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



Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, because it raise a very important issue. We have a comprehensive vision, and I wish the hon. member could understand that. Our vision involves several objectives on which we have to work. We cannot work on only one objective at a time.

As far as the small businesses are concerned, you can laugh all you want and you may not be proud of the fact that 30 per cent of small businesses are headed by a woman, but I am. Even if these women do not have access to all the capital they need, they do represent a very important proportion of business owners.

Second, in order to help our young people, men and women alike, we must make sure that there will be a bridging system.

A bridging system between education and the workforce would equally handle men and women leaving the universities and the campuses. It says right in our red book, which I suggest the member read, and in the budget that there is a very important undertaking in which it will be equal and interesting for women as well as men.

There is another whole area in which we see the disenchantment of young people. We are undertaking a youth initiatives program. I sincerely hope that those school dropouts, along with the literacy programs, will ensure that Canada as we move into the telecommunications age, as we have already moved into the telecommunications age, will have the best trained, the best intellectual material out there and the most competent workforce so that we can stay number one.

After I travel and come back to Canada I can kiss the ground it is so wonderful. When I go to Montreal, c'est magnifique à Montréal.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders


The Deputy Speaker

Time for questions and comments has now expired. Resuming debate, with the Official Opposition. Bloc Quebecois members may wish to share their speaking time. The Chair recognizes the hon. member for La Prairie.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders



Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the next speakers for the Bloc Quebecois will each take 10 minutes.

This budget contains a number of desirable initiatives that have been described in great detail by government members. According to the Bloc Quebecois, however, these measures remain incidental. There is no comprehensive plan with specific objectives, no global vision providing a medium-term perspective and supported by strong measures to put public finances on a sound footing, make drastic cuts in the government's operating expenditures and improve the employment situation.

During four prebudget seminars, the minister consulted his socioeconomic partners as they had never been consulted before. I think we all remember that. The minister had mobilised his partners. The public was prepared to tighten its belt, provided the cutbacks were fair and would require all taxpayers to do their fair share, all of course, to help reduce the public debt.

Still in the initial months of its mandate, the so-called honeymoon period, the Liberal government had a unique opportunity to send out the right signals and change the course of Canada's public finances. However, consulting is one thing but making difficult decisions is another thing altogether. Instead of changing course, as all Canadian taxpayers expected the government to do, what happened? We expected leadership, a change from 20 years of letting public finances slide in this country, a process that started under Pierre Trudeau's Liberal government, as you will probably remember.

I think the government should look at what is being done by Premier Klein of Alberta, who is of course too far to the right for the present Liberal team. Nevertheless, by cutting where he has no other option, Mr. Klein will eliminate Alberta's deficit in three years, and in the future, this may be the only Canadian province that can maintain an adequate social safety net, all because the inevitable cutbacks were done at the right time and not under pressure from international lenders who, one day, will force the federal government to make these choices.

According to us, the deficit reduction forecast in the budget brought down by the Minister of Finance is far too timid. The deficit for 1993-94 was artificially inflated to $45 billion, but according to us, this legacy from the Conservatives should be more like $42 billion. The forecast deficit of $39.7 billion for 1994-95, just under the $40 billion mark, is based on an expected $9 billion increase in tax revenue. If this increase does not materialize, the deficit for that year will be $46.9 billion. We see the same scenario applied to the projected deficit for 1995-96.

The Department of Finance expects the 1995-96 deficit to be $32.7 billion. This would require an increase in tax revenues of $8.1 billion-another increase for the second consecutive year. The government hopes to bring the deficit down to $32.7 billion by March 31, 1996. To do so, it is projecting a total increase of more than $17 billion in tax revenues over the next 24 months. However, it has yet to deal with the problem of smuggling and the underground economy, most tax shelters have been maintained and taxpayers' ability to pay has already been stretched to the limit.

The adjustment of Canadian companies to the new global economy, with all the industrial restructuring and manpower adjustment that involves, is not yet complete. There is also the much needed conversion of military infrastructures to viable civilian projects, but instead, the government has decided to close or downsize a number of military bases in this country.

At a time when rapid change is making new directions mandatory and a new economy is emerging that will impose certain costs before it can be viable, can we expect a real increase in tax revenues as projected by the government? The government's projection is based on a 15 per cent increase in tax revenues over the next two years, in the uncertain climate we have just described.

The deficit will not go down. It will not reach 3 per cent of GNP by the end of this government's mandate. It is clear the government has missed the boat. Like Tory ministers Wilson and Mazankowski, the government is depending on a putative increase in tax revenue to deal with the deficit, while the only way to reduce the deficit in the short term and eliminate it in the medium term is to make drastic cuts in government spending.

The revenue forecasts are unrealistic, and even if they prove to be true, the federal government's net debt would still be $511 billion by March 31 this year, it would go up to $551 billion by March 31 next year and would reach $583 billion by March 31, 1996.

The government has failed completely in its much-awaited initiative to reduce its own operating expenses. Imagine, trimming $413 million from a program budget of $122.6 billion for

1994-95. This represents a reduction of roughly one-third of 1 per cent. The government has failed to make the kinds of deep budget cuts demanded by taxpayers during the last election campaign.

The Minister of Finance tells us that he has begun to put in place the principal components of a plan which should reduce the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP by the end of this legislature. Cutting operating expenditures by one-third of 1 per cent cannot be viewed as a serious deficit reduction effort.

The government will never meet its target. It has pulled the wool over the voters' eyes. Departmental operating budgets will be trimmed by $1.6 billion over three years, while unemployment insurance and social security transfer payments to the provinces will be reduced unilaterally by $7.5 billion over the same period.

Quebec, which has its considerable share of unemployed, will be especially hard hit. Is this what is meant by viable federalism? Having failed to clean up its own house, the federal government will demand from the unemployed and the least privileged an effort nearly five times greater than that which it will be asking of its five federal departments.

In conclusion, this budget does not solve anything. It does nothing to ease the tax burden of middle-class families who clearly could have boosted the level of consumption. The budget also fails to deal with the problem of administrative laxity repeatedly criticized by the Auditor General. Once again, in moving to broaden the tax base, the government has ignored family trusts and the idea of a minimum corporate tax. The problem of administrative overlap and disagreements between Ottawa and the provinces will be fuelled when Ottawa sits down at the bargaining table with $800 million to invest unilaterally in occupational training.

