Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford.
It is a pleasure to support this budget. It is a budget for the 21st century, the knowledge century, and that is the element of the budget that I will signal in my remarks.
You will remember, Mr. Speaker, the tragedy of the failure of the KAON project, launched by a man of genius, Erich Vogt, but allowed by a previous government to fail for lack of financing. Why did it fail? The previous government, one, did not understand the nature of pure research and its importance for a modern society and for a viable economy, but, two, had doubts about constitutional power, which on examination were unreasonable. “The constitution”, as Lord Sankey said, “is a living tree”. Where the social necessity exists the power will follow for rational men and women.
The KAON project failed and our first mandate when this government was elected in 1993 was to support the successor, the TRIUMF project. It was a period when we had inherited a $42.8 billion deficit budget from the predecessor government. We were asking for $167.5 million to support the TRIUMF project. It took 12 months of discussion in caucus and in the House to explain what pure research is. It is not an esoteric examination of subjects fit for angels but for no one else; it is an examination of the basic intellectual infrastructure of our society. It meant explaining what is particle physics, why is particle physics important to us, that when properly applied in its lessons it leads to highly skilled jobs, it leads to an export economy.
That was the demonstration made with the TRIUMF project. We were able to demonstrate $193 million in export contracts in a single year in spinoffs from TRIUMF. So the battle was won, pure research, the thing that saved Germany and Japan after their devastating defeats and the devastation of their industries in the second world war. Invest in pure research. The federal government has never really looked back from that.
Therefore, it is perhaps a matter of interest to note that we can believe newspapers sometimes. The Vancouver Sun has in some ways jumped the gun and suggested that TRIUMF may be refinanced. I believe the announcement will come next week, but let us face it, TRIUMF was when we turned the corner in the federal government and said that research in the areas of science, technology and medicine was crucial to our survival as a competitive country in the 21st century.
I look through this budget and I see the follow-on of this distinctive philosophy of the knowledge society being carried through. There is a project in which major intellectual contributions were made by Dr. Martha Piper, the president of the University of British Columbia, a distinguished research scientist in her own right, and Robert Lacroix, the rector of the Université de Montréal. It is the establishment of the millennial professorships with 2,000 new university research chairs across Canada and $900 million invested by the federal government.
Why do we spend this money? We want to keep these people in Canada. There are Nobel prize winners there already, but there are also the Nobel prize winners of tomorrow. These are the people who expand the frontiers of knowledge. So that is a very positive step.
I look back at the Foundation for Innovation established with a billion dollar grant by the federal government, with a further $900 million in this budget. This is to provide for innovative research, science, medicine, the equipment of laboratories and the basic infrastructure of research in universities. Dr. David Strangway, the former president of the University of British Columbia, has been extending this in his administrative talent. It is a very vital task.
We took the science minister on a visit to the University of British Columbia and told him that we wanted him to see an historic laboratory. We took him to the second floor of the science building and he asked what was historic about it because it looked like an ordinary rundown university science laboratory, with not enough equipment and out of date. We said that was where the last Nobel prize winner from Canada went as a graduate student and did his research. It is still in the same condition it was in when he attended 30 years ago. It needs rebuilding. The creative idea for the Foundation for Innovation comes from there.
There has been talk of federal-provincial co-operation. We devised this concept of co-operative federalism. I look at the Canada health and social transfer program, with $2.5 billion for that, of which $340 million will go to British Columbia. We wish to co-operate with the provinces, but it is a two-way process. We are tired of giving money—and I think even British Columbia may feel some guilt here—for education or research and finding that it ends up in highways with no end and no beginning, into the never never land. We extend the invitation to the new premier, sworn in several days ago in British Columbia, to come and join us, to spend this money, this transfer, on education, on post-secondary research and on work in the hospitals. We will work with him if we can.
I look at money for forestry research. It is British Columbia's basic industry but it is in some sickness today. We need research in new methods and new technologies. The $15 million is for the three forestry research institutes scattered over Canada.
There is $160 million for Genome Canada to advance the study of genetics. It is led by Dr. Michael Smith, the Nobel Laureate in chemistry. He knows both the possibilities and also the prudent restraints in the application of this new science to plants and to other forms of research. This is a most interesting aspect of the budget.
There is $100 million in the sustainable development technology fund. A good deal of this will go to companies like Ballard Power, the new fuel cell technology that can revolutionize transportation and at the same time reduce to minor proportions the problem of pollution that conventional batteries create with the power involved.
If one looks through the budget, there is $5 million for geoscience to improve new techniques for mining.
Our mining industry needs revitalization. Abstract research? Not on your life. The jobs of tomorrow are there. They are highly paid jobs and vital to our economy.
Over this whole spectrum of work we see an imaginative budget that looks forward, not backward. It uses our surplus at once to reduce taxes, to stimulate the economy in that sense but also to create the knowledge that is the basis of breakthroughs in science and technology which are in essence the foundation of our industry and of our competitive economy with the opportunities for brilliant young Canadians who might otherwise be lured by the temptations to go south and follow the brain drain.
We can keep these people in Canada. We need them. We invite the provinces to co-operate with us. It is a two way process but the basic foundations are there.
It is a pleasure to assist the adoption of this budget, the knowledge budget, a budget for a knowledge based economy. That has been the inspiration of our government, the science minister, the finance minister and the Prime Minister since the inception of this government.
It comes to fruition here with a budget with the first big surplus. All the hard work of saving, prudent pruning of overstaffed departments and the like comes to fruition here with the stimulus we have provided for the economy.