June 16, 2005

CPC

Ken Epp

Conservative

Mr. Ken Epp (Edmonton—Sherwood Park, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the NDP member covered quite a bit of ground. However, I would like to point out to him, when he talks about corruption, that he makes a serious error when he uses the words “Liberal” and “Conservative” in the same sentence. I do not think he is being at all honest. I do not know how else I can say that in a parliamentary fashion.

There was never before in Canadian history a scandal of the magnitude we face in the country right now. Not only are the members and the leadership in the governing party, but also the frontbench of the actual government, in collusion in funnelling money from taxpayers into the coffers of the Liberal Party. That has never been seen before in Canadian history.

The fact that those members would collude to prop up that totally corrupt government is a total affront. I will not say that any government, whether it is an NDP government in British Columbia, Saskatchewan or Ontario, or whether it is one of the other governments in one of the provinces or in this place, was ever perfect. That is an unattainable goal. However, the depths to which the government has sunk has indeed set new records. I wish that he would acknowledge that and be a little more careful when he uses the words “Liberal” and “Conservative” in the same sentence. I am challenging him on that part.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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NDP

Peter Julian

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Julian

Mr. Speaker, I am equally concerned about the use of public funds for private fundraising purposes, which we have seen through the sponsorship scandal and through the Liberal Party's mismanagement of public resources. These are public resources that belong to all Canadians and they were misused for private fundraising purposes of the Liberal Party of Canada.

However, where the hon. member errs is by saying that it is without precedent. If he reads the hundreds of pages of documentation that Stevie Cameron put together for her book On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years, , he will see, through the PC Canada fund, the Mulroney Conservatives did the exact same systematic thing by using public funds for private party fundraising purposes. That is what was so deplorable about the Mulroney government, about the Conservative government in power. That is why the Conservatives were virtually wiped out afterward.

Now the Conservatives are coming back and saying “we have changed”. It is up to the Canadian public to determine that. Very clearly in both cases, Conservative and Liberal, we had a systematic use of public funds for private fundraising purposes. Whether it is the Liberal Canada fund for the PC Canada fund, it is the same dirty money. We in this corner of the House oppose both approaches.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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NDP

Jean Crowder

New Democratic Party

Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the affordable housing initiative. I wanted to point out to the member that this is a problem from coast to coast to coast. In my riding, Nanaimo—Cowichan's Working Group on Homelessness recently did a study. It took a look at the number of homeless in the streets of Nanaimo. Fully 50% of those people on the street are women and many of them had young children.

In addition there was a recent study in the Statistics Canada Daily. It talks about the number of women who are in shelters. Seven out of ten women are reporting physical abuse in shelters. One of the things that contributes to this is the lack of affordable housing.

Could the member specifically comment on how important this better balanced budget will provide affordable housing to women and children in this country?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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NDP

Peter Julian

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Julian

Mr. Speaker, I would like to praise the member for the tremendous work she has been doing as an advocate on behalf of all the people of Vancouver Island on the housing crisis which we are currently experiencing in British Columbia.

In my area of Burnaby—New Westminster we have seen a tripling of homelessness. We are seeing record levels of child poverty and people having to go to food banks to get through their month. It is a real tragedy. The Gordon Campbell government has worsened a situation that was already bad enough through federal government neglect. We have the federal Liberals eliminating funding for housing and we have the provincial Liberals doing even worse things, particularly when we talk about single parents, women and children who have been abandoned by the system.

I compliment her on all the work that she has done. She has been a fearless advocate on housing issues in the House. I agree with her that this problem is widespread across the country resolved--

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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?

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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LIB

Shawn Murphy

Liberal

Hon. Shawn Murphy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join the debate on Bill C-48 which would authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments.

However I believe in this debate we cannot just look at this bill by itself standing alone. It must be seen in the larger context of the entire budget, Bill C-43, the budget presented by the Minister of Finance. From everything I have seen, read and heard, it is a budget that meets with almost the unanimous approval of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Budget 2005 is this country's eighth consecutive surplus budget. It is a good budget, a solid budget and a budget that Canadians want this House to pass.

