Monte SOLBERG

SOLBERG, The Hon. Monte, P.C.

Personal Data

Party
Conservative
Constituency
Medicine Hat (Alberta)
Birth Date
September 17, 1958
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Solberg
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=a41f0339-61c7-4e13-9988-3388def0e162&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
broadcaster, businessman

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
REF
  Medicine Hat (Alberta)
June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
REF
  Medicine Hat (Alberta)
March 27, 2000 - October 22, 2000
CA
  Medicine Hat (Alberta)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
CA
  Medicine Hat (Alberta)
December 12, 2003 - May 23, 2004
PC
  Medicine Hat (Alberta)
February 2, 2004 - May 23, 2004
CPC
  Medicine Hat (Alberta)
June 28, 2004 - November 29, 2005
CPC
  Medicine Hat (Alberta)
January 23, 2006 - September 7, 2008
CPC
  Medicine Hat (Alberta)
  • Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (February 6, 2006 - January 3, 2007)
  • Minister of Human Resources and Social Development (January 4, 2007 - October 29, 2008)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 467 of 471)


March 16, 1994

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat)

Mr. Speaker, I point out it is a very rich program and I would argue it is a two-tier system of unemployment insurance.

Considering that the Auditor General has been very critical of the application of the workforce adjustment program, will the Treasury Board president commit to reconsider the need for this program and the new adjustment plan for the military, considering that we will soon have a reformed UI plan to deal with these types of problems.

Topic:   Oral Questions Period
Subtopic:   Employment
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March 16, 1994

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage for her comments.

She mentioned in her speech several measures that the government is taking to protect Canadian publishing and Canadian

culture. I would point out that the effects of protective-type measures like that are very punitive, particularly for the consumer of culture. They lead to higher taxes, higher costs and less choice. They uphold inefficient businesses and they really do imply that somehow our culture is inferior to the culture that comes from other countries.

I also point out that culture is very dynamic and it is always moving and really is subject to change. The borders cannot stop that influence any more. We see a lot of that coming in anyway. I would argue that it is also necessary to have that type of influence to keep a culture fresh. Without that we get an inbred culture and a very nationalistic, very petty and very mean culture. That is a problem that a sovereign Quebec would have to deal with.

I also believe that when governments interfere and make arbitrary decisions on what constitutes culture it is extremely inappropriate. Culture is a very personal matter and we must let the consumer be sovereign.

Why does the government not want to let the consumer drive the cultural industry in Canada? Why is it afraid to let consumers make those types of decisions? Why is it afraid to let consumers decide what constitutes art, what constitutes a good novel and what constitutes the type of culture they want to be a part of and enjoy?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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March 16, 1994

Mr. Solberg

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to respond and to suggest some other possible approach for the government.

We are not advocating that we return to the Baie Comeau policy at all. We do not believe in that. What we are saying is that if there were a policy in place and there were some rules to be followed, then those rules should be followed. If we are going to set some guidelines, then let us make sure that everybody knows what they are and follow them.

Having said that, we support moving away from cultural protectionism and we would hope the government will realize that is no longer appropriate in the world. The type of protectionism we have in this country today simply is not working. It leads to some division in the country in that the government makes arbitrary decisions about what constitutes something as personal as culture.

I would argue that is an inappropriate role for the government. That is why we have an uproar when the National Art Gallery buys paintings with taxpayers' money that most people cannot see the value of.

My comments are to encourage the government to move away from that type of protectionism and to let the consumer decide what constitutes culture.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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March 16, 1994

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

Why is the federal civil service offered the six months' pay in lieu provision of the workforce adjustment plan and in the case of the military up to two years' pay for adjustment for base closures when we already have a UI plan in place as a safety net for people who become unemployed?

Topic:   Oral Questions Period
Subtopic:   Employment
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March 14, 1994

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat)

Madam Speaker, I rise in response to the challenges which were laid out but sadly not met by the finance minister in his budget speech and to speak in favour of the motion that is now before the House.

Canada's federal debt has given birth to the vandals that ravage the Canadian economy: bankruptcy, ruinous taxation, crumbling social programs and dehumanizing unemployment. Interest payments on the debt consume a third of every tax dollar from taxpayers who are already among the highest taxed people in the world.

Our level of foreign debt for all levels of government now approaches 50 per cent. We are particularly vulnerable to financial chaos should investors grow concerned about our stability and withdraw their funds. They are concerned. Thus our soft underbelly lies exposed.

Time after time bond rating services caution us about getting our spending under control. Two provinces, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, teeter on the brink of fiscal crisis. Canadian investors vote with dollars, and with the stability of our economy in question they are increasingly looking south, to Europe and to the Pacific Rim to invest their money or they move their trade to the underground economy beyond the maw of the insatiable tax man.

Meanwhile the uncertainty that surrounds the future of Quebec has driven up the premium that investors demand on their money to the point at which some analysts say we pay an extra $6 billion a year in interest on the debt. As always those investors are ready to flee our country to more capital friendly regimes at the very first sign of trouble.

This is the grim reality unadorned by the charming optimism that formed the minister's budget speech. The budget merely tinkers with the problem of the deficit. Some mild spending cuts, some tax increases and a lot of luck will leave us with a still untenable $40 billion deficit. To be kind, it is an effort that is left wanting.

I hasten to point out that the government deserves congratulations in a few of the measures it has taken. Apparently it is no longer politically incorrect as it was during the election to suggest that social programs need not be universal.

The reduction of UI benefits for some, the targeting of benefits for others and the subsequent removal of January's UI premium hike are all welcome moves. In their modest ways they will improve the economy. However much more needs to be done to mollify the fears of investors, both domestic and foreign, and of taxpayers to encourage them to stay in Canada and to remain in the above-ground economy.

The Reform plan focuses on judicious and humane spending cuts, cuts first to the top levels of government starting with MPs and senators. Including but not limited to it would be immediate and radical reform of MPs pensions. This pension plan is so unjust and so motivated by greed it is beyond belief that the Prime Minister has feebly attempted to defend it on several occasions in this place.

We advocate cuts to grants and subsidies for big business and special interests. We advocate the targeting of social programs to those most in need with the retention of the present levels of funding for education, health care and the core of the pension programs. We also advocate that unemployment insurance be administered and funded solely by employers and employees on an equal basis.

The effect of these cuts to government operations, the elimination of subsidies and grants and targeted social spending would be to reduce spending by about $20 billion a year. This combined with growth in the economy would bring us to a balanced budget or close to it after three years.

Naturally we therefore support a cap on spending as is advocated in this motion. We support the elimination of the infrastructure program and the other measures listed in this motion.

Let me talk more specifically about a single department and the measures which can be undertaken in that one area to bring spending under control. As a member of the Canadian heritage committee I am aghast that this department was almost completely overlooked in the government's initiative to cut spending.

It is no exaggeration to say that no other department has more vague, nebulous and implausible objectives than this one. Building understanding, striving for equality, preserving one's culture and appreciating our Canadian heritage are all noble goals and things we should all strive for as individuals. Generally speaking however these are areas where government is in way over its head.

Despite the billions and billions of dollars spent on official bilingualism in this country there are no more and perhaps fewer bilingual Canadians than 20 years ago. This is a failure by any standard. Because Canadians resent the heavy hand of government, official bilingualism has served to divide us along linguistic lines.

Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars poured into official multiculturalism, racial tensions are hitting new heights. That is also a failure by any standard. The sense that government favours certain minorities serves to divide us along racial lines.

Despite the billions of dollars poured into subsidizing and protecting Canadian culture, more and more we see Canadians gobbling up American TV, music and movies. Even CBC TV has acquiesced. With great embarrassment I am sure, it is forced to run American sitcoms to capture viewers. This too, by any conceivable standard, is a failure on a grand scale.

Just as important, Canadians are left to assume that this government intervention must mean our culture is inferior to culture from elsewhere. Or again, they simply resent the government's show of favouritism to the selected few, harbour their grudges and thus another division is created.

Why in the world does the government continue down this path that is so littered with failure? The $2.8 billion spent in the Department of Canadian Heritage could be cut by two-thirds. Average Canadians not only would not be hurt by it, they would probably stand and cheer out of gratitude for the tax dollars it would save them.

The problem is as plain as the nose on the Prime Minister's face. We have a very serious problem of overspending in the federal government. Our country is hemorrhaging red ink.

Let us not be fooled by a temporary upturn in our economic fortunes. The next few months may signal a stronger economy but to assume that the economic battle has been won is just whistling in the dark. The debt is always lurking nearby ready to drag us down at the first opportunity.

I ask the government to acknowledge the obvious problems I point to and to act immediately to reduce its overall spending in accordance with the motion before us.

I neglected to mention at the beginning of my talk that I would like the time to be divided pursuant to Standing Order 43(2).

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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