House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was debt.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member for withdrawing his words.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the budget debate.

First of all, let me congratulate the Prime Minister for his leadership on this issue and of course the finance minister for his fortitude and the vision he has shown toward leading us to a balanced budget.

Most important, I take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the Canadian people because this is indeed their budget, their reward. All their hard work has paid off in a balanced budget; 1998 marks the first time in 30 years that a federal Government of Canada has journeyed into this area. Before we get to the facts and figures, I want for a moment to outline how we got to where we are today by taking us back to 1993.

When I was first elected in 1993 the deficit was $42 billion and the country's finances were in disarray. This meant high interest rates and of course fewer jobs for all Canadians along with lower revenues overall.

This led to a very dismal economic situation. Our future did not look good but the people in 1993 gave us a mandate because we gave a very clear message of what we wanted to do. We also told them at that time that it was not going to be easy.

In the fall of 1994 we introduced a framework for a better economic policy, a guide that would dictate just what this government was going to do, how it was going to do it and what it was not going to do.

The 1995 budget put that framework into action. All of us took the plunge at that time. The 1995 budget set the country on a course of fiscal responsibility and government renewal. We all knew that these decisions were not going to be easy.

The reduction in government spending was unprecedented in Canadian history. The budget not only overhauled how government works but what government does.

We reduced program spending from $120 billion to $108 billion. In short, the 1995 budget initiated that overall departmental spending be cut by 19% in three years.

The 1995 budget also made it clear that subsidies would decline by 60% in three years. The government made the move to privatize, for example, commercialized government operations where it felt feasible and very appropriate.

As I stated, we changed government operations as a business for future generations. We responded to the need for more than an effective system of provincial transfers. For example, the Canada social transfer made it possible for the provinces to be more flexible and respond to the needs of the people rather than the flexible rules that existed in the past.

Each province has different needs. However, the conditions of the Canada Health Act were and still are being maintained. As the Prime Minister emphasized just the other day on television, health is one issue that we are adamant on maintaining for all Canadians. For this government these conditions remain fundamental and non-negotiable.

We also decided in 1995 to make some very different choices. We chose to work in favour of a strong economy and a stronger country. Many governments have known and talked about the need for reform and renewal. Our government chose to stop talking and to start acting. It was very tough but we made it happen and here we are today.

For a moment let us fast forward to 1998, the first budget of the new mandate. The economic recovery was indeed remarkable. In 1993 the deficit was $42 billion. Who would have believed we would be sitting here today talking about a zero deficit, a balanced budget? We have been applauded not just within Canada but beyond our country.

In 1993 the unemployment rate was 11.4% and growing. Today, when we look at the more recent statistics, it is almost 8.5% to 8.6%. If we start breaking that down regionally, in the greater Toronto area it is even lower than 8.5%. I believe it is just over 7%. Calgary, for example, is looking for people to hire today.

Also in 1993 interest rates were at an all time high. They were definitely in the double digits. They are now hovering around 7%. Not too long ago they were even as low as 6% to 6.5%.

The burden of debt in 1993 was very unmanageable. Now, with a zero deficit, we can start chipping away at the debt. Anybody who can add one and one will know that we first had to address the deficit before we could start addressing the problem of the debt.

The 1998 budget puts in place the debt repayment plan. We have actually paid down $13 billion in market debt in the past year alone. In the next three years we predict that we will be able to bring down the debt by an additional $9 billion.

The economy is now on the move upwards and growing. On the average in 1997 the economy had an overall growth of 3.5%, the best pace since 1994. In fact, our economy has managed to climb its way out from the financial basement of the G-7 to being number one and applauded worldwide.

Job creation has rebounded very strongly since 1993. More than one million jobs have been created since 1993. This is not according to what we as politicians are saying or what people are saying. This is according to what the statisticians are saying and the people who are working out there today.

Consumer confidence is back and strong. Canadians are feeling very confident about their economy and about their country as a whole. With this balanced budget we are finally able to introduce initiatives that will leave more money in the pockets of all Canadians who have worked so hard and have been so patient with us and this government. That was reflected with the return mandate to continue the programs that were commenced in 1993.

The government has kept its promise to reduce taxes once the budget was balanced. We know that in 1993 we inherited payroll contributions of $3.03. Since then they have been going down steadily to about $2.70 where they stand today. The 1998 budget has targeted tax relief to those who need it the most, low and middle income Canadians. As I said, by July 1998, as the budget states, almost 400,000 low and middle income individuals will be removed from the tax rolls and an additional 4.6 million taxpayers will pay less income tax.

Let me stress that in Ontario alone 91% of all taxpayers will benefit from tax relief. Catherine Swift, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said: “Putting more money into people's hands is good for the economy”. That is what this budget has commenced doing.

Very clearly there are modest tax reliefs right now but it is only the first step, as the finance minister and Prime Minister have stated, and as we all have been stating.

As our economy continues to improve taxes will be reduced even further. This year's balanced budget alone means we can again start investing in our future, particularly in the areas that Canadians have told us are their priorities.

More than 80% of all new spending will go to health and education through increased transfers to the provinces. The 1995 budget made some very difficult decisions with regard to health. We did not have many choices at that time. Our backs were up against the wall. In 1998 we had a choice and we chose to follow the recommendations of the national forum on health and increase the Canada health and social transfer cash floor from $11 billion to $12.5 billion, an additional $1.5 billion on the forum's recommendation.

This measure will provide the provinces with an additional $7 billion in cash over the next six years to fund health care, education and social assistance. It is now up to the provinces to make the choices of how they spend their moneys.

Will they continue to cut funds from health care in order to keep their election campaign promises of tax relief? In Ontario alone the Tory tax cut agenda will reduce provincial revenues by $4.8 billion per year. This is more than five times the $850 million a year in federal transfer cuts to that province. Canadians should realize that the province's insistence of blaming the federal government for all these woes is of course a convenient way of detracting attention from their program.

Another choice the federal government has been given with this year's balanced budget is to introduce the Canadian opportunities strategy.

Budget Implementation Act, 1998
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, although there are five minutes of questions and comments, you will have the floor right after question period.

Money Laundering
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, a major element of the illicit narcotics trade and its partner, transnational crime, is the phenomenon of money laundering. It has been estimated by the United Nations drug control program that the annual amount of money laundered as a result of narcotic drug trafficking alone is in the order of $400 billion U.S.

Money laundering is a major international problem not only because of the magnitude of the sums involved but also because of the affect those sums have on the macro economy and on the financial sector, particularly financial institutions.

There is a continuing concern that financial crimes and money laundering are occurring with varying degrees of regularity and that some affected or vulnerable governments have still not criminalized this illicit activity.

International standards against money laundering require comprehensive legislation, financial regulation and law enforcement mechanisms to combat the problem. Experience shows that effective action can and must be taken now.

Liberal Party
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, membership truly has its rewards and the following Liberals are being rewarded by the taxpayers of Canada for being a member of the Liberal family: a Liberal campaign crony from Richmond, B.C.; a former special assistant for Ontario to the Prime Minister; a defeated Liberal candidate from Hochelaga—Maisonneuve; the multicultural minister's campaign manager in Vancouver Centre; a failed 1993 Liberal candidate in Calgary and a former EA to the Deputy Prime Minister.

Also, the former Liberal president of Madawaska—Victoria riding; a former president of the Liberal revenue subcommittee; a Nova Scotia member of the Liberal Party permanent appeals committee; a defeated Liberal candidate for Louis-Hébert; the defeated Liberal candidate in Winnipeg Transcona; a friend of the Prime Minister's chief of staff; the Manitoba leader's assistant on executive committee; a defeated Liberal MP from Kings—Hants; the failed candidate for the Liberal nomination in Mississauga West.