For almost four months now, Canadians have been telling us three things. First, they have been saying to pass this budget. Second, they have been saying that they do not want an election. Third, they have been saying that they do not want a Conservative government. Those are the three things that Canadians have been telling me and other members of this House.

Canadians have been saying that this budget addresses not all aspects, that it is not perfect, that it is not 100%, but, by and large, it addresses their values, their concerns and their priorities. Canadians have also been saying that they want their elected officials, each and every one of them, to work together in committee, in this House and in the Senate to get together to get the budget through.

I cannot stress how important these two budgets, Bill C-43 and Bill C-48, are to Canadians. They contain major initiatives that people all across the country have applauded. Canadians expect and have ever reason to expect these initiatives to be put into place, such as a national system of high quality, universally inclusive, accessible and developmental early learning and child care. This government has committed $5 billion toward this initiative which aims to give all Canadian children the best possible start on their future.

There is the gas tax revenue sharing initiative which will be worth $5 billion over five years, with $6 million of that due for this year alone. This is a much needed investment that will help Canada's cities, towns and communities to meet their needs with long term, reliable sources of funding.

Much has been said in the House about the so-called notion of a fiscal imbalance. I personally do not agree with it. We have two levels of government. We have the federal level and the provincial level. The provincial level of government has more taxing powers than the federal level. If the provincial level needs additional sources of revenue, it is very easy for them to raise taxes, if that is their desire or their wish.

When I analyze the situation I see a fiscal imbalance that is here and is growing between the federal and the provincial government on the one hand and the municipalities on the other hand. By the municipalities I mean the cities and towns. These incorporated communities do not have the capacity to raise taxes. I see that as a true imbalance. This provision would go a little way, although I will not say all the way, but it takes one step to help correct that imbalance.

I would also like to highlight this government's commitment to regional economic development. In 2003, I chaired the Atlantic caucus subcommittee on regional economic development which produced the Rising Tide report. This report, among other things, emphasized the need for the creation and growth of a knowledge economy in Atlantic Canada. I was very pleased that this government responded with a $708 million investment to the Atlantic Canada region.

The Atlantic initiative will include a renewed $300 million Atlantic innovation fund that will support university research, commercialization and innovative companies. The Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will be making a further announcement on this initiative a week from Friday. It will also be supported by a $41 million permanent increase in ACOA's annual budget, totalling $205 million over five years.

Atlantic Canadians have even more to look forward to in this budget. For example, there is the new funding of $110 million over a period of five years to the National Research Council of Canada. In my home province of Prince Edward Island, construction is underway on the National Research Council Institute for Nutriscience and Health, which will anchor a worldclass research cluster. This is an investment not only in the region but in Canada.

Prince Edward Island is also recognized as a leader in alternate energy sources, most notably wind power. There is an existing facility in North Cape, Prince Edward Island and there is a second facility being planned for construction in the eastern part of the province. That is why I am especially pleased to hear of a $200 million investment in wind power, which includes the government's promise to quadruple the wind power production initiative.

The government has also been responsive to the needs of seasonal workers with significant and meaningful changes to the employment insurance program being tested by pilot projects. These include taking the 14 best weeks of work or since the start of the last claim, whichever is shorter. This will mean that for individuals with sporadic work patterns EI benefit levels will be more reflective of their full time work patterns. It removes a certain disincentive in the system and will not only help seasonal workers but also some of the seasonal companies.

Pilot projects are also testing an increase in the working while on claim threshold that will allow individuals to earn the greater of $75 or 40% of weekly benefits in an effort to work without reducing benefits. These changes were called for and needed. As long as we have seasons in this country we will have seasonal workers and these changes were fair, equitable and, in my view, took out of the system a certain disincentive that existed.

When we look at the entire budget package, Bill C-43, Bill C-48 and some of the announcements that precluded the last budget which took place last fall, there are issues I want to speak briefly to because they are all part of a continuum and are vital to Canadians living in every region of this country. The two I want to speak to are the accords on health care and equalization, which of course, as everyone in the House knows, continue to be priorities for all Canadians.

