Mr. Speaker, in addressing this motion I would like to start with the Liberal red book and end with the Liberal red book.
Let us start by assuming that there was some good will there that went into the creation of that document, that there were honest, noble members of the Liberal Party who said, sitting in opposition: "We need change. We have to respond to the people of Canada who are saying let us have change, let us revise the rules of the way we are doing things. Let us do things better".
I assume that even the member for Kingston and the Islands was one such person and the report he put forward which forms a contributing document to the red book was made in good faith. Having said that, what happens to it?
When the Liberals were in opposition I think they were sincere and honest in saying that we really must have this. Now they flood the government benches and oh what a difference it makes.
In the creation of the red book the Liberal Party brass, the creators of strategy asked what it is that the people of Canada want. They had a pretty clear message at that point of what the people of Canada wanted, which was integrity and honesty in government. Their red book was created by that stimulus. They said: "Fine, let us promise to the people of Canada what it is that they want, and we will put all that in the red book". It has wound up as a book of promises and the government says it has kept 78 per cent of them. We give the government 30 per cent at the most.
One of the contributing documents for the red book which has already been cited today is the document "Governing with Integrity". Having read it in my role as an opposition member I totally subscribe to it. It states: "If government is to play a positive role in society, as it must, honesty and integrity in our political institutions must be restored". The Liberals felt that was true at the time and I am sure it was, but it is still true and it has still not been achieved.
Again from "Governing with Integrity": "This erosion of confidence seems to have many causes. Some have to do with the behaviour of certain elected politicians, others with an arrogant style of political leadership". Hold on. This is the Liberals talking about the Conservatives. "The people are irritated with governments that do not consult them or that disregard their views or that try to conduct key parts of the public business behind closed doors". That is the Liberals talking in the creation of their famous red book in 1993.
Lest anyone say this is sour grapes or this is just a westerner talking, let me quote from an article written by Michel Venne in Le Devoir yesterday about the unhappiness of the Canadian electorate:
"For the past week, the Liberal Party of Canada has been congratulating itself in a way bordering on indecency, given that, since the Liberals took office in 1993, the country has come within a hair's breadth of disintegration, while poverty and voter cynicism keeps growing from coast to coast."
That is the view from Quebec. The Quebecers say that the cynicism of the electorate is prevalent from coast to coast. Let us look at the reasons for that cynicism. Let us examine some of the specific promises made in the Liberal red book.
Number one: "We will restore Canadians' faith in themselves and their government". Has that been done? The answer is a resounding no, and we will get that no from province to province from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
They also promise: "We will implement new programs only if they can be funded within existing expenditures". That is a very nice promise. Certainly it was probably their intent at the time to keep the promise to implement new programs only if they could be funded within existing expenditures.
How about the latest foray by the Minister of Canadian Heritage into flags at $23 million, and the establishment of-let us call them what they are-government propaganda offices across the country at a cost of well over $100 million? These are new programs that were unfunded and magically, funding has been found for them but not for other things.
There is an example close to us in Ottawa, in Chalk River, Ontario. A superconducting cyclotron needs $3 million of bridge financing to keep it going but the money is not to be found. The government cannot find $3 million or even half of that amount, presuming that the rest would come from private industry. No, the money is just not there.
The same case can be made for Whiteshell Laboratories in Manitoba. The government simply cannot find the money or the means to make its promise of looking at the privatization of that laboratory. It has simply been left to wither on the vine.
These were promises made and promises not kept. The government, when it wants to implement new programs, we have the example of the grant of a loan to Bombardier in Quebec. Was that necessary? Well it was only necessary from a political point of view. New money is found for anything that suits the purpose of the government.
Promise No. 4: "We will exercise unwavering discipline in controlling federal spending and we will re-order current spending priorities to make sure the maximum return is obtained on each investment". It really sounds good: unwavering discipline in controlling federal expenditures. Look around and we find example after example of the flagrant disregard for that.
