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.


Pre-Budget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I accept the hon. member's comments. I guess it comes from not being actively involved in politics to some extent, although that is not quite true. I had some involvement in my early youth here in Ottawa. However, being out in the real world trying to make a buck and having to meet payrolls, seeing both sides of our economy, people having problems as well as people being successful, gives me a good perspective on what I think we need as a nation. I will try to instil that around here if I can.

Pre-Budget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to congratulate the hon. member for Durham for injecting a very fresh idea into this debate. He and I share something in common in that the agricultural parts of our ridings are farms that are agriculturally valued very differently than farms in other parts of the country.

When a farm is passed on and when there is succession right now, the paper value of the farm far exceeds its value as a working farm. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that the $500,000 exemption continue.

I am just old enough to remember when death duties existed in Ontario and I saw farms being lost to government, farms that had been in families for generations.

The member talks about cancelling the $100,000 capital gains exemption. Does he simply feel that it is too small? Is that his reason for wanting to cancel it and dwell on the $500,000 exemption?

Pre-Budget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is unusually small. Indeed the finance department's estimates are that this is a $650 million loss of revenue had those exemptions not been available in the last taxation year 1991, I believe.

It is significant, but what we need to do, getting back to the government's agenda, is to re-focus on where we want those exemptions to exist. Currently I suspect the lion's share of those exemptions are in stock trading and investment real estate transactions.

Basically, our problem today is clearly that the small business sector is under siege and one of its biggest problems is capital. I would not say the banks of this country are failing the small business sector, but their debt type of financing is not what the small business sector is looking for. It is looking for equity and equity participation and we must spend a considerable amount of time to formulate these markets.

What I am suggesting is that we have a significant shift in our taxation system which recognizes that we need to have the underpinnings of the small business investment there and that

we expend one. However, as the Minister of Finance has mentioned, if we are going to do one thing we have to pay for it and the way we are going to pay for it is to reduce the $100,000 exemption on other forms of investment.

Pre-Budget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Broadview—Greenwood Ontario


Dennis Mills LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the remarks of my colleague today.

There was one part of the member's speech on which I would like a short clarification. He mentioned that he did not support young people between the ages of 17 and 21, I believe it was, getting social assistance. Was the hon. member suggesting that he did not want people who are abusing the system to get that kind of support? Was he suggesting maybe that those who were in genuine need should continue to get that support?

Pre-Budget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, basically what I was trying to say by the whole tenor of my speech was that we have to get back to focusing away from pure subsidization of consumption.

What I am proposing is that we need some other kinds of incentives to our young people rather than just being in receipt of consumption income. We should have to earn it somehow. Basically one earns that by being engaged in education or by pursuing a better career, which are useful aspects to one's society, or by being involved in the labour market.

In my campaign during the last election I ran into many young people who are abusing the system. It is not acceptable. We talk about our commitment to youth. We are sending some terrible signals to our young people. We are telling them it is acceptable to do this. What we have to do is give them encouragement to get back into the job market and to give them their dignity and self-respect back.

Pre-Budget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Judy Bethel Liberal Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, today is special for me. It is my first opportunity to address Canada's 35th Parliament.

A good start would be to congratulate you and all members of Parliament on their election to the House. I look forward to working with everyone and for my constituents. I commit to you, Mr. Speaker, that I will do everything I can to make this Parliament the most positive and productive one ever.

I am proud to represent the riding of Edmonton East. Edmonton East is the heart of our city. It includes Edmonton's business district and its government centres, the Alberta legislature, Edmonton city hall and Canada Place.

The Avenue of Nations and the Old Fort Road business and revitalization zones are lined with strong and vibrant enterprises. Edmonton East includes families living in beautiful river valley communities and families struggling to survive on little or no wages in inner city communities.

Edmonton East is truly a reflection of Canada. People from all over this world have come to find a better life for themselves and their children. They are willing to work hard and to consider new and innovative solutions to the challenges of unemployment, the changing economy and our growing social needs.

They understand that this budget will have a profound impact on them because of the magnitude of changes needed to get our financial house in order. They want to be involved. They want to be informed. More important, they want to be part of the solution.

