January 30, 2009


The House resumed from January 29 consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, and of the amendment.


LIB

Sukh Dhaliwal

Liberal

Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal (Newton—North Delta, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso.

I rise to comment on a budget that is thankfully a more realistic response to our economic needs than the fiscal update we saw from the government last November.

If we take away all the political drama and games last fall, at the heart of the matter was the most partisan document that had ever been presented by any government in Canadian history. It claimed that the surplus budgets would continue. It offered no stimulus package. It played games with the public financing for political parties and most troubling of all, it treated the Canadian public with a lack of honesty and respect.

The story the government tells has gone through an amazing transformation over the past five months. In September the Prime Minister claimed that there would not be a recession. In October he promised that he would never run a deficit. In November he pledged that he would deliver multiple years of surplus budgets. In December he predicted a $20 billion deficit. Now we have just found out that over the next two years, the deficits will be totalling an astonishing $64 billion.

While I am pleased that Canadians are finally beginning to get a true picture of the government and the health of our economy, I am also very concerned about a number of issues with this budget, but I will focus only on the infrastructure funding that is needed now.

I believe it is very important that the promised infrastructure funding that each community across the country needs should be diverted now. In my riding of Newton—North Delta, both the Corporation of Delta and the city of Surrey have sent a number of shovel-ready projects that are waiting for the federal funding to begin.

While there is $7 billion of new money that has been offered for infrastructure projects, it is also a fact that the government has a shameful record when it comes to distributing these moneys. In the past three years, over $2 billion in budgeted infrastructure spending has not been used due to the mismanagement of the government. In 2007 the $9 billion building Canada fund was introduced to provide much needed funding for a long list of infrastructure needs from coast to coast to coast. Unfortunately, in the first year, the building Canada fund flowed only $20 million into this economy.

Canada can no longer have these kinds of delays and failures. Municipalities are desperate for the federal government to come to the table, and it is the time to act immediately.

I want to talk about my constituents and what the municipal leaders are telling me.

I talked to Delta councillor Bruce McDonald yesterday. He told me that the Boundary Bay Airport had committed money for improvements from the province and the private sector, and it is waiting for the partnership from the federal government. Boundary Bay Airport is the fifth largest airport in Canada.

In Surrey, to take one example, we have an urgent need for a new RCMP detachment building to serve the city's rapidly growing population. This facility will create local jobs and is essential to protect the safety and well-being of our community.

These are the priorities that my constituents and municipal counterparts are talking to me about, the kind that they need now. The sense of urgency is real and there is a common desire to get down to work.

It is because of these expectations of Canadians that my leader and our party have put the government on probation. Because of the Conservative government's poor track record, we are calling on the government to accept mandatory reporting requirements so the Canadian public knows if the money promised in the budget is getting to those who need it the most.

Transparency and openness are the only things that will allow the government to regain its credibility on the economy and the quality of these upcoming reports will be the test of whether the government is defeated or not.

The official opposition has only one priority at this moment: we must work together to get the economy back on track. At this point, nothing else matters. As representatives of the people, it is imperative that we work together for the best interests of Canadians to face today's challenges head on. We need to read the budget, reflect on it and then work together to improve it. These are the times to seek out common ground, not narrow partisan interests.

Our Liberal approach is to offer amendments to improve it, not to oppose it without a thought about its objectives or without any consideration for the plight of Canadians facing a tough financial crisis.

At the end of the day, this is all about accountability. Ironically, that is a principle that the Prime Minister has preached about for many years. In the past, when we talked to Canadians, they all agreed that he had not been able to deliver on his lofty promises. Now is the time to prove that he can be a man of his word and ready to show Canadians that the books are not being hidden from the public.

We, as the official opposition, have a duty to ensure that the responsibilities of the government are fulfilled. The government is in need of adult supervision. The mistakes of the past can be avoided in future if the guidance of Liberal experience in economic management is followed.

Year after year of balancing the books, paying down the debt, gaining confidence in the economy and cutting taxes is a record that has been erased in the last short three years. However, Canadians can now be assured that the Liberal Party will be guiding the economy into a better place from this point forward. Canada needs our support for the budget to weather this financial crisis and once again lead the G8 in economic growth, a feat that regularly occurred under the leadership of Liberal prime ministers.

The budget has potential, but it can only be realized if Canadians are convinced that their tax dollars are in steady hands and that the information they are being provided is accurate and true. That is why we are amending the budget and putting the Conservative budget on probation, to bring confidence back into the House of Commons.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Dick Harris

Conservative

Mr. Richard Harris (Cariboo—Prince George, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it is probably appropriate to remind him that in the election in October 2008, Canada was facing some serious global financial pressures. When we went to the polls, the Canadian people looked at all the parties and all the leaders and made a very positive choice. They believed that the leader of the Conservative Party was the best person, leading the best party, to guide Canada through these difficult times.

The Canadian people have spoken, and I hope the Liberal Party will join the majority of Canadians and support the budget. I appreciate the comments they have made so far about how appropriate the budget is for Canadians. I can assure them that the Prime Minister of the government will certainly follow through on the plans that we have made and he will be a very strong leader through these difficult times where global pressures have put so many challenges on our economy.

The preparation work that the government did, getting our books and our fundamental financial tools in order, will help us get through this time of challenge as well.

I am sure the member realizes that. We look forward to the co-operation from his party in these difficult times.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Sukh Dhaliwal

Liberal

Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal

Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George. In September the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party said that we were not heading into a recession and that they were going to bring in surplus budgets, budget after budget.

Through the united efforts of the opposition parties, we have brought out the honesty and the truth that we are now going through a massive economic crisis. It is the opposition parties that deserve the credit for bringing the truth and the real books out into the public today.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
NDP

Bruce Hyer

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay—Superior North, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises many good points about how the building Canada fund has not flowed and he has made good points about the credibility of the Prime Minister to deliver what his lips say.

However, my question for the hon. member for Newton—North Delta is simple. Given that his words indicate he has little, if any, confidence in the Prime Minister, the government and this budget, why did he vote for the budget?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Sukh Dhaliwal

Liberal

Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North.

When it comes to the budget, my leader along with the other members of the Liberal Party went across Canada from coast to coast to coast. We listened to Canadians and they told us one thing: this is not the time to play partisan politics. They said that we should get behind it so we could bring the economy of the country to a good state.

We do not believe in the Prime Minister. Canadians do not believe in the Prime Minister's accountability. That is why we put him, the party and the budget on probation. Mandatory reporting to the House and to Canadians every three months will bring accountability.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Rodger Cuzner

Liberal

Mr. Rodger Cuzner (Cape Breton—Canso, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to join in this debate and bring the concerns of the people of Cape Breton--Canso to this House and to this debate.

Imitation is sometimes considered flattery. When the government lifts aspects of another party's platform, that is considered flattery. If only one is taken, that is considered theft. When a government takes a number, then I guess that is market research. I have to commend the government on some aspects of its budget because it has done some market research.

I want to identify two aspects specifically and the first is the RInC program. The RInC program was put forward in our platform in the last election. It makes a great deal of sense because many arenas and facilities were built during the 1967 centennial year and through the early seventies. Many of these facilities need retrofits.

My riding of Cape Breton--Canso has a number of facilities that need work, whether it is roofing, condensers or compressors. Whole physical plants require some type of investment. Many times the groups that operate these facilities are handcuffed financially. This program is going to pay dividends and hopefully offer some help. If those guys can get it off the shelf and get the cheques flowing, the program will help some small communities and municipalities that really need help in those areas.

The other aspect is the summer jobs program. I am sure there are people on the government side who are pretty uneasy with this one because they only have to think back two years ago when they carved the summer jobs program. We on this side of the House brought that fight to the government at the time.

Not for profit organizations were hurt by that. Small entrepreneurs and small businesses utilized the summer seed programs. Students were hurt by those cuts. We brought that fight to the House and we forced the government to put money back into that program. It would be great if the money gets out.

It is great that a program is going to be announced soon for summer students. I would hope that it would focus not only on not for profit organizations or those many community groups that operate summer programs but as well focus on small, independent entrepreneurs so there is some type of assistance for them. I would also hope it would be able to give students not just some summer employment but give them the experience of the first or second job as well, the work skills that are necessary to grow and become better citizens of our communities.

Those are two aspects in this sweater vested Parliament that we are in right now that are of concern to me and my constituents. We were sent here by our communities to try to make this government work and do what we can to help this economy along in these challenging times. That is what we as the official opposition are focusing on.

We can look at all aspects of the budget and cherry-pick if we like. We can say there is not enough in this area or that area.

