June 7, 2007

LIB

Charles Hubbard

Liberal

Hon. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member for St. Catharines. In fact, I have been here most of the day and I am waiting for some member from Atlantic Canada on the other side of the House to tell us what a great budget it is.

The member talked at length about equalization. My province of New Brunswick is getting a less than 2% increase this year in its equalization from the federal government. The province of Quebec is getting nearly a 30% increase. In fact, it is such a big increase that the Premier of Quebec has decided he can reduce taxes in that province by nearly $1 billion.

First, could the hon. member relate to us why the other nine or ten Conservatives from Atlantic Canada are not here supporting him? We would like to hear from them. Second, on equalization, is it fair that only Quebec received a big increase in equalization?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
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CPC

Rick Dykstra

Conservative

Mr. Rick Dykstra

Mr. Speaker, the member has said that he has been here all day. I will take him at his word on that. He may have slipped out for a bite to eat and missed the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who delivered a speech in the House this morning on that exact issue.

I do not think there is any doubt that those of us who sit on this side of the House are more than prepared to stand up and defend the budget and the equalization payments that are included within it.

My colleague speaks about New Brunswick. We can talk about percentages, but what we really need to do is start to talk about fairness in equalization, which includes $1.4 billion in equalization payments to New Brunswick, $512 million under the Canada health transfer, $222 million for Canada's social transfers, including additional funding for post-secondary education, and $64 million for infrastructure. I could go on.

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec get what they deserve in this budget.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
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LIB

Scott Simms

Liberal

Mr. Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we are not really arguing the budget today. This is about one aspect of the budget that concerns the Atlantic accords.

I would like the hon. member to answer two questions.

First, he talked about the offset payments involved here. However, an independent economist says that over the life of the accords $1 billion will be lost under this formula. How can he justify the offset payments that he talked about, but at the loss of $1 billion over the Atlantic accords, which is fundamentally breaking a promise?

The other issue is this. The member talked about how the finance minister and the Prime Minister did not break a promise, but yet almost every Atlantic Canada Conservative MP has said that they are continually working behind the scenes to ensure that we get what is right, obviously admitting that it is not right currently as it sits.

I encourage the member not to talk about other aspects of the budget. If he talks about other aspects of the budget, he will fully admit that he has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to the offset payments to the Atlantic accord.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
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CPC

Rick Dykstra

Conservative

Mr. Rick Dykstra

I will speak to my colleague's second point first, Mr. Speaker.

There are members on this side of the House who continually work to improve every aspect of legislation, whether it be justice legislation, or finance legislation, or any other legislation that we have moved forward. The fact is the difference between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party is that we are prepared to continue to work, continue to move forward and ensure that we have left no stone unturned.

I guess for the Liberal Party members, they say it once and never say it again. Those members continually say that is always right regardless of whether it is wrong.

As I indicated very clearly, we have not broken our commitment. We laid that out very carefully with the budget that the Atlantic accord is being honoured.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
NDP

Peter Stoffer

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, it would be comical if it were not so sad. The hon. member accuses one of the Liberal members for not reading the budget. I doubt the hon. member even read the Atlantic accord. He did not sit in on the meetings.

He talks about the budget, so I will talk about what is not in the budget. There was a motion passed in the House for veterans first to help injured soldiers, widows and veterans. The motion was passed by the House and not a word nor a penny of it is in the budget. A promise was made by the Prime Minister to a widow of a veteran that a VIP program would be extended immediately, but there is not a word on that in the budget.

I will get back to the point of the accord. There are many things the government left out of the budget, but it will not speak about those parts. An hon. member from the Conservative caucus was unceremoniously booted out, even after the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “We do not and will not kick people out of the Conservative caucus for voting their conscience”.

I will ask the hon. member a very simple question. Does the hon. member support what the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, or does he support booting out one of his own colleagues from the Conservative Party?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
CPC

Rick Dykstra

Conservative

Mr. Rick Dykstra

Mr. Speaker, the member asked a question and made a comment with respect to issues of conscience.

The member could go back to his riding to talk about the valuable things in this budget and tell his constituents that they are good for his them. These are things such as accelerating the implementation of the Canada first defence plan so Canadian Forces will receive $175 million this year, earmarking $60 million to bring the environmental allowances paid to soldiers, $10 million to establish five new operational stress injury clinics to assist Canadian Forces. These are investments in the member's riding and province.

