Mr. Maurice Foster (Algoma):
Mr. Speaker, 1 am delighted to have an opportunity to say a few words on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I express congratulations to the mover and to the seconder on their speeches in this debate.
Also I want to express my compliments to you, Mr. Speaker, on being chosen the Speaker of the House of Commons. You have been a distinguished Member of the House for many years. The recent expression we hear when we talk about astronauts being made of the right stuff certainly applies to you. Certainly during your tenure as Deputy Speaker you proved that in fact you had the right stuff to take on that important and difficult role in which you distinguished yourself. We wish you well, and I know that you have equipped yourself well for your important role in this difficult year of the rest of this Parliament.
In speaking to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, I believe the Government has set out an excellent range of priorities and plans for the Second Session of this Thirty-second Parliament. It is easy to say that there is not enough detail in it; of course, a Speech from the Throne is never designed to give complete detail. That will come as individual Bills are introduced in the House during this session, as well as the Budget which I understand will be announced later this week.
The two priorities of global peace and security and national prosperity are the twin themes on people's minds today. Clearly the concern for economic recovery, the opportunity for jobs and an improved economic situation have to be the top priorities of any politician. At the same time we recognize that as a significant middle-range power in the world Canada has an important international position of responsibility.
Having been in office for the last 15 years, the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) had an international position of seniority and I think most Canadians are pleased and happy that
he has taken on the role of trying to make a really meaningful contribution to international peace and security.
Last September the Prime Minister visited my constituency of Algoma and the neighbouring constituency of Sault Ste. Marie. At that time he had the opportunity of meeting with the parents of one of the passengers on the KAL-W07 flight involved in the Korean airline disaster, Mr. and Mrs. Hendrie. It was a very difficult time for that family and I am sure it will be in the months and years ahead.
While speaking to 500 to 600 people I realized how much concern there was for the international scene, the growing hostility of the superpowers in the East and West. As the Prime Minister spoke to the gathering about peace. Although we were furious, disturbed, discouraged and concerned with the Russian action in shooting down the airliner, it was obvious that in the end we had to communicate with them in order to find a way to cool down the cold war rhetoric and the ongoing difficulties that exist between the East and the West bloc.
I think it is important that the Prime Minister, because of his position on the international scene, has gained a lot of support for his peace mission, not only from the 45 countries attending the Commonwealth of Nations meeting in New Delhi, India, but from the western European nations, the Chinese, the President of the United States and the Pope, as well as from the countries of western Europe and here at home.
Late in December a poll was conducted by the Toronto Star which indicated that four out of five Canadians polled at that time support the Prime Minister's peace initiative and urge him to continue with it. In the face of the tremendous cynicism there is among the press toward any Canadian taking on any international function or activity, that is encouraging and indicates that the Canadian people do not share that cynicism.
No one underestimates the enormity of the task or the chances of success. It is a very difficult one. It is easy to gain support for a mission of this nature from western democracies and the Third World countries in the Commonwealth of Nations. The real difficulty in western and eastern bloc countries and in Russia is that they do not have the same open society that we have and the same freedom of the press.
As the Prime Minister leaves tonight for a visit to the eastern bloc countries of Europe, I am sure all Members of the House wish him well in this momentous and important undertaking.
I want to comment now on a number of items in the Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker, relating to the economy because these things are important in my constituency. I am
January 24, 1984
The Address-Mr. Foster
especially pleased that the Government has focused on the question of youth unemployment and has taken a number of initiatives in that regard. A Youth Opportunities Fund of $1 billion has been set aside for youth training. I am pleased that a lot of that money will be earmarked for programs like the Access Program which will provide subsidies for young people to go into the private sector and get jobs. Unemployed youth are always confronted with the question: "What experience do you have?" The youth Access Program will provide the employer with some subsidization while the young person is training. I believe the 400,000 or 500,000 young people who are unemployed and looking for work in this country today represent a great potential opportunity for us if we give them the opportunity for employment, and hopefully much of it will be through the private sector. Conversely, if we do not zero in on that problem, if we do not work very hard to resolve it, it can become the most destructive and wasteful situation in our country.
I am pleased that the Government is going to commit nearly $100 million more to the Canada Works Program. In my constituency that translates into some $445,000, which will, of course, be beneficial. Likewise, the Summer Canada Program which provided approximately 400 jobs last year will be funded at a similar level this coming year. Although there have been additional funds put into the Canada Works Program, I note that there is no corresponding NEED Program this year. I certainly hope that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Lalonde), when he brings down his budget next month, will look very seriously at reinstating a program of that magnitude. I know he is concerned that he not increase the budget deficit and I feel that is a sound fiscal position. However, if we look at that $500 million which was spent last year on the NEED Program, we find that the Ontario Government alone put up an extra $100 million which was augmented by several hundred millions of dollars by the private sector and non-profit groups. I believe we see a massive megaproject in terms of dollars being expended. The beauty of that is it is expended in a hundred small communities across the Province of Ontario and across the other provinces of this country.