My colleague from B.C. spoke so eloquently about the delay in getting this stimulus package out. We have known since June that the economy in this country and the global economy was going to face challenges. We knew back then. However, the Prime Minister thought that an election being called in September, really an unlawful and illegal election, would stimulate our economy.

We came to this Parliament following the election in October and the Speech from the Throne was presented. We thought we were going to be able to get on with the work of the people, but the Prime Minister came through with an economic statement that was really an ideological statement that sucker punched the Parliament of Canada, so we lost additional time again.

When the indicators were there in June, when it was obvious in September, Conservatives continued to deny that we were facing these challenges and it is only now that this stimulus package is coming forward. Whether it is enough, it may be the glass of water for the man who needs the gallon of water, but it is something. My friend said it is like putting snow tires on in the middle of May. I know there is still bad weather ahead.

Thankfully for past Liberal governments, we went into this thing later than the United States because of a firm financial foundation that had been established and the consecutive surplus budgets experienced by past Liberal governments. In the short two years that the Conservatives have had the levers of government, we know that surpluses are no more. We know we are going into this budget with close to an $18 billion deficit.

Yes, with our amendments, we will support these initiatives whether or not they are ready. I mentioned a couple of times the inability of the government. I refer to the article in The Toronto Star which said $8 billion had not been spent. The inability of the government to make those programs work, to make those investments, to get those dollars into the economy is going to be the challenge and hopefully our amendment will allow us to best track that.

We do not have to reinvent the wheel here. There are shovel-ready projects out there and I have had the opportunity to meet with the warden in Inverness, Duart MacCaulay and John Boudreau in Richmond County and Billie Joe MacLean in Port Hawkesbury. These municipal leaders have projects on the shelf. They are shovel-ready, so the templates which are in place are the ones that should be used to get these projects up and going to get people back to work and to make sure that those projects move forward.

In Cape Breton—Canso we apologize if we might be a little bit cynical because the government has said the absolute right things. When we talk about investment in the Atlantic gateway program, the government has said the right things all along in making key investments, but we have seen not a dime. We have seen nothing spent on that program.

Conservatives have a twinning highway project from Port Hawkesbury to Antigonish which was announced five times and it is in the budget again this time, so that is just the gift that keeps on giving, but the work has not been done and those contracts have not been let. We are here to help the government get that money off the truck, get that money into the economy and get it done.

I would be remiss in addressing the House if I did not share with my colleagues some disappointment at the risk of picking one program over another, but the lack of acknowledgement for the widows and the veterans independence program continues to be a thorn in my side. I continue to be disappointed in the government when the Prime Minister unequivocally stated that he would support the veterans independence program when he made a pledge to Joyce Carter. Sue King phones every day and asks how the veterans program is coming along. Some 70% of the widows of our veterans still receive no assistance from that program and that is just wrong. It would have been nice to see some type of acknowledgement for that program. Again, I had to put that on the record.

Ronald Dipenta, a strong advocate for seniors, made interventions to my office on behalf of seniors who are experiencing tough times. It would have been nice to see an increase in the guaranteed income supplement. We have not seen that and it is unfortunate.

When we look at the industries, I think the fishery is one that was neglected in this budget.

I will just wrap up with this comment, Mr. Speaker, you have been so gracious with the time allocation.

There are fish buyers who do not have access to capital to get up and operate this coming season. I know that is going to be a challenge. A lot of the time these are loan guarantees, and that would have been a program that would have certainly benefited the fishery and all those in that industry.

I have taken up enough of my allocated time. I would hope that some members might have some questions for me.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
NDP

Linda Duncan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the member for Cape Breton—Canso spoke of the need for key investments. Perhaps the member could inform the House what market research his party and the Conservative government would have relied upon to strike support for the renewable energy sector and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council in this budget that he is voting for?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Rodger Cuzner

Liberal

Mr. Rodger Cuzner

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member has a great deal of depth in that particular area. Generally what we, and I think probably most members in this House, did after prorogation is we went out and met with constituents and stakeholders.

For the people showing up in my office who have not been afforded the opportunity to receive training monies, we do not need a whole lot of statistical information. We can look across the desk and see the stress and pressure these people are under.

Those who work in seasonal industries are not confident that those industries are going to be able to start up this year because the companies they have worked for do not have access to operational capital.