The list goes on and on.

Engineering
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, on March 2, Ms. Chantal Chartrand and Michelle Bennett were presented with the Canadian Engineers Memorial Foundation's $10,000 engineering students project award.

These two University of Ottawa students received this prestigious national award based on their proposal to include outreach in the adventures in engineering and science program to northern Ontario and to young girls.

They have developed specific initiatives to interest young girls in these fields through positive reinforcement and strong female leadership roles.

This is the first time anyone at the University of Ottawa has been recognized for work of this type. I extend my sincere congratulations to these two remarkable young women.

Quebec's Fiscal Balance
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Hélène Alarie Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, during a promotional visit to Montreal, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs stated that the sovereignists were once again to blame for Quebec's budget not being balanced yet.

Of course, the Liberal Party of Quebec, which sat on its hands during the nine years it was in power in Quebec, is not to blame. The Liberal Party of Canada, which eliminated the federal deficit by shovelling 52% of its spending cuts into the backyards of the provinces, is not to blame either. No, the separatists are to blame, according to the minister. Go ahead, pin it on the sovereignists, we can take it.

What concerns me however is that, to replace Daniel Johnson, whose party was responsible for the largest deficit ever in Quebec's history, the Liberals are set to crown the leader of the party responsible for the largest federal deficit in Canada's history, the leader of the Conservative Party. That is scary.

The federalists are the ones who have plunged Quebec and Canada into debt. It is a good thing that the sovereignists were there to take things in hand.

World Meteorological Day
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked World Meteorological Day. Every year on March 23 we commemorate the coming into force of the convention of the World Meteorological Organization in 1950. Canada is a founding member of the organization and plays a prominent role in its work.

World Meteorological Day is an opportunity to raise public awareness and appreciation for the valuable public weather service that Environment Canada, with its dedicated staff, provides to Canadians 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Weather events such as the recent ice storm that hit eastern Canada, the Manitoba floods and the Saguenay disaster, remind us how important reliable, accurate weather and environmental information is in helping Canadians protect themselves and their property.

Academy Of Motion Pictures, Arts And Sciences
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer my congratulations to four graduates of the University of Waterloo who this week won awards from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences.

Bill Reeves and Bob Krieger earned scientific and engineering Oscars. Reeves was recognized for his part in the development of a Marionette three dimensional computer animation system. This was used to create the first three dimensional computer animated film feature Toy Story . Krieger was recognized for his geometric modelling component of the Alias Power animator system, the best commercially available system of its kind.

Paul Breslin and Kim Davidson were awarded the academy's technical achievement award for their creation of the procedural modelling and animation components of Prisms software package used to simulate natural phenomena. This award was also won by the University of Waterloo faculty last year.

I congratulate these four winners and the University of Waterloo.

Liberal Party
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the list of Liberal patronage appointees goes on: the son of a prominent Liberal organizer and fundraiser for André Ouellet the former president of the Longueuil Liberal Riding Association; the former vice-president for eastern Quebec Liberals; a Trudeau era minister and the godfather of the Atlantic; a former legislative assistant to several Ontario Liberal MPPs; a close associate of the Clerk of the Privy Council, Madam Bourgon; the former vice-president, French, for the Liberal Party; a former Liberal Party president and cabinet minister; a prominent Liberal backroom boy and defeated Liberal MP; the defeated Liberal candidate in Kindersley-Lloydminister from 1988; the former western vice-president of the Liberal Party; the former president of the Vancouver Quadra Liberal Riding Association; the former president of the Liberal National Women's Commission and a failed candidate; a key Manitoba organizer for the Prime Minister's leadership race; the president of the Saint Maurice Liberal Riding Association; a friend of former Liberal minister Doug Young from New Brunswick; the 1984 Ontario campaign chairman for the Prime Minister; and the former president of the Manicouagan Liberal Riding.

