September 25, 1997

REF

Lee Morrison

Reform

Mr. Lee Morrison

They request that Parliament support Motion No. 300 which states that in the opinion of the House the government should authorized a proclamation to be issued by the governor general amending section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to recognize the fundamental rights of individuals to pursue family life free from undue interference by the state and to recognize the fundamental rights and responsibility of parents to direct the upbringing of their children and urge the legislative assemblies of other provinces to do likewise.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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LIB

Peter Adams

Liberal

Mr. Peter Adams (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions On The Order Paper
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The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions On The Order Paper
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions On The Order Paper
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The Deputy Speaker

I am in receipt of a notice of motion under Standing Order 52 from the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Request For Emergency Debate
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NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise under the provisions of Standing Order 52 to seek leave to move a motion to adjourn the House for the purposes of having an emergency debate on the multilateral agreement on investment.

With your permission I will say a word or two as to why I am seeking that emergency debate. This is an agreement which is presently being negotiated in the context of the OECD between Canada and other OECD countries. It is an agreement which when arrived at will bind Canada for 20 years. It will tie the hands of future Parliaments. It is an agreement which has not been debated in the House. The government has signalled no intention to have it debated in the House or to have an appropriate public consultation process. It is an issue which concerns a great many Canadians with respect to sovereignty and the ability of governments to act in the public interest and the increasing restrictions on that ability of governments to act in the public interest and in the common good.

I believe it only makes sense that we use this standing order to allow ourselves the opportunity to debate this particular agreement, to hear what the government has to say and to hear what other members of Parliament have to say on this very important matter.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Request For Emergency Debate
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The Deputy Speaker

The Chair has heard the representations of the hon. member and has made a review of the material submitted in respect of the application. While no doubt the matter is of considerable interest, the Chair does not take the view that this is a matter of emergency or one that would justify setting aside the normal business of the House in order to debate the subject.

I note that the House is currently debating the address in reply from the Speech from the Throne which offers a very general debate in which members are free to make remarks on any subject they wish. I would like the hon. member to participate in that debate in respect of this matter at this time.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Request For Emergency Debate
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The House resumed from September 24 consideration of the motion for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.


LIB

Sergio Marchi

Liberal

Hon. Sergio Marchi (Minister for International Trade, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to take part in this reply to the Speech from the Throne which was laid before the House two days ago.

Our government has presented a comprehensive agenda, one that speaks to the basic values of Canadians. It ensures opportunity for all members of society in all regions of the nation and creates jobs, especially for our young. It ensures universal quality health care for all. It provides every child with a fair chance in life, as the prime minister spoke so eloquently about yesterday, and it maintains a united country able to fulfill these values and reach the dreams he talked of yesterday in the House.

The Speech from the Throne outlined Canada's ability to trade with and draw investment from all parts of the globe. This is essential to the success of that agenda.

With regard to international trade, the Speech from the Throne addressed four key elements. The first outlined the important role trade plays in the economic life of Canada. Most important, it is absolutely crucial to the creation of jobs. One out of three Canadian jobs is directly tied to trade. Forty per cent of our GDP is directly tied to exports and trade, which is one of the highest, if not the highest, percentages of any western economic base.

Canadian sales abroad come to more than a quarter of a trillion dollars. Every $1 billion of trade in merchandise creates or sustains 11,000 jobs for Canadian workers.

The benefits of trade extend to every part of our economy and affect all Canadians, the farmer who grows wheat, the engineer who designs tractors and the factory worker who builds planes.

We are all touched by trade and we all share in its benefits. Around the world barriers are coming down, markets are opening up and opportunities are being created which were simply unimaginable a few years ago, opportunities which are absolutely critical to Canada's continued economic prosperity. Canadians have come to the full realization that we are too small a nation to simply to trade with each other.

Second, the Speech from the Throne underscores that to take full advantage of these opportunities we must expand our trade base further. To do so governments must work better and smarter. Departments must speak to each other in a consistent single message. We must seek closer partnerships with the business community. We must redefine the role our trade associations and chambers can play for business people who are seeking new markets abroad.

Expansion will ultimately mean that small and medium size businesses will have to play a greater role in Canada's global trade. They must become a more integral part and focus of our global trade strategy. Currently only 10 percent of Canada's small and medium size firms directly export. A great number of small businesses are suppliers that feed the large corporations that do trade. We know there is more room to grow for small and medium size businesses in the world of export.

