October 25, 1979

CUSTOMS TARIFF

PC

John Carnell Crosbie (Minister of Finance)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John C. Crosbie (Minister of Finance) moved

that Bill C-18, to amend the Customs Tariff and to make certain amendments to the New Zealand Trade Agreement Act, 1932, the Australian Trade Agreement Act, 1960 and the Union of South Africa Trade Agreement Act, 1932, be read the first time.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CUSTOMS TARIFF
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE TO AMEND
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Motion agreed to, bill read the first time and ordered to be printed. October 25, 1979


BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80


The House resumed, from Tuesday, October 23, 1979, consideration of the motion of Mr. Crosbie that Bill C-10, to provide supplementary borrowing authority for the fiscal year 1979-80, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs.


LIB

Herb Breau

Liberal

Mr. Herb Breau (Gloucester):

Mr. Speaker, when I noted that it was ten o'clock on Tuesday, October 23, 1 was saying that one of the main reasons why I wanted to speak about Bill C-10 was that even though this bill looked quite simple since it only authorizes the government to borrow some money, it was still quite important as it mentions confidence in the economic and fiscal policy of the government.

And when there is reference to that, Mr. Speaker, attitudes should be mentioned, and our position in the official opposition, the position of other members, is that of defending oneself against the attitude of ministers.

Mr. Speaker, 1 was saying that one of the reasons why I am taking part in this debate is indeed the attitude of the Minister of Finance on October 23, when early in the day he answered a very simple and polite question put by the hon. member for Vaudreuil (Mr. Herbert) pursuant to standing orders. The Minister of Finance today tried to give explanations, and I recognize his humility. If he wants to remain as humble, he might very well have less difficulty in the future having such simple bills go through.

On this subject, I would like to say we would like to help his House leader and the Prime Minister, who indicated they wanted reform in the House of Commons, not only in our structures but in the attitude of the government in the House. It is for this reason among others that 1 am acting today to teach a small lesson to the Minister of Finance. He tried to explain this away by stating he never refused to get involved with the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs.

It is very nice for the Minister of Finance (Mr. Crosbie) to find his humility all of a sudden and become a humble member of this House by saying that he never refused an invitation from the Finance committee to attend its sitting. That is not the issue. First of all, the issue is the attitude of the Minister of Finance with regard to members on this side of the House and with regard to the finance committee. His attitude in sending to the committee his parliamentary secretary, who is a new member of this House-one cannot blame him because he does not understand the traditions of this House and the sensitivities of hon. members-I cannot understand. He sent his parliamentary secretary to a finance committee meeting last Tuesday evening, Mr. Speaker.

Borrowing Authority

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
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PC

William James Kempling (Chief Government Whip; Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Kempling:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We are discussing a borrowing bill, are we not? What do the remarks made by the hon. member have to do with the borrowing bill?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
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LIB

Herb Breau

Liberal

Mr. Breau:

You will find out.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
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PC

William James Kempling (Chief Government Whip; Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Kempling:

Let us get on with the business.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
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LIB

Herb Breau

Liberal

Mr. Breau:

Do I have the floor, Mr. Speaker?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
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LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Yes.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
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LIB

Herb Breau

Liberal

Mr. Breau:

Mr. Speaker, I will ignore the intervention made by the official government whip because I do not believe it is relevant enough for me to spend much time on it.

A new member of this House is parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance. What I am saying is relevant because we are talking about the attitude and behaviour of the Minister of Finance and we are now discussing a bill brought forward by him. Therefore, the House of Commons and Parliament is being asked to approve the policies of the Minister of Finance and decide whether or not we give him the authority to borrow $7 billion. In my opinion, it is crucial that we examine and criticize the attitude of the minister.

What does the minister do? The steering committee had decided-and please note that the Conservative party had a majority in the steering committee-to invite the Minister of Finance to attend the committee meeting. The hon. member for York East (Mr. Ritchie) had this to say at the meeting of the committee on Tuesday evening:

Mr. Chairman, some indication of what we are going to be debating has already been given, although earlier today 1 did not know that would likely be the case.

"Earlier today" meant when the steering committee met and drafted a report. At this time the committee was considering the report of the subcommittee. The hon. member went on to

say:

As you all know, at the time that this report was being prepared by the steering committee one of the prime actors-

And the prime actor had to be the Minister of Finance. The hon. member went on to say:

-to which it referred was unaware of what it was going to say, and he had some opinions on it which he has since indicated. I would like to give some of the reasons for those opinions if I might.

The parliamentary secretary went on to explain to the committee that, because the Minister of Finance did not wish to come before the committee, he was going to change his mind. After the steering committee had made a report the Committee went on to force a vote and voted against its own subcommittee report. That is what the Conservative party did last Tuesday evening.

