House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

3:30 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member what he thinks of the fact that, a few weeks ago, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce surveyed its members. It asked whether federal policies encourage businesses to leave the country. As mentioned in the headline, Canadian business people are not satisfied with the way this country is governed. You see, Quebec sovereigntists are not the only ones thinking that the country is poorly managed at the federal level; the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its members think so, too. According to surveyed members of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, 22 per cent of these business people have partly left the country, are in the process of leaving it or have left it entirely. It is because of federal policies that business people gave such a straight answer to the questions asked by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in its survey.

This proves that Canada is poorly led, that the policies of the federal government, of the finance minister, do not meet business people's requirements. When the Minister of Finance says he wants to create jobs, he does not talk about what business people need to survive. It is business people who create jobs. It is businesses that create jobs. Why are they telling the minister that 22 per cent of them would rather leave Canada than continue to work and create jobs in Canada?

It is so serious that we in the Bloc Quebecois have decided to promote Quebec's sovereignty. We sincerely believe that Quebec's sovereignty will enable us to manage our affairs with honour and dignity, to meet the needs of Quebecers and those of our small and medium-sized businesses so they can survive, to reduce unemployment and create prosperity. Does the hon. member agree with my comments?

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

3:35 p.m.


Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, of course, when the Chamber of Commerce expresses an opinion on certain issues, we must listen to it. I think that we in the Bloc Quebecois work to keep our people in Quebec. In that sense, I support the hon. member's comments.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

3:35 p.m.


Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the hon. member's credentials from municipal politics, from the parish councils. I too have a background.

Having said that, we must realize that the member's experience would indicate the reason this government brought in the infrastructure program was that the municipalities requested it. For some 10 years the municipalities requested that the federal government cost share with the provincial governments and the municipal governments in infrastructure development.

If the municipalities are so jealous or so negligent as to not want to share, I am sure that the other provinces would gladly accept their allotment of money for infrastucture programs. We have found in all of the provinces that the requests far outnumber the ability to begin infrastructure. I would remind the member as well that this is not short term work, it is long term infrastructure that every town, every municipality in Canada requires to sustain economic development.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

3:35 p.m.


Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois agrees in principle with the infrastructure program, but we do not agree with the calculations done for the years 1991 and 1992. We support the rest of the infrastructure program and we agree that municipalities should have this kind of program.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Portage—Interlake Manitoba


Jon Gerrard LiberalSecretary of State (Science

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to speak today on Bill C-14, the borrowing authority bill to implement the budgetary measures.

In this, my first speech in this Chamber, I would like to begin by thanking the people of my riding of Portage-Interlake for their support and their confidence in me.

From Long Point, a finger-like extension which juts out into the north end of Lake Winnipeg, jusqu'à l'usine de beurre de St. Claude; from Denbeigh Point on Lake Winnipegosis past Fairford, Ashern, St. Laurent to Winnipeg Beach, Stony Mountain on to La Salle and Domain, this is my constituency of Portage-Interlake, Manitoba.

In some ways it is a microcosm of the problems and of the opportunities that exist today in our country. There are large commercial fisheries on Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. The fisheries, like those on the east coast, are having difficulty at the moment.

Last year we had a very wet summer and our farmers experienced serious difficulties, many of them with fusarium head blight infection. In spite of these difficulties there are many positives such as beautiful scenic spots, some high quality soils, good pasture for cattle, the creative imaginations of local leaders who have produced the Interlake interactive television network, perhaps the most advanced distance interactive network for high schools in Canada.

Let us face facts. For 60 years for much of this region large numbers of young people have been moving away because we have not done enough to create job opportunities and we have not done enough to develop an environment which allows the local entrepreneurial spirit to develop new and diversified businesses.

For those who live in the 11 First Nations communities there are staggeringly high effective levels of unemployment; 60 per cent to 90 per cent plus in most of the communities.

It is time for change. The budget and the estimates have started that change, a change from the reliance on the old economy to the development of the new.

Today I want to speak specifically about the role of science, technology, research and development in the promotion of the new economy. As outlined in the budget and the estimates, our government has put considerable emphasis on this area. Because of considerable fiscal restrictions we have had to do less than we might otherwise have wanted to do in supporting some specific projects, the space station or KAON, for example.

In our approach to science, technology, research and development we have laid out our plans within the context of the philosophy embodied in the Liberal election platform, "Creating Opportunities", our red book:

"First, by stressing the notion of partnership with all sectors of society we think we can re-organize our total national resources, public and private, not only to be more efficient but to take advantage of strategic economic and social opportunities that can only be realized when all of us are working together.

Second, we wish to focus our efforts on leverage points to enable the impact of federal efforts to be as large as possible, particularly in times of tight fiscal resources.

Third, if we want to have a country that works we have to measure whether specific government programs actually deliver results over time. Whether it is in health care or regional development, it is important to measure the long term outcomes and consequences of our policies and our programs. That is why we have placed so much emphasis on evaluation, innovation and finding best practices".

Over the course of the next several months our government will be undertaking a series of new federal initiatives in science, technology, research and development. We will be consulting with Canadians over the course of this period as we develop these initiatives, as we review the current federal spending in science and technology.

A primary aim of our research and development approach will be to lay the foundation for the generation of both short term and long term wealth.

One of the main objectives of our approach to research and development is to do the necessary groundwork to attract more research to Canada, both in the long and short term.

We have an urgent need to find solutions to present high unemployment. We need to emphasize research and develop-

ment in parts of the economy with great potential for growth, including information technology, telecommunications, broadcasting, computer services, especially software development, environmental services and in medical and biotechnology areas.

It is also important to continue to have a solid foundation of support for basic untargeted research because the precise source of the next advance is never fully predictable. At the same time we must pay particular attention in developing or enhancing programs which are effective in converting advances in basic research into jobs and economic opportunities, whether they lie in advance materials, in information technology, biotechnology, agriculture, fisheries, transport or other areas.

Initiatives aimed at establishing partnerships based on the lever principle to maximize our efforts, are important.

Another important goal of our strategy is to develop a culture of innovation in Canada.

Our second important objective is to create a culture of innovation in Canada. Creating this culture means showing leadership by being innovative. It means showing leadership by including research and development components as central elements in the way our government works, whether in the way we promote industrial development, in the way we achieve effective change to our income support programs, or in our innovative development of pilot programs, for example, like the Canada Business Service Centre in Winnipeg to ensure we have the research and development base to ensure high quality and cost efficiency.

A third goal of our research and development strategy must be to make better use of sophisticated current research and development approaches to design and implement government programs and to assess outcomes of these programs.

This goal must apply to new programs as well as existing programs including those involved with health care, income support, learning, resource management and so on. We as a government must use our resources with the greatest possible efficiency. This means continually assessing and testing our approaches.

A fourth and final goal of our research and development strategy is to integrate all our approaches to maximize the quality of life for Canadians. An enhanced quality of life is an important result of research and development efforts. Research into health care, child development and environment is an important component of this thrust.

It is our objective to work with Canadians from one end of the country to the other to utilize research and development and to support the development of a new economy in Canada. We have some marvellous models, some shining examples of success. One is the city of Waterloo, a community which has been hurt over the last several years with the loss of thousands of jobs in traditional sectors.

I visited there recently. Through an extraordinary research, development and training partnership between the university and business, the largest co-operative program in the world, the community has built upon the opportunities of the new economy to replace the large majority of the lost jobs through the development of new businesses and new industries.

Initiatives such as the information highway will play key roles in promoting growth in the new Canadian economy. To this end I spoke at the beginning of February in Toronto at the Information Technology Association of Canada to outline the government's goals in developing a Canadian strategy for the information highway. Our goals are threefold.

First, we want a strategy which emphasizes employment opportunities through innovation and investment. Opportunities for Canadians are our top priority.

Second, we want a strategy that emphasizes Canadian culture and Canadian values. In essence we believe the cars and the trucks of the information highway, the information packages, may be as important or perhaps even more important than the highway itself. We want to be sure that Canadians can learn about Canadian achievements and Canadian success stories through the information highway.

