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House of Commons Hansard #106 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from April 3 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share my time in this budget debate with the hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

The budget that the Conservatives recently tabled is an austerity budget. It will result in major job losses and scaled-back services to the public, and it will make seniors, women and children more vulnerable. This budget even attacks our health care system.

Let us stop beating around the bush. The Conservatives' budget is an austerity budget. We will be dealing with fallout from this budget for years. To justify their choice, because it is certainly a choice, the Conservatives are trying to convince us that the sky is falling, that there is an urgent need to scale back services to the public, to limit environmental studies, and to make seniors in need work two years longer before collecting old age security.

The Conservatives are basing their arguments on fear, not facts. As many economists have said over and over again, our system is viable; it is not in trouble.

After tabling their budget, the Conservatives were all over the place explaining that their budget cuts were based on their commitment to manage public moneys responsibly, to save money and cut costs. That may be, but I must say that, coming from the Conservatives, such arguments do not hold much water.

This government has proven over and over again that it has a special talent for misusing public funds. When the Minister of National Defence uses a military helicopter to go to a fishing camp, is that responsible? Is that trying to save money?

When the government authorizes over a billion dollars—yes, a billion—in spending on the G8 and G20 summit festivities—

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. The hon. Minister of National Defence on a point of order.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member has just said is patently false.

I on no occasion took a military asset to a fishing lodge. I left that lodge early to go back to work. I would like the hon. member to correct the record on that point.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The Minister of National Defence will know that on these points of debate, the Chair is not in a position to question the statements of hon. members. There are other opportunities, of course, for members to raise these issues when there are disagreements as to the facts. We would encourage the minister and others, if they wish, to use those opportunities as they may.

The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will continue.

Would it be responsible to spend $25 billion to buy F-35s? Does the Prime Minister project the image of a responsible fiscal manager when his own office's budget has increased by 32%? The answer is no.

On the one hand, the Prime Minister has asked the departments that provide services to the public to cut up to 10% from their budgets. On the other hand, he is inflating his own budget by 32%. The Prime Minister is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He is asking families to tighten their belts and asking older people, who are already struggling, to work two years more before qualifying for old age security. But when it comes to expenditures in his own office, there is a free lunch.

It takes some nerve to stand up in front of Canadians and ask them to make sacrifices that he is not willing to make himself. It also takes some nerve to ask Canadians to tighten their belts when the Conservatives' rich friends have it easy, thanks to the tax breaks they get from this government.

Canadians are hungry for social justice. They are prepared to do their part, as long as those who earn millions do the same. But with this Conservative budget, nothing has changed: families have to pay, while the very rich get richer.

Budget 2012 will have painful consequences for the economy in the Outaouais region and my riding of Hull—Aylmer. Tens of thousands of public servants, who are also fathers and mothers, have already lost or will lose their jobs and therefore their families' main source of income.

When a company lays off 1,000 people, the economy of the region where operates is harshly affected. Imagine what happens when that number is multiplied by 10 or 20. The people who are going to lose or have already lost their jobs are going to spend a lot less money at local businesses. What happens when less money is spent at those businesses? They lay off all their staff or completely close their books.

In my region and elsewhere in Canada, a number of small and medium-sized businesses depend on the federal public sector for their contracts. Some 40% of federal contracts go to small and medium-sized businesses. When $5.2 billion in cuts are made to various government departments, that threatens the existence of many small and medium-sized businesses. It is a vicious circle.

I hope no one tries to tell me that the Conservatives' cuts are modest. The impact on my region's economy will be anything but modest. The Prime Minister promised Canadians to create jobs, not to create more unemployment. All Canadians, not just those in my region, are going to pay for this budget.

Take, for example, the cuts to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which will primarily affect such services as food inspection. This service is provided to all Canadians. The Conservatives' decision to cut Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's budget will definitely have repercussions on the quality of this service, and that will create fear throughout Canada.

Raising the retirement age from 65 to 67 is another measure that will affect all Canadians. The main victims of this measure are those who depend on old age security to live with a minimum of dignity. Women in particular will be affected because 50% of Canadian women depend on government transfers to supplement their income. The same is true of health transfers.

The Conservatives' pigheadedness and their refusal to talk to the provinces mean that health transfers to the provinces will be reduced by $31 billion by 2024. By making changes to health transfers, the Conservatives are directly attacking Canada's primary health care system.

What impact will this decision have? Fewer doctors and nurses for Canadians and longer wait times in emergency rooms. The Prime Minister had promised that he would not touch health transfers. Why are the Conservatives attacking our health system?

