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House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Speller Liberal Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise, pursuant to Standing Order 34, to present to the House a report from the Canadian branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association concerning a visit to New Zealand which took place February 23 to March 2, 1996.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Réginald Bélair Liberal Cochrane—Superior, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the official parliamentary delegation to the Canada-France Interparliamentary Association, which attended the 26th annual meeting of the association held in Paris and Strasbourg from January 20 to 28, 1996.

Foreign Aid Restriction ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-263, an act respecting restriction on foreign aid.

Mr. Speaker, this bill was introduced in the last session. It was designed to stop the flow of financial or other aid to any foreign country that refuses to accept re-entry of its nationals or former nationals deported from Canada.

Far too often when foreign born criminals are ordered deported from Canada, deportation is hampered because some countries do not want to take back their nationals.

The foreign aid restriction act addresses this issue by freezing aid to countries that frustrate the Canadian deportation process. This bill is a strong measure to ensure an effective deportation policy in Canada. If a country will not take back its citizens who have committed criminal acts in Canada or who have misrepresented their past involvement in organized criminal activity, terrorism or other activities as noted under section 19 of the Immigration Act and are ordered deported, the bill would then direct the Department of Foreign Affairs to suspend all foreign aid to that country.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Senator Selection ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-264, an act to allow the electors of a province to express an opinion on who should be summoned to the Senate to represent the province.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce my private member's bill, an act to allow the electors of a province to express an opinion on who should be summoned to the Senate to represent the province.

The Reform Party's ultimate objective has always been true Senate reform: a triple-E Senate elected, effective and equal. We can change the method of appointing senators, that is, they be elected, without constitutional revision.

This bill will change the method of appointing senators through an election process without constitutional revision. It will require that the Prime Minister wait to receive the expression of opinion from any province with a senatorial selection act similar to the Alberta senatorial selection act which resulted in Senator Stan Waters being appointed to the Senate.

The current Senate has not been able to perform its role effectively because the selection process has undermined its legitimacy.

There is considerable urgency for the introduction of this bill now because the Government of Canada is cramming through legislation that is not widely accepted.

I am introducing this bill today as a result of the forced vote held last fall on Bill C-110. The long range interest of Canadian federalism will truly be served by Senate reform.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions, the first bearing 126 names.

The petitioners pray that Parliament act immediately to extend protection to the unborn child by amending the Criminal Code to extend the same protection enjoyed by born human beings to unborn human beings.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

The second petition, Mr. Speaker, bears 176 signatures.

The petitioners pray that Parliament not repeal or amend section 241 of the Criminal Code in any way and to uphold the Supreme Court of Canada decision of September 30, 1993 to disallow assisted suicide or euthanasia.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the third petition bears 275 signatures.

The petitioners again call on Parliament to give immediate consideration to the removal of section 745 of the Criminal Code of Canada for the protection of all Canadians.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

The fourth petition, Mr. Speaker, bears 148 names.

The petitioners pray and request that Parliament not amend the human rights act or the charter of rights and freedoms in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality, including amending the Canadian Human Rights Act to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase of sexual orientation.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise pursuant to Standing Order 36 to present a petition on behalf of the people of the Medicine Hat constituency.

The petitioners call on Parliament to preserve Canadian unity, parliamentary tradition and protect the rights of all the people of Canada by prevailing upon the Speaker of the House of Commons to recognize the Reform Party of Canada as the official opposition during the remainder of this Parliament.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, a point of order. I wonder if I might seek the consent of the House to revert to the presentation of private members' bills.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there consent to revert to private members' bills?

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Human Rights ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-265, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (sexual orientation).

Mr. Speaker, I thank members of the House. The purpose of this bill is to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination within federal jurisdiction. It would extend to gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Canada not special rights but equal rights.

In closing, I would note that since 1986 seven ministers of justice as well as the current Prime Minister have all promised this legislative change. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has asked for it. The Senate has passed it and the Ontario Court of Appeal has ordered it. It is time for Parliament to act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSecretary of State (Veterans)(Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there consent to allow all questions to stand?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from April 15 consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to address this motion. Today I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Timiskaming-French River.