We want to make sure that Canadians can be made aware of Canadian successes and achievements through this information highway.

Third, we want a strategy which will give Canadians universal access at reasonable cost. All Canadians, whether rich or poor, whether rural or urban, must be able to take advantage of the opportunities of the information highway. Initiatives like the media centre in the constituency of the hon. member for Broadview-Greenwood and Larry Geller's freenet in rural Sprague, Manitoba, may be very important in bringing these dreams to reality.

The information highway provides extraordinary opportunities for communities to take control of their own destiny wherever they may be located. The example of North Bay is inspiring.

Ten days ago on February 25, just three days after the budget which will result in a considerable reduction of personnel at the base in North Bay, the community was going full steam ahead with plans to make North Bay a central hub on the information highway, to create an integrated community network for health, education and business, and to bring the benefits to North Bay and surrounding areas of the emerging technological opportunities. I was there that day and felt the excitement as participant

after participant put forth ideas and suggestions for new job opportunities in tourism, health, education and real estate. The opportunities are enormous.

I felt a similar level of enthusiasm recently in Pinawa, Manitoba. I know a number of my constituents are moving forward in developing new initiatives for the information highway. Late last week at a Manitoba Trucking Association meeting to which I was invited there was talk of what happens where the freight highway meets the information highway.

Late last week, we discussed with members of the Société franco-manitobaine the incredible potential of a Trans Canada French language information network, in which Quebec would have a key role, of course, and which would link all francophone communities across Canada.

In my own riding, I could feel the enthusiasm of people who would love to belong to such a network, when I mentioned it in Saint-Claude, Saint-Laurent, Saint-Eustache, Fannystelle and La Salle. These communities will finally have access to the tools they need to deal in French with the problems they face regarding learning, health care and business, as well as to other opportunities which otherwise would not have been available to them.

We shall shortly be setting up an advisory council to provide advice on our Canadian strategy for the information highway. We are still open to suggestions for names for this council and those suggestions can be imaginative.

I have even made one suggestion myself, remembering the words of our Prime Minister when campaigning in Shawinigan. Il a dit: "Je vais faire mon possible". I will do my best. I have suggested that perhaps the council could be called the council of the possible, le conseil du possible, transforming the world of dreams into the realm of the achievable, for that is what our government is about: helping Canadians to start dreaming of the possibilities of the information age and then working in partnership with other Canadians from coast to coast to turn these dreams into reality.

Finally let me reiterate my government's commitment as laid out consistently in our election platform, the throne speech, the budget and the estimates. We will work with Canadians to develop a more innovative economy. We will use and harness the benefits of science and technology to create new job opportunities, to help Canadians develop the skills to find meaningful work, and to enrich the lives of all Canadians whatever riding they may live in. Whether in Burin-St. George's, Madawaska-Victoria, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve or my own community of Portage-Interlake, we are about transforming Canada through science, technology, innovation and creating jobs. That is what our goal is and we are well on the way.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

3:50 p.m.


Maurice Godin Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague and, at a time when the deficit and the debt are so much talked about, I am shocked and puzzled that all they are talking about is consultation. At various times, we were told that Canadians would be consulted on this or that.

As far as I am concerned, and especially with regard to the budget and its preparation, there was too much consultation; and yet, unions, senior citizens, the unemployed complained that indeed they were consulted but that the Liberals only took what they liked.

My question to my colleague has to do with the fact that every year the Auditor General makes a series of recommendations and as he said himself, as a general conclusion to his report, that there are no controls and that his recommendations are not followed. Would it not be better to stop travelling from coast to coast, given the cost of such an exercise, and instead focus on implementing the Auditor General's recommendations?

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

3:55 p.m.


Jon Gerrard Liberal Portage—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and concern. We are going to proceed in two fashions. On one hand it is important to consult Canadians from coast to coast. On the other hand it is important to listen to people like the Auditor General and to take a look at how the federal government works and spends at the moment.

We have a global science and technology expenditure in the federal government at the moment of about $6 billion which when including tax expenditures reaches a total of about $7 billion. It is important even as we proceed to look at how we can develop an innovative economy, how we can use the principles of leverage, and how we can look at outcomes of government programs. It is also important to review how we are making our current expenditures to make sure they are up to date and are the most effective they can be.

Even though we have committed very substantially in the budget to research and to new dollars for research, for innovation, for a Canadian technology network, for a Canadian investment fund, for dollars to put together an engineers' program and a variety of other contributions and initiatives, we intend to review how we are currently spending those dollars that go toward science and technology across the broad framework of departments.

It is not necessarily an easy task. It will need a lot of co-operation among departments, but we think it is important to do so because it is very important to spend wisely even as we move forward on important initiatives to promote innovation and research.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

3:55 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague, the Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development, for his maiden speech in which he demonstrated a broadness of outlook.

I would like to ask him to what extent he is sensitive to the drastic changes presently occurring on the geopolitical scene and which mean that the whole defence industry is being transformed.

We know that thousands of jobs have already been lost and thousands more will be lost in the next few years, and they were highly technical jobs as the red book of the Liberal Party pointed out. I would like to know to what extent his government is sensitive to that phenomenon, since it was in the red book, but it has not been mentioned since October 25. In my opinion, it would take some strong and courageous action by the government to help the companies affected switch from military to civil applications.

In this context, I would like to ask him whether he considers that the construction of a high speed train in the Quebec-Trois-Rivières-Windsor corridor could compensate, technically and financially, the cancellation of the helicopter program? Also, does he not think that MIL Davie of Lauzon, builder of military ships, mostly for the Canadian government, which has set its own plan of conversion to civil work, should be given immediately the contract to build the ferry for the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, to offset current economic pressures? These initiatives would be in line with the proposals of the red book.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4 p.m.


Jon Gerrard Liberal Portage—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is very important for us, in Canada, to consider what is going on in the world. The things you mentioned, that is the changes in the military situation, are really important. There is more than one answer.

There are all sorts of opportunities which have to be looked at very carefully. I gave the example of North Bay. North Bay is a community very significantly affected recently by the decrease, the reduction in the base.

When I was there what was phenomenal was that three days after the budget, in the wake of this announcement that this base was going to be reduced and the NORAD headquarters was going to be moving, people from the health area, the education area and the business area were brought to the community to work together to build an integrated community network, to build a strategy for the information age that would put North Bay at the hub of the information highway in northern Ontario.

That is but one example and the examples that the hon. member chose were different. We have to look at these opportunities as we build for the future and we have to look at new technologies, just as the member suggests. Perhaps in this way we can move forward together to build for Canada the new highways, some of those information highways, other highways and trains, perhaps, that will join this country together in new ways and build a better country for all of us.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4 p.m.


Joe Comuzzi Liberal Thunder Bay—Nipigon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my colleague for his maiden speech in the House of Commons. It was well put and very thought provoking.

We know how important the information highway is and will be for all of Canada in order to develop our educational resources and our health resources. I wonder if my colleague would mind spending a few moments to tell the House, and through the House the rest of Canada, how the information highway that he envisages will assist the small and medium sized businesses in this country in which we have all conceded the jobs that Canadians so sorely need are going to be developed.

The question is how would the information highway assist these small entrepreneurs in order that they may benefit from this remarkable technology?

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4 p.m.


Jon Gerrard Liberal Portage—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a big question and a complex one. In point of fact, the information is enabling in whatever domain, whether in farming, fishing or tourism. In tourism, for example, using the internet we can tell about the beauties, the opportunities of our areas, and reach 30 million people more easily than we might in any other way.

In real estate, we can take clients through a tour of a farm house, a factory, a residential house without having to be there. Thus, we may be able to better market the properties to people who are interested in moving and better show people areas without having to travel around quite the same way.

There are opportunities that people have already begun to take. In Newfoundland, for example, with the TETRA network there are individuals who have been able to move their fish culturing, their aquaculturing, much further ahead because they were able to talk on computer networks with people in British Columbia and learn about techniques which would move their business forward faster.

The information, the libraries, the possibilities of the future are endless. What we need to do is look at those opportunities, build on them and make sure that our communities are able to profit from them.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:05 p.m.


Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, hon. members' statements were quite interesting today. I could not help but think back to two conversations that I was engaged in over the last couple of weeks. The first conversation took place during a meeting I attended at which one of the speakers was talking about the information highway. The question from the group of people who were there came back: "What does that mean to me, I am still on a party line?"

In other words, what the person was saying was that our telephone system and the links that connect all of our homes in this country have not yet reached the technological level at which the benefits of an information highway can reach all Canadians.

Last week I visited one of the 22 Indian reserves in my constituency. On that reserve we were talking about the municipal infrastructure program and the ability of that program to fit a telephone system for the reserve. There are only three telephones on this reserve of 400 people. They cannot even call out their fire department. We talk about communications breakdown in this country. That community cannot even call out its fire department because it is not linked.

The municipal infrastructure program may not help with a communications infrastructure.

I am just wondering, to the hon. member who just spoke about the information highway and the growing technology that we are developing in this country, how we can apply the fairness of a good idea to all communities where our technology has not yet reached.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:05 p.m.


Jon Gerrard Liberal Portage—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member speaks of is very important. However, we have made significant strides in Canada. We have 90 per cent plus of the people on digital phones already, which is much higher than the United States. Although we have a long way to go we can apply our existing infrastructure program to the electronic highway as well as to routine infrastructure.

It is important for each community to look at how it can best position itself and use the infrastructure and other opportunities to bring it into the future and into the 21st century.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question and comment period has expired. We just ended five hours of debate on Bill C-14.

The rules require us to go to 10-minute speeches without questions or comments. It happened while the minister was speaking and therefore it takes effect after he finishes the questions and comments.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:05 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to debate on Bill C-14. I wish to speak to this bill in the context of the overall budget presentation by the Minister of Finance.

On the eve of the presentation of that budget the Prime Minister gave to the Minister of Finance a new pair of boots. Work boots, they were. By that act the Prime Minister said: "I am with you, Mr. Minister, and we want to get the people back to work".

The boots have no direction in and by themselves. The minister provides the direction and that is where things went awry. He created great expectations. A new process was presented to this House of Commons. We had a prebudget debate as never before. We had cross-country consultations from one end of this country to the other. It all turned out to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The individual Canadian felt uninvolved and unconnected.

Only an elite group of people was involved in the prebudget consultations. The Minister of Finance came back and told this House that the people were not opposed to broadening the tax base. It really meant increasing taxes. The people said: "You did not hear us. We do not want our taxes to increase".

He raised another expectation that this was going to be a tough budget. The people paid attention when the minister said that. They expected that the budget cuts would be tough and deep and that the budget cuts would be cutting particularly to the big spenders. They were willing to accept a tough budget not because they wanted less but because they knew it was the right thing to do.

It was right for them. It meant hope for jobs. It meant less government and interference in their business. It meant hope for a decent return on their investment and it contained prospects for continued prosperity. They also thought it was good for their children. In addition to those things they would get, their children would benefit through lower taxes, through a stronger dollar and a stronger economy.

What did we get? We got a blurred vision. We expected fairness and equity in cuts. While there were some cuts they were neither fair nor equitable. We got cuts in research which cut the KAON project in western Canada without a corresponding cut in central Canada. Research funds were increased for central Canada.

When one of the politicians in Ontario was told about the benefits and the characteristics of the KAON project, he was overheard to say that if it is that good it should be in Ontario-some foundation for equitable distribution of funds across Canada.

Second, we expected the budget to have an overall decrease in government spending. Instead, we got an increase of $3 billion. That increase adds to the national debt and smashes the hopes for lower taxes in the future.

Third, we were told that jobs would be plentiful. We discovered that the infrastructure program was to be the flagship that would start the economic engine and provide jobs. We looked for evidence as to where this would happen. There was none. The projected unemployment rate remains virtually constant throughout the projected budget years. Six billion dollars of infrastructure but no change in unemployment-what gain in jobs?

Fourth, we were promised that interest rates would remain stable, a little hope at last. We were suspicious. With increased spending and a larger debt could it be that interest rates would not rise? Last week the financial markets began to scold us and other borrowers globally. Especially in the United States interest rates began to rise.

The world around us is changing and Canada will be affected, whether the minister admits it or not. Rising interest rates spell bad news for a country that depends increasingly on foreign creditors to finance its government habit, annual deficits of $40 billion to $50 billion.

Our little calculators and computers showed us very clearly that as interest rates rise, interest payable rises, the deficit goes up, the proportion of the GDP required for interest payments goes up and our taxes go up, the very opposite of what we wanted.

The Prime Minister at various times in this House used words to tell us in effect that it is not good, indeed it is not moral, it is not carrying out our responsibility as guardians of the public purse if we do not pay increased spending with an increase in taxes.

It is immoral and irresponsible, he said, to place the burden for paying for our uncontrolled spending on the shoulders of our children and our grandchildren. He is the same Prime Minister who said to the finance minister: "Here is a new pair of boots". What for? To kick us and our children into an increasingly dismal future? We got a budget that destroyed both the vision and the promise of the Liberal red book as well as the promise for a tough and fiscally responsible finance minister.

Some say that is just a bunch of partisan rhetoric. Let us look at the international markets. Both stock and bond markets have taken a fright to the present prospect of higher U.S. and global interest rates. In this frightened market the finance minister added $40 billion of debt. That brings it now to a total of $550 billion by 1995. That is $20,000 for every man, woman and child in this country. As the interest rate rises the Canadian taxpayer must pay more. The discretionary spending decreases, the number of jobs is reduced and our consumer confidence goes down. Add that together and it is no surprise that people talk about a tax revolt.

However, it is not only interest rates. It is also confidence in the Canadian dollar. On March 2 and 3 the Canadian dollar dropped to below 74 cents. It is still there today. That increases the difficulty to borrow money from foreign creditors. All this adds up to an abrupt re-evaluation of Canada because the rest of the world is changing. Canada is not.

For example, the U.S. economy is growing at more than twice the rate of the Canadian economy. Its debt ratio to GDP is about half that of Canada. Hence, a rise in interest rates affects the market economy much less than it does Canada.

Within this context, the Minister of Industry said: "Many of our fellow citizens approach the future with more anxiety than hope. Our mission as a government is to offer hope but if hope is to be meaningful, it must be realistic. And so we have put forth in this budget a plan for the revitalization of the Canadian economy, a plan which I believe addresses the challenge and recognizes the opportunities that await Canada".

He then details a number of significant proposed plans and initiatives, many of which I agree with and commend him for. Of particular merit is the Canadian scholarship program of $24.7 million and the action agenda to help small business growth and to continue to generate jobs for Canadians.

I applaud him as he emphasizes "the need to change the culture and attitudes of employers and employees alike to the adoption of new technology. Advances in science and technology are driving productivity improvement everywhere in the world. In the 1990s no country can insulate itself from these new developments. We must organize ourselves to keep up with cutting edge technology and where possible move ahead. This is the essence of creating well paying jobs and growth in this decade."

He promises $100 million for the Canadian investment fund over four years and adds: "We will continue to seek additional funds in the private sector". The government will seek additional funds in the private sector. Where does he think the $100 million contribution came from? Did he create it? Did it fall from heaven? Did it come from the Prime Minister? No, it came from Canadian taxpayers, the most private sector there is.

The greatest catalyst for business is a reduction in taxes, a reduction in regulations, an elimination of interprovincial trade barriers, common standards of excellence in education and well trained personnel.

