Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I see that not even the hon. member's own colleagues can understand what he is talking about. I was quoting from a speech delivered by the Minister of National Health and Welfare. This was in response to my recommendations to him some years ago when he was knocking the feasibility of establishing a sub-ministry of physical fitness and sports.
After these rude interruptions, Mr. Speaker, I should like to continue quoting the minister. The minister said:
There would be the deputy minister of ballooning, the deputy minister of bowling, the deputy minister of trotting and it would go on and on, and the way things are going now you would definitely need two deputy ministers of football, one for the offence, and one for the defence.
He concluded as follows:
My fears are that the author of the P.C.-Jelinek paper with this ministry of sport idea, at any rate, may be skating on very thin ice.
That, Mr. Speaker, is one more example of an absolute flip-flop by the government, and a typical exemplification of the arrogance demonstrated by the Minister of National Health and Welfare. A simple conclusion leads me to believe that the minister was either attempting to mislead the public or that he is losing seniority and the high regard in which he is reputed to be held by the Prime Minister. Indeed, I feel very sorry for the new Minister of State (Fitness and Amateur Sport) (Mrs. Campagnolo) who has to work under the Minister of National Health and Welfare who is totally opposed to a sub-ministry for fitness and sport. A minister who spends over $2,000 on football speeches to make in the House of Commons in the midst of an inflationary cycle in Canada does not know what he is talking about.
We do not have to stop here when discussing inconsistencies by the government, and more specifically by this same minister. We know that in his former capacity as minister responsible for sport, which he knew very little about, he refused to honour a $500,000 grant promised by his department to the organizing committee of the 1976 Olympiad for the Physically Disabled because of South Africa's participation in these games which took place in Toronto earlier this year. His reasoning was his government's policy regarding apartheid in South Africa. Yet the inconsistency exists in the very fact that this same government has personnel within the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce in Africa for the sake of promoting trade.
Now, no one is arguing the merits of that situation, but it is the double-faced standard that upsets me no end and which the government is demonstrating by recognizing South Africa, on one hand, in respect to trade and not recognizing South Africa, on the other hand, in respect to disabled youth. Yet today in this House a double inconsistency, if I may use that
[The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier).]
phrase, occurred when the House unanimously supported my motion to support and encourage current fund raising programs for the disabled in Canada as well as abroad, including naturally those in South Africa as well. Needless to say, I was most pleased with the results. However, one must take it that the government was either sleeping, or simply ignorant as a whole, or that it has changed its policy regarding apartheid in South Africa. I look forward to some specific policy coming from the government side in this respect, their having unanimously approved support for the disabled athletes around the world, including those in South Africa. I only hope that some semblance of consistency develops in this respect, and indeed in many other important issues that the government continues to confuse rather than clarify.
I would be remiss, Mr. Speaker, if I did not at least touch on the subject matter that I am responsible for on behalf of my party, namely, a part of our economic process that must surely form the backbone of our economic way of life. I am of course referring to small business.
We all know that the small firms sector of our economy has been generally ignored and bypassed by all levels of government, and to this end I welcome the Prime Minister's decision to segregate the government's responsibilities to small business from that overwhelming Ministry of Industry, Trade and Commerce by creating a new sub-ministry responsible for small business. Again, I believe that the formation of this sub-ministry is simply a smokescreen by the Prime Minister to pacify the unsuspecting small business community which, as a result of its widespread individualism, lacks a strong enough voice in government.
We know that the government confers from time to time with such representative groups as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Canadian Manufacturers Association. All three organizations are exceptional ambassadors for their specific communities in respect to small business, but their representations alone are simply not strong enough. My suggestion to the small business community, for the sake of having a stronger voice in Ottawa, is that it rally behind the idea of having these and other interested groups approach the government as a unit on behalf of small business in order that they do not get trampled under in the stampede for power by big unions and big industry, which in fact represent only a minority of the working force in Canada.
When the government is in consultation with labour, for example, it is basically dealing with the Canadian Labour Congress whose membership totals somewhere around 20 per cent of the total labour force. And when the government is in consultation with business, it is naturally talking with the major industries and multinational corporations, which again represent far less than 50 per cent of the business community.
There is no doubt about the fact that the small firms sector is by far the largest and possibly the most important sector of our economy, responsible for employing well over 50 per cent of our labour force. This is the sector that has continually been bypassed by all levels of government while at the same time it
October 19, 1976
is taken for granted it will abide by the horrendous bureaucratic regulations established for big industry.
I believe it is time for all governments to allow small business the freedom it deserves while at the same time making the specific legislative changes that are required. Looking at statistics and our economy as a whole, there is no question that the government has not only failed to implement policies which would encourage a healthy and expanding small business sector in the economy, but has perpetuated policies and practices harmful to this sector. To this end I have just introduced a private member's notice of motion for consideration which reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government consider the advisability of implementing programs to assist the development of small business in this country, consisting of such positive initiatives as:
(a) Allowing tax credits for investment in small business:
(b) Providing assistance in the formation of small business export consortia;
(c) Changing government tender practices so that small business supplies a
portion of government purchased goods and services;
(d) Reducing the government paperwork burden imposed on small business.
In other words I am asking for some form of comprehensive policy on small business. A small business sub-ministry has been established, but no small business policy has ever come forth from the government. The time has come for this to take place. Some of these proposals which I put in my motion are in existence in other countries; they are not new ideas. They work very well in Japan, the United States, Belgium, West Germany, and other countries. But our small business minister is not visiting those countries on his first trip abroad. He is going to the Soviet Union. Perhaps he is going to study the free market system, but 1 do not know what he is going to study in the Soviet Union as the government's representative for small business.
It is strange indeed to note that the government has failed to come up with any such policies in the past. As a matter of fact a Liberal policy on small business is non-existent. This forces the small business community to abide by the bureaucratic rules and regulations established for the sake and benefit of large, and usually multinational, corporations, corporations which are able to cope with such rules and regulations vis-a-vis the small businessman who is unable to do so.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I have said so often before in this Chamber, something that I believe is imperative for our democratic way of life to survive. If we want the small business firm sector to survive within our society, as indeed we all do with perhaps the exception of the NDP, then immediate action by the federal government must be taken. The small business community is what the free enterprise system is all about. It is what this country is built on and what this country can prosper by. Other countries which presently are more fortunate than Canada in respect of unemployment, inflation, productivity, and other areas by which the standard of success is judged, have all concentrated their economic energies toward their small firm sector within their industrial way of life.
The Address-Mr. Whelan
We cannot and we must not allow the Prime Minister of Canada to change the free market system in this country. If the Prime Minister believes the free market system does not work, as he so clearly stated a year or so ago, then may I remind him that if indeed free enterprise is having its problems in this country, that certainly has nothing to do with the system itself, but rather with the strangle hold that he and his government have had on that system for the past decade or so. Sending his newly appointed Minister of State for Small Business (Mr. Marchand) to the Soviet Union as his first official trip abroad is not a step in the right direction toward preserving free enterprise.
Perhaps the federal government will finally take the necessary steps to reverse its trend toward centralization and make the legislative changes so vital to the survival of the free market system and society as we know it. If, however, the government is persistent in allowing free enterprise to suffer by its unwillingness to cope with the problems associated with it, which I believe to be the case as the government has had enough time to change its theories and philosophies, then I know the electorate as a whole will follow yesterday's trend in the by-elections and, at the next opportunity, elect the appropriate representatives who will be committed to preserving the traditions that have made this country the great place it is.
Subtopic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE