Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by picking up on some of the remarks the member made in her speech. It is very important for Canadians and for the Reform Party to understand that the Government of Canada cannot be run in the same way as a business.
The Reform Party mentioned earlier that I have had a little business experience and I would like to deal with that. The fact is that I have had a little business experience. In business the preoccupation is with earnings per share per quarter, and profit and loss is the bottom line. The bottom line for the board of directors of the House is not profit. The bottom line that we are responsible for is the people of Canada.
My colleague comes from an eastern part of the country, a rural region. He spoke earlier with passion because he has been sent to this boardroom to speak for his people, not unlike my colleague, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who has to come to the Chamber and speak for the people of his region who right now are going through a hell that very few of us in the House can imagine. If the House becomes preoccupied with cuts, cuts, cuts and eliminating the deficit entirely, who will speak for and who will look after Canadians who are truly disadvantaged and in real pain?
When General Motors decides the earnings per share per quarter are a little low it lays off l,000, 2,000 or 10,000 people. Who picks those people up? It is the programs designed by the men and women in the Chamber. General Motors does not pick them up.
I had the privilege of working for two years with one of the most successful companies the country has ever produced, Magna International. Its latest report was published about two weeks ago. It made pretax about $400 million and paid about $140 million in taxes. Its net profit was about $240 million. In the middle to late seventies Magna was one of those companies the taxpayers of Canada supported. It developed computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing that allowed it to be one of the greatest companies in North America, one of the greatest exporters. Today that small company employs 20,000 Canadians.
In debate in the House on better public policy we cannot focus on just cuts, cuts, cuts; lean government; efficient government; and wasteful government. I am not going to support waste. No one in the House would. We all want lean government but we must have a caring government, as my colleague from New Brunswick said earlier. She said that it could not be a mean government.
What concerns me about the debate today is that there is not enough focus on growth. We have tried with concrete activities in the last year not to focus just on deficit and debt. We have also focused on growth.
We said in opposition and during the campaign that small business was the greatest hope for driving this economy and putting Canadians back to work. We said the 900,000 men and women who own and operate small businesses across the country represent our greatest hope for putting Canadians back to work. The government acted immediately in the industry committee to work on their greatest difficulty, which was access to capital. We heeded; we were told by them.
We consulted them in opposition and they said that if we became the government we had to have the courage to challenge the financial institutions because as small businesses they needed access to capital not just on the debt side but also on the equity side. We did that. I am happy to say that we did it with the help of the Reform Party and with the help of the Bloc. We recognize that. We acknowledge it publicly. It is concrete action that we took.
When members of the Reform Party stand today they should not be shy in acknowledging that a specific action has taken place that affects the business lives of about 300,000 small businessmen and women who employ possibly millions of Canadians. Do not just focus on the negative, do not just get caught up in opposing for the sake of opposing.
Since coming into power we have taken specific action on the information highway. In terms of that activity we are probably one of the most advanced countries in the world. It allows us to hook up, network and interact with companies all over the world. This is a tremendous aid to our export activity. The results are shown in the hard numbers. These are not Liberal numbers nor are they Government of Canada numbers. These numbers are acknowledged by independent agencies. Our exports have increased dramatically in the last year and no one can deny that.
We should be looking at those export numbers. We should be encouraging them even more because we cannot reduce the deficit and attack the debt unless we get those 1.5 million Canadians back to work. We are not going to leave them hanging. Jobs have been our central focus before the campaign, during the campaign and in our first year as government. The facts are that over 300,000 Canadians have been put back to work not by us directly but by assisting in creating some hope and an environment where we were serious and were focused on a direction.
I did not pull those numbers out of the air. They are real numbers reported by independent agencies. I am not standing here saying that we are satisfied with those numbers. We are not satisfied. How could we possibly be? However, progress has been made by this government in the first year of its mandate.
There is another thing this government has decided to push. The Prime Minister is in Vancouver today announcing our renewed focus on tourism activity in Canada. After the forestry and automotive sectors tourism is our greatest job creator. There is not one member of Parliament in this House who would stand up and speak against tourism.
We have taken action on tourism. From a piddling little budget of $13 million in the Department of Industry for tourism for all of Canada, the Prime Minister today will announce that we are going to make tourism a priority sector. He is announcing a further $50 million for partnerships with the private sector.
As every member in this House will stand up and say, tourism can generate a return in less than four or five months, once we get out there and market it and tell people to come to Canada. And it is not just for tourism, it is for trade shows and conventions, activity that will support other business opportunities. Sometimes people think tourism only concerns a family on holiday but it is more than that. Tourism is making sure we get our share of trade shows and conventions. This government has taken specific action and the Prime Minister will announce that commitment in Vancouver today.
I have been around this town. I have been an assistant to a prime minister and this is my second term as an MP. I watched the Tories when they governed here. I sincerely believe our government has been one of the most effective and hardest working governments I have ever seen in this town.
This government is making decisions almost at the speed of light. I know it is never fast enough and I will be the first one to admit that. There is a transition period and it takes a little bit of time. Many in the Reform Party are business people. You do not just go in and take over a business and make all your decisions in the first month or the first quarter. You have to get a handle on things. We have been able to get a handle on things very quickly. The numbers are starting to go in the right direction, but is it enough? It is never enough, but we will press on.
There is another thing I want to take on today in challenging the Reform Party on its motion. One of this government's commitments has been to support Canada's export activity. I cannot remember when another government has done so much as this one in terms of selling products and services abroad, especially in the Asia-Pacific region and the eastern European countries. We must be one of the most export oriented governments Canadians have ever seen.
In reflecting on one of the reasons that our exports have so dramatically improved, we can trace a lot of this export activity back to Pierre Trudeau's multiculturalism policy of 1971. I will explain this to the Reform Party. In 1971 when Pierre Trudeau stood in this House and said that we were going to have a policy in which no culture was less than or greater than another culture and we were going to encourage people to retain and promote their cultural heritage, this was something no other country in the world was doing. The United States had its melting pot theory and we did the opposite.
Today there are Canadians who have retained their language and culture of origin. We have a trading advantage into every part of the world because of that facility with language and culture that no other nation on earth has. A close analysis of our trading activities abroad will trace a lot of that success back to that multiculturalism policy, the very policy the Reform Party wants to strike and cut saying that it adds no asset value to Canada's balance sheet.
I suggest to member's opposite that multiculturalism is not about dancing, it is not about books. It is about turning Canadians into assets for Canada's balance sheet. Those people who have been able to use their links and their roots back to their country of origin have provided tremendous success for our exports side.
My point is that in this last nine months we have acted aggressively on some very specific issues. We appreciate the constructive tone of the members opposite during the debate over the last year. There have been times when they have not just opposed for the sake of opposing and the debate has been very constructive.
In many respects I am quite comfortable with some of the Reform Party's thrusts, especially in the area of tax reform. As I said earlier, there are only a few years to get things accomplished in this Chamber and the greatest catalyst for making things happen in this place is a constructive opposition.
I say sincerely that if it focuses, the Reform Party has a chance to act as a real catalyst for tax reform in Canada, which is the one thing we have not yet taken on. Even though we have accomplished all these other things in the last year I hope the Reform Party will not give up challenging us on tax reform.