Mr. Speaker, the speech from the throne is a plan, a sense of the direction the government is taking. Hon. members opposite have said very clearly that is what the speech from the throne is to designate.
I read the speech from the throne. I listened when the Governor General read it. I came away with a single sentence that I think describes accurately the leadership that we are seeing evidenced here in this House and it goes something like this. It is vague enough to be confusing but specific enough to dash any hopes of a better day at the end of this session.
I wish to address my remarks to exactly those kinds of things now. What is it that we need to do to govern ourselves successfully? I want to approach it from four specific points of view: First, the specificity of the speech; second, the fiscal responsibility that is or is not demonstrated in it; the economic and industrial development that is being proposed and the unity that is addressed.
First, let me look at the specificity of jobs. The Prime Minister said that we should have jobs. In fact that was the hallmark of the election campaign. It was a threefold election platform; jobs, jobs, jobs.
Two years later unemployment rates have not changed very much. Many of the jobs that do exist are part time and many of the other jobs that are not part time are temporary. People want stable full time jobs.
What does the speech say to that particular issue? It begins by addressing the question for young people. It says the government will double the number of federal summer student jobs this summer. They are temporary jobs. They are really bubble jobs. In fact one of the young people I talked to said they are bubble gum jobs, here this summer and gone the next. The emphasis is on getting our young people into the job market. However, what happens to the parents of these young people who are unemployed?
The challenge is for government and the private sector to work together. But there are no ideas of what the endeavour should be or the sectors that should be involved.
The government challenges business and labour leaders to find new approaches to assist young people to find jobs. What a finger pointing exercise that is. Talk about shifting blame from government policy to business and industry. As long as the tax burden continues to increase, and it must, given the kind of deficit picture that we have, the tax burden alone will discourage the creation of jobs.
There is the section stating that we want enduring jobs. There is a suggestion of how we might achieve these: investment and knowledge technology. Three specific areas are mentioned: aerospace, environment and enabling technologies like biotechnology.
The second major area proposed is a predictable policy and a regulatory framework for the information highway. The last proposal is to expand the school net and community access programs to use technology to increase the knowledge base of workers.
We need knowledgeable workers. We need them in this new economy. We need them to grow, we need them to develop, but there is no indication as to how this is to be accomplished except with one little statement "to use the technology to increase the knowledge of workers". Is the federal government going to institute training programs? Is some kind of special superfund going to be created in the form of subsidies and grants to industry in terms of developing biotechnology and these industries in aerospace, environment and so on? It is not clear.
There is no suggestion of what sort of institutions or programs of study, or internship programs or other mechanisms by which workers might develop their skills. There is no indication of the kinds of measures, and I would like to underline that, that will be employed to monitor the quality and success of any of these programs.
Millions of dollars have been spent in the last number of years to develop programs, to retrain unemployed people. What has the success measure been? Where is the monitoring program that these programs are working, the people are actually getting to work and their skill level has increased? There are some notable exceptions, but generally speaking it has not worked.
On the information highway there is no specific direction as to what we are talking about. Are we talking about telecommunications? Are we talking about broadcasting, radio, television, cable, satellite? What is it? Do we address the question in terms of convergence of these various media to get involved in how they will work together, or the adaptation and application of new technologies that are particularly conversant with digitization of information and can carry that very well, making obsolete the transmission systems that are dedicated to analog formats of information distribution?
There is one little paragraph on financial institutions which states that the government will update legislation governing financial institutions to ensure that they continue, or that the legislation continues to be relevant to the emerging needs of business and consumers.
Businesses need capital, especially small businesses. Those that are being established now, particularly in the new economy and in the knowledge based industries need fair access and timely access. They need it in large amounts; they need it in small amounts. The speech does not even seem to recognize that these are some of the needs of businesses.
On the other hand, consumers need competitive prices for the services offered to them. They need privacy, they need confidentiality and they need confidentiality of personal communications. Current legislation allows significant intrusion into the personal information and confidentiality of an individual's financial affairs. Is the legislation that is being proposed going to change that? We do not know. It simply states that the government will do something.
When there is so much ambiguity can we trust the government to do what we really need and what we want? Or is it really as Mr. Gibson pointed out in his article in the February 27 Globe and Mail where he says: ``Our system effectively provides for a four-year elected dictatorship with an astonishing concentration of power in the Prime Minister's office and cabinet. Not unnaturally those enjoying this power think it is a pretty good system''.
Will this legislation governing not only the banks but financial institutions include the insurance companies, the credit unions, the
trust companies? Will it allow them to expand into these areas? Will it have to do with the confidentiality, the cross selling and the tied selling which is currently taking place? Will that be allowed to continue? Will conflicts of interest that currently exist be allowed to continue? Questions on all of these vague matters have been unanswered.
If we are going to determine how we are going to govern ourselves, if there is going to be a direction here, then it has to be very clear there is a direction. However, there is not a direction and it is dangerous to get into that kind of situation.