I challenge the minister. Will the Minister of Finance admit that this budget will not decrease government spending, will not decrease the tax burden of Canadians, will not lead to deficit elimination and will not meet the Liberal red book deficit reduction entirely? Will he instead challenge every parliamentarian and every committee to examine the estimates and then ask them to provide amendments that will decrease total government spending, that will at least not increase taxes to Canadians and lead to deficit elimination. Then the Minister of Finance will give Canadians a clear mission to provide hope and build confidence. He will be able to walk with pride in the new boots the Prime Minister gave him and we will have a 35th Parliament that will be democratic.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

To the member for London-Middlesex who perhaps was not here before the speech began, under Standing Order 74 we have to go to 10-minute speeches with no questions and answers. It throws everything out for everybody.

For example, the next speaker is not a member of the Reform Party. It is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Vancouver South B.C.


Herb Dhaliwal LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, this is the first opportunity I have had to make a speech in the House. I want to congratulate you on your appointment.

On February 22, Canada's finance minister stood before the House to release the first budget of Canada's 35th Parliament. By doing so, the government took the next step toward completing a process that began for us a long time ago, a process that originated with the desire to bring economic prosperity back to Canada and to bring personal dignity back to Canadians.

The recent election made evident that Canadians shared the Liberal vision of a better tomorrow, a tomorrow where a top priority of government is jobs and economic growth, a tomorrow where government acts with integrity, with respect for the constituency that it represents, a tomorrow where social programs are reinforced and strengthened by a caring government and not sacrificed under the banner of deficit reduction, a tomorrow where the government believes that tomorrow begins today.

In the recent speech from the throne we confirmed our determination to deliver on the commitments we made to the people of Canada during the last election campaign.

On February 22, we demonstrated our commitment by introducing decisive measures to reduce the deficit, by showing Canadians where and how we are going to pay for our program of economic renewal. We are taking the next step toward implementing that vision of a better tomorrow which Canadians overwhelmingly supported on October 26.

In my riding of Vancouver South my constituents have placed a tremendous amount of confidence and trust in me. They have entrusted me to come to Ottawa and to work with the government to ensure that their voices are heard as Vancouver residents, as British Columbians and as proud Canadians. They have asked me to battle for the interests of small and medium sized businesses. The majority of businesses within my riding are small and medium sized.

Whether those businesses are located on Main Street or Marine Drive or whether they sell groceries in the Punjabi Market or process lumber on the banks of the Fraser River, they all have one thing in common. For the past nine years they have been frustrated and feeling excluded from the economic decision making process that has shaped the country.

As a small business owner for most of my life I have promised small business in my riding that I would work with this government to promote positive initiatives, initiatives which will encourage growth and security for Canada's small and medium sized business sector.

Traditionally the Liberals have focused much of their attention on the enhancement of the small business sector. I am proud to say that this budget reaffirms our commitments to small business by providing it with tax relief and by improving its access to capital. This budget provides the two ingredients crucial to building a vibrant business culture. Most important, however, the budget allows small business owners to do what they do best; manage their businesses.

While this budget makes significant progress in addressing the key issues for the smaller business sector, some challenges still remain. One of the most significant challenges that small businesses face is attitude, the attitude that big is better. This must change. If small businesses are to flourish the measures taken in this budget will make substantial progress toward eroding this attitude.

Another significant challenge to the small business sector is the increasing paper burden. This burden has hindered growth and reduced productivity for many businesses. We must find a way to alleviate the paper burden.

A further challenge to growth in the small business sector is the GST, long seen as a thorn in the side of small business. We must find an alternative to the GST so that Canadians will once again have the confidence to invest and to take risks, a process which is essential for growth.

My constituents have also asked me to be frugal with their tax dollars. British Columbians are honest and hard working people. They are angry with the way they have seen governments spend

their tax dollars. During the election the people of Vancouver South asked me to work toward putting an end to the waste and mismanagement of past governments and to act responsibly with their tax dollars.

The government knows we cannot ask Canadians to pull together in hard times if we are not ready to make sacrifices. The budget demonstrates that we are willing to make those sacrifices: a smaller, less expensive cabinet, the Gagliano plan, and a "just the facts" budget all demonstrate the government's commitment to ensuring that the hard earned tax dollars of Canadians are not wasted. The government knows that we must continue to work with Canadians to make the tough choices needed to get our financial house in order.

My constituents have asked me to ensure that we do not compromise when it comes to our environment. I consider myself very fortunate to come from British Columbia, a province that has both a mild climate and unparalleled beauty. After experiencing my first winter here, I am confident that when I initiate a private member's bill to move the national capital from Ottawa to Vancouver I will receive tremendous support.

British Columbia offers a unique natural environment which I humbly submit is unequalled in the rest of Canada. It is a combination of mountains, oceans and forests, which ensures that British Columbians remain conscious of the impact our actions have on the environment.

No government owns the oceans, land or air, yet every government has a responsibility to protect our natural environment for present and future Canadians. We must never forget that we are only the trustees of this world. Our challenge is to pass it along to our children in a cleaner and healthier state than it was passed to us.

I hope to work very closely with cabinet, both in my capacity as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and as a representative of a constituency very much concerned about protecting our environment.

My constituents have also asked me to ensure that government remains compassionate, both nationally and internationally. During the election my constituents asked me to ensure that despite the pressure to cut back on government expenditures, a Liberal government would maintain Canada's record of compassion and continue to provide for those areas of our society which need our help.

February's budget announcement allowed me to return to my riding and show my constituents that the government, while still acting responsibly, has remained compassionate. Whether it means ensuring fair pensions for the elderly or providing opportunities for less fortunate Canadians, the government will not abandon those in need.

But compassion does not end at home. In some countries in the world freedom is not a right, it is a dream. In some countries in the world human rights abuses continue regularly unchecked. Many of my constituents come from countries which have track records of human rights abuses. They know first hand the difference between good and bad democracy. They are confident that Canada as a role model for human rights and compassionate government will not lose sight of its international responsibility as a facilitator for justice. They are confident that this country will never allow itself to be silenced by commercial interests when speaking out on human rights issues.

My constituents asked me to represent their diversity. Like Canada, my constituency has a diverse ethnic and cultural base. Many of my constituents are first generation Canadians. They have come here with their hopes and dreams and have become part of the Canadian mosaic. They offer us diversity, a diversity which I believe contributes greatly to Canada's national identity. It is our responsibility as the Government of Canada to ensure that we continue to represent our nation's diversity, that we continue to represent the constituency which we serve.

The Liberal government is proud to be working to include a truly representative cross section of Canadians. I am proud to be a part of that change.

I inherit a proud tradition in my riding of Vancouver South. Nestled between West 41st to the north, Canada's largest fishery, the Fraser River to the south, and Boundary Road to the east, my riding has had a long history of demanding a high quality of representation from their elected members. John Fraser served Vancouver South for 20 years and during that time was distinguished with being the first member of Parliament to ever be elected Speaker of the House. It is in that tradition of strong parliamentary representation that I am privileged to follow.

In conclusion, I would like to humbly thank my constituents for placing their trust in me to represent them at the federal level. My constituents have placed a tremendous challenge before me which I am proud to meet. Every long journey begins with the first step. On October 26 we took our first step on the journey toward economic prosperity for Canada. On February 22 we took another long stride.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Capilano-Howe Sound, Immigration; the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata, National Arts Centre; the

hon. member for Provencher, Labour dispute; the hon. member for Winnipeg North, Tobacco.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Abitibi.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:30 p.m.


Bernard Deshaies Bloc Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity today to voice a different opinion on the last budget and on the impact it will have and not have on people in Canada in general and in my riding in particular.

The Canadian budget exercise is something extremely serious and we cannot speak about it lightly. It very often means life or death for projects or economic activities on which individuals depend. For example, in my riding mining is very important and generates income for the whole country.

Some people have criticized the budget because it does not do enough to create jobs for Canadians. Others have criticized it as well because it does not deal strongly enough with the national debt. Very often, deluged by figures, Mr. and Mrs. Average Citizen, do not know who to believe and why they should trust anyone. A budget should inspire confidence.

