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House of Commons Hansard #104 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

We feel very strongly that this fewer jobs, less growth, less prosperity budget needs to be exposed for what it is. Of course, it is not as if the government actually put front and centre what the impacts of the budget were. When we looked through it initially, we found that a lot of the figures were hidden, which is what we feared. Here I go back to the memo from the President of the Treasury Board a few weeks ago that basically directed civil servants to hide within the budget the actual cuts to services and jobs. That is something that was leaked to the press, which then exposed it. Not only would the government not put that information in the budget documents themselves but also not put it in the reports on plans and priorities that would come out in the month of May, thereby hiding from the Canadian public the truth about the budget.

After a couple of days of being able to go through the budget and rip it apart, we are actually seeing what the real impacts are. That is why we are raising these points in this House.

Just on the job front alone, the government's estimate of 19,000 job cuts in the budget has been exposed as not accurate. We are actually talking in both the public and private sectors now of a loss of over 50,000 jobs across this country. It is nothing short of irresponsible for the government to proceed with cuts in services and jobs that are then multiplied in the private sector. We are talking about tens of thousands of jobs that would be lost right across the country. That is something that I can get into a bit later on.

However, the reality is that this fewer jobs, less growth and less prosperity budget has a profound negative impact. That is why, as my colleague from Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing raised, we are going to continue to speak out on the budget. Canadians are speaking out as well.

From the Halifax area, where there are three terrific NDP MPs, the members for Halifax, Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, and Sackville—Eastern Shore, a Mr. Roger says: “Make no mistake.... This budget is not about fiscal prudence or a healthy economy, this is an ideology-driven budget. It's hard to believe they have made Canada more regressive with respect to the environment. Meanwhile, they have slashed 19,000 jobs in public service at the same as saying they are trying to create jobs. Orwellian double-think?”

A person from Ontario says: “Why do believers in free market continue to feel that oil companies need subsidies from their own government? Somehow, I don't think that environmental assessments are going to stop the oil companies from taking their equipment and going home. Let them work on their own dimes and make sure that they are responsible to the environment and there are adequate environmental assessments”.

Another Canadian says: “Sad to hear about Katimavik. As a participant, I was lucky enough to travel Canada as a full-time volunteer, working in community centres and for NGOs and gaining valuable life experience, strengthening communities, self-directed learning, sharing skills, environmental stewardship. That program taught me a lot about being a decent citizen”.

Just hot off the press is another comment: “Has the Prime Minister been reading 1984 too much? This government is becoming very Orwellian when they start to suppress information and facts going to the public”.

Obviously, when we raise the tweets and the Facebook postings, this indicates what is very clearly a trend right across the country: Canadians are concerned about what they are seeing in the budget.

As I mentioned earlier, I am going to be coming back to the tweets and Facebook comments a little later on. However, I also want to start reading out some of the emails that we have been getting from coast to coast from Canadians who believe, profoundly, that the government is simply doing the wrong thing in the budget.

My Conservative colleagues have asked if they can send in tweets and Facebook comments. I will just reiterate that if they want to send tweets or Facebook comments, if we have time, we will certainly read them.

My Conservative colleagues have asked if they can send in tweets and Facebook comments. I will just say again that if they want to send tweets or Facebook comments, we will certainly read them if we have time, but what we will say, and I want to be very clear about this, is that we will be putting Canadian families first.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

He doesn't trust any of the other members to speak. Is that a problem? Is he the only one with a brain over there?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

If tweets, Facebook postings or emails come in from Canadian families, since we are putting Canadian families first, I will be reading those first before I read any of the concerns from my Conservative colleagues opposite.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

How many of you did they elect, Robert, 104 members? And only one of them can speak? So there are 103 bumps on a log. What an embarrassment.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I will continue with some of the emails that we have received. I will read them by region because we have been getting them from across the country.

Because I mentioned B.C., the member opposite, who is from Ontario, seems less inclined to want to listen to the British Columbians who have written in to us, but what I would like to say is that British Columbian families are important and we hope that he would heed and listen to the British Columbian families that are—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. I would like to remind the hon. member from Burnaby—New Westminster that he is speaking to the Chair and I thought he asked me a question at that point. I know he has been on his feet awhile and he may have forgotten that point, but I would appreciate it if he were to direct his comments to the Chair.

I would also appreciate it if other hon. members would give respect to the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster. He does have the floor. There will be questions and comments following his speech. I am sure he will be glad to answer them at that time.

The hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour on a point of order.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

April 2nd, 2012 / 12:50 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I appreciate your clarifying that. I know that my colleague, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, certainly honours the rules and respects them very much and will certainly turn his attention to what you have said.

