House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was billion.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Scarborough Centre (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act November 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks on Bill C-47, I want to comment on something my colleague from Mississauga South touched upon with respect to seniors.

I have been in this House for almost 17 years and the one issue to which all of us have been sensitive is how we address our obligations toward our seniors, our men and women in uniform, and our youth, referring to youth programs, youth initiatives, investment in education. After all, we make speeches about the future of our country and it is our youth who need the right kind of education and the right kind of tools.

With respect to seniors and the fiasco that occurred, I am very pleased that my colleague from Mississauga South touched upon it when he was prompted by a question from our hard-working member for Yukon. I am at a loss for words. All I say is, let us give people the benefit of the doubt and let us move forward positively on that.

I am speaking to Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures. The audience can see on the television screen, “Bill C-47, Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act”. With respect to the word “recovery“, given what is going on globally, the whole world is trying to recover from a lot of those toxic packages, to be polite, that we saw coming from the United States to different parts of the world and which affected different countries.

We are fortunate in many ways here in Canada because many years ago a Liberal government, under the prime ministership of Jean Chrétien with Paul Martin as the finance minister, took the initiative to address, for example, the banking issue. This was very instrumental in helping us deal with these very awkward and difficult circumstances today.

There were several questions on this bill. The member for Mississauga South said that it is such a large bill, with 199 clauses. He went into some of the technical details, but the average Canadian listening to this debate or reading about it, really wants to hear about the meat and potatoes, things that affect Canadians on a daily basis.

I had the privilege recently as a member of the international trade committee to speak with our counterparts as we move forward on the Canada-Europe free trade agreement. Common throughout the world is that every nation, in looking toward implementing programs to recover, to get its people working and its economy rolling, wants to trade. That is wonderful, because Canada is a trading nation too. All countries want to sell their goods and services, but in order to sell their goods and services, there has to be an economy somewhere that is able to purchase them. In other words, the countries have to have their finances in order.

We were speaking to our counterparts in England, for example. We were listening on an hourly basis to what was unfolding in Ireland, how it was collapsing and its banking system was to be taken over. There was no money available, et cetera. The IMF and Great Britain were to step in to help Ireland, and so they should because Ireland needs a stable, or at least a sustainable economy to purchase goods and services.

The United Kingdom for example, even though it is going through difficulties, relates to us. I want to touch upon that as it relates to the bill. The new British coalition government is moving forward by taking certain steps. As I was reading about them, I had to smile because it took me back to 1993-94. I was being taken back to the future. What the U.K. is doing today, other nations in the European Community and other non-European countries are doing as well. I will mention some of the things they are doing that were done here as well.

The United Kingdom is experiencing difficult times. It is going through an austerity program, if I can use that word. Some of the areas that are going to be spared from the cuts are scientific research, health, schools, meaning investing in education, international development, renewable energy and large infrastructure projects. Areas that are going to be cut are welfare, social housing, policing, which I thought was wrong, as well as government services, which I think was right.

Why am I bringing this up today? There are areas in the budget that needed to be addressed and were not addressed. I will point out two specifically.

My colleague from Yukon talked about health care. Year after year, for as long as I can remember, health care has been the number one priority for Canadians. Coincidentally, I found an article not too long ago that states that Canadians rank health care a higher concern than the economy. It reconfirms what my constituents have been telling me for decades.

What did the Liberal government do when Paul Martin was the finance minister? It implemented the Romanow report. Mr. Romanow said in an interview with Peter Mansbridge that the Liberals exceeded the recommendations. That was a 10-year commitment.

Why am I bringing it up? The Conservatives, in two minority governments, have not made a single investment in health care. When asked a question, the response on record of the then Minister of Health, who is the Minister of Industry today, was that the government will continue the funding, after last year's budget or the year before. In other words, it would continue to fund the moneys, the $58 billion, that the Liberals put into health care. Health care was the number one issue then and it is the number one issue today.

There is one other area, as I mentioned, that relates to the U.K. investing in scientific research, and that is that there has been very little investment in R and D. Everybody talks about getting their economies going and competing in the new economy by investing in R and D. R and D can only develop new jobs if we invest the money up front. Yes, it costs money initially, but as they say, we have to spend a dollar to make a dollar, and we know very well that the new Conservative government has not done that.