Last Saturday I was an observer, a very active listener at the pre-budget conference in Calgary. I heard clearly what western Canadians had to say to our Minister of Finance. Their advice was sincere, profound, diverse and far reaching. I must say the essence of that advice cannot be wrapped up in the simplistic headlines of yesterday's newspapers.

There was consensus. The deficit must be reduced. There was an understanding that the reductions could come from economic growth, a more equitable tax base, increased tax rates and reduced program expenditures. Participants at the workshops had some great advice for the minister to consider in developing his budget.

I would like to share these suggestions with the House. John Howard, Vice President of MacMillan-Bloedel, says to increase the clawbacks from high income earners and focus attention on where the money goes. Do not base privatization on ideology. It needs to be cost effective, fair in process and fair in result. He says deregulate. There are too many governments and too many interventions especially in environmental matters.

Ardyth Cooper from B.C. believes that cuts across the board favour the status quo. She says we need instead to restructure our programs from the ground up and with vision.

Doris Ronnenburg from Alberta expressed concerns about Pathways, the much needed aboriginal training programs and their effectiveness.

Hugh Wagner from Saskatchewan suggested government should support small business through equity investment in venture capital companies rather than regional development departments.

Vicki Dutton from Alberta wants to see an end to all government subsidies to business.

Roberta Ellis-Grunfeld's group encourages us to keep listening and to invest in human capital. A sense of strategic direction is needed and we are to keep in mind that equal is not always equitable.

Diane Hunter's group believes that programs should be measurable, have clear objectives and be cost efficient. Each should be co-ordinated and harmonized with other levels of government.

Jim Gray's group said that there needed to be increased confidence and trust in government and more consultation with the people.

The Auditor General's report should be part of the budget process and be dealt with by a parliamentary committee to ensure follow up.

These are the voices of Alberta and western Canada and they do not all sing from the same song sheet.

There are some who represent Alberta as cold, hard and uncaring. There are some who believe those in need are at fault, that they have done something to deserve pain. There are those who believe that charity begins at home and stays there. There are those who believe that Alberta is full of rednecks, cloned to act the same, think the same and be the same. That is the other Alberta. That is not my Alberta.

My Alberta would balance eliminating the deficit and reducing the debt with feeding hungry children and providing deserving men and women with real jobs which allow them to support their families with pride and with dignity.

During the election campaign my office was located deep in the inner city on what is less than affectionately known as the strip. My campaign team and I saw a way of life that I will never forget and which I will represent until my public life ends.

I will never lose sight of Virgil. He is an aboriginal child who was a great help to our campaign. Late last October he showed up wearing ten T-shirts because he had no jacket. I will never lose sight of the young men and women who were forced by a cycle of abuse and addiction into the degrading life of prostitution.

I will always represent the steady stream of capable, qualified and willing Albertans who cannot find work. These are the people who were not at Calgary last weekend. These are the people who need to be part of our budget deliberations. I urge the members opposite and all members of this House to listen to all the voices of Alberta.

I am convinced that we can reduce both the fiscal deficit and the human deficit.

Pre-Budget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, while listening this morning to the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe, who described the current financial situation of the Canadian government, noting how alarming is the national deficit's growth and how high is our foreign debt, I came to the conclusion that the future of the next generation of Quebecers and Canadians was not very promising and that we are going to leave a very poor legacy to our children, in fact the worst ever.

The situation is extremely serious and must be corrected. Moreover, in those days of anemic economic recovery, taxpayers are under the impression that the federal government does not do its share to improve management methods and eliminate waste. The Auditor General insists on that aspect in his recent report, when he states that, today more than ever, it is clear to civil servants and parliamentarians that Canadians expect them to manage firmly and cautiously rather than find new ways of spending borrowed money.

As the Bloc Quebecois said during the election campaign, we want a reduction of $10 billion in government spending, including tax expenditures, of which $3 billion would come from a 25 per cent cut in the Department of National Defence's expenditures. Recent information suggests that the Liberals are considering reducing government spending by only $2 billion, excluding the non-recurrent expenditures incurred last year, which amounted to $4 billion. This objective is so low and unambitious that the Globe and Mail had this to say in a editorial published last January 18:

The Liberals are just as complacent about the debt as ever. Either that or they sincerely believe that the federal government is 99 per cent fat free.

