Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address this budget implementation bill. All Bloc Québécois members were opposed to the budget because they think it is a bad budget, particularly for Quebec.
The Conservative government had an opportunity to send a true message of support to Quebec, which is experiencing serious problems related to the last financial crisis, which is not over yet. That crisis began long before the financial crisis that has affected the other provinces. The decline of the forestry industry over the past number of years was the prelude to this crisis. Once again, the Conservative government did not include anything in its budget to correct this most unfortunate situation for Quebec.
In that budget, on the same page, the government agreed to give in excess of $10 billion to the automotive sector, which is primarily located in Ontario, while allocating a measly $170 million for the forestry industry in all of Canada.
It is completely bizarre and it is a slap in the face to Quebec. For that reason alone, it is absolutely inconceivable that Bloc Québécois members could come out in support of this bill. We had proposed several very specific and very concrete measures to eliminate the deficit and the debt in the long term.
This budget implementation bill confirms the desire of the Conservative government to protect rich taxpayers at all costs. One thing we had proposed was to impose a surtax on people earning over $150,000 and another on people earning over $250,000, but we found nothing like that in the budget, even though that could have brought in nearly $4 billion a year for the government’s coffers. The government has ignored those proposals, and, once again, has chosen instead to put all the problems on the shoulders of the middle class. As well, the banks and big corporations are still not being asked to pay their fair share in this budget.
This morning, I was reading in La Presse that the Minister of Finance in the Conservative government is even rejecting proposals made by other members of the G8 and the G20 to tax the profits of the big banks, which are in large part responsible for the financial crisis we have gone through and the effects of which we are still feeling. By refusing to make the ones that are responsible pay, we are automatically making the middle class and working people pay for the consequences of the mistakes they have already had to endure.
The measures set out in this bill clearly illustrate that desire, since corporations are not being asked to pay their fair share in order to increase government revenue. The Bloc Québécois submitted precise recommendations to the government and suggested options worth considering. The finance critic held consultations all over Quebec, with the entire population, in order to propose concrete measures, but the Conservative government did not accept them.
Once again, it has opted to protect the wealthiest, the banks and corporations, at the expense of working people and the middle class.
Tax loopholes are another major point. The government is engaging in double talk. On the one hand, we hear the Minister of Finance, or other ministers, saying that they make no sense. The Minister of National Revenue said that, for one. He said he wanted to tackle tax havens, but essentially, with the bill we have before us, he is opening loopholes in the Income Tax Act to allow corporations that are not registered in Canada to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
There are a lot of examples like that one, where the Conservative government is engaging in double talk. It says it is acting in good faith, it says it wants to face the facts and try to get back all the taxes that should be paid in Canada, and yet on the other hand, it is putting in place measures that preserve the loopholes. We are hearing considerable discontent among the public on this issue. People are disillusioned. We know what is going on in the government of Quebec. It has been hit with a major credibility crisis.
At the same time, I think this affects the federal political class as well because the general public realizes that when the government tables a budget like this, it is not ordinary people who benefit. The public knows that, once again, the government did not take into account the people who pay their taxes every day. It simply carried on with measures to protect the rich. It protects people who are powerful and busy making their money grow. The public is fed up with hearing this and seeing these kinds of things perpetuated year after year. It still continues today.
We could point as well to the Telecommunications Act, which was amended to allow foreign companies, the owners or operators of certain transmission facilities, to function as telecommunications companies in Canada. This does not help our companies. They talk about helping companies. We are against the government doing too much for companies, but when they adopt measures like these to help foreign companies, it is doubly nonsensical. Once again, there is a double meaning. They say they want to help both companies and consumers. However, the companies already established in Quebec and Canada will have to pay for decisions like this.
We also saw in this budget and in Bill C-9, ensuring the implementation of the budget, that the government will not even shrink from looting the employment insurance fund. A kind of independent fund was created two years ago. I say a kind of fund advisedly because many people criticized it and said it was not large enough. At least the government made a start on an independent employment insurance fund. Now it will fall back to zero. All the fine principles used to justify its creation have been jettisoned and the government will not shrink now from pillaging it. It will fall back to zero and be replaced with an employment insurance operating account, which will start from zero.
When this fund was established two years ago, both businesses and big banks said it was a good idea to create a fund like this. However, it should have $15 billion in it instead of the $2 billion the government injected. Now the government is even coming to get these $2 billion. That money was there as insurance, in case of difficult years for employment. Now all is lost. The Conservative government and its Liberal predecessor pillaged a total of $57 billion from the employment insurance fund—money that belongs to employers and employees.
It is totally absurd. I have mentioned only a few examples which make it absolutely impossible and unacceptable for the Bloc Québécois to vote in favour of this bill.