House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


The BudgetGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Sergio Marchi Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member points out one particular mayor in one particular municipality. He should know that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities was a big supporter and initiator of this program. In fact some of them have suggested that we should have gone even further.

I do not hear too many municipalities disputing this program. We do not hear too many provincial governments disputing this program. I think the member puts a very negative spin on what can come out of an infrastructure program.

Yes, there are jobs and that is important. I tried to allude to the fact that this is but one program. We are not suggesting that the economic recovery of Canada is simply and solely on the back of this infrastructure program. We are saying that it is a very important cog in the economic wheel.

Second, it will upgrade our infrastructures. Whether the member likes it or not those infrastructures must be upgraded in order for our cities and towns to be competitive.

Third, there are going to be infrastructures that are also going to attract further business and further investment. There are proposals being submitted to the city of Toronto that if in fact realized will attract additional tourism, additional dollars in the marketplace. It is not only a question of simply upgrading sidewalks or bridges. Those are also important. We are also trying to realize innovative and creative structures that are needed and are going unaddressed in terms of trying to capture a greater market share of that tourist dollar or of those convention goers or of trying to provide some additional lifeline into some of those municipalities.

I do not think we should be inhibited by the lack of creativity that the member brings to the infrastructure program. It is an important sector of our economy. I think if we get that sector going, together with the automotive sector and the other sectors of our economy in terms of the home building and the programs that we have in terms of home ownership, the cumulative effect and the cumulative impact of those different programs kicking in will make our economy more vibrant and psychologically lift the spirits of Canadians. Quite frankly we have been living through an economic depression and a psychological depression.

I think if people get the confidence that things are moving, the confidence factor in an economic equation is absolutely vital for that equation to be alive and well.

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5:15 p.m.


Cliff Breitkreuz Reform Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, before the House recessed almost two weeks ago my colleague from Nanaimo-Cowichan spoke about the Official Languages Act and reasons for cutting costs of implementing its policy.

I will be speaking on how the Official Languages Act ought to be changed so that it is fair and just for all Canadians.

The year 1994 is the 25th anniversary of the Official Languages Act. This law, enacted by the Trudeau government in 1969 and later revised by the Mulroney administration in 1988, was intended to bring unity to the country, to end the unjust treatment of French speaking Canadians and to help defuse Quebec separatism.

We learn from authors as respectable as Quebec's distinguished Christian Dufour that: "Some forget that it was not

bilingualism that made this country, that it cannot ensure its survival and that it could even lead to its destruction".

Those of us who have lived and worked most of our lives far away from the centre of power in Ottawa may have agreed with the original intention of official bilingualism. It was described eloquently in the 1968 throne speech of the first Trudeau government as exemplifying the essential connection between justice and national unity.

We also wonder whether the Official Languages Act has actually brought justice to the area of official languages. If the law is as badly flawed as we believe it to be, and therefore unjust, where does that leave Canada's unity?

It is my contention that language policy cannot and will not achieve the justice and fairness that is its stated goal until it is fundamentally rewritten.

I would like to draw the attention of colleagues to just one aspect of official bilingualism in order to show how badly flawed the present policy is and also to show how a careful and thoughtful revision of the policy could do much to reunite the country by removing an institutional irritant which sets anglophones against francophones and provincial majorities against their minority populations.

As it is presently written, the Official Languages Act requires the federal government to provide services in English in those parts of Quebec and in French in those parts of the other nine provinces wherever there is sufficient demand.

However, the act fails to define the concept of sufficient demand. Instead of providing a clear and easily understood definition, the act states that sufficient demand will mean whatever the federal cabinet decides it ought to mean.

The law recommends that the size of official language minorities be taken into account but so may, and this is from section 32 of the act, any other factors which the governor in council considers appropriate.

What this provision of the law means is that when the Official Languages Act was passed this House never debated-it never had the chance-the level or the extent of minority language service that seemed most appropriate. The provision of minority language services is the most politically sensitive aspect of the act and yet it was determined in virtual secrecy by order in council.

When highly contentious issues are developed in secret rather than in open debate in the people's house, the House of Commons, the resulting information vacuum opens the way to rumour and innuendo. Conspiracy theories come to be taken seriously.

This in turn has the potential to breed suspicion, resentment, prejudice and ultimately hatred along linguistic lines. For this reason, section 32 of the Official Languages Act needs to be rewritten to remove the arbitrary authority of the governor in council.

In its place there should be a clear, easily understood definition of the criteria that would cause a region of the country to be declared a bilingual district. This definition could be debated openly so that the resulting formula would be a just and moderate compromise between the rightful aspirations of Canada's linguistic minorities and the rightful concerns of our majority populations.

What I am proposing is hardly a new idea. It was first recommended nearly 30 years ago by the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Before this the concept of openly defined bilingual districts, also known as territorial bilingualism, had existed in the laws of Finland for several decades.

In that country, the system has produced a sense of national unity between the Finnish speaking majority and the Swedish speaking minority that is enviable by Canadian standards.

Obviously it is not possible at this time to state categorically what definition my hon. colleagues might give to sufficient demand if they had the chance to review the concept in open debate.

However, I do feel confident that they would not choose to make it as loose as the definition that the federal cabinet chose to impose by order in council on January 1, 1992. This definition is so lopsided that it mandates services in English in Barkmere, Quebec, which has an anglophone population of 20, and in French on Baffin Island where 10 government departments and agencies, including the RCMP, the CBC and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, must provide bilingual services for the benefit of 220 francophones.

