Madam Speaker, first, I want to quote the start of the budget speech by the Minister of Finance:
Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to all those who have helped in the preparation of this 2005 federal budget—from the many organizations and professional groups that presented expert briefs, to Canadians from every corner of the country who submitted individual letters and ideas.
Their contributions, their counsel and their concerns have helped shape the budget I am tabling today.
The minister was telling tales. Bill C-48 makes this clear. At the first sign of significant pressure, he introduced a bill devoid of logic that negates all the consultations that occurred in the months preceding the tabling of the budget, including those held by the Standing Committee on Finance.
The Bloc Québécois voted against this budget when it was tabled. I simply want to briefly remind the House why. First, this budget did not propose any solution to the fiscal imbalance. Also, it made no attempt to respond to the needs of Quebeckers, with regard to EI, for example. There was no specific plan to implement the Kyoto protocol. Things have even gotten worse, since a bad plan for implementing the protocol was tabled. Today, farmers protested in front of the House of Commons. This budget did not meet their needs whatsoever. The same is true of international aid. This budget, like Bill C-43, has no respect whatsoever for Quebec's areas of jurisdiction.
We voted against the budget and we will vote against the budget implementation bills, meaning Bills C-48 and C-43.
What is even more disturbing about Bill C-48 is that it is nothing but an empty shell. I may not have as many years in this House as some, but I do not believe I have ever seen such a senseless bill. It contains no minimums, only maximums, and no specific time lines. The amounts are contingent on whatever surplus there will be at the end of a fiscal year.
Mind you, I am not worried about the existence of a surplus. I am, in fact, sure that the actual surplus at the end of the fiscal year will be far more than set out in the budget. This is an old trick, one used by the previous government, and still being used by this one.
This bill does not reflect a number of realities, including the realities of Quebec. Once again, it encroaches on Quebec's jurisdiction, over education in particular.
This is, without a doubt, a hollow bill, and I find it hard to understand why the NDP got involved in this with no guarantee that its requirements would be respected. That was made clear when the NDP leader had to remind the Prime Minister that the corporate income tax reductions, which he required in exchange, were not in the bill. The Prime Minister then had to suddenly pull a rabbit out of a hat and say that this bill was going to apply only to fiscal years 2006-07 and 2007-08, and that the reductions would come the year after, anyway, so he did not need to cancel them.
This is a fine example of a fool's deal. I am sure they meant well. I have to say, however, in this House, that the NDP has been had. These are last minute add ons, the desperate efforts of a Prime Minister to try to buy another election. This time, perhaps, with dirty money—we will see—but certainly with taxpayers' money.
If Bill C-48 at least resolved the problems in the budget or in Bill C-43. But no, not even. To some extent, it is worsening things.
Once again, Bill C-48 ignores the fiscal imbalance completely. They will invest money in Kyoto, but the plan remains a bad one. I note that there is neither a minimum nor a timetable. They continue to invest in areas of jurisdiction, without a specific plan. They talk a lot about lowered tuition fees. In Quebec, we were not consulted a whole lot. Had we been, they would know that tuition fees are already very low, the lowest in Canada.
In terms of social housing, we immediately supported the requests of various groups in this regard. The latest budget made no provision at all. At the last minute, they aligned figures, but no string is attached. Nothing in this bill will require the government to spend these amounts.
After years of draconian cuts in transfer payments to the provinces, they claim to be reinvesting in postsecondary education. That represents only 11.5% of the money the federal government is investing. Is there a little money in this bill? Perhaps. Once again, no minimum amount, no timetable for the conditions attached to the payment of these amounts and no guarantee it will be done.
It is a last minute announcement. The worst of it is that this government has no qualms telling people, voters, that, if it is not re-elected, the money will never be invested. It is trying once again to frighten voters by saying the money will disappear if the government is defeated. This is the government that ignored education when it presented its 2005 budget.
In the case of the environment, as I mentioned earlier, the Kyoto plan is a bad one. I am far from convinced that an injection of money will improve the situation. In fact, it could even worsen it. The Kyoto protocol is badly suited to the situation in Quebec, specifically.
In terms of international aid, the February 23, 2005, federal budget does not provide any new money, as you will recall. The Bloc Québécois demands that the government draft a serious, long-term plan to achieve the UN target of 0.7% of GDP by 2015.
Bill C-48 authorizes the government to reach agreements with municipalities, agencies and individuals. In the case of municipalities, again, it is a clear encroachment on the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces.
Worse yet are the foundations. This has come up quite often in this House. The government, with no real plan and not knowing what to do with its surplus, gives money to the foundations. For the most part, this money has not yet been used. I have even raised certain cases of foundations that have more money in the bank now than when they received the payments. It is important to say that Bill C-48 seems to authorize payments to foundations.
In closing, we will vote against the budget because it is bad for Quebec. Implementation bills, including Bill C-43, just keep repeating the same mistakes. Bill C-48 is an empty shell designed to buy votes with taxpayer dollars.