The Bloc Quebecois and the Official Opposition are of the opinion that there is some fat within the federal government. One only has to read the newspapers to see that indeed some cuts can be made. Just take for example the controversy surrounding the new Canadian embassy in China, or the travelling expenses of new Liberal ministers.

To eliminate waste, unnecessary spending and mismanagement in the government administration, I reiterate the request made by the Bloc Quebecois for the creation of a parliamentary committee which would examine and review budgetary expenditures item by item. It would be appropriate to set up such a committee. The most recent Auditor General's report clearly demonstrates that Quebecers and Canadians are right to think that the government is wasting some public funds. To illustrate that point, I will use the most shocking examples of waste, unnecessary spending and mismanagement of public money mentioned by the Auditor General.

Let us begin with National Revenue. Because of a flaw in the deduction applying to resources, the government lost $1.2 billion in revenue. If it had, as recommended by the Public

Accounts Committee, a system allowing for quick amendments to a flawed tax expenditure program, the government would have saved a good chunk of that money.

Let us now look at Investment Canada, which spent $132,000 to set up a new office, with kitchen and bathroom for its new chairperson, when in fact the previous incumbent's office in the same building already had all these facilities.

Let me give you another example. Let us take a look at travelling expenses. Travelling expenses linked to the use of the government's Challenger aircraft have reached $54 million, more than half of which is for trips made by ministers. According to the Auditor General, this total amounts to an equivalent of $19,650 per hour.

Is this the best way to pay for our ministers' and other officials' travels? Some say that government airplanes have to be used for security purposes. It may be so, but would the price of a commercial flight providing special security measures for our ministers be over $20,000 an hour? I doubt it very much.

Now, let us turn to Fisheries and Oceans. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans spent $587 million on the Northern Cod Adjustment and Recovery Program. Out of this amount, almost $15 million was wasted because of mismanagement, according to the auditor general.

The department gave compensation to people who were not fishing northern cod, but other species not affected by the moratorium. Also, payments were made to fishermen who were illegally fishing cod. If I can get 20 more seconds, Mr. Speaker, it would be easier for me to resume the debate later today.

In the meantime, 5,300 people have yet to receive benefits they are entitled to, because the department has some reservations about their eligibility. These stalling tactics used by Fisheries and Oceans Canada are illegal, and we know that all of the coastal communities urgently need that money.

Pre-Budget ConsultationsGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being two o'clock, pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to statements by members, pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Peterborough Family YStatements By Members

February 1st, 1994 / 1:55 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Peterborough Family Y has just celebrated its 125th anniversary. It operates in the oldest continuously used Y building in Canada. This gives members a strong kinship with the founders of 1868.

The YMCA is an example to all Canadians of how to adapt without trading in principles and philosophy. One hundred and twenty-five years ago you had to be young, male and Christian to belong to the Y; today you have to be none of these things. Today more than 20 per cent of the memberships in our Y are subsidized.

If a founder of the Y came back he would be surprised at the changes, but he would soon realize that the basic principles of self-help, community service and tolerance are stronger than ever.

Congratulations to Kathleen Bain, Doug Walker and Bob Gallagher for Canada 125 medals in recognition of their work for the Peterborough Family Y.

Like the Peterborough Y, Canada should not be afraid of change. Let us face the future willing to adapt and confident in our foundations and principles.

DamsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, we learned recently that several property owners along Témiscamingue Lake were allowed to bring the first collective action against the federal government for damages caused by a dam which was built in 1908. Because of that dam and the high water levels, these lakeside residents have been facing numerous problems such as landslides, inaccessible beaches, tree uprooting and land erosion.

Besides asking for financial compensation, lakeside residents want the Minister of Public Works to ask for a reduction of about half a meter in the water levels of Témiscamingue Lake. According to a recent report from the firm AGEOS Science, and contrary to what other studies say, that half-a-meter reduction would not lead to floods in the Montreal area.

As the member for the Témiscamingue riding, I am very familiar with the problems of the lakeside residents of Témiscamingue Lake and I want to give all my support to the complainants in their action against the federal government on this issue.

House Of CommonsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to alert members of Parliament and all Canadians to an incredible annual occurrence.

According to the 1993-94 estimates expenditure plan for this House, this place has approximately 130 million pages printed annually. The total cost to Canadian taxpayers for printing services is in excess of $4 million per year and the costs are rising.