My guess is that my colleagues would stop the charade in which Toronto was designated bilingual for the purposes of federal services despite the fact that French is only the 11th most widely spoken language after such languages as Chinese, Italian and Spanish.

Nor do I think they would continue to let English services be imposed in east Montreal where they are an affront to the homogeneous francophone population that nonetheless feels that its linguistic heritage is gravely in peril.

I believe that my colleagues would adopt a definition of sufficient demand very similar to the one advocated by the Canadian Federation of Municipalities which maintains that services should be offered in an individual town, city or rural district only when the linguistic minority meets two statistical measures.

The minority must be above a certain percentage of the local population and it must also be above a certain total number. The

federation uses 5,000 as the minimum and absolute number and 10 per cent as the lowest acceptable percentage.

With these two criteria set, sufficient demand would include the vast majority of French speakers living outside Quebec and most English speakers inside Quebec but it would not be nearly as much of an intrusion as the present secretive definition.

In short, both minority rights and majority rights would be acknowledged. Canadians would be one step closer to true linguistic justice and, by extension, one step closer to a genuine, lasting national unity.

In closing, I draw the attention of my colleagues to another important anniversary. The year 1994 is not only the 25th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, it is also the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Half a century has passed since our fathers shed their blood on the sands of Normandy so that we could live in a country characterized by free and open government.

Let us take this opportunity to honour their memory by amending the act to remove its secretive, arbitrary aspects. Then perhaps we may consider ourselves worthy of the legacy of freedom that they bequeathed to us.

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5:25 p.m.


Colleen Beaumier Liberal Brampton, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me tell the House what official bilingualism has done for Canadians. I am unilingual and my options were not great. The opportunities were not great.

My children are bilingual. Language is more than just a means of communication, it is another way of thinking. I would like to remind the hon. member that bilingualism is not the cause of polarization and division in this country today. It is ignorance and intolerance, not the 200 and some odd members mentioned who are being provided with bilingual services. That is not what is causing the divisions in our country today. It is intolerance.

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5:25 p.m.


Cliff Breitkreuz Reform Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am unilingual like my hon. colleague. My children as well took French in public school. Certainly the more languages one can speak the more rounded an individual one is. At the same time, when official bilingualism was instituted in this country we did not have two full blown separatist movements in this country. We had them after official bilingualism was instituted.

I believe that the Official Languages Act has gone a long way to bring this country to the state it is in. All we have to do is look across the way to see our 54 hon. members from Quebec.

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5:25 p.m.


Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais Liberal Madawaska—Victoria, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my English-speaking colleague from Ontario for her comments. But first, I would like to make a correction.

In the Official Languages Act the wording is not "where sufficient demand". The wording is "where numbers warrant".

I would also like to point out to my colleague that a few years ago I was in Calgary and I was invited to be part of a festivity commemorating St. Jean Baptiste. That francophone community in Calgary, the home province of the member for Yellowhead, was so vibrant with life, happy to be together, happy to have cousins from elsewhere in Canada at its festivity. It was happy also to invite other Albertans to its festivity to be part of the culture.

In French, we say " enlever les oeillères '' to take off one's blinkers or `` regarder plus loin que le nez '', not to see the end of one's nose. When the hon. member says the Official Languages Act was never debated in this House, he should go back and reread the newspapers. Besides, when the Constitution was patriated in 1982, a nation-wide debate went on for months, not only in this House, but all over the country. Canadians from coast to coast reaffirmed their commitment to bilingualism.

I would also tell the hon. member that my father-in-law, Mr. Maltais, a French-speaking New Brunswicker, was in Holland on D-Day. He was a proud participant in a war which brought democracy and tolerance to Canada, the Commonwealth and Europe.

If the hon. member in unhappy about the kind of Official Opposition we have got, I can tell him that I do not like the philosophy of his party either.

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5:30 p.m.


Cliff Breitkreuz Reform Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's emotions and comments. I can also appreciate that our philosophies do not agree.

The hon. member talked about blinkers and not seeing to the end of our noses. I would point out that Alberta did not implement bills 101 or 178, if the hon. member wants to talk about blinkers and not seeing beyond our noses.

I would suggest that the Saint-Jean Baptiste days she enjoyed in Calgary would have transpired even if we had not had official bilingualism. Those festivities were there before there was official bilingualism in this country and I would suggest that even if we rewrite the laws of the Official Languages Act they will be celebrated for many years thereafter as well.

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March 10th, 1994 / 5:30 p.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to add my voice to those of my colleagues who lament the government's budget of February 22. This budget is not a disappointment as some members have suggested. It is a disaster.

The government says it wants to create jobs, yet this budget is disastrous for job creation. The reason for this is the heavy burden of taxation everyone in Canada faces now and in the future as a direct result of the failure to curb government overspending.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says that taxes are job killers for its 170,000 members. For every dollar the government taxes away, it is another dollar lost which could have gone toward job creation. Furthermore, the budget is disastrous for export trade because it stunts our ability to take full advantage of a golden opportunity.

We have just signed two very important trade agreements, NAFTA and GATT, that lower tariffs for our products around the world. I heartily commend this government for its role in those agreements.

Our Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has been doing an excellent job in developing markets abroad. Canada has gained a good reputation as a leader in helping the GATT to be established after the second world war and now the new world trade organization.