Canadians stand to benefit tremendously from the new deal on health reached between the federal government and the provincial first ministers. This historic agreement was reached last fall just a few months into this government's mandate.

Over 10 years more than $41 billion of new funding for health care will go to the provinces and territories, which in turn have committed to produce information on outcomes so that Canadians can be assured their money is being spent where it should be. The new deal recognizes the need for flexibility by allowing provinces and territories to target specific provincial health care needs.

Provincial and territorial needs are also being met through a new framework for equalization that will see an increase in payment by over $27 billion over the next 10 years. This represents the most significant improvements in this program in the history of it. It introduces and provides stability, predictability and increased funding which will assist the provinces and territories in meeting their social and economic development needs.

Last June, Canadians chose a minority government and they expected that government to work, and rightly so. This government, I submit, has worked. I have said before, when the budget came out in February, that the handprints of all parties were on it. It contained elements from every party.

The leader of the official opposition supported the budget. However, for some reason, whether it was a poll or some other development external to this House, he and his party changed their mind and they indicated that they would defeat the government on the budget.

However the government continued to work. It continued to work with everyone and with the NDP to bring about improvements, which is what Bill C-48 before the House is. It is an example of the type of cooperation that Canadians expect from their government here in the House of Commons.

However, when the Liberals and the NDP started working together for Canadians, suddenly the other parties did not like that.

It is unfortunate that I do not have more time because I could go on about the whole issue of the allegations from the other side about fiscal irresponsibility, but Bill C-48 is a good bill. It is very much part of the budget package, part of the continuum, and I urge every member of the House to support it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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CPC

Joy Smith

Conservative

Mrs. Joy Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, as I listened to the hon. member's speech I did have some questions. I know that it has been quite an unusual year when there are two parties blended here: the Liberals and the NDP. There is a very blurred line between the two parties. They are much the same.

We have had a terrible experience with the Gomery commission in terms of having to get to the bottom of a scandal that is bigger than any we have ever had in the history of Canada. We are now looking at two budget bills. Normally speaking, we would be looking at one budget because a ruling government party usually puts forward a budget and it is passed in the House of Commons based on the credibility and the confidence of the House of Commons.

In my riding of Kildonan--St. Paul in the province of Manitoba, we had a very big surprise when the Liberal government came with great fanfare to our province and made grand announcements about infrastructure. When I was on the fiscal imbalance committee sitting in the province of Manitoba, I listened very carefully to Manitobans' dismay at the fact that the gas tax money had not been put into place so they could utilize it. Suddenly the rules were changed with the gas tax money. It was the intention of our province to use it for roads and bridges.

Could the member opposite please explain why the money cannot now be used for the damaged roads and bridges that need to be repaired, as had first been promised by the Liberal government? Why have the rules changed and what is the government going to do about it?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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LIB

Shawn Murphy

Liberal

Hon. Shawn Murphy

Mr. Speaker, the first item I want to address is this allegation of two parties blended. I have seen no more disturbing development in this House since coming here four and a half years ago than the alliance that has occurred between the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois. We can see it in the House of Commons, in committee and in the corridors.

To give an example, we are talking about Bill C-48, which is about six paragraphs long and which is good legislation that talks about affordable housing, public transit and access to post-secondary education, but when it went to committee, the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois got together as an alliance, a very unholy alliance I should add, and they voted out every article in that act and returned the document with nothing in it.

I say shame on them and shame on the agreement. What part of this do they not agree with? Do they not agree with affordable housing? Do they not agree with public transit.

We also hear them talk about fiscal irresponsibility. Well I say to them that in 1993, when Brian Mulroney was incurring an annual deficit of $43 million, were they arguing fiscal irresponsibility? No, they were not. We are still paying that money back and that has put this country in a mess. We are finally getting out of it. We are starting to be able to spend money on programs and priorities that Canadians want, and that is why I urge everyone in this House to pass Bill C-48.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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CPC

Diane Finley

Conservative

Ms. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the member is refusing to answer this question about infrastructure money flowing from the gas tax because that was one of my questions as well.

