Mr. Gerry St. Germain (Mission-Port Moody):
Mr. Speaker, this is the second time that I have been given the privilege of rising in this House to speak against this Bill. Bill C-24, which is a Bill to amend the Financial Administration Act with respect to Crown corporations, is a legislative initiative taken in a subject area that is dominant in the minds of all Canadians and particularly in the minds of those involved in the economic scene.
What is really astonishing is that the Government opposite wants to invoke closure on a debate that is so important that it has ramifications on economic, social and numerous other aspects of the country. The Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) has accused the people on this side of the House of delaying tactics. These are not delaying tactics, Mr. Speaker. We are carrying out our responsibility as we should against bad legislation.
Crown corporations have played a very large role in the economic, social and cultural development of Canada. In fact, in recent years the Liberal Government opposite has allowed the Crown corporation phenomenon to manifest itself into an economic monster that is uncontrolled in spending, is self-reproducing and is lacking any accountability to Parliament or to the people of Canada.
When most Canadians think of Crown corporations, they think of Air Canada, CBC and Petro-Canada. How many Canadians know the real extent of Crown corporation infestation into the private sector of our economy? The Crown corporations disease afflicts our economy like a horrible cancer. The Auditor General compared the proliferation of Crown corporations to an enormous iceberg floating lazily in the foggy Atlantic. I say that these corporations are like Titanics. They should be sinking but they are being propped up at the expense of Canadians.
How many Members opposite actually know how many Crown corporations exist? We have heard estimates of 400 or more, Mr. Speaker. How can it be that we must simply estimate the number of Crown corporations? Where is the control when we as parliamentarians do not even have an accurate count? We cannot get an accurate count, Mr. Speaker, and that is why we oppose Bill C-24 in its present state. The secretive, corrupt Government opposite wants to shroud this figure.
If Canadians really knew the extent of the proliferation of Crown corporations, they would be outraged. More significantly, if Canadians knew the real financial dilemma of the Crown corporation monster, there would be rioting in the streets. The Liberal Government opposite has mortgaged our
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nation's future and hidden the debt among the financial confusion-illusion of Crown corporations.
Bill C-24 does nothing to improve the situation. In fact, this Bill simply gives more decision-making power to the Government and more specifically to the Cabinet. This Bill is not as dangerous by what it clearly spells out as it is by what it does not clearly spell out. Every clause of the Bill which deals with substantive powers designates regulation-making authority to Cabinet. The Government does not want Parliament to see the powers that it has. It would rather hide these powers from the people.
In his opening remarks on Bill C-24, the Hon. Member for Calgary South (Mr. Thomson) stated:
This Bill gives huge regulation-making powers to the Government. As such, it is typical of this Government's excessive desire for secrecy and unbounded administrative discretion in running the affairs of government, insulated from any parliamentary or public scrutiny and control.
The desire to maintain the secrecy of incompetence is clearly defined by the Minister responsible for the CDIC, an appointment from the other place, the Minister of State for Social Development who denounced the exposure of a further loss by de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited of another $313 million by 1988. This situation is clearly defined in the May 14 issue of Maclean's magazine. Because of this exposure which has made it possible for Canadians to be told what they should know, the Minister is requesting an RCMP investigation into the affair. That is totally disgusting, Mr. Speaker. Here again, he is trying to conceal the real story from Canadians.
This clearly points out the corruption of the Government opposite. It wants to hide its mismanagement. It wants to increase the deficit and does not want to be accountable. It even saw fit to give $155,000 in bonuses to the incompetents who run some of these Crown corporations. The Government is deceiving Canadians today and stealing the future of young Canadians by creating a debt that will take generations to remove.
Government Members are the mismanagers of this century. They speak of technology. Yes, we do want new technology, Mr. Speaker, but at what expense? They are trying to compete in an area in which they are totally outclassed. Let us develop our new technologies in areas we know best, like agriculture and forestry. Let us develop technology where we have the edge and not where we are trailing. We would like to protect jobs, Mr. Speaker, but mismanagement by Government Members along with their inability to cope with the situation will lead to the loss of jobs.
I would like to speak briefly on something about which the Government has not shown that it knows very much, and that is accountability. Accountability is what Bill C-24 is purporting to bring to the Canadian scene. This Bill, however, is a continuation of the horror story of Crown corporation mismanagement. The Auditor General has pointed this out but the Government opposite simply ignores him.
Yes, we are losing credibility on the world scene because of the Government's gross mismanagement. Devalued dollars and
May 22, 1984
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high interest rates are all part of the Liberals' disastrous policies and programs. Bill C-24 in its present state is a continuation of those programs.
Under this legislation, the Cabinet will be given the power to appoint the chief executive officers of Crown corporations. Boards of directors will be transformed into some kind of powerless advisory boards. This is simply designed to allow the patronage treadmill, powered by the Liberal Party, to run on. The Liberal Government has used Crown corporations as havens for all of its flacks, hacks and hit-men. Bill C-24 does nothing to control these little piglets who are at the Liberal trough.
In closing, as the newest Member of this House and one who has just come out of the business world and has had to face high interest rates and knows what businesspeople are still facing, I would like to say that this Bill does nothing more than add to the dilemma. We must defeat this Bill at any cost.
Subtopic: FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION ACT
Sub-subtopic: MEASURE TO AMEND