Mr. Speaker, I could rephrase that by saying that the Prime Minister and his party members are electoral opportunists who are more concerned with holding the reins of power than they are interested in the health and welfare of our nation.
In a word, budget 2007 is so divisive because it has pitted province against province, the rich against the poor. It is full of broken promises. It has slashed and burned effective programs only to later re-brand them and replace them with sad imitations.
The Conservative budget has taken gross advantage of British Columbians to pay for political gains in Quebec and central Canada. Keith Baldrey from my local newspaper, the Richmond News, stated:
--the new budget provides each British Columbian with $163 over the next two years--compared to a whopping $446 per Quebec resident over the same period.
My constituents are crying foul, and they are not the only ones. B.C. Revenue Minister Rick Thorpe said this about budget 2007: “The budget was more about politics in Quebec and Central Canada than it is about strategic importance for British Columbia and Canada”.
According to the government's own official budget tables, B.C. is the only province that will receive less funding two years in a row in major federal transfer payments. B.C. is losing in the Prime Minister's divisive funding game, down $1 million this year and $339 million last year.
At the same time Quebec is getting a $3 billion increase in this budget for this year alone.
But do not just listen to me. Jeffrey Simpson from the Globe and Mail stated, “[Quebec] will be getting more than $7-billion in additional payments in coming years, meaning that, by definition, about $5.5-billion will be transferred from elsewhere”. Don Cayo from the Vancouver Sun said, “Quebec is the big winner. Indeed, when it comes to equalization, it's the only significant winner”.
Budget 2007 is so unfair and unjust that it does nothing for students, for the poor and for the most vulnerable. The budget does not put a penny in the pockets of Canada's undergraduate students and the vast majority of students get nothing at all.
This budget does nothing to address the shortages of affordable housing in our communities. Laurel Rothman, the National Coordinator for Campaign 2000, said:
There's not a word on affordable housing, which is important not just for low- and modest-income families but for the health of our neighbourhoods across this country
Budget 2007 is so unfair that it actually increases the gap between the rich and the poor. It does nothing for single working mothers because people making less than $30,000 per year cannot benefit from the Conservative's so-called child care plan.
In 2006 the Conservatives promised 125,000 new child care spaces over five years. Sixteen months into its mandate, Canadian families are realizing this promise was not worth the paper it was printed on. There have been zero spaces created in the past year.
The budget contains no broad-based tax relief for low and average income Canadians and ignores the problem of poverty in our communities. It does increase the tax rates on Canada's lowest income earners for the second year in a row, from 15% to 15.25%, to 15.5%.
Taxes began to go up literally the day the Conservative government took power. The Conservatives have also decreased the amount that can be earned tax-free in 2006.
The budget's tax hike on the first $35,000 of income will cost Canadians $1.4 billion, which actually cancels out the benefit of the Conservative's so-called child care benefit.
With such a large surplus inherited from the former Liberal government, why should the working poor be forced to pay off the Prime Minister's big spending and political promises?
The Conservative government has spent more in this budget than in any other budget in Canadian history. Andrew Coyne, from the National Post, said on CBC Newsworld:
With this budget, [the Minister of Finance] becomes officially the biggest spending finance minister in the history of Canada. That's after inflation and population growth is taken into account. They've now increased under this Conservative government; we've now raised spending by $25 billion in two years.
With such a large budget, it is shocking and shameful that the budget is so irresponsible. It is irresponsible because it has no strategy to deal with three of the most important challenges that our nation is facing today: the global competitiveness of our economy, the huge social deficit, and climate change.
This budget is a long sad story about irresponsibility and missed opportunities, all for the benefit of the Prime Minister's short term political interests and all at a great cost to Canadians.
John Bennett of the Sierra Club of Canada has repeated the fact that:
This government has abandoned its obligations to the Kyoto protocol and abandoned its moral responsibility to keep our international commitments. This government has no intention of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It has every intention of trying to sound like it does, but has no intention to actually do it.
The government and its budget has failed to help Canadians safeguard our environment and to effectively address climate change. It has cut back our commitment to renewable energy from 5,500 megawatts to 4,000 when we should be increasing our support for clean and sustainable energy production.
The Conservatives have kept tax breaks for new oil sands expansion in place until 2015, but has slowed our plan to clean up Canada's lakes and waterways. The Conservative plan reduces funding to our provincial partners by half. It has cut effective energy saving plans only to relabel, repackage and then resell them to Canadians with smaller budgets and less impact.
The simple fact is that in this budget there is no effective Conservative plan to address Canada's environmental responsibilities or to make sure that polluters pay for using our atmosphere as a free garbage dump.
On global competitiveness this budget has failed. Journalists from The Vancouver Sun have stated, “--rather than focusing on creating the right conditions under which all Canadians can prosper, [the] budget resorted to picking winners and losers”. This budget contains no broad-based relief for average and low income Canadians and it also fails to position Canada for the 21st century global marketplace.
In 2005 the former Liberal government initiated the CAN-Trade strategy that provided a $485 million investment over five years to help Canadian businesses succeed in emerging markets. It should be no surprise that the Conservatives scrapped this program and have now replaced it with a mere $60 million--