This budget only postpones the hard choices. They will be that much harder to make and the provinces will have an even heavier burden to bear, whereas the federal government will be shifting responsibilities onto these same provinces' shoulders without transferring to them the relevant tax fields. The entire tax base will be barely adequate enough to support the federal debt which has grown to prohibitive proportions.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Broadview—Greenwood Ontario


Dennis Mills LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest to the member that the single biggest factor that could contribute to the government's reaching its revenue targets is the member's ceasing his campaign of trying to separate Quebec from the rest of this country.

I listened carefully to the member's remarks. I believe the pressure that we are receiving from international borrowers right now has to be affected by the talk of separation that goes on in this country.

Every economist in the world would agree that confidence is the most important factor in any economic equation. We must have confidence in the community, confidence in the country. When people look at our cities, I suggest right now especially the city of Montreal, the province of Quebec, there has to be a nervousness when members here talk about separation.

I would like to ask a very simple question of the member. Does he agree that the talk about separation is the most damaging factor in putting confidence back into the economy of this country?

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:10 p.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I would like to tell him that in 1984, the Conservative Party of Canada was elected in Ottawa.

In 1985, the Liberal Party was elected in Quebec, and I can tell you that there has never been more constitutional stability than during those years from 1984 to 1993. As the then Conservative Prime Minister used to say, the reason Quebecers had supported his party in 1984 was to give a last chance to federalism in Quebec and, in his own words, bring Quebec back into the Canadian Confederation with honour and enthusiasm.

A period that I would describe as a calm spell in terms of constitutional matters followed the election of the Bourassa Liberal government in 1985. Mr. Bourassa and the Conservative Prime Minister got along very well. Those were truly calm times with regard to the Constitution, but the federal debt grew from $200 to $500 billion just the same from 1984 to 1993. In fact, the federal debt more than doubled over that period.

I think that those were the calmest times. Then, as you will recall, we had the referendum on the Charlottetown Accord in October 1992, and for Quebecers and Canadians in general, this was a really calm spell. Yet, the federal debt never grew so much as during those years.

I think that the point the hon. member made about the effect talk about Quebec's separation could have on investors and interest rates is really-today, interests and confidence come into play much more at the global or North American level. It has nothing to do with the people of Quebec expressing a preference for the Bloc Quebecois or another party or opting for sovereignty in a referendum. I think that, in the medium term, this will have very little influence on the economic situation.

There may be some short-term effects, but in the medium or long term, I do not think that it will do much.

We have had a nine-year or so calm spell, both in Quebec and in Canada. Yet, never has the federal government debt increased so much.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:15 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to speak on this motion concerning a ways and means bill, which deals with the government's budget intentions as well.

Of course, I will take the same position as the previous speaker and say how disappointed my constituents and I are with the budget.

This morning, I watched the Liberals enter the House and I understand why their heads hang low. I understand their disappointment. They have just spent a week with their constituents in their ridings and I suppose that they had the same reactions as voters in my riding. They probably said, "What kind of budget is that?"

Yesterday, I met a doctor, who said to me, "I was expecting to pay, I was expecting to be taxed, but no, they did absolutely nothing, even though I was prepared to make an effort as long as it covered the deficit".

I also met officials from the labour movement in the Sorel region, including Mr. Lachapelle, who told me: "Why did the government not present a budget? It presented intentions".

The Conservatives were always consulting and you push consultation to an extreme. That is what people in my riding told me.

Some thirty committees will be formed to consult, but throughout the election campaign, they went around with the red book saying, "We have a solution for everything. Elect us and you will see us present a budget with the government's intentions for each department". But no. They tell us: We will consult you, we will go off on consultations again and consult the same people who were consulted before the red book was prepared.

Now they do not have the courage to react. They are falling into the same problem as the Conservatives, presenting the same kind of budget as Mr. Mazankowski or Mr. Wilson, with economic forecasts of 2.5, 3.5 and 4.2. The Conservatives did the same thing. They made overly optimistic budget forecasts and, as the previous speaker said, we will wind up with a budget deficit of $46 to $48 billion, just as the Conservatives were doing.

Those words are full of promises and consultations, but contain nothing concrete. Worse-and that, hon. minister, is unacceptable-is the fact that a quarter of the $4 billion in cuts are made on the backs of the unemployed, who are not lazy. When former minister Valcourt attacked the unemployed, he at least announced his intention to go after those who take advantage of the system. At that time, the Liberal members opposite, led by the Deputy Prime Minister, rose to express their indignation. But what have we here? A regular attack against honest people who have lost their jobs.

It is not true that, when a plant closes, these people choose to go on unemployment. According to the minister, the government's intention is to encourage people to stay in their jobs for longer periods by reducing the number of weeks of benefits. People are told to expect 30 or 20 weeks of benefits instead of 40, maybe 35 if they work for 50 weeks. They reduce the number of weeks while telling people this will encourage them to keep their jobs. These people do not go on unemployment by choice but because of the recession, because of plant closures. It is unemployment, not the social fabric that must be tackled.

Mr. Speaker, we are witnessing not a cut but an increase in expenditures and revenues due to a wider tax base. What a nice new thing to say, "We will increase taxes in other sectors, just like the Tories did". We hope-like the previous speaker said-for Canada's salvation. We are told it will come from external demand, from our exports. But they refuse to change the system. As I was saying earlier, with these hopes, we will end up with a $46 billion to $48 billion deficit. One year lost.

But I understood when they talked about the red book, because the Liberals are expert at using words with a double meaning. Remember Trudeau when he fought against Stanfield over price and wage control. He said, "Never!" Six months after coming to office, he implemented Stanfield's very policy. Remember when the Liberals talked about the just society. I remember my father shopping for shoes; when the salesman asked him how they fit, he replied that they were a little tight or "juste" in old French slang. It is like the just society they were talking about. We thought they meant a just society in social terms. But they just meant "tight". That is their vocabulary. Today they talk about the red book. I thought it was named after the party with the red logo. But no, it is because they want to write Canada's economic history in red. However, our financial book should be written in black. Then I would understand.