I am proud to be a part of this government which has reined in the deficit while at the same time contributing to ensuring the collective necessity in this country of sound social policies. We have managed to do this in three years. This budget is an important

contribution to that and to ensuring that the collective financial future and deficit reduction plan remain intact.

Last November the government announced that it had surpassed its deficit target for 1994-95. It now looks like the target for 1995-96 will also be achieved or even surpassed. The deficit will be reduced to 3 per cent of GDP as announced and to 2 per cent of GDP in 1997-98.

The growth rate of the debt will be lower than the rate of economic growth. This is the first significant improvement in the debt to GDP ratio in over 20 years. As a result of this, there is a dramatic decline in the amount of new money the government has to borrow from financial markets.

In 1993-94 Canada's financial requirements stood at 4.2 per cent of GDP or $30 billion. By 1997-98 the financial requirements will have dropped to 0.7 per cent of GDP or $6 billion.

As the Minister of Finance pointed out, relative to the size of the economy, Canada's borrowing requirements will be at the lowest level in almost 30 years. Measured on this basis, Canada will have the lowest fiscal shortfall projected among central governments of all G-7 countries.

As a result of this, international markets are responding favourably to the progress in deficit reduction. In fact, short term interest rates have fallen below those in the United States. For the first time the Government of Canada can actually borrow money for a short term at rates lower than those prevailing for United States securities which are the bellwether for all government securities in the world.

When the government was first elected there was a spread between Canadian and American interest rates of approximately 3 per cent. That spread represented the international market's view of the risk of investing in this country as opposed to that of the United States. I think we can take it from the fact that our securities are presently quoted at lower rates of interest than those in the United States that the international marketplace is putting on our securities a lower risk than that which would prevail on similar American securities.

Canadians know and accept that restoring public fiscal health is essential for job creation and economic prosperity. The government's job is to help create the appropriate economic climate, one in which private sector activity will flourish. Economic indicators support the claim that the government's approach is well advised.

As I pointed out, short term interest rates are down 3 per cent since March 1995. Inflation is at its lowest point in 30 years. Two hundred and sixty-three thousand private sector jobs have been created since 1995. The merchandise trade surplus has reached record levels and the current account deficit as a share of GDP is at its lowest level in 10 years.

In my view that demonstrates the wisdom of the government having rejected the slash and burn approach to deficit reduction urged by some of the parties in this House.

Our approach is a sensible, balanced, fair and compassionate approach, and the 1996 budget continues on that track. It recognizes there are sacrifices Canadians are willing collectively to make to reach the point we now have. There are sacrifices that are being made today by constituents of mine in downtown Toronto who recognize this is the track we must be on if we are to achieve greater prosperity in the years ahead.

While saying this, we recognize as well that fairness and compassion are deeply held Canadian values. The Canadian commitment to helping the most vulnerable in society is an important factor in the government's philosophy. As a result, there will be no further cuts in transfer payments to the provinces.

Provincial entitlements will eventually increase. The Canada health and social transfer will provide secure and stable federal support for medicare, post-secondary education and social assistance. For the first time there will be a cash floor for transfers. The CHST is designed to give provinces more flexibility in program delivery.

Of course we would like to see more, particularly for post-secondary education. The government recognizes the importance of these issues, but the point is we must get our house in order after eight years of Tory mismanagement before we can build again. The beauty of this budget is that it lets us see that possibility clearly within the realizable near future.

The new seniors benefit to replace old age security and the guaranteed income supplement is designed to help those who need it most. The benefit level of 75 per cent of Canadian seniors will remain at the same level or even increase. Certainly low income seniors will receive more under the new system and the income tested approach will help to ensure the sustainability of the pension system for our children and grandchildren.

I take this opportunity to address an issue which is very much a concern to many people in my riding, social housing. Rosedale has a considerable amount of assisted social housing. It takes the form of straightforward government assisted housing and co-operatives.

