May 3, 1989

REF

Deborah C. Grey

Reform

Miss Grey (Beaver River):

I have planned extensive consultations with my constituents which will take place next week. However, I know my riding well enough to know that this Budget cannot be sold to the people.

In my maiden speech I talked about the importance of reducing the deficit and controlling the financial mess which we are in. I indicated certain things would have to be done if belt-tightening measures were to be made credible. I said there would have to be cuts at the top, even if they were largely symbolic. I said there would have to be evidence of sacrifice here. There is none. Spending on all major parliamentary institutions is well above average rates of increase. For instance, spending on the Senate is up by 10 per cent. Spending on the Library of Parliament is up by 9 per cent. Spending on the Governor General's Office is up by 20 per cent. Spending on the Ministry through the Privy Council Office is up by 16 per cent. Spending on the House of Commons is up by 9 per cent.

As my right hon. friend, the Leader of the Opposition, points out, we have one of the most over-bloated Cabinets in history. Spending is up on their limousines, if you please.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Shame.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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REF

Deborah C. Grey

Reform

Miss Grey (Beaver River):

There is a tax-back of the old age pension. There is no-tax back of MP's pensions. So much for leadership from the top.

I said there would have to be cuts in the bureaucratic middle. There is no clear evidence of this in the Budget or the Main Estimates. There are not even measures that would allow an analysis of bureaucratic efficiency to be made. There are supposedly cuts in man-years but no analysis of the job levels at which such cuts will occur. In fact, a recent article in The Ottawa Citizen told us that there has been a 19 per cent rise in executive level positions under the Toiy Government. That is a rise in positions which pay salaries between $63,100 and $111,700 annually. In any case, there is no way of knowing whether these reductions in man-years will simply be offset by contracting out.

May 3, 1989

In some cases evidence of new inefficiency emerges. The Western Diversification Office will see its budget fall by $24.8 million, but its staffing will rise by 120 person-years.

We see 226 new people for Revenue Canada to administer what was supposed to be a simpler tax system.

I heard on the radio the other day that there is a sentence in the new tax form that is 62 words long. I am also an English teacher by trade. That is what we in my profession call a run-on sentence.

What is clear is that the taxpayers of Canada are again being asked to diet so that the public sector can have dessert. There will be new taxes of all kinds. There will be more taxes on consumption, on capital, on income, on sales, on the poor and on the not so poor.

For instance, the general federal sales tax is up $1,140 million. I could go on and on about personal income tax and large corporations tax. However, the one that I think is very significant concerns the financing of the unemployment insurance program. For this year the figure is $425 million. It will go up next year, when it is in the private sector, to $1,900 million.

In the first year there will be $3.5 billion in new taxes. For every one dollar in cuts there will be more than two dollars in new taxes. In the following year there will be $7 billion in new taxes. That is $3.50 for every one dollar in cuts. Only the rate of increase in spending is down. Spending in absolute dollars will rise by nearly $10 billion this year. Let us ignore even interest charges for a moment. Program expenditures outside of defence will more than outpace inflation. Total government spending will be $142.9 billion. It is $1 million, for anybody who is interested in winning the lottery, times 142,000 nine hundred times over. That is how much money this Government spends. Is that this Government's idea of austerity? I hardly think so.

Until the Canadian public can be shown that money can be wisely spent, the tax grabs in this Budget simply cannot be supported.

The question for me is whether I will be able to support those expenditure reductions that are proposed. I will try. The Reform Party is not like the other opposition Parties. All I have heard them saying in this Budget debate unfortunately is: "Why are we cutting so much?" Our Party states quite unequivocally: "Why are we spending so much?" We have not even tapped into

The Budget-Miss Grey

the resource. We are just talking about the extra projection of growth.

However, asking my constituents to support the cuts is not going to be easy, because there are no cuts at the top. There are no cuts in the middle. There is no consistency in the cuts. There is no evidence even of a philosophy or rationale in the cuts that are proposed.

There is not even honesty in what has been done. For example, take the old age pension and family allowance. Universality has been removed but the Government tries to pretend it has not.

Then there is the bottom line. This Budget sees the deficit going up, not going down. They should not brag of a deficit of $30.5 billion. All that says to Canadians is that we are going broke slower. That is not good enough for Canadian citizens. It is up $1 billion this past year and $1.5 billion this coming year. Borrowing is up over $4 billion.

