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House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Business Of The HouseGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business Of The HouseGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question which was a little bit elaborate. I will try to answer it in reverse order.

I guess I did not make it very clear, and it is my fault, in my presentation. The report in 1995 on the grants and contributions was an excellent effort, but one of the difficulties is when we are dealing with large corporations, whether it is in industry or in government, it is very difficult to police what the average manager is doing, the rank and file manager.

While the intentions of the report were very good, and some of the recommendations were implemented, the reality in a large corporation is that there is no effective means, or has not been up until now, for the senior management, whether it is the deputy minister or the chief executive officer of a corporation, to have a really good sense of what is actually happening down in the offices and cubicles of government or the corporation.

The reason why the Internet is so important is that it offers a unique opportunity that never existed before, whereby by putting the daily operations of the rank and file managers online, all the public become the auditors. Then we would be able to see, as members of parliament or as ordinary citizens, who is getting money in a riding as they get the money. We would be able to assess the program.

One of our great problems with respect to grants and contributions which has been debated on all sides of the House was that in the old days, under a previous political party's government, grants and contributions were primarily controlled by politicians.

One of the great innovations that came in 1993 was that was basically taken away from the politicians on all sides of the House. While there was some input there was not very much input. It was primarily left to the bureaucrats to dispense the program funding in the various ridings. It applies to my riding and it applies to ridings of the opposition. That is, shall we say, a more honest process, but the problem is that it put the onus on the bureaucrats to make decisions that often they were not competent to make. So we have the dilemma of HRDC that we have right now where we have mismanagement; we have the awarding of program funds improperly; and we have poor tracking.

The solution is to put it online. If money is coming into my riding, your riding or whoever's riding, Madam Speaker, if the public can see who is receiving that money and how it is being tracked, how the services are being provided, then we will reach an enormous level of efficiency.

I do not hesitate to criticize my government on this point because I believe that my own political government is moving far too slowly in making the necessary changes in legislation to enable the bureaucrats to bring in this type of legislation. I believe the civil service wants to do it. I believe there is a very active effort out there to bring government online. It is we, perhaps, who are slow to respond.

I have to say, though, that I have not had a lot of support from the opposition benches on this. I have very much had to rely on the support of my backbench colleagues, but I think it is in all our interests to pressure government to make the appropriate changes to legislation to bring government online, which would increase transparency and accountability everywhere.

On the question of the debt, what I have to say with respect to that is that there is a fundamental difference between the Canadian Alliance and the Liberals.

I will put it to the member this way. If one were to legislate debt reduction and require every year that the debt be reduced by, let us say, $5 billion—$3 billion is peanuts when we have a $560 billion debt—what happens if a recession strikes? What happens if there is an Asian flu and suddenly the markets just fall apart?

If we have that legislation in place then we destroy the options government must have, the finance minister must have in the event of an emergency. This is again perhaps a difference between the two sides. I really believe as an individual, and I think we believe mostly as Liberals, that our responsibility as a government is to provide essential services.

It is not just about reducing taxes. It is not just about even reducing debt. The most important thing is that we have to provide services when Canadians need. If we put government into a straitjacket of legislated debt reduction we have that problem.

Then there is the opposite side of the coin. If we say, as the Alliance Party has said, that debt reduction has to be at $6 billion a year, what do we do when we have the opportunity of a surplus, as we have now, where we can reduce the debt by $10 billion and where we reduced the debt by $12 billion just recently?

I read an interesting figure on that reduction of $12 billion. That saves us $700 million in interest charges, I think it is. We are all on side here. We want to get that debt down but do not put us in a straitjacket. That does not help Canada.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not have much time, but I do find that the hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot has a colossal nerve.

He says that there were even some deaths in Walkerton because of bad drinking water treatment. Could he at least have the courage to admit that in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada it is in part, perhaps in large part, the federal cuts that have made it impossible for the provinces to respond to their people's needs in the health field?

Let him at least have the honesty to admit that.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, what happened in Ontario is that instead of settling its obligations the Ontario government cut personal income taxes. It made the choice, which is proposed now by the Canadian Alliance, to set cutting taxes above public safety and the cost has been in lives in Ontario.

The Bloc Quebecois and the Liberals are very much on side on this. We all believe that we must invest in the environment.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to persuade all those Liberals over there that what they are doing today with this so-called itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny mini-budget is totally inadequate.

Unfortunately I will not have a great deal of time because I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley. Therefore in my limited time I will address just a few of the issues. First, I would like to talk about debt. If we wanted to congratulate the Liberals for anything, I guess we should congratulate them for their excellent ability to spin an itsy-bitsy thing into something big.