This social housing contributes a great deal to the social stability of our inner cities. It recognizes there are many people living in our cities, particularly in inner cities, with a high cost of living, who do require some form of government support.

There have been misconceptions as a result of the budget. There were some suggestions in the province of Ontario that because of the approach of the present Conservative government social housing is under serious attack. The federal government has indicated

in this budget that it will continue its support for social housing and as a result for social stability in the inner cities. It will continue with $2 billion in support to provincial governments, $600 million of which will go to the province of Ontario.

The minister has made it clear that while there will be changes in the way in which this service is delivered, national standards will be required. I urge the minister that when she is dealing with the provinces no federal money should go to private housing schemes. Social housing should be recognized as public housing and the administration of housing should not be turned over to provinces that indicate they do not have a commitment to publicly owned social housing. There are alternative competent partners the federal government could choose such as the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada.

This is an extraordinarily important issue which the government has indicated it intends to approach with sensitivity to the need for appropriate social policy while recognizing the need for deficit reduction. I am confident it will realize this goal in the way it has managed in other areas.

When we look at the core of this budget we see the notion of the economy, of jobs and of growth. There are three priority areas in the budget: youth, technology and trade.

The importance of investing in the country's future lies in investing in young people. We must give them the tools with which to recognize their aspirations. The creation of new youth employment opportunities, for example the Department of Human Resources Development summer student job action program, will help tens of thousands of young people to get summer jobs this year.

Also, we will be helping students and their families deal with the higher cost of education by increasing education tax credits, raising the limit on transfer of tuition education credits and increasing limits on the contributions to registered education plans.

My riding of Rosedale is home to three post-secondary institutions, the University of Toronto, Ryerson and George Brown College, and numerous high schools and youth groups.

I have fairly frequent contact with young people in my riding who relate to me the special challenges they face in trying to find suitable employment in the new economy.

Often suitable job experience is what they require but lack. This initiative in this regard should go some way to providing opportunities in my riding and across the country for youth who deserve an opportunity to participate in the challenges the new economy offers us.

In addressing the issue of the new economy, this budget addresses the issue of technology. Existing moneys will be reallocated in order to encourage technological developments in key fields such as the aerospace sector, environment technologies and biotechnology.

The Business Development Bank will be given the resources to provide more loans to knowledge based, exporting and growth businesses. Equity injection of $50 million will allow banks to provide an additional $350 million in loans.

We will accelerate our efforts to increase access to information technology for all Canadians, especially for small and medium size businesses. This is a true recognition by government that technology is the way of the future and that we as a country cannot afford to be left behind in this important contribution to the global economy.

Similarly, in terms of international trade, the budget has indicated that the Team Canada approach which has been so extraordinarily successful in international marketing of this country will remain a centrepiece of our strategy.

Canada's trade performance has recently been excellent. The export sector has been expanding at 8 per cent per annum on average over the past decade.

Our merchandise trade balance has reached a record surplus of $28.3 billion. To encourage the continuation of this success, government will provide $50 million of new equity to the Export Development Corporation in order to support new export sales financing vehicles and new partnerships with exporters in the commercial banks. This and other measures will increase the amount of financing available for Canadian exports by as much as $500 million a year.

As the foreign affairs and international trade committee has realized, international trade is at the core of what this country is about. Small and medium size businesses are dependent more and more on international trade.

This budget will contribute to enabling our country to prosper in its international trade and achieves a balance in respect of our social programs.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Ben Serré Liberal Timiskaming—French-River, ON

Mr. Speaker, before going into the details of the budget, I would like to salute the people of Verner and Lavigne in the south of my riding, who have had access to the parliamentary channel only since April 1 of this year.

I am pleased to rise today in this House to congratulate the Minister of Finance on an excellent budget. This budget is one of confidence and was well received by taxpayers and businesses

alike. The minister put forward an effective, well-balanced action plan that benefits all Canadians.

The people of this country care about their social service network, and the minister reassured them that all services currently in place would be maintained. Our government has been listening and will continue to listen to all the people, as this compassionate budget shows.

We all know how important social programs are. They benefit everyone and help sustain people going through hard times. However, a sluggish economy and the increasing burden of servicing the ever-growing public debt threaten the long term viability of Canada's social safety net. That is why it is so important to breathe new life into the economy and bring the public debt and deficit under control.

It is also necessary to overhaul Canada's social programs and transfer system in order to make them more effective and more affordable, while at the same time preserving the basic fairness of our social safety net.

In this budget, our government vows to revitalize the economy of rural regions and to tackle their problems. The new technologies put in place by this government, like the information highway and the community access component of SchoolNet, help our young people prepare for the emergence of the new knowledge-based economy.

Rural Canada is rich in natural and human resources and faces different challenges than urban areas. The government will take the appropriate and necessary action to make sure that all Canadians benefit from economic prosperity.

The budget will renew the confidence of all Canadians, especially their faith in our social programs. All the measures taken in the budget will serve to reinforce Canadians' shared values in the system. These measures are to be implemented without raising taxes or disrupting the timetable to lower the deficit.

In his budget, the minister is proposing a new seniors benefit. This new system, which will take effect in the year 2001, is designed to protect current seniors, increase pension payments to low income seniors and ensure that income maintenance programs for seniors remain affordable and sustainable for generations to come.

The new benefit will be fully tax free and it will incorporate the current pension income credit and age credit. It will be paid in monthly instalments and, in the case of couples, each spouse will receive a separate and equal cheque.

Those who currently receive the guaranteed income supplement will receive $120 more per year, and spouse's allowance payments will also increase by $120 per year. Moreover, pension benefits will be fully indexed to inflation, which represents an important improvement on the current system.

This proposal will greatly benefit seniors. It will safeguard the pension system for seniors to enjoy now and into the future. Our government is fulfilling its commitment to current seniors and to those about to retire to maintain and, in many cases, to increase pension benefits.

Unlike certain other parties, we are responsive to the needs of seniors and recognize the outstanding contribution they have made and continue to make today to Canadian society.

Let us not forget the younger generation. Our youth are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as more jobs are being created and more money is injected to create summer jobs. Students are also pleased that tax incentives for education have been increased.

On behalf of the mining sector, in which I have been actively involved since the election, I wish to thank the Minister of Finance for his support and concern. I am pleased the minister included in the budget some change to the flow through shares mechanism. It will certainly enhance the incentives for exploration and development activities and will end certain abuses.

The budget proposes that issuers will have an additional period in which to make the expenditures that have been flowed through the investor. In February my recommendation to the minister was to change the 60 day rule of flow through shares and extend it to one year.

Once again I thank the minister for accepting my recommendations. By doing so he is giving a real boost to the mining industry. Furthermore, I congratulate my colleague, the hon. member for Davenport, for his contribution to the environment by encouraging the extension of flow through share mechanisms for certain renewable energy and energy conservation projects.

Also included in the budget is the proposal to improve access to financing for the renewable energy and energy conservation sector by relaxing the specified energy property rules. These changes will provide an essential level playing field in the energy sector and recognize the importance of renewable energy to Canada's overall energy supply needs.

In this budget, the government recognizes that special measures and policies need be developed to ensure the economic well-being of rural Canada communities. This budget proposes interesting measures regarding natural resources.

In the budget the government recognizes that rural Canada needs special measures and policies to ensure the economic well-being and viability of this sector.

The budget is following its course on debt and deficit reduction in an orderly and humane fashion compared to the slash and burn approach taken by the provincial Conservative government and the Reform Party. This is why I call upon provincial governments to work in collaboration with this government in its efforts to replace the existing GST. The objective is a system which is fairer for Canadians, simpler and less costly for businesses to comply with and more efficient to administer.

Canadians have demonstrated strongly and clearly that they want one national sales tax. Therefore, it is essential that all provinces reach an agreement on this very important matter.

Canada is a great place to live. Let us work together to ensure unity and prosperity in Canada.