While Canada is very much an exporting nation, we have not become a nation of exporters. Fifty large corporations account for over 50 percent of Canada's trade. Our goal therefore is to double the number of companies exporting by the year 2000, which will mean a greater take up by the small and medium size firms.

It is only logical that if we point to small businesses being the cornerstone of our domestic economy, if we speak to small businesses creating the jobs in all of our communities, it stands to reason that by increasing and encouraging more small businesses to join our large ones on the international field we will reap the very same benefits that these enterprises give our communities domestically.

To be successful in this doubling of the number of companies which will be in the export business, it will also mean harnessing the energy and talent of our women entrepreneurs, for one-third of Canadian firms today are either owned or led by women entrepreneurs, firms that are providing almost two million jobs for Canadians across the country. On top of it all, women CEOs are creating jobs at a rate nearly four times the national average. This is a track record that we cannot ignore because clearly it is creating benefits that we cannot forgo.

That is why in November I will be leading the first Canadian business women's international trade mission to Washington, D.C. We expect more than 100 women entrepreneurs and executives will join us in exploring the lucrative $11 billion mid-Atlantic market. This mission will include new entries to the export field and experienced exporters who will perform the important role of mentoring.

The cultural and educational sectors will also be part of a team marketing products that generate wealth and employment while enhancing Canada's image in the world and making us proud to be Canadians.

Utilizing the capacity of our modern economy and the diversity and strength of our citizens, the entire world must be Canada's market. Therefore we are building on our transatlantic heritage to Europe and our close links with the United States. Of course we are a Pacific nation as well and our view of the Americas does not stop at the Rio Grande. Canadians have links to every corner of the globe.

People and companies trade with countries they feel most comfortable with, in languages they can speak and in cultures they understand. That is one of Canada's biggest advantages. Indeed it is Canada's competitive advantage in the sense that no part of the world is alien to our Canadian citizenry.

More than anything else the team Canada missions which our Prime Minister began have demonstrated these very strengths and are broadening the spectrum of Canadians involved in global trade. Large as well as small and medium size firms, women entrepreneurs, Canadians of all origins and backgrounds, provinces, municipalities, educational institutions, all are on team Canada thereby giving Canadians a stake in every part of the world and every part of the world a stake in Canada.

That is why I am confident that the next team Canada voyage in January to Latin America will continue this winning tradition and above all will promote the formula that Canada works best when Canada works together.

The third element raised by the Speech from the Throne is that we must devote the same kind of energies and effort to attracting investment as we do to stimulating trade in merchandise. Direct foreign investment in Canada increased by some 8 percent last year, reaching almost $180 billion.

Investments bring us capital, research and development, as well as strategic and financial alliances that can help small businesses move from exclusively regional to world markets.

Ultimately investment generates jobs. For every $1 billion worth of investment in Canada, 45,000 jobs over a five year period are created or sustained.

At the same time the multilateral agreement on investment which we are negotiating currently with the OECD will provide us with a secure and stable framework of rules for Canadians investing abroad. That investment is sizeable. At the end of last year Canadian investment not only by companies but by pension funds of our seniors and Canadians across the country was estimated at over $170 billion.

To promote more investment in Canada however, we must be even more aggressive in promoting Canada around the world. The world is growing ever more competitive by the day. As more countries industrialize we cannot assume that our share of global investment will remain constant. In fact in a number of countries while our investment and our trade is going up, our market share in that region is going down. It means that we cannot rest on our past laurels. It means that we have to compete with the best. We have to keep up with the Joneses and sometimes you are as good as your last trade deal.

That is why it is a priority for me and this government to put forward the case for Canada and to remind people around the world that the country the UN found to be the best place to live is also one of the best places to work and to invest. It is to remind people, as the Prime Minister did yesterday, of the extraordinary efforts that this government placed in putting our economy and our finances on a solid footing; yes, for Canadians at home first and foremost, but at the same time making it more attractive for investors abroad.

Finally the Speech from the Throne emphasized the leadership role that Canada plays and must continue to play in liberalizing trade around the globe. Freer trade has been positive for Canada. Over the past few years our export figures have increased exponentially. It is no accident that Canada is expected to record the highest rate of employment and growth of all the G-7 countries this year and next.

It is important to note however that if trade has been successful for Canada—and it has—we can attract investment and promote more trade as long as we are dealing in a transparent, rules based system of law. That assures nations like ours the opportunity of equal treatment with larger trading partners. Rules for Canada and for other countries are the equalizer. That is why Canada must always help to write the rules and not walk away from the table where the rules are being written.

Whether it is the successful Canada-U.S. trade relationship, the largest that the world knows—every day $1 billion moves in trade between our two countries quietly and effectively and it is 95 percent hassle free, so at no time should we allow the 5 percent of irritants to define this great relationship—or whether it is in helping to set the agenda at the World Trade Organization, it is this rules based system which has allowed us to reduce our barriers to trade while at the same time promoting our vital interests as a nation.

Canada is also helping to draw the countries of Asia-Pacific closer together, a region which includes the world's fastest growing economies.

Last year the Prime Minister signed an action plan with the European Community that speaks to a strong and dynamic future, including increased trade and investment, rather than simply resting on past glories, as great as those glories were.

Canada is also championing the free trade area of the Americas and is seeking a closer relationship with the countries of Mercosur.

Three years ago in Miami, the concept of a free trade zone of the Americas seemed a far off dream. Three weeks ago in Brazil, I became convinced more than ever before that plans for a trade agreement covering the entire hemisphere are about to materialize.

It is absolutely vital that Canada continues to look outward not inward, because if the world moves without you—and make no mistake that the global march is very much on—then who really gets left behind?

The world has experienced protectionism and has suffered through its consequences. The protectionist rage which snapped a golden age of trade in the U.S. in the 1930s turned a severe recession into a great depression. The world learned from this rather dark lesson, leading to Bretton Woods and the creation of an international rules based trading system.

Canadians know that we cannot build a fortress and lock ourselves inside. Neither is our goal free trade at any cost. On the contrary, we must always preserve and promote the values and traditions that Canadians hold dear.

Trade and investment are simply not a matter of crunching numbers or posting figures. The bottom line for trade should be and must always be people, and their bottom line is jobs. It provides the revenue we need to maintain a quality life and a universal health care system. It provides those revenues, the national wealth we need to secure a good start for all of our Canadian children and to provide opportunities for all Canadians in all parts of our country.

Yesterday the Prime Minister talked of trying to help youngsters get on to the other side of the fence, to lower the fence and to help them see the other side which as he said is always greener. I believe that on the matter of trade, Canada is doing just that. It is jumping over that fence.

It was not too many years ago that our country contemplated a free trade agreement with the United States. There were concerns, indeed fears, among Canadian communities of whether this deal would work for Canada, of whether we would be able to survive, of whether we would be able to be competitive with the largest economic market the world knows. Thanks to a rules based system and thanks to an independent way of breaking those log jams, not only has Canada been able to survive, but Canada has been able to win.

That is why we went on to sign NAFTA, and a free trade agreement with Chile, and a free trade agreement with Israel. Canadians obviously have recognized the absolute necessity of connecting with the bigger world outside of Canada for the purposes of keeping our economy strong and prosperous.

Canada has rare strengths and enormous potential. We are competent, we are competitive and we are confident. In the world of global trade and investment, Canada has come of age.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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REF

Charlie Penson

Reform

Mr. Charlie Penson (Peace River, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the minister to his new portfolio. As he said during his speech, trade is a very important area for Canada. He noted that barriers to trade are coming down worldwide and that Canada is very dependent upon trade. I would agree with him.

I welcome the Liberal caucus to the area of free trade. One by one, the Liberals are slowly becoming believers. It was not always the case. In some cases they are actually born again free traders. I welcome that conversion, albeit a little bit late.

I am concerned with the government's approach in a few areas and would like to ask the minister some questions on that. I am concerned about its approach to adopting new trade regimes around the world such as a new trade deal with Chile.

We are now talking about one with Mercosur, which I welcome, but we have not done the homework to make it possible for our businesses to take advantage. We have the worst record in the G-7 countries of trade barriers within our own country. As a matter of fact, we have more barriers to trade in Canada than there are in the entire European Union. That is simply not acceptable.

When the minister talks about barriers coming down, I suggest the next time team Canada is out on a mission perhaps it should take a team Canada mission right here at home to dismantle trade barriers that are making it very difficult for our businesses to take advantage of our trade deals.

In fact a private member's bill was introduced this morning by my colleague from Lakeland talking about just that. I would hope the Liberals on the other side would support that private member's bill and maybe even lift it up and adopt it as their own to get rid of the trade barriers that are limiting us.