The list goes on.

Immigration
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw Moncton, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I met Gabriel and Delila Grey, two very special constituents at the Ottawa airport.

The Greys, originally from Guatemala, arrived in Canada with their landed immigrant status. I cannot say how thrilled I was to finally see them.

Many of their supporters were at the Moncton airport to welcome them back to their homes. The Greys have waited almost two years for this moment.

The Greys lived in a church basement in Dieppe for nearly 18 months. On November 7, Gabriel and Delila left Canada for a temporary host country.

This was not an easy decision for Gabriel and Delila, but the people of Moncton rallied behind them and looked after them. I am very proud of the spirit of co-operation and generosity displayed by the people of Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe.

Delila and Gabriel can now resume their lives in Moncton. I wish them the best of luck.

Greek Independence Day
Statements By Members

March 24th, 1998 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, at our biannual convention held over the weekend, the Prime Minister stressed the unique character and rich cultural diversity of this country. This diversity is our strength.

It is this diversity that makes it possible for Canadians of Hellenic origin such as myself to join the millions of Hellenes around the world in celebrating Greek Independence Day, March 25, 1821. Canadians of Hellenic origin will be parading their pride and deep affection for their country of origin, Hellas, where democracy was born.

Today, on the eve of the 177th anniversary of Greece's Independence Day, we are joined in the House by a representative of the Greek government, Mr. Yiannis Anthopoulos, Deputy Minister of National Education and Religious Affairs, who also participated in the facilities organized by the Hellenic Community of Montreal.

Celebrations will be taking place across Canada and I encourage all my colleagues to participate.

Long live Greece; long live Canada.

Liberal Party
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, membership indeed has its rewards. Liberal patronage continues: the Liberal campaign manager of Burnaby, B.C.; a prominent B.C. Liberal and oldtime golfing and business buddy of the Prime Minister; the nephew of the Prime Minister; the defeated Liberal MP for Halifax; the former legislative assistant to the Prime Minister; the wife of the former defence minister and director of the Liberal Party; the former president of the Liberal Kindersley-Lloyminister riding; the former Liberal MP for North York; the wife of a former aide to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; the failed 1993 Liberal nominee for South West Nova; a former board member of the federal Liberal Agency of Canada; the former executive director of the Quebec Liberal Party; the former Liberal Minister of International Trade; the failed 1993 Liberal candidate in Selkirk-Red River, Manitoba; the defeated 1997 Liberal candidate in Laurentides; and the list of Liberal patronage goes on.

Liberal Party Of Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the national Liberal caucus has established the national Liberal caucus twinning program, matching members of our caucus with Liberal riding associations across Canada.

I have the honour of being twinned with West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast. Mr. Hans Krause and the other members of the West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast Federal Liberal Riding Association have greeted me with open arms and Liberal hospitality as their representative in Ottawa.

In April, while the Standing Committee on Health is in Vancouver, I will be taking the opportunity to visit my surrogate riding. West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast is a magnificent area of our country with diverse areas such as Whistler, Squamish, Powell River and West Vancouver.

I am excited about the opportunity to visit this beautiful part of our country and especially to meet with fellow Liberals to discuss how we could continue to build this great country together.

Minister Of Intergovernmental Affairs
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs gave the oddest speech.

After a long weekend, in which he was isolated and told that his great constitutional scheme, Plan B, did not exist, the minister lost his cool and said he had had enough.

Before the Canadian Bar Association, the minister sent the Prime Minister and the Minister of Human Resources Development off to do their homework. “There is most certainly a Plan B and you are going to see it in action”.

In 1980 and 1995, representatives of the federal government threatened to deprive Quebeckers of federal services if they opted for sovereignty. Now the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is threatening to continue to provide services whether they want them or not. We have seen things that made more sense.

Who is telling the truth in this government? The Prime Minister, other ministers, members of the Liberal Party, or the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs?