Mr. Speaker, in its sixth report to Canadians on the economic action plan, the government itself admits that economic growth remains fragile and that too many Canadians are still unemployed.
During a meeting held in Toronto in June, leaders of the G20 countries agreed that stimulation measures should continue to be implemented in order to strengthen the economic recovery. I will provide examples of the astronomical amounts of public money wasted on this event later in my speech. Yet, the Conservative government is refusing to push back the deadline for the infrastructure program, which ends on March 31, 2011. Numerous projects are at risk of not being completed.
According to their own data on page 8 of the economic action plan, more than 2% of the projects have not yet begun, just months before the end of the program. Do I need to remind the Minister of Finance that we live in Canada, that there are four seasons in the year, including winter, which begins on December 21 and ends on March 20, leaving little time to complete projects that are not yet finished? In addition, this government has shown no transparency.
Still on page 8 of its economic action plan, the government does not even dare mention how many projects have been completed. The information it has provided is not black and white. It says that 97% of the projects are under way or completed. Are they under way or are they completed?
A government with transparent management would have clearly stated how many projects were finished to date and how many were still under way. If this government is actively managing the implementation of its economic action plan, as it claims to be doing, why is it not sharing this information and extending the work deadline in order to really allow economic recovery to take root?
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives and the finance minister are trying to take credit for Canada being able to sustain itself and do better than other countries of the G7 during the economic crisis. What the Minister of Finance fails to tell Canadians is that Canada was able to buffer the economic crisis due to the Liberals not allowing bank mergers and putting in strict financial controls so we would not have a sub-prime mortgage type of crisis. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin ensured that the CPP was funded for 75 years.
What did the current finance minister do? Remember the introduction of the 40-year mortgage with no down payment? Remember trying to create the sub-prime mortgage scenario? Remember trying to raid CPP to pay for his boutique-type tax cuts? The fact is, the opposition stopped the finance minister.
Instead of taking credit for fiscal management, it is high time the Conservatives take a long hard look in the mirror and realize they are the biggest spenders since Confederation.
They managed to turn the $13 billion surplus that the Liberals accumulated through sound fiscal management into a deficit of more than $56 billion.
I would now like to go over some examples of how the Conservative government has wasted public money. In addition to spending billions of dollars on partisan promotional signs, the government demonstrated lack of judgment when it spent $1.9 million to build a fake lake in the Toronto media centre. That is just one-fifth of the $1.2 billion spent on the G20 and G8 summits. Money spent needlessly on a backdrop could have been used for social housing, for better community services, for job creation and to get people back on their feet so they can retire.
What about spending $16 billion on an untendered contract for F-35s? Is that responsible? How many taxpayers' dollars could it have saved by calling for tenders? Why is this government refusing to invest in Canadian companies? How many jobs will this cost Canadians?
During the worst recession in decades, and at a time when Canadians are having a hard time taking care of sick loved ones, saving for retirement and paying for their children's studies, the borrow-and-spend Conservatives have spent the last four years wasting billions of taxpayers' dollars. Since coming to power in 2006, the Conservatives have spent $94 billion on contracts for professional and special services, which is $2.2 billion more than the previous Liberal government.
The situation keeps getting worse. The public accounts show that there was a $1 billion increase last year in contracts for special services. This represents a total of $10.4 billion. We also see that the Prime Minister spent almost $7 million of taxpayers' money in just one year so that he and his assistants could travel around the world. Recently the government sent the largest delegation ever to the Sommet de la Francophonie, which was held in Switzerland. The Prime Minister has increased his office's budget by 30% over the past two years to nearly $10 million annually.
His ministers have also spent more money, or 16% more annually, even though they keep saying they are committed to tightening their belts to help lower the Conservatives record deficit of more than $56 billion. The total costs for ministers in 2009-10 reached $67.6 million, compared to $59.3 million the year before. That is what they call tightening their belts. If the Conservatives continue such outrageous spending, they will not be able to fasten their belts.
Last week when the Liberals questioned the outrageous spending, the government leader in the House was quick to defend the Prime Minister saying that the Prime Minister had an important responsibility to communicate with Canadians and that there were fair and reasonable costs associated with that. We agree with him that the Prime Minister has a duty to listen to Canadians, and he should listen to Canadians, and that costs associated should be fair and reasonable, but this is not the case. These costs are outrageous and Canadians are telling the Prime Minister and the finance minister that they have to stop this mismanagement of public funds.
The finance minister is labelled the “architect of deficit” in many economic and financial circles. He has a history of destroying finances. He did it in Ontario. He borrowed money to give tax breaks that left the province with a huge deficit, from which the province is still reeling. Now he wants to steer Canada down that same lane. Canadians need to be told how the finance minister intends on adding further to the deficit by borrowing money to pay for unneeded tax cuts to big businesses to the tune of approximately $6 billion.
I want to close by condemning this government's incompetence when it comes to managing public funds. In 2006, the Conservatives inherited a $13 billion surplus and today they have a $56 billion deficit. What is more, this budget has nothing for seniors, nothing for women, nothing for the homeless, nothing for social housing and nothing for family caregivers.
Canadians deserve better.