I am also concerned that the government is not using the processes the minister talked about to settle disputes. We have a very good dispute settling mechanism within NAFTA and now within the World Trade Organization. What happened when it came time to use them on durum wheat a couple of years ago, softwood lumber and Helms-Burton? They never used the processes that were put in place.

I challenge the minister to tell me why and what they will do about that instead of accepting export caps and accepting intimidation from the United States. I want to know why we are not using the processes that have been put in place.

I want to know what the government is doing to bring down internal trade barriers in this country. At our committee on small and medium size enterprises we heard businesses state that they had actually moved from Ontario into Michigan because they could do better trade with the provinces in Canada that way than they could from Ontario. That is simply unacceptable.

What will they do to correct this problem? What will they do about using the processes we have in place to settle disputes?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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LIB

Sergio Marchi

Liberal

Hon. Sergio Marchi

Mr. Speaker, let me first congratulate my hon. friend for being appointed as his party's spokesperson on international trade. I say to him and to his colleagues that I very much look forward to working with him on this important file to the benefit, ultimately, of Canadians and the Canadian economy.

He also touched upon the history of the Liberal Party. I urge him to reread the history of political parties a little more carefully. If he did so he would see very clearly that the history of the Liberal Party has always been one of a trade liberalizing party, a party favouring and wanting to bring down barriers.

On the contrary, the history of the party he and many of his colleagues supported before the Reform Party, namely the Conservative Party, has always been one of protectionism and building up the walls. In terms of the free trade agreement debates and the NAFTA debates, yes, our party had something to say; but our party, whether it was Mr. Turner, our former leader, or our trade critics at the time, never said that we were against freer trade.

We stood up for fair trade. We stood up for and spoke to a rule based mechanism. We spoke to a dispute mechanism that would not allow the might to be right but for the dispute to be settled based on facts.

Those are the battles the Liberal Party has fought, which has resulted in the side agreements on both labour and environment and the rules we as a country need to survive and obviously do very well. I think the member has the history on that issue quite backward.

He talked about the business community not being prepared to look as aggressively to a free trade area of the Americas or Mercosur. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our business community is incredibly bullish in the opportunities it perceives for companies in our country in the area of the Americas.

Our trade has shot up. Our investments in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico have gone up. It has actually come from the business community for us to be facilitating trade by getting our policy signals right. It is very anxious to be in the free trade area of the Americas. Obviously it is anxious to get on a plan to go with the Prime Minister to another team Canada mission in Latin America.

Yes, the member is right about internal trade barriers. He is absolutely right that as we liberalize trade around the world, as we look to liberalize the Americas or APEC or get closer to Europe or the United States, that somehow in a very contradictory way these ancient walls still exist in Canada.

We have been working very hard on that file. My colleague, the Minister of Industry, has brought together his provincial colleagues numerous times. There was a reference in our throne speech to bringing down those walls. In the last meeting of the premiers I took considerable hope in the fact that all premiers but one was prepared to begin to bring down those barriers.

I urge the member and his party to talk to the provinces that have fought and resisted those barriers coming down. It is not this government. We have actually tried to lead the coalition and consensus of the provinces to bring down the barriers and ultimately make those companies better prepared and more competitive to face the world.

The member's last point was on dispute mechanisms. He said that we needed to work closely with the business community. On the other hand he said that we had to use those mechanisms.

When it comes to whether we should or should not activate those mechanisms quite often it comes from advice from the industry. If we take any commodity, many times the overwhelming consensus of not wanting to trigger a mechanism does not come essentially and exclusively from a government or a minister but from the industry. It too has to size up: “Do we go to the wall? Do we fight on this issue? Or, do we try to manage the trade so that we will forgo the kinds of expenses and the kinds of energies obviously implicit in any fight on any mechanism?”

I am also concerned and troubled, if it begins to set a trend, that every issue will get managed. Managed trade is not freer trade and one way trade is a dead end. We have to take stock of how the industry feels on a particular issue as opposed to simply going to the wall and in the end only hurting the industry even more.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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The Deputy Speaker

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Medicine Hat.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

The idea of the 10 minute question and answer period is that there be an opportunity for a number of members to rise. I do not know why the minister was so particularly anxious about receiving a question from the NDP that he used up all the time. He was asked a question and he went on and on. The idea is to have a variety of questions and answers. I did not feel that the entire 10 minutes had expired.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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The Deputy Speaker

There were approximately 20 to 25 seconds left in the 10 minutes and the Speaker decided to terminate it because I did not feel that a question could be asked in 20 seconds and answered in 20 seconds.

