Thursday, March 2, 1995
Motion moved and agreed to 10229
Mr. Breitkreuz (Yellowhead) 10231
Bill C-73. Motion for second reading 10231
Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac) 10248
Mr. Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville) 10255
Mr. Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville) 10256
Mrs. Gagnon (Québec) 10261
Mr. Leroux (Shefford) 10264
Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais 10264
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10265
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10265
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10265
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval) 10266
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10266
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval) 10266
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10266
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10266
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10266
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10267
Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 10267
Mrs. Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata) 10267
Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 10267
Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast) 10267
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10268
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10268
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10269
Mr. Gagnon (Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine) 10270
Mr. Gagnon (Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine) 10270
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10271
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice) 10272
Mr. Scott (Fredericton-York-Sunbury) 10272
Mr. Gauthier (Roberval) 10273
Bill C-73. Consideration resumed of motion forsecond reading 10274
Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil) 10276
Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil) 10279
Mr. White (North Vancouver) 10285
Mr. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood) 10288
Mr. White (North Vancouver) 10289
Mr. Leblanc (Longueuil) 10293
Bill C-262. Consideration resumed of motion. 10295
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Thursday, March 2, 1995
The House met at 10 a.m.
A message from His Excellency the Governor General
transmitting supplementary estimates (D) for the financial year
ending March 31, 1995, was presented by the President of the
Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.
Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (President of the Treasury Board
and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.):
Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 81(5) and 81(6), I wish to
introduce a motion concerning the referral of the estimates to
the standing committees of the House.
There is a lengthy list associated with the motion. If it is
agreeable to the House I would ask that the list be printed in
Hansard as if it had been read.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Eggleton: Madam Speaker, I wish to move:
That supplementary estimates (D) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1995,
laid upon the table this day, be referred to several standing committees of the
House in accordance with the detailed allocation that is attached.
Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
[Editor's Note: List referred to above is as follows:]
To the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Indian Affairs and
Indian Affairs and Northen Development, Votes 1d, 6d, 7d, 8d, 10d, 15d, L21d,
L25d, 35d, 36d, 40d, 45d and 50d.
To the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food
Agriculture and Agri-Food, Votes 1d, 5d, 6d, 10d and 15d.
To the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage
Canadian Heritage, Votes 1d, 5d, 10d, 15d, 30d, 35d, 40d, 50d, L61d, 75d, 85d,
100d, 115d, 121d, 125d, 145d and 150d.
To the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
Citizenship and Immigration, Votes 5d and 10d.
To the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development
Environment, Votes 1d and 10d.
Privy Council, Vote 28d.
To the Standing Committee on Finance
Finance, Votes 1d, L5d, 27d, 30d and 40d.
National Revenue, Votes 1d, 5d, 10d, 15d and 20d.
To the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
Fisheries and Oceans, Votes 10d and 15d.
To the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Foreign Affairs, Votes 1d, 2d, 5d, 10d, 20d, 25d and 26d.
To the Standing Committee on Government Operations
Governor General, Vote 1d.
Public Works and Government Services, Votes 15d, 20d, 21d, 22d, 23d, 24d and
Treasury Board, Vote 6d.
To the Standing Committee on Health
Health, Votes 5d, 10d and 20d.
To the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development
Human Resources Development, Votes 1d, 5d, 10d, 15d, 20d, 30d, 35d, 40d and
To the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Status of Disabled Persons
Justice, Vote 15d.
To the Standing Committee on Industry
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Vote 1d.
Finance, Vote 45d.
Industry, Votes 1d, 45d, 60d, 70d, 75d, 80d, 85d and 95d.
To the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs
Justice, Votes 1d, 10d, 20d, 25d, 35d and 45d.
Solicitor General, Votes 1d, 15d, 20d, 25d, 35d, 40d and 45d.
To the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs
National Defence, Vote 1d.
Veterans Affairs, Votes 10d and 15d.
To the Standing Committee on Natural Resources
Natural Resources, Votes 1d, 2d, 3d, 10d, 30d and 40d.
To the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Parliament, Vote 5d.
Privy Council, Vote 20d.
To the Standing Committee on Transport
Privy Council, Vote 15d.
Transport, Votes 1d, 10d, 38d, 40d and 45d.
To the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament
Parliament, Vote 10d.
To the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages
Privy Council, Vote 25d.
(Motion agreed to.)
* * *
Mr. Morris Bodnar (Saskatoon-Dundurn, Lib.):
Speaker, I have three petitions today.
The first with 184 signators is a petition of the mining
industry calling on Parliament to take action that will help the
mining industry to grow and thus improve employment in this
sector, promote exploration, rebuild Canada's mineral reserves,
sustain mining communities and keep mining in Canada.
Mr. Morris Bodnar (Saskatoon-Dundurn, Lib.):
Speaker, the next petition has 32 signators.
The petitioners request that Parliament not amend the human
rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the charter of
rights and freedoms in any way that would tend to indicate
societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality.
Mr. Morris Bodnar (Saskatoon-Dundurn, Lib.):
Speaker, the third petition has 37 signators. They request that
Parliament continue to give the Canadian Wheat Board
monopoly powers in marketing wheat and barley for export.
Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre, Ref.):
Madam Speaker, I am
pleased to rise to present a petition on behalf of 213 Calgarians
which I understand is one of several that has been presented to
equal 64,000 names.
It calls on the government to toughen the Young Offenders
Act. Many Canadians share the view that the act is not meeting
its main objective of deterring young people from committing
Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Lib.):
Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have a petition
to table asking that Parliament not revoke section 241 of the
Criminal Code and to continue to forbid assisted suicide and
The petition is signed by 223 signatories, bringing the total
signatures thus far to 23,186.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville, Ref.):
pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour on behalf of the
constituents of Vegreville and Alberta to table petitions in the
The petitioners request that Parliament amend the Criminal
Code and the Young Offenders Act to deter young people from
committing crime and making the Young Offenders Act tough
enough to provide real justice. I understand several petitions are
being presented totalling approximately 64,00 signatures.
I would also like to recognize Caroline Balisky of Concerned
Citizens for her work in compiling these petitions.
Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon, NDP):
I am presenting a petition today on behalf of 62 petitioners from
They call for the deletion of section 718.2 in Bill C-41. The
petitioners feel this section gives undue attention and unequal
treatment on the basis of sexual orientation.
I would also add respectfully, that I personally do not agree
with this petition. In fact, the Yukon Human Rights Code gives
more rights to people.
Mr. Herb Grubel (Capilano-Howe Sound, Ref.):
Speaker, I have three petitions to present.
The first is signed by constituents of Capilano-Howe Sound
requesting that the House ensure the enforcement of the present
provisions of the Criminal Code prohibiting doctor assisted
suicide and that Parliament make no changes in support of
Mr. Herb Grubel (Capilano-Howe Sound, Ref.):
Speaker, the second petition asks the House to exclude the
phrase sexual orientation from Bill C-41.
Mr. Herb Grubel (Capilano-Howe Sound, Ref.):
Speaker, the third petition is a very thick set of papers. The
petitioners urge strongly that the House reduce spending rather
than increase taxes.
Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Ref.):
pursuant to Standing Order 31, it is my pleasure to present a
petition of some 55 pages.
It states that since Canadians from coast to coast are calling
for changes to the Young Offenders Act, the petitioners want the
act changed to become serious enough to deter young people
from committing crimes and tough enough to provide real
Therefore, they request and pray that Parliament will amend
the Criminal Code of Canada and the Young Offenders Act of
1992 to comply with this petition.
Mr. Cliff Breitkreuz (Yellowhead, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I
rise to present a petition on behalf of almost 2,500 Alberta
residents, the majority of whom are from Yellowhead.
The petitioners request that Parliament amend the Young
Offenders Act so that it is tough enough to provide real justice to
deter young people from committing crimes.
This petition is one of several from Alberta totalling
approximately 64,000 names.
* * *
Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.):
Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Sergio Marchi (for the Minister of Finance)
that Bill C-73, an act to provide borrowing authority for the
fiscal year beginning on April 1, 1995, be read the second time
and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to take part in this
historic budget debate, specifically Bill C-73, which will give
borrowing authority and put into effect the measures announced
by the government and the Minister of Finance on Monday
I start by paying tribute to my colleague and friend, the
Minister of Finance, whose budget is cradled in that wellspring
of traditional Canadian thought and liberalism, compassion and
integrity. His statement reflects both those important values and
principles. It is a clear example of the difference between
management and leadership. A manager only imitates, while a
Everyone in this country has a part to play in this economic
plan, in this blueprint. We are all making sacrifices. Those who
work in the public service across our country; the farmers who
work the land; those who fish the seas; business people who run
our shops and factories; and Canadian families every day of the
week across this country, all of them are making sacrifices. That
is an important principle of the fairness and equity which
provides a sturdy foundation to the budget put before this
Chamber by the Liberal government.
Newcomers to the Canadian family will also contribute their
share to this process of nation building in the form of a landing
fee, not a head tax. The landing fee will be put toward the
services that help them integrate into Canadian society.
This fee is not a barrier at our borders but simply a fee that is
fair and just. It is not meant to control or regulate those who
come to Canada. Rather it is an effort to secure the value and
tradition of settlement integration programs in Canada. It is
uniquely Canadian and very much different from how things are
done in the United States for instance where there is no
settlement, no integration and no language training.
I ask what cost a society pays for not having a system up front
that not only welcomes newcomers but integrates them into the
Canadian family and then sees them flourish and move upward.
Newcomers can be business people, business leaders, members
of Parliament, social workers, professors, Canadians like all of
us. That is the difference and it is unique to this country. This
government feels it is worth the price of preserving a system that
not only works for the newcomers but works for this country.
How we deliver those services will be the subject of ongoing
discussions with our partners in the provinces, the
municipalities and the non-governmental organizations who
help deliver those settlement services. And yes, there will be
discussions with those who need and would make use of those
It is within the context of fairness and the necessity for
compassion, integrity and the need to do things better and still
show fiscal responsibility that this government moves forward.
Today, the government is announcing a plan to streamline
Canada's process for identifying refugees who need this
country's protection. In doing so, the refugee determination
system will become fairer, faster and more cost effective.
Canada needs these changes.
The immigration and refugee discussion is one of the more
controversial and difficult public policy issues faced in this
Chamber and across the country. We all hear it. We discuss it in
our riding offices, in the coffee shops or on the steps of our
places of worship.
This planet is awash with people on the move. Yes, I know that
in the dry environment of statistics it is very easy to pluck
numbers from tables, charts and graphs. However, when the
United Nations catalogues the movement of more than 125
million people in one year and notes that of these, 23 million
happen to be refugees, the human mind balks and stutters at the
numbers. The more staggering the figure, the more difficulty we
have in comprehending it.
Let me put it into perspective. We are talking about five
metropolitan Torontos, ten Vancouvers. Even more simply,
more than three times the entire population of Canada is on the
move worldwide every year. Of course, these are not just
numbers; they are men, women and children. The vast majority
of refugees indeed are women and young children.
Refugees are the unfortunate but horribly logical
consequence of a world wrestling with overpopulation,
underdevelopment and politics coming from the end of a
machete or out of the barrel of a gun.
There are those within the sound of my voice who by
utterance, deed or innuendo have tried to make refugee a dirty
word. This government and I believe the Canadian people will
have none of that. Why? Because it touches on our national soul,
our very sense of ourselves as a nation and as a people. So we ask
ourselves: Who is that refugee? Who is that stranger among us?
Make no mistake. Canada has greeted refugees just two steps
ahead of the death squads. They are people like the brave women
who testified against war criminals and war atrocities in the
Balkans. Otto Jelinek who served with honour in the cabinet of
previous governments was a refugee. I look across the aisle at
the critic from Her Majesty's loyal opposition, a refugee from
Refugees seek Canada for protection, not for charity. Canada
has a record in which we can all take pride. At the same time let
us not sound too altruistic because there has been a major benefit
to Canada as well. We should never forget that this is very much
a win-win situation. Canada is good to immigrants and refugees
seeking a home, but those newcomers and eventual Canadian
citizens of all persuasions are equally loyal and fiercely defend
this country from sea to sea.
Yes, we want to continue to be humanitarian but we also
refuse to be taken for granted. Our focus was, is and will be on
resettlement. We reject outright the standards of some nations
where ethnic backgrounds and ethnic backgrounds alone allow
access to citizenship. That would never be the Canadian way.
Today, if we take a breath and look at the world around us,
there can be some cause for worry and concern. We are
vulnerable to the pressures from outside our control which can
overwhelm and swamp our immigration and refugee processing
systems with very little advanced warning or notice.
Canada is not alone. At this moment, western Europe is
pulsating with people on the move. The figures are mind
boggling. In 1993 for instance, Germany received 425,000
refugees seeking a roof over their heads. Last year the
Netherlands took in 55,000 refugees. The U.S. has millions of
illegal residents and has a backlog of 425,000 refugee claimants.
The world needs to work together. Quite frankly, it needs to
work together in a better and more interconnected way so that
we can come to grips with this massive migration, not
exclusively to one country or a few countries, but all over the
That is one reason Canada is working diligently to reach an
agreement with the United States and other nations. It would
stop or discourage so-called asylum shopping while
maintaining and ensuring protection for those in need.
Just last week we moved closer to that reality. Our Prime
Minister and the President of the United States announced an
accord to improve border management. Within six months, we
are to pursue negotiations on a memorandum of understanding
between our two countries built on the integrity of our system
and protection for those who deserve it.
An integral part of our refugee policy and program is the
Immigration and Refugee Board. Since its creation in 1989 the
board has evolved and matured. Its goals are to identify those in
need of Canada's protection as convention refugees and to
adjudicate as well all immigration appeals and inquiries.
The board's challenge has been to do that fairly and
effectively in the face of changing world conditions. The IRB
decision making process operates at arm's length from
government. We intend to maintain it just that way.
There has been criticism directed at the board. There is no
attempt on my part here today to minimize or downplay the
worries or concerns of our fellow citizens.
This government has made changes and adjustments to
Canada's refugee policy. We recently improved the adjustment
You also probably know that at one time refugee claimants
were not allowed to work while awaiting processing. Our
government changed that last year in order to alleviate the
burden on social services.
In addition, we are working with a number of municipalities
to prevent duplication of services and multiple claims. This
House recently gave third reading to Bill C-44, which will
provide us with the means to address the case of criminals who,
while few in number, have the potential to undermine our
Canadians must have faith in their system. This government
has listened to their concerns and we have moved quickly, but
those changes are not enough.
First, the report by Professor James Hathaway signalled a
commitment to change, to improvements. In response a number
of administrative and management changes will be announced
tomorrow by the chairperson of the IRB as she is responsible
and justifiably so, for the day to day management and
operations of the IRB.
Because of the importance of this entire issue it might be an
opportune time for the Standing Committee on Citizenship and
Immigration to invite the chair of the IRB to meet with them.
They could not only explore and discuss some of the changes
and adaptations that she and the IRB will be announcing
tomorrow, but they could also look into the workings of the
board in the fulsome of time and study.
Second, there are a number of policy and legislative changes
that the government will make to the Immigration and Refugee
Board. This is a straightforward matter of getting government
right. There has been agency and program review and the IRB is
part of that. Part of my job is to detail the policy and legislative
changes to the IRB which we believe are needed to make it run
more effectively and make better use of the taxpayers' dollars,
while maintaining the integrity of the Canadian borders.
The government realized there was concern over methods of
appointments to the board and to some extent over the quality
and consistency of the decisions. We also knew that the in
Canada refugee determination system had to be streamlined to
keep pace with both fiscal restraint and world developments. It
is our belief there is a remedy at hand which involves both
policy and legislative changes.
In this regard the government has decided to reduce the panel
size for refugee hearings from two board members to one. The
reduction in the refugee division members from 175 to
approximately 112 will lead to an annual savings of almost $6
million. Consistent with the strategic plan that I announced in
November in the House, the savings will be targeted to helping
The appointment process for panel members has been cause
for some concern. Again the government recognizes this point
and as a result we have decided to establish an independent
advisory committee to examine the qualification of all
candidates for the Immigration and Refugee Board. The
advisory committee will ensure that only qualified candidates
are recommended to the government for appointment. The
committee will be responsible for ensuring that a balance is met
between the board's objective standards and an increasing
public demand for more political accountability.
We want the top candidates for the job. It is mandatory that the
best people are named to the board, because the reduction in
panel size requires unquestioned and unflinching competence
from every board member. This new process will be applicable
to new appointments in the future.
I am also pleased to announce that Gordon Fairweather has
agreed to be the chairperson of the advisory committee. As a
former Conservative member of Parliament, chair of the
Immigration and Refugee Board and international human rights
advocate, we believe he is ideally suited for the job.
Today the government is also filling two vacant and key
positions at the Immigration and Refugee Board, that of deputy
chair and executive director. The new deputy chair will be Mr.
John Frecker, while the duties of the executive director will be
assumed by Mr. Jean-Guy Fleury.
As I mentioned earlier, there are savings in the new
procedure. Our target date for full implementation is January
1996. We expect to realize annual savings of $5.7 million by
1997. In the estimates before the House and its committees, the
IRB has also put on the table savings of some $6 million in
addition to the savings I have announced today.
The board is not only part of the program and budget review
process. It is also sensitive that it too must become a partner in
putting the finances of the country first and the integrity of the
system on the same level playing field. Most of the money will
be utilized for settlement of refugees from abroad. We can see
that this is not a project merely to camouflage cost savings so
government can pocket the money.
I have a real sense that although they mean well some would
build walls and allow only hand-picked refugees into our
country. It is our obligation under the Geneva convention not to
send back legitimate refugees. This is a country and this is a
government which live up to their obligations. We are good
citizens of the world and world leaders. It is not me as minister
bragging that we are world leaders; it is people around the globe
and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees telling
Three days ago I met with Mr. Chefeke, director of the
UNHCR bureau for all the Americas, and apprised him of the
government's plans. I am pleased to confirm that he is very
supportive of the changes we are bringing forward this morning.
Canada and the UNHCR have long been partners and friends. It
has always been thus and it will continue to be that way.
In closing, let me hearken back to the Governor General's
installation message when he asked us to give good news a
chance. His Excellency noted that we were all immigrants to this
land; it was just that some came sooner than others. He paid
special tribute to the refugees of recent years and special tribute
to the communities that opened their arms and their hearts and
adopted the refugees. He told us how they came with their hands
empty, forlorn of everything except their hopes, and how
through effort and hard work they flourished.
More of these people will come. We have the will and we have
Mr. Bellehumeur: I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker,
because the minister used his speech- I did not interrupt out of
politeness-on Bill C-73, an act to provide borrowing authority
for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 1995, to make
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Order.
Mr. Bellehumeur: Madam Speaker, at least let me finish.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Order. I just want to
advise the hon. member that, speaking on a bill dealing with
such matters as borrowing authority, the government can raise
just about any issue directly or indirectly related to public
The hon. member for Kindersley-Lloydminster has the
Mr. Hermanson: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
The Standing Orders have some descriptions of Statements by
Ministers. What we have just heard more aptly fits the
description of a ministerial statement under citations 348 and
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): As I stated earlier, on a
bill such as Bill C-73 respecting the borrowing authority, the
government may discuss any of its dossier.
Mr. Boudria: Madam Speaker, I wish to respond very briefly
to the point of order.
The Chair is quite correct. The government does not attempt
by a point of order to censor opposition or any criticism toward a
government borrowing bill either to increase or decrease
expenditures, alter them, initiate a government program, cancel
one and so on, or advocate any such change. Similarly when a
government member, a member of the ministry or another
member, speaks on the borrowing bill he or she has exactly the
same latitude as an opposition member would have.
You are quite correct, Madam Speaker, in the way you have
assessed it. It is definitely the way such bills have been handled
in the past.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Before giving the floor
to the hon. member, I would remind the House that a bill
respecting borrowing authority is indeed a continuation of our
Unless the hon. member for Kindersley-Lloydminster is
seeking the floor on another point of order I will continue with
Mr. Hermanson: Madam Speaker, I am agreeing with your
position. What I am asking is for unanimous consent of the
House to allow a 10-minute question and comment period in
light of the fact that this was more along the lines of a
ministerial statement where there is a chance for the opposition
parties to respond.
I believe the government would be open enough to allow a
question and comment period. I am just asking for unanimous
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): The House has heard the
request by the hon. member for Kindersley-Lloydminster. Do
we have unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Duceppe: I am entitled to have the floor to ask questions.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Order. The Chair has
ruled on this point of order. Is the hon. Opposition Whip rising
on a separate point of order?
Mr. Duceppe: Madam Speaker, just a comment. I think that
you are quite right: the minister was in order. It is just that what
he did lacks class. Thank you.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): I am sorry, but this is not
a point of order.
Mr. René Laurin (Joliette, BQ): Madam Speaker, I
apologize for the frog in my throat this morning.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Order. The hon. member
for Joliette has the floor.
Mr. Laurin: Madam Speaker, thank you for your support. My
voice being as it is this morning, I will have to ask my hon.
colleagues to please be as quiet as possible if they want to be
able to hear me.
When the budget is tabled at about this time every year, it
always raises either fears or hopes in the population, some
interest groups, the financial community and all walks of life
depending on what is perceived as an improvement in our
personal circumstances and whether individuals or
organizations consider the latest budget will increase their tax
burden or make their lives more difficult.
And each year, since Parliament was established I guess, the
opposition has raised numerous questions during this budget
preparation period to try to provide guidance to the government
and point out where we would not want the budget to hit our
most disadvantaged taxpayers. So, representations have been
made for as long as there has been governments.
In the past 30 years however, this budget preparation period
has become, in Canada and most provinces, but even more so in
Quebec, a much greater source of anxiety because expectations
are high. There is always a chance the federal government will
use the budget to decentralize powers to the provinces and to
give them the tax points that go with these powers, so that the
provinces can better set their priorities, be it in education,
occupational training, public health or social programs.
Finally, this whole period lets us hope for a better future.
Unfortunately, budgets rarely come up to everyone's
expectations and this one is no exception. Indeed, while some
members of our society, some groups were reportedly pleased
with the budget measures, others felt short-changed.
In any case, if I had to sum up the level of satisfaction derived
from the budget, I, for one, would say first of all that the federal
budget cuts in the wrong places. It launches a full-scale attack
against the most disadvantaged and slashes social programs,
unemployment insurance and the public service. It hardly
touches the wealthiest, for example by sparing tax shelters and
profits made by banks and large corporations. It does not cut
deeply enough in places where fat remains, such as National
Defence, business subsidies and duplication.
Second, it is easy to see that there is nothing at all for
employment development in this budget. There are no recovery
measures or job training. On the contrary, they are using the
infrastructure program put in place last year by the same Liberal
government to backtrack and reduce municipal subsidies.
In summary, it could be said that this budget is generally
unfair, especially for Quebecers, in particular in the agricultural
sector, in the area of national defence, and in terms of deficit
decentralization and its impact on Quebec's economy.
In the few minutes available to me, I will elaborate on each of
these points to try to explain how we arrived at this conclusion.
I said that the government picks on the most disadvantaged, as
shown by its handling of social programs. The federal
government contributes to social programs by transferring
money to the provinces. Between 1994-95 and 1997-98,
transfers for social assistance, health care and post-secondary
education will go down from $17.3 billion to $10.3 billion. This
40 per cent cut will have a devastating impact on the most
Next year, Quebec will lose $350 million, and cuts in transfers
for post-secondary education could raise tuition fees by over 60
per cent and threaten free college education in Quebec, since the
bill is always picked up by the taxpayer. In the short term, these
increases would restrict access and lead to low education levels
among the poorest, who cannot afford such exorbitant tuition
As far as unemployment insurance is concerned, again this
year, the government is cutting UI by 10 per cent. New
legislation in the fall will once again slash UI by tightening
eligibility requirements and reducing insurable amounts.
These drastic measures will hit those members of society who
have trouble finding jobs and may well have to turn to
provincially-funded social assistance if they no longer qualify
This is another form of offloading, since the government
takes a UI beneficiary and sends him to the welfare roll. Of
course, this means that the person comes under another
jurisdiction, since unemployment insurance is a federal
program, while social assistance is a provincial one.
Using a logic which I would call perverse, the Liberal
government tells us that it considers the unemployed to be
cheaters. However, Quebecers refuse to endorse such a view.
Even more revolting is the fact that, while cuts are being made to
the UI fund, that program shows a surplus of $2 billion and it is
estimated that, by 1996, that surplus will exceed $5 billion. Yet,
instead of taking that money to help the unemployed find jobs,
the federal government uses that surplus to reduce its deficit.
Again, this confirms that the government wants to reduce the
deficit at the expense of the poor.
As regards the public service, the government intends to
abolish 45,000 positions over the next three years. These cuts
should be made in a fair manner, based on a prorated distribution
between the various groups and also according to the number of
federal public servants in each province.
The decision to go all out and cut 40,000 to 45,000 jobs is
particularly illogical considering that the government continues
to contract out work at an almost unacceptable level, to the tune
of $7.7 billion annually, according to PSAC estimates.
In other words, what the government saves by reducing the
number of public servants, it spends by contracting out work. As
you know, contracting out work is a good way to reward friends
of the party, something which is called patronage.
We agree that the government should cut the fat, but this
streamlining exercise must not be done exclusively on the backs
of public servants. There is fat in many areas, not just in the
public service. I already mentioned the transportation services
used by members of this House and of the other place. Why have
two services? Both houses could use the same service and save
money in the process. I do not want to discuss every public
account, but this is a striking example. I could mention many
Managers should also be let go, not just members of their
staff. The cuts should be spread fairly between management and
the employees. This is essential if the Liberal government is
going to ensure fairness, as it claims to want to do.
According to the daily Le Droit, 114 managerial positions, out
of 12,642, will be cut. This represents 0.9 per cent of all the cuts.
By comparison, 2,508 clerical positions out of 40,145 will also
be eliminated, which amounts to 6.2 per cent of the cuts. We can
see clearly that the proposed cuts will affect seven times more
clerical employees than managers, once again penalizing low
Cuts affecting the wealthy are also by far too timid. First, tax
shelters. Nothing has been done about thousands of businesses
that do not pay taxes. About 60,000 businesses that have shown
a profit for the past few years are not paying taxes on those
profits. This is not a matter of tax evasion or trying to
manipulate the tax people. Under the current provisions of the
act, these companies can take advantage of certain tax loopholes
and make a profit without having to pay taxes on those profits.
The government has done nothing to change the 16 tax treaties
signed with countries considered to be tax havens. The
preferential treatment given by the Liberals to the wealthiest in
this country is particularly obvious in the case of the notorious
family trusts. The government has deferred taxing capital gains
in family trusts until 1999. The Minister of Finance has refused
to act on recommendations by the Bloc Quebecois to do
something immediately about tax loopholes that deprive the
federal government of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax
revenue each year, mainly from Canada's wealthiest families.
I think we should recall certain statements made by members
of this House when they were in the opposition. In 1992-93, the
hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell had the
following to say about family trusts: ``The 21-year rule is the
Robin Hood in reverse rule. It is designed specifically to give
help to those who least need it. Why does one want to give an
additional tax break to billionaires?'' This is still the hon.
member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell: ``It is kind of like
having two goalies in the net. In case the puck misses the first
one the rich have this extra large hockey stick which can deflect
anything right at the back of the first one- It is simply bad and
we should not renew those provisions at all''. This was said on
March 29, 1993. I am pleased to see the hon. member for
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell is here to listen, and I hope he
recognizes this quote.
Madam Speaker, there is a member of this House who
occasionally sits in your chair, the hon. member for Edmonton
Southeast, for whom I have every respect and who had the
following to say on the same topic: ``We should perhaps call it
the comfort bill for family trust holders in Forest Hill Village,
Rosedale, Upper Westmount, Park Lake Circle and perhaps
parts of Shaughnessy in Vancouver. There is no reason why
those very few Canadians who are fortunate enough to have
family trusts should have preferential treatment. There is no
reason to extend what was a more than generous deadline''. This
was said the same day, on March 29, 1993.
Another hon. member of the government, who, on May 4,
1993 was a member of the opposition, the hon. member for
Broadview-Greenwood, whom I also greatly admire, said the
following: ``When that kind of unfairness- is out there it
affects people's spirits and it affects their attitudes in terms of
the workplace. When one multiplies that right across the
country, it has a devastating effect on productivity, profitability
and everything else. The exemption period has been extended
indefinitely, depriving us of billions of dollars in tax revenues. I
find it really disgusting that we adopted this bill. I am just
talking about fairness, not confiscation, about taxpayers who do
their fair share''. This is what the hon. member for
Broadview-Greenwood said on May 10, 1993.
I could go on, but there is another statement, which was made
by the hon. member for Gatineau-La Lièvre. I do not want to
leave him out, and I want to identify him as well. He said, on
April 2, 1993, and I quote: ``This government is allowing them
to keep accumulating wealth at the expense of the middle class
and the poor of this country. What happened yesterday in the
House is a disgrace, and the day will come when people will
have to answer for certain social injustices''. I will quote one
last member of this House, who today is a minister-the hon.
member for Ottawa South. He said, on March 30, 1993, with
regard to family trusts, and I quote: ``The answer that was
proposed- is to say 21 years is a long enough trust and every 21
years, whether the property is disposed of or not, it will be
deemed to have been sold even if it has not and capital gains tax
will have to be paid. I do not think we can have any idea how
much tax this money could have generated under such an
arrangement, but I would think it would be a tidy sum, to say the
These people are still around today. They sit in this House. I
wonder how it is, only a year or two after making such
statements, that they are unable to act on them and acknowledge
what they said at the time.
Despite all these statements, the Minister of Finance is
refusing to act on the recommendations of the Bloc Quebecois
and take immediate action to close these loopholes, which are
depriving the government of hundreds of millions of dollars in
revenue every year primarily from the major wealthy Canadian
families, and I believe I have identified them fairly clearly.
However, to calm widespread taxpayer indignation at the
huge bank profits, the Minister of Finance is going to levy a
small token tax on banks, a small additional and temporary tax.
Accordingly, while billions are cut each year in unemployment
insurance-the figure mentioned earlier was something like $5
billion next year-the banks are going to have to pay an
additional $60 million this year and $40 million more in
1996-97. Do you think it is going to hurt the banks to be taxed
this amount? One hundred million dollars over two years: $60
million the first year and $40 million the second.
I would remind you that the six largest financial institutions in
Canada made over $4.28 billion in profits in 1994. The Royal
Bank alone made over $1.2 billion in profits.
It is ridiculous to say that everyone is affected by this budget.
The government is taking just $100 million from a potential tax
source of $4 to 5$ billion and suggesting that this amount is
equal to what is being asked of other elements in society. How
utterly ridiculous. We could even say this increase is
hypocritical, since it may well be passed on to consumers, which
banks and large corporations usually do, because such increases
are always reflected in the price of these companies' final
So in the end, the consumer has to foot the bill. Large
corporations are facing a 12.5 per cent tax increase under this
budget, which will generate additional revenues of only $460
million over the next three years. This is very small compared to
the $1.5 billion to be gained from the increased tax on gasoline.
In this case too, the government is trying to show people,
through this measure taken by the finance minister, that
everyone has to do his bit.
Everyone doing his bit apparently means in this case that
some have to make drastic sacrifices while only minimal ones
are expected of others. If this is supposed to be a just society, I
think we are on the wrong track. Compared to a 12.5 per cent tax
hike for major corporations, a very slight tax on the price of
gasoline will bring in three times as much or $1,5 billion.
The government boasts that it is not increasing taxes. And yet
only a third of new revenues or $900 million which the
government intends to collect will come from corporations. The
remaining amount of $2.8 billion will come out of taxpayers'
pockets. Where is the fair budget we were promised? What
happened to the minister's promises that he would above all tax
the rich? That being said, Madam Speaker, I would like to quote
a few figures comparing personal taxes and corporate taxes.
From 1980 to 1994, personal taxes increased by 70 per cent, a
rate indexed for inflation. The source of this information should
be reliable and I hope it will not be disputed; it comes from the
Finance department. Only the governments in Scandinavian
countries and Belgium draw a higher proportion of their
revenues directly from their citizens. What has happened to
corporate taxes during this period? Let us look at the period
extending from 1955 to 1992. In 1955, 25 per cent of federal
revenues were drawn from companies. In 1975, corporate taxes
accounted for 17 per cent of federal revenues and in 1992, they
made up 7 per cent of federal revenues.
So we can see that corporate tax rates are in a free fall. In
1980, the tax rate was 46 per cent for big corporations and 25 per
cent for small business. From 1988 to 1995, corporations were
taxed at a rate of 28 per cent and small businesses at 12 per cent.
It is very clear that the trend has been reversed and that from
now on individuals and not corporations will pay more tax to the
The latest profits make the following corporations members
of the billionaires' club: the Royal Bank, with $1.2 billion, Bell
Canada, with almost the same amount-$1.178 billion, and
General Motors of Canada, with $1.3 billion. How much tax did
they pay? It would be very interesting to see their tax bill, if
Taxation would only give it. It would reveal what the
government is planning when it talks about a just society.
To elaborate on what I said earlier, the federal government did
not trim enough of the fat. I alluded to this earlier when I said
that the public service is not the only place where fat could be
trimmed-National Defence is another potential target. Its
budget will be cut by $1.9 billion over three years. A cut of $4.8
billion over the same time frame is what the Bloc Quebecois has
been suggesting for two years now as an alternative to cutting
Close more bases and cut defence spending more. The Auditor
General mentioned that the number of bases could be reduced to
12 without compromising the army's ability to function. In
addition, it apparently costs over $125 million just to relocate
members of the armed forces within Canada. This was said at the
defence committee and echoed at the public accounts
committee: between $125 and $130 million per year, not to
transport troops to peacekeeping missions, but just to relocate
transferred employees. Even with the army doing the
transporting, it costs $125 million. That is fat if I ever saw it,
Housing for families of members and officers of the armed
forces is a losing venture, it loses $30 million per year. Since
1978, the cumulative loss in this area is $2.3 billion. All the
while, some officers pay only token amounts for rent, amounts
that are considerably lower than what renting a comparable
house would cost on the market.
The Bloc Quebecois is happy to see that Minister Martin has
cut business subsidies. He is on the right track in that regard.
Congratulations! But the Bloc Quebecois believes his 60 per
cent cut does not go nearly far enough.
Even the Conseil du patronat agrees that these subsidies
should be dropped altogether. Here is an additional $1.6 billion
that could be cut over the next three years. Even business agrees
with the Conseil du patronat that these subsidies should be cut,
because more often than not, they amount to a means of giving
friends of the government a competitive edge.
The money such a move would save could be used to fund
social housing, in order to avoid the planned cuts of $307
million over the next three years.
We also talked about the billions of dollars wasted by
duplication between the federal and provincial governments.
The Liberal government's budget does absolutely nothing to
eliminate or even reduce this costly duplication. The federal
government is not withdrawing from areas of provincial
jurisdiction. It has not abolished the departments where
duplication occurs: health, human resources development,
natural resources, and we could name others.
It is also not withdrawing from other areas of provincial
jurisdiction, such as forestry, mining, tourism, housing,
recreation and municipal affairs.
The second point I made was that there is absolutely nothing
in this budget for employment. In order to return to the
pre-recession level of employment, more than 800,000 jobs
would have to be created in Canada. During the last election
campaign, the Liberal Party proclaimed loudly that job creation
was their number one priority.
And yet, the budget before us contains no measures, either
general or specific, to encourage job creation. There is no sign
of any overall plan being implemented or even proposed. Nor
does the government seem to have any intention whatsoever of
taking action in the medium term to help the unemployed find
jobs. Even the unemployment insurance surpluses that are
supposed to contribute towards job creation will be used to bring
down the deficit.
This budget is proof to us that the Minister of Finance has
scrapped the red book and given up on doing anything about the
present rate of unemployment. The budget forecasts
unemployment rates of 9.5 per cent for 1995 and 9.4 per cent for
1996. The Liberal government's vision is cruelly insensitive to
the millions of unemployed Canadians. I hope that in this area
the federal government's forecasts are more accurate than its
forecasts in recent years with respect to the rate of growth,
because if it has made the same mistakes, we will be facing
unemployment rates of 10.5, 11 or 12 per cent and not 9.5.
As regards job training, this is an area of jurisdiction over
which Quebec has been requesting exclusive control for a
number of years now, even under a Liberal government. In the
present budget, the federal government creates additional
duplication, instead of reducing it. It has announced the creation
of a human resources investment fund. For the time being we are
told that this should encourage solid and sustainable job
creation, but we do not have many details yet. It is essential,
however, that a provincial job training plan be put in place.
As long as the federal government continues to hang on to
responsibility in this area, thus duplicating what is being done
by the government of Quebec, many resources and precious time
will be lost forever, with disastrous consequences for the job
situation in Quebec.
Through its failure to act and its stubborn refusal again in this
budget to let Quebec look after its own job training, the federal
government is adversely affecting Quebec's economic
I would like to touch briefly on the infrastructure program.
This $2 billion program, which was announced with great
fanfare during the 1993 election, was supposed to create 45,000
temporary jobs over three years. We can only assume the
program has gone very well, because the government has
decided to terminate it ahead of schedule. This was the only
concrete measure that would have helped the government keep
its job creation promise, and even that was not followed through
on. In fact, the budget cuts the $200 million that remained in this
The provincial and municipal governments have been told
that they will not get the remaining $200 million federal subsidy
that they were counting on, regardless of what they might have
hoped and expected. So, $200 million for the federal
government, $200 million for the provincial government, $200
million for each of the provinces.
