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C-28: Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Bill, 2007

Honourable senators, as a member of the committee I would like to add my comments.

Two important items also need to be raised that were brought forth at the committee.

The first point is the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance indicated in his speech that the current policy and economic situation of the Government of Canada had created 40,000 new jobs. I then asked, "How many jobs did we lose in the forestry sector in the last 18 months?" He said, "I do not know." I said, "Well, is it 40,000? Is it 50,000? Is it more than 40,000?" He said, "I suspect it is more." The loss of very important jobs in the resource sector, in the forestry sector, in those small communities throughout the country is not registering at all. There are no funds in this bill at all to in any way help the forestry sector. That is a shame, because 18 months ago this government said they were resolving the forestry issue. They certainly did, and I say, "Shame!"

The second important issue that I would like to bring forward is that of child care. Honourable senators will recall a discussion in this room, questions and answers in this house, in regard to the cancellation of child care agreements with all the provinces that the prior government had signed and that this government reneged on, saying, and I can almost quote word for word, that they were not worth the paper they were written on.

Last year, in the budget for fiscal 2006-07, this government said that it was putting forward $250 million as a child care creation program via the employer. Yesterday afternoon we heard that not one dollar of that program was used by employers, just as most of us in this chamber said would happen. That was not the right way to do it. It was not the way to achieve the objective. Therefore, when they got to the end of the fiscal year, they made another announcement of $250 million that they would transfer to the provinces so that they could create child care spaces. Honourable senators, that was the same money that had not been used in the employer program. In Bill C-28, we again have an employer- based child care creation program and, from the highlights that we got yesterday, it will not work again.

This morning, at committee, we heard two very good witnesses, and we also had the two professors on the issue of the Atlantic accord. The witness who dealt with agriculture and farmers and the one who dealt with antipoverty both had excellent presentations, but the one who was more worrisome came from the antipoverty organization. It is clear that not only this government, but also the previous government have not dealt with the issue of child poverty, senior poverty and family poverty in this great nation of ours. I say shame on all of us! Shame on all of us for putting petty politics ahead of dealing with the real issues of this land. We need our children to have healthy meals, to have roofs and to have heating this winter. We need them to have that in order to be able to study, to have an education and to be productive citizens in our society. Bill C-28 does not achieve that. It actually exacerbates the problem.

As a senator from New Brunswick, I see what is happening in my province. The federal government is not delivering. Actually, it is cutting funds to social programs. It is cutting funds to post- secondary education. None of us, regardless of party, should accept that. At the same time, this government is negating taxes to be paid by employees of big-time Internet businesses. There were published reports last week in the Ottawa Citizen and in the Gazette that millions of dollars are given to people who, in my world of New Brunswick, would be considered to be rich. At the same time, I remind honourable senators that this government has caused millions of Canadian citizens to lose vital income by the decision of the government in regard to the income trust issue. Canadians had nothing to do with that decision, but they lost significant amount of money. That was a decision of the government. However, the tax credit that was given to all of these people was not a decision that the government made; it was an investment decision that they made, and that is absolutely unfair.

The bottom line, honourable senators, is that I believe that we are on the wrong path. This government is leading Canadians, including future generations, down the wrong path, where the poor become poorer and the rich become richer. As a Liberal, as a New Brunswicker and as an Atlantic Canadian, I cannot accept that.