House of Commons Hansard #60 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mechanics.

Topics

Income Tax Amendments Act, 2000
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ted White North Vancouver, BC

Yes, that is just the interest on the debt. Imagine the amount of infrastructure that could be built if we were not paying so much interest on the debt: 200 brand new Lions Gate bridges every year. That is four every week, four brand new highway bridges that could be built every week. These are huge bridges, not just normal small highway bridges. This is enough money to twin the freeway in Vancouver every month.

These are enormous amounts of money we are talking about and the bill would do very little to reverse the legacy that really dates back to the Trudeau days. All these problems that the bill would take tiny little steps to address go back to the days of Trudeau.

I have an article here written by Michael Campbell, quite a well known author in the Vancouver area, about the problems we have today and how they relate to those days of Trudeau. It does relate directly to the bill. I would like to read a little bit from the article because it illustrates the size of the problem. It was written on October 3, 2000, a little while after all the public outpouring of grief after Mr. Trudeau's death. Michael writes:

Trudeau is the godfather of Canada's interventionist government policies regarding the economy. It was Trudeau who spearheaded the drive for the “Just Society” through aggressive increases in government spending and wealth distribution that led to Canada leading the world in the growth of taxation.

It was the Trudeau government that brought Canada's federal deficit from zero in 1968 to $38 billion by the time he left office in 1984. It was the buildup of debt during the Trudeau years that laid the foundation for today's $40 billion in interest payments.

While socialists or Marxists might like to take credit for the philosophical underpinnings of his economic policy, it was Trudeau who put the thoughts into action.

In 1968 the federal government launched what was then called the short-term bailout of the Cape Breton Coal Company—

Do you remember that, Madam Speaker? It was a short term bailout in 1968. In the year 2000, after $1.7 billion in subsidies had been spent on that project, it was finally shut down.

Michael Campbell continues:

It was during the Trudeau era that unemployment insurance subsidies became a way of life for some in the Maritimes with the results still well in evidence today.

Under Trudeau we got nationalization of companies and industries. Canada curtailed foreign investment and exploded the government bureaucracy.

But his legacy extends beyond specific economic policies into a mindset that still dominates the landscape today in Canada.

We are still stuck with the problem that was built up in the country during the Trudeau years, as Michael Campbell notes:

It was during the Trudeau years that the anti-business, anti-success attitude—referred to by Nobel Prize-winner Robert Mundell as the chief obstacle to our economic prosperity—took hold and flourished.

Marketing all government policies as part of the pursuit of the Just Society has permanently linked the concepts of government intervention and justice in many people's minds.

We see the results today where opposition to extending government programs is regularly regarded as a form of inactivity at best and godlessness at worst.

As (the) Prime Minister...has told us regularly, only the selfish and greedy want to lower taxes. Only the most cold-hearted could oppose a national day-care program or business subsidies.

What's interesting to note is that before we headed on the path toward the Just Society, Canada had the second-highest economic output per person in whole world.

This fact is important to note. Before we headed down the Trudeau road we had the second highest economic output per person in the whole world.

Michael Campbell continues:

The latest numbers from the OECD put us at 20th out of 29 in the developed world. Our economy grew at an average pace of five per cent, excluding inflation, before 1968, which is 40 per cent higher than the average since.

Whatever economic indicator we look at since the Trudeau just society began, we have gone downhill in economic performance every way we measure it.

Michael Campbell says:

Our federal debt has grown from 0 to $750 billion, while our currency has gone from being at par with the U.S. dollar—

It is below 65 cents today. How can anyone spin doctor it so well? It is absolutely amazing to westerners that somehow there is this line at the edge of Manitoba and everyone to the east of it cannot see what is going on. They have bought into this terrible scam that was started back in 1968 and has been perpetuated.

As for the pursuit of the just society, poverty advocates tell us that nothing has changed. There are more people in poverty than there were before, which always leaves us somewhat startled considering that so many Canadians continue to call for more of the same policies.

