Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to take part in the debate.
I would like to set the hon. gentleman straight on the tax credit. Reform policy says that it will be at the lowest possible tax rate, which is about 17 per cent. If I am correct that means about $850 per child, which to a low income family is a lot of money. It would probably take care of their household needs for a month. For a millionaire like the gentleman was talking about, $850 probably does not pay for the car licence for his Mercedes. That is the difference. That is why we targeted low income families. Nobody gets a higher rate of tax credit than low income families. That is the Reform tax credit. It is a very wise decision.
I started farming in 1957. When our family came along in 1962, $850 bought us groceries for a long time. Even though the cost of living has risen a lot, to the low income families it still means a great deal. That is why the motion is so important to farm or rural communities. If there were this type of tax credit during the years my wife and I farmed pretty well on our own, it would have meant our children could have been looked after by someone locally who wanted to earn a few dollars. That tax credit was not available at that time. We needed every penny we had to keep our farm operating.
From 1961 to 1994 the average family saw its before tax income increase by 768 per cent, which is a tremendous increase. If we look at the other side of the story we see that taxes grew by 1,200 per cent. If we take that into consideration plus the increases in the cost of food, clothing and shelter, the family on the farm today is probably in a lot worse position than it was when I started farming.
We always had enough money to put food on the table without my wife taking a second job. We always had enough money to pay our bills and to pay the interest on the money we borrowed to buy our farm. That is not the case on the rural scene any more.
According to Statistics Canada 48 per cent of net farm income today comes from off farm jobs. This is very sad and very serious. We have seen farms increase from a half section to probably two sections as the average today. The expense and the stress are unbelievable, as well as mother or father probably having to work at an off farm job. The extra money will be beneficial to rural families trying to survive on one income.
In 1971 the average family earned $3,600. Only 39 per cent of those families had dual income.
It was rare if we saw a dual income on the farm in 1957, 1961 to 1970, but today we see that happening on almost every farm. By 1990 the average family income had crept up to $43,500 but 60 per cent of those families had dual incomes. We can see what has happened in society and with family income.
As the hon. gentleman explained, it seems that Liberals or Conservatives in power during those 35 to 40 years had all the good ideas. I am wondering why we are $600 billion in debt, why our families today have to pay interest to the tune of almost $45 billion on money that was never earned during this period but was borrowed. We are expecting our younger families to take over this burden and take care of that debt that was made before they ever had any input into how government should be run.
It bothers me when I see that we want take credit for things that we really do not deserve credit for. Sure things were tough in the 1950s, 1960s and probably the early 1970s but the communities were there and they looked after each other. There was a lot of fun even when we did not have that much money. We had local curling and skating rinks. Today they are gone. They are in the larger centres, and farm families and other industries that look after farmers such as fertilizer dealers drive 40 or 50 miles to take their kids to hockey games or hockey practises or to music lessons. This has all disappeared because we had the good idea that we could live on borrowed money and now it is catching up. I do not want to take too much credit for making things better on borrowed money.
When I look at the latest statistic that a single income family has to pay $7,000 more in taxes than a dual income family it really worries me. That is why things are being geared to a two income family where one member of that family pretty well works full time for the government.
With the Reform's fresh start child care policy we are directing the tax cuts to those families that desperately need it. Under Reform's plan a single income family of four making $30,000 will pay 89 per cent less tax. To me that means a tremendous benefit, that there is that amount of money left to spend on necessities that this family probably was not able to afford before this tax cut. People will appreciate this and will take that into consideration in
the next election because it is the family that still drives the nation. If we do not realize that very soon I think we are in big trouble.
One of the farm papers was mailed to me. In it a gentleman writer portrays what is happening with this Liberal government. It is comic: "You are driving up to Goodale's General Store". Whether there is a store like that I do not know but that is what this writer says: "Your wife has asked you to pick up a loaf of bread. You ask the storekeeper for one loaf of 100 per cent whole wheat but the storekeeper hands you a dozen grade A large eggs.
No', you protest,a loaf of bread is what I came in to buy. I do not need eggs. My wife said we need a loaf of bread'. The storekeeper tells you this is better for you. He says `believe me, I have been running this store for three years now and I know what is best for my customers, including you. When I run across something I do not know myself my suppliers explain it to me and tell me what to do. Here are your eggs and that will be $3, please'. Since there is no other general store in this country you will have to take it and like it".
That is what I have seen happening in this political arena for the last three years. We have a government that thinks it knows what is best for families. It tells us: "This is even better for you than you yourself know. It is better that two parents should be working than one paying taxes so we can afford some handouts". I think it is are dead wrong and I will say why.