However our efforts are futile if we cannot give our industries a fair chance to compete. Our companies, small, medium and large, which have to break into and develop these foreign markets cannot do so effectively. They are hampered by disappointing results at home. They are hampered because our government will not act responsibly in fiscal management. They cannot sell strongly into their domestic market because their consumers are overtaxed and the cost of doing business is so high. That leaves them with limited resources to operate aggressively abroad.

At the moment our major trading partner, the United States, to whom 80 per cent of our exports go, is experiencing incredible growth. Our economy is also starting to pick up, led by promising increases in our exports.

If only this budget could have given a strong signal that we were getting our fiscal house in order the response from our business sector would have been incredible. The incentives would have been there to invest and take risks. The incentives would have been there to expand and hire new employees because the promise of tax relief would have been just around the corner.

By failing to deal with the deficit we are missing a golden opportunity to move further and forcefully into export markets. Canada is a trading nation. We simply do not have the population to warrant economies of scale that many businesses need. Our ability to be competitive internationally is crucial to our ability to grow and create jobs.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is presently doing a massive poll of 2,000 corporate members and 1,000 entrepreneurs. The purpose of this poll is to identify obstacles to job creation. Business people have been asked to list the five things that would improve their ability to create jobs. Guess what heads the list of responses: getting the federal debt and deficit problem under control.

The reason for this is that deficits and debt have caused the government to overtax our citizens. In fact personal income taxes have more than doubled in the last 10 years. Excise and sales taxes have gone up by almost 75 per cent. That means consumers have less disposable income. It also means Canadian companies face a smaller demand at home.

It was reported in the Globe and Mail this morning that Canadian individuals and corporations are the most heavily taxed in the industrial world, with the exception of France. This statement comes from our own Deputy Minister of Finance.

What is more, the $500 billion debt and the burden of refinancing approximately half of that every year crowds out other borrowers. When the federal government borrows huge sums of money it competes with private industry for the available capital. That reduces the amount of money available to finance private business expansion. It also drives real interest rates far higher than they should be.

Seventy per cent of the businesses reporting to the Chamber of Commerce survey are saying that the cost of business in Canada right now is much higher than in other countries. That is alarming. What is worse is that preliminary findings show that 22 per cent of the respondents intend to relocate all or part of their businesses outside of Canada because of high taxation and the cost of government regulations.

When taxes are too high businesses simply cannot survive and be competitive outside Canada. Many are forced to pass these taxes on through higher prices. If that means they cannot sell their products abroad they might as well move to where the cost of doing business is less.

This budget should have started the process of lowering government spending. That did not happen. Instead government spending increased. The promise that next year it will happen or maybe the year after it will really happen is not good enough.

There are lots of areas where cuts should have been made. Obviously social programs which consume a major share of the federal budget should be targeted to those who need it the most.

The leader of the Reform Party and others in the Reform Party have spoken of this already. This budget should have shown Canadians that government was really serious about job creation. We all know, or at least we should know, the private

sector, particularly small and medium sized businesses, creates jobs, not government.

This budget should have shown Canadians and the international community that the government is serious about tackling its huge deficit. If the government cannot bring its spending into line with revenues, how on earth are we ever going to handle the growing debt? In fact the international community is now responding to its concern about our failure to control government spending and overspending.

Canadian interest rates are rising. A good part of the reason for this rise in rates is the lack of confidence internationally in our ability to finance our debt. Higher interest rates mean it will cost more to refinance the federal debt and this will only compound our problem.

The way to job creation is to stop overtaxation. Let us not make our Canadian businesses have to compete with one hand tied behind their backs. The way to tax relief is to stop government overspending, not next year or the year after, but now.

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5:40 p.m.


Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride and deep humility that I rise today to speak in this House of Commons as the Liberal member for Fundy-Royal. It is with pride because the Minister of Finance has continued the Prime Minister's commitment to all Canadians. That is the commitment in this budget which offers a balanced plan for governing our country. It is a plan about economic renewal, deficit reduction and necessary reforms to social programs.

This budget invests in the skills of Canadians and supports the small and medium sized business sector which has been and will continue to be the number one job creator in Canada.

This budget and this government are being watched by the people of New Brunswick particularly the people of Fundy-Royal. That is because for the first time in the history of the riding of Fundy-Royal they have chosen a Liberal to represent them. It is an honour to represent the people of Fundy-Royal.

I am delighted today to tell the Minister of Finance that the people of my riding like this budget. I join them in offering the minister congratulations and support from one of the most diverse ridings in Atlantic Canada. More than half of the population of this bedroom community works in one of the three major cities of Saint John, Moncton, and Fredericton.

This riding includes the oldest industries on our continent like coal mining in Grand Lake and farming in King's and Queen's counties. There are the newer industries of potash and food processing and traditional industries of fishing, lumbering and wood lot management. Then of course there is our tourism industry. We have the powerful Bay of Fundy and Fundy National Park with some of the most beautiful scenery in New Brunswick, Canada's picture province.

The people of Fundy-Royal are a people of faith, faith in God, faith in themselves, faith in each other and faith in Canada. I am proud of the people of my riding. They offer a fine example to the rest of Canada. I am committed to them and committed to political leadership that protects family values, family farms, and family business.

Small business people and self-employed New Brunswickers are the lifeblood of our economy in Fundy-Royal. This budget offers a realistic plan for them.

It is unlike any other budget in Canadian history because it is a people budget. It is the result of an unprecedented consultation with the people of Canada from coast to coast to coast. This budget reflects the concerns of people. It addresses deficit reduction today and sets us on a clear path of further deficit reduction in the future.