Perhaps members who spoke were long winded for a period of questions and comments, but I think the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona who has been in this place a long time knows that sometimes the questions are short and the answers are short and sometimes they are long in both cases. This happened to be one of those where there was a lengthy question and a lengthy answer.

I am sorry that the hon. member did not get a chance to ask a question, but I am sure he will have an opportunity later in the day.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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REF

Monte Solberg

Reform

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I start by congratulating Mr. Speaker and his peers on ascending to the chair once again. I know of the Speaker's interest in this position. I know he will enjoy his time even though, as some people suggest, it may be a difficult Parliament.

I also congratulate all members of the House on their election to the House of Commons. It is a great privilege to be here.

I certainly thank the constituents of Medicine Hat for placing their trust with me once again. It is a great honour. I will do my level best to ensure that I deliver their message loud and clear to the House of Commons.

I rise to address the throne speech delivered on Tuesday by the governor general. I will touch on what I think is, at least in the economic spirit, the key point in the throne speech from which all decisions in it will flow. That is the decision in the spring during the election campaign when the government said that it would devote about 50 per cent of its surpluses, any surpluses that it realized, to new spending. The other 50 per cent would go toward tax relief and debt reduction.

What criteria did the government use to determine how this formula would work? What were the criteria? I do not recall any consultation with the people of Canada asking them how they wanted to spend any surpluses. I do not recall that at all. I do not recall any focus groups or any polling. I do not remember any of that.

Two years ago when the government decided it would create a new $2 coin, there were consultations to decide what would go on the coin. However there were no consultations on what to do with the 75 billion $2 coins the taxpayers send to the government every year. There were no consultations on that, but it was very committed to ensuring that we got the $2 coin with the polar bear.

The next issue implicit in the government's decision not to consult people is its belief that the money from the Canadian public actually belongs to the Liberal Party. That seems to be implicit in this.

The issue here—and it is something successive Liberal and Tory governments have missed for a long, long time—is that money belongs to Canadian taxpayers. Canadian taxpayers work hard and long, in fact probably longer and harder than just about any country in the industrialized world, to produce taxes for the government to spend on their behalf. Certainly it is time for governments to recognize this and acknowledge them in the form of consultation process. Unfortunately that did not happen.

Specifically in the throne speech, once we get beyond the decision to spend 50 per cent on new programs and the decision seemingly to spend 50 per cent on tax reduction and debt reduction, we encounter the actual words in the speech. There is one line about tax relief and debt reduction. We should gild it. It should be framed. It is on page 4 and is the only reference in the whole document. It reads:

It will seek to devote one-half of the surplus in this mandate to addressing the social and economic needs of Canadians. The other half will go to a combination of reducing taxes and the national debt.

Where does it go after that? For the next 20 pages all we hear are plans on how to spend Canadians' money. It does not even end there, because on a subsequent day we have the Prime Minister announcing in his speech that we will spend even more money in a new endowment the government thinks is necessary for the millennium.

Then we hear that the government is contemplating buying helicopters, the self-same helicopters it chastised the Conservatives for wanting to buy. Truly I wonder what is going on here. It is as though Pierre Elliott Trudeau never left this place. There is a social program in every pot.

We should be very concerned. It has taken us 27 years to get out of a deficit situation but the government, ignorant of the 27 years that have gone before us, now seems intent on going back and starting to spend all over again.

The big concern—and I am glad to see the media is raising this as well—is that the government never set a base line anywhere in the document upon which it will determine its surpluses. Now it is very possible that it will spend all its surpluses before we even get to a surplus point. It is already borrowing against future surpluses.

We will have a very insignificant surplus. Therefore we will not have the money that should go to Canadians in the form of debt retirement and tax relief.

One question the government needs to answer very soon is what is the base line upon which it will determine what the surpluses really are. Then we can have an honest debate within the narrow bounds the government has laid out about how much money should go to taxes and debt retirement. I am very critical of what is in the throne speech from an economic point of view. I am very disappointed. However, I believe it is the role of the official opposition to also offer some constructive criticism. I would argue that the Reform Party has done that in spades over the last few weeks by offering not only a discussion paper on some of the alternatives to what we could do with the surplus but to inform the debate and start a consultation process.

