Mr. Raymond Garneau (Laval-des-Rapides):
Mr. Speaker, speaking on behalf of the people of Laval-des-Rapides, I wish to express before the House my indignation about some comments made by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) before members of the National Editors and Writers Society in Toronto last week. According to reports, the Minister of Finance asked the media to apply restraint in their articles on the Government's intentions to cut back social programs, so as to avoid creating a panic among recipients of family allowance and old age security payments.
Is the Minister now going to ask the media not to publish information on cutbacks in equalization payments so as not to create panic among provinces receiving such payments? If the information media and even parliamentarians no longer have a right to comment on the Government's policies, I wonder what kind of information the public will receive. Not the press but the Progressive Conservative Government decided to make cutbacks in social programs. It is clear that the Government wants to tamper, either directly or indirectly, with the universality of social programs, but it would prefer to keep it a secret.
If the Minister of Finance wants to reassure Canadians and allay the very real fears he raised among those benefiting from social programs, all he has to do is say publicly, and say it now, that universality will be fully maintained and that the Government does not intend to tax all benefits received, and then Canadians will breathe easier. Then there will be no question of creating panic among senior citizens and other beneficiaries of social programs, and the media will be able to do their work unhindered.
Subtopic: THE ECONOMY
Sub-subtopic: PRINCIPLE OF UNIVERSALITY-GOVERNMENT POSITION