When I see that 48 per cent of net farm income today is coming from off farm jobs, what is left to the rural lifestyle? Not very much. I must tell this House that not only has the Liberal government increased taxes over the past number of years, but it has really decreased farmer incomes by making certain moves which I believe are disastrous to the farm community.
In 1975-76 when we were told under GATT that we could import 76,000 tonnes of beef, the Liberal government knew better. It increased that to 119,000 tonnes of offshore beef imports. We had a beef industry that was already realizing decreases in prices because of overproduction due to depressed grain prices. This added fuel and the prices continued to slide.
Yesterday I phoned one of the farm input dealers. We got talking about what was happening in the farm scene. He said: "It's sad, Jake. I have had a number of young beef producers come in recently and tell me that they cannot afford to pay their bills. With interest rates at a record low, the lowest in 40 years, the banker is still telling them to liquidate". These people who diversified three or four years ago because of low grain prices are now told that they should liquidate.
What else has happened to these young farmers? We know we had to restructure the western grain transportation subsidies. Every farmer realized that would have to happen. But what did we do? The entrepreneurial young farmers who went into beef production because of low grain prices were excluded from these western grain transportation subsidies because their tame hay farms or silage corn farms did not qualify. They were not able to get funding out of that WGTA payout. They got a double whammy. That is very sad.
Just as these young people started to rebuild their lives with the hope that grain prices would stay low for a number of years, it backfired. The prices went up. Cattle prices went down. Now they are told to liquidate with the lowest interest rates we have seen in a long time. That is not building a country; that is destroying a lifestyle and a country.
Once agriculture is destroyed there is not much left. It drives the engine of a country. It is the backbone of a country and we had better start to realize that.
The marketing of grain prices has also helped to decrease grain prices. We had record high prices last year from January through June. Now we find out through Stats Canada that we have a record carryover of durum wheat and feed grains because of poor weather conditions. This is depressing prices again while young farmers who have started in the livestock industry are being told to go out of business. This means we will need less of these grains when the product is building up. Again we are going to destroy that type of industry.
I cannot imagine it. A young farmer from my province, Mr. McMechan, spent four months in jail because he violated a customs regulation that said he could not export grain without a wheat board export permit. This young farmer sold his grain for the best price he could get, a price that the wheat board was not willing to pay him. So he went to jail. He is not the only one to be prosecuted. There are approximately 300 farmers who are being prosecuted for the same thing. Why? We had record amounts of grain on hand and the wheat board sold 31 per cent less durum last year than the previous year when the demand was tremendous. How is that supposed to build a country?
Sure that farmer violated a law, but in a democracy when we are deprived of selling our product for the best price available, that industry is not going to survive very long. If we are going to provide a democracy where nobody gets a price lower than the next, that is going in the wrong direction.
What are we going to do about this? Are we going to overturn the system? The agriculture minister is asking western grain farmers to either defend the wheat board or totally sell under single desk. This no allowance for an option for people to decide what they want to do.
There is no allowance for competition between grain companies and the single desk marketing system. Competition is what keeps
the system fair and honest. But that seems to be something the government is not interested in doing.
I picked this out of an article in the Ottawa Citizen : ``Canadian families are more like the Cleaver family of the 1950s television than the patchwork of mixed families portrayed in the media during the 1990s. A landmark Statistics Canada survey of 23,000 children found that 83 per cent of the kids under 12 lived in a two parent family in 1994. Only 16.5 per cent lived with a single parent. Moreover, the vast majority of their families were biological families, not reconstructed by marriage or other means''.
The biggest difference between the TV household of the Cleaver family where the mother stayed at home is that today in 36 per cent of the two parent families, both parents have full time jobs. That is a good thing if the mother wants to work or the father wants to work. But what is parenting?
Another article states: "A child's prospects were at least as good with positive parenting in a single or disadvantaged family as with negative parenting in a family with two parents or more money". That tells me that any advantage we can give to the traditional family can improve its lifestyle and standard of living will only be positive for the country. That is what Reform's fresh start family policy does.
Another thing surprised me in a another article on behavioural problems. It stated that a single mother, low income family has 34 per cent more behavioural problems than a two parent family; a 13 per cent difference between the same lifestyle or income because of the parenting. A single mother not in a low income situation has 28 per cent more problems than a two parent family.
Parents are very important in creating good young citizens for the future.
One thing that really impressed me, and I have said it before in this House, was when an RCMP officer from northern Manitoba said: "Jake, it is so much easier to build a good kid than to fix a broken adult". I hope we can do that in this House.