This means a $600 million shortfall in Quebec's economy in
terms of infrastructure projects. That is a pretty penny. This
government apparently committed to creating jobs is actually
pulling out of these projects, thus depriving several
municipalities of funding they had been promised. The Minister
of Finance would have easily won the lemon award for unkept
I will comment briefly on this budget which is unfair for the
people of Quebec in particular. With respect to agriculture, the
Martin budget is plainly appalling, depriving farmers of $560
million in Crow's Nest subsidies. In Quebec however-
Madam Speaker, you are signalling that my time is up, while I
thought I had five minutes remaining. I will therefore keep my
other comments for another time.
Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I
rise today to not only address the government's borrowing bill,
C-73, but to also make a few comments about the budget.
The single biggest problem facing Canada today is the
national debt of over $550 billion and the interest costs to
service that debt. It is all too easy to think of this debt as a
government problem, but it is not. The debt does not cost
governments, it costs Canadian taxpayers. We pay for the debt
directly every day in interest payments paid from taxes.
Whatever the party or Prime Minister or finance minister, the
Government of Canada has not had a single balanced budget in
25 years. As a result, every Parliament has to pass bills like
C-73, borrowing bills, to give it the ability to borrow money to
service this debt.
For these two decades our governments have been living
beyond their means, creating a delusion that we can live
indefinitely on borrowed money.
How do they get away with it? How do they get taxpayers to
fall in line when the cornerstones of our society like health care
are in jeopardy because we are forced to borrow $89 million
every day and $625 million every week to finance the debt? The
answer in a word is sophistry, using clever but misleading
arguments to justify actions.
One thing I noticed in my first year as MP was that an
experienced cabinet minister could spin even the most unsound
logic into what seemed to be publicly accepted government
policy. The finance minister is no exception. He is an extremely
clever man politically, and I often wonder what he is really
doing with the Canadian taxpayer.
As a businessman and a taxpayer, I finally realized that we are
all being hoodwinked. By waxing eloquent about breaking the
back of the deficit and floating frightening trial balloons of
higher income taxes, the finance minister has finessed many
Canadians into believing that it is okay to go into debt, but just
not as much as we have been in the past.
I would like to walk through the budget to demonstrate the art
of sophistry at work, necessitating this borrowing bill we are
debating today. Sophistry is defined as false reasoning or clever
but misleading arguments. So much of what is served up in the
1995-96 budget is both politically clever but economically
misleading. Is this truly a sound budget as the finance minister
claims, or an unsound budget based on false reasoning?
If these walls could talk about the history of deficit fighting in
this House, what would they say? They would tell of a former
finance minister, now a Prime Minister, who in 1978 said
significant reductions in the deficit can be expected. The deficit
then was $13 billion. He is back at work now and the deficit is
$39 billion. Seventeen years later he is saying the same thing,
singing the same tune. When will he learn that times have
These walls would also tell us about Liberal finance minister
Allan MacEachen, who in 1982 said the government cannot
responsibly add to the deficit. The deficit then was $28.7 billion.
Today the Liberals continue to add to that deficit.
These walls would also tell us of Michael Wilson, who in 1990
said: ``We will reduce the deficit to $28.5 billion next year. We
will cut it in half to $14 billion in three years. We will reduce it
even further to $10 billion the year after that''. Does that sound
like the current finance minister? Is that not what he sounded
like the other day when he presented his budget? That deficit
grew to $32 billion.
Finally, if these walls could talk they would tell us of our
current Minister of Finance, who one year ago promised to break
the back of the deficit and attack it head on. He had a projected
deficit of $42 billion and the actual deficit that he will announce
will probably be around $38 billion.
Deficit has been the focus since 1975. Meanwhile the real
problems, the debt and the interest cost to service that debt, keep
growing. Adding to the debt and therefore increasing interests
costs, regardless of interest rates, regardless of the growth in the
economy, will eventually erode program spending, reducing the
amount of money for social programs and job creation
That is what is wrong with the current direction in which this
government is going. Before a single dollar of income is
redistributed, before a dime goes to social programs, before a
penny is spent on any other government program $2,200 must be
paid yearly in interest for each and every person in Canada. Each
Canadian's share of direct federal and provincial debt has risen
from $4,500 in 1981 to over $25,000 today.
Here we have our clever finance minister talking about the
deficit and the fact that he will spend less. He is misleading the
Canadian taxpayer with the argument that by lowering the
deficit through instalments he is solving our economic problem
of the debt. He is not solving the problem. We have to get to a
zero deficit. We have to stop adding to the debt. We should have
a balanced budget as our immediate target, not somewhere down
the road, that floating two-year revolving door.
In their reaction to the clever minister's budget the chartered
accountants of Canada have stated: ``The government has failed
to set firm targets for the reduction of the deficit after 1997.
Achieving a $25 billion deficit in 1997, which may well be the
high point in the current economic cycle, is not sufficient. We
must seize the opportunity now to break the deficit cycle and
not risk facing unsustainable levels of deficit in the next
economic downturn. We need a longer term plan to bring
government spending under control''.
Reformers have done this. We set out a clear spending
reduction plan in our taxpayers' budget which would reduce the
deficit to zero in three years. As our leader has pointed out, the
biggest spending decision that the finance minister has made by
not cutting program spending more quickly is to increase
spending on interest charges from $39 billion when they first
were elected to $51 billion when they are defeated in 1997 or
When the Liberals came into power in 1994 their total
government spending was projected to be $158 billion. By 1997
their total projected spending will be $158.6 billion, despite all
these spending cuts. On the spending side they will be right back
where they started. They have failed to take the necessary steps
to deal with the severity of our fiscal crisis and are leading
Canada on a track destined for bankruptcy. Where is the benefit
for people who have been hit with public service cuts, program
cuts and cuts to transfer payments? The only purpose of these
cuts, it appears, is to service the ever increasing debt. It is all
going to interest.
The debt is the problem. The deficit is simply a contributing
factor. It is politically clever but misleading to tell people that
by slowing the digging we will fill the whole.
Another clear example in the budget of the finance minister
practising the art of sophistry or false reason or clever but
misleading arguments is evident when he states that the Liberals
are not raising personal income taxes. Of course not. That would
have knocked him way down in the polls and the minister knows
that. The challenge was therefore to squeeze more money out of
the taxpayer without waking them up to that fact. The minister
I will give the House four examples. The tax rates of large
corporations were raised by 12.5 per cent and corporate surtaxes
increased by 1 per cent, from 3 per cent to 4 per cent. These
increases will be passed on to consumers and will ultimately fall
on the middle class, the very heart and soul of the support of the
Liberal party, in the form of higher prices.
The Liberals placed a temporary capital tax on large deposit
taking institutions. A temporary tax, there is an oxymoron. It is
like a prominent backbencher. In 1917 income tax was
originally supposed to be temporary.
Taxing banks means higher costs to Canadians for banking
transactions. Watch how quickly service charges change in the
A third example is the Liberals have raised gasoline taxes by
1.5 cents which will cost the average Canadian and so too will
higher taxes on cigarettes which the minister sneaked in through
a ways and means motion a few weeks ago.
The Liberals have eliminated the public utilities income tax
transfers to the provinces which means if your utilities are
provided by a private company you will see your rates jump by
as much as 25 per cent because they no longer get the same
treatment as fat cat government owned utilities.
This is another clever technique used by the finance minister
to punish Alberta MPs. Let us punish the city of Calgary for
voting six Reformers. Let us reward Edmonton for electing four
Liberals. This blatant partisan political endeavour will only
come back to haunt the Liberal Party. This was a selective tax
grab against Alberta. The Minister of National Resources
yesterday did not even have the courage to answer one of my
colleague's questions about her support for the PUITTA
transfers to the provinces. Eventually those provinces that are
considering privatizing their utilities will not do it now because
of the extra costs.
Clearly this budget is nothing more than a tax on the
consumer. It is a consumer budget. It raises about $1.5 billion
that consumers are going to have to pay, not on their personal
income tax which they are all happy with, but through hidden
taxes, through consumer taxes. It is a form of a GST.
Automobiles do not pay taxes. The people who buy them do.
Once again the Minister of Finance is practising the art of
sophistry by using a clever but misleading argument to make
taxpayers think that he is doing them a favour by not raising
their individual tax burden when he is by $1.5 billion.
Another example of sophistry can be found in the finance
minister's use of soft targets in his budget projections. The real
test of spending cuts from one year to the next is if we spend less
than the year before. This government for the second time in a
row will be spending more that it did the year before. It is up to
$163.9 billion from last year's projected $163.5.
If the Liberals were truly going to spend less they would be
below that $163 billion figure. Once again the minister does not
sell it that way. He talks about spending cuts, lowering the
deficit and that reaching his target of 3 per cent of GDP will
solve all our problems. Meeting the 3 per cent target depends on
the continuation for another three years of recovery in the
business cycle. That is very unlikely to occur. That is why it is
called a cycle.
The Liberals continue to delude taxpayers that things will
turn around. They believe strongly in overly optimistic
economic growth projections. Their hopes for gradual
improvement lead them to delay, to defer, to minimize the need
for tough and immediate action.
They think gradually they will work this through. It appears as
though gradualism has become a Liberal policy. Change should
not be introduced too suddenly. To avoid any shocks to the
system reforms of any kind should be introduced gradually.
In an article I was recently reading the writer suggested that
we use a gradual approach to introduce new traffic laws from
driving on the right side of the road to the left side. Do it
gradually, buses and trucks this year, cars next year. Gradualism
is not going to work.
All that Liberal rhetoric about rolling two year targets does is
side track us from the real problem of the debt. Once again
gradualism sounds appealing but it is misleading. Interest costs
continue to rise. At the end of the Liberal term they will have
added another $10 billion to the interest costs of this nation.
This is what they are doing. This is where their spending cuts are
going. Everybody is sacrificing in this country just to pay the
darn interest costs on the debt instead of getting the deficit to
zero so that interest costs will not rise.
Why is it on the question of fiscal common sense finance
ministers continually react by saying they will balance the
budget tomorrow, they will get at it first thing next year, they
will aim for a balanced budget but in the meantime they have to
tackle the deficit? How would members react to someone who
had cancer and planned to wait to seek treatment until he felt
better? This is yet another example of a clever but misleading
argument by the Minister of Finance.
The Minister of Finance has said that small business is the
engine of our economy. It creates 85 per cent of the jobs in
Canada. Yet in his budget he tried to take credit for the 400,000
jobs that have been created in this past year in Canada when all
the government can take credit for are the 60,000 jobs it created
through its infrastructure program which has simply added to
It is absolutely amazing how many times we heard that the
infrastructure program was a huge success, creating years of
employment. It was not just short term. Now we see in the
budget that funding for the program will be reduced.
If the infrastructure program was such a success, then why has
it been cut? Was it not living up to its potential? Through pork
barrel programs like infrastructure, the Liberals are being
politically clever but, as their budget demonstrates,
Another example of sophistry at work can be found in the
finance minister's criticisms of the Reform Party's policy on old
age security. The finance minister said the Reform Party's
taxpayer's budget would hammer seniors at the low end of the
income scale, which simply is not the case.
During the election campaign the Conservatives accused us
that this would effect seniors who made $17,000 a year. Now the
finance minister has the gall and the nerve and audacity to stand
in this House and tell Canadians that we will hurt and harm
seniors who make $11,000 a year. That is pathetic.
Mr. Mills (Broadview-Greenwood): Where are the cuts
Mr. Silye: I will get to that. I will show exactly why the
finance minister should retract what he said at some point in the
These scare tactics are clever but they are misleading. In our
taxpayer's budget Reformers propose that key changes to OAS
would include basing the program on family income. Guess
what?-that is what the Liberals are going to do as well. We say
who it is going to effect. We say at what level it will effect but
the Liberals do not have the courage to say what they are going
to do on social programs.
In the two-year projections, the money on social programs
stays at the same level of $39 billion. The transfers to provinces
go down by about $2 billion without any of the tax points going
over there, but they do not come clean. That is the problem. It is
a budget of broken promises and it is a budget of slight of hand.
Our budget would protect those currently receiving
guaranteed income supplements and not paying benefits to high
income families. That is what our policy would be on the OAS.
This is what the Liberals have suggested in their budget.
Let me now give a definite example. Members have been
waiting for me to get to this. I am sure this is the part that is very
interesting. They want to know where we get our figures. We get
our figures from the government's own numbers. It is a
document it produced. It is a book. I think it is coloured. It
means this government is good on colours. It has the red book,
the grey book, the green book, the mauve book, the white.
This is from ``Creating a Healthy Fiscal Climate'', page 70,
annex table 26, distribution of net federal elderly benefits by
household income, 1994.
Eight hundred thousand households receive less than $15,000
in income. The benefits they receive which include the OAS, the
spousal portion and the GIS, are $7 billion. That would be
untouched by our taxpayers' budget.
Where does the finance minister get his $11,000 figure? The
next level up is $15,000 to $20,000 for 390,000 households; $2.6
billion goes there. That is nobody who receives a household
income of $20,000. Even if you divide that in two, you are at 11.
Twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand dollars is the next
level: 380,000 households, $3 billion goes there. Twenty-five
thousand to thirty thousand dollars: 250,000 households; $1.7
billion goes there. Thirty thousand to forty thousand dollars
household income: 280,000 households; $1.8 billion goes there.
Even if you took the $40,000 you would end up with $20,000.
Where does the finance minister get his $11,000 number? He
says if $11,000 is what we would do, I challenge the finance
minister if he wants to restore and retain his credibility, because
he has said this publicly, to confirm that his numbers are right in
If these numbers are right then there is no way that taking $3
billion out of OAS, a $20 billion envelope, and reducing it to $17
billion we going to harm one single senior who makes less than
$20,000 in income. Our target is about $40,000.
I insist that if the finance minister catches wind of what I have
said here today-I see that the parliamentary secretary to the
finance minister is present-we deserve a correction on that. We
deserve a clarification.
We are playing with peoples' lives. We do not want to scare
people. We want to get to a zero deficit. We want to cut more
than the Liberal government. We would cut faster than the
Liberal government and you can take all the credit you want
about ours being slash and burn, but we know that our
projections and the way we want to do it is the right way, it is the
correct way, and is the way it should be done.
For the government to accuse wrongly, neither party should
do that. Both parties and all members of Parliament should try to
be accurate. They have a responsibility to be accurate when they
are talking about numbers and how they affect lives. We can
disagree on philosophy but we should not disagree on numbers. I
think I have said enough on that.
Let us turn to income security for members of Parliament. Has
the finance minister made any sacrifices there? The answer is
no. Canadians have to sacrifice but not MPs. They are not paid
enough so the MP pension makes up for that. The old time
politicians will benefit from the original plan to the new two
tiered plan that will make millionaires out of many of them
while future politicians will be asked to accept the reformed
It is outstanding to sit in this House and listen to the Prime
Minister compare his salary with professional hockey players'
every time we ask him a question about pensions. Why does he
compare his pension with the pension of a hockey player? Why
does he not compare his pension to those pensions out there in
the private sector?
What we are saying is that the compensation package has an
imbalance. The compensation package for MPs is out of whack.
The compensation package has to be revisited and the whole
thing has to be looked at. The MP gold plated pension plan is too
generous. The $64,000 a year is too low. However, this
government is too heartless and lacks the courage to address the
problem head on. It wants to protect all the old cronies from the
past and will not address what should be addressed in the proper
There is no way that any member of this House should receive
any more than matching contributions to what a member puts
into a pension plan, one for one. I do not care if it is 5 per cent, 6
per cent or 8 per cent, it should only be one for one.
To boot, the Prime Minister has said he cannot reform the MP
pension plan retroactively because there is a rule in democracy
that we do not pass retroactive legislation.
Considering the fact the Liberals applied retroactive
legislation to the Pearson contract, the EH-101 helicopter
contract, the public service contracts and to Canadian taxpayers
working overseas, why is it that these same Liberal politicians
are not subject to the same rules as those Canadians? How can
the Prime Minister contradict himself this way? It is a clever
thing to say but it is a misleading point to make when the facts
betray what he is saying. It is a double standard. It might be
Once again the Liberals are leading the taxpayers to believe
that they are actually reforming the system when all they are
doing is making it less gold plated for the young MPs but still
very generous. I cannot believe the number of rookie Liberal
MPs who have been coerced and have just sat there. They are the
strongest number in caucus and they sit there and let these
veterans push them around. They sit there and are forced to go
back to their constituents, most in Ontario, and say sorry, but
they had to take this two tiered pension, they cannot sacrifice
because the Prime Minister and cabinet will not let them. I
cannot believe that.
The rookie Liberal MPs have an opportunity to set an
example. The rookies have an opportunity to crack the whip and
to show them in caucus what it is all about to be an MP: real
integrity, real honesty and real leadership, not the old style
partisan, pork barrelled system that has been going on for the
last 25 years.
What has changed? We have a Prime Minister who is still
going out to $1,000 parties that 99.999 per cent of Canadians are
not even invited to. We still make blatant partisan appointments,
not the Liberals who deserve to be there but blatant ones that
should not be made. The Liberals are still spending $40 billion
more a year than they bring in. They fail to recognize the real
The finance minister talks of downsizing and reducing the
cost of government when the fact is that in Ottawa Canadians
still have a big government and a high spending government.
Reformers believe that government governs best that governs
least and the best government is smaller government.
Why is it that in the state of California 52 congressmen, 2
senators, 1 governor and 1 president represent at a federal level
29 million people?
Let us say that Canada is pretty close to 29 million people for
the sake of argument. We have for the same 29 million people
295 MPs, 104 senators and one Governor General representing
the taxpayers. Are we not as competent as congressmen? They
can represent 500,000 people while we can only represent
100,000 people? Do we not have the intelligence? Do we not
have the technology to have representation by population with a
higher population base? I think we can.
Talk about downsizing the public service by 45,000 people
over three years. Why do we not downsize the House of
Commons? What are we doing instead? We are not going to
downsize the House of Commons. While the government lays
off 45,000 civil servants it is going to bring in six more MPs.
There will be six more MPs in the next federal election.
Once again the Liberals want to increase the size of
government. Make it big. Keep the backbenchers happy. Let a
small cabinet control things. They refuse to consider more
effective approaches to accommodate shifting, growing
Reformers believe the House should have 265 members.
Taking into account the floating nature of the population we
cannot cap it because of all of the deals that have been made
since Confederation. We would then have a reasonable House.
We would have members of Parliament that represent more
people. We would have members of Parliament that would really
have some value and some input into what is going on rather
than this huge size. Except for the 20 people that sit around the
Prime Minister, the rest of us are just here for window dressing.
We believe the House should be reduced to a fixed number. If
the size is continually expanded to match population increases,
the House will reach unmanageable proportions with
unsustainable overhead costs. The answer to population growth
is not to increase the numbers of representatives but to
periodically redraw constituency boundaries-redistricting; to
redistribute seats according to population
shifts-reapportionment; and introduce an elected, effective
and equal Senate for regional control.
The time has come to bring back financial responsibility to
government, not to make government bigger. Politicians have to
be accountable to the people of Canada, to be trusted to handle
their money. More faces will not improve the system. I heard a
little comment about Alberta?
Mr. Calder: How many seats do you have from Alberta?
Mr. Silye: We have 27 seats from Alberta.
An hon. member: That is 26.
Mr. Silye: For instance, the city of Calgary has six MPs. I
would cut two out of the city of Calgary. We only need four MPs
from the city of Calgary.
Mr. Calder: Which two would the hon. member cut?
Mr. Silye: Mine and-If you have a personal problem and
have to go somewhere, I think it should be respected.
The government is selling a lean, mean government but is
increasing its size at a future cost to millions of taxpayers. It is
sophistry, clever but misleading.
Despite the hype, the Liberal budget is not a great budget. It
does not go deep enough, fast enough or is it compassionate.
Liberals have not come clean with the Canadian public. They are
trying to retain their popularity and are playing games with
The budget is merely acceptable compared to what we have
seen in the past. It does not stop the digging fast enough. As
Alberta treasurer Jim Dinning said the other day about the
budget, it is like getting excited over a student that always
comes home with Fs on his report card and one day brings home
a C minus.
Will we consider the budget as our soft targets? Number one,
soft targets. The Liberals are headed in the right direction. They
have to make some cuts. They have addressed some cuts, but
they have not made enough cuts.
No balanced budget is in sight. That is the target they have to
set but will not set. This is why the leader of the Reform Party is
going to be the next Prime Minister of Canada. Canadians are
going to recognize that is where we should be and that is what
will be in the best interest of saving the country.
The Canada social transfer that the government sneaked in is
another example of sophistry. It is going to confuse the
provinces. The Bloc Quebecois, rightly so, is screaming loudly
and justifiably about how it will affect Quebec. The Liberals
cannot answer. They will not answer.
The fourth problem is that the fiscal House is just not in order.
The combined spending cuts in the budget and revenue increases
will amount to $29 billion over the next two years. That sounds
great. However, at the end of their term overall spending will
have increased even higher than where they started. After four
years of Liberal government overall spending will be up by
about one-half billion to one billion dollars. Despite the cuts, it
is not a balanced budget. Despite the cuts, the debt will grow.
Despite the cuts we will be no further ahead as a nation. All that
pain just to pay the interest on the debt. Why can the Liberals not
get it through their heads that we have to get to a zero deficit?
I propose that Parliament reject the budget for its failure to
eliminate the deficit quickly and decisively within the life of
this Parliament by asking further generations to bear the cost of
our fiscal responsibilities.
I propose that the finance minister reintroduce a new budget
in the fall that reflects Reform's suggestions to balance the
budget over a three-year period.
We are continuing the cycle of treading water. Eventually our
arms are going to get tired. We are going to sink, sink as fast as
the Titanic when we hit the wall. Hit the wall we will if we do not
eliminate the deficit. No country can allow its debt to continue
to grow as we are in Canada and expect to survive.
That is why we presented our taxpayers' budget, a budget that
gives Canadians real hope. It gives the Liberal government a
plan to adopt. It shows them the vision Liberals lack.
An hon. member: Have you been at a golf club?
Mr. Silye: I have a problem with the comment about the tan I
have. My wife was rushed off to hospital in sunny California. It
was an emergency. That is why I have a tan. I do not appreciate it
when members keep referring to that when I am trying to give a
serious address on the budget. If they just make jokes about the
tan, that is fine. But once they know what it is about I would
appreciate a little more respect.
Our taxpayers' budget gives Canadians hope. It shows them a
vision and defines a real problem, that of the debt and the
interest costs to service that debt. It offers a solution of how to
get to a zero deficit so that we can manage the country's
finances. We have to get our fiscal house in order so we can start
looking at the debt and at ways and means of reducing it. Our
children and our grandchildren should not have to continue to
carry this heavy, heavy load.
I repeat one more time. Our taxpayer's budget gives the
Liberal government an opportunity to adopt that approach, to
get to zero within the life of its term. Because if it does not, we
will get elected and we will do it.
The debt and the rising interest costs to service that debt is the
problem. I have tried to point it out. I have offered solutions.
Our party has pointed it out. Our party has offered solutions.
Despite all the wisecracks from the finance minister, despite all
the rhetoric about how the Reform Party this and the Reform
Party that, the Liberals are taking some of our agenda. Why not
take all of it? Stop the digging.
Mr. David Walker (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Finance, Lib.): Madam Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to
speak on second reading of Bill C-73, the borrowing authority
Before I speak directly to the provisions of the bill, I would
like to put this legislation in its proper context. The amount of
borrowing authority requested in the bill is directly connected to
the financial requirements set out in the budget. The information
required to deal with the financial aspects of the bill is set out in
It is very important that this bill be passed as quickly as
possible. If borrowing authority is not in place early in the new
fiscal year, there will be severe constraints placed on the
government's financing program. All remaining borrowing
authority granted by the Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95,
will be cancelled at the end of this fiscal year except for a $3
billion non-lapsing amount.
Once this amount is depleted, the government would be
limited to using section 47 of the Financial Administration Act
which restricts borrowing to short-term funds.
In such a situation, no bonds could be issued except to fund
maturing issues, of which there are two in the first quarter of
1995-96. Any delay in the passage of this important bill beyond
the end of the current fiscal year, therefore, could be costly to
the government and to Canadian taxpayers, and would expose
the government to the additional interest rate risk implied by
increased short-term funding.
Given the government's large financing program, delaying
bond financing will also be potentially disruptive of the capital
markets which could result in higher debt servicing charges.
Therefore, it is critical that borrowing authority be secured as
soon as possible.
The budget has been a topic of much discussion both in this
House and elsewhere this week. And well it should be. As has
been pointed out by my colleague the Minister of Finance, the
budget he presented last Monday is an ``historic response'' to an
The challenge is brought very much to our attention as we
debate this bill. This country's economic future is put at risk by
the $500 billion debt we have accumulated-a $500 billion debt
that leaves us all too vulnerable to the harsh impact of interest
And yes, we recognize that this legislation seeks to borrow
even more money, adding to that debt. But in asking hon.
members to support this legislation, I draw their attention to the
fundamental reform of government spending set out in the
budget and the commitment of this government to meet its
The ultimate goal of this government is a balanced budget.
There should be no doubt that we will achieve it.
But we are not going to achieve this goal through the magic of
long range projections as was attempted in the past. Nor will we
achieve our goals by projecting overly optimistic increases in
economic growth and cheerful interest rate forecasts.
Our approach has paid off in success in not just meeting the
targets for 1994-95 but in fact doing better. Last year in our first
budget we projected a deficit of $39.7 billion. We now estimate
that the deficit will come in at about $37.9 billion, some $1.8
billion under target.
The underlying deficit, that is without the one time charges
incurred in restructuring government, is $4.4 billion below
target. Revenues of $1.2 billion are above the conservative
estimates in program spending, a full $3 billion under our
These positive effects on the deficit were only partly offset by
the $1 billion in higher than expected interest rates, so the $2.4
billion contingency fund did not have to be touched.
I would like to go directly to some of the aspects of this
legislation because in my short time I want to make sure that my
colleagues understand exactly what the nature of this borrowing
With the measures we are taking in the budget announced on
Monday there is no question we will achieve the target of $32.7
billion in the upcoming fiscal year and $24.3 billion or 3 per cent
of GDP in 1996-97.
We are backing up our very prudent economic assumptions
with a substantial contingency reserve, which next year will be
$2.5 billion and the following year will be $3 billion. Looking
ahead, our contingency reserve will do more than just protect
our target. If it is not needed it will not be spent. It will go toward
reducing the deficit even further.
This underscores one of the basic strengths of our planning
assumptions. If interest rates and growth do better than our
forecast-and remember that we have taken a very conservative
forecast-and if we simply compare it to the private sector
average, in 1996-97 the deficit could drop below $19 billion.
That is $5.5 billion less than what was projected in the budget.
By that time our financial requirements, the new money we
borrow from markets, will fall to $13.7 billion, a drop of more
than $11 billion from the amount asked for in Bill C-73. That is
substantial progress of which every Canadian should be proud.
It will be just 1.7 per cent of GDP, down from 3.5 per cent of
GDP in 1994-95 and a full 5 per cent in 1992-93. Based on the
national budgets for 1996-97, Canada is projected to do better
than the United States, Germany, Japan and every other major
The details of Bill C-73 contain three basic elements:
authority to cover financial requirements for 1995-96,
exchange fund account profits, and a non-lapsing amount. In
total we are requesting authority to borrow $28.9 billion for the
1995-96 fiscal year.
First, there is a provision for $24.9 billion of authority to
cover anticipated borrowing requirements to meet the net
financial requirements set out in the budget.
Second, there is a provision to cover $1 billion of exchange
fund account earnings, which gives rise to additional Canadian
dollar borrowing requirements. These earnings, although
reported as budgetary revenues, are retained in the exchange
fund account. They are not available to finance ongoing
operations of the government.
Third, there is the usual $3 billion non-lapsing amount, the
same amount requested in borrowing authority in the past seven
years. The non-lapsing amount can either be used during the
course of the year to manage contingencies such as unexpected
foreign exchange requirements or it can be carried forward to
the next fiscal year.
There are some minor technical provisions in the bill that
more clearly link fiscal year borrowing authority with fiscal
year borrowing requirements. One provision provides that in
1995-96 the borrowing authority may only be used after the new
fiscal year begins. Another provision stipulates that for the
purpose of calculating borrowing authority usage the effective
date is April 1.
Until the bill is passed the government may continue to use
the $3 billion non-lapsing amount provided for in last year's
Borrowing Authority Act. Any portion of the non-lapsing
amount that is used will be deducted from the basic amount of
borrowing authority being sought today. This prevents the
non-lapsing amount from effectively adding to the borrowing
authority next year. Also the bill will cancel all borrowing
authority remaining from fiscal 1994-95 once it is passed.
As background information I would like to review the
government's debt operation for the current fiscal year up to the
end of January. So far this fiscal year in the domestic debt
program the government has issued about $21.4 billion in
marketable bonds, $1.5 billion in Canada savings bonds, and
$1.4 billion in real return bonds. There are also net redemptions
of $7.8 billion of treasury bills. This provides a total of $16.5
billion in net new market debt.
I also report to the House on last fall's Canada savings bond
campaign. The government introduced two innovations aimed at
revitalizing the Canada savings bond program. First, a new
three-year price feature was introduced, aimed at making CSBs
more attractive to retail investors. Second, the government
expanded the sales window making CSBs available over a
longer period of time. They were priced competitively with
other products in the market, cost effective relative to other
sources of financing and produced sales of $7.5 billion or a 40
per cent increase over 1993. After accounting for redemptions
during the year, the net increase in outstanding Canada savings
bonds was $1.5 billion, as I indicated earlier.
Regarding foreign currency debt, outstanding Canada bills
increased by U.S. $2.2 billion to $6.3 billion at the end of
January. These are short term U.S. dollar denominated bills
issued from time to time in the U.S. market to fund Canada's
foreign exchange reserve.
In July 1994 the government launched a $2 billion five-year
Euro bond issue. The issue was used to increase reserves and
diversify the sources of U.S. dollar funding of Canada's
In summary, the bill is straightforward and contains no
unusual provisions. All the information needed to deal with it is
before the House in the budget, the main estimates and related
I therefore urge the House to proceed with this legislation as
quickly as possible so that new borrowing authority will be in
place at the beginning of the new fiscal year and the
government's regular borrowing program can proceed as the
fiscal year begins.
Borrowing authority is a normal part of the operations of
government. I urge all members of the House to support the bill.
Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I
would like to ask a question of the member for Winnipeg North
When talking about the budget elements in his speech he used
words like would, could and should. Those are not good enough
in these time. He also pointed out that his government was on
track to meet its deficit target of $25 billion at the end of two
more years. It is my contention and our contention that this will
add to the problem. Our proposal for a deficit target is zero, not
$25 billion. We believe that solves the problem. It does not add
Would the member explain why a deficit target of $25 billion
is better than a deficit target of zero?
Mr. Walker: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his
question and for his speech. I was listening carefully to him. I
know he is concerned about these issues. He brings a real
passion to seeing our debt reduced.
I assure him that every member on the government side is
equally committed to balancing the budget and to making sure
that future generations of Canadians are not saddled with the
debt as we currently are.
The major difference between the government and the third
party is the quickness related to actually delivering the savings
needed to produce a balanced budget.
If the hon. member reviews his speech, I caution him not to
deal with the total expenditures but to look at the amount of
money spent on programs. From the beginning of the
government we have been in the process of reducing it from
$120 billion to $108 billion. That is significant progress.
We would like to be optimistic and say that the economy will
continue to perform as it did last year at 4.5 per cent growth, but
we know that in the past many governments have disappointed
Canadians by making high growth and revenue projections and
in the end have come back to Canadians with increased debt. We
refuse to do that.
We also know that politicians are politicians. If we set
objectives far down the line and say that in five or six years we
will have a balanced budget, and a crisis comes up such as the
Mexican peso crisis in January, people say not to worry about it
too much because we can adjust further down the line. We can
hold their collective feet to the fire and say our objective this
year is x billions of dollars in debt and we are going to reach it.
We are not going to compensate in two or three years; we are
going to look after it right now.
The Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister have been
very effective in bringing a discipline to the government.
Through the actions we are taking, we are setting an example for
many other governments across the country. At the turn of the
century we will see ourselves in a very fine position, one we can
all be proud of.
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Madam Speaker,
the member from the third party who previously spoke gave a
speech of almost catharsis.
I was hoping the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Finance could comment on the very important issue of revenue.
The member from the third party had characterized the
government's budget as being overly optimistic on the revenue
My recollection of the straw budget put together by the third
party was that its revenue projections were $16 billion. They
would reduce the deficit down to $25 billion, which is where the
government is going. Basically that means all cuts the
government is proposing would theoretically be on top of the
third party's budget.
Could the parliamentary secretary clarify the situation with
regard to the allegation that the revenue projections are overly
Mr. Walker: If anything the revenue projections are very
prudent. We are very cautious about 1996. The American
economy has been growing very rapidly with increased interest
rates. We are concerned that our export markets may be
dampened somewhat because of a slowdown in the American
economy. I know American economists and observers are very
nervous about whether interest rates have gone up too high in the
Since so much of our revenue on the corporate side is based on
our export industries, to say nothing of the jobs in markets such
as the automobile industry and so on, if we do not make prudent
projections on the revenue side we will be caught with increased
costs in UI and reduced corporate profits and will find ourselves
without the revenue.
Therefore, as I said in response to an earlier question, the last
thing we want to do collectively as parliamentarians-in this
respect the whole House should be in agreement-is set up a
situation where we disappoint Canadians again. I would much
rather be in a position of surprising them with good news than
coming back again with a budget that has to be redrawn based on
faulty optimistic projections.
The Department of Finance, through the minister's
instructions, has been very cautious in the way it has drawn up
the projections. We have insisted that the more optimistic
projections in the private sector be scaled down. We have been
very cautious in the way we have set out the amount of money
available to us in two years.
Mr. Gérard Asselin (Charlevoix, BQ): Madam Speaker, I
have a comment and a question for the Parliamentary Secretary
to the Minister of Finance. They are both related to the
referendum campaign in Quebec. Is it possible that the real
federal budget will be tabled in 1996, after the referendum?
The government's budget increased by $3 billion, in spite of
cuts of $5 billion to programs. Moreover, the Minister of Human
Resources Development intends to cut some $15 billion, over a
five-year period, in social programs, a measure which has yet to
be approved by this House. Again, the federal cuts in transfers to
the provinces will result in higher provincial deficits.
The provinces will have no choice but to transfer their
responsibilities to the municipalities without providing them
with the necessary financial support. Consequently, ordinary
Canadians will once again have to foot the bill.
Whether it is with the left or the right hand, low and middle
income taxpayers end up having to pay. In the context of
privatization, the federal government eliminated all subsidies to
regional airports and ports or harbours. This has a major impact
on every region in Quebec, whether the local economy is based
on services, tourism or industrial activities.
I have a simple question for the parliamentary secretary. Is he
prepared to admit in this House that the real budget will be
tabled after the referendum campaign in Quebec?
Mr. Walker: Madam Speaker, the Minister of Finance tabled
our budget for this year. There will not be another budget after
the referendum. The message sent to the provinces is very clear.
Many changes will occur, but we did inform provincial finance
ministers, including the Quebec finance minister, of our
strategy. We have an agreement with the provinces to postpone
changes until next year-
-to provide an opportunity for governments across this country
to change and to adjust. The federal government is losing 45,000
employees. It is with a great deal of sadness that we are making
these changes and changing many of the programs. By
definition, as we change programs it affects every single
province equally. There is no doubt about that.
We expect that as the provinces go about their work they will
have to make individual decisions as to the best way to improve
the situations in their own province. It is not for me to guess
whether it would include changes in programs, cutbacks or
whatever. We will have to wait for provincial ministers of
finance with their respective cabinets to make their own
decisions and explain it to their individual populations.
Mr. Silye: Madam Speaker, in the member's answer to his
own colleague about the operating budget of the government, he
asked that we not look at the interest costs but just look at the
operating budget and how the cuts are there.
I acknowledge the cuts in government operations. They are
lower. There are some cuts there. However, the member is not
recognizing that the interest cost to service the debt is going up
faster or as fast as the cuts that are being made. That is why I will
repeat the objective is to get to a zero deficit, not to one of $25
In the member's household budget, whether he has a mortgage
now or if he ever had a mortgage, are the interest costs to service
the mortgage on his home not a part of his expenses? Does he
have a budget which includes his income and his expenses for
food and clothing, but the expenses for shelter do not count?
Does he keep that aside saying that he can borrow money
indefinitely on that? No. A business cannot do it either. The debt
servicing costs of a corporation are also included in its costs.
The hon. member should put the interest costs and the
operating costs to government together as one. Do not make the
same mistakes previous finance ministers have made. Separate
the two and try to offer sophistic arguments. Get to the bottom of
the overall spending and lower the overall spending so that we
get to zero. Does that not make sense?
Mr. Walker: Madam Speaker, the member makes a lot of
sense. If the member had included it in his original speech then
my comments would not have come forward that way. I will say
again that it is incumbent upon all of us to make sure the
Canadian public understands that progress is being made on
We are as chagrined as the next person about the high cost
each Canadian faces with the debt. When I stand in the House to
ask permission to borrow $28.9 billion, it is not done with a lot
of glee. This is a tremendous burden we are adding. We
Last year I believe we asked for $32.3 billion. It shows that we
are making progress. Our demands on the international markets
are becoming less each year. In this view, we are making real
progress without causing widespread grief and harm.
I do not know if members have had a chance to look at the
newspaper today, but looking at the public opinion polls,
Canadians have been willing to accept a tough budget. We
presented a tough budget and their reaction is very supportive.
The opposition parties should understand and appreciate the
willingness of Canadians to participate in such an exercise,
including the tax issues and so forth. I am very proud with the
way the government is in sync with the Canadian population.
Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien (Frontenac, BQ): Madam Speaker,
you may have guessed that I am particularly interested in the
budget's impact on agriculture.
However, I would like to start by commenting briefly on the
underhanded way the provinces are being treated, the lack of job
creation measures, unfair tax measures and the inequity of
certain cuts. If I were to give my impression of the budget
brought down by the Minister of Finance in a single sentence, I
would call it next year's budget.
As usual, the budget we were supposed to set this year has
apparently been postponed until next year, in other words, until
after the referendum.
This budget is like a time bomb, and it will be a couple of
years before we feel its full impact. Take, for instance, transfer
payments to the provinces. In the budget brought down on
Monday, transfers for health care, education and social
assistance will be cut by $2.5 billion in 1996-97 and $4.5 billion
in 1997-98. This is a cut of 40 per cent over three years.
This measure will very likely destabilize provincial budgets
and force the provinces to make drastic cuts or even shift part of
the burden to the municipalities, as Quebec Liberal Minister
Claude Ryan did so neatly in 1992.
And on top of that, there is the obligation to meet so-called
national standards. Once again, the provinces are sitting under a
federal sword of Damocles.
In the last federal election, the Liberal government was
elected on its promise to create jobs. However, after barely a
year and a half in power, that same Liberal government decided
to ignore its promise to create jobs. There is nothing in
Monday's budget to create employment. Nothing but layoffs, as
many as 45,000. There is nothing for 800,000 unemployed
workers who are looking for work in Quebec. Nothing. The only
program that has created some employment and so-called
temporary jobs, the infrastructure program, will lose $200
million from its initial budget announced last year.
This is a three-way program, so that in the end, not $200
million but $600 million will be cut.
This budget is unfair because it maintains the preferential
treatment of family trusts for another five years, which will give
the parties concerned plenty of time to find other ways to evade
taxes, and believe me, they will. It is unfair because it comes
down relatively hard, but on the wrong people. In the short term,
the public will feel the impact of tax hikes on tobacco and
Furthermore, the Unemployment Insurance Program will be
cut by 10 per cent. The government is going to take money from
the unemployed to pay off our debt. This is obscene!
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac): Meanwhile, the government has
no plans for real tax reform. It will raise the corporate tax rate by
12.5 per cent or 1/8, but I used to teach math, and 1/8 of what is
not much in any case barely adds up. So what it really means for
the big corporations is that there will be an increase from 0.2 to
0.225 per cent of corporate capital in excess of $10 million. Let
me tell you that a lot of people in my riding would be delighted
to have that rate applied to their personal income tax.
That being said, as the official opposition critic for
agriculture and being a farmer myself, I was particularly
surprised and, in fact, appalled at the inequity of the budgetary
measures concerning agriculture. Last week, the Minister of
Agriculture said to anyone who would listen that his government
would treat all Canada's regions on the same footing, and he said
quite seriously that no agricultural sectors would be more equal
others. Now we must face the fact that the government is saying
one thing but doing another.
In this budget, the finance minister cuts the agriculture
department's budget by 19 per cent, or one fifth. During a time
of cutbacks, it is accepted that everyone has to do his share, but
what really hurts is the way the cuts are distributed. It is one
thing for agriculture to be hard hit, but quite another if it is
unfairly affected. The injustice from one region to the next is
In short, to make up for eliminating the Crow's Nest rate for
Western grain transportation, the government will give grain
growers $2.9 billion. But dairy producers in Quebec will see
their federal subsidies cut by 30 per cent over two years. That
amounts to a $32 million cut without any compensation
The message is clear but unacceptable: the deficit is being
tackled on the backs of Quebec and Ontario dairy producers. It
can even be said that if the target price for milk were increased
because of these cuts, the increase would be borne by consumers
and processing industries. It is tantamount to a consumption tax.
Certain cuts are inevitable, I must agree. The agriculture
minister was telling me last week that so much had been said
about the Crow's Nest rate over the last 25 years. Even in the
opinion of farmers and people involved in grain transportation
and processing, there were serious shortcomings in the Western
grain transportation system, such as the detour to Thunder Bay
to be eligible for the subsidy.
For ages people have seen the waste and inefficiency in grain
transportation. And the saga has continued since the Liberal
Party sitting opposite us took office. They have consulted, gone
around in circles, did some fancy footwork in the House and
tried to arrive at a consensus with the people in the community.
Nothing has worked.
The Minister of Finance finally decided to discontinue the
transportation subsidy under the WGTA. To compensate
Western grain producers for this loss, the finance minister
announced a number of interim measures. For example, owners
of agricultural land, in the Prairies only of course, will receive a
single, non-taxable lump sum payment of $1.6 billion.
Add to this the $300 million, 5 year program to help producers
adapt to the WGTA. On top of this, export credit guarantees
totalling one billion dollars are being offered to help producers
sell their grain and other foodstuffs. The sum of these three
programs is $2.9 billion. The federal government will invest
close to $3 billion to compensate grain producers in the three
And just listen to how clear and praiseworthy the agriculture
minister's goals are. First, to cut costs; second-listen up all of
you producers in Quebec-to encourage farmers in the West to
diversify; third, to encourage them to get involved in
value-added activities. In contrast, dairy producers miss out.
The Minister of Finance decided to reduce the subsidies for
industrial milk producers by 30 per cent. How terrible.
For all intents and purposes, Quebec accounts for close to 50
per cent of Canada's industrial milk production, so do not kid
yourselves or try to tell me that Quebec producers will not be
harder hit than those elsewhere. In this case, the federal
government is not offering any compensation. In Quebec alone,
this cut will mean close to $32 million in losses. The Minister of
Finance was off target when he reduced dairy subsidies by 30 per
cent over the next two years.
The more than 12,000 industrial milk producers in Quebec
will see a 15 per cent drop in their current subsidy of $1.50 per
kilogram of milk fat in 1995 and another 15 per cent drop in
1996. For a farmer who produces 10,000 kilograms of fat, which
is the average production in Quebec, that will translate into an
income loss of $2,250 this year and of almost the same amount
next year. That is over $4,000 in losses.
The government will compensate these farmers by reviewing
the future of subsidies in collaboration with the provinces and
the industry. It is all well and good to talk about it, but that is not
going to put bread and butter on the table. Contrary to the cuts in
the West, the dairy sector cuts will not be implemented in
tandem with any transitional measures. Talk about a double
If we examine this question more closely, we realize that, over
the long term, this measure is even more disastrous for dairy
producers than it appears. With the new international figures, all
sectors are going to have to adjust. In the case of sectors with
quotas, like dairy production, these changes are practically
already in effect. This coming July, quotas will be replaced by
I would like to digress a moment on the subject of tariffs. You
no doubt know that the United States decided it wanted to test
the tariffs adopted last year, in December 1993 that is, by the 120
members of the WTO at the Uruguay round of the GATT talks.
Today, they are being contested. I am really looking forward to
seeing how vigorously the government will protest, just how far
it will go to defend the tariff structure for dairy products, eggs
The tariffs themselves will gradually disappear. Instead of
anticipating costs and investing to provide support for dairy
producers wanting to develop new niches in the market or
become more competitive in order to face the music once tariff
barriers relax, what do they do? They cut, they cut and they cut
A dairy producer friend of mine, whom I will identify, I am
sure it would please him,-Laurent Saint-Laurent-told me,
when he acquired his parents' farm in 1971, that subsidies
represented 25 per cent of his income. Today, they represent
barely 6 per cent.
However, in the West, farmers are being compensated for the
loss of subsidies by being allowed to diversify their economy so
they can then compete with agriculture in Eastern Canada,
which receives absolutely no financial assistance from the
They are exaggerating by cutting a number of subsidies.
Western producers wanting to get into beef or pork or wanting to
compete with dairy producers will therefore be able to do so
with federal money. If this is what fair treatment for everyone
means, I would hate to see what unfair treatment means in this
An hon. member: Lies.
Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac): Yes, lies, Madam Speaker.
Other budget measures will also have a strong impact, for
example the 30 per cent cut in the social safety net for farmers.
The Minister of Finance opposite should listen more closely, as
he is the one who will cut $250 million over three years. That,
too, is a three-part program. If the federal government
contributes 70 cents, will the $1.00 paid by the farmer and the
province be increased to $1.15? I am asking the question.
I am also concerned about the closing of two of the seven
research facilities in Canada. In Quebec, two facilities will be
closed, one in La Pocatière and one in L'Assomption. That is
Of the $164 billion in this year's budget, $50 billion will be
used only to pay interest costs. Let me give you an example of
On April 1, 1997, after investing more than $7 million in La
Pocatière in less than 10 years, Agriculture Canada will close
the experimental farm in La Pocatière, the oldest one in Quebec,
which opened in 1910. They are closing it now after investing $7
million. Where is this government's vision?
In closing, I urge Quebec farmers, whether they are dairy,
beef or pork producers, farrow or finish operators, to open their
eyes and look at the Liberal government opposite that is treating
them so unfairly and inequitably.
Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Lib.):
Madam Speaker, I rarely heard such grandstanding. The hon.
member opposite would have us believe that we are not cutting
deep enough and cutting too much at the same time, that we are
cutting in the wrong places, and so on. Yet, the vast majority of
the population told us again yesterday in a poll that the
government's budget was just right, like just about everything
else this government does.
The hon. member told us that the budget was next year's
budget, suggesting that we did not cut deep enough this year. He
then said that we cut too much this year, right after he accused us
of postponing the cuts until next year instead of cutting this year.
He says that the government does not create jobs. Yet,
432,000 jobs have been created since the beginning of last year.
According to the news we heard this morning, where was the
highest rate of economic growth among all G-7 countries? As
you may have guessed, Madam Speaker, right here in Canada.
That says a lot about the comments made by the hon. member
As this is a question and comment period, I would ask the hon.
member-I must say that I disagree with his comments and that
I do not want to use unparliamentary language-if he knew what
he was talking about when he alleged that Quebec dairy
producers were being treated unfairly compared with Western
Does he know that Western grain farmers will lose 100 per
cent of their subsidies, which represent a large part of their
income, while dairy producers-1,000 of whom live in my
riding-will lose 15 per cent of their subsidies, which account
for 9 per cent of their income? Fifteen per cent of 9 per cent, all
of which can be recovered under the production cost formula
within the Canadian dairy plan. Does he know this already? And
if he does, why did he say the things he just said, when he knows
Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac, BQ): Madam Speaker, I thank my
colleague opposite, the Liberal Party whip and hon. member for
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, for his question.
It is true that he has many farmers in his riding. However, I
read yesterday in a newspaper that one of his constituents,
Réjean Pommainville of the FAO in the riding of Russell, said:
``The withdrawal of the dairy subsidy represents 6 per cent of
farm income for Ontario dairy producers''. He went on to say:
``We can assess at $4,500-'' It is one of your constituents and
not someone from Frontenac.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): I am sorry, but you must
address the Chair.
Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac, BQ): Madam Speaker, Réjean
Pommainville is not from Saint-Laurent-Cartierville but from
Russell, in the hon. member's riding. He said: ``We can assess at
$4,500 the loss per dairy farm in Ontario''.
How much will the dairy producers in his riding receive as
compensation? Nothing! How much will Western producers
receive? An amount of $2.9 billion. That is unfair. Since
forty-seven per cent of industrial milk is produced in Quebec,
Quebecers will be hit hardest by this budget. Dairy producers
know it and I hope that they will understand some day.
In August 1995, when the Canadian Dairy Commission is
asked by producers to approve an increase in the price of milk,
it will probably agree and pass on to all Canadians the increase
that you did not have the courage to impose. It will be a
consumption tax on butter, cheese, yogurt and ice cream.
Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Lib.):
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Frontenac for his
praise of a close personal friend of mine, Réjean Pommainville.
An hon. member: A former friend of yours.
Mr. Boudria: I do not think the hon. member opposite is in
any position to decide who my friends are. Mr. Pommainville
can decide for himself. He is a distinguished member of the
community in Limoges. His father, Armand Pommainville, who
is now in his 80s, was one of the presidents of the Russell County
Liberal Association. I take this opportunity to thank him for his
great work for the Liberal Party.
The hon. member opposite always failed to admit what all
Canadians know is true and he should know as well: we have a
production cost formula for price adjustment. Also, he failed to
respond to the following: why did he claim that dairy producers
were in a situation similar to that of grain producers and that
dairy producers were being dealt with unfairly when this is not
We know full well that there is a production cost formula in
place, and that there is no comparison with Western grain
producers, who are loosing 100 per cent of their subsidies,
which is a much higher percentage. Finally, does the hon.
member not know that corn producers in his region for example,
as well as many other grain producers in Eastern Canada, were
not all that crazy about the Crow's Nest agreement?
Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac, BQ): Madam Speaker, there is no
question in what the hon. member for
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell just said. The name of his riding
is so long, it reads like a newspaper. My point is that the Western
Grain Transportation Act has been in force for 98 years. It has
always cost billions of dollars to operate. Yes, Transport Canada
did reduce the amounts involved gradually, from year to year.
If you look at the books, you will see a sum of $560 million
mentioned in there. Did you know that grain was stored in
hopper cars, shipped to Thunder Bay and then back to
Vancouver? This system was administered by our governments,
and the Liberals have been in power almost all the time since
1960. The Liberals just watched hopper cars travel back and
forth at taxpayers' expense. Let us pay.
Now, they want to save $560 million in the future, while
paying out nearly $3 billion. This is a disgrace.
How much is there for Quebec farm and dairy producers in
there? Nothing, as usual; in fact, they have to make further
sacrifices. Madam Speaker, our colleague, Mr. Landry, would
have a question, if you would recognize him.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Only 40 seconds
remain. The hon. member for Lotbinière.
Mr. Jean Landry (Lotbinière, BQ): Thank you, Madam
Speaker. I listened to what my hon. colleague said and I wonder
if he could tell me how he would have divided up this $2,9
billion from coast to coast. Would he have divided it fairly? I
would like him to elaborate on this.
Mr. Chrétien (Frontenac): Madam Speaker, you are right, I
have very little time to answer a question that would require a
good 15 minutes. At any rate, I can tell you that, as far as several
of my constituents are concerned, and many Quebec voters,
including farm producers, this budget is totally unfair and is an
example of mismanagement.
Let me remind you again, Madam Speaker, that the oldest
research station, in La Pocatière, was closed after $7 million
was sunk into it. It had not even been inaugurated yet.
Mrs. Brenda Chamberlain (Guelph-Wellington, Lib.):
Madam Speaker, I wish to advise the Chair that I will be sharing
my time with the member for Prince Albert-Churchill River.
It gives me great pleasure to rise today in support of this
legislation and with it, to provide support for the budget
presented to Canadians on February 27. I congratulate the
Minister of Finance. His was not an easy task. He has worked in
bringing together this country's varied interests and has
delivered a budget that deserves the support of every single
Canadian and every single member in this House.
The premier of Ontario has called it the most reactionary
budget the country has seen in his lifetime. We had a choice. We
could whine or we could take action. This budget is not
reactionary but it does react to the concerns expressed by my
constituents, the people of Guelph-Wellington. The Minister
of Finance and the government have heard their concerns
regarding tax fairness, government spending and deficit
The people of Guelph-Wellington made it clear to me they
wanted action from this federal budget. They wanted a clear
indication that we were to keep our promise to reduce the deficit
to 3 per cent of the GDP. They wanted their money better spent.
They wanted a reduction in federal expenditures. They wanted
most of all tax fairness.
Last December 1 I rose in this House and reminded hon.
members that my constituents believed the only way to show
the world that Canada was committed to real deficit reduction
was to prove our commitment to fiscal discipline. On February
27 the government presented its budget to Canadians and the
world. The reaction has been very positive.
Each generation has few opportunities, if any, to
fundamentally change and better its public institutions. The
people of Guelph-Wellington have asked me to offer them a
better way of delivering public services.
In the last election they rejected politics as usual and they
rejected parties that offered only a negative view of their
country. My children and the children of every one of my
constituents have asked me to come to this place and restore
opportunity for them and for their children. This budget gives
them that opportunity and challenges all of us to create a new
and better Canada.
On the surface, Guelph-Wellington has fared well in this
budget. We do not have a large population of civil servants, nor
do we rely on a military base. My constituents welcome the
news that there are no increases in personal taxes.
A recent editorial in the Guelph Tribune described my
community as populated by those ordinary Canadians who are
fed up with high taxes, anxious to keep their social fabric and
critical of government waste and spending. For my constituents'
sake, the measures before us here today and the entire budget
must be approved as soon as possible so that we can continue to
improve their lives and the lives of all Canadians.
The people of Guelph-Wellington are anxious about the
future. They are not wasteful in their spending. They support the
government in its efforts to not only reduce spending but to
spend more wisely and more efficiently. As the Minister of
Finance said in his budget speech, they do not judge on the
rhetoric of political parties. They judge on results.
While Guelph-Wellington may have fared better than some
Canadian regions, my constituents know the budget calls on
them to share the burden. They know that when the Minister of
Finance completed his speech, the country changed. They know
that with this change they were challenged.
The challenge they accepted is to expect less from
government and to rely on resources other than government, and
to work with government to redefine itself in order to make this
country stronger than it has ever been. My constituents are
aware that this new challenge will mean more sacrifice, and
sacrifice necessary to ensure fairness, economic growth and job
They have asked me to spend their money on programs that
build and assist. Guelph-Wellington is a proud community.
Strong and independent, it is a community whose people want
what is right.
Throughout our history we have supported government that
works. We have rejected the notion government should be the
answer to everything that is wrong. They know government can
create problems as well as solve them.
They want their federal government to serve them, to act on
their behalf and to concentrate on doing what it does well. They
want action and renewal, and they want us to act now.
In the last 15 months I have heard from constituents whose
comments were addressed in this budget. They asked me to cut
spending. Spending will be cut by $29 billion in the next three
years and we have initiated the lowest program spending in
relation to the economy since 1951. They wanted no taxes on
RRSPs and group health and dental plans and we have for the
second year in a row introduced no increases to personal taxes.
They wanted tax fairness and were concerned about bank
profits, family trusts and tax evasion. We have delivered,
ensuring that every region and every Canadian will pay their fair
share and contribute to ensure that we will succeed.
Most of all, they wanted the deficit reduced. They were tired
of governments offering unrealistic goals and giving targets that
could never ever be reached.
During the election I met cynicism and skepticism at the door.
Guelph-Wellington people were tired. They were fed up with
representation that did not deliver and governments that could
not and would not face up to the challenge.
This budget is for them. It offers them targets that can be met.
It gives them goals that can be reached. It provides realistic
strategies that can be measured. For the first time in years, they
know government is serious about what it says and that it does
what it promises.
Faced with the other option of irresponsible slashing and
uncaring principles, the people of Guelph-Wellington said yes
to the Liberal Party and they say yes to this budget.
It is not often that members of Parliament can debate a change
so profound that future generations will look at them and thank
them for making history and giving them a better country. We
have this opportunity. We have the choice of criticising, of
making desperate statements which support desperate policies,
or we can rise above the negative and reach for the new and bold
My constituents demand nothing less of me. They demand
nothing less of this government. This is not an easy budget to
accept. Change is never easy. The measures announced on
February 27 will be hard on Canadians.
The Guelph Mercury stated in an editorial following the
budget, and I quote for the Reform Party: ``The finance minister
did not say it would be a painless budget. He said it would be a
tough budget. And make no mistake, a tough budget is what he
has delivered. Tough, but alas, necessary''.
As difficult as these measures are, we can only imagine what
failure to act would mean for us, our children and our
grandchildren in the years to come.
What we do in the next few months will be judged not by us
but by the people we serve and by the generations that follow.
We must act and these actions will mean hardship, adjustment
and pain, meted out with compassion. This is the Liberal way of
Our country, like the community of Guelph-Wellington, can
survive. The people of Guelph-Wellington demand no less. It
is for their sake that this bill and this budget are worthy of
support. It can be done and it must be done. The best country in
the world deserves no less.
Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre, Ref.): Madam Speaker, I
would like to congratulate the member for Guelph-Wellington
on her speech and ask her a question.
The question relates to the interest costs to service the debt
which the Reform Party believes to be the major problem facing
the country, with the deficit a contributing factor. Last year's
interest costs are going to be in excess of $40 billion. At the end
of two years interest costs are going to rise to over $50 billion.
How does the member for Guelph-Wellington propose to
face her constituents and tell them that she will solve the rising
interest cost problem by cutting program spending equal to the
rise in interest costs? How she will resolve those two sides of the
equation that have nothing to do with compassion but have a lot
to do with responsible government?
It is totally irresponsible to face your constituents, telling
them the deficit is the only problem and by lowering the deficit
the problem will be solved. How she will reconcile the rise in
interest costs from $40 billion today to $51 billion tomorrow?
All the sacrifices to come eventually in her riding will have to be
to just service the debt.
Mrs. Chamberlain: Madam Speaker, I will face my
constituents very well. Already in my riding the budget is being
received well and the hon. member across the way knows it is.
This has been a desperate attempt on the part of the Reform
Party to try in some way to discredit a good budget. The budget
will begin a process of honest reduction in all phases, at levels
which our constituents have asked for. I am sure the hon.
member's constituents have also asked for this.
I would ask the hon. member how he will face his constituents
when they ask him why he would not support a budget that
would support reductions in costs and reduce the deficit.
Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia-Matane, BQ): Madam
Speaker, my colleague's constituents may be receiving this
budget very well, but the people I represent in the riding of
Matapédia-Matane are not.
The Minister of Finance told us in his speech, and he quoted
his father, that it is necessary to plan ahead with courage and
determination. I think that the Minister of Finance showed great
courage and determination in looking to the least well off
members of our society for money, and much timidity and
hesitation in his treatment of the wealthy.
Very often, the members opposite accuse us of being negative.
My honourable colleague, I am going to ask you a question and
make a suggestion. I would like you to respond, positively I
hope, to this suggestion. I will read you a few lines: ``The
Minister of Finance has deliberately avoided mentioning in this
budget the large aquarium that is home to 104 elderly members
of the same contented species, whose somnambulistic
performance costs the government more than $42 million
annually, not to mention the $349 million their former
colleagues, also non-elected, draw in pensions''.
Nevertheless, starting next year the government will quite
happily go after the elderly. How is it that this budget does not
touch the senators, who are costing us, who are costing the
public, $42 million, not to mention their retired colleagues, who
are costing a fortune?
Mrs. Chamberlain: Madam Speaker, as I indicated in my
speech, the budget touched everyone. The hon. member knows
It is important to understand that we all share a pain and a
burden. It is important that we all shoulder it together. It will
make for a better country, as my comrade across the way said. It
will make for a better country and a united Canada.
Mr. Gordon Kirkby (Prince Albert-Churchill River,
Lib.): Madam Speaker, I am deeply honoured to speak to Bill
C-73, a bill to provide borrowing authority for the fiscal year
beginning April 1, 1995. It will allow for the borrowing of funds
by the finance minister, on approval of cabinet, to finance a
shrinking annual deficit for the coming fiscal year.
I begin by extending my sincere congratulations to the
Minister of Finance for a budget which has won the confidence
of not only the international markets but also, and more
importantly, of all Canadians. The budget displays a firm
commitment to Canadian values by promoting jobs and growth
and by protecting the most vulnerable Canadians by looking to
government first for action. The deficit is primarily being dealt
with through spending cuts in a 7:1 ratio over the next three
years. This means spending cuts will amount to $7 for every
$1 in revenue increase.
The budget, with its emphasis on fairness, has looked to
spending cuts rather than personal income taxes to achieve its
goals. We heard the Canadians who told us not to raise income
tax and we have not. The budget is fair. The budget closes
loopholes and tax breaks for the rich. It focuses on those who are
able to contribute more and asks them to do so, like the banks.
We all must contribute. It does not increase taxes for the middle
The budget is fair to all regions of the country. The Minister of
Finance has taken great care to ensure that cutbacks to the
different regions are distributed fairly and equitably. Our fiscal
problem is a national one. All regions need to contribute to the
diminution of our fiscal problem. We must work together.
Aspects of the budget such as the Canada social transfer will
enhance the flexibility of the federal system by allowing
provinces to determine to a greater degree how best they can
meet their specific needs while retaining a role for the national
I must commend the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
for working very hard on behalf of Canada's farmers through a
very difficult budgetary process. We all recognize that every
Canadian must share in the reduction of the deficit. Canadian
farmers are not excluded from this effort. They have shown a
willingness to participate before, they have shown resilience
before, and I am certain they realize the necessity of the changes
Spending has been reduced. However, farmers have always
said that given good opportunities they would prefer not to be
subsidized. Farmers are ready to adapt and succeed and they will
again. These changes outlined in the budget affecting grain
transport, income support and stabilization, trade, marketing,
research, adaptation and rural development will reduce the cost
to government but they will also improve efficiency and
competitiveness to encourage economic diversification, value
added production and processing. This will give farmers the
opportunities they have always wanted.
In Saskatchewan the transportation subsidy known as the
Crow rate provided cheap transportation of raw agricultural
products but it also created an economy of dependence and
inefficiency and in some cases was detrimental to the
We needed to change the way we think about subsidies and
transportation, not least because of the realities of the World
Trade Organization which limits trade distorting subsidies.
Farmers need to take a leading role in adhering to the principles
of the World Trade Organization. I know that European and
American subsidies will also decline. It is my view that Canada
has much more to gain than lose when dealing on a level playing
field because Canadian farmers have the highest quality
products and are already the most efficient in the world.
Our priorities are cost efficiency and effectiveness in
growing, moving and selling grain. Farmers will benefit from
this and they will become more and more able to determine their
own financially secure futures. Their reduced reliance on
subsidies means that governments will be able to focus in an
efficient and effective way on the things that government does
best, providing assistance for people to adjust to the changing
times and providing information on new markets and new
We will not leave the farmers to adjust to this change alone.
They will receive a one time payment of $1.6 billion to assist
them in the transition.
Our fiscal realities must be addressed. The government has
faced these challenges fairly and in every area. Reduced
spending is the golden opportunity for economic growth.
Reduced spending helps to be more acutely aware of local
economic opportunities and less enamoured with regulation and
control where it is not necessary.
Let me share two examples from my riding of Prince
Albert-Churchill River where relaxation of government
regulations will allow and promote economic growth and jobs.
First, at the federal level the Freshwater Fish Marketing
Corporation has a monopoly at present over the marketing and
processing of freshwater fish. In the past this served the
fishermen well, but it has outlived its usefulness. The
government must break inefficient monopolies like this one. In
doing so a local fish processing plant within the riding will bring
jobs and growth to the area and give greater support to northern
fishermen with better prices for raw product.
Second, at the provincial level SaskPower has a monopoly
over the generation of electrical energy in Saskatchewan. If this
monopoly is allowed to be opened up in a sensible way, local
initiatives could react more quickly and efficiently, and provide
electrical energy at reduced rates. Weyerhauser Canada would
be able to build an electrical co-generation plan which would
make it more competitive while maintaining exacting
environmental standards and enhancing environmental
This may open the door for the further expansion of
Weyerhauser's pulp and paper production capacity. The
possibilities for economic spin-offs are great. These initiatives
mean jobs, they mean growth and they mean a prosperous
Prince Albert-Churchill River.
We must strike a healthy balance for the role of government in
economic development. We must facilitate growth and allow for
local initiatives to flourish. We must provide the context for a
dynamic and innovative economy, unimpeded by the dinosaurs
that have monopolized the economy in the past.
Governments cannot afford to be economic and social
dictators any more. They can afford to be enablers of growth,
enablers of individual community, provincial and national
creativity, economically and socially from coast to coast.
Too much government money has created in us the belief that
government can fix everything. It cannot. It has created
economic and social dependency. The budget and this bill have
set Canada on a course where people will be free to succeed.
They will be free to build that sense of community, of caring and
sharing that has been eroded by the misplaced belief that
government can and must do everything. Governments will now
be free to be true partners with one another and the people, a
partnership that will result in economic growth and an even
greater feeling of compassion and community.
Yes, we are all responsible one for the other. Because we
borrow less money, because we use less money, we shall be free
to prosper together and to help one another.
Once again, my sincere congratulations to the finance
minister who has done a great job with a great budget.
Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, I have two questions for the member for Prince
The first one is with regard to agriculture. During the election
campaign I heard this member and many of his colleagues from
Saskatchewan defending agricultural programs, saying they
were going to defend the farmers, that these things would not
change, that the funds would keep coming.
By what reasoning can he defend his government's actions of
drastically reducing the funds farmers receive? We came clearly
up front during the election and said that we would take these
funds and there would be a reduction. However, those funds
would go into an account that would help prepare the farmer and
protect him from subsidies by other foreign nations. Now the
farmer is left with nothing. How can the member possibly
reconcile this new radically different position from what they
said during the election?
The second question is with regard to the MP pension plan. I
am wondering how this member can justify borrowing money to
pay himself and his colleagues a huge pension.
Why is it important to opt out of the MP pension plan, a very
extravagant plan? It is important that we set the example. We
can always find excuses about why we deserve more and how we
ought to have more. If we realize as parliamentarians what a
mess this country is in, I am wondering if we do not have to start
by setting the example.
I was recently asked a question after this was announced of
whether the MP pension plan will hurt me personally. Of course
it will. If I opt out, it is as if I had the winning ticket in a lottery
and never went to pick up my million dollars. Of course it will
hurt. I will always know and live with that fact, that I could have
gone back to my constituents and justified the fact that I
deserved that money. However, I think there is a time when
principles count for something. We are opting out to signal to
Canadians how serious our problems are. I am wondering how
this hon. member can justify borrowing more money to pay MPs
an extravagant pension.
Mr. Kirkby: Madam Speaker, the hon. member opposite
indicates that he listened to me and my hon. colleagues say
something different than what is happening now in relation to
agricultural subsidies. It is quite obvious that he was not paying
close attention to what was happening in Prince
Albert-Churchill River if that is what he thinks.
It has always been my position that while we do need
agricultural support programs, we need them at such a level
where they are adequate and predictable, where they are not
changing week after week as has been happening in
Saskatchewan over the last number of years, where everybody is
going to know what the rules are.
Specifically with respect to the Crow benefit, it was indicated
during the election that what would happen with the Crow
benefit was subject to what happened at the GATT negotiations
which occurred after the election. This was clearly stated to the
public, to the farmers. The GATT negotiations necessitate
change and we are doing the change, which is exactly what we
said during the election campaign.
With respect to the hon. member's talk about MPs' pensions,
when members of the Reform Party opposite table in this House
a letter from the Alberta government saying that one of its
members no longer accepts a big pension while he is sitting here
as a member of this House earning a salary, when the hon.
Reform Party also sets forth a letter from national defence and
the RCMP saying that members who are retired from those areas
are not getting those federal pensions, then perhaps we can talk
about the views of the federal pension plans. There is a great
deal of hypocrisy within the Reform Party on the issue of
This government said exactly what it would do in the red book
with respect to MP pensions and has gone even further than it
said in the red book. This government lives up to our
commitments. We lived up to them before. We will live up to
them in the future. The judgment has been made by the
international monetary markets and all Canadians as to the
success of our budgetary endeavours.
Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville, Ref.): Madam
Speaker, I will be dividing my time with other Reformers.
I really become frustrated every day as I sit in the House.
Every time Reformers rise to speak on behalf of average
Canadians we are met with laughter, jeers, derisive comments
from the Liberal Party. I began to wonder why we are mocked
and ridiculed when we have the courage to be up front and
honest with Canadians.
I did not come here to be on a power trip. I came here to solve
the problems. The biggest problems we face are the national
debt, the annual deficits and rising interest costs.
I have four teenage children who will pay over half of their
income in taxes for the rest of their lives for the mistakes made
by the Liberal Party during the past 25 years. Through my work
in this House I hope and pray that my grandchildren will be able
to see their taxes go down.
I hear the Liberals already saying it is not their fault, that the
Tories were in power for nine years. That is a very lame excuse
because not once in those nine years while the Liberals were the
official opposition did they tell the Conservatives to get their
spending under control, balance the budget and put a cap on
increasing interest payments.
The Liberals protested every cut and they wailed for more
government spending on social programs that do not work. The
Liberals are responsible for the fiscal mess this country is in and
even now while they are in power they are unwilling to face the
During the 1993 election Reformers told the truth about the
state of the country's finances and our zero in three plan. The
Liberals put out a red ink book which played politics and
ignored the truth.
In the taxpayers' budget we introduced last week Reformers
told the truth. This week the Liberals introduced a budget which
once again ignores the truth and plays politics. Because this
government keeps putting off the inevitable it is slowly
destroying the country.
The Liberals keep cutting back on programs and services,
increasing taxes. Because they do not cut enough to balance the
budget interest costs keep going up and the federal government
keeps going deeper into debt.
Reformers have proposed two plans to get off this deficit and
debt treadmill and the Liberals ignore the truth when it is as
plain as the numbers in the budget in front of them.
This deficit is like a cancerous tumour, eating away at our
flesh. It is making us sick and preventing us from living a
healthy life. The most compassionate operation one could do is a
surgical removal of this deficit tumour. Instead the Liberals
operate very year just cutting out a little, letting the cancerous
deficit tumour keep growing. As it grows it eats up more and
more of pensions, welfare, health care and the programs run by
the government. It does not take a rocket surgeon to figure out
that the most compassionate thing one can do is undergo the pain
of removing the tumourous deficit as quickly as possible.
Bill C-73 is a disgrace. This bill is a confession of failure by
this government and past governments. This bill clearly
demonstrates how firmly entrenched annual deficits have
become to feed the federal government's overspending
addiction. This bill provides the evidence that governments past
and present have been unable and unwilling to live within their
While many Canadians will think we are debating the budget
today, I would like to clarify that we are debating a bill which
shows the failure of all previous governments during each of the
last 20 years to balance their budgets.
Each year we debate a bill like this one to give the federal
government the authority to borrow the billions and billions of
dollars which it says it needs to make life better. Canadian
taxpayers are waiting to elect a government that will tell them
the year when there will be no need for the government to
introduce a bill giving it authority to borrow money.
This bill asks Parliament to give the government authority to
borrow $28,900,000,000. I think it would be very interesting for
Canadians to know something about the process. It has become
so commonplace, so routine for the government to borrow
billions of dollars each year, year after year, that it even has a
permanent standing order in the House of Commons which
limits debate on this bill to two sitting days during second
reading. Not only does the government want Parliament to give
it authority to borrow billions of dollars every year, it also does
not want to give opposition parties or even taxpayers enough
time to properly debate questions or propose alternatives for the
government to consider.
The Liberal party says it needs money, fast; do not take too
long about it either. Two days of debate is lots. How many
questions can we ask about borrowing $28.9 billion anyway? No
amount of debate, no amount of intelligent questions, no amount
of committee meetings, votes, amendments or motions to
reduce the government's estimates is going to change one thing
anyway, so why bother? Why bother debating it?
Liberals think that debating the budget or this borrowing bill
is a complete waste of time. They think this because they know
that when all is said and done, when the debates, when the
questions, when the analysis are over they will not have changed
this budget one cent. All this talk that we do in here every day
has absolutely no influence on what is decided in those back
This budget is a disgrace because it spends too much, it cuts
too little and it gives no hope to Canadian taxpayers that the
Liberal government will ever be able to produce a balanced
budget. This budget is a disgrace but this budget process is an
even bigger disgrace. The process is a disgrace because it goes
against common sense and against democratic principles.
Why can 295 members of Parliament not enter into an
intelligent debate? If the majority agrees that there are more or
better ways to save taxpayers' money, why would the
government not agree to implement the recommendations? Why
is the most important piece of legislation which the government
brings down every year set in stone? Why will the Liberal
government not allow Canadians to have input through their
democratically elected representatives at this most critical point
in the budget process? Does it honestly believe that this budget
is the best there can possibly be? Does it honestly believe that
every dollar outlined in the estimates is essential?
New ideas are developed every day, but this government says
that it cannot change the budget. It needs to borrow $28.9 billion
and nothing we can say or do will ever change its mind. Is that
any way to run a country?
Any changes which we as Reformers suggested are scoffed at,
even in committee. Not one change took place from all the
changes I suggested. Some of the changes were small and none
of them took place in that committee, which handles more
money than any other committee.
If a Reform government were in power today it would have
the budget balanced by 1998 and the Government of Canada
would no longer need a borrowing bill. If a Reform government
were in power borrowing bills would not be a routine occurrence
year after year. A borrowing bill under a Reform government
would be a rarity. Under a Reform government a borrowing bill
would be such a rarity that taxpayers would want to know what
fiscal or natural emergency brought about the occurrence. They
would be asking their members of Parliament to rise to ask the
government what had happened. It would be a national news
story. What we are doing here today will not get any press. I
would be surprised if it did.
There are two extremes in this debate. On the one hand the
Liberals want to limit debate on borrowing $28.9 billion to two
days during second reading in an attempt to circumvent the
On the other hand, the Reform Party is proposing to
implement a taxpayers protection act that would limit the ability
of majority governments to run spending deficits, raise taxes
and borrow money. Our taxpayers protection act would force
governments to balance their spending and taxes over the course
of each business cycle. It would put a cap on government
spending and taxation. Eventually our taxpayers protection act
would be entrenched in the Constitution to prevent future
governments from changing it.
In closing I point out the major failing in the government's
budget: the government is actually transferring more to banks in
interest payments than it spends on social programs.
In this fiscal year the government will spend $49.5 billion on
interest payments and $49.2 billion on social programs, which
include old age security and pensions, health transfers,
education transfers, welfare programs, and equalization
payments to the provinces.
In 1996-97 the Liberals project that interest payments will be
over $50 billion a year. Not only do the Liberals have to cut more
spending to balance the budget, but every dollar that Liberals
spend in interest payments is a dollar they cannot spend on
This is a failure. The bill is a disgrace. The process is
undemocratic. I am frustrated with the House of Commons and
what goes on here. We need to be taken more seriously.
Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Bruce-Grey, Lib.): Madam Speaker,
I thank the member for Yorkton-Melville for his input. Many
of us on this side listen to what they have to say. I know
whenever there were good ideas that previous governments sort
of gobbled them up and used them as theirs.
I will make a couple of comments and then I will ask a
question. One comment I hear a lot in the House from Reformers
is about the red ink book. I am the member for Bruce-Grey and
I want to tell them that the word redd means cleaning up a mess
and getting the house in order. That is exactly what the
government is doing.
In the sixties we had problems with a fuel crisis. There were
mechanics who fixed old fashioned cars with carburettors.
However, modern cars from perhaps 1993 onward are distinctly
different; they do not have carburettors. When drivers put their
foot to the floor in cars with carburettors, a certain volume of air
came in through the carburettor, mixed with the fuel, and the
fuel was dumped out the exhaust.
Modern cars have from one to four computers. When drivers
switch on modern cars the computers react to the temperature
outside. If it is zero degrees they know exactly what kind of
fuel is needed. There is no RPM from the RPM gauge. There
is no air flow through the manifold pressure sensing devices.
The computer plugs in the value. The car starts and goes into
what is called an open loop. In that open loop the computer
triggers. The oxygen sensing device senses the fuel coming out
of the carburettor. It knows that maybe it is too rich and sends
a message back to the computer. The RPM works and so on and
I am using this analogy because the government is like the
modern devices on cars. We have people with the talent and
ability, such as the finance minister, the Prime Minister,
members of the cabinet and members of the government
including the rump over there, to adjust to new conditions.
In the case of a brand new car, if drivers want to pass they put
their foot to the floor. The air conditioning system and
everything that is not necessary are shut down. That is the first
thing that happens.
The government found itself in the position where there was
debt that had been incurred over two decades at which time no
government had the political will to do what we are doing. We
are chopping $29 billion over the next three years. We have
contingency funds. We have gold reserves. We have dollars to
back up situations when the interest rates rise to make sure that
we can look after that particular eventuality.
In addition, we are not like members opposite who open the
hood of a new car and shut it because they do not know how to
fix it. They come back with old-fashioned ideas, looking for the
carburettor that is not there or looking for some other device that
is not there. That is their problem. If they have great ideas to
suggest to the House, I assure them we will accept them.
What would the Reform Party do to repatriate our foreign
Mr. Breitkreuz (Yorkton-Melville): Madam Speaker, that
is an interesting question. I listened to the preamble and the
question had nothing to do with what he was telling me. There
was absolutely no relation. It is the typical Liberal approach to a
We have a huge government problem. The Liberals tinker
with it a bit, make a few minor cuts and tell everybody how great
it is that they are making these cuts. They do not look at the
I like his example of cars with carburettors. The government
is choking off the economy. If they put in too much gas, if they
borrow too much money and have a government that is too big,
they choke off the economy. That is what the government is
doing. The government really does not have much of an idea
about how the economy works.
I also like his analogy of using the colour red, because very
often it means bleeding, bleeding, bleeding the taxpayer to
In conclusion I say again that the process is undemocratic.
When I go home I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support
I get. It is dishonest of the government to make fun of us.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Madam Speaker,
it is a real pleasure to stand in the House today to address the
request of the government to borrow $28.9 billion, something
that has become an extremely bad habit that the government
must soon break before it breaks the country.
It is very important to put that $28.9 billion in perspective. As
people in the House know, but perhaps the public is not aware of
it, we have a debt today of $551 billion. It is one of the highest
debt to GDP ratios in the world. We have huge problems with
respect to the amount of overspending we have done over the
last 22 years. I would point out that over that period of time
mostly Liberal governments have been in place.
It is even more discouraging that the government has set a
goal for itself: to spend another $100 billion more than it takes
in during the four years before its mandate is up. We will have a
debt of over $600 billion before its mandate is up. I find it
shocking. I find it alarming. However, the government has put
that into its plans. It says that somehow it is a good thing and the
rational way to proceed. I reject that.
Let us talk about what happens to an economy when a
government continues to overspend day after day and year after
year. I invite hon. members across the way to look at what has
happened to the unemployment rate and compare it to the rise of
the debt and the deficit. They move in parallel courses, both
rising upward very sharply. I find that quite alarming.
I invite members across the way to note that tax levels have
rocketed upward with the debt and the deficit. That impedes the
ability of the economy to produce jobs. By the way, I point out to
my friends across the way that governments do not produce jobs.
Business does. When they take credit for 450,000 new jobs
being created, it is an insult to the business people who work
everyday to make a living, to make a profit to support their
A country is a lot like a river. There is a tremendous amount of
power in a river when it shoots down a river valley. It can
produce a lot of good when there is a water wheel or a turbine in
that river; as the river goes rushing by it produces a lot of energy.
There is a tremendous amount of good out of that.
Governments are a lot like dams. The good governments are
very small dams. Mostly they allow the river to keep flowing, to
push forward to the sea, its ultimate goal. The bad governments
are the very big dams. Those big dams are constructed when
governments continue to overspend and overregulate. They
build the dam up bigger and bigger. Pretty soon the river quits
flowing and the economy as a parallel stops.
We now have a huge dam on the river. We have a lot of water
sitting dormant. I equate that to all the potential productivity in
the country that is not fulfilled because it has to sit there. Then
there is the water that evaporates from the dam. I would equate
that to all the people who have left the country. I am talking
about people with high skill levels and lots of capital who can go
to other jurisdictions. Many of them have. We see doctors
fleeing across the border. We see businesses running across the
border. I admit the NDP government in Ontario has not been a
big help; it has contributed to the problem.
We also see a lot of the water ending up in a backwater in
sloughs. I equate that to people stuck on social programs who
see no hope coming forward because the government has created
safety nets that are more like fishing nets. People get caught in
them and are unable to escape.
Unfortunately the human resources development minister has
failed completely to come up with a new way to provide social
security for people while at the same time not remove incentives
The final thing that happens with a big dam is that eventually
trickles of water start to undermine the dam or go around it
because they flow up over the riverbank. I would equate that to
the people who have joined the underground economy and are
continuing to pursue their dreams in spite of the government and
not because of it. More and more of that is going on all the time.
The last subject I want to talk about is my children and
everybody's children. I phone home at night and talk with my
youngest little boy who is six years old. I hear his little voice on
the other end of the telephone line. I find it very exciting. I sit
and talk with that little twerp for a few minutes about how his
day was and what kind of aspirations he has. I talk with my
10-year-old about the same sorts of things. I find that very
uplifting. At the same time I find it very sad.
Like everybody in this place and like Canadians everywhere
who have hopes and dreams for their children, grandchildren,
nieces and nephews, I get discouraged and angry when I hear
that the government is planning to load another $100 billion on
to the backs of those children. Government members laugh
about it. They sit there and laugh about it like they are doing
right now. That makes me fighting mad.
I am telling members across the way that if they continue to
do this they will have to bear it on their consciences. It is a big
joke to them. They sit and laugh about it. However, Canadians
do not laugh about it. They will pay a huge price the next
election when they have to explain how they can justify adding
$100 billion to the debt, driving people out of the country,
driving jobs out of the country and destroying the social safety
When will they have the guts to do the right thing: start
cutting, get the economy back on track and get a handle on the
debt and deficit? I can hardly wait for them to stand and
challenge me on questions and comments because I have some
questions of my own.
Government members sit there blithely joking about the fact
they will borrow another $28.9 billion. I hope they can explain it
next week to their constituents who have children like I do and
like most of the people in this place and are wondering how in
the world they can pay back those bills after 22 years of
I appreciate the chance to talk to government members about
this matter. I truly hope they get the message not only from me
but from taxpayers across the country who are fed up with 22
years of overspending.
Mr. Murray Calder
(Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe, Lib.): Madam
Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member's speech.
Maybe he has not had a chance to read the newspapers today. In
Ontario there has been a 78 per cent acceptance of the budget as
it was presented. The lowest percentage of support in Canada
was in Quebec and that was at 55 per cent. All the other
provinces fell in between those two figures. What we have
presented to Canadian taxpayers is a fair but lean budget, which
is exactly what they called for. That is what my constituents
I would like to challenge the hon. member because I have had
a chance to read the budget which his party presented. What I
read was something similar to the doctor saying to the family
outside of the operating room that the operation was a success
but unfortunately the patient died. The Reform party is talking
about cutting $15 billion from social security. I would like to
know from the hon. member where he would cut that $15 billion
from something that is the fabric of this nation.
Mr. Solberg: Madam Speaker, I reject very much the hon.
member's premise which is that the social safety net is somehow
the fabric of this nation, as though people in this country cannot
somehow create their own tremendous culture by virtue of their
own dreams and aspirations and in what they contribute to the
Having said that, I would be happy to answer the hon.
member's question. He has asked where we would cut and we
laid it out explicitly, unlike the government. During the election
campaign government members said not to worry about social
programs, they were not going to touch them. A year later, of
course, they did a tremendous flip-flop. The hon. member for
Notre-Dame-de-Grâce announced that the government has
flip-flopped on its red book promises. There is still $20 billion
that the government will have to cut to get its deficit to zero, at
least $20 billion by its own projections, and it has not laid out
how it expects to get there.
Is the government telling people everything? Is it really not
going to cut any more social programs, like it says, or is it going
to get to zero like it tells people? It cannot be both ways.
We have been very up front with people. We said we would cut
$15 billion. We would cut $3 billion out of old age security. It
will go from $20 billion to $17 billion. We would make big cuts
to transfers for welfare. We have said that. We are not
embarrassed at all to say that. We know that we have to do that so
that ultimately we will not allow social programs to completely
unravel. We have to make those cuts.
I would like to emphasize again that for the hon. member to
say somehow Canada is a social safety net is ridiculous. People
who work every day for a living look at that. People who
contribute to the economy and make great contributions to the
culture of this nation look at that and say if that is the best we can
do to become a country, produce some bloated government
bureaucracy to come up with a bunch of social programs, that is
not a country at all. That is a social welfare state. The hon.
member across the way does not understand the country at all.
Mr. Nelson Riis (Kamloops, NDP): Madam Speaker, I
listened with interest to my friend's version of the new trickle
down theory. He elaborated so much that it became a river flow
for a while.
It has always intrigued me how the Reform party-and I say
this with all respect because I believe it is serious when it makes
these proposals-believes that somehow if we reward the rich
and the wealthy the benefits will eventually trickle down to
regular folks. I want to say to my friends in the Reform party that
Canadians are fed up with being trickled on. For years and years
there has been this trickle down approach, first from the Tories
and now from the Liberals with the encouragement from my
friends in the Reform party.
I listened carefully to my hon. friend's presentation today.
The impression he leaves is the country with the least amount of
government is the best country. By that definition countries such
as Africa would be booming in terms of their economies and
things would be great.
The fundamental reason we are the number one place out of
192 countries in the world in which to live and raise a family is
government programs of all sorts.
What country in the world would he hold up as a model of his
approach; in other words, an example of less government, fewer
Mr. Harris: Madam Speaker, on a point of order. While the
member for Medicine Hat was on debate he was referring to his
relationship with his children and the hon. member for
London-Middlesex was hurling comments across the floor
directed at the hon. member's children.
I find that absolutely reprehensible.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): I do not believe that is a
point of order. The hon. member for Medicine Hat, very briefly.
Mr. Solberg: Madam Speaker, in response to the member for
Kamloops, I guess the country I would hold up is the country
that Canada used to be. There was a time when people were
counted on to rely on their own resources to a great extent to find
their way in the world. They did that most admirably and it
enabled us to build a social welfare state that would protect the
people who could not look after-
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu): Resuming debate, the
hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.
Hon. David Dingwall (Minister of Public Works and
Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada
Opportunities Agency, Lib.): Madam Speaker, it is a real
opportunity for me to participate in this debate and to share with
my colleagues on all sides of the House the activities that my
departments and agencies will be doing over the next 12 months
and for the next three years.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague,
the Minister of Finance, who tabled the budget here on Monday
of this week, which addressed a number of fundamental
problems that the Canadian government has been faced with not
only for the last year and half but for the last nine or ten years.
I want to congratulate my colleague, the Minister of Finance,
on facts which are indisputable. For instance, over the last year
there have been 433,000 jobs created in this country. The
unemployment rate has fallen by 1.7 per cent. I think all
members will recognize that although that is encouraging it is
certainly not enough. However, it is a positive indicator.
Exports are at a record breaking level, something Canadians
ought to be proud of. As we export our products it means
additional investment for Canadians and thereby jobs for
Canadians whether they are in New Brunswick or in other parts
of Canada, including Ontario and western Canada.
Inflation is the lowest in three decades, another factor that
ought to be taken into consideration. Canada had the best
economic growth of any major industrialized country in 1994.
Canada is set to have the best job creation record and the best
economic growth record of the G-7 countries in 1995.
If that is not an indication of support for the Minister of
Finance and the plan that he put before Parliament in 1994, as he
did here on Monday evening, I do not know what further
affirmation one could get to say that we have the full confidence
in the Minister of Finance and the plans he has laid before the
people of Canada.
I think many members would recognize that I do not like to be
partisan in debate, and therefore I will select a quote from a
newspaper today which I believe stated that 78 per cent of the
people in Ontario, the largest province in this country, supported
unequivocally the budget of the Minister of Finance.
This budget, as I have said both privately and publicly, is a
tough budget because it affects the lives of a lot of Canadians. In
my own departments and agencies there are some substantial
reductions. I offer to the House, as I believe I did on a previous
occasion, that there would be substantial cutbacks in Public
Works and Government Services Canada. Over a three-year
period my department will contribute toward reducing the
deficit in that particular department in excess of $350 million.
There are 5,263 employees who will be dislocated as a result of
this federal budget. Those who have the audacity to suggest that
kind of measure is not a tough measure are missing the point.
I realize I only have a few moments but I want to share with
the House a couple of important features of the budget,
particularly in my Department of Public Works and Government
Services. Canada Mortgage and Housing is reducing its
expenditures in order to contribute toward the deficit. The
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency over a three-year period
will reduce its expenditures by $173 million with person years
The Royal Canadian Mint will try to contribute to increasing
the revenues for the Government of Canada by the introduction
of the $2 coin and by reducing the composition of the different
coins, thereby providing additional revenues.
I know members wish-
The Speaker: My hon. colleague, we are all waiting with
baited breath for you to continue your words and of course when
we return after Question Period you will be recognized first off.
It being two o'clock, we will now proceed to Statements by
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Mr. Stan Dromisky (Thunder Bay-Atikokan, Lib.):
Speaker, it is with pleasure that I inform this House that for the
first time in history the Nordic World Ski Championships will
take place in our country in Thunder Bay, Ontario from March 9
Picturesque Thunder Bay and its hospitable residents will be
host to over 40 nations for this 11-day sporting event, including
over 800 skiers, coaches and trainers, over 500 international
media, over 200 officials and 50,000 spectators. An expected
audience of over 400 million viewers will observe the action by
satellite, including 31 hours of prime time coverage in Europe.
This spectacular event has been made possible because of the
dedication of thousands of volunteers from the area and the
continuous support of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and his
* * *
Mrs. Christiane Gagnon (Québec, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, not
only does the Minister of Finance's budget target the poor once
again, it offers nothing to stimulate employment. The minister
himself implicitly recognizes that fact, since he predicts no
improvement regarding the unemployment rate, which currently
stands at 9.7 per cent for Canada and 12 per cent for Quebec.
Not only does the budget include no job creation initiatives, it
delays the infrastructure program, the only measure announced
in the previous budget to stimulate employment. The
infrastructure program, which was initially designed as an
emergency measure to stimulate employment following the
recession, will now be spread over five years.
One cannot help but wonder if the minister lives on a different
planet. Is he not aware that, to get back to the pre-recession
employment level, close to 800,000 jobs must be created in
Canada? It is time for the minister to get to work on that.
* * *
Mr. Art Hanger (Calgary Northeast, Ref.):
today with no notice to either the press or the opposition, the
immigration minister announced that in the IRB, single
members will replace panels, a treaty is under way with the U.S.
stop refugee claimants at the border, and cost savings, if any,
will go to overseas selection of refugees. That is amazing.
In our paper on refugee determination, we called for only one
person to hear claims. We called for denying the hearings to
those who had travelled through the U.S. We called for inland
cost savings to go overseas. I am glad this minister read our
paper. If he really wanted to reform the process then he would
stand up to special interests, scrap the IRB and restore some real
common sense and accountability to the system.
Today's announcement will not make the system more
accountable. It does not guarantee that the world's highest
refugee acceptance rate will go anywhere but up. It does not do
what needs to be done. That is altogether typical of the
immigration minister: lots of talk but no real reform.
* * *
Mr. Walt Lastewka (St. Catharines, Lib.):
Cuvée 1995 is a three day celebration of Ontario's excellence in
wine making. This weekend from March 3 to 5 wine makers and
wine lovers from across the province will come to Niagara for
the special celebration of Ontario wines.
The excellent reputation of Ontario wines continues to spread
around the world. Ontario wines have received many
international awards. Our own colleague, Gary Pillitteri, won a
silver medal for Riesling best buy at the World Wine
Championship in Chicago.
Last year, Cuvée 1994 presented a record number of wines for
tasting from 30 of Ontario's wineries. This year promises to
continue the great tradition which is now in its seventh year.
I invite all Canadians to Niagara to taste the excellent wines
The Speaker: I am sure the hon. member inadvertently
mentioned the name of another member of Parliament. Sitting
members of Parliament should be referred to by their riding.
* * *
Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.):
one of the most distressing responses that came out pursuant to
our budget was the intellectual dishonesty which emanated from
the premier of Ontario and his finance minister. Their answer to
the budget was to inform the citizens of Ontario that it will result
in fewer health benefits and fewer hospital beds, even though
Mr. Laughren admits the hit means a meagre 2 per cent cut in
I was dismayed to hear this, but not surprised. It reveals the
NDP mentality whose knee-jerk reaction is to punish the people
of Ontario for electing a federal Liberal government, a
government which has a post-budget approval rate of 63 per
cent, an all-time high.
This does not have to be. We are giving the provinces the
power to develop and apply solutions to their regional problems
as they see fit. If they are not content with the amount of dollars
given, let them tighten their belts as we are doing ours. However
Premier Rae wants to tighten other people's belts. He would
prefer to cut down on hospital beds but gives no thought to
cutting his own government's waste and especially so-
* * *
Hon. Warren Allmand (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Lib.):
Speaker, last Wednesday we held the annual pages versus MPs
hockey game. On this occasion the MPs won back the Challenge
trophy which they had lost to the pages in 1993. Some Reform
members suggested this was due to the fact that there were no
longer any Conservatives with the team.
The game was notable in that this was a rare occasion when
Liberals and Reformers co-operated in a winning effort. I must
say it was also notable for the good spirit between the pages and
The pages are to be congratulated for their great effort and for
their accomplishments at gender balance. Several women
played for the pages while none played for the MPs, although
invited to do so.
Our thanks go to the members from Kindersley, Prince
George, Macleod, Nickel Belt, Prince Albert, Halifax West and
Algoma who all played an active role in the victory.
* * *
Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, the
statements made yesterday in the Outaouais by some supporters
of federalism are beyond comprehension.
How can the mayor of Hull, Yves Ducharme, seriously claim
that the loss of 14,000 jobs in the Outaouais, as announced in
Monday's budget, will stimulate the economy, after saying to
the Commission sur l'avenir du Québec that independence
would be catastrophic because it would result in job losses in the
public service? How ironic!
The chairman of the Outaouais urban community, Marc
Croteau, went even further by claiming that the federal budget
would force the region to diversify its economy. Either these
gentlemen do not understand anything about the economic
issues in their region, or else they are trying to fool the public by
promoting federalism in the Outaouais to further their own
* * *
Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, just
when the province of Alberta gets its own fiscal house in order,
the Liberal Party of eastern Canada has once again swooped in
and hammered her taxpayers.
The elimination of the public utilities income transfer tax is
nothing more than a selective tax grab against Alberta's private
sector which will raise gas and electric bills for all Albertans.
The Minister of Natural Resources has truly shown us that
Ottawa has become her primary residence. It is blatant partisan
political endeavours like this that make Calgarians now
question the closure of CFB Calgary.
Was this an economic decision in the best interests of the
country or a political cheap shot at a city that sent six Reformers
to Ottawa? Calgarians want to see the books. Show us this is
truly a money saving measure and not a lesson for not voting
Like all Albertans, Calgarians are prepared to tighten their
belts as long as it is fair. As a reminder to the Prime Minister, no
matter what the Liberals do politically to the west, Alberta will
keep sending fiscally responsible Reformers to Ottawa.
* * *
Mr. Nelson Riis (Kamloops, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, the red
book says: ``Canadians with young families need a support
system that enables parents to participate fully in the economic
life of the country. That is why the availability of child care is an
That is what the red book says. That is what the government
promised the people of Canada. However, was child care even
mentioned in the budget? Not a word. Now with the decision to
proceed with block funding to the provinces, the federal
government relinquishes what little influence it has to
encourage the provinces to invest in child care.
Also, by slashing billions of dollars from provincial transfers,
the government has reduced the ability of the provinces to offer
quality child care. This is tragic. What does this say about a
country that has turned its back on its children?
Children are our future. Young people are our future. Was the
term youth even mentioned in the budget? Unfortunately not.
Foreign bond traders and currency speculators may be happy
with the budget, but what has the government done to our
children and our youth, especially those in need?
* * *
Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, last
night I had the honour of witnessing the appointment of John V.
Basmajian to the Order of Canada as well as the promotion of the
Right. Hon. Ellen Louks Fairclough within the Order of Canada
at Rideau Hall.
Ellen Fairclough is widely respected and admired for her
outstanding political, social and cultural contributions to
Canada. In addition to representing my riding of Hamilton West
in the House of Commons from 1950 to 1962, her appointment
to the position of Secretary of State in 1957 made her Canada's
first woman cabinet minister.
Professor Emeritus at McMaster University, John V.
Basmajian greatly influenced generations of physicians in
training. In addition to inventing several widely used medical
devices, he is also a pioneer in the area of electromyography,
which had a significant impact on the development of
biofeedback techniques used for rehabilitation following injury
to the central nervous system.
I know all members of this House will join me in honouring
two outstanding Canadians: Professor John V. Basmajian, OC
and the Right Hon. Ellen Louks Fairclough, PC, OC.
* * *
Ms. Beth Phinney (Hamilton Mountain, Lib.):
I want to congratulate the finance minister for maintaining in his
budget the high level of national standards of our health care
system. Although the member for Yukon stated yesterday in this
House that the government had no intention of maintaining
national standards in our health care system, nothing could be
further from the truth.
Fears by the New Democratic Party of pending doom in the
upcoming provincial elections should not encourage them to
distort the honest truth about this government's commitment to
health care in Canada. The Minister of Finance has made it clear
in his budget that ``the conditions of the Canada Health Act will
be maintained. Universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility,
portability and public administration of the Canada Health Act
are fundamental for this government''.
A Liberal government created our national health care
program and we continue to earn the trust of Canadians by
ensuring the continuation of this program.
Mr. Brent St. Denis (Algoma, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, more good
news from Algoma riding.
Recently, a group of students from Elliot Lake Secondary
School led by teacher Lindsay Killen invited Canadian high
school students to write the leader of the Bloc Quebecois and the
premier of Quebec to express their desire for a strong and united
Canada. So far, the response has been tremendous. The group
has received positive feedback from students across Canada.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of welcoming a delegation from
Elliot Lake with over 1,000 letters from area students regarding
their views on the importance of national unity and their love for
I want to send a heartfelt thanks to the Bloc members for
Portneuf, Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot and Québec Est, who
graciously received these letters on behalf of their leader. They
greeted the students with respect and sincerity. I was pleased
with the open, caring and honest exchange of viewpoints on the
issue of the future of our country.
This positive initiative demonstrates the youth of our country
are genuinely concerned about the future of Canada. I salute the
students of Elliot Lake Secondary School for their efforts in
promoting national unity.
* * *
Mr. Jean H. Leroux (Shefford, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, the hon.
members of the Bloc Quebecois condemn the remarks made
yesterday by Senator Jean-Louis Roux during ``Le Point'' on
the French network of the CBC.
It is simply horrible that this senator from Quebec should
make a comparison between the seeming disinterest in
sovereignty shown by certain artists in Quebec and the silence of
German intellectuals during the Nazi regime in the 1930s.
This comparison is completely wrong and absurd and is a
stinging insult to Quebecers of every stripe who are engaging in
the debate on Quebec sovereignty in a free and democratic
In stating that he would leave Quebec in the event of a ``yes''
in the referendum, Senator Jean-Louis Roux is repudiating his
fellow Quebecers who are trying to establish a country for
themselves through democratic means. It is sad and
Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Kindersley-Lloydminster, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to report to the house that the Reform
Party of Canada, the party that firmly believes in fiscal
responsibility, completed the year 1994 with a surplus of close
I would also like to report that the Reform Party added the
$400,000 to existing cash reserves in excess of $1 million. That
is over $1 million in the bank, unlike the Liberal Party which
finished 1994 with a debt of $2.5 million.
At the end of 1993 the Liberal Party, the party that is now
taking inadequate steps toward federal deficit reduction, ran up
its own operating deficit of $789,400.
Unfortunately, members may be confused by a newspaper
account which recorded only a selected distorted portion of the
Reform Party's financial picture.
Let me assure all Canadians that the Reform Party remains
strongly committed to deficit reduction. The bottom line on our
balance sheet proves it.
* * *
Mr. John Harvard (Winnipeg St. James, Lib.):
Speaker, prior to budget day, the government received a lot of
free advice from the Reform Party on how to tackle Canada's
debt and deficit. It still rings in our ears: Get your spending
under control. Eliminate the deficit.
We now learn the Reform Party itself has slipped into the red.
It is the truth. Scout's honour, cross my heart and hope to die.
The Reform Party is running a deficit. The party which preaches
frugality has been spending more than it earns. It has failed to
balance its books. It cannot control its urge to spend.
Wait until the people back home get the news. What will their
constituents think when they learn the Reformers' motto: Do as I
preach, not as I do. The hypocrisy, the betrayal.
Perhaps Reform MPs need another telephone town hall. Take
heed Reformers or you might just hear that those who live in
glass houses should not throw stones.
* * *
Mrs. Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais (Madawaska-Victoria,
Mr. Speaker, during the Canada Games in Grand Prairie,
Alberta, the New Brunswick judo team earned a total of eight
medals, with the male team placing second in the country.
With their determination to succeed and train in their sport,
they displayed their fine talent and agility.
I would like to congratulate the judo team from the
Northwest, in particular, Bruno Volpé, gold medallist; Denis
Cyr, Sylvain Collin, Marco Volpé, silver medallists; Danny
Beaulieu, Madeleine Bossé, Jérémie Lepage and Magalie
Paquet, bronze medallists.
Congratulations. Your perseverance in training in this sport
has no doubt brought its rewards.
* * *
Mr. Ken Epp (Elk Island, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, we have
another example of a soft target in the much touted Liberal red
book where it calls for minimal, no pain adjustments to the MP
The government has now come up with a two-tiered plan
which protects the old cronies of the Liberal caucus, just like the
old cronies of the Conservative Party were coddled before.
While announcing a review of the pensions given to Canada's
seniors, these fat cats are making sure that their gold-plated,
over-rich, taxpayer super-subsidized pensions are kept intact.
While all other Canadians are being asked to accept cutbacks
and layoffs, Liberals like the Deputy Prime Minister will collect
up to $2.7 million in their own special unemployment insurance
Mr. Speaker, you will note that the Liberals have even failed
to meet their soft red book target because of the whining and
crying of these Liberals. What I really wanted to call them
would probably be unparliamentary.
Canadians deserve better. It is time to end-
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, in an interview on CBC radio, the Prime Minister
tried to appease the wrath of the provinces by saying that they
should take it as a compliment and a sign of trust that the federal
government has decided to let them pay an additional $7 billion
for health care, social assistance and post-secondary education.
That takes guts, Mr. Speaker.
How can the Prime Minister have the arrogance to ask the
provinces, especially Quebec and Ontario, to take it as a
compliment that an additional $7 billion will be cut, which puts
them in the unenviable position of deciding whether to cut
services or raise taxes?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, several years ago, the provinces started cutting their
programs for health care, social services and education, and we
kept sending money to the provinces.
However, because of our present financial situation, we had to
make cuts. They did and we are doing the same. Today, everyone
has to put his financial house in order, both the federal
government and the provinces.
For years, the Leader of the Opposition has been asking us to
reduce the federal presence in these sectors. When we do, he
says: Pay, but keep quiet. In a democracy, he who pays the piper
usually calls the tune.
Since we did what they wanted us to do, he should be satisfied,
and stop criticizing.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister thinks the federal government
pays the piper, but all it does is collect the money from the same
taxpayer who, in the end, is stuck with the bill for these transfer
Does the Prime Minister not realize that he has fooled nobody
by dumping the deficit in the backyard of the provinces? This
tactic has already produced a negative side, as is seen in the
decision by the Dominion Bond Rating Service to put Ontario's
credit rating under review following the federal budget cuts in
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, we prepared the budget to squarely face the fiscal
reality of the nation. At the moment I know the Canadian people
support the tough action the government took because it was the
right thing to do.
Hon. Lucien Bouchard (Leader of the Opposition, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister be as frank as his Minister
of Intergovernmental Affairs was yesterday in Quebec City,
when he admitted that budget cutbacks mean that Quebec will
have a potential loss of $3.5 billion three years from now,
something his Minister of Finance refused to admit yesterday in
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, it is true that there will be a loss of revenue in some
provinces. As in many other sectors in this country where we
have made cuts, people will have less money. That is what
management is. When we can no longer afford to pay, we have to
cut, and that is what we have done. We did not walk away from
our responsibilities. There are people who blame us, and we are
prepared to take the blame, but on the other hand, I know the
Canadian public realizes that this government has not neglected
its responsibilities and that we have done what the people
wanted us to do.
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the
government wanted to make the $7 billion reduction in transfer
payments to the provinces for post-secondary education, health
and welfare look like a decentralization measure to demonstrate
the flexibility of federalism. In a case of real decentralization
a transfer of additional responsibilities is accompanied by the
means to assume them, that is, tax points.
How can the Prime Minister have the gall to ask the provinces,
as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs did yesterday, to
clean up their finances? He dumps an additional $7 billion
charge on them and asks them to do for him the clean up job that
he is incapable of doing in federal spending.
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, we have in fact cut 19 per cent of federal government
operations. Transfers to the provinces are cut, I believe, by 14
per cent. We were not as harsh on the provinces as we were on
ourselves. I think the hon. member should recognize this. There
is no difference between tax points and cash payments; they
represent a transfer of resources from the federal government to
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the
more we ask, the more we learn. Yesterday the Minister of
Finance admitted that the cuts to the provinces represented 4 per
cent. Today it is 14 per cent. Tomorrow, maybe-
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
An hon. member: It is the truth.
Mr. Gauthier: I prefer to believe the Prime Minister, Mr.
Mr. Bouchard: He is just as honest as his Minister of
Mr. Gauthier: Will the Prime Minister admit at least that the
reduction in transfer payments is not decentralization, since, as
the Minister of Finance said yesterday, the federal government
is refusing to transfer the corresponding tax points, because it
does not want to give up any of its leverage in post-secondary
education, health care and welfare? Will he acknowledge this?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, when the Minister of Finance spoke of 3 per cent, he
was talking about 3 per cent of a provincial budget. The figure of
14 per cent is the cut in transfers. That is the distinction.
It is a funny thing about money transfers. For years, the
opposition has been telling us to get out of these areas of
jurisdiction. And when we do so, they tell us to keep on paying.
But the more we stay in these areas, the more federal taxpayers
have the right to insist that we be involved in such matters. We
are saying to the provinces that, with the new system, we are
giving them more flexibility, as they have been requesting for
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.):
Speaker, in an interview yesterday on the CBC, the Prime
Minister suggested that medicare needs to be reduced and revert
to meeting more basic needs.
The Liberal budget includes further reductions in federal
transfers for health care and the intergovernmental affairs
minister has apparently told the Quebec government that
Canada's health laws need to be opened up. All of these things
are completely opposite to the promises in the red book on
My question is for the Prime Minister. Is there a federal plan
to restructure health care and health care funding? If there is,
why did the government choose to omit that plan from Monday's
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I was a member of the House of Commons when the
health care system was introduced. The five conditions written
into the act will remain. I will not jeopardize the medicare
system in Canada.
It is a very good system and we want to maintain it. We are
holding discussions with the provinces at this time to see what
can be done to make sure that while we reduce the cost of
medicare we maintain the quality of service. That is exactly
what we are trying to do.
The five conditions which are written into the act are there.
They were in the red book and as long as I am Prime Minister
they will remain in the laws of the land.
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, one of the cornerstones of integrity in government is
full disclosure. If the federal government has plans to reduce
spending on health care in the short run in order to save
medicare in the long run, it should simply say so. That is what
the Reform Party did in its taxpayers' budget. Canadians have a
right to expect the government to be equally frank and up front.
My question is for the Prime Minister. Is the government
planning further reductions in health care spending, yes or no?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, we do not spend money on health care. The provincial
governments spend the money. It is not us. We have no control
over the spending of the money.
We help the provincial governments with their health care
systems and in exchange we ask for the five conditions to
remain. It is the pride of Canadians to have a health care system
which is universally free for everyone, not a system in which the
rich have better services than the poor. That is why we are still
spending money on medicare, to ensure that these principles
Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, the Prime Minister began his answer by saying that
they were not spending money and ended up by saying that they
were spending money. Every time the Prime Minister gives an
evasive or political answer to this question it just heightens the
suspicion that the federal government has some alternative plan.
My question is for the Prime Minister. Again, I ask for an
honest, straightforward, one-word answer.
Some hon. members: Order.
The Speaker: I am sure that all hon. members take for
granted that both the questions and the responses will be honest.
That goes without saying. We need not ask either for the
question or the answer to be honest.
Mr. Manning: I ask the Prime Minister again for a straight,
forthright, one-word answer. Is the government planning
further reductions in health care transfer payments to the
provinces, yes or no?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, when I see the leader of the Reform party getting up to
talk about the protection of medicare I wonder if Colonel
Sanders has become a vegetarian.
What we intend to do with the transfer payments and
everything else is clearly written in the budget. If the hon.
member reads it he will have the answer.
* * *
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian
Heritage. The minister told Parliament yesterday that he never
sent Mr. Manera any letter, nor did his deputy minister,
regarding figures other than those contained in the budget.
However, today, Mr. Manera claims that, one hour before the
budget was tabled, the deputy minister of heritage sent him
figures regarding budget cuts hitting the CBC over the next three
years to the tune of $266 million.
How can the minister reconcile the statements he made
yesterday with those Mr. Manera made today and which are
Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage,
Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that will not be difficult. You already know
what decisions the government made in the budget. As I
explained yesterday, the CBC's budget was drawn up for the
coming fiscal year. The remaining figures come from the
program review that was undertaken last August.
Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski-Témiscouata, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, how can the minister keep on pretending that only
the budget figures were given to Mr. Manera, while the
document he received from his deputy minister contained
information regarding a cabinet decision for the next three
Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage,
Lib.): Mr. Speaker, our colleague is quite tenacious. She bounds
off on a fishing expedition with lots of energy, yet comes back
with nothing more than the refuse from the lake floor that her
hook happened to catch on to. The decisions are contained in the
budget and the other documents that Mr. Manera may have in his
possession must be documents on program review.
Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
The government knows that the days of billion dollar budgets
for the CBC are gone but has failed to admit it to Canadians. The
Reform Party has been consistently honest and open about
downsizing the CBC.
Yesterday the chairman of the Standing Committee on
Canadian Heritage stated publicly that it would have been more
straightforward with Canadians to have included future cuts to
the CBC in the budget and that it should have given all of the bad
news up front.
Why does the minister not recognize, as does his colleague,
that they should have come clean with Canadians about their
plans for cutting the CBC?
Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage,
Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made clear that in a
budget which is a rigorous one all the agencies of the Canadian
government have to participate in bearing the load.
We have done so with the CBC. We have indicated very
clearly that there will be a cut next year. We have not removed
the cuts which go back to the Mazankowski budget.
There is a clear situation in which the CBC has to bear part of
the load and we think that it will be able to do so.
Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
despite the Prime Minister's promises not to cut the CBC as
outlined in the Liberal red book and despite what the hon.
minister said, the cuts that have to be made to the CBC must be
up front and honestly stated.
The Reform Party has said that the CBC cannot continue as we
know it today and the figures in this secret document from the
The Speaker: Order. I would ask the hon. member not to use
a prop and to please put her question.
Mrs. Brown (Calgary Southeast): Mr. Speaker, instead of
sounding the death knell for the CBC by making blind cuts, why
does the hon. minister not realize that a viable future for the
CBC lies in the private sector?
Hon. Michel Dupuy (Minister of Canadian Heritage,
Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we know that our colleague would like to see
the disappearance of the CBC as a public broadcaster in spite of
the great credit it has earned itself over the years for Canada.
This does not surprise me. Not such a long time ago when the
issue she raised was that of a country program with one
Canadian program and channel to be defended against an
American channel, she took the side of the American channel.
Not only that, the Canadian channel was located in her own
* * *
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, BQ):
Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. In his budget
plan, the Minister of Finance says he must ensure that the old
age security program is financially sustainable. Yet, in response
to a question on the changes planned by the government to the
old age pension plan, the minister deliberately tried to dodge the
issue by talking about the Canada Pension Plan, which is
something else entirely.
