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House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

For three pages.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Martin Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

That is right, I tabled it myself. I submit that the hon. member should ask the Table for the three pages I mentioned.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the last election, the government campaigned on the issue of jobs, jobs, jobs.

In the budget yesterday there was not a word about jobs. There was nothing for jobless Canadians. There was just 80 minutes of self-congratulations.

The finance minister did not even mention the 9.7 per cent unemployment rate, the 1.5 million unemployed, the one in four people underemployed or who are worried about losing their jobs.

When will the finance minister come down from his mansion on the hill and realize that by relentlessly driving up taxes he is killing jobs in this country?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, what was done in yesterday's budget was to very clearly outline a comprehensive jobs program.

First of all, we started out with the absolute necessity of cleaning up the nation's finances. Our interest rates have gone from two and a quarter percentage points higher than the United States' to where they are now, two and a quarter to a half percentage points lower than the United States'.

This is as a result of the actions of this government. That is why people are now saying that Canada will have the strongest job creation record of any of the G-7 countries.

Second, we put in place a short term program, infrastructure, roads, sewer mains and highways in order to create instantaneous jobs. More money went into the tourism sector because it is a massive creator of jobs.

The Prime Minister's missions abroad have led to the highest level of exports in this country's history. We have put in place a long term job program, helping students finance their education, a very large research and development program for Canadian universities.

This government has put in place a comprehensive job program and it is paying off.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, if there is job creation in this country, that is news to the 1.5 million people who are still unemployed, the same number as when the government came to power.

The last Tory government and the present Liberal government have left this country with a legacy of joblessness that has not been paralleled since the Great Depression. Seventy-six months in a row of unemployment over 9 per cent is a disgraceful record and the minister should be ashamed.

The Liberals have broken their promise to create jobs. When will the minister realize that high taxes are killing jobs in this country?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is expected that when an hon. member rises in this House the premise of their question will reflect the policies of their party.

The Reform Party seems to have forgotten this fundamental piece of legislative responsibility. Therefore let me simply say that since we have taken office, as the Prime Minister has said, there have been over 790,000 jobs created in the private sector.

Is that enough jobs? Of course it is not. Are we worried about job creation? Do we want to see more young Canadians go back to work? Absolutely.

However, let us understand what the alternative was. In 1993 in Penticton the leader of the Reform Party said that if they were elected and their economic plan, their scorch and burn policies, were put into effect, that at the end of three years there would be fewer jobs in Canada than there were in 1993.

We are 800,000 jobs ahead of the Reform Party.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

The minister announced that $150 million would be provided over a three year period to support provinces that will implement new initiatives, such as home care and pharmacare programs. The fact is that such initiatives have already been taken in Quebec.

Is the minister going to do what he did with the GST and tell Quebec that, since it has already implemented such reforms, it will not get one penny? Is he going to do that again?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised both at the tone and the substance of the hon. member's question, asking the Government of Canada not to provide moneys for citizens who reside in the province of Quebec who would be interested in participating in a national home care program or in a program for national pharmacare, thereby extending medicare.

I am rathersurprised that the hon. member would deny the citizens of the province of Quebec those kinds of economic opportunities.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think the minister did not understand the question.

This is despicable. The minister is putting $300 million into health, which does not even come under his jurisdiction, after reducing by $2.3 billion, in the last two years, transfer payments to the provinces for health.

How can the minister expect to be taken seriously by the public when he is giving a measly $300 million with one hand, after cutting billions with the other hand in the last three years?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that the Minister of Finance, not in this budget but in the last budget, provided to the provinces something which they had been asking for for quite some time, the stabilization of transfer payments.

The Minister of Finance clearly did that and for this fiscal year we will be providing both cash and tax points totalling $26.9 billion.

The hon. member should remember that as a result of this government's policies as they relate to interest rates they will save the provinces $1.8 billion. Equally so, under the auspices of equalization, the provinces will now receive $8.6 billion in this fiscal year. That is a hell of a lot of money for the purposes of health care and other social programs.

BilingualismOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ben Serré Liberal Timiskaming—French-River, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

Reformers and others have been complaining that bilingual labelling and packaging adds millions of dollars to the cost of doing business in Canada. Could the minister tell the House the real cost of doing business in the two official languages of this country and the benefits to Canadians?

BilingualismOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, the study that was done by the commissioner indicated quite clearly that the advantages are much larger than the cost. In fact, even the enterprises themselves indicate that the cost is very small and is well worth the advantages.

In his study on the costs of bilingual packaging and labelling to small and medium size businesses, the Commissioner of Official Languages found that the average cost of compliance with federal laws and regulations is one-fifth of one cent per dollar of product revenue.

So those who scream against it are completely unjustified. The firms themselves find it is necessary because there are health, safety and security advantages to it and because the cost, once again, is one-fifth of one cent per dollar of revenue.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, to use one of the finance minister's favourite phrases, let me simply say that this is the Liberal record that he is so proud of: 1.5 million Canadians unemployed, one in four Canadians worried about losing their jobs, $7 billion slashed from health care and education, a $28 billion federal tax grab, and Canadians have $3,000 less to spend in disposable income.

Why does the finance minister not come clean and admit that Canadians today are far worse off than when the Liberals came to power in 1993 because of their tax, tax, tax policies?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, heaven forbid I should speak for the government. Simply let me quote David Crane, one of the more astute commentators on the political scene, referring to the budget. He said the budget can almost be called an investment budget that focuses almost entirely on people, making sure that children get early support to be good learners when they start school; providing more money for parents to raise healthy children; giving more deductions to post-secondary students and boosting innovation in the universities and industry.

That is what a non-partisan and objective commentator has to say about this budget.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, that commentator has a Liberal membership. There is no doubt about that.

The simple truth is, and the finance minister should know this, taxes, payroll taxes, kill jobs in this country. Unemployment is at a record level in this country and he has offered no tax relieve to take care of that. Only last Friday he imposed yet another $10 billion tax grab on hard working Canadians.

Will the minister explain for the benefit of Canadians how this $10 billion CPP tax grab is going to help Canadians keep their jobs,

help the 1.5 million Canadians who are out of work to get jobs? Does he not know the simple truth by now that taxes kill jobs in this country?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, Tim O'Neil, chief economist, the Bank of Montreal, is forecasting well over 300,000 new jobs this year. Maureen Farrow from Loewen, Ondaatje, McCutcheon Limited international investors whom I talk to every day is looking at Canada as if it had sort of risen from the ashes. It is fascinating because it is the deficit, the debt and the current accounts, the contained inflation environment, the overall competitiveness, the restructuring of the export centre. We have gained enormous market shares across the board in export markets, particularly in the Asian markets, including Japan.

The hon. member talks about people who have Liberal cards. This from Deutsche Bank: "The Canadian economy has enjoyed massive monetary stimulus. We expect GDP growth to be more than doubled to 4.1 per cent this year, more than 1 per cent in excess of the United States, nearly two times greater than the average of the G-7. The longer term prospects beyond 1997 are favourable".

Mr. Speaker, it is a tragedy that you are going to cut me off.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance who, we will all remember, four years ago stood in his place and said that jobs were a priority when 1.5 million Canadians were out of work. This afternoon 1.5 million Canadians are still out of work; youth employment is at 70 per cent; bankruptcies are at an historic high; 1.5 million children live in poverty because their parents live in poverty. I could go on.

Would the Minister of Finance admit that this budget gives no hope to those who are unemployed or underemployed and that the only jobs he is creating are con jobs and snow jobs?

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, who sat in this House with a lot of us under the previous government, knows full well the economic situation in Canada when we took office in 1993. There was no hope. Taxes were going up. Interest rates were going up. Job creation was virtually a thing of the past.

I know he will understand, being a fair person, that looking at Canada today the fact is not only have we created over 700,000 jobs, not only are we being touted as doing better than any other OECD country, but our interest rates are down, our companies are exporting, consumer confidence is up. The foundation is there.

Now, are we satisfied? Absolutely not. Is there pain and suffering out there? Yes, there is. I know the hon. member, unlike those around him, understands and shares that feeling, as do we. We are going to continue to work on this because government is about people. It is about providing them with the sustenance they require and we will continue to do as we have done.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

February 19th, 1997 / 3 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleagues, we are honoured today to welcome a group of eminent Canadians to this House. Their achievements have earned them a place in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

These individuals have made outstanding contributions to medical science. Excellence in advanced research and scientific discovery have earned them a place in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame located in London, Ontario. Their achievements are a source of pride for all of us.

I will ask them to stand as I call their names and I would ask you to withhold your applause until I have introduced all of them: Dr. Henry Barnett of London, Dr. Harold Copp of Vancouver, Dr. Herbert Jasper of Montreal and Dr. Robert Salter of Toronto.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I invite you to join me in Room 216 after question period. I would like you to meet these distinguished Canadians at a small reception. If you have time you are cordially invited.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I have notice of a point of order from the member for York South-Weston.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

John Nunziata Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to the practice of budget secrecy. The delivery of yesterday's budget represents a marked departure from the practice that has been followed in the House for many years, certainly since I was elected to Parliament.

Many of the provisions in the budget were announced by the government in advance of the minister's speech yesterday. Moreover, it has been the practice over the years that the budget documents themselves not be released until the minister rises to his feet in the House.

Yesterday the budget documents were available approximately 15 minutes before the minister rose to his feet. People had the opportunity to obtain the documents and to release them.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that you review this matter because it is an important principle. The reason we have budget secrecy is to ensure that no individual or groups of individuals are able to profit from advance information they might obtain concerning an upcoming budget.

In the past, finance ministers have been forced to resign where a budget leak has occurred because of the sanctity of the principle. I submit also it impinges on the privileges of members of the House when information is released prematurely. The reason why the budget was released at 4.30 p.m. yesterday is because the stock markets had closed.

Mr. Speaker, I would like you to review this matter. I would also like you to review the whole concept of the budget lock-up. I and a number of other people found it disconcerting that the media were reporting what was in the budget before the Minister of Finance had finished reading his speech.

Surely the lock-up should be extended until after the Minister of Finance has completed his speech to the House so that all Canadians have equal opportunity concerning the release of the information. It is patently unfair to the minister and to the House that the media should be reporting the contents of the budget before he is finished his speech.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to what my hon. colleague suggests is a question of privilege. It would be my submission to you, Mr. Speaker, that it is not a question of privilege.

It is no secret that the government, since coming to office, has attempted to demystify budget making. Out of respect for the traditions of budget making, it is important to remember that we campaigned based on the fact that we felt this was important to Canadians and to all members of the House. The Standing Committee on Finance has travelled the country and continues to travel the country on prebudget consultations.

The principle behind budget secrecy is to ensure that no individual profits from information gained before the budget is read. I submit there has been no opportunity for private gain. In fact, to specifically deal with my hon. colleague's second point, the documents to which he alludes were on the desks of members of Parliament. No member of the public had those documents.

Since the Minister of Finance is coming into the House of Commons to speak to members of Parliament, I submit that it would be impossible for there to have been a breach of security, a release or disclosure of pertinent information, as my hon. colleague has suggested.

The stock markets were closed at the time of the deposit of these materials. There was no opportunity for any member of the public to take any advantage. As members, we are honourable members. The materials were placed quite properly on our desks as the Minister of Finance was about to speak.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have listened to the arguments put forward by the member for York South-Weston and from the government side. I think that the arguments put forward by the government side were very weak. I am more inclined to listen to the first speech.

I have one point I would like to make. The government member said the stock markets were closed. That is a typical centrist Canadian attitude. The stock market in Alberta was wide open at the time the minister stood up. The stock market in British Columbia was wide open at the time the minister stood up.

It is time these people started to recognize that Canada does not end at the lakes. There are millions of people on the prairies and in B.C. who deserve the same courtesy and attention as the rest of Canada.