I will refer to an article, the headline of which reads, “Researchers disappointed by funding for innovation. Just keeps the lights on”. I am quoting; I am not being political, which I choose never to do. I choose to refer to statements made by others so people know it is not my biased comments as a Liberal member of Parliament but what Canadians or others, the foot soldiers, in this case the researchers, are saying. The article states:

Peter MacLeod, a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen's University, says “much of the funding promised to various agencies will do little more than “keep the lights on”.

There was some money; I am not saying there was not. How can we look forward to competing for the jobs of the future when the government budgets have not made any significant investments?

Why are we falling behind? Other nations are making investments and we are failing to do so. Here we are, a country that was miles ahead of all these other nations in terms of eight consecutive balanced Liberal budgets and tremendous surpluses. The last one, if I recall, when the Liberals lost office in 2006 was just over $13 billion.

The government gloats about our economy being in a good state and that we are better off than everybody else. That is true. So why are we not making the right investments? For example, Canada is still lagging quite badly. The United States spent $594 million in 2009, Australia spent $123.5 million, and Canada spent $19 million. How can we compete?

We all know the difficulties the United States is going through. Speaking of the United States, it even went through some updating of its health care system. Even Sarah Palin commented about our health care system. She used it. She got that right. The only thing she got wrong was mixing up North Korea and South Korea. The fact is she confirmed that we do have a better health care system, a system which she and her family used.

If we are not going to make the right investments in R and D, we are going to miss out on the jobs of the future. For example, China, the world's biggest polluter, has now become the world's number one green energy investor. China is putting its money where its mouth is. It is investing. Yes, China pollutes, but it is now saying that it has to address this horrendous issue. China invested $34.5 billion in 2009 on low carbon energy technologies. I applaud China. I am not saying we have to invest $34.5 billion, but surely to God we can make some decent investments.

We are missing out on the jobs of the future because we are not making the right kinds of investments. We see the United Kingdom making these investments, even though its books are in a worse mess than ours.

Of course with the health care system, which I believe needs modernization, that 10-year arrangement is coming to an end and Canadians are going to keep an eye on the government to see what its next step will be. One would think that as we were getting close to the renewal of the agreement, the government would commence discussions with the provinces, with the professionals, with the stakeholders. At least we asked Mr. Romanow to do a study. He delivered his findings and we responded. That agreement is coming to an end and the government has not even begun discussions. I worry about that.

The disappointments with the government are so many that I do not know where to begin.

My colleague talked about the $5,000 tax-free savings account. That is a good initiative, but given the circumstances today, one would ask how many families can put aside $5,000, and those are after-tax dollars. Not too many Canadians can do that because they are hurting. Maybe the very rich can do it and if they can, I have no qualms about it. Good luck to them. It is the right thing to do. The fact is that average Canadians cannot do it and there are no other initiatives to support these families. Why? Job losses are still occurring. Yes, there are little spurts of a few jobs here and there. We know the economy is not really growing. We also know that new jobs are not being created as fast as was projected by the government. The finances of the nations are not where they could be or should be. I will address that as well.

Canadians today do not have the confidence. Why do they not have the confidence? They are being told one thing and others are showing up.

For example, today we are faced with a $56.5 billion or $57 billion deficit from last year. The government actually projected that it was going to be about $52.2 billion or $53.3 billion. The Conservatives were off by almost $2 billion on their projections. At this time of the year, the Conservatives are saying it is going to be about another $55 billion or $56 billion, for a total deficit of about $110 billion. It is unheard of.

All the average Canadian has to do is go back a short 16 or 17 years and he or she will realize that our deficit was $42.3 billion. Seventeen years down the road, the deficit has more than doubled and there is no economic growth. There is no job growth. There is less revenue to pay down this deficit.

The upcoming budget will be the government's fourth one. It reminds me of the Brian Mulroney days. When the Mulroney Conservatives were in government for nine years, they did not meet one budget target.Year after year, they told us what they would spend but never met that target. As a result, the debt kept growing and, in 1993, we did what we had to do. We did the responsible thing, things that the U.K , Ireland and Greece are doing today. We hear that Portugal, Spain and other countries in the European Union are next in line. They are going through these austerity programs. They are doing today what we did responsibly.

Therefore, when the government of today stands and says that we slashed and burned, I want to remind it that the Conservative Harris government of the day and Ralph Klein were doing the same thing. We had no choice. It was sink or swim, as they say.