I live in an area southwest of Toronto. It is a beautiful area. It has been dependent upon farming and agriculture for years. However, because of these Liberal policies, many of our farmers are losing their farms. Unfortunately, we do not have the infrastructure that would attract alternate jobs.

While the minister was gloating across the aisle a moment ago about all of the rural and economic development money that the government claims to have put into its budget, absolutely not one penny of it has been allocated to southern Ontario where it is also needed.

I am wondering why the minister is so proud of this budget, in terms of Bill C-48, because the government did not even bother to overcome that shortage. How can he be so proud of it and so proud of the infrastructure efforts if no money that was promised is actually getting delivered and no money is going to help revitalize areas that really need it because of that party's failed economic and agricultural policies?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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LIB

Shawn Murphy

Liberal

Hon. Shawn Murphy

Mr. Speaker, the so-called gas tax money is a program that is meant to, in some small way, help the fiscal imbalance between the towns, cities and communities and the federal and provincial governments.

However, because of the jurisdiction of the cities, the matter has to be negotiated with the provinces, and in the member's case, that would be of course the province of Ontario. That agreement, and I understand it was only signed yesterday, would dictate how this money would be spent. That would be an agreement made between the federal and provincial governments, with input from the federation of municipalities. However, it is a small amount of money now, over five years, but it is meant to continue on and the priorities of all Canadians will be taken into account as we go forward.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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CPC

Dale Johnston

Conservative

Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about Bill C-48 and I would like to remind members that the title of the bill is “An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments”.

It is a pretty short title and it does not tell us a whole lot. It does not tell people across Canada whether this means that we are going to pay the power bill or that it includes $4.6 billion. It is a deal that was written up on the back of a napkin between the government and the NDP.

The member who just spoke prior to me talked about the unholy alliance between the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois. Let me point out to him and to Canadians watching that there is no such alliance on this side of the House. There is, however, one on the other side of the House and it is the NDP propping up a corrupt government that does not deserve to be propped up.

The goal of a Conservative government would be to provide Canadians with the highest standard of living of anyone in the world. We would do that by reducing taxation. Taxation has brought us to the place where we are today.

The last surplus forecast was $1.9 billion. It turned out that whoever was looking after the books was dyslexic because it happened to be $9.1 billion and what did the government do with that surplus? In the face of an impending election it ran around the country and tried to run the cupboard completely bare. That is the whole idea behind running these large surpluses.

I will get back to the unholy alliance, or the shotgun wedding perhaps, between the two parties over there. I do not know which one of them is the bride and which is the groom. I would suggest that the smaller party be very wary of doing business with the Liberals because they have a practice of not following through with their promises.

I would refer that party to the long gun registry where the Liberals said to trust them because this was a bill that was going to reduce crime. It was going to take the guns out of the hands of the people in Canada who should not have guns and it was going to make us all a lot safer in our homes. It was going to reduce gang violence, it was going to do all these wonderful things, and it was only going to cost Canadians $2 million. Guess what? We are at $2 billion and counting and today we heard the Deputy Prime Minister vow, and brag actually, that the annual payments into the long gun registry are going to be capped at a mere $68 million a year. What wonderful news. I am sure that all Canadians are going to be thankful that they will be safer now because of the $68 million.

A Conservative government would put more decisions into the hands of the people who actually pay taxes. How would we do that? For one thing we would tax fewer dollars away from them. I have a daughter who is teaching school in Edmonton. I have another daughter who is married and has two young children, and they are scraping to get by in order to put a few dollars away for the education of their children. The children are two years and six months of age, but the parents are doing their best to put some money away to ensure that those kids get a college education if that is what they want.

How are they trying to do that? They are both working, so that one of them can pay the bills, the mortgage and put groceries on the table, and the other one works to pay their taxes. While we are talking about taxes, why is it that there was no tax relief in the budget? Why is it that there was no debt reduction in the budget? Why indeed was the budget ever written up?