Since the Minister of Finance claims that the current old age
pension plan has become unsustainable, can the Prime Minister
confirm his government's intention to reduce benefits and
access to this plan?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, we have no intention of reducing benefits and access to
this plan. However, all social programs must be reviewed. That
is what the Minister of Human Resources Development is doing.
Studies were conducted in other areas, and the Canada
Pension Plan, which is the pension paid to citizens in Canada,
needs to be reviewed at this time. It is something we have to do
in any case, in preparation for an upcoming meeting with
provincial governments, and because programs are dovetailed to
a certain extent.
The Minister of Human Resources Development intends to
review the whole question, which is very important for the
future of seniors in Canada. This government does not favour
the status quo. It has the capacity to review all elements of the
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, changing the status quo may affect benefits and access,
Since the study on old age pensions, which had been
scheduled for last year, has been deferred once again, are we to
understand that the government does not want to debate
publicly, before the Quebec referendum, its plan to cut old age
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I would really like to know when this referendum will
be held and whether there will even be a referendum. After
reading in the newspapers about the differences and
contradictions among opposition members on this subject, how
can I know when the referendum will be held? We are not
influenced by that, since they are not even able to agree on a
If they want to win the referendum, all they have to do is ask
the very short, very clear question that I am suggesting. If they
want a guaranteed ``yes'', they only have to ask the following
question: Do you want to stay in Canada? And Quebecers will
* * *
Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has severely criticized the
department of Indian affairs for its lack of financial
accountability, its lack of program monitoring and its lack of
program evaluation. Yet instead of being cut back like all the
other departments in the government, Indian affairs actually
received a $447 million increase in its budget.
Considering that it is well documented that Indian affairs
spending is out of control and has a serious lack of
accountability, how can the minister even begin to justify an
increase in his department's budget?
Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased the hon.
member asked that. The Reform party has attempted to get quite
a bit of misinformation throughout the country, but not with
very much success. Most people who have looked at the budget,
and obviously the Reform has not, will know that the birthrate in
the aboriginal community is two and half times that of the white
community. Next year per capita the aboriginal person will
receive less than they do now.
To do those things as we said in the red book, in addition to the
442 people we already laid off, we will be laying off another 300
people. We will be freezing salaries at the ministry, as the
member knows. We will also be freezing salaries in the
aboriginal communities and we will be cutting $15 million from
the northern development program.
That is the reality, not the myths that the member and his party
are spreading throughout the country.
Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, let us be clear about this. Mismanagement is the
problem, not money. Both the Auditor General and the Indian
affairs department's own internal audits have reported a plague
of serious financial mismanagement both at the departmental
level and at the band level.
How can the minister of Indian affairs stand and defend this
$447 million increase in his budget without first getting the
mess in his department cleaned up?
Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this member has 23 First
Nations in his riding. Maybe for once he will stand and defend
one of them.
This member will talk about those bands that have troubles.
Sure those bands have troubles. However, over 80 per cent of the
600 bands in this country are managing their affairs. For the 152
that require help, we are giving them help. Eight-five per cent as
of January have remedial action plans in place which means
they, like us, are cutting staff. They are deferring housing. They
are cutting much of their infrastructure and they are dropping
programs. That is the reality.
* * *
Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ):
yesterday the Prime Minister said that the federal government
had no intention of giving up its control levers over the health
sector. Meanwhile, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
alluded for the first time to the possibility of reviewing the
Canada Health Act.
How does the Prime Minister reconcile the comments made
by his minister, who clearly mentioned the possibility of
amending the Canada Health Act, with his own statement to the
effect that the government intends to keep all its control levers
over the health sector?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, it is easy. We, on this side of the House, keep repeating
it. The minister said it: the five principles governing the Canada
Health Act will remain in force.
There may be circumstances where some amendments could
be made. However, we will not compromise on the principles:
they are there to stay. There is no contradiction between that
position and the possibility of discussing certain changes which
could benefit both the federal government and the provinces.
However, the five principles will not be changed.
Mrs. Pauline Picard (Drummond, BQ): Mr. Speaker, since,
according to the Prime Minister, the Canada Health Act will not
be opened up, how does he explain the statement made by his
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs?
Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Queen's Privy
Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
and Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, what I said very clearly in Quebec City is exactly
what the Prime Minister stated, namely that the five standards
governing the Canada Health Act would remain in effect.
What I said regarding the Canada social transfer was that we
could, through mutual consent, change existing conditions
applicable to social assistance. This is absolutely true and in
accordance with what was said. Again, as I said yesterday during
the press conference, the five standards governing the Canada
Health Act will not be touched.
* * *
Mr. Ron MacDonald (Dartmouth, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the minister of fisheries. Canada is standing firm
on its position that the European union must adhere to NAFO's
set quotas for turbot on the Grand Banks. However, the
Europeans in a continuing campaign of misinformation are
telling anybody who will listen that Canadian fishermen do not
need, do not want and cannot catch the Canadian quota for
I ask the minister to confirm whether this is fact or fiction.
Are Canadian fishermen ready, willing and able to take the
rightful quota that has been set for them through NAFO?
Hon. Brian Tobin (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans,
Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.
Canadians have shown a tremendous interest this year in taking
60 per cent of the quota assigned to Canada by NAFO.
I am informed that in the 35 to 40-foot category somewhere
between 200 and 500 boats are now gearing up to participate in
the fishery. From the sixty-five to one hundred foot category,
five vessels are now gearing up. From the fifty-five to
sixty-five foot category, forty vessels are now gearing up.
For the first time in a decade Canadian offshore vessels,
vessels from fisheries products, internationals and national sea,
are going to the offshore to catch turbot to take the Canadian
share. One left yesterday at noon. One will leave in 45 minutes.
They are going out on the continental shelf beyond 200 miles
and they are going to take Canada's share of the turbot quota.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, the
Liberal budget eliminates the WGTA subsidy by August 1 of this
year, cuts the dairy subsidy by 30 per cent, cuts safety net
programs by 30 per cent, and eliminates the feed freight
The government has taken away the funding but has not taken
away the unnecessary regulation that would cut costs, allowing
farmers to recoup some of these losses.
I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and
Agri-Food. When will the minister reduce unnecessary
regulation and specifically how will he make the system work
better for less?
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Agriculture and
Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as the hon. gentleman will
know, over the course of the last year or so some good progress
has been made in dealing with regulatory issues. We have passed
in the House new legislation pertaining to the Canada Grain Act,
which is a step in that direction, to improve the regulatory
Certainly a major part of our western grain transportation
reform plan is an efficiency package, which is being worked
upon by the Minister of Transport and myself in consultation
with all stakeholders in the western Canadian grain handling
system, to develop a system in western Canada that is
substantially lower in cost overall, certainly much more
efficient than it is today and faster in getting our grain to the
markets where it needs to be.
Mr. Leon E. Benoit (Vegreville, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I think
Canadian farmers would expect a little better answer than that.
Certainly any farmer would know that the minister better have a
plan in place before cutting the WGTA funding.
How many years will it take the minister to hold the
discussions as laid out in the discussion paper and prepare a plan
to replace the current system?
Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Agriculture and
Agri-Food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the discussions with respect to
the efficiencies package have been ongoing now for several
months with the active involvement of 14 or 15 farm
organizations in western Canada, together with a variety of
other stakeholders in the industry.
We have indicated to the stakeholders participating in the
discussions that as soon as the fiscal framework was tabled in
the House in the form of the budget, which of course happened
on Monday of this week, we would want to proceed very quickly
with the finalization of the details.
Therefore, as far as the efficiencies package is concerned to
the extent that it requires legislation, that legislation can be
concluded conceptually within the course of the next month. It
can be presented to Parliament this spring and enacted into law
before June 1995.
* * *
Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier-Montcalm, BQ):
Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister.
This morning, La Presse reported that Libertina Rizzuto and
Luca Giammarella, suspected by the Swiss authorities of trying
to launder $3 million through Swiss banks, were released,
although the investigation continues. It seems their release
came as a result of the half-hearted assistance the RCMP gave
Swiss police authorities.
Could the Prime Minister explain why the RCMP failed to
give the Swiss authorities their full co-operation when they
refused to provide information crucial to legal proceedings in
Mr. Patrick Gagnon (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor
General, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have just been advised of this
case, and I will make a note of the opposition critic's question.
Mr. Michel Bellehumeur (Berthier-Montcalm, BQ): Mr.
Speaker, on a supplementary. What explanation does the Prime
Minister have for the fact that the only officer familiar with the
case involving Mrs. Rizzuto and Mr. Giammarella was on
holiday when the Swiss authorities had to release these two
individuals, failing the co-operation of the RCMP?
Mr. Patrick Gagnon (Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor
General, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will not comment on the
operations of the RCMP. I think it is clear there will be an
investigation, and the Solicitor General will be able to respond
to the opposition member's question in due time.
* * *
Mr. John Cummins (Delta, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, my question
is for the Prime Minister.
Notwithstanding the blustering of the Minister of Fisheries
and Oceans, 45 to 50 European vessels are currently fishing
Canadian turbot just outside Canada's territorial limit. Reports
indicate that they have exceeded their NAFO quota and have
unilaterally established an EU quota of 70 per cent of the total
When will the Prime Minister recognize that the Minister of
Fisheries and Oceans has failed to protect Canada's fish stocks,
intervene and try to negotiate a settlement with the EU?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, many Canadians think the Minister of Fisheries has
been the best fighter that we have ever had for the fisheries.
Some hon. members: More, more.
Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice): I cannot carry on. I do not
want to inflate his ego too much.
Mr. John Cummins (Delta, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, the
Europeans have exceeded their quota under NAFO and the
minister is fiddling while Rome burns or the dory sinks.
When will the Prime Minister intervene and get some action
on this problem?
Hon. Brian Tobin (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans,
Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to see that my colleague has
taken an interest in the matter, because for the last year we have
been working very diligently to put an end to overfishing.
As part of the process of putting an end to overfishing, last
year we did not have this bellicose noise. We had the
co-operation of the Reform Party and the co-operation of the
Bloc Quebecois. I recognize that last year was a rare time when
the House was unanimous and passed Bill C-29 to take the
necessary measures to throw flag of convenience vessels off the
nose and tail. They left last May and they have not returned.
The cabinet and the national caucus from sea to sea to sea are
united behind the cause of the fishermen of Atlantic Canada. We
will be calling upon them for their support again in the days and
* * *
Mr. Martin Cauchon (Outremont, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, as we
all know, the Montreal area has had more than its share of
economic hardship over the past decade. But things have been
looking up lately.
Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human
Resources Development update this House on the economic
conditions in Montreal and the regions since the various
elements of the human resources development programs have
been put in place?
Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua (Parliamentary Secretary to
Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I publicly thank the member for Outremont for the
excellent job he did during the parliamentary committee
hearings on social security review.
In the Montreal area the economy is making substantial gains.
Between January 1994 and January 1995 the number of jobs in
Montreal increased by 47,000. The number of unemployed
workers decreased by 18,000. The unemployment rate is down
by 1.3 per cent.
The red book promises are working very well in Montreal.
* * *
Mr. Michel Guimond
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Transport. On October 18, I asked
the minister how he could justify spending nearly $10 million a
year to keep the Coast Guard College in Sydney open when the
Marine Institute in Rimouski, Quebec, the Pacific Maritime
Training Institute in Vancouver and the Marine Institute in
Newfoundland, among others, offered the same services. I never
heard back from him on that.
How can the minister contemplate, as outlined in the last
budget, imposing higher rates on Coast Guard service users,
when he does not have the courage to end needless duplication,
as in the case of the college in Sydney, which costs the taxpayers
$10 million per year?
Hon. Douglas Young (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, every institution my hon. colleague mentioned makes a
significant contribution to the Coast Guard and other services
within Transport Canada. We have no intention of changing the
status of the Coast Guard College in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Mr. Michel Guimond
(Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, why
did the minister not take advantage of the budget to announce
the closure of the Coast Guard College in Sydney, since
provincial educational facilities can provide the same services
at a lower cost?
Hon. Douglas Young (Minister of Transport, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the coast guard academy at Sydney, Nova Scotia,
produces people who are highly skilled and world recognized.
We understand the role played by the various provincial
institutions referred to by the hon. member.
I would hope the hon. member would understand that the
presence of a coast guard academy such as the one at Sydney is
absolutely essential to maintain the level and the standards that
are well known around the world which have been maintained by
the coast guard for a century now in Canada.
Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.):
according to the estimates tabled on Tuesday, the Treasury
Board secretariat will be creating 10 more management
positions at a cost of $3.5 million to the taxpayer. That is
$350,000 for each executive. The President of the Treasury
Board must have some spectacular executives in mind for that
kind of salary.
How can the President of the Treasury Board pad his
executive suite with 10 more managers while in the same breath
cut 45,000 jobs from the rest of the civil service?
Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (President of the Treasury Board
and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I would be happy to look into the specifics of the matter
the hon. member mentions.
Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that overall the executive ranks
in the public service have been reduced over the last four years
by some 26 per cent.
As the Minister of Finance announced the other day, in our
budget expenditure plan over the next three years there is a
reduction of some 19 per cent in government spending. As part
of the reduction in staff there will be proportional representation
at the different levels: executive, middle management and
frontline workers. The executive level will be part and parcel of
the government's overall plan of reduction.
Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.): I am not sure the
minister heard my point, Mr. Speaker. I said that he was going to
increase his own departmental executives by 10.
He said the other day: ``We will continue to manage changing
priorities by reallocating resources''. This is not my idea of
reallocating resources by adding more to his department. It
seems to me that the resources will be reallocated not toward a
reduction of the deficit but to his own department.
Does the President of the Treasury Board need to increase his
executive staff by 15 per cent when he is reducing the total
number of the federal civil service by over 20 per cent?
Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (President of the Treasury Board
and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I do not know from where the hon. member gets those
figures. There is no increase in the staff at Treasury Board.
In fact there is a reduction as there is in all departments as part
of the overall plan to get the deficit of the country down. That
has been part of the government's program as announced by the
Minister of Finance.
Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, my
question is for the Minister of Health. As the minister knows, as
cash transfers to provinces go down the tax point shares go up.
Yesterday the Prime Minister, speaking straight from the
heart, said: ``When you transfer tax points you lose all leverage
after that because you don't collect the money. The day that you
don't have any more cash, you can't use the leverage''. That
suggests to me that it is straight through the heart of the health
I want to ask a question of the minister whose major
responsibility to the Canadian citizen is to protect the national
health care system. Clearly she has not been successful. Will she
do the right thing and resign?
Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I explained very clearly it is because we want to
maintain the five conditions of the health act that we have to
make sure we transfer cash. That is why we decided to have a
system of block funding so that we could have some influence.
When they have tax points the provinces are not obliged to
listen to us any more. I recognize that we need some leverage
because if we did not have leverage some provinces would have
already cut into the five conditions. We need to have the means
to make sure they do not use the fact that they have only tax
points to destroy medicare.
We will keep what is needed for medicare to stay as it is.
* * *
Mr. Andy Scott (Fredericton-York-Sunbury, Lib.):
Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.
Monday's budget, as has been mentioned, announced a
reduction of 45,000 positions within the public service over the
next three years. There is much uncertainty about the impact of
Could the minister indicate what measures will be offered to
these employees and assure the House that every effort will be
made to accommodate employees through early retirement,
early departure and other programs?
Hon. Arthur C. Eggleton (President of the Treasury Board
and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, the short answer is yes. We value our employees, the
ones who will be leaving and the ones who will be remaining.
We certainly want to provide those who are leaving every
opportunity to adjust back into the community. There will be
early retirement provisions and early departure incentives that
involve training and counselling. A wide range of services will
be available to them which will help in terms of the adjustment.
They have been hard, dedicated workers for the people of this
country. We want to make sure that we treat them fairly and
* * *
I wish to draw the attention of members to the
presence in our gallery of His Excellency Willy Claes, Secretary
General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
* * *
Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern
Mr. Speaker, in response to a question
from the hon. member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley, I
believe I said he had 23 First Nations and he has 11. Once again,
it is the other critic, the hon. member for Skeena, who has 23.
The Speaker: The clarification is noted.
I have a point of privilege from the hon. member for
Sherbrooke. Might I ask the hon. member if this point of
privilege arises out of this question period?
Mr. Charest: No, Mr. Speaker, it does not arise out of
The Speaker: Pursuant to the rules of the House, the hon.
member would know, being a respected parliamentarian, that
the Chair should have at least one hour's written notice. I am
sure the hon. member will want to proceed according to the rules
and do just that. His question of privilege will be heard at the
earliest possible time.
Mr. Charest: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I thank
the Chair for its patience and for the clarification on the question
This question of privilege arises out of an article published
today in a paper which is well known on the Hill, the Hill Times.
I wanted to advise the House immediately.
The Speaker will know, as all members of the House know,
that a member also has the duty to inform the House and his
fellow colleagues as soon as he or she is aware of the question of
privilege, which I chose to do today. It relates to the secrecy of
the budget process.
The Speaker: The hon. member is absolutely correct that
there should be notification given to the Chair as soon as
possible. As such, I know the hon. member will want to follow
the rules and take the time to put his point of privilege, in all its
fullness, at the earliest possible time. However, because it did
not arise from question period today, I would rule that the point
of privilege will be put off until later.
I thought the hon. member was going to introduce a point of
order or did I misunderstand?
Mr. Charest: Mr. Speaker, for the record and to accommodate
the rules and all members of the House in fairness, may I suggest
that I raise this point of privilege tomorrow after question period
so that all members of the House will know that this issue will be
The Speaker: The hon. member would know that in
accordance with the rules the answer would be yes.
The Speaker: My colleagues, we will now proceed to
Thursday's usual question.
* * *
Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, this is a
difficult question to ask but I will ask my colleague, the
Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs, to tell us about the
business planned not only for the coming days but also for the
week following the recess.
Hon. Alfonso Gagliano (Secretary of State (Parliamentary
Affairs) and Deputy Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons): Mr. Speaker, if I may, I will answer the question.
Today we will continue with second reading of the borrowing
bill. When we adjourn tomorrow, we will stand adjourned until
Monday, March 13. On that day we will consider the firearms
bill. On Tuesday, March 14 and Wednesday, March 15 we will
conclude the budget debate.
Mr. Speaker, we intend to designate March 16 and 17 as
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill
C-73, an act to provide borrowing authority for the fiscal year
beginning on April 1, 1995, be read the second time and referred
to a committee.
Hon. David Dingwall (Minister of Public Works and
Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada
Opportunities Agency, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, when I began
earlier today, I started off with Madam Speaker, was interrupted
by Mr. Speaker, and now I have a different Mr. Speaker in the
Chair. I would like to be certain that this Mr. Speaker will
remain in the Chair for the duration of my short intervention in
As I said earlier to my colleagues in the House, the
Department of Public Works and Government Services has had
to sustain some significant reductions. I note my colleague from
the Reform Party. No doubt he will have numerous questions for
me when we go before committee. I might add he usually asks
very good questions.
I want to share with him and other members of the House that
we will be commercializing the Canada Communication Group,
an aspect of public works and government services. We will be
doing away with the stock item supply. We will be going to
direct deposit across the board to save the taxpayers significant
amounts of money. Cheque production sites will be consolidated
in order to save costs to the taxpayer, contributing to the savings
we are putting toward the deficit over a three year period of $353
In addition, public works and government services, Treasury
Board and all agencies of the Government of Canada have been,
presently are and will continue to look at ways in which to make
additional savings in terms of the reduction in office space
which houses a variety of government departments.
Program review was conducted by my colleague the Minister
of Intergovernmental Affairs and had a number of aspects
associated with it. One was a vertical examination of all
expenditures in each of the departments. As a consequence of
that examination, there will be less need for additional space.
I want to be very careful and very prudent. I welcome
suggestions from members across the way in terms of how we
can do public-private partnering in this regard and how we can
have additional savings as it relates to the space requirements
we need as a national government across the country.
These savings, as I indicated earlier, will total $353 million
and will dislocate 5,263 employees over a three year period. It is
very difficult to try to sugarcoat tough decisions, but I want to be
clear. Although there will be some dislocation of jobs, many of
those jobs will reappear in the private sector. We ought not to
downplay the significance the private sector can play in terms of
handling some of these services and activities which, prior to the
budget, were being conducted by government departments.
The Department of Public Works and Government Services is
a common service department. We act in relation to the requests
made to us by other departments and agencies of the
Government of Canada. Where the opportunity exists, our
objective and goal is always to try to get value for the
expenditures within our department. We will be vigilant in
reaching that goal in the coming months and years. Again I
invite the co-operation and suggestions of members opposite to
make certain we abide by that objective of value for our money.
Where the opportunity exists I hope they will provide us with
good, meaningful suggestions.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is another agency
which comes under my responsibility. It has a historic, national
and international reputation in the housing sector. Cabinet and
the Minister of Finance, in view of the fiscal capacity of the
Government of Canada, are giving savings to reduce the deficit
in excess of $300 million.
We will be closing over 20 offices across the country. We will
be cutting back on our research efforts as a national housing
institution. We will be doing away with the scholarship program
which has been part and parcel of Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation for quite some time. If anyone were to suggest that
those are not tough, difficult measures, I would think they were
being less than candid with themselves and with the House.
I do want to say that the Minister of Finance has given us a
balance. On the one hand we still have 600,000 units. It is an
expenditure by the government of over $2 billion annually,
housing one million Canadians who need the assistance of the
state as they try to provide dignity and opportunities for their
families and their communities. That expenditure is significant.
It is hoped that over an additional three year period we will be
able to have additional savings and will be able to do some
things in other sectors. However, I do not want to give a false
impression to the House because it would be misleading and
very unfair to suggest otherwise.
With the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the
government over a three year period will be reducing its
contributions to that agency. I would like to take a moment to
explain the mandate of ACOA. The mandate of the Atlantic
portunities Agency is to effectuate where possible economic
activities in the Atlantic region.
Those of us who come from the Atlantic region, such as my
colleague the hon. member for Dartmouth, will attest to the fact
that economic growth in many of our communities is not what
we want it to be. We are continually trying to find ways to foster
economic growth. We have moved away from a previous set of
targets in terms of providing grants to small and medium sized
businesses. We have done away with that. We have moved to a
system of repayable loans which provides more accountability
There is still a lot of partnering. As an agency of the crown we
can partner with the provinces, universities and non-profit
organizations. This is done not for the sake of having
announcements but for the sake of trying to get communities,
the intellectual side, the business side and the non-profit side
together, forging a coalition to try to meet the challenge of
creating economic activity in the poorer regions.
Much has been said about regional economic development in
the past. I am sure much more will be said by those who oppose
that forum. Let it be understood that as the minister responsible
for one small agency, ACOA, I believe as the red book and the
1994 and 1995 budgets have identified, that regional economies
are the backbone of the nation.
There is no question there are differences between the
economy of Atlantic Canada and that of Quebec. There are
differences between western Canada and the Atlantic region.
There are differences between Ontario and the west, be it the
prairies or British Columbia. They are different. We must
acknowledge that factual thing: a small population base, a
widely dispersed people over a large geographical mass. It is our
task not to put the blame on those that have come before us and
tried to seize the moment and the opportunity by creating
through partnerships something that will provide some hope and
some dignity to individuals in that region of the country.
All agencies of government were asked to provide moneys to
cut the deficit. Fifty person years will be reduced at the Atlantic
Canada Opportunities Agency, 15 person years at Enterprise
Cape Breton. All aspects are being reviewed.
As members opposite find opportunities to either ask
questions or put before me as the minister responsible, as my
colleagues in the Atlantic Region do, ways in which we can
improve, to cut things and to add to things, I would be happy to
hear from them.
I want to make something very clear to those members who sit
in the House. I make no apology to any member, any political
party, and any representative of the press for standing up for a
region which has historically sustained a lot of economic
difficulty. As I say to my friends and as I shared with caucus
colleagues, we in Atlantic Canada do not want handouts. We
want a hand up. Regardless of where they live, Canadians are
entitled to that kind of opportunity from the national
In the time that I have remaining, I want to briefly touch on
the subject of the Royal Canadian Mint. Colleague opposite
knows that I have umpteen different agencies for which I am
responsible so I am just hitting the highlights of some of them.
With regard to the Royal Canadian Mint, I want to clarify a
rumour. It was circulating in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia that the $2
coin we will be issuing will have the picture of the hon. member
for Dartmouth on the coin. I want to make it perfectly clear it
was a difficult decision I had to make personally, but given what
I had to work with I think everyone can understand why I
reached the decision I did.
Let the House be aware that the new $2 coin will save
taxpayers over a 20-year period a quarter of a billion dollars.
We have gone one step further. We are looking at all of the
coins and their composition. We are going to change the
composition of those coins in order to reduce their cost, thereby
increasing the revenues which will total almost an additional
$12 million per year for the 20-year duration of an average coin.
That is new revenue for the national government. It is new
revenue for the purposes of writing down the deficit of the
Government of Canada.
I want Canadians to know that these measures have been taken
because we listened to them. I am the minister responsible for
public works, government services, and a host of other agencies.
I have gone before the standing committee for a record number
of times for any minister; three times. I have had good questions
from opposition members. I have had good suggestions from
opposition members. Equally so, I have had very good quality
questions and suggestions from government members. I want to
thank them for their help and assistance.
I throw out a challenge to all members of the House. If we are
sincere, which I take as a given, of reducing the deficit of the
government in the years ahead, they should come forward with
solutions. Yes, criticize too because that is part and parcel of the
political process. As I have told my exempt staff as well as all of
my deputy ministers, it is fine to identify problems but it is more
important to identify solutions to those problems.
I know that my time has come to an end but I would be happy
to attempt to answer any questions my colleagues may wish to
raise at this time.
Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Minister
of Public Works said that using $2 coins would result in savings
of some $225,000. I wonder how much it will cost to repair our
pockets though, because it is going to be a heavy load to carry.
My comment is somewhat in line with the sense of humour
displayed by the minister when he alluded to the possibility of
having his face appear on the new $2 coin.
The closing of some CMHC offices is a more serious issue. I
agree that the government must reduce spending. However, I
find it hard to understand why the minister decided to close the
CMHC office in my riding of Longueuil, since some 1.2 million
people live in the Montérégie. I think it would have been
justified to keep an office to manage CMHC affairs in that
region. That region has a larger population than the province of
Nova Scotia where, I imagine, there must be at least one CMHC
office. So, I ask the minister: Why he is taking that step and,
second, from where will he manage all the properties in the
Mr. Dingwall: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the
question. It is a very legitimate and important question that one
would ask of a minister.
My colleague is quite right in making representations to me
on the issue. However, I say to him as I say to all members,
difficult decisions had to be made by the government relating to
the reduction of expenditures.
In the riding adjacent to mine that members refer to quite
often as being my district but really is not, we closed the office
as well. I do not take any joy as the minister responsible for
Canada Mortgage and Housing for having to shut down offices.
Administratively it is important that Canada Mortgage and
Housing make those kinds of decisions in order that we can
contribute to bringing down the deficit of the Government of
Canada. I have had numerous meetings with my colleague the
Minister of Finance who did not cherish the fact that we had to
reduce those offices.
I want to tell my colleague opposite that his constituents,
which he ably represents, will still have the services of
representatives from Canada Mortgage and Housing from
Notwithstanding reductions at Canada Mortgage and
Housing, I received no less than seven or eight interventions
from his party. I thought he was to congratulate me on the rent
geared to income which was rumoured to go from 25 per cent to
30 per cent. The Minister of Finance and the cabinet have
maintained it at 25 per cent.
On the one hand it was difficult to close the office in his
constituency. He will still receive quality service from
neighbouring communities. On the other hand we have been fair.
We have not increased the rent geared to income for those
citizens who are occupying our social housing units across the
Mr. Elwin Hermanson (Kindersley-Lloydminster, Ref.):
Mr. Speaker, I was hoping the minister would put to rest the
terrible rumour I heard that the figure on the new proposed $2
coin might be a soft walled, shiny topped dingy. That did not
happen and it is unfortunate.
I want to get down to the matter of his responsibility with
regard to ACOA. We know there are several regional
development agencies flowing from the federal government:
ACOA, western economic diversification, FORD-Q and other
northern development agencies.
If someone with a grade five education sat down and thought
about it, he or she would realize this whole concept is wrong.
First, history tells us it is wrong. It has not worked in his region
of Atlantic Canada. We have seen DREE grants, ACOA grants
and loan programs for not years but decades and they have not
worked. They have been part of a continuation of a depressed
economy. In some of these regions they have not solved the
If we think about it, the reasons are obvious. First, the
payback of taxpayers' dollars going through the administration
here in Ottawa and then back out to the regions is very costly.
They are very expensive departments with gold windows that
have to be replaced and huge staffs. It is also an opportunity for
ministers to have undue influence in the tendering process. It
tends to have people come to ministers hat in hand, asking for a
grant or a loan.
I know that recently the minister responsible for ACOA has
removed the granting program. I believe that is due in large
measure to criticism from the Reform caucus that pointed out
the blatant pork barrelling and the problems with the whole
program of grants.
Now ACOA is restricted to lending funds to business. In fact,
they have reduced the lending. However, businesses can get
loans from other institutions such as banks and credit unions.
Why would we need ACOA to grant loans? It is a very costly
way for the taxpayers to help businesses. Also the amount lent
out is reduced. Yet we still have the department and the minister
responsible as well as his staff. There are not the cuts at the top
we need because we are doing less with more.
How can the minister stand in the House and justify ACOA,
western economic diversification and other regional
development agencies that have failed miserably. They have
added poverty to Canada and have been an opportunity for pork
barrelling and misuse of federal funds.
Mr. Dingwall: Mr. Speaker, such an easy question from an
easy representative. The hon. member's assertion is factually
Mr. Hermanson: Make some sense for once.
Mr. Dingwall: I did not interrupt the hon. member when he
was speaking. Maybe he can give me the same courtesy.
Let him remember and understand history. Yes, regional
economic development programs have not been a raving
success. To suggest there have been no successes is factually
incorrect. It is factually incorrect to suggest that they have not
benefited certain regions. The hon. member should travel the
country extensively before he states false and misleading
information of that nature.
The hon. member makes the statement that somehow we
changed the programming of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities
Agency because of the interventions of the Reform Party. The
people who changed that program from grants to loans were the
business community and business representatives in Atlantic
Canada. When I travel Atlantic Canada, which is extensively, I
meet with them time and time again. I have listened to what they
have said and listened to what the Atlantic Liberal caucus has
said and that is the reason we moved from grants to repayable
Finally, the hon. member made reference to a dingy on the
Let me say to the hon. member that yes, the students at the
University College of Cape Breton have referred to this wall that
they have constructed under an infrastructure program as the
I want to tell my hon. friend that just the other day I drove by
the ``Dingwall'' in a car with white walls. I want to assure the
hon. member that the ``Dingwall'' is a hell of a lot more
effective and durable than the white walls on that car. I think the
hon. member knows who I am referring to when I talk about the
Mr. Michel Guimond
(Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans, BQ): Mr. Speaker, last
Monday, before the Minister of Finance tabled his budget, I was
worried because I realized Canada was bankrupt.
This was not my opinion but that of the New York Wall Street
Journal, in an article that appeared on January 12, this year,
under the heading ``Bankrupt Canada''. I also knew that
Moody's in New York had put us under a credit watch and was
waiting for the right moment to reduce our credit rating, which
would put upward pressure on the deficit and the national debt.
Considering these facts, I knew the Minister of Finance would
have to turn the situation around. I thought he would be fair to all
taxpayers, however. I would have liked to discuss the main cuts
introduced by the Minister of Finance, which are not, in every
case, appropriate and transparent, but I am sure my colleagues
will do a better job, since these subjects are not my specialty.
As the official opposition critic for transport, I was expecting
cuts but I had no idea the Department of Transport was up for
sale. I found that out last Monday.
As a result of program review, budgetary cuts will total $1.1
billion or 50.8 per cent of total expenditures forecast from 1995
to 1998. If we include cuts announced in the previous budget,
the Department of Transport's spending levels will be reduced
by 1.4 billion during the same period. In fact, budgetary savings
as a result of program review will total $2.6 billion over three
Take, for instance, the transfer of airports to local authorities.
The problem, since this is about downloading the deficit to the
provinces, is that these transfers to local or provincial
authorities will not include the corresponding tax points. That is
Air Canada was sold, and now Canadian National is on the
block. Means of transportation that our ancestors put in place
are now being sold off, not as a face saving gesture but to make
the government's failure in this respect less palpable. What can
we say about all this? Is this supposed to be a spring sale by the
federal government? Is this a closing out sale or a panic sale?
Since the Bloc Quebecois arrived in force in Ottawa, we have
been in favour of big projects to jump start the economy and
replenish the government coffers. In this regard, I spoke a
number of times in this House to encourage the government to
set up and invest in rapid transport, a high speed train in the
Windsor-Quebec City corridor. The budget made no mention
of this project. In fact, it indicated that there would be no more
From the start of the budget speech to the end of it, I watched
the Department of Transport crumble. I watched the legacy of a
century disintegrate. I kept waiting for the comforting
announcement of a project that would get the economy
moving-a high speed train. But no such luck.
Let us have a look at the coast guard now. We are presented
with the integration of the Coast Guard into the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans. At first glance, it would seem to be an
interesting arrangement, because there is a promise of greater
efficiency. But we must look carefully. Even though the budget
contains no concrete measures, other than those affecting the
fleet, the federal government plans to change the operations and
level of service of the Coast Guard. These changes will take the
form of cost recovery measures and increased fees.
These measures may jeopardize the competitiveness of ports
along the St. Lawrence and of the shipping industry as a whole.
Furthermore, part III of the budget estimates includes
provisions to merge the Canadian Coast Guard fleet with
Fisheries and Oceans, to delegate certain ship inspection
activities to classification societies, to transfer to the provinces
responsibility for inland waters of lesser importance and for
more sound management of public ports, with the potential
elimination of certain facilities.
This budget also provides for an increase in service fees,
which is tantamount to a hidden tax to be paid by people using
such services. This measure targets shipping services of course.
Services provided by the Coast Guard benefit the public and for
this reason fees for such services should not be increased. An
increase in fees for these services, which limit the number of ice
jams on the St. Lawrence, would prevent the Coast Guard from
saving Canadian lives, ensuring navigation safety and would
increase the risk of ecological accidents on the St. Lawrence.
In conclusion, such a fee structure would limit the
competitiveness of Quebec ports vis-à-vis their American
counterparts and the transport minister and the federal
government have known this for a long time. The transport
committee, of which I am deputy chairman, is currently
undertaking a tour of the country's principal ports. In particular,
we have visited Montreal, Quebec City and Mont-Joli in
Quebec. We have heard clearly that higher rates would put an
end to traffic on the St. Lawrence. Shipowners will prefer to
unload their cargo in Halifax, or to forge on to ports in Boston,
New York or Baltimore.
Is that the end result the minister hopes to attain? Stem traffic
on the St. Lawrence? Steer traffic towards Maritime or
American ports? Could it be that he is trying to scare Quebecers
by a vision of what could be in store if they separated? It is not
fear that has kept Quebecers in confederation for so many years,
but the hope that they would be treated fairly, which
decision-makers have failed to keep alive.
Quebecers are intelligent enough to figure out what the
current government is up to, in particular the Liberal Party of
Canada, which has always tried and is still trying to ruin Quebec
and to play favourites with other provinces. My case in point is
the closing of the Coast Guard college in Sydney, while the
Quebec Marine Institute in Rimouski or, for that matter, other
institutes in other provinces could have very easily done the
same work. This duplication is costing $10 million per year to
provincial institutions which could easily have taken over the
Now, on to privatizing CN. Canadian National is a Crown
corporation that has served Canadians for many years. It is one
of the institutions that has made it possible for Canadians from
coast to coast to communicate with each other. If it were not for
the railways, Western Canada probably would not have been
developed to the extent that it has. The government now intends
to sell CN, under the pretense that the decision will give society
the flexibility needed to quickly make strategic decisions on
operations and investments.
Is this an admission by the Minister of Finance that his
government is not in a position to make strategic decisions? The
sale of CN could cause many problems. Before selling off our
economic development tools, we must take several precautions.
According to the Nault report, some preparation work must be
carried out before CN can be sold, namely reducing the debt,
increasing profits and rationalizing the network.
First of all, the eventual buyer must be required to protect the
rights of the Canadian people. Let us also keep in mind that the
Nault report favours an Air Canada-like privatization process.
We will have the opportunity to review these issues and to
question the Minister of Transport both in the House and in
committee. With regard to the national airport policy, we are
told that airport commercialization will continue. Six national
airports have already been transferred to local management.
The Quebec government will have to support local groups
from small municipalities who want to enter into negotiations
with Ottawa. As you can appreciate, Quebec taxpayers will
again have to foot the bill for this federal policy.
In conclusion, from what I just said, you can understand that I
am far from enthused by the budget trends regarding the
Canadian air, sea and ground transportation sector.
This government shows its total lack of imagination.
International financial players called for cuts, but the
government cut indiscriminately, hitting seniors and the
disadvantaged especially hard.
For over a year, we have been asking the minister to establish
an integrated transport policy in Canada. This policy would
determine what should be transported by rail, by ship, by plane
and by road. Without being authoritarian and inflexible, this
policy could provide for fiscal incentives favouring the best
means of transportation.
Most of the countries in the world are developing rail
transportation because it is the cheapest. Here in Canada, we
remove rail tracks everywhere and convert them to bike paths.
We let trucks with excessive loads onto our roads. The roads are
being destroyed and the provinces must invest enormous
amounts to maintain them.
Yesterday, I read an editorial by a great Quebecer and
Canadian entitled ``Imperial Federalism''. What an appropriate
headline to describe the federal government, whether
Conservative or Liberal. They act without consulting, lead by
fear, and always repeat the same mistakes. That is Canadian
imperialism for you.
