House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the hon. member when he talked about jobs.

In 1993 when we were elected the jobless rate was at 11.2 per cent and now it is down to 9.3 per cent. I think that is a very good record. Is it enough? No. As the Prime Minister constantly says: "It is not enough but it is certainly going in the right direction".

The hon. member talked about low inflation and that is an important part. The average Canadian cares about that. Certainly home buyers care about it.

With respect to interest rates I do not know what riding the hon. member represents but in Ontario my people do care about low interest rates when they are buying homes or any other item. In my humble opinion it is totally irresponsible to promise a tax cut when

the deficit is not completely gone and when we have not tackled the debt yet.

Does the hon. member really believe that buying votes with such a see through method is honest? Does he believe it is correct to do such a thing when fiscally we have not put our house in order?

It is important that the Canadian people know that when we took power just 3.5 short years ago the deficit was $42 billion. It now stands officially at $19 billion. The rumour is that it is significantly less than that. Do the Canadian people think that is a good record? I believe so. I am proud to hold my head up.

It is really wrong to promise a tax cut when we do not have our books and our house in order. We are going in the right direction. The deficit is at the lowest level it has been for 15 years. That is a really good record.

Please do not let the hon. member promise a tax cut and put us further in debt. Please.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot believe what I have just heard coming from the government in that intervention. She talked about buying votes. She is accusing us of buying votes? I cannot believe it. Jobs, jobs, jobs, the GST, scrap and abolish NAFTA. Talk about buying votes.

We are not buying votes. We are saying we are going to offer tax relief after we get rid of the deficit. We make that very clear in our fresh start platform: after we get rid of the deficit we are going to act fiscally responsible and we are going to offer tax relief.

We also have a guarantee in our platform. We are saying to the voters: "Don't trust us, trust yourselves. If we don't do what we say we are going to do right now, we want you to have recall". That is something that the government does not believe in because it promised things it knows it cannot deliver.

Why do the Liberals oppose recall? Because they would be called to answer for the promises they have made and they do not like to be held accountable for their promises.

The government says that when it took over there was a $42 billion deficit. When the Conservatives took over from them the debt was about $200 billion thanks to annual Liberal deficits. Now the Liberals are extremely reluctant to slay the monster they created. We went down this path of insanity back in 1970 when the Liberal government started this deficit spending to the point that when they were booted out of office the debt stood at $200 million. Now it is approaching $600 billion. That is some kind of an accomplishment? I think not.

When I hear members over there say that we are being dishonest, I want to point out that we understand that cynicism. That is the fault of the Liberal government. That is why we believe in recall. That is why we believe in referendums. That is why we believe in freer votes in the House of Commons.

The Deputy Prime Minister tarnished every politician in this House and in this country when she did not do the honourable thing and resign-

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Guelph—Wellington, ON

She did resign.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

April 22nd, 1997 / 4:10 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Only after a week's haranguing and taking a poll in her riding. It lost its impact when she did not do it immediately, as indeed she should have.

I also want to talk about interest rates. The member talks about how interest rates are a big factor in her riding.

I have done a poll in my riding. The businesses are not looking for low interest rates to get the economy moving. That is way down on the chart. What they are looking for is tax relief. They want their consumers to have more dollars.

I wonder if the member has talked to the seniors in her community who are living on fixed incomes and looking for decent interest rates. Have you heard from them or are you listening to them? Low interest rates do not benefit everybody.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I would urge the hon. member to address his remarks through the Chair.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, I just saw another Reform Party member who wanted to rise after the previous speaker, so I thought I should rise as well to straighten out a few facts.

You may have noticed that the hon. member who just spoke was not altogether objective in his comments and was not altogether fair in the way he described the facts as we know them. And I am being generous, always abiding by the rules of this House.

I do not know why, but I kept thinking when I listened to the hon. member who just spoke about the words of Sir Winston Churchill. They have been ruled parliamentary by countless Speakers, so I guess I can repeat them in this honourable House.

He said about remarks which were similar to the ones we have just heard that the opposite to the truth had never been stated with greater accuracy. That is exactly what I thought when the hon. member spoke about the last budget of this government, this Prime Minister and this very excellent Minister of Finance.

Let us straighten out the facts before we go too much further. The member opposite talked about unemployment.

My position is that as long as there is a single person in my riding who is unemployed, there is too much unemployment. It would be a mistake to be satisfied with the unemployment rate, whatever it happens to be.

That being said, we still have to state the facts. Last month, 61,000 jobs were created in this country. This is a total of 800,000 jobs since the last election. A net gain of 800,000 jobs is quite an achievement.

Mr. Speaker, as the soul of objectivity in this House, you will have to admit that. Those are the facts, and I am sure this information is correct, since it was authenticated by Statistics Canada and other agencies.

