December 6, 1984

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1984-85 (No. 2) MEASURE TO ENACT


The House resumed from Wednesday, December 5, consideration of the motion of Mrs. McDougall that Bill C-11, an Act to provide borrowing authority, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs; and the amendment thereto of Mr. Riis (p. 694).


PC

Martial Asselin (Speaker pro tempore)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

The question is on the amendment. The Hon. Member for Cape Breton-East Richmond (Mr. Dingwall).

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LIB

David Charles Dingwall

Liberal

Mr. Dave Dingwall (Cape Breton-East Richmond):

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to participate in this debate and to lend my support to the amendment which has been put forward. In reading through the Bill, I am somewhat surprised if not annoyed that the Conservative Government would put such a Bill before the Parliament of Canada. In fact, when government Members were on this side of the House, they argued for a considerable amount of time to the effect that when borrowing Bills come before Parliament, they ought to be clear.

Part I of this particular Bill requests a certain sum of money and Part II requests an additional sum of money. Part II of the Bill is not clear. It is not clear why that money is being requested. In fact, there has been no budget although it could be argued that the statement made by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) was in fact a mini-budget. However, the Government has chosen to call it an economic statement and not a budget.

The Government is now asking the Parliament of Canada to approve expenditures which are in the billions of dollars, including approximately $16 billion for fiscal year 1985-86. However, we have yet to learn what it wants to spend that money on.

Government Members said during the election campaign that their major priority was jobs. Unfortunately for the 1.5 million unemployed Canadians, the rhetoric that was used during the campaign has not been put into action either in the Throne Speech or indeed in the economic statement. Instead,

we have seen a great many economic cuts affecting all areas of Canada and particularly the poorer regions of Canada.

I find it to be a bit hypocritical, if you will, Mr. Speaker, for Conservative Members who are now in a position of power to say to the people of Canada: "We want $16 billion but we are not going to tell you what we are going to do with it". They are not telling us what they are going to do with it with regard to employment and employment opportunities. We have heard the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Miss MacDonald) talk about an economic employment strategy, and indeed that strategy was alluded to by the Minister of Finance. Yet we have not seen any signs to tell us what it will comprise.

Government Members have not put before Parliament any measures that would be of some assistance to young Canadians. They have not put any package of legislation before the House to assist women or minority groups with regard to employment opportunities. What are they prepared to do with the $16 billion that they are requesting from Parliament?

Perhaps the argument can be made that the money they are requesting is not going to be directed toward job creation or social programs. Perhaps it will be directed toward the private sector by providing more tax concessions to businesses. In theory, there is nothing wrong with tax incentives and with providing financial assistance to private sector companies which, we would hope, would create employment.

[DOT] (mo)

Just yesterday, the Canadian Manufacturers' Association released a survey which indicated that for the month of October production had decreased substantially and unemployment had increased. The private sector, as alluded to by the Government, will not resolve unilaterally all the evils of unemployment. Government must assist. Government must be an active player. We have received the complete opposite from this Government.

There used to be some red Tories, but they have been overcome by the blue tidal wave. What has happened is that programs which were in place for young people, such as the Canada student employment program, have been cancelled. We have a Government which said that consultation was the key, operative word. Were young people consulted with regard to the cancellation of the Canada student employment program? Absolutely not.

The Government talks about consultation. Then it unilaterally moves to cut the deficit by $4.2 billion-and many of those cuts will affect the less fortunate in the country-and indicates that it will study further how the deficit can be reduced, whether by reductions in terms of tax reform, tax incentives or the curtailment of social programs. Yet it has the

December 6, 1984

Borrowing Authority

audacity to say to Canadians that it is trying to improve investor confidence. That is absolute nonsense. Will investors invest if there is going to be consultation, when the Government unilaterally cuts $4.2 billion and then says that it will have further studies? I suggest that the business community in Canada and abroad will wait until well after a federal Budget is announced. So much for confidence in the private sector. The private sector will wait to see what is the outcome of those discussions. They will wait to see what tax incentives are put in place. They will want to know what the effects of those incentives will be for them as business individuals.

