This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #42 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Vancouver Port CorporationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Vancouver Port CorporationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The question.

Vancouver Port CorporationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

The question is does the minister still maintain that the decisions reached by this board are independent and not influenced by his government?

Vancouver Port CorporationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, once the hon. member is a member of a party that develops a bit of history, he also will be able to refer to people who have supported his party for a long time. It is certainly not something that any of us are looking forward to.

With respect to the decisions that are made by port authorities in various parts of the country, it is the intention of the government that local autonomy be an important part of any decision making process.

Beyond that, and I want to make it very clear, at the port of Vancouver, the port of Montreal or any other of the facilities under the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada we always insist on people being appointed who have a national vision of their responsibilities.

Grain TransportationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi Liberal Thunder Bay—Nipigon, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Transport.

The Grain Transportation Agency announced last week that to fill the grain sales of committed grain and the grain that we will be selling until the end of July, the railways need an additional 5,000 hopper cars.

Without these additional cars, grain sales will suffer and the ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert and Thunder Bay will suffer serious slowdowns. We know the 5,000 cars are neither affordable nor available.

Will the minister order today that all hopper cars be used exclusively within Canada and forbid the use of hopper cars east of the port of Thunder Bay? Will he continue to order under section 17(4) of the Grain Transportation Act the use of truck transportation where feasible so that this grain can get to market?

Grain TransportationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question.

We have gone through this before. As the hon. member knows, it was partly in response to his request that we were able to enter into a special arrangement that allowed for trucks to convey some of the grain.

The hon. member will know that the experiment was not terribly successful but we would want to look at any options that will allow for the efficient transportation of grain to market. We certainly will take the hon. member's comments into consideration and come to a decision.

La FrancophonieOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage. We are in the middle of Francophonie Week and the government keeps making high-sounding statements about the importance of the French fact and its place in the world, but in reality its policies in support of Canada's French-speaking people are much less generous.

In view of some discrepancies between his own statements and those of his senior officials, can the minister confirm that funding for the Federation of Acadian and Francophone Communities in Canada will not be cut by 5 per cent?

La FrancophonieOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that we have managed to spare communities such as the one he just mentioned from existing cuts in my department.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

Last week the media in British Columbia reported two instances of a disturbing trend in the drug trade. In Nanaimo, an undercover RCMP officer went to a residence to make a drug buy. While the suspect was not home, the transaction was completed by her eight-year old daughter. Likewise in another undercover buy in Vancouver, the drug dealer used his six-year old son to carry the drugs.

What steps is the minister prepared to take to protect children from this criminal exploitation?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has touched on a subject of grave concern to members of the government. I saw those reports last week and was horrified by them as I am sure the hon. member was.

As I said on January 27 when I spoke in the debate on the speech from the throne and outlined the initiatives we have in mind for both strengthening the criminal law of the country and focusing on crime prevention, we will not tolerate conduct that induces children into the commission of crimes.

I said at that time that there are sections now in the Criminal Code that make it a criminal offence to use children in the commission of crimes and I called upon the provincial authorities to enforce those provisions vigilantly. I intend to continue in that effort. Beginning tonight, I am meeting for two and a half days with my provincial and territorial counterparts.

This among many other important justice issues is on the agenda. I can assure the hon. member we will take all reasonable steps to ensure that this does not happen again.

JusticeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 3 p.m., I have a point of order from the hon. Minister of Transport.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

March 22nd, 1994 / 3 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to rise on a point of order to respect an undertaking I made in this House on March 11.

On that date in responding to a question from an hon. member I expressed the concern many of us had about the safety of minivans as a result of some reports in the press. I indicated I would have my department look into the matter because it was a serious question.

I am now able to report my officials have informed me that testing results and accident data indicate that minivans offer a level of passenger safety comparable to that of other passenger vehicles.

I would point out for the benefit of members that there is no requirement for minivans to be equipped with bumpers because it has not been demonstrated they would improve the safety of vehicle occupants.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for permitting me to respect the undertaking I made in the House several days ago.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sure the hon. minister recognizes that there could have been other venues but I am glad he shared the information with this House.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the motion before us today as proposed by the Bloc Quebecois reads that this House deplores the absence of vision and concrete measures from the government with regard to policies directed toward job creation.

