Mr. J. A. Mongrain (Trois-Rivieres):
Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I will infringe for only a second the rules of the house, because of the outright provocation directed to me by the opposition by referring to Three Rivers.
This is not a matter of narrow-mindedness nor of out and out nationalism; it is that there is no such city as Three Rivers. In fact, we still have the English version of the incorporation act of the city of Trois-Rivieres, where it is actually called Trois-Rivieres.
By the way, I urge all members from other provinces to name cities having incorporation acts written in both languages, dating back to more than a hundred years, as in the case of Trois-Rivieres.
For instance, there is in Manitoba a city called Souris and nobody ever thought of translating that into Mouse. The Speaker's name is Lamoureux, yet I never call him Lover.
I have a few words to add concerning Bill C-139, for it would be unthinkable to leave Hansard readers under the impression that the wave of curses that has just unfurled on the party in power is justified. There are, after all, obvious principles, even for the opposition members, but they are not in a position to say so, because it would not be cricket.
December 11, 1969
Everybody understands that it is not pleasant to maintain a tax, no more than to pay it. Everybody understands that it is not pleasant for anyone to undergo a painful operation or to deprive oneself of things one is most anxious to have, because one cannot afford them. But that is a part of the sacrifices people and individuals must bear to avoid a greater evil.
[DOT] (9:10 p.m.)
What does history teach us? A while ago, an hon. member quoted the memorable remark of the then minister of finance: "This 3 per cent surtax will apply only for the taxation years 1968 and 1969". Of course, he was speaking in good faith, according to information provided him by experts.
For instance, no opposition member can forecast next year's weather on this same date. One cannot guarantee what the economic climate will be in Canada or elsewhere a year from now, taking into account the crisis we are going through presently. Hon. members of the opposition know that Canada is now experiencing the same difficulties as almost all the industrialized countries of the West.
We have only to remember what happened in England and in France, and the situation there was infinitely more serious than it is in Canada. It even led to the overthrow of a giant in France. We can also see today what is happening in Italy. I will not speak of less fortunate countries which have been facing economic hardships for centuries.
It is an international phenomenon, but fortunately the government has taken up the challenge and prevented greater harm. It has even been able to find solutions.
I remember the vote we took in early March of 1968. I was sitting at the other end of the House. I was sitting as an independent for personal reasons which the electors of my constituency understood. However, they warned me: we do not elect you as an independent to systematically fight the government. We elect you to support the government when it is right and to make representations to it when it is wrong. When the vote was taken on the 3 per cent tax increase I had decided to vote against it. I had even advised my fellow-citizens that I would vote against it.
But a few days before the vote was taken, an international crisis arose on which my hon. friends are aware. I am not as learned as the universal experts we have heard tonight, and
Income Tax Act
I am not a quack that tries to impose panaceas. When I do not have sufficient knowledge about a subject, I consult the experts. Well then, I consulted some Canadian and American financiers who told me: "We are going through a crisis so severe that if the government does not take strong measures, the Canadian and the American dollar might be devalued."
That is when we proceeded with a major operation. Therefore, I explained to my fellow-citizens why I had changed my mind. Anyhow, only imbeciles do not change their minds.
Why did I change my mind then? Because it was in the best interest of the Canadian nation. I take this opportunity to pay a tribute to the Leader of the Official Opposition (Mr. Stanfield); indeed, one day, he could have defeated the government. He had only to say so and the Liberal government would have been defeated. But he refused, in spite of the advice of some members of his party, to contribute to the defeat of the government, because he remembered that Lincoln had said: It is not best to swap horses while crossing the river. One does not rock the boat in the midst of a storm.
When the well-being of a nation is concerned, all political considerations should be put aside to support the government which is in fact that of our country. That is what the Leader of the Opposition did last year, disregarding the advice of some of his own members, and I have admired him a little more on that account.
As for myself, I have supported the governmental policy, because it has stood the test of time. To prove my point, I shall not bring forward my own testimony, but rather quote from a summary of the Sixth Annual Review of the Economic Council of Canada, "Perspective 1975", published in September 1969. I admit that the austerity policy of the government has been painful. It required some sacrifices, but the Canadian people understood. My electors understood so well that after giving me a majority of 2000 votes in 1965, they gave me one of about 7000 in the 1968 election.
On page 27 of this summary, we can read the following:
Up to the mid-1970's, Canada's rate of growth should keep going up sharply and even exceed in that respect the performance of most Industrialized nations.
December 11, 1969
Income Tax Act
And 1 do emphasize these words:
-exceed ... the performance of most industrialized nations. Under such conditions, the welfare of the Canadian people will be greatly increased.
In the Review of the Economic Council of Canada, the authors do not deal in partisan politics but rather analyze carefully the situation prevailing in September 1969, as a result of the measures taken in the string of 1968.
A little further on, we can read on page 29 of the report, and I quote:
The success of the proposed measures, especially in the case of monetary policy, will depend upon the implementation of comparable measures in the United States.
I should now like to remind opposition members that it took over a year and a half to agree to that surtax, then a 10 per cent increase was imposed and it is that supplement we are still discussing now. In fact, it was the opinion of most of American economists then that the United States had missed the boat because they had passed this measure at least a year too late.
