January 26, 1984

SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY


The House resumed from Wednesday, January 25, consideration of the motion of Mr. Jack Burghardt for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session; and the amendment thereto of Mr. Stevens (p. 728); and the amendment to the amendment of Mr. Dick (p. 735).


PC

Robert Lorne McCuish

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lome McCuish (Prince George-Bulkley Valley):

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to have this opportunity on behalf of my constituents in Prince George-Bulkley Valley to address the Speech from the Throne. People in my riding are very straightforward and direct. They tell things as they see them. They have a distrust for fancy words, promises and platitudes. For them the proof is in the pudding. Obviously, the authors of this Throne Speech, be they ministerial or bureaucratic, would find it very uncomfortable to be in my riding.

The history of Prince George-Bulkley Valley reads very much like the history of Canada. We find in the past explorers like Simon Fraser, the Hudson's Bay Company, pioneers, settlers, loggers and dreams. These dreams are very much alive today in a place which views itself as a viable and growing entity. However, there is a mounting sense of frustration which stems from the feeling that a great deal of potential is being thwarted.

There are two facets of the economy in Prince George-Bulkley Valley, Mr. Speaker, which I would like to address today. The first is forestry and the second is farming and ranching. These are both endeavours which have gone hand in hand with the development of mankind and with the shaping of the character of Canada. In looking at forestry, farming and ranching, I hope to point to the areas where we as legislators can facilitate a more prosperous and stable future for those who involve themselves in these honourable professions.

Our attitude toward the forests of Canada has changed vastly from the early days when the slogan was "Burn off the timber and bring in the settlers". This slogan soon changed to a plea- "Save our winter payrolls". Canada at present is facing a similar dilemma. We must rationalize our immediate gain with the future consequences.

For generations, Canadians have been able to rely on forestry for jobs, for government revenue and for balancing our trade accounts. More than 300,000 Canadians work at jobs

directly related to forestry. An additional 700,000 jobs are indirectly supported by that industry. One in 10 jobs in Canada, Mr. Speaker, is dependent on the forest industry.

While the contribution of forestry to Canada's economy is profound, it is even more so in my province. A full 25 per cent of British Columbia's labour force is supported by forestry. This represents 250,000 jobs. Roughly 50 cents of every dollar earned in the province can be traced to the forest. Prince George-Bulkley Valley is in the heart of the forest land. It is little wonder that Prince George has earned the title of the white spruce capital of the world.

As the present Government well knows, industry of this magnitude is an important source of tax dollars. Every year the forest industry provides this Government with $3 billion in revenue. The Government returns only a small fraction of this amount to assist the industry. Less than 1 per cent of the wealth created by the forest in British Columbia is reinvested in their future. Perhaps this neglect is due to a feeling that tax dollars are better spent creating temporary jobs to garner votes rather than creating permanent jobs and securing the future of a vital industry.

Forestry is also important to Canada because of its contribution to our balance of trade. It outstrips the combined net contributions of mining, agriculture, fisheries and petroleum fuels. In the latest year forestry was responsible for production valued at $25 billion, and a whopping $11.4 billion of that contributed to Canada's balance of payments. That, Mr. Speaker, represents 15 per cent of Canada's total exports. Placing British Columbia's contribution in context, the province produces 60 per cent of all Canadian softwood and over 30 per cent of its pulp.

In addition, our forests provide the setting for a multimillion dollar recreation and tourist industry. They also play an important role in the ecological balance. Forests minimize erosion, regulate stream flow, improve water quality, clean the air, moderate extremes in temperature, provide habitat for fish and game, and protect spawning grounds. Even if one was to accept the demise of forestry as an industry, we would have to contend with mother nature as well.

Some 300 communities in rural Canada are completely dependent on forestry. These communities face possible extinction if we do not help to plan their future prosperity. There can be little doubt that forestry has been, is and will be a critical part of Canada's economy. In fact, most observers of the industry conclude that there is significant room for growth. The Science Council of Canada has suggested that, given the proper recognition, forestry industry can generate an addition-

January 26, 1984

The Address-Mr. McCuish

al 75,000 to 100,000 jobs, double its present output to $22 billion, creating additional exports of $12 billion. This could potentially produce another $3 billion in tax revenues. As I alluded to in the beginning, however, forestry is not without problems which have arisen because of neglect and which require immediate and careful consideration.

Before 1 go on to discuss these problems I must express gratitude which should be shared by all in this House. The Hon. Member for Prince George-Peace River (Mr. Oberle) has done much to bring this issue to the attention of government and Canadians. His report entitled "The Green Ghetto" is a comprehensive study of the industry's present situation, and details a number of areas of neglect which we would be wise to pay attention to. There is a plethora of woes which are threatening the continued prosperity of forestry. Some of these ailments are man-made and some, of course, are natural. The cure for many of these problems can be found in research and development, and in returning some of the monies which have accrued to the federal Government in taxes.