This budget saves $300 million in unemployment insurance premiums. That $300 million can be reinvested by small businesses to create new jobs. This budget revives the residential rehabilitation assistance program for home renovations and boosts the construction industry. This budget makes the temporary home buyers plan permanent. This budget will improve access to capital for small business. This budget will establish Canadian business service centres in every province to provide one-stop shopping for government services.

With this budget we begin a process that will replace the unpopular GST. Nothing will please the people of my riding more than the demise of the GST. Nothing has hurt them more.

Governments cannot solve all our problems. But this government knows that governments must lead and must lead by example. The people of Fundy-Royal like all Canadians are tired of governments saying one thing but doing another.

In my travels throughout Fundy-Royal I have found there are two key areas of concern, lack of jobs and the government debt. Most people agree that these problems are related. With approximately 37 cents of every federal tax dollar going to serve the debt, our government resources for investing in education, infrastructure and social programs are very limited.

While it is easy to recognize that excessive debt and deficits impact negatively on our country, what is not well understood is that about one-third of the federal debt is owed outside of Canada. In simple terms that means we are paying millions of

dollars per year in interest to non-Canadians. This means we are losing Canadian taxes and losing control of our own destiny.

It is time to do something about this problem. I believe it is time for Canada Savings Bonds to be replaced with Canada deficit bonds. The revenues raised by the sale of such bonds could be applied directly to the foreign debt with a plan of repatriating the debt from the current level of 33 per cent to a level of about 20 per cent over a five year period.

Significant benefits would flow from such a proposal. Canadians would own more of our debt and interest payments would be made to Canadians instead of to the Japanese or the Germans.

I strongly agree with the Minister of Finance's plan to cut $3 billion in government operations over the next three years. However, I believe that we must cut further and deeper. I believe we can achieve this by passing legislation in this House that would mandate expenditure reductions in government departments by 5 per cent per year to a maximum of 20 per cent.

Perhaps the last five years of the Auditor General's report would provide a good beginning to identify sectors in need of immediate attention.

I would like to say a few words about free trade in Canada. Since the federal election Canada has joined in forming the world's largest trading bloc, yet we still do not enjoy free trade within our own borders. Interprovincial trade barriers must be removed. While I am encouraged by the progress we have made on this issue, we still need to do some significant work.

Atlantic Canadians have grown accustomed to the boom and bust cycle that often grips our world and more often chokes our region. When the world sneezes we in Atlantic Canada get pneumonia. We in Atlantic Canada are prepared to shoulder our share of the burden when it comes to leading the Canadian economy into the new world economy. We know the importance of information management, of vigorous national science education programs and the development of energy conservation technology.

We will shoulder our burden but we also want our share of this Canadian dream.

As we rationalize government expenditures and services in our province I believe we must have a commitment for a strong port in Saint John. These past two years have shown that even with icebreaking in the St. Lawrence, Mother Nature proved too much for that river and Saint John filled an important national transportation role.

We also must have first-class trans-Canadian highways in New Brunswick from St. Stephen through Saint John, Sussex and to Moncton. These days in Canada we hear a great deal about the information highway. In southern New Brunswick we want to hear more about an economic highway, an economic highway that links communities together and enables them to prosper.

I will commit all of my effort and energy to make sure that southern New Brunswick, the engine of economic growth in New Brunswick, gets its fair share from this government, a fair share for ports and a fair share for highways.

I have a great deal of faith in our transport minister to be a strong advocate for these interests. This budget is only the first of many steps Canadians must take together, arm in arm on the road to a future that delivers dependable economic growth and better and more secure employment.

I believe Canadians can fashion such a future but it will require hard work. It will require a resurgence of the Canadian tradition of looking out for our neighbour and working for those who cannot work or who cannot find work.

Fundy-Royal as one of the oldest settled communities in North America has fostered those traditions for centuries. I know the people of my riding value the realistic approach of the finance minister and the courage and the decisiveness the Prime Minister has shown since the election, a leadership that is decent, fair and responsive.

In closing, I offer a humble thank you to the voters of Fundy-Royal who placed their confidence in me and gave the Liberal Party their trust for the first time in Canadian history. I promise these people I will continue to work hard, to listen well and to act decisively on their behalf.

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5:50 p.m.

Moncton New Brunswick


George S. Rideout LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my neighbour. One of the things that makes his riding so great is that it happens to be next to mine. It is a pleasure to hear him extol the virtues of southern New Brunswick and the contribution that is made by that part of our country to Canada.

In listening to what the member for Fundy-Royal had to say about how good this budget is, and we on this side recognize the benefits of a balanced approach to getting the economy working, I am sure that because of the shortness of time he wanted to take some time to talk about the tremendous infrastructure program and the importance that it is going to have to all of the municipalities in his riding.

They offer the opportunity for smaller communities to be able to do that minor work but for important work like the sewer programs, water programs, recycling programs and those types of things and I am sure that had he had more time he would want to talk about that.

I want to give him an opportunity to extol the virtues of both the benefits of putting Canadians back to work that the infrastructure program offers and also the benefits to the many smaller communities in his riding that will be able to have the

types of programs that are essential to small communities for their economic development and growth.

Therefore I ask the member whether he is supportive of the position that this government has taken with respect to the infrastructure program.

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5:50 p.m.


Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, the infrastructure program has been very positively received.

