Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Bloc MP for La Prairie (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 8% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Finance December 9th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, in its pre-budget report issued last week, the Liberal majority on the Standing Committee on Finance identified six areas that have been targeted for action and that were described at length by the committee's chairman this morning. These are child poverty, the disabled, literacy, students, who are facing ever-mounting costs, scientific research, and voluntary and charitable organizations.

According to the committee chairman, the action the committee is looking at would cost the Canadian government approximately $2 billion annually. While we are not lacking in compassion for the citizen groups identified here, we can see the Liberals sliding back into their old ways: as soon as the deficit drops a bit, they talk about launching off once again into the mad spiral of public spending.

The main point here is that, by slashing provincial transfer payments, the Liberals have forced the provinces in turn to make drastic cuts to spending on health, education and social assistance.

The Liberals are offloading the disagreeable task of balancing the budget onto the provinces. And they talk about helping certain very specific groups that are already feeling the effects of provincial budget cutbacks that, in turn, came about because of federal cuts in transfer payments to these very provinces. Talk about cynicism.

Eighty-four per cent of the reduction in the deficit to date comes from cuts to provincial transfer payments, while only 16 per cent comes from leaner government administration. We would have expected the reverse. Yes, the federal government is offloading its deficit onto the backs of the provinces, who must, in turn, cut direct services to the public.

Let us take a closer look at how the Liberals are trying to lower the Canadian deficit.

If we assume that the Liberals will be going to the polls after bringing down their next budget, and that the Minister of Finance's most recent forecasts will not change in the meantime, the Liberals will have lowered the deficit by $25 billion during their term of office.

This $25 billion saving breaks down as follows: budgetary revenue will have gone up by $23.1 billion, while program spending will have gone down by $14.4 billion, for a net result of $37.5 billion. However, during this same period, the money spent to service the debt will have increased by $9.5 billion, and the plan is to set aside a $3 billion reserve in 1997-98 for contingencies, for a total of $12.5 billion, leaving us with a net amount of $25 billion.

During the four-year period between 1993-94 and 1997-98, revenues will have risen by $23.1 billion, for the following reasons: personal income taxes have increased by $15.1 billion; corporate taxes by $7.1 billion; GST revenues by $3 billion and unemployment insurance contributions by $1.3 billion. On the other hand, there will have been a drop of some $3.4 billion in other tax and non-tax revenues.

Consequently, the increased revenue comes totally from an increased tax burden on businesses and individuals, even if the Minister of Finance boasts of not having increased personal

income taxes since he has been minister. Part of this rise in revenue can be explained by the upturn in the economy, but you will agree that this is a minimal effort, considering how weak our economy is.

For example, between the third quarter of 1993 and the second quarter of 1996, revenues from personal income tax increased by $8.8 billion, or 17.1 per cent, while personal incomes rose by only 7.4 per cent over that same period. One can, therefore, conclude that the fiscal effort being demanded of Canadian taxpayers is still higher under the Liberals.

During the period from 1993-94 to 1997-98, program expenditures will have dropped by $14.4 billion for the following reasons: transfers to individuals will have decreased by $600 million; transfers to other levels of government by $6.8 billion; and grants and other transfers by $4.7 billion.

Consequently, government expenditures account for only $2.3 billion of the $14.4 billion in total cuts, or as I said before, 16 per cent of the whole. Thus, more than 80 per cent of cuts in federal expenditures come from transfers and grants to third parties, transfers to the provinces in particular. The government has not, therefore, tidied up its own backyard; instead, the federal government has forced the provinces to tidy up theirs.

According to the government's budget plans, under the Liberal regime, unemployment insurance benefits will still lag behind contributions by approximately $5 billion. The Liberals are taxing jobs to the tune of $5 billion annually, to reduce their deficit artificially.

When the Minister of Finance claims he must build up a reserve to prepare for the next recession, we should ask him where this reserve is. Where does he keep those $10 billion, $15 billion, even $20 billion he brashly took out of the pockets of workers and employers? The Minister of Finance is using this surplus to finance his deficit. He practically admitted as much in the House on October 10, and I quote: "-that the government return the unemployment insurance fund-to the consolidated revenue fund".

This means that the government pockets the fund's $5 billion surplus to finance its program spending and other expenditures. The Minister of Finance did not say he was putting the money from the unemployment insurance fund in a separate reserve account but in the government's consolidated revenue fund. Consequently, the federal government's real deficit is $5 billion more annually than the minister claims in his eloquent speeches.

Today the unemployment insurance fund has a major surplus, mainly due to repeated cuts in the unemployment insurance program over the past six years. The present surplus, plus the forecast drop in future costs as a result of unemployment insurance reform, would give the government a chance to reduce premium rates substantially and thus promote job creation in this country.

The federal government has not contributed to the unemployment insurance fund since 1989, but it goes ahead and draws on the surplus as though it were some kind of income tax. It is not up to wage earners or their employers to absorb the deficit but to all Canadian taxpayers.

The annual surplus for the next few years is expected to be around $5 billion, mostly as a result of new provisions that will come into effect as of January 1, 1997 and make it even more difficult to qualify for benefits, in addition to reducing the actual amount of the benefits themselves.

The last recession cost us about $20 billion in unemployment insurance. However, the chief actuary, Mr. Bédard, told the Financial Post on October 1, 1996, that because of permanent cuts in the program, the next recession would not be as costly.

At the November 4 hearing of the Standing Committee on Finance, the Conseil du patronat du Québec requested a reduction of 45 cents in unemployment insurance premiums. The proposed reduction of 5 cents was mere window dressing, as far as the Conseil du patronat was concerned, and would have practically no impact on the economy, according to them.

As for monetary policy and its impact on unemployment, our position in the Bloc Quebecois is as follows: the Bank of Canada's objective for inflation should be a target of between 2 and 4 per cent instead of the current target of between 1 and 3 per cent approved by the government. We must realize this would be a minor adjustment to the present monetary policy and not a complete about face from the policy we have now.

Interest rates create jobs so long as they are not always being raised at the drop of a hat to fight the inflation that usually accompanies a descending rate of unemployment. Furthermore, the lower the range of inflation selected, the greater the likelihood interest rates will rise quickly, thereby increasing the risk that the monetary policy will negate the efforts to create jobs.

Under the current monetary policy, our economy is unable to make optimum use of its resources. Zero inflation in Canada means less than optimum growth for collective wealth.

According to economist Pierre Fortin, a stable inflation rate of 3 per cent over a relatively long period of time would allow the unemployment rate to drop below 7 per cent, leading to the creation of some 460,000 jobs more than there were in October 1996. If the rate of inflation is pushed lower than 3 per cent, many workers are needlessly kept unemployed.

The Bank of Canada should not release its control over inflation, but, rather, focus on a target that permits a more tolerable interest rate, thus better fulfilling its mandate under the act.

The current monetary policy is not appropriate in the Canadian context. If the economy is overheating in Toronto, it is not necessarily overheating across the country. The Bank of Canada should remember that.

The Bloc Quebecois urges the Liberal government to act quickly to stimulate job creation. If the economy gets moving again and if the increase in employment is accompanied by a rate of inflation of more than 2 per cent, the Governor of the Bank of Canada runs the risk of plunging the Canadian economy into a recession once again by keeping the rate of inflation too low.

It is therefore vital to ensure that the monetary policy is in line with the financial job creation policies the federal government is being asked to establish and the Quebec government is currently establishing. Otherwise all efforts in this area will be for naught. This is a matter of consistency among the various macroeconomic tools at the government's disposal.

The central bank openly chose to focus on inflation at the expense of everything else. The monetary policy must reflect the mandate of the central bank and thus no longer focus exclusively on price control.

The central bank has a habit of tightening controls on the monetary situation when Toronto or Vancouver start to experience overheated economies, wreaking havoc with the economies of Montreal or the maritimes, which do not evolve at the same speed.

For example, the unemployment rate in the United States is 5.2 per cent, and inflation has held at around 3 per cent for over 2 years. A number of states, however, have virtually zero unemployment-Iowa, with 3.3 per cent; Wisconsin with 3.1 per cent; Nebraska with 2.4 per cent-and yet the federal American reserve is not resorting to particularly drastic measures.

Although the Bank of Canada likes to think it operates independently of the government, the Minister of Finance has had the power, since 1967, to set general policy on issues such as interest rates. If he so wished, the Minister of Finance could decide that the Bank of Canada should target a higher rate of inflation than what it is currently targeting.

The index used to set monetary policy could overestimate inflation, because it does not take into account new products on the market, improved quality of products, and movement of consumers towards low price centres, which Statistics Canada does not consider when calculating inflation. This means that when inflation is 1 per cent or less, we are perhaps in a period of deflation.

In conclusion, we must not forgot that the federal government is cutting back on provincial transfer payments and that cuts to Quebec will total $636 million in 1996-97 and $1.2 billion in 1997-98.

The impact of the CHST combined with the recurrent effect of earlier cuts represents a cumulative $33 billion shortfall that Quebec will have absorbed between 1982 and 2000.

For the year 1996-97 alone, federal transfer payments were $3.3 billion less than in 1981-82. Since the deficit forecast by the Quebec Minister of Finance is $3.275 billion, Quebec would have a balanced budget today, were it not for the federal government offloading its deficit since the early 1980s. And yet the Liberals will have the nerve to go to Quebec voters with such a poor record. It is a sorry state of affairs.

Excise Tax Act December 3rd, 1996

Madam Speaker, I can inform the parliamentary secretary that I know all that. They say that according to the formula that was approved, Quebec and Ontario are not entitled to compensation, but what is particularly galling is that 25 per cent or about $250 million of the $961 million in compensation being granted today to the three maritime provinces will be paid for by taxpayers in Quebec. I think this is something we and Quebec taxpayers cannot accept.

In addition, the equalization formula will be modified, which will also affect the three maritime provinces that will get this compensation. In the end, these three provinces will not be getting $1 billion and Quebec taxpayers will not be paying $250 million. It will be a much larger amount. That is what the people of Quebec refuse to go along with and that is the point I wanted to make today.

Excise Tax Act December 3rd, 1996

Madam Speaker, I can inform the parliamentary secretary that yes, I strongly support harmonization as implemented in Quebec. What I want to say today, before this House, is that Quebec received no compensation for its efforts to put together a harmonized federal and provincial sales tax.

Why has the federal government committed nearly $1 billion in compensation for the three maritime provinces, the plan we are discussing today, while Quebec is not entitled to any compensation? I deplore this double standard.

It is the same old story. In the end, the federal government is trying to make amends for its new employment insurance policy.

In the three maritime provinces, there are many seasonal workers who will be penalized. The government is providing a disguised subsidy of nearly $1 billion just before a federal election is called, in an attempt to make its employment insurance policy more palatable to the maritimes and make seasonal workers in these three provinces forget they have been penalized. They want to

make them forget about that before the next federal election. That is what I find intolerable.

Excise Tax Act December 3rd, 1996

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the remarks of my colleague opposite, and I would like to say that the bill is nothing more, in the opinion of the Bloc, than a collection of amendments to the GST.

In addition to several dozen small technical changes on exemptions from payment of the GST, there are a series of amendments providing for the harmonization of the GST with the sales taxes of the three maritime provinces. In Bill C-70, the GST becomes a harmonized sales tax, as the Minister of Finance describes it.

The bill also provides an exemption from federal sales tax, and this applies right across the country, for books bought by public libraries, schools, colleges, universities and other organizations involved in literacy programs.

We received this bill at the last minute and we in the official opposition deplore the way the Minister of Finance tabled these documents. The official opposition had less than 24 hours to examine the text of a bill of over 300 pages, which came without any explanatory notes. In this way, the government is trying to avoid debate and to keep the real issues hidden from the people of Canada.

The Liberals do not keep their promises, to say the least. The Deputy Prime Minister should resign again. The GST is with us for the duration, as Bill C-70 pointedly indicates. The Prime Minister promised transparency in the last election campaign. The Liberals are doing now what they criticized the Conservatives for doing in the past. The new GST is a hidden tax, because it is buried in the selling price of goods and services.

The 1994 Liberal majority report stated that it would simply be wrong to keep Canadians in the dark as to what they were paying in taxes to their governments, and a hidden tax would make it difficult for them to force the government to account for the way taxes are collected and, to a lesser extent, for the way public funds are spent.

