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Ignatieff's speech to the Commons Add to ...

Mr. Michael Ignatieff (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.) Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to announce formally that the official opposition has lost confidence in the government. This is a serious step and we owe an explanation both to this House and to the Canadian people of our grounds for doing so.

Nous avons perdu confiance dans ce gouvernement et nous nous mettons debout pour protéger les gens qui ont été abandonnés par ce gouvernement. Je vais essayer de donner des raisons concrètes pour lesquelles nous allons retirer la confiance de ce gouvernement.

First of all, the Conservatives have lost control of the public finances of our country. A year ago they were at the edge of deficit; by February, they were at a deficit of $32-billion; suddenly, four or five weeks later, it is at $50-billion; and at the end of the summer they announced the deficit was at $56-billion.

Who in the House can actually believe this figure will not climb somewhere near $60-billion by Christmas? This is a terrible record of failure and someone must stand up in the House and call it what it is: abject failure on the public finance management of this country.

They have no plan to get us out and all Canadians must understand that this deficit is going to hang around the necks of Canadians like a stone. It jeopardizes our capacity to provide adequate health care for Canadians in the future. It jeopardizes our capacity to help seniors and guarantee a secure retirement for our fellow citizens. It jeopardizes our capacity to help the unemployed. That is the first reason Liberals cannot have confidence in the government.

The second reason is a question we have to ask ourselves. We have a $56-billion deficit and what do we get for it? Do we have some grand new project that renews the infrastructure of our country, that makes us stronger, that makes us more united? What we have instead is a reward program for the Conservative Party of Canada. Conservative ridings have benefited disproportionately from this stimulus expenditure and we have the figures to prove it.

Then there is the issue of actually getting the money out the door. We have seen the press releases, we have heard the announcement that 90 per cent has been committed but when we actually look at the stimulus funding that we can see on the ground, 12 per cent has gone out the door. I was at a soy bean field in Burlington. The Conservatives wish us to believe that it is a car park. I am here to tell everyone it is still a soy bean field.

There is worse than that. The government has used taxpayers' money and spent six times more promoting its own inaction plan than it has to promote the public health of Canadians and warn them about the dangers of H1N1.

That brings me to the third issue, which is the protection of the public health of Canadians. With H1N1, every Canadian can see on television that in other countries people are already being vaccinated. We are still waiting for a plan. We are still waiting for the vaccine. It is the government's responsibility and it has not stepped up.

If people were to go to aboriginal communities and talk to the chiefs, as I did yesterday, they listen with disbelief as the health minister tells them 90 per cent of them are ready for the H1N1 epidemic. They know perfectly well their nursing stations are not ready. What did they get from the government? They got body bags.

We are not finished. Across the country there are cancer and heart patients waiting for nuclear medicine and diagnostics because twice on the government's watch over four years it has failed to supply an adequate amount of nuclear isotopes for the Canadian medical profession. This record of failure is just not good enough.

As if that was not enough, when the Canadian health system is under constant relentless attack from our ideological friends south of the border, what do we hear from the other side of the House? There is total deafening silence. That is public health.

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