I just wanted to make the point that members opposite have been directing some fairly veiled and somewhat weighted comments toward him, which have been distracting him to some degree. Perhaps if those members wanted to have an opportunity to have the member for Burnaby—New Westminster say something, they would be comfortable tweeting @RobertNDP and I would be happy to—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. That is not a point of order.

The hon. parliamentary secretary on the same point of order.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, what we are saying on this side of the House is that the hon. member is basically admitting that the other 103 members of the NDP caucus actually have no voice and are not intelligent enough to speak on the budget. Therefore, we were hoping that he would actually give an opportunity to the other 103.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. Before I go to the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, I would encourage all members to recognize that if they have a legitimate point of order, obviously the Chair will hear that, but the purpose of this is not to engage in a further debate. The hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster has the floor.

The hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, on that point of order, I think it is important to respond to the fact that the member opposite is suggesting that what my colleague, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, is doing is somehow not legitimate, that he is somehow infringing upon the rights of his colleagues in this caucus. I would suggest that it could not be further from the truth, because the member for Burnaby—New Westminster is standing up for Canadian families and showing them and talking to them about what is wrong with this budget, and good—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. Be that as it may, the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Dartmouth--Cole Harbour for his intervention. I am certainly not distracted by the comments opposite. It actually gives me more energy when the government says, as it has in this budget, that ordinary families are not important, that seniors are not important, but what is important is its two priorities, building prisons and buying fighter gets. That is why we are speaking out for ordinary families here in the House of Commons.

I want to make another point in reaction to the comments of my Conservative colleague opposite who asked about my other colleagues, the other 103 members in the NDP caucus, which would make it 104 members. However, we are actually 102 at this point but we will be far beyond that after the next election. Any one us, the 102 women and men, who were elected to this Parliament, representing constituencies right across the country, could be making the same points that I am making to day. Any one of them could, and we will hear from them in the coming days.

However, every member of the NDP caucus is united in saying that this budget is a bad thing. We all say that the cuts to services are a repudiation of promises the Prime Minister made during the May 2 election campaign. We all say that the forced retirement age going up is a repudiation of solemn commitments that were made. We also say that the cuts in health care funding over the longer term is a repudiation of promises made. Every member of this 102-strong NDP official opposition caucus would be standing and saying that Canadian families deserve better than what the government has brought forward.

I appreciate my colleagues raising those points of order. That is democratic debate. We believe it is fundamentally important to raise points of order if there is something a member opposite finds objectionable. That is part of the debate and the public discourse, which I do not mind at all. What I do mind is when the government says that it will not follow the facts anymore, that it will eliminate those organizations that stand up independently for Canadians and produces facts that it disagrees with. That is not part of the democratic discourse, which is why we are standing in the House today. We are standing up for Canadian families who are writing in to us.

I will start in British Columbia and read some of the comments that we have been getting from across the country in reaction to the budget.

I received comments from another constituent who lives in Burnaby, British Columbia. I am very proud of Burnaby and New Westminster, the two communities I represent in the House of Commons. My constituent says, “I oppose the severe cuts to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. We need good public media to keep Canada connected. The proposed cut of $110 million represents the majority of the cost of providing CBC Radio and much more than the current budget for all of CBC's digital programming. This dramatic cut will damage our news, our culture and our digital economy”.

The next one is from a person in New Westminster, B.C. I am taking the liberty of choosing a couple of constituents among the many Canadians who have written in. I guess it is my prerogative to put my constituents up first as we go across the country for what is essentially a roundup of opinion from ordinary Canadian families who see how the government, with its fewer jobs, less growth and less prosperity budget has moved forward.

My constituent says, ”keep saying that the burden on taxpayers to fund the OAS will be too great in the future”.

We will come back to that a little later on because, as we know, both the government's own actuarial tables, which I have today and will be very pleased to share with members opposite, and the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that OAS would be viable in the long term.

She goes on to say, “Seniors are still contributing their fair share of taxes, income taxes, consumption taxes, HST, GST, PST, as well as taxes paid for gasoline, etc. There are a lot of elderly women living on very limited, fixed incomes”. This Canadian is mentioning that we already have a lot of poverty among seniors in this country.

What the government is doing now is pitting one generation against another generation. Perhaps cutting out the less stealth fighter jets could be a start in cutbacks. We need to look at corporate tax cuts as well. Those are the things that will make a difference in having the kind of country we want to say. She adds, and this is very kind of her because she is a constituent, “I believe your voice makes a difference. I am proud that you are my MP”. I am proud to have her as a constituent.