The G7, the OECD and think tanks all over have acknowledged that the largest level of growth of any OECD nation this year will belong to Canada. It is not average growth. It is not a better than average growth. Only the best belongs to Canada. We are the best.

Of course it is not good enough to be the best, but it is a darned sight better than it would be under a Reform government. Heaven forbid that we would ever have such a thing in this country. That is not likely to happen at any time, let alone soon.

The hon. member opposite just argued in favour of high interest rates. I found it hard to understand the logic of what the hon. member said, when he stated that people on low incomes would benefit from higher interest rates. I would like to know what school of economics launched that idea. Did you ever hear about people on low and fixed incomes who benefit from high interest rates, considering that high interest rates are usually accompanied by similar levels of inflation?

How many poor people end up better off with inflation? The member across the way says that poor people are better off with high interest rates. I wonder which one of his rich friends taught him that. Which one of his rich friends is trying to invest money on the backs of those same poor people?

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Vegreville, AB

He never said poor people.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

That is what he did say. He said that people on lower and fixed incomes are better off with high interest rates. All members of this House have heard it, except for perhaps the member across the way who is heckling.

People on lower and fixed incomes are the first to be vulnerable with inflation, the first when something is gouging away at their purchasing power. Inflation in this country is at the lowest level it has been in years.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Vegreville, AB

That is untrue.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

It is not untrue. It is the truth. We have very distinguished members in this House, such as the member for Mississauga South who is an accountant and the member for Guelph-Wellington who is well known and well versed on financial issues, who can attest to this. Surely then all of us would know that this is a fact.

The hon. member for Simcoe-North, I believe, talked about-

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

An hon. member

No, it was the hon. member for Simcoe Centre.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

You don't even know my riding.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

No, I am trying to forget in his case. I must say I am doing my best to forget, and I hope the day will come soon when I can forget entirely.

Mr. Speaker, in the meantime, you have just reminded me of the name of the riding of the member opposite. He alleged that the government was wrong to put an end to the smuggling by lowering the Conservatives' tax on cigarettes. This scourge was affecting Quebec as well, because nearly 80 per cent of cigarettes were sold illegally. In my riding, I saw a native community torn asunder by the problem. I saw people in the same family opposing each other in this business of smuggling.

We had achieved an almost hobbesean state where it was every person for himself and life was brutish and short. People were going at each other with guns on the issue of contraband. Young people who broke the law were being rewarded by driving Corvettes and those who respected the laws were walking to school. That was the situation in this country.

Yes, it did take intestinal fortitude for the Prime Minister to take the decision that he did. I congratulate him and always will because he did the right thing. And the right thing is not always the easy thing.

When the hon. member for Simcoe Centre pontificates from afar-that is far right by the way-I say to him that he is wrong. The Reform candidate in his riding in the last election sure was singing from a different hymn book on that issue. However, that is not radically different for Reformers to disagree with each other.

Need I remind all of us of statements made by one member from across the way who said that people who were different from him

should be in the back of the shop. I remember that and we all will very shortly. That is the kind of mindset of the people across the way.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

I am not. I want to tell the hon. member across the way, who tried to pretend that somehow the issue of cigarette smuggling was anything different than what it was for his own partisan ends, he had better look at himself in the mirror and maybe at the same time have a close look at some of his own colleagues.

That is the truth. We know what sort of leadership we had in this government. We recognize the honesty of the Prime Minister and his government. We know that we have renewed Canadians' trust in their parliamentary institutions, so much so that a poll revealed a few days ago that the level of confidence in Canada is the highest among the G7 countries, whereas it was the lowest before the last general election. Why? Because we have quality leadership.

I have had the honour for a number of months now of being a member of his leadership team, because of the mandate the Prime Minister conferred on me in appointing me to cabinet on October 4. I, like my colleagues, have tried to provide the people with honest and respectable government, and we have succeeded in doing so.

Whatever allegations the member opposite made earlier, the truth is the exact opposite. Soon, I hope, the Prime Minister will decide to return to the people and ask them to give us a new mandate. I know he can do so with his head held high. I do not know the date any more than the member opposite, who is having fun chatting. When he does decide, he can do so confident in the knowledge that he fulfilled his mandate and did what Canadians asked of him.

I am equally sure that the Prime Minister will again enjoy the confidence of the Canadian people. He and this government deserve that kind of confidence for having told Canadians the truth about every issue, even the issue we brought to the attention of all Canadians, that of the high deficit.

Today the European Economic Union is calling Canada the economic miracle of the western world. We are told that by people in Japan. We are told that by our other trading partners. Why? Because it is true. The whole world cannot be wrong, except the Reform Party. Not everyone is out of step except the member for Simcoe Centre. The reality is a little otherwise. The truth is otherwise.

I am proud of the quality of leadership by our Prime Minister, by our Minister of Finance, by this cabinet and by the entire Liberal team which has supported this government. It has taken difficult decisions for the good of all Canadians and for generations to come.