The biggest problem facing Canada's forest industry is that we are depleting our supply of marketable wood faster than we are regenerating it. Every day a newspaper such as The Globe and Mail consumes more than 2,000 trees. Each year we harvest two million acres of lumber, an area the size of Prince Edward Island. The result of such depletion is obvious: we will eventually run out. Research and silviculture, the essential components of reforestation, are pitifully underfinanced by this Government in the face of short-term budgetary considerations. Moreover, if we fail to reforest our land, we are forced to harvest more remote and more expensive resources. The answer to the regeneration issue is to inject nearly twice the money we presently invest.

Our reforestation efforts must make use of the techniques which will assure us of producing marketable wood in a timely fashion. This means that inventories of existing stock must be made and we must incorporate the proper spacing, fertilization and thinning methods. If we implement a worthy reforestation schedule, we will be on the road to guaranteeing ourselves a future in the forest industry.

Canada will need to upgrade and expand its present forestry labour force. Our chief competitors, the United States, Sweden and Norway, have approximately one forester for every 34,000 acres of land. Canada has one for every 1,100,000 acres. The United States has 40 forestry schools. Canada, to our shame, has but six. In spite of an obvious shortfall in skilled labour we have taken only tiny steps toward correcting this heinous situation.

Another arena in which we are not scoring might be labelled as competition. Our leadership position is being challenged on virtually every front. We are lacking in research and development, skilled labourers, reforestation and export competitiveness. To put it simply, we are not competing, Mr. Speaker. As the President of the Ontario Forest Industries Association has said, "there is no major forest producing nation in the world in

which the owners of the forests, in this case the public of Canada, have taken more out and put less back in". In 1980 Canada invested $10.55 of new capital in manufacturing plant per cubic metre of log input. In the same year Sweden invested $22.95 and Finland invested $21.60. These Scandinavian countries double our investment. As this gap grows it will become more and more difficult to close. In this age of rapid technological change the time factor becomes much more important.

There is no doubt that Canadians, the Government, academic institutions and the forest industry must pull together in order to maintain our competitive edge. Many of the experts involved in this issue feel that the Government must play a leadership role. It can do this by returning a much higher percentage of revenues to the industry and by co-ordinating the various groups which need to be involved.

The first step which the Government might take is to restore some of the recognition which forestry was once accorded. It is somewhat frightening to me that such a labour-intensive industry is represented by an assistant deputy minister in the government. Let us recognize, as we once did, the importance of this industry. Forestry, Canada's number one industry, will prosper only to the degree that we make it prosper.

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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

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PC

Robert Lorne McCuish

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McCuish:

The following words from a United States Supreme Court decision are a good summary of what I have attempted to convey to this House today:

An unwritten compact between the dead, the living and the unborn requires that we leave the unborn something more than debts and depleted resources.

Of the people who attempt to leave something behind, Mr. Speaker, farmers and ranchers rate high on the list of achievement. I do not wish to speak today about their contribution to the Canadian economy. I wish to add my name to the growing ranks of those who are appalled by the treatment that farmers and ranchers are receiving across Canada. Revenue Canada is indiscriminately dealing the death blow to many hard-working farmers and ranchers. It is doing so through the application of Section 31 of the Income Tax Act. Section 31 was introduced in 1946 as a weapon against tax shelter abuses. Lately it is being used to thwart the dreams of enterprising men and women in Canada. According to the Income Tax Act acreage, time devoted to the farm and expectations of profit are central issues in determining an operations tax classification.

The original idea behind Section 31 was good. However, Revenue Canada has now found it flexible enough to use as a destructive and unjust instrument. In the past year Section 31 has been used to audit and reclassify farming operations in what can only be described as a campaign of terror.

People who at one time were classified as full-time or part-time farmers are now finding themselves labelled as hobby farmers. Thus the deductions they were once allowed is now, by an auditor's assessment, no longer available to them. As if to add insult to injury, Revenue Canada on the basis of their new assessment, is telling the farmers and ranchers that they owe back taxes for several years.

January 26, 1984

The result of these unilateral judgments is, of course, devastating. Farmers and ranchers who have sacrificed a great deal in their honourable endeavours find themselves bankrupt and in many instances are forced to abandon their property. One can only wonder if the Government, in a vain attempt to offset the federal deficit, has decided to strangle agriculture across Canada. Without a doubt the scores of farmers and ranchers my colleagues and I have heard complaints from feel this way.