It is pretty obvious that the reason it was written up was to save the political skin of the Prime Minister and his corrupt party. It was pretty obvious also that if all of these things were such wonderful Liberal ideas, they would have been included in the original budget. They were not.

I again warn my colleagues in the NDP to be very cautious of who they are dealing with here. If people want to do business with someone or invest in a company, they should have a look at the prospectus and the track record. I think the NDP members have been here long enough that they should know the track record of the outfit they are dealing with. I just say to them caveat emptor , let the buyer beware.

We talked about the huge reserves that have been built up over the years. I find it passing strange and difficult to comprehend how this thinking goes. Here is a government that has in the neighbourhood a $10 billion surplus in its last budget. There was no mention of help to agriculture in Bill C-48 at all.

At one time I believe I do remember people such as Stanley Knowles and Tommy Douglas saying that they were the friends of the farmer. As a matter of fact, the birthplace of the CCF, the forerunner of the NDP, was Saskatchewan, a province famous for its agriculture. There is no mention whatsoever of agriculture in this napkin budget.

I want to remind people that in 1994 the previous government made a commitment to upgrade the military helicopters. The Conservative government had made a deal to buy some EH 101 helicopters, so that the military would have machines that would fly when required, and the military would not have to go to the archives to obtain parts for these machines.

The helicopter deal was scrubbed, as everyone knows, at a cost of $600 million. Thanks to the Liberal government the taxpayers of Canada were on the hook for $600 million just to get out of the deal. We still do not have those helicopters.

That was a big commitment. Former Prime Minister Chrétien said that the government was working on that. I believe the terms he used were ones that the Deputy Prime Minister likes to use, “without further delay” or “in due course of time” or whatever. It did not happen. We still do not have the helicopters.

It is now 12 years after the promise was made to upgrade the helicopters for our Canadian military. We still do not have those helicopters. Today we have helicopters that require 30 hours of maintenance for every hour of flight. That is the kind of deal that the NDP has entered into. This is the type of party that it has entered into with this deal. It is a party that is notorious for not keeping its word. I do not know if it is parliamentary for me to say so, but I think that the Liberal Party is being duplicitous about this.

I have been here since 1993 and the government has continually racked up surpluses. The government has done very little, although it has made token payments on the debt, about $3 billion a year. In this budget and actually in Bill C-43, I did not see any payment on the debt.

I know that if the government were paying down the debt, it would reduce the $40 billion a year that we pay out in interest. That money, that we pay out for the party that we have had, is money that could be returned to the taxpayer in the form of just leaving more money in their pockets. I am a great believer that a dollar left in the hands of the taxpayer is far better used than a dollar that is sent here for the government to squander.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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LIB

John McKay

Liberal

Hon. John McKay (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am amused by this line of argument by the hon. member and his party opposite which says that Bill C-48 is propping up the government and, of course, propping up a corrupt government. Only an hour ago we voted on third reading of Bill C-43. Bill C-43 is a complete budget document in and of itself. I do not know what the hon. member was doing when he was voting for Bill C-43, or what his party was doing voting for Bill C-43. If he truly believes that he is propping up this corrupt government, then he should not have voted for Bill C-43.

Would the hon. member enlighten me? Why would he vote for Bill C-43 which props up a corrupt government, but not vote for Bill C-48 because it will prop up a corrupt government? It does not make any sense.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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CPC

Dale Johnston

Conservative

Mr. Dale Johnston

Mr. Speaker, it is really quite simple. Because we voted to support Bill C-43, we did not vote to prolong the life of the government across the way. We voted for Bill C-43 because it contains some measures we supported, some measures of which we were actually the instigators.

Some things in Bill C-43 came right out of the Conservative policy book. For instance, although the gasoline tax rebate is watered down somewhat in Bill C-43, that was a Conservative plan some eight or nine years ago. I know that the hon. member who asked the question will recall that my colleague Mr. Morrison, from Cypress Hills--Grasslands in Saskatchewan, put forth a private member's bill suggesting exactly the same thing.

