House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government's policy is well known. We said that cuts were needed but that budget cuts alone were not the answer, that we would also have to rely on economic growth.

After winding up his consultations in the House of Commons this afternoon, the Minister of Finance will prepare his budget, and we are looking forward to hearing the budget speech before the end of this month. For the time being, this is all speculation. I simply said that cuts would prevent us from achieving all our objectives, because we must ensure that jobs are created in Canada, otherwise the problem will just get worse.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there is a major difference between speculation and the conclusions drawn from public announcements by the Prime Minister and his Minister of Finance.

Does this mean that instead of spending cuts, the government's new strategy will now consist in increasing government revenues by broadening the tax base, in other words, by a very substantial increase in the tax burden for many Canadians? Does the government realize that in so doing it will compromise economic recovery by reducing the purchasing power of consumers?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, with everything that has been said so far, the Minister of Finance has consulted broadly in Canada. Today for the first time ever there is a debate in the House where members have been invited to make suggestions to the Minister of Finance. Then he will write his budget in the next three weeks. Now we have to wait. The time of speculation is over. It is a time of action. I know the Minister of Finance will prepare a very good budget.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know why the Prime Minister has decided against a general review of all government spending and more specifically of the government's operating expenditures and the fat in the federal machine and why he is now so reluctant to make cuts where there is money to be saved, in other words, by cutting government waste and costly and useless duplication by various levels of government?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have taken action in a number of areas as part of the ongoing debate on duplication. I discussed the matter with the premiers in December, and work is being done at this time at both levels of government. As for the budget, the Leader of the Opposition will soon realize that this government is not afraid to act responsibly.

Montreal EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister. Yesterday, he announced that the days when the federal government neglected Toronto were over. Does the Prime Minister remember that a little further to the east, there is a city that has just received the dubious honour of being named the poverty capital of Canada? Does he recall the position of his Minister of Finance who proposed the striking of a special Cabinet committee to oversee Montreal's economic recovery?

Can the Prime Minister give some assurances to the disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Montreal and unveil today the strategy he intends to put forward to spur Montreal's recovery?

Montreal EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, last summer the city of Toronto only had one minister in cabinet. It now has a much better representation with very good ministers. I can say the same about Montreal.

The City of Montreal is very well represented in Cabinet by senior ministers. I think that the residents of Montreal know that their interests are very well represented in government by the ministers of finance, foreign affairs and heritage, as well as by the member for Mount Royal who is a secretary of State and assists us in Cabinet. Therefore, Canada's two major cities are very well represented and that is what I said in Toronto.

Montreal EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has stated that the City of Montreal is well represented in Cabinet, I would like to ask him if he is prepared to announce today that he is setting up the special Cabinet committee to oversee Montreal's economic recovery, an initiative which he promised during the election campaign and which is contained in the red book, a promise that the voters heard him make many times during the election campaign. Is he prepared to make this announcement, Mr. Speaker?

Montreal EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Quebec has six representatives in Cabinet and four of them come from Montreal. I think we already have our committee.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance, in keeping with the pre-consultation with members of the House on the budget.

The Prime Minister has been quoted in the past as saying there will be no new taxes. Is it therefore the position of the government in principle that any new revenues must come from increasing current taxes and reducing tax exemptions but not from implementing new taxes?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, the position taken by the Prime Minister and myself has been very clear. We feel it is necessary to build greater equity into the tax system. It is only as a result of greater equity that Canadians will be prepared to support the system and the very difficult choices we have in front of us.

I would like to go on, and I would like to do so in answer to the member's first question, to give him an opportunity perhaps in his second or third question to respond. In the debate this morning the member referred to the fact that those who would seek a tax revolt would find an ally, in fact a command post, in his office and in the Reform Party.

I simply would like to say that this is an historic day for the country. It is the first time we have ever had a pre-budget debate. The member opposite was elected to represent his constituents in the House where the great debates ought to take place. It is here that the differences of opinion in the country ought to be set out. It is here that Canadians look for leadership. I am sure the member was misquoted or did not mean it. I would like to give him an opportunity to stand to clarify his remarks, that he did not mean any tax revolt in the House.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to respond to questions when the government puts them to us. I gather that is procedurally acceptable to you.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

It could be that in the course of a question period we would end up with just questions on both sides. I am hoping there will be some questions and some answers, but I will leave that up to the hon. member.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Just briefly in response to the hon. member, everything I said this morning reflects very accurately the views that were expressed to me by my constituents during the last election and by many other Canadians across the country.

I also should clarify that when I talk about a tax revolt I am talking about what other Canadians are going to do. I made very clear that what I mean is something that is perfectly within the law and by legal means.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sure that in this response there is going to be a question. I would hope that it would be forthcoming.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

I have a supplementary question for the Minister of Finance. We are asking serious questions. If the minister would give us a straight answer we would like to hear it.

Along the same lines as my previous question, the government's speech from the throne promised the goods and services tax would be replaced. Is it the government's position that any replacement of the GST, while it may be fairer and more efficient, will not impose any additional tax burden on Canadians? In other words, is its proposal for the replacement of the GST revenue neutral?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, one would certainly hope so.

What we have said, and we made it very clear, was that we are not going to foreclose the options the parliamentary committee was going to discuss. It will be discussing this with the provinces and there will be negotiation with the provinces.

Obviously the wish as expressed by the leader of the Reform Party is one that we share. We do not want to increase the tax burden on Canadians as a result of this goods and services tax which has caused so much damage to the country.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Martin Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I consistently miss the applause line.

The answer to the leader of the Reform Party is that we would hope so, but we do not want to foreclose the negotiations with the provinces and indeed the wishes of Canadians as they will be expressed to the parliamentary committee on which his party will be represented.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a further supplementary question for the Minister of Finance. I think this will be helpful to all members on both sides of the House.

It is difficult for members of the House and for the public to participate in productive pre-budget consultations on the budget without seeking pertinent information on the budget itself. This will be helpful to members opposite as well.

Could the minister clarify for the House what subject matters and lines of questioning he considers appropriate for a pre-budget consultation and what subject matters and lines of questioning he considers inappropriate and off limits?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The question is very far reaching. I know the hon. member would not want a list of all the questions. I am sure there would be a very succinct answer coming from our Minister of Finance.

The BudgetOral Question Period

February 1st, 1994 / 2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that we have now had four very public consultative conferences at which Canadians did not have to stand to ask the Minister of Finance what he wanted them to talk about and at which Canadians set out very clearly the issues as they saw them.

I would simply therefore suggest to the hon. member that if he is indeed looking for direction he might well look to the lines of discussion that took place by Canadians in our conferences.

I would say that I am a little taken aback by the question of the leader of the Reform Party, that he would like me to stand and give rigid direction. Perhaps that is because it applies in his party. In our party we are democratic.

Montreal EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

When he was a member of the Official Opposition responsible for issues relating to the economic development of Montreal, the Minister of Finance put forward a three-point plan to spur the Montreal economy. This plan called for, first of all, implementing a manufacturing industry renewal policy; second, creating a giant business incubator and third, increasing investments in research and development.

My question is for the Minister of Finance, formerly responsible for the development of Montreal. Does he intend to implement his own recommendations soon and to act before the Montreal economy crumbles completely?

Montreal EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

I think it was made very clear in the throne speech that our goals and plan of action with regard to the economy in general, and that of Montreal in particular, have been well thought-out, and we intend to keep our word.

Montreal EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a suplementary question, I would ask the Minister of Finance whether he can give this House the assurance that he will put as much enthusiasm, conviction and determination into the economic recovery of Montreal as the Prime Minister displayed yesterday toward Toronto?