The fortunate thing is that we made the right investments in the new economy, for example, in R and D. We invested in education. We invested in small and medium size enterprises, which means they started generating jobs. People were paying into the system. Another important thing is that we were lowering payroll taxes.

The government talks about lowering taxes. I challenge it publicly when it says that it lowered taxes because it did not lower taxes. It said that it would raise taxes by 1.5% and then it said that, no, it would decrease that to 0.5%. However, 0.5% is still an increase and the government is trying to pass it off that it lowered taxes. It is still a burden on the employer and the employee. It does not entice employers to invest in new tools, in new equipment or in new hires. It de-motivates them. If Canadians are not working, they do not have earning power nor do they have purchasing power, which means goods and services taxes are not being collected, for example, that would go to invest in health care, in post-secondary education, in housing, et cetera. It is a cycle, if we look at it.

With regard to gas, my constituents are complaining they are paying an average of $1.10 or $1.12 a litre. Just a couple of years ago, the barrel was on the market at about $148 to $150 and gas at the pump was 85¢ to 90¢. Today, my constituents are saying that barrels of gas may be $80 at the most and are asking, why they are paying $1.10 a litre.

The point I want to make on the gas is that the current government also made another promise. It said that anything over 85¢ per litre it would take off the taxes. It has not done so.

Am I leading into promises made and promises not kept? I really do not want to do that. My speech today is not political in any way. It is more so to point out the frustrations of Canadians. What they want to know is how they can trust the government to manage the economy well.

One gentleman said to me that, at the end of the day, the debt is going higher and the deficit is getting out of control. Per capita, we are one of the most burdened nations at about $42,000 per person in comparison to Greece that is at $31,000 per person. That gentleman said that we were more in debt than those guys are and wanted to know how we were better off.

We could go on for hours.The government has lost its priorities. Two out of three Canadians have not given the Conservatives their vote primarily because they cannot depend upon them and y cannot trust them because they say one thing and they do another. They talk about lowering taxes and yet they are increasing taxes. The only taxes they have decreased are the corporate taxes.

It is not that I am against that, but it is a timing thing. We keep reducing those corporate taxes year after year when the nation is hurting today. It is times like this when the gas companies, for example, need to come on board and say that they will help the average Canadian. It is times like this where everybody comes together as a family and it becomes a give-and-take for the good of the nation.

When we look at what the government did with airport taxes and at what happened with the seniors and the GIS, it is shameful. When we look at the lack of investments in R and D, that is shameful. When we are looking at the government spending $16 billion in untendered contracts, surely to God that is unacceptable. What will Canada's benefit be from that?

Canada has spent over $23 billion so far in Afghanistan, and now we are going to—

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act October 25th, 2010

Of course they know it.

My colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, who spoke earlier today, stood and, over and over again, said that we must punish where punishment is warranted and we must protect when protection is warranted, but that we need to do it in the Canadian way, in a fair way. That is why, with the member's suggestion as the critic, and I agree, the bill must go to committee. I am confident some good ideas will come forward to make some changes.

Our caucus will not play politics with this type of legislation. We will move forward and support it but we will not stand for any slogans. For example, I remember the member for Portage—Lisgar on the gun issue. The other day we heard personal attacks on our colleagues who did not support the gun legislation.

Last night I was watching a documentary on Lee Atwater and some of the tactics that he used during the Bush senior campaign when he talked against Dukakis and about how all criminals vote for Democrats and all good Americans vote for Republicans.

The one thing that hurt me a lot in the most recent debates on the gun legislation was that criminals vote for Liberals and police officers vote for Conservatives. That is just nasty, untrue and uncalled for. When we want to move forward to protect the nation, it is unnecessary.

We sit in committee to do the good work that we know we can do and that we are paid to do and should do for the good of Canadians.

I am glad this has created a separate offence within the Criminal Code. It was long overdue and it is necessary.

What I sometime find unacceptable is the people they use to sell or to participate in car theft, for example, young delinquents, young offenders as we might describe them. I might ask the committee to look into that because criminals could be stealing these cars, chopping them, trying to sell them or export them and the middle person, as he or she is often referred to, could be a young man who may be going through some difficulty in life and all of a sudden a few quick dollars are flashed in front of him and he is told to drive the car or chop off the VIN number and so on. We know very well what the Criminal Code is in reference to young offenders, and I am concerned. I am putting this on the table so that when the bill goes to committee it could possibly look into that as well.

