June 21, 1984

PC

John Carnell Crosbie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Crosbie:

In view of the fact that Statistics Canada shows that residential construction activity, that is housing, has fallen 3.4 per cent, and over-all building construction has fallen 1.5 per cent, how can the Government allow interest rates to go up again? How can the Government force interest rates up through the Bank of Canada as you are doing today, and what are you going to do to reverse that? Will you-

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   INTEREST RATE LEVELS
Permalink
LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

With respect, the Chair is not doing any of these things. The Hon. Member should bear in mind that questions should be addressed through the Chair.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   INTEREST RATE LEVELS
Permalink
LIB

Roy MacLaren (Minister of State (Finance))

Liberal

Hon. Roy MacLaren (Minister of State (Finance)):

Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member knows that Canadian interest rates are affected substantially by those in the United States. For him to speak in terms of this Government driving up interest rates is a lot of poppycock. He knows that.

With regard to his query about the OECD report, as usual he chooses to take the gloomiest and most pessimistic view that he possibly can. No wonder he talks about being mean and nasty. It seems to come natural to him to choose the most pessimistic of all aspects of any report. If he had taken the time to read the OECD report he would have seen that it says that the Canadian economy should continue to perform favourably compared with other countries. It states "Canada's economic performance last year was unexpectedly favourable. The recovery saw output rebound and unemployment ease while inflation decelerated." Against that good news about the Canadian economy, it has been possible for us to continue, during the period under review, to pursue economic growth policies that have allowed us to close the interest rate gap with the United States. The Hon. Member opposite knows perfectly well that interest rates in Canada are now no greater than and, in a few instances, less than those in the United States.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   INTEREST RATE LEVELS
Permalink
LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

It would be helpful to the Chair if something like the 90-second rule that governs Standing Order 21 could somehow be introduced on both sides.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   INTEREST RATE LEVELS
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   INTEREST RATE LEVELS
Permalink

THE ECONOMY

PC

John Carnell Crosbie

Progressive Conservative

Hon. John C. Crosbie (St. John's West):

Mr. Speaker, I will direct my final supplementary question to the Prime Minister who, I am sure, will give a short, concise answer. On June 19 the Minister of Finance stated at Jasper: "New foreign direct investment has increased, not decreased, and has increased substantially in recent years." That is entirely incorrect. In fact there has been a net loss of foreign direct investment since 1980 of $4 billion. Will the Prime Minister advise the House whether he will keep in his Cabinet, even for the few short days remaining, a Minister who tells fibs to the investment community and attempts to deceive the public? Will Fibber

Oral Questions

Lalonde and the dollar be removed from office by the Prime Minister before he goes, in view of the untruthfulness contained in his speech to investment dealers on June 19 which has destroyed any confidence there may have been remaining in that Minister?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   FOREIGN INVESTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister):

What a lot of empty phrases, Mr. Speaker. I remember that when the Minister of Finance was quoting from either the Bureau of Statistics or from one of the well-known economic research bodies in Canada, I do not recall which, he was really making public information that he had received from a very authoritative source. This Member stands up and says it is not true. He has no evidence of that. He is just making it up, like most of his questions which are founded on nothing but air.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic:   FOREIGN INVESTMENT
Permalink

LEVEL OF UNEMPLOYMENT

PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Michael Wilson (Etobicoke Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question for the Minister of State for Finance. I want to put the Minister's good news in the context of the 1.5 million Canadians who are unemployed today, and tell him that Canadians are becoming fed up with the Minister of State for Finance and the Minister of Finance saying that everything is rosy in Canada, that everything is going well in Canada. It is not, because there are 1.5 million people unemployed. If Canadians had had the same job-creation rate as in the United States, the unemployment rate in Canada would be 8.7 per cent, not 11.7 per cent. In the face of the drift we have in Canada, when is the Government going to act to face this problem?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   LEVEL OF UNEMPLOYMENT
Permalink
LIB

Roy MacLaren (Minister of State (Finance))

Liberal

Hon. Roy MacLaren (Minister of State (Finance)):

Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member opposite engages, as usual, in his gloomy pseudo statistics which do not show the real picture at all. As the Hon. Member knows, and as I told him last week when he asked the same question, the growth in the Canadian labour force has been at record levels. It has been greater than the growth in the labour force in other major industrialized countries. The Hon. Member opposite should know, if he does not already know, that from 1968, for example, the increase in the Canadian labour force was some 40 per cent, whereas in the five other major industrialized countries it was at an average rate of 13 per cent.

Second, he makes a comparison between rates of unemployment in Canada and the United States. I would point out to him that if the Canadian labour force had grown only at the rate that the U.S. labour force has grown, we would have only 4 per cent unemployment today.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   LEVEL OF UNEMPLOYMENT
Permalink

POSITION OF GOVERNMENT

PC

Michael Holcombe Wilson

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Michael Wilson (Etobicoke Centre):

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are fed up with the professorial response. They want action from this Government, not a lecture. I wish to quote from one of the Government's documents:

June 21, 1984

Oral Questions

Manufacturers appear to be facing a slowdown in new orders, particularly for such things as cars and steel... Rising interest rates appear to have cut into final demand and investment, and this is working back through the production chain, curtailing orders-

It is causing greater unemployment in our country. Since the change in Liberal leadership last weekend has done nothing to stop the drift in confidence, as seen in the Canadian dollar today, in the bond market and in the stock market, what is the Government going to do to face up to these very serious problems that are real out in the streets, and not as the Minister points them out as he stands here in the House like a professor?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POSITION OF GOVERNMENT
Permalink
LIB

Roy MacLaren (Minister of State (Finance))

Liberal

Hon. Roy MacLaren (Minister of State (Finance)):

Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member again describes, as he always does, a gloomy outlook for the Canadian economy, by choosing a few selected statistics. If he will look at the facts and look at the release of information the other day by my colleague, the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion, he will find that in fact companies responding to a survey of business capital investment intentions have indicated that their spending will increase by about 2 per cent in 1984 from the comparable 1983 level. This is the first net increase since 1982. If the Hon. Member does not know, a 2 per cent increase is a substantial increase for the period under review.

Partly as a result of the Government's policies in the previous two Budgets, there is now evidence of a real reaffirmation of confidence in growth in the Canadian economy, particularly in the manufacturing sector where companies now expect 17 per cent real growth in spending versus 10 per cent indicated in the previous survey of last October. Contrary to what the Member opposite is indicating, there has been, in the private sector, a vote of confidence in the Canadian economy similar to that expressed in the OECD report to which the Hon. Member for St. John's West drew our attention.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   POSITION OF GOVERNMENT
Permalink

HOUSING

NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ian Deans (Hamilton Mountain):

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister responsible for housing. I am sure the Minister is aware that the actual number of housing starts this year on an annual basis is running at about

50.000 housing units behind the projected need, and about

30.000 housing units behind what was projected to be the actual number of starts by the Government at the beginning of the year.

Given those two facts, what possible reason can there be for the Minister to recommend that there be cutbacks in the number of social housing units to be built in Canada, from the level of 25,957 last year to the level of 22,500 this year? I would ask the Minister please not to tell me that he is paying back the loan from last year, because that just does not wash.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   HOUSING
Sub-subtopic:   CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL HOUSING UNITS
Permalink
LIB

Roméo LeBlanc (Minister of Public Works; Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

Liberal

Hon. Romeo LeBlanc (Minister of Public Works):

Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member began by quoting statistics. I might tell him that the seasonally adjusted rate of housing starts in May was 135,000 dwelling units. This represents an increase of 7 per cent over the April, 1984, total of 126,000.

That being said, the Hon. Member must remember, as I am sure he does, that the increase in the allocation to social housing was very clearly understood by everyone. He may say that it does not wash with him, but I am sure that if he made a commitment to do something when the housing starts had improved, as they have in the last year or year and a half, then at that point the social housing budget would return to its normal level.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   HOUSING
Sub-subtopic:   CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL HOUSING UNITS
Permalink

PROJECTED HOUSING CONSTRUCTION

NDP

Ian Deans (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ian Deans (Hamilton Mountain):

Mr. Speaker, the Minister says that the number of housing starts is at 135,000. He knows full well that the projected need is 200,000 units a year. He also knows that in the first quarter of this year alone we were building housing units at a rate of only 145,000 per year, which leaves us on a yearly basis 65,000 housing units behind our need or, on a quarterly basis, 55,000 housing units behind our need. Taking that into account, and recognizing that there are 12,000 people in metropolitan Toronto alone who have no fixed address because they cannot find affordable housing or accommodation, how can the Minister justify making these cuts in the field of social housing?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PROJECTED HOUSING CONSTRUCTION
Permalink
LIB

Roméo LeBlanc (Minister of Public Works; Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

Liberal

Hon. Romeo LeBlanc (Minister of Public Works):

Mr. Speaker, I did not make cuts. The fact is that we have been running at a level of 30,000 housing units on a program which was intended to run at a level of 25,000 housing units. We simply had to accept the fact that the building of these units which were received as an advance payment would not continue forever. However, the Hon. Member speaks of housing starts. In 1982 housing starts were at a level of 125,000 units. In 1983, they were at a level of 162,000 units, and the estimated level for the current year is 171,000 units.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   PROJECTED HOUSING CONSTRUCTION
Permalink

June 21, 1984