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House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

The Budget

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his serious question. I believe rationalization comes in the knowledge that children will be better served. The spouse who looks after the children in most cases is the woman. The estranged husband will no longer be able to take advantage of the tax system; instead it will be the woman looking after the children. It is the children we are looking out for and the supporting parent will not have to declare that as income.

I think that is a bold step forward by the government, a progressive step forward by the government, one which will again serve the children of this country.

The Budget

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, how does the member reconcile his statement that the budget has brought no tax increase with the reality that as a direct result of the budget over $700 million more in tax will be paid? It sounds like double talk. How can the member reconcile his statement with the reality of the budget?

The Budget

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member forgets the government is on the positive side of the ledger, seeing the glass half full. As a direct result of the budget brought forward by the Minister of Finance the Canadian economy will take off, jobs will be created, people will be buying products made in Canada by those who will work in Canada in jobs to provide those products. That will provide the government with the income the member is wondering about.

The Budget

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of my remarks today is to offer some few clarifications concerning the 1996 federal budget tabled on March 6 by the Minister of Finance.

We must admit that, overall, this year's budget was perceived in a very positive light by the people of Quebec and of Canada. Their general impression of it was there there will be no new direct tax increases for individuals this year.

This is a budget that did not make any serious waves, and left everyone feeling that they had been let off the hook, but appearances are deceiving. The Minister of Finance pulled it off very well, we must admit. He pulled off a really good one this time.

This year, the deficit will be a mere $32.7 billion, which shocked few people. According to most of the experts, the Minister of Finance has presented a good budget, because the taxpayers of Quebec and of Canada were expecting the worst.

I would like to point out, too, that the Minister of Finance has managed to have a lesser deficit than his predecessors, which seems to be a great accomplishment. It was managed in two main ways. First, by passing the buck. The buck was passed on to the provinces by reducing transfer payments for education, health and social programs by $7 billion over two years, which means $1.2 billion in additional cuts for Quebec alone, or possibly more. Second, by dipping his hand into the surplus in the unemployment insurance fund, to the tune of over $5 million.

In concrete terms, this means no tax reform, no public debate on social programs, no intention to review the question of tax havens for those who are not paying taxes.

Furthermore, this budget provides absolutely no measures to revive the labour market. Nothing new to create jobs. Already they have run out of ideas; the Liberal government is already worn out.

The government continues to hold out for a long-overdue economic recovery to carry it along. Why are the Liberals in Ottawa not delivering the promised jobs? Page 89 of the Budget Plan tabled in the House of Commons provides, and I quote: "-the average level of output in 1996 is forecast to be 1.9 per cent higher than in 1995-" This means that the federal government expects a moderate growth of 2.5 per cent for 1996. Reality, however, is quite different from the budget plan the government drew up for itself in order to create the jobs that never materialized in 1995, but were the watchword of the red book of the 1993 election. Unfortunately, in 1995, growth was no more than 0.6 per cent. However, in the 1995 budget, the government forecast a significantly higher level of growth, a level of real growth of 3.75 per cent, which is six times less than forecast. What a minister.

The fact of the matter is that, since the Liberals came to power at the end of 1993, the economy has not stopped collapsing, and the deficit has not stopped growing exponentially, despite appearances of sound management of public funds and reforms that have not stopped expanding the gap between rich and poor. It is a very sad state of affairs.

The cost of the public debt of the federal government is the prime component of federal spending, representing 29 per cent of all expenditures in 1995-96. In 1996-97, debt charges will represent over 30 per cent of the federal budget. I should also point out that 36 cents out of every dollar of tax revenue collected in 1995-96 currently goes to paying interest on the federal debt. It is written in black and white on page 121 of the Budget Plan. At this rate, less than two years from now, debt charges will be the federal government's single largest item of expenditure.

In 1993-94, the first year the Liberals were in power in Ottawa, the deficit was $42 billion. The second year, it was $37.5 billion. And the third year, $32.7 billion. After three years of Liberal

government, we have accumulated $112.2 billion in debt. That is a large sum of money. What the government is doing is playing the financiers' game. Lenders are getting rich at our expense.

Just to service the debt in 1993-94, Canada has paid its creditors $38 billion. In 1994-95, creditors were paid $42 billion and, in 1995-96, we paid $47 billion to service the debt. Since the last election, in 1993, the government in Ottawa has added $112.2 billion to the deficit; as a result, the people of Quebec and Canada have paid more than $127 billion to our happy creditors. And they would have us believe that the deficit is being reduced. On the contrary.