Although the budget is an accounting tool which allows the government to evaluate its financial capabilities for the coming year, it is often perceived by Canadians more as a means of taking more money out of their pockets than a tool for improvement and progress.

With an accumulated debt of over $500 billion, and consistent deficits, year after year, how can Quebecers and Canadians have any confidence in their government? What should we do so that this exercise, which is so important to the country's economy, does not always, or nearly always, end up being a source of frustration but rather a tool of choice to fire up the country, if not bring it back to life?

Canada's economic situation does not allow the finance minister to give presents to taxpayers, they understand that, but to give the budget a positive image does not necessarily require presents.

Following the last budget, I heard many Canadians say on open-line shows how disappointed they were with it. I am not going to say whether they were right or wrong. Obviously, the Minister of Finance cannot please everyone, but he must try to correct inequities.

When listening to these people on the radio, one realizes that the budget could have a much more positive image if people could see in this accounting exercise the promise of some changes for themselves and people around them.

During one of these open-line shows, a lady gave her opinion of the budget saying that even though she was personally affected by it, she agreed to pay more taxes, as a retired senior, to improve the country's financial situation. But she also said that, with a deficit still that big, and despite her willingness to pay more taxes, it might be an exercise in futility.

Another caller, who introduced himself as a federal civil servant, said that he was also obliged to do his share for the country, without being asked to, by accepting a further wage freeze, but added that he would have hoped that major companies would also have done their bit.

I only gave the example of two citizens in the Hull-Ottawa area who, even though they were disappointed, accepted to support the last budget, knowing probably that their efforts would help control the deficit.

I am certain that there are other members in this House who could give as many if not more examples of Quebecers and Canadians who agreed, willy-nilly, to support the fight against the deficit. Faced with such examples of courage among our fellow citizens, I wonder if the government is really trying as hard as they are to control the deficit.

How are Mr. and Mrs. Joe Public to believe that the government is truly making an effort to curb the deficit when year after year, the Auditor General of Canada tables a report rife with examples of waste and mismanagement and when no serious attempt seems to be made to reverse the situation?

How are we to believe that things will change and that people will put their trust in this new government and in the new budget?

In its recent budget, the Liberal government indicated that it would be considering ways of replacing the GST with another tax, one that would not, of course, be less expensive since the government still needs revenues, but one that would be more efficient. Unfortunately, people heard the same song and dance from the Conservative government when the GST was introduced. Yet, it cost more today to administer the GST that the former tax, besides which the GST does not really generate more revenue. All this after taxpayers were forced to spend millions of dollars to meet GST requirements.

How are we supposed to trust the government once again when it speaks of a new tax, when all of the experts are saying that we should wait until this same GST is improved before we think about bringing in a new tax. How are we to restore the public's trust in its institutions? The steady increase in taxes gives the public all the more reason to turn to the underground economy and to contraband. The government has to start by finding a way to make legal work viable.

High levels of public expenditures and government indebtedness impede economic growth to the same degree as the underground economy and smuggling.

If it is to enhance the government's credibility, the budgetary process must be transparent. High-income earners would be willing to make additional sacrifices provided, of course, they

saw in the budget that the government was prepared to do likewise.

In the past, governments have always favoured tax increases or taxing target groups, the aim being not to hit everyone at the same time. The preferred approach seems to be: divide and conquer. With the result that those who are penalized are frustrated with those who are not and vice versa the following year, except that we remember only of those years when we are personally affected.

Such a policy may be profitable for a government in want of a new mandate, but this is not the kind of policy which promotes solidarity among fellow citizens or confidence in their elected representatives, if they think that taxation policies are often arbitrary and selective if need be.

The Canadian people would agree to make an effort if the government was demonstrating by its actions the firm will to tackle its pattern of expenditures instead of cutting a little in this or that item.

The Liberal government could have shown a great deal of openness and transparency to restore the confidence of taxpayers by accepting that the committee requested by the Official Opposition on many occasions be set up to review all government programs as well as their budgets.

I think it was easier for the government to say that we already have the Standing Committee on Public Accounts than to accept to be faced with questions from the public through the Official Opposition.

The Minister of Finance himself said in his budget speech that it was not enough to cut here and there, that fundamental changes were required. Does this means that the government intends to do as much to reduce its own spending as it is asking from the taxpayers?

On the subject of joint efforts to reduce the deficit, would the taxpayers not find that the thing to do on the part of the government, when they are facing a drain of over $14 billion in taxes over the next three years, would be to cut government spending further instead of announcing that it will increase by another $4.4 billion during the same period?

Taxpayers would be proud of their government if it took the initiative of streamlining government structure not from the bottom up, but the other way around and reviewed its programs, because only 12 per cent of government programs are actually assessed and, even then, not always with regard to performance but only to ascertain that funds are well administered, that is to say that they are going to the right place. Savings of only a few percentage points on a budget of $123 billion-without taking interest into account of course-resulting from a review of operating budgets and the rationale of certain programs, would put a very substantial amount back in the public purse, and the taxpayers would appreciate that.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, the people of Canada as well as those of Quebec have the right to require from their government more transparency in its budget, more fairness, more self-assessment and that its make as much of a sacrifice as it asks from the taxpayers.

When that has been achieved, the vast majority of Canadians will trust their government more and certainly accept to make all necessary efforts to fight the deficit.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:40 p.m.


Marlene Cowling Liberal Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, as I stand before this House to deliver my maiden speech I want to say how honoured and proud I am to be part of this new Liberal government in this 35th Parliament.

I firmly believe our Minister of Finance has delivered a budget which lives up to our campaign promises in the red book. This budget will bring back a renewed sense of confidence and hope to the people we serve.

I come to this House as a farmer from a rural constituency on the prairies. My constituency is Dauphin-Swan River. I would like to take a few moments to tell hon. members in this House about it.

Mine is a rural constituency in the northwest region of Manitoba. It is very large geographically. The major industry is agriculture with all of the infrastructure and necessary support services that go along with that. In addition we have forestry, commercial fishing and tourism.

Within the boundaries of Dauphin-Swan River are two major parks, one federal and one provincial. Our agricultural base is well diversified. Our land base is one of the most fertile and productive in western Canada.

Even more diversified than our economy are our people who derive from a broad and diverse cultural and ethnic base, including 13 native reserves. It is this very diverse group of people who on October 25 placed their confidence in me to represent their interests in this place. I thank them for this marvellous opportunity to serve. I assure them I will do everything in my power to live up to their expectations.

Of course the good people of Dauphin-Swan River did not just vote for me. They also voted for a party and a leader who had a plan. It is a plan to create economic growth and put Canadians back to work, a plan to stabilize the agri-food industry with a national food security policy, a plan to establish a new partnership with aboriginal peoples, a plan to preserve and enhance our social safety net, a plan to lead Canadians into the 21st century with a renewed sense of confidence, optimism and hope.

That is what the people of Dauphin-Swan River voted for. They have a right to expect no less. That is what we will deliver.

There are a number of initiatives already undertaken by the government which I am sure the people of Dauphin-Swan River will view favourably. The cancellation of the helicopter deal was a campaign promise that was kept. The conclusion of the GATT negotiations will be a particularly encouraging sign to the farm families involved in the grains and red meat industries in Dauphin-Swan River and in western Canada. These industries require ready access to export markets and cannot help but be pleased at the prospect of an end to the international grain trade wars.

The hon. minister of agriculture should be complimented on his handling of the very sensitive final stages of the GATT negotiations.

The mayors, the reeves and their respective councils of the towns and rural municipalities in Dauphin-Swan River are anxiously awaiting responses to their applications on the infrastructure program so that they may use the jointly funded program to the advantage of their communities and of course to create jobs.

Let us now look at some of the additional provisions of the budget speech itself.