They tell us they will be good managers, good administrators. I remember that, after going to see my 92-year-old aunt Laura on her deathbed, my father told me, with tears in his eyes, "Son, we need a priest to administer the last rites". They use the word "administer" in the same sense, to administer the last rites. They want to bury-but we are used to their language. They can remove their masks now that we have recognized them.

I can see the disappointment on your faces because you are back from a week of consultations in your constituencies which was extremely disappointing for you. Yet, when you first arrived here in January, you proudly said that votes would now be different. Indeed, you were going to comply with the good intention and resolution of the Prime Minister and vote according to your conscience. The time has come to do so. The vote will take place in the next few days, so now is the time to

express yourself, to represent your constituents the way you said you would during the first week of the session.

Mr. Speaker, this budget does not respect at all the commitments made during the election campaign. Contrary to what the red book said, there is no incentive for small businesses, there is an increase of the tax burden, there is no job creation initiative, no employment strategy and no help to exports, but there are cuts to regional development. This budget is a disappointment and does not satisfy anyone in my riding nor, for that matter, in the whole of Quebec. This is a budget which takes deadly aim at the unemployed, the elderly, the regions, and, which is even worse, at the have-nots, the low-income workers, and particularly the jobless. At the same time, the minister's friends, who are millionaires like he is with a fortune estimated at $40 million, will not suffer at all. At the same time too, the Prime Minister attends banquets at $200, $300, $400 or $500 a head. He says to his friends: "See how good we are to you because you financed our party. We acknowledge that and the budget does not adversely affect you. We go after the unemployed, the have-nots, the elderly, but you the wealthy with family trusts and money hidden in tax shelters, we protect you". The Prime Minister then gets an ovation from his business friends and forgets about Canadians in general.

However, all of you ordinary members of Parliament who were elected by Canadians should tell the minister that you have uncovered his ploy.

We thought the minister would give the example and deliver a budget to eliminate waste, but it does not even propose solutions to the unemployment problem. Instead, the government targets the middle class as well as seasonal workers and forgets about family trusts.

What are some of the measures which could have been taken in this budget? Let me give you examples of cuts. Former minister Séguin in Quebec said this: "The decision not to give $1.2 billion to Gulf is a conflict triggered by the interpretation of the definition of petroleum development revenue and it could have been avoided by simply amending the act". How was the government able to think and decide to eliminate the helicopter contract in Quebec yet not do so in the case of Hibernia? Why was there no in-depth review of the construction of a fixed link between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick? Why did we not make an in-depth review of tax havens, foreign affiliates which cost us $25 billion, the reduction of the government capital expenditures, cuts to non-restrictive grants provided to major corporations which total almost $18 billion, the reduction of the government vehicle fleet, the application of the GST on listed shares, which are all recommendations made by the Auditor? We could have cut $5 billion right there.

Because of a flawed resource allowance income tax provision, the government lost $1.2 billion, as was also mentioned in the report. That is all I will say on this issue. I could give you many other examples where we could have cut, but the lack of a rigid process to analyse government spendings is quite obvious. The federal system is completely out of whack and the government is unable to manage it. Instead, it is launching new programs and increasing the tax burden by more than $18 billion for the next two years.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:25 p.m.


Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, if I have learned anything in the last 100 days from the party opposite, Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, it is that we certainly have to ignore much to get on with something. That is something we have learned over the last 100 days from that party.

That member has the nerve to accuse this government and this party of saying one thing and getting on with something else. That member over there is the chameleon of chameleons. He can certainly talk about Progressive Conservative ideas. He sat in this House and got elected as a Conservative, did he not? Then in chameleon-like fashion, for some cause he moved from this side of the House to sit on that side in the back row. Then he went on to fight an election not for Canada and not to represent his province in this great country of ours, no. He got elected in this country to promote what? To separate his province from the rest of Canada. That is what he wants to do. That is the agenda of the member opposite. He has nothing to add to this budget.

To quote the member opposite, he says it is a budget that disappoints everyone, that satisfies no one. Obviously the member does not keep in touch with constituencies outside his own.

There was a multitude of comment made following the budget like: "Canadians still show a high support for the federal Liberals even after a budget that tightened restrictions on unemployment insurance and closed military bases across the country". Before February 28 the following comment was made: "Nearly six in ten adult Canadians surveyed by the pollster Angus Reid last Tuesday through Thursday said they preferred the Liberals, a 17 point increase over the party's share of the vote in the October election". Imagine that.

This is the period for questions or comments and those are my comments. Even in Atlantic Canada where the budget cut the deepest, as the member pointed out, Liberals have the support of 65 per cent of decided respondents. That is quite amazing. We just do not know where the member is coming from.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:30 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, after this budget, I would worry about the next opinion polls. If they want to talk about the fact that I was a Conservative, we will talk about it. And I may remind you that the hon. member in the Chair today, who is a member of your party, was a member of the Conservative Party when I was. However, he had the guts to leave. He was just a backbencher, but when the GST came out, with some of its applications, he crossed the floor.

I may remind you that when I was a Conservative, I voted against my government on a number of occasions. I voted against Bill C-22, which went against the interests of Quebec farmers. I walked the picket line with postal workers when my government wanted to pass legislation against the postal workers and letter carriers. I often voted against my government, and when that government intended to go back on the promises I made to my constituents, I had the guts to cross the floor.

Would you? You just went back on your own promises. Would you have the guts to vote no and cross the floor to say: I will no longer sit with this government? Yes, I was a Conservative. Yes, I am proud I left and had the guts to do it. I wonder if you would.

A government that attacks the unemployed the way you are doing, with $4 billion in cutbacks, including $1 billion at the expense of the unemployed-not cheaters but bona fide unemployed workers, as I said earlier-is hypocritically passing the buck to the provinces. Shortening the unemployment period by several weeks will put people who are no longer eligible for unemployment insurance benefits on welfare and will cost Quebec $280 million annually. In the rest of Canada, this will cost about $600 million.