Debt charges will be increasing faster, even if the annual government deficit is getting lower. Interests are making the deficit increase at an alarming rate. The total federal debt for the past fiscal year was $578.4 billion. This means that, next year, debt charges should be about $47.8 billion, or an $800 million increase over last year, in spite of cutbacks.

For 1997-98, according to government forecast, debt charges should be $49 billion, or a $1.2 billion increase in just one year.

At this rate, the federal government's debt will climb to $603 billion by this time next year. This is the unfortunate reality of Canada's public finances. Where does all this money go? Who benefits? Who pays the bill at the end of the day? It is taxpayers like you and me, more specifically the middle class. These people are getting sick and tired of being squeezed like lemons. Taxpayers are fed up with random reforms that do nothing to address the problem so that, at the end of the day, it is still the same people, and especially the middle class, who get stuck with the bill.

This year, individual Canadians will pay a total of $60.5 billion in income tax. Workers and employers will contribute $18.5 billion to the UI fund. Taxpayers will shell out over $17.2 billion for the GST. In 1995-96, taxpayers in Quebec and Canada will pay a total in excess of $130.6 billion into the federal government's coffers.

Does the government realize what it is asking taxpayers, and more specifically the poorest in our society?

Here are some realistic suggestions to help the government reduce its deficit and thus restore confidence. First of all, this year, the Governor General of Canada will cost taxpayers over $9.8 million and the Senate, $40.7 million. How much longer can we afford such luxury?

Do we still need a budget of more than $10.5 billion for national defence? There is still $6.4 billion in unpaid taxes this year. What is the federal government doing to collect these unpaid taxes? How long must we wait for the federal government to close the numerous tax loopholes, including family trusts that shelter billions of dollars.

In conclusion, why should the federal government not cut Canadians' tax rate? Is this an unrealistic or silly idea? Not at all. Reducing the tax rate would help stimulate the economy by increasing consumption, thus creating jobs while raising government revenue.

The Budget

1:45 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, you will understand that, having listened to such ridiculous remarks, remarks that have nothing to do with the reality and are in fact an insult to the intelligence of Canadians, I just had to respond.

The subject of transfer payments was raised earlier; I will just touch on it because I know that we are short on time. In discussing this issue of federal transfers to the provinces, the people opposite fail to mention that the Quebec finance minister had made forecasts regarding transfer payments and that those announced in the budget speech are $600 million higher than anticipated by the Quebec government.

They fail to mention that, for the very first time, a Canadian government has had the courage to develop a five-year plan to ensure stable, and not just stable, but progressively higher transfer payments by establishing a cash transfer threshold.

They also fail to mention, which is unfortunate, that equalization payments keep growing from year to year and that the province of Quebec greatly benefits from these payments. The subject of employment was also raised, to complain about the lack of employment measures.

You will understand how staggering it is for me to hear such a thing, given the fact that the federal government's role is to form partnerships and create a climate conducive to good investment. Deficit reduction fosters job creation. Technology Partnerships Canada, the program announced by my colleague from Industry Canada, is much appreciated by Canadian industry and small business. And so is the program geared toward young people; $315 million are allocated to this program. There is also the export financing program involving the Export Development Corporation.

These are measures which prove that the government is headed in a direction leading to the development of a sustainable economic safety net that will foster the creation of steady jobs.

To conclude, regarding the employment insurance, the amounts that will be set aside as a result of the proposed reform will be invested in this employment insurance, to maintain stable contributions and build a reserve to sustain this stability even through an economic recession. It should also be pointed out also that this

government is the first government to hit its 3 per cent of GDP deficit reduction target. Those are the real figures.

The Budget

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, the secretary of state tried to be insulting. He tried to promote his doctored budget. He did not pay any attention to my comments.

The Budget

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Liberal Outremont, QC

Just read the budget.

The Budget

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

I did read the budget, as he suggests. Some facts are undeniable. Regardless of what the secretary of state may say, the debt has gone up $112 billion, and that must be pointed out. That upward trend seems endless. The federal government offloaded its deficit onto the provinces. It took $5 billion from the UI fund. Do you think this is how we will solve the problem in a lasting way and create jobs in Canada? Absolutely not.

