Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has mentioned several points and I will try to deal with them all.
First, I did mention the middle class. I said not to cut the deficit on the backs of the middle class and the poor. That is what would be done if we seriously cut social programs.
Second, I did not say that the deficit was not a problem. It is a problem but deficits can be attacked in two ways. You can attack deficits by increasing revenue, by strengthening your economy and by putting people to work, or by cutting out programs.
A family that has debt problems can take their kids out of school, can sell the family car, their house and tools. They can probably reduce their debt that way, or they can go out and work harder and increase their revenue. By doing it the first way, they might end up getting rid of their debt but they would be in a serious situation of poverty.
I am suggesting that the second way be used. That is the way we said we would do it in the red book. We would do it by putting the emphasis on economic growth and jobs, by putting people back to work so that instead of collecting money from the government on unemployment insurance and welfare they are paying taxes. Yes, the deficit is a problem, but we do not attack it especially by cutting social programs.
The member referred to countries like Sweden. Since when is the cause of the recession in Sweden due to social programs? There have been social programs for a long time in Sweden, Germany and many other countries as we have had in Canada and they did not have the unemployment problems they have today. The unemployment problem they have today is due to many of the same things that I said were problems in Canada: increased interest rates, globalization, unplanned structural change, a lot of things like that, but not the social programs.
That is where Reform Party members make a serious mistake. They blame everything on the social programs. We had good social programs in Canada throughout the 1950s and 1960s and we did not have the problem we have today. The cause of the
problem we have today is not the social programs, it is other things.
The final point he raised is an important one. He says that I am criticizing the poor consumer because the consumer might want to buy consumer goods instead of spending money on things like health care and education.
There are certain things that are important for nations which nations can only provide for together as a people through their governments. The people decide together that they want to do that. A long time ago we decided to have free public education in Canada up to grade 12. I do not know, maybe the Reform Party would like to reject that and go back to private education.
There are certain things such as hospitalization, medicare, social welfare programs, public education, environmental programs, public highways and the justice system that can only be done by the public sector. If we ignore the public sector and simply put too much money into the private sector we have private sector spending but the country falls apart because we do not have the social capital and infrastructure needed to compete with Europe, Japan and countries in other parts of the world.