No doubt, after the budget is passed, even though he will vote against it, the member will say that these things are good for province.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
LIB

Dan McTeague

Liberal

Hon. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Scarborough East, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting to hear a member from Ontario discuss this issue. I wish the hon. member would stick to the issue at hand, which is the bold-faced abrogation of an agreement that the then leader of the opposition, now Prime Minister, said fully, squarely and without equivocation he would support.

I will give the hon. member a copy, if he wishes, of the arrangement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia on offshore revenues. It is signed February 14, 2005, St. Valentine's Day. It breaks my heart to have to tell the hon. member this, because it contrasts what is said in the budget.

Under point four, it says:

Commencing in 2006-07, and continuing through 2011-12, the annual offset payments shall be equal to 100 per cent of any reductions in Equalization payments resulting from offshore resource revenues. The amount of additional offset payment for a year shall be calculated as the difference between the Equalization payment that would be received by the province under the Equalization formula as it exists at the time if the province received no offshore petroleum resource revenues in that year...under the Equalization formula as it exists at the time...

The budget on page 115, which the hon. member claims to have read and has invited other members to talk about, simply says:

—the Offshore Accords and ensures that these provinces will continue to receive the full benefit that they are entitled to under the previous system.

There is the problem. The government has gone to the old system while abrogating the new one.

Would the hon. member finally get it right and answer this? Would he at least acknowledge that this is a broken promise?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
CPC

Rick Dykstra

Conservative

Mr. Rick Dykstra

Mr. Speaker, absolutely not. The member just verified that the Atlantic accord trumps the budget. It is as simple as that. I thank him for doing that.

If the Conservative government were not here and it were a Liberal government, horrid thoughts come to my mind. The fact is a Liberal government would not have dealt nor tried to deal with this issue. It would not have even tried. Members on the other side of the House do not think it is an issue or a problem. We dealt with it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

Hon. Geoff Regan (Halifax West, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I feel sorry for my hon. colleague, the member for St. Catharines. He obviously has been sent in here today and has been asked to give a speech on the subject because his government cannot find many folks from Atlantic Canada who are willing to speak on it from his side. He has come in, read a speech and tried valiantly to defend the indefensible.

I thank my hon. colleague, the member for Pickering—Scarborough East, who has had a look at the Atlantic accord, the accord that I signed, in fact. I am familiar with it as well. He has tried to explain for the member for St. Catharines what it means and how it is a betrayal in this case.

The question before us today is very simple. Has the government honoured the offshore accords with Newfoundland and Labrador and with my province of Nova Scotia? The answer is also very simple. The answer is no.

I know it, Danny Williams knows it and John Crosbie knows it. The member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley knows it, and he had the guts to admit it. He can be proud of that. Nova Scotians are proud of him for his decision.

Premier Rodney MacDonald sort of knows it. I wish he would be a little more firm about it and a little stronger. He seems to be a little afraid to stand up and fight for Nova Scotia. Maybe he is afraid of the Prime Minister. It seems a lot of members on that side are, and I understand that. I would like him to be a little firmer and stronger. We have seen Mr. Williams be very strong.

Everyone with a shred of common sense in Atlantic Canada knows it. They know that our region has been betrayed. They know the Prime Minister has shown to Atlantic Canadians that his word is worthless.

I do not think I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, that I have the honour of splitting my time today with the honourable member for West Nova, my esteemed colleague. I look forward to his comments as well.

Atlantic Canadians know the Conservative cabinet and members of the caucus from Atlantic Canada are too afraid of the wrath of the Prime Minister to speak up, to tell the truth, and to fight for the interests of the people of their provinces, as they should do. Atlantic Canadians are not being fooled by the false arguments that are being trotted out by Conservative members to explain how my province, for example, will lose $1 billion and how that is a good thing supposedly for Nova Scotians.

The finance minister loves to say that Nova Scotia has a choice of either the new equalization program or the accord and the old equalization program. My honourable colleague, the member for Pickering—Scarborough East just explained why that is a false dichotomy, a false choice. As Jim Meek, a columnist at the Halifax ChronicleHerald said today, “The minister's cheap parlour—or parliamentary—trick is to suggest he has given the province a fair deal”.