This government may feel that Quebecers rejected the
Charlottetown Agreement by mistake or because they were in
a bad mood. But it would be wrong. Quebecers can see clearly.
They want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
As long as they are in this imperialistic Confederation, the rest
of Canada will think that Quebecers are the problem.
The Minister of Finance tried to convince us that his budget
was a new form of federalism by attempting to decentralize
some areas of jurisdiction, without transferring tax points,
providing that Confederation partners comply with national
Quebec is a nation, a people. It has its own objectives and will
never agree to be led by an imperial federalist government.
Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I wish to
thank the hon. member for his excellent speech. I think he takes
the interests of the Quebec transportation industry at heart, and
he represents them well.
I would like him to touch on the possible implications of these
cuts in transfer payments to the provinces, which the Minister of
Finance indicated will be to the tune of $7 billion over the next
three years. Transfer cuts mean less money being paid to
Quebec. At the same time, the federal government continues to
tax Quebec at the same level. Moreover, tax hikes are imposed
on Quebecers, representing a deficit of about $6.5 billion for
Quebec in taxes alone. Add to that some $2.5 billion less coming
back to Quebec every year, and this makes a shortfall of $9
billion for the people of Quebec.
Instead of cutting taxes in Quebec, the federal government is
cutting the share Quebec used to get. This makes for a rather
significant shortfall, in fact a very significant shortfall for
Quebecers. How can this be offset? As the Minister of Finance
said, Quebec will have to either reduce public expenditures
further or impose tax hikes Quebec taxpayers who are not only
seeing their taxes go up instead of down, but receiving about
$2.5 billion less from the federal government every year, which
is utterly unfair. It is important that the people of Quebec be
reminded over and over again of this fact.
How does the transport critic see the transportation industry
in Quebec being affected by this drastic drop in overall revenue?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Having been more than
generous with the 10 minute period allotted to the hon. member
for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans, I would ask that we get
back on the right track, speaking of transportation. So, if he
could keep his answer as short as possible, under two minutes in
Mr. Guimond: Thank you Mr. Speaker for being so
I will answer the hon. member for Longueuil. The question
comes unexpectedly, even though the member and I belong to
the same party. We can make a comparison. I am convinced that
when a Liberal member asks a question to a Liberal minister
during question period, viewers in Canada and Quebec can tell
that the answer has already been prepared. However, this is not
the case here. I did not expect the question from the hon.
member for Longueuil. However, I will try to answer it to the
best of my knowledge.
Some hon. members: Ah, Ah!
Mr. Guimond: You can laugh if you want.
My colleague raises an interesting issue. I already had the
opportunity to tell the Minister of Transport, in committee, that
if the federal government privatizes or commercializes airports,
ports and the St. Lawrence Seaway, Quebecers will have to ask
themselves this crucial question during the upcoming
referendum debate: Are we getting our money's worth,
considering that we pay $28 billion in taxes every year to
When the federal government is investing in Quebec, it is not
giving anything to Quebecers. When elderly people receive a
cheque with the maple leaf on the stub, it is not a donation from
the federal: it is money which these people, their spouse or their
children have contributed through taxes. Consequently, this
question is very much to the point, as is the whole issue of how
the provinces will be able to provide the required financing.
For example, the federal government wants to transfer some
regional airports. These airports will be managed by the local
community, because the provinces have clearly indicated that
they do not want those regional airports, and indeed I think they
would have been ill-advised to take on that responsibility. I
received confidential minutes in which the following issue was
raised: If the local authority cannot make a profit with the
airport in Sept-Îles, which currently makes $1.9 million in
profit annually, what will happen? The federal airport in
Sept-Îles will close. Consequently, will our taxes be adjusted
accordingly? That is a very good question.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): I thank the hon. member
for his co-operation. The hon. member for La Prairie.
Mr. Richard Bélisle (La Prairie, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would
like to start by drawing the attention of this House to the size of
the federal government's debt and the fact that government
measures have done so little to change a situation that has now
become chronic. The government must balance its budget as
soon as possible, because its credit is fading fast.
The 1995-96 estimates tabled by the Minister of Finance
show that public debt charges now represent 30 per cent of
government spending, while 22 per cent goes to payments to
persons and 16 per cent to payments to other levels of
The last two payments combined represent 38 per cent of total
spending, barely exceeding public debt charges as a percentage
of the total budget. I think it is clear we have a problem when the
cost of servicing the debt is only 8 per cent less than what the
federal government transfers to Canadians and to the provinces
in the form of transfer payments.
Considering the decline in program spending over the next
few years and the expected increase in public debt charges, we
will soon reach the point where debt charges alone will exceed
total transfers to persons and the provinces. In other words, a
larger share of our tax dollars will go to investors and people
who buy government bonds than to the citizens of this country.
Is that the kind of flexible federalism the Minister of Finance
It is clear that the minister's budget has done nothing to stem
the growth of the debt. The deficit for the year ending on March
31 would have been $41 billion, not $39.7 billion as forecast in
the last budget, if the government had not used the surplus in the
Unemployment Insurance Fund to absorb part of the deficit.
Normally, the surplus should have been applied to job creation
and dealing with the structural unemployment.
The government is still putting off the real decisions until
later. The cost of the public debt will increase from the $42
billion it will be at the end of this year to nearly $51 billion in
two years' time.
We have to conclude that Liberal carelessness has brought
this prosperous country to the brink of bankruptcy. Under the
most optimistic scenario, the deficit will not be eliminated
before the turn of the century. At that point, the cost of servicing
the public debt will be over $60 billion. What waste and what
wealth lost. Imagine what we could do with another $60 billion
in the government coffers annually.
The government is adding insult to injury. It continues to
invade provincial jurisdictions, but without paying any more for
the programs for which it imposes national standards on the
provinces. Quebec will have the unpleasant job of taxing its
citizens in order to comply with the federal standards pertaining
to the block funding planned by the present government.
In the end, Quebec will pay, but Ottawa will set the rules. The
funding will be decentralized, but decision making power will
remain in Ottawa. The federal government is not transferring
any tax points in exchange for the reduction in transfer
payments to the provinces. The government is doctoring the
truth and putting the real decisions off until after the Quebec
referendum. The federal contribution to social assistance, health
care and education will drop by $7 billion in the next two years.
This is a huge amount in terms of health care and education, but,
unfortunately, too little to put an end to the deficit.
Overlap with the provinces will not disappear. Program
review and efforts at streamlining have focused particularly on
departments and agencies that are strictly under federal
jurisdiction, where there was no overlap or duplication with the
provinces. These departments include the Department of
Foreign Affairs and International Trade, National Defence and
the Department of Transport.
The federal government is not getting out of areas under
provincial jurisdiction, where little streamlining efforts have
been focused. While it is chipping away the unemployment
insurance program little by little, the government is imposing a
temporary tax on bank capital, which will bring in $100 million
over the next two years.
During this same period, the unemployed will be contributing
$3 billion to deficit reduction, that is, 30 times what is being
asked of the banks. This temporary tax represents only a little
more than 1 per cent of the banks' annual profits, while the
middle class remains overtaxed. Two sets of rules: a temporary
tax on bank capital and a permanent tax of up to 50 per cent on
the income of middle class families.
There is also the excise tax. The federal excise tax on gasoline
is increased immediately by 1.5 cents a litre to help reduce the
deficit. Why, then, wait until 1999 to reinstate the 21-year rule
for family trusts? Doubtless, to enable these families to find
another tax shelter. Always a double standard: one for the
monied, another for the workers, the unemployed and the middle
The impact of the budget on Montérégie and the riding of La
Prairie, which I have the honour to represent in this House, is
also devastating. While the Auditor General was saying that we
could save close to $1 billion if national defence were better
managed, the government decides to close the base at
Saint-Hubert, even though Quebec only has 15 per cent of the
country's military facilities.
After losing the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean,
Quebec and the Montérégie region are losing the base at
Almost 40 per cent of the inhabitants of the town of Brossard,
which makes up 55 per cent of the federal riding of La Prairie,
are of an origin other than Canadian. Several are recent
immigrants, others are political refugees. The budget would
impose a fee of $975 per adult immigration request on future
immigrants. We should bear in mind that this amount is more
than the average annual income in several countries. Is the
government opening the door to rich immigrants only? We
should ask ourselves this question. Why impose an entrance toll
on people who want to come here to improve their economic
situation? There is something despicable about reducing the
deficit on the backs of people who have yet to set foot on
Canadian soil and
whose financial situation is often unstable. Is this the image
Canada wants to project as a land of welcome?
Are Canadians so powerless to resolve their deficit problem
that they have to tax people who are thinking of settling here?
This measure is revolting and should be rejected by Parliament.
In conclusion, I would like to add that the government's
borrowing power must be limited and nearing its saturation
point if we have to enforce such deficit reduction measures. It is
from this perspective that we should examine Bill C-37.
Mr. Martin Cauchon (Outremont, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
listened attentively to the remarks made by my colleague from
the Bloc Quebecois. It is obvious that when measures taken by
the governing party are good ones-because they are in the
interest of Quebec as well as Canada-such measures will
always be disparaged by the party in opposition whose views are
We all know that the business and international communities
have responded favourably to the budget brought down by the
finance minister. In other words, it is the most responsible
The current government said it would control the debt and the
deficit, but I would also like to draw to the attention of this
House remarks made during the last election campaign by the
Right Hon. Prime Minister of Canada who stated that the debt
and deficit must be controlled but also that a fair balance must
be struck between the government's social role and the reality of
To my mind, the finance minister's budget is in every respect
consistent with the Liberal philosophy of a fair balance. We will
get the deficit down. Indeed, we have reached and ever
surpassed our objectives because the deficit is lower than
anticipated. In saying that the government has a social role to
play which must be maintained, well, with this budget we have
fundamentally reconsidered the role of government.
People are saying that block transfers to the provinces are
disastrous, I say that is pure grandstanding. I myself was a
member of the parliamentary committee on the reform of social
programs and I must say that, throughout Canada, people were
asking for greater flexibility for the provinces. In Quebec and
everywhere, people asked for block transfers. And so when the
finance minister says he is rethinking the role of government, it
is in fact to restore greater autonomy to the provinces through
these block transfers.
What else could people ask for? The block transfers obviously
entail some cuts, but we must not lose sight of the fact that the
cuts we are imposing with this transfer in regard to the Canada
assistance plan, health and post-secondary education is not as
harsh as the measures we have imposed on ourselves. We must
remember that by making a block transfer to the provinces, we
are eliminating some overlaps, thereby reducing administrative
Needless to say, this budget could be described as exemplary
and that is why opposition members are trying to discredit it, but
they are having a hard time doing so because that is not
consistent with their views. This budget has something for
Quebec and the other provinces, it gives them greater autonomy.
That is what Canada will be like tomorrow and it is the Liberal
Party, the present government, which will bring Canada into the
And now, my question. In Quebec, people talk about wanting
to regain autonomy in budgetary matters, returning taxation
power to the province of Quebec, about having more budgetary
capacity come separation. Considering that equalization works
to Quebec's advantage-
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Order, please. I must take
into account the fact that the hon. member was allotted ten
minutes with five minutes for questions and comments; that
time has almost run out.
Mr. Bélisle: Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the hon. member
for Outremont that what the federal government will be
transferring to the provinces in terms of block financing is a
thinner envelope, a teeny weeny envelope.
When I mentioned in my remarks that the federal government
was adding insult to injury, I was referring to the fact that,
historically, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, to have a
say, you have to pay. Up until now, the federal government paid.
But in the future, while withdrawing financially, thereby
passing on to the provinces the dirty job of cutting back social
programs, the federal government wants to continue laying
down standards, national standards. That is the problem.
Mr. Martin Cauchon (Outremont, Lib.): That is not true.
Read the budget carefully. Go ahead.
Mr. Bélisle (La Prairie, BQ): If the hon. member for
Outremont will let me finish. Naturally, some social programs
have to be maintained, but the problem is this: at this rate,
certain cuts have been so poorly targeted that, if you tie program
spending to debt charges and the debt continues to grow at the
same rate, there will come a time, five or six years down the
road, when program spending cuts to the tune of $75 billion will
become necessary to match debt charges of $75 billion. The
federal government will then be paying as much on debt service
as on all programs provided to individuals and the provinces.
We will have a crisis on our hands. That is what this government
is leading us into.
Ms. Jean Augustine (Parliamentary Secretary to Prime
Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to join in the
discussion today. For too long in Canada we have been living in
a context which ignores the future implications of our actions.
The government has done much more than sit back and wring its
hands about the serious economic situation of our country.
Canadians and the governments they elect, whether locally,
provincially or nationally, have for a long time been well aware
of the impact of the deficit, of how it undermines consumer
confidence, of how it diminishes our ability to compete
internationally, and of how it robs our children of an
economically viable future.
More often than not governments did not act, refused to act.
On February 27, 1995 the government demonstrated its
willingness to act. The government demonstrated its courage
and commitment to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure a
better future for Canadians. The Liberal government has
submitted to the House a framework that will deliver back to our
country and to its citizens the confidence and optimism needed
to create a strong, dynamic economy, which is necessary in the
context of market globalization.
To listen to the members across the way we would think that
point has been missed on them. As a member of the human
resources development committee of Parliament I am in a
position to say that the strong actions taken in the budget reflect
our determination to maintain our commitment to the principles
of the Canada Health Act and reinforce our commitment to work
with the provinces to provide better and more affordable
The provinces have always argued that they are closer to the
people, that it is their constitutional prerogative to administer
social programs in a cost effective way. The Canada social
transfer will be negotiated by the Minister of Human Resources
Development and will allow them to do just that.
The bottom line is that Canadians want both government
levels to work together to manage social programs better. The
budget continues the fundamental structural reforms needed to
do that. If we do not act now, our social programs will not
survive in the future. We care about our systems of health and
education. We care about protecting seniors and the most
vulnerable in society.
I would like to share with the House some recent experiences
in my riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore. My constituency office
receives numerous calls on a daily basis. In the recent days
preceding the budget I received well over 800 calls from
constituents asking me to convey their thoughts to the minister
that personal income taxes should not be raised. This was a
message that I as well as other members of the House
communicated to the Minister of Finance.
I knew the finance committee had been around the country.
We heard Canadians tell us what should be done. I am here to say
that the process worked. The views of Canadians are reflected in
the budget. I will give some instances.
In my own riding one of my constituents, Mr. Ted Morris,
Income tax remains the same, thank God. This is a budget that seems to have
Mr. Morris also brought the message of a local bank manager
happy about the increased value of the Canadian dollar, a local
real estate broker pleased with the national unity implications,
and a retired department store employee wondering whether the
provincial government would follow suit.
To some of the residents in a popular Etobicoke donut shop
yesterday morning there was an understanding that governments
in the past have lived off their credit cards and that this
government was ready to start correcting spending habits.
I have a letter here sent today by fax from a constituent, Mr.
Michael Kern. He said:
I am pleased that personal income taxes did not increase. For the moment I
feel that the new gas tax is acceptable.
He went on to say:
Over the past several days the media has been monitoring the opposition to
the new budget. I am sure that you have seen news reports of the opposition
parties giving their critique of the budget. However on the same news reports
reactions from the public are usually shown. My opinion of the budget seems to
be in line with that of the general public. We are satisfied. It seems that the only
people upset are the opposition parties.
I can go on and refer to several other points that he said. He
referred to the new immigration policy. He said:
That is not bad, not as bad as groups would make it out to be.
When you join a social club you have to pay an initiation fee and I believe that
the privilege of immigrating to Canada should be no different. The bottom line
is this. Mr. Martin has taken the initiative to reduce the deficit, something that
previous federal governments seemed to dance around. In addition, Mr. Martin
has done so through sensible cutbacks and corporate taxes. I am happy to see
that the working Canadian finally does not have to shoulder the responsibility
alone. Mrs. Augustine, please accept my congratulations to your government on
a practical budget that I feel we can all accept.
I am not certain what messages the Reformers get.
Our government is committed to providing a fair and reliable
system of protection for seniors. I know there are several seniors
in my riding wo are watching the debate today and who are
concerned about protection for seniors, equality, balance and all
the things required to ensure the pension system is sustainable in
the long term.
The budget states the basic principle for reform in terms of
seniors programs is to ensure the system continues to be
affordable and that we have some goals for changes in 1997. The
budget states these basic principles: undiminished protection
for all seniors who are less well off, including those receiving
the GIS; continuing full indexation to protect seniors from
inflation; the provision of OAS benefits on the basis of family
income, as is now the case with the GIS; greater progressivity of
benefits by income level; and control of program costs.
The bottom line remains that Canada is still the best country
in the world and remains a model for other nations. With the
budget the government has demonstrated leadership. Canadians
know that we will continue to benefit from a number of social
programs that reflect our understanding of community. These
programs are implemented in a way that permits governments to
take into account changing times and changing needs.
It is in the spirit of federal-provincial co-operation and to
provide the greatest possible opportunity for our economic
recovery that I join in the debate and support the budget.
As someone who is an immigrant to the country, I know there
are concerns by all who are in the process of applying for
permanent residence. As the minister of immigration said, we
are all in this together, those who are joining us, those who are
here and those who want to be here.
The fee is set out in typical Liberal fashion. As a caring and
compassionate government we ensure that no one will be turned
away as a result. Loan programs and other ways of assisting are
also included in the process.
This is an excellent budget and I call on everyone in the House
to endorse it.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member for
Etobicoke-Lakeshore, who told us about the interesting things
she sees in the budget. I had the opportunity to travel with the
hon. member when the Committee on Human Resources
Development criss-crossed the country. I would like to know if
the hon. member is as satisfied with the measures announced in
the budget as with the lack of certain measures.
Was she not hoping that something would be provided for
social housing? Indeed, it is clearly established that the best way
to fight poverty in Canada is to provide a dwelling, at a
reasonable cost, to people who often have to spend 40, 50 or 60
per cent of their budget on housing, because other forms of
assistance are inadequate. Does the member not think that the
budget should have provided something in that regard?
During the committee hearings held across the country, did
the member hear anyone say that the government had to take
$700 million out of the UI fund, as provided in the budget? Did
anyone ever tell the committee that cuts should be made to the
UI program? When the committee travelled to
Rivière-du-Loup, did anyone ask that all transportation
subsidies be eliminated immediately, that the whole economic
structure of the region be changed without any transition period
to adjust, and that the UI fund also be reduced, thus leading
people to leave the region? Did the member hear any such thing
and is she pleased with this budget as regards social housing and
the cuts affecting the unemployment insurance fund and the
Ms. Augustine: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to recollect for my
hon. friend our experience across the country. Over and over we
heard the messages. Maybe we interpreted them with different
ears. However, people told us over and over about jobs and the
creation of jobs. They told us that the best social security for
individuals was the ability to find work and the ability to
provide for their families.
It is also important to note that the individuals who spoke to
us on a number of issues stressed quite strongly the fact that they
wanted the involvement of the federal government. They wanted
some principles, some national standards, and some way of
operating that would ensure protection and security in the fact
that the federal government would provide the necessary
As federal legislators, the expectation from us is to ensure
that we provide the kind of economic climate in which
individuals will find jobs.
Mr. Robert D. Nault (Kenora-Rainy River, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I rise in support of one of the toughest budgets in
Canadian history. A tough budget was needed to keep the
country on track. It is a budget that Canadians have been calling
on the government to table and I am proud to stand in my place
today to support it.
We have answered the demands of Canadians with a tough but
fair budget. We have taken the necessary fiscal action in a
sensitive manner that addresses the priorities of all Canadians.
No doubt there is pain involved, but the pain does not hit like a
sledgehammer. A sledgehammer would devastate everything
around the target. Rather, it is like a bow and arrow. We hit the
targets dead on without devastating everything around us.
This budget is the arrow that will hit our deficit target without
destroying the foundation we have built.
That is the difference between the budget that was tabled by
the finance minister on Monday versus the budget we saw by the
Reform Party the week previous. You can cut, but there are ways
to cut. I would emphasize that this is the difference between the
Liberal Party philosophy and the one across the way.
The 1995-96 the federal budget has gained widespread
support. Yes, there is opposition that this budget is too strong or
does not go far enough or will spell the end of Canadian society
as we know it. The answers to those criticisms are easily found.
The budget comes down squarely at a crossroad for this
country. It must be a strong budget as Canada meets the
economic and fiscal challenges leading into the next century. If
this budget went any further, slashing and burning government
spending with reckless abandon, that is just where Canadians
would find themselves, abandoned by their government.
As I said before, Liberals do not abandon people. By taking
this sensible approach to our fiscal situation, it is this
government that will ensure social programs and basic services
remain apart of Canadian society.
This is a make or break budget for our deficit situation. We
must not impede economic recovery and the potential for
growth. By taking the steps contained in this budget, we are
directly acting on our fiscal position so that Canada can
maintain and not destroy the universal social programs that
define this nation.
This budget must satisfy demands of international markets, a
reality of living in a global trade environment. The financial
community quickly graded this budget with high marks.
Interest rates have dropped and our dollar immediately
climbed in the markets. The government did not panic. We
listened to Canadian taxpayers, to international markets, to
dozens and dozens of interest groups. Then we acted with
sensible, intelligent and compassionate approaches.
We are, as the finance ministers says, breaking the back of the
deficit. The international community has acknowledged we are
on the right track. Many of my constituents have told me that
they are impressed with this budget. Canadians obviously
The budget takes necessary steps to secure Canada's fiscal
position. The federal budget is just strong enough. The minister
of finance has found the right mix of spending cuts and revenue
measures to ensure a fiscal trend of deficit reduction.
This budget significantly reduces government spending but is
crafted in a way that is fair to all regions of the country. We must
bring our finances in order. To do that Canadians everywhere
must share, quite frankly, in the price we must pay for fiscal
I hasten to add that sharing in the cost of reducing our deficit
will not involve paying more tax. We will meet and exceed our
deficit reduction targets without an increase in personal taxes.
The government has taken on the challenge of fiscal prudence
while maintaining steady economic growth. This is not an easy
task. Our choice is to fundamentally change the structure of
government. Our focus is on reduced spending and a smaller,
I have been a long time supporter of our public sector service.
The reality we face as Canadians, and one that must be shared by
our public servants, is that government must be streamlined.
The public sector must find a way to become more efficient. It is
a tough assignment but I am confident that Canada's public
servants can bring government into the next century.
If anyone is capable of meeting that challenge, it is the men
and women working in the public sector. These professionals are
embarking on a difficult transition. I urge our public servants,
many of whom I know personally, to apply their skills and to
contribute to Canada's future.
We all know that the public sector will lose about 45,000
positions, but last year alone there were almost a half a million
new jobs created in Canada. The objective of this delicate
budget is to bring the government house in order without
upsetting the balance of economic stimulus. A healthy economy
will provide jobs for skilled people such as those who will be
leaving the public service.
Government supports the creation of new jobs but it is
business that does most of the hiring. We will realize savings
from cutbacks in government spending but there is also
increased revenue from newly created jobs.
My riding is located in northwestern Ontario. It is a region of
Canada that can be used as an example of how the budget will
impact Canadians. Northwestern Ontario will suffer from
spending cuts and revenue measures. We will lose forestry and
mining developing funding shared by the federal and provincial
governments. The decrease in dairy subsidies will affect us and
the gasoline tax will hurt.
I realize, as my constituents do, that we will survive. I think
everyone of us realizes that we have to share the burden in one
way or another. My riding has never depended on government
for its survival. I think the majority of my constituents would
rather see government get its act together instead of receiving a
Northwestern Ontario has carved an economic foundation
from the resource sectors such as forestry, mining and tourism.
Comprehensive diversification of our regional economy is a
long term goal which is progressing.
I am encouraged that this budget, while reducing or
eliminating subsidies, is keeping business support programs in
place. Small business loans, export and marketplace services
and technology support all remain a part of the federal mandate.
We are also optimistic about the future of tourism initiatives that
have become a federal priority.
The relationship between small business and the banking
sector has been a longstanding concern in my riding. When I was
in opposition it was something we talked about on numerous
occasions, that small business is still not getting a fair shake
from the financial institutions in the country.
In the budget the access to capital for the reasonable ventures
essential to the economic growth in my region is again going to
be a priority of the finance minister. I am still hopeful that
sooner or later the banks in this country will realize that without
them we cannot get this economy rolling to the extent we believe
Recent increases in the Small Business Loans Act are a
positive sign. A region such as northwestern Ontario is dictated
by unique circumstances. I also feel the privatization of crown
corporations will be received well in this House and in the riding
I chaired a government task force to study the future of the
Canadian National Railway. The commercialization of CN is
one of the recommendations in our final report. This action and
other commercializations such as Petro-Canada has great
potential for the private sector. It puts business in the hands of
business people and leaves government with the task of
regulating, not operating.
The fearmongering on the issue of social programs is
something I want touch on a little. The issue of Canada social
transfers does not hold much water in my riding. If we changed
the system my constituents would applaud that simply because
they are not satisfied with the current structure of social
programs as they exist today.
Like many members of the House, I have conducted a survey
on social security. The overwhelming response was that social
policy must change. This budget sets social policy changes in
motion and I applaud that. Once again, the government has not
pressed the panic button.
The other side tends to press the panic button to make people
concerned about the fact that we are not moving quickly enough.
Those who have been here around here a little longer will realize
that if we take our time and put the right programs in place those
will be the programs that will survive the test of time and they
are the kinds of programs that built this country and made it the
great place we live in.
If we are to change our system we have to make sure it is a
change for the better and not for the worse.
This budget makes it clear that this party is responsible for
universal social programs in Canada. It will be this party that
brings social policy into the 21st century. Of course the only way
we will do that is to ensure we can afford it and this budget does
This is a responsible budget. We are attacking the deficit but
we are planning our attack without undue casualties. The social
fabric of our nation will survive. We are setting a responsible
pace of deficit reduction to preserve economic growth and
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I was
interested to hear the hon. member saying his constituents have
been very pleased with the budget, especially when the Prime
Minister and a number of other Liberal MPs have been saying
how this is not a budget they wanted to bring in, that it is an
I wonder if this actually means the people in central and
eastern Canada voted Liberal because they had no other choice
and that they actually do not want traditional Liberal budgets or
traditional Liberal policies. Polls taken on things like justice
and the budget show that Canadians actually want Reform style
policies and budgets.
I ask the hon. member whether the fact that he is getting
compliments about the budget actually means people do not
support Liberal policies.
Mr. Nault: Mr. Speaker, as I have on numerous occasions in
this place, let me make very clear to my friend across the way
that I do not come from central Canada. I come from western
Canada. I happen to be the member of Parliament for
Kenora-Rainy River, which is in a vast riding in northern
Ontario. It is on central time and is so close to Winnipeg we have
very western ideas. The riding has been voting Liberal long
before I was alive and, yes, there was a Reform candidate who
ran in my riding. He was lucky to get his deposit back, the lucky
soul that he was.
I can assure this House that my riding, being of very western
flavour, believing very strongly in Canada's social programs
and fabric, would not have been voting Liberal since the turn of
the century if it did not believe in Liberal principles.
If this budget, as is being suggested by the member, were not a
Liberal budget I would have heard about it first and foremost in
my riding because my riding, as I said, only voted one other way
in its history and that was when it lost its way in 1984 when
everybody was foolish enough to vote Tory and it went with the
NDP. I can assure members that my constituents learned their
lesson that one time and now have gone back to the Liberal fold.
I have received five phone calls on the budget from people
who were concerned about social programs. The remainder of
the people in my riding have called to say this is a great budget
because it sends us down the track. It also recognizes that we did
not get into the mess in three years, like the Reform Party seems
to suggest, and we will not get out of it in three years as it
It took us 20 years to get into it and it will take us some time to
get out of it. We should use our good, common sense and not tear
and gut the heart and soul out of Canada by doing that, but take
our time and restructure the economy the way it should be
Mr. Martin Cauchon (Outremont, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I will
be brief. I would simply like to add to the comments of my
eloquent colleague, who clearly, has done a fair analysis of the
budget situation. I would like to add, on the matter of national
standards, as I mentioned earlier, that the Minister of Finance
created a new transfer in the budget to be called the Canada
The opposition is saying that again we are setting national
standards for the Canada social transfer. I see nothing wrong in
setting national standards. The problem with national
standards-and again the opposition is trying to doctor the
truth-is that, in the past, the standards were set unilaterally by
the federal government. Now what we are saying, and it is in
black and white in the budget, is that we are inviting all of the
provinces to work together to set national standards jointly and
in a spirit of co-operation.
This is the new Canadian federalism, flexible federalism,
co-operative federalism. We are not trying to hide the truth or
use some form of trickery to take away what is in fact in the
budget and what was requested by all of the provinces.
Mr. Nault: Mr. Speaker, I want to quickly say to my colleague
and to other colleagues in the House that federalism is by far one
of the best systems in the world. There is a reason for that. The
reason federalism works so well and why other countries wish
they had a federal system like ours is because it is fluid. It is not
static. The reason federalism works is its ability to be flexible.
Anyone who has analysed where we were when we first
became the country of Canada and where we are today with the
changes that have taken place has found that we have been able
to adapt to tremendous change when necessary. It is the reason
this country has been so successful.
If this government keeps on track the way the finance minister
has been going, I predict as I did in the last election that by the
end of the 1990s we will have our deficit under control. We will
be paying off our debt. We will be back on track. We will still be
the best country in the world. Our fiscal and monetary policy
will be back to where it would have been had we not had that 10
years of Tory rule which messed it all up for us.
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East, Ref.): Mr. Speaker,
as I rise to debate this borrowing bill, I must flag a historic event
for the House. We have finally witnessed a budget that, however
timid, at least attempts to cut federal spending in real terms.
It has been decades since we have seen this kind of budget and
it marks a great victory for the Reform Party of Canada. This
budget would have been unheard of only a few years ago. It
indicates a stunning conversion on the part of the Liberal Party.
I am delighted the financial markets have reacted positively
so that things may go well for our country. Above all, I wish for
prosperity and stability for Canada. When that happens I am
pleased, no matter who brings down the budget.
However, just as a leopard cannot change its spots, I cannot
believe the Liberals have really been converted. The budget was
an act of pure necessity, not something done out of the courage
of their convictions. The Liberals did the bare minimum they
could in order to avert a national financial disaster. Had he had
his way, the Prime Minister would have increased spending and
taxes even more than he did. He said as much on the CBC
program ``Morningside'' yesterday.
In this respect there is no denying that the presence of the
Reform Party of Canada in this House is a bulwark in defence of
the taxpayer, a stronghold of protection of the public interest.
The Reform Party, working with Canadian taxpayers, can take
the credit for this change in direction.
Fifty-two members of this House put sustained pressure for a
year and one-half on this government to reduce spending. The
government finally responded by adopting a plank from the
Reform Party agenda, just as it adopted the agenda of the NDP
when that party was a factor in this House.
Although the Liberals have formed the government, there is a
new game in town. Today the government is forced to respond to
the criticisms from a fiscally responsible opposition, no longer
from the loonie left. They still form the government and they
still have the numbers in this House to pass any laws they
choose, but they no longer possess the moral or political
mandate from the people to complete their leftist agenda. The
political mandate is passing to the Reform Party of Canada. The
Reform Party is now driving the national policy agenda. In that
reality, I take great satisfaction.
There is so much more left to be done. So much of the public
interest was ignored in this budget. The government went half
way, but it could not bear to bring itself all the way in order
to defend our economy, to defend our social programs and our
future prosperity. I am truly dismayed by several aspects of this
budget. All things politically correct were left virtually
My constituents have indicated clearly, for example, that they
want the CBC to be downsized by two-thirds. Instead, it was cut
by 4 per cent. Through an extensive survey process my
constituents told me that they want the Department of Indian
Affairs and Northern Development to be substantially reduced.
Instead, the government increased that budget by 12 per cent.
Special interest groups are left virtually untouched. The Canada
Council was cut by a mere 2 per cent. The National Film Board
was cut by just 5 per cent.
I find it disgusting that the government can go ahead and cut
UI but not make dramatic reductions to these other agencies.
The government has not dealt equitably with the people of
Canada in leaving so many institutions unscathed. How can the
Liberals start cutting our social safety nets when they refuse
first to abolish their own gold plated MP pension plan?
Many budget items simply reflect the power of individual
ministers. Why did Cape Breton Development Corporation
receive a 69 per cent increase? The fact that it is in the riding of
the Minister of Public Works and Government Services may
have something to do with it. Why will CIDA be downsized by
only 30 people? The Minister of Foreign Affairs swings a lot of
weight in cabinet.
As I have already stated, this budget was not about fairness. It
is not that I am in disagreement with all of its decisions, but the
hypocrisy of this budget makes me question everything the
government says. This budget was all about broken promises.
The examples are legion.
The government promised never to change the workforce
adjustment directive without union consent. It is breaking it. It
promised massive changes to social programs. There are none,
though there must now be massive changes down the road. It
promised not to increase taxes on the middle class but it did it
anyway. It promised to reform the GST, but the GST is
unchanged. The Prime Minister was to repudiate the NAFTA.
Today he praises it. He promised to increase foreign aid to .7 per
cent of GDP. On Monday he slashed it by $500 million.
Two years ago the Reform party proposed cutbacks in the
public service totalling 30,000 to 35,000 employees, cutbacks
which would have been over and done with by now. The Liberals
called us callous and uncaring. Now they are gleefully laying off
45,000 public servants. The Minister responsible for Public
Service Renewal says that even more layoffs are in the works.
That is callous and uncaring.
Farmers will remember the broken promises. Remember how
the Liberals would never sign the GATT without strengthening
article XI(2)(c). They signed it anyway. Western grain farmers
lost the Crow subsidy. They can add to that a new fuel tax and
major cuts to farm programs in the agriculture department itself.
This government quite happily kicked farmers in the teeth,
but not until after it had won the election. Farmers are willing to
do their part, but if cuts in other areas were as serious as the
agricultural cuts, we would now have a balanced budget within
My own constituency is presently facing a grave economic
situation because of this budget. It will take a hit all out of
proportion to its own numbers. The Hope weather station will be
closed next month. More important, Canadian Forces Base
Chilliwack in my riding will be closed over the next four years.
This will mean $105 million or 7 per cent of all economic
activity in Chilliwack will be cut out.
Perhaps the Minister of Finance did not see the study that was
released on Monday. It showed that in terms of regional
distribution, British Columbia gets $700 million per year less
than it should, given its share of the population. Again, we are
ready and willing to make sacrifices in B.C., but why would the
government increase the regional disparity by taking $100
million more out of British Columbia?
With the possible exception of Cold Lake, Alberta, there is no
community in Canada that will suffer more from this budget
than Chilliwack. And the Liberals call that fair? I call it
shameful. The people of B.C. will one day pass judgment on
No longer will there be a land forces presence west of the
Rocky Mountains. In the case of a natural disaster or civil
disorder there will no longer be that natural resource that the
people of B.C. can count on. This is short-sighted. It is bad
policy in a civil, military and an economic sense. The third
largest province in Canada deserves better.
Now I must come to the bill before us. The fatal weakness of
the budget is that this bill will work great harm in Canada. In two
years Canada will pay $51 billion in interest alone. Program
spending will decline to $108 billion and interest payments will
increase to half of our program spending. That borrowing bill is
nothing more than an enormous social program for foreign
The Minister of Finance decries the Reform taxpayers'
budget, but Reform alone faces up to the truth. Because of the
interest payments on our national debt, the frightening prospect
of the total destruction of many of these programs is looming
directly ahead. We are choking the life out of them by
continuing to run huge budget deficits.
After all the Liberal fanfare, the deficit is still huge. It will
still be $25 billion two years from now. By then we could well be
in the middle of a recession. The American economy is already
showing signs of a slowdown. If that continues, or if it happens,
our economy will be in a meltdown.
The Minister of Finance criticizes Reformers for suggesting
that we adjust social programs now while there is time. In the
next breath the government admits it is conducting its own study
into the pension situation. By the time it screws up its own
courage to act, the cuts it will make to old age pensions will truly
be devastating. They will leave seniors in real poverty.
The Liberals can see the numbers as well as anyone. They
know what needs to be done to protect our social programs in the
future, but they are going to put off action because they do not
have the guts to make the tough decisions today. In fact they will
heap abuse on Reform suggestions, even if these suggestions are
in the public interest, even if they are quietly undertaking to do
exactly the same things themselves in an underhanded way.
Last week I tabled a petition with 20,000 names, calling for no
new taxes. In a few days I will table 13,000 more names. I
personally delivered 2,000 letters from my constituents to the
office of the Minister of Finance calling upon him to balance the
budget without raising taxes. These people did not get their
wish. Canadians wanted a timetable for a balanced budget but
the government failed to deliver.
There are simple tests of good government: conscientious
control of the public purse; a strong clear vision of and
commitment to the public interest that reaches far into the
future; attention to regional fairness; and equitable reductions in
government spending. I am disappointed that the government
has failed these tests.
This budget has failed the Canadian people. No matter how
well it is accepted by the markets in the short term, the numbers
predict our future in the long term. The government had a chance
to mend our social safety net on Monday, but through Bill C-73
it will allow interest payments to tear it to shreds over the
Shame on the government that it has squirrelled away the past
year and a half making budget balancing all that much more
tougher than it needed to be. It is a shame it is planning to saddle
our nation with another $90 billion in new debt, a debt which
will be a pox on our social programs, a curse on our taxation
levels, a drag on our job creating businesses and a millstone
around the necks of our children and grandchildren, forever and
Mr. Dennis J. Mills (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister
of Industry, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last night I had the opportunity
to review the base closures on television. The Chilliwack base is
being closed which I understand is part of the member's riding.
