House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

Prebudget Consultation
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think the beauty of the House and the reason we have debates is so members, who feel that certain social programs are a high priority, can speak up.

In the meantime, I have confidence in the Minister of Finance and in the finance committee. We will take into consideration all the suggestions from the House.

Prebudget Consultation
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary to the minister responsible for the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency suggested in her speech that the government was open to different ideas. I wonder how open she thinks the government is to the idea coming forward from the Ministers of Industry and Human Resources Development to spend apparently $6 billion additional dollars on corporate welfare and on some Internet scheme.

The member sits with me on the finance committee. I do not think we have heard a single witness ask for more corporate welfare or job creation schemes but we have heard a lot of talk about the need to eliminate the capital tax and reduce EI premiums to create more jobs.

Will the minister not agree with me that it is a much greater priority to reduce job killing taxes than to sink more public money into job creation schemes which we know do not work?

Prebudget Consultation
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his suggestion. I would not place numbers in any order as to requests from programs. We have confidence in the finance committee to listen to all suggestions. In the meantime, we will present it to the Minister of Finance. He is also trying to get all the different suggestions to see which are more important. It is very basic. We have to live within our means, and in the meantime decide which is the higher priority.

Prebudget Consultation
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say what my personal priorities are. Hopefully these reflect the views of a number of my constituents on issues that have been raised across the country and in a prebudget debate that was held in my riding a couple of weeks ago.

I will start from the premise that fiscal credibility is important to our government. Fiscal credibility was paid for by Canadians. It was paid for by processes and successive prudent expenditures, prudent investments and prudent budgeting which have brought us to the point where we can enjoy the $2 billion plus of savings on interest on our national debt. This brought us to the point before September 11 where we were looking at a very large skills and learning agenda and a very large innovation agenda. These are good, positive things for Canadians to invest in. I believe there is a difference between spending without thought and true investment that is stimulus.

So many hours, so many days of weeping and wailing have been spent wondering whether or not we were going to have a budget. Whether or not it was called a budget, there were $100 billion of tax cuts spread over five years and $20 billion went into health care. A year ago many things went through this parliament and were effective. President Bush, our neighbour to the south, had to wait for the legislation but we were already on that train and that is part of the stimulus that will continue.

Most Canadians would agree that we should not go into a deficit position at this point in time. I have heard from some people who are willing to go with a debt to GDP ratio that continues downward which would allow for a few billion dollars in deficit in one year. Fiscal credibility is important psychologically at this point in time. The prudence that has been the hallmark of our government, even though it has not been the traditional Liberal philosophy is the current Liberal philosophy. We are an accountable government. We have made proper investments.

Turning to my priorities in investments, I come from London, Ontario. I represent a city that is very rich in industrial research capacity, medical research capacity, engineering and social science research capacity. Over many years the government has talked about having moved Canada up the scale from being one of the lower countries in the OECD to being fifth in the world in supporting R and D. This is a valid investment. There can be no interruption in the current flow of money to research and development in my opinion.

Another issue that has been spoken about in research circles is the indirect cost of research. The part of me that thinks with a jurisdictional hat says that historically at our post-secondary education facilities the infrastructure supporting all of this work has been borne by the provinces. However it is our productivity agenda. It is our innovation agenda. Therefore I believe there is no more capacity for these researchers to absorb the cost of their work if we are not contributing in some way to the soft costs of doing that research, whether it occurs in a university or in a hospital. I come from the province of Ontario where unfortunately per capita spending on post-secondary education is the lowest of all the provinces and territories. That is an appalling situation but it happens to be the truth.

If this cannot be done in this budget, I would ask the Minister of Finance to put a marker on the table so that the research community knows that this is a concept that has been agreed to, understood and will go forward. I would urge that there be some start in this budget. The position has to be made very clear so we can extend hope to all the people who are helping with future productivity in Canada. That is very important not just for my riding, but it is important across the country, whether that comes from our granting councils or the CIHR, which took over from the Medical Research Council of Canada.

There are some fine point tools that we can utilize. On October 12 when I was in my riding the United Way asked for favourable tax treatment on capital gains when people donate stocks to charities. The United Way was very pleased to see that was extended permanently. The tool is appropriate for use in public foundations also.

More and more as governments, especially provincial governments, circumnavigate themselves into a corner by putting the no deficit legislation into place, we are going to be looking to our charities and our public foundations to help carry the weight of the true social need that exists in the country. That is a technical provision which I do not think will cost large sums of dollars to the fisc. However it will have an incredible impact on donations by concerned corporations and individuals in this country to transfer shares by having a more favourable capital gains tax situation. That is being extended to the charities right now. There is no logical reason that the foundations could not get similar treatment.

I would like to talk about the aboriginal communities. One of the reasons I asked my government to go on the finance committee was so I could move the aboriginal agenda forward. There has to be sufficient funding to continue all of the necessary work. It is true that the standard of living enjoyed by most Canadians is not shared to the same degree by our aboriginal communities. This is a necessary agenda. It seems that some communities always are told to wait. There is always a reason that we cannot take care of their needs.

The needs are pretty basic in the aboriginal communities. They are safe water, housing and education needs. We should understand as a government that the demographics of this particular population is different from that of average Canadians. There is going to be a huge increase in aged people in the non-native population but it is the reverse in the native population. In fact there is going to be a 25% increase in aboriginal youth before 2015. All of those youth need the tools to be educated and the department is the all encompassing vehicle for transfers at this time, unless they come out from under the Indian Act like the Nisga'a which I celebrate. They need those funds.

A number of people across the aisle have talked about human capital and I concur. My metaphor for this budget is an accordion. Some programs, for instance the security programs, will have to be squeezed in. In other words what might have been a five year roll out on security items and security spending perhaps will have to come down to a one year or two year roll out. Obviously that will have to go up and that means that type of spending will not be a one time hit. It is something that Canadians are demanding.

There are ongoing security needs in our country, not only for personal safety reasons, but economic security as well. This includes making sure our borders are working properly and that low risk goods and people get through in a timely manner. All of our resources, whether human intelligence resources or enforcement resources, must be there to help our markets work properly. We are a trading nation. We have to have the confidence at our borders and in our land of all of our trading partners to make our economy work.

The security agenda is high on my list but I see other areas being expanded a bit. I believe in our innovation agenda. I believe in our jobs and skills agenda. If it is necessary in the very short term to roll out those programs a little slower, it is not saying we do not value what we are doing. I am just saying we must live within our budgetary means. This is important to Canadians.

Many valuable tools, techniques and programs are being put before us. No one in this Chamber does not want the preservation of our environment. No one in this Chamber does not want a federal park that we can all enjoy. Perhaps we cannot acquire the 14 parks that we say we need to complete the infrastructure of parks across the nation right now. Perhaps that is not on the table today. Maybe we should be doing the options to lease around the parks where we think we will be working in the future trying to make sure they are there when we do have the fiscal capacity.

This is an important debate. It cannot be about the historical context or the wish list because from what I have seen, everybody comes to the table saying, and very rightly so, that their investment is more important and is the one that needs to be funded. Most of them could be funded if we had a wish fountain but in reality we have tax revenues. Our economy is now slower than it was and that means there is less money coming into our fisc. There may be more drains on it as people need temporary employment and to get to their next period of employment, assistance from the government.

It is interesting that for the first time across the country, including the west, I heard that there is an important role for government in the lives of people. On September 11 it was not the private corporations that they looked to for security, it was the government. We have to fund properly our security element which has a military element.

To my mind there is a division between the military component and the security component. How I have interpreted what I have heard across the country is that it is not so much a discussion about hardware as it is about humans and using technology properly.

Even the technology costs are not going to be a one time cost. Nobody has ever set up a technologically advanced office and said that now that they have bought a computer, that is it and they do not have to do anything for the next 20 years. We all know that updates are needed. Even the hardware is not a one time cost when we get into biometrics at our borders. These are important points to consider.

I want to talk about dedicated taxes. I heard that especially with respect to highways. Dedicated taxes take away from the flexibility of governments to react appropriately in times of crisis and need.

It is with very good reason that money comes into the federal government by way of general revenues. Those people arguing, and they know who they are across the country, that they have spent so much on a certain tax and therefore so much should be reinvested, cannot understand that if everybody had their silo of dedicated taxes, we as a government could not respond to the true needs. The true needs are here and abroad.

I will put one small marker on the table. Historically Canada has done a very poor job overseas as a percentage of GDP in contributing to international assistance. We, with many countries, had a goal of 0.7 of 1% at one time. We are well below that.