There is still a very long list of unacceptable measures in this budget. One of them is particularly odd, and that is the $7.5 million in cuts to Elections Canada. What a coincidence. Elections Canada is currently investigating one of the biggest scandals in Canada's political history, and now part of its budget is being cut. Really.

I would also like to draw Canadians' attention to the fact that the Auditor General, who just released a report that is not very sympathetic to the Conservatives, will have his budget cut by $6.7 million.

In my opinion, the Conservatives' priorities leave much to be desired, to say the least.

They forgot to include things in the budget. One would have to look long and hard to find measures to combat poverty or to improve access to affordable housing. That is because there are no such measures. The Conservatives have also done away with the national pharmaceutical strategy.

Developing a budget is first and foremost about making choices. The Conservatives have chosen to turn their backs on Canadian families, single people, seniors and the entire middle class.

The middle class is tired of footing the bill. Canadians deserve better.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I will begin by saying how deplorable a number of the comments the member just made were. The comments she made about the Minister of National Defence are beneath the House and she should have withdrawn them when she was given the opportunity to do so. However, she decided not to. which speaks to character.

However, I want to correct the record on a number of things the member just said. For instance, she indicated that spending in the PMO was up and that spending in ministers' offices was up. I would like to give her the opportunity to respond, especially where numbers are concerned. The NDP often gets very lost in numbers because it does not understand numbers, but Canadians feel it is important that we do.

The budget in the PMO was down 13.7% over 2010. That is more than the overall spending decreases that we are asking from the rest of government. The budget for ministers' offices is down 16% compared to the last year the Liberals were in office. That is seven years ago and we are 16% beneath that. We are running an efficient, effective government. We make no apologies for seeking to run the government as efficiently and effectively as possible. She would drive taxes up and investment would fall in this country. She should withdraw the inaccuracies and the deplorable things that she said about the Minister of National Defence because they were beneath the House.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that money was spent on the G8 and the G20. It is very clear that we still have no answers to questions about the F-35s and that we still do not know how much the planes will cost. We know that the government cut spending in areas where the provinces will have to make up the shortfall. That is what we know, and that is the truth.

We can tell the Conservatives that there are expenditures that are not targeted appropriately and priorities that are not in line with Canadians' priorities.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it has been an interesting process going into the whole budget debate. There are a number of concerns that all members of Parliament have with regard to the budget. It is fairly well established that not only will the Liberals be voting against the budget but I understand that the New Democrats will also be voting against it.

Some of the concerns we have are related to the lack of commitment to jobs and increasing the retirement age from 65 to 67. I wonder if the member might be able to provide some input as to why she believes it is important that all members be afforded the opportunity to address the budget debate, given the fact that we will be spending over $250 billion in this fiscal year.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would agree that we should have a real debate on the budget to talk about job creation, to talk about the need in the field for social housing and to ensure the people in Canada have a decent retirement. Those are the things we should be debating and not about creating more work and expenses for the provinces in different avenues.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned cuts at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. This government has been in power since 2006, and there has hardly ever been anything for agriculture in its budgets. Now things are worse than ever because the department is going to be hit harder than most by the cuts.

The member for Hull—Aylmer also mentioned cuts at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. I would like to remind the House that around the time of the listeriosis outbreak, which killed 22 people, the government wanted the industry to self-regulate and conduct its own food safety inspections. The Conservatives still seem partial to that ideology even though people died during the outbreak.

Rather than cut funding for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, what does my colleague think the government should do to ensure the safety of all Canadians?

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's question.

Indeed, the budget gives companies complete freedom and tells people that they have to deal directly with the company. It is a shame. The government should be increasing food inspection services to ensure that we are ahead of the game when it comes to protecting the health of Canadians, instead of taking a step backwards as we are doing now.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, budgets are all about choices and, with this budget, the Conservatives have chosen winners and losers.

The winners are those who promote Canada as a fossil fuel centre; those who rid environmental assessment of its substance; those who do not stand up for communities that want to protect the wilderness in western Canada and the fragile coastal waters; and those who work to increase oil exports as quickly as possibly.

The losers are the ones the government is willing to leave behind.

Our environment and those working to protecting it are losers in this budget. The Conservatives have tried to dismiss their critics as radicals. However, it is their dogged promotion of disastrous environmental policy that is truly outrageous. The Conservatives want to gut Environment Canada and National Resource Canada, along with the environmental assessment process. They want to send hundreds of supertankers through some of the world's most dangerous waters off some of the world's most fragile coastline. The oil sands pipeline is a real threat to our environment, fisheries and first nations. The risk for supertanker oil spills is enormous.