The politically weak farmers who have been subjected to this campaign of terror are baffled by the auditors' assessments as well as their manner. Revenue Canada either lacks compassion or is totally ignorant of farming operations. No doubt it is a combination of both. They do not seem to realize that a farming operation requires several years of hard work and investment before it becomes a feasible and viable operation. A person does not simply go out and purchase a profitmaking farm. It is too expensive. Rather, one purchases uncleared land and devotes time, energy and money to provide the necessary clearing of land and building of infrastructure. Naturally, the new farmer or rancher is forced to acquire capital outside his farm operation in the early years. Section 31 as it is applied by Revenue Canada makes no allowance or toleration for this.

The Government has long lost touch with people in Canada. It should listen to these people who have invested their time and money in a painstaking effort to fulfil a dream, only to have it swept away. As one exasperated farmer told me: "The whole procedure has taken the heart out of striving to advance".

The auditors that Revenue Canada is sending to these farms are seen by the farmers as being totally ignorant of agriculture. The "inexperienced robots", as the farmers have taken to calling them, are operating in a completely unacceptable manner. There is an expressed unwillingness to look at the farm operation or the farm itself. One member of a farmers alliance group says that the attitude reflected by the auditors indicates that they seem to be working on some quota system; that the whole picture is shrouded in a blanket of unfairness and intimidation. The revenue horror story is made even more scarey by the fact that auditors are coming to farms at night to make their assessments. Some show up in high heels and make their assessment from the back porch or the kitchen of the farmer's home. Obviously these people simply do not care to see the operation.

Given the number of complaints that Revenue Canada is receiving, why is there no action on its part to change or abolish Section 31? One can only stonewall for so long by saying that it is the responsibility of the Minister of Finance, or by saying that a quota system is actually called a target level. The "just society" banner that was once so proudly carried is showing some pretty tattered fringes. What happened to the Prime Minister's invitation on December 21 when he said, as reported at page 402 of Hansard:

I repeat, if there is a doubt, if there is any over-zealous employee, the Minister would be happy to hear of the case and to set it right.

The Address-Mr. Ouellet

It seems to me that this is just another example of the Prime Minister's broken promises.

The Throne Speech which the present Government gave us does little more than pay lip service to the neglect that Canada's major industry has received and it does nothing at all to stop the abuse of Canadian ranchers and farmers. As I mentioned in the beginning, the people of my riding are looking for action. The debts and depleted resources which the Government will leave behind do not reflect good government. They reflect a callousness about the future of Canada which is tantamount to criminal. Is it any wonder that Canadians everywhere are impatiently awaiting an election call?

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LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Questions, comments and answers? Debate.

Order. Questions or comments. Debate. The Minister of Labour.

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LIB

André Ouellet (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. Andre Ouellet (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, before elaborating on the points raised in the Speech from the Throne, I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to pay tribute to the new Speaker of the House, the Hon. Member for Ottawa-West, and to congratulate him on his appointment. I wish him every success in his new position. His competence and dedication received enthusiastic recognition from our Government and the House when he was appointed Speaker of the House of Commons. Since he is starting the new year so well, I hope he will be met with the same enthusiasm later this year by the voters in his riding. Incidentally, I would like to congratulate the Speaker of the House on a recent statement, immediately after his appointment, in favour of the employees of Parliament who want to be unionized. I agree wholeheartedly with the Speaker's views on the matter. In fact, I hope the House will soon pass a Bill on labour management relations on Parliament Hill. I see no valid reason for depriving the support staff of the House of Commons, the Senate, and the Library of Parliament of their fundamental right of association and to ignore their earnest wish to set up one or more bargaining units. I therefore hope that my colleague, the President of the Privy Council and Parliamentary House Leader, will be consulting with the two other Parliamentary House Leaders in order to arrive at some agreement for approving legislation on the matter as soon as possible.

Mr. Speaker, we are beginning a session during which we shall be concentrating even more than usual on matters that concern all Canadians today. That is why a large part of the Speech from the Throne referred to labour matters, including the comment, and I quote: "Labour should be a full partner in the process of economic recovery".

Although that should be obvious, labour realizes, nevertheless, that its role is not always accepted by certain employers

January 26, 1984

The Address-Mr. Ouellet

and often poorly understood by the general public. The media often quote comments by people who wonder why the power of the unions should not be further restricted. According to opinion polls, the public reacts negatively to work stoppages, especially when a strike is on or a strike has just ended. Generally speaking, the unions are too powerful, in the eyes of the public. Is it therefore unusual to find that the unions are concerned about the situation and feel that their basic right to exist is threatened?

I believe that in a modern, developed society like ours, the existence of unions should be considered as a matter of course and as a permanent and deeply rooted part of our society. The role of the unions, their importance for workers and the benefits they have provided are there for all to see, and their existence should never again be challenged. Who can deny that workers deserve a fair share of the benefits of economic recovery? I do not think anyone can. Unfortunately, there are still people who challenge the concept put forward in the Speech from the Throne presented by the Liberal Government, that workers, and consequently, their unions should have an equal voice in the resolution of issues like technological change and improvement of work safety.

