May 31, 1983

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH


The House resumed from Thursday, May 26, 1983, consideration of the motion of Mr. Cosgrove that Bill C-151, an Act to provide supplementary borrowing authority, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs.


PC

Sinclair McKnight Stevens

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Sinclair Stevens (York-Peel):

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that we have no representatives from our socialist Party in the House as we commence debate on this very important Bill this morning. I say that because while the Liberal Party must carry the main burden for the deficit financing that we are now into and the necessary borrowing which follows from such deficit financing, I think all Members of the House would agree that it is certainly the socialist Party that has egged the Government on month after month, year after year, into more and more irresponsible spending with the resulting deficits and borrowing requirements with which we are now faced.

One of the saddest things happening to us is that people are losing their perspective. They no longer can relate to $ 1 million, let alone to SI billion or to $30 billion of deficit financing or requirements. The perspective is so confused or fudged at the present time that the Government sees nothing wrong with coming before us, as it did in its last presentation in the form of a budget, and indicating that between the 1983-84 fiscal year and 1986-87 the total financial requirements of the nation will be $93 billion.

Let me repeat that figure: $93 billion is what the Government has put before us as its financial requirements in the sense of what it will have to borrow either during this fiscal year or through to fiscal year 1986-87. I mention that because is it not strange that we have a Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), to whom many refer aptly as the emperor, who went to Williamsburg and had the colossal nerve to say to the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and various other participants in the conference, "You had better get your deficit in line; you had better cut back on your spending"?

That was the representation on the part of our Prime Minister who only weeks ago, through his Minister of Finance (Mr. Lalonde), told us that our own deficit requirement for financial needs between now and 1987 would be $93 billion. That on a per capita and gross national product basis is much higher than they have or are anticipated to have in the United States. For example, in Canada our deficit for fiscal 1983-84 will be $31.3 billion, more than we spent at the federal Government level in total in the fiscal year 1975. It is about triple, in deficit terms alone, the total spending when the emperor took power in this country in 1967-68.

I mention this little bit of background because our socialist friends to the left, who have been so instrumental in putting the spending in place, have not only been allowing the Government but egging it on to increase this deficit. I still hear the odd socialist say that it is right to spend, that the Government should be borrowing, that somehow or other deficit financing is the way of the future. That is not true.

There is all kinds of evidence that the dilemma we face in this country with high spending, low revenues and big deficits is actually deterring rather than encouraging growth in this country. Some may claim it is Keynesian to argue that the state should be spending, fine tuning-as they call it-the economy with such spending and deficit financing. I invite those who attribute that approach to Keynes to read what Keynes said with respect to such deficit financing as we are now experiencing. He would have been shocked that socialists of the day, such as those who sit to our left or the dear socialists opposite who presently form the Government, would attribute their irresponsibility with respect to deficit financing to something that they learned from Keynesian teaching.

What Keynes suggested was that in times of a slowdown, the state can spend and go into a deficit position in anticipation of going into a surplus position in better times. You then pay off whatever you incurred in the form of debt during the slow time and somehow you have a levelling. Perhaps where this Government went wrong is that it only heard one side of the equation.

In the early seventies, at the behest of the New Democratic Party, the Government put in massive spending programs. When we were in power, we learned that they did not even have the foresight to ask about the projected ongoing trends with regard to the cash requirements for those programs year after year.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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NDP

Lyle Stuart Kristiansen

New Democratic Party

Mr. Kristiansen:

What about MPs' office staff?

May 31, 1983

Borrowing Authority

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Sinclair McKnight Stevens

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stevens:

There we have it again, a Member of Parliament earning over $60,000 a year shouting out "What about MPs' staff?" Another socialist is trying out for-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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NDP

Lyle Stuart Kristiansen

New Democratic Party

Mr. Kristiansen:

It is a service to constituents.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Sinclair McKnight Stevens

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stevens:

Let me tell that Member of Parliament that the best service he can give his constituents is to start cutting back on some of the federal spending that has been so rampant, largely at the behest of the NDP.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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NDP

Lyle Stuart Kristiansen

New Democratic Party

Mr. Kristiansen:

Why does the Hon. Member not lay off his people if he does not want to spend the money?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Sinclair McKnight Stevens

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stevens:

I would like to return to my central theme, Mr. Speaker, but it is clear how the rabbles start to get roused here. The socialists are the most intolerant group in the House. They never like to hear the candid truth about the thrust of their policies discussed in public.

