I hear the hon. member over there, whose knowledge of economics is a trifle shaky, shouting once more in his usual way.
The issue is that this was a miscalculation right across the board. The banks, the insurance companies, the investment houses and the private companies in manufacturing or transportation made those same kinds of miscalculations in general. Many of course beat the odds and did better and of course were very successful.
Still, there has been a generally surprising graph line, which is why the government forecasts are in error. They are in error because the private sector was in error. Let no one be mistaken on this point. The reason we are having this issue of surpluses is because of better circumstances than were expected, and by everyone, and the same could happen in reverse.
That is what happened to the Conservative government, which kept on making calculations that were wrong and wrong in the wrong way, that is, in the negative sense. That is why year after year the Conservative Party raised taxes and reduced benefits to people. It constantly got the economy wrong and created this fantastic accumulated deficit load that we are trying to do something about today.
I am putting forward to the House the importance of the minister or his parliamentary secretary answering some of these questions. Are we creating too much of a straightjacket and destroying some of the flexibility we need? Are we getting away from the automatic reduction of debt, which is in the public interest under all circumstances because we can always borrow back that amount that has been paid down if necessary? That is the second question.
Would they also perhaps talk about some of the other issues with respect to the limitations on tax policy to accommodate different economic circumstances or the limitations that they are placing on fiscal policy when it comes to the different economic situations we can expect in the future? Resource prices will not always continue to skyrocket. Those who have lived in British Columbia long enough know that we always have boom as well as bust. We have both.
The assumption of the Conservatives that all is well on coal, that it will go on forever, as it has, let us say, in the last three or four years only, is of course wrong. All they have to do is go back 10 or 15 years on coal and they will see the error in what they have been talking about today.
I have put these questions out in the interest of having a useful and intelligent debate on the issue of whether this bill makes sense and whether we should vote for it. As I say, the minister almost persuaded me that it was a good bill, but when he told me it came from the member for Medicine Hat, I had my doubts. Then, when I heard the comments of other people here, I went back to thinking the minister might be right.
The point is that this type of bill must clearly show that it can in fact allow us to be lean, mean and able to take advantage of opportunities that might come to us in the future.