Of course, the secretary of state will not agree with the suggestion I made toward the end of my comments, because he is satisfied with small traditional methods that do not work. However, if we managed to lower the rate of taxation, more money would circulate; people would spend and invest more. In the end, there would be a lot more money for the government.

The Budget

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, since 1970, Canada showed discipline by setting up a supply management system in the agricultural sector. Over the last 25 years, dairy, poultry and egg producers had to show self-discipline and comply with strict rules under this supply management system.

These producers have quotas which they must reach but not exceed. Everyone benefits: the producers, the processors and the consumers. Producers are guaranteed a stable price for their product, and processors benefit from a reliable, quality and stable supply; As for consumers, they benefit from a very high quality product at a fair and reasonable cost.

But then our good Minister of Finance decided to get involved. In March 1995, one year ago, he announced that subsidies to industrial milk producers would be reduced by 30 per cent over a two-year period. Twelve months later, the same Minister of Finance, a Liberal member representing the urban riding of LaSalle-Émard, once again targets industrial milk producers, and particularly Quebec's 12,000 industrial producers, who provide close to 50 per cent of the country's industrial milk.

To make things worse and even more unfair, in his 1995 budget, the minister not only reduced the subsidy by $560 million, thereby committing an injustice, but he also allocated close to $3 billion to western producers.

And in order to save the full amount of the milk subsidy he is abolishing, in order to save $160 million, he comes up with nothing to compensate the milk producers. These folks should not expect to be defended by Liberal members of this House.

I recall the Liberal candidate who won the election in Brome-Missisquoi, who is sitting here. There he is, looking at me obviously. He went around his riding saying: "I am going to Ottawa to defend you, to represent you", and this was in a largely rural riding. What does he have to say about these unfair cuts to milk producers? He remains silent. He does not say a word. And again on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I visited five ridings to meet with milk producers. They asked me: "Where are our government members in Ottawa?" Let us face it, MPs from the western provinces and the Maritimes will not be heard defending milk producers here. They hardly have any in their provinces: 50 per cent of milk producers are in Quebec and 30 per cent in Ontario.

But in Ontario, of 99 MPs, only one is a member of the Reform Party. I ask the 98 Liberal MPs from Ontario, what have you said in defence of your industrial milk producers? Nothing. We have not heard a peep out of you.

Last year, you managed to find $3 billion in compensation for western grain producers, but for milk producers in Quebec and Ontario, you came up empty.

So, the only ones you will see speaking out in this House against this unfair situation are the members of the Bloc Quebecois.

I remember very clearly at the time of the last referendum in Quebec hearing the leader of the opposition, a Liberal, say in the riding of Portneuf: "You cannot vote no, you are getting a subsidy from the government in Ottawa for your industrial milk". As it happens, I have been to see one of my friends, a producer, who told me about the subsidy he received for the month of January.

Mr. Speaker, would you like me to continue after question period?

The Budget

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Yes, my dear colleague. You may continue after question period. You have approximately four or five minutes remaining. I would remind you that we may not use props in the House of Commons.

We will now proceed to statements by members.

Learning DisabilitiesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, March is Learning Disabilities Month. This year the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada is celebrating its silver anniversary.

Across Canada learning disability associations and schools perform vital work. The many hours offered by committed volunteers and staff have made a tremendous difference in the lives of those who live with learning disabilities. Their success in generating greater public awareness as well as their preventive efforts to diagnose and assist those with learning disabilities have touched the lives of many people.

I am pleased today to rise and offer my congratulations to the association for its 25 years of service to Canadians. In particular, I would like to recognize the Learning Disability Association of Nova Scotia.

I urge all members of Parliament to join me in pledging our support to Canadians who live with learning disabilities and to all those volunteering in the field.

Semaine Nationale De La FrancophonieStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Deshaies Bloc Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, for some years now we have been celebrating the Semaine nationale de la francophonie, in which some 150 million people from 47 countries and five continents are proud to take part.

It is my hope that this week will make Canadians aware of the indispensable role played by Quebec in the French-speaking world and encourage the federal government to correct the problems which are still a daily reality in this country.

In that regard, I ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage to read again the report released in November by the Commissioner of official languages who said that, while the Criminal Code guarantees official language minorities the right to a trial in their language, French remains underutilized in Canadian courts.

A lot of progress still needs to be made in Canada, and there is no doubt that Quebec, not Canada, plays a role in the French-speaking world.

