Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the enviable position of Nortel today is due in part to the benefits from government programs in the past. It is due in part to the benefits of government purchases of the systems and equipment which that company produces. It is due in great part to the benefits of having a well educated labour force to draw upon. All of those conditions have been created with public support.
There is no doubt in my mind. I think that others at Nortel, other than the executive vice-president, have tried to correct the impression left and there is indeed a great deal of allegiance from the company toward the country. I suspect that a majority of the board of directors of Nortel also feel this way.
This is just one of the examples we have heard about in recent days of what I call corporate leaders trying to set this agenda that at all costs we must provide immediate tax relief and so forth. I have argued that to do so and to forget the debt we are carrying is to not act in a responsible manner.
This government campaigned on applying half of the surpluses to debt and tax relief and half to social and economic programs that were very much needed. Over the course of our mandate it is my fondest hope that we will achieve that commitment.
From listening to some of the comments of some of our corporate leaders, they would forgo too rapidly the benefits of spending some money in some very needed areas such as health care as we did in the last budget.
I am here representing a riding that has some of the richest people and some of the poorest people in the country. I would not be comfortable with myself if I had not made the comments I made today. To not take care and reduce the debt somewhat would be irresponsible. I would not be prepared to support such a notion.