I may be a political novice but I am not politically stupid. There is no political constituency for this Budget. We cannot ask people to support a deficit reduction program that does not reduce the deficit. Now we see the price behind this Government's pre-election tax cuts, pre-election spending and pre-election promises.

I do not say these things glibly, Mr. Speaker. I believe that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) is an honourable man. Most Canadians believe him when he says he wants deficit reduction, but they do not believe his Leader or his Party and they cannot believe this Budget.

Last Thursday, I listened to the Minister because I believed he was the victim of an event beyond his control. But it is now clear that he is the victim of a fiscal situation beyond his control. He is unfortunately the victim of his own government, a government that claims to face the music on the debt but whose words for the past five years have not played that tune.

Since 1984, this Government has talked about reducing the deficit next year. Nobody is fooled anymore by projections of drastically dropping deficits four or five years hence. Debts are welling up like water behind a dike. We are supposed to believe that when the national debt hits 56 per cent of GNP it is going to somehow level off. It is at 53 per cent now. I doubt it. It is only a matter of time before the dike bursts and this Government, this Minister, this Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney), all their sacred trusts and all their credibility will be washed away.

May 3, 1989

The Budget-Miss Grey

The time has come for real fiscal responsibility from this Government. There is discontent in the Tory ranks. The Hon. Member or Portage-Interlake (Mr. Holt-mann) said he will stake his career on stopping base closures. The Hon. Member for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia (Mr. Wilson) is unhappy about transportation provisions. The Hon. Member for Edmonton-Strathcona (Mr. Thorkelson) said he will not support cuts to VIA Rail. The Hon. Member for Calgary Northeast (Mr. Kindy) has the audacity to suggest that his voice as an elected representative should matter. So it should. It seems even Alberta Tories will find it next to impossible to defend this Budget to their constituents.

Canadians are increasingly nervous about the shortterm, near-sighted policies of this Government. During the election the deficit, they claimed, was under control. I went to many forums. I ran, of course, in the election. I went to nine all-candidates forums. I turned around and did four more in the by-election. In the general election, in the nine forums that I attended, I wanted to talk about the deficit because I felt it was important and Canadians felt it was important.

The Free Trade Agreement absolutely, overwhelmingly took precedence. That is all we heard, unfortunately. We heard nothing about the deficit. Now I wonder, was it under control? We know it is not under control and it was not then.

Now they talk of urgent crisis but show little urgent action. The longer we wait, the deeper the cuts will have to be. The public is tired of the crisis management approach. For example, why is the Government building $1 billion CBC building in the overheated economy of downtown Toronto, while cutting the budget for CBC's programming? Does this sound like reasonable planning?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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An Hon. Member:

Not at all.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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REF

Deborah C. Grey

Reform

Miss Grey (Beaver River):

Canadians, I believe, are ready to bite the bullet. Constituents expected cuts and they can live with them. But it is only fair that every sector should be affected. As leaders of this country, we should be serving as role models. Think of the message it would send to Canadians if we were willing to take cuts in expenditures. If cuts were absolutely consistent, then

no Canadian could point a finger at anyone else and cry "unfair". That would speak louder than anything else.

I have watched in frustration, and indeed just watched it a few moments ago, the Government and the Opposition blaming each other over and over again for who is to blame about this. Canadians are concerned about answers to the crisis, not merely attaching blame. As far as they are concerned, it does not matter who is to blame. They want us to get out of this situation. Let us get on with the salvaging operation. Time is running out. Taxes are up. Spending is up. Interest rates are up. The deficit is up. Mr. Speaker, the gig is up.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

I would like to give the NDP the last six or seven minutes here before we call in the Members. I would like to forego the questions and comments on this particular speaker.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Giuseppe (Joseph) Volpe

Liberal

Mr. Volpe:

Point of order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

The Hon. Member for Eglinton-Lawrence (Mr. Volpe) can have his question and comment. I will allow him a short question and comment, and Winnipeg-North Centre (Mr. Walker) also. The Hon. Member for Eglinton-Lawrence.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Giuseppe (Joseph) Volpe

Liberal

Mr. Volpe:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am veiy pleased to have listened to the Hon. Member give her address but I want to clarify the record. In fact, while she may not have seen as many members of the Opposition here to listen to the second presentation of a budget which was flawed, both in content and in process, and while she indicated that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) is a victim of circumstances, we would have argued that he would have been a victim of his own ineptitude and that his credibility did not merit the attention that he wanted for a budget that was rehashed.

But there was somebody present here for the opposition Parties. Both opposition Parties were represented ably by my colleague to my left from Winnipeg North Centre, who saw very, very clearly that our views would be there, that he would listen on our behalf to reinforce what we had already known and what we were already convinced of. I dare say to the Hon. Member that we have seen nothing to the contrary so far. In fact, all of our suspicions regarding the Budget, its content and its perpetration of inequity were justified and it justified our actions on that evening.

May 3, 1989

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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REF

Deborah C. Grey

Reform

Miss Grey (Beaver River):

I appreciate that. I am sorry, I did see the Hon. Member here. I was under the impression that he had left shortly thereafter. I guess the press did not pick that up, perhaps.

Nonetheless, the leak is not the crisis. The financial situation in this country is what is the crisis. That is what we need to deal with.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

David James Walker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Walker:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our hon. colleague from Beaver River for her comments. I notice the change in strategy. There are several westerners in the House right now, everywhere from the Lakehead west, listening to the comments and our curiosity about the Party and the stance of the Party. I notice that she is very critical of the Government and for its Budget. I would like to also point out for the record that she did support the Speech from the Throne. I take it that this is a change in strategy which I would like her to clarify for us, that her critical comments means that she is opposing the Government's Budget strategy. In particular, I would like to have some comments from her as to how she thinks the Government's high interest rate strategies affect the West.

Miss Grey Let me also point out that I am here representing the Reform Party, not the Liberal Party or the NDP. The fact that I may support a Liberal in Alberta would certainly be a far stranger aberration than an NDP or a Reform Party member.

Nonetheless, I would like to say in answer to that that my position as an elected Member of the House of Commons is to represent my constituents. My constituents, and indeed I believe western Canadians, are in favour of free trade, so if I am hurting any of the opposition Members' feelings on that, I am sorry. All I can do is speak on behalf of my constituents.

I campaigned from Thanksgiving straight through until March 13. I have been around Beaver River, let me tell you. The people there were very strongly in favour of free trade, and if that offends any of the opposition Parties, then I have to beg forgiveness from them. But my job in terms of representing my constituents was to be pro-free trade.

I have made it fairly clear what I feel about the Budget, and that is the issue at hand right now. I will certainly be voting with the Government sometimes and with the Opposition sometimes, according to the wishes of my constituents.

The Budget-Miss Grey

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Questions and comments are now terminated. Debate.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Don Boudria (Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. Boudria:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I noticed that you indicated previously that you wanted to recognize another Hon. Member later, but I do not believe that the unanimous consent of the House was sought in order to change the rules and perhaps you would like to make that request.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Is there unanimous consent to allow the Hon. Member from the NDP to have the last three minutes for his speech?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

Alex Kindy

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Kindy:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think there is ten minutes of questions and comments.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

The Hon. Member for Calgary Northeast (Mr. Kindy) has a question or comment? Please put it.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

Alex Kindy

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Kindy:

I would like to congratulate the Hon. Member for Beaver River (Miss Grey) for her excellent speech. Perhaps she could make a short comment on her feelings about the value-added tax or the goods and services tax and how that will affect the consumers of her riding.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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REF

Deborah C. Grey

Reform

Miss Grey:

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Hon. Member for that question. Again, I think I can speak quite comfortably on behalf of the people of Beaver River. They are very upset about the goods and services tax which will come in mainly because of the points I have talked about already. If it will be consistent, if everyone will pay and if the Government is looking after the money that it already has, if we were to see the Government spending money wisely, then the people of my riding would be quite comfortable chipping in their fair share. Unfortunately, they have not seen that yet and so they are quite upset about this goods and services tax.

Small business is upset. I was at a meeting on Saturday night with the Chamber of Commerce in my riding and they are almost devastated by this Budget and the impending goods and services tax.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Sergio Marchi

Liberal

Mr. Marchi:

Mr. Speaker, I too commend not all the arguments the Hon. Member has made but certainly the force and the compelling commitment that she attaches to her words and thoughts. I would be curious to find out what the position of the Reform Party would be on the question of the universality of some of the programs that are being chipped away and second, whether there is a fear among the Reform Party that those thresholds will be lowered and that will be administered to different programs such as medicare. She may wish to comment on the over-all picture of universality in social programs.

May 3, 1989

The Budget-Miss Grey

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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May 3, 1989