Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre, who was member of our public accounts committee, where her skills as a former accountant and auditor certainly served the committee well.
I am pleased to take this opportunity to discuss the parliamentary budget office and our government's strong commitment to sound fiscal management and reporting.
Managing the nation's finances has become increasingly challenging in today's global economy, and we have proven that we are up to that challenge with each phase of our Conservative government's economic action plan. In particular, there have been a number of economic factors that required us to act. They include the global economic downturn and, more recently, the problems in the eurozone. At home, our economy faces demographic pressures, such as our aging population.
In this changing economy, the organizations that succeed are those that adapt and listen. The same is true in government. That is why members on this side of the House consult with Canadians each year and report to the Minister of Finance by helping him prepare the budget. In short, we are listening to Canadians.
I am pleased to say that our government has taken strong action to meet the evolving expectations of Canadians, whom we have consulted. We have taken a number of actions to be more responsive, transparent and accountable to Parliament and to Canadians since 2006. Canadians were tired of the old way of doing things and the old political model. That is why we promised the Federal Accountability Act as our first piece of legislation, and we delivered on our promise to Canadians. The act was the most sweeping anti-corruption legislation, following 13 years of Liberal corruption and mismanagement.
We are entrusted to operate and manage government for Canadians. We take that trust and responsibility seriously by respecting, in a wise and transparent manner, the hard-earned money that Canadian taxpayers have entrusted us with. One of the ways that our Conservative government took action to improve financial transparency was through a revamped reporting regime, including the creation of a non-partisan parliamentary budget office.
The range of services the government is responsible for is incredibly vast. We support our economic prosperity and competitiveness as a nation and we ensure public safety and security, as well as the well-being of our environment. However, those are just a couple of examples. There are many others. In each case, we make sure that Canadians are getting value for money and the accountability they expect and deserve from us.
One can imagine that the incredible scope of what we do brings some pretty unique reporting challenges. For one, the decision-making process can take time. The budget process, for example, starts months in advance and we hold extensive consultations with Canadians.
Earlier in the debate, a member of the NDP suggested that we were just starting the new budget cycle. That is not particularly accurate. As MPs, we have been consulting with constituents since December. We held budget round tables in January. Right now, we are just submitting to the finance minister some of the information that we gathered from these meetings.
What happens after the budget? First, we have to make sure that we read the budget. After we have done that, the next step is a budget implementation bill. That it is the part that takes all of the little components that have been described throughout the budget and includes them in legislation. We then see how the two tie together. For those people who took the time--and there were a few from the opposition who did, although not very many--to go to the technical briefings on budget implementation, they found out exactly why each of those things in the larger implementation bills fitted with the budget that had been presented. The first meeting lasted four hours and the second for six and a half hours. I am proud to say that I attended those. They gave me confidence to talk about our budget and to recognize that the items in it have been fully explained, and of which we should be proud.
All of this to say that our government operates within a very complex environment. However, this is still not an excuse to remain static. It just means that we must be that much more committed to taking the bold steps needed to transform how we serve Canadians and remain accountable to them.
That is exactly what our government has been doing. For example, we have strengthened the way we manage our financial resources and shown more accountability and transparency in reports, such as our quarterly financial reports.
Indeed, over the past few years the government has taken a number of steps to ensure that Parliament and Canadians are better informed about public spending. These include steps to improve financial reporting, which has vastly improved under our Conservative government. Specifically, for example, as I mentioned before, the government now prepares quarterly financial reporting on spending for departments, agencies and crown corporations. This requirement has been in place since April 2011. In doing so, we have taken a page from the private sector, where publicly traded companies have been required to publish quarterly financial reports for years. That is accountability. That is but one example of the government's leadership in supporting the work of parliamentarians as well as the work of independent bodies of Parliament such as the parliamentary budget office.
I would add that all public and some non-public reporting mechanisms are provided to the parliamentary budget office to support its efforts.
There are many other examples of our government's positive actions, which this motion gives us a chance to discuss and debate. Our Conservative government's leadership is clearly evident in the fact that the Public Accounts of Canada, which is one of the most important accountability documents prepared by the government, has consistently received a clean opinion by the Auditor General of Canada. The bottom line is that our government is as committed as ever to providing more timely and relevant information on many and varied activities to parliamentarians and Canadians.
The government is also committed to responding to all requests for information with the appropriate publicly available information. Our record on transparency and accountability speaks for itself. We have followed up on our commitments with concrete action to provide an open and honest government that hard-working Canadians expect and deserve.
It was this government that created the role of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. We still believe in its mandate, as created in the Federal Accountability Act.
While the tax-and-spend NDP might like to see a needlessly overgrown bureaucracy, our Conservative government believes that the current structure of the parliamentary budget office can provide quality non-partisan analysis while respecting taxpayers' dollars.
Mr. Speaker, new court records have confirmed that Elections Canada has seized Conservative phone records in 56 ridings. Voter suppression calls have been traced to the Conservatives' national campaign number.
Why will no minister touch this? Why will any of the MPs whose ridings are involved not speak up? When will they tell us what they know? The members for Winnipeg South Centre, Yukon, and Nipissing, when will the Conservatives come clean to Canadians, or are they waiting for the RCMP to once again raid their headquarters?
Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg South Centre gave an excellent speech. In her opening remarks, she explained that she was a chartered accountant and also a mom, so she is used to balancing the books. She is used to watching the dollars, as most Canadian families do.
I want to ask her a question about the NDP's carbon tax. The NDP has been talking about this $21 billion tax. As members know the NDP is linked to the Broadbent Institute. It was really sad when, a while back, the Broadbent Institute said it wanted to increase green taxes, such as a carbon tax, and taxes on natural resources and more and more taxes, which could add up to over $30 billion.
I want to ask her this question, because she does have expertise in the financial sector. What would a $21 billion carbon tax, or the taxes with which the Broadbent Institute would like to shackle Canadians, do to the economy of Manitoba at this very important juncture in time?
The electoral district of Winnipeg South Centre (Manitoba) has a population of 78,286 with 59,444 registered voters and 162 polling divisions.
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