Mr. Speaker, as a new member of Parliament it has been very interesting to uncover many of the ideas and directions that seem to permeate politically correct thinking on Parliament Hill and within the news media. Yesterday was a classic example when the minister of immigration stood in the House and told Canadians we were going to be receiving an additional quarter million immigrants in the next 12 months.
I suggest the expressions of concern around coffee tables or living rooms last evening in the homes of many Canadians were not reflected in the minister's quota. It was particularly instructive yesterday when the immigration critic for the Reform Party stood in the House. There were expressions of humour and derision from some of the Liberal Party members when he made the statement that the Reform Party was not opposed to immigration.
We stand for a balanced approach to immigration based on economic need and benefits to Canada. Clearly some of the Liberal members have prejudged that the Reform Party is anti-immigration and therefore found his statement humourous. Of course the concept of prejudging is the root of the word prejudice.
We all judge statements and actions by other individuals in the light of our own experience or sometimes unfounded assumptions. Perhaps an old line party like the Liberals should take instruction from the fate of the other old line party which was decimated in the most recent election.
I make these statements as a preamble to suggest that the old, tired, worn out concepts which have led to a crisis in many Canadian families relating to child care clearly have not been successful. Perhaps government members would be well advised to assume Reform Party MPs and the ordinary Canadians who they represent share the same concerns that they do.
We want what is in the best interest of Canada, for Canadians and especially our nation's children. Do not prejudge our ideas that may be interpreted in so-called code words, because I choose to speak in clear, concise, simple English. There is no other meaning that is contained in these clear, concise words.
The Reform Party supports child care programs that subsidize financial need, not the method of child care chosen and that subsidize children and parents, not institutions and professionals. The Reform Party supports government regulation of day care standards. The Reform Party opposes state run day care.
Reform Party policy is generated through a bottom up, grassroots approach where hundreds of thousands plus of our members have an opportunity, indeed a responsibility, to give direction to their representatives in the House.
There are many Canadians who feel any government subsidies or expenditures by government in support of child care must be balanced and do away with a system that is complex, inequitable and inadequate.
The Prime Minister in a year end interview with Maclean's magazine stated:
Day care is an economic program as much as a social program, because if you have a good system of day care you create more jobs. The people who want to work will be able to do so and the people who take care of the children will have new jobs.
The Prime Minister acknowledges the element of social engineering that drives the economic considerations.
What about those parents who choose to stay home and excel in the job of homemaker? Should we have a taxation and benefit system in Canada that fundamentally forces parents out of their homes? We support parents and those responsible for bringing up children who choose to work outside the home. However I submit we are the only party that equally supports parents who choose the worthy vocation of working within the home as the homemaker.
Following a thorough study I would visualize the Reform Party supporting an increase in the per child personal tax exemption and amending tax rates so that a single income family earning $60,000 annually pays no more tax than a two income family where each parent earns $30,000. This would work to use the tax code to be fair to families that choose to have one income earner rather than two.
Let me express some of the concerns to the House that some Canadians have with respect to institutionalized child care. They cite studies that show children put into day care at an early age having difficulty forming affectionate and trusting relationships later on. I am not stating that there is any conclusive evidence of this, but I am stating it is a concern for many Canadians. My own personal sentiment is that in the vast majority of cases day care is, after all, a poor substitute for a child's own mother or father.
To subsidize state run day care and not give equal subsidy to families that choose alternatives is prejudicial and has the potential of forcing children into a situation that many parents in Canada reject.
We want to promote policies in which single parents who are either forced to work or choose to work outside the home have the option of entrusting the well-being of their children to other family members or close friends. Should their situation not
receive equal subsidy? With government subsidy of only state run day care Canada closes the option of parents exercising their responsibility to choose what they judge best for themselves and for their family.
We are very conscious of the tragic situations such as the situation which has led to the Martensville trial in Saskatchewan. We are aware that there are many other circumstances wherein children are not being properly cared for in unlicensed day care facilities. This is why I restate that the Reform Party supports government regulation of day care standards.
We are also concerned with the impact that unlicensed day care has on the so-called underground economy where there is a reward for not declaring income derived from what is essentially an in-home business. We view with concern the changes that the Conservative government brought to child benefits and other social programs through what has been described as a skilful exercise in the politics of stealth.
Without an informed and open public debate Canadian social policy especially in the area of child care is wandering aimlessly without thorough discussion, study or input from concerned Canadians. It is important that members of the House go out of their way to inform their constituents of details and background on this and many other issues so that concerned Canadians will be empowered to give meaningful input to the political process and indeed to the direction of the government with respect to family issues.
We must listen to our constituents because I believe that the answers to these problems lie outside this Chamber and reside in the homes of our citizens. Discussions in restaurants, coffee shops, living rooms and around kitchen tables should be the source of intelligent direction for this House.
In the government's order for today's debate it requested broad consultation to analyse and make recommendations regarding the modernization and structuring of Canada's social security system with particular reference to the needs of families with children.
As a Reform Party member I am speaking for the ordinary Canadian whose voice is not normally heard in this Chamber or indeed in front of standing committees. I believe there are countless millions of Canadians who are not represented by the vocal special interest groups. They reject the vision of child care that includes state intrusion into the family. Social responsibility, yes; social engineering, no.
Those voices are calling for a balanced system of taxation, regulation and direction from the government which will treat all Canadians, all families, all parents equally. They want social engineering by the government terminated. It has been said, and I agree, that a nation is no stronger than its most basic unit: the family.