The Minister of Finance is today presenting us with the hidden tax he criticized at the time. Furthermore, in 1989, the dissenting report of the minority Liberal opposition stated: "In addition, if the GST is hidden in the selling price, it will be much easier for the government to increase it later on".

The old Liberal federal sales tax was hidden in the price. The Conservatives made it visible by creating the GST as we know it. With the proposed agreement with the maritimes before us today, the Liberals are again hiding this much hated tax. There is always this double talk: They say one thing when in opposition and another when in office.

In 1989, the Liberals tore out their hair over this issue, but now that they are in office, they are hiding the GST as if nothing had happened, as if this tax had never existed.

This is a disgrace. This shows selective memory. The Liberals boast about listening to businesses. But when the Canadian Chamber of Commerce surveyed its members in 1994, it concluded that 70 per cent of Canadian businesses were against hiding this tax. In February 1996, the same organization surveyed its members again, only to find again that 76 per cent of them were against hiding this tax. For a government that boasts about listening to business, it does not seem to be listening very well.

Let us take a look at the compensation formula, which is in fact a $1 billion political present. But the real cost is that of harmonizing with the maritime provinces.

In a shameless exercise in window dressing, the Minister of Finance has paid off the maritimes so that they would help him honour an election promise that had not been acted on. One billion dollars is what Quebecers and Canadians from the other provinces will have to pay for an election promise that was not kept by the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister. One billion dollars is what this measure is really costing us.

There is no mention of the compensation formula in Bill C-70. The MOUs provided for some $961 million in compensation. We are still waiting for the Minister of Finance to unveil the criteria for his compensation package and to clearly show that Quebec is not entitled to such compensation.

In spite of Quebec's repeated requests to that effect, the federal government has turned a deaf ear. The objective is always the same: to penalize Quebec and particularly Quebecers, who elected a sovereignist government. This compensation may be a political gift to make the Liberal UI reform, which adversely affects seasonal workers in the maritimes, more palatable to the population of these provinces. Otherwise, why would Ontario, Quebec and the other provinces not be entitled to such compensation for harmonizing their sales tax with the federal one?

This cost of $1 billion over the next four years will be largely exceeded. The result of reducing the tax base at the consumer's level from 19 per cent down to 15 per cent will be that, in future, Quebecers and Canadians from the other provinces will have to pay more equalization to the maritimes.

These additional equalization costs will be paid by all taxpayers in Canada and Quebec. The commitment made by the finance minister to the governments of the maritime provinces is not acceptable, when you compare the cushy deal reached with the maritime provinces on harmonization with what happened in Quebec in recent years.

The agreement reached by the federal government and the three maritime provinces will eventually be expanded to include all Canadian provinces. At the present time, the majority of Canadians are against the minister's plan, against the introduction of a single 15 per cent tax, to be collected by the Canadian revenue commission the government wants to set up.

The tax burden would thus increase in Quebec, in Ontario, and in several other Canadian provinces. Bill C-70 will have a number of consequences for Quebec. For many years now, the Government of Quebec has made a genuine effort to harmonize federal and provincial tax bases. Quebec collects and administers for the federal government the GST such as we now know it in Quebec. We have therefore worked very hard in Quebec to bring about this harmonization at no cost to other Canadians.

This bill is unfair to Quebec on more than one count. Quebec's fiscal autonomy would be undermined by the Canadian revenue commission, which would be responsible for administering the new 15 per cent GST. The present harmonization worked out

between Quebec and Ottawa is therefore a far cry from the minister of finance's bill, whatever the Liberals might say.

Quebec will never agree to take part in such a fiscal regime. This new attempt by the federal government to interfere in provincial jurisdiction must be denounced.

Far from harmonizing federal and provincial sales taxes, this bill stands a good chance of jeopardizing several years of efforts by Quebec to achieve harmonization with federal taxation. The existing harmonization in Quebec was accomplished with the consent of both parties, and in all good will.

Today, the Minister of Finance is scrapping all the agreements signed with Quebec and trying to replace them with a bill that is nothing more than a pre-election ploy.

The government has made only partial use of a measure proposed by the Bloc Quebecois, so the public ends up with a half-victory. In our opinion, however, even with this GST credit on books, the government is not going far enough.

Ever since Quebec introduced the QST, all books have been exempt from the provincial sales tax, and not just those purchased by literacy institutions, schools, public libraries and so on. All books are QST exempt, including those purchased by consumers in bookstores, which represent the bulk of GST revenues on book sales.

The measure announced by the Minister of Finance is, therefore, a cosmetic one, designed merely to enable the Liberals to boast that they have eliminated the GST on books, when in fact they have not done anything of the sort. Taxing books means taxing knowledge, making it even less accessible to certain members of society.

This does, however, represent a half-victory for the Bloc Quebecois and for the public, in that we have been battling from the very beginning, even as far back as when the Conservatives were in power, to eliminate the tax on books. For this to become a total victory, however, all books would have to be exempted from this GST disguised as a harmonized sales tax, not just books bought by literacy and educational organizations.

What the Liberals are aiming at with Bill C-70 is, in fact, nothing more than a whitewash, a diversionary tactic, at which they are experts, and which is what has kept them in power for so many years. The moment of truth is at hand. They will have to answer to the Canadian public in the next election. Then their poor track record will speak for itself.

Rather than passing this bill, the Bloc Quebecois proposes a concrete revision of the corporate taxation system. According to our analysis, the federal government could recover up to $3 billion annually by revising or abolishing certain outmoded, inefficient and unfair tax expenditures, using the money instead to encourage businesses to create jobs.

In today's struggling labour market, the purpose of corporate taxation ought to be to encourage the creation of good, lasting jobs, while ensuring that the funding of public services is equitably divided between corporations and individuals, and among the corporations themselves.

A number of analysts see a problem in the way taxes are collected in Canada: While the tax rate on profits is lower than elsewhere in the world, capital and payroll taxes are higher. This discourages job creation. Instead of remedying this situation, the Liberal government is attempting to hide yet another broken election promise. What a poor record the Liberals have to show for themselves after three years in power.

The Deficit October 23rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, on a supplementary, will the Minister of Finance admit that he is actually cooking the books, purely with an election in mind, in order to mislead the public about the federal deficit?

The Deficit October 23rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

Yesterday, in the Public Accounts of Canada the auditor general accused the government of breaking its own accounting rules to distort its deficit. Yet the Liberals were the first to cry foul when the former Conservative government pulled a similar stunt.

Will the Minister of Finance finally admit that he has deliberately inflated the 1995-96 deficit by close to one billion dollars so as to purposely reduce the real deficit for 1996-97 by a corresponding amount?

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) Act October 21st, 1996

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Even though they are not as well-known as superior courts, the administrative tribunals have major impacts on the daily life of Canadians and Quebecers. Their rulings often have serious consequences for the citizens and the country.

In fact, the increased importance of administrative tribunals in recent years is common knowledge. They have become popular decision-making venues where the citizens regularly face the government to assert their rights.

For more than 25 years now, a debate on these administrative tribunals has been going on in Quebec. A project for the reform of administrative tribunals has even been submitted to the Quebec National Assembly. Fundamental questions like the independence and the impartiality of the judges of those tribunals are being discussed there.

Although they are being debated at the Quebec government level, these issues are also relevant at the federal level. Bill C-49 could have solved the fundamental problem of partisan appointments of members of the administrative tribunals. But the federal government chose to return to a not so glorious past in that area instead of modernizing the appointment process as Quebec is about to do.

At a time when the public is so cynical about politicians, the President of the Treasury Board is implementing even more partisan rules, which give political authorities increased control over the administrative tribunals.

The bill establishes a new mechanism to remove from office people appointed to administrative tribunals by the governor in council. This is in clause 3 of the bill. Also, after certain procedures, the governor in council will have the power to remove these people from office for cause, as specified in the bill.

Only after receiving an inquiry report, will the minister have the power to make a recommendation "to suspend the member without pay, remove the member from office or impose any other disciplinary measure or any remedial measure". This is in clause 14 of the bill. The minister's recommendations are entirely at his discretion, regardless of the content of the inquiry report.

Chairpersons of administrative tribunals will now all be designated instead of being appointed. Such a change makes the chairperson very vulnerable to political pressures by the government, which can simply designate a new chairman when it sees fit. These new measures can even further undermine the credibility of administrative tribunals and, moreover, make them even more

dependent on political authority. It is unacceptable to introduce measures that seriously attack the independence and impartiality of administrative tribunals. It really flies in the face of the transparency people want from a modern and progressive government.

Unfortunately, federal administrative tribunals are constantly the object of Liberal patronage. This was true under Trudeau, and it is still true under the present Prime Minister.

The President of the Treasury Board refuses to discuss these important issues because he wants to maintain the power of ministers to appoint the members of administrative tribunals. Any reform of administrative tribunals should start with the arbitrary nature of the process for appointing and renewing the mandates of administrative judges. In 1996, political patronage in a quasi-judiciary process should no longer exist in a modern democracy like ours.

Bill C-49 is a direct attack on the independence and impartiality of judges. The Liberal government is fully prepared to ignore principles that should underlie the work of administrative tribunals. With the sword of Damocles that he wants to suspend above the heads of members of administrative tribunals, the President of the Treasury Board may vitiate the entire judicial process of administrative tribunals. In so doing he is subordinating the judiciary to political considerations.

The president of the Quebec Bar Association was very clear about this when she said, and I quote: "The lack of job security may have an unexpected psychological impact on the decisions of a person who may be more concerned about pleasing the government than rendering a fair judgment". This quote was taken from Le Soleil of July 8, 1995.

Members of administrative tribunals might even be reluctant to develop jurisprudence that would be favourable to the individual, so as not to penalize the State.

The Liberals, with their base partisan manoeuvring, are attacking the very foundations of a modern democracy. The separation of powers has long been a part of Canadian and Quebec democracy, and the minister would do well to drop Bill C-49 if he does not want to go down in history as the man for whom the development and modernization of institutions is a backdoor proposition.

This government bill is totally unacceptable. It is a direct attack on the impartiality and independence of members of administrative tribunals. These two principles are seen as fundamental to a democratic society, principles that the government prefers to ignore in favour of maintaining its power to make partisan appointments to administrative tribunals.

These appointments are a way to reward friends of the party who may not always have the qualifications to exercise such important duties. The Liberals are simply perpetuating the patronage system with which they are so familiar and which has been their trademark as a government for a long time.

I hope the Minister responsible for the Treasury Board will listen to reason and withdraw this retrograde and backward looking bill. The minister will have a chance to redeem himself by supporting my amendment to Bill C-49, which is as follows:

"this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-49, An Act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, because the principle of the said Bill does not allow for the possibility for any parliamentary mechanism governing the appointment or revocation of the appointment of members of administrative tribunals."

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) Act October 21st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is about administrative tribunals and the dissolution of certain federal agencies.

As Treasury Board critic for the official opposition, I will first address the real financial impact of Bill C-49 and then I will look more closely at its administrative and political impact.

The minister tells us that all these dissolutions and reorganizations contained in Bill C-49 and in a similar bill adopted by Parliament in June 1995 will result in savings of about $10 million a year.

What is the use of all these changes which, according to the minister, may help us save some $10 million a year when we know that, in spite of their red book promises, the Liberals have let the public debt grow and have not addressed the problem of chronic unemployment. Ten million dollars is just a drop in the ocean of debt created by the Liberals. Canada's debt is growing by more than $100 million a day, which is ten times more a day than Bill C-49 and the other bill adopted in June 1995 will help us save in a year.

Since 1961, the federal debt has increased twenty-six-fold, and the Liberals have been in power during 26 of those 35 years. We know who is responsible for this huge debt.

In its annual brief presented to federal parliamentarians in December 1995, the Conseil du patronat du Quebec asked the federal government to set right then a higher deficit reduction target than the one it is supposed to meet in March 1997, which is $24.3 billion. Reducing the deficit to $20 billion by March 31, 1997 should be a minimum target according to the Conseil du patronat du Québec, which invites the federal government to re-examine seriously its spending rather than increase direct or indirect taxes paid by Canadians.

And a bill such as Bill C-49 will not lead to a serious examination and considerable reduction of federal spending. The deficit reduction targets are too low and efforts to stop the growth of our debt are insufficient.

