Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for those very thoughtful remarks. I can be quite brief in answer to the member's comments. The whole issue seems to be about the redistribution of wealth. That is as simple as I can state it. When we live in the richest and most powerful civilization in the history of the world, it is very difficult to excuse the huge division and the huge inconsistencies in the distribution of wealth.
The simplest and the best way I can put it is when I was visiting Washington, D.C., Reverend Jesse Jackson once spoke to a group of carpenters. He had a way of trying to articulate this difference. He said, I think it went this way: “If you have five children and only three pork chops, the solution is not to kill two of the children”. Right-wingers and people like the members opposite would probably tell us that the solution is to cut those three pork chops into five equal pieces. Then all the kids go to bed hungry because nobody has enough to eat.
The way that a socialist would review the problem would be to challenge the whole lie that there are only three pork chops and challenge the absolute baloney that there is not enough wealth to go around so that we can all enjoy a reasonable standard of living. It is not about the amount of wealth in the country; it is about the distribution of wealth. I thought Reverend Jackson had a very good way of pointing that out. He has a real gift for communication.
When it comes to housing it is not so much the distribution of wealth. We have other ways of dealing with that in terms of fair wages and the opportunity of workers to get a reasonable reward. Social housing should not be stripped down strictly to monetary terms. As I pointed out, most of the social housing programs, which were gutted by the Tories and then further gutted by the Liberals, did not require a huge cash outlay. Nor did they necessarily require grants.
They needed some enabling measures so the people involved could finance their own projects, friendly financing. Zero per cent down was the big thing. If one had a $2 million project to build a 40 unit social housing project, one had to come up with 25% down or a half million dollars. Those people do not have half a million dollars to put down.
The government would underwrite them, giving 100% financing and a longer period of amortization, another thing we strongly recommend. Seeing that the lifespan of a brand new project with modern technology is 50 to 70 years, it is not a risky business move to let these people have a 35 year mortgage rather than a 25 year conventional mortgage. Those two things alone made the numbers crunch in both situations. Having that ability is what made a deal viable. That is how most of the ethnic based seniors' homes such as the Filipino seniors home in my riding, groups of otherwise powerless individuals, people with no money and no resources, manage to build good quality housing, a really fine place that they can be proud of and in which to raise their kids.
It does not take a huge redistribution of wealth to embrace the idea of a national housing program. We are not talking about anything radical or innovative. We are just talking about catching up to where the rest of the world is already in terms of embracing the idea of clean, affordable housing as one of the rights of citizenship. No one is talking about giving it free but about making it accessible.