House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

The Budget
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to respond to the questions from the hon. member.

I will deal first with the fact that the Liberals spent eight years in opposition and they could not do anything about the fact that the debt and deficit were increasing. I suggest to the member that they did nothing but encourage the deficit and debt to increase. They did not understand the magnitude of the problem then; they do not understand the magnitude of the problem now. Nothing has changed.

The Conservative government was turfed out for not listening. I would suggest that three years down the road this government will be turfed out because it is still not listening to the Canadian people.

Cuts of $7 for every $1 in increased revenue. There is no justification for any revenue increase. There is more than enough to balance the books in cuts. When there has been overspending for 20 years we cannot keep saying that we need more dollars, but a strong case can be made for saying: "Yes, we have been going into your pockets deeper and deeper; we are going to start pulling back now". Now is the time. If the Liberals have missed that message, they will go the same way the Conservatives did in just a few years.

My leader has never said that social programs should not be touched. The books cannot be balanced without touching the social programs. That is the reality of the amount of money we spend in that area. The word is that they have been responsible for the problem. They have not been responsible for the problem. However, there have to be cuts in there. The books absolutely cannot be balanced without doing it.

The Budget
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Ontario, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague for Simcoe Centre made reference to the famous tax rallies which took place across the country. He will know the most notable one took place in my riding of Ontario. An estimated 3,500 people came out to protest against any notion of tax increases.

Of the 3,500 people who attended that meeting not one has called to tell me this was a bad budget. We have had over 50 calls telling us it is a budget that hit the mark and that the government has definitely listened to the voices of Canadians.

What was interesting about that evening was that it crystallized what these tax alerts were really all about. They were fronts for the Reform Party. That is very clear in the presentation I made a couple of weeks ago.

It is more interesting that one of my hon. colleague's cohorts by the name of Diane Francis in her paper The Financial Post on the same day that tax rally took place mentioned Morgan Trust, a famous bank. It does a lot of business in Canada, and has made some $9.5 million in profits at the expense of the Canadian economy and has only paid 3 per cent in effective taxes.

The hon. member says we do not need any new taxes in this country. He applauds the tax alerts that have taken place. But surely to goodness he is not saying that some people should be indulging themselves while advocating austerity for the others as the banks have done.

The Budget
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is talking about tax fairness. I did not get into the question of tax fairness. I will agree with him that the current tax system is unfair and we have to address that.

I do come back to my point that we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. The government can go after the loopholes and tax the rich but it will not come close to balancing the books. What will balance the books is to get our spending under control right now. That is something we have full control over. We need to do it right away. We cannot afford to delay.

The Budget
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are debating the budgetary policy put forward by this government that permits it to borrow more money using the fragile future of our country as collateral.

The Reform Party appreciates the grave financial situation in which we find ourselves. In fact, it has been our dogged determination to address the issue of government accountability in the areas of spending and taxation that have dictated the course of the government's fiscal agenda.

The Liberal budget took a very tentative first step in the direction of deficit reduction, but it did not go nearly far enough. Overall spending increased. Taxes increased. It failed to make the necessary changes to Canadian social programs. It failed to identify which programs are essential and which are not. It failed to explain where and how Canadians will find jobs. The Liberal budget did not lead by example. Cuts come from the bottom up it appears. Canadians are asked to tighten their belts while the Liberal fat-pack have secured their gold-plated pensions.

There has been much talk about Liberal red book promises. Let us focus on some of the promises that are made in the budget.

The Liberals are promising to borrow $29.8 billion this year because they cannot balance the budget. The Liberals are promising to add over $100 billion to the national debt in the next three years. This will drive the federal debt load well beyond $650 billion by fiscal 1997. This Liberal promise will jeopardize the long term viability of social programs.

The Minister of Human Resources Development had a tremendous opportunity to make a positive contribution to changes in the delivery of social programs. Instead he dropped the ball and in fact has dropped out. What the Liberals are offering now is a block transfer of funds to the provinces. This Liberal approach simply downloads the federal debt, penalizing the provinces, especially provinces like mine, Alberta, which is working aggressively toward a balanced budget.