We know that is not the case. The fact is the accord applies, as it says, to equalization as it exists at the time. No matter how it changes, provisions and the terms of the accord still apply. The payments under the accord are still to be made. The government has denied that and it has torn to shreds the Atlantic accord.

What other answers is the government giving? The Minister of Finance, for example, loves to list off the various things in the budget, other things that affect Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Atlantic Canada in general. Is the government really saying that we do not deserve to have payments for health care, that we do not deserve funding for environmental protection, for example? Is that what the government is saying? Is it saying that we cannot have this because we are going to have that? Is the government saying that we cannot have what it promised on the offshore accord because it is going to do something in terms of funding that it is giving to every other province anyway? This is some deal. That is not very impressive.

Is the government really saying that we only get equalization and education dollars because of its charity and goodwill? Is that what the government is saying? It is hogwash. It is absolute rubbish. The argument Conservatives are making is beneath contempt and worst of all, they know it, but they do not dare cross the bully boss, the Prime Minister. They are clearly afraid of him and they have not found intestinal fortitude.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Andrew Scheer)

I am not sure if referring to the Prime Minister in those terms would be parliamentary. I would ask the honourable member from Halifax West to withdraw that comment.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

Hon. Geoff Regan

Mr. Speaker, if that is in fact unparliamentary, and I was not aware it was frankly, then I will withdraw it.

It is fair to say that the hon. members are clearly afraid of the Prime Minister. We have seen many bullying tactics in the House and on the Hill. These colleagues from Atlantic Canada have not found, unfortunately, the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the Prime Minister. There is still third reading of the budget bill coming up shortly. I hope they will show that fortitude then.

There are two things that everyone in Nova Scotia knows. The first is that the Prime Minister betrayed Atlantic Canada on budget day when he failed to honour a signed agreement between the Government of Canada and my province. It was a signed deal, a signed contract; I know, because I signed it.

The second thing is that the hon. member for Central Nova and the hon. member for South Shore—St. Margaret's had the chance to stand up for their province. They could have said, “Wait a minute, this is not right. One cannot just unilaterally tear up a written contract just because one does not like the region and wants to punish us”. They could have said that.

Those members could have done what the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley did, who showed he has a backbone. He stood up for his region and his province. Instead, sadly, they chose to support their misguided leader. Was it out of party loyalty? Was it out of fear? I do not know what the reason was, why they could not show more fortitude.

I know one thing, that voters in Nova Scotia and across Atlantic Canada will remember the lack of support those Conservative MPs from Atlantic Canada showed the region. When the next election is called and the members are out knocking on doors, I think they will hear about it. Voters will remember that the budget betrayal at the hands of the Conservatives may cost my province, for example, $1 billion for things that we need, such as better hospitals, schools, fixing roads and many other important investments. They will remember that those Conservative members of Parliament squandered a deal that gave Nova Scotia 100% of its offshore revenues with no clawback.

It is exactly what those Conservative members promised when they sent out a brochure to Atlantic Canadians a few years ago, which said on its cover, “There is no greater fraud than a promise broken”. They promised no clawbacks, 100%. That promise has been broken.

The foreign affairs minister said that the budget respected the accord. That has been his claim for months. Now he is saying that the decision of the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley was premature because he and others are still in talks over honouring the accord. Huh? How is it possible for one to have already honoured it but one is still in talks over honouring it? It seems to me it ought to be one or the other.

The finance minister and his Nova Scotia puppets over there tell us we should be happy that we are getting more in equalization this year. What a joke. What a farce. They should read the accord.

That is why columnists in Atlantic Canada such as David Rodenhiser of the Daily News are so outraged. He said today:

We have a government that lies to us, steals from us and aligns itself with a party bent on tearing the nation apart. These are not proud days for Canada.

In fact, underneath his article there is a line which reads:

David Rodenhiser thinks [the Prime Minister] has a phobia of accords: the Atlantic Accord, the Kyoto Accord, the Kelowna Accord. The man must be petrified when passing a Honda dealership.

When the finance minister was Mike Harris's henchman in Toronto, he mocked Premier Hamm, saying that his campaign for fairness was like someone who won a lottery and still wanted to collect welfare. It seems the same meanspirited mentality prevails today. The hon. member for Central Nova and the hon. member for South Shore—St. Margaret's have adopted it, unfortunately. That is very sad. It is frustrating. It is atrocious. They should be ashamed that the government has a petty, patronizing attitude toward Atlantic Canada. The next thing is they will say we have a culture of defeat.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's words very carefully. I want to ask him a question that I posed to his leader earlier today to which I did not get an answer. I am not sure whether I will get a direct answer from the hon. member. I would like the member to clarify remarks made by his leader in March of this year, only a few short months ago.

In March of this year the Leader of the Opposition stated that he believed that non-renewable natural resources should not be excluded from the equalization formula. He went to say that he also believed in addition to that, there should be a fiscal cap.

Today the hon. opposition leader seems to be completely reversing himself. There is a complete contradiction. Three months ago the opposition leader stated there should be no removal of non-renewable natural resources, and in addition to that, we should put on a fiscal cap, which would have destroyed, frankly, any attempts by Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia to receive money through equalization.

Since the opposition leader is clearly a learned man and I am sure he chose his words very carefully, was he misleading Canadians then, or is he misleading them now?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

Hon. Geoff Regan

Mr. Speaker, in fact my hon. colleague should have listened to the answer to his question this morning. Obviously he did not, because he would have heard the leader of my party make it very clear that is not what he said at all. In fact, I know what he said.

The Leader of the Opposition has made it very clear that he will live up to the terms of the Atlantic accord. In fact, he was part of the cabinet that approved the Atlantic accords, that implemented the Atlantic accords. What the member is talking about is absolute nonsense and he ought to know it.

I think we should hear more from Conservative members from Atlantic Canada who actually have some idea, or I hope they do, of what the accords are all about.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
NDP

Wayne Marston

New Democratic Party

Mr. Wayne Marston (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today very troubled. We went through an election campaign where we were promised honest and accountable government with good stewardship. In Hamilton where we have lost 11,000 manufacturing jobs in the last year alone, we are facing a situation where there is no manufacturing strategy. We have had the softwood sellout. Now Premier MacDonald, Premier Williams and former premier Hamm are flatly saying that the government has betrayed people.

My question for the member opposite is, how low does he think they will go and who is next?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

Hon. Geoff Regan

Mr. Speaker, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Prime Minister has a rather negative attitude toward written agreements and his own promises.

Did the government honour the Kelowna accord? No. Did the government honour the child care agreements that it signed with every province in the country. No. Did the government honour our international obligations under Kyoto? No. Did the Prime Minister keep his own word on income trusts? No.

Does the government have any honour or integrity left? I do not think it does. It is not showing it.

Can the Prime Minister be trusted to keep his word to hard-working Canadians on anything? No, unfortunately.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
LIB

Scott Brison

Liberal

Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, my question for my colleague, the member for Halifax West, is a fairly simple one.

The fact is the Premier of Nova Scotia said immediately after the budget:

I'm...caught by surprise tonight [by the budget] and quite frankly, my government's caught by surprise. I've always believed the offshore accord was an economic right of Nova Scotians...not a handout.

It is almost as if the government wants to continue to give handouts to Nova Scotia. That is unfair. The premier said that he was blindsided by the federal budget and yet, the other night he was on the phone trying to convince the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley to vote for the budget that he had earlier said blindsided the people of Nova Scotia.

My question for the hon. member is, who is Premier Rodney MacDonald serving, the people of Nova Scotia or the Prime Minister?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

Hon. Geoff Regan

Mr. Speaker, I must tell my colleague that I am disappointed in the performance of the premier of my province in this case. Actually, I like the premier. I have played hockey with him. He is a very good hockey player and he is a nice guy, but I think he has not been nearly as strong as he should be on this issue.

We have seen very great strength from Premier Danny Williams in Newfoundland. He has been very firm and has shown real backbone. I would like to see a greater strength from the premier of Nova Scotia. To say to the one gentleman here on the Conservative side, the one hon. member who is prepared to stand up for Nova Scotia, that he should not do so is unfortunate and I regret it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
LIB

Robert Thibault

Liberal

Hon. Robert Thibault (West Nova, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate in support of the motion introduced by the member for Labrador, which reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government has failed to live up to verbal and written commitments made to Premiers by the Prime Minister during the last election campaign with respect to the Equalization Program and the Atlantic Accords.