I believe that before any borrowing Bill is passed, we in Canada must insist that the Government present a more meaningful program for the reduction of the ongoing deficit that it foresees for the country. There is absolutely no reason why we should be placing an invisible mortgage on the future generations of the country, a mortgage amounting to some $93 billion of federal financial requirements between now and 1987.

If I had an opportunity to speak longer, Mr. Speaker, 1 would tell you about the effect that, if in power, we in this Party could have on the deficit by stressing the greater productivity in industry and by seeing that agricultural produce is exported to a greater extent. In short, if we could do these simple things, we could reduce unemployment, reduce the deficit, reduce inflation in the country and we could raise the real growth to over 5 per cent on average per year. In truth, we would bring back to Canada a realistic prosperity, a Conservative type of prosperity that would be built on responsible fiscal financing with less deficit financing than this socialist-Liberal conspiracy has been frustrating the nation with for too long.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Ray Hnatyshyn (Saskatoon West):

Mr. Speaker, it always amazes me that when a moderate like my colleague, the Hon. Member for York-Peel (Mr. Stevens), gives the House the benefit of his experience and his knowledge with respect to moderation in government spending, it causes shouting and disorder in the House on the part of the socialists to his left and the socialists across from him on the Government side. They have gone absolutely berserk and wild in response to this man who speaks only common sense.

As a Member of Parliament who attempts to represent a constituency from western Canada, I would like to carry on in the enlightened way of my colleague and try to bring to the House some semblance of perspective with respect to the Government's spending program. For a number of very legitimate reasons, this spending program is causing very serious and deeply felt concern for the people I represent.

The Hon. Member for York-Peel has made reference to the meeting of the leaders of the industrialized seven in Williamsburg, Virginia. He has pointed out quite rightly that there was a rather unusual and almost unbelievable intervention on the part of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) in the course of those discussions. During the course of the discussions, as reported widely by the press, the Prime Minister joined with other leaders in railing against the extent of the deficit in the United States. One must ask oneself who is fooling whom.

This is the seventh time in this session that the Government has brought a borrowing Bill before the House to ask for additional funds over and above those it planned to spend in terms of an increasingly enlarged deficit. On each occasion that the Government comes before the House to seek borrowing authority, we find ourselves in a more deteriorated economic circumstance. The Government cries to the Opposition that it is in dire straits and in dire need of additional funds. This having happened on seven occasions, the only conclusion one can come to is that the Government is incapable of dealing with the economy of the country. That seems to be a selfevident fact. Why are we becoming more and more reliant upon borrowing Bills to carry on the day-to-day activities of the Government?

I was interested in the final communique issued from Williamsburg because it referred to the debt situation. After deliberation, the seven leaders stated that they viewed with concern the international financial situation and especially the debt burdens of many developing nations. The concern that should have been expressed is for the debt burden being experienced not by the developing antions but by the western industrialized nations. That is a matter of great concern to many Canadians.

In western Canada where I come from deficit financing and the great debt are viewed with alarm and skepticism. The Prime Minister increased spending from $12.6 billion in 1968 to approximately $100 billion in 1983-84. Our deficit will be in excess of $25 billion for at least each of the next four years. Yet the Government is back for the seventh time asking permission to borrow money. Its obligations amount to $26.7 billion but it already has $16 billion in borrowing authority. Now it is asking to borrow $4 billion more than the $10.7 billion it needs to meet requirements.

One has to ask why the Government is asking for these additional funds when, clearly, they are not needed at this time. As a humble country boy from western Canada, I can only conclude that there is the prospect of an election sooner or later. The Government wants to get into a position where it can have a slush fund available if an election comes within the next few months. I ask Hon. Members opposite why the Government is asking for $4 billion more than it requires. There is only one answer, Mr. Speaker: it needs the money to try to buy its way back into power in a future election.

