Mr. Steve Butland (Sault Ste. Marie):
Madam Speaker, first I want to salute my colleague. It is a laudable idea and I applaud him for his initiative. If I were in his constituency, I would probably do the very same thing and would be remiss and perhaps criticized if I did not.
Much work has gone into this Bill, and various municipalities are involved. I know full well the frustrations of a municipal politician, having spent 10 years in that particular line of work. I know that they are behind the project.
The benefits are obvious. Ottawa and area is a beautiful place to visit. It is a showcase for Canada. It is a pleasure to be here. In fact, it is the second most favourable city I would like to be in, second only to Sault Ste. Marie.
Canadians must be proud to visit their capital and the NCC has done very much to make this more than a liveable city and area, with an exemplary life-style. Other Canadian cities may in fact be jealous of the moneys spent, but their nationalism shines through and they say it is probably money well spent.
Having said this, I must add some criticism, not of the project or the concept or the initiative, but to some of the changes in direction and philosophy of the NCC. I have read the NCC corporate plan and have some grave concerns about the terminology used and some of its probable consequence.
National Capital Act
As I read through the corporate plan I see phrases like market approach, market driven, revenue generation ventures, user fees, contracting out. This sounds very much like another agenda that we have become used to in this recent Thirty-fourth Parliament. I have great fears that the two agendas will come together, and I do not believe that is something we want to endorse, because the endorsation of that particular corporate plan would be an endorsation of the Government's plan.
We have concerns about the apparent change and the less than subtle approach of the NCC to doing business.
The NCC should definitely be at arm's length from the Government, and we have grave concerns that that arm is being amputated at bit at a time, if there is such a possibility.
One has to wonder about the timing of this initiative, however laudable, when there is a reduction in funding of $5 million. We are not yet sure how that will be addressed. As recently as yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Pigott could not say how the $5 million reduction would be addressed.
The request is for an expansion of territory only to be coincident with a reduction in funding. My hon. colleague suggests that this will cost nothing. I accept that it will probably cost nothing now, but certainly one has to be realistic and suggest that it will cost something in the distant future.
This concept of expansion yet reduction is tantamount to spending $27,000 on a shrub inventory, $48,000 on a poll to find out what Canadians think of the NCC, and spending $1.6 million on studies at at time when the Government says we must cut back. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) has said that the shrub inventory expenditure is stupid spending, but we all know it is business as usual. The inventory went ahead.
We all know that studies beget studies, to parahrase what was in the corporate plan. Studies are often put on the shelf where they gather dust. If they are not acted on with some immediacy, a new study will eventually be required when it is necessary to rationalize spending five years later. We cannot tighten our belts, pull in, and let out our trousers at the same time. Something will give. I
will not pursue that analogy, but one can see the consequences of trying to do this.
We support the concept of decentralization. Our Party supports that principle strongly. I hope a federal building is erected in Plantagenet, Casselman and Prescott-
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-PUBLIC BILLS NATIONAL CAPITAL ACT MEASURE TO AMEND