Another person in Vancouver, continuing our roundup in the Lower Mainland, writes, “In terms of dollars, protecting the environment is also taking a hit as part of overall spending cuts. Environment Canada will get cut by $20 million in 2012-13, rising to $88 million in 2014-15. Parks Canada gets a $6 million cut this year, rising to $29 million in 2014-15. The National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment has been scrapped, ostensibly because an expanded community of environmental stakeholders has demonstrated the capacity to provide analysis and policy advice to the government”.

He puts that in quotation marks indicating he is skeptical about what the government is actually saying about how there will be analysis and policy advice going to the government. He goes on to say, ““Unless they get funds from foreign radicals”, apparently.

He goes on to say, ”The National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment was one of the few federal voices that have acknowledged the challenge of climate change in a series of reports while calling for action to reduce emissions, studying measures of doing so, such as carbon pricing, and making estimates of anticipated climate related damages to the Canadian economy in future years. Their contributions clearly were not welcome in the do not ask, do not tell Ottawa and will be missed”.

I have more comments from a person in Duncan, British Columbia who says, “I am very upset about the retirement age going to 67. In the 2000s, when the market crashed, all my life savings were taken back to when I first started saving for retirement in the 1980s. How is the generation I belong to supposed to make any headway? I will never vote Conservative again for the rest of my life. I am hoping that if the NDP does form the next government, you will think about business as I believe that working together you can create the jobs that we all depend on. I have lost faith in this government that we have now”.

I will move on to another Conservative riding on North Vancouver Island. What we will endeavour to do throughout this presentation is bring forward the voices of those Canadians who live in Conservative-held ridings for the moment and who want to have their voices heard on the floor of the House of Commons.

A Canadian woman writes, “My concern is the number of public service jobs that will be cut in this budget. Not only will this affect individual families but will also reduce the economic spinoff effects of workers with paycheques who purchase items in the community. This causes economic stagnation. The Prime Minister should understand this and develop policies to counteract or prevent job losses. How about keeping those jobs which provide essential services in our communities?”

That is a very good point. She is absolutely right. The rating agencies warned the government about doing this. The 50,000 or more job cuts in both the public and private sectors as a result of this budget will have a serious negative economic impact. The rating agencies, Fitch and Moody's, both warned the government against doing this.

There is no doubt that this will continue the vicious circle downward. The government acknowledged this in putting in its budget the fact that unemployment will go up as a result of this budget. It boggles my mind how it could do this but perhaps it is because I used to be a teacher and one needs to be precise as a financial administrator, as I was later on. However, when a government knows there will be fewer jobs, that the growth rate is being brought down and that it is ensuring less prosperity, why would it put on the front page of the budget document “Jobs, Growth and Prosperity”? It actually shows inside of the document that there will be fewer jobs, less growth and less prosperity as a result of this budget.

It would have been honest of the government to put that on the front cover. We will probably have to write over it so that it gives an accurate indication of what is in the budget. When the inside of the document contains statistics that show that unemployment will go up and prosperity will go down, why would it not come clean and just say that it will give fewer jobs to Canadians, 50,000 less as a result of this budget, and have less growth?

The reality is that Canada finished 130th in 2011 in economic growth worldwide, which means that 129 countries did better. That is a shocking statistic. That means that 129 governments knew what they were doing more than the Conservative government.

The member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour just asked what countries finished ahead of us. I would love to share that with him but perhaps a little later as I want to continue reading the comments of Canadians from coast to coast to coast because that is democracy and that is what we do. The comments are still streaming in. The fax machine is smoking and starting to break down because so many Canadians are writing in. Fortunately, with emails the computer can handle a higher volume and, as I mentioned, the tweets and postings on Facebook are still coming in.

The point the woman raised was a very important one. The government is provoking an even greater economic slowdown. That is what our concern is, among a number of concerns, about how irresponsible the government was with the budget that it tabled on Thursday.

I will now move on to the Prairies. These are important points that need to be raised. I will not read a ton of emails, as they are still coming in, but I have selected, out of the many we have received, those from Canadians in Conservative-held ridings who are speaking out.

A constituent in Calgary said, “At its worst, this new policy really is a massive insult to seniors. A cynic might even say that the statisticians have crunched the numbers and realized that a few hundred, or even a thousand, people may die between 65 and 67 while waiting for their pension, and they like that idea. Then Canada would not have to pay them pensions at all. It's like saying 'cross my heart and hope you die'. Nobody knows how long they will live, but it is odd to have a government betting on you delaying reaping benefits for all those years of your earnings to the point that maybe you won't be able to reap any benefits at all”.