Canada is a great place to live. Let us work together to ensure unity and prosperity.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Timiskaming-French River is very knowledgeable about the mining industry. I preface my question by pointing out that I understand the city of Toronto is now considered to be the financial mining capital of the world. That is where corporations and individuals from all over the world finance mining activities which are not necessarily located in Canada. By doing that they enhance the richness, the wealth and knowledge of Canadians and of the Canadian mining industry.

I wonder, in that context, whether his view of the flow through share operation which he described recently in his speech would also be contributing to the development of not only the mining industry itself but to the very important securities industry which surrounds the mining industry and which is developing more and more in Canada.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Ben Serré Liberal Timiskaming—French-River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the point the member raises is very important.

Very few people know that there are more mining jobs in Toronto than in any of the rural ridings. There are more mining jobs in Toronto than there are in my riding, yet my riding has dozens of mines.

Toronto is now the centre for mining investment in the world. Investment in mining especially for exploration has risen from about $400 million when we took office in October 1993 to a projected investment of approximately $850 million this year. The mining industry is very healthy at this point in time. It is thanks at least in part to the actions taken by our government in the last three budgets.

We started in the first budget by permitting the deduction of the money used for reclamation funds. We went on to relax the flow through mechanism in the budget to increase the accelerated capital cost allowance. All of these measures have contributed to create the proper economic climate. Investors across the world now have faith in the Canadian mining industry. Discoveries such as Voisey's Bay are doing a lot to enhance Canada's international reputation.

Once again, by the actions of our government, we have put the Canadian mining industry back on the map. I hope my colleagues from urban Canada realize the importance of that sector not only to rural Canada but to all Canadians.

The three main economic sectors, agriculture, mining and forestry, account for 60 per cent of Canadian exports. We depend on exports. If we remove rural Canada, the economy of the country would be in shambles.

I hope these questions and comments will make my colleagues from urban Canada realize the importance of rural Canada. I hope they will work in co-operation with us to enhance the economy of rural Canada.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. member.

The member commented about the Reform Party cutting too deeply into areas of social programs. I am curious to know why the hon. member did not mention that while we advocated cuts of about $800 million to health care, his party is carrying out cuts of $3.2 billion in health care. His party is closing hospitals across the country. While we advocated cuts of about $200 million to higher education, his party is advocating and carrying out cuts of $1.2 billion in higher education. How can the member turn around and say that the Reform Party is being radical?

Finally I want to point out that while his government is in power the interest payments will rise. In other words the transfers to foreign lenders and foreign banks will rise from $40 billion to $50 billion. That is absolutely ridiculous. That is slash and burn. I want the member to answer those questions.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Ben Serré Liberal Timiskaming—French-River, ON

Mr. Speaker, again we are hearing rhetoric and very little action by the Reform Party. Reform was to have submitted a budget ahead of the hon. minister and this budget never came about.

We hear from the Reform Party day in and day out to cut, cut, cut. Reformers would like us to have a balanced budget by the end of our term. I ask the hon. member from where would he take that money?

Our record speaks for itself. We have at this point in time the lowest deficit as a ratio of GDP of the G-7. Our interest rate is lower than the United States. For the first time we have the lowest inflation rate in the last 30 years.

The Reform Party is always asking us to cut, cut, cut. Even Ralph Klein and his colleague Mike Harris, who by the way supports the Reform Party, is not going far enough for the Reform Party. The Reform Party is at the right of Attila the Hun. Reformers give us rhetoric. They want us to balance the budget in three years but yet they do not want to cut anywhere.

I ask the hon. member how can the budget be balanced in four years if there are no cuts?

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I want to draw your attention to the fact that until the end of the debate Bloc Quebecois members will split their allotted time in two ten-minute periods, followed by a five-minute period for questions and replies.

I am pleased to take part in the debate on the last federal budget, not because I am particularly happy with this budget, far from it, but because it is my duty, as a parliamentarian, to take a very close look at the way the government intends to spend public money. We have to recognize that, over a month ago now, the Liberal government brought down a budget which was very disappointing in several ways for Quebecers and Canadians.

