Mr. David Lewis (York South):
Mr. Speaker, when I listened to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner), I understood why he had delayed so long in presenting his budget. Even he was ashamed of it. To suggest that the budget attacks the problem of the rising cost of living is the height of hypocrisy. To suggest that the budget helps those most hurt by the burden of rising prices is the depth of cruelty.
I have said often in this House on behalf of the New Democratic Party, as have other members of my party, that we reject the idea of over-all wage and price controls. In this we agree with the minister, so far as his budget is concerned, although I am somewhat worried about the
contingency plan about which the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) has spoken.
We disagree with the idea of wage and price controls for reasons we have often given. Let me summarize them in one sentence. I suggest that such policy would either freeze high prices and low wages or would have to be so modified that it would cease to be an over-all plan and would become what the NDP has proposed, a selective price control system. Indeed, the members of the Conservative Party themselves have edited their proposal. First, it was to be a 90-day freeze; then it was to be for 120 days; then they were to institute controls for 18 months. Then, there were to be controls for two years. Then, there would be no freeze or control at the farm gate; then low paid workers were to have their wages lifted. I think the proponents of the idea of over-all price and wage controls have condemned it themselves, because they cannot stick with it.
But equally, we will not accept the proposition that nothing can be done for the people of Canada with respect to the rising cost of living. We reject the notion that you can let the corporations control the market at the expense of the consumer, and slap them on the wrist for so doing, as the minister did yesterday. The redistribution of income in Canada that has taken place in the last year or two has been redistribution in reverse, Mr. Speaker.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: THE BUDGET