Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to make a few comments on Bill C-48, a bill which the government calls the companion bill but which many of us call the NDP budget bill.
The Conservative Party is not against a better deal for post-secondary education. We are not against giving municipalities across the nation better access to funds for the provision of infrastructure such as water and sewer or urban transit facilities. We are not against the provision of additional social housing for the disadvantaged.
On the contrary, we see a Canada where our young people can receive an affordable education, get a well-paying job, buy a house and raise a family and so on. We believe in the Canadian dream and the right of every citizen to have access to that dream. This bill is less about the Canadian dream than it is about the Liberals' dream of staying in power forever. It is also about the NDP dream of being a bigger player in the parliamentary process.
The bill, as we are all aware, was scratched on the back of an old envelope in a backroom in the middle of the night. It is not about good government at all. It is about political expediency. It was the price of the NDP for propping up a corrupt government which is determined to cling to power at any cost. It is long on promises and short on detail, just the sort of bill that the NDP knew that the Liberals would like. The NDP has sold its soul to the Liberal Party. The NDP members are accomplices now to corruption, scandal and to ever bad spending decision that the government has made over the last year since the election campaign.
If the items in the bill are so important to the Liberals, why did they not include them in the original budget bill, Bill C-43? Given the government's cuts in transfers to the provinces in its effort to balance the national budget, it is no secret that students, health care, services at the municipal level, and the unemployed have been hard hit. Simply put, the Liberals balanced the budget in the nineties by passing the deficit down the line to municipalities and the NDP knew that.
Many times in the past eight year period since I have been here, I have supported NDP motions that called attention to the devastation that had been wreaked by the government over the decades. The NDP knows that the Liberals have been in power too long, long enough for the rot of corruption to set in, yet the NDP made a deal with the Liberals and it is not a deal of which it should be proud.
As part of its deal the NDP insisted that tax cuts for business be dropped from Bill C-43, the main budget bill. The tax cuts were designed to make Canadian business more competitive in the global economy. These tax cuts were aimed at allowing businesses to expand and create more jobs. We supported the tax cuts.
Why has the NDP refused to support tax cuts which create more jobs for the unemployed is beyond me. We in the Conservative Party are not against creating more and better jobs all across the land. Neither would I suspect are the tens of thousands of people from all over Atlantic Canada who have had to leave their homes for jobs in Ontario and Alberta.
The NDP portrays itself as the workers' party, but I ask, what is more important to a worker today than a good job? The business sector is the greatest creator of jobs in this country and why the NDP cannot support that is beyond me.
When the Liberals came to power in the early nineties, they gutted the employment insurance system. They made it more difficult for workers in seasonal industries to qualify for EI benefits and when they did qualify, it was for fewer benefits for a shorter period of time. In other words, the Liberals used the EI system and the moneys that they generated on extra premiums to amass a massive surplus which they used on things like the sponsorship scandal. These are the kinds of policies that the NDP is now supporting.
I asked earlier, what is more important to a worker than a good job? I would further ask, what is more important to an unemployed worker than a good EI system, a system that can carry a seasonal worker over until he or she gets back to his or her place of employment again? This is where the NDP fell down on the job. Not only did its budget deal strike out against job creation, it did not use the leverage with the Liberals to get much needed improvements to the EI system.
How can the NDP call itself as a socialist party and then forget about the workers in its deal with the government? It was in a position to really do something good for the workers of this nation and it failed.
Then there is the Atlantic accord. The first Atlantic accord was signed back in 1985. It gave the province of Newfoundland and Labrador about 70% of its revenues. Then all these revenues were clawed back under equalization. During the election campaign, the Conservative Party committed to the province to give it 100% of its offshore resources.
The Liberals had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into a deal with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We made numerous attempts when that deal was passed to have the accord split from the main budget bill and introduced as a standalone bill for speedy passage.
The Liberals constantly refused. The NDP supported us in that regard but yet, when it was cutting a deal with the Liberals, did it insist on a standalone Atlantic accord bill? No. Did it insist on that being part of the budgetary package? No. The NDP abandoned the Atlantic accord just like it abandoned the workers and the people of Atlantic Canada. It did not use the position it was in to get better benefits on EI for Atlantic Canadians who have a big seasonal workforce. It abandoned the people of Atlantic Canada when it came to the Atlantic accord by not insisting on standalone legislation.
If the NDP were to win power at the ballot box, I would not, and I am sure no one in this nation would not, begrudge it to right the priorities around the budget when it came to introducing a budget. I might disagree and others might disagree with some of the spending priorities, but if the NDP had the people's mandate, it would have every right to bring this kind of budget forward that it is bringing forward now.
However, the NDP did not win power. Indeed I remember in the latter stages of last year's election campaign the Liberals crushed the NDP by telling the people that a vote for the NDP was a vote for the Conservative Party of Canada. They were not too anxious to prop up the NDP at that time, but still, the NDP remained so anxious to prop up a corrupt, scandal-ridden government. I believe that in the long run the NDP will pay big time at the polls in the next election campaign.
We stand here today debating a budget bill that came about as the result of a backroom deal between the NDP and the Liberals. The deal was scratched on the back of an envelope, probably at 2 a.m., and is worth $4.6 billion. Is this any way to run a country, to have the NDP writing the budget bill in a hotel room in the still of the night on the back of an envelope or an old napkin? Is that any way to run a country?
Bill C-48 is not a budget bill in its own right. It is a bunch of loose promises made, as I said, in a backroom in the middle of the night, when the Prime Minister was in his bleakest political moments. It is not about honour. It is about political expediency. It is about a place at the table of power. Canadians deserve much better.