Thank you, Mr. Speaker. All I wanted was to have it on the record.
It is really puzzling that the country can be in the state it is in today and yet the people are not out in the streets rioting. They do not seem to be particularly upset. One has to ask what it is about the human nature and the body politic in Canada which does not hold the Liberal government accountable for 30 or 40 years of mismanagement of the economy. It got us into this mess in the first place.
If you are looking for ground zero on what screwed up our economy, we are looking across at it right now, the descendants of this paternalistic liberalized state. Why are the people not enraged, particularly the young people in our society who are in university or high school and are looking at their futures? Why do they not feel some sense of passion at the fact that their generation is going to be paying the bills and will have a substantially diminished lifestyle because my generation and the generation that preceded me lived beyond its means?
What it is about human nature and about being Canadian that allows us to accept this? I know we got into this mess gradually. We all know the story about the incipient nature of gradualism and why, we got up this morning and noticed that we had a debt and we were paying almost 40 per cent of every dollar that goes into the federal coffers to pay interest on money we have already spent. Nobody would have envisioned that 30 years ago. Even the Liberals would say it was irresponsible to do that. It was a gradual thing. We gradually grew into it so that we did not have that shock to our system.
Everyone sees what is going on now in the country and where it is our responsibility to pay. As a society we have elevated certain demands. As individuals citizens we expect certain things from government that we used to expect from ourselves. Once we expected to be personally responsible but over the last 30 years or so we have come to count on the federal government to be responsible for our welfare and how we get along in life.
I give this government and the present finance minister full marks for taking the first tentative steps to do what has to be done. Perhaps that is the difference between this government over others. Could you envision the Liberal government opposite, even taking the tentative steps it has in the right direction, if it was facing the kind of opposition that the Conservative government in 1984 was facing? The body politic in Canada has shifted so much that the Liberal members are now looking across at us and we are telling them what to do but to do it with more vigour and more fire in their belly. We are saying that the sooner and faster we do it the better our children and grandchildren will be.
The Liberal members look across to us and we are telling them to get on with the job. However, the Conservative members in 1984 were looking across at a Liberal opposition that cried bloody murder every time the Conservatives made a tentative step in the right direction. That is why the Conservatives lost the will of the people. They did not have the courage to stay the course. They were elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility. They did not do it and now the Conservative Party is dead across the country.
Today the Liberals are tentatively taking the first steps in the right direction, urged on by the Reform Party. The Bloc really does not have a philosophy. Every once in a while its members will say "do not do this" and "do not do that", but they really do not understand or do not have a sense of passion other than getting Quebec out of Canada.
The Reform Party is making it possible for the Liberals to do what the Conservatives should have done. The Liberals know in their hearts what must be done because they got us started on this terrible path 30 years ago. That is the reality of the situation. However we have to continue to ask, how did we find ourselves in this situation? How did we allow this to happen?
The federal government right now is passing off to the provinces responsibility for social programs, for the infrastructure of our way of life that had previously been paid for by the federal government but is now paid for by provincial governments. It is not sending money along to pay the bills. Therefore it is the provincial governments that have to pay the piper. The federal government is calling the tune, the provincial governments are paying the piper.
We see even now the strangest of all things. Miracles can happen. The ex-leader of the official opposition, Mr. Bouchard, is now the premier of Quebec. All of a sudden there is a revelation. He finds that there is another priority. If Quebec does not get its financial house in order what difference does it make if you are bankrupt and broke in French or English? Perhaps he is starting to get his priorities together.
The problem with this budget is not its general direction. The problem is that it is not honest. Over the years the federal government has set up an expectation of delivery of services across the country. It cannot afford to do it but it does not have the courage to say: "My friends, we have been living beyond our means. It is time to tighten our belts. We must do it without sloughing off the responsibility to other orders of government. We must take the heat ourselves".
That is the great tragedy of this budget and in my opinion the great tragedy of the Liberal government as a whole. It has the ability right now to do what it knows must be done and to do it with vigour instead of backing into it and being embarrassed about it. It has to be done with vigour and it has to be done with dispatch because the longer it drifts, the more pussyfooting around that it
does, more of the problems of our grandparents are going to be put into the hands of our grandchildren.
As parliamentarians our responsibility is not to our grandparents. It is to our grandchildren. Everything that we do should be done with an eye to the future.
I expect I will receive a few questions from those opposite. I see some of the members are busy scribbling some information down and I know that soon they will be rising from their chairs, hopefully to take me to task and to ask me to defend my thesis that they started it and that they do not have the courage to take it as fast and as far as they should to solve the problem. I would use as a foundation for that statement the fact that the Prime Minister in his budget address passed off responsibility to the private sector for job creation.
The Liberal government campaigned on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs, getting rid of the GST, saying and doing whatever it took to get the maiden out. The Liberals were doing whatever it took to get the votes in order to get here.
The Reform Party philosophically differs from the Liberal Party in a number of areas. One major area is that we understand very clearly it is the role and the correct area of our economy for the private sector to create and deliver jobs. Job growth in the future will come from investment in the private sector by the private sector. It will not come from the public sector.
The government challenges the private sector to help. There are some good things about it, such as the challenge to hire students during the summer. That is a good challenge. The private sector can take it up and hire students. It can create work so that the flowers of our future will have a sense of self-worth. We all must buy into that.
I do not think it is necessarily bad to say: "We have to come together. We have to do it". However, the responsibility of the federal government is to create a climate which will allow the private sector to do what the private sector must do: be efficient and innovative. To do that a climate must be created which will allow the private sector to retain earnings; to retain wealth. It is the reinvestment of private wealth that creates jobs. If entrepreneurs decide that they are going to risk everything in order to create a business they must know that they will be able to retain some of the fruits of their labour.
The job of the federal government is to create the lowest possible tax environment, with a good infrastructure, that will allow the private sector to compete in the global marketplace.
I would like to mention some of the budget considerations with respect to divorce, child support and so on. I have a great deal of experience in making maintenance payments. I believe that the government is moving in the right direction. When people bring children into the world, it is the responsibility of the parents, whether or not they are divorced, to raise, nurture and care for their children. The government is taking the first steps in the right direction.