November 25, 1976

LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

Order, please. I would suggest to the hon. member that if he wishes to rise on a point of order he should do so from his own seat.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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?

An hon. Member:

In other words, Joe, you are out of order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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PC

Jacques Flynn (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Flynn:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am in my proper place now and I would ask you to instruct the hon. member to keep to the point of the bill he is discussing. He has not talked about it yet. I have not heard a word mentioned in reference to the bill directly.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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PC

William C. Scott

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Scott:

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the hon. gentleman that he has not been listening.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

Order, please. I would suggest to both hon. members that they are getting into a matter of debate rather than a point of order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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PC

William C. Scott

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Scott:

Mr. Speaker, in keeping with the practice of this House I will keep to the principle of the bill being debated. I will address myself to a number of specific items that fall within the broad category of fiscal restraint, in order to please the hon. gentleman from whom we should like to hear.

Let me refer to areas of activity where gasoline is necessary for the operation and the conduct of business. I am sure that were the hon. gentleman to speak for some of the businessmen in his community he could make the same remarks. This additional tax on gasoline is hurting industry whether it be in western Ontario, central Ontario, eastern Ontario or, for that matter, in northern Ontario. Tourism in Ontario is the second largest segment of our provincial economy. Nationally it is the fourth largest segment accounting for $1 in every $18 of the gross national product. Let me read briefly from a speech delivered by the Hon. C. Bennett, the Ontario Minister of Tourism. He stated:

The economy has slipped over the past few years, and you don't need to tell me that you are feeling the effects, if not actually hurting. Your prosperity, based as it is on leisure time and on the patronage of such people as sales representatives, is perhaps more vulnerable than that of any other service sector. When companies and individuals cut back, you feel it first. You are a part of an extremely important industry-tourism-which in dollar terms comes fourth in Canada after automobiles, oil and gas, and wheat, which contributes almost $8 billion a year to the national economy. That's about one dollar in eighteen of the gross national product. In the province of Ontario, tourism is the second largest industry, and last year it generated $2.6 billion. This year (1976) we expect it to increase slightly, and achieve a level of $2.8 billion, of which $900 million will come from other countries.

In the larger perspective, damage to Ontario's tourist industry affects Canada's balance of payments. Ontario is in relatively good shape, but let us look at the national deficit. Between 1974 and 1975 this deficit, both U.S. and overseas,

grew from $284 million to $706 million. If the trend continues this country may soon be a billion dollars in the red on the tourism account.

Having regard to the United States account, in 1974 Canada had a $132 million surplus with the U.S. This dropped last year to a deficit of over $234 million. In 1976 this deficit could double. In a nutshell, too few Americans are visiting Canada and too many Canadians are visiting the United States. This has to be turned around. The provincial Minister of Tourism has indicated that he plans to recommend at the upcoming federal-provincial conference that the provinces, regional associations, and the private sector assume full responsibility for domestic advertising.

Let me refer to the ten cents excise tax on gasoline to which I referred earlier. Granting the fact that moneys were needed to balance out the price of oil between Canadian provinces, I believe this ten cents per gallon tax imposed upon a vital and already heavily taxed commodity has already hurt many industries in Canada. We are told that the government hopes to raise $350 million through this tax. The government could have raised money less painfully, and without hurting our businesses and industries, simply by using some common sense in managing the country's finances. The Auditor General gives scores of examples. Let me point out some of them.

First there are these questionable payments to unknown foreign agents to promote the sale of CANDU atomic reactors. These payments amounted to tens of millions of dollars. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that our major allies have questioned Canada's practice of selling atomic reactors to countries that do not guarantee that the reactors will not be used for the manufacture of atomic weapons.

Secondly, there is the questionable and inefficient use of public moneys for travel and relocation expenses, some $200 million. These are expenses that have not been properly identified. As the Auditor General reported, the guidelines for spending money for these purposes were "either inconsistently applied, or substantially ignored".

Untold millions of dollars are being wasted or misspent since, in the words of the Auditor General, "financial management and control is not a priority within Crown corporations". The Auditor General stated further that financial management and control in Crown corporations are grossly inadequate.

