Mr. Andre Harvey (Chicoutimi):
Mr. Speaker, I take great pride in having been given this opportunity to speak in the House for the first time as the Member for the riding of Chicoutimi, which includes the entire Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area, probably one of the worst examples of the disastrous and bankrupt administration of the former Liberal Government.
Mr. Speaker, I realize that individual Members alone cannot change the way this country is administered, but as a Member of the Progressive Conservative Party, I am convinced that this Government has the will to make very decisive changes in the way the affairs of this country are administered.
A few days ago, the Government announced to all Canadians its main political and economic objectives. On the whole, reactions have been very positive. This is because for the first time in twenty-two years a government, and in this case our new Government, has put the cards on the table so that all Canadians can understand the gravity of this country's financial situation. Our Government looks to the future, Mr. Speaker, but we cannot shake off the legacy of the past. The Right Hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) and the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) have highlighted the main problems facing this country. If we compare the country's finances to other budgets, be they family, municipal or provincial, the gravity of the mistakes that have been made suddenly looms very large.
Anyone who, over a period of fifteen years, manages to go from a deficit of zero to $35 billion is bound to be in serious trouble. Increasing the deficit certainly does not create jobs. Our Liberal friends opposite are claiming that budgetary cutbacks will bring about the loss of between 50,000 and
100.000 jobs. If increasing the deficit is supposed to create jobs, I wonder why the Liberals, who increased the deficit by more than 20 billion over the last four years, did not create
500.000 jobs instead of 1,500,000 unemployed? This means that the actual situation, if we look at the figures, is far more serious and should be taken far more seriously than our friends opposite have been doing during the past few weeks.
Most families or municipalities or provinces would be in a very bad way if over the last ten or twelve years, they had multiplied their debt load by ten. Most people who owed $18,000 twelve years ago and were living on a very strict budget, would be in serious trouble if twelve years later they owed $180,000. That is exactly what we are up against in this country today.
Mr. Speaker, all this illustrates the relevance of some comments by Mr. Jerome Choquette, who for a long time was
November 20, 1984
not opposed to Liberal views. Mr. Choquette said, on the basis of his considerable experience in municipal affairs, that many provincial and federal administrators would do well to get some experience in managing a municipal budget, with the obligation to explain to the community why their taxes are being raised.
One of the main reasons why the public reaction has been positive is that the government is open. The second explanation for the satisfaction expressed by the people about the reasons given by the government to justify the significant change of course we are about to make is that over the past three months, our government has heeded the overwhelming desire for change voiced on September 4. The people did not put us in office to steer the same course but to change it altogether. Mr. Speaker, it is difficult for a Member to agree to get down to politics with restricted prospects. We are not being asked to tour plants and visit social organizations handing out grants for electoral purposes, no, we are being urged to act as a responsible administration and implement short-, medium- and long-term policies.
That is a challenge for a politician, but 1 suggest that it is the only way to come to grips with the very serious problems facing our society and Quebec, particularly the riding of Chicoutimi and the Lac-Saint-Jean area. These are not empty words: the unemployment rate in my region is not 5, 10 or 15 per cent, it is 25 per cent, nothing less. I happen to represent villages where the rate of unemployment under the Liberals in office for 22 years has soared to 50 per cent. Given such hard facts, Mr. Speaker, I simply have to make a summary analysis of the political orientations advocated in the Speech from the Throne and their impact on my riding. I intend to devote a few minutes of my speech to that aspect.
The first of the four major orientations contained in the Speech from the Throne has to do with national reconciliation. If there is one theme which matters to Quebecers, if there is one theme which is significant in a region like Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean where most people voted yes in the referendum, that theme has to be the national reconciliation. To put it in another way, everything must be done to end the polarization of the ideological debate between Quebec and Ottawa, not to mention the municipalities. We had to live through-in any case that was my personal experience as municipal administrator-conflicts sparked by endless arguments between Ottawa and Quebec, and we had a rough time because costs keep soaring when both sides cannot agree on anything. Major projects slated for my region have not been implemented for five, ten or fifteen years as a result of the ideological debate between Ottawa and Quebec. There are quite a few. How can I refrain from mentioning the case of the Saguenay National Park? We do not have eight parks in our province, only one
November 20, 1984
and it is dear to us. The area I represent is confronted with enormous problems and I am convinced that all Quebecers are aware of the Saguenay National Park issue.
The Liberals ran many campaigns on this issue. They ran not one, not two, but up to five campaigns on it. Therefore, we promised during the last election campaign that we would not follow their example. Beside we were able to find grounds for agreement on everything except the Saguenay National Park issue, Mr. Speaker. For instance, there is the Alma-La Baie Highway. Highways are important in Canada, but nowhere in this country is the road network as bad as in our area. We have the shortest highway in the world: it is only five kilometers long. The problem has existed for 10 years and the federal Liberals made use of the intermunicipal disagreements to withdraw their support. In my opinion, this is not the way to promote regional progress.