Indian AffairsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, between May 4, 1995 and October 3, 1995 the member for Nanaimo-Cowichan and I highlighted in question period allegations of sexual abuse and misappropriation of band funds of the Lac Barriere band.

On January 23, 1996 the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development recognized an interim band council as the legitimate authority at Lac Barriere. Former Chief Matchewan and his band council continue to subvert the minister's January 23 decree, which has been upheld by the Federal Court.

The real victims are the children who no longer have a school to attend. A group of sympathizers of the former chief and his illegitimate band council have closed the school, wrecked the premises, shut off the town generator and blocked access to the reserve in open defiance of two court injunctions.

I ask the minister to take care and ensure the immediate best interests of the children at Lac Barriere.

Sharpeville DisasterStatements By Members

March 18th, 1996 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Pillitteri Liberal Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, March 21 commemorates the day when in 1960, 70 peaceful demonstrators against apartheid were killed and over 180 wounded in Sharpeville, South Africa.

Six years later, in 1966, the UN General Assembly proclaimed March 21 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Today I stand to express my pride in Canada's response to the UN proclamation. Canada was the first country in the world to establish a national education campaign to raise awareness about the destructiveness of racists and racial discrimination.

Because of this initiative and thousands of others undertaken by different levels of government, schools, business and individual Canadians, our country has earned a reputation as a world leader in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. For this reason, we should all be very proud.

GreeceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the recent incident in the eastern Aegean Sea involving Turkey and Greece reminds us that, by virtue of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, the further agreement of 1932 and the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, Greece's sovereignty and territorial title over the Dodecanese Islands, including Imia, are clear and unquestioned in international law.

The European Parliament has now voted to endorse the Greek position by an overwhelming majority. We commend both parties to peaceful settlement of their dispute, and also welcome Greece's acceptance of the jurisdiction of the World Court for this purpose.

Land MinesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Jesse Flis Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of rising in the House to congratulate the federal

government on its January 17 declaration of a unilateral moratorium on the use and sale of anti-personnel land mines.

As an official observer of the 1994 national elections in Cambodia, I had the opportunity to witness the danger and devastation associated with the use of such weapons. Land mines remain a threat to millions of people in nations around the globe. Canada's recently declared moratorium on the production, export and use of these tools of destruction puts us at the forefront of global de-mining activities.

This action only emphasizes Canada's role as a committed, peaceful nation among global powers. As we continue to counteract the sale and use of such violent technology, we ensure the safety of innocent victims in both the present and the future.

JusticeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week people in my home town of Prince George, B.C. were warned that convicted pedophile, Robert Oatway, had been released on parole and was headed for our city.

He was given parole despite the fact that even corrections officials knew he would reoffend. This is a situation which we see all too often in Canada: dangerous offenders released into society to commit more crimes.

Fortunately, concerned citizens in Prince George, led by Miriam Switzer, posted pictures of Mr. Oatway around the city that warned of his arrival. Their courageous action prevented Mr. Oatway from going to Prince George but unfortunately he has moved on to another city.

The justice system is failing Canadians. It is left to the citizens themselves to protect their communities. It is time to get tough with sexual offenders, including stiffer sentences, no parole and mandatory treatment while they are incarcerated.

Canadians are waiting for safe homes, safe communities and safe playgrounds. What is the Liberal government waiting for?

Financial InstitutionsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, for several months now I have been hearing almost daily from my constituents about the reform of the legislation governing financial institutions. The majority of my constituents are categorically opposed to letting chartered banks into the insurance, annuity and long term car rental markets.

Canadian chartered banks already enjoy unwarranted privileges in the existing financial system. This is why the government had to see to it that they were not allowed to extend their control. The monopoly situation in which chartered banks operate would only have harmed the Canadian consumer. Allowing chartered banks into the insurance business would have thrown open the door to unwarrranted sales pressure and increased the risk of abusive use of personal information about bank clients. I would therefore like to thank the Minister of Finance for having dealt with the issue with respect at least to the insurance aspect.

Grosse-ÎleStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with joy and emotion that the inhabitants of Bellechasse, the Côte-du-Sud and all of Quebec learned that the persistent efforts by the local population to preserve and develop Grosse-Île have borne fruit.

Grosse-Île was a quarantine station for tens of thousands of Irish between 1832 and 1937. Next year, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the cholera and typhus epidemic, which claimed over 5,000 victims in 1847, the Irish cemetery on Grosse-Île will be restored and a monument to the medical staff erected.

