House of Commons Hansard #209 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.


Government Orders

1:25 p.m.


Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise this afternoon and speak in opposition to the Bloc motion.

In some ways and in some areas of the bill highlighted on this motion we agree with the Bloc that the system is broken and these bills are not addressing the real problem.

Where we differ with our colleagues from the Bloc is the problem is repairable. It can be fixed. There is absolutely no reason for quitting or separating. Canada is worth fighting for and that is what we have to do.

What I read in this motion, the me, we mentality, is the real problem. It is what is in it for me and not what is in it for Canada.

I recall an article about the me, we generation. It identified the 1980s as the me generation. It talked about the Milkens in the United States and the Campeaus in Canada who were out for personal gain and glory at the expense of jobs to thousands of Canadians.

The article suggested that changed in the 1990s, that the 1990s changed to what we call the we generation. It talked about people becoming more concerned about what is really important in life. It talked about the number of people who have started contributing to charities and working for the betterment of their communities.

In the article a minister had interviewed many people in their last moments. He never had heard anyone say in those last moments they wished they had spent more time at the office. The message there was we all have to remember that what is good for the family is really what is important.

There was also a story of a very successful stockbroker who had made millions in the stock exchange, more money than he could ever hope to spend in his lifetime. He quit all that when he realized what was really meaningful in life and what was really important to him was missing. He walked away from it. He went home to look after a young family even to the point of making sandwiches and participating in life. He found a great deal more satisfaction from that. This mentality of we, me is at the bottom of many of the problems we have in Canada today.

The status quo has been rejected overwhelmingly. There is no question about that with 205 new members elected to Parliament. There was a very strong message from the Canadian people they were not happy with what had been happening here and they wanted change.

Change does not mean walking away or quitting. The change they are asking for is a change to the system to make it work, to make for a better and united Canada. Canada is worth fighting for. We have the greatest country in the world.

We have a great opportunity with 205 new members. We have some fresh thinking, some new ideas and new visions for a new Canada, a Canada where all citizens in all provinces will be treated equally.

I am sure the people in the province of Quebec are no different from the people in every province across this great country. They are looking for a government that will live within its means. They are looking for a government that will do what it has to do in their lives and in their businesses.

There is no way any family or any business can continue to go deeper and deeper in debt year after year and survive. The people in Quebec are looking for politicians with integrity who will say what they mean and mean what they say. The tragedy of broken promises has created a level of cynicism which has to be overcome all across Canada.

They are looking for a change in the process. They are looking for changes with the government being more responsive to the needs and demands of the people. They want to have a say in what is going on in Ottawa, not just hear the voice of Ottawa in the ridings. They want a change in the process. Freer votes, referenda and recall are all issues which the people of Quebec would support as well as the rest of Canadians. As I said in another speech, if you want trust you have to give trust. We have to do that to return to the level of trust that has been lost. I am sure the people of Quebec are no different from other Canadians in wanting safer streets, safer homes and safer communities.

This motion highlights several bills and I would like to deal with two of them, the budget bill, Bill C-76, and Bill C-88, that deals with interprovincial trade barriers. In those two bills the government missed an opportunity and failed to unite Canada and to address the barriers which exist. I would like to highlight where the government went wrong and what should be done to restore Canada as a united nation.

The budget was wrong. It failed dismally in addressing the deficit and the debt, which are the most serious problems Canada has today. I was very disturbed and disappointed by the Bloc response to the budget. Apparently Bloc members still do not understand and appreciate the fact that the deficit and the debt are the major problems in Canada. What I heard was: "It is not really a problem. It is not too serious. All we have to do is trim a bit of government fat. Whatever we do, we should not touch the social programs because they are sacred".

I would suggest that with a $600 billion debt, overspending of $25 billion a year and interest payments approaching $52 billion, all programs have to be looked at thoroughly. It cannot be done simply by trimming government fat or by going after the social programs. All areas of government spending must be addressed. The spending which has been taking place in social programs, because they represent such a huge portion of the total spending envelope, absolutely has to be addressed.

The message is that Canada has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Canadians from coast to coast understand that. They were ready for the budget. When I say coast to coast I am including the people of the province of Quebec. They understand the magnitude of the problem. They understand that living beyond our means has to come to an end. There will be some pain associated with it, but that is facing reality. To suggest that the deficit might be tackled by getting delinquent taxpayers to pay the tax dollars they owe is a flight in fantasy. It nowhere nearly approaches our enormous debt.

It is interesting that Moody's, the bond rating agency which fired a warning shot across the bow of the finance minister before the budget came out is not Conservative, Liberal, Reform or Bloc. Moody's is non-political and was, as a bond rating agency, in my estimation, doing us a favour. It was sending a warning to the government about the seriousness of the overspending problem.

What did we do? We shot the messenger. The messenger was not telling us what we wanted to hear. In reality the messenger was giving us good fiscal advice to get our house in order and to get it in order quickly. It did that in advance of the budget because there were two messages which it wanted the government to get.

The first message was that 3 per cent of GDP is too low a target. It is easy and it will not fly with the investors that have been buying our bonds. The second part of the message was that it wanted a date set when Canada was going to achieve a balanced budget. Rolling two-year targets that the government hopes to meet will not fly with the people who have been buying our bonds. They want to know how and when Canada will balance its budget. No reasonable banker and no reasonable Canadian would expect less.

The downgrade which Moody's threatened before the budget was introduced, as we know now, happened. The budget which could have united us did not. In fact, it is doing more damage to the country as we are going deeper and deeper into debt. The downgrade has not really taken effect yet but it will down the road. It will have a very dramatic effect on the rate of interest paid to finance our bonds. Every 1 per cent increase in those interest rates costs Canadian taxpayers in the first year of borrowing an extra $1.7 billion. The impact of that downgrade is very significant and does not look well for the future.

The budget has been passed on the assumption that interest rates will remain fairly stable. That is a very dangerous assumption. It does not take into account the possibility of a downturn in the economy which we know is coming. It is not a matter of if it is going to come. Economies go up and down and Canada could very well be into a downturn in the economy now and is very poorly positioned to deal with it.

Canadians know there are three ways to balance the books in Ottawa. One is to raise taxes. The second is to hope for growth in the economy and the third is to cut spending.

Canadians from coast to coast are not prepared to pay any more taxes. Again, the people in Quebec are no different from the people in every other province who are taxed to the limit.

That is not an avenue that the government should explore to raise funds in order to balance the books.

Growth in the economy is an area the Liberals look at through rose coloured glasses, hoping that there would be greater growth in the economy than actually happens. The downside of that is when the economy does not grow. In fact our deficit and debt has increased, it has not been reduced.

Going back to taxes for a moment, taxes right across Canada are counterproductive. The more taxes are increased, the more the underground economy is fuelled. As huge as it is now, it will only grow by any attempt at an additional tax grab.

The area that we have complete control over is spending. That is where the government missed with this budget. It did not go after the reductions in spending to get the books in balance so that there would be no new and increased taxes.

The government likes to say that it inherited the problem. I suggest that it initiated the problem. I go back to the years 1963 to 1984 when the debt rose from $20 billion to just about $200 billion when it left office.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives took office and in their years from 1984 to 1993 the debt increased from $200 billion to some $490 billion. It is interesting that some of the Bloc members today were actually sitting with the Conservative government and were allowing that debt hole to continue to go as deep as it did.

It is also interesting to recall that very little was done by government members when they were in opposition to support any of the attempts that were made to get spending under control. For them to say that they inherited the debt is not quite factual. They initiated the problem several years ago that put us in the mess we are in today.

In 1993 when the Liberals presented their first budget, they still had no idea of the magnitude of the problem. The message we got then was: "Be happy, don't worry. This deficit and debt are not serious. We are not going to do anything". In fact they did nothing.

I should not say that nothing was done but what was done was unbelievable in the short time after the budget. The Bloc was part of this. They gave in to the smugglers. They gave away $350 million in taxes that Canadians could ill afford then and certainly could not afford today. That is aside from the additional health costs that are down the road because of that very foolish move on the part of the government.