I am pleased that since 2006, when the last data was brought forward, it showed that auto theft was on a decline, as overall crime stats were in a decline.

I remember very well in 1991-92, when I sought the nomination and won in the election of 1993, that one of the key issues was that we needed to address the crime issue and we needed to make our streets safer. I made a commitment to my constituents, and I am pleased to say that I have upheld that promise to this very day, that we would do whatever we could. We did make changes to section 745 of the Criminal Code.

Today, when an impact statement is allowed in the Williams case, that is because Liberal governments brought it forward. When there is an opportunity for a declaration of a dangerous offender, that was a Liberal initiative that brought it forward. Long term offender was also a Liberal initiative.

Do we know everything? I would say no. Does the Conservative Party have a monopoly on crime legislation? No. We all, in our own conscience, want to do the right thing. That is why I said earlier and our critic also said that we will support the bill and send it committee where some good work will be done.

I am pleased that under our tenure, under a Liberal government between 1993 to 2006, the crime stats as a whole were coming down. However, I am sad that in areas such as Manitoba and Montreal the car theft stats are up. However, I want to assure Canadians in Manitoba and in Montreal that we want to work together to address this issue and solve it, as the member from Bloc Québécois said earlier.

The Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers is opposed to the bill as it believes it would limit judicial discretion. Quite frankly, I do not know. That puzzles me in some way. I need more clarification on what it means by that. I am not a lawyer, by education, so I will not pretend to know as much as the lawyers. However, I do know one thing. The average Canadian wants it in a very simple way. Maybe the council could explain, in a simple way, what it means by that so we can address its concerns.

The Canadian Association of Crown Counsel is also opposed to the bill. It believes it would add more work to an already overwrought system, without any mention or apparent intention to add resources to support the legislation. That was brought up earlier.

I also have that concern. Legislation is good. I will point out two things. It is good provided we enforce it and we provide the tools, but then we ask the judiciary, for example, to enforce the legislation. In order to enforce the legislation, we need the resources to do so.

Today, unfortunately, we are strapped with a $56 billion deficit, but as high a record deficit as it is, it will go higher. The economy has not yet really kicked in to try to generate jobs, wealth creation and security. If we have a healthy economy, then people are occupied or preoccupied with work as opposed to committing criminal acts, such as auto theft, for example.

Yes, the deficits are going up. Yes, it is a burden. Yes, it is a cost. However, at the end of the day, we, as a civil society, have to find that money because we are trying to keep our streets, our communities and our cities safe. How much is that worth? In my humble opinion, we really cannot put a value on that. Part of this whole process of funds is also rehabilitation. It is not just charging people who committed auto theft or burglary. It is also taking them at the early stages and working with them.

When it comes to resources that were identified by the Crown counsel, I agree with them, and I am going to ask the government to try to find the means and the ways to address the financial needs.

Various mayors and other people who have supported the bill were mentioned earlier such as the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Another burden is the insurance costs. A young man or a young woman graduating from college or university needs a car to get to work and the insurance costs are high. Why are they high? Simply because of some of these thefts, for example, that impede the system, the recovery process and whatnot.

I am thankful for the legislation and any legislation that will help keep our streets safe. Issues such as these are not a monopoly to any specific party or any specific person. I always have believed, and will continue to believe, that these issues are important to each and every one of us, no matter from what part of the country we come. If one part of the country is having some difficulties, as was mentioned earlier today, Manitoba, Quebec, or Montreal, we have an obligation to step in and do what we can.

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act October 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I was listening closely to the member from Hamilton Mountain and I would like some clarification, although I am sure she might give some later on. She must have been telling the Minister of Justice and Attorney General that she was advocating the three strikes and you are out policy. If that is the case, then I am wondering why her party has not supported the crime and justice legislation in the past like we have. When we are trying to make amendments, make things tighter and respond to the call of Canadians on various issue, all of a sudden I hear this and it kind of shocks me.

I will now move on to speak to Bill S-9. I listened earlier to my Liberal colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and her perspective on this legislation. I also listened very carefully to what the Bloc Québécois member from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie had to say. Some of the comments I heard from the Liberal speaker and the Bloc speaker were very constructive. However, some of the comments from the NDP puzzled and shocked me as to where it was coming from.

