Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour to be able to speak on such an important subject. I would like briefly to go back to my involvement and interest in the subject of debt and deficit and why I became involved really in politics.
In 1984 all of us realized that this country had a major problem and that we had to deal with it. At that point we were $190 billion in debt and we had someone who promised to help us get out of that. Of course by 1988 we realized that those promises were not going to be kept and that even though we were promised with some more time something could be done, an awful lot of us said no way, and so the birth of the Reform Party.
Basically there were a number of test cases that came for where the Canadian public was at. We had the elite and the media saying that Charlottetown was the answer to a lot of our problems and the Canadian people sent their first message.
In 1993 we had another very sound second message sent which stated: "You had better deal with that debt and deficit or you know what is going to happen". The PCs suffered from that. To the Liberal's credit they have realized that is exactly where people are coming from. We must deal with this and we must do it right now.
However, when we look back to February 22 of this year that probably was the darkest day in this House when we found that nothing had changed and that nothing had happened. Now we are
into the fall and winter of 1994 and we now hear that come hell or high water we are going to deal with this debt and deficit. I hope that these are not just more words because if so the third message will come from the Canadian electorate and that will be borne out on the Liberal Party.
Three per cent of GDP by 1996 or 1997 is just not good enough. That is so minor in terms of what has to be done. People will not accept that. We have to do things to change. We have to show lower taxes so people will have the incentive to spend more money and leave their money at home. We need to downsize government dramatically. We need to help people help themselves. Certainly taxing RRSPs is not the answer to that.
We need to get government out of business. We need to stop duplication between the provinces and the federal government. We need to solve the Quebec problem, the native land claims problem. We need to show leadership in areas like the WTO and the OAS to name just a few. We need to reform the whole government starting with pensions, as we have heard so many times. We need to look at many other areas of government to reform, not the least being the Senate.
Many speakers have dealt with our zero in three plan which we have had in place for a number of years and which we have now fine tuned. Each of us as critics in our areas has been asked to specifically go after the things that affect us most.
As the foreign affairs critic I will deal just with that area and the sort of deficit reduction that we would see there. As an earlier member said, we do not have the specifics, I would like to let him know that we have a lot of specifics, certainly more than we have heard from the other side.
In talking about foreign affairs and how we would do our share as part of government to reduce, I would go back to our foreign affairs review on which we spent the last seven or eight months listening to hundreds of witnesses across the country. The strange part was that so often we spent our time dealing in an academic exercise, not dealing with any real policy and never did we talk about the kind of cost cutting that we would recommend to the minister when the time came for his call to say here are the cuts that we can make.
Instead of asking key questions like what can we afford, what should be the priorities in foreign affairs, we conducted major discussions as to whether human rights abuses should be considered as being grave, severe or serious before Canada should respond with positive measures to help.
I point out that all of the above words are synonyms and have no quantitative or qualitative differences. It was like arguing whether the movie "The Omen" was frightening, scary or horrifying. We spent our time discussing words that really were in the area of academia interesting, but in the actual area of making a difference not very.
As a result while the final report was precisely worded it did not deal with some of the key things like how we are going to cut our debt, how we are going to reduce our spending and yet still try to get the job done.
As a result we did put forward a dissenting report on the foreign affairs review. Our number one issue that we talked about was fiscal responsibility. We pointed out that the report had asked for numerous spending increases and had asked for no cuts. Not one place did we suggest a cut.
Since we found this unacceptable we went ahead with our zero in three proposal and said how can we make cuts. Out of that we came up with $1.3 billion worth of cuts that we feel are essential if we are going to balance that budget.
In this proposal we looked at a number of areas. The first one was operating expenses of government. In the area of foreign affairs and CIDA we have a number of administrative costs. There have been cuts in the past.
If you talk to the bureaucrats, they will tell you that you cannot cut any further. In the tough times we are in we have to cut further. We do not have a choice. In the unreal world, in the utopia that we often hear described around this place, we would not have to make those cuts. That utopia does not exist and those cuts are necessary. We cannot go on any longer without making those cuts.
We have to cut government to government aid programs. As many members are aware, at our recent convention held here in Ottawa we passed a resolution which asked for a tough analysis of this whole area of aid. The big thing we cannot avoid is this whole aid question as being one of a slush fund for the minister or the Prime Minister whenever they travel.
I have press releases here that I got today showing again $2 million here, $80 million there. It is like a slush fund, like when we go to a cocktail party we simply hand out a cheque just to show what good guys we are. The Canadian people are not going to accept that anymore. They want NGOs to handle the aid program. They want NGOs who are responsible and who are prepared to raise equal funds on a one to one basis. They are not prepared for 100 per cent funding any longer. They are asking for transparency and an evaluation of the programs they get involved with. That would be the way the Reform Party would approach that area.
I am not saying we would cut foreign aid. I am saying we would target it. We would look at it and try to get the best bang for the buck. We cannot be all things to all people.
The third area we might look at is the whole area of international grants. We give a lot of grants and in many cases there is no accountability for those. I could go on if I had more time to talk about those. Again, the Canadian people are asking us to evaluate those international programs and to be sure that the money is being spent in the best possible way. We are cutting money to our students but we should be looking at what we are getting for some of these international grants.
As well, we have to take a look at some of the institutions we belong to. The policy of the Canadian government has been that we have to belong to everything that is international. We belong to more organizations where we do not know what they do. When the Auditor General took a look at this three years ago he could not even find out what the aims of some of these organizations we belong to are, who their boards of directors are and what they hope to accomplish.
What I am saying is that in all areas of government, it does not matter what department, we are going to have to make some cuts. There is no question about that. We must recognize that and we must expect the ministers in each of those departments to come up with those kinds of cuts. That is our goal. That is what must be our goal. It is what we in this House must all agree on.