In addition to the infrastructure program there are a number of provisions which will be viewed favourably by the people of Dauphin-Swan River: the government's commitment to economic renewal and job creation through the establishment of a new internship and apprenticeship program and the establishment of a Canada youth service corps; the government's commitment to research and development, particularly agricultural research; the government's commitment to the development of an information highway which could be of great consequence to the future development of rural Canada; the government's commitment to establish a centre of excellence for women's health; the government's commitment to establish a national forum on health chaired by the Prime Minister; the government's commitment to a consultation process to replace the GST; the government's commitment to enhance the opportunities for small and medium sized businesses in the Canadian economy; the government's commitment to provide stability in transfer payments to the provinces.

All of these commitments are clearly reflected and are provided for in the budget. All of these provisions will be viewed positively by the people of Dauphin-Swan River. They will be seen as a constructive step forward in fulfilling our election promises.

Finally we have a government which will restore honesty and integrity and openness to our institutions of government.

Finally we have a government which is prepared to give the highest priority to job creation and economic growth.

Finally we have a government which is committed to strengthening the social fabric of Canada.

Finally we have a government which is committed to the sound management of our nation's financial affairs not to just talk about it, but to do it.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Congratulations to the member on her maiden speech.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:45 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to represent my own convictions, those of my constituents and millions of other Canadians.

I rise to voice my profound concern over an issue of the highest import. Other issues pale into insignificance compared with the substance of Bill C-14, an act to provide borrowing authority for the next fiscal year. If it is passed the bill before us will authorize the government to borrow up to $34 billion, adding still more to the debt that is already without precedent in Canadian peacetime history, an astronomical sum which is difficult for us to even comprehend.

It troubles me deeply that this bill has received so little attention and so little talk on the other side of the House. We need the attention of the nation today. We need all members in this House, members who are watching on television or reading Hansard to sit up and notice the incredible event that is taking place.

It is obvious that the government considers this bill a fait accompli, a routine proceeding, just a boring formality to thrust this legislation in the face of an indignant opposition, listen awhile to its useless tirades and then pass it without second thought. The government has adapted easily to the incredulous thought of borrowing $34 billion.

We all enjoy the ability to adapt to new situations. Adaptability is a coping mechanism and it allows us to live in truly abnormal ways and yet somehow develop a frame of mind which sees a situation as normal even though circumstances are far from it.

We see people with major disabilities get on with their lives and live happily. On TV we watch the kids in Sarajevo tobogganing the day after the shells stop falling. This is a good quality. It allows us to make the best of a bad situation.

This ability to adapt also has its downside. We can become desensitized, unable to detect the lowering of standards about things which would have shocked us just a few short years ago. That same adaptability allows soldiers to shell children in Sarajevo and find it acceptable.

Somehow I fear that this ability to adapt has enabled this government to descend into a fiscal frame of mind that allows us to think the unthinkable and accept it as normal. To illustrate, let me quote from the Auditor General's report of 1976. He said: "I am deeply concerned that Parliament and indeed the govern-

ment has lost or is close to losing effective control of the public purse".

The deficit in 1976 was $6 billion. The debt was just $37 billion but it was not considered normal at the time. The situation was regarded as nearly out of control.

Consider for a moment the Lambert commission, a royal commission on financial management that reported in 1979. The commissioners noted that our debt to GNP ratio was twice the figure of the U.S. government, and what was the deficit in Canada in 1979? It was just $13 billion. The debt was only $61 billion, a pittance today. The government was so alarmed that it appointed a royal commission to investigate it.

The words that this government speaks merely echo those that have been spoken over the last two decades of deficits, seeking to cast the deficit and debt in the light of normality, trying to save face, attempting to lull the electorate into believing that our situation is somehow acceptable.

Little by little, year by year we spin neat phrases and explain it with eloquent phrases and words and clever accounting tricks that merely hide the deadly truth a little longer. We are like frogs swimming in a pot of hot water. We do not know that we are going to be the supper until the water is boiling. It may be too late if this bill and this budget are passed by this House of Commons.

Governments often, for example, pull out their shabby comparison between debt to GNP ratio with our ratio just after World War II, saying that our situation was the same then, do not worry. They do not mention that the entire world was different. The baby boom was beginning. The U.S. was the unchallenged economic world leader with a burgeoning economy and an insatiable demand for our natural resources.

There was no global competition, no necessity for intensively trained workers as there is today. Our position today is uniquely perilous. A child could see it, but this House continues to hide its eyes.

In February this government brought in a budget and acted in precisely the same way as its old political enemy, the Conservatives, who took no real action against the deficit, and demonstrated that they had no will to change the status quo. What are the consequences of maintaining the status quo?

A few weeks ago I attended a seminar with the senior economist of Burns Fry Limited. After comparing our economy with the state of other world economies, he stated that he believes we may well have come to the point of no return. There is no way we will ever be able to pay our debt back. Our economy will become permanently hampered by our debt and we will become progressively poorer as a nation. That is the result of maintaining the status quo.

When we see the size of the debt and the size of the deficit, governments past and present should hang their heads in shame. It is a debt of $20,000 for every man, woman and child in Canada. The plan is to add another $100 billion to that debt. This is a virtual guarantee that future budgets will be able to offer Canadians even less in the way of essential services, even less in the way of job creation, less tax relief and even less of a future.

In the 10 minutes it takes for me to finish this short presentation we will have piled another four million dollars on our national debt.

How could we have come to this? I believe we are all sincere and reasonably intelligent men and women. Could it be a systemic problem, a deep rooted problem with our political process that in some cases derails the public interest?

I believe our problem is systemic. It is a difficult, pernicious problem that threatens to engulf this nation in a sea of debt. The problem is the strict discipline that political parties impose on their own members. It is a shame, really, especially since political parties were originally formed in response to the public demand for good government, government that would not cater to special interests or be bought with the taxpayers' own money.

Party affiliation has allowed Canada to have stable government, but in recent years it has also led to governments whose agendas have been set by a select few people at the top. Something has gone wrong. Voters have come to the conclusion that strict party discipline has paralysed Parliament, making a mockery of true democratic principles. Members are not free to vote for what they know is right. They have to vote for what their leaders tell them is right.

Today we are considering a historic bill, an infamous bill. It may be the bill that renders our fiscal situation truly impossible. We are grinding our economy into mincemeat and offering little to hundreds of thousands of desperate and frustrated workers.

I know that many members opposite and those watching on television disagree with the course of this government and I want to speak directly to them today.

Listen to the stinging indictment of the Globe and Mail editorial from last week: ``This generation of Canadians in this Parliament is imposing a lower standard of living on the next generation through sustained, profligate borrowing. The national government is turning into a large and feeble creature, sapped of the power to take initiatives, presenting a caricature of leadership. This budget makes a mockery of Jean Chrétien's promise of a return to the good old days. In the good old days the

future was not mortgaged to the selfishness and cowardice of the current generation".

This government speaks words, words and more words; words of calm assurance to its backbenchers that all is well. However, the backbenchers should be aware that those words are also accompanied by the not so subtle warnings of the school yard bully: "If you don't vote how we trained you to vote, no more favours. If you don't go through the motions, jump the party hoops, bow and scrape to our policy of disaster, you're out of the club".

Many government members will remember a few short weeks ago when they were told by their party how to vote on the selection of the vice chairs of the standing committees of this House. They will not quickly forget how some of the party veterans worked the committee rooms using their influence to ensure that backbenchers did as they were told, forcing them to vote for separatist MPs as vice chairs of every single committee.

How quickly the die is cast. How easily they have been poured into the mould that we had hoped was broken after the last election.

Now on Bill C-14 they have been told once again not to vote for what is obviously in the public interest, not to vote for their conscience, vote the party line even if it means stealing from their grandchildren. Members opposite have been lulled into a sense of false security by the calm demeanour of their party handlers. They have been deceived by smooth words and bullied by quiet party threats to think that borrowing $34 billion in addition to the $500 billion we already have is somehow acceptable.

I hope their adaptability serves them well. I hope they will be comfortable when the debt rises to $600 billion and the IMF moves in and imposes cutbacks on Canada. I hope they will be flexible when the dollar falls through the floor and Canadians begin to live with a crisis similar to the one that engulfed New Zealand only a few years ago. I trust they will calmly adapt when their grandchildren ask why they did not vote for their interests, why they thought only of themselves. I hope they have already formulated a plan to cope with an enraged electorate after it has experienced the effects of Liberal actions.

There is a way out. I understand and agree that the government is charged with bringing in a budget and ordering its legislative priorities. That is as it should be. Let there be no mistake. The vote on Bill C-14, and even the next generation will see it as such, is a vote of conscience as much as any other vote in this Parliament could be. It deserves the treatment that the Reform Party has been calling for for years. It deserves a free vote in this House.

I truly believe that if government members looked into their hearts they would say it is not in the public interest to add this much debt and deficit on to the Canadian people.

There is a simple answer. If only 40 backbench MPs wanted action and not words they could alter the course of Canadian history, they could defeat Bill C-14 and the Reform Party would not request dissolution. The government could try again and bring down a more acceptable budget. Those few members could revitalize this House and the economy and Canadians would be spared the shock that they will otherwise feel in the years to come.

We are engaged in a battle today, an economic struggle against poverty and want. At this critical time when we need to marshal all of our national resources for the fight, the Liberal leaders have laid down their weapons and ordered their troops to raise white flags. It is too soon for any member to surrender to anything but the national interest.

The Reform Party of Canada calls upon all members to take courage, to take up the power of the votes and fire an opening round against the deficit by defeating Bill C-14, not for any party or for any low political purpose. Do it because conscience compels it. Do it because the good of the nation demands it and do it because our children's tomorrow depends upon some discipline today.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

4:55 p.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are several models of governing which a society or a community of people could choose in order to determine how it wishes to be governed and how it hopes to achieve its common goals. Of all the models, the democratic model demands the longest period of time for identifying, clarifying, implementing and assessing these goals. Without any doubt, it is the most expensive in terms of time and human energy required for the tasks that are essential for its maintenance and survival. It could also be the most expensive financially. However, there is no other model of governance that is superior to the democratic one, for it is in the democratic process that the very nature of man is recognized and taken into consideration.

Over a lengthy period of time a network of systems has emerged that have attempted to meet the individual's physical, mental, social and spiritual needs. But all of this is taking place in local, national and global environments which are in a constant state of flux, constantly changing.

It is imperative for our society to be in harmony with these fluctuations. It is not always an easy task to identify the changing forces and the long range directions. It is equally difficult to determine the emergent needs of our peoples and

their institutions. A dictator could readily solve these problems according to his own whims or fancies.

However, in a democratic society we must turn to the people for guidance and that is exactly what this government did. With a new leader the Liberal Party of Canada proceeded on an uncharted course, one in which every constituency had the opportunity to provide their perceptions and recommendations through representatives, not only from every facet of our society but from a multitude of other foreign sources. All this resulted in the Liberal plan which our Prime Minister stated "is a plan for Canada, anchored in the principle that governing is about people and that government must be judged by its effectiveness in promoting human dignity, justice, fairness and opportunity".

No doubt the opposing political parties in this House of Commons subscribe to similar principles. However, the big problem is how are these principles to be achieved. As an example the Official Opposition has clearly revealed it must devote all of its energies to the accomplishment of one goal, that being the separation of Quebec from Canada no matter what the cost might be. The third party, the Reform Party, is obsessed with the state of the national deficit and the national debt. It feels it can effectively promote human dignity, justice, fairness and opportunity by slashing federal programs and services in order to eliminate the deficit within three years.

Economists throughout the entire world warn that such a move would wreck the social network and play havoc with our economy, leading to unimaginable social and economic problems. Both opposition parties maintain policy positions of special interest groups and in no way do they reflect the needs of the vast majority of Canadians. The Liberal government is here to serve all Canadians.

The consultative process has never ceased to operate and in fact it intensified as we prepared for the presentation of the first budget. This government received input in a variety of ways from all over Canada. This government read and analysed the written communiques. This government listened to the people. This government acted in a responsible and constructive manner. This government, in light of all the problems with which it had to deal, set out a budgetary plan which has its foundations in people.

As an example I would like to share part of a letter received from several constituents in my riding of Thunder Bay-Atikokan. They state:

Our knowledge of politics and economics is very limited. But we don't think it takes a masters degree to realize that when the taxes go up, consumers don't buy; it is as simple as that. A reduction in taxes will give consumers more money in their pockets and they will be more likely to go out and spend it. Taxing benefit packages will serve to remove more money from the economy and stifle whatever remaining consumer interest there might be.

That is from a letter received from Messrs. Thompson, House, Boyd, Wolotko and Brodie from the city of Thunder Bay. The government heard these concerns and did not raise basic taxes. It did not tax benefit packages.

They also, like millions of their fellow Canadians, expressed their anxieties related to the unemployment-employment situation. These concerns were heard and collectively they determined where the major thrust of the 1994 budget would be: in a host of programs and measures that would enhance the prospects for the creation of jobs and continued economic growth.

I would like to give a few examples of budget initiatives that will have an early impact. First, the rollback of unemployment insurance premiums to the 1993 level of $3 for 1995 and 1996. This represents a saving of $300 million a year for the reinvestment in new jobs. The revival of the residential rehabilitation assistance program will make $50 million a year available for the construction industry. Making the home buyer's plan permanent allows first time home buyers to use RRSP funds to buy homes.

With the reallocation of budgeted existing expenditures, jobs will be created with the national infrastructure program, youth internship and apprenticeship programs. The government intends to renew and revitalize Canada's outdated social security system within two years and to deliver better service to those in need, thus ensuring the social safety net remains affordable.

These are but a few of the many budgetary measures stimulated by the Liberal plan for Canada, as found in "Creating Opportunity," the red book, a plan that promotes human dignity, justice, fairness and opportunity for all Canadians.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

5:05 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, February 22, the hon. Minister of Finance delivered his budget speech in this House. That day, announced a few weeks earlier, was awaited with interest by Quebecers and Canadians alike. The people of Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans, who elected me to represent them in the House of Commons, were also expecting a lot from this budget. They expected the government to start by living within its means and allow people to earn a decent living for themselves and their families, as every citizen is entitled to. They also expected the government to respect seniors who contributed to the development of Quebec and Canada, which, a few years ago, was among the most prosperous countries.

Like myself, the people of my riding are disappointed and cannot understand how, after democratically rejecting a government that did not meet their expectations, they are now governed

by Liberals who are proud to have the same policies as the previous government, the Tory government.

The real solutions to restore the confidence of Quebecers and Canadians lie in tackling the deficit, reducing departmental waste and duplication, reviewing tax measures, and creating permanent jobs.

This government put in place, before the budget, a municipal infrastructure program, which will create some 45,000 temporary jobs. Once the roads and sidewalks have been paved, the workers will go back home to live off whatever is left of the unemployment insurance program. However, this program will cost Quebecers and Canadians $2 billion in federal taxes, $2 billion in provincial taxes and $2 billion in municipal taxes.

Quebec and Canada need stable permanent jobs that generate progress and development. Has this government thought of developing the transportation industry in Canada? As transport critic for the Official Opposition, I listened carefully to the finance minister's speech. When I heard him present his forecasts to us, I said to myself that a government cannot build the future of a people on temporary projects. Maybe in a few minutes, he will announce a major project, something that will excite the people's enthusiasm, one that will serve several provinces or all of Canada, but the speech ended and I heard nothing, except the following paragraph that I quote from Hansard of February 22: ``The Minister of Transport will implement needed improvements to the surface freight transportation system with his provincial colleagues and stakeholders''.

When the Minister of Finance presented the government's policies for the next few years to this House, I expected him to give more importance to one of Canada's basic industries, namely transportation. Since this House opened, we have suggested possibilities to him.

Several projects could develop the economy, and I mention some that I would have liked to see in the budget speech: the future of the rail system, the high-speed train, the future of air transport and the future of the merchant marine in Canada.