It is quite serious when we have to stand in the House and make such a resolution about the Prime Minister, about his engagement, his respecting of his word. There are institutions that Canadians have to be able to depend on. One is the office of the Prime Minister. While we may debate policy, while we may have different opinions on how to bring the country forward and what the right programs are for our country, we should always be able to depend on the office of the Prime Minister, and that whoever occupies that office at the time will be a person of integrity who is true to his or her word.

It is very disappointing that we are in the situation where Canadians cannot trust the office of the Prime Minister because the person who holds the office has shown time and again that his word is completely meaningless. Let us remember back to before the same individual became Prime Minister. He said that supply management was a communist scheme of price fixing. He said that we had to build firewalls around Alberta. On national unity he said he did not care how many national capitals there were, and he now calls himself the great defender of national unity. That is the person in whom we should be able to put our trust and confidence in trying to advance the interests of the citizens of this country and the country's future.

When we look at the example of the Atlantic accord, I think first we should look at what the accord is. The accord is quite simple. It says that Nova Scotia and Newfoundland shall benefit from 100% of the revenues from their non-renewable resources, in this case offshore oil and gas, to the exclusion of all other programs. That means if there is change in equalization, if there is additional money given in other programs by the federal government to the provinces, that Nova Scotia and Newfoundland would their share and the Atlantic accord is separate from that. It is above and beyond all other programs.

The budget turns it into an either/or situation. The province of Nova Scotia and its finance minister must decide whether to participate in the new equalization formula which has some advantages for Nova Scotia, or to maintain the Atlantic accord which also has some advantages for Nova Scotia. If Nova Scotia goes into the new equalization formula, the Atlantic accord substantially disappears, the amount of revenue is capped and Nova Scotia stands to lose $1 billion.

Some may argue that in the current system the accord is a disproportionate benefit for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Well, perhaps one could make that argument. Perhaps the Prime Minister could advance that argument but that is not the argument he advanced during the election campaign. He said in writing and verbally that he would honour the letter and the intent of the accord.

I remember when I was on the government side of the House, we presented a budget that included the ways and means to implement the Atlantic accord. The Prime Minister and members of his party, the opposition at that time, asked that we split the bill, that we remove the Atlantic accord from the budget because the intention of the opposition members at that time was to vote against the budget but they wanted to vote in favour of the accord.

That was the very same accord they are now knee-capping. That is pure hypocrisy and it is a betrayal. It is a betrayal to the people of Atlantic Canada and it is a betrayal to the people of Saskatchewan who were promised that they would get 100% of the revenues of non-renewable natural resources outside of the equalization formula.

It was pointed out by the member for Labrador that we are getting hit now, as will others, each at their time.

The Prime Minister, when he made those promises in the campaign, did not say he would somewhat honour the accord but would cherry-pick elements, suggestions and recommendations out of this and that report, some from O'Brien and some from others, and make a budget that dismantles the intent of the Atlantic accord. That is not what he promised. He promised that there would be 100% exclusion of non-renewable natural resource revenues from the equalization payment and that the accord would be maintained.

I was disappointed. I happen to have the privilege of sitting on the finance committee, where we evaluated the budget. Premier Lorne Calvert came before us and made a very good presentation on behalf of his government. I was very disappointed, as was mentioned by the member for Halifax West, by the relative weakness of the premier of Nova Scotia on this issue.

We know that he is in a dire political situation. We see in the polls that he is in third place. There is not a lot of confidence in his government. People are looking for alternatives. Rather than showing strength and fighting for what already has been won by his predecessor, the relative weakness of the premier of Nova Scotia on this issue can be seen. We are not asking for anything new here. We are asking that the Government of Canada honour its commitment.

That brings me to the second point, which is the institutions. We must be able to trust the Office of the Prime Minister and whoever occupies it, and we also must be able to trust the legacy of the succession of the Government of Canada, in that an agreement signed by one Government of Canada lasts until the end of its natural course. In this case, it would be 2020. An agreement is an agreement is an agreement.