What has been learned since is that the forecast of $350 million, which should not have surprised us because they are not good with numbers, turned out to be something like $800 or $850 million. It cost nearly a billion dollars to give in to the bad guys, the smugglers. It is unbelievable given the fiscal position we are in.

What happened in 1994? We had an admission that the problem was serious. Now the finance minister is saying that this is a serious problem. It may even be life threatening. Unfortunately he does not have a solution.

They have some plans for these rolling targets. At the end of this first rolling target the government will still be overspending by $25 billion a year and will be $600 billion in debt. When it addresses the next budget it will be trying to shoehorn in $52 billion in interest payments.

If members think this budget was difficult, try the next one, where the government will be trying to find a way to accommodate $52 billion in interest payments without any significant cuts. I would suggest it cannot be done.

Canadians in every province want fiscal sanity in this place and that is not what Bill C-76 gave us. They are not looking for pie in the sky. They know what has to be done. They are looking for reality and they are prepared to support a government that will give it to them.

Let me speak for a moment on Bill C-88 concerning interprovincial trade barriers. It is a bill that could have meant a great deal to uniting the country but it missed the mark completely. It was a great opportunity to bring down the walls that are dividing us east to west.

In spite of the barriers there is about $146 billion in trade between the provinces. It was the Canadian Manufacturers' Association that said those barriers are costing taxpayers $6 billion and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Canada can trade north-south with free trade but it still cannot trade east-west. Bill C-88 did nothing to really address that. It just touched lightly on some areas but did not get into the real meat of the barriers that are there.

Free trade is talked about as the salvation of Canada. If it was not for free trade, our exports would be in a much sadder condition than they are presently. Free trade was violently opposed by the current government when it was in opposition. Today it is proving to be its salvation.

The federal government has a responsibility for breaking down the barriers to interprovincial trade but it has abdicated the responsibility. Those walls must be broken down because those barriers are interfering with the interaction of governments and deterring the development of culture between the different provinces.

The provinces have always been able to negotiate bilateral trade agreements. As a matter of fact one was negotiated between Quebec and Ontario regarding the construction trades. Both provinces worked that out and it was a model which showed those things could be worked out across Canada.

Bill C-88 as it is now discourages international investors from coming into all the provinces and creating employment. Years were spent negotiating GATT. The Department of Finance estimated it represents about a .04 per cent increase in Canada's gross domestic product. Yet the Fraser Institute said that if interprovincial trade barriers could be broken down the GDP could be increased anywhere from 2 per cent to 6 per cent. All this time has been spent negotiating GATT for .04 per cent when if something was done about internal barriers a much more significant improvement could be made in the GDP. This would translate into jobs that are sorely needed in the economy. As I said, it would strengthen our economic, political and cultural ties.

These barriers cause lost jobs in every province resulting in higher taxes and making us less competitive in the global economy. If we really want to benefit from north-south free trade, we can only do it by maximizing trade east-west as well. Again, it is the me mentality that exists which must be broken down. It has to give way to the we mentality.

In closing, I would like to say that with 205 new members in the House we have a great opportunity to resolve the problems in the country. We do have problems. There is no denying that. We are a family and all families must give and take. In every successful marriage it is give and take. It is never all one way if it is to be a successful and happy marriage. Working together we can fix it. We can make Canada a better place for all Canadians.

Indeed, Canada is worth fighting for. I intend to fight for it as hard as I can, as hard as I know how. I want to do that because my grandchildren are counting on me to do that.

Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Ottawa Centre


Mac Harb Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by making a comment and then asking my colleague to answer a question.

First, I very much enjoyed the beginning of his speech where he spoke about the me and we mentality. Then for whatever reason, I do not know why, he derailed himself and took a different type of train. I counted in excess of 52 different negative connotations throughout his speech. He spoke at the beginning about public cynicism and public confidence, yet his speech dealt only with the negative but not really the positive things this government and this country have to offer its people.

My colleague surely knows it is not government that creates jobs; it is the private sector. Surely my colleague and the public would know that all the government can and should do is create a proper environment so the private sector can create jobs. Historically, it has always been the private sector that has created jobs.

I would like to bring to the attention of my colleagues that interest rates since we took office have been stable; we have stability in interest rates. Our trade has hit an all-time high. Our economic growth is leading the G-7 countries. My colleague could testify to the fact that our growth is greater than any other country in the western hemisphere.

The government has taken a number of steps in order to streamline and reorganize the way we deliver services. In fact some of those bills deal specifically with reorganizing, with giving different levels of government different responsibilities so we can better do the job we are supposed to be doing.

I also wanted to bring to my colleague's attention that there is a myth that government should not be looking at taxes for generating revenue. The only way for government to get revenue is through taxes. How else can we support programs unless we are generating tax revenues? Economic growth means businesses are doing well, which means government is generating more taxes.

Telling the public we are no longer going to collect taxes gives the wrong signal; it is the wrong thing to say. We should be saying that we need economic growth so government revenue could increase through taxes. If businesses do well we will bring in more taxes.

I do not understand why my colleague would say we can no longer collect tax from the private domain. That is the only way governments here and anywhere in the world can do business unless they were to go into business themselves. We were in business in the past. This government is trying to get out of doing business itself by streamlining, by privatizing part of the crown corporations we have so they can do the kind of work done by them in the past through the government. They will be able to do it on their own.

On the issue of spending, this government has done a tremendous amount of work in the area of spending. I do not know what my colleague expects. In one year the government came down with a budget that slashed over 45,000 jobs from the public service itself, from the public domain.

If we were to look at the balance sheet, this government is now generating more revenues than we are spending. In a way we are already in a surplus position. The problem here is there are no more cuts to be done but we have to increase revenues.

I will submit to my colleague that we should turn the me and we mentality into a mentality of we collectively.

Finally, I wanted to ask him what specifically he would suggest the government do that it has not done, and give it to us in point form without any negatives.

Government Orders

1:45 p.m.


Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, there was a lot said by the member for Ottawa Centre.

I would like to begin by saying it is very difficult to find anything but negatives when we are responding to this government's agenda. I could not believe it when I heard the member say that it is not governments that create jobs but the private sector. That is not the message that has been coming across the

floor. They have spent $6 billion on an infrastructure program because governments were going to create jobs, arenas, boccie courts.

That is government creating false jobs, not real jobs. It still fails to get the connection between high taxes and job creation. High taxes kill job creation. If we want to create jobs we have to lower taxes. One of the provinces is doing that right now. It is lowering taxes and cutting spending. What is happening? It is increasing employment. It is getting more jobs for its people.

This budget is not a job creator, it is a job killer. The government does not create jobs, the private sector does, and the private sector is looking for tax reductions. Anybody in the private sector will say: "Get out of our lives. Get off our backs. Get out of our pockets. We will create the jobs, but we do not need you on our backs. Get off our backs and we will do it".

The hon. member spoke about the myth of taxes. I am sure that Canadians who were listening to "we do it with more taxes" are responding to that, because they are eagerly waiting to give the government more tax dollars. They have been giving the government all of these tax dollars and they have been receiving fewer services. Does the government not think they are getting the message?

The reason for the tax increases over the years has been supposedly to do something about our deficit and debt, but they have been getting deeper and deeper. It has not happened. There is no proof that the answer is to go after more taxes. In fact, the opposite has been happening for 25 years.

Where is the justification for standing up and talking about the myth of taxes? The myth is that we are taxing too much. We have to cut our spending. When we have been overspending for the number of years we have been, to suggest that we can continue to overspend and that the Canadian people will be prepared to support us with more tax dollars is to dream in the extreme.

The government has not yet received the message. It will get it in the next election. When the government addresses the next budget let it find how it will accommodate $52 billion in interest payments that are going out the window without increasing taxes and again hurting the creation of jobs.

