Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Edmonton—St. Albert for his sharing his time.
It is with great pleasure and honour that I stand today and speak in favour of Bill C-13, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget. I am happy that my government will be honouring its commitments made during the general election, plus much more.
Since coming to Ottawa as a new member of Parliament, I have had the pleasure to work, listen and speak to some wonderful representatives from all over this great country from every political party. I may not agree with many of the views of my colleagues from the opposition parties but I pride myself on listening to different points of view, and I know our Prime Minister feels the same way.
Friday, May 12, was the first time that I was truly upset by comments from a member of the opposition. I heard with dismay as the member for Markham—Unionville denigrated the honest work of my friend, the Minister of Finance. The member used words like visionless, mean-spirited, unsuccessful and dishonest, all within the first three sentences of his speech.
Criticism should be constructive instead of being undignified and, dare I use the words of the hon. member, mean-spirited. I hope there are fewer speeches like that in the future.
There were over 21,000 people in Sarnia--Lambton who voted for change and over 5 million nationally who did the same. These people knew that they were voting for honesty, vision, kindness and success. We will work hard for Canadians and we will run an honest and accountable government.
I knew I was watching the future Prime Minister when I saw the member for Calgary Southwest announce the five key priorities on January 2, 2006. This Prime Minister is a natural leader and he knows how to focus. We saw that with the Speech from the Throne which followed through on the five priorities set out in January.
Now our Minister of Finance has presented a focused budget based on accountability, opportunity, families and communities, security and restoring fiscal balance in Canada, and by addressing those five priorities. I am proud to speak about those priorities today.
Let me begin with opportunity in the agricultural sector. A large part of my riding works in agriculture. During the election campaign I made a commitment to fight for farmers. As a newly elected member of Parliament I met many local, provincial and national farm groups. Our new Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food proved his commitment to farmers when he immediately released, on an accelerated basis, payments under the $755 million grains and oilseeds payment program. However, as I had more meetings, I realized our significant campaign promise of an additional $500 million per year for farm support would not be enough for this year.
I believe that 13 years of disappointment had programmed farmers into believing that their government did not care and would not help out any further. Therefore, on April 5 farmers came from all over the country for a rally on Parliament Hill to give national attention to the farm crisis.
After 13 years of government inaction, they were demanding action from the new government. When the Minister of Finance announced $1.5 billion for the farm sector in this fiscal year, I have never been so proud to be a Conservative. We promised $500 million in additional funds and, instead, we delivered $1.5 billion. I knew that these kinds of funds would really help.
Not only were farmers looking for additional funds but they were looking for a replacement to the failed CAIS program. Over and over again members of our caucus had been told by farmers and farm groups that the CAIS program needed replacing. Our Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food listened. Now our government will replace CAIS with more effective programming for farm income stabilization and disaster relief.
We are committed to developing long term strategies as well as short term solutions. The fact that there are more farmers and more farm interests represented in the government, in caucus and in the cabinet than has been the case in any government in living memory, has helped create a budget that will truly help farmers. For the first time in a long time, farmers have been included in a federal budget.
All Canadians have been included in the budget. The budget contains $20 billion in tax relief, which is more tax relief than the last four federal budgets combined. Twenty-nine federal taxes will be reduced in every area the federal government collects revenues, such as the reduction in the goods and services tax from 7% to 6%; a reduction in income taxes and business taxes, including targeted measures to help Canadians with the cost of transit passes; tools for apprentices; kids sports; and textbooks for students.
Speaking of education, I have a copy of a letter from the president of the University of Western Ontario to the right hon. Prime Minister. I have had many dealings with this great institution over the years as a founding member of the University of Western Ontario Research Park, Sarnia-Lambton Campus. In his letter, the president of the university, Mr. Paul Davenport, gives his “sincere congratulations to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the entire government on a very successful first budget”. He goes on to write, “the budget affirmed the government's commitment to the stated top five priorities, and also recognized the importance of education and research as key enablers of growth and prosperity in Canada.
That is not all. Mr. Davenport recognized that our governments' support of post-secondary education will positively affect the university in at least four different ways. Our $1 billion trust fund for post-secondary infrastructure will provide critical funding for university facilities as they upgrade aging buildings. Our commitment to expand the eligibility for the Canada student loans program to an estimated additional 30,000 students will give access to higher learning to more young Canadians than ever before. That is in addition to the new textbook tax credit of $520 for students, representing a tax reduction of about $80. This will benefit 1.9 million post-secondary students.
To further help students, the budget will exempt all post-secondary education scholarship and bursary income from tax, providing tax relief to more than 100,000 post-secondary students.
Mr. Davenport did not end there. He thanked the new government for the increased funds of $100 million per year for investment in research and development. That is still not all. Mr. Davenport also recognized the economic windfall our universities will receive as a result of the government's decision to eliminate the remaining capital gains tax on donations of listed securities to public charities. As we all know, fundraising efforts are crucial to the success of universities. This initiative will not only benefit universities but the entire charitable sector.
Many of the charities that will benefit from this exemption will undoubtedly be in the health sector. The government has committed to implement the 10 year plan to strengthen health care. Our first priority is to implement a patient wait times guarantee for medically necessary services developed with provincial and territorial governments.
I have spoken in the House about the Public Health Agency of Canada. We will be providing additional funds to this agency for a variety of causes. We will be investing $52 million per year for the Canadian strategy for cancer control so that we may better understand how to fight the various forms of this disease. We also will invest $460 million to further improve Canada's pandemic preparedness, plus another $19 million to Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada to enhance our capacity to deal with catastrophes and emergencies so we may be one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to emergency preparedness.
Risk to health is something we hope to improve. Cracking down on crime is another area we hope to improve. Investing $161 million in the RCMP by adding 1,000 more officers and federal prosecutors, plus another $37 million to expand the RCMP National Training Academy.
As my riding is a border community with many border crossings, I was delighted to hear the Minister of Finance announce $101 million to begin arming border officers and eliminating work alone posts.
I have only touched on a few of the measures found in this budget. I could speak for much longer on how very impressed I am with it. Once again, I congratulate my colleague, the Minister of Finance, and encourage all hon. members to support the bill.