Just to show that the Liberals did keep some of their promises let us look at a kept promise. Promise No. 7: "A Liberal government will cancel the $5.8 billion purchase of EH-101 helicopters". They kept that promise. The only problem is that it has cost us a few hundred million dollars just to keep the claimants away and we still do not have a replacement three years later. They kept the promise but to the detriment of the country.
Let us go on to some of the other many unfulfilled promises made by the Liberals. Why did they make these promises? They made them purely to get elected. I will reiterate my opening statement that without a doubt some statements were made in honesty at the beginning and some of those were incorporated honestly into the red book. However, they went on from there to say: "No, winning is the thing. We must win and we must win at any cost. Therefore, do not mind what promises are made, we will just see how we can cope with that".
Another promise: "The Liberal government will replace the GST". That one has been pounded into the ground so I think I will leave that for others to hit.
Here is another promise: "A Liberal government will work closely with provincial governments to achieve the maximum possible co-ordination of tax policies". We have seen where that one has gone in recent months. It has made a hiatus in the Atlantic provinces and other provinces are totally unhappy about it.
Another promise: "A Liberal government will be committed to the elimination of interprovincial trade barriers within Canada and will address the issue urgently". What has been done on that? I recall there was a little effort made in 1994 and perhaps there are a few minor items going on but the work that is desperately required is not happening.
Promise No. 17: "The Liberals will manage this trading relationship with the United States in a way that best serves Canada's interests". They are talking about the GATT, the NAFTA and such things. Let us look at examples from the last year or two with respect to our trading with the Unites States in fish, in softwood and in wheat. We do not have anything which is serving Canada's best interests. There are problems. That is not to say that they have not put some effort into it. Of course they have, but it is insufficient. Once again it amounts to a broken promise.
Let us move on through the pages. The Liberals said they would prepare for the transition from school to the workplace and provide a constructive outlet for the skills and talents of younger Canadians who are the innocent victims of Canada's prolonged recession. They said they would enhance the opportunity for job training and improve the literacy and numeracy skills of Canadian workers, and improve access to employment for women and single parents by making quality child care more available.
Those are wonderful words. It is an admirable aim for the government to have said: "Look Canadians, this is what we are going to do for you. We are going to make 100 more promises like this, but unfortunately we are not going to be able to keep them". As a promise it was wonderful. It was certainly a worthwhile aim. That is indeed what the government should be doing. It should be keeping the promises which were made in this book.
Let us go on to other promises along the same line. The Liberals said that a Liberal government would gather information on these developments of job training, skills and disseminate it to all those responsible for the education of our children. That has not been done.
In collaboration with provincial governments the Liberals would introduce a voluntary national achievement test in math, science and technology. Again, that is a very worthwhile aim. I laud the Liberals for having thought of all these wonderful things, but I do not laud them for having put them in this book and then not having kept those promises.
They were also going to work with business, labour and provincial governments to provide funding to establish apprenticeship programs for the new economy. Once again, what could be better than to establish worthwhile apprenticeship programs? This country needs more of them, but we are not getting them. The Liberals have simply not delivered on their promise.
Let us turn the page. What do we have? "A Liberal government will provide the necessary funds and administrative support to launch pilot projects in community projects across Canada within the first year of a Liberal mandate. We will invest $100 million a year in the Canadian Youth Service Corps". I have to say that is not a totally ignored promised. There has been something done.
I have in my own riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan a very worthwhile project concerning the Canadian Youth Service Corps. The trouble is, it only involves 16 or 17 young people. The promise was to invest $100 million a year. That is not being done. Again I will give credit for what is being done, but what is not being done is what we are calling the Liberals to task for.
All of these are examples of broken promises. They are good intentions. If the Liberals want good parliamentary government and good government across the country, they should read their red book again. They should read again the contributory documents that were made probably in good faith to say what the red book is all about, that they are the basic documents. They should read them again and ask themselves if they have kept their promises to the Canadian people, starting and ending with the promise to have a deputy speaker who represents the opposition in the House. It was a good intention. They simply did not measure up to it.