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House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was debt.

Topics

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

So, here we are. We all realize that there was some confusion. The hon. member for Kindersley-Lloydminster thought he would speak for ten minutes and split his time with the hon. member for Elk Island. However, he went on for nearly 15 minutes.

With the consent of the House, I will give five minutes to the member for Elk Island and I will then give the floor to the hon. member for Chicoutimi for his allotted ten minutes. Then the bells will ring for the vote. Is that agreed?

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will focus my comments on the urgency of balancing the budget. This is the thing most Liberals are missing. The talk is always that they are on target. While they are meeting their soft targets, for which they should be commended, at the same time we are losing the battle.

As a high school student I ran a marathon race. Each of us in that high school competition had to set our own goals. Each person practised and did his training in order to achieve his goal. I set the goal to finish the race. That was my only goal. I have never been athletic. I have always been heavy for my size. It is not all muscle.

I set my goal to finish the race, and I did finish it. When I finished the run there was only one person left there, the high school official who checked me off as having met my goal. All the others had already gone home, but I finished.

Notice I do not have any credentials or accolades as an Olympic racer. I met my own goal, which is great, but I did not compete at all outside of that. This is what the Minister of Finance is doing. He is setting goals he can reach, which makes him feel good. There may be one person at the finish line, not many more, who will give him a check mark and say "you done good". However, he will not be an Olympic winner at the rate he is going.

The essence of the speed or the importance of the speed is what is happening in the growth of our debt. I did a few little calculations. In 1993 to pay off our debt we would have needed a surplus of some $47 billion a year for 25 years. Regrettably we now need an annual surplus of approximately $56 billion per year. We need a surplus that large if we are to pay off our debt.

Every year we postpone balancing the budget and bringing the deficit to zero, that number increases. That, hon. members, is the reason for the urgency. I really feel we are letting down our

children and our grandchildren by allowing the debt to grow indefinitely without solving the problem.

I recognize that my short time has ended. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the issue.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to discuss the budget recently tabled by the Minister of Finance.

I feel quite comfortable doing so, because I since had the opportunity to consult my constituents and to hear their comments, which I will convey to this House.

First, taxpayers and residents in my riding of Chicoutimi feel that the Minister of Finance totally missed the boat. They simply ask the government to get its revenues-since the revenue minister is here-where the money really is, starting with family trusts.

They also want the government to review the whole corporate tax system and to abolish tax shelters.

The Minister of Finance is ignoring these calls from ordinary citizens. With the support of all government members, he continues to take what little is left in the pockets of the poor, the unemployed and students.

By contrast, no measure is proposed to recover the $6.6 billion owed to Revenue Canada. Nor is there any plan to review the whole tax system. In this budget, we note that, in terms of income tax, more than $5 billion will be collected from individual taxpayers this year, as compared to a mere $700 million from corporations.

Several of my colleagues have mentioned the fact that, as part of its deficit reduction effort, the government was helping itself to money that workers and employers have contributed to the UI fund, thereby creating an artificial deficit reduction. This astronomical amount could have been put to other uses, such as creating employment.

By his actions, the Minister of Finance is disguising his deficit. He even went so far as to say that he would continue to dip into the UI fund in coming years. It is a disgrace.

Incidentally, business people, workers and unemployed people will be holding a protest march in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, on May 4, with the support of the Conférence des chambres de commerce du Saguenay, to show the Minister of Finance that they disagree with his action and also to let the Minister of Human Resources Development know that they disagree with his reform. I can assure you that no activist will be taking part in this demonstration.

The fact is that the Minister of Finance is completely blind to the reality, and he is pulling his government along in his wake.

This budget also contains some measures which endanger another sector of activity that is very important in my area, in Quebec. The announced cuts to the dairy industry place it in jeopardy. Quebec's agrifood industry will be facing cuts of some 32.3 per cent.

For some years now, we in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean have seen the number of dairy farms decrease. Federal government funding, estimated at some $8,000 per farm, allowed milk producers to keep production costs low. You can see right away what will happen. You can guess what the results of this cut will be: increased cost to the consumer. Production will likely be lower because of that.

According to a number of people in the region, quotas could leave the region because dairy farmers will not be able to support their operations on their own. Once again, more unemployment in a region that has long been number one in the country for unemployment, a dubious honour we could readily do without.

Yet, when the Liberal government announced abolition of the Crow benefit, it automatically included a $3 billion compensation for western farmers. Here, the subsidy to the dairy industry is being abolished, but where are such measures this time? Nothing has been planned. A fine country, is it not, with equality for all? The true face of those people across the floor is a two-faced, double standard.

Comparisons are unavoidable. Thus the Liberals have always had two speeches: one for Quebec and one for the rest of Canada. Things are different from one place to the other. Things are watered down. There is, for example, no more mention of distinct society status for Quebec. Now they are talking simply of a cultural homeland in North America, a homeland where the Americans may perhaps have something to say. Why not state right now, clearly, that Quebecers are a people, yes, a people?

Now, I would like to go back to taxation. The minister did promise a review of taxation. But no. What better thing did he come up with? He came up with the clever idea of setting up a committee with people coming from very important companies that have the pleasure of using tax havens. It is ludicrous. However, until this committee makes its report, money is flowing out of the country causing unemployment to rise.

This budget, which we in the Bloc described rightly as a mediocre make-up session, hides the truth about Canadian finances. It makes promises whose fate is the same as those the famous red book made. When will jobs be created? When will the GST be abolished? When will real steps be taken to improve the economy? Nothing. Not even a glimmer of hope.

However, people were hoping for something better. Everything is falling on their heads at the moment. They were especially hoping for jobs. So the famous promise of jobs is a smoke screen. The Minister of Finance has announced he would double summer jobs for students. He is simply putting back what was there before.

Last year, in my riding, half of this funding was cut. This year, it is being doubled, so we are back where we started from. This has happened all over Quebec. Once again, it is window dressing.

We have come to the point where the government has lost all credibility. It is unable to revive the economy, to keep its promises, or to create jobs. Furthermore, the government is about to pass a law that would deprive thousands of unemployed workers of UI benefits. This reform is an admission of failure by the government.

The budget tabled by the Minister of Finance is not a responsible budget. It simply implements what the minister announced earlier and tells us what to expect in the future. For example, if you are 60 years old today, will you remember in five years that you may no longer qualify for the old age pension? Again, this is nothing but a smoke screen. The Minister of Finance must go back to the drawing board so that he can finally meet the people's expectations.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

In closing, I would like to thank all hon. members of this House for their co-operation.

It being 6.15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith all questions necessary to dispose of the amendment now before the House.

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

All those opposed will please say nay.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I declare the amendment lost.

The House resumed from March 28 consideration of Bill C-19, an act to implement the agreement on internal trade as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

April 15th, 1996 / 6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred divisions at the report stage of Bill C-19, an act to implement the agreement on internal trade.

The question is on Motion No. 1.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it I believe you would find unanimous consent to apply the vote taken on the previous motion to the motion now before the House as well as to report stage Motion No. 2.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Agreed.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Agreed.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

Agreed.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I declare Motions Nos. 1 and 2 negatived.

(Motions Nos. 1 and 2 negatived.)

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The next question is on Motion No. 3.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent to apply the vote taken on the previous motion to the motion now before the House. Consequently, Liberal members will be recorded as having voted no on the motion now before the House.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Members of the official opposition will vote yes.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party members will vote no on these except for those who might wish to vote otherwise.