One of the things they are bragging about is their debt reduction. When the Liberals came into power in 1993 the total debt was $508 billion. Of course they had that record over $40 billion deficit which was left by the Conservatives. For about eight years the Liberals were riding on the fact that the Conservatives gave them that $40 billion deficit.

How much mileage have they spun out of the fact that the deficit is now gone? I am amazed they even attempt to take credit for it. The deficit would have been gone if they had done nothing, which I guess is pretty well what they did.

We have had a very strong economy with our neighbours to the south. We have had a very excellent balance of payments internationally. Consequently our economy has done very well. Lo and behold the deficit is gone.

That has been on the backs of the taxpayers. It has been on the backs of the employers and employees in the country from whom the government incorrectly, illegally, unlawfully has taken billions of dollars out of the EI fund. It has no justification legislatively to do that. In more gentler terms we would call it theft when one takes something from someone to which one is not entitled. I am not accusing any individual member of that. It is the whole government that has simply stolen money, the billions it is not entitled to, from employers and employees.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Order, please. I know the hon. member for Elk Island was being very careful with his suggestions because the hon. member knows that he must be very careful. I thought I would interject because it is very clearly understood that the word stolen, even in connection in a broad term with the government, is plainly inappropriate.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will not use that term again.

The government took money it was not entitled to legislatively. The EI fund is specifically set up to look after people who are temporarily out of jobs. The government has rolled billions of dollars from that fund into the general revenues in the consolidated revenue fund.

Let me talk more about the debt. Under the present government the debt grew from $508 billion in the 1993 budget. Let us say $546 billion; we will concede that it was not responsible for the deficit in the first year. Now the debt is around $565 billion. The debt has grown and it has grown substantially under the present government. Yet the Liberals are spinning it in such a way that literally thousands of Canadians think that hey, the debt is gone. They keep talking about eliminating the deficit and they do not communicate clearly with Canadians that the deficit is simply the amount one borrows.

Instead of borrowing, we now have surpluses, that is true, but it is with no thanks to the government. It would have happened anyway. The fact of the matter is that our total debt, the amount against our national credit card, is considerably greater.

As hon. members know, I taught at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. One of the courses I taught was the math of finance. I did a little calculation. Just using round numbers, with a debt of roughly $580 billion, which I admit is now a little less, in order to retire a mortgage of $580 billion in 25 years would require posting a surplus toward it of $50 billion a year for 25 years. Those people are doing that. We are paying $40 billion in interest thanks to this government, the one preceding it and the Liberals preceding it. We got that huge debt and now we are paying $40 billion a year in interest. The government is paying it with taxpayers' money and it is paying another $10 billion against the principal. Lo and behold, that adds up to $50 billion a year. At that rate we will be rid of our debt in 25 years.

That is great. As long as I can do anything about it, we will do everything we can to pressure the government into resisting the additional spending it is prone to do. The only thing not mini about the mini-budget is the new spending programs. Added up over the next five years the Liberals are looking at spending an additional $50 billion. A lot of it is for straight political purposes as we have seen particularly over the last year. It is totally atrocious.

I would also like to address the question of tax cuts. The finance minister loves to stand in his place and say they are not only going to do da-di-da, but they are reducing the tax rate to 16%, from 17% to 16%. It is a crime that the Liberals are taking any tax money at all from the people whom they are taxing. They suck $6 billion a year from families whose income is less than $20,000 a year. That is absolutely atrocious. The Liberals are crowing that they are not going to take 17% of our taxable income anymore, but they are now going to take 16%.

This is what those numbers mean. This is approximate; I did not do an actual tax return. I just did some rough calculations based on a family making $26,000, a mom and a dad and two kids. The Liberals tax them around $2,000; actually $2,147 is the number I got. If that is reduced to 16%, their tax is reduced by $126. This is a family that makes a scant $26,000, a mom and a dad trying to raise two kids, and the government is asking us to jump up and click our heels, which I find difficult to do for two reasons and members will them figure out. That family will keep $126, $10 a month, and the Liberals say that is great.

Under our tax plan the same family would get a tax cut of 100%. We would cut that family's taxes entirely. They would not be required to pay because they are poor.

Let us consider people with a little more. The Liberals are trying to spin it that all we want to do is give a tax break to the rich and not to the poor. They are the ones who are taxing the poor. We are the ones who are ready to relieve the poor of tax.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Hec Clouthier Liberal Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Tell us about the flat tax.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not have time. The member can ask that in a question.

In conclusion, if there were an Alliance government, we would begin to relieve the tax burden of Canadians in a substantial way. It is a fact that reducing the tax rates for families who are poor provides much more money for them than do the grants and the administration costs and all of the other boondoggles that we get from a government that believes in taking money from taxpayers and then having the bureaucrats or politicians decide who gets it back.

I am very pleased to announce that when the Alliance forms the government, it will be the end of hotels being subsidized in Shawinigan.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I read an article this morning in the Globe and Mail , a newspaper that often is not too kind to the Liberal Party. The article was by Hugh Winsor. He talked about the Alliance tax plan. Here is what he had to say about the Alliance tax plan:

The Alliance plan is totally predicated on a presumption of tax greed: that everybody wants lower taxes, even if it means fewer services from the government. It is a plan clearly skewed toward higher incomes.

That really captures the essence of the Alliance's tax plan.

In the House this morning the member for Elk Island and others have talked about low income Canadians. I would like to acquaint Canadians and the House with the impact yesterday's economic statement will have on some Canadian taxpayers.

For example, a one earner family with two children with an income of $40,000 a year paid about $3,325 in federal tax last year. The Alliance has not said when its tax measures would come into play but as of January 1, 2001, and not some unknown timeframe out there in never-never land, the taxes for this family of four will fall by $1,100. That is a 32% saving in federal income taxes. That is not all. I have just begun. By the year 2004 their taxes will fall by 59%.

How about a single parent with one child earning $33,000. As of January 1, and not 2004 or 2005 or some other time in the distant future, but as of January 1 a single parent earning $33,000 will pay no net tax at all. Zero, zip; in English that is none.

Could the member tell us under his tax plan what programs his party will cut? It will have to cut $25 billion in programs.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is really an interesting debate. I do not think it was a year ago when we were pushing for tax cuts that the Prime Minister said publicly in the newspapers that he was not cutting taxes as that was not the Canadian way. Now all of a sudden the Liberals are bragging that apparently they think their tax cuts are bigger than ours. That is not true of course, but they are trying to spin it. What an amazing transformation.

On the member's question, first of all, on the reduction in taxes for those who are in the $30,000 bracket, which is not a rich bracket, our tax plan is going to give them some real relief because we are reducing the exemption. There is a big difference.

A $20,000 income being taxed at 16% is $3,200. At 17% there is the same amount of tax revenue from an income of $18,000. In other words, reducing the exemption by $1,176 gives an individual a 1% reduction. We are reducing the basic exemption by about twice that, by $2,500 approximately. As a result, even though the remaining part will be taxed at the end of our plan at 17% instead of 16%, it still means the taxpayer will be paying less tax because it is only 1% higher but it is on $2,500 less money. Under our plan the person pays no tax at all on that much more money.

It is a problem in communication and the Liberals are really good at that. People look at 16% and 17%. Somehow the Liberals are able to separate Canadians from their money so efficiently and make them feel good about it. In a way we have to admire that skill in communication. We have to admire that, but it is being dishonest to Canadian people.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I must have known that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance was going to ask the question about what programs we would cut because I brought a list of them with me this morning which I would like to present to the House.

The Canadian Institute of Technology and Economic Commerce received about $3.5 million. We are going to cut that program. This group was established in the Prime Minister's own riding and incidentally, its two principals were charged with fraud and theft in August 2000.

Wiarton, Ontario where groundhog day is held every year just received $50,000 from HRDC to help with its groundhog day program. We are going to cut that program. Incidentally, the people of Wiarton are going to receive that money in the form of funding for health care and post-secondary education rather than for their groundhog day. We think those two things are more of a priority to them contrary to what the Liberals are talking about.

American based RMH Teleservices was enticed to the HRDC minister's riding with a $1.6 million HRDC grant over the protests of one of the neighbouring Liberal MPs. The principal of RMH Teleservices said that one way or another it would have been in Brantford anyway, with or without the $1.6 million from the Minister of Human Resources Development. I just realized that is the riding of the HRDC minister.

For the Liberal government's interest, there is another program we are going to cut. Canadian Aerospace Group in Nipissing, Ontario received $917,000 of a $1.3 million transitional jobs fund grant before going bankrupt without building any aircraft. There is a bright side. This bankrupt company then moved to Saint-Hubert, Quebec and was approved for another $1.6 million from the Canadian economic development for Quebec regions. There was a little vote gathering going on there.