The quotation goes on:
It seems that, while moving away from the previous policy which was mainly geared to the short term cyclical fluctuations, this country is heading more and more towards longer term programs similar to those which we have been advocating for Canada.
This being so, our country will be prompted and encouraged to adopt similar measures.
And a little further, Mr. Speaker, we can read the following, and I quote:
For the fifth consecutive year, the public accounts established on the basis of the national accounts and including all sectors of government (including the revenue derived from the pension plans), show a surplus in 1968. We must note that for that year, this surplus was achieved at a time when the economy was slowing down a little while the unemployment rate was getting near 5 per cent. Had there been full employment, this surplus would have been sensibly more important. From 1969 on, austerity measures far more severe than in the United States were introduced in the budgetary policy, as shown by our analysis of the national accounts. It will be necessary to watch closely the opportunity of maintaining those restraints applied by the Canadian government at all levels.
Indeed, the organization responsible for this document says that of course, the government has taken very hard measures of restraint, the results of which will be better assessed within a couple of years. Besides, this is what the report says on page 30-as a matter of fact, it is the quotation the members of the opposition brought up on several occasions, but
without mentioning where it came from-and I quote:
-further fiscal and monetary restraint could conceivably result simply in higher rates of unemployment and economic slack with no more than marginal effects on current rates of increase in prices and costs.
That is merely an assumption, but when one is about to drown, one grabs the first branch available. Doing nothing does not help. Further on, we can read, and I quote:
Moreover, tight restraint in Canada this year is likely to have its main impact on the economy next year.
We shall see next year. When I hear members of the opposition criticize everything, I think we simply must do something. They are asking the government to engage in expenditures and investments that would reach several billion dollars but they have no practical answer to suggest.
The Creditiste member, at least, suggest a solution in which they believe since they have been upholding it for years, in the face of those who term it illusive.
I give them credit for that: they at least have a solution to suggest while most other members of the opposition are content with fighting against the government without proposing concrete solutions.
We are not playing at demagoguery, even though it would be easy to do so when there is unrest throughout the world and even in Canada. It is easy to play the demagogue, to set those who are the least informed in public affairs against the government, by claiming that the government in power it to blame for the unrest in the nation, as it has been done in other countries, without however solving any problem.
I heard the member for Edmonton West (Mr. Lambert) say: If things keep up this way, we will have a $12 billion budget this year. So what? The federal government gave more than ever to the provinces this year; the population has increased, as well as the needs and the cost of the social services. Had the government not imposed an austerity program, what would then be the situation! The government is blamed for being strict in its management of public funds and at the same time, it is blamed for curtailing expenses. Such is the logic of the members of the opposition. For instance, the government is taken to task for its failure to maintain certain positions which are not essential and, finally, for cutting down the number of some others.
December 11, 1969
[DOT] (9:20 p.m.)
The Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) is even blamed for having some thirty assistants at his disposal. But with his assistants, he works indeed. He has done more in one year than the opposition during all the time it was in office. It is constructive work and not necessarily party-oriented.
The hon. member for Edmonton West said that the public debt was increasing at an alarming rate. Federal and provincial governments, municipalities and school boards receive 45 cents out of every taxpayer dollar. He did not say however how much money found its way back into the taxpayers' pocket under the form of hospital insurance scheme, unemployment insurance benefits, old age pensions, pensions for disabled people, family allowances, and so on, and also under the form of assistance to universities and for the construction of hospitals and schools. You get nothing for nothing. In my opinion, the opposition could not make any miracle. If it wanted to meet the needs of the whole Canadian population, it would have to find the money where it is. Since it is not economical to manufacture synthetic gold, one must get it where it is.
I agree with some opposition members who feel that we should find ways to lighten the buren of the less fortunate taxpayers and to improve the lot of the unemployed. The members opposite will at least recognize that something new has been done: the designated areas have been delineated in a much more logical way than before. The granting of additional subsidies of more than $300 million has been approved to help the areas most affected by unemployment.
In my view, this measure is much more serious and its purpose is to eliminate poverty. It is much more efficient than the dreams and the lucubrations of certain quacks who pretend to solve everything here by condemning the government and laying at its door all the ills of mankind.
The situation is a difficult one, indeed. This government had the courage to enforce hard measures just before the elections and the Canadian people understood, as shown by the number of government members who were elected. We will complete the task. In spite of the lamentations of the Opposition members we will not stop until we have brought some stability to our economy, which will be achieved within a year, if I go by the quotation I read earlier.
Income Tax Act
I wish to ask the Opposition members to forget for a moment that we are poli.icians and that we may have different opinions on election matters. Let us remember, however, some fundamentals. We are first of all heads of families, responsible Canadians who want this country to survive, in the best way possible, even if, like individuals, it sometimes knows economic or other crises. When the economic climate is not the most favourable, it is not the right moment to say, as to a patient on the eve of an operation: I have seen many who have died of this. That would be encouraging! On the contrary, we must work hand in hand and tell the patient to cheer him up: Take courage and follow the doctor's advice even if it hurts. You will make it. This is what the people must be told, instead of being served a lot of baloney. They must be told to make sacrifices, because they have to in the circumstances.
We are going through a crisis, but we are weathering it better than any other country in the world. We are about to solve our economic problems. And we shall settle them before any other country in the world. All Canadians of good faith will agree on that. We shall discuss details when the crisis is over.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: INCOME TAX ACT