That this House reject this government's totally inadequate target which reduces the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP within 2 years and will leave Canada, at the end of the period, with a federal deficit of about $25 billion, a federal debt of over $600 billion, $50 billion in annual interest payments and higher taxes.
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to stand today to speak to this motion, primarily because the Reform Party has broken tradition. This is an historic day. We have presented to the Government of Canada an alternate budget before its budget has been presented.
It is a particularly historic day because opposition parties have always been noted for opposition, for saying negative things, for carping about the problems created by various governments. They have never had the courage of their convictions, nor the wisdom perhaps, to put together an alternative and bring it forward. In this way not only Parliament can see, but so can all Canadians, that there truly is an alternative to the thought processes that have driven Canada to its financial knees over the last 15 years. I am exceptionally proud of what the Reform Party has done and proud to be a part of it.
I would like to read the section from our document that pertains directly to this:
"Reformers understand that there are many compelling reasons to eliminate the federal deficit quickly and decisively. Among them are the unsustainability of the Chrétien government's current fiscal path; the twin threats of rising interest rates and a falling dollar, and the need to prepare responsibly for the next cyclical downturn in the economy."
"Two more are of particular concern to Reformers: the risk that Canada's dire fiscal situation poses to our social fabric and the need to restore the confidence of Canadians and investors in the government's ability to manage its finances."
"The greatest risk to Canada's social fabric are the threats of annual deficits and a rising national debt, which over the past 30 years have crowded out many legitimate expenditures of governments."
"As was demonstrated most vividly in the last recession the government's ability to provide some stability during periods of economic dislocation is seriously strained".
At the news conference this morning where the Reform Party revealed all of the figures and the entire thought process behind our budget, there was a rather insightful question from a news reporter. He stated to the leader of the Reform Party: "I do not understand. When you last put together your budget you were talking about a $9 billion to $10 billion decrease in non-social spending and another $9 billion decrease in social spending. Why have you just added to the social spending side? Why have you taken the social spending decreases from $9 billion to $16 billion"?
Our leader very accurately reflected the fact that since those numbers were put together in 1992, as a result of the direct spending of this government and the past government, we have now moved a further $100 billion into debt. As a consequence the reduction in the availability of funding for social programs has now been reduced a further $7 billion.
For example the member for Beaches-Woodbine went before the press gallery yesterday and said: "We are not over taxed. Companies are not over taxed. We seem to have bought into that kind of jargon and it is not true".
These people are rather out of step with reality. Reality is that the average family income is $46,488, of which $17,000 goes for food, clothing and shelter; $21,000 goes to taxes. Over the last 12 years corporations have had their tax load increased 69 per cent while their profits have decreased 10 per cent. The member apparently does not understand the concept of down loading.
In fact, the federal government downloads to the provincial, municipal, hospital districts and libraries. We have to pay for water, different post office charges, sewage, garbage, all of the user fees as a result of the federal government downloading. Indeed Canadians are being taxed far beyond the max.
However, the comment that particularly caught my eye was one from the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. He, being first elected in 1965, is quoted in the Ottawa Citizen as saying:
I helped build many of these things'', referring to the social programs,I have no intention of participating in their dismantling''.
As long as the government refuses to recognize that by driving us further and further into the hole, thereby raising annual interest rates, it is destroying Canada's ability to fund social programs. It is just that simple and it is what this issue is about.
It was interesting that the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, in talking about being one of the people to bring in these programs, probably has forgotten that one of the main architects of medicare in Canada, Tommy Douglas, actually delayed its implementation in Saskatchewan because he knew that his government at the time could not afford it. The government that brought in these programs, and perhaps the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, at that time did not have the size of debt that Canada has now.
We will see the consequences of the government's inability to restrain its spending and to get things under control as starting the erosion of these programs. The erosion of these programs will occur because we are going further and further into debt by borrowing money to pay the interest on the money we have already borrowed. The debt in the last year grew at a rate of 10.3 per cent. Tax revenue grew at a rate of 3.3 per cent thereby creating a 7 per cent spread.
I notice one of the members from the other side, who is knowledgeable about these things, is shaking his head. If he goes to a document prepared for the Council for Economic Education with figures from his department he will find a reflection of the figures I just gave the House. The debt is growing at a rate of 10.3 per cent and tax revenue is growing at a rate of 3.3 per cent. That growth is entirely to pay the interest on the money we have already borrowed.
It is quite fascinating to give the House an idea of how far out of step the members on the other side are when on Friday last week the member for Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe rose and said: "I rise in the House today to indicate my outrage that Moody's bond rating agency would place Canada's credit rating under review only two weeks before the federal government's budget comes down. Why did it not just place a horse's head in the finance minister's bed?" Maybe that is what needs to happen in order to get the attention of the other side of the House.
The reality is that when the Prime Minister stood in front of the nation, indeed in front of the world on January 16 and said: "We are doing all that we can on the expenditure side but we have to do something on the taxation side", the interest rate went up one full percentage point. In fact, what happened was that the dollar still dropped one-third of a point.
Last night, to show just how delicate this situation is, in a 12-hour period the Canadian dollar went up one full cent and down one full cent. We are literally on the edge. It is no wonder that Moody's and other people like the Wall Street Journal and all of the other publications that advise people who make buying decisions of our Canadian debt and our Canadian currency, are spooked. They are spooked because the government refuses to realize that we can no longer go further and further into debt.
One final note, and I apologize to you, Mr. Speaker and to the House. I failed to inform you that I was going to be splitting my time with another member. I have one final comment.
Mexico, the precursor of where Canada is going in this issue, today has 50 per cent interest rates. Oil payments are being confiscated by the U.S. in order to make sure that the U.S. will stand behind them. Is that really what the government wants? If it is, I can tell the House it is not what I want.