As far as specific information on background and research, there is enough in the faces of the people we deal with on a day on day basis to understand the challenges taking place right now in the kitchens of this country.

I do not know what being thrust into an election would do to help this economy move along. There has to be some stimulus. That stimulus has to get out there. Hopefully the government, with the acceptance of our amendment making sure that those investments are made, will best serve Canadians.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Keith Martin

Liberal

Hon. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this is along the lines of what the last questioner mentioned and it is for the ears of the government members as much as it is for my hon. friend here.

What does the absence of investing in Genome Canada, the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research mean? If we look at what is happening south of the border, President Obama is making a huge investment in these areas. He knows that research and development has a huge multiplier effect.

What that is going to mean for us is that with this huge investment by the United States we are going to see a loss of the brain trust that we have in our country, a loss of years of being able to draw in some of the best and brightest minds we have seen in health care, in the sciences and in engineering.

Starting in late 1990s the then-Liberal government made a huge change and made a huge investment in research and development which brought our country from being about sixteenth in the world up to about third or fourth in the world.

I would like to ask my friend, does he not think that this gross omission in this budget puts the hard work that we have done to get some of the best and brightest minds in our country in science, research and engineering in the sciences at risk? We will lose large numbers of some of the best and brightest researchers in the world, which is going to cause a really massive structural problem and a deficit for our economy.

We need the huge multiplier effect that is produced in science and engineering. It improves our economy significantly. This absence, this omission is really going to compromise our economy in a big way.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Rodger Cuzner

Liberal

Mr. Rodger Cuzner

Mr. Speaker, I know the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca has been a champion in this area and has certainly brought that to our Liberal caucus. He speaks very eloquently and very passionately about the importance and significance of those investments and the long-term benefits.

I vividly recall, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the whole talk around our university and college communities was about the brain drain, how we were losing the best and the brightest. Without rehashing too much of the history, we all understand that the research chairs had been established and those numbers have grown. We no longer hear about the brain drain.

If we do not make those investments, if we do not continue to support those initiatives, then once again we will place ourselves at risk. It is an incredibly important aspect; it is an incredibly issue. We want to come out of this period in time of economic challenges on the absolute best footing. I think those investments are wise investments to make, so that they do best prepare us for future jobs in the future economy.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Phil McColeman

Conservative

Mr. Phil McColeman (Brant, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time this morning with the member from the beautiful riding of South Shore—St. Margaret's.

It is indeed a pleasure and a privilege to rise in the House today to speak on behalf of the people of Brant.

Brant is made up of the city of Brantford, the county of Brant, Six Nations of the Grand and the Mississaugas of the New Credit, a diverse community, rich in heritage.

Each community is unique but its people are bound nonetheless by a common history and a common cause: to contribute, to prosper and to give the next generation hope for a better life than they themselves have had. That is simple, some might say, and obvious, yet so often forgotten in the pursuit of personal agendas.

Agriculture has been and always will be an integral part of Brant's history. While farm families in St. George, Paris and Burford grew the food we ate, thousands more, many of them immigrants to this land, built farm equipment in Brantford's factories like Cockshutt Farm Equipment, Massey Ferguson and White Farm Equipment.

Canada's farmers continue to strive to develop innovative, high quality food products for Canada's families and markets abroad. In Brant they form a solid economic foundation for the rural communities in which they live and work. Despite strong economic gains in some sectors over the past two years, Canada's farm sector is not isolated from the current economic downturn. Some farmers, such as livestock producers, are facing higher input prices and many are affected by low and volatile commodity prices.

Since 2006 the government has introduced major enhancements to agricultural programming. The new suite of business risk management programs launched in April 2008 provides comprehensive protection against income variability, natural hazards and disasters.

Our government's economic action plan announces new measures to build on this strong foundation. The government will implement a five year, $500 million agricultural flexibility program that will facilitate the implementation of new initiatives, both federally and in partnership with provinces, territories and industry. This program will help farmers adapt to the pressures and improve their competitiveness. The plan announces proposed amendments to the Farm Improvement and Marketing Cooperatives Loans Act to help make credit available to new farmers and support intergenerational farm transfers.

At the birth of the last century, Brant was the third largest manufacturing centre in Canada, third only to Montreal and Toronto. Those first tractors made in Brantford's factories supplied a global market moving toward modernized farming.