There is not a member of Parliament on this side of the House
who did not feel the pain that was expressed on that show last
night. That is why many of us on this side of the House for the
last few months have been trying to communicate to the
opposition, to the Reform Party that we should not just be
talking about the federal deficit. We should be talking about the
What bothers me is that the debate has not expanded beyond
the deficit in traditional terms. We have to figure out what we
are going to do in the long term. Not only our country but other
countries around the world have been faced with fluctuating
interest rates. Capital is being pushed around by people who are
shorting their own currencies and playing with derivatives and
everything else. We as one nation in the G-7 are almost victims
of this international game which is being played.
I wish that with the Reform Party members we could expand
this debate. Let us not just think about the budget and the tough
decisions we have had to make on this side. Make no mistake,
we feel the cuts on this side as much as they do. I would venture
to say many of us feel them even more. As Liberals it goes
against the very grain and soul that brought us to this place,
whereas the Reformers seem to be much more conditioned to
deep cuts regardless of the human side of it.
Would the member be willing when we return after question
period, along with his other colleagues, to maybe enter into a
debate on a new and improved Bretton Woods agreement? We
should start looking at what we can do to change interest rates,
not just for Canada but for all the world. At the rate we are going
it is not just Canada that is in trouble. It is the whole world.
Mr. Strahl: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his
presentation. I understand his first point about the base closures.
I realize that base closures have affected many ridings and cross
party lines. Some of the Bloc members have had ridings
affected. I know many of the Liberals have had closures in their
ridings as well.
With the closure of CFB Chilliwack there will no longer be an
army base in all of British Columbia. There are 12 bases in
Canada. There is not even one in B.C. To me that is a concern.
Emergency preparedness is a concern. Even more so, it is a
concern that there be a national armed forces presence.
I am concerned that people from B.C. get an opportunity to be
trained in Quebec, as I am that Quebecers get an opportunity to
be trained in B.C. It is just a matter of equity. I realize I am not
singled out in one sense, and yet on the other hand it is a mistake
in the long term not to have a land forces presence anywhere in
British Columbia. It is short sighted. I realize I share that hurt
with many members on both sides of the House, but it is short
The member talks about the cuts we want to make regardless
of the human side. Reformers have consistently said it is
because of the human cost that we have advocated change. It is
no fun to be the guy who says we have to make severe cuts and
we even have to readjust our expectations in the pension plan.
What fun is there in that? The reality is I want to preserve the
core of that for people who need it.
By preserving it now in a relatively short order, we can
preserve the parts that make Canada great. It is because of the
human side. The last point about the Bretton Woods institution, I
have a private member's bill on the Order Paper about the
accountability of international financial institutions-
The Speaker: I regret the member's time has expired.
Mr. Strahl: It is because of the time that he took.
The Speaker: With the greatest of respect to members on
both sides of the House, the total time is five minutes and I think
that has been fulfilled.
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I look
forward to the day when I will not have to rise to speak about a
Liberal members of course, have spent the last few days
claiming that the finance minister's budget is the greatest thing
to ever bless Canada. They claim that the world financial
markets love it and that their constituents love it and all is well.
In fact, I would like to thank the member for
Broadview-Greenwood for confirming that the budget that the
people like so well is not Liberal policy. It simply confirms that
people do not want Liberal policies.
Members opposite for the last two days have been claiming
the dollar is going up and interest rates are coming down. They
say: ``Don't worry. Be happy''. I think the decline in interest
rates has a lot more to do with the amount of money people have
put into GICs in the last few days for their RRSPs. It has given
the banks a surplus of money that they have to get rid of.
Today the dollar did not continue to go up the way members
opposite had hoped. It continued to slump, down to 70.92 today,
which is more than a cent and a quarter below the high the day
after the budget.
Perhaps this means that the international markets have had
time to look a little more closely at the budget and they can see
that most of the cuts are deferred until next year while all of the
big tax increases occur this year. However, I do think we really
have to wait a few weeks before either side decides they have the
answer to whether the dollar is going up or down. We need to
give the markets time to really continue to study this document.
There are tax increases in the budget that are really going to
hurt the average Canadian very much. Liberal MPs must be the
only people in the country who think that a penalty tax on banks
is not going to affect the loan rates or the service fees or
something else that people use at banks.
Liberal MPs must be the only people in the country who think
that a 1 per cent increase on the surcharge tax for corporations
will not trickle down to price increases or service charge
Liberal MPs must be the only people in the country who think
that a 1.5 cent a litre increase in the tax on gasoline will not
mean higher prices at the pumps.
Despite all of these deceptive increases in taxes that will hit
the average Canadian, the ship is still going down, albeit a little
more slowly and with a few less crew on board. In three years the
interest payments on the debt will have consumed every single
cent the finance minister has saved in his latest budget.
The minister was quoted in the Vancouver Province as saying:
``The light at the end of the tunnel is much closer than any of us
might think''. That light is getting larger because there is a
locomotive bearing down on us. The finance minister may be
going in the right direction but he is on the wrong track.
Increased taxes will not bring confidence to the job creators of
the country, that is businesses.
I know members opposite think the government creates jobs
but it is actually business that creates meaningful and real, long
lasting jobs. If businesses do not feel good about the economy
they will not expand and create jobs.
Let me compare the finance minister's performance with that
of some of the governors in the United States. A constituent in
my riding, Mr. John Dickenson, provided me with a tape of a
speech made by Governor Carol Whitman of the U.S.A. She is
the governor of New Jersey.
Governor Whitman cut business and income taxes three times
over a two-year period, a 30 per cent cut in taxes at the same
time as she slashed spending to comply with a balanced budget
amendment. Opponents, for which we can read Liberals, said:
``The sky is falling. The economy will be destroyed''. Instead,
60,000 new private sector jobs were created by the private sector
and tax revenues actually increased.
The same pattern is evident in state after state. Governor Bill
Weld of Massachusetts cut spending by $1.7 billion in his first
month in office. He also cut taxes five times and now has the
lowest unemployment levels in the United States.
The same month that President Clinton signed the biggest tax
increase in history for the American people, Governor John
Ingler signed the biggest decrease in Michigan history, bringing
the lowest unemployment rate to Michigan in 20 years.
New Zealand has also had similar results from its program of
massive cuts to government spending at the same time that the
tax system was revised and taxes were reduced.
The proof is there. Zero in three actually works. These
examples show that the very best way to put more money into
the hands of the poor, of families, of businesses and of everyone
is to cut spending and taxes. Tax cuts and spending cuts make it
easier for people to buy a home and to improve their standard of
living. Things work better when people make their own
spending decisions instead of having their spending decisions
made by good, old Uncle Liberal government back here in
There is nothing moral, compassionate or virtuous about
increasing taxes. I will say that again in case any members
opposite were sleeping. There is nothing compassionate,
virtuous or moral about increasing taxes. High taxes punish
those people who are the most productive in our society. High
taxes are a symptom of a government's failure, incompetence
and inability to recognize the damage that those high taxes are
doing to society.
Even some Liberals have come to realize something is wrong.
They realize there is too much crime, too much family violence,
too much poverty and too high a debt. Some are even starting to
realize that the biggest single social program is the transfer of
all that interest payment to the creditors of Canada's debt every
year. That is one social program that is still growing.
The government has not realized yet that Liberal policies have
caused these problems and these problems will not be solved by
throwing even more government money, especially borrowed
money, at those problems.
I heard another member talking about compassion earlier.
Compassion is something one cannot buy. It is something that
comes from within. One does not buy it by throwing dollars at a
I would like to change tack a little and relate a little more
about my experience in New Zealand over the Christmas break. I
was in New Zealand visiting relatives and I had the opportunity
to meet for an hour and a half with the Right Hon. David Lange,
who was Prime Minister of New Zealand at the time of the debt
crisis in 1984.
I would have laughed if anyone had told me a decade ago I
would one day sit with a Labour minister of finance and actually
enjoy speaking to him. I came away from the meeting with a
great deal of respect for a man who has faced the debt monster,
came to grips with it and realized that a free market economy is
the best way to deliver healthy social programs.
Mr. Lange said: ``We have passed through the age of left and
right wing governments to a time where we have maintenance
and reforming style governments''. Those are the terms we
should be using today. This new set of labels put into words a
concept I have been struggling with for some time because I
knew despite the accusations of the other side of the House, the
Reform Party is not a crazy right wing party. We are not either
right or left wing.
I will use an example. The members opposite can jeer. I use
the example of the 1992 referendum on the Charlottetown
accord when all three traditional parties; the NDP, the PCs and
the Liberals lined up on the yes side and Reform on the no side.
Does that make us left or right? Which one? Neither. It made the
three traditional old line parties maintenance style parties. They
did not want to change the status quo. We were the reformers,
the ones that wanted to change the status quo, make the
Mr. Lange's Labour left wing government became a
reforming style government when it had to face the debt
monster. During the period following that debt crisis from 1984
to 1994 the National and Labour parties took turns in office, but
they were all reforming governments. They continued the
program of government spending cuts and tax decreases to
generate the necessary stimulus to the economy.
Today New Zealand has a maintenance style of government,
National by name, which has projected a $2.5 billion surplus for
this year. Last year they had a $900 million surplus and put $800
million more into social programs because of it.
Mr. Lange predicts that New Zealand will have a maintenance
style government for the next decade. Unemployment is down to
6.5 per cent and the economy is growing at an annual rate of 6
I can see the puzzled looks on the faces of the Liberals.
``Please tell me it is not so'', they are saying. ``Please do not say
that the private sector actually creates jobs. Please do not tell us
it is better if government is smaller and that it makes spending
cuts''. Mr. Lange told me that the Canadian Liberal Party is a
maintenance style of government. It is just used to keeping
things running when things are good and if Canada had to face
its problems it needs a reforming style of government to do it.
Mr. Lange also told me in retrospect he wished he had moved
faster on the cuts because it was so stimulating to the economy.
A decade later, New Zealand has a diversified, free market
economy competing in the global marketplace. Exports now
include plastic bottles to Japan; wooden boxes to the U.S.A.,
mozzarella cheese and hamburger beef to Canada; furniture to
Singapore; metal castings to Taiwan; aircraft parts to Boeing in
Seattle. The free market economy will solve our problems. We
should not be borrowing more money. We should be cutting
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): It is my duty pursuant to
Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be
raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon.
member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, World Summit for Social
Development; the hon. member for The Battlefords-Meadow
Lake, The Budget; the hon. member for
Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, The Budget.
Mr. Jerry Pickard (Essex-Kent, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
listened very carefully to the comments of my colleague. I have
heard the same comment day after day from the Reform Party
that the Liberals are really very unrealistic about what is
Why did John Bulloch, president of the Canadian Federation
of Business, state that our budget was very believable, very
credible? Why did John Fund, who wrote a highly critical
editorial about Canada's $540 billion debt, congratulate the
government for being on the right course?
Could the member please inform me why the powerful
Canadian Manufacturers' Association called our budget the first
very serious attempt at balancing this country's books? Why is it
that yesterday the chartered accountants association in this
country congratulated the Liberals and said that we scored four
out of five on their questions? We were at the top of the list in the
way we responded to the debt and the deficit in this country.
The Canadian bond raters raised Canada's status. Each
financial group, each authority on business in this country has
come forward one after another. It is not the Liberals. They are
not people who have been friends to the Liberals. They are
representing very specific business and financial interests in
this country. They applaud the steps taken by the minister.
Mr. White (North Vancouver): Mr. Speaker, I would like to
congratulate the member opposite for pointing out once again
that a successful budget receiving praise from many areas is not
a Liberal budget. This confirms what I have been saying time
after time this afternoon. People wanted a budget that was not a
Liberal budget. They were very pleasantly surprised by the
general direction, although not quite far enough. The
international markets seem to be telling us that.
Everybody out there wanted a budget that was nothing like a
Liberal budget. All the member has done is confirm yet again
that people do not want Liberal policies. They do not want
Liberal financial answers. They want real reforming budgets,
reforming policies and a Reform government.
Mr. Ron MacDonald (Dartmouth, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is
never good for me to get up to speak after I have listened to the
nonsense and the rhetoric form the other side, particularly the
I have sat in the House for quite a few years. I have listened to
a lot of rhetoric in the House. The hon. member's rhetoric is
perhaps the most unbelievable I have ever heard. He gave his
entire speech talking about experiences in Michigan and New
Jersey and the wonderful things that are happening everywhere
else but in Canada.
I want to let him know something because he obviously has
been out of the country for quite a while. There has been a
revolution happening in Canada. It has been a revolution the
Liberal Party has created about putting government back where
it belongs, serving the public, allowing the free market to
Guess what? The Canadian public has looked at what we have
done. It has not just given us a thumbs up. It has given us a
resounding vote of confidence. Today the Angus Reid poll
indicated the path we have taken with the recent budget is
supported by over 70 per cent of Canadians polled. This was
despite the doom and gloom and the nonsense the Reform Party
spouts like a loose water cannon daily in this place.
Those members came into this place not because the Canadian
public wanted a Reform style of politics but, with the greatest of
respect, they came into this place in many ridings because the
Tories simply lost the ridings, not because anybody agreed with
the policies they had.
I consider myself to be a left leaning Liberal. I happen to
believe that the New Democratic Party has a voice that
Canadians need to have heard in debate. I look across at the Bloc
Quebecois and I have listened to the members opposite. Other
than the fact they are horribly misguided with respect to their
bent on sovereignty, most of these individuals opposite are
Liberals by philosophy. One has to listen to them. They may
want to take their province out of Canada but they have an
underlying concern for the individuals, for the social policy, for
the programs of this country.
I would not call the Reform Party left or right. That would put
it on the continuum of common sense. It is right off the mark
when it comes to being responsible and reflective of Canadians.
I want to talk a bit about the budget and this borrowing
authority. I know the member is new here but even if there were
a balanced budget there is still the need for a borrowing
authority of government. The taxes do not come in every single
day. They come in mostly at one point in the year. The borrowing
authority bill is a time that we can stand up in the House and talk
a bit about the fiscal reality of Canada.
When we took over government we took over a government
that had lost the confidence of investors not just in Canada but
around the world. We took over a government and an institution
that had lost the confidence of Canadians.
The Prime Minister said time and time again when he was on
the campaign trail that if he did not do anything else as Prime
Minister of this country he would put respect back into politics.
What we say we will do, we will do. He put most of the main
ideas in a thing called the red book. Much to the chagrin of the
Reform Party and members opposite, almost daily there is
another commitment in the red book fulfilled by the Prime
Minister, the cabinet and the Liberals in this government.
That is probably one of the reasons that Canadians,
international investors, people who buy Canada savings bonds,
people from all over this country and beyond finally sat up and
said it is amazing, they can finally have a government in power
in Ottawa that says what it means and does what it says it will do.
Let us be realistic here. I have been here seven years. We used
to watch and wait for the Tory finance minister to get up and it
was like throwing darts with a blindfold on his deficit
projections, whether they were going to hit. We wonder why the
international community lost confidence in the Canadian dollar.
We wonder why it lost confidence in the Canadian economy. It is
because the previous ministers of finance who were on the right
wing of the spectrum, the Reformers of late, could not add up.
Every time they came in with a projection the international
money markets and consumer confidence went right down the
toilet. We could hear the big flush every time one of those
budgets came in.
Our finance minister put a budget last year and he has not only
met the projections, and that is the first time in recent history
that has been done, he exceeded the projections. When he
walked in this time and put a budget forward and the Canadian
public and the people who invest and buy our bonds in the
international community and who invest in business in Canada
said finally they have somebody in government who is credible.
So did the Canadian public in the poll released today.
I want to talk about how we have not abandoned our principles
as Liberals. I am a Liberal. During the lead up to this debate and
this budget I harboured grave concerns about where we were
going as the Liberal Party.
I am one of those individuals who believe in the principles of
liberalism, of fairness and equity. I believe the people of this
country have a collective right of ownership of the resource that
is Canada. While one of the roles of government is to ensure that
the free market system works and is attractive to people to come
and invest, the Government of Canada has a fundamental
responsibility to ensure that wealth is redistributed. That is
absolute horror to the ears of the Reform Party. I believe that
with every ounce of my being.
When this great debate started and we had this deficit that had
to be brought under control I thought we were going to lose our
principles. I thought as the Liberal Party we were going to find
ourselves following a right wing Reform-Tory agenda. We did
I have discovered something. I discovered that we can stand
up and defend the vehicles that deliver the programs until the
cows come home but if the vehicles are broken they are not
going to be able to deliver the programs. The programs are
merely a manifestation of the principles. The principles of those
programs, our social programs, our transfers to the provinces,
our equalization program, EPFs and health care, unemployment
insurance, all of those things and all of those programs that we
provide as government are merely a way to deliver the Liberal
principles of wealth, regeneration and redistribution, of going in
and making sure that government has the ability to help those
who are least able to help themselves.
I was more than pleased when I heard the budget announced
the other night. I was worried there would be an adverse regional
impact. I guess once bitten twice shy. To be quite honest, last
year I felt that the budget disproportionately hit some of the
regions like Atlantic Canada.
I was extremely vocal in my concerns and in my criticisms.
Over the last 12 months we have grown as a government and we
have learned to listen. We have had the most massive prebudget
consultations in the history of this country. We listened, not just
to people out on the hustings but also to people in this party and
people in the House.
The Minister of Finance has crafted a document I did not think
could be done. First, he has satisfied the international investor
community that Canada is serious about its deficit and
eventually dealing with the debt. Second, he said that we are still
a country that believes in the greatness of the resource that is
this nation and the rights of the individuals to have their
government give them a hand up when necessary. Third, he
recognized this country first and foremost is a regional country.
The economies in this country because of our geography and our
history are regional economies.
The finance minister came in with a budget that did not
disproportionately hit any part of this country, that recognizes
that the real future of this country is getting our debt and deficit
under control while at the same time not throwing the baby out
with the bath water and wherever possible preserving those
basic and fundamental principles of Liberalism.
I am not happy that as a result of the burgeoning deficit some
of our public servants who have done a tremendous service for
Canada have had to go. The President of the Treasury Board has
listened. He has come in with a package which is fair and in most
cases more than reasonable. We have said to the public servants
of Canada that times have changed. Yes, government has to do
more with less and our priorities must shift.
With those individuals who have helped to build this country
and deliver the programs we are prepared to sit down and be as
generous as we can with early retirement, early departure and
transfers, if possible, to other programs. No, we are not perfect
as a government and this budget is not perfect, but it is the
closest thing to perfection in a budget that I have seen and that
the Canadian public has seen in many years.
Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, I would like
to ask my friend, the hon. member for Dartmouth, a few
questions. I had the opportunity to take a trip with him to Japan,
during which we had long discussions. Despite that opportunity,
I was still a little surprised to see that he was so proud and happy
today, and so impressed with the Minister of Finance's budget.
I fail to see how anyone could be proud, for example, to say
that most of the deficit reduction measures will be achieved by
offloading the problem onto the provinces. Responsibility for a
large part of the federal deficit will be squarely put on the
province's shoulders. For example, the Minister of Finance says
that Quebec will receive almost $7 billion less from the federal
government, which will, of course, continue to tax Quebecers as
much as ever.
How can he be proud to see that, in two years' time, Canada
will have tacked on another $50 billion to its debt? How can he
be proud of that? How can the hon. member for Dartmouth be
proud to see that, in two years, Canada's accumulated debt will
have climbed to $611 billion? How could we be proud of that?
This does not make me in the least bit proud. Therefore, I would
simply like the hon. member to answer my question.
Instead of making fiery speeches, he may be better advised to
come down from the clouds and realize that, in two years,
Canada will obviously have to collect more income tax and
impose other taxes. The country will give much less to its
citizens, since the interest payments on the debt alone will be at
least $50 billion. How could we possibly be proud of that?
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for
his questions. I have a great deal of respect for the work that he
does in Parliament. We have had discussions. I think he should
drop this bit about sovereignty because he knows that Canada is
a great place and I know he feels that fundamentally.
My colleague has asked me two questions. On the one hand,
he has raised a concern about debt downloading to the
provinces, that there are cuts in the transfers. I have to say to him
that I am concerned about the cuts to transfers. The province of
Quebec is much more able to withstand those types of cuts in
transfers than places like Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New
In New Brunswick and Nova Scotia the provincial ministers
of finance said the number one wish they had on their wish list
going into this budget was not that they did not have their
transfers cut, but that the federal government come up with a
credible plan for getting its finances in order. If that was not
done it would have a major negative impact on the stability of
the dollar and interest rates. Every province in the country is
individually financing a debt. Their number one priority was to
have some credibility from the Minister of Finance.
On transfers to the provinces we cut them by 4.4 per cent. That
seems like a lot of money. It is 3 per cent of the revenue of the
provinces. However, we cut our own programs, the ones we take
credit or blame for, by 7.3 per cent. We cut ourselves more than
we cut other people.
With respect to the second question about the debt being too
high, I agree with him 100 per cent. However, I do not agree with
members of the Reform Party that it is a debt monster and that
we should dance to their tune.
We have tried to recognize that the debt is too high but that in
order to control the debt we must control the deficit first. We are
not prepared to sacrifice that fundamental nature of Canada to
satisfy those on the far right, the ones who are off the mat. We
are not prepared to go in and sacrifice ourselves to the big debt
demon, as the former member said, by slashing programs and
dismantling those things that are fundamental to the nature of
I would think the hon. member opposite in a quiet moment
would reflect on what we have done. We have probably created
another good argument as to why Quebecers would want to stay
in Canada. At this point in time, for the first time I might add in a
long time, Quebecers just like Nova Scotians have a government
in Ottawa that says what it means and when it says something it
Mr. Herb Grubel (Capilano-Howe Sound, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, does the member who just spoke have any sense of
embarrassment whatsoever for saying that the red book was still
I heard throughout the campaign and many times here that the
immigration level would be 300,000 and it is 200,000; that the
GST would be gone; that there would be a renegotiation of
NAFTA; and there would be no cuts in social programs.
Unfortunately I am running out of time, but the list is so
embarrassingly large that if I had made those comments I could
not speak for blushing.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member that
there are some embarrassing things going around today, the
most embarrassing of which is the dismal performance of the
Reform Party's response to the budget that has resulted in its
popularity in the country going right down the you know what,
Mr. Speaker. We can hear it flushing.
Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
listened with interest to the debate and have come to one
conclusion, that Liberals are the only Tories left in Canada.
This budget represents a profound change in Canada's basic
structures and a total break with the principles that built this
country. At issue here is much more than just a simple budget.
This is about the kind of country we want to leave to our
children. It is about the very essence of our national identity.
The Liberal government has just set the parameters of policies
that will take us into the 21st century, not as a strong and united
Canada but as a fragmented Canada.
The Liberals maintain that we have no choice and that there is
only one way to reduce the deficit. The New Democratic Party
agrees that debts and deficits are unacceptable and that we
cannot continue to live on credit, but we absolutely disagree that
this is the way to do it. The Liberals are wrong. There is an
There are two ways to reduce the deficit: one way is to make
decisions collectively, and the other way is to turn the regions,
social groups and interest groups in this country into rivals, all
competing for the same dollar.
The budget is not straight from the heart. The budget is
straight through the heart of the future of the country that I
believe the majority of Canadians thought they were going to get
when they voted for the government.
The minister has said that this is a tough budget. However, it
is much more than that. It fundamentally breaks the social
consensus that has been built up over a number of years, often
through vigorous debate, to build a country based on
bilingualism, multiculturalism and a sense of community that
by working together we will accomplish more for each
Many parts of the budget will not be felt by Canadians for one
or two years down the road. There is no question that the
government has turned its back on much of the Liberal tradition.
In a year or two Canadians will be asking what it means to be a
Canadian. We should all be concerned about whether we will be
citizens of a country or simply citizens of one region or another?
As I mentioned earlier, there is no disagreement about the
need to address the debt and deficit. We do not see any serious
attempt to deal with the inequities in the tax system. There is
some work around the fringes, but there could be much more
fundamental work done in the budget.
On the day after the budget individuals earning $100,000 with
a nice subsidized box at the SkyDome and who eat in expensive
restaurants were happy because their lives were not touched at
all. However there was great cause for concern by senior
citizens, single mothers and young people.
A country is more than a bond market or more than just how
the economy functions, although that is obviously important. It
is about how the economy functions for the people. I want to
address very briefly in the time I have several ways in which I
feel the budget has made us a lesser nation.
How ironic it is that just two weeks ago we celebrated the 30th
anniversary of the Canadian flag. The question people might be
asking two years from now is: What kind of Canada will that flag
Several aspects of the budget have fundamentally changed the
social consensus I spoke of earlier. One is the issue of
globalization. Globalization is not just economic. It is about
Canada's role as an international citizen. It is about the common
security between other countries and ours. In many ways the
budget largely turns its back on the poor of the world.
A very important part of any country is freedom. I ask my
friends on the other side whether they can truly say that the
budget has given more freedom to Canadians. Certainly a
mother living in poverty has no freedom. An elderly person who
cannot get adequate health care has no freedom. A young person
who cannot attend college, university or technical school has no
freedom. The budget limits freedoms and the potential of
citizenship for many groups. Also the budget limits the freedom
of such fundamentals as collective bargaining by breaking
collective bargaining with the public servants.
The budget does not mention poverty, job creation or youth. It
is important to point out that unemployment is not free. It costs
the country approximately $42 billion a year in direct payouts. If
the government would have set a target to reduce unemployment
by 1 per cent, $5.16 billion would have been added to the tax
revenue and social spending would have been reduced by $1.24
billion. There is another way.
Turning to other areas, the government has completely
abandoned child care and universality. Independence for the
elderly as a principle has also been abandoned, as the previous
member spoke about.
Community and regional fairness is another hallmark of what
it is to be a country. The flag is not just fabric. It is what we
weave together. It is how we make sure that a Canadian standard
of service will be available in Newfoundland, Yukon or central
Canada. There is no question that as the government has
proposed block funding this is gone.
Sustainability of the environment is a very important area.
Cutbacks to the environment are quite severe in the budget. I
think they should be of concern to every Canadian. If we look at
countries internationally, for example east bloc countries that
ignored the environment to build their economies, we see that
they are paying a dreadful price.
Similarly part of the social consensus of Canada has been that
we are a country that respects human rights, the dignity of
individuals and gender equality. It takes much more than words
to achieve that.
In the abandoning of national standards and in the abandoning
of a national vision the Liberal government is abandoning us to a
balkanized and regionalized country, which will not stand us in
good stead in international markets, as we discussed earlier.
Aspects that until now were considered essential to our
society are no longer important. Children will not enjoy what we
considered to be fundamental principles: they will have no
national medicare, they will have no national railway linking
communities across the country. Healthy and vigorous rural
communities will be a thing of the past. They will not know what
it is like to have good public services and a government for all
In summary, the budget has failed the country. It is beginning
to dismantle much of what was done to make the country first in
the assessment of the United Nations or one of the best places in
the world to live.
Mr. John Bryden (Hamilton-Wentworth, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, I hope my colleague from Yukon will agree that the
budget is doing something unusual by proposing cuts to special
One such special interest group that may be subject to cuts is
the Canadian Labour Congress, which we learned this past week
is supporting the Quebec Federation of Labour in its campaign
to support the separatist cause in Quebec. Some of the money the
Quebec Federation of Labour is using is money that comes from
the Canadian Labour Congress. It was about $500,000 and in
turn came from Ottawa and the labour education program that
pays the CLC $3 million a year.
In the past the CLC has spent $1.5 million on supporting the
NDP's election campaign, the biggest donor of any political
party in the country.
Does my colleague from Yukon feel that cutting special
interest groups with a political agenda not in keeping with the
majority of the Canadian public is a good thing or a bad thing?
Ms. McLaughlin: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has
been strongly speaking out against what he calls special interest
groups. I am not clear whether the member has been equally as
strong in including in special interest groups the Business
Council on National Issues, the Canadian Chamber of
Commerce and the Canadian Manufacturers Association. If he
has, he will have done a service.
I object to his term special interest groups. It has now become
a Reform Party slogan. Often it is used to marginalize people
rather than to include them.
There is a place in a thriving democracy for different points of
view to be presented vigorously. As a good Liberal I am sure he
would agree that it is necessary to have a functioning democracy
in which every part of society has the ability to participate in
helping to shape public policy not just during an election but
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): It being 5.30 p.m., the
House will now proceed to the consideration of Private
Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
The House resumed from November 24, 1994, consideration
of the motion that Bill C-262, an act to provide for the
settlement of labour disputes affecting the export of grain by
arbitration and to amend the Public Service Staff Relations Act
in consequence thereof, be read a second time and referred to a
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to take part in the
debate on this bill to providing for the settlement of labour
disputes affecting the export of grain by arbitration and amend
the Public Service Staff Relations Act in consequence thereof.
First of all, I think it is important to ask ourselves if this bill
is beneficial to Canada. Is it worthwhile? Will it improve labour
relations in this industry which is vital to Western Canada's
economy and that of Canada as a whole?
We, in the Bloc Quebecois, do not think so. We think that
imposing arbitration will only make the conduct of collective
bargaining more complicated in an industry that had bad
experiences in the past. Let us bear in mind that this Parliament
has already had to bring in special legislation to impose the
terms of the final offer to settle labour disputes in this industry
and there has been no significant change since. The climate has
remained tense and continued to deteriorate for several years,
precluding any compromise solution where both sides come to
an agreement, which is the ultimate goal of the bargaining
This bill also contains ambiguous provisions. For example,
clause 3 reads as follows:
-no trade union of employees shall declare or authorize a strike, and no
employer of such employees shall declare or cause a lockout, if the strike or
lockout would cause cessation of work by any employee whose work is essential
to any stage of the progress of grain from the premises of the producer of the
grain to export.
This wording is rather vague. It could be open to
interpretation as to who these employees are and whether or not
their work is performed at any stage of the progress of grain
from the premises to export. So, in our sense, such ambiguity is
dangerous and could make labour relations more difficult
instead of making them easier.
The second point I want to make concerns compulsory
arbitration. A typical example people hear about every day is the
situation in professional sports. Police forces in Quebec have
used the procedure as well. It seems that repeated use of this
procedure does not improve labour relations, which tend to
deteriorate. There is also a tendency to avoid putting all one's
cards on the table, which one should normally do when two
parties negotiate, in order to reach an acceptable settlement.
Compulsory arbitration tends to make the parties reason along
the following lines: I am not going to show my hand right away,
because if I do, when we go to arbitration, the arbitrator will
make even more concessions to the other party and I will be the
loser in this process.
Compulsory arbitration does not seem to offer any advantages
for either party and does not seem to be a satisfactory way to
solve these problems.
From past experience, and I speak as a former director of
personnel in an educational institution, I would say that
prohibiting strikes offers no guarantee that people will not walk
out just the same. In this field, for a law to be successfully
enforced, justice must be done and must appear to have been
The mere fact of imposing arbitration and prohibiting strikes
will not work if there is a major stumbling block for the workers
or the employer. The employer insist on imposing a lockout or a
virtual lockout, or the employees may decide to walk out just the
same, which puts them in an illegal position. While in a normal
bargaining process they would not have that problem and it
would simply be a matter of letting the market decide. We must
realize that sometimes good intentions do not achieve the
We must also find ways to avoid a decline in productivity. My
point is, that by prohibiting legal strikes, we may encourage
behaviour that is even more damaging and that without
necessarily leading to a work stoppage, will be detrimental to
production and create a conflict situation in the workplace,
which is tantamount to giving the parties a kind of leverage that
goes well beyond what is traditionally provided in the
The last back-to-work legislation passed by Parliament, in
the case of the Port of Vancouver, is a good example. Wages
were the only item that remained to be settled, but the parties
could not agree. When the final offer was put on the table, both
parties refused to budge. In this particular case, the employer's
offer was accepted, but it could have been the other way around.
There have been such cases in other sectors. If the union's offer
were accepted because it was reasonable, theoretically
speaking, it would not necessarily suit the employer and could
interfere with efficient operations, so that the result could be
damaging both to the company and the employer.
So these are also things we must consider, and we should
realize that, with all our good intentions about settling disputes
through arbitration, we may be creating situations that are far
more complex. The bill before the House today is an example of
the kind of well-intentioned approach that will fail to achieve
what we ultimately want, which is better relations in the
Compulsory arbitration also takes away any interest the
parties may have in negotiating, in finding compromises
together. A period of negotiations between an employer and a
union also includes periods of exploring solutions, which are not
formal bargaining sessions but rather periods of exploring how
solutions may be reached. Compulsory arbitration will stymie
this exploration, because both parties will refrain from putting
interesting solution proposals on the table, discussions will be
formalized. In the end, people will be more dissatisfied than if
they had been able to take the negotiations to their conclusion.
We therefore need to create a different climate in this
industry, a climate in which labour relations will lead to much
more interesting results. An example of this is what happens
in Canada's major ports. Labour relations there have often been
difficult. In the smaller ports, however, agreements are reached
because the parties talk to each other and succeed in reaching
This House must therefore reject this bill, not because of its
intent, but because of the terms proposed in it, which will not
improve the situation and which, before long, will require us to
reconsider this sort of situation. In conclusion, I will describe
the situation with the police force in Quebec, as one example.
Compulsory arbitration was commonplace; decisions were
made. In the end, the solutions did not permit the employer to
assume its obligations satisfactorily. The reverse could have
been true as well, with union members finding themselves in an
The Bloc Quebecois is therefore opposed on the principle that
the parties' right to negotiate must be respected. There is also a
concern for pragmatism and for reaching solutions that lead to
joint agreements. When the parties have a signed collective
agreement, the parties must bear in mind, during the life of the
agreement, that they agreed to the solution reached by both of
them. When there is compulsory arbitration, however, one of the
parties wins and the other loses. Labour relations between
winners and losers is not the way to the future. Rather, we must
make the parties face their responsibilities squarely and really
oblige them to negotiate.
Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on
behalf of the constituents of Hamilton West, I have the privilege
to speak to Bill C-262, the grain export protection act
introduced by the member for Lethbridge.
This bill seeks to make it illegal for anyone, employee or
employer, to cause any cessation of work at any stage of the
progress of grain from the premises of the producer of the grain
all the way to export. It should be obvious that this bill would
affect a large number of Canadians, indeed everybody who
comes near grain, from the farmer who grows the grain to those
on the trains and ships which carry the grain.
At this time I want to focus on one particular aspect of this bill
and what it brings to the labour relations atmosphere with the
government's own employees. That is the provision in this bill
which would amend the Public Service Staff Relations Act by
adding new criteria limiting the right to strike.
This bill seeks to add to the Public Service Staff Relations Act
in section 2 and section 78(1) words which would have the effect
of prohibiting employees from engaging in any strike activity in
areas related to the orderly progress of grain from the premises
of the producer of the grain to export.
When the Public Service Staff Relations Act was introduced
almost 30 years ago, the legislators included a unique concept to
labour legislation. That was the notion of designating
employees as essential and denying them the right to strike. That
is to say that employees whose duties included functions which
were performed in the interests of the safety and/or security of
the Canadian public could not engage in a strike. If one was to
search the Canada Labour Code or other labour codes, one
would not find many examples of such a concept.
In my opinion this is a good, reasonable and justifiable
concept. Employees of the federal government and numerous
other federal institutions should not be in a position to withdraw
services which would cause harm to the safety or security of
Canadians. This provision has stood the test of time.
When public servants engage in a strike activity a number of
their colleagues continue to work and provide essential services
to the public. The last public service strike provided us with
many examples of this particular provision.
Both air and marine search and rescue operations continued.
Ice breaking continued. Mariners' charts and maps continued to
be produced and updated. The all important function of
providing notices to shipping carried on. As well, fisheries
patrols were maintained and employees involved in this
function continued to provide a service to the public.
Air operations continued and airport facilities were
maintained. Weather observations continued. Forecasts were
prepared and communicated to the users and of great comfort,
notification bulletins affecting aviation safety continued to be
produced and disseminated.
Naturally, prison guards and correctional services are deemed
as essential services and continued to perform their tasks. All
those employees, including those who provide care and security
for inmates, medical care, food, heating and all those functions
necessary to maintain the system continued to perform their
Health care was maintained by designated employees in such
areas as poison control, hazardous product identification,
medical support at federal hospitals, ambulance drivers, and
dental and chronic care in isolated areas. Also designated were
some employees who were involved in research related to health
care which used laboratory animals.
Essential to Canadians, income security programs such as UI,
family allowance and the Canada pension plan continued. This
included the processing of new claims as well as the issuance of
Employees involved in customs and immigration control
remained on the job. Included among these essential jobs were
employees responsible for the primary inspection of meat and
fish products imported to this country.
Not surprisingly, the provisions of the Public Service Staff
Relations Act also precluded those involved with national
security from striking. Included among those were the civilian
federal employees who provide support to RCMP operations.
Of interest to my colleagues in this place, parliamentary
operations were designated as an essential service. Hansard
continued to be printed, along with committee reports and other
parliamentary publications. Simultaneous translation services
also continued to be offered.
These are some examples of the services considered as
essential for the safety and security of the public and for which
the public service employees could not withdraw services. The
central theme throughout this list is: These services are essential
for the safety and security of the Canadian public.
It is evident that the current provisions of the Public Service
Staff Relations Act have by and large served the Canadian public
well. By tinkering with these provisions and including the
notion of economic hardship in the grain industry, are we trying
to fix what ain't broke?
It is an unfortunate but accepted reality that strikes will cause
inconvenience and maybe even economic hardship to some.
However, if we are to accept that employees have the right to
strike to put pressure on the employer, then we must accept the
results. If it is our view that strikes should not cause hardship to
anyone, then it is my suggestion that all strikes be declared
This bill starts along that road. It is headed in a direction that
can only bring grief to employer-employee relations in this
country. I would not argue that the movement of grain is not
important to Canadians. Obviously it is, but I do not believe the
production or movement of grain is essential for the safety or
security of the public.