In fact in Fundy-Royal there are 32 municipalities and as one can imagine the difficulty is to balance those various municipalities and their interests in receiving this important program. Most of the municipalities expressed their interest in this program through the Canadian Federation of Municipalities.

As the hon. member for Moncton knows, the members of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities had an opportunity to express to the then opposition their interest in this program. The Liberal Party listened to that and adopted it. I can tell the hon. member that it is very positive. If anything I will be one of those people who will be back here next year hoping that the program is continued.

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5:50 p.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I became excited a few moments ago when the hon. member was mentioning his appreciation that about a third of our national debt is offshore. Therefore it entails a whole bunch of interest dollars leaving Canada and being unusable for our economy. I got really excited when he said the elimination of provincial trade barriers would be a tremendous bonus and benefit to Canada.

I was about to offer him a membership in the Reform Party until he responded to his colleague who said: "How about this infrastructure program"? He endorsed the infrastructure program. Here we are with $6 billion of borrowed money that may create 60,000 jobs that will be gone after the end of two years. Now what do we do? We just pay the interest on the money we borrowed.

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5:55 p.m.

An hon. member

For years and years and years.

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5:55 p.m.


Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member will let us all know whether any of the municipalities in his riding take advantage of this important infrastructure program.

It will be interesting to see how many communities in the member's riding benefit from it and it will be more interesting, of course, to see how the member's party responds to some of the other important initiatives in this budget.

I want to tell the hon. member that I am pleased to hear he is interested in at least some of the things I had to say. I look forward to working with him on those things we agree on.

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5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member for Fraser Valley West, briefly please. Again I would ask members to say "the member" not "you", especially with the Speaker standing nearby.

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5:55 p.m.


Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, I must come back on that comment as to how many municipalities and ridings will get involved with the infrastructure program. Why would they not want to because one third of the cost only is going to be attributed to residential taxation. They are going to pass the other part off on federal and provincial taxes.

I must remind the hon. member that there is only one taxpayer paying three portions at three levels of taxes.

My question is what is left after the two years of the infrastructure program after $6 billion has been paid out? What is left for the Canadian taxpayer other than some form of capital structure?

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5:55 p.m.


Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will tell the member what is left. We will have billions and billions of dollars worth of necessary sewers, safe water systems, bridges, roadworks and other community projects throughout this country that but for this program these projects would not be there. It will be interesting to see whether in the hon. member's riding there will be projects taken up by that one taxpayer and whether the program is being positively received in your riding, Mr. Speaker.

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5:55 p.m.

An hon. member

You tell them.

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5:55 p.m.


Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to give the members two specific examples of how municipalities are in fact handling the infrastructure program. When I was in one community in my riding not so long ago, I was told: "Well, we are going to look after our sewers on the main street". The councillor admitted to me that this work would be done next year but they were pushing it ahead one year because the infrastructure program was there.

A second community in my riding, and these are communities that have no reason to tell me other than the truth, said they were going to modify their beautiful ice arena equipment so that it would be upgraded, work they would do simply two years down the road.

My comment is that I do not believe that many of the things that are being done with the infrastructure program should be done with borrowed money. I would be more than willing to have the member's comment on that.

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5:55 p.m.


Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, my comment is simply the fact that both of the municipalities have indicated that they are advancing work ahead of schedule is precisely what the program is

supposed to do. It is not a single program. One cannot look at this infrastructure program as a single initiative. It is part of a broad initiative that this government is moving forward with.

You have just given us, Mr. Speaker, the evidence that we need, the fact that both of the communities that you have mentioned, but for being involved with our program, would not go with the program for some other time in the future. That tells me that jobs are being created now rather than being created at some other time.

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6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It seems that another member of the Liberal Party wants the floor, the member for Hamilton-Wentworth, as well as two other members. Is there unanimous consent to give them ten minutes each, for a total of 30 minutes?

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6 p.m.

Some hon. members


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6 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, a fundamental change is sweeping this country and this government's budget reflects it. It is a change that more than any other will determine a united Canada's prosperity for the next century.

Others have spoken in this debate on the budget's fiscal provisions, the changes in unemployment insurance, cutbacks in defence spending, new rules for capital gains exemptions, and so on. I propose to draw attention to two other areas which I believe when linked are to me more significant than all the others combined.

I look to new incentives for small businesses on the one hand and reallocation of spending on research and development on the other. Put these two concepts together and I believe we see a fundamental truth about today's economic reality and a glimpse of the economic opportunities of tomorrow.

On the historical perspective, for the better part of this century Canadian industrial production has been dominated by major foreign owned companies, principally those based in the United States and Britain. Research and development, industrial scientific research, if you will, was concentrated in the parent companies rather than in their Canadian subsidiaries. The ability to do quality industrial scientific research is a national asset which is not willingly shared by the United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, France or any other major economic power. That is a fact of international life.

Canada's answer to the problem in 1916 was to set up government funded laboratories grouped together as the National Research Council. I wish hon. members would take time some day to visit the old NRC building at 100 Sussex Drive, built during the depression in the 1930s. Not only is it one of the most interesting architecturally of the buildings in Ottawa but it also speaks through its bricks and mortars, through its terrazzo floors, its tiny laboratory rooms, of that moment in history when Canada finally invested in the brains of Canadians, in our ideas. It is a place that evokes the era of Banting, Rutherford, Best and the Canadian pioneers of this nuclear age.

