Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the economic policy of the Liberal government which regrettably, like those before it, has failed to take the necessary steps to deal with the severity of our fiscal crisis, leaving Canada and Canadians on a track destined to bankruptcy.
While in opposition the Minister of Finance stated in his 1993 Tory budget response:
What is most astonishing about this budget is that while Canadian taxpayers seem willing to directly address the deficit, the Minister of Finance instead served them a rehash in a context as to make everyone dream.
He went on to say:
The Liberals propose to confront this challenge head on.
In his first budget the Minister of Finance joined the distinguished club of 20 years of finance ministers that failed to deliver what they promised in opposition.
The interest payment to service our national debt is now the largest single item in federal expenditures and is placing a major squeeze on the availability of funds for program spending. In 1981 each Canadian's share of direct federal and provincial debt was $4,500. Today that share per capita is over $25,000. Before a single dollar of income is redistributed, before a dime goes to social programs, before a penny is spent on any other government program, $2,200 must be paid yearly in interest for each and every person in Canada.
The sad part is that we are borrowing the money to do this, which simply adds to the overall size of our debt and our problems. The fact is that the current spending policies of the Liberal government are an immediate threat to the national well-being of all Canadians. The Liberals have admitted that by targeting the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP per year they will add close to $100 billion to the debt. How is that solving the problem?
By continuing with the philosophy of tax and spend the Liberals have changed nothing in the House but the seating plan, from this side to that side, and the faces of ministers. The cornerstones of our society like health care, education and the social safety net are in jeopardy because Canadians are forced to borrow $89 million per day or $625 million every week to finance the debt.
If the Minister of Finance truly believes this is fulfilling his promise to break the back of the deficit and attack it head on, I suggest he is incompetent. Double talk and inaction in the situation are inhuman. It is a great disservice to the country to play games with other people's money, tax money.
Our economy and incomes have consistently grown more slowly than our debt. We are now borrowing to pay the interest on our debt. This is not a sustainable situation. We are spending our children's and grandchildren's money. We are mortgaging their future at an alarming rate. I heard a baby up in the gallery this afternoon. That baby will have to repay the money that we borrow and are spending today.
Do our children have a say in how we are spending their future earnings? Does this not bother members of the Liberal government? When they go home tonight I suggest they look at their children and their grandchildren and think about what their lives will be like with carcass-like social programs. They were lost by a government that borrowed them into extinction.
The time to act is now. The government should priorize its spending. If health care is number one then it should make health care number one and stop cutting the share of annual transfers to the provinces. If the social safety net is number two then those programs should be restructured so that they are targeted at those who truly need them and not everybody and anyone.
It is all about common sense. Families have used it for years in their budgets and members of Parliament obviously used it to run their homes. Why is it that when they get to the House they forget about that? Why is it that they do not do it when they are in government and are ministers of the crown? Why do they not operate like they do at home when it comes to government moneys from taxpayers? Can they borrow money on their homes on which they have mortgages to make the interest payments? We both know the answer is no. The bank would repossess the house. Somebody is going to repossess our country and we
should do something about it before somebody takes it away from us.
Let us live within our means. If the federal government only has $126 billion in revenues, we should not be able to spend any more than that amount. What is so hard about that to understand? Why do we continue to fuel the debt by deficit spending all the time? Why do we not start on a curve where we live within our means with the money we know we can generate safely in the country from a strong economy and send the right signals and messages to investors and other countries?
Let us use Liberal ideology and take a walk into the future. Let us take a little walk through the Canada of the future under the Liberal government as though it were a house. First, the house would be mortgaged to the tune of $650 billion. This is just in a couple of years. The welcome mat would be subsidized. As we walk in, the first thing we would notice are the third rate snowboots and snowsuits hanging by the door. This is because corners had to be cut in the family budget to meet the mortgage payments and excessive taxes levied by the government.
That is okay because we notice that everyone seems happy as they huddle around the television to watch whatever magic the high salaried executives at CBC have conjured up that particular evening with our tax dollars.
Next we walk into the kitchen and notice grocery bills stuck on the refrigerator door. We are surprised at how expensive groceries are these days, but at least the Liberals kept their promise and killed the dreaded GST. Oh, wait, what is that we notice on the bill? Is it a national value added tax of 15 per cent? Disgusted, we turn around and notice a book of home remedies on the kitchen table and realize that Liberal cutbacks in health care have truly started to hit home.
At least after years of paying into the system we think to ourselves that the parents will have their RRSPs to fall back on. But, wait, the Liberals slowly eroded those programs through taxation and on capital gains too. What about the CPP? There is not enough money in the program to cover the revenue shortfalls.
With the current spending practices of the government this type of Liberal house is not that far-fetched. I do not want to live in it and that is why I am here speaking about the problems in the country and offering some solutions on how to solve them. Nothing less than a balanced budget in three to four years is acceptable. By adopting this Reform recommendation the new type of home we would find in Canada would be a big improvement over the Liberal version.
Let me review four advantages and benefits to all Canadians of a deficit elimination program. The first one is a smaller mortgage for the country of $580 billion versus $650 billion. That is significant. This means we would have affordable housing where we could start making interest and principal payments and over the term of 30 years pay off our debt. This is how we have to do it with our family homes.
Second, to balance the budget a full program of review would be required. It would allow the government to right size government operations. However it is not doing that. If it did a proper review instead of consulting special interest groups across the country, government departments would have to recommit to the good programs; decentralize some programs to eliminate duplication of services, thereby lowering costs; privatize some corporations which are better served by the private sector; and eliminate programs that on a priorized basis we either do not need or cannot afford.
This would enable us to determine what amount of money we need to raise as a federal government. Then we could lower the taxes. There would be savings under the process. That is the benefit to Canadians, the biggest benefit of all. We would be leaving money in the hands of the people who earn it and know how to spend it better than the people who come into the House and lose their brain power.
Increasing the wage earner's disposable income would kickstart the economy and would continue to fuel the current economic recovery rather than hurt it. Following the Reform recommendations would restore pride not only in ourselves but in our government.
This is at a time when politicians and governments are coming under the closest scrutiny by taxpayers, by editorialists and by people who know the problem is overspending. If the government does not get its spending under control the politicians in this room will lose the faith of the people which will slowly erode our political system.
Another advantage to following the Reform recommendations is that we have a solution for the province of Quebec. Our home includes Quebec. It includes the opportunity to get the best deal we can in Confederation without breaking the country apart, without tearing at the guts of the economy and without going into all the uncertainties that separation so-called provides in opportunities for Quebecers.
It is a very touchy subject. National unity is very important and I believe in the Reform economic program of deficit elimination. That is the difference between our proposal and the Liberals' so-called tough talk. It is all talk and no action. They are not solving the problems. They are just adding gasoline to the fire when trying to put it out. By increasing the debt they are hurting us. By increasing the debt they are increasing our problems.
We say we should get to a balanced budget within three years. There would be no more deficit annually. We would have a fixed debt or mortgage on the country. Then we could start addressing the amount of money spent, start creating a surplus and start making principal and interest payments on the home of which we are all so proud. We want everybody to continue to share the
benefits, but we cannot continue to do it with borrowed money and more borrowed money and adding to the debt.
The Liberal government should listen. We have been constructive. We have given it advice on where to cut and how to cut over a three-year period, and not in one year like it accuses us. Governments members like to play politics and we like to offer constructive solutions. It is time for the Reform type of house.