Bill S-9, an act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime), is important. I agree with the comments that were made earlier that this type of initiative was before the House back in 2006. Why it took so long is beyond us, but, of course, we did have prorogation and we did have elections that the Prime Minsiter called prematurely.

I and I know my constituents would have thought that one of the first pieces of legislation, along with so many other important pieces of legislation, would have been this type of legislation, seeing what the numbers are out there. We heard some of the numbers earlier today. When we discuss these numbers, it is very difficult to talk about where the numbers in auto theft are higher. I think every member who sits in this honourable House has great respect, whether it is in the provinces of Manitoba, Quebec, P.E.I., Ontario, or in my lovely city of Toronto, but at the same time we need to talk about these statistics, where they come from and where they are accumulated so that the resources could be attached to them as legislation will be applied.

For example, the member from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie gave us some statistics about the recovery percentages in Ontario as opposed to Quebec and how they were much higher in Ontario. Also, auto theft as a whole in Ontario is quite less than most other provinces. That just goes to take away the notion that Toronto has high crime rates. That is not the case in auto theft crimes and I want to put that on record.

Nevertheless, as we talk about crime in general, one crime is one too many, which is why, as my Liberal colleague said earlier, we want to support this legislation. I, for one, on behalf of my constituents in Scarborough Centre, in the city of Toronto and in the province, want to support this legislation. We want to see it go to committee because we believe some good work and good suggestions could be made in committee to fine-tune this bill so that we can finally get a bill out there to do the work that Canadians have asked us to do, which is to tighten up the Criminal Code.

I would like to point out what I think are faults with some of the suggestions in this bill.

The bill would make it a crime to alter, destroy or remove a VIN, vehicle identification number. The member spoke earlier of the significance of it, the role that it plays and how important it is. It would also make it a crime to knowingly sell, give, transfer, transport, send or deliver goods that have been acquired criminally.

We heard earlier today from other speakers about how people steal a car, take it apart and sell different parts or put a car in a crate and ship it abroad. They also can change the vehicle identification number with what was described as a makeover. The member talked about three specific areas: chopping, exporting and the makeover. The bill addresses those specific areas.

The bill would make it a crime to possess property known to be obtained through crime for the purpose of trafficking. For example, if people who need a door, a bumper or an auto part goes to an autobody shop to buy a door for x amount of dollars, knowing very well what the market price is, the moment they pay 30% to 50% less their antenna should go up. They should ask themselves why, if they go to the depot and pay so much, this person is charging so little. Those people should immediately step away from that transaction because they will also be subject to a criminal charge if this legislation is passed.

If everyone who engages in that type of exchange avoids it, then hopefully there will be no market for it. In the early nineties, there was a huge underground cigarette economy. Revenue for the country was down because of loss of taxes and there was a free fall for everyone. I say quite proudly that when we took office we lowered the federal taxes on cigarettes and all of a sudden we eliminated that underground economy. How can we eliminate the selling or chopping of parts? We can do it through legislation and the notification to purchasers of said parts. If they know they could be fined and imprisoned, they will avoid buying, which means it would eliminate a market for that area.

The Canada Border Services has a very important role to play. We have seen documentaries where a car is put in a container on a boat and then shipped somewhere across the ocean. We need to be able to provide Canada Border Services with the right type of technology so it can monitor the containers. However, we must remember that not all cars in containers are put there illegally. Some Canadians may decide to get employment outside the country and they put their cars in containers and ship them to wherever their new job is.

However, along the way I think there is technology today that can help Canada Border Services do a better job in pre-screening to ensure that stolen autos leaving the country is addressed as well.

The Liberal Party has always supported legislation to effectively reduce any type of crime. This is one type of crime. My colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine has often talked about what is unacceptable and hurting, if I may say, is that when legislation comes forward on crime and justice issues, sometimes the Conservatives say that we Liberals stand for the criminals. That is not true.

Cyprus October 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this month the Republic of Cyprus is celebrating its 50th year of independence. However, this independence as an integral country was short-lived, for in July 1974 an illegal invasion took place by Turkish forces, which occupy, until this very day, one-third of the island.

In the 21st century, this is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for a nation that is a member of the European Union to be illegally occupied by a nation that is also an applicant for membership to the same European Union. It makes no sense.