The other reason that I personally voted for it was that it gave Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia control over their natural resources. This is also a policy that we have long advocated and are glad to see come in.

Why did we vote for the bill? Because we were not in a position to separate out the things we like about Bill C-43 and vote for them, and separate out the things we do not like about Bill C-43 and vote against them. Therefore, we had to vote to support the entire bill, because it did contain at least two measures that we both instigated and support.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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NDP

Bev Desjarlais

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. Did the Conservatives at any point attempt to get some changes to the budget? Did they go to the Liberals and say they would support it if the Liberals put in this or that or did they just sit back?

Wait a minute, I actually do not have to ask that question, because once again I recall the leader of the Conservatives, right after the budget was announced, with that great big smile on his face going out to the media and saying that he loved it, that it was the best budget the Conservatives could have, that it was a Conservative budget.

They did not bother going for anything else because they had their budget.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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CPC

Dale Johnston

Conservative

Mr. Dale Johnston

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the hon. member's hyperbole, but that is exactly what it is, hyperbole.

What my leader said was that this is not a budget with which we are thrilled, this is not a budget that we feel is sufficient to bring down the government, and this is a budget we can live with.

Just for the sake of the people who are watching and for the sake of Hansard , let us not confuse the budget that the hon. member is talking about, Bill C-43, and this back of the napkin or back of the envelope budget, whichever we like, Bill C-48, which was cobbled together at the last minute by the Liberal government, the finance minister, the NDP and of course Buzz Hargrove. I do not know how they could ever have managed to get this just right without Buzz Hargrove. Apparently that is what it takes.

That is what we are discussing here today. They are two separate and completely distinct bills. Bill C-43, on which I have answered the previous questioner, is the one that we did support, and Bill C-48 is the one we do not support.

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Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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NDP

Bev Desjarlais

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity for more time to make some comments on the budget bill, Bill C-48. Obviously the New Democrats are very happy with the budget.

I know that my colleagues on the Conservative benches keep insisting this was a budget that was done on a napkin or the back of an envelope. The reality is that this budget resulted from the NDP meeting with a number of groups that wanted to see changes and improvements within the budget.

We knew what Canadians wanted. We knew where there were faults within the first budget and where we wanted to see changes made. A number of days stretched into evenings and late hours of the night while we were negotiating changes and improvements to that budget. It was not done with a quick snappy “this is what we want” attitude. It was done seriously and with a focus on maintaining what our leader has said from day one: a belief in a balanced budget.

I have supported that. As someone who has been involved in municipal politics as part of a school board, I know it is important to stick within budget mandates. I totally support that. Our leader supports it and this is what we have followed through on.

Part of the criteria for this change was that we wanted these changes made but we still wanted to see a balanced budget. That is what we have. This attitude that somehow it is going to put us grossly in debt and is the downfall as a nation is just not accurate. I think the Conservatives do themselves an injustice by suggesting this, because it is not the case.

There is one fact that I cannot seem to understand. I do not know where the Conservatives are coming from on this. It is in regard to how it is somehow awful that NDP is getting $4.6 billion that is going back to Canadians in services.

There will be $4.6 billion going back to the Canadian taxpayers for affordable housing, which is absolutely crucial to the nation, not only in my riding and first nations communities, where it is desperately needed, but throughout the nation. Seniors need affordable housing as well. Even in smaller rural communities housing stock has reached a point where changes are needed.

We need a type of independent living arrangement whereby seniors can move out of their own homes but still have a focus on independent living. They may need additional types of housing to support that situation. Under affordable housing they may be able to get that type of housing. It is a crucial need. Somehow the Conservatives expect that as a New Democrat I should feel shame that we fought for this within the budget, but it is not going to happen. I take great pride in the changes that were made to the budget, affordable housing being number one.

The second area is the additional dollars for education. How many of us stand on numerous occasions saying that it is crucially important for us to have a trained and educated nation? The Conservatives do it as well. Then, when we work within the budget to provide additional dollars to support students and educational facilities, somehow we should feel shame that we obtained that for Canadians? It is not going to happen. I take great pride in the fact that we obtained additional dollars for education support.