It is nice to hear hon. members opposite talking about free trade. When they were in opposition they were vehemently opposed to free trade. Yet in fact free trade today is the salvation of this government. If it were not for free trade it would be in far worse shape than it is right now.

Government Orders

1:50 p.m.


Jean-Paul Marchand Québec-Est, QC

Madam Speaker, as my colleague for Simcoe-Centre was saying, it is true that the Liberal government does not understand anything. But, unfortunately, the Reform Party has not yet understood that Canada's fundamental problem is not about to be solved.

Despite their good intentions, Reform members have not understood that, when powers are centralized in Ottawa, it just perpetuates a long-standing problem in Canada. When powers are centralized, taxes go up, costs go up and we do not get the services we need. So when a Reform member rises in this House to tell us that what we need is more services for the people, I have to tell him that it is certainly not by centralizing powers in Ottawa that we will be able to provide more services to the people. Anybody with good common sense would recognize that, if we want to provide more services at a lower cost, we have to get closer to the people. Therefore, powers have to be decentralized.

We can see through all the bills I have talked about that the Liberal government is trying once again to centralize even more. And, once again, it will be expensive, it may even lead to tax increases, it will certainly cause more waste, more irresponsibility, more lobbying and all the other evils that come with excessive centralization of powers in Ottawa.

If members from the Reform Party, from the west, really want to offer a solution for Canada, they have to try to return powers to their provinces. They really have to do that. If they do, government will become more efficient.

We, in Quebec, understand that bureaucracy has to be reduced. We have known that for a long time. That is exactly why we are sovereignist. We have understood that it is the only solution for us if we want to provide more services to the people, to reduce costs, to reduce duplication and to get the federal government out of the picture.

And if Reform members and western Canadians really understood the situation, they would agree with us because the option for Canada-

Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member.

Government Orders

1:55 p.m.


Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I am not sure what the question was. I do not even think it was a question. I think it was a very eloquent statement from a very eloquent member.

Nowhere did I say the government should offer more services. That is not a reality and I did not suggest that for a moment. What I am saying and what I said in my remarks is that we have to get less government. We have to get government out of our lives. There is too much government, and we have to reduce that level. However, we do have to provide services, and we can provide services by getting the services provided by the government that is closest to the people. There are many areas where that means transferring it to the provincial governments. We do

not have a problem with that. We have to deliver these services in the most cost efficient way possible.

The member was suggesting that people in Quebec might be prepared to pay more taxes. I would like to see a poll on that. I do not think they are prepared to pay any more taxes. I think they feel the same way as the people in Ontario: They are taxed to death and they are looking for some relief by the government cutting its spending. That is the answer to creating the jobs the member needs in Quebec, just as we need them in Ontario.

Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

That is a lively little exchange we have going. I think it is almost two o'clock.

My dear colleagues, it being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now move on to members' statements.

Cultural Exchanges
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Ronald J. Duhamel St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak about a group of students who are here in Ottawa today.

Some 30 students from Como Lake Junior Secondary in British Columbia and from l'école Saint-François-Xavier in Quebec have been participating in a praiseworthy cultural exchange. The Quebec participants first went to British Columbia,

They were welcomed by a host family and encouraged to practise and improve their knowledge of English and of British Columbia. In turn, the students from British Columbia were welcomed into homes in Quebec, where they were immersed in the French culture and language.

These students are living proof of the desire held by Canadians to learn more about their neighbours.

I congratulate the students and their professors for promoting cultural exchanges and for their desire to learn the other official language.

I would encourage my colleagues in this House to follow their example and to show the whole world how Canadians appreciate each others' differences and similarities, and how this makes it the best country in the world.

Environment Week
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Yvan Bernier Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, in honour of Environment Week, June 4-11, I would like to acknowledge the laudable efforts of the Canadian and Quebec mining industry to be more environmentally conscious.

The Canadian mining industry is the first mining association in the world to develop an environmental policy for all of its members. Under this initiative, dubbed ARET, Accelerated Reduction/Elimination of Toxics, the largest mining companies have committed themselves to reducing the most offensive emissions by 71 per cent by the year 2000.

