The thing that does appeal, of course- and no person with a social conscience would be too disturbed by this-is that basically we are trying to direct government assistance where it is most helpful. Someone long ago, who did not belong to this House, said, "To each according to his needs", and that is not a totally erroneous description of how
November 9, 1978
the power of government should be used. It is not an improper position in any way.
I have certain little anxieties that in this measure we are, to a degree, assaulting the principle of universality and moving in effect, if not by declaration, back toward something a little closer to the means test mentality. That is something which has always upset me because I began my political career 22 years ago, when we had to deal with all sorts of senior citizens in this country who would ask the Conservative candidate, "Is it true that if you win we shall lose our old age pension?" That is something I shall never forget. It was a very mean abuse of our older people. I have a deep-seated emotional anxiety about that. Perhaps if I were back in university I might be tempted to use the word "syndrome". But what is becoming increasingly apparent-and I noticed it earlier this afternoon when my colleague from York-Simcoe, who has a calculator here-and the Minister of Finance has one over there-was engaging in a discussion about, as I recall, de-indexing, non-indexing and re-indexing. I am not a geronton by any means but I have been here a long time and one thing I am certain has happened- this is no cause and effect relationship; I have watched it-is that our legislative measures are becoming constantly more complicated.
I predict to both ministers that there will be trouble ahead in interpretation; there will be trouble ahead in administration. And I always believe it is basically a bad thing a priori if you confuse, compound and complicate the relationship of a citizen with his government. That is most assuredly going to happen with this measure. God knows that the Minister of Finance deserves credit for being persistent, and I am quite sure that he will continue to make predictions. I am also sure that as month follows month it will be discovered that the hon. member for York-Simcoe is far more capable of predicting the future than is the minister.
I do not applaud the elaborateness which is coming into this measure. The Minister of National Health and Welfare is a Canadian with a very highly developed social conscience, and I think the intent of this measure is not at all bad, but I have a feeling that as it is administered the Canadian people will find that it is not nearly so great a measure as the Minister of Finance proclaimed it to be in his opening paragraph.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: INCOME TAX ACT