question of whether or not she will have clean water to drink and maple trees to tap in northern Ontario.
“Please don't read this letter as simply one citizen's pining for joyful memories of childhood; this is about the state of global health and survival. It's simple truth and we all have to play our part. Thank you for reading my email and, hopefully, hearing a plea for change as we fight together against this country's demise”.
Another email from Toronto states, “In the grand scheme of things, I think there are a lot of reasons why these are significant cuts. I am talking about the staggering cuts to the operating budget of the CBC”. The writer goes on to say that “Austerity budgets do little but hurt those who are already so vulnerable”.
Mr. Speaker, I have spoken for a while today and I intend fully to continue speaking on this issue tomorrow, if my voice permits, because we are raising fundamental issues.
The budget is a real betrayal of commitments that were made by the Prime Minister and the government in the last election campaign. This is not what Canadians voted for.
What we are seeing from the emails that we are getting and the tweets and the Facebook postings from Canadians from coast to coast to coast is a real concern about the direction of this country. Canadians are saying that the budget is wrong in denying the commitments that were solemnly made in the last election campaign when the Prime Minister looked Canadians in the eyes and said, “I will not gut health care. I will not gut retirement security. I will maintain services.” He was making a solemn commitment. That commitment has been broken. Canadians feel that. Many of the letters and tweets and Facebook postings and emails that we have read today demonstrate to what extent Canadians feel betrayed by the budget.
We will continue to do what New Democrats have always done in this House of Commons: We will continue to speak up for Canadian families. We will speak up because that has been our role since the very first days the first two labour MPs back in the 1920s sat down in that corner and forced a minority government to bring in old age pensions. It was considered a radical idea at the time, but those two voices, those two labour MPs, led to the first step in what was a fundamental transformation.
Tomorrow, I will tell members about what the CCF MPs did when they were seven in the House, and then 12, and then 15. I am hoping members will anticipate that conversation tomorrow.
Today, with 102 voices in Parliament, we are standing up to say no to the budget because Canadian families deserve better than what the budget would do for them.