The bill, as I have mentioned, would really just take tiny baby steps to reverse that terrible Trudeau legacy that has led us to where we are today. Also part of the Trudeau legacy is the beginning of western alienation. It was Trudeau who gave us the finger from the train in Kamloops many years ago. It was Trudeau who started the national energy program that destroyed the economy in Alberta.

Still to this day the west is not getting its fair share from this Confederation. For example, my colleague from Elk Island mentioned that there was recently a temporary increase in the transfer payments, but he did not mention that more than half of that went to Quebec, which somehow still manages to portray itself as a have not province.

It is totally ludicrous that this situation exists. I know from working here on the Hill that practically every product we use, every service we obtain, is supplied by Quebec. The pens and pencils, the paper, the water supplies, the computers, the people who work here: just about everything comes from Quebec. This shows that the Quebec economy is extremely well diversified. They build automobiles. They have manufacturing plants for aluminum extrusion. They export electric power. It is a complete mystery to me that it is a have not province. It is certainly a mystery to the people out west who are receiving less than their fair share of the transfers.

For example, spending in B.C. by the federal government is comprised of direct goods and services expenditures as well as transfers to individuals in the form of EI payments, pensions and so on. However the one area of spending that is 100% under the control of the government is the procurement of goods and services.

If we look at the data from 1992 to 1998, and that is the latest year for which we have figures available, on average the federal government spent about $3 billion on goods and services in B.C. in each of those years. Our share, based on the population, should have been between $4 billion and $4.5 billion. That difference amounts to a shortfall for B.C. in goods and services alone of $9.5 billion in just six years.

Worse still, no attempt has been made by the Liberal government to correct the problem. It has kept that figure stagnated between $1 billion and $1.5 billion steadily since 1993. It has done nothing, not a thing to increase it.

In a typical year, taking into account all federal transfers to the province of British Columbia, we receive about $1.7 billion less than Ottawa collects in revenues from B.C. For example, in 1998 the following differences can be found between British Columbia's actual share of expenditures and the hypothetical share based on population.

We had a goods and services procurement shortfall of $1.178 billion, almost a $1.2 billion shortfall. We had a shortfall in transfers to persons of $40.4 million and we had a transfer to business shortfall of $89.89 million.

In addition, because B.C. is rated as a have province despite our awful NDP government and the terrible deficits that it runs, we received approximately $1.1 billion less in direct transfers to the provincial government.

Of course it is no secret that B.C., Alberta and Ontario all contribute to the so-called equalization transfers to Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland. Quebec is the strange one and how it still qualifies as a have not province despite its productivity is a mystery.

I noticed recently that the government of Quebec announced a tax holiday for some types of business. Equalization transfers are supposed to be based on the government's inability to raise sufficient revenues from its residents, so how can a government justify giving tax reductions to some businesses and at the same time saying it cannot raise enough taxes so it wants more equalization payments?

I suppose in theory the government of B.C. could reduce all the taxes to zero for its constituents and then say that it cannot raise any money from its constituents and ask Ottawa to transfer all the money back to it. It is a ludicrous equalization program in which we find ourselves entangled. It does not make sense at all.

It is interesting to note the fiscal outflow from B.C. caused by the weak federal spending on goods and services. It is not only proportionately higher than any other province, but it is higher in absolute numbers of dollars. We receive $295 less per capita than any other province. It is just not fair.

With the Prime Minister regularly saying that westerners would get a better deal if they voted Liberal, I hate to think of the mess we would be in today if that had happened. When we look at that federal debt and the way it was exploding in 1993, I well remember the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives calling us extremists because we wanted to balance the budget back in 1993 with our zero in three plan that we promoted in 1993 to get the government's fiscal policies under control.

At that time every government in the country was running deficits. The federal government was running $40 billion deficits a year and we were called extremists for wanting to fix that problem. The government and the Progressive Conservatives scared people by saying we were extremists.

We managed to get 54 members into the House. We made the difference because today when we look across the country there is not a government, federal or provincial, that does not want to balance its budget. All of the credit, 100% of the credit for that goes to the Reform Party of Canada and the Canadian Alliance for taking it from extremism to being mainstream.