This is also an opportunity to recall the devotion and hospitality shown by French Canadians towards the Irish, a number of whom were adopted by French Canadian families. Having shared the same land and history as our Irish neighbours for several generations, we have all absorbed their values: courage, tenacity and determination. Long live Grosse-Île and the Irish memorial.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians breathed a sigh of relief once again after the tabling of our finance minister's budget. Our government's third budget does not contain any individual or corporate tax increases. According to the minister's forecast, the federal deficit will be $17 billion or 2 per cent of the GDP for the 1997-98 fiscal year.

The Minister of Finance has shown that it is possible to manage public finances strictly without increasing the taxpayers' burden in order to secure a better future for all Canadians.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Milliken Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, the 1996 budget maintained our social programs and tackled Canada's deficit.

On Friday the Reform finance critic tried to present a new and softer image. He said that the Reform taxpayers' budget would only cut $3 billion from transfers to provinces and $16 billion in total over three years and still balance the budget. The hon. member seems to have trouble with his addition and subtraction. He should watch out or one of his colleagues will cane him.

I checked the three-year budget presented by Reform last year. It clearly calls for cuts of $25 billion, $15 billion of which would come from social programs. Other cuts to eliminate the deficit were not revealed to the public.

Canadian voters are too smart to be fooled by the magic wands offered by the Reform Party. Its performance shows, first, that it cannot add numbers, let alone balance a budget; second, its numbers change from year to year; and, third, votes count not integrity.

No wonder the polls show that an overwhelming majority of Canadians trust the Liberal government to tackle the deficit, maintain social programs and build a strong, united country.

Mark FykeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, over this past weekend Canadians were shocked and saddened at the tragic death of Mark Fyke, an 18-year-old student from Belleville, Ontario.

It now appears with the arrest of a suspect that both the victim and his killer are the same age. This terrible shooting is a reminder to all Canadians that violence among our young is not restricted to Canada and it is our youth who are most often the victims of these violent teenagers.

Mark, with a full and promising future ahead of him, has been denied that future by the senseless actions of the accused. His family have been denied the love and affection of a son in the prime of his life. Mark's many school friends share the deep loss and hurt that his family are experiencing.

I am sure I speak for all members of the House when I say to Mark's mother and father as well as sister Jennifer and brother Paul that our hearts and thoughts are with you as you come to terms with this tragic loss of a loved one.

Mark FykeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Liberal Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, I also rise today to extend my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Mark Fyke, an 18-year-old constituent of mine from the city of Belleville who was murdered while on March break in Florida.

The loss of this energetic, bright and respected young man is a brutal and senseless tragedy that has shaken our community and indeed the nation.

I cannot express clearly enough our hope that the murder of this young man will at the very least result in a greater awareness in the state of Florida of the need to act to stem the tide of violent crime that has swept over this tourist region and taken so many innocent lives. This death need not have occurred and it is more than reason enough to ensure that measures are taken to prevent other meaningless murders in the future.

On behalf of the members of the House of Commons and all Canadians I extend our sympathy to Mark's family. I know we all share his family's shock and grief and we will remember them in our prayers.

Semaine Nationale De La FrancophonieStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Semaine nationale de la francophonie is an opportunity for Canadians to celebrate the presence and development of francophone communities in Canada. There is in my riding, more precisely in and around Penetanguishene, a proud francophone community that is not afraid to take charge of its own future.

I take this opportunity to inform the House that Penetanguishene's francophone community has just signed an agreement with the government, the Île Beausoleil agreement, for the funding of community organizations.

This agreement, which respects the spirit of the Semaine de la francophonie, shows how the francophone culture is thriving not only in Quebec, birth place of Canada's francophonie, but throughout the country.

Semaine Nationale De La FrancophonieStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week is the Semaine nationale de la francophonie and I would like to point out the initiative undertaken by an international development organization whose headquarters are located in my riding.

For the last three years, the Institut de développement Nord-Sud has supported a twinning between two French-speaking intermunicipal entities. The Municipalité régionale de Kamouraska is twinned with the Communauté urbaine de Meknès, in Morocco.

This initiative was the first one in Canada to twin two regions. It encourages cultural exchanges, entails economic spin-offs and

stresses the will of Kamouraska, the birthplace of the French fact in North America, to open itself to the world.

Beyond borders and oceans, French areas are getting together, discussing and acting in French to ensure the mutual well-being of their inhabitants, while respecting and developing their common culture.