The actuarial tables show, tragically, the rate of passing on between the ages of 65 and 67 does go up. It is true that as a result of the government's decision for future seniors, seniors who have worked all their lives to retire at 65 will either live in poverty from ages 65 to 67 because they have no other source of funding and cannot get their pension, or they may pass on. That is just the sad reality.

A constituent in Lacombe, Alberta said, “The budget points to the Prime Minister's great fear of anything that looks like work. I can agree with the Prime Minister that Canada may be financially better off than Greece; however, I would temper that joy with the reminder of how far behind we are of countries like Finland, Norway and other involved Nordic countries. We have fallen far behind. Those who voted for the Prime Minister with expectations of the good fiscal management he suggested he possessed must be very disappointed when cutting spending rather than growing the Canadian economy is his answer for the Conservatives to continue to hold power”.

From the Conservative-held riding of Elmwood—Transcona in Manitoba, a constituent said, “I believe all Canadians need to know these statistics”. He is talking about the statistics that I raised on Friday. A number of Canadians have asked us to go over those statistics. A number of people who wrote in wanted to take note of what the 10 principal economic and fiscal failures of the Conservative government have been.

The constituent from Manitoba went on to say, “All Canadians need to know the statistics you mentioned and hope that this information is readily available to the public. My real concerns with the budget are that our democracy is under attack, and cutting funding to Elections Canada is even further proof to me that the Prime Minister doesn't seem to like impartial elections. If an election has to be held, it will be on his terms, driving people away from an interest in politics, driving people away from having an option of voting for their preference, snubbing their nose at election financing rules, threatening to sue anyone who challenges them about their integrity, and the list goes on and on. The ability of Elections Canada to fulfill all of their duties is extremely important and reducing that ability would be the start of the end of democracy in Canada as we have all come to know it, and has been seen by many around the world as an envy until now. When I hear this government's move on OAS, I take it as a signal from the Conservatives that there will be more low-paying, less full-time, less skilled jobs in the future that will be paying less income tax with no benefits, so be prepared for a survival of the fittest”.

Those are some comments from people in the prairie region of Canada. In all three cases, these comments come from Canadians living in Conservative-held ridings. Their points of view are important.

I am going to move on to Ontario. I started in British Columbia for obvious reasons. I am very proud to come from B.C. To start in British Columbia and work my way east seemed to be the logical way to proceed.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

I can't believe you have got that far.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the encouragement from my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. I want to make sure I get the information out. That is important. It is what we do. At the same time, as the member indicates, I will have some time later on, since I am speaking for a while, to raise some of the other concerns that came up over the course of the weekend from Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Will you read that stuff later?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I certainly will.

Mr. Speaker, I will start with the riding of Prince Edward—Hastings, which is a Conservative-held riding, for the moment that is. The constituent said, “My biggest concern about this budget is for the CBC. The CBC is one of the best and largest creative forces in Canada and creativity requires pushing boundaries, trying new things and being brave”.

This person talks about the CBC as an institution. This person said, “I have learned so much about musicians in this country by listening to Canada Live. Imagine: live concerts recorded so you can hear what is going on in Cape Breton or Edmonton or Yellowknife. Then there's Tom Power, the morning show host on CBC Radio 2, a nice Newfoundland guy with a great sense of humour. How could the country not be in a good mood listening to something like that? Every day I listen to CBC radio I learn something else about this country. And talk about learning about this country, Rick Mercer every week shows us how good humoured and witty Canadians can be. I've been to the top of the CN Tower with Rick and Jann Arden”.

I saw that show. It was a great show. He went on to say, “I've watched Rick Hansen bungee jump off of a bridge over a waterfall and I've been prompted to think about some of the things that Rick Mercer says in his rants. Don't get me started about 22 Minutes. It makes me proud to be from a country that spawns this kind of humour. Then there's the news service. I've tried watching private television shows but the level of insight, clarity and yes, even-handedness doesn't even come close. Programs like Fifth Estate and Marketplace affect things that happen in our everyday lives. Witness the program about the low standards of sanitation in Canadian hospitals. That kind of work takes money, time and high journalistic standards.The people at CBC have been through 1,000 cuts it seems. The staff always seems to rally. The creativity flags for a bit and then it bounces back. But you and I know an organization can't be put through that forever. The CBC is an institution. It is made up of people who know this country and who love this country. They have high standards and we should too”.

I applaud that constituent in Prince Edward—Hastings for writing in about the CBC.

A paramedic in Ontario, wrote, “I am a paramedic. I serve the public. That's my life, for the good and the bad. I carry sick people down multiple flights of stairs. I get their respiratory illnesses. I put my life in harm's way for Canadians so they may live longer and with less pain and agony. Do you have any idea what I do in an average day of work? I've been in the business for 21 years now. At the present age of 45, I dream of retirement and hopefully may be able to do so with my health still intact. Prime Minister, you have just made that dream slip further into the future, raising the retirement age to 67. So at the ripe age of 66 and 11 months, I will carry many people younger than I down several flights of stairs. I will get ill from them, with less ability to recuperate at that age, and will still put myself in harm's way. Many other public-based occupations of the same nature and some with less adverse outcomes, the police and fire and even prison guards, are the workers who can retire, but I'll work 42 years in my occupation, thanks to you. Before this last budget it was only 40 years. How can I express my gratitude with you?”

He says that ironically. This paramedic knows now that as a result of the government's actions he will be forced to work two years longer. This is the point we have been making all along. The government is forcing those in manual occupations to work longer. Whether they are paramedics, carpenters or manual labourers, they have given for years and years and years. They have given all they can and they are looking to that date when they can finally put their body into retirement and heal from years of manual work.

I was a manual labourer in a factory for a number of years. Those Canadians who work in a wide variety of occupations, as paramedics, manual labourers and carpenters, give all that they can. Now the government is telling them that they are going to have to work for two more years or live in poverty. That is absolutely unacceptable. Canadians deserve better than what the government has put forward in the budget. Canadian families deserve better. Those manual labourers who work with their back, arms and legs deserve better than what the government is forcing them to do in adding two extra years. They deserve better.

On behalf of the entire NDP caucus, we extend our greetings to the paramedics of this country who do such an admirable job. We know how difficult their job is. They certainly deserve better than to have the government tell them that they have to work two more years after a lifetime of giving to this country in protecting and saving Canadians.

I would like to talk a moment about firefighters and police officers.

An NDP bill was introduced six years ago a few months before the former Liberal government fell. Conservatives and New Democrats voted together to put in place a public safety officer compensation fund. In some cases compensation is paid to the families of police officers and firefighters when they die in the line of duty, but not in all cases. In fact, there are huge holes in the safety net for firefighters and police officers, as there are for many other Canadians as we have seen over the last few years the meanspirited cuts in a variety of areas. However, the bill was passed by Parliament. We have waited for six years for the Conservative government to do the right thing and bring in, at a small cost, a public safety officer compensation fund.

Police officers and firefighters from across the country came to the Hill on their own time to speak to members of Parliament. Everybody was anticipating that this year the government would finally act, after six years of inaction, and put in place a public safety officer compensation fund so when a firefighter or police officer died in the line of duty his or her family would be taken care of. That would be a very small way of thanking firefighters and police officers for putting their lives on the line every single day. However, we see again this year in the 2012 budget that the public safety officer compensation fund will not be brought forward by the government. We are appalled.

I can commit to one thing, as our former leader, Jack Layton, committed to for many years and as our new leader, the member for Outremont, commits to as well. When we form government, we will bring in a public safety officer compensation fund so that the families of the firefighters and police officers are taken care of in the event that they die in the line of duty.

We send our greetings to firefighters, police officers and paramedics. Some people might say that it is a small thing and it does not matter. The Conservatives voted for this six years ago, but they really did not want to bring it into place. That creates uncertainty for our firefighters and police officers. We have heard so many horror stories from across the country. I have spoken with survivors of fallen firefighters and police officers who have had to sell their homes. The spouse has had to go back to work. The kids have had to quit school because we do not have a public safety officer compensation fund in place.

It defies belief that members of Parliament would vote for something and six years later still have done absolutely nothing about it. We will make sure that we get the job done. That is why we are in the House.

I will switch to a tweet that my colleague, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour has raised. It is from the Prime Minister's riding, from a Mr. Clarke who says, “You are speaking for me also”. Another voice from another Canadian opposing the cuts, opposing what the government is doing in gutting retirement security and longer-term health care funding.

When we rise to speak in the House as New Democrats, we are speaking for a wide range of Canadians across the country, including that constituent of the Prime Minister.

I will move on to another email, this time from Ottawa, again from a Conservative-held riding. This individual writes, “Many of my neighbours and friends are newly minted graduates with their first jobs, working for the federal public service. They are now terrified that as they were so newly hired, they will also be first in line to be laid off as departments implement the cuts that this federal budget contains. At the same time, they are also worried that those whose retirement would have opened up jobs for them are now going to have to work longer in order to make up the OAS cuts.This budget does not seem to make any sense from a fiscal perspective. It only seems to make sense from a partisan, political perspective. It reduces $5.2 billion from federal departments' funding. What will be the multiplier effects of this huge cut in government spending? It is not just employees of the federal government who will be affected by these job losses. There are all those who depend on the services and upon the fact that other people have those jobs. It makes more of us more precarious, which does nothing to restore confidence in the economy.”