The Finance minister called him his representative; he said his parliamentary secretary had changed his mind. I am not concerned about the substance because 1 thought the Minister of Finance's substantive reason for not going before the committee, while I disagree with it, was reasonably good. But why did the Minister of Finance not have the courage to let the

October 25, 1979

Borrowing Authority

steering committee make a decision? Why not let committees of this House operate with some independence, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Clark) said they would? Why did the Minister of Finance not allow the committee to invite him, then write a letter and say: No, for such and such reason 1 do not think I should go?

Let the committee and this House of Commons judge his conduct, instead of going behind-derriere les coulisses-the halls of Parliament in a private meeting with his parliamentary secretary and telling him to go to the committee and change his mind. That is not the way Parliament works.

1 must say to the Minister of Finance that I was impressed by some things the Prime Minister has said about reform in Parliament. For 11 years I have been a private member in this House. I have never been part of the cabinet. Therefore, I was happy to see the Prime Minister recognize that reform of Parliament did not only deal with its structure but with attitude. He stated his government would have an open attitude toward Parliament and would respect members of Parliament and give them an opportunity to obstruct. During the throne speech debate he stated members of Parliament would be given an opportunity to be independent, that they would have some degree of automony and would be able to force the government to do certain things.

I wish to deal briefly with something the President of the Privy Council (Mr. Baker) said on Tuesday evening regarding my participation in this debate. I quote from page 539 of Hansard:

Mr. Speaker, we will be proceeding with amendments to the Post Office Act tomorrow. I presume we will not have the intemperate display of obstruction we observed from hon. members just a few moments ago, given the fact that what the House is really doing now is dealing with the former government's own bill. It is like spanking your mother; it is not supposed to be done.

This bill is not the former government's bill. The hon. member for Windsor West (Mr. Gray) explained that on Tuesday. Last winter the former government asked Parliament to increase the borrowing authority of the government to $10 billion. The Conservatives said that could not be done before a budget was presented and as a result the bill was split. The Minister of Finance now has to come and ask for a $7 billion authority because he and his colleagues forced the government to split the bill. The former government then asked Parliament for an authority of $3 billion.

On June 4 this government took office and at that time there was an ample cash balance. There was no need for a borrowing authority. There is now a need. Therefore, I do not accept that this is the doing of the former government.

I appreciate that the Minister of Finance wanted to be humble today and explain that he really did not want to refuse an invitation by the committee. The committee should be allowed to do its work. The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra (Mr. Clarke) is in a very difficult position because of the actions of the Minister of Finance. That member is a very competent chairman of the finance committee. Members on

this side supported his election. When he sat on this side of the House he was a very hard working member. He is a professional chartered accountant, a man who can really do a good job in the sense that the Prime Minister says he wants to reform and thereby give more independence to members of Parliament.

The Minister of Finance has humiliated this man, having him vote against his own steering committee report. The minister will learn that is not the way to deal with the steering committee or the finance committee. Nor is it the way to deal with members of Parliament, as he did the other day with the hon. member for Vaudreuil. In his explanation today, the minister tried to say that it was not so bad. However, as recorded at page 504 of Hansard the hon. member for Vaudreuil rose during a legitimate debate. We had just agreed to give unanimous consent to a motion to cut off the study of estimates in committee. The hon. member for Vaudreuil stated that now that the minister had changed his mind and we on this side were being co-operative, would the minister accept his responsibility for fiscal policy and appear before the finance committee. The jolly old Minister of Finance then became arrogant. This is what he said:

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is talking through his hat. I have not refused to appear before the finance committee. I am quite willing to appear before the House of Commons finance committee .... I will appear when I am in town and after the governor of the Bank of Canada has been heard by the committee.

Who the hell is he, at three o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, to decide who the finance committee is to invite? The finance committee only made its decision close to ten o'clock in the evening. The minister was being arrogant with Parliament. If the finance committee was going to invite him, was he going to say no? The minister went on to say:

There is no one opposite whose questions I hesitate to answer. When I come before the committee I hope the hon. gentleman is there to ask a few questions.

The minister comes here and says that he is the boss and will appear before the committee when he is in town. I will not accept that. The hon. member for Vaudreuil and this party will not accept that arrogance. The Prime Minister wants to reform Parliament and the President of the Privy Council wants the business of this House to run smoothly. Therefore, we have to signal something here. The Minister of Finance tried to bully members of this House, even those of his own party. He had his parliamentary secretary do that. And he has answered a private member in a very arrogant manner.

I firmly believe that what the Prime Minister said about the attitude of the government is very important. Over the 11 years that I have been here, the House of Commons has run on mood and attitude. The structure does not matter. If the mood is good, legislation goes through. However, that is not the case when the minister tries to get tough. Therefore, because of what the Minister of Finance has done, and in order to teach him a lesson, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Vaudreuil:

That the debate be now adjourned.

October 25, 1979

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
Permalink
LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Pursuant to Standing Order 25, such a motion is not debatable. I therefore will put it to the Elouse. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the said motion?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
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?

Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
Permalink
LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Yea.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
Permalink
LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

All those opposed will please say nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
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?

Some hon. Members:

Nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
Permalink
LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1979-80 SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY FOR 1979-80
Permalink

October 25, 1979