Anybody who tries to claim that it was the Liberal government that did it is misinformed or misinforming because it was not the Liberal government that did it.

The way to correct western alienation is not for more people to vote Liberal. It is for the government over there to stop the scare tactics, to stop the distortion of facts and to start looking at what is best for the country. What is best for the country is not what is contained in the bill. It is a sham, a complete sham.

As my hon. colleague said, we will end up at the end of this term with more debt to pay and with $40 billion a year in interest payments. If we had followed the Reform Party plan that was promoted in 1993, we would already have significantly paid down our debt. We would be in the range of $30 billion a year in interest payments, freeing up $10 billion a year to spend on infrastructure and other programs.

It is frankly dishonest to present the bill to the House and accuse us of holding it up when we are trying to take our entitled time to show the people of Canada exactly what is going on.

The bill is not only a sham. It adds to the complexity of the tax act. Every one of us in this place gets complaints from our constituents about the complexity of the tax act. There is hardly anybody who can even do their own tax returns any more; they have to hire an accountant or a specialist to do them. The Canadian Alliance promoted, which should be included in Bill C-22, a reduction in the complexity rather than an increase in it once again.

My colleague from Elk Island mentioned briefly how the numbers actually do not tell the whole truth. In my finishing minutes I would like to go over those numbers quickly.

The government claims a $100.5 billion gross tax reduction, but when we take off $3.2 billion over five years for social spending because of the child tax benefit, which is really spending and not a tax reduction; when we take off the $29.5 billion over five years for increased CPP premiums; and when we take off the $20.7 billion over five years for cancelled tax hikes due to indexation, we end up with $41.7 billion in tax relief over five years.

That is better than nothing. We are pleased that at least there is some. It certainly is not honest to portray it the way it has been on the other side of the House. The biggest problem we still have is the size of the debt and the size of the annual interest payments which, as I said at the beginning of my speech, could build 200 brand new Lions Gate bridges every year.

Income Tax Amendments Act, 2000
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Madam Speaker, I did have a different introduction to make, but after listening to my colleague from the Alliance I thought it might be important to point out to him and other hon. members of the House that the first government in Canada to balance the budget was an NDP government in Saskatchewan after some horrendous budgetary practices by the prior Progressive Conservative government.

We were the first ones. There were terrible practices by the prior government. It was a right of centre government, by the way. We take some pride in having been able to do that and, quite frankly, in the history of the administration of the finances of that province all the way back to when it was led by Premier Tommy Douglas.

I rise today to speak in opposition to the passage of this bill and wish to do so from a number of perspectives. I will start with the issue of the environment as that is my responsibility as critic for my party.

Earlier this week we had the opportunity to come together as a House on an issue proposed by the Progressive Conservatives with regard to the protection of water in Canada. All members of the House, with the exception of the Bloc, supported that motion and rightfully so.

When we look at these budgetary items we cannot help but realize the height of hypocrisy when the government side proposes that our finances be handled in this way. At the same time it ignores to a very significant degree the responsibilities of the government to provide necessary financing for a municipal infrastructure program to deal with the crisis facing Canada with regard to providing safe water for all citizens.

We see figures from the municipalities on what it will cost to treat our water and our sewage. The type of dollars they are talking about are no way reflected in the budgetary items before us. The figure proposed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is $16.5 billion. The allocation from the government for all types of municipal infrastructure is only $2.5 billion over six years, which is simply not enough.

I would like to present some statistics on the situation leading up to the financial statement. In the decade from 1989 to 1998 there has been a dramatic shift in wealth and we have seen the impact it has had on family incomes. If we break down by 20 percentiles all families in Canada, the statistics show that from 1989 to 1998 the families at the lower end of the scale dropped in income quite dramatically.

The poorest level dropped 17% in earning abilities in that period of time. The lower middle income group dropped 13%. The middle income group dropped 4%. The upper middle income group went up by 1%. The top end families that earned $114,000 in 1989 went up to $124,000, or a 9% increase, in 1998.