We as Liberals, on this side of the House, are not on the fence on this issue. We profoundly believe that workers should have a say in the matter. Unfortunately, there are still too many people who challenge this view, and I have no hesitation in saying that people who oppose this concept have a conservative philosophy that is both reactionary and reprehensible. As was pointed out in the Speech from the Throne, North American, European and Japanese experience shows that productivity is a co-operative endeavour, not a punitive process of seeking more work for less reward.

To improve productivity, we need a combination of progressive management, ingenious technology and high employee morale.

Well, Mr. Speaker, morale will certainly not be high if they are not consulted about changes in industry and realize that they will have nothing to win and everything to lose as a result of these changes. Consequently, it is absolutely vital, especially in a rapidly changing environment, that workers and their unions should be fully informed and consulted, so that they too can share in our economic recovery. To do so, we must strengthen, not weaken, our unions and they should be given funds to help them prepare and disseminate information among their members. We must help union leaders and members to acquire a good understanding of the repercussions that technological change will have on them and on society. I am convinced that new technology will help upgrade the quality of many boring and dangerous tasks. Only when unionized employees understand the advantages of the switch to new technology and appropriate mechanisms are established to

ease their introduction, only then will they realize that they can benefit, only then will they welcome a new technology that will help provide a safer job environment and more stable employment.

That is why, in the Throne Speech, the Government of Canada is proposing the creation of a fund for my Department, Labour Canada, to support research into the effects of technological change and to conduct joint information exchanges between management and workers. This proposal shows that our Government realizes that technological change must be managed in a responsible manner. Of course, we must use technological innovations to make Canada more competitive on international markets, to maintain and increase the number of jobs and safeguard our standard of living, but we must not forget that such changes can have a negative impact on the working conditions of many Canadians.

Although we are aware that technological changes can affect a number of aspects such as occupational safety and health, we still do not know enough about the impact they will have on the organization of work and on labour-management relations.

The Government is therefore proposing the creation of a fund that will be available to union organizations and other groups that may be directly affected by technological change and have no other source of financing, to obtain this kind of information.

The Government therefore intends to award grants for studies on the social impact of certain technological changes. As its next step, and just as important for a better understanding of technological change, the Government is proposing to set up a program of information sessions, to enable labour to benefit from the knowledge thus acquired regarding the nature, scope and probable impact of technological change.

The impact of technology is currently a source of major concern, partly because of lacking information, partly because of incomplete information on the issue. More often than not, when information is available it is not readily accessible to everyone. That explains the wide-ranging discrepancies in the quality of information which may be accessible to the working population.

With a view to disseminating information on technological changes, the Liberal Government will sponsor a series of one-day information seminars. Each Canadian province will probably host one such seminar to look into the significance and impact of technology and related issues which are of some interest to the community. Organized in co-operation with the labour movement, those meetings will be generally patterned after last year's technology and competition seminars arranged and sponsored by the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce and the Department of Regional Economic Expansion.

We hope that those seminars will be as successful as those of last year and certainly more instructive and productive. The combined efforts of Government and labour-management delegates to establish a new productivity and employment growth centre are expected to pave the way for a better dialogue between management and labour. First highlighted in the budget last April, this centre is the result of an idea then advocated by the Minister of Finance and having to do with the establishment of a consultation and co-operation centre. That idea is at the root of concrete achievements, thanks to the outstanding work done by business and labour representatives at the sittings of a task force.

I think that such a centre will be a boon for Canadians generally, and even more so for management and unions. Ever since my colleague the Minister of Finance launched that idea last April, the centre has been taking shape. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce and I have had a number of meetings with the people who sit on that task force. With other Cabinet colleagues, we have examined their suggestions, and I am quite pleased to be able to say that tomorrow, at an important press conference attended by a few of my colleagues who are involved in this project with labour and management representatives, we will be in a position to make a very interesting announcement about that centre.

The third means by which we hope to improve the dialogue between labour and government is to considerably widen the employee exchange program between the Government and the labour organizations. Unfortunately, relations between the two have been somewhat constrained in recent years, and in fact, both remaining virtually ignorant about the operational procedures of each other. Therefore, to improve upon these relations, we plan to widen the Canada Exchange Program so as to promote temporary exchanges of union representatives and public servants. By stepping up these contacts, we will certainly promote a better understanding of the real problems and objectives of both. If it is proper for representatives of the business community to spend some time in the Canadian Public Service, and conversely for Canadian senior public servants to spend some time working for large Canadian companies, I find it quite natural for union leaders or representatives also to spend some time in the Federal Public Service and for senior public servants to spend some time within the larger Canadian unions. I believe this type of exchange to be essential and important to promote better dialogue, to create a better understanding and to establish the climate of confidence which is essential if we want all participants in the Canadian economy to understand, respect and trust each other.