The Canadian version of the National Research Council was an experiment that had no parallel in Britain and the United States, but it began poorly. Scientists are like artists. If funding is unconditional, they would rather work on pure research. They would rather explore ideas for the sake of them instead of what they might mean in terms of a country's technological progress. Most would prefer to be Einsteins, not Edisons.

The research in the early days of the National Research Council merely wandered through the woods of scientific inquiry and rarely glimpsed the sun.

The Second World War changed everything. In 1940 France collapsed. All Europe echoed to the measured tread of Hitler's armies. The United States was still neutral. The night sky over London flickered with the flashes of exploding bombs. Britain's only remaining ally of consequence was Canada. Now the National Research Council really came into its own, for Britain needed more than men and weapons, it needed science.

In co-operation with Canadian universities, the National Research Council led an incredibly varied program in applied research: new explosives, radar, sonar, chemical weapons, high altitude research. No other country, I firmly believe, given its economic size and population, contributed as much brain power to the war as Canada.

I apologize for speaking so much of the past rather than of the present, but surely our actions and attitudes of today are governed principally by what we know and what we do not know of our own history.

My colleagues in the Bloc for example embrace separatism because they perceive the historic threat only as it pertains to Quebec. Yet we all move forward, Canadians of all provinces, we all have been moving forward together. The fault is that none of us, Quebecers, Albertans, Nova Scotians, pay serious attention to our collective past, to our own accomplishments as Canadians.

How many of the 295 MPs in this House know that Canada was the second country in the world to achieve nuclear power? The first nuclear reactor outside the United States to go critical was built just upstream from Ottawa at Chalk River. We were ahead of Britain, France and even the Soviet Union. That was in 1945. We declared then that we would use nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes and we have kept faith with that promise.

The National Research Council was instrumental in the development of Canada's nuclear program. However after the war both nuclear and military research were spun off to other agencies or to the Department of National Defence. The National Research Council reverted mainly to pure research.

Meanwhile Canada's branch plant economy boomed while applied science, industrial research and development, languished. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the foreign parents of Canadian subsidiary companies had for the most part little interest in promoting research in Canada.

Now everything has changed again just as dramatically as with the advent of the second world war. This time however the two instruments of change are computers not weapons, and a global recession not war.

Think of it. Up to about 10 years ago a scientist had to have access to a multimillion dollar computer that only a large corporation could afford if he wanted to work out complicated equations or do deep statistical analyses. Now he can do the same thing with a 486 computer worth $1,000. If he links that by modem to other computers and other information systems he has power at his fingertips which exceeds the largest supercomputer and he can work right at his own desk or even in his own home.

As for the large corporation either foreign owned or domestic they are everywhere retreating. Like the giant department stores of old they are subject to relentless competition from small enterprises which are unfettered by the leaden bureaucracies of large corporations. Even IBM long seen as the bluest of blue chips is downsizing as it contemplates diminished bottom lines.

I cannot resist citing an opposite example in my own riding. The company is called Westcam. It occupies an unprepossessing collection of old buildings next to a rural bush lot. It employs less than 100 people. Its product is spy cameras, the kind of devices that can photograph a postage stamp from miles away. Its market is highly specialized but it is worldwide. It is a small business.

High technology, small business. That is where this budget rings with a clear pure note. Out with the old, in with the new. The large corporations no longer have the lion's share of research and development. Technological innovation is going to come from the little companies, not the big ones. This government's budget addresses that fact.

Consider what the budget says. Free up capital for small business through the Canada investment fund and by putting pressure on banks. Simplify paper work. Provide funds for small businesses to hire scientists and engineers. Establish networks to share technology and business savvy. Set priorities for research directly funded by government.

There are casualties: the funding for the KAON nuclear accelerator project in British Columbia for instance and Canada's participation in the U.S. Space Station Freedom. That is another prestige project many in the American scientific community consider a wanton waste of money in terms of the return on scientific knowledge.

Canada should be getting out of that, and so we are. What are we doing instead? Canada is putting $800 million into a new space program centred on remote sensing and satellite communications. This historically is where Canadian technology has shone. We are known the world over for our prowess in this field. This expertise has largely come from medium and small businesses, not from the multinational corporations.

The National Research Council also has been revamped. For years under the previous government it has endured a steady erosion of financial support. While the Tories proclaimed to the press their dedication to science, they starved the institution that has done more for Canadian science than any other.

This government in this budget has thrown out a lifeline to the National Research Council. The schedule of cutbacks instituted by the Tories has been halted. The National Research Council can breathe again.

The future is bright. Canadians have an incredible talent for innovation. I do not care if we categorize ourselves as Quebecers or Torontonians, easterners or westerners; the fact remains we are one of the most versatile peoples on earth.

Our strength is in our tolerance, our diversity, our constant search for new ideas. These are qualities we all share. We share them in this House on all sides, not just the Liberals, but the Bloc and the Reform. In that sense, to all my colleagues I say we are one.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, in reply to the Minister of Finance's budget, I wish to underline that the government totally ignored the recommendations found in the Auditor General's report.

Canada is going through a major crisis. The accumulated debt exceeds $500 billion, and the annual deficit now totals $41 billion. In other words, each year, this unmanageable country earns less than it spends, and is inevitably heading toward economic bankruptcy.

Big corporations and capital holders say that a decrease in their profits resulting from a fairer tax system would cause irreparable damage to the economy.

So, they argue that the government must slash budgetary expenses. The business community, the decision-makers in the world of high finance suggest that the time is right to dismantle

what is left of the welfare state. The neo-conservatism of the 1980s is now the philosophy of the Minister of Finance in the present Liberal government, since he fully approves of the big corporations' approach, and his budget proves it.

In fact, this budget speech announces that the government will, during the next three years, cut more than $7.5 billion from social programs, particularly unemployment insurance. Thus, the government has avoided launching a frontal attack on major great financial interests, while it has ignored waste within its bureaucracy and mismanagement by senior civil servants and its own policy-makers.

First of all, I would like to remind the House of some of the comments the Auditor General made in his last report about waste and mismanagement of public funds, which comments the Minister of Finance totally ignored while preparing his budget.

The government is doing absolutely nothing to reduce the structural deficit, since it avoids dealing with waste and mismanagement. Let me give you some examples of waste. The federal vehicle fleet costs more than $500 million and 4,000 new vehicles are added every year; Investment Canada has spent $132,000 to set up a new office, complete with a kitchen and a bathroom, for the new president, even if the office of the previous president, located in the same building, provided all those amenities. The cost of the use of the Challenger aircrafts reached $54 million, more than half of which was spent for transporting ministers. According to the Auditor General, this comes to $19,650 per hour of flight. More than 800 civil servants who received a cash out to retire were rehired afterwards. About $30 million was wasted that way.

The Canadian Grain Commission has made an ex gratia payment-and I remind you that an ex gratia payment is one that is made as a gift, in the public interest, and not because it is legally necessary-in the amount of approximately $657,000 to some producers as compensation for losses incurred because a seed cleaning company that had obtained a licence from the Commission went bankrupt.

What measures in this budget tend to eliminate such waste, which is only the tip of the iceberg? None. And what about the mismanagement that has become generalized within the Public Service since the Liberal Party was in power at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s? The Auditor General has given several examples of this, which we have grouped according to three types of problems: program assessment, identification of program overlapping, and a more general view of certain expenditures reflecting poor management on the part of the government.

On the subject of program assessment, in his 1993 report, the Auditor General especially blamed mismanagement of public funds on a glaring lack of close examination of government spending. He recommended that programs be judged on their results so as to guide policy decisions. The Bloc Quebecois has already raised this point, but it is worth repeating that nowhere in this Liberal budget is the problem of program assessment really addressed.

From a quantitative standpoint, between 1989 and 1992, program evaluation spending fell by 28 per cent, resulting in a much smaller number of program evaluations being performed. In 1987-88, 99 program evaluations were conducted, compared to only 80 in 1992. Again according to the Auditor General's report, in 1991-92, the government spent $125 billion on 16 programs, only two of which were thoroughly evaluated. It is not the most expensive programs which are evaluated. It is estimated that twice as many programs worth less than $250 million are evaluated compared to those worth more than $250 million.

From a qualitative standpoint, since the responsibility for program evaluation rests with the department, the immediate needs of managers prevail over the government's needs and the public interest. When interviewed by the Auditor General, the persons responsible for program evaluation within the department said that the most important role of an evaluation is to assist managers in solving organizational problems. So they pay no attention to the fundamental function of program evaluation, which is to measure the effectiveness of a program and to question its relevancy if necessary in order to achieve optimal resource allocation. It is to be noted that this type of information would be most useful to Parliament in allocating resources and to Canadians in rating government performance. In fact, parliamentarians are asked to work blindly, to allocate resources without knowing the facts.

In his report, the Auditor General says, and I quote: "In the 1990s, program evaluation should be seen as crucial to the management of government expenditures, because it can help to arrive at informed decisions aimed at controlling growth of the public debt". In spite of that warning or, if you prefer, of that suggestion by the Auditor General, nothing in the budget would lead one to believe that the Liberal government is heading in that direction.

Overlapping remains one of the main causes of waste and poor financial management. The federal spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction accounts for 24 per cent of overlapping and the power to legislate in areas of shared jurisdiction accounts for 76 per cent of overlapping, but, again, nothing in the budget shows that there is a will to change the traditional Liberal way of thinking in this regard.

Program duplication is partly to blame for the mismanagement of public funds and is therefore responsible for the increasing cost of government action. Since it is more economi-

cal to give to only one administration exclusive jurisdiction over services provided simultaneously; since duplication often adds nothing to the quality of government interventions, quite the contrary; since affected employees and facilities could be used in a much more rational and relevant way; and since also the measures put in place by both levels of government often cancel each other out, the competing if not conflicting nature of federal-provincial relations makes it difficult to co-ordinate programs because neither level of government is ready to make major concessions about their own objectives and priorities.

Finally, program duplication is an inflationary factor in the Canadian economy since an increase in the amount of information citizens must have to be able to take advantage of the services and financial aid available, or to conform to laws and regulations, results in a multiplication of the steps required to get that information and thus, in an increase in the number of employees involved in a somewhat unproductive task.

In conclusion, we find it hard to understand that the Minister of Finance, who seems to have made the fight against deficit his priority, has ignored the recommendations of the Auditor General about waste and mismanagement of public funds. In order to eliminate waste, unnecessary spending and mismanagement in government, in the name of the Bloc Quebecois, I request again that the government create a parliamentary committee to analyze and review budget spending, item by item.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.


Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, before dealing with the budget presented on February 22, I think it is appropriate to remind everybody that a budget is an instrument that a government uses to pursue its objectives. To recall the objectives that the Liberal Party had set for itself, I should point out what the leader and his candidates said during the campaign.