This comes after the government made a formal commitment to conduct full public consultations on social services before making a decision. And yet, the strategy of the ministers of finance seems to be to proceed regardless. In concluding, as I believe my time has expired, I would say that giving this minister of finance responsibility for the finances of Quebec and Canada is worse than letting Dracula run the Red Cross Blood Bank.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:30 p.m.


Murray Calder Liberal Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak today on Bill C-14, an act to provide borrowing authority for the government for the upcoming fiscal year.

The borrowing authority is based on the financial requirements set out in the budget delivered by the Minister of Finance last Tuesday. The critics have been unfair and often contradictory in their assessment of the bill. Criticism is easy. Hard work and tough choices are not.

The budget presented Canadians both with a vision and a balanced approach to deal with our financial problems. This balanced approach of deficit reduction, economic renewal and social reforms contains all elements of the government's top priorities: jobs and growth.

I would like to discuss deficit reduction. During prebudget consultations Canadians told the government that the deficit should be reduced by cuts to spending, not by increasing or introducing new taxes. There are no new taxes in the budget. Clearly the budget signals the end to tax and spend government.

Over the next three years more than $3 billion will be cut in government operational spendings over and above the cuts of the 1993 budget. The salary freeze for public servants will be extended for two years and applies to all politicians. Budgets for ministers' offices have been reduced by $13 million annually. There will also be a review of every government appointed agency, board and commission.

There have been cuts to all areas but defence has received some of the most intense scrutiny and criticism. There are those who have tried to turn these closures into a regional or a language issue or use them to support their own agenda. This is truly unfortunate. We all have to share the pain. In my riding the closing of the Angus depot will have implications for future rail service to the area and for the local economy. Everyone is calling for spending cuts as long as they do not affect them. We must all share in the difficult decisions.

The budget has employed other measures to reduce the deficit. Subsidies to businesses have been cut in excess of $225 million as set out in the red book. Also numerous tax loopholes have been closed which will target incentives better and bring greater fairness to the tax system.

As part of the government's balanced approach focus has been given to economic renewal. The Canada infrastructure works program has received considerable attention. In my riding of Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe there are over 30 municipalities including county governments. Critics of the infrastructure program say that the municipal governments cannot afford the program. I find it strange, with all the municipalities in my riding, that none have indicated a plan to take less than full advantage of the opportunity provided to them.

Why should they not? Thirty-three cent dollars are better than any other arrangement they have been able to work out with a senior level government. The infrastructure program is one of the first concrete examples we have seen in many years of a recognition of federal government responsibility to lower tier governments. In many municipalities economic recovery cannot begin without upgrades to the infrastructure. In my riding, for instance, the town of Mount Forest where I live cannot issue any further building permits; no new houses or industries can be constructed without upgrades to the municipality's sanitary

sewer system. The spinoff effects of this program are twofold: first, the construction jobs created by the building of the improved sewer facility and, second, the jobs that will be generated by the subsequent growth that can now take place.

A number of other initiatives will lead the economic growth: a rollback of the unemployment insurance premium rate to the 1993 level for 1995 and 1996, saving businesses $300 million a year that can be reinvested in new jobs; a Canadian technology network to help small businesses gain access to new technologies; making the homeowner's plan permanent; and allowing first time home buyers to use RRSPs to buy homes.

One of the most important initiatives is the improvements being made for access to capital, specifically a Canadian investment fund to provide venture capital for innovative companies, and specific plans to work with banks to establish a code of conduct for small business lending, allowing entrepreneurs a recourse for unfair rejections of their applications.

I wish to turn to the third component of the budget, reforming Canada's social programs. Many of Canada's social programs such as unemployment insurance and welfare were created decades ago and no longer meet today's needs. The primary objective is to ensure the programs are reoriented toward helping Canadians enter the workforce and away from dependency. We have already seen some experiments aimed at revitalizing our social programs taking place in the provinces.

The government will provide $800 million to test innovative reform proposals to help give unemployed Canadians the practical skills they need for real long term jobs. The method the government plans to use to revitalize these programs will be the same as for prebudget consultations: open. The government is making the review process a co-operative one, ensuring input from all provinces and from all stakeholders.

The three components of deficit reduction, economic growth and social reform are the components of the balanced approach taken by the government. The steps introduced are the foundation upon which we can build to ensure jobs and growth in the Canadian economy.

I am under no illusion that despite the initiatives taken by the government we are still faced with certain realities. The bill before the House is indicative of the problems we are facing. The bill contains the basic principles of a borrowing bill: authority to cover financial requirements for the 1994-95 fiscal year and a contingency reserve. In total the government is requesting the authority to borrow a sum of $34.3 billion. This figure is part of the government's realistic approach to deficit reduction. The deficit will be reduced from the current $45.7 billion to $39.7 billion in the 1994-95 year and $32.7 billion the year after that.

The measures in the budget set us on a clear path to achieve our interim deficit target of 3 per cent of the GDP within three years. The budget delivers on many of the promises set out in the red book. It has laid the foundation to deliver on more. I ask members of the House to support the bill.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:40 p.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker of the House. The understanding and welcome I have received from you and your staff has made my introduction to the House a pleasant transition, and for this I am truly grateful.

It is with honour and a great deal of humility that I make my maiden speech on such an important issue as the budget, an economic plan for Canada laid before us by the Minister of Finance, a plan that is the culmination of extensive consultations and input from all sectors. That is the main reason I stand to express my support for the budget.

I thank the residents of Scarborough Centre for entrusting me with their vote. I pledge to do my best to represent them and be their voice in Ottawa. They can be assured that the overwhelming mandate of October 25 will not be taken for granted.

One does not arrive here simply by being a candidate. It requires a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment. Please let me use this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all the volunteers who believed in me and worked tirelessly on my behalf during the campaign. They believed in our agenda. They believed in our party. They believed in our program as outlined in the now famous red book "Creating Opportunity". They believed that with its implementation our country would be put back on the road to recovery.

I also acknowledge my predecessor, Pauline Browes, who served Scarborough Centre well during the 33rd and 34th Parliaments.

