February 13, 1979 (30th Parliament, 4th Session)


Donald James Johnston


Mr. Johnston (Westmount):

There was nothing to prevent any member of the opposition holding discussions with anyone they chose. They are quite entitled to talk to the Canadian Bankers' Association, to economists, to analysts with the C. D. Howe Institute or the Economic Council. They can talk to anybody they please, and they are quite capable of putting questions to responsible ministers based on the information they obtain. But they have not done so. Basically, they are trying to create an inflammatory political situation out of a serious economic matter which the government has openly put forward for examination.
We hear charges that there is secrecy. There is no secrecy here, Mr. Speaker. There is nothing secret about the situation of the Canadian dollar. Nothing is undisclosed. The only secret, Mr. Speaker, and perhaps the best kept secret, is what the opposition's policy is with regard to the dollar, and, for that matter, with regard to other economic measures which they hope to implement, such as the stimulative deficit, about which we have heard so much, and such as laying off something in the order of 60,000 public service employees without
F ebruary 13, 1979

anyone getting hurt by such a move. There are many aspects of the policies of the opposition which really are shrouded in mystery and secrecy. But that is not the case in so far as the government is concerned in relation to the dollar.
Long term solutions are obviously necessary. We have to work together in a non-partisan way to arrive at long-term solutions which will ultimately resolve the problem of the dollar and the other attendant difficulties flowing therefrom. Low productivity presents a serious problem in this country. Reference has been made to the situation in the United States, where productivity is also a serious problem. In fact The Economist recently published material which indicated that of the seven largest OECD countries the increase in productivity in the United States was the lowest. Britain was second, and we are the third lowest. That is not a good record. And that is where we have to make a start. We need to establish long-term economic objectives, and I am sure we will do so.

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