All of these Canadians are saying that Canadian families deserve better.

This message is from a Conservative-held riding in London North Centre. Messages are flooding in from Conservative-held ridings right across the country saying they disagree with their Conservative colleagues.

Some of my Conservative colleagues opposite are saying that they do not want to listen, but hopefully they will because this is extremely important. We have constituents writing in and saying that they disagree with the budget. Conservative MPs who are hearing from their constituents would be well advised to listen to the extremely valid concerns being raised.

This constituent from London North Centre starts off by saying, “Cut the jets, Mr. Prime Minister, cut the jets.” I think this is in very clear reference to the F-35 fiasco.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Not the Winnipeg Jets?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

No, the individual is not talking about the Winnipeg Jets, a good hockey team with a good first year. It is the F-35 fiasco that we have been speaking about constantly. A budget of $9 billion has bloated into a cost now somewhere between $30 billion and perhaps $40 billion. Nobody really knows.

This constituent of London North Centre says, “I am greatly concerned that the federal government has apparently, vindictively, decimated the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Thursday's budget has cut 10% of the CBC's operating budget. The CBC represents Canada's cultural sovereignty. It disseminates our voices, both at home and abroad. Note also the major cuts to Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board. All three institutions have been essential in developing our sense of identity and helping us pull together as a nation and yet remain distinct as many communities. They have helped us recognize, respect and celebrate difference, as well as the larger community. They allow us to enter the experience of the other.” That is, other Canadians.

“And in this multicultural, multiracial community that Canada is at last becoming, that understanding, that feeling with the other is essential. For many folks, our telecommunications are a lifeline to the world. What is happening locally can go viral but as global can be brought into our homes and hearts. It grieves me that the Conservatives have reneged on their word.” The MP from London West emailed the constituent several weeks ago, claiming that there would be no cuts to the CBC. The minister also promised no CBC cuts when radio host J Peachy asked him about it during his election campaigning in his own B.C. riding. Why were the intentions to slash and burn such honourable world-class institutions not even mentioned in the Speech from the Throne?

Now another from the London region, “The cuts to the CBC, the fast-tracking on environmental reviews and the changes to OAS are unnecessary and unfair. The budget is much more dangerous in what it does not do. There is no action on job creation. Canada faces unacceptably high levels of unemployment, under-employment and mis-employment, doing jobs other than those for which they were trained.”

This Canadian from the London area is absolutely right. The message also says, “As well, too many Canadians employed full time have jobs that are tenuous and often have inadequate or non-existent benefits and pension provisions. This government clearly expects Canadians to take a bigger role in planning for their own retirement but it fails to provide a job strategy that enables Canadians to do this. Canada's net debt got 100% of the government's attention in the budget, whereas our massive urban infrastructure deficit, estimated to be at least $125 billion, got less attention than it deserves.”

When there is a $125 billion infrastructure deficit and the government puts up $150 million, we can only assume that is because the government does not understand the difference between millions and billions. Perhaps that is why the cost of the F-35s has grown so wildly. The $150 million when we need $125 billion means that we are not addressing 1% of the needs that are out there.

This infrastructure has deteriorated from one year to the next. We have seen cases where the infrastructure is not able to hold together any more. We have had problems with subways, highway overpasses and water treatment plants. The government is not even attempting in any serious way to address a serious infrastructure deficit. This Canadian is absolutely bang on.

The message goes on to say, “I personally make every effort to pay my mortgage as quickly as possible to save on interest payments. I do not do this at the expense of ongoing maintenance and repairs to my home.” That is a very apt comment. People cannot address the issue of the mortgage if the house is crumbling. A $125 billion infrastructure deficit treated with $150 million funding is not sustainability. It is paying lip service to a serious problem across the country. I can say right now Canadian families deserve much better than what they are getting.

I agree with my colleague with Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. I do not know if the members heard his point. He said that, as far as we and so many Canadians are concerned, 2015 cannot come soon enough.

I would like to continue with the writer's comments because they are very important. The message continues, “It does me little good to pay off my mortgage early if I end up with a rundown and unsafe hovel. Canada is not only our home but our business. Badly neglected highways, bridges and tunnels not only make Canada less beautiful and less safe, but lower our productivity and decrease our attractiveness to investment. This government's so-called economic action plan was a rushed response to public demand for job action in the face of a deep recession. It was necessary, but it was also inadequately implemented and prematurely terminated. A long-term commitment, 10 to 20 years, from a Canadian government to fix decaying infrastructure and to expand new projects would give clear signals to private sector employers, and clear signals to young adults to seek training and middle-aged workers to retrain in the construction trades. This initiative would also directly help many companies that lament the growing shortage of skilled tradespeople. Finally, government-led action to reinvigorate our engineering, construction and manufacturing sectors not only provides good jobs directly but many additional spinoff jobs in most other sectors of the economy.”