Today global events are shaping the riding of Brant as they have in the past. A global recession originating in the United States threatens us here at home. The first priority for all of us is to protect each other during this global recession

Our government's economic action plan accomplishes this by, among other measures, extending EI benefits to a maximum of 50 weeks; providing $400 million to support on reserve housing; providing another $400 million for low income seniors housing; extending the wage earner protection program to cover severance and termination pay owed to eligible workers impacted by an employer's bankruptcy; and yes, tax cuts, particularly for low to middle income Canadians, a total of $4.3 billion in personal income tax relief.

However, we must not forget the desire of Canadians to give to the next generation hope for a better life than they themselves have had. The economic action plan provides for $12 billion in infrastructure spending not only to create jobs but to engage in nation building by building roads, universities and recreational facilities. The plan provides for two year targeted funding of $165 million for the completion of drinking water and waste water infrastructure projects to address the health and safety priorities in first nation communities across the country.

Unprecedented economic times require creative economic solutions. The introduction of Canada's renovation tax credit is one such solution.

I dare say the vast majority of Canadians who enjoy the pride of home ownership have at least one project in mind to improve their home and their investment. Further, I would go so far as to say that every member in the House today has a project in mind for their home, if they own one, and this may not include the project that their spouse or partner has in mind. How do I know this? Experience. I have over two decades of construction experience specializing in home renovation, at first swinging a hammer, mixing concrete, sweeping the sawdust from the floors and later on, as the business grew, helping families at their kitchen tables design, develop and fulfill their dreams. For a time I served as president of the Ontario Home Builders' Association and as chair of the Ontario Renovators' Council.

I can tell the House from that experience that during the new home construction downturn of the early 1990s renovation work kept food on the table of many a tradesperson. Men and women, skilled and unskilled, were able to keep working and stay off the unemployment line.

Our government has listened, designed and developed the home renovation tax credit. This highly stimulative measure will provide up to $1,350 in tax relief to reduce the cost of renovations for an estimated 4.6 million Canadian families.

The first-time homebuyers' tax credit will provide $750 in tax relief to first-time homebuyers, money that can be spent by young families on furnishing homes, perhaps furnishing a nursery. As well, first-time homebuyers will be able to increase their RRSP withdrawal amount from $20,000 to $25,000 to purchase a home.

In addition, our action plan adds $300 million over two years to the eco-energy home retrofit program, which is expected to support an additional 200,000 energy-saving home retrofits.

It is important to remember that there is a tenfold spinoff to home building and renovation spending. Manufacturing is supported to produce building products. Distribution systems deliver those goods to the work site. Retailers benefit from purchases by homeowners during and after the project is completed through purchases of appliances, electronics, window coverings, furniture and much more. As one old-timer said to me when I told him I was a renovation contractor, “Ah, renovation, that's a cat with a long tail”.

In closing, this week our government delivered an economic action plan for an unprecedented time in our history. It is a plan built on unprecedented consultation, a plan built on pragmatic and practical approaches, and a plan that responds to the needs of honest, middle-class Canadians, hard-working Canadians who play by the rules, just like the good people of Brant.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Wayne Easter

Liberal

Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his remarks and comments on Brant. I recognize the great agriculture viability in that area. However, I was surprised that he is so supportive of the budget. The budget is a record of failure on the agricultural policies of the government.

We know that during the election there were commitments made for tobacco producers, some in his riding and neighbouring ridings. Where is the commitment to tobacco producers in this budget?

Beef and hog producers in his riding are very much in disarray. They are facing the greatest crisis in Canadian history in the livestock industry. There is nothing in the budget for them.

In fact, the government talks a lot about the $500 million agriculture flexibility proposal it promised over four years in the election campaign. The budget claims it is $500 million and now is over five years, but when we look at the budget document, it is really only $190 million over five years. The rest is re-profiled agricultural funding.

How can the member go home and face his producers on that kind of record of failure, ignoring the agricultural industry and the primary producers that reside in his riding?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Phil McColeman

Conservative

Mr. Phil McColeman

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question and comments regarding the agriculture industry and in particular how it is affecting our ridings. I can tell him that we had extensive prebudget consultations with many of the farmers in our communities, including pork and hog producers, grain and oilseed farmers, the tobacco producers and dairy farmers. I can assure him that we have listened and responded.