Therefore we strongly believe in the theme of national reconciliation because this has cost our region a lot economically and socially, Mr. Speaker.
Another important issue related to national reconciliation is the priority that our Government will give to the Economic Summit, and I may say that economic summits are something which people in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region understand quite well. In a few minutes, Mr. Speaker, I shall be tabling the recommendations of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Economic Summit at which 2,000 people worked for two years formulating recommendations and setting development priorities for our region. How could I not point out that this summit, where major areas of consensus were found, took place in the absence of the Liberal MP's from the region?
As for the second theme reflected in the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker, namely the importance of economic renewal, it is impossible not to believe that a major change in the economic management of this country is absolutely essential.
How can anyone possibly fail to realize that we simply must make a sharp turn in the economic management of this country? Obviously, Mr. Speaker, that cannot be done in three months. We keep talking about research and development because it is important. During 22 years, the Liberals invested about 1.2 per cent of the GNP in research, as compared with 2, 3 and 4 per cent in countries like Japan, Germany and many others which were convinced that research was the only way out, aware as they were that productivity and job creation are directly proportional to investments in research. The forestry industry is the most striking example of that. In the next four years, we as a government intend to make huge investments in research. Tens of thousands of jobs are related to that industry in my riding.
According to all the reports available, the forest industry will not survive unless it earmarks at least 20 per cent-not 10 per cent-of its profits for research. We are talking in terms of
The Address-Mr. Harvey
$200 million, not $100 million, if we do not want our competitors to widen the gap even more rapidly.
Mr. Speaker, we have a regional university back home which has the utmost difficulty in obtaining federal and provincial government grants. That is why we intend ... I am convinced that the course set by this government will open the doors of many departments so that we will be able to assume our regional responsibilities with respect to research and job creation.
Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot of things about the Foreign Investment Review Agency, FIRA for short. Not so long ago, I read a report on enquiries made of foreign companies which had to deal with FIRA. Seventy-five to 80 per cent of those 67 companies, including 50 with 250 employees or more, had serious misgivings about FIRA operations. Needless to say, that is hardly conducive to Canada's economic growth.
Mr. Speaker, much has been said about the universality of social benefits allocated to poor Canadians. Judging from the over-all orientation of this government concerning pension reforms, family allowances and old age security pensions, I am sure that the government, with such a strong mandate from the people to change course, will not carry out those reforms on the back of poor Canadians. The government intends to do the opposite, Mr. Speaker. We will be in a position to recoup some of the taxpayers' money, Mr. Speaker, and 1 have in mind the Crown corporations which grew from 38 to 400 in 12 years. The Progressive Conservative Party is not the one claiming that the previous government did not have the political will to avoid wasteful expenditures.
Last December 12, the Auditor General of Canada, Mr. Dye, said this: The government has not shown enough political will to reduce wasteful spending. That statement was made by Canada's Auditor General, not by the Progressive Conservative Party. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Turner) himself said that there was a lot of waste, that much financial recuperation had to be done. We agree with them, Mr. Speaker. We have begun to do just that and we will continue to do just that.
Mr. Speaker, with regard to reopening the universality issue of our social programs, it seems that some editorialists are a lot quicker to understand the situation than some Hon. Members. I would like to quote Mr. Wagniere of La Presse. Universality is a problem which must not be glossed over; it must be debated until we can find a solution acceptable to everyone, Mr. Speaker. The philosophy of universality is attractive because of its simplicity and fairness. However in practical terms, it is often neither simple nor fair. There are probably better ways to help children and low-income families than to distribute indiscriminately the riches of the state, only to take a portion of them back through personal income tax.
November 20, 1984
The Address-Mr. Harvey
Mr. Speaker, one of the last themes discussed in the throne speech concerns world peace. It might seem contradictory to support our full participation in NATO while advocating peace. In my view it is like being on a team. When you do not do your own part, no one listens to you. This is true in military matters, in social affairs as well as in politics. I therefore believe that the commitment of the Progressive Conservative party to honour its obligations to NATO is a guarantee for the future allowing us to be a responsible and worthy partner.
I am convinced, Mr. Speaker, that in spite of the fact that all the Liberals can talk about these days is jobs, jobs, jobs, the best way to give jobs to the unemployed, and they are not simply 175,000 as in 1968, but 1.5 million because of the Liberal policies, is to seriously and strictly manage our public affairs and to explain our policies to the Canadian people. In so doing, I am convinced that there will be significant changes in the area of job creation in a short while.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the residents of the Chicoutimi riding and the entire region, as well as all Quebecers of my commitment to job creation and to all the endeavours of this Government.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY