In this case, apparently two and two makes four and a little more, it would seem. And now, I will open a chapter which will again be unpleasant for some of the hon. members opposite. The government of Quebec has decided to launch an investigation into the mismanagement of the crown corporation Hydro Québec. I must say that, when I was a teen, Hydro Québec was the pride and joy of all Quebecers.
Unfortunately, today, public satisfaction with this crown corporation of which we were so proud 20 or 25 years ago has sagged so low that obviously it has almost become a source of public shame. But, the government of Quebec was not afraid to launch an investigation. I ask my dear colleagues across the way why they refused to launch an inquiry into the attempted privatization of the Pearson Airport, from which, as everybody knows, the big wheels of Canadian finance made hundreds of millions? Why are you refusing to hold an independent investigation?
Because, my friends, the Conservative majority in the Senate overrode you on this issue. So, who will conduct the investigation now? Four Conservative and three Liberal senators. Of course, I have complete confidence in our senators. The Prime Minister just appointed Mrs. Bacon to the Senate. I have complete confidence, it goes without saying, that everything will be conducted above board and with the transparency that we should rightfully expect.
But, in Quebec, these people would not be selected to carry out such a task. Quebec will select truly independent investigators, who will probe the real wounds. If the wounds are infected, they will be lanced, and the infection will be drained off. I invite my Liberal colleagues opposite to reconsider their decision. If you are blameless, my friends, you have no reason to be afraid. Establish a royal commission of inquiry into the privatization of the Pearson airport. It would appear, however, that both parties, blue and red, are equally involved in this privatization. The numbers would appear to be the same on both sides, and, of course, they are. The situation is a bit like what happens with the leaves at this time of the year. When the wind blows, they turn over and their colour changes. When the blues are close to power, they change colour; when the reds are, they change colour too.
If the party that is currently running the country is blameless, it has nothing to fear. Let it establish a commission of inquiry, following the government of Quebec's proper lead.
To come back to Bill C-75, the federal government's entry criteria are not always what the provinces want. Federal agencies can therefore end up competing with provincial agencies, which may have different criteria.
Here again, rather than eliminate overlap and give the provinces what is rightly theirs, the federal government is insisting on keeping everything for itself.
By keeping the overlap, the federal government reserves the opportunity to intervene in the way we manage our agricultural sector in Quebec.
It is very odd, I must point out, for the department to administer this legislation rather than the Farm Credit Corporation. Although the programs differ, the Farm Credit Corporation already guarantees loans. This, I repeat, is another striking example of administrative duplication. We are not talking any more just of duplication among different governments but duplication within in a single government.
With this duplication, the deficit continues to grow. When we reach the point of paying $40 billion a year just to cover the interest costs of the debt, and the deficit is likely to reach $25 or $26 billion, we are entitled to question previous administrations.
When I was the mayor of my small community before entering federal politics the government of Quebec, which governs municipalities, forced us to balance our budget every year, and I am grateful to the government for that.
A municipality is not allowed to have a deficit, but it can have a surplus. So in the beautiful municipality of Garthby, where I was the mayor, every year we had a nice little surplus. People were happy, and told us they were proud of their town council.
My colleague of Blainville-Deux-Montagnes, behind me, was also the mayor of his municipality for a number of years. He understands very well what I am talking about.
However, if you want a surplus you must do what you have to do for it. When it was time to say no, we said no, and when it was time to increase taxes, we did so. I would never have taken a mortgage on my house to buy food for my family. No one can afford the luxury of borrowing week after week to buy food. Yet, that is what my colleagues across the way are doing. Even worst, the Trudeau government did not know how to count. Unfortunately, the Conservatives were in power for nine years. They wanted to make up for lost time, and we did not stop them.
I was saying that municipalities have an obligation to present balanced budgets. Maybe the government should also consider passing a law which would force it to table balanced budgets. Since to have enough you must have a little more, municipalities used to set property taxes a little higher than they normally would, in order to have a little 1 or 2 per cent surplus, which is quite reasonable.
Consequently, we are not opposed to the amendments put forward in Bill C-75. However, we object strongly to maintaining overlap and duplication, whether they are in the federal government, in the federal machine, or between federal and provincial jurisdictions.
A moment ago, I spoke of the existence of two departments of agricultre for the dairy industry, one for industrial milk, and one in the government of Quebec for fluid milk. It does not make sense.
In closing, I can assure my colleague, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, that despite all these small flaws, we will vote in favour of this bill at third reading. This will accelerate the process. Yet, we will do so without much enthusiasm, because it is not in the interests of our farmers, in the long term. In the short term, it is not that bad.
I extend an invitation to my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, to visit Quebec. His is probably not as busy as his boss, and he could come to explain this bill. For my part, I will explain it to the farmers of my riding. They do not know very much about this measure. Is is incredible how often we have to explain to our constituents measures that are taken by the federal government, but that people are totally unaware of, especially in agriculture.
I spent a week in my riding, and when I meet farmers in my capacity as agriculture critic, which I have been for seven months now, I like to ask this trivia question: "Who is the Minister of Agriculture in Ottawa?" Only rarely do I get the right answer.