To correct the record, our offer to the tobacco producers stands. It is being worked on right now between the tobacco producers of Ontario and the Government of Canada. I can also tell him that what is lacking is the provincial government's participation in a buyout program to take the quota to $1.74, which is being requested.

On that specific file, there is much happening. The revenue provided by our government to the tobacco farmers will be delivered in our jurisdictions. We listened to the pork and hog producers. We have extended the amount of time they have to pay back the loans they took out, which were of a one-year duration. They have now been moved to two- and three-year durations to give them time to work things out in their industry during these tough economic times.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
NDP

Bruce Hyer

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay—Superior North, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, it is with interest that I heard the hon. member for Brant speak with pride about a relatively small amount of tax cuts for the middle class. When I did my 13 community road tour, people said that they do not want a small tax cut that they would use to buy a Chinese television. What they want is investments in Canada and in northwestern Ontario. They want health care and clean water. They want an urban aboriginal strategy, not just an on reserve strategy. They want child care. They want adequate funding for aboriginal students who currently, through INAC, get along on half the stipend that the province of Ontario provides to non-aboriginal students. They want mass transit and a rail system across Canada that we can be proud of. Rather than renewed moneys for old technologies and nuclear and oil, they especially want sustainable energy, such as solar, wind and water.

Why is the hon. member for Brant not willing to invest in a Canada that we can be proud of?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Phil McColeman

Conservative

Mr. Phil McColeman

Mr. Speaker, to the contrary, on all fronts, we are investing in infrastructure in historic ways. We are about to nation build through the infrastructure projects, similar to, as was mentioned by the member across, the 1967 initiative for recreational facilities. My community benefited from that initiative in 1967. My father, a firefighter, actually was part of the public fundraising side of it to produce that wonderful civic centre in our community, and it is time now to renew it.

In my riding the infrastructure development for universities and for all roads and buildings would be welcomed through this budget. I have had comments from constituents to date to indicate that. I am thrilled to go home and discuss what we are doing for the people of Brant.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Gerald Keddy

Conservative

Mr. Gerald Keddy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in debate today. I would like to take a moment to recognize the hon. member for Brant. I believe this was his maiden speech in the House, and certainly, we can see why he was elected by the good people of Brant. I congratulate him.

I would like to spend some of my time today in drawing attention to the aspects of the economic action plan that will directly benefit the residents of South Shore—St. Margaret's, my riding in Nova Scotia.

The plan will have a significant impact on the province of Nova Scotia. We will see an increase in federal transfers. We will see improvements to our infrastructure. We will see tax relief. We will see a strengthened province of Nova Scotia emerge from these turbulent economic times.

Nova Scotia will receive support through major federal transfers in 2009-10. This long-term growing support helps ensure that the province has the resources required to provide essential public services and contributes to shared national objectives, including health care, post-secondary education and other key components of Canada's social safety net.

Total federal support for Nova Scotia since our government came to power has increased 14% and will continue to grow. Total federal support reached $2.7 billion in 2008-09, a $363 million increase from 2005-06. Nova Scotia this year will receive $1.5 billion in equalization and the accord offsets this year, a 14% increase from when the Liberals were in government. By having equalization grow in line with the economy, we ensure the program remains sustainable and affordable, something I think all Canadians would support.

Nova Scotia will also benefit from an initial Crown share settlement payment of $234 million this year. Our government has guaranteed that Nova Scotia is the chief beneficiary of its offshore resources. The Crown's share settlement payment along with those offshore resources signifies Nova Scotia's share of those resources, something which the previous government refused to share with the province of Nova Scotia.

$334 million in gas tax rebate funding for 2007-14 has begun flowing and will flow to Nova Scotia municipalities through the extension of the gas tax agreement from 2010-14. That is $334 million over a seven year period going directly into Nova Scotia municipalities. Even as Nova Scotia sees above average natural resource revenues, we will protect its equalization and accord offsets from declining under the current formula, with fiscal capacity measured exactly as in 2005.

Aggregate entitlements continue to grow by 3.5%. We are protecting transfer support to Nova Scotia. Federal financing to the province of Nova Scotia will be assured, dependable and predictable. Health transfers will continue to grow by 6%. Social transfers will continue to grow by 3%.

Nova Scotia will also benefit from continued, targeted support in 2009-10, including $46 million as its share of the following: the $1.5 billion clean air and climate change trust, the $1 billion community development trust, the $612 million patient wait times guarantee trust, the $500 million public transit capital trust, the $400 million police officers retirement fund and the $300 million HPV immunization trust.