We have a Government which speaks of confidence, but in actual fact it is not restoring confidence. It has increased the lack of confidence by the measures which it has placed before Parliament. I find it very difficult to accept that some of the red Tories who were on this side and who are now in government are allowing the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion (Mr. Stevens), "Mike the Knife"-the Minister of Finance-and all the right-wingers in the Government to override completely any interests of and concerns for the less fortunate in Canada.

Members opposite laugh, but the 1.5 million unemployed Canadians are not laughing. Statistics Canada has reported that 600,000 young people are unemployed. Three hundred thousand unemployed have given up their desire to look for employment because there are no jobs. It is a human tragedy and this Government has done absolutely nothing to assist. The Government has aided and abetted this tragedy by doing nothing for these people. Instead it has taken direct action to affect those individuals who are the least fortunate in our society.

I would like to know what portion of the $16 billion will be directed towards direct job-creation programs in this country. How much money will be put into the training of young people, women and minority groups in this country? How much money will be put into regional industrial development? The Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion has reduced its budget by $200 million. I will break it down into tier one, the so-called more fortunate area, as opposed to tier four, the less fortunate areas. Tier four has been reduced by 25 per cent whereas tier one has been reduced by 16 per cent. That, Mr. Speaker, is Tory justice.

This Government has an obligation to place before Parliament information which is not readily available to this Parliament but is readily available to it. I very strongly urge Members of the Government to rise in their places and represent their constituents, not the view which has been expounded by the right-wingers, whether they come from Toronto or Washington. This is a Reagan economic policy, Mr. Speaker, which should be abandoned. Parliament ought to have that information before it approves a $16 billion commitment to this Government.

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Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1984-85 (No. 2) MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Is the House ready for the question?

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?

Some Hon. Members:

Question.

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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

The question is the following one. Mrs. McDougall, seconded by Mr. Hnatyshyn, moves that Bill C-11, an Act to provide borrowing authority, be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs.

In amendment thereto, Mr. Riis, seconded by Mr. Deans moves that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following therefor: "this House holds the opinion that the granting of an authority for the borrowing of a sum greater than the amount which is required to meet the government's needs to the end of the current fiscal year is objectionable in principle and this House therefore declines to give second reading to Bill C-11, an Act to provide borrowing authority."

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

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?

Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

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?

Some Hon. Members:

No.

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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

All those in favour please say yea.

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Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1984-85 (No. 2) MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Yea.

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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

All those opposed please say nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1984-85 (No. 2) MEASURE TO ENACT
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Nay.

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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five Members having risen:

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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Call in the Members.

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Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1984-85 (No. 2) MEASURE TO ENACT
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PC

Martial Asselin (Speaker pro tempore)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I declare the amendment lost.

Resuming debate, the Hon. Member for Humboldt-Lake Centre (Mr. Althouse).

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NDP

Victor Fredrich (Vic) Althouse (Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Vic Althouse (Humboldt-Lake Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak against the motion of the Government which asks for borrowing authority from this House. The Bill has two parts. It asks for $5.3 billion to cover expenditures which the Government foresees between now and the end of the fiscal year, and it requests an extra $2 billion in case the Government has miscalculated its contingency fund. The Bill further asks for $16 billion for expenditures the Government proposes to make after March 31, 1985.

The point has been made many times about the change in attitude which Members of the Government have now as opposed to the time when they were the Opposition. I can recall the days and days of debate when those Hon. Members would berate the Liberal government for attempting to ask for money from Parliament when the Liberal government had not given the House any indication of how it was intending to spend the money.

Borrowing Authority

We have not had a budget, nor have we had any indication of what the money will be used for after March 31. We believe that the $16 billion is totally uncalled for. We realize that governments from time to time need money because taxes do not come in as fast as expenditures. We are aware that the Government is carrying a deficit somewhere between $30 billion and $35 billion. Most of that deficit it inherited, but it has done very little about it.