The Liberals promised to increase funding to special interest groups. To pick one example, the status of women, after we factor in the new grants transferred from HRD, it still has an increase in its operating budget of approximately 20 per cent. How can this be justified when funding to provinces for health care and education has been reduced? Canadians will not tolerate such foolish inequity.

The government has not been entirely open about its plans for balancing the budget. I am going to use the example of the Canadian heritage ministry to illustrate a wilful lack of disclosure regarding budget matters. If such dismal performance exists in one department, in one ministry, does it exist in others?

The Minister of Canadian Heritage had plans for the future of the CBC which he did not include in the budget, but which he did provide to the president of the CBC. Let us look at the Liberals' promises regarding the CBC. On February 3, 1994 in a letter from the minister to Mr. Manera, the minister wrote:

The government considers that stable multi-year funding for the CBC is the most effective way of enabling the CBC to return to a healthy financial position. I am therefore pleased to confirm that the government is prepared to commit itself to a plan and to affirm that it does not intend to impose new reductions on the CBC over the next five years.

However, in the budget the minister announced cuts of $44 million to the CBC. It now appears that the minister plans to cut of over $350 million to the CBC. When I asked him a question about the plan in the House he denied the plan, suggesting that my allegations were pure invention and that Mr. Manera, who had subsequently resigned, had done so for personal reasons and that no more cuts were planned. It sounded like an incredible soap opera to me. That night, in an interview, Mr. Manera stated that he had resigned because of future cuts to the CBC and not for personal reasons. Only one of the two men could be telling the truth.

The next day in the House I presented to the minister a copy of the secret document, which the minister's officials had given to Mr. Manera, which outlined three years of cuts to the CBC. This is how the minister interprets honest and open government. First, he purposely withheld this information from the budget figures. Second, he denied the document and the accompanying cuts even existed. Third, he now admits the document exists but that it means nothing and that the president of the CBC is misguided.

This kind of pathetic performance eats away at the integrity of government. Canadians want to know how their money is being spent and that it is being spent wisely, based on a responsible plan for future spending. The Minister of Canadian Heritage has a different story every time he is asked a question. How can anyone take him seriously, especially organizations within the cultural community? His performance has left the CBC rudderless, without a chairman, without a president, at a time when it needs leadership the most, at a time when it needs to make the transition to the private sector.

Further, last year the CBC was given a special borrowing authority for $25 million. It turns out that this borrowing authority is $25 million into perpetuity. Last year, at the end of the fiscal year the CBC proved it could not meet its budget and came back, cap in hand to Parliament, and as stated in the supplementary estimates it received another $3 million. The CBC is just one example of gross financial mismanagement in the minister's portfolio.

The finance minister alleged that the Liberal government met its financial targets last year. However that can only be Liberal math, for when we look at the Department of Canadian Heritage's supplementary estimates we see it is very much in the red, that none of the targets were met.

Let us look at some of the government organizations which ran over budget: the Department of Canadian Heritage corporate services program, $1.1 million over budget; the Canadian identity program, $1.4 million over budget; the parks program, $3.5 million over budget; Advisory Council on the Status of Women, which thankfully is gone, $76,000 over budget; the CBC, $3 million over budget; the Museum of Nature, $82,000 over budget; the National Archives, $561,000 over budget; the National Battlefields Commission, $125,000 over budget; the National Capital Commission, $12 million over budget; the National Gallery, $187,000 over budget; the Public Service Commission, $4.5 million over budget; and last, the Office of the Co-ordinator of the Status of Women, $162,000 over budget.

Thirteen organizations under the control of the Canadian heritage ministry went over budget. Canadians expect and deserve more from government. When will the minister finally take responsibility for the complete disarray and overspending of his department?

When governments continue to deficit finance they hurt Canada's future economic health. By failing to balance the budget, by failing even to announce when the budget will be balanced, the Liberals have shown they understand little about fiscal planning.

The Liberal Party continues its tradition of being borrowers of both money and ideas. The continuing failure to bring in a single, new, original thought begs the question of whether it will be able to lead Canada to economic stability within the current mandate.

The Budget
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Calgary Southeast for her remarks but she left me wondering. In the early part of her discourse she reported a 20 per cent increase to the status of women.

I do not know to what organization she refers. I would like very much if she could elaborate on that, what her information is, what details she has and what her sources are, if she would not mind.

The Budget
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member will refer to the estimates he will see that with the inclusion of the Department of Human Resources Development, moneys were brought over from that department. Approximately $20 million is within the ministry of the status of women and represents the increase that I suggested.

Further to this, now that we are on the whole approach of the change to the status of women, it represents a remarkable shift in the Liberal policy. We are seeing economic pragmatism overtake social liberalism, which is incredible.

It is a shift into a Conservative-Reform territory which one would have never anticipated. The Liberals left their liberal ideology and embraced certainly Conservative ideology. The Reform Party has influenced dramatically this approach. We saw it in the budget and we are now seeing it in the downsizing and restructuring of bureaucratic departments.

The Budget
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr.Speaker, I want to ask the hon. member a question. She seemed to get off on a bit of a tangent thinking that all these government

departments had overspent. If they spend their budget, she thinks they have overspent. I recognize the trait.

However, sometimes there are reallocations of priorities in the way governments spend their money. That sometimes happens. In this case, I think the government considered what it might do and reallocated some priorities and spent more in some departments that it did in others.

Perhaps the member could answer a question about overspending. I believe her party ran into a lot of trouble with overspending. It was unable to organize its finances and I understand it is running a big deficit.

Does the member not think that the same rules that ought to apply to government ought to apply to a party? Does the member not think that the party ought to get its own finances in order before it criticizes the Government of Canada?

The Budget
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is such a trivial question, it is not even worthy of a response. We are certainly in control of our spending.

When we talk about reallocation of priorities, I am going to address that part of the hon. member's question. It is quite interesting that when we look at what happened in Alberta with the Public Utilities Income Tax Transfer Act. We are talking about reallocation of priorities all right.

I have a letter from a small business person in my riding. This individual wrote talking about Albertans being prepared to make that kind of sacrifice when it comes to helping with the deficit reduction process. But when we see companies and I quote: "such as ours that compete against companies based in other provinces on a national and an international basis, this change of the utilities tax has fundamentally altered the competitive landscape. Our cost of doing business, simply because we are located in Alberta, will go up as a result of this budgetary measure".

That message for the hon. member across the way speaks volumes to me about what the government intended to do with its reallocation of priorities with respect to Alberta.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

March 15th, 1995 / 5:40 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 78(1), I wish to inform the House that there is an agreement among the representatives of all three officially recognized parties to the allocation of time to Bill C-74, an act respecting the supervision of longshoring and related operations at west coast ports, described in the following motion.

I therefore move:

That Bill C-74, an act respecting the supervision of longshoring and related operations at west coast ports, be disposed of at all stages during the present sitting as follows:

  1. Debate at second reading shall be limited to no more than 80 minutes;

  2. Upon being read a second time, the bill shall be referred to a committee of the whole, which shall report the bill after no more than 60 minutes' consideration;

  3. Immediately upon being concurred in at the report stage, the said bill shall be considered at the third reading stage wherein debate shall be limited to no more than 40 minutes.

  4. At the end of the time periods described in this Order, the Speaker or the Chair of the committee of the whole, as the case may be, shall interrupt debate and forthwith put all questions necessary to dispose of the stage then under consideration.

  5. No recorded division may be deferred and, when any recorded division is requested, the bells shall be sounded for not more than 15 minutes.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

As was indicated the motion is not debatable. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business Of The House
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Business Of The House
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.