The lack of vision in this budget is distressing, given that, based on its own figures, the government has added over $110 billion to the debt in the last two and a half years, which means $3,700 more for each and every Canadian. These figures speak for themselves. We have not even started paying back the principal on the debt, because the Minister of Finance has been totally incapable of substantially reducing the monstrous deficit of the Canadian government.

It will be remembered that, during the last election campaign, the Liberal party released a so-called plan of action unimaginatively and subtly called the red book. I need not make things even more unbearable by reminding the House of the fact that the Prime Minister never gets tired of quoting this document, as though it were his bedside book.

Let me quote a short excerpt from page 10 in the introduction of the document, which reads:

The Liberal agenda, therefore, is premised on an integrated and coherent approach to economic policy, social policy, environmental policy, and foreign policy. Liberals understand that these policies are and must be linked.

If we compare these claims with the measures contained in the last budget, we can only conclude that the Liberal government did not deliver. While it claims to have an integrated and coherent approach when it comes to implementing measures, the facts say otherwise.

The hardest thing to accept when you take a close look at this year's budget is that there does not seem to be any guidelines regarding the objectives that must be met. At a time when everyone wishes the government would innovate in the field of public finances, at a time when everyone is aware that hard work is required to ensure a decent quality of life to future generations, the Liberal government prefers to improvise and make cuts without thinking things through.

A blatant example of this lack of vision is the decision to eliminate the yearly $7.2 million subsidy to the Canadian centre for magnetic fusion, located in Varennes. The federal government's withdrawal from this area of scientific research is a sad and totally baffling development.

The decision clearly does not take into account the foreseeable spinoffs in development of a new waste free energy system. In signing the death sentence of this research centre, the Liberal government is giving up on 20 years of efforts in magnetic fusion development. It is sacrificing a $70 million infrastructure, including $11 million worth of new equipment which will never be used. Finally, it is sacrificing about a hundred high technology jobs. Such is the Liberal Party's environmental and economic vision.

But there is also a lack of vision and coherence in several other areas. For one thing, the remaining dairy subsidies will be cut. Last year's budget provided for a 30 per cent cut over two years. Yet, we were stunned to learn, when the last budget was brought down, that these subsidies will be totally eliminated, with no compensation at all for the producers.

This decision will be extremely hard on milk producers in Quebec and throughout Canada. Last year, Western farmers received nearly $3 billion in compensation, following the elimination of the grain transportation subsidy. Here again, a double standard is being applied by the Liberal government.

As for its economic and social vision, we must point out the government's poor performance in job creation. Between January 1995 and January 1996, the unemployment rate barely eased in Canada, slipping from 9.7 per cent to 9.6 per cent. What solutions does the government have to offer? Nothing, except the measly $315 million to be provided over three years for summer jobs.

It is rather ironical that the Liberal government is beginning to show concern for students, especially as it had previously reduced funding for summer job creation programs from $86 to $60 million over two years. Moreover, it is imposing drastic cuts of $150 million in postsecondary education funding for 1996-97, the

potential impact of which could be an increase of $1,000 in tuition fees for every student for this year alone.

What is more, it has already announced additional cuts of $300 million for 1997-98, which could lead to new additional costs for students. Therefore, this summer job creation program is a cynical move, since its only usefulness will be to help students pay the additional costs brought about by the cuts the Liberal government made in social programs.

That is not all, however. The Liberal government is again showing inconsistency since it is now going after a major means of creating jobs by lowering from 20 per cent to 15 per cent the federal tax credit related to labour sponsored investment funds and lowering from $5,000 to $3,500 the maximum share purchase in such funds.

Today, there are 19 labour sponsored funds with assets totalling between $2.5 billion and $3 billion. They have invested more than $850 million in the Canadian economy since their creation.

In Quebec, for example, the FTQ fund alone has managed to create and maintain more than 58,000 jobs. This measure will slow down the expansion of these funds, thus decreasing their job creation potential. What makes this decision even harder to understand is the fact that a report by the Canadian Labour Market and Productivity Centre concluded that governments recover the fiscal costs of labour funds in less than three years.

Instead of being a mere nuisance on the labour market, what does the government intend to do to implement real incentive programs to create jobs?

The Liberal government is also targeting senior citizens. From now on, old age security will no longer be the basic tier of pensioners' income. It will provide replacement income to those who have been unable to save for their retirement during their working life. Through this reform, the government is creating two classes of senior citizens, those who were able to save for their retirement and those who were not.

The important thing is that the new seniors benefits will now be a kind of welfare for senior citizens, and that they will be paid only to those most in need. So much for the consistency and complementarity of economic, social, and environmental measures of the government.

Let us now turn to foreign policy.

Here again, the Liberal government's last budget is a far cry from the commitments made over the last few years. We think the new foreign affairs minister should reacquaint himself with his government's commitments. The Liberals had promised to advocate and promote democracy and human rights throughout the world. But the government's record in this is rather dismal.

With the cuts the Liberal government announced during the previous budget year and confirmed in its last budget, Canada's development assistance expenditures have been reduced to less than 0.29 per cent of the gross domestic product, which is farfrom the 0.7 per cent target recommended by the internationalcommunity.

After making these cuts, how does the Canadian government think it will be able to help the poorest people on earth?

Development assistance is important on a human level, but equally important on an economic level. It provides jobs here at home. As the Bloc Quebecois indicated in its dissenting report on the review of Canada's foreign policy, one out of four jobs in Canada is linked to exports and the increasing impoverishment of the third world will obviously have a negative impact on the employment situation in our country. In the medium term, our own economic growth will partly depend on the increase of the standard of living of about 80 per cent of the world's population.

As you know, the Bloc Quebecois supports and encourages the participation of Canada in United Nations peacekeeping missions. Of course, it is frustrating to see that several states do not pay their contributions to the United Nations, but Canada still has to continue to defend and promote human rights and democratic development.

That brings me to the fact that the Bloc Quebecois supports specific missions, like the one currently underway in Haiti. For instance, already more than 400 soldiers from CFB Valcartier, in the outer suburbs of Quebec City, are over there. The goal of the United Nations mission in Haiti is to consolidate the stability of this new democracy. These are the kinds of initiatives our party supports.

However, Canada could do more to tie its assistance policy and trade measures to the issue of respect for human rights. I am thinking in particular about Mr. Tran Trieu Quan, unfairly incarcerated in Vietnam. Yet, Canada has provided Vietnam with more than $50 million in assistance and development programs since 1994. This large amount of money is granted unconditionally to a country that is unfairly detaining a Canadian citizen and is more or less asking for a $1 million ransom for his release.

This budget is proof that this Liberal government has forsaken all decency when it comes to its relations with countries where human rights are violated.

In any case, after two years when they had to really tighten their belts, Canadians were ready for a third austerity budget on the part of the Liberal government. The latter knew that for a fact and did nothing to dissipate that impression. In fact, it rather encouraged it,

knowing full well that the people would better accept its budget if they really felt they were spared.

At first glance, the budget presented by the finance minister is so conceived as to give the impression that there is something in it for everybody. But if we look closer, we can see that it is in fact an insidious budget trying to hide the bad news or wrap them up with so-called good news.

All the major decisions concerning cuts and tax increases were announced last year and the year before. But they will continue to apply this year and for the next two years, allowing the government to continue to reduce its spending without having to make more unpopular decisions in the second part of its mandate.

The BudgetRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has stressed quite vividly the government's position in the budget regarding seniors pensions and benefits. As he has suggested, perhaps we are subsidizing the poorest of the poor seniors through the changes made in the budget.

It comes across that the hon. member is quite opposed to the position the government is taking in benefiting Canadian seniors. We are giving them a long term plan whereby anyone 60 years of age as of January 1 this year can have the existing benefits of OAS and GIS and there will be no changes in that. We have given them the benefit of long term planning so that any of these new changes will only affect younger people. The hon. member seems to be quite opposed to this. I wonder what he and his party would suggest as an alternative for the people of Canada.