There are additional dollars to assist developing nations. Again, this is greatly needed. All opposition parties sent letters to the Prime Minister indicating the need for additional dollars and now somehow that was wrong thing to do? I do not think so.

There are additional dollars for Kyoto and improving on the environment. I have received comments from around my own riding and from the municipalities stating appreciation for those dollars as well as the dollars they are going to receive from the gas taxes. Why would we feel bad about that?

Who should be feeling bad? It is the Conservatives who should be feeling bad. They are saying that it was somehow okay to give $4.6 billion in tax cuts to corporations.

I want to add something to that. Part of the deal was as well to ensure that small and medium sized businesses would maintain their tax breaks. Those are the businesses in each and every one of our small towns throughout the nation, in every rural and remote community. They are not the large corporations that can take a lot of their assets offshore and skirt around our tax rules, which a number of them do already. They are not the banks, which make billions of dollars. A lot of them are not even paying taxes.

We are not there to ensure that they get corporate tax cuts. Over the years they have had a number of tax cuts. There were already tax cuts in place for those corporations and they are still going to proceed. These were additional tax cuts for corporations. Somehow as New Democrats we should feel bad that we said no, we are not going to accept $4.6 billion in corporate tax cuts while the Liberals do not give back services to Canadians? That is not acceptable.

It is beyond me how the Conservatives think Canadians will be fooled by their attitude that somehow by giving back to Canadians in services we in the NDP have brought the country down and we are not going to have businesses investing in anything. We all know already that businesses, in spite of getting numerous tax cuts, were still moving offshore and were still finding loopholes to take their taxes out of this country. That is not acceptable.

Built into the plan was a balanced budget, a balanced approach. If the surplus is not there, then there is no flow. That is acknowledged. My colleague from the Conservatives said there is probably a $10 billion surplus. We are talking about $4.6 billion. We all know and expect that in reality the surplus is even greater because the Liberals have made so many cuts and have not followed through on many programs. We are going to try to make sure this happens. The way to do it is as a group of parliamentarians insisting that it happen, so that all Canadians benefit, not just corporations benefiting from tax cuts.

If the surplus is not there, we acknowledge that the dollars will not flow, but the reality, and we all know it, is that the surplus is there. I will be the first to admit that although this is a better balanced budget than what was there before, it certainly is not everything. The sure way to make it everything for Canadians is to put people in charge of the government and the country who are going to follow through on their word and make sure those things happen.

We know that is not going to happen with the Conservatives. They agreed with the Liberals that $4.6 billion in tax cuts to corporations was the first route to take. They supported it. They still insist they supported that first budget. We came along and said no, that is not acceptable, and the government is going to give back to Canadians. The sure way of ensuring that Canadians get the dollars flowing for them is to put more New Democrats in the House and put them in charge. Ideally that is when we will see the best results for Canadians.

When my colleagues say there was nothing extra for agriculture, they are absolutely right. Of course we would have loved to see additional supports for agriculture, but again, in negotiations there is give and take. We were following a plan of what we had to work with. We said we would maintain a balanced budget, but absolutely there should be more assistance for agricultural producers throughout the country.

Absolutely there should have been changes with EI and dollars flowing to workers who have lost numerous benefits over time, but again, I did not see the Conservatives getting in there and saying they wanted money for agriculture after the first budget. They did not say they wanted money for workers. They were accepting that budget with nothing in it. We went in with a minority negotiating position, we accept that, using what we had to get something better for Canadians.

There is an ideal way to get even more for Canadians and to ensure that what comes into the tax coffers in Ottawa means fairness in our tax system and fairness and balance in how those dollars go back to support our nation and Canadians overall. That is to put others in charge who are going to follow through, who are not just going to make up stories and promises for 12 years as the Liberals have done.