We are all aware that the House of Commons is known as the senior branch of government in Canada, followed by many lesser bodies at the provincial and various municipal levels. Having had the privilege of being a member of a municipal government I often wonder how long such a government would be allowed to carry on if it proceeded in the same manner as the federal government in respect of financial management. I may say at this time that while the municipal governments in Canada handle far less money, the business practice is much more efficient, and there is a great deal more scrutiny by fewer people. A municipal council cannot spend even $1,000 today without being questioned. Yet this government spends millions of dollars for which it cannot account.

November 25, 1976

Let me refer now to the increased cost of agricultural production. We all know many factors contribute to this increased cost of productivity, including the ten cents excise tax on gasoline. We are all aware of the monumental problems facing those involved in agriculture today. Instead of providing a metric calendar and questionable humour regarding the effects of eating too much beef, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan) would do better to concern himself with promoting the consumption of Canadian agricultural products.

The recent revelation today by the hon. member for Lethbridge (Mr. Hurlburt), in a proposed motion under Standing Order 43, that Air Canada's tender for beef calls for Australian or New Zealand beef rather than Canadian is astounding. This is inexcusable.

We have a government which on the one hand squanders billions and on the other hand ignores the Canadian producer in an attempt supposedly to save a few cents per pound on foreign beef. Crown corporations should set the example in promoting Canadian products. This certainly should include the agricultural sector.

Another thing I should like to bring to the attention of the government is something about which I am sure the minister and many other members on the government benches are aware. I refer to the cost to the farmer of producing beef. That cost today is 50 cents a pound. It requires about eight pounds of grain to produce one pound of livestock. This beef sells on the market in Toronto at from 38 cents to 48 cents a pound. In other words the farmer is losing six cents to eight cents a pound by producing and selling beef on the Canadian market today. How long can the agricultural industry stand such a situation? In my opinion the agricultural industry today is living off its depreciation. How long can we have a viable industry in Canada with this situation? Members of the agricultural community have lost animals and I do not think they have been adequately compensated under the health of animals legislation, but no one sees fit on the government side to do anything about this.

I recall that the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), in reply to a question, stated that Mr. Caron is a worthy individual who has contributed much to this country as a member of royal commissions. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that thousands of other Canadians have contributed as much as Mr. Caron, and probably for far less remuneration. These Canadians have made their contribution for the good of the country and ask very little in return. I cannot help but wonder about this matter and the question raised by the right hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker) in the House yesterday. He asked whether Mr. Lambert had been appointed to the recently announced royal commission because of his desire to control salary levels, he having previously recommended that deputy ministers should be paid up to $60,000 a year. He also wondered whether Mr. Stoner was being appointed because he was the former deputy minister of transport during the Sky Shops affair.

Restraint of Government Expenditures

Under these circumstances, general platitudes assuring the House of the noted competence of these individuals is far from reassuring. I suggest it is now too late for a royal commission to be appointed. What is required and what is owing to the Canadian people is a full judicial inquiry. Such an inquiry could consider the specific instances of waste and mismanagement referred to in the Auditor General's report. Some of the money which has been misspent could be given to the small businessman who still employs 60 per cent of the labour force in Canada.

The small businessman is supposed to have access to guaranteed loans, but when he goes to the bank, especially in the province of Ontario, he finds that this money is not available. The bankers say that when they can loan money for ten per cent, 12 per cent or 13 per cent, why should they loan it to the small businessman when all that is permitted under the government's guidelines is 8 per cent? The government has forgotten about the small businessman in Canada. In the province of Ontario this situation is even more acute than it probably is anywhere else.

There is a question I should like to ask the minister in charge of DREE. In the last few days I have attempted to ask this question in the House of Commons. Will he expand on the criteria that govern whether or not an area is included under the DREE grants?

Now I should like to return to the question I mentioned earlier and said I would come back to in respect of the Unemployment Insurance Act. I do not find too much fault with the people who are involved in the implementation of the act in the local offices, but there are a few things 1 should like to bring to the attention of the government. Some of these matters where drawn to the attention of the government by myself as long ago as 18 months, but nothing has been done about them. The fact is that claimants for unemployment insurance continue to be penalized under the four-week nil pay clause legislation. This involves a case where someone who is receiving unemployment insurance in good faith voluntarily withdraws, possibly because he is absent from the area or otherwise. He receives no pay for four weeks. He is still disqualified according to his contributions and stamps, and when he returns to apply again for benefits from the commission, because of four weeks nil pay he is disqualified.