In closing, I would like to speak briefly to the amendments that we plan to introduce to the Canada Labour Code and which are another aspect of the program which the Government has developed for labour. These amendments will include

The Address-Mr. Ouellet

first of all a series of new provisions designed to reduce the effects of family responsibilities on employment. The Code will also include a new section which will provide that any employee has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. This section will also require that all parties concerned with safety and health in the workplace participate equally in this area and that employees under the federal jurisdiction apply much more consistent standards than at the present time. There will also be provisions dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace. In addition, other amendments will update the regulations on labour unions in order to simplify the work of the Canada Labour Relations Board.

To conclude, the increasing number of part-time workers are entitled to a better protection under the legislation. The Government therefore plans on continuing its consultations with provincial Governments, unions and businessmen in discussing pension plans and social benefits for part-time workers. By means of these measures and its consultations with the labour unions, the Government wants to do everything possible so that the labour movement can become a full partner in the economic recovery. As most Canadians, I believe that it will be better for all major economic agents to co-operate in facing the challenge of the eighties. I support wholeheartedly the concept of reinforcing relations between the unions, the government and the business community. To do so, we need stronger, not weaker unions. Since we want them to play a major role in the decision-making process, we must ensure that existing mechanisms promote a strong and better informed labour movement.

I am convinced, Mr. Speaker, that the proposals announced in the Speech from the Throne will become the basis for a national effort to ensure the success of the economic recovery which our Government has undertaken.

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PC

J. Michael Forrestall (Deputy Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Forrestall:

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of brief questions for the Minister. He quite properly spoke of the long overdue extension of the right of collective association among the support staff of the House of Commons. Has the Minister given equal attention to the very direct support staff of Members of Parliament with respect to their equal rights, albeit in a slightly different way? Also, can he expand slightly on what we may learn tomorrow with respect to the centre for exchange, a centre by which we can begin to deal with some of the very pressing problems? Can he give an indication to the House today whether the centre will be directly under the aegis of Government, or will it have some independence by being in a university or at least on neutral ground? Can the Minister touch very briefly on funding?

I wish to thank the Hon. Member for his two very relevant questions. Clearly in my capacity of Minister of Labour I am taking this opportunity to stress unequivocally, my support for all Parliament employees, men and women who have long been

January 26, 1984

The Address-Mr. Ouellet

fighting for the right to unionize. Of course, it will be the responsibility of my colleague, the President of the Privy Council to determine the type of legislation that could be introduced in this Elouse and also to discuss the scope, breadth and terms of such legislation with representatives of the two opposition parties. It is my hope that such an initiative will receive support from all sides of the House and the legislation will be enacted soon.

Concerning the issue of which groups will be covered by that bill, it seems clear that the support staff of the House, the Senate and the Library should be covered. Other employees also should be included, and I feel this should be discussed with representatives of all parties in this House.

On the second question, whether the centre will be independent from the Government, I alluded to tomorrow's announcement because I welcome the progress which has been accomplished in that area. We put the idea forward, but we feel it is essential, for its viability and success, that the main parties involved set up the centre themselves. It would not be a total success if it were a Government entity. And fortunately, I can tell the Hon. Member that I do not think he will be disappointed tomorrow when labour and business representatives announce their common desire to unite to establish such a centre, which of course will be independent and separated from the Government, but substantially funded by the Government of Canada.

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NDP

Daniel James Macdonnell Heap

New Democratic Party

Mr. Heap:

Mr. Speaker, I very much welcome the remarks of the Minister, although he did not actually respond to the previous question as to whether support staff for Members of Parliament and members of the Senate will be included in the Bill. I am not speaking formally for my group, but 1 can say to him informally that I believe he will have full support from this part of the House for any legislation that affords the right of workers to unionize. We have expressed that view many times already, even if the legislation were not to include the staff of Members of Parliament and members of the Senate. However, I would be very disappointed if the legislation put forward did not include those. I hope that will be taken quite seriously following the lead of the Speaker.

I also welcome the general remarks of the Minister about the place of labour and organized labour. They follow very well on the comments made a year ago by the bishops about the principle of labour, which is not the same as unions. I refer to the principle that work has to be recognized as giving people a right to share in decision making.

1 therefore have two questions for the Minister. When the workers, through the unions and perhaps through other institutions also, have been given an opportunity to participate in the examination of the effects of the new technologies, will there be a mechanism to enable them to share in the actual decision making regarding the application of those new technologies? I have in mind the present principle that exists and is reflected

in most labour contracts, the principle of management rights. In effect, if management wants to shut the plant down or change the product or something, it has almost an unlimited right to do so. In the post office, for example, new technologies are introduced or changed without any recognized or practised right of the union, as far as I know, to have a share in the decision making regarding those technologies.

Will this new legislation recognize the right of the workers who after all contributed, if not all, a large part, of the new technology? Will they have a right to share in the decision making?

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LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. The Hon. Member's question and comment is being stretched beyond what is reasonable. Perhaps we could alow the Minister to respond and if any time is left and no other Members rise, 1 will recognize the Hon. Member again.

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LIB

André Ouellet (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Ouellet:

Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member raises two very specific questions concerning the contents of the legislation which is to be introduced. I have taken note of his representations. In both cases, it is very difficult for me at this point to elaborate on the exact wording of either bill.

I would therefore invite him to be patient and postpone his comments and discussions until the two pieces of legislation are tabled. I would simply tell him that I appreciate his representations, and commend him for this.

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PC

J. Michael Forrestall (Deputy Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Forrestall:

Mr. Speaker, I have a very brief supplementary question about the Minister's concern for the right of collective association. Would he care to indicate whether he extends that same philosophy and principle to the Governor General's staff, members of the RCMP and members of the Canadian Armed Forces?

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LIB

André Ouellet (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Ouellet:

As you know, Mr. Speaker, there are situations steeped into century-old traditions, and the Hon. Member is now referring to institutions that have always been fiercely defended by his own party. I would be very much interested to know whether he is speaking on behalf of the Progressive Conservative party when putting forward such proposals. Personally, I am very comfortable with that, but I would like to know whether the Hon. Member from the Progressive Conservative party truly can speak on behalf of his party when making such proposals.

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PC

William C. Scott

Progressive Conservative

Mr. W. C. Scott (Victoria-Haliburton):

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on your elevation to the position of Deputy Speaker of the House. I also want to congratulate and wish well the new Speaker of the House, the Hon. Member of Ottawa West (Mr. Francis). I should like also to pay tribute to the retiring Speaker, the next Governor General, for her efforts as Speaker of the House of Commons. I wish her well.

January 26, 1984

When I was asked by my local news media to comment on the Speech from the Throne, I found very little of substance to comment on. It would appear that whoever wrote the Speech from the Throne, perhaps someone in the Prime Minister's office, listened to the speculation of the press and comments from the public and then decided that all those things should be included. I say, heaven forbid! However, the real action promised in the guidelines-as they seemed to be-recognize that problems exist and quote the Government's concerns in vague rhetoric, generalities and consultation that something would be done, maybe, some day.

On Monday of this week the winners in the $13.9 million 6/49 lottery were announced. I think it was great that such a deserving couple won; I am sure that they will use the proceeds wisely and I congratulate them. It is difficult for any of us to conceive what this amount of money represents. If these people were to invest it at a nominal rate of 10 per cent, they would accrue interest of about $3,808 per day. If this is not tax sheltered, they will be asked to pay the federal Government $1,242 per day and the provincial Government $611 per day. I am sure that the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Bus-sieres) will look forward to receiving quarterly payments, though perhaps he would prefer to see them assessed a penalty for late filing.

In any case, Mr. Speaker, a quick calculation shows that this would leave these good people with after-tax interest income of about $1,917 daily. If they get a good tax accountant it could be considerably more. The point is that they will receive more in daily interest than some of our constituents receive in several months. They could not even imagine what that much money looks like in one lump sum.

What they do not realize is that it is a pittance compared to the amount of money we Canadians are forced to pay in interest rates per day due to our national debt. This fiscal year alone, the Government has run up a debt of $31.3 billion. Now we owe over $150 billion and are paying $17.6 billion in interest per year. This works out to $48.2 million in interest charges per day. Those constituents who have trouble visualizing receiving $1,917 per day that the 6/49 lottery winners get, will never comprehend paying over $48 million per day to cover interest rate charges on a loan that was incurred by the Government on our behalf without our permission.

In the Throne Speech I see no indication that the Government has any intention of decreasing the deficit. It is quite willing to continue to bankrupt the country despite the warnings of people like Richard M. Thomson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto-Dominion Bank. At the annual meeting of shareholders he said:

Here in North America, economic recovery has just entered its second year ... in many ways, it seems as though the storm clouds and the turbulence of the recession are behind us ... but the economic horizon is not yet entirely clear. There's one cloud that's still with us, and it doesn't show any signs of dispersing. In fact, it's looming larger and getting darker all the time. I'm referring to government budgetary deficits . . . deficits affect your bank-and all other financial institutions-because they affect the money supply, interest rates and the value of the Canadian dollar. And the implications extend further to every Canadian-

The Address-Mr. W. C. Scott

The Speech from the Throne ignores these implications. That is one of the reasons the Conference Board of Canada's latest forecast predicts another recession in 1985 in Canada while the U.S. economy continues to grow.

The only area in which anything really new came out of the speech is the area of youth employment. Unfortunately, the $1 billion for the youth opportunity fund will be coming out of other programs. Again, rather than tackling the problem of unemployment head on the Government has chosen to rob Peter to pay Paul. I shudder when I think of where this money will come from. Will it come from funds now used to support the skills program? Will it come from the allocation used for support to native Canadians or employment disadvantaged women? Will this spell the end to the work-sharing program, which although not perfect has been of use to many struggling employers and employees?

Just who will suffer now because the Government is switching rather than extending priorities in its employment programs? If it is necessary to destroy other programs to create the youth fund, then would it also be necessary to do so to create Environment 2000? Or is the Minister's announcement that the Government is prepared to spend $35 million starting next April on this just another hollow promise designed to hold out further promise to the unemployed so that they will not complain so much over the winter? Is the Government prepared to extend unemployment insurance benefits to those whose eligibility has run out and allow them to survive until they are hired by Environment 2000 or through the National Voluntary Service? If not, then this program will be too little, too late for many whose benefits run out during this winter?

On December 12 I received a letter confirming the new allocation of Canada Works funds for my constituency. That this would be part of the Throne Speech was well known for many weeks. My constituency received $100,000 more. This sounds good, but when you compare the total allocation to the total applications received and see that only 17 per cent of the funds requested are available, it no longer sounds so good.

While I am on the subject of Canada Works, I want to mention the complete frustration which I and other Hon. Members have experienced with this program. Under the new format, Hon. Members are not allowed to establish advisory boards to review these applications. The whole responsibility rests with the staff of the local employment development office. They must decide on the validity of each project and are required to propose who gets the money. The former system allowed them to use the advisory boards and their Members of Parliament as part of the decision-making process. It was not only a much more responsible format, but also put less political pressure on Government employees. When only 17 per cent of those applications can be accepted, as in Victoria-Haliburton, it is ridiculous to put such pressure solely on them. 1 hope the Government will reinstate these boards for the next round of Summer Canada projects.

January 26, 1984

The Address-Mr. W. C. Scott

On Leaders' day, December 9, our Leader, Brian Mulroney, recalled the Throne Speech given in 1980 by the same Government. He quite accurately showed how this Government really does operate on a two-track strategy. Along one track, which never seems to get anywhere, we find the promises the Government lays out from time to time on occasions such as this. The other track, which always goes in the opposite direction, is the one that the Government really follows. It is driven by the engineers in the Liberal Party who have been travelling in ever-diminishing circles for years now bringing the country down with them.

Going back even further than the 1980 Throne Speech, I want to refresh your memory, Mr. Speaker, about a campaign promise made in 1974. The Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) announced then that his Party, when elected, would make it a legal right to prepay residential mortgages during the first five years of the mortgage agreement, if the person wished to do so, without excessive penalties. Every Member of this House knows the hardships that the total disregard of this promise has caused. During the ensuing years when interest rates soared, people were forced to renegotiate their mortgages at exorbitant rates and were advised by financial institutions to accept long terms to ensure their rates did not go even higher.

During the 1980 election campaign, our Party proposed a mortgage deductibility program which would have given people a tax break to buffer them from the effects of the high interest rates forced on us by this Government. We recognized the need to help out home owners and the real estate industry. Earlier this year, my office was deluged with letters from constituents who had been forced to renegotiate their mortgages when the rates were around 22 per cent. The lenders were refusing to allow them to renegotiate without huge penalties.

On April 26 and April 27, 1983, I brought this matter to the attention of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Lalonde) and the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Mr. Ouellet). They at that time refused to acknowledge that this was a problem. I and other Hon. Members then forwarded individual cases to both Ministers to show that it was indeed a problem.

In September of this year, I sent out a questionnaire to my constituency. There were 37,624 copies of this questionnaire sent out. I received 4,426 responses, an 11.8 per cent response rate. One of the questions I asked was: "Should the federal Government provide trust companies and banks with an incentive to renegotiate high-rate, long-term mortgages with their clients?" Of those who responded, 54.2 per cent said yes, the Government should do so. Despite this kind of input the Government chose to take no action.

Just before this Throne Speech, the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs hinted that this problem would be addressed in the new session. I would like to ask the Minister whatever happened to that suggestion. I heard nothing in the Throne Speech about that idea. There were no concrete measures there for the housing industry or mortgage holder. No one can argue with the comment in the speech that "Canadians

require improved security against losing their homes or businesses".