The United Nations has designated 1994 as the Year of the Family and it is with great pride that I acknowledge my family and thank my wife Mary, my daughter Irene, my sons Paul and Daniel and the rest of my family for the encouragement and the tremendous support they have given me and continue to give.

I would like to pay special tribute to my parents who instilled in me family values, the values of citizenship and hard work and who always urged me to strive for my dreams. My father arrived on these friendly shores as a young man with an innocence and a desire to work hard and diligently to make a good life for his family. I will always remember the story of what he asked for

when looking for work, not how much the job paid but if there was work.

Like many other ridings, Scarborough Centre encompasses people from many different backgrounds and is reflective of the reality of Canada, a reality that has brought people from all around the world and retained the best of their culture and heritage. Added to the Canadian experience, it strengthens and enriches us as a nation and makes us all proud to say that we are Canadian.

The city of Scarborough derived its name from the diary of the wife of Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe. It was settled by Europeans in the late 1700s. In fact, one of the first homesteads in Scarborough is located in Scarborough Centre and a local collegiate is named for those first settlers, David and Mary Thomson.

Prior to that, the First Nations often settled in Scarborough and there are recorded village settlements dating back to the year 1000 AD. On the edge of my riding is a native burial site uncovered in August 1956 during the building of a housing subdivision. That site has been dated to 1250 AD. The motto of Scarborough is: "The city of the future", and that is what this debate is all about, the future.

This bill has been a source of considerable discussion in Scarborough Centre. My constituents have great hopes for this government and believe that we are the best vehicle if Canada is ever to rediscover that which has made this country great.

A government budget is not just a report on the financial status of a country. It defines the path to achieve change.

The riding of Scarborough Centre has been hard hit during the recession. There are empty store fronts and unoccupied plazas throughout my riding. The people of Scarborough Centre have suffered and are suffering and this budget gives them what we all so desperately need. It shows them the path toward renewal.

To assist job creation the government is prepared to roll back unemployment insurance premiums. Payroll deductions have long been the most punitive burden that small businesses could experience. It removes incentive for job creation and economic growth. The proposed rollback will save businesses $300 million.

I campaigned on family values, on reducing crime and on deficit reduction, but the emphasis was on job creation as a result of economic stimulation. I am very happy because there seems to be a climate of co-operation and understanding in the House, a feeling of wanting to do things right.

We put forward a recovery plan to the people of Canada which they overwhelmingly endorsed. The people know that we intend to keep our promises and commitments to them, but they also know that it will not happen overnight. "Stick to the plan", they have said to me, "show us leadership". I say, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the residents of Scarborough and to the rest of Canada that we have shown leadership and we have kept our promises. We shall make decisions for the benefit of all Canadians.

We cancelled the helicopter deal. We cancelled the Pearson airport deal. We launched the national infrastructure program. We reduced the size of cabinet and cut PMO and ministerial staff. We began the process to replace the most regressive tax this country has ever seen. The GST has hampered economic growth, job creation and is far too complex for small businesses to endure. These are but a few examples.

The government will not put off for tomorrow what it can do today. We have charted a course to prepare our youth, the future of our country. We have charted a course to rebuild and modernize this nation so that we can be competitive and ready for the 21st century. Let us not be shortsighted. Japan, Germany, the U.S. and Ireland are all preparing and investing heavily in infrastructure programs and development.

Let us not repeat the shortsightedness the North American auto industry showed in the past. I have spent the past 20 years of my professional life in the employment industry and I have seen firsthand the devastation of our labour force. I have seen companies turn a cold shoulder to loyal and dedicated employees for the sake of a better bottom line. This cannot continue.

The government has a responsibility toward the improvement of the country and its people. Our country needs us now more than ever before. We need to tell the world that we are one united country. We are dealing with a global economy that changes every day, where trade occurs at the press of a button, where stability swings to instability at the utterance of a single phrase. During these turbulent times we must put Canada's interests first. We must show commitment and co-operation.

I stated earlier that the world is watching us very closely and that we must not allow other countries to determine our national agenda. There is a tradition in our family that family differences are resolved and stay within the family.

In conclusion, allow me to emphasize that the task at hand is to rebuild our country. We must make it once again a beacon of hope to its people and to the world. No one should undermine its stability. If anything we must show the world that we are and intend to be one united country.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Broadview—Greenwood Ontario


Dennis Mills LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from Scarborough Centre on his maiden address to the Parliament of Canada. I know that the words he delivered to Canadians today are not only words with this

member but they mirror the action that he has taken not only during the last four months as a member but also in his previous role in the community.

I have a very specific question I would like to put to the member for Scarborough Centre and it has to do with an issue on which he campaigned vigorously during the last election. It concerns access to capital for small business.

I would like the member to elaborate to the House and to the rest of Canada about some of the discussions I know he has had with me and others in our party about that particular frustration and what he recommends we can do to help rectify the problem.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:50 p.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the excellent question.

As a small businessman I must say that one of the stumbling blocks any small or medium sized business has today and has had for quite some time is access to capital, access to the right doors.

In our discussions over the past several months, in meeting with the various representatives from the financial institutions, the government is not just talk and no action. We have brought these people down. We have specifically expressed the concerns we have heard from the extensive consultations that have taken place in our ridings.

I spoke with Mr. George Gigis not too long ago. He sent me a letter indicating how he wants to expand but he needs the help of a financial institution. The government has taken a proactive approach to not just asking these institutions to co-operate. We have said to these institutions, no more talking. We want results. They are opening up the process. Male and female, they will have equal opportunities to access to capital so they can invest in modernizing and retooling and hiring staff. In this way they can expand their business, increase trade as trade pacts throughout the world are expanding and we can have our fair share.

I am confident that these institutions are now starting to turn around. We have seen the signs. They have said directly and indirectly they are prepared to co-operate. They are prepared to lower their demands on loans and so far I am quite pleased that we are on track to help the small and medium sized businesses and with the payroll deductions as well to help them expand.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:50 p.m.


Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I too extend my congratulations to the hon. member on his maiden speech. It is a very special moment in your political life when you stand before your colleagues and express yourself in that way. I do acknowledge that and I congratulate the hon. member.

I would like to give a slight preamble to my question. The member presented a fairly brisk overview of the initiatives in the budget. My assessment shows 18 new programs and 15 program reviews will be undertaken by the Liberal government. This is going to lead to pressure to increase spending.

It is incredulous to me that a realistic approach to deficit reduction is to borrow more money. I do not understand that kind of financial management. That is not how I manage at home.

I acknowledge all the consultation but consultation is not analysis. Therefore my question to the member is this. What analysis, if any, of the impact of the budget on sustainable job creation has been undertaken by the government?

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:55 p.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am puzzled. They indicated we have not cut enough. Last week one member from the Reform Party bombarded this side stating that we did not do enough. The critic for defence got up and congratulated the government on how it cut so deeply but that it did too much. I am really confused.

I have a simple philosophy: we must invest a dollar to make a dollar. The government has not increased taxes and this is the good news I bring to Scarborough Centre. We have taken from other sources to invest in our economy. We know there have been no tax increases. It is spelled out in the budget. We have taken resources from other areas to invest in programs.

For example, the infrastructure program is one that all the municipalities have embraced warmly. We know that the jobs are coming but it just does not happen in 100 days. This program is a two-tier program as well. Therefore a phase of it will unfold as each day goes by.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Time has expired. Perhaps the member would indicate, when he starts, if he is going to share his time with the member for North Vancouver.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

12:55 p.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, yes it is the intention of the Reform Party to share time during this debate.

Given the financial situation facing our country today, it is not appropriate for anyone in the House to use the debt crisis for partisan political purposes. We should really be taking a much more bipartisan view of this whole thing and saying that if we were being attacked by a third party, what we would we do as a nation. How would we respond if, rather than the incredible debt we have facing us, it was a third country. What would we do? Would we run off into our separate little factions and think that we each have the best idea? Or would we come together and say that we have a genuine problem here, folks? How would we go

about solving it? That is the approach Parliament has to take. That is the vision many Canadians have of the 35th Parliament.

If we are going to cut into corners of partisan bickering over questions which impact the country, whether we are members of a federalist group or members who have the intention of taking Quebec out of Canada, we have a common problem. If we approach this problem from the perspective of not in my backyard, the nimby process, we will never achieve it.

If I see a disappointment in this Parliament, it is that the representatives of the Bloc never seem to look at Canada as a whole. Whether it likes it or not, it is part of Canada. The Bloc and Quebec are part of Canada today. If that changes in the future, which I hope it does not, we will deal with it in the future.

However today we have a common problem, the incredible debt we have facing us as a nation. We cannot look at every line and say we were not treated fairly and moan and bitch and cry about it. We have to look at the nation's problems as a whole.

The government did two things right in the budget presented the other day. The first is the defence cuts. This was a difficult project for the Liberals as many of the cuts were in Liberal country. They are cuts which should have been made long ago and are now finally being done. All parts of the country suffered from the defence cuts, including Quebec but to a lesser degree than other parts.

Another good move in the budget was the planned cuts to UI payroll taxes. It might have been a far better move not to put the tax on payrolls in the first place. In any event, the government has seen the folly of increasing payroll taxes which is really a tax on jobs and does nothing to create employment.

There is no doubt our country is at risk because of our chronic overspending. I am sure everyone in this House agrees our generation is living beyond its means. It has been doing so for the last 20 years and is doing so at the expense of future generations. What can we do about it? We can deal with the problem as it is and not as we would wish it to be. We have to be honest about it.

In this budget the Minister of Finance talked about removing $5 of spending for every $1 of increased revenue. When you front end load spending so that it is not recurring spending and then say it is being taken out of the budget thus reducing spending, that really is a smoke and mirrors trick. All that does is feed the already existing cynicism in Canada toward all government institutions. We have to be honest about things and deal with them as they are. Unfortunately, the quicksand of wishful thinking is the reason we find ourselves in this mess in the first place.

As I mentioned earlier we have endured about 20 years of chronic overspending by governments of all stripes in this House and in every House across the nation. This House, this government and this budget are no different from us personally, from most businesses and most other governments when revenue is chronically overestimated and expenditures are chronically underestimated. That is the Achilles' heel of this budget and the one parliamentarians should be most concerned about.

This budget calls for an increase in revenues of approximately 15 per cent over the next two years. This comes after a decline in revenues of 5.6 per cent this year over last. At the same time the budget calls for an increase in expenditures of about .3 per cent. It is going to be particularly difficult to restrain the growth in spending, particularly if there is any negative change in the cost of money. If interest rates go up there is nothing the government can do about it and it will cost a fortune and will blow everything out of the water.

I fear that we have déjà vu all over again. Sooner or later we are going to have to deal with the problem of chronic overspending. We are going to have to deal with the problems as they are and not as we would wish them to be.

To be fair, this government has done a much better job than the previous government did in being realistic. However the government should carefully consider suggestions coming from this side of the House and the government side to actually start reducing and cutting programs.

Put sunset clauses into programs. Rather than talking about reducing the increase in the amount of planned spending and calling that a reduction in spending, actually look at last year's bottom line and say that less will be spent next year. Maybe we should consider some sort of zero based budgeting so that all departments have to justify what they are doing every year, just like a business would have to do it.

We must live within our means. Canadians must make the distinction between their wants and needs. We can afford our needs but we cannot afford everything we want.

As an example the International Centre for Human Rights, commonly known as the Broadbent centre, has sucked up millions of dollars since its inception around five years ago. What value has that centre given or brought to Canadians that could not have been done by another already existing department, other than providing Mr. Broadbent with something to do?

At the same time we have frozen the salaries of civil servants regardless of their income. Not all civil servants live like kings. Gilles Éthier is the maintenance worker who looks after my office in the West Block. I asked him what he thought of this

salary freeze. I asked him if I could raise this and talk about it in the House today.

Here is a real live person whom we see every day around this House. He makes about $24,000 a year. Ladies and gentlemen in Edmonton, with the expense of living in Ottawa $24,000 a year is not a whole lot of money. His salary has been frozen for two years and will now be frozen for another two years. How is it that we have $22 million or thereabouts to spend on the Ed Broadbent centre and at the same time we freeze the income of people at the bottom end of the income scale?