Even if the foreign aid goes more to the good governance envelope, which I firmly believe should be part of the agenda, there are situations where we are spending money overseas on military and peacekeeping operations where if the governance of a country, the strength of the democracy of a country were there and assisted in the first place, perhaps we would not be going out in a military fashion after the fact.

Canada has a role to play. It is a very small portion of the overall budget picture and I would not like to see it abandoned at this time.

Prebudget Consultation
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the member for London West with whom it is my privilege to work on the Standing Committee on Finance. She does her work very seriously and most competently.

I agree with what she said about indirect spending on research and development. The fact that research grants do not apply to indirect spending on equipment or infrastructures remains a major concern of academics, not just in the health sector but in all other sectors as well. It is beginning to get in the way of scientific research and technological development.

When there is an economic slowdown, such as the one we are now experiencing, which may well go on for the next few months, the first spending to be sacrificed is spending on research and development by business in particular.

When universities are asked to tighten their budgets, the first thing to go is research. So on that score I agree completely with her analysis.

However I would really appreciate it if, during the next meeting of her caucus, the member could ask the Minister of Finance to stop saying whatever comes into his head about the surplus, to stop misleading the public and to give the real picture.

My greatest fear in connection with the next budget is that, in a situation where people need to be encouraged and given support, the Minister of Finance will play exactly the same game he has been playing for the past five years, which is to misrepresent the real surplus so as not to have to do what he should.

I urge her, because I can see the member's great ability and determination, to convince the Minister of Finance to stop saying any old thing and to come up with real measures in the next budget to stimulate the economy and help those who have lost or who are at risk of losing their job.

Can we count on the member for London West to take this up with the Minister of Finance?

Prebudget Consultation
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that any chance I get to talk to the Minister of Finance I do and I make my views very clear. I also wish we had those billions of dollars. I do not think they are in the surplus right now. It will be very difficult right now.

The problem with trying to propose a budgeting measure that goes forward to the future is that, as an economist knows, we are using numbers on which we do not have the most up to date numbers. Our real numbers are history. We are really working with the projections.

I am pleased he concurs on the soft costs or the indirect costs of research. This is an important time for researchers. They have hope that they have not had for many years. I agree that the worst thing we could do is to interrupt that in any way, shape or form.

The increases might not be as much as if September 11 had not occurred. However the marker has to go down and something has to be mentioned, hopefully in the budget text itself, about the indirect costs of research.

I also enjoy working with the hon. member on the finance committee. Many of us work every day. We have had over 70 meetings. However, for many reasons we cannot attend all those meetings. We all work with the best interests of all Canadians at heart, including Quebecers.

Prebudget Consultation
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for London West for using her time to raise some very important issues, not the least of which is the budget line dealing with aboriginal issues. She is as aware, as are all of us, that a key factor in the Speech from the Throne dealt with the idea that it was finally time to address some of the backlog of social needs which existed in aboriginal communities.

Some of us are apprehensive now that first, there is less of a surplus or no surplus at all and, second, there is an increased spending line which will be necessary for this military intervention.

We have reason to believe that those who will be to be asked to tighten their belts to pay for the military intervention are the very people who need support and have been promised it in this Speech from the Throne.

Will she give us her commitment or at least her point of view, as a member of the finance committee and a member of the Liberal caucus, that she will push to make sure that the spending for the military intervention does not come out of the budget line of aboriginal affairs; current spending or future programs?

Prebudget Consultation
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly not the Minister of Finance. However spending on aboriginal affairs is a necessity in Canada especially when we are talking about education. We cannot afford to waste the potential of people. We cannot afford to take away hope.

We must be concerned with the demographic signals that are out there right now. The children who are very young will either be drains in their own life and not be happy or they will be productive members of Canadian society.

We have ways, means and tools that we know can work and have been shown to work when there is goodwill among all three levels of government and in the House to move forward treaties.

When people have a land base they get economic viability and move outside the current Indian Act. I saw this when I chaired the aboriginal affairs committee during the Nisga'a agreement. I think we will see a productive society in the Nass Valley that could not have occurred as easily inside the Indian Act. My vote goes in that direction.

Landmines
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Brampton West—Mississauga, ON

Mr. Speaker, Israel's military withdrawal from South Lebanon left the area heavily contaminated with landmines. Most remain unmarked and unfenced. This is a serious threat to the lives of thousands of displaced civilians returning home.

