Mr. Speaker, I advise the House that I am splitting the time with my colleague. I will take 10 minutes.
I am pleased to rise today to take part in this important debate on budgetary policy. I think it was Will Rogers in talking about the weather many years ago who said: "Everyone talks about it but nobody does anything about it".
We are doing a lot of talking about it today. I heard some very sensible things being said in the House and some not so sensible. I wonder what the fallout from all that will be. Will someone actually do something about it? Is the Minister of Finance listening to the words being said in the House, or does he have some staff available to sift through it all and separate the wheat from the chaff? I hope something is being done because some words of value are being spoken here today.
Government policy in this whole area, as restated last Thursday in the House by the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions, is to bring the deficit down to 3 per cent of the GDP. This is not an acceptable policy. Many financial experts have stated it. The C. D. Howe Institute is urging the government to move faster in the area of deficit reduction. There are some signs the Minister of Finance is getting the message, but I do not know if he has it all yet.
The policy of simply taking 3 per cent of the GDP as the target is unacceptable. It would leave us with an $25 billion deficit annually in a couple of years. It is unacceptable for another reason. In response to a question from one of my colleagues on Thursday, the same secretary of state stated that while their fiscal policy was to reduce the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP it was only an interim target. That can be good news and bad news. What will the final target be?
How does the government expect to inspire economic confidence when its fiscal policy is geared only toward an interim target? This is not acceptable to the financial markets. This is not acceptable to Canadian taxpayers. Both expect more from the government than a vague financial policy based solely on an interim target.
I am beginning to think that not only is it an interim target; it is a moving target. The statement of the Reform Party on targets indicates that we have to target our spending. I heard statements in the House today that social spending should be preserved for those in need. I totally agree. We should target our spending to those who need it, not those who do not need it.
Last week Reform finance critics released a paper detailing about $10 billion worth of cuts. It was quite a worthwhile paper. I will not go over it all but I remind the House that last week the Reform proposed that people at the top of government must be the first to make visible and significant sacrifices such as reforming the pension plan of MPs.
Last week in the House a private member's bill was proposed to reform the plan and the government and other members voted against it. They did not want reform if it was going to cost them money.