The government must listen to everyone who is affected, not just the oil industry.

Environmental assessment processes are not just red tape. They are an essential tool in the protection of our environment and in the promotion of sustainable development practices.

The government claims to be focused on economic growth but it has no plan to take advantage of the enormous economic opportunity of the green economy. Instead, it is shutting down the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

While it continues to provide generous subsidies to its friends in the oil industry, it has no direct funding to support renewable energy, and it has abandoned the ecoenergy home retrofit program.

Central Canada and Ontario are also big losers in this budget, along with any company that relies on manufacturing.

At a time when governments in Germany and the U.S. are recognizing the importance of manufacturing, the Conservative government has turned its back on the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing has a powerful spillover effect on the rest of the economy, including on innovation. In other words, the outsourcing of our manufacturing jobs leads to the outsourcing of our innovative edge as well.

Some other losers in this Conservative budget are Canadian artists. This sector is especially important in my riding of Parkdale—High Park, where a great many artists live and work. The arts play an important role, not only in the vitality of our communities, but also in economic recovery.

We appreciate the fact that the Canada Council for the Arts is not affected by the cuts, but I am deeply concerned about the cuts to Telefilm Canada and the NFB and the major cuts to the CBC.

The CBC is not only one of the country's vital cultural institutions. A study in 2010 shows that the Canadian public broadcaster generated economic spinoffs to the tune of $3.7 billion on expenditures of $1.7 billion.

My voters are strong supporters of the CBC and they are not alone. In fact, 74% of Canadians want the government to provide more support to the CBC. The major cuts in the budget will have tangible repercussions on the CBC's capacity to develop or even maintain its regional and cultural programming.

Of course, those are not the only losers in the budget. Canadian cities, like my home of Toronto, have been completely left out of this budget. There is nothing for affordable housing, nothing for transit, nothing for immigrant settlement services and there is no new money for infrastructure.

A big issue In my riding of Parkdale—High Park has been the building of the Union-Pearson air-rail link. People want clean, electric trains to be built prior to the opening of the service, not years down the road. The budget contains nothing to support the electrification of this important infrastructure project. In fact, there is no mention of it at all.

The budget contains nothing for young people. Not only are there no new jobs but the Katimavik project is being cancelled. A young person just contacted me yesterday to say that she had been accepted to the program for this summer, and now it has been cancelled. That is outrageous for young people in this country.

Canadian retailers will also continue to feel the squeeze from lower prices across the border, forcing them to lower their own prices and decrease their profitability.

The growing income gap is one of the biggest challenges that our country must tackle. In fact, we are now reaching levels of inequality not seen since the 1929 crash. However, the Conservative budget does not address this problem.

In fact, this budget makes the problem worse by forcing our seniors to work two years longer to make ends meet. This budget should have been used to strengthen retirement security for Canadians, not to undermine it. Despite what the Conservatives have said, the OAS is entirely sustainable, a fact confirmed by many pension experts and the PBO. They should try listening to him once in a while. This program keeps tens of thousands of seniors out of poverty and the changes proposed by Conservatives will hit the most vulnerable seniors the hardest.

This government has made things worse by trying to balance the budget at the expense of the provinces. The budget unilaterally alters the formula for calculating health transfers, which will deprive provinces of $31 billion and create a two-tier system.

The Conservatives have made provincial finances less stable and imposed significant costs, for instance, millions of dollars for their prison plans.

The government has made the problem worse by making deep cuts to the public services Canadians rely on. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that cutting 19,000 jobs will have a major impact on services. The $5.2 billion in cuts in this budget will result in significant job losses in the private sector as well.

This budget has nine times more in cuts than in job creation measures and no mention of any strategy to deal with the stalled labour market, no strategy to deal with the 1.4 million Canadians out of work and no strategy to deal with the lowest labour force participation in a decade. In fact, the Conservative budget plans for unemployment to rise.

Yes, budgets are all about choices and priorities but it is clear that the priorities of the government are out of line with the priorities of Canadians. With this budget, we all lose. Of course, it our job here on this side of the House to also propose solutions.

What would an NDP government do differently? We would have a balanced approach and a long-term vision for the sustainable development of the energy sector. Instead of shipping more crude oil overseas, we would focus on value added jobs in the processing sector and tomorrow's clean, renewable energies. We would strengthen our manufacturing sector, maintain its quality and support jobs here at home. We would provide our arts community with stable funding, and we would support our public broadcaster in promoting Canadian culture, linguistic identity and regional diversity both at home and abroad.

An NDP government would work with our provincial, territorial and municipal partners to strengthen our communities with strategic investments in public transit, in affordable housing and in critical infrastructure. We would renew this country's commitment to family reunification and strengthen immigrant settlement services. We would retain the age of eligibility for OAS at age 65 and strengthen the CPP-QPP to ensure that our seniors' retirement is secure.

We would work with the provinces and territories to ensure that families have access to the services they need. Unlike the Conservative government, picking winners and losers, an NDP government would work with Canadians from coast to coast to coast to build a Canada where no one is left behind.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments. I am sure Canadians would acknowledge that the budget does fall short. The government has proven that it will not fight for the people. We recognize that. Examples of that would be Aveos and Air Canada. Air Canada is in violation of the law. Thousands of jobs are being lost across the country. The government has done nothing to hold Air Canada accountable to the law.

There will be 19,000 civil servants laid off. There is a lack of any sort of job creation that will generate the types of jobs that are important to all Canadians.

The only area the government has actually made a commitment to move forward on is to increase the number of politicians in the House of Commons.

When the member makes reference to the government being “out of tune with Canadians”, would she not agree with the Liberal Party that now is not the time to increase the size of the House of Commons? We do not need more politicians. We need a government that will care more about our civil service, protecting aerospace jobs and creating jobs. Would she not agree with that?

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, in my remarks I spoke about the lack of attention to job creation in Canada. We have lost hundreds of thousands of good paying manufacturing and resource processing jobs. Canadians are fed up with seeing trucks go down the highway in British Columbia, shipping raw logs out of the country. Albertans do not want to see raw bitumen shipped out of the country. They want to have upgraders and process it there. People across the country want to have good quality jobs, not low wage service sector jobs.

If we want to save money in Ottawa, we should think about eliminating the Senate. That might be a good place to start.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I note with some interest my colleague's discussion about the lack of any support for renewable energy within the budget and within the whole ideology of the Conservative Party.

Interestingly enough, in the United States over the past two years, ending December 31, 2011, renewable energy sources grew by 27%. At the same time, domestic energy production only increased by 6.7%. We see a great movement to renewable energy in the United States. We see nothing in the budget to improve production and distribution of renewable energy in our country.

What is wrong with the government? Why can it not see the writing on the wall for energy in our country?

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. Canada is being left behind. The rest of the world is rushing to focus on energy efficiency. It is rushing to focus on investment and renewable energy. We are focusing on the non-renewable energy sector. That will be part of our energy mix for some time to come. However, surely we want to join the rest of the world in investing in renewable energy sources and all of the economic advantages and job creation opportunities that go with that.

The fact the government is so blind when the rest of the world is leaving us in its dust is shocking for Canadians.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Parkdale—High Park for her concerns for what the budget does not do for working families, particularly in situations such as Aveos.

What does the member find in the budget that relates to the shipping of bitumen crude to other countries? Why is there a presumption running throughout the budget that this is in the national interest when it is clearly shipping jobs offshore?

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's question raises two issues. The first relates to the shipping of raw bitumen out of the country when Albertans are saying that there should be upgraders in Alberta so the bitumen can be processed there.

However, when we talk about exportation of raw bitumen and a pipeline going through some of our most sensitive wilderness areas to tankers and through dangerous and very sensitive coastal waters, against the wishes of the people who live and work in that area and care passionately about the environment, it is unbelievable the government would want to ride roughshod over the wishes of that community.

Financial statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore.

It is stormy waters in the world today. In Rome and Athens, cradles of civilization are replaced with cradle-to-grave socialism. Across Europe and the United States, millions go without work. Those who do work face a lifetime of crippling taxation to pay for the entitlements of their countrymen and the debts of their governments.

Canada by contrast is strong. To stay that way, we must never repeat the mistakes of Europe and the United States and we must instead focus on what Canada has already done right.

What went wrong in the United States? Many believe that the 2008 financial collapse and recession were the result of irresponsible behaviour by business and banks. In fact, this behaviour was merely the symptom. The illness was massive government intervention to turn the mortgage business into a social program.

The roots of this go back three decades. Presidents from Carter to Bush Jr. wanted to expand home ownership, a worthy mission no doubt. To do this, they mandated government-sponsored enterprises like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to cover the risks of loans to people who would otherwise not qualify for them. We call these subprime mortgages.

According to a 2010 World Bank report, Freddie and Fannie, both government sponsored enterprises, bought an estimated 47% of these toxic mortgages. Harvard financial historian Niall Ferguson estimated that between 1980 and 2007 the amount of government backed mortgages increased from $200 million to $4 trillion. Furthermore, the American government not only encouraged but forced banks to provide these loans.