To answer the Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Minister, those are the programs we will be cutting. That is how an Alliance government would be able to fund important things like health care and post-secondary education, programs that keep our best and brightest here in Canada instead of seeing them go south. I think Canadians would agree that those other programs are far less important than health care and education.

Let us get to the election plan of the Liberal government that was brought down yesterday. It is important to first establish a real truth about the government. The real truth about the government is that it cannot give to the people that which it has not first taken from them.

The Minister of Finance stood in the House and brought down this mini-budget. He has, in a magnanimous jester, which just happens to coincide with the calling of an election, tried to out do the tax relief of the Canadian Alliance Party. I am pretty flattered that I have been part of a political party sitting in opposition in the House that has been so effective in our calls for tax relief in the last seven years that we have been able to influence a Liberal government that throughout history tax relief has been the furthest thing from any of its policies or philosophies.

Just show me a book on Liberal governments going back to 1867 where a Liberal government came up with an idea all on its own, where it would give Canadian taxpayers some tax relief. I would love to see that book but it is not there.

Let us be clear. The finance minister and this government came to this mini-budget last night kicking and screaming. They were in fact dragged, drugged to that point over the last seven years by the Canadian Alliance Party and the Reform Party before that.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

An hon. member

He doesn't know how to use the past tense of dragged.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

He sort of drug that one up.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Hec Clouthier Liberal Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

You need to drag it again, that's gone.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member from Nipissing unfortunately has been drug around by a horse a little too long. It is starting to affect his thinking.

As I commented on once before, if one focuses on something too long one tends to take on the characteristics of it. It is obvious in his case he has by riding in that little cart behind the horse.

There is one thing about the Liberals, and let us be fair, they may be devious, they may be deceitful—

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Devious we can get away with but we cannot have him in a sulky if we are using deceitful. So we would ask you to please withdraw the word deceitful.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Certainly, Mr. Speaker. They may be at times seen—

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

No, no. I am asking you to withdraw the word deceitful.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the word deceitful.

The Liberals may be at times, in addition to being devious, seen to be lacking in integrity. They may seem to be at times, by some people, lacking in moral fibre. However, one thing they are not is stupid when it comes to using the book of election trickery. They know that book very well and they have read that book very well. We saw an example here yesterday of just how much they have been able to embrace that book of political trickery over the years.

They have been stripping Canadian taxpayers of their hard earned money for seven long years. They have put in about 40 tax increases over the last seven years. They have taken over $50 billion of new tax increases over the last seven years. Now, on the eve of another election, they are going to give them all their money back.

What a gimmick. What a gift. They are going to give Canadians back their own money. This is amazing. They think they are doing something wonderful. It is like when my children were small. When they misbehaved I would take away their toys. When I would give them a few back and they thought they were getting something new.

They have failed miserably in their attempt to out tax relief the Canadian Alliance Party. Their program simply is not believable. One only has to read the recent auditor general's report on HRDC and on budget program 2000 and see the language that is contained in that report.

Given all the evidence of the mismanagement of HRDC, the billion dollar or so boondoggle, given the wording of the AG's report on the budget 2000 that the minister has presented, a financial document that is misleading, Canadian voters will be asking themselves one question: Can we trust the Liberals? The answer will be a resounding no on November 27 when they elect a Canadian Alliance government to run this country properly.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

October 19th, 2000 / 11:50 a.m.

Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke Ontario

Liberal

Hec Clouthier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, talk about the beam, beam me up, Scotty. I do not know where this member just came from.

I do not know where to start. I do not know whether to call him a well practised prevaricator, because he is at variance with so many truths on this side of the House, or whether to say he suffers from selective amnesia. He stood up and said that he was going to tell the parliamentary secretary of finance where his party was going to make the cuts. The cuts under that party's flat tax plan would mean that we would have to make cuts of $25 billion.

I do not have the mathematical expertise of the hon. member for Elk Island. I am just a farmer and a lumberjack from the upper Ottawa Valley, but I have itemized this. He has $7.5 million, so he is only about $24,996,000,000 shy.

First, he did make a rather caustic remark about me being in harness horse racing. Yes, I am very proud of the fact that I have my licence for harness horse racing. I have probably seen more horses' asses than most people, so I know them when I see them. I am looking upon them now because if that party expects the Canadian public to buy its tax plan, it is treating the entire Canadian public like a bunch of horses' asses, excuse the language.

Economic PolicyGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I know the hon. parliamentary secretary understands that I know exactly what he is talking about. I would ask that we not refer to each other or to anyone else in that frame. As much as I enjoy it, I do not think we should.