In the month following the withdrawal 99 people were maimed and 20 were killed. Landmines have accounted for 80% of the mine related casualties registered in the last year.

While UN peacekeepers are co-ordinating mine clearance activities in the region the maps provided by Israel are incomplete, making mine clearing very unsafe. The UN reports that over 100,000 landmines exist throughout the region, their exact locations unknown.

The Ottawa convention demands that each state in a position to do so shall provide assistance for mine clearance and related activities.

I encourage our government to seek creative ways to help solve the crisis in South Lebanon and attempt to accelerate the process of clearing these hidden killers by asking the Israeli government to provide full disclosure of all maps, and for Canada--

Landmines
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Richmond.

Sun

Toronto
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Joe Peschisolido Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise today to pay tribute to the little paper that grew on its 30th anniversary. Thirty years ago today the Toronto Sun was born.

The vision of Douglas Creighton and Peter Worthington led a small bunch of reporters, editors, production people and photographers to start a new alternative newspaper in the most competitive media market in Canada.

From its humble beginnings in Toronto the Sun chain has now moved right across Canada. “Get it first, get it fast and get it accurate” has long been the motto of the Sun . They should be proud to know that readers see this reflected in their morning paper every day.

On behalf of my leader and my caucus colleagues in the Canadian Alliance I offer my congratulations to the Toronto Sun and all its employees.

4-H Clubs
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Claude Duplain Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, from October 29 to November 4, we honour 4-H clubs.

In Quebec, 4-H clubs attract young people who care about improving and maintaining the quality of our environment. Together, they work to protect trees and forests.

Moreover, by joining these clubs, young people develop a respect for others, a sense of responsibility, creativity and initiative.

The first 4-H clubs in Quebec were established in 1942. Today, many young Quebecers wear the motto “Honneur, Honnêteté, Habileté, Humanité” on their coat of arms.

As in the other provinces, 4-H clubs in Quebec are taking advantage of this week to inform the public about their activities. I invite the public to take an interest, and young people to participate. You will make interesting discoveries and you may find a new passion.

Transportation
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, public transit in Kitchener is getting a facelift thanks to a new project announced this week. VIA Rail has announced an additional mid-morning and late evening link between Kitchener and Toronto. As well, the federal government is contributing $350,000 to renovate the local train station for improved access and service.

This new service makes good sense for the environment and provides a practical alternative to congested highways. Transportation is one of the single largest sources of air pollution in Canada. In urban centres it accounts for up to two-thirds of smog forming pollutants and for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The expanded service enables commuters to park their cars. Sustainable transportation encourages travellers to make use of active transportation instead of relying on single occupant vehicles.

I ask the House to join me in congratulating the local members of Transport 2000 for their perseverance in supporting this much needed project. Clearly Kitchener is on the right track.

Victims of Violence
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, October 28, I attended a mass memorial service for young victims of violence that was organized by the Black Action Defence Committee. We remembered the lives of young black men who had been slain prematurely and offered our condolences to the mothers, fathers, siblings and children of these victims of violence.

In the past five years over 100 black men in Toronto have been killed by other youth. Their murders remain unsolved. This cycle of violence must stop.

Valerie Steele, president of the Jamaican Canadian Association, says clearly that the black community is planning a new strategy, one that involves education, policing, housing and job opportunities. They will be working on it with the federal government.

I call on all members of the House to support this community based approach. We must console those who have lost their loved ones to violence, unite to address the causes of hopelessness and anger, and build a brighter future for our youth.

Dmytro Pryhoda
Statements By Members

November 1st, 2001 / 2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, today in Edmonton Mr. Dmytro Pryhoda celebrates his centenary with his family and friends. Born 100 years ago in Ukraine, Mr. Pryhoda left his wartorn country in 1927 to make a new life in Canada. The Canadian Pacific Railway became his workplace for 40 years until his retirement in 1966. Dmytro's wife of 57 years, Rose, passed away in 1989.

Family and faith are two important pillars that Ukrainians cherish in their new Canadian communities. St. Barbara's Russian Orthodox Cathedral will be particularly honouring Dmytro this Sunday.

I am sure I speak for all in the House as I wish Dmytro well today.

Wishing you many more years, Dmytro.

This day is yours. Enjoy.