The Minister of Finance had no concrete solution in his budget speech for improving transportation and thus solving the problems of economic development and unemployment.

If you allow me, Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell this House about the benefits of these projects for economic development.

First, there is the rail system. Canada's railways have brought the people together from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They developed the Canadian West. They also enabled Canada to become one of the world's largest wheat producers and to transport this product from coast to coast across the country. Yet today, at a time when other countries use railway transport as the basis for their development, the Canadian government is abandoning it everywhere in the country and particularly in Quebec.

The National Transportation Agency authorizes the dismantlement of numerous lines by CN and CP while, as I said earlier, these two carriers keep coming up with projects, especially in Quebec.

Without a drastic move to support railway transport, both for passengers and for freight, Quebec and Canada are going to be stuck with a spiralling increase of costs, not only because of the maintenance of the road network and the accidents which occur, but also because of the energy inefficiency and the pollution associated with automotive transport. The government, and the Minister of Transport in particular, must urgently develop a policy which will first take into account the public interest and which will be firmly turned towards the next century. Most industrialized countries, including the United States, are already doing so. I formally ask for a moratorium on any new abandonment of lines, as well as for the setting up of a parliamentary task force to conduct an in-depth review of the impact on the economy, tourism and especially the environment, of transport services as a whole in Quebec and in Canada.

Let us now talk about the high-speed train. I mentioned that our party had made suggestions to the government to develop the transport sector and improve the economy. Yet, the government and the Minister of Finance did not take our suggestions into account in the budget. What a surprise to hear the Minister of Transport tell a CBC reporter that setting up a high-speed train link between Quebec and Windsor was not a priority. Yet, on February 1, I described to this House all the benefits a high speed train along the Quebec City-Windsor corridor would have for Quebec and for Canada.

I have read and reread the report the Working Group submitted on May 31, 1991, to the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Robert Bourassa, and to the Premier of Ontario, Mr. Bob Rae. This report bears the signature and meets the approval of key figures known to be influential members of the Liberal party now in office.

I do not think that I have to convince anyone in this House that Canada does need short-term jobs to boost the economy, but it also needs long-term jobs to solve the economic problems it is facing. The Working Group mentioned in its comments that it had the distinct impression, like a great many representatives of the industry, the business community and the population in general, that a high-speed train providing hourly service between the cities of Quebec, Trois-Rivières and Montreal and the cities of Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, London and Windsor would

encourage interprovincial travel and reinforce business and travel activities.

The success of high-speed trains in other countries was proportionate to the will of the governments to change the attitude of consumers by regulating mass transit and providing direct financial support.

It is also important to note that improvements to the commuter-rail system and regional rail services could reduce the use of private cars, particularly where there are traffic jams on highways close to urban areas.

When we analyzed the proposal for construction of a fixed link between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, we agreed, while pointing out that certain precautions were necessary because of the strong involvement of the private sector. We approved of the proposal for a high-speed train for the same reason we approved of building a fixed link between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, because this project will help inject $5.3 billion in private investment into the Canadian economy, and this does not include indirect spin-offs.

There is another very important component of Canada's transportation industry, and I am referring to air transportation. Our two major carriers are now restructuring after reaching agreement on a number of contentious issues. We must now do everything we can to help them get ahead and become major players on the world market.

I believe we have two dynamic companies that are capable of opening up new markets and participating in Canada's economic development, and we must give them every opportunity to do so. For instance, would it not make sense to speed up and facilitate Air Canada's access to Hong Kong, a market that is bigger than all European markets combined? There are forecasts that in the next five years, there will be incredible growth in air transportation to and from Hong Kong, the most significant source of air traffic in Asia.

Finally, I would like to mention marine transportation. The budget speech refers to improving surface transportation but does not say how.

Mr. Speaker, you are signalling that my time has expired. In concluding, I want to say that together we can prepare the future of the generations of tomorrow and leave them a legacy that will be more useful than a deficit of over $5 billion.

We must work together in the interests of our fellow citizens and ensure that future generations will have a better life. For the first time in North America, statistics tell us that our children's standard of living will be lower than ours. We cannot accept that without doing anything to change it, and change it we must, not by attacking the weakest members of our society but by building on the legacy of past generations.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

March 7th, 1994 / 5:15 p.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I am privileged to rise to speak about the first Liberal budget of the 35th Parliament. I might add that this is the first budget I have had the pleasure and honour to address.

Today we are considering Bill C-14 respecting the borrowing authority for 1994-95. The passage of the bill will raise funds for public works, for general purposes and for the operations of government. I fully support the bill because it limits the government's borrowing authority. The people of Don Valley North and many other ridings across the country voted for cuts in government spending. They gave their approval to the government's plan for fiscal responsibility.

The budget is only the beginning of a new process which started on October 25, 1993. This process will deliver a major promise made to Canadians in the red book. We are committed to bringing down the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP in the next three years. A great deal of credit must be given to the hon. Minister of Finance for his part in consulting with Canadians from all regions and all walks of life before bringing down the budget.

This first budget is a good beginning as I said earlier. It tackles the problem in three ways. First, it is building a framework for economic renewal to help small businesses and create jobs. Second, it is a reduction in the spending on government operations, on defence operations, on subsidies to businesses and on international development agencies. Third, it is a progressive reform of Canada's social programs which will include unemployment insurance reform, review of services for our aging population and social justice issues.

On February 17 I made a statement in the House in support of full funding for the national literacy program. I am especially pleased today that the Minister of Finance pledged on budget day to restore full funding to this program. No budget can please every Canadian and this budget is no exception.

On October 25 the Canadian people gave the new government a mandate for change. I am very happy to be part of the mandate. I will take the challenge very seriously.

I represent the riding of Don Valley North which is located in the city of North York at the northeastern boundary. There are approximately 90,000 constituents from all corners of the world resulting in a diverse mixture of cultures and languages. Don Valley North is a riding we can all take pride in. It is a success story for our government's multicultural policies.

I came to Canada in 1970 after three years in Chicago, Illinois. I first joined my parents in Montreal, Quebec. Afterward I moved to Toronto. I married in 1975 my wife, Zaza, and we are proud parents of four children: Raffi, Tamar, Vatche and

Gacia. I thank all of them for their continued and generous support over the last few years.

My election to the House of Commons is a significant part of Armenian history in Canada. The first Armenian immigrant came to Canada in 1887 and settled in Port Hope, Ontario. I am the first Canadian of Armenian descent to have the honour of serving in the House of Commons.

On the first day I came to the House as a new member of Parliament I was so moved that I had tears in my eyes, tears of joy and happiness. I reflected on 127 years of Canadian history. I remembered former prime ministers, past leaders of the opposition and members of Parliament. I noticed the flag on the Prime Minister's bench and the Speaker's chair. There were so many significant symbols of this House of Parliament that I felt overwhelmed to be a part of its history. I rise to the challenge to do my best to change the course and prepare Canada for the 21st century.

It has been a long journey for me, over 20 years, but I can say it was worth every day of it. I am no longer dreaming the Canadian dream. I am living the Canadian dream. I thank first and foremost the residents of Don Valley North for their trust and confidence in me. Second, I would like to thank the Don Valley North executive, my campaign manager, the team and the hundreds of volunteers. I would not have been here without the support of my colleagues and the captain of the A team, the right hon. Prime Minister. During the campaign I was very honoured to have my leader visit my riding of Don Valley North on a Sunday morning for breakfast. Over 600 constituents came to breakfast and learned firsthand what a great leader the Prime Minister of Canada was.

In the next four or five years we will be judged by the people who gave us our mandate. We have been asked to bring back Canadian values. We have been challenged to bring prosperity and hope to Canadians. The budget is an important step for ourselves and for the next generation. I fully support the budget. I invite Canadians to join us in formulating the next budget. The process was started today. Let us work hard hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder toward a better future.

In closing I remind the House of President Lincoln's speech on his second inaugural address when he said:

Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.