What is Cyprus then asking for? Cyprus is asking for nothing more than what any civilized nation is also asking: to have the right to live in peace within a secure, united and sovereign territory, recognizing the rights of all its citizens.

Cyprus must be, and deserves to be, a free and united country in which it is the right of all Cypriots, whatever their denomination, to live in peace.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act October 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, that is what I call forward Liberal thinking. That is what I call Liberal compassion. As years go by we have to make changes to our pension system, health system, et cetera. We have to find the means and the ways to provide that portability for the security of each and every Canadian.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act October 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will be very glad to.

My good friend misunderstood. I was not talking down the country. I was pointing out facts.

I would like to point out one other fact, but before I do that, I want to say that we voted as we did the other day to provide immediate relief to those in need today. When a family is hurting, that is when we have to be there. When a person is unemployed, he needs to put food on the table. We have to support that.

On the accumulated federal debt, it is not my words; it is the Conservatives graph here that I will point out. I first of all acknowledge that they retired a portion of the debt with a tremendous payment. I personally think it was wrong to do it the way they did it. They could have done it gradually.

However in 2008-09, after that lump sum payment, it was $463 billion. We had brought it down to just over $500 billion, and it had been over $600 billion when we took over. In 2014-15 it continues to rise. It will be $622.1 billion of debt. That is $122 billion, according to their figures, not ours. And we left them a clean slate.

Tell me then how our country is better off.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act October 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for that most important question.

I do not think he was looking at my notes, but I will refer to page 8 again of the action plan. The Conservative government states that it will invest $1.9 billion to create the economy of tomorrow. That is a drop in the bucket compared to what other nations are investing.

I can compare that to a decade before, when we invested $2 billion in research chairs, for example. I remember at that time I had the honour and the privilege of being Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, John Manley, and then Brian Tobin.

We rolled out this program and not only were we investing in the new economy, the new tools, but we were retaining and attracting brains for Canada, which allowed us to not just make our government an e-government or make our country more efficient but we made our country more competitive. In addition, we had created an export product for Canada.

We invested $2 billion then and the Conservatives, 12 years later, were so kind as to invest $1.9 billion. That is really progress.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act October 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, as I started saying before question period, for me and my constituents, and I believe many Canadians, this boils down to a matter of trust in the government, trust in what it says it will do.

For example, during an election period, we make certain commitments. People either vote for us based on those commitments or they do not. In this specific case, the Prime Minister, at that time a candidate for prime minister, campaigned in Newfoundland and Labrador. Some of his campaign literature and the Conservative Party campaign literature made several commitments. One of those commitments was not to touch income trusts.

Many people, especially seniors, believed that commitment and they voted in support of the Prime Minister because they trusted him. The key words are “believed” and “trusted” him. Seniors believed he would not touch income trusts. Decades ago these people invested in a certain venue, so come retirement they could assure themselves of an X amount of money on a monthly basis for their golden years.

The Prime Minister has won two minority governments. This shows that Canadians were not fully comfortable with electing a Conservative government. In fact, three out of five Canadians did not vote for the Conservatives. Nevertheless, they had enough numbers to form a minority government.

What was one of the first things the Prime Minister did? He reneged. He went back on his word. He chose to go after income trusts and increase taxes 31.5%, the highest in Canadian history. These people were disillusioned. They were going to lose income.

We have to understand that seniors are not income generators. They are income dependents. They depend on the fixed income they had planned decades ago. All of a sudden, that income became less by x%. They had to adjust their lifestyle downward, and that was totally unfair. That was the result of the Prime Minister going back on a commitment he made. The Prime Minister's literature stated “There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept”. In the Prime Minister's own words, he committed, in essence, fraud, because he did not keep his promise.

Commenting on the Prime Minister's words about no greater fraud than a promise not kept, Progressive Conservative, and I emphasize those words, Premier Danny Williams of the beautiful province of Newfoundland said in one of his speeches:

He used these words as he successfully attempted to woo voters from this province to not vote for the opposing party. Naively we trusted him. He rewarded that trust with a broken promise. According to his own brochure—he is a fraud.

The theme of my presentation is all about trust. Canadians trusted the Prime Minister to keep his word, and he did not.

I will quote again from the speech of Danny Williams. He said:

His own candidates and MPs admit that the promise was broken, but we should forgive and forget. Well folks, forgiveness may be a virtue; but forgetting is just plain fool hardy.