Premier Rodney MacDonald should accept the invitation of Stephen McNeil, leader of the Liberal Party, to put forward a common front. Although I have not been in discussions with him, I am sure Darrell Dexter would join. We would have a common front with all Nova Scotians fighting for 100% of the Atlantic accord.

What we see and hear in the papers and the media is that there are negotiations happening, and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans mentioned that in question period, negotiations for improvements in the bill presented by the government, but not the 100% retention of the Atlantic accord.

A promise 90% kept or 80% kept or 70% kept is 100% broken. The accord is a signed deal. It should be maintained. I think the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley has made it very plain.

Let us look again at the institutions of our country. Let us look at our Prime Minister. He and the Minister of Finance, during the election period, promised that they would not tax income trusts. They gave that solemn promise to Canadians. Canadians, many of them seniors, were encouraged to invest even more within the income trust sector as they had the promise of the Prime Minister that they would not be taxed.

What does he do? At the first occasion, there is a 33% tax and a 100% betrayal of those investors, with $25 billion worth of capital loss, a lot of it in the hands of seniors, either retired or preparing to retire. Let us imagine this. I spoke to some seniors who told me that they went from having a comfortable retirement, and being economically and financially self-sufficient, to poverty, essentially, to sustenance living on small pensions and reduced savings.

They were losing $10,000 to $15,000 of revenue a year. When one's revenue is $35,000 to $45,000, losing $10,000 is a lot. It is huge. That is money they had depended on. They had been encouraged to do it by the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister had not made that promise, the reasonable investor would not have had such huge exposure in one element of the market, but that was not the case.

The Atlantic accord? Betrayal. It was a betrayal by the Prime Minister of the people of Atlantic Canada. And there was a betrayal by the Prime Minister of the people of Saskatchewan.

As for the member for Central Nova, he is an experienced member of the House of Commons who is not prone to fly off the handle and do things he has not considered. He has been here long enough. In answer to my question, he made a promise in the House to his colleagues that they could vote as they wished, that they could vote their conscience on the Atlantic accord and there would be no retribution and they would not be kicked out of caucus.

Either he was misleading the House or he is a complete buffoon, because he knew, as we saw with the vote, that the minute the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley voted his conscience, he was removed from his caucus.

The member for Central Nova goes around the world representing our country. We have seen the Prime Minister betray the country, its citizens and Atlantic Canada, and we have seen the Minister of Foreign Affairs betraying his colleagues. These people are out there representing the interests of the nation and entering into dialogue with statesmen from other countries in trying to find accommodations to bring forward. Those people from other countries can have no confidence in the institutions of our country.

It is a dire situation. It is a situation that I have not seen before. I ask that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance apologize to Canadians, to Saskatchewan and to Atlantic Canadians before it is too late and reverse this unfortunate decision.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
NDP

Wayne Marston

New Democratic Party

Mr. Wayne Marston (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the member's comments draw to mind the newspaper headline following the last election in Nova Scotia which stated that the NDP is a government in waiting. With the references to what that premier has been doing, now I am starting to understand why.

My question is very simple. I would never claim to be a mathematician, but if there is no exclusion, that is a billion dollar loss for Atlantic Canada. It should be that simple. When we have Premiers MacDonald and Williams and former premier John Hamm all saying that the government has betrayed them, again I say, who is next?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
Permalink
LIB

Robert Thibault

Liberal

Hon. Robert Thibault

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. A quick evaluation of the budget shows it on the equalization and on transfers. The three provinces that will suffer most and not get any increases are Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, three provinces that need a lot of assistance, that need a hand up in using their resources to advance their own cause.

I was honoured to see that the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley had the courage to make a very tough decision and vote against his caucus. I am amazed that not one of the Newfoundland and Labrador MPs had the courage to do that. One out of three from Nova Scotia did, but zero out of 12 from Saskatchewan. There are a dozen Conservative MPs from Saskatchewan and none of them raised the issue. None of them made any noise. A dozen is six of one and half a dozen of the other: six sheep and half a dozen cowards. They should fight for their province, as did the member for Cumberland--Colchester--Musquodoboit Valley.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic Accords
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June 7, 2007