I cannot agree more.

We mentioned the appalling record of the government in manufacturing jobs. In 1976, Canada started keeping manufacturing statistics. At the time, I was wearing bell-bottoms and was in high school. I am not sure where you were, Mr. Speaker. I am sure you were doing something equally valuable. The government's record today is that we now have fewer manufacturing jobs in Canada than we have ever had since 1976.

I would like to go to Nepean-Carleton since we are staying in the Ottawa region. A constituent in this Conservative-held riding say this: “OAS will leave me pretty much in the same boat. Not been working and contributing to CPP due to raising children and then due to a disability, I am a person that will need the OAS. My long-term disability through a private insurer will come to an end at age 65. I don't qualify for Ontario disability benefits. I just heard on CBC that I said to contact the nearest NDP MP. My MP is a Conservative. My question is about the delay of CPP. Currently I am receiving long-term disability benefits until I reach 65 but I didn't qualify for CPP disability. Now I won't be eligible for CPP until 67. How am I supposed to live two years with very little income? How many others will be in my situation? Thanks to the NDP for allowing me to reach out to someone other than my own MP”.

I am going to move on with other comments from people in Ontario. It is extremely important to share these comments and to raise the voices of Canadians in the House of Commons, as my colleagues would agree.

A constituent in the Conservative-held riding of London West, an area where are getting a lot of comments from as well as the Ottawa region, says the following: “The recent budget brought forth by the Conservative government is deplorable. As a young person in this country, I see many hard-working people my age struggling just to get by. So what is the solution for this problem? The Conservative government's answer is to hand us a fiscal crisis of epic proportions, a crisis that was brought on by many years of corporate welfare and unfair oil subsidies, and then they sent it into overdrive with this budget. Not only will my generation have to clean up the environmental and economic damage left behind from this government, we will have to clean it up with few jobs”.

Again, that is another Canadian from a Conservative-held riding who obviously disagrees with the budget. He continues: “My generation has been completely ignored by this government and in this budget from wonderful programs such as Katimavik being shut down to the complete and utter lack of any sort of tangible solution for rising youth unemployment. This government has failed to look out for the future of this country, something MPs are elected to do”.

We on this side of the House agree with him: we believe that MPs should be elected to look out for the future of the country.

He went on to say that “The Conservative government seems to think that youth do not care about what affects them. We do care. We care about trees and the environment. We care about the poor and the sick. We care about our elderly. We care about our future. Our generation holds true to the real Canadian values of caring for one another, something we learned from the same storybooks that Conservative MPs read as kids. When will Conservative MPs take a stand for what is right and fair for everyone and stop filling their friends' pocketbooks for the sake of re-election?”

I want to repeat the first couple of sentences of that paragraph because they are profound. This young person from London, Ontario says that young people in this country do care. They care about the environment, the poor, the sick, the elderly and the future. His generation holds true to the real Canadian values of caring for one another.

We in the NDP agree with this young Canadian. We support him. We think Canadian families deserve better than what they have received from the Conservative government.

It is very poignant to hear these comments from younger and older Canadians, from Canadians from coast to coast to coast. There is no way I can read all of them into the record. They are flooding in from every part of this country and mainly from Conservative-held ridings. It is a pent-up concern. They listened closely to their Conservative candidates prior to the last election on May 2 and heard them promising not to gut health care funding, retirement security or any of those services. Many of them, as we have heard, voted Conservative the last time, but are not going to be voting Conservative next time because of the broken promises by the government, as manifested in this fewer jobs, less growth and less prosperity budget.

I am going to move on to a family from Stoney Creek, Ontario, which, as we know, is in the Hamilton region. They write the following: “Our family is very discouraged with the budget news coming out of Ottawa. The idea that the loss of 20,000 public sector jobs is either wise or necessary is absurd, and this while continuing massive corporate tax cuts”.

Mr. Webber just tweeted in, thanking the NDP caucus for bringing forward young people's issues to the House of Commons, saying: “We need more representatives in the House like the NDP MPs”. We thank Mr. Webber.

I want to move on to Windsor, Ontario. This is an NDP-held riding. I am not going to ask our colleagues opposite to listen to it necessarily, but the comments I will cite are from another Canadian. Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I think that members of Parliament should be listening to Canadians from all across the country, from every part of our land. There should not be first-class Canadians and second-class Canadians: Every Canadian should be a first-class Canadian and every Canadian should be treated with dignity and respect.

