Mr. Yves Forest (Brome-Missisquoi):
Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate the mover and seconder of the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne, the hon. member for Bruce and Trois-Rivieres (Mr. Whicher and Mr. Lajoie).
The first, with his customary dynamism and eloquence, recalled the major achievements of the federal government, particularly in the field of social security, and mainly through fiscal relief, of the increase of old-age security pensions by the guaranteed income supplement, of the increase in pensions and allowances paid to veterans, etc. and our colleague, the new hon. member for Trois-Rivieres, also made a very outstanding maiden speech, which is to his credit.
Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne dealt with the main issues of concern and interest to all Canadians at this time, such as the economy, industrial development, unemployment, exports, housing, agriculture, penal reforms, family income security, labour, the status of women within Canadian society, etc.
In order to cope with economic problems and support the expansion which has been making itself felt for some time already, to keep our competitive position on world markets, closer co-operation between government arid the business and industrial sectors is envisaged.
In my opinion, such co-operation is essential and is auspicious as the private sector will always supply most of the jobs and investments required for continued growth likely to give adequate impetus to all activities essential to the welfare and security of Canadians.
In a world where increasingly broader coalitions are being formed, often excluding us or at least placing us in an unfavourable position, and with a necessarily limited domestic market, we must absolutely aim for efficiency by putting science and technology to full use in order to assist such firms as are not afraid of innovating.
That task is one of the greatest challenges now facing Canada. That is what is called industrial strategy to be designed in keeping with characteristics peculiar to the Canadian economy and which will soon be announced, as the Hon. Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry (Mr. Pepin) stated here yesterday.
Fortunately, Canada has numerous resources, the development of which surely spells progress; still, only orderly development, coupled with co-operation by private enterprise can ensure the evolution of our economy toward standards that better suit the needs of the future.
In the last few years, we have expected too much from our economy and we must avoid burdening it with expenditures that are unreasonable or rules that are too rigid in a country that is so vulnerable to foreign competition. Still, the co-operation must come not solely from the government but also from the representatives of industry and unions who must agree to avoid the turmoil of strikes which finally help no one and harm the Canadian people as a whole.
Forming industrial committees or councils in the various industries, groups composed of reputed experts from the three sectors who would study the various problems ahead of time, who would make recommendations on production, prices, wages, etc, strikes me as an excellent idea for we should all realize that an efficient formula must be found, before long; otherwise, we will eventually have to resign ourselves to controls-not voluntary at that-over prices, incomes, wages, with all the consequences that would entail, especially with regard to growth, investments and initiatives.
Thanks to intelligent planning, to our work and sacrifices, to discipline and common sense, through wiser use of our resources and co-operation, by remaining united instead of divided, we will surely give Canada the future it deserves, though there are now only twenty-odd million of us who live side by side with the greatest economic power in the world endowed with a domestic market of over 200 million people.
Mr. Speaker, to replace the now outdated and somewhat discredited Combines Investigation Act, the Speech from the Throne did announce the introduction of a newly revised and improved Competition Act along the lines of a bill which passed first reading during the session which ended a few days ago. This is to get to know the views of all those concerned in accordance with the participatory policy of this government-and indeed many representations have been and still are being received.
The purpose of this new legislation will be to protect consumers against truly harmful commercial practices without, however, inhibiting business operations, considering that agreements between individual companies are often useful and may even become a necessity.
Serious reservations have been made with respect to the proposed legislation, especially in connection with the duties and powers of the court which is contemplated and with the suggested procedure. The forthcoming consultations, as well as the consideration and discussion in this House and before the committee, should enable us to pass this legislation so vital in a field which is so important to the Canadian economy.
Mr. Speaker, a few months ago all the free countries of the world were faced with an economic crisis which for several of them was followed by radical changes but due to the foresight and shrewdness of this government our country has gone through this difficult period with far
February 24, 1972
fewer problems than most other industrialized nations. And according to the latest forecasts by international economic experts from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the prospects in Canada for 1972 are excellent. An increase in the actual Gross National Product is expected, and it is believed that our country-and that without any mandatory control-has maintained the lowest rate of inflation among all member countries of that international organization.
Since we now have the highest ratio of labour as compared to the population, and in view of the ever rising participation rate mainly as a result of greater and greater numbers of women entering the labour market, the rate of unemployment has reached an alarming level despite increased economic activity. That will remain the constant concern of the government, as is mentioned in the Speech from the Throne. It must be noted however that more Canadians than ever before are working and that over 200,000 jobs were created during the year.
Besides, the most recent figures released a few days ago show that 25,000 jobs have been created in January 1972, and that over the past four months only the number of jobs has increased at an annual rate of 5 per cent, which represents an unprecedented rate of increase for this time of the year.
The various machineries introduced by this government ought to further decrease the rate of unemployment, when the effects of the subsidies of the Department of Regional Economic Expansion, in aid to industry, make themselves increasingly felt and also when thousands of jobs are provided this winter through the excellent Local Initiatives program.
Speech from the Throne
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY