Mr. Speaker, I would like to apologize to my colleagues. I misspoke and I apologize. What I said was inappropriate. Thank you for the reminder.
However, what is going on right now is a national catastrophe. The Conservatives show no regard for the environment. They ignore climate change and have absolutely no use for science. Now, they are targeting people and workers all across Canada. That is unacceptable. Perhaps that is why I got carried away and misspoke.
GDP growth has been going down after each budget, year after year. Why? Because the government is not thinking about stimulating the economy. It has not developed the framework and the environment needed to stimulate and diversify Canada's economy. That is evident everywhere, especially in the rural regions. Rural regions are doing especially poorly, since the government has abandoned the pioneering sectors that helped build our country, such as forestry and agriculture. Furthermore, it is cutting employment insurance, a program that is meant to be there during tough times, when people are transitioning between jobs. Once again, from coast to coast, rural economies are in jeopardy because the government is not supporting workers during these transitional periods.
We currently have $618 billion of national debt. We had a $20 billion surplus and now, over the past few years, we have had a $60 billion deficit. Debt has increased by nearly $130 billion in recent years. That is unacceptable. This has all happened at the expense of public services. The government has cut essential services for veterans, employment insurance and social housing, which is essential in our urban communities. Not necessarily in rural areas, but certainly in urban areas. The government has also completely ignored public transit. I think members can understand why some ministers are considered as sinister. I apologize, but it is what it is. That is what people are telling me. They are disappointed. They seriously think that this is a violation of their rights and freedoms. Why? Because 39% of people voted for this government, which means that 61% of the people who voted in the 2011 election did not vote for this government. When the time comes to draft a budget and create programs to stimulate the economy, the government abandons people.
We have talked more than once about the need to address the high costs that retailers pay banks to process credit card transactions, as my colleague who spoke before me mentioned. The only thing the government can come up with is to hold consultations to determine the best way to disclose these costs.
What we want are much stricter, more draconian measures to fight these practices that are costing consumers because the costs are passed down to them after all. Again, if the government wants to stimulate the retail economy then it will have to address these costs one of these days.
I was talking about workers' rights earlier. Cutting the public service, the services that Canadians are entitled to, by attacking the pay and benefits that have been negotiated over the past few decades is an affront.
It is no wonder that occupational illnesses are on the rise, especially in the public service. The workplace is no longer healthy. It has become unbearable, including for some employment insurance officers who are under pressure because of quotas that are forcing them to attack people who are entitled to benefits. These measures are hindering tourism, agriculture, culture and sports in the regions. It is unbelievable.
On the topic of transport, infrastructure and communities, need I mention the Lac-Mégantic tragedy to explain how important rail safety is to the people in my region? Again yesterday, a group stood up to Transport Canada to denounce its ineptitude at dealing with the infractions committed by private companies. It is inaction.
In the past three years, there was a tremendous number of infractions in my region, and no one ever did anything about it. There was a three-foot stretch of track that had not been repaired in two years. A month before the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, there was a spill that caused environmental damage. A month later, tragedy struck.
It is irresponsible and unacceptable for an industrialized country that is a member of the G7 and the G20 to table such a budget, given that the railway sector supports economic development across Canada. The government literally could not care less about rail safety. People living next to railway tracks are scratching their heads and wondering when the next tragedy will strike.
Well, there was already one in New Brunswick a few months ago, and we knew that would happen. All the players reviewing the Lac-Mégantic tragedy were certain that another tragedy would occur in that part of the country. People were abandoned.
It is the government's responsibility to make sure that private and public railways are safe. However, there is still nothing in this budget to protect my constituents. It is unacceptable.
I will quickly mention the government's interference in health and education. The only thing the provinces have always asked for is the money owed to them. It is up to them to decide where and how to invest it. They have this right under the Constitution. The NDP reaffirmed this right in the Sherbrooke declaration. We are the only ones to guarantee that right.
The government has abandoned agriculture, food safety and the environment, just to name a few areas. There is no mention of climate change or environmental concerns.
To conclude, Canadians deserve much better than this government, which is completely out of touch with the realities and needs of the people. If Canadians want to support the development of a just society and a prosperous economy, they must vote for the NDP in 2015.