Cannes Festival
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, allow me to join all Canadians in congratulating the makers of Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner , which has been selected for screening in the non-competitive un certain regard section at this year's Cannes Festival. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner is Zacharias Kunuk's first feature film and Canada's first Inuit language feature film. It is an exciting action thriller set in ancient Igloolik and produced in Nunavut by an Inuit company using local cast and crew.

In addition, a France-Canada coproduction entitled La répétition , along with The truth in advertising , a short film by Torontonian Tim Hamilton, have been nominated for a Palme d'or award in the best feature film and best short film categories respectively.

Other Canadian films will also be shown in the festival during international critics' week. They are the first feature length film by Quebec producer Bernard Raymond, La femme qui boit , and the France-Canada coproduction entitled Le pornographe . We can be proud—

Cannes Festival
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Elk Island.

Ottawa Taxis
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, since I have been a member of parliament, now a little over seven years, there has been a curious thing happening here in Ottawa and I would just like to draw the members' attention to it.

When we go to the airport, the taxis can only carry passengers in one direction. There is somehow a rule somewhere that says one company gets the right to haul passengers from the airport into Ottawa and the other companies haul passengers from Ottawa to the airport. Therefore, every other cab is empty.

This has huge implications to costs. Some of these taxi drivers running empty half the time are making very little money. They are not able to pay as much taxes. It is definitely tough on the environment because we have all these vehicles spewing exhaust gases.

I think, if the federal government were responsible, it would look into this and not only give permission but require taxis to carry passengers in both directions.

Right Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Guy Carignan Québec East, QC

Mr. Speaker, on July 1, Canada Post will be issuing a stamp commemorating the former Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

It is no mere accident that the date of July 1 was chosen, it being the national day of this country, Canada, to which Mr. Trudeau has left such a great legacy.

It would be hard to list all of his accomplishments, but among them are the Official Languages Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and patriation of the Canadian Constitution, not forgetting his contribution to our foreign policy, to improving the status of women and native people, and to promoting the French fact in Canada.

I congratulate Canada Post on this initiative to commemorate the contribution to this country by a great man, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, recently selected as the Canadian personality of the century.

Canadian Museums
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 3 the Government of Canada launched the second edition of the Canadian Museum Treasure Hunt.

This is an interactive learning game on the Internet, created to celebrate International Museum Day, which falls this year on May 18.

Through the treasure hunt, young people can discover 23 Canadian museums. Its purpose is to encourage young people to visit museums and learn about Canada and the world.

I invite young Canadians, as well as the not so young, to join in this ingenious treasure hunt by visiting the websites of the Department of Canadian Heritage and Virtual Museum Canada.

Have fun, everyone.

Millennium Scholarship
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to congratulate the six outstanding students in my riding who have been awarded millennium scholarships for 2001-02.

The students are Stacey Chiu and Khanh Nguyen from Windermere Secondary School, Steven Co from Vancouver College, Jatinder Man from St. John's School, Esther Tain from Burnaby South Secondary, and William Wu from Charles Tupper Secondary School.

Those six students have worked hard to achieve those scholarships. I hope all members of the House will join me in congratulating them and indeed all scholarship winners from across the country.

Government Of Ontario
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Mike Harris government has done it again. Since 1995 it has continued to produce tax cutting, deficit reducing budgets that have put Ontario back on track. The most recent budget is no exception. It took the first steps toward eliminating the job killing capital tax, and Ontario's tax incentives are being completely reviewed.

I am especially thrilled that the Ontario government took the principled and courageous decision to recognize the enormous sacrifice and the public good done by tens of thousands of Ontario families who, for reasons of conscience and obligation, send their children to independent schools and pay for those schools with after tax dollars, many of these families with very modest means and incomes.

The refundable tax credit for receiptable independent school expenses announced yesterday is a policy that the Canadian Alliance has promoted. We are delighted to see that the Mike Harris government, against the shrill voices of the Liberal opposition and the big union special interests in Ontario, has decided that parents should be able to decide what is in the best interests of their children, and they should not be penalized for doing so. We want to commend Jim Flaherty.

International Nurses Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, this Saturday, May 12, is International Nurses Day. The theme for 2001 is “Nurses, always there for you: united against violence”.

