Mr. Speaker, the member gets it all wrong. He accuses me of saying something I did not. I did not make any comment about the program spending to GDP ratio.
I do not accept that as the appropriate measure. That is like taking a business budget and saying that the interest carrying costs will be excluded or taking out of the family household budget the mortgage and car payments. That is ridiculous. He wants to remove the $40 billion interest payment from the overall size of government in the comparison he is attempting to draw.
The Mulroney Tories made the same effort. They said in 1993 that they were actually running a program surplus if they took out the then $30 billion in interest payments. That is a completely bogus way of measuring it.
My comments were related to the recent increases, the recent slope in secular time over the last two years in program spending. The parliamentary secretary cannot deny that it has been going at twice the speed of population and inflation. Almost every economist and business group in the country suggests that CPI and inflation of about 2.5% to 3% constitute a good and prudent course for government spending to follow.
Instead of that good and prudent course, we have been following a track of 6% to 7%, which is twice as high. These levels of annual program spending increases have not been seen since 1979, when this Prime Minister was one of the most disastrous finance ministers in Canada's history, and helped to lead us into the debt from which we are still trying to crawl out from under today.