The economic statement addressed only the reduction of expenditures. The response to those proposals in the business community seems to have been negative. While they were enthusiastic about the support of cut-backs in the press, when business associations began to survey their memberships they found that they were less optimistic about the future than they were several months ago. The result has been negative. I think it is time the Government began to look elsewhere for solutions to get the economy going.

I would bring to the attention of the Government the positive program which we presented to the electorate in the last election. The electorate in 30 ridings paid some attention to our program. I will reiterate that program, because I do not think Members opposite paid much attention to it. During the election campaign virtually all of our program was eventually picked up by Conservative candidates, with two notable exceptions. I think the key to turning the economy around lies with those two exceptions. One was a made-in-Canada interest policy. That policy would recognize that the Government of Canada does have control over the Bank of Canada, that it sets the guidelines for the economy of the country, and that it can operate an economy which is separate from that of the United States. We attempted to make that point many times during the campaign, but it was not as well picked up as it might have been so I will repeat it now.

First, Canada is not like the United States. Canada has a positive trade balance and has had a very sizeable balance of trade for the past five or six years. Unlike the United States, Canada has a positive savings balance. Canadians save more money than they invest. There are plenty of funds generated within Canada. We do not have to build up interest rates in order to attract outside investment, because there is a surplus of investment funds created here annually. That is quite different from the United States which spends more money in investments than it generates. People in the United States are not good savers and never have been. They do not generate enough funds from within their own territory to meet their investment needs. Canada is quite different. It makes no sense to adopt policies that are consistent with those in the United States. A point that is often overlooked is that Canadian workers are more efficient than American workers. During the last two years worker productivity in Canada has outstripped worker productivity in the United States.

Those are three basic economic indicators which tell us that Canada is a very strong country. Canada has a good basis for beginning an upsurge in the economy. The one thing which is holding it back is our high, restrictive over-burdening interest rates. No consumer is going to increase his purchasing as long

December 6, 1984

Borrowing Authority

as those interest rates stay high. Home owners are going to be very careful about buying houses. Farmers and small business are going to be very cautious about making future investments. All of those things are absolutely necessary if we are going to get the economy growing and find employment for the 11 per cent of our population who want to work but have no jobs.

The second item which was discussed during the election campaign but is not now being mentioned by the Conservatives who make up the Government is the necessity for a fair taxation system. We recognize that small business is the engine of growth in this country, unlike the United States which relies more heavily on big business. More than 70 per cent of the new jobs created last year were created by small business, so it is vital that the tax system works well for small business.

Because of the shortcomings in the proposal which is before us, Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce an amendment to the motion. I move, seconded by the Hon. Member for Regina West (Mr. Benjamin):

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and the following substituted therefor:

"Bill C-11, an Act to provide borrowing authority, be not now read a second

time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence".

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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Debate is on the amendment to the main motion.

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Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1984-85 (No. 2) MEASURE TO ENACT
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LIB

Maurice Brydon Foster

Liberal

Mr. Maurice Foster (Algoma):

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak in this important moment in the history of the House of Commons. I want to take this opportunity to speak on the amendment to Bill C-l 1, an Act to provide borrowing authority. Perhaps the obvious reason for the amendment being put before the House this morning is that this borrowing authority covers more than a one-year period. In fact, it provides over $7 billion of borrowing authority for the next four and a half months of this fiscal year and then provides another $16 billion for the 1985-86 fiscal year.

The Government came to power on a policy of creating jobs and economic activity and suddenly, after it has achieved power, it has changed direction and its overriding preoccupation now is with reducing the deficit. We really do not know what the Government's spending plans to create the economic activity which the Conservatives talked about so much in the past will be. We have not heard any definite plans spelled out as to exactly how this $16 billion plus $7 billion will be spent.