If Mr. Broadbent were standing right here in my shoes today speaking to this issue he would probably ask the same question. In all those years as the leader of the New Democratic Party did he not champion the little guy? How is it now that the little guy finds himself paying the salary of the big guy? No wonder so many Canadians are wondering who is in charge and what end is up. We need to do a line by line review of the actual spending in all departments and ask: Is or is this not necessary? If it is not necessary we must cut it.

How is it that Canadians in a lower income bracket whether through unemployment insurance premiums or whatever end up subsidizing people who earn dramatically more? I am talking about seasonal workers who might make $50,000 in a season but get unemployment insurance for four or five months of the year, while someone working for $18,000 or $23,000 annually pays unemployment insurance all year long and ends up subsidizing the person making twice as much. These are the things our Parliament has to look into so that we end up having equity and fairness. Then people will not feel as if they are being ripped off by the system.

It is time our government set goals and priorities for what we can afford and what we want. There must be more in it for people as individuals to contribute to society rather than to take from it. We should use this as a bottom line as the foundation of everything we do when we talk about income support and that sort of thing. We must become a people who think in terms of our responsibility to our country rather than our entitlements from the country.

Finally for the sake of our children, let us be the Parliament that finally takes responsibility for our spending and finally gets the country on the right track. If this government fails in its responsibility to Canadians to be stewards of the nation, then it will surely reap the same bitter harvest that befell the previous government which also had a mandate to deal with the problem, but neither had the vision nor the guts to do the job.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Broadview—Greenwood Ontario


Dennis Mills LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I share the hon. member's view that all of us in this House of Commons have a collective responsibility to address the nation's debt. I do not think we could find a member of Parliament who would disagree with that objective.

I would like to illustrate for the hon. member where we disagree on how to reduce that debt. The Reform Party has said day after day in this House of Commons that we have not made enough cuts in the current fiscal framework of this nation. There may be some areas where we could have made some more cuts but I would like to illustrate an example of where I think we have cut too much.

It is in the tourism sector. Tourism is this country's largest employer. It is a $28 billion industry. The national and international marketing budget for Tourism Canada is only $15 million. I personally think if we invested a couple of hundred million dollars and encouraged people to come here that would be a way of creating jobs.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

1:10 p.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that as a nation we spend a whole lot more than $15 million for tourism. Perhaps we should be looking at how we go about spending the collective money. All the provinces have separate tourism budgets. The federal government has a separate tourism budget. Air Canada and Canadian have separate budgets to try to get people to use their airlines to come to Canada.

The hon. member may have a point. If we get a better return on our investment by getting people to come to Canada, then that is certainly where we should be spending our money and perhaps we should not be spending our money supporting a business that would not be in business if the government was not supporting it financially. It is a matter of setting priorities, of where we can get the best bang for our buck and then sticking to it.

Perhaps we should be spending more money encouraging people to vacation in Canada going from one end of the country to the other so we can keep some of that money in Canada. Perhaps if our hon. friends from the Bloc spent more time in the rest of Canada and we spent more time in Quebec we would not have this problem in communicating with one another.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

1:10 p.m.


Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a comment and a question for the hon. member concerning an observation he made at the start of his speech.

He stated that the deficit and the debt crisis must transcend partisan political purposes and I agree with him. He subsequently said that we must not fall victim to the "not-in-my-backyard" syndrome and that we must avoid saying that we do not want to be singled out for these types of cuts.

I have an example for him. Consider a family with four children that is having financial problems and has decided to get a handle on its finances. Suppose that each child is involved in several recreational activities, but that one child participates in fewer activities than his siblings. Obviously, if his or her activities were cut to the same extent as those of the other children, he or she would react. The principle that I am trying to

illustrate is that of fairness or equity. In addressing the deficit and debt problems, the government must ensure that fairness and justice for all prevail. That is why from time to time, one must react to certain cuts.

I am referring to cuts in the military field. This explains a little why people often react somewhat more forcefully. Does the hon. member not feel that the notion of equity and justice must be central to the issue of getting a handle on the deficit, regardless of whether the objective is to raise revenues or cut expenditures.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

1:10 p.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Yes, Mr. Speaker, obviously equity has to be the foundation upon which all these cuts are made. Not only should equity be the foundation but it should be leadership by example and leadership from this House. The reason I have volunteered to take a 10 per cent reduction in salary is to show leadership by example.

The hon. member talks about children in the home and all children realizing the same impact of the cuts. We should first of all take into consideration that perhaps some of the children have gone their own way and are in a better position or are more financially able and capable of taking cuts than the others.

When we look at equity we have to look at the bottom line. Individuals and provinces in Canada that have the resources and the wherewithal to pay it are going to have to pay it. That is the bottom line.

Let me use the French military college in St. Jean as an example. There has been much said in Quebec about the closing of this college and it being a slap in the face to Quebec. The military college in Victoria closed as well. We cannot afford, on a reduced military as suggested by the Bloc, everything we want. I think this an area in which we are going to have to do with less. We must accept this.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, in speaking to Bill C-14, the borrowing authority act, it is important to look back and review the budget that was presented to this House on February 22 by the hon. Minister of Finance.

On February 23 a Vancouver television station, UTV, conducted a poll of 3,000 people in the Vancouver area asking whether the budget was too tough, not tough enough or just right. The results of that poll indicated that 65 per cent of the people felt the budget was not tough enough, while only 17 per cent felt it was too tough.

Clearly the people wanted the government to act. They wanted the government to act decisively and make meaningful and substantial cuts.

During the budget presentation, the hon. minister stated that it was the fifth time he had risen in this House to speak on a budget and it was the first time there had been anyone in the House when he spoke.

A constituent of North Vancouver called me to say that based on what he heard on the fifth occasion he was not surprised that there was nobody here on the other four. He said the minister was fortunate to have a captive audience to clap like trained seals for a budget that was badly flawed. I agree with the caller. There are terrible flaws in the budget that will have to be recognized by the members of the government as time proceeds.

The plain fact is that today we are debating a bill that plans to borrow up to $37 billion only because the Minister of Finance failed to do his job properly on February 22.

Before the government members become too depressed, I feel I should in all fairness do as my colleague did and mention that there were some good proposals in the budget. I agree with my colleague that the decision to freeze government salaries has some major inequities and it is a shame that there were not provisions put in there to deal with those.

However, the overall impact is beneficial to small business because an extensive survey taken recently by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business showed that on average most salaries in the government sector are still above those for similar positions in the private sector. By having this freeze for the next two years it will take pressure off of the small business sector to have to increase its own salaries.

Many workers in the private sector have taken wage rollbacks over the past few years as their businesses struggle with the tax burden and increasing costs. I think it is entirely appropriate that the government sector be seen to take some of the load while the economy recovers.

Moving to another item that came up in the budget, in my speech to this House on January 24 I commented on the government's red book proposal to establish a Canada investment fund. I suggested that permitting RRSP investment into some sort of mutual fund that invested in venture capital would be a good way to create finance for small business without involving taxpayers' money.

However, I also suggested that if the government went ahead with the fund anyway, which it has now done, it should at least put private sector management in place to look after that fund rather than make patronage appointments.

Who knows whether others were also urging the same thing of the member, but maybe the Minister of Finance was watching my speech that day. If he was and the suggestion of a private sector management fund appealed to him I congratulate him for including it in his budget.

I hope that the privately managed venture capital fund will be required to return a profit to the public purse while it helps new and innovative businesses get established.

In terms of the ongoing viability of small business, I was also pleased to note that the capital gains exemption for the sale of small business shares was retained. I would like to quote from a recent issue of the Times of London in which former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lament, writes: ``To grow, businesses and individuals need to plough back their profits, but capital gains tax and other business taxes work against this. They encourage proprietors to drain their businesses of cash. This has weakened small businesses and has made it difficult for many of them to survive the recession''.

Small business owners who provide most of the jobs in this country were encouraged to see that their investments in their businesses were protected.

Unfortunately just as the government members are starting to feel all warm and fuzzy about this budget I have to go back to talking about the appalling bill that is before us which asks for authorization for up to $37 billion more to be spent.

Did any member of this government ask their children and grandchildren whether they wanted us to borrow another $37 billion? How will the government members explain to their children and grandchildren that they sat here on a Monday in February 1994 and supported a mortgage on the future of the next generation? How will they explain the higher taxes and the reduction in government services or even a possibility of a debt crisis in the future as a result of this borrowing?

Some of the government members are pretty decent people. I even like a few of them, despite their permanent mind block against deficit reduction. Surely they cannot in good conscience support this bill knowing that it condemns their children and their grandchildren to a lifetime of debt and interest payments.

I am going to refer to a letter in the Financial Post of February 16, 1994. The writer says: ``A Post article of February 1 quotes Jean Chrétien as stating Canada's deficit is not out of line with international deficit levels and that his government will take a gradual approach to cutting it. What on earth does it take to make these people realize we have no God given right to live beyond our means on other people's money? Every businessman or businesswoman in this country knows very well that we would have been bankrupt years ago if we all handled our personal affairs as the previous Liberal and Tory governments have done for over 25 years. Millions of Canadians are fed up to the eyeballs with politicians blaming past politicians who blamed politicians before them''.

It is very disappointing to note that while they sit here blaming the politicians before them, government members opposite will vote in favour of a budget which does nothing to right the wrongs of the past.

They will vote in the hope that personal income tax which plunged by $6 billion last year will miraculously bound by $7 billion this year.

As I sat listening to the budget presentation I had a feeling of great sadness for I have already seen another country follow this same pathway. I have seen the denial and I have seen the failure to act and I have seen what happens when the bills finally have to be paid.

On the afternoon of February 22 I felt a little bit of anger and I felt a little bit of despair but the overwhelming feeling was sadness.

I know that many of the government members do not feel the same sense of urgency about the deficit that I feel and if I could just have one wish it would be somehow to transfer my experiences from New Zealand so that collectively we could start down a pathway to recovery instead of continuing down the slippery slope of disaster.

It would be a miracle if government members would vote down this borrowing bill but I truly wish they would.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

1:20 p.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my hon. friend and I listened to my hon. friend's colleague, the previous speaker.

I would normally go to some length to defend the institution that Broadbent heads up at a time of globalization and the need to have guidance for many countries now seeking the democratic tradition, particularly the former Soviet Union. If Canada could play a leading role in bringing democracy to those jurisdictions I think it would certainly not only be in their best interests and our best interests but indeed the world's.

I think it would be very much a role for Canada to play.

Earlier one of the member's colleagues indicated a concern in terms of the freeze on public employees' salaries and wages and the suggestion that people making in the mid-$20,000, $24,000, actually had a wage increase while others had them frozen.

I am simply seeking clarification in terms of the position of the Reform Party. Are its members suggesting that certain public employees, I guess maybe 200,000 or something of that nature, ought to have received a salary and wage increase and others either a freeze or perhaps even a decrease?

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

1:25 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party is always interested in addressing inequities or problems. I think what we wanted to point out here is that in any situation where you freeze a situation you also freeze inequities or unfairness. If you extend that freeze further without addressing the problems that your freeze created I think that is something we should all oppose.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

1:25 p.m.


Morris Bodnar Liberal Saskatoon—Dundurn, SK

Mr. Speaker, it was with interest that I listened to the hon. member speak about the blaming of previous governments for our woes. I simply wish to remind the hon. member that is exactly the position we have not taken.

We have taken the position that we will not blame anyone because we came in and we simply have a problem to deal with.

My question for the hon. member is with respect to the cuts that are being suggested. It is very vague as to what cuts should take place. Can the hon. member perhaps enlighten us as to the specific areas where cuts will be made? In particular, is one of these areas transfer payments to provinces?

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

1:25 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that the hon. member has agreed that the government should take the blame for whatever happens as a result of this budget.

By 1995 our debt is going to be 75 per cent of our gross national product. That is a little like billing $22,500 to a credit card when one only earns $30,000 a year. Sooner or later one is in deep trouble.

The Reform Party has a very comprehensive plan, an alternative budget. The Chair will not give me the two hours I would like to be able to give my own budget speech, but I invite the member to come across to our side and see all the details on the way we would cut.