I brought that situation to the attention of the government 18 months ago and nothing was done about it. Last June I asked the Minister of Manpower and Immigration about people being called in from long distances. Some offices were processing over 600 people a week. I call it a harassment program. These people were called in each week, and I think the intention was that eventually they would become tired of coming in and would discontinue claiming unemployment insurance benefits. The hon. member for Frontenac-Lennox and Addington (Mr. Alkenbrack) also referred to this matter. He said there were untold numbers of unemployed about whom we probably know nothing. The government has been made aware of this situation by opposition members but it has failed, as it has in respect of many other things, to take action.

November 25, 1976

Restraint of Government Expenditures

In closing may I say I think there is something definitely wrong with many aspects of the government's program.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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LIB

Robert Knight Andras (President of the Treasury Board)

Liberal

Mr. Andras:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I should like to seek approval of the House to table a document.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

ROYAL COMMISSIONS

LIB

Robert Knight Andras (President of the Treasury Board)

Liberal

Hon. Robert K. Andras (President of Treasury Board):

Mr. Speaker, referring to the proceedings in the House earlier today, including the comments of Mr. Speaker, now that I have been given permission I should like to table a copy of a letter which has been delivered to me from Mr. H. Marcel Caron, which letter indicates his decision not to serve on the recently announced royal commission of inquiry on financial organization and accountability in the Government of Canada. The text of that communication was made available to members earlier today upon Mr. Caron's request that this be done at the first opportunity. I now table the document.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ROYAL COMMISSIONS
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION AND ACCOUNTABILITY-TABLING OF LETTER FROM MR. CARON
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GOVERNMENT ORDERS

GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT


The House resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. Andras that Bill C-19, to amend or repeal certain statutes to enable restraint of government expenditures, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Miscellaneous Estimates.


PC

Robert Elgin McKinley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. R. E. McKinley (Huron-Middlesex):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased at this time to have the opportunity to rise and speak on the amendment to Bill C-19 and especially on clause 15 of that bill which, among other things, relates to the movement of grain and flour from the inland terminals on the Great Lakes to the Atlantic ports. With the implementation of this bill and clause 15 the present movement of these commodities will be altered, with far-reaching and drastic consequences to all concerned.

Before I continue on this subject I should say I am happy to hear the government has finally admitted that the bill would inflict serious damage on the milling industry. I understand

that the government is introducing a $9 million subsidy to alleviate the problems that would be created with the passage of this bill, and I am sure that this transitional assistance will be welcomed by the milling industry.

Unfortunately the government is still proceeding on its haphazard course, one that is plagued with lack of foresight and planning. The reason I say this is that the government has not yet outlined the formula for the distribution of this subsidy to the milling industry and, what is even more disturbing, it has failed to provide a program of transitional assistance to many other segments of the Canadian economy that will be affected by the removal of the subsidy called the at and east rates. The other segments of the economy that I am talking about are the inland rail terminals along the Great Lakes, the Atlantic ports, and the shipping fleets of the Great Lakes. I wonder if the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board (Mr. Lang) is planning to have similar discussions with these affected industries, and if he is not, I say that he should.

I know that representatives from these segments of the Canadian economy would be most happy at and receptive to the possibility of continuing discussions with the minister in the hope of arriving at a similar solution to their problem. It should be emphasized at this time that these discussions should take place as soon as possible because the problems encountered in these industries are the same as those that were encountered by the milling industry. That is why we should like this bill delayed, as the amendment states.

Let me tell the House what will happen to these industries if clause 15 in Bill C-19 is passed by the House in its present form. First of all, it will have a detrimental effect on all the inland terminals located in the Great Lakes area. The specific terminals in question are those located along Georgian Bay and along Lake Huron. They are Collingwood, Midland, Port McNicoll, Goderich, Owen Sound, Sarnia, Toronto, Kingston, and some others.

These grain elevators, whose primary function is to store grain moved by ships from Thunder Bay and later on by rail to the Atlantic sea ports of Halifax and west Saint John, will be forced to close. If this bill is passed most of these grain elevators will be by-passed, and they will no longer be needed to store grain because many of them depend either entirely or substantially on this winter export movement for their operations. A great many of them will be forced to close down. The facilities now available for feed grain supplies and for surplus storage will then disappear. Then too, if the St. Lawrence Seaway were to close for any period of time due to an unforeseen incident, there would be no elevator facilities to take up the slack caused by any such misfortune.