The Bill looks ahead not only to the end of this fiscal year but into the following fiscal year, so we are really considering a period of some 17 or 18 months into the future. The obvious question is, why should Hon. Members on this side of the House, or Hon. Members on the other side, buy a pig in a poke for what amounts to two fiscal years? We must ask ourselves, is the Government really trying to be secretive about this? The marching orders went out as soon as the Cabinet was sworn in on September 18 to hold everything in confidence and to keep everything secret. Soon the edict went out from the Secretary

of State for External Affairs (Mr. Clark) that people in his Department were not to talk to the press or to Members of Parliament or to anyone else, socially or otherwise. That edict has been withdrawn but there certainly is still a permeating idea of secrecy which follows right through to Bill C-ll which is before us today.

We really do not know what the Government is going to spend this money on, Mr. Speaker. The cost of ministerial staff has been increased by $140,000 to $400,000 for each Minister. We do not know whether that amount will be increased even more. Perhaps there will be appointed a second chief of staff, in a way similar to American politics. The Cabinet will be further bloated from last summer where there were 29 Ministers of the former Government to 40 Ministers of the present Government. When we leave the House of Commons at night we see those 40 Oldsmobile 98s sitting out in front with their two-way radios and chauffeurs. We do not know whether there is going to be more spending like that.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) did us a favour last week, he said, when he told us that the Department of Public Works actually wanted to spend $600,000 on 24 Sussex Drive and he talked them down to $100,000. Although in his view, he has saved us $500,000, we really have to question whether or not some of this $16 billion will be spent on those kinds of things.

The Prime Minister indicated that he is going to pay for his own hot tub and the television satellite dish for his Harrington Lake residence. He also told us last summer that the Parliament of Canada was not going to have to pay for his nanny. However, it developed that we were going to have to pay for the nanny. Further inquiries were made and it was said that the nanny really was not the nanny any longer, she was a maid. When asked about that the explanation was that she was a maid, but a maid who interfaces on a continuing basis with the children. Obviously, sometimes these terms can be switched around. We just wonder whether some part of these funds will ultimately go towards the cost of the hot tub and the television dish. Perhaps the Prime Minister will invoke that prime ministerial provision as he did with the Government JetStars when he was questioned about whether they were being used by Ministers for personal use. He said in a deep voice that they were really sacred instruments of government travel. I can just imagine that if the Government of Canada ends up paying for the hot tub and the television dish, the Prime Minister will probably use his deepest prime ministerial tones at the press conference and say that they are sacred instruments for prime ministerial comfort and titillation.

In any case we have this Bill for borrowing authority of $7 billion for this fiscal year and $16 billion for the coming fiscal year before us. It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that the difficulty for this Government is that it came to power with many, many promises which it knew, and we knew, and now everyone knows, could not be kept. Instead of going ahead and implementing those promises on an orderly basis, it wants to switch them over to the standing committees of the House or have

December 6, 1984

consultation with other groups outside the House and we really do not know where the Government is going.

We have in Bill C-7 legislation to implement the tax proposals of the previous government. This Government has brought in legislation from the previous Parliament but it does not seem to want to bring in even the uncontroversial legislation of its own. When a Party gets 211 seats in Parliament it should be able to see that its campaign promises are implemented. There were solemn promises concerning agriculture. Legislation and funding would be provided so that outstanding farm loans, a tremendous handicap to our agricultural producers at interest rates of 16 per cent and 17 per cent, would be written down to current day interest rates. Yet there is no legislation to implement that promise. There is no legislation to implement set-asides such as was done in the United States, or to bring back the special farm financing assistance program of the previous government.

In his economic statement the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) spelled out in pretty good detail what this Government is against, but what we do not know and what this Bill does not provide is which promises made during the election campaign the Government is going to keep. That is why I think the Official Opposition, at least, would like to see this Bill split into two parts, one for this fiscal year and one for the next fiscal year.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BORROWING AUTHORITY ACT, 1984-85 (No. 2) MEASURE TO ENACT
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December 6, 1984