I admit it. I have to wonder if Liberals are going to follow through. We are putting our trust in them to do so, but that trust is based on the fact that they are in a minority position. They know Canadians are already questioning their integrity. They know that if they do not follow through on this, they are done for with Canadians, because on top of the scandal with Gomery, Canadians will know they were not going to follow through on a budget that Canadians have told us they want.

The municipalities have told us that and individual Canadians have told us that. People in my riding have told me that. Only one person in my riding wanted an election and wanted the government to fall. All the rest of them said they wanted us to make it work and that we were doing a fantastic job. They said they wanted us to make Parliament work and they wanted the budget we have worked out to pass because it is the budget that is going to help them out.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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?

The Deputy Speaker

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey, China; the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, Agriculture.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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CPC

Michael Chong

Conservative

Mr. Michael Chong (Wellington—Halton Hills, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's comments but she is a member of the opposition and I would have expected that as a member of the opposition she would be doing her job in this chamber by opposing the government, as opposed to attacking us.

It astounds me that the NDP consistently attacks the Conservatives when in fact we are the opposition in this House and we are not in control of the levers of government. It just astounds me why she would go out of her way to attack us, as opposed to holding this government to account. I would suggest to her that she ought to do that.

However she made a number of statements here that cannot go uncountenanced in this House.

The real issue she needs to understand is that the $4.5 billion side deal that was cooked up in a hotel room is fiscally irresponsible and, more important, the way in which this money is to be spent is even more irresponsible. The spending increase in this budget represents the single largest spending increase over the last two or three decades in this country.

Furthermore, the Liberal government, over the last five years, has increased program spending on a per capita basis by 5%. It therefore is a fiscally irresponsible deal.

Furthermore, the way in which this deal was cooked up is completely ad hoc and does serious damage to the confederation. This deal is on less than two pages in Bill C-48 and it is totally vague on what it will do for the country. These side deals do serious damage to confederation.

When we look at these side deals, such as $1.6 billion for this, $500 million for that, $900 million for that and $1.5 billion for that, these are not part of any ongoing program arrangements or part of the equalization formula. These are simply one-off deals. These one-off deals do serious damage to confederation and the member's party has agreed to this.

In agreeing to this damaging deal, a deal that does serious damage to confederation, is the member also in agreement with her colleague and ally at the Canadian Labour Congress allowing the first non-leader of the NDP, the first separatist leader ever, to appear at this convention? Does the NDP agree in allowing the first leader from a party other than the NDP to address a tri-annual convention at the Canadian Labour Congress? Does she agree with that?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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NDP

Bev Desjarlais

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais

Mr. Speaker, first, the Canadian Labour Congress is an independent body. We are in a democratic country. It can choose to have whomever it likes to come and speak at its conventions. It was in the province of Quebec. I would think if it chose to have the leader of the Bloc appear that is certainly its choice. As I said, we are in a democracy. Although there are some who kind of switch between accepting democracy and not, that is not the case with us. It is not our call. It is an independent body that does a fantastic job on behalf of workers in this country.

In regard to speaking today in support of Bill C-48, it is our bill. It would be a bit ridiculous for me to stand up here as a New Democrat and say that I will not support Bill C-48 when it is our deal. Of course I will support it, in the same way that I supported the government's bill on corporate manslaughter. It came out of my private member's bill. The government finally brought it through but I supported it because it was the right thing to do for Canadian workers. I support this budget because it is the right thing to do for Canadians.

Just being in opposition does not mean we have to oppose everything. It means we have to make sensible decisions based on benefits for Canadians, and that is what is happening here today. That did not come from the Conservatives.

With regard to the bill being on a page and a half or two pages, quality is much more important than quantity. We got all those improvements for Canadians on a page and a half, and maybe the member should take that to heart.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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CPC

Gary Schellenberger

Conservative

Mr. Gary Schellenberger (Perth—Wellington, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to speak in the House today and address the chamber and all Canadians concerning Bill C-48, the Liberal-NDP budget deal.

I know how the government operates after having dealt with various departments trying to get money that has been promised for a long time.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments
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June 16, 2005