Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from the Reform Party for his excellent speech, which contained views on taxation that I do not share but respect nonetheless. In fact, I would have a comment to make about the tax system and I would also like to ask a question.
From the moment the election campaign began and from the moment this House resumed sitting, I have been hearing members of the Reform Party refer to uniform cuts of 10, 12 or 15 per cent depending on the speaker, because it would seem to me that there is no party line where this matter is concerned. I wonder what the rationale is for requesting such drastic cuts across the board. I would like to know if the Reform Party could not suggest some other alternative like broadening the tax base to make the Canadian tax system fair again.
Let me explain. In 1991, the very rich, some of whom probably live in my hon. colleague's riding, were said to have paid tax at an actual rate of about 18 per cent, while the basic tax rate was 29 per cent. Other statistics show a flight of capital from very large Canadian corporations, which means that Canadian businesses-very large businesses, not the small and medium-sized or the very small ones, but the very large ones that turn a profit year in year out-are transferring their profits to some tax haven without paying a nickel in taxes in Canada. Yet, the same businesses transfer to Canada the losses they post abroad because they can get a tax deduction for those. I wonder if we could not recover billions in lost tax simply by broadening the tax base. I think that we are starting to get a clearer picture of where we are going in terms of the budget. There might be a way to get these businesses and these very rich taxpayers to pay their fair share, thus achieving the very objectives you have been talking about since this House resumed its business.
Clearly, Mr. Speaker, and I will end my comment on that, there is a need for effective spending control. The Auditor General of Canada did mention a certain laxness about the budget when he tabled his last report. But to suggest such drastic cuts, across the board, do you not think that this could affect the poorer taxpayers or the middle-income earners who are already overburdened by a tax system that has become unbearable, especially since 1984? I put the question to the hon. member.