Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how much I look forward to speaking for 10 minutes on this subject since I have been here since eight o'clock this morning and it is now the 14th hour of my rather full day. Nevertheless, Bill C-10, the borrowing authority bill is a rather important bill or it should be an important bill.
For a long time I remember in the United States there used to be the need for the government to go to Congress every year to acquire permission to increase the debt limit. This bill focused the discussion on issues about spending and deficits which were very salutary.
I wish in the parliamentary system we had an opportunity to focus our discussion on what these deficits do to our children and grandchildren who are not represented here because they cannot vote. I know this is a cynical point of view, but I believe if they really were in our minds when we voted for these kinds of increases in deficits, these appropriations to spend more and add more to the debt, we would not do it if we remembered what we are doing to our children and grandchildren.
Unfortunately we have a system here where all the conclusions are pretty well pre-ordained. What we have is a lot of talk. Let me add to this talk on a subject that is of great concern to me.
Today several members opposite spoke about an article written by my good friend and colleague, Dr. Mike Walker, an economist and director of the Fraser Institute. He published an article in the Globe and Mail last Thursday. The title is ``Budget out-Kleins Klein-Another Perspective''. In this short editorial, Dr. Walker indicated his enthusiastic support for the budget that was brought down last week and which at this moment is being debated in the context of the need for more borrowing to which it gives rise.
The editorial bases its enthusiasm for the budget on something very interesting, an index which the Fraser Institute has called the Klein index. It is alleged to be an objective assessment of the fiscal restriction imposed by a certain budget. As Mr. Walker indicates, he believes this takes subjective judgment out of the debate. I am really puzzled by this. Dr. Walker in co-authorship with Robert Richardson in the February issue of Fraser Forum , a monthly publication of the highly respected institute, with circulation in the thousands, has published a paper entitled ``How to Balance the Federal Budget and Keep Canada together''. Mr. Walker suggests cuts in program spending. This is money spent on everything other than the debt and excluding social transfers to individuals and provinces.
Dr. Walker enthusiastically endorsed the need for further cuts. He would have doubled according to these proposals the cuts to program spending of $6.9 billion enacted by the Minister of Finance last year. He would have added $6.3 billion in order to achieve the targets he thought were necessary.
I will give in a moment his summary of why he liked and why he suggested this budget. He gives here a long table on how he would find the extra $13 billion. For the department of agriculture he suggested an additional cut of $600 million out of a budget of $1.2 billion, and so on.
The second element of his budget proposal which was very important suggested an increased clawback of all social transfers to individuals and families. His emphasis was on families, social transfers in the form of UI, OAS and CPP together. He gave a schedule on how he would have done that and he suggested that another $8 billion should have been taken out of this program.
Why did Dr. Walker and his co-author suggest this would be necessary? It would bring about in two years an elimination of the deficit, and a surplus would begin.
He concludes the article with the following paragraph: "By balancing its budget within the next two years and beginning to reduce the national debt, the federal government can restore the confidence of most Canadians in the financial, economic and political viability of one Canada for all Canadians into the 21st century".
This of course has been the platform of the Reform Party since its election campaign, reinforced in the taxpayers budget published last year.
The Liberal budget did nothing Dr. Walker proposed two months earlier. There were no further cuts. There was no dealing with the problem of social program spending to high income families.
It is a very puzzling phenomenon to me. How can a man within a couple of weeks change his mind? On the one hand he would have predicted that if this budget did nothing of what he recommended, it would have been a failure. He then turns around on the basis of an objective index and would say this is a wonderful budget.
I can see only two explanations. One is that, as he said, this is an objective index. Maybe he was not objective when he wrote the first budget, when he made his budget proposal. I do not believe that. I have co-authored several books with Dr. Walker. The last one has been published in Chinese.
The only other alternative I have as an explanation is that there is a serious flaw in the design of the so-called objective index. I believe what is missing is any kind of weight given to the speed with which a fiscal restraint is enacted. I believe that is a fatal flaw.
I look forward to talking to Dr. Walker on the telephone in order to clear up this puzzle. I can assure him he has given enormous support to the Liberals, all of whom rave on all the time about how this conservative leader of the economics profession in Canada has seen the light and swung around. It is a total puzzle to me. I tried to explain it. Maybe I will have more news tomorrow.