There are alternatives. We can no longer depend on antiquated methods when we are surrounded by technology that will reduce costs.

I urge the government to utilize an information highway to eliminate the printing costs associated with Hansard and other government documents, and also to ensure the efficient and timely transmission of information electronically within the House and to all Canadians.

Rural Post OfficesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak on a matter of importance to the constituents of Huron-Bruce and to all rural Canadians. That is the future of rural post offices.

I am very pleased that the government has acted quickly after the election and initiated a 30-day moratorium and subsequent extension on post office closures, along with a review of Canada Post operations. This action has given rural Canadians a great deal of hope that the disastrous actions of the past government will not continue.

Since 1986 almost 1,000 rural community post offices have been closed or converted to retail outlets, 16 of which have occurred in my constituency. In small towns across Canada post offices lie empty, a constant reminder of job loss and abandonment. In many cases the post office was the only federal presence towns had.

I urge the government to restore federal postal service back to the affected communities and to take action to enhance service and ensure that future closures do not occur.

Port Of HalifaxStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ron MacDonald Liberal Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on an issue of utmost importance not only to my own constituents but to all Atlantic Canadians.

The port of Halifax is the economic hub of the region injecting over $400 million per year into the local and regional economy. This is a great deal of activity, yet traffic at the port is more than 30 per cent lower than what it was in 1990.

It has been argued that a rethinking of some federal policies, specifically rail fuel taxation and capital asset depreciation, would greatly enhance the competitiveness of the port, increasing traffic and also creating badly needed jobs in the region.

I know the new finance minister will not ignore Atlantic Canadians like his Tory predecessors and I urge him to seriously consider these policies in his budget deliberations.

We in the Atlantic are confident in our ability to compete and prosper, if only we are given the tools and the footing to do so equally with our competitors.

Home Buyers PlanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a long-time member of the Toronto Real Estate Board I hope the government will extend the RRSP home buyers plan. Scheduled to expire on February 28, the plan links ownership with retirement planning.

The home buyers plan eliminates the question of whether to save for a down payment or retirement. It also recognizes the key role housing plays in economic growth. The program costs the taxpayer nothing to operate.

I believe an extension would show government support for the real estate industry. It would also help first-time buyers establish the dream of home ownership. Let us keep that ball rolling.

Social HousingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the unilateral cuts made by the Conservative government in the area of social and co-operative housing in their last two budgets have had very serious consequences. In Quebec City, and especially in the downtown area, the need for social housing is enormous. At the present time, more than 1,200 families are on waiting lists for an apartment in a low-cost building, and more than 600 other families have applied for co-operative housing.

Concerned by the urgency of the situation, the city council passed a resolution on January 10, 1994, asking the federal government to review the budget of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The city is requesting enough money for social housing, and it would like to see the Co-operative Housing Program reinstated and the establishment of a program of rental housing renewal which would limit the contribution of the renter to 25 per cent of his or her income.

This cop out by the federal government is a good example-

Social HousingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry, the time allowed the hon. member has now expired.

Auditor General's ReportStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is widespread agreement in Canada and in this caucus that the primary way in which governments can reduce their deficits is through reducing expenditures.

To this end there is one potent tool that I do not think the government is using wisely and that is the Auditor General's report. This report outlines numerous areas where the government can spend public money more wisely and in fact points out areas of gross fiscal mismanagement.

Therefore I suggest that instead of allowing the Auditor General to report only once a year, let us allow these reports to come out several times a year in a timely fashion, so that remedial efforts can be put into effect as soon as possible to correct the problem. This would significantly help getting our fiscal house in order. The facts are there. Let us use them.

FerriesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine Québec


Patrick Gagnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General

Mr. Speaker, the replacement of the Lucy Maud Montgomery ferry serving the Magdalen Islands is the source of great concerns these days. During the election campaign, I promised to consult the population of the Islands before any decision was made on that issue.

We must admit it is the Islanders who will have to live with the new ferry. Therefore, I think their preferences and needs should come first. But everyone agrees a new ferry must be built. However, the Islanders have some legitimate requirements; they want a bigger and stronger ferry able to cope with the ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

We will soon find a way to replace the present ferry. I would only like to remind the opposition and the government that the interests of the Magdalen Islanders should come first and not those of anyone else outside my riding of Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I received several calls regarding statements made by the Minister of Finance following last week's pre-budget consultations in Toronto that Canadians would be willing to pay more in taxes.

