Madam Speaker, people in the media would tell us that if we repeat and repeat and repeat we will get the message across better. Having spoken to second reading today and having partially finished my second reading speech after question period, I now have an opportunity to speak at third reading.
I repeat that one of the biggest problems we have with this bill is the fact that it was agreed to in December 1997, it showed up here on Friday and now there is a great rush to move it through. It shows a great deal of mismanagement, of not dealing with issues that the government says are good for the country. It does not allow us the opportunity to call witnesses. It does not allow us the opportunity to look at all of the issues and to ask questions.
Will this handicap us when it comes to dealing in the international marketplace? What about those that are not part of the OECD? Where will they be when it comes to competition? There are so many questions we should ask.
We often find the government presents a rather naive view of the world. For instance, in the nuclear study we found that the government believed there would be no more wars and that we do not need to protect ourselves.
Our second reason for having problems with this bill is the fact that it came from the unelected, unaccountable Senate. No matter where we go in the world it is difficult to try to explain the Senate. We talk about democracy and democratization. One-quarter of our government officials are not elected, but simply are political hacks sent here to raise funds for the party and to help organize the party. We have a great deal of difficulty giving credibility to the material coming out of that body.
I will address the bill itself. The OECD has made a number of recommendations to Canada. The most notable comment from the OECD was clearly made when we visited with them in August. There are three basic reasons Canada is having difficulty with its economy.
We are losing our trained people. We have a low dollar. We have 8% unemployment and many other people who are not part of that unemployment figure any more. We have a pension plan that is going to fail. We have the highest taxes and so on. When we ask what is wrong and why is Canada not working very well they do not come to corruption right away but they come to three things, three really clear things.
The first is that we have too much debt. Our debt to GDP ratio is too high. No country with 79% of its GDP to debt ratio is going to do very well in the international community. Obviously they are telling the government to fix the debt problem. It took us 30 years to get into this huge debt of $600 billion but we have to find a way to get out of it. The big thing with this debt is the interest payments. When we spend close to $50 billion a year on interest payments it hurts our country. It hurts our young people. It hurts our businesses. We have to know that.
The second thing the OECD says is that taxes are too high. Taxes are why there is unemployment. Taxes are why the best trained people are being lost. Taxes are why businesses are being lost and why people will not invest in the country. They are causing the problem. Whether they are individual taxes or corporate taxes, they are destroying the country and its ability to compete in the 21st century.
Third, and probably most important of all, the country does not have a plan. This country does not know where it is going. That is because of 30 years of mismanagement by a couple of different kinds of governments.
When we get this bill about corruption, we certainly know it is important. Corruption does destroy countries. But that is not the number one problem in Canada. The problems in Canada are the huge debt, huge taxes and the lack of any kind of a plan.
Let us examine the different kinds of corruption and what corruption does to a country and its economy. There are several things we should look at. There cannot be good government if corruption is allowed to go on. Democracy will be destroyed, whether it is in a transition phase or whether it is well developed. Democracy will be destroyed when corruption is allowed to happen.
That is why many people here question democracy. Are we really a democracy when we see cabinet ministers beat the back bench into submission to vote the way of the party? Is that really democracy? We see committees that are forced to come up with the government position, even when members disagree. Is that really democracy? Deals are made and deals are changed. Is that really democracy?
We listen in question period to the government saying it is going to examine the entire APEC matter. However, the chairman is gone. They cannot look at the politicians. Is that really democracy? We should not throw too many stones when we live in a glass house.
There are lots of things that would allow us to really question the kind of government that we have. I could go back to the Somalia inquiry. What a terrible example that set for other countries. We were condemned in countries like Belgium and other European countries when they saw how we handled that inquiry. We let it go on for a year and a half, not touching any of the guys at the top. We just went after a few of the little people at the bottom. We did not support our troops. We did not support the Canadian way of life. I question again what the government is doing.
We can distort public policy. We have the examples of the Pearson airport deal and the helicopter deal. All of those things are examples of manipulation by government for political reasons, but out there in the public they raise a big question mark.
Corruption also causes the misallocation of resources. How many examples do people have out there of CIDA projects gone wrong? Just last week our minister went down to Washington for lunch. He agreed that Canadians will be one of the big guys up to the table so he wrote a cheque for $92 million to the Palestinian effort to help them build roads and complete an airport. We have already given $120 million. The only country that has given more is the U.S. Do we know where that money is going? Is it accountable? Do we know how it is going to be spent?
Tell some of the Saskatchewan farmers who are trying to haul their grain on some of those roads that in fact Palestine needs roads more than the Saskatchewan farmer does.
The misappropriation of funds that goes on is part of corruption. It is all there.
We could talk about the aboriginal issue. That is good one. We just had a forensic audit of the Stoneys.
Of course, many of our native people are saying “There is corruption within our chiefs and councils. We, the grassroots, are asking you to straighten this out, to fix it”. That is a problem in Canada. Why are we not dealing with that problem?
Again, we can live in our glass house, throw stones and talk about corruption internationally, but we should be looking at it here.
We can also look at the poor of the world. We can see how corruption affects them and hurts them. We have to keep asking these questions.
That is what we are here for, to raise these questions. Government members might not like to hear them. They would like to live in a naive world, a wonderful world, a glossy world where everything is just fine. Those rose-coloured glasses are starting to get a little foggy. I think some members opposite should start cleaning their glasses.
As far as transparency is concerned, there was a very interesting study done by the UN. It was a corruption index. They went from country to country and rated them from zero to ten. Zero was the highest level of corruption and ten was a clean bill of health where they could not find any corruption at all.
It is pretty interesting. I will refer to a few of the countries that are covered in this study.
Denmark finished first. It had a perfect score of 10. In other words, no corruption could be found in that government. Canada, interestingly enough, finished sixth, at a rate of 9.2. It was not bad, but they did find some corruption within our system.
Britain was 11th, at 8.7. The United States was 17th, at 7.5. Chile was 20th, at 6.8. Botswana was 23rd, at 6.1. Hungary was 33rd, at 5.0. Russia was 76th out of 85, at a rate of 2.4.
We can see in this corruption scale where some of these countries are and then we can take a look at what that means. Let us use a few examples. Let us talk about Russia.
Of course, Russia today is run largely by the Mafia. Obviously, by the rate of 2.4, corruption is pretty rampant. It is pretty difficult for the people even to get along. The businesses have to pay protection money in order to stay open.
If someone in Russia wants to make a deal, they have to pass money under the table. The GDP is destroyed. The only thing that makes that country an international power, if you want, is its nuclear weapons. Obviously, we need to control and stop that sort of corruption.
Let us come back to Canada again. We are not at 10. Why not? Is there any government corruption here?
If we listened to the finance minister today, we would have heard him bragging about how he has created all of these jobs, how taxes are actually good and that they really do not cost jobs. We hear all kinds of innuendoes back and forth. One minister says one thing, one says another. What are those people out there who pay taxes thinking when they get this doublespeak from their ministers?
What are the people to think? The area I am most familiar with is the foreign affairs area. What are they to think when we send an ambassador to Los Angeles to live in Beverly Hills in a $2.5 million mansion with servants? That person really has no credentials to be our ambassador there. Her only credential is that she had the biggest defeat in election history in Canada.
There she sits in her palace in Beverly Hills, paid for by the taxpayer to promote Canada. Is that corruption? Did she know too much about the Somalia inquiry? Was that a way to get her out of the country?
What about our ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Fowler? On December 24 he received his appointment, but that was at the same time as the Somalia inquiry was going on and he just happened to have been deputy minister of DND for nine years. Why was he hustled out of town? Why does he live in a fancy place in New York with a high salary and why is he untouchable by any inquiry? Why does that happen? Is that corruption?
Mary Clancy is in Boston. Gilles Bernier is in Haiti. Roger Simmons is in Seattle. These are all appointments. Who are these people? Are they the best people to represent Canadians? No, actually they are defeated members of parliament. That is their credential for being there.