We can only welcome any measure which aims to make the sustainable development of natural resources more environmentally friendly.

The mining industry's commitment to reducing its emissions is a big step in the right direction. Our congratulations.

Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, with next week being Canadian Environment Week, I want to point out the many improvements that have taken place in our natural resource industries, especially forestry, to protect the environment.

As someone who has earned a living as a logger and a prospector, I know that most people work in the bush because they love it. I know that forest industry employees want to ensure that jobs in the bush remain available for their communities, their children and their grandchildren. They want to be able to continue hunting, fishing, hiking and camping on public lands. They want their communities' watersheds also to be protected.

Science and technology are helping us to gain a better understanding of how these activities affect one another. I believe it is only through a national commitment to sustainable development of our natural resources that our Canadian standard of living, widely recognized as the best in the world, will be maintained, including the environment.

Statements By Members

June 1st, 1995 / 1:55 p.m.


Len Taylor The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House of Commons I again asked the government to delay its plans to immediately eliminate the Crow benefit until a more detailed review of the long term implications of this decision was completed. I want to bring to the attention of the minister of agriculture that other farm

experts have today said that the government may be moving too quickly.

Testifying in front of a committee today, Ron Leonhardt from the Unifarm organization said: "When great changes are being made, there must be a transition period". On behalf of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, Ron Gleim said that the federal government may have moved too fast with not enough money. He expressed concern about the unsubstantiated government claim that crop diversification and value added production would replace the Crow losses by saying: "Hoping and praying will not pay the bills".

There has not been enough attention paid to the question of how producers will be able to manage the change thrust upon them and how long this will take. I think the federal government had better take the time to adequately-

Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saint-Denis.

Visit Of Thomas Mitsios
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Saint-Denis, QC

I rise today to welcome the member of Parliament from Saranda of the Republic of Albania on his first visit to Canada.

As a representative of the ethnic Greek minority and a member of the Human Rights Party, the purpose of his visit is to meet and exchange ideas with Canadian parliamentarians on the democratic principles and respect for minorities which make Canada a shining example.

We learned of the difficulties that opposition parties are facing and more specifically the plight of the leader of the opposition, Mr. Fatos Nanos, who has been imprisoned since September 1993 by the government. I will be calling on my colleagues to sign a petition for his release.

He has and will continue to work very hard in his native Albania for the betterment of conditions of the ethnic Greek minority and the improvement of Greek-Albanian relations. This is something we as Canadians should look forward to and encourage because it will contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of this volatile region.

I welcome the member from Saranda.

The Environment
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Ian Murray Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment recently announced the release of the first summary report on the 1993 national pollutant release inventory. Over 1,400 companies across Canada reported their releases and transfers of 178 specified pollutants as required under the Environmental Protection Act.

The most significant feature of this inventory is that it is completely accessible to the Canadian public. For the first time in history, Canadians can find out directly from a full database of information about the pollutants being released in their neighbourhoods and communities or across the country. Canadians can access the information on this inventory through Internet either on their personal computers or they can use those available to them at libraries, schools and universities.

This important initiative will support the government's commitment to encourage pollution prevention by making both the public and industry aware of the quantities of pollutants being released all around us.

I encourage the government to continue to pursue this type of community right to know initiative.

National Access Awareness Week
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Rose-Marie Ur Lambton—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week all Canadians join together in celebrating National Access Awareness Week, the goal being to ensure the full participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of community life.

National Access Awareness Week works to remove physical barriers to community access for Canadians with disabilities. The week has evolved from awareness raising to a vehicle promoting concrete action to remove barriers to accessibility. Throughout Canada more than 1,000 communities participate in this important opportunity for celebration and commitment.

Through the partnerships of National Access Awareness Week, voluntary organizations, governments at all levels, local businesses and thousands of volunteers have been able to undertake innovative projects in communities all across the country. The results of these projects are dramatic. Barriers for people with disabilities are coming down.

The House of Commons, its members and staff are also celebrating this important week. Activities on Parliament Hill include promotional displays, leadership activities and workshops.