To quote the World Bank report, “In the mid-1990s, the government changed the way the Community Reinvestment Act was enforced and effectively compelled banks to initiate risky mortgages”.

Once Americans are in debt, the U.S. government encourages them to stay there by allowing them to write off their mortgage interest. The bigger the mortgage debt, the lower the taxes.

In sum, the government encouraged millions of Americans to spend money they did not have on homes they could not afford, using loans they could never repay and then gave them a tax incentive never to repay it. The state had pumped so much air into the mortgage bubble that it burst. Financial institutions collapsed, taxpayers were on the hook, millions were jobless and one in five American households went under water, and that is to say their mortgages were bigger than the value of their homes.

To make matters worse, those same American households have trillions of dollars in debt of which they are likely not even aware, government debt. The U.S. government debt is now bigger than the entire American economy. This is household debt, as families will need to repay it on their tax bills with interest, now or later.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department website, mainland China holds $1.1 trillion of it. To quote Mark Steyn:

If the People’s Republic carries on buying American debt at the rate it has in recent times, then within a few years U.S. interest payments on that debt will be covering the entire cost of the Chinese armed forces.

Imagine, through debt interest, soon American taxpayers will be funding 100% of the Chinese military. Steyn points out, according to the congressional budget office, that by 2020 the United States government will be spending more annually on debt interest than the total combined military budgets of China, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Spain, Turkey and Israel. Yet if America is jogging off the debt cliff, Europe is sprinting.

The European welfare state borrows on taxes to give people stuff they have not earned. Recently, for example, Greek public sector workers took to the streets to demand the government continue to pay them 14 monthly paycheques per year. We call this socialism. Margaret Thatcher pointed out that the problem with socialism was that eventually we would run out of other people's money. We call that a “sovereign debt crisis”.

Standard and Poors has now downgraded French and Austrian government debt and further has reduced the ratings of seven other countries in the Euro currency block.

Portuguese and Greek debts have now been downgraded to junk status by all rating agencies.

To avoid bankruptcy, the Greek government needs to borrow more. Because no one will lend its own money to that country, the European Central Bank must step up and lend 150 billion euros of other people's money. Thank goodness, the EU has a bailout fund to prevent government defaults. Too bad Standard and Poors has downgraded that bailout fund. Soon the bailout fund will need a bailout.

I describe this humiliating American and European experiment with the welfare state because it is precisely the same experiment the opposition and its union bosses wish to impose on Canada. We know where it leads.

Through government spending, the indulgence of one is the burden of another. Through government borrowing, the excess of one generation becomes the yoke of the next. Through international bailout, one nation's extravagance becomes another's debt. Everyone takes and nobody makes. Work does not pay and indulgence does not cost. Money is free and money is worthless. The system punishes work, rewards sloth, taxes the makers to pay off the takers, and quoting Thomas Jefferson, steals “from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned”.

To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling:

In the era of generous government we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And reality stood up and told us:
if you don't work you will die.

Amazingly, opposition members ignore this timeless truth. They see the Europeans and Americans running off the debt cliff and say, “Let's hurry and catch up”. No thank you, Mr. Speaker. I choose the Canadian way.

Canada is one of the greatest success story of human history precisely because our leaders were practical and smart. From the beginning, they understood the basic rules of success: people should work hard, pay their bills, spend only what they have and let free people do the rest.

When Prime Minister Laurier declared that the 20th century would belong to our country, he said, “Canada shall be the star towards which all men who love progress and freedom shall come”.

More freedom meant less government. From 1900 to 1920, federal, provincial and municipal government spending was a combined 9% of Canada's GDP. Today, it is 39%. Low-cost government meant a low-tax nation.

To quote the authors of The Canadian Century, Crowley, Clemens and Veldhuis:

Laurier believed that the cost of government, and especially the tax burden, needed always to be kept below the level in the United States, so as to create a powerful competitive advantage for Canada

Then, as now, Canada's low-tax worked. In the first 20 years of the 20th century our population grew by an unprecedented two-thirds, the wheat yields in the Prairies by 500% and exports more than doubled.

Today we have an economic action plan based on our history. It tears down the walls of paperwork and protectionism so businesses and workers can reach the cornucopia of natural resources, so we can reach foreign markets to create jobs and so our entrepreneurs can build a mountain of success rather than drowning in a sea of paper. It welcomes skilled immigrants in and punts fraudulent ones out.

We are in rough seas in the world today, yet we have a solid captain and the bright star of our ancestors to guide him through stormy waters.