That $4 billion is an interesting figure, Mr. Speaker. In western Canada people realize that is the amount of the

May 31, 1983

Western Development Fund. Government Members look blank at that because they do not remember it, but it was promised to the people of western Canada-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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LIB

Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pepin:

And you voted against it.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Ramon John Hnatyshyn

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

It was promised to them with all the trappings of the Speech from the Throne. They were told this amount of money would be available in return for the amount that was going to be extracted by taxes on western resource development and energy prices. This phantom Western Development Fund has disappeared, Mr. Speaker. It has gone, it is kaput, it no longer exists.

Is it any wonder that people in Saskatchewan and western Canada are skeptical about the Crow proposal? I am glad to see the Minister of Transport (Mr. Pepin) is present for this debate. The Speech from the Throne in 1980 is the only one we have had in this session of Parliament. At that time the Prime Minister said that the Government has no representation in western Canada and asked western Members of Parliament to stand up and address the issues that relate to western Canada. I propose to do that, Mr. Speaker, even if the Minister of Transport and the Prime Minister do not listen. I was asked to do it by the Prime Minister in the Speech from the Throne.

It is no wonder that the people of western Canada are concerned about the Crow proposals. They are skeptical about a Government that would commit $4 billion to western Canada and then completely renege on that commitment. How can they be impressed, therefore, with the commitment that the Crow benefit will be enshrined statutorily? That is precisely the question of trust which permeates this whole debate. The people of western Canada, the livestock producer, the grain producer, are looking at this Government in terms of the way in which it manages or mismanages its affairs, and because they are very wise people out there, they say to themselves: "We are not prepared to change what we now have for something which we describe out here as a 'pig in a poke'."

We have seen the way this outfit operates, the way it reneges on its commitments. It promised $4 billion to be expended to increase the industrial and manufacturing base in western Canada, yet not a cent has been committed under this program, of which I am aware, in any tangible way towards that objective. Where is the basis upon which we can expect anything from this Government that is not almost a matter of being enshrined in the Constitution, Mr. Speaker? I am looking forward to the amendments to the legislation which the Minister of Transport has promised for us today to see what exactly he has in mind. However, the federal Government under the present proposal holds all the cards. There are only two elements of statutory protection in the present proposals; one is for the railways. They are all right. The poor fellows, we should almost go out and have a tag day for the

Borrowing Authority

railways, they are so hard done by, according to the Minister of Transport; so he has looked after them in his legislation.

Of course, the other statutory protection is given to the federal Government. God knows, it needs some direction in writing as to what it is supposed to do. But that, Mr. Speaker, is not satisfactory. The farmer is stuck with an escalating rate. The protection given to the Government contribution is far more defined and comprehensive.

I see, Mr. Speaker, I have only a short period of time left. I look forward to the opportunity to carry on this debate. I will simply say, Mr. Speaker, I have given a couple of examples of what the feelings are in my part of Canada. There is dismay and disillusionment at the way in which this Government has carried on. The fact that it would ask for $4 billion more than it actually requires is offensive and reprehensible. It is the kind of fuzzy-headed thinking that this Government indulges in, which only says one thing to me, and that is that we may be having an election sooner rather than later. I look forward to that. I look forward to the chance which the people of Canada will have to vote on the performance of this Government.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Benno Friesen (Progressive Conservative Party Caucus Chair)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Benno Friesen (Surrey-White Rock-North Delta):

Mr. Speaker, I noted with interest that when this debate started 20 minutes ago there was not one Member of the New Democratic Party in the House. They have been trickling in ever since. They, of any Party in the House, are very big on borrowing anyway, and they have an interest in this debate, but it is usually retroactive. They always want the Government to borrow and urge the Government to borrow more, but then when we are before a borrowing Bill, they are against it, usually because the priorities are not quite the way the New Democrats would like them.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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LIB

Douglas Glenn Fisher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. Fisher:

What is new? You do the same.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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PC

Benno Friesen (Progressive Conservative Party Caucus Chair)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Friesen:

I wonder if it would be helpful, Mr. Speaker, in a case like this-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

Order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Riis:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Hon. Member has just referred to the fact that when we commenced our sitting today at precisely eleven o'clock, it was a few moments before Hon. Members of the New Democratic Party took their seats. I would like to remind the Hon. Member that some of us take our committee responsibilities very seriously and we were hurrying back from our committee meetings.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin):

Order. Order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SUPPLEMENTARY BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1983-84 (NO. 2) MEASURE TO ESTABLISH
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May 31, 1983