Many of my constituents, including Arnold Carbiton, Norman Grass, Martin Hawthorne and Peter Krotkey are curious as to which groups suggested to the minister that Canadians would be willing to pay higher taxes. These constituents would like the minister to know that they cannot afford to pay higher taxes, nor do they want to pay more taxes.

My constituents would like the minister to assure them that his February budget will not contain any tax increases which could affect average Canadians.

Canadian Olympic Hockey TeamStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


John Nunziata Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, our Canadian Olympic hockey team leaves for Europe today without Toronto Maple Leaf star Glenn Anderson.

Mr. Anderson has had a lifelong dream to win Olympic Gold for Canada and is anxious to play. Cliff Fletcher and the Toronto Maple Leaf organization are anxious to have him play. The Olympic team is desperate to have him play, but the NHL board of governors, the majority of whom are American, refuse to let him play.

On Thursday I will be meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. I will be accompanied by 11-year old Tiffany Williams, a die-hard Anderson fan from Belleville. Tiffany will present Mr. Bettman with a petition with over 5,000 names urging the NHL to reconsider its decision.

Tiffany and millions of Canadian hockey fans want to see our team win gold in Lillehammer. Glenn Anderson could help us win that gold medal, our first in over 40 years.

I urge other MPs to join me in my meeting with Mr. Bettman.

Regional DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

The Quebec government has recognized that advisory regional development councils must play a decisive role, giving Quebec regions control over decisions which determine the development of their area.

The federal government should pledge to respect the priorities set up, through strategic planning, by each regional municipality in the ridings and regions of Quebec, so as to maximize the impact of measures taken by Quebec regional leaders. The economic revival of Quebec is at stake.

Cigarette PricesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, over the past two weeks we have heard a lot in this House about lowering the price of cigarettes to discourage smuggling.

We have not heard one word on behalf of the millions of Canadians who believe that lowering the price of cigarettes is merely caving in to lawbreakers, criminals and the tobacco industry.

May I suggest that we reinstate the export tax on cigarettes thereby taking the profit out of cigarette smuggling, that we come down hard on smugglers and continue to discourage smoking by any means possible.

Has the government considered the negative impact on our nation's health that will result from lower cigarette prices and the increased consumption that will result from lower prices.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, the first day of February, marks the beginning of Black History Month. This month highlights and acknowledges black Canadians and African Canadians who have struggled to advance the causes of their people. Black Canadians have been part of Canada's history since 1603.

There will be many activities taking place throughout Canada to celebrate Black History Month. These activities will show the colourful and rich heritage of black people.

I invite hon. members to join with me not only to recognize Black History Month, but to have an understanding of the trials and jubilations that our people have experienced.

Not only is this month a recognition of the contributions of black Canadians but it is also for all Canadians to understand different heritages which will foster a better relationship within this wonderful diverse culture of Canada.

Grain IndustryStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have shown that Canadians can compete successfully providing that our goods and services are of the same or better quality than that of our competitors. Highly trained and competent employees are key to quality output and success in the global marketplace. Inadequate quality control can lead to the loss of markets and unemployment.

A case in point is unravelling in the grain industry of Thunder Bay where a staff of 70 grain inspectors that protect the farmer as well as the customer faces the possibility of losing 25 of its members within a few days.

This is implementation of policy by the former government which claimed that $4.7 million would be saved which amounts to 1 cent per tonne approximately of the grain process. The former government's projections and policies are wrong. Those directly concerned want this government to reject those policies in order to maintain essential jobs and quality control within the grain industry.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec


Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister. Yesterday, when he spoke to students at a high school in Toronto, the Prime Minister, echoing his Minister of Finance, indicated that his government's first budget would contain no major spending cuts to bring down the deficit. On the weekend in Calgary, the Minister of Finance made it clear that it would be at least a year before we would see any major spending cuts.

My question is this: Considering what was said yesterday in Toronto by the Prime Minister, are we to conclude that the government has reversed its policy by postponing real spending cuts and that, underestimating the gravity of the structural causes of the deficit, it has decided to rely on the hypothetical boost afforded by an otherwise lacklustre economic recovery?