We believe it is very important to consult with Canadians on this issue. As I pointed out earlier, it is Canadians' money. They deserve to have a say in the whole issue. It is a novel approach in this place to recognize that the money belongs to Canadians. They worked long and hard for it. In a moment I will tell the House just how long and hard they work compared to citizens from other countries around the world.

We have produced a document called “Beyond a Balanced Budget”. I want to draw from it right now to explain how the Reform Party would approach the ad hoc debate that is occurring today in the country about what to do with any surplus. It is ad hoc because the government has chosen not to involve Canadians in it. However, in our role as official opposition we have decided that we would like to do that. We do that by asking seven basic questions.

First, what is a realistic projection of future surpluses once the federal books are balanced?

Second, what is the optimal level of government?

Third, can these surpluses be increased by more responsible federal spending?

Fourth, what is the optimal level of taxes?

Fifth, what is the optimal level of debt?

Sixth, how can we change the spending patterns of government to better reflect the priorities of Canadians?

Seventh, if a public consensus can be achieved with respect to an appropriate level and pattern of federal spending, taxation and indebtedness, what measures are required to ensure the federal government respects those targets and lives within its means?

Those are the seven questions that we want to put to Canadians. We have already started the process and we argue it is something that the federal government should do. If Canadians want to read this document it is available to them on the Internet at www.Reform.ca/babb. I will try to remember to mention that at the end of my speech as well.

Let me go through some of those seven specific areas to lay out why the Reform Party has huge concerns about the whole approach the government is taking with what would be a surplus, if the government does not spend it all before it actually got there.

The first point comes from the section in our document on the size of the surplus. What is a realistic projection of future surpluses once the federal budget is balanced?

The first point I want to make is that when we use the government's own projections we find that probably by the year 2001 or 2002, which would be the end of its mandate, it will have a surplus of approximately $14 billion annually. That is a very conservative estimate. Others estimate as much as $20 billion. Of course, that suggests that the government will be spending about $7 billion to $10 billion on new programs every year by the end of its mandate. This is the same sort of increase we had in spending during the 1970s that got us into this whole problem in the first place.

The second section I want to touch on is the part on the optimal level of government. I point out in the second section of our paper this quote. “While provincial spending increased from 2.5 percent of GDP in 1960 to 6 percent of GDP in 1995 and local government spending went from 4.74 percent to almost 6 percent, signifying greater participation in the provision of direct goods and services in each province, the federal level only dipped from 6.2 percent of GDP to 4.22 percent of the GDP over the same timeframe”. In other words, the provinces and the municipalities have done their part. In their jurisdictions they have done what they needed to do to realize the needs of their citizens. However, at the same time the federal government had trouble letting go. It cannot for a moment consider, and this was especially true under previous Liberal administrations, letting go of some power. I would argue that is one of the reasons we have a constitutional problem that never ends. The neverendum they call it, and it is certainly true.

We argue it is time to look at the optimal level of government. We want to talk about responsible federal spending and whether these surpluses can be increased. During the election campaign we pointed out how we could shrink the size of government while improving services for health care, higher education and research and development. That would leave us with bigger surpluses. In the third section we talk about that. $24 billion in surpluses under a Reform government with the chance to implement some of our ideas would mean more money for deficit reduction, more money for tax reduction and money that would go toward important programs like health care and higher education.

In the fourth section we talk about the optimal level of taxes. It is important, especially after the international trade minister has spoken, to point out how much we are at a competitive disadvantage to other trading partners around the world. In the G-7 Canada is the highest taxed as a percentage of personal income tax to GDP of any country, by far. Our personal income tax rate is 52 percent higher than the rest of the G-7 nations and 25 percent higher than the industrialized countries in the OECD. Canada's personal income tax rate is through the roof.

This has a tremendous negative impact, like the brain drain for instance. We lose all kinds of very highly qualified people to the United States and other countries around the world because the personal income tax burden drives them away.

If we were able to drop those tax burdens we would have an increased labour supply, increased participation in the labour force, lower gross wage costs for employers, increased entrepreneurship and business start-up. There is no end of benefits to lowering personal income tax. It is time for the government to start to consider those things, and we want to talk to the Canadian public about it.

In the fifth section of our paper we talk about the optimal level of debt. We point out the horrendous impact of the debt. We pay $47 billion in interest payments on the debt each and every year. That adds up to a tax burden of $3,518 in taxes per year or $295 each and every month for every Canadian taxpayer.

If we had that money to apply to health care, we could run every single hospital in the country for two years on one year's interest payments on the Canadian debt. It is time to start reducing the debt. We make that argument forcefully in our paper but the government has shut off that option by deciding it is going to spend its way to prosperity.

In the next section of the paper we talk about responsible spending. We point out that because of things like interest payments on the debt the federal government has reduced its transfers for health care by 35 percent. Yesterday the health minister tried to deny that it is 40 percent, so we will grant him that it is just 35 percent, $6.8 billion. And Liberals claim to be members of the party of compassion.

The Liberals have closed more hospitals in the country than any provincial government, yet they say that they care about Canadians. If they truly do, it is time for them to come to grips with the problem of the debt, with the problem of taxes. Specifically, if they get a handle on government spending and quit spending more and more and more, they will be able to devote more money to the programs Canadians really care about.

In the final section of our paper we talk about the need for government to be accountable. I know that is a novel theme in this government. We know the government has promised in the past to be more accountable. The Liberals talked of ethics, watch dogs and that sort of thing but it has never come to be. We argue very strongly that it is time we had balanced budget legislation.

As we point out in our paper, a balanced budget law would be an important first step in reassuring Canadians from coast to coast that the painful tax increases and reductions in the social safety net that were made necessary by previous governments will never occur again.

That is what is in our paper. We will be going across the country during the next several months asking people to help us bring forward some recommendations for the federal government, to give it a road map so it understands where Canadians are at on these important issues.

Outside of the unity debate there is probably not a more important issue that the government will deal with in its mandate, yet it has decided to shut Canadians out of the process. I think that is ridiculous.

This whole debate reminds me of a mutiny. It is as though a mutiny has occurred on the ship of state, while the captain, the Prime Minister, is on shore golfing, and the first mate, the finance minister, is asleep in his cabin. The Minister of Canadian Heritage along with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Transport have taken over the helm of the ship of state—and I am borrowing an analogy which the leader of the Reform Party used yesterday—and decided to go to Sweden because that is where they saw the land of opportunity. However, they are going from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario but they have decided not to use the Welland Canal. They are going down the Niagara River. It is scary. I do not have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, what is at the end of the Niagara River.

Envision the Minister of Canadian Heritage with a parrot on her shoulder and a patch over both eyes. As they go down the river a din is heard in the distance. The minister says “Oh listen to the people applauding. They can hardly wait for us to arrive”. The finance minister, now swabbing the deck at sword point, is saying “No, I don't think that is applause”.

Can you imagine what the Canadian people are saying? They hear the rabble upstairs, they hear all the noise and they are very concerned because they too can hear the din. It is time for the government to recognize where it is headed with this throne speech. It is heading toward the falls. It is time it allowed Canadians to come up out of the hold to take control of the ship and turn it around. We will never in a 100 years solve the problems of the 1990s with the solutions of the 1970s.

It is time for the government to wake up and recognize that Canadians have a stake in this. This is the most important economic decision the government will make in its mandate, the most important decision it will make as it leads Canadians into the new millennium. Let us ensure that Canadians have a say in this. Let us ensure that their values are reflected in the direction in which the country goes.

Let us have some appreciation for the fact that the small business people are the job creators. Let us understand that they want to have some of the $13 billion EI surplus. Let us understand that they are frightened to death that we are going to pass on a burden of $600 billion worth of debt to their children. Let us have some appreciation for where Canadians are at and let us make sure that from here on the government hears what Canadians are saying. In the government's absence, the Reform Party will be there to stand up for them.

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LIB

Paul Devillers

Liberal

Mr. Paul DeVillers (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the Reform Party, both this hon. member's speech and the leader's speech yesterday. Their rhetoric and their imagery is improving. Unfortunately, their content and their comprehension remains at about the level of the previous Parliament.

I want to question the hon. member on the point he raised in his speech about the lack of consultation with the Canadian people. The issue of what will be done and where we will be going once the budget is balanced and once we have surpluses was a major plank in the Liberal platform. It was put to the people during the electoral campaign and the majority of Canadians voted for the platform, as is evidenced by the composition of the House. If that is not consultation, what is?

Specifically, what is the member's opinion of the electoral process? What is the point of going to the people with electoral platforms and having them judged and voted on?