Bill C-49, just like the last budget tabled by the Minister of Finance, means the end of the government's efforts to put our fiscal house in order. The impact of the budget measures on the deficit will be non-existent this year and will total only $200 million next year. Can you imagine an impact of $200 million over a two-year period on an annual budget of over $160 billion. This is ridiculous.

The President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance are still trying to make us believe that deficit reduction remains one of the major concerns of cabinet, by regularly bombarding us with statistics on the debt as a percentage of the GDP and by comparing Canada to countries with the worst record concerning deficit reduction. Let me remind the minister that there is no glory in making such comparisons.

In the briefing notes released by the Treasury Board, it is written in black and white that the two stages of the agency review will only account for $10 million in savings. The Liberals have come up with very little after making such a big show of the program review, which has not amounted to much. It is, indeed, very disappointing.

As I said earlier, the President of the Treasury Board and minister responsible for this program review has been making a lot of fuss these past two years, by bringing forth some very impressive figures: 45,000 jobs cut in the civil service, and more cuts right and left.

In fact, we should let the figures speak for themselves. If it were not for the estimated increase in revenue of $100 million this year and $245 million next year, the budget re-allocation made by the minister in charge of the Treasury Board would have resulted in an operational deficit of $134 million for this year and of $92 million for next year.

Why cut so many jobs and affect so many workers and their families if just to re-allocate funds to so-called priorities? Not only is this exercise bound to result in no gain or even worse a deficit, but a slower economic growth than what was forecast could mean an even higher deficit in the upcoming years.

The government does not keep its word. Furthermore, it wants us to believe that it exceeds its own objectives. Fiscally speaking, Bill C-49 is nothing but a smokescreen to hide the fact that the Liberals are not able to reduce the deficit.

All the accumulated effects of this year's budget will have an impact of only $1.9 billion by 1999. Do not forget that the predicted impact of the 1994 budget was $45 billion over 5 years and that of the 1995 budget was $43 billion over 4 years. According to the predictions, this year's budget will have a nominal impact of $1.9 billion on the debt, which will have increased by $110 billion by the end of this Liberal government's mandate.

The government is dragging its feet and continuing to estimate the impact of its actions over several years because they are generally laughable when taken individually each year. And the best example of this is Bill C-49 tabled by the minister responsible for the Treasury Board.

All the important decisions concerning cuts and reductions in spending were taken in the 1994 and 1995 budgets. Why then propose an administrative overhaul, which will have no real impact on government management? In practice, the finance minister always tables deferred budgets to avoid the backlash of unpopular decisions.

Cuts undertaken in past years coming into effect in 1996 and 1997 will continue to reduce government expenditures without the need for the government to make some new unpopular decisions this year and as it approaches the deadline of the elections planned for next year.

Meanwhile, the President of the Treasury Board is proceeding with a few administrative and symbolic changes to show that the government is still bent on improving public finances. This is an election-oriented strategy and the people is not fooled by it.

With regard to the political and administrative impact of Bill C-49, we can say without fear of error that the President of the Treasury Board set out some fine principles in the backgrounder we received recently from his officials, but, in fact, this piece of legislation is backward looking when it comes to the administrative tools it is proposing and shamefully partisan in its objectives.

The Treasury Board's backgrounder talks about streamlining disciplinary measures taken by administrative tribunals, streamlining the process of appointing chairpersons to administrative tribunals, winding up 7 federal agencies and revamping or downsizing 13 others, as well as standardizing terminology and pay, and several other changes. All these are fine principles indeed, but what is Bill C-49 really hiding?

Let us take a closer look at the administrative and political consequences of this piece of legislation. Bill C-49 makes significant changes in the way administrative tribunals operate. Several of my Bloc colleagues will take the floor shortly, as critics, to tell you about the particular impact of Bill C-49 on each one of the 19 administrative tribunals involved.

I ask the House for unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, when Bill C-49, an act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, has been concurred in by the Liberal majority at second reading, it be referred to every standing committee of the House connected with an administrative tribunal affected by the said bill.

Monetary Policy October 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, today's interest rates are low but the question is: Will they stay low? Now that we know the disastrous impact a zero inflation monetary policy can have on employment, will the Minister of Finance see to it that the Bank of Canada does not unduly restrict the money supply as soon as inflation raises its head?