I also agree with the Government when it says in the Throne Speech:

These measures should increase the accessibility and security of home ownership, provide a greater measure of confidence and stability to the home building industry, and enhance the flexibility of the mortgage market.

The question is, what measures is it talking about? What does "legislation and other measures" mean? Does it mean a resurrection of the Canadian Home Ownership Stimulation Plan? Does it mean the Government has finally agreed to implement our Party's mortgage deductibility plan? Will home owners with high interests rate mortgages be allowed to pay down their mortgages? None of these questions is answered. All the Government has said in this area, as in the rest of the speech, is that it now knows what the problem is and it may try to solve it. No Hon. Member of this House should advise his constituents to take that promise back to their bank or finance company to use as collateral.

What with the Government's failure to properly assess the funding required for the Canadian Home Ownership Stimulation Plan last spring and its failure to make any concrete proposals in this speech, I am not surprised that its motives are questioned by home owners and the housing industry alike.

When the Government announced last spring that it was reorganizing the Department of Regional Economic Expansion to become an integral part of the new Department of Regional Industrial Expansion, I welcomed the change. The new Industrial and Regional Development Program which was passed in June held out promise to be of much more help to my constituency than were the DREE programs. Victoria-Haliburton was placed in a Tier 3 bracket and I was quite pleased about this. However, what has happened in a number of cases has been quite disconcerting. In one instance a small but growing firm was advised that it would be accepted under the old program. When the new IRD Program came into effect, this firm's application was dropped like a hot potato. I have been fighting for that firm's survival ever since. It has the potential to employ many of my constituents who would otherwise go hungry this winter. How can I, as their Member of Parliament, stand back and see this potential employer held up because the new program is different from the old one?

In another case, a rather large manufacturer in my constituency has been waiting for approval of its application since July. It is a solid firm with great potential for expansion and growth. The constituents of Victoria-Haliburton need the jobs this expansion would create.

I hoped that this Throne Speech would expand and simplify assistance to regional development. Instead, it just reannounced the Industrial and Regional Development Program and said that the Government will be re-signing the ten general development agreements with the provinces which expire in 1984. No new initiatives were brought forward. In short, there is nothing in that speech which will give any

further support to regional development, only the platitude that "we must start by building on our regional strength", a fact that we in this Party recognized some time ago.

On July 15, 1982 I had the opportunity of addressing a Kinsmen function in my riding. My theme was productivity. As a backgrounder to my speaking notes, I used the copies of speech notes given across this country by the then President of the Iron Ore Company of Canada, now the Hon. Member for Central Nova (Mr. Mulroney). To quote from my text:

In improving productivity, Canadians may again be able to compete with Japan's and Germany's markets. Obviously, the onus is not solely on the private sector. Productivity depends on the role played by all segments of society, business, labour and governments at all levels. Government actions play an important role in productivity. They are responsible for setting the economic climate in which the economy operates. They must accept a role in designing programs to increase productivity such as they do in Japan.

The speech notes of the Hon. Member for Central Nova which I referred to went even further than that and suggested the creation of a national productivity commission.

The Government has now chosen in the Throne Speech to heed the remarks made at that time, and this shows that someone in the Prime Minister's office must have been listening. Waiting for the Hon. Member for Central Nova to be elected before using his and my ideas in a Throne Speech is a tribute to him, whether intended or not. Not doing more than just following through on our proposals is not a tribute to the Government.

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LIB

John Leslie Evans (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Evans:

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting to listen to the Hon. Member's speech and note some of the points he made, especially where he referred to his Leader, the former President of Iron Ore Company, talking about productivity and industrial development. Would the Hon. Member care to recount for us the history of that company in both Labrador City and Schefferville?

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LIB

Eymard G. Corbin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. The Chair has some misgivings about the nature and content of the question as it does not relate to the comments made by the Hon. Member who has just spoken. The other concern the Chair would express, which I do with some reservation, is that I simply want to caution Members that we should not unduly involve ourselves in the private lives of our colleagues in the House. That is not a matter for consideration in this forum. In any case, I have expressed some concern and I will allow the Hon. Member to reply.

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PC

William C. Scott

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Scott (Victoria-Haliburton):

Mr. Speaker, I cannot relate the entire history of the Hon. Member for Central Nova's dealing with the Iron Ore Company in Schefferville.

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PC

Donald Frank Mazankowski

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Mazankowski:

He was a lot more compassionate than you guys were with AECL.

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PC

William C. Scott

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Scott (Victoria-Haliburton):

I want to tell the Hon. Member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Evans) that I get some of your brochures. I find them in my mailbox and I never see anything too constructive in them. I want to tell you this-

The Address-Mr. W. C. Scott

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January 26, 1984