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REF

Monte Solberg

Reform

Mr. Monte Solberg

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest it is the ultimate naivety to suggest that every Canadian across the country decided they were going to cast a vote on the basis of one line in the Liberal red book. My friend says it was a major plank. I do not recall any ads running based on the 50 percent spending promise. I recall all kinds of ads where the prime minister was sitting down to coffee and suggesting that things were wonderful with him, but I really do not recall those ads about the 50 percent.

I would argue, and I think my Conservative friends over here would argue, on the big debate about national unity during the election campaign that a lot of people voted on that basis. A lot of people voted on the basis of cutting taxes. A lot of people had it in mind that there was an important issue of taxes that needed to be addressed and they cast their ballot on that. Some people cast their ballot on the basis of the MP who was running.

I would argue that it is simplistic for the member to suggest that the whole election campaign was based on that 50 percent promise. I would also mention that all the provinces have not only got balanced budgets now but they consulted their people. Then they had elections and they won. By and large, they won them.

It is extremely naive for the member to suggest that the reason that Canadians voted the Liberals in with a diminished mandate was because of their promise to spend 50 percent of any surpluses on new spending.

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NDP

Nelson Riis

New Democratic Party

Mr. Nelson Riis (Kamloops, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member's comments on the throne speech. I appreciate his thoroughness and his straightforward comment.

He has obviously read the throne speech. Could he find anywhere in the throne speech where the government indicates its plans to purchase helicopters as a top priority?

I listened carefully when it was being read. I do not remember hearing any comment. I reread the throne speech and I saw no reference at all to the multibillion dollar purchase of helicopters.

It seems to me that if this were a priority of the government, it should at least have been mentioned in the throne speech.

My other question is that tax reform, as was indicated, was a major discussion in the last federal election and again I do not see much reference to tax reform in the throne speech. Does he agree with me that there was no mention of the helicopter purchase and could he clarify for the House his party's view of the purchase of helicopters? Do they support spending these moneys now on search and rescue helicopters?

Also he made comments about tax reform. Has his party given much thought to the fact that if there is going to be any tax reduction that it be in the form of reducing the GST as a way of assisting Canadians from all parts of the country at all levels in the socioeconomic scale?

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REF

Monte Solberg

Reform

Mr. Monte Solberg

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate hearing from the hon. member for Kamloops. He always provides thoughtful questions. He has asked me a number of questions.

First of all, I too have scoured the throne speech and I have yet to find the reference to the EH-101 helicopters. It just is not in there. Perhaps it was a typo.

Perhaps, on the other hand, the government is going to announce new programs each and every day which cannot all be included in this document unless it expands it dramatically.

The member also asked about tax reform. Tax reform is extraordinarily important. Canadians have talked about it for a long time. It is not in this document. I do not see it anywhere in the throne speech. It is not in here at all.

When we go to town hall meetings people often ask why we do not have a flat tax in this country, why the taxation system is not simplified. It is not in here at all.

My hon. friend has asked me about the GST, a very important issue. I think it is notable by its absence from the throne speech. Obviously the government is somewhat reluctant to talk about the GST. It has had its problems with it in the past, and we need not go over that. That is well known.

Suffice it to say my party believes very strongly that should we one day decide to balance the budget in this country, we hold out the option of reducing the GST in stages as we go along. It is part of our blue book policy. We leave that open for Canadians to tell us to do that.

That is part of our consultation. We have talked about a number of different tax reforms in our document. One that I think would have perhaps even a greater advantage than reducing the GST would be raising the minimum exemptions. Then it would truly help low income Canadians. In the election campaign we argued that we would take 1.3 million Canadians completely off the tax rolls by lifting up those minimum exemptions. That is the Reform approach to helping low income Canadians.

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PC

Elsie Wayne

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC)

Mr. Speaker, my question has to do with the number one issue that the member referred to. I would have thought the number one issue would be jobs.

When we look at Atlantic Canada, in some areas in the province of New Brunswick we have 40 percent unemployment. When we had the chamber of commerce take a look at our area and to ask what can we do, it said “we are not at a point at the present time whereby we can be independent of government assistance”.

I hear people in the Reform Party stand up and say no more government programs, no more government assistance, no more need for it across this country. There is need. We want to be independent. We will be independent. We will get there but we cannot do it now. The government programs that have been put in place for the last three years have hurt us dramatically. We have the breakup of families. It is very difficult for our people. They want their dignity. I would think jobs would be number one and we cannot just do that with tax cuts. We have to have government programs.

I would like to hear from the member of the Reform Party on where he stands on that.

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September 25, 1997