Mr. Speaker, as this is the first time I rise in this 40th Parliament, my first words are those of thanks to the people of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell for having elected me to be their member of Parliament a second time.
As the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, I would like my voters to know that I have worked hard to represent them here in the House of Commons over the past three years and I will continue to do so.
I am proud to stand in the House today in support of our government's economic update, one of the many initiatives our government is taking to protect Canada's future. In our economic and fiscal update, we asked politicians to put the interests of Canadians ahead of their own by making sacrifices in solidarity with the tens of millions of Canadians across this country who are themselves making sacrifices to get through these tough and uncertain economic times.
We have also taken immediate action to address the concerns of vulnerable Canadians such as our seniors, in light of the current economic situation. These measures include reducing the required minimum withdrawal amounts for their registered retirement income funds by 25% for 2008.
Let me remind everyone that this fiscal update is about taking certain specific measures and making urgent updates to this year's tax code. The economic and fiscal update is not a budget and it was never intended to be a budget. A budget is a budget and I congratulate our Minister of Finance on his initiative to accelerate the tabling of the budget to January 2009. This will be one of the earliest tablings of a federal budget in the history of Canada and we are doing this in order to address the exceptional economic circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Since becoming the government, we have consulted with financial experts and a wide variety of stakeholders on how best to protect and grow Canada's economies. We continue to work with these financial experts and stakeholders as we prepare the government's 2009 federal budget, which will build on our strong record of providing responsible and focused spending to address the needs of Canadians and to stimulate our economy.
It is important to remember that our Conservative government saw this economic situation coming long ago and we have been taking action all along, but particularly since early last year when we tabled our 2008 budget entitled “Responsible Leadership for Uncertain Times”. It is in this budget that we moved ahead with our historic $33 billion infrastructure plan and continued to lower taxes for all Canadian families and businesses.
While other countries around the world are now scrambling to come up with ways to address the current economic situation, Canada is ahead of the curve, with an ambitious infrastructure plan already in place and more money flowing through our economy, thanks to the tax reductions we have introduced.
We are taking action in these uncertain economic times, but as we are focusing on the economy, the opposition is putting its own interests ahead of the interests of Canadians. The Liberal, NDP and Bloc refuse to accept the results of the election we had just six weeks ago. They are now conspiring through secret meetings and backroom deals to seize power and to install an unelected coalition led by a leader that Canadians overwhelmingly rejected on October 14.
This is a desperate move on behalf of the opposition and the result would be disastrous for Canada and for our Canadian economy. Do not take my word on it. The Leader of the Opposition himself said in the September 23 edition of the Toronto Star only 10 weeks ago, “[The leader of the NDP] does not understand the economy. I cannot think that Canadians will give their support to a man who will kill jobs everywhere in the country in raising the corporate tax”.
In addition, he said on October 10, only seven weeks ago, in the Chronicle-Herald, “I can't govern with somebody who wants to raise the taxes by $50 billion”. The Leader of the Opposition has turned his back on his previous comments and now he is ready to put the interests of our country at stake for a self-serving and highly irresponsible power grab.
Not only would Canadians have forced upon them a coalition led by a party that promised a job-killing carbon tax, they would be working hand in hand with a socialist party that has promised to raise business taxes and, worst of all, that would be propped up by a separatist party whose sole purpose is to break up Canada.
It is important to understand that the opposition parties have the right to disagree with our economic update, and they even have the right to vote against it. If the government falls during a confidence vote, it results in an election. Canadians have a right to choose their government. That is how democracy works. Canadians should not suddenly be led by a coalition government simply because that is what the coalition wants.
During the last election, no Canadians voted for a coalition government, not one.
The opposition is trying to install a coalition government led by the Liberal Party of Canada, a party that received its lowest level of support since 1867. The opposition is talking about installing the Leader of the Opposition as prime minister, the same leader who was massively rejected by the Canadian voters barely six weeks ago. Now Canadians are learning that the NDP and Bloc were making backroom deals even before the economic update.
Canadians understand that the separatist coalition is not about the economic and fiscal update. It is about seizing power without an election. It is not about a budget or about the economy. It is about seizing power without an election. It is not about democracy. It is about seizing power without an election.
As the Prime Minister stated earlier this week, the great privilege of governing must be earned from the electorate, not taken. A prime minister receives his mandate from the Canadian people and it is unconscionable that the Leader of the Opposition wants to see himself crowned without a mandate from Canadians based on a backroom deal with the NDP and the separatists. The opposition leader and his Liberal coalition absolutely do not want to face the people of Canada. They simply want power with no election.
The people in my riding are against the coalition. In this past week, I have been to all four corners of my riding and the vast majority are not happy with the idea of a coalition for several reasons.
The majority of the people in my riding are francophones and are proud of their heritage. As a Franco-Ontarian member, I share their pride. I was honoured to serve Canada's francophones as the Parliamentary Secretary for Official Languages during the 39th parliament. Franco-Ontarians are fiercely opposed to Quebec sovereignty. Not only are we proud of our language, but we are also proud of being Canadians. We want a united, undivided Canada.
Comments made by the leader of the Bloc Québécois and Mr. Parizeau about their true intentions are alarming:
A weaker government in Ottawa is eminently satisfying. Sovereignists have no interest in people looking at Ottawa as a stable serious government. The image must be one of a weak, disoriented government, which will become weaker and more disoriented in the future. This is perfect.
Who said that? Mr. Parizeau, the best friend of Mr. Duceppe, who has an alliance with—