These inland terminal facilities should be kept operating, for if they are not someone will be responsible for further unemployment and economic hardships to the communities in the Great Lakes region.

The government has already admitted, by granting a subsidy to the milling industry, that it has moved too fast for them

November 25, 1976

to have time to adjust to the change. I contend that this same government by moving too fast and without any foresight is causing the same problems in respect of these inland terminals.

This same argument can be applied to the Great Lakes shipping fleet which would be affected if clause 15 is passed by this insensitive government. These ships are responsible for the movement of grain from Thunder Bay to the inland terminals and the eastern ports. With the removal of the subsidy they would have to change their traffic patterns. This will result in a loss of revenue to the ship owners, decreased productivity of the shipping fleet, plus the usual detrimental effects of unemployment.

The same list of arguments can be made for the Prairie farmer, the Ontario farmer, the Quebec farmer, and the feed grain industry. How many of these lists must be produced and how long must they be before this insensitive government realizes that this clause is creating an injustice to another part of the Canadian economy?

If the government cannot realize it, let me tell it that there are people in this country that do. The Halifax Mail Star in an editorial on April 3, 1976, had this to say about the situation:

One of the silliest statements to emerge from the matter is that of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture when he told the Commons that the government plans to follow through in its intention to drop the subsidies. "A strong case has not been made", he said, "as to the magnitude of these effects".

-of dropping the subsidy, he meant. After this famous quote it goes on to say:

What kind of government is it that measures the validity of an act against the measure of protest it received from the public?

It should be enough when the people of Canada elect members to represent them and their interests. It is a strange kind of representation that has no knowledge either of needs or of attitudes other than that which is generated by public outcry.

As you can see, this statement shows that the rest of Canada knows what the Government of Canada is trying to do. The million dollar question is: when is the government going to realize it?

When this bill was first introduced in the last session, it became evident that it was hastily conceived, without proper or prior consultation with the people who are to be affected by its implementation.

It was and it is still evident that the bill lacks any real direction or positive motive for the inclusion of clause 15.

Clause 15 of this bill with its proposed savings is of relatively little consequence when you compare it to other examples of flagrant government spending, some of it by the Minister of Transport himself. Just the other week the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Cossitt) uncovered some interesting information about the expenses of this particular minister who takes a $10,000 trip to go and see his brother-in-law in Regina. The same minister-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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PC

John Carnell Crosbie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crosbie:

And his nanny.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
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PC

Robert Elgin McKinley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McKinley:

-and, as my colleague says, his nanny-has charged the public treasury over $740,000 for similar trips in

Restraint of Government Expenditures the past three years. Now he has the arrogance to eliminate the assistance provided for the movement of grain and flour from the inland terminals to the Atlantic seaboard.

Another criticism of this clause is that before it was introduced there had not been adequate prior consultation with the people or industries that were to be affected by it. The proof of this surfaced recently when the government was forced to introduce a subsidy program for the milling industry, nearly one year after the initial announcement of the intention of the government to cut back on this same subsidy. Granted, the present subsidy is taking another form, but it still goes to the same end. This decision and this type of program should have been discussed before the announcement was made back in December, 1975. At least then the government would have given the people of Canada the impression that it knew what it was doing. As it stands now the government leads us to believe that it has no direction and that it has arbitrarily introduced this unpopular cutback.

In its same piecemeal fashion the government is now introducing another program without any prior thought or consideration. Who knows, perhaps within the next year we will find out that this subsidy for the flour industry is inadequate? Even now there is some thought that the subsidy which will be introduced shortly will not be compensation enough to overcome the proposed increase in freight rates which will come about by the dropping of the subsidy.

The last point I would like to make regarding the government's lack of foresight is that even if the government's main intention with Bill C-19 is restraint, I say that the implementation of clause 15 and the subsequent removal of this subsidy will not in the long run, or in any real sense, contribute to restraint of government expenditures because the removal of this subsidy will have more serious results through unemployment and regional economic hardships. This statement is especially relevant to the area of Canada I have the privilege to represent, an area which has an unemployment level which is already at the maximum tolerable rate, and where any further cuts would result only in further aggravation of the problem.