All of those funds and trusts continue to give dollars to Nova Scotia and continue to help the citizens of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia will receive $14 million for labour market training as part of a commitment of $500 million a year and new funding to provinces and territories beginning in 2008-09. Nova Scotia will benefit from the increased funding for infrastructure. We will be accelerating and expanding recent historic investments in infrastructure with almost $12 billion in new infrastructure spending over five years.

That type of investment by the Government of Canada will provide Nova Scotia with its share of the $4.5 billion over two years for infrastructure projects such as bridge rehabilitation on the national highway system. It will accelerate payments up to $75 million over two years for infrastructure projects in Nova Scotia alone and provide $3.9 million in one instance alone for harbour development at the lower east Pubnico wharf.

I, along with the member for West Nova, worked on this project. Although it is outside of my riding in Nova Scotia, this is a great project and the type of project that will ensure that the fishery will continue to prosper and gain momentum in Nova Scotia and not become some relic of the past. By investing in our coastal communities and the wharf, we can ensure that the fishery that starts at the wharf has a wharf to return to, the processing industry remains strong and that it continues to be a viable part of Nova Scotia's economy.

There is action in the budget to support businesses and communities, addressing short term economic challenges facing sectors, such as forestry, regions and communities as a result of the global economic crisis. Let us be clear. There is a global economic crisis. We need to be very much aware and very careful where the future takes us.

Support for the forestry sector alone is $170 million nationally over two years. The budget invests $500 million nationally in the agriculture industry. I listened to the former member say that there was nothing in the budget for agriculture. Half a billion dollars on top of the money we have already invested in agriculture is a significant investment. There is support for shipyards, with $175 million invested nationally.

This budget will invest $246 million nationally in cultural and arts programming and the tourism industry.

All of us in this place have a political bias. All of us tend to want to support, first, our constituencies; second, our provinces; and third, our national party. We look at the local picture, the micro-picture and the macro-picture of what is going on in the nation.

I seldom quote other writers in my speeches in the House but this time most of the budget and what it means to the ordinary man and woman on the street trying to work for a living, trying to make ends meet and trying to raise their families in Canada has been neatly written up by Ray Turchansky in the Edmonton Journal. He says, “The basic amount”, in addition to government stimulus, “the budget hoped to give people the impetus to save and then to spend”.

I think those are very correct and wise words. The basic personal amount, on which we pay no federal tax, already slated to go up from $9,600 to $10,100 due to indexing, now goes to $10,320, after which we pay 15% tax.

The 22% tax bracket started at $37,885 in 2008. It was indexed to $38,832 and now opens at $40,727. The 26% bracket that began at $75,769 last year was already bumped up to $77,664 and now starts at $81,452 this year. These are major tax reductions for Canadians who are finding it more difficult to make ends meet. This, along with the 15% tax credit for people 65 and over, applied to an age amount of $5,276 last year, indexed to $5,408 and now stands at $6,408. These have been a major improvements to the taxation system.

There have been changes and gains to RRSPs and RRIFs. First-time home buyers acquiring or qualifying for a home can get a 15% tax credit on $5,000.

This is a good budget. It is good for Canadians and certainly good for people in my riding of South Shore—St. Margaret's. I urge all opposition members to lay partisan politics aside and support the budget.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
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LIB

Judy Foote

Liberal

Ms. Judy Foote (Random—Burin—St. George's, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's went on ad nauseam about all of the benefits included in the budget and talked about the various tax breaks. There is one thing in the budget for which I have difficulty understanding the rationale and that is the removal of $1.5 billion from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Could the member explain the government's rationale for making that decision?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Gerald Keddy

Conservative

Mr. Gerald Keddy

Mr. Speaker, the member for Random—Burin—St. George's would certainly know that the budget is good for Newfoundlanders and good for Atlantic Canadians.

The principle of having equalization increase along with the economy guarantees and ensures that equalization will be there for this generation and future generations of Canadians.

The budget and the tax breaks that go along with it, the investments in infrastructure, the investments in forestry, the investments in science and technology and the investments in tourism, are good for all Canadians and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

Although there are a few minutes left for questions and comments, in light of the hour, I will move on to statements by members, but we can resume questions and comments later.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink

January 30, 2009