The movement of grain is, like other commercial activities,
an important economic activity in this country. If we were to
introduce the idea that there can be no strikes or lockouts in the
grain industry, which sector would be next? Would it be the auto
industry? The shipping industry? How about forestry services?
In a certain section of the country, ore production is extremely
important. Should we consider banning work stoppages there
If we are able to use economic criteria, I am confident that
every member of this House could cite an enterprise worthy of
consideration for a bill such as this. I would like to remind
members that in many jurisdictions police services are given the
opportunity to withdraw from their jobs. Medical practitioners
and teachers also have this ability.
As I mentioned, if we accept that employees have the right to
strike and to exert pressure on their employer, then they must be
permitted to do so. The introduction of a provision in the Public
Service Staff Relations Act prohibiting strikes in any one
specific area, be it grain handling or some other industry, begins
to erode this right. Employees either have the right to strike or
they do not. The provision restricting the right to strike in the
federal public service to those performing services essential for
the safety and security of the public is a restriction, but I think it
can be reasonably argued.
In addition, this provision has been in place for almost 30
years and still allows the public service employees to withdraw
services. As we saw during the last public service strike,
employees still have the ability to exert considerable pressure
on the employer.
Times, they are achanging. We have to roll with change. I do
not feel the way to begin a positive and co-operative renewal of
labour relations is by introducing legislation which begins to
erode what labour considers a basic right. If we are going to give
labour the right to withdraw services in order to exert pressure in
collective bargaining, then we must allow this withdrawal of
service to have some effect.
I am sure the member for Lethbridge did not intend anything
sinister but was simply advancing a proposal that would protect
the interests of the grain industry. While the reasons for desiring
protection from strikes or lockouts are noble in themselves, we
must look at how we propose to do this and the results such a
proposal would bring.
While I agree with the member that the grain industry is an
important aspect of this country, as many other industries are, I
cannot accept the notion that Parliament legislates protection at
the expense of the rights of other Canadian citizens. Despite
what I believe are good intentions, the results would be
inappropriate and I cannot support this bill.
Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay West-Revelstoke, Ref.): Mr.
Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today and support Bill C-262.
In the course of my speech I will probably deal with some of the
things mentioned by the member for Hamilton West.
Going back to the speech by the Bloc Quebecois member, it
seemed by the way he spoke that he misunderstood the
difference between basic arbitration and being legislated back to
work, and having compulsory arbitration and the concept of
final offer selection arbitration.
I am surprised the member for Hamilton West so eloquently
spoke against this issue, because the Liberal Party imposed this
on a strike last year in the Vancouver docks. I am speaking in
favour of this type of settlement, but I first want to explain
where the Liberal government made two mistakes in the way
it did it.
First, the government waited until there was already
significant hardship being imposed, not just on a few people and
a few on the sidelines who were involved in the strike, but on the
whole economic well-being of Canada. Something that started
in the port of Vancouver spread across to farmers on the prairies.
It almost shut down mills in the interior of British Columbia that
were on the edge. It affected hundreds of thousands of people. It
is something we have to examine and decide whether there is a
better way. As I said, the first problem was that the government
took so long to do something about it.
The second mistake is that the employer and employees in
that strike situation negotiated. They then took their strike
option and were still considerably far apart.
If we are to impose a change of rules, we should give the
people an opportunity to readjust to the new rules. The game was
changed in midstream. The parties were not given the time to go
back to the table to try and resolve it, to see if they could work
together more closely.
That is what final offer selection arbitration is inclined to do.
It is not a matter of picking and choosing a piece of this or a
piece of that when arbitrating a settlement. The way this works
is that the final offer is laid on the table by both sides and the
arbitrator then picks either one side or the other. In labour
negotiations this tends to move the two sides very close
together. This is because if one makes an outlandish proposal
and the other is being reasonable, the reasonable side's offer will
be accepted virtually every time.
I suggest we look at this in terms of protecting the grain
industry in Canada. As the member for Hamilton West said, by
all means we should start looking at it in a broader sense.
For example, consider that a house is burning down. A
fireman stands by on the sidewalk watching the house burn,
perhaps while a young child is inside. He does so because the
fire department is on strike. All of us accept that as being
absolutely unthinkable. So does the fire department and it
accepts this kind of responsibility.
Can we accept the concept of a police officer standing by
watching someone get mugged or raped because the police
department was on strike? We cannot accept this either.
However let us go to the other end of the scale to a small
business with little impact on the community and no impact on
the national economy. In that situation we say it is okay for it to
be a battle of wills and an economic situation for the two forces
at work there. We will let the employer or the employee,
depending on who comes out the victor, use their position of
relative unimportance to negotiate a higher wage or to force the
employee to take a lower wage.
The difference between the two is the degree of importance.
We are saying that if you are important, we will not let you have
the same rights as people who are unimportant. Not only for the
sake of the grain industry, I suggest it is time we actually started
to look at the whole concept of how we settle labour negotiations
in this country.
Unlike what the Bloc member said, this is not an unfair type of
action that will cause the relationships between employers and
employees to deteriorate. If anything, it may turn it the other
way and cause them to negotiate in much better faith and try to
resolve the differences between them.
Employees will not be asking for a 100 per cent raise and the
employer saying he wants them to take a 50 per cent cut. They
are going to try to move to the most reasonable position
possible, so that if it comes down to this final offer selection
arbitration they are going to have a fairly reasonable offer on the
table in the hopes it will be selected. If they are unreasonable,
they are likely going to lose. That is the whole concept of this.
The member for Hamilton West talked about how the Public
Service Staff Relations Act works. Let me give an example of
how it works.
The air traffic control system in this country is not designated
as an essential service. The air traffic control system has the
right to go on strike, but if it does, it shuts down the entire air
industry in Canada.
The government instead said it had the right to go on strike,
but in the event of a strike the government has the right to
designate a number of employees to maintain the essential
service within the air traffic control system. The controllers said
they certainly wanted to maintain the safety of this country,
hospital flights, food flights to the north, emergencies and these
types of things. They would deal with these, and so they said
they had no problem with this concept of designating
Then the government turned around and designated every
single employee in the air traffic control system and said that the
essential duties were everything that they did. It went to court
and the court upheld it. A wonderful system. Now the air traffic
controllers can go on strike, which means their contract is no
longer valid. The government can pay them anything they want
to and they still have to report for duty.
We have to find another system. Without getting into the
budget argument right now, we are in a very fragile situation
economically speaking and we cannot shut the industry of this
country down. In the event of strikes, who loses?
The public loses. They are the number one loser. The second
loser is usually labour. No matter what kind of settlement they
get, if they are off work for any period of time they are likely not
going to make that wage back up. The problem is they have to
have some kind of hammer to use as a threat if everything else
fails. The majority of the negotiations end up with settlement,
but when they do not they always have to have that hammer.
We have to invent a new type of hammer, one that is fair for
labour and one that is fair for management. We need some
system that says you must move your negotiations very close
together or chances are you are going to be the loser in this
This is a step in the right direction, examining it in the case of
the grain. We do not want to come at this all at once as a total
revolutionary system for this country. This is a good place to
start. This is a good place to work some of the bugs out of the
We do have to look for alternatives. Strikes are something that
went on in the 1800s. Surely we have to evolve from something
that maybe worked last century. We are about to go into the next
one. Maybe we need to find new solutions for this country. This
is a system that can work, that the unions will look at and I
believe they will accept. The primary objector is going to be one
or two people at the very top. I believe the worker in Canada will
benefit rather than lose from this type of legislation.
Ms. Judy Bethel (Edmonton East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am
pleased to have this opportunity to participate in the debate on
second reading of the bill proposed by the hon. member for
The proposed legislation, Bill C-262, would seek to ban work
stoppages involving the movement of grain from producer to
export and to provide for arbitrated settlement in those cases
where parties involved in the grain handling and transportation
industry were unable to resolve contract differences.
On the surface one cannot argue against the general object of
the bill, that is, to keep Canadian export grain flowing smoothly
to overseas markets and not to be stalled or halted by labour
dispute. Unfortunately, while my honourable colleague and I
share a particular desire to see Canada's reputation as a reliable
exporter of grain maintained, we are obviously in disagreement
as to how that end is achieved.
The banning of legal strikes and/or lockouts and the
imposition of arbitrated settlements are measures which only
serve to exasperate labour management relations. It will do little
to bring long term solutions to problems which we are
attempting to address.
I would like to share with hon. members a unique initiative
currently under way in the western grain storage and handling
industry, one which exemplifies the type of positive and forward
thinking which labour and management are capable of applying
to human resource issues in the industry.
Following three significant work stoppages in the grain
handling and transportation sector, in the fall of 1991 a dialogue
was initiated with industry representatives to review the need
for improvement in labour-management relations and to
consider ways of minimizing disruptions to the movement of
grain to export markets. Discussions with the parties led to the
conclusion that there was little in the way of support for
essential service legislation governing dispute resolution in the
grain handling industry. Any system of partial designation
would be cumbersome to administer and likely to lead to
interminable disputes. A complete prohibition on work
stoppages would involve third party determination of contract
impasses and effectively remove control of the process from
both sides of the industry.
There were two key problems which were identified during
discussions with the parties involved in the grain handling
industry. First, there was the expectation that government would
intervene rapidly to terminate any work stoppages, thus
enabling one or both parties to avoid its responsibilities for
settlement. Second, there existed a problem of inadequate
communications between the parties at appropriate times and
levels during the period between bargaining rounds on the
longer term issues which, if left unaddressed, might rebound
negatively at the bargaining table.
Hon. members will be encouraged to hear that both labour and
management expressed agreement on the utility of exploring
ways to improve their dialogue and to ensure the future
competitiveness of the industry in their own mutual interest, as
well as in the interest of the Canadian farmers and the Canadian
At a subsequent labour-management conference for officials
of the western grain elevator industry agreement was reached on
pursuing the possible establishment of a sectoral council on the
industry. A working group with equal representation from
labour and management chaired by a neutral government
official was established to discuss the possible format in terms
of reference for a human resources study which could eventually
lead to the establishment of such a sectoral body.
The working group held a series of meetings over the course
of the next year which culminated in the submission of an
application to the sector studies directorate of the former
Employment and Immigration Canada for assistance in carrying
out a human resource issue study of the industry. Approval for
the study was received and the firm of Deloitte & Touche was
chosen by the working group to carry out the industry study.
Following an initial meeting between the consulting firm and
a larger steering committee, representing not only management
and labour interests but various agencies concerned with grain
handling and transportation, the study was initiated. The
process consisted of several phases ranging from employee
questionnaires and focus groups through to the establishment
of surveys and interviews with senior human resource
personnel. The study focused on the educational and skill
requirements of the industry and the training and reskilling
available to meet such needs. It also looked at various methods
of dealing with workforce adjustment within the industry and
drew on the industry knowledge of the respondents to assist in
predicting industry trends of the future.
During the course of the consultants' work there were regular
meetings with the steering committee to ensure that the study
was following the direction intended and that the methodology
agreed to was being followed. The study has been finalized and
will now be turned over to the original working group for
consideration and action, including the possible establishment
of a sectoral council for the grain storage and handling industry.
This initiative, involving both labour and management in the
grain handling industry, is but one example of the co-operative
approach which is being pursued by industry participants to
meet the challenges they are facing. The fact that the two sides
have met and constructively reviewed major human resource
issues speaks volumes. Hon. members on both sides of the
House should welcome this display of co-operation which we
naturally hope will translate into improved labour relations
within the industry.
Both the Ministers of Human Resources Development and
Agriculture and Agri-Food should be commended for ensuring
that labour has had an opportunity to play a significant role in
respect of department initiatives. The Minister of Agriculture
and Agri-Food has ensured that the representatives of unions
involved in the grain handling and transportation system are
active participants in this May 16 group which meets regularly
to ensure that Canada's export grain commitments are being met
and that the system is functioning well.
The Minister of Human Resources Development, in addition
to the support shown for the possibility of a sectoral initiative in
the western grain elevator industry, has encouraged ongoing
consultation with labour unions and employers in the federal
jurisdiction concerning possible amendments to the Canada
Earlier this year when a work stoppage involving
longshoremen at the west coast ports threatened this country's
reputation as a reliable exporter of grain and other commodities,
the Minister of Human Resources Development introduced
legislation to bring about an end to the disruption and provide
for a final settlement of issues separating the two sides. While
not a popular measure, the bill introduced by the minister
demonstrated the government's commitment to ensuring the
well-being of western Canada's agricultural economy.
In conclusion, I would simply suggest that the measures
contained in the bill before us are inappropriate and do not
reflect current reality in the grain handling industry. Removing
the collective bargaining rights of workers and replacing them
with imposed arbitration will do nothing to further the positive
thrust of the initiatives mentioned earlier.
This government is a strong supporter of free collective
bargaining but recognizes that there are occasions when lengthy
work stoppage in the grain handling industry could pose
significant economic losses for the agricultural economy, as was
the case in the recent longshoring dispute. In such cases the
government is prepared to intervene in disputes and ensure the
resumption of operations and the settlement of the dispute. This
type of commitment should preclude the need for the measures
proposed in Bill C-262.
I would therefore urge all hon. members not to support the
Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I am
pleased to say that I do support the private member's bill C-262
because I think there has come a time for real action in the
labour management disputes that we have seen in the handling
of grain for export markets.
To think that since 1966 the government has had to legislate
these workers back to work tells us that the current system is not
working. As much as the previous speaker would tell us that they
do not want to deny anybody the right to collective bargaining,
the point is that we want to enforce and give some motivation for
management and labour to arrive at a negotiated settlement
within the collective bargaining process. This whole bill is
designed to give that a whole push forward. It is to say that if one
does not bargain within the collective bargaining system then
one may not enjoy the rules imposed by the arbitration process.
What we are talking about here is a simple dispute settlement
mechanism. Right now when the two sides cannot agree they
appoint an arbitrator. He then sits down, looks at the one side,
looks at the other side, sees what is being offered and makes
some kind of reasonable determination somewhere between
these two sides. It fosters a desire by one side or both to make
exorbitant demands or to deny reasonable demands. The
arbitrator then has to choose and make a settlement.
If they cannot come to some conclusion within the negotiation
process that is free and open, if they agree not to agree, then this
bill will require that each put forth their final proposal.
Whatever that is they will put forth a final proposal, free, open,
entirely their own.
The arbitrator will pick one or the other with the intention that
he would pick the one that is most reasonable. It is an incentive
to both sides to be very reasonable in their final offer. The
arbitrator will pick the one that is most reasonable. Therefore
the desire to be as close as possible to reasonableness only
makes simple common sense.
That is why when I hear the speeches from the other side, from
the government side, the side that runs this country, saying this
bill is going to deny free and open collective bargaining I am
wondering if those members have even read the bill or even
thought about the bill, to see that this is some direction to the
arbitration process once everything has broken down and that
these decisions do not fall within the parameters of the arbitrator
but that he has a choice of one or the other, whichever is most
reasonable. That is the incentive that this bill is going to
I will split my time with the member for Wetaskiwin. I am
going to stop at this time and allow him to share his views as
Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I will
pick up where my colleague left off.
Witness the labour dispute at the port of Vancouver in January
and February, 1994. For 11 days the grain shipping process was
paralysed. Some estimates place the loss to Canada's grain
industry at hundreds of millions of dollars.
It is absolutely ludicrous that such losses were allowed to
occur. These losses came about as a result of a failed collective
We cannot allow one sector of the grain shipping process to
harm everyone else in the chain. When there are disruptions in
the grain marketing system individual farmers are not the only
ones to suffer. Workers everywhere else along the shipping
chain are affected. It has a domino effect on the whole industry.
When a strike occurs grain starts to back up in the system. The
system becomes, if you will, constipated. The grain stops its
otherwise perpetual flow from farm to market. This is
detrimental to numerous people. Whether at the grain elevator
or somewhere along the railway many people are forced to
endure pain because of the actions of a few. This is not
With many unions that are involved in the grain transportation
process we are left with the never ending threat of strike action.
All too often strikes do occur. When they occur they disrupt the
More than just accepting the measures suggested in Bill
C-262, we might also look at further legislation that would
require all union contracts affecting grain handling
transportation to come due at the same time. This would
simplify things and perhaps put an end to the rotating type of
No one benefits from a strike. Unionized workers suffer
losses of income while on strike. While they may win an
increase in their pay, all too often the net result is a loss of
income. Employers lose in a strike. They lose money, they lose
contracts and they pay demurrage on waiting ships. Besides that,
no work gets done.
In the case of grain transportation strikes there are an
incredible number of people who are directly harmed: railway
and all its workers, dock workers, shipping companies and their
employees, and of course farmers are harmed.
This represents only the direct impact of a strike action.
Countless others are harmed indirectly as well. The ultimate
casualty is the whole Canadian economy. Exports represent a
huge sector of our economy. Canada's balance of trade
continues to tilt in our favour. We must ensure that we retain this
As borders become more and more meaningless Canada must
be prepared to take on the entire world. That means we must
achieve competitiveness to attain a dominant position in the
global economy. When Canadians are unable to access the world
market we all suffer. The thrust of the bill is final offer selection
arbitration. I believe these measures will be fair to all sides.
Legislation such as Bill C-262 provides a reasonable answer
to endless strikes in the grain transportation sector of the
economy. Further it represents a reputable solution when
considering legislation that could apply to other areas in the
Historically strikes affecting grain movement take place
when markets are good and when prices are up. The use of
binding arbitration to settle labour disputes is a good way to
avoid unnecessary and crippling strikes. This would go a long
way to foster good relations and co-operation between labour
and management. With management and labour working hand in
hand, our reputation as a reliable supplier of grains and oilseeds
would improve with the possible result of increased demand,
increased price and perhaps an increase in employment.
Since 1966, as my colleague has already alluded to, we have
gone through this process 13 times when the federal government
has had to intervene and introduce back to work legislation to
keep the grain flowing to market. We need to ensure that never
again are such measures necessary.
The bill provides for a dispute settlement process that I
believe will be fair to all parties. This bill could not be of more
immediate importance or more timely. The looming threat of a
strike on the national railways again threatens the process of
Above all, grain must be able to continue its orderly flow to
market. The principle of keeping the economy flowing should be
our number one priority. We need legislation like Bill C-262 to
ensure that the economy does not face unnecessary crippling
work stoppages. Disruptions in the market hurt everyone.
Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua (Parliamentary Secretary to
Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, for several decades industrial relations in industries
under federal jurisdiction in the private sector have been
governed by the Canada Labour Code, Part I.
Part I of the Canada Labour Code is a model of how industrial
relations should be governed in a democratic country. It has
been functioning well and has been an important element at the
basis of the political and economic structure during many
decades of economic prosperity.
I draw attention to the fact that the grain transportation
system has been functioning very well of late. Last winter was
one of the most disruptive winters imaginable. It was a winter
which reduced the flow of grain from farms to the country
elevators. It slowed railway operations. Limits on the
availability of grain hopper cars was also a constraint. Still the
grain transportation and handling system recovered from a low
level of grain exports early in crop year 1993-94 and recorded a
4.7 per cent gain over the previous crop year.
Today the grain handling and transportation system is moving
ahead at an impressive pace with new records being set for grain
shipments. The Regina Leader Post reported early in November
on the fact that Canada's grain ports are moving at a pace well
Vancouver and Prince Rupert in October set a new record for
the west coast which was 27 per cent that the average for
October over the previous five years. Thunder Bay reached a
pace not seen since 1991-92. Its handlings for October of this
year were 35 per cent above the previous five-year average.
This is encouraging news which should impress on us the
resilience of the grain handling and transportation system and
its ability to cope effectively with adverse conditions.
When the legislation that established the code was adopted by
Parliament in 1972, it replaced the industrial relations and
disputes investigation act of 1948. It recognized there has been a
long tradition in Canada of labour legislation and policies that
are designed to promote the common well-being through the
encouragement of free collective bargaining and the
constructive settlement of disputes.
When it passed the legislation that established the Canada
Labour Code in 1972, Parliament indicated that it supported
``labour and management in their efforts to develop good
industrial relations and constructive collective bargaining
practices'' and ``it deemed the development of good industrial
relations to be in the best interests of Canada in ensuring a just
share of the fruits of progress to all''.
These principles were so fundamental to industrial relations
that they were specifically mentioned in the preamble to the
code. The bill before us proposes to make a very radical
departure from these principles. It proposes to significantly
alter industrial relation practices in the federal private sector.
Bill C-262 zeros in on the dispute settlement mechanism as it
would apply to industries involved in grain handling and
transportation. It would remove the right to strike or lockout and
replace the present dispute settlement mechanism with a final
offer selection of compulsory arbitration.
This might be an appropriate point to take a closer look at
arbitration and see what the ins and outs of the process might be.
Typically a hearing is conducted and is presided over by a third
party neutral. The parties present their positions in an
established, formal procedure. The neutral listens to the
positions of the parties, weighs the evidence carefully and drafts
a decision that he or she feels to be fair to both parties involved.
In an arbitration proceeding the decision of the arbitrator is final
and binding on both parties.
There is a certain advantage to arbitration in that it brings a
sense of finality to the bargaining process. The parties may not
be happy about the results that will be imposed on them but it
does provide for a solution.
Some very clear weaknesses to the arbitration process should
not be overlooked. First, it is not inconceivable that one party or
the other could reject an arbitrator's award. It might possibly
resort to strike or lockout action to vent frustration or to express
rejection of the result of the process. For that matter, it is very
possible that both parties may be dissatisfied with the
arbitrator's ruling and not have recourse to any other dispute
settlement process. The arbitration process is not perfect.
While evidence supports the perception that the use of
arbitration can reduce the number of strikes, it is not likely that
strikes or lockouts can be eliminated entirely.
A further disadvantage of arbitration that we are likely
familiar with because it has been repeated over the years, is the
fact that in adopting or having arbitration imposed on them, the
parties have to give up their authority to make decisions
concerning the issues in dispute.
Union leaders give up their right to seek the support of their
membership on key issues and management gives up its ability
to control costs as it sees fit in the course of company
operations. This leads me to believe that management and
the grain industry are likely to have serious reservations about
their support for a bill such as the one we have before us.
A further consideration that I feel is very significant to the
whole collective bargaining process is the fact that compulsory
arbitration is very likely to undermine the collective bargaining
process between a particular company and a union. If arbitration
of final settlements is imposed on the parties, fewer and fewer
items will tend to be resolved by the parties themselves before
going to arbitration. The tendency is for the number of
outstanding issues to build up before reaching the arbitration
stage with each successive round of bargaining.
Evidence suggests that labour and management tend to use the
same approach to dispute settlement with each round of
bargaining. This means that the parties may tend to become
addicted to arbitration and this can undermine an otherwise
health collective bargaining relationship.
Another area in which arbitration takes some criticism is on
the size of monetary awards. The charge is sometimes heard that
wage settlements are higher in arbitrated settlements than in
negotiated settlements. The evidence on this point apparently is
inconclusive but I would suggest it is a point on which
management in the grain handling and transportation industry is
likely to object to Bill C-262.
I do not want to leave the impression that there is not a role for
arbitration in our system of collective agreement dispute
settlement mechanisms. The Canada Labour Code, Part I,
already contains provision for the peaceful settlement of
disputes during the term of collective agreements by arbitration
or some other mechanism. Our system of compulsory collective
agreement settlements during the term of agreements through
arbitration or some other peaceful means contributes to a high
degree of stability in our industrial relation system.
I would like to draw the attention of the House to section 7(1)
of Bill C-262. It reads:
An arbitrator appointed under section 6 shall forthwith require the union and
the employer to provide to the arbitrator, in writing, within fifteen days
(a) a list of the matters agreed upon, and a proposal in contractual language to give
effect to them; and
(b) a list of the matters remaining in dispute and a final offer in contractual
language in respect of the settlement of all of them.
It appears to me that there is very little, if any, room in this
process for the parties to negotiate a settlement even if they
wanted to. Neither does there appear to be room for the
arbitrator to assist the parties to come to a negotiated settlement.
In fact, there does not appear to be any room for negotiation at
all, aside from the arbitrator being provided by the parties with a
list of matters they agree on and a list of matters they do not
If we continue on with section 7(2), it indicates that the
arbitrator has 60 days within which to determine the matters on
which the trade union and the employer are in agreement,
determine the matters remaining in dispute and then, according
to the wording in section 7(2)(c), ``decide the matters in dispute
by selecting either the final offer submitted by the trade union or
the final offer selected by the employer''. Again there does not
appear to be any room for negotiations between the parties when
they appear before the arbitrator. If there is, why is it not
provided for in the process?
I have to ask why the process would be structured in this way.
Presumably the bill would ensure that any disruption to the flow
of grain would be brought to an end by invoking the legislation if
the bill were passed. That being the case, I fail to see why
allowance could not be made for the parties to negotiate under
the guidance of an arbitrator, acting more like a mediator early
in the process, and yet retain the authority to render an award on
unsettled issues. All the advantages of negotiated settlements on
particular issues could be retained in the interests of the parties
collective bargaining relationship. At the same time we would
have the certainty of a final solution being worked out through
We should take a further look at the form of arbitration that is
proposed by the bill. Earlier we heard about some of the
advantages and disadvantages of arbitration in general. Other
considerations should be mentioned specifically in connection
with final offer selection and this might be a good time to do so.
It seems that final offer selection was developed to deal with
some of the criticism that traditional arbitration acquired over
the years. For example, in conventional arbitration in which the
arbitrator is free to determine the content of an award,
arbitrators sometimes get accused of splitting the difference in
the parties' positions. Conventional arbitration encourages the
parties to stay as far apart as possible during negotiations,
especially on wages and other monetary items.
It has been argued that final offer selection, in contrast, is
supposed to provide encouragement to the parties to move
closer together in the course of bargaining. Under final offer
selection there is said to be an incentive for either party to know
as much as possible about the other's bargaining goals and their
real bargaining position.
It should be noted that there are several variations on the form
of final offer selection that we find being practised. For
example, there is a form of final offer selection in which the
total package of items forms the position of either party. The
arbitrator takes the package of either labour or management, in
total, and cannot mix and match as he or she might consider
advisable in the interests of the parties. This form of final offer
selection on a package of issues may be more easily applied to a
few monetary items at any one time but it is less well suited
when an arbitrator has to deal with the package that includes
matters of principles to either side.
For this and many more reasons I have no hesitation in
recommending that the bill not be passed by the House.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): The time provided for the
consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired.
Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the order is dropped to the
bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38
deemed to have been moved.
Hon. Warren Allmand (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Lib.):
Speaker, on February 21 I asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs
if Canada would support the 20:20 vision proposal and action
plan to be considered at the World Summit for Social
Development which will take place in Copenhagen later this
The goal of the summit is to attack global instability due to
third world poverty and social injustice. The challenge is
enormous. At this time 1.3 billion people in the world live in
debilitating poverty; 550 million people end each day hungry;
1.5 billion people lack safe water and sanitation; and 800
million living in developing countries and 335 million in
industrial countries are unemployed or underemployed.
As I said at that time these conditions threaten world stability
and peace. It is in the interest of all countries to take action
against them. The 20:20 vision proposal and action plan must be
supported by Canada and all countries at the summit.
Will the minister or the parliamentary secretary state clearly
that Canada will support these proposals and that the overall
goals of the summit will be supported as well? I would also like
to know that Canada would give the work of this summit and its
goals the highest priority.
Mr. Lyle Vanclief (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure
to respond to the hon. member's comments and expansion on the
question directed to the minister some days ago.
The World Summit for Social Development is to take place
next week in Copenhagen. It will be the first major international
event to propose a vision for social development that has taken
place in the 21st century.
Over a period of 18 months the federal government has been
working with provincial and territorial governments, labour,
business, aboriginal organizations and non-governmental
organizations to prepare the Canadian participation and make
the summit a success.
Many Canadian objectives are incorporated in the summit
documents. I would like to list some that Canada will be
supporting: reduction of poverty through job creation; economic
security for people through productive employment; respect for
human rights and fundamental freedoms; respecting women's
equality; respecting and valuing cultural diversity; and
spending less worldwide on military hardware and more on
investing in people, in other words to be less concerned about
the security of the state and more concerned about the economic
and social security of individuals.
In this context the 20:20 formula the member referred to will
be discussed in Copenhagen. It is certainly of interest to Canada.
Donors would allocate 20 per cent of their official development
budget to meeting the basic needs of other countries. Recipient
countries would allocate 20 per cent of their national budget to
programs aimed at meeting the human needs of people. However
in Canada we plan to allocate 25 per cent of the CIDA budget to
meeting basic human needs.
In an increasing global environment international security
and stability have an important impact on Canadian people and
Canadian prosperity. Actively promoting social justice, poverty
alleviation, good government and human rights at home and
abroad is an investment in Canada as well as assistance to those
in greater need.
Mr. Len Taylor (The Battlefords-Meadow Lake, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House of Commons I expressed
my concern and outrage over the pending loss of the Crow
As far as a great number of Saskatchewan farmers and I see it,
the federal government's abandonment of its responsibilities
under the terms of the Western Grain Transportation Act is the
single most damaging element of this week's federal budget.
In fact the headlines in Saskatchewan newspapers this week
bear this out. The Regina Leader-Post states it best with its
single word headline ``Devastated'', followed by the subheading
``Budget leaves farm leaders reeling''.
In today's newspaper the premier of Saskatchewan, Mr.
Romanow, is quoted as saying:
If this goes through in the next four or five years we will see the most massive
restructuring of rural Saskatchewan with respect to trading patterns, towns,
villages, cities-since 1905.
We all remember it was the Liberal Party that originally
began the process of getting rid of the Crow rate. The names
Otto Lang and Jean-Luc Pepin still bring out emotions full of
hard feelings on the prairies.
Although the Liberals failed originally to destroy the Crow,
they did succeed in weakening it enough so that today just one
decade later they could finish it off. This is absolutely horrible.
The loss of the Crow benefit is bad enough by itself, but the
government has compounded our prairie anger in two other
ways. First, it has abandoned the farm economy without any
plan or structure in place to help the economy recover. Second, it
has offered a one-time payout which is not only inadequate but
is inappropriately targeted only to land owners.
I have already argued elsewhere that loss of the Crow benefit
without a long term plan to replace it could lead to the erosion of
land values, a loss of farmers and farms, a reduction in the rural
tax base and therefore a reduction in the support for the
maintenance of the rural infrastructure, and with this a further
loss of quality of life in rural Saskatchewan.
The Crow benefit just two years ago was providing a net
annual benefit to the province of Saskatchewan of $400 million.
It will take a pretty hefty investment in diversification and value
added production to replace that $400 million just to remain
The Liberals have made no provision for that investment. Our
problem on the prairies has never been the Crow rate. It has been
a lack of investment capital. The will has always been there for
value added production but the money to make it happen has
The fight to save the Canadian Wheat Board has not been
considered in all of this and if the supply of wheat is threatened
then so too is the future of the board. Can we consider this in our
long term equation?
I want to know if the federal Liberals have taken any time at
all to properly think out the long term implications of this
decision. If they have, I want to see their documented evidence
and reasoned conclusions. If they have not, shame on them.
At the same time I want to note that the Liberals are preparing
to pay out $1.6 billion in compensation, even though they know
that $7 billion to $9 billion is required if there is to be any
fairness in the system at all.
Not only has the government failed to meet this fairness test,
but it has also said that the money will be paid only to land
owners. Does the government not realize that about one-third of
the seeded acreage is currently under lease to banks or other
financial institutions including the Farm Credit Corporation?
The people who have been paying and will continue to pay the
freight costs of grain sold for export and are leasing their land
from a government owned corporation will not see a single cent
of this payout, no matter how important it is.
The Liberals have demonstrated a complete lack of
understanding of the prairie farm economy. With this single
move in the budget I hope they are prepared to reconsider now
what they have done before it is implemented and before the
ultimate damage is done.
Mr. Lyle Vanclief (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure
to respond to the hon. member's comments. I only regret that it
is two minutes and not twenty, because I think I could help him
understand. I am sure in the end he would understand and
appreciate the action we have taken.
The hon. member is suggesting that the elimination of the
Crow will have a damaging effect on the prairie economy. In
fact, this government is certainly committed to restoring the
economy in western Canada to its full potential. The document
that has been put forth for discussion purposes, and I stress that,
would see approximately half or about $800 million of the $1.6
billion ex gratia capital payment going to Saskatchewan.
The share will be representative of Saskatchewan's share of
prairie grain movement. Farmers will also benefit from the
capital gains tax advantage.
The government's assistance however is not limited to that.
There will also be a share in the $300 million adjustment fund.
That will be available for some areas in Saskatchewan as well.
These initiatives are only part of this government's plan to
restore the prairie economy and help make this region an
integral economic force in an increasingly competitive global
marketplace. Changes with respect to freight rates have the
potential to encourage diversification and value added
production throughout the west.
I might interject here. I just got off the phone with a friend in a
riding next to mine whose company is in the livestock industry.
It had three orders from pork producers in western Canada today
to increase and make some changes in those operations because
of what this is going to do. It is indeed going to follow up on
Only days after the announcement, and the above is a good
example, that potential is being recognized. Industry groups are
already talking about moving into other crops and diversifying
It is not only farmers who are adjusting. Transportation
industries ranging from trucking companies to seaports are
closely examining the services they offer in order to increase
their efficiencies. Some are already offering suggestions for
alternate commodities based on the transportation costs of these
These activities, coupled with the government's assistance to
help farmers adjust to the short term impact of the loss of the
WGTA will inevitably lead to long term economic growth in the
I ask the hon. member not to underestimate the skills and
resources of all those involved in the prairie economy. These
factors along with the financial assistance being provided will
ensure a rapid adjustment to changes in the WGTA and the long
term economic benefits for the prairies and for all Canadians.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, March 1, I received an unsatisfactory
response from the Minister of Human Resources Development.
I asked him whether the human resources investment fund
infringed on the powers of the provinces and perpetuated the
inefficient management of the labour force.
The minister's answer was very vague. He told me that my
question had nothing to do with the fund's goal.
Since then, I acquired a copy of an information sheet for the
staff of the human resources department which gave examples
of some activities that could become part of the human
resources investment fund. I will list them: putting more
emphasis on employment development services, literacy and
basic skills training, training and on-the-job training,
assistance for child care and the earned-income supplement.
If the human resources investment fund will be covering these
kinds of activities, how can the minister say that the fund will
not infringe on the provinces' jurisdiction over manpower?
When it comes down to it, we can say that the minister made
the same error during the debate on Axworthy's social program
reform: the situation was properly diagnosed, they realized that
the current system did not work, but they prescribed the wrong
Once again, they have decided that Ottawa must manage the
fund, even though it is well known that the provinces manage
areas directly related to manpower training much more
Another possible activity is implementing a national strategy
based on the job market. How can the minister suggest such an
option when we all well know that, for years now, there have
been 1.5 million jobs available in Canada for approximately
500,000 unemployed people, and that the breakdown in the
equation lies between the job market and training.
The solutions suggested to us are the same old solutions, the
federal government will come and tell the provinces how to do
their job in their areas of jurisdiction. Does the minister not
realize that this kind of attitude is entirely out of touch with our
solutions for the future, for the 21st century, a future in which
the idea that ``small is beautiful'' will be much more relevant
than huge structures with national bureaucracies telling the
local workforce should adjust?
With this fund, is the minister not going to perpetuate the
same vision he has today, so that at a local level, in each
community, manpower management committees will have to be
devised to try to bring together again all the stakeholders and
achieve what this federal system is unable to achieve, assuming
of course that it can be done at a local level at least? Could the
minister not take another approach, an approach to truly put
manpower training back into the hands of the provinces who
express such an interest, as Quebec has, where there is a
consensus among unions, employers and the education sector.
All stakeholders involved in the manpower sector in Quebec
have been saying for a long time that the best way to address the
unemployment problem is to ensure a good fit between training,
job creation measures and the unemployed who are waiting for a
job. So could the minister not reconsider his decision and ensure
that people at the grassroots who have the means to find
solutions are allowed to do so, that is in Quebec and in the other
provinces seeking the same types of responsibilities in the area
of manpower training?
Mr. Lyle Vanclief (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-food, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to
have the opportunity to respond to the question posed by the
hon. member on the human resources investment fund that was
recently announced in the budget.
The human resources investment fund will build on the
strengths of its initial program components. Those program
components include employment programs and services, social
development programs in such areas as literacy and
participation of disabled persons, the Canada student loans
program and youth programs such as Youth Service Canada and
The terms of the fund's operation will be developed in the
coming months in consultation with the provinces with whom
the government has already indicated its willingness to work.
The objectives of the fund may in some cases be best achieved
through the direct delivery of services by the federal
government. In other cases provinces or at times even local
authorities may be best placed to achieve our common goals.
Based on what we have learned through the broad
consultation process associated with social security reform, the
new fund will establish certain principles. It will help create
opportunities for people to develop skills, secure employment
and adapt to change. The fund will better equip Canadians to
keep their jobs in a changing world and provide the skills to
find a new job quickly if it becomes necessary.
The new fund will focus on individual and local needs instead
of trying to fit people into programs with rigid eligibility
criteria. Programs will be tailored to meet the needs of the
individual. At the same time the fund will encourage people to
take charge of their own lives, establishing mutual
responsibility. Individuals, employers and local communities
will have as much at stake in the employment initiatives as
The human resources investment fund will strengthen
partnerships and create an effective division of responsibility
between levels of government as well as among governments
and the private sector.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger): Pursuant to Standing
Order 38, the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to
have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned
until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 6.48 p.m.)