This prorogation was strictly for the purposes of general appearances, to make it look as if the government is still in control. As members will recall, before we prorogued things were unravelling, unsettling.
This Prime Minister bragged about that red book. He bragged about the people he was attracting to that party. He said he had the plan. He said he had the people. However, we very quickly found out that there was no plan because they spent all those months in committees trying to come up with the purple book, the green book, the lavender book and the grey book.
Talk about the people. He fired everybody. His people were so good he fired them all. He fired all the parliamentary secretaries. He fired some cabinet ministers. Where are the people? Those people he brought in, I believe 178 of them, were so good that he had to bring in two more from the outside. Now we have byelections to bring in two new members. Not only have they never been elected before, not only have they never served in public office before; they are cabinet ministers. Right away they are cabinet ministers. How good are these people? For general appearances, that was my point.
Liberals brag about how wonderful their first two years were and how the wonderful finance minister in two years of rolling targets is meeting these soft targets, how great he is and how much better he is than any previous finance minister. I will give him credit for this: the previous finance ministers have been a sorry lot. They could not even project three, four or five months ahead. At least I will give the finance minister credit for setting a target, no matter how soft, and meeting it. He made some cuts, no matter how meagre, and met them and beat them. That is good for the investment community. It just has to be done a little bit quicker.
However, that is about the only thing government members can brag about. Do they brag about abrogating the NAFTA? The Prime Minister in opposition said: "If elected I will abrogate NAFTA unless they change certain clauses". Do members know what really happened? They signed it as was. They did not change one word or one letter in the agreement. They just signed it.
The Liberals said that when they were elected they would protect civil servants. They did a good job of that. They fired 45,000 of them. They promised no big spending cuts. Since they have been in office, during the past two and one-half years, they have announced $15 billion in spending cuts. That is less than what Reformers would have cut but where did they cut the most? Right
where it hurts people the most: in education, in health care and in welfare.
The Reform Party, the party that has been accused of being slash and burn, would have cut $3 billion less than the government on health care, education and welfare. The government's combined cuts with its Canadian social and health transfer is $6.6 billion and ours would have been only $3 billion; that is $3 billion more than we would have cut.
Talk about slash and burn. Talk about draconian. That is the party that should be embarrassed. That is the party that is down loading its problems to the provinces. The provinces now have to deliver the programs for education, health care and welfare. Now they just sit back over there on that side of the House and say: "Boy, did we pull a good one on the provinces, eh? We give them less money, we made our cuts. Now they have to administer it".
Guess whose Parliament gets rocks thrown in the windows? Not the House of Commons but Queen's Park. Guess which premiers get all the flack? Not the Prime Minister but Mike Harris and Ralph Klein. They have to take all the flack over health care and education when they are trying to administer the diminishing funds they are getting. They should have had $3 billion more.
Talk about smart. That is smart. It is smart politics but it is not smart government. It is not smart investment of money.
Mr. Speaker, in the throne speech did the Liberals brag-I believe the only reason they prorogued the House was to do some bragging-about eliminating that GST? No. Once again that is smart politics. What did they do? They are now going to introduce a new national sales tax that combines provincial sales taxes with the goods and services tax, calling it the national sales tax.
Do we think the federal government is going to reduce its take from 7 per cent? No. It will expect the tax to go through, combine it with the provinces and call it one tax. I recall when the finance minister was in opposition. He criticized the GST as the replacement for the manufacturers' sales tax. I cannot quite remember the quote, but to paraphrase the finance minister he said that replacing one bad tax with another new bad tax, it still remains a bad tax. Is that not the same logic as that exhibited by the finance minister now? Does a national sales tax which combines a provincial and a federal tax not leave the rates the same? They were bad taxes separately. Is it still not a bad tax to combine them? Does it not remain a bad tax under a different name?