This will be an opportunity for us and Canadians to recognize the important work these health care professionals do for each of us and all of society. Whether they work here or abroad, nurses make a difference in the quality of care provided.

With the new developments in health care, they are increasingly called on to work together with other professionals in health care. Their expertise and know-how often make them the central workers in the community. In the current context of resource shortages, they are creative and innovative.

I wish all nurses an excellent day.

Société Littéraire De Laval
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 4, the Société littéraire de Laval, with its honourary president, Quebec poet Joël Des Rosiers, announced the names of the 11 winners of its second annual literary competition.

This initiative recognizes the talent and work of those who have the writing bug. Through the magic of prose or poetry, they breathe life into characters, set the scene, kindle emotions. We often see ourselves reflected in what they have to say.

This year's winners are tomorrow's writers. Whether they be called Dominic Gagné, Andrée Proulx, Alexandre Piché or Tania Langlais, they are a wonderful illustration of the exceptional commitment of the Société littéraire de Laval, which has had a soft spot for words for the past 16 years.

I am proud to congratulate all the participants in this competition, including the 150 college students. To the winners, I tip my hat, and to the Société littéraire, I offer my thanks for its work in developing vitality and excellence in the French language, at home, in Quebec.

Catholic Central High School
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Pat O'Brien London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to extend my congratulations to the crusaders of Catholic Central High School in London on their 50th anniversary.

As an alumnus I am proud that I attended CCH and I also had the privilege to teach and coach there for 10 years.

Alumni from across the country attended the reunion last Saturday and reminisced about past times. Catholic Central was originally London's only Roman Catholic high school and has produced many outstanding citizens in all walks of life.

Archbishop Peter Sutton, a former teacher at CCH, was the guest speaker.

I was joined by my provincial counterpart, the MPP for London—Fanshawe, Frank Mazzilli. The mayor of London, Anne Marie DeCicco represented city council. Both of these leaders are also CCH grads.

May Catholic Central enjoy a very successful second 50 years.

Middle East
Statements By Members

May 11th, 2001 / 11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are all saddened by the continuing violence in the Middle East. In the past few weeks we saw a four month old Palestinian baby killed by a missile strike and two young Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered. The cycle of violence must end.

The Canadian Alliance supports the right of the state of Israel to exist within safe and secure borders and the right of Palestinian people to negotiate for self-government through the peace process. We condemn any terrorism on any side of this complicated conflict.

We also call for the Government of Canada to be more open and transparent in its foreign policy development.

I want to assure all Canadians that this remains my position, the position of our party, and reflects my speech earlier this week.

I also wish to reiterate my great respect and friendship for members of all of Canada's religious and cultural communities with whom I and my party have worked hard to forge common ground on issues such as immigration, tax reform, support for the family and tax relief for parents who wish to educate their children in their own religious and cultural traditions.

We look forward to maintaining and enhancing our relationships with all these groups and individuals.

Canada Health Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that tomorrow, May 12, is Canada Health Day.

Canada Health Day is held each year on the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, and is jointly sponsored by the Canadian Public Health Association and the Canadian Healthcare Association.

Together, let us wish an excellent Canada Health Day to the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Healthcare Association, their members, their staff, their volunteers and their associates.

I ask all members to please join me in wishing the Canadian Public Health Association and the Canadian Healthcare Association a very successful Canada Health Day.

National Drinking Water Standards
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, three years ago a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation study concluded that the cost of providing safe drinking water in Canada would be $4 billion a year over 15 years. Canadians are looking to their elected representatives to give them reassurances that the water they drink is safe.

New Democrats across the country are working on this. Last month in British Columbia the NDP government passed the drinking water protection act. It provided an additional $11 million in new funding and enforceable standards, despite the objections of the B.C. Liberal Party.

In Ontario New Democrat Marilyn Churley has introduced a private member's bill to ensure Ontarians that they can trust the quality of the water they drink. Both of these pieces of legislation provide a framework for public disclosure and ensure the public has the right to know the results of water testing.

It is time the government follows suit by providing national standards for drinking water and an adequate infrastructure funding program.