A year ago the Prime Minister's own candidate in St. John's East said, “Given his handling of equalization, who can trust the Prime Minister anyway?” Again, this is what I have been saying all along. It is a matter of trust.

The Conservatives stand and give us different figures. All Canadians need to do is look at the records. They can google things. The technology of today permits people to do research and come up with stats for themselves. The Conservatives have neglected, over and over, to point out that when they took office in 2006, they were left with a surplus of $13.2 billion and there was a zero deficit. The unemployment rate was at 6.1% or 6.2%. Today we all know where it is. It has skyrocketed, according to the national figures, and when we plug in youth unemployment and the unofficial numbers, I believe it is well over 12%.

I will refer to the government's own action plan, “Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth” and use the figures from its budget book, because if I were to say something, the Conservatives would say that I was a bit biased and that I will say it the way I want to.

On employment insurance, the figures in its own graph, going back to 2000 and right up to 2010, show is that under a Liberal government, we started lowering the EI premiums going back to 1997. After we balanced the books, year after year, EI premiums were being lowered. At the time when we took office, it was $3.05 per $100. When we left office, it was $1.75 or $1.76, and then it was frozen.

I will use a quote, as I did earlier, from the current finance minister who said, “It's one of those job-killing taxes, a direct tax on employers and employees”. We agree with him. What happened pre-1993 is that employers told us that they would like to hire and if payroll taxes were lower they would invest in hiring. We listened very carefully, we implemented such a program and we saw job creation unfold.

I would point out that these figures are Liberal figures, not Conservative figures. What was one of the first things the Conservatives did when they took over government? They started to jack up the payroll taxes. As a matter of fact, technically speaking, they were going to jack them up so much and then they lowered them and said that they were lowering taxes. For example, instead of paying $90, people will pay $30, but that is still a tax increase. Instead of hitting them with a $17 billion increase, the government will only hit them with a $6.5 billion increase. Nevertheless, it is still an increase.

I would just like to quote some comments here on payroll taxes that the Prime Minister and the finance minister have said. For example, in January of 2009, the finance minister said, “For many businesses, an increase in payroll taxes would make it harder to sustain existing jobs”. We agree with him. The question is: why is he increasing taxes?

On March 29, 2009, in the Toronto Star, the Prime Minister said:

So there is no need in Canada to raise taxes. We have not got the structural budgetary deficit that exists in the United States and obviously limits the administration's options.

Here is another declaration from the Conservative election policy declaration of 2008:

We believe that payroll taxes should not exceed the amount necessary to properly fund Employment Insurance because unnecessarily high payroll taxes are a tax on job creation. Lower payroll taxes encourage hiring and business expansion.

We agree, and that is why, if we look at the Liberal record, year after year after year, those payroll taxes were consistently coming down, until of course now, where it is a repeat of what Brian Mulroney did. When unemployment was going up, he was increasing the payroll taxes.

Twenty years down the road and we are back to the future. The Conservatives are now repeating exactly what the Brian Mulroney administration did. We are encouraging them not to do it.

The business community has made some positive statements. Of course, when they were going to jack it up by 15% and now they are lowering it down and saying that they are not increasing it by yea much, that they are giving us a break, of course the business community is happy. That is why some statements are coming back from the business community sounding positive.

They talk about research and development and investing in the economy. We agree. When we took office, one of the areas that we invested in was in the knowledge-based economy. However, in order to move ahead in that new area, we need to make investments.

On page 86 of the Conservatives' own book, it states:

Canada invests more directly in public R and D than any other G7 country.

What figures are they using? The figures end in 2006, which has Canada, indeed, first. That was from our budget of 2005-06. It states here that the data is for 2007, which is the latest year for which they are available for all G7 countries. What happened after 2007? We have become the lowest.

China, for example, as was mentioned earlier by the critic for finance, the member for Kings—Hants, has invested much more than we have. The United States has done so as well and it is moving forward with the green economy and bringing forth new jobs.

On the debt side, there is an interesting graph on page 167 of their literature which shows the debt to GDP ratio in 2004-05 and then their projection of 2013-14 brings it back to the same level as it was in 2004-05. That is taking us a decade back, according to their figures.

The graph very clearly outlines the debt to GDP ratio. It starts from 2008. I will admit that when they took office they took all that surplus money that was left over from our government and just plunged it into debt retirement. Was that a good move? As it turns out today, it was not a good move because, if members will recall, at that time we also had a contingency plan of $3 billion. If we did not use that money for an emergency, it went right to debt retirement.