It seems to me that actually this House should be saddened by the absence of vision of this government in terms of job creation.

It certainly saddens me that the leaders on the government side have been in politics for so long that they really have no idea any more of how jobs are created in the private sector.

During the 1993 election campaign the now Prime Minister took the position that the economy simply needed a kick-start and that the infrastructure program proposed by the government would be that kick-start.

At the time the leader of the Reform Party stated that trying to start the Canadian economy with a $6 billion infrastructure program was like trying to start a 747 with a flashlight battery.

Six billion dollars represents such a tiny portion of the gross domestic product that any effects of it are probably impossible to measure. If I were grading the performance of the Prime Minister I would have to say that he earned a D for believing it was possible to kick-start the economy with a $6 billion infrastructure program. If he were playing a game with the public vote I would have to award him an A+ for his ability to convince the public that this would actually work.

Just how much of a kick-start to the economy is this program? Statistics Canada puts the gross domestic product for Canada for 1992, that is, the sum of all the goods and services produced, at $688.5 billion. The $6 billion job creation scheme at $3 billion per year for two years represents just .44 per cent of the gross domestic product. That is less than half a per cent of the gross domestic product. How could anyone seriously think that could kick-start the economy?

To put things in perspective, it is a little bit like a family with a gross income of $60,000 per year winning $264 in Lotto 649. What difference would it make to its living standards? It would not even pay for the kick-starter on a motor bike.

I have to wonder whether the members on the government side ever bothered to do the calculations or whether they just took the red book at face value. If they just accepted the red book proposal without doing the calculations then every single one of them should be ashamed for failing to show leadership, for failing to do the basic research that is essential if we are to be leaders.

On the other hand, if they did the calculation and came to the obvious conclusion, realized the implications and still failed to tell their constituents then they should be ashamed for deceiving the voters. There is no way out for the government members. They must admit to lack of research ability or they must admit to deception.

Reluctantly I must give them all a D for deception or an F for failure.

Think about who is paying the price for this boondoggle. The federal government is putting up one third, the provinces are putting up one third and the municipalities are putting up one third. There is only one taxpayer. Clearly this money has to come from the taxpayers and since the federal and provincial governments are running deficits, obviously it has to be borrowed. At the municipal level at which they are not permitted to run deficits it will obviously increase property taxes.

The whole program is a disgrace. We may benefit in the short run but it will be our children and grandchildren who carry the mortgage into the future.

I know that government members are itching to say: "Will you take the share of the infrastructure program in your riding?". I know they think they can paint me into a corner on that. The people of North Vancouver have to carry their share of the debt burden for this program so it is only just that they take their share of it as well.

Nobody wants to pay interest on somebody else's loan for infrastructure and neither do the taxpayers of North Vancouver want to pay interest on somebody else's infrastructure program in Canada. We will take our share but it does not mean that we agree with the program.

Prior to being elected I was in business for 13 years. I owned and managed a successful communications company with a staff of 10 until 1990 when I sold that business to start a leasing company. That company specializes in leasing to the small business sector, particularly home based businesses. Many of my friends are business people employing staff in the range of 10 to 15. I understand small business and I know what helps create jobs. I know what it is like to meet a payroll. I also know the job killing effects of excess taxation.

This is something that many of the government members do not know because they have always worked in the public sector, they have always been aldermen, they have always been politicians. How could they know what it is like? Their pay cheques arrive in their bank accounts each month and they have always done so. It is easy for them to broaden the tax base because they do not have to foot the bill.

However, let me explain what is like to be in a small business in which everything is so competitive that one does not get the choice of raising the prices the same way that the government can raise taxes.

On the sale of a fax machine for $600, a typical dealer in that industry will make about $75. That is the gross profit. In B.C. the combined GST and PST comes to $84. The two levels of government get $9 more than the dealer does for the sale of that product. Out of the $75 the business has to pay all the overhead, the salaries and the commissions and, if there is anything left over, 25 per cent tax on what remains.

In any particular month a business may have to remit income taxes, employee deductions, GST, PST, municipal taxes, workers compensation and property taxes. It is very disheartening for small business people to be remitting two or three times as much tax as they make for the companies and themselves. This is the single biggest disincentive to job creation. It causes business owners to avoid expansion. It causes them to avoid staff hiring because of the support costs. It encourages an underground economy full of cash only deals. Excessive taxation is killing jobs and forcing honest people into a tax revolt.

Compare this situation with a place like Hong Kong where the tax rate for corporations is only around 15 per cent and the unemployment rate is only 1 per cent. Nobody minds paying their taxes when they get to keep 85 per cent of what they earn.

It is time that this government admitted it has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and began taking steps to drastically reduce government spending. If it would do this the business sector would realize that something is finally being done about government spending, confidence would be restored and there would be a promise of tax relief in the future. This would encourage business expansion and the creation of new jobs.

I know this is true because I am from the small business sector, which is more than many of the government members can say for themselves. The light at the end of the tunnel would turn back on again and companies would begin reinvesting in new jobs and expansion.

We need to move the emphasis away from the public sector. We need to move it away from the public sector to the private sector if we are ever going to again experience a strong and healthy Canadian economy with the potential for adequate new job creation.

This House should be saddened by the lack of vision of the government side and I urge the government to take a real look at the situation. It is not magic, it just common sense. If we could get our corporate tax level down there would be a rush of all those businesses that have relocated into the United States back into Canada to create jobs for the people who need to live and work here.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his speech and assure him that I come from the small business sector as well. I am a chartered accountant and worked many years with small businesses and I even have two or three of my own small businesses still in operation. Much to his chagrin, that is just not the case on the government side of this House.

The hon. member made a comparison between Hong Kong and Canada. That is very easy to do. He talks about a 15 per cent income tax rate, but he did not really tell us about whether Hong Kong has a medicare system or whether it has other kinds of social welfare systems that the people of Canada have learned to expect and live with.

I wonder if the hon. member could mention some of those points.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his two questions.

I am pleased to know that he has been involved in the small business sector. As a chartered accountant, which he says he is, he would know the tax difficulties that small businesses face. An accountant spends most of his time trying to help small businesses with their tax problems. Everybody knows that the taxes are too high.

I would also thank the member for bringing up the situation of Hong Kong. I put it into my speech exactly to elicit that sort of question.

Obviously Hong Kong is at the other extreme from Canada at which there are no social programs but everybody is working because they absolutely have to.

I would not suggest that we turn Canada into that sort of situation. I do believe that there is a position somewhere between where we are now and the situation that is represented by Hong Kong that would be a much better place for Canada to be today.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Madam Speaker, in listening to my friend in the Reform Party talk about the $6 billion as representing such an infinitesimal part of the gross domestic product, it makes me wonder if he has ever been a farmer or ever been a gardener and planted a seed. When one plants a seed it grows and it bathes in the sunlight and takes nutrients from the soil and multiplies. That is exactly what this infrastructure program is intended to do. It is the seed that we have planted.

In the great riding of Halton-Peel I have had reports from the municipalities which say that the choices they have made for infrastructure renewal will have a spin-off effect in those municipalities for the next 10 to 15 years. Therefore, I would say to the hon. member that when he is thinking about this investment in infrastructure this is not just a two-year wonder that will employ a few people and then end. If the projects are well chosen, I can assure him that it will help greatly with economic renewal in this country.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for mentioning the $6 billion job creation program again. The B.C. share represents only .33 per cent of the spending on infrastructure for this year. It is very tiny.

The member raised the comparison with a seed. Before getting into this position I used to grow my own vegetables so I know how a tiny seed can grow into a very large plant. In this case, although the government may have the intention of planting a seed and having it grow, we all know in our hearts that it is not going to work. There may be the occasional good program that comes out of this but there are plenty of examples already. I made a statement in this House about this a few days ago. There are already many examples of where this infrastructure program is being used for political rewards: private boxes in stadiums and things that do not contribute to the overall benefit of society.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Winnipeg—St. James, MB

Madam Speaker, I have a couple of comments and a question for the hon. member from Vancouver.

I do not think we Liberals need to take any lessons from the Reform Party when it comes to small business. We realize how important small and medium sized businesses are to the economy. It has been said many times and I will repeat it here. Small and medium sized companies have produced about 85 per cent of the new jobs in this country in the past few years. They are an important segment of the economy.

I would warn the hon. member from Vancouver to be careful in his simplicity about reducing taxation. I know that taxation is sensitive and one can take taxation too far with respect to business. In many cases we have taken it too far. When he uses the Hong Kong example, I can come back with the example of the United States of America which has an unemployment rate of about 6.5 per cent. It sounds good at the surface but there is an enormous price to pay for that because of their inability to distribute wealth in any reasonable way. The United States of America has an enormous problem when it comes to poverty. Poverty turns into disaster. There is the matter of crime in the United States. It is directly attributable to poverty.

When the hon. member talks about taxation he should also be very mindful about distribution of wealth or does he not care about the distribution of wealth? Would he just leave it to the marketplace and all of its inherent injustices?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, since I have to be brief I will only make a comment on the distribution of wealth.

It is well known that if one took 100 per cent of the income from all of the people who earn more than $100,000 a year and gave it all to the poor, they would get a couple of hundred dollars each. What use is it taking money off people with high taxes on this pretext of redistributing wealth? It does not work.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Simmons Liberal Burin—St. George's, NL

Good afternoon, Madam Speaker. I extend my congratulations on your Speakership. This is my first opportunity when Madam Speaker was in the chair to say that and I wanted to very much.

Now I want to do some other things. My good friend from Mercier brings before this House a resolution. Let me say something else, Madam Speaker, that as long winded as I love to be, I am going to be all of 10 minutes because my good friend from Durham is going to follow me for the second 10 minutes of our 20 minute period.

My friend from Mercier would have the House deplore the government's lack of vision and lack of concrete measures relating to job creation policies.

I say to her that is a marvellous resolution. It is certainly grammatically correct. All the words are in the right place. It is procedurally correct. It is in the correct form for the House. It is certainly politically correct. That is what an opposition normally does. It says that it is not good enough, we want more.

Procedural, political and grammatical are three of the four litmus tests that one must always apply to any resolution before this Chamber.The fourth is whether the motion is substantively correct. Is it correct in substance?

My friend from North Vancouver as always is in the Chamber. He is nodding so vociferously I have a feeling he has something going with the member for Mercier. He must have written the resolution. He is pleased with the wording in the resolution and annoyed at me for suggesting it might not be absolutely letter perfect.

How gracious do you want me to be? I have already conceded that it is at least three parts correct, so we are 75 per cent of the way there.

Let us look at the other 25 per cent. Is it correct in substance? By analogy I say to her you can lament the poverty of a rich man, but that does not render him poor. You can cry in your beer about the low alcoholic content of your beverage, it will dilute the beer, but otherwise will not prove your overall thesis.

The smart thing to do, I say to the member, before rushing out to deplore, to lament or to cry in your beer is to analyse the beer, find out what it is you are about to deplore, and satisfy yourself that you know what you are talking about before you begin deploring it, let alone talk about it.

What are some of the cold hard facts? There are several, but there is a word in this motion, I love it, vision. Vision connotes something down the road. It suggests that somebody back there had some perception of what ought to be or what might be and so you say to yourself: "Who's the author of this resolution". Ostensibly it is the member for Mercier, my good friend, but just possibly it is her House leader.

Just possibly it is her leader. Just possibly it is a committee project. Perhaps all 54 had a hand in this. I do not see too many taking credit, but let us give her credit. She is at least the author of record and she uses the word vision. Let us look at the vision of the author because it is very insightful.

Could it be the same author who wrote a document called "A New Party for the Turning Point" last May? Could it be the author of a document that was circulated widely during the election of last fall in Quebec? Could it be the document that talked extensively about the separation of Quebec? I understand that because it is a publicly stated part of the party's platform. I have no difficulty as a matter of principle with that being in the document. It would be deceptive on the part of the party if that were not in the document. I do not decry that. However, since this is a party that decries the lack of vision of others then the implicit question is this: How about its vision on this same subject?

We go to the document. They had a fair amount of hindsight on page 7 of the document, the first reference on employment. It says that naturally there has been a considerable increase in unemployment. That is not exactly vision. It is not a bad observation but it is based on past experience, not on what might be.

Then we slave through the document, which makes for some pretty good reading actually, and wind up on page 22. On page 22 there is a table which again, for the second time now in 22 pages, refers to job creation by name or by inference.

There it says that in 1988-89 the federal government spent $2.7 billion on job creation exclusive of transfer payments. That is not bad but it is also hindsight. It is also what has been. There is not one solitary sentence about what the vision of the member for Mercier would be on the subject she now deplores.

What are the cold hard facts? I suppose a not too cold but certainly hard fact is: "66,000 lost jobs returned", a story a week ago in the Financial Post . Another not too cold but certainly hard fact: ``New jobs jump in February'' in the Toronto Star a week ago. These are some of the hard facts, not particularly cold.

"Job rate drops to 11.1 in February". My good friend from Calgary Centre enters the debate. I am so glad to see him. His favourite paper, the Globe and Mail , says that the job rate dropped to 11.1 in February. These are just a few of the cold hard facts.

I see my time is quickly running out. Let me come to one more issue. The issue is Chicken Little, the sky is falling. The easiest thing in the world is to say that everything is wrong with the world. The easiest thing to say is that the sky is falling. Unless members have some information for me to say how they are going to prop it up, I do not want to hear it. If I am going fast, I would like to go without knowing.

It is true whether on the issue of separation from Canada or on the issue of job creation that my good friend from Lac-Saint-Jean, the Leader of the Opposition, had a Damascus road experience, no question about it. The day he left the Tory cabinet, he had a true Damascus road experience.

For those members who are not as biblically correct as I pretend to be, Paul on the road to Damascus did a 180 degree turn and saw a light. The member for Lac-Saint-Jean did a 360. He did a turn on the road, but when he finished turning he was still going in the same direction, away from the light.

I stick to the issue of job creation. He realizes that the party he aided and abetted for a number of years was on the wrong track economically, with regard to national unity and a number of other issues.

I respect his decision to see the light. What I lament about with his behaviour is that he did not just do a turn, he twirled. He turned not only into the light but back away from it and in the process missed a great opportunity to not only to help build a great country but to get more young people, more people of all ages, back to work. That is what I lament over.

That is why the deploring in this motion is about all the wrong things. The basic premise of the resolution does not bear scrutiny. I appeal to the members of this House to treat the motion for what it is worth, a politically correct motion that the Official Opposition was obliged to move. We respect its adherence to political correctness. We appeal to the House to do the right thing and stick by the government which has a program for youth, an apprenticeship program, that I could go into. I have pages. I have not even started my several page speech here.

There are so many things we are beginning to do. Have we done it all in four months? Not quite, but we are working on it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member's parody. I think he should immediately sign up, in fact I strongly recommend that he sign up with the Quebec national theatre school. There, he will find an appropriate forum to put his great public speaking skills to the service of Quebecers first and Canadians second. As far as I am concerned, his approach with respect to the people of Canada and Quebec is unacceptable. He has tried to play on the word "vision" and make a joke of it. However, we must admit in this House that the Liberal government has indeed lacked vision in all the projects it has proposed so far.

I will simply remind my hon. colleague that 400,000 jobs are presently vacant with no one to fill them for lack of training, of adequate training that is. I will also remind him that we have 1,500,000 unemployed people in this country. So, can he make a serious commitment to put everything having to do with manpower training, duplication and overlap in the hands of the provinces so to speak, to allow surpluses to be made and millions of dollars to be set aside to help our young people to create, to be creators instead of mere welfare recipients? Is he prepared to admit or submit to his government that job training should come under provincial jurisdiction?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Simmons Liberal Burin—St. George's, NL

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague and friend from Chicoutimi, a man of great vision and foresight, the first person to recognize my skills and qualifications for the Quebec national theatre.

[English]

Despite the member's opening remarks about my parity and so on, I am sure what I was doing did not escape him at all. In effect I was saying practice what you preach and preach what you practice.

In the opposition's document of last fall there were only two fleeting references to unemployment and both related to past or current events. Neither gave any indication nor any inkling as to what the Parti Quebecois would like to see done insofar as the issue is concerned. It is difficult to preach to others if one does not have the solution. That was the thesis of what I was attempting to say. If I said it badly I apologize to my good friend from Chicoutimi.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Madam Speaker, as always the hon. member for Burin-St. George's said what he wished to say eloquently. It is absolutely amazing how he is able to say so little but so well. I applaud the hon. member.

As this is such an exceptionally serious topic that we are debating today and the hon. member knows so well that his home province, of all the provinces, suffers the most from unemployment, could he say something about having the portability of labour across the country that includes Quebec so that people from all parts of this country can go wherever they want to find employment?