From Windsor there is the comment: “In this new budget, they are going after our pensions. I would like to know how we as Canadians can stop it. It is an utter disgrace”.

From the Essex-Windsor area, there is another comment. I am not going to mention this person's name, for obvious reasons, and will withhold it. The person starts by saying—

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NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

A Conservative MP.

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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

No, it someone who is directly impacted. The person stated: “I write this message in disappointment after hearing about the federal budget delivered yesterday. As a Canadian who crosses the border daily for work, I dread the thought of what crossing will be like with less customs officers to service our border crossings”.

She went on to mention that a member of her family had actually applied to become a customs officer and was notified last week that due to a lack of resources and other operational circumstances, the interview had been postponed. She notes that “As you can imagine, the news of budget cuts and attrition has only hampered the possibility of having a job. As you know, my family, in particular my in-laws, are Windsorites that were and would like to be committed to public service. I think the budget only brings bad news to our city”.

I have another quick one I would like to read. They are coming in as fast as we can read them. I think I will need to take a little more time after question period, if that is okay because there are just so many of these flooding in. They are coming in on twitter, Facebook and by email. Do members think we should read them into the record?

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An hon. member

Absolutely.

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An hon. member

This is democracy in action.

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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

This person starts off by saying, “I'd like to thank you so much for fully explaining the Conservative government's deficiencies in so many areas. Like you, and the NDP caucus, I look forward to 2015 when we can vote them out of office. But most of all, I would like to thank you for doing so much to improve the health of Canadians. Myself, and many people I know, get a bad feeling in the pit of our stomachs every time we hear a Conservative MP speak. However, today, I feel very well. Keep up the good work”.

As I mentioned earlier, I began with British Columbia. I do not know whether I will be able to finish reading the comments received yesterday and this morning before question period. However, I know that you will inform me when I have one minute left, which will give me a chance to summarize briefly before we move on to question period, and I will be pleased to continue afterwards. Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate your patience and your attention.

I am now going to read some comments received by Canadians from Quebec. I will begin with the comment of a man from the South Shore region who said: “They claim to want to stimulate the economy with this budget. I fail to see how cuts to culture, the CBC, the National Film Board and Telefilm can stimulate the economy, when it has been proven that every dollar invested in culture brings in much more. I fail to see why the government would make cuts to the CBC, except for the fact that it represents a threat to the current government. The CBC carries out an essential mission for the fragile unity of this country and its numerous remote areas. The CBC is unifying, intelligent and innovative. It costs $34 per Canadian. Canada ranks 16th out of the 18 OECD members for state television funding, so no one can argue that we are not getting our money's worth”.

That is indeed the case. The CBC is truly a gem for Canadians across the country. Actually, this is something I did not even know. Perhaps my colleagues who sit on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage knew it, but I did not know that Canada ranks 16th among the 18 OECD members. It is therefore even more important than this person from the South Shore thought.

Another Quebecker had this to say: “I think there is too much for oil companies and not enough for the environment. For example, the cuts to weather research in the far north, and to culture. The cuts affecting the CBC are probably an act of pure revenge. As for retirement age, that is a low blow.”

Let us now look at some of the comments received from the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, where we have two really good members, two incredible members. Citizens from that northern region of Quebec said: “People are very concerned about the fact that the government is raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. For some, an additional two years is too much. They do not know whether they will be financially and physically able to reach retirement age.”

That is a second comment.

The third comment is from someone living in the Mauricie region, where we again have two great members in the ridings of Trois-Rivières and Berthier-Maskinongé. These members do an extraordinary job.

John had this to say: “I find that the Conservative government showed a lack of sensitivity towards its public servants by keeping them in the dark.”

Then, we have Guy, from the Mauricie region, who said: “They are cutting services and subsidizing oil companies.”

I will continue after question period because we have a lot to say and many people from across the country have sent us their comments.

A man from the Charlevoix region, which is represented by a very good NDP member, writes: “I am 64 years old and, because of health problems, I can no longer work full time. Part-time work is my only option. I did try after that to go around to seasonal employers in my area, but it was too late; the season had already started.”

This situation shows that changes to the OAS are taking away employment insurance from people who are entitled to it, which is really shameful in a country such as Canada. The Prime Minister can go ahead and pat himself on the back for his majority. He is not listening and he does not see the real problems being faced by Canadians.

We do see the real problems that Canadians are facing. We see that this budget will cut services that Canadian families deserve. We are saying that Canadian families deserve better than this budget.