I have often used the finances of the nation to draw a parallel with the average home. When the paycheque comes home every week, we do not put it all toward the mortgage. We need to put some toward groceries, some toward gas, some toward clothes, some toward the mortgage and maybe a little aside for a rainy day. At the end of the year, if we do not use that money, it is wise to pay down that mortgage as quickly as possible, as the Liberal administration did. Slowly, we ended up saving, according to the figures then, almost $3 billion in interest payments. So, Canadians were benefiting from that $3 billion because the money was going into programs such as health care, post-secondary education, the military, et cetera.

In this graph, I would like to point out that the debt to GDP ratio in 2008-09 was 29%. It goes up to 33.9% and 35.4%. Then, in 2012-13, it starts to decline to 35.2% and levels off. Hopefully, in 2014-15 it will drop to 31.9%.

However, we cannot trust those figures because, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the finance department is quoting one figure and the Parliamentary Budget Officer is quoting different figures.

We all know that the Parliamentary Budget Officer is Mr. Kevin Page and that he is not someone we Liberals appointed. He is an appointee of the Prime Minister and the Conservative government. He was supposed to be someone who would be kind. He is a fair person and he called it as he saw it.

The moment he made statements about these figures I am about to bring forth, the Prime Minister and the Conservative government were not happy so they started to eliminate his budget. They started to take away the tools that he needed to do his work and, of course, he was not able to bring forth the information, not that we needed to have but that Canadians needed to have.

For example, “Budget predictions for 2012-13, $17.5 billion deficit”. The Parliamentary Budget Officer's prediction was a $20.6 billion deficit. For 2013-14, the government says that it will be a $8.5 billion deficit. The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that it will be a $16.3 billion deficit. For 2014-15, the current government says that it will be a $1.8 billion deficit. The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that it will be a $12.3 billion deficit. It goes on, which is why I keep referring to the word “trust”. It is a matter of trust.

Given the statement I made, which I chose not to repeat during the campaign, we cannot trust the Prime Minister and the government. We cannot trust their figures. It is not something that we are saying. It is something the figures show.

When I am out there speaking to my constituents, they tell me that they have great concerns because of what is happening in the world economy. Earlier today, government members were comparing the crisis in different countries. I was shocked to learn that the average debt-load per household in Canada is about $42,000. We know Greece is having some difficulties and the average debt-load there is just over $30,000. Who is worse off, I ask?

The Conservatives have mortgaged our future, our children's future and our grandchildren's future. All I am saying is that if they want to recapture the trust of Canadians, they need to come out with figures that can be substantiated, figures that are accurate and figures that we can talk about and realistically work with the international community. The OECD, for example, this is their figures, not ours. It is an embarrassment for us to go on the international stage and say how wonderful we are when, in essence, beneath that thin membrane things are not looking good.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act October 7th, 2010

The current finance minister said that, Mr. Speaker. What has he done? Again, I cannot use the word “lie”, but he has reneged on his commitment. He said his government would increase it by $90 but then said it would only be increased by $30. He then told Canadians that it was a tax decrease. I do not know where the finance minister learned his math.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to continuing my speech after question period.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery Act October 7th, 2010

Madam Speaker, when I get up again after question period, I will pick up on where the member left off. The Conservatives talk about raising taxes. On EI, for example, they say they will not raise the premium a certain amount, but then turn around and raise it less than that amount. That is the same as a store that offers a special 50% discount, but it jacks up the price by 100% and then lowers it by 50%, and says that it is giving a 50% discount. That is what the Conservatives did with EI. Later on I will point out what they have done. The Conservatives have tried to pass it on to Canadians as a tax break, but in essence it is a tax hike.

We cannot support these initiatives. It boils down to a matter of trust. We simply cannot trust what the government says. The Conservatives say one thing but do another. For example, the Prime Minister promised in writing not to tax income trusts. He used that in his campaign. One of the first things he did when elected to office was to renege on that promise. I cannot use the word “lie” because that is unparliamentary language, but I can use the word “renege”. He reneged on his agreement. It boils down to a matter of trust.

With respect to EI premiums, I have a quote from the finance minister who said, “It's one of those job-killing taxes, a direct tax on employers and employees”.