What did they say? They said that it was necessary to give hope back to Canadians, to get people back to work and to bring the deficit back to 3 per cent of the GDP. They said that they would protect the universality of our social programs and our health care system against the severe cutbacks announced by the Tories and requested by the Reform Party. They said that it was necessary to invest $20 billion in the infrastructure.

Let us pursue our search for coherence. Immediately after the election, the Prime minister announced the cancellation of the helicopter contract, thus causing the loss of hundreds of high technology jobs in Quebec without compensation, in spite of the traditional inequity of the National Defence spendings in Quebec: $538 per capita in Nova Scotia, compared to $62 in Quebec.

Another way to judge the objectives of the government is to refer to the throne speech. Allow me to underline the lack of a real will to deal with real problems.

Apart from the infrastructure program, which was slashed from $20 billion before the election campaign to a mere $6 billion, no concrete measure was taken to revive the labour market on a durable basis. On the contrary, the government announces the loss of 40,000 jobs due to the unemployment insurance premium increase in 1994.

There is no will to reduce operating expenditures. There is no will to reform the Canadian tax system. Just like the former government, the new government announces that it will undertake in the next few years a reform of our social security system.

After such a weak throne speech, how could we expect a budget different from the one that was presented in the House on February 22? Could we hope for a miracle? Let us recall the discussion we had in the House in the weeks preceding the budget speech.

Every time the official opposition asked the government questions on important matters such the national debt, the deficit, the tax system, the preservation of our social safety net, family trusts, job creation, the fate of young Canadians, we were told to wait for the budget, that it would give all the answers. It was to be the cure-all, the nirvana of the finance minister. What a sham. What a cruel parody.

Last week, on February 28, I experienced a truly democratic exercise with my constituents whom I had invited to come and share their concerns with me.

Among the forty or so persons present, there was a large consensus on family trusts and tax loopholes, shelters and havens. These constituents are shocked by the government's inaction and the absence of adequate measures in the budget tabled by the Minister of Finance.

These voters do not understand why, after having fought against the Valcourt plan, the Liberal Party would come down so ferociously on UI benefits. According to three economists of the Université du Québec at Montreal, who certainly have more credibility than the Minister of Finance, the unemployed alone will contribute 60 per cent of the savings the federal government says it will make in its financial commitments.

People in my riding compare the way those less fortunate people are being treated with the extravagant expenditures of our embassies. They think of the generals and ambassadors who are still driven around in limousines and the army, where there are more officers than soldiers, more generals than tanks.

People I have met in my riding do not understand why the Minister of Finance is reducing tax exemptions for seniors while refusing to review the entire tax system. They do not admit that the federal government, which has often said it was responsible for defending minorities in this country, would close down the only French-language military college in America in spite of

the advice given by all stakeholders, including those of the Department of National Defence. With this decision, the government is showing its real personality.

Now let us talk about assistance to developing countries. Given the present economic context and our financial state, it is fitting to analyze the budget and administrative decisions taken by the government regarding aid to developing countries.

Such an analysis is made all the more difficult as the government announced, a while ago, that it was going to review Canada's foreign policy as a whole. It is rather awkward to study the budget, public expenses and development assistance in relation to these new objectives, since they have not yet been set.

Another problem comes from the fact that CIDA only tabled its 1991-1992 annual report in January 1994. It has not yet been critically analyzed by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

In this respect, we have every right to question the criteria used by the government to cut its development assistance budget.

The Bloc Quebecois expected to see in this budget a substantial increase of non-governmental organization funding, even if it meant a reduction of bilateral assistance programs, often criticized by people in the field.

We believe that the NGOs' share should be much greater than it is now, since they work directly with the poorest people of the world, with one of the highest success rate in the area, and the lowest administration costs. Only 10 per cent of Canadian assistance to developing countries goes to NGOs.

It is too little and the Minister of Foreign Affairs agrees with you since he said in the House on February 9 that the government would do everything in its power to not only maintain but increase this percentage.

The minister did not keep his promise. Neither will the Minister of Finance be able to keep his promise to allocate to development assistance 0.7 per cent of GDP, an internationally recognized standard, given the measures announced in this budget. How can he increase this ratio, which now amounts to 0.4 per cent of GDP, with a 2 per cent reduction in international assistance funding and resources frozen at this level for the following year?

Can the government reveal its magic trick, unless its solution lies in reducing Canada's GDP in the next few years?

The Bloc Quebecois feels that the government should look beyond the economic reasons to cut development assistance and reconsider the cuts made in recent years. Our position is based on several reasons.

The first reason has to do with Canada's international prestige and reputation with respect to its development assistance efforts. This is an essential element of the whole thrust of Canadian foreign policy. Cuts in development assistance funding will surely have a very negative impact on Canada's international image, as well as a potential ripple effect on other countries.

Another aspect, the most important in our opinion, that the government should have considered is the humanitarian dimension of international assistance.

In short, Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois feels that the measures announced by the government in its budget regarding international assistance are not very consistent. We are now waiting for the review of our foreign policy, which hopefully will not be as disappointing as this budget.

We particularly hope that the new direction of Canada's international assistance policy will not be affected by the negative aspects of this budget, and that the federal government will set objectives which will take into account the needs of the poorest countries as well as the expectations of Canadian organizations and individuals involved in international co-operation.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 6.29 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 84(6) it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of ways and means Motion No. 6.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?