Unemployment insurance payments, I understand, are running in the order of $1 billion a month now. A commitment of some $400 million or $500 million for additional employment with emphasis on youth in the Budget would be very wise. When you subtract the amount of money which is being paid out in unemployment insurance benefits for those people who are being employed under the NEED Program-in Ontario we call it the Co-Ed NEED Program-the net cost is probably only 25 per cent or 35 per cent of the actual cost of reinstating that program. Therefore, I hope that the Government will look at that when it is planning the Budget later next month.
The important measures which were in last year's Budget, the special recovery tax credits of some $2.4 billion, will start to show a benefit in terms of plant expansion, in export marketing and in additional economic activity in this coming year. In my constituency some of these programs under the
special recovery project got underway last year. Last year we spent about $1 million on small craft harbour development in communities like Little Current, Gore Bay, Bruce Mines and a number of other communities. In this coming year an additional six or seven small craft harbours will be developed and some $2 million will be spent.
This provides not only construction opportunities but a real boost to tourism in our area. We have the north channel of Lake Huron, one of the best cruising and boating areas in the world, and the Government is making an important contribution to small craft harbour development.
As well, in the next few weeks a major project will be tendered and construction will get underway in Elliot Lake on the $8 million mine research laboratory. Construction is slated to get underway in May of this year and will provide significant employment opportunities, and ultimately a very important mine research facility to support the uranium mines there and other mining operations throughout our country.
In Sault Ste. Marie, Mr. Speaker, in the Algoma constituency, a new $5 million airport terminal is being designed by the architect and is slated to go to tender later this spring. Those projects will play an important role in providing jobs in this coming year.
There is a project which I have been working very hard in my constituency for, under the Distribution System Expansion Program of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. This program extends natural gas pipelines to unserved areas of eastern Canada. A study is now underway on building a major natural gas pipeline from Sault Ste. Marie along the north shore of Lake Huron, ultimately to the natural gas pipeline in Espanola, but serving all the intervening communities of Bruce Mines, Thessalon, Blind River and Elliot Lake. We hope that project will be approved for support under the DSEP program.
One of the most difficult economic problems faced by my constituency, Mr. Speaker, is that of the steel industry in Sault Ste. Marie which during the past two years has been in a very depressed state of development. There have been important layoffs both in Sault Ste. Marie and many other areas of our country where the steel industry is the main employer. 1 am hopeful that the $16 billion of economic development provided under the Crow Bill which was passed in this House last fall will be beneficial there. I am also hopeful that the agreement which the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Lumley) has been working on with the Japanese auto industry will be successful because I think that will provide additional opportunities for the steel industry.
There has been very encouraging news in the last few days concerning exploration and development in the oil and gas industry. I think this will provide additional incentives to this industry which is so important to many communities in our country.
January 24, 1984
The Government has to continue to be cautious about dumping of steel in this country. The surtax which was imposed on specialty steel in January shows its concern and interest. There are bills in the United States House of Representatives which would likewise provide protection in the United States. We have to be careful to try to keep the opportunities for sales of steel in the United States open and flowing. That is very important to our steel industry.
1 would like to mention one or two other matters which were mentioned in the Speech from the Throne and which are very important in my constituency. There was mention of strengthening the regional development agreements with the provincial governments. I would like especially to mention the forestry industry. It is important that this Government recognize how important this industry is, not only to hundreds of single industry towns such as those in northern Ontario that depend on it, but to the whole national economy. I would like to see the Government make a firm and full commitment to that forestry agreement with the Province of Ontario.
I hope there will be a renewal of the NORDA agreement which will be running out in a couple of months. It is important to the small rural communities in tourism, agriculture and economic development, because some of the other programs just do not reach in and assist those communities. We need to put an important priority on tourism. My constituency is immediately adjacent to the United States and can benefit from the announced program there in many ways.
I would also like to mention the Livestock Stabilization Program which was mentioned in the Speech from the Throne. It is very important to that very depressed industry that we work out an agreement with the provincial governments to maintain this industry, which is beneficial to all rural agricultural areas.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I think 1984 should be a time of building for our country; a time to build on the turnaround that we have seen in the economy, a time to make the improvements to the social security programs that were suggested in the Speech from the Throne, and to continue to provide the opportunities for all age categories in the communities which we represent in this place.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY