Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi)
Mr. Speaker, I welcome this occasion to speak on the budget debate and the concerns of Miramichi riding in New Brunswick. Speaking in this Chamber on behalf of all my constituents is an honour, a privilege and a
tremendous responsibility toward those people who elected me last October.
For 15 years Maurice Dionne represented the Miramichi. I continue to rely on him for advice. The people of the Miramichi are indebted to Maurice for his tremendous efforts on their behalf. Last weekend I participated with the Rotary Clubs of Newcastle and Chatham in presenting Maurice with the Paul Harris award, the highest award in the world of Rotary.
The Miramichi is a geographic expression, an identity and a free spirit that actually exists across this entire continent. It is a rural area that depends on its natural resources.
From its early years people had to leave the area in order to seek employment. For generations the young people of the Miramichi migrated both westward and southward. Yes, during past generations the spirit of the Miramichi can be found in most Canadian provinces and many American states.
Basically the Miramichi is a river that begins in the central highlands of New Brunswick and flows eastward into Miramichi Bay facing the province of Prince Edward Island. Its people for the most part live along the river valleys with the main river or one of its tributaries within sight of their homes. We speak of the Tabusintac, the Bartibog, the Black, the Napan, the North West, the Little South West, the Barnaby, the Renous, the Cains and other rivers.
Newcastle and Chatham are two small towns. They are the business centres of our community. We also have seven incorporated villages. We are proud to have three native communities at Burnt Church, Eel Ground and Red Bank.
Forestry, fishing, mining and agriculture are the main sectors of employment. Until last week CFB Chatham was one of our major employers.
The Miramichi has traditionally been a Liberal riding. With one exception since World War II the riding has returned a Liberal member to this House. Within the region there is a strong tradition of faith in the principles of liberalism and a belief that the good times of the people in our area are best guided by those who support Liberal policies.
A government represents the people. A budget is a plan by government for accumulating revenues and regulating expenditures. It is a plan that should bring the most good and the least pain to the many groups and individuals that make up the nation. It is a plan for sharing and a plan that must be fair. It is a plan that must balance the available resources with the needs of our people. Above all it must be a plan that maintains confidence in our economic system by both our own financial institutions and the international monetary community. It is my belief that the finance minister has walked the tightrope that balances these forces. This budget is a good beginning for our new government.
I want to point out that we must not lose sight of the most important element required to turn our economy around: the need for our people to have the necessary confidence so that they will spend their money, they will invest in our nation and they will look in a positive manner at the economic future.
There must be a demand in order for business to sell its products. This demand can only be created by the consumer wanting the goods and services of business and having the necessary moneys for their purchase.
Our government must create an atmosphere where despondency does not exist, where gloom and doom are no longer the bywords of our people. It must be one where Canadians believe they are led by a government that has a vision and above all a determination to spend its resources prudently and in the best interests of all citizens.
This budget calls on all Canadians to make sacrifices for the good of the nation. Atlantic Canada has been called upon to make sacrifices greater than any other area in Canada.
The amendments to the UIC program will cause the people in our area to lose millions of dollars in payments. Those involved in fishing, forestry and the tourist sector will have difficulty obtaining the necessary work weeks in order to qualify for UIC. Those who do will be able to draw for a shorter period of time. The result is that many individuals who relied on this form of income support will be short in the moneys needed to provide for their families. The New Brunswick economy will lose an estimated $200 million in cash flow which affects every business in Atlantic Canada.
It is important therefore that the review of all social programs within the human resources development department must address this concern. It should define the status of work as we approach the 21st century.
More than 150 years ago Great Britain had harsh labour laws, conditions that demanded tremendous sacrifice from men, women and children. Today we have reduced the weekly hours of work to 40, yet most households in the country require two wage earners to support their needs. In many cases teenagers have little time to enjoy the years of youth because they work part time while trying to complete their education.
Will history see our present generation as an age where so much effort and so much time is required to support the needs of one's family? Or can we afford for our people on an equitable basis to reduce their work time and offer them more time for leisure, relaxation and recreation?
The Miramichi has made another great sacrifice in this budget: the loss of Canadian Forces Base Chatham. The closure of this air base, which has been a part of our community for over 50 years, means the loss of 240 civilian jobs, nearly 700 military ones and more than $50 million to our local economy.
We all recognize that the Department of National Defence is being reduced and must be made more efficient. Unfortunately for the Miramichi this cutback is at a time when our pulp and paper industry is in recession and our mines at Heath Steele are closed due to low base metal prices.
Therefore 1994 is a turning point in the future of our region. Our people are ready to meet the challenge of developing a new economy. However we will need full co-operation and assistance from both the federal and provincial governments.
The Premier of New Brunswick, the Hon. Frank McKenna, is working hard to rebuild the Miramichi. As a member of the government I too will devote my energies in this direction so as to create a new future for our people.
Canada must be represented throughout our nation. I strongly believe our government must be decentralized with the government departments and agencies spread across this country. If Canada is to survive all Canadians must be part of this great enterprise.
Canada and the federal government must not be portrayed as a great bureaucracy located in Ottawa and several major cities. It must reach out to our nation and to all Canadians in every region of the country. They all must enjoy the fruits of their participation.
Chatham, New Brunswick with its community college has assumed leadership in the electronic highway with distance education and multimedia learning. In this age of electronic communication any government department, provincial or federal, could easily be located in our constituency.
In recent years the underground economy has been a major loss of revenue for both the federal and provincial governments. It is my belief that many Canadians have joined this economy because they believe our governments have been guilty of two serious offences: overtaxation and unwise and imprudent spending of their hard-earned dollars.
As members of the 35th Parliament we together have an opportunity to correct the situation. It is important that each of us work with our constituents and with the civil servants of this country to see that moneys are not wasted and the people of Canada receive good value for their expenditures.
Waste must be eliminated. Efficiency must be improved. Above all fairness and equity must be the order of the day. Everyone must realize that avoidance of taxes and misuse of funds is literally robbing one's neighbour. It places a heavier burden upon those honest people who support the government.
Civil service budgets must not be seen as an amount that must be spent but rather as a guideline that should not be exceeded and hopefully a measure that can offer savings. Those with philosophies that budgetary amounts must be exhausted by March 31 each year cannot be left in positions of responsibility.
In October the people of Canada told us they wanted a new system, that they were tired, angry and frustrated by the methods, attitudes and behaviour of the former government.
This budget begins a new agenda. Members on all sides of the House have an opportunity to create a new type of government, a new atmosphere. Let us hope we can work together to improve our nation and everyone's tomorrow. We must not lose sight of our goals or we become waylaid by the bureaucracy that surrounds us.
The challenge is great, but we can work together to achieve our goals.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: The Budget