The question most often asked in my part of the country is, why bother to cut this subsidy at all if the only results are to be negative? The subsidy is in the neighbourhood of only about $11 million annually, and that is quite a small amount. It is not at all staggering, especially when we compare it with others. For example, $150 million is being spent annually on the subsidy for the movement of grain from the prairies to Vancouver and Thunder Bay. If the government wants to bring about some savings, simple arithmetic tells us that $150 million is a lot more than $11 million. This is only one of the many examples of grain being moved at statutory rates. There has been no government active to change any of those other rates, but I wonder if clause 15 of this bill is perhaps the start of some changes in those rates in western Canada. Then I think there would be some cries from other sources as well.

1402

November 25, 1976

Restraint of Government Expenditures

Another question often asked is, what will happen to this 35 million bushels of grain which moves through these inland terminals after the subsidy is removed? That subsidy should be kept in force. I believe that the Minister of Transport, who is in charge of the Canadian Wheat Board, was fooled a little bit this year because of the drop in sales of western grain, particularly wheat, to the rest of Canada and also the drop in the price per bushel of wheat. The terminals he thought would not have to be used for the storage of grain any more have been used this year for that purpose. The way world markets are going, they will probably need to be used next year and for years after that.

We return to the old question of the alternative for the movement of grain. As usual, and in its most inefficient manner, the government has failed to provide one. Under close and intense questioning the government often gives the impression that it has not even thought about it.

At this time I would like to comment on a statement which was first made popular by the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Goodale), and later picked up and made famous by the Minister of Transport in his speech. The text of the statement is as follows:

Clause 15 of Bill C-19 refers to what is commonly known as the "at and east subsidy" or section 272 of the Railway Act. I think it is clear that this provision in the Railway Act supports what has become an expensive and inefficient system of grain movement which is not in the interests of producers nor in the interests of Canada, It is interesting to examine the kind of grain movement this particular section of the Railway Act tended to foster in the past. If you move grain from the farm to the prairie elevator, out of that elevator into a train which goes from the prairies to Thunder Bay, unload it at the lakehead into a terminal, clean it, store it for a while, load it on a ship, move it across the lakes-not down the Seaway, but just across the lakes-take it out of the ship and put it into an elevator, take it out of the elevator, load it on to a train and move it further east-if you do all that then you get a subsidy. If you do it any other way you do not get a subsidy. I think that demonstrates the problem with this type of provision in the Railway Act. It is a subsidy which is uneconomical and counter-productive, and which does nothing to enhance the system of grain movement we have in Canada.

The government opposite is very lucky to have in its midst a member who is able to deliver such a knowledgeable passage on the movement of grain from the interior of Canada to the eastern ports. I must also say that he has a unique gift of being able to simplify a serious and complex process, put it into one small paragraph, and call it "uneconomical and counter productive". It is no wonder that the government is in trouble as it tries to implement these changes in its transportation policy. I wonder if the hon. member opposite in his next rendition can tell us in explicit terms what will happen to each prairie elevator, to the owners and operators of inland terminals, to the farmers who are dependent upon them, to the shipping fleets on the great lakes, and to the feed grain industry, if this subsidy is removed. I would be most interested if the hon. member could simplify some of the problems these people will suffer.

I would be even more interested if the hon. member could perhaps offer some helpful solutions. It would be appreciated by all concerned, for his own government has failed to provide any. I hope the hon. member will continue with the conception that this problem is simple and that the removal of this subsidy

is going to be easy. I encourage the government to do some more research to find out that the situation has not changed very much since the sudsidy was first introduced.

The special rates were first fixed on the movement of grain and flour to the eastern ports for four principal reasons. The first was to encourage the use of eastern ports; the second, to help keep Canadian flour companies competitive in world markets; third, to promote and assist the development and expansion of Canada's grain industry, and fourth, to benefit the Canadian economy by providing mill, transportation and port employment as well as helping Canada's balance of trade position in manufactured goods.

You will find that this subsidy has been effective in assisting the grain and milling industries, supporting industries, the wheat producers of Canada, the economies of the Great Lakes, and the maritime provinces. In fact you will find that it has generated benefits throughout the entire economy since 1961. Elimination of the subsidy will cause irreparable damage in all of these areas, especially if it is removed immediately and without any viable alternative proposed by the government.

It is very easy to summarize a major problem into one paragraph and then call the scheme uneconomical and counter-productive. It is relatively more difficult to analyse a problem carefully and come up with a viable alternative policy that will not cause major disruptive changes to large parts of the Canadian economy. It is very easy to see that the government has chosen the easier of the two approaches with no apparent concern or sensivity for the people who are to be drastically affected.

What is even more ironic is that it has not proposed any alternatives for the problems it is creating, problems that are the result of the government abandoning two basic principles that were brought forward in its transportation policy paper of 1975. The two basic principles that it is abandoning are those that said that the government's transportation policy would be a tool of regional development and an instrument of national policy, designed to achieve broad social and economic objectives.

The abandonment of these two principles, and this inconsistent behaviour of the government is one of the many reasons why it is so unpopular. As the hon. member for Crowfoot (Mr. Horner) so aptly put it, the government continues to plough blindly on, insensitive to the wishes and concerns of the people of the nation. I say it is time for the government to mend its ways, to become consistent and sensitive to the needs of the country.

It does not take much insight to see that these industries, particularly the inland terminals, are having a crisis forced upon them by an arrogant government using shock treatment type methods. They are not being provided with any type of phase-out period. Instead these inland terminals that have served the Canadian Wheat Board for so many years are suddenly finding their main source of revenue cut off, leaving them in a most precarious position. This form of policy

November 25, 1976

implementation will most definitely result in the forced closure of these inland terminals along with further alienation of the people of Canada from this government.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I must say that I have no alternative but to support this amendment at least until the minister puts forward his alternatives and we have a chance to consider whether they are suitable. Until a suitable alternative is proposed I want to assure the inland terminal operators, the farmers who are dependent on the feed grains they supply, and the Great Lakes shipping fleet, that we on this side of the House will continue to fight all our resources to make sure that these industries are not adversely affected and that the employment opportunities that they provide continue. We will not stand idle and let an insensitive government ignore the valuable services that these industries provide to the surrounding areas and to Canada.

Let me also say that the government should delete clause 15 of this bill until such time as a viable alternative is found. Let this alternative be the result of some serious discussions and studies and not of some irresponsible plan like the one that the government is presently trying to introduce.

Just this week the Auditor General made his report which was tabled in this House. It brought to light many of the ways that the government has wasted money, and it has been the subject of questions and discussions both in the House and in committee. I should like to suggest some further reasons why this situation has been allowed to develop. According to the Auditor General spending is nearly out of control and, in my opinion, one of the main reasons for this is that the rules of this House were changed by closure in 1968. I remember that summer very well because we sat through most of it.

The estimates of the departments of government are now shipped off to committees instead of being examined in the House as had previously been the case, and a time limit was imposed upon their passage. Ministers now know that all they have to do is stonewall their estimates in committee until the time limit expires, and then they are automatically passed. They really do not have to answer for their expenditures and there is no way the opposition can make them answer.

In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, the rules must be changed so that some of the estimates come to the House every year without any time limit. Over a term of four or five years all the estimates would be examined in the House without a time limit being imposed. It seems to me that there has to be greater scrutiny of the estimates so that we do not have to depend entirely upon the Auditor General to point out the wasteful spending that has taken place. When such a situation exists and the government has the nerve to bring in a bill to cut out an expenditure that has meant so much to so many people in the past, there is something wrong.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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PC

Constantine George (Gus) Mitges

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gus Mitges (Grey-Simcoe):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak again on Bill C-19 to support the amendment put forward by my colleague, the hon. member for Lambton-Kent

Restraint of Government Expenditures

(Mr. Holmes), to the effect that this bill be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time six months from this date.

There is no doubt that some parts of the bill are good and warrant support, but the bill also contains a clause that, if anything, will damage and hurt our economy, an economy that is in a very fragile state right across the country, an economy that desperately needs bolstering and not to have brickbats thrown at it as this government is threatening to do by including clause 15. Implementation of this clause will remove the subsidy paid to railroads for moving grain and flour from the lake ports to the eastern seaboard for export. Despite the short term effect of the $9 million subsidy to millers, which was recently announced, removal of the subsidy in the long run will raise the cost of our exports of these commodities to a point where we will no longer be competitive with other countries. Our export markets already in dire straits will plunge even lower to a point close to oblivion, resulting in even higher unemployment not only in the elevators of the Great Lakes but in the other allied industries as well.

Although the government hopes to save $11 million in subsidies, it will be losing many times that amount in lost revenue, wages and productivity at a time when such loss is so clearly contra-indicated in our sagging economy.

Sometimes I wonder what the government uses as a measuring indicator. What other criteria is the government using to arrive at priorities, I mean honest priorities which would have the useful purpose of serving Canadians best from one end of Canada to the other, true to the mandate this government received a little more than two years ago to serve the people of Canada? That mandate, Mr. Speaker, has been violated on numerous occasions by this government whose wasteful extravagances are reported ever more frequently in the media and in the newspapers. Rather than being the exception, those extravagances are the rule almost on a day to day basis.

All the frailties of the government are well known not only to all members of this House but to Canadians across the country as well. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that these frequent government misdoings by this time are well documented and embedded in the minds of all Canadians. I am also sure that the same discrepancies and wrongdoings of this government will be in the minds of voters in the next election and Canadians will vote accordingly to oust this government from power.

By introducing this bill, Mr. Speaker, without doubt the government is acting true to form. There is no doubt that it is trying to add confusion at a time when we need clear and precise legislation.

Let me come back to clause 15 of the bill which states unequivocally that section 272 of the Railway Act will be repealed. As has already been said many times during this debate, repeal of section 272 would abolish the subsidy on the movement of export flour and grain to eastern ports. The repeal of section 272 of the Railway Act represents increased railway rates, between $17.64 and $22.05 per metric ton, on

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Restraint of Government Expenditures

flour exports. In the opinion of the Canadian National Millers association it will, and I quote, "virtually guarantee the speedy demise of Canada's already eroded export flour trade."

If this proposal is to be an example of the user-pay concept of the Minister of Transport (Mr. Lang) it is most apparent that this action will impose real hardship on a small sector of Canadian industry. Such hardship is completely unwarranted and shortsighted. I realize that this proposal comes from a minister who thinks nothing of spending $742,000 of taxpayers' money in flighting, not flying, across the country, to satisfy his own whims and vanity. Certainly it was not spent primarily in the interest of the public's business. It is just another case of this government's arrogance, of "Do as I say, not as I do."

If section 272 is repealed there will be a greatly detrimental effect on Great Lake ports and grain elevators situated there, grain elevators which depend to a large extent on revenues received for storing grain until it is transported to our eastern ports for export. It would be questionable indeed if such elevators situated in lake ports like Owen Sound, Port McNi-col, Tiffen and Mid-Simcoe would be able to remain solvent.

It would also mean that many jobs would be lost and, as my colleagues said, unemployment would go up just when our unemployment has reached its highest level in 20 years. I say nothing of the human misery which passage of this measure would cause as well. Industry in Canada and the Canadian people will certainly be the real losers if the clause to repeal section 272 of the Railway Act is left in the bill. Our people will be the losers, but east coast United States ports will be the winners because they will be the recipients of export markets for grain and flour. I say this because we will no longer be competitive if we remove the subsidy to the railroads, as repeal of section 272 will surely do.

If the minister is not able to see the repercussions of his gambling, of repealing $11 million in subsidy payments to the railroads, which will bring greater unemployment, loss of productivity, the loss of approximately $828 million in value added processing activities and the loss of $865 million by complementary industries, he must be literally blind. Surely this minister and this government are not that hard skinned, that hard nosed, as to consider by any stretch of the imagination that the removal of this subsidy is a restraint measure. The repercussions of implementing the repeal of section 272 will be far-reaching in their effects on people, jobs, and our already sagging economy. Surely even this government can understand that this action will be a backward step, a retrogressive step unworthy of a government representing the people of Canada.

Earlier in my speech I said that with some parts of this bill I do not quarrel, because they warrant support. In that regard I suggest that no tears will be shed over the official demise of Information Canada.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
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PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

Amen!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES RESTRAINT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REMOVE CERTAIN RESTRICTIONS RESPECTING TRAINING ALLOWANCE RATES
Permalink

November 25, 1976