House of Commons Hansard #65 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mai.

Topics

The Economy
Oral Question Period

February 23rd, 1998 / 2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign the Prime Minister promised that for every dollar of new government spending he would spend a dollar on debt reduction and tax relief. This is the 50:50 promise.

In the past few weeks the Prime Minister has promised at least $2 billion in new spending, $100 million for new TV shows, some $800 million toward the millennium fund, $100 million for the Canada Council, and so on.

If the government plans to keep this 50:50 promise and it is already committed to spending another $2 billion in new spending, where is the $2 billion for tax relief and debt reduction?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I advise my hon. friend to be patient. The budget will be delivered tomorrow afternoon. I predict it will be an excellent budget. I hope the leader of the Reform Party will join in the approval which I predict will be given by Canadians generally for the budget to be delivered tomorrow afternoon.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, any budget surplus belongs to the Canadian taxpayers, not to the government, not to the ministers and not to the Prime Minister.

There should have been a $3 billion surplus this year and there was going to be a $3 billion surplus, but then the Prime Minister and his colleagues decided to spend it before it ever got to the budget. There is going to be a cut from that surplus that will not leave anything for debt reduction or tax relief.

Why has the government robbed Canadians of a surplus that was rightfully theirs?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I reject the premise of the hon. member's question. In his first question he complained about money likely to be spent for education of young Canadians. Why do he and the Reform Party oppose helping young Canadians get a better education? What do they have against young Canadians?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, what this government has given young Canadians is a $583 billion mortgage.

The Prime Minister promises that tax cuts and debt reduction will occur some day, but that day is always down the road. There is always a little loophole to allow him to get out of it. But spending, that is another story. Spending is now. Spending is concrete.

In the budget it is more spending that will get the screaming headlines and debt reduction and tax relief that will get the footnotes.

Does the government not know that tax relief delayed is tax relief denied?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, why does the Leader of the Opposition forget that tax relief from this government has already begun? In the last budget there were lower taxes for post-secondary students and their families. There were tax reductions for disabled Canadians. There have been reductions in employment insurance premiums.

If the hon. member were serious about tax reductions he would be on his feet now giving credit to the government for what we have already done in this area of concern.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, they talk about the finance minister's dream. There they are dreaming.

On February 11 the finance minister confirmed that for the first eight months Canada had a financial surplus of $11.3 billion and a public account surplus of $1.4 billion. That was not even two weeks ago, yet now the cupboard is bare. The surplus has been blown on new spending programs.

Why did the Liberals have to blow this year's surplus on spending when they promised half of every single billion dollars would go to debt and tax relief?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is right in what she says the Minister of Finance said about the surplus, why does she not get up and praise the minister for this achievement, the first one in 30 years?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, they should have kept a balanced budget 30 years ago. Then we would not have got in this mess of $600 billion.

When something happens to $3 million, when it gets stolen from a bank vault it is called robbery and good citizens are supposed to dial 911. But what do you do and who do you call when $3 billion gets snookered out of the government vault thanks to the Prime Minister and his cabinet? We had a multibillion dollar surplus this year but it has already been spent even the day before the budget. Why is the Prime Minister treating the taxpayers' surplus as his own personal cash to do with as he pleases?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, after Canadians consider the unfounded allegations in the hon. member's question, they will want to dial 911 to have something done about the official opposition.

Bill C-28
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his report to the finance committee on Bill C-28, the ethics counsellor raised a number of different hypotheses as to what could have been done to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. He stated that possible options had not been subject to prior examination, as they ought to have been.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister not agree that, by not consulting the ethics counsellor before the bill was introduced, the Minister of Finance showed a flagrant lack of judgment and placed himself in an apparent conflict of interest?

Bill C-28
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance had no knowledge whatsoever of that amendment, and it was therefore impossible for him to consult the ethics counsellor. When the decision was made, he was not the one working on the amendment. It was the Secretary of State for Financial Institutions.

Bill C-28
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is rather disconcerting that the Minister of Finance would introduce a bill without knowledge of its contents. I find that a bit disconcerting.

Bill C-28
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

An hon. member

It's a bit odd.

Bill C-28
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

What the Secretary of State for Financial Institutions may have done privately we do not know, but everything done publicly was done by the Minister of Finance.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister admit that the only conclusion that can be reached is that there is an apparent conflict of interest, because the Minister of Finance is the only one publicly identified with Bill C-28?