Having said that, I would like to join all those who, as is customary in the Speech from the Throne debate, have congratulated the mover and seconder who brought honour to themselves and to their particular areas by being chosen for this duty. Probably the one whom I know best is the hon. member for Bruce (Mr. Whicher), and I would like to say a word about the things he said in the House that day. As I remember the comments that were made about him when he was a member of the Ontario legislature, he was at that time considered to be one of the most quiet and sedate people. He spent a great deal of time criticizing the government of Ontario. I have watched him in the House and I have noticed that it is a little hard for him to sit quietly on the government benches when he feels that things are being done with which he does not entirely agree. However, the peons of praise that he heaped on the Trudeau government would appear to have all the earmarks of the preacher preaching for a call. Someone started the rumour that he may be slated for the Senate one of these days. No doubt he is one of those members who make cabinet ministers wince at caucus meetings, so probably they will be glad to get him out of the chamber and into the Senate where he might be a little quieter.
Having spent a great deal of time in my riding, which adjoins that of the hon. member for Bruce, I have the suspicion that the great flood of oratory he released upon this chamber was engendered by the criticism of the government which was heaped upon his head during the Christmas recess. If he took the course which I did of speaking to individuals and groups, he must have found it appalling that a government which had just three and a half years ago risen to such peaks of national popularity by the use of such catch phrases and charisma as the just society and participatory democracy should have engendered the oft repeated phrase which I heard during the recess, namely that Trudeau must go. I was flooded with this during the recess. One wonders how this could have happened in such a short time. Probably the Chamber of Commerce summed it up best in their brief to the government on January 31 of this year when they said the following:
Speech from the Throne
As a matter of fact, Mr. Prime Minister, during the year 1971 the chamber had over 125 substantive contacts with you, members of your cabinet and their officials, and Senate and House of Commons committees, including representations on most of the major legislative issues facing parliament last year. Despite this, I think it would be fair to say that, at the present time, there is a certain feeling of confusion and frustration on the business side with respect to business-government relations. There is a feeling among businessmen that even if they are being listened to, their views are not being understood by some government policy makers. There is a feeling that they are not getting through to those in government responsible for decision-making. There is a feeling of impatience among businessmen that their attempts to develop strong, growing enterprises are not appreciated, or sympathized with, by some responsible government representatives.
This brief was presented on January 31 of this year. Just the other day someone asked the Prime Minister in the House what the government had done to allay the confusion among the business world which started last fall. We all remember the group of businessmen who came to Ottawa in late November or early December, about the time we were discussing the tax bill. We all remember, too, how they went away shaking their heads because they were not any more knowledgeable about the tax bill when they went away than when they had come. They were disturbed and confused by the number of regulations and controls that had been presented to them. As I said, the other day the Prime Minister said that all these problems were solved by the budget in October and by the fact that the government had stabilized the dollar. He said that there is no more confusion in the business world, that it had all been straightened out. This is not true because this brief was presented on January 31 and the budget was brought down in October.
I should like to make one final quotation from this brief which substantiates what I have been saying. It refers to the tax reform and reads:
We would like to stress that, in the final result, the actual process involved in the development of the tax reform legislation created a very high degree of uncertainty and confusion among persons who must make decisions having a direct bearing on the forward thrust of the Canadian economy.
The words "confusion" and "uncertainty" are reiterated time and time again. This feeling does not only occur among businessmen. It also occurs throughout every segment of our economy. The fact is that this confusion and frustration were not only felt by the members of the business community but by the thousands of unemployed, thousands of old age citizens who find their life savings melting away under the onslaughts of our uncontrolled inflation, and by the small businessmen and farmers who could not comprehend the complexity of the capital gains tax and its effect on their personal holdings.
Is there any wonder, when one looks at this mess, that the chorus was unanimous from all quarters in my own riding that Trudeau must go? It is easily seen that the government appreciates that its stock has dropped to a very low ebb. Today one hon. member put a question to the minister in charge of Information Canada. He asked why the department was spending an extra $52 million, or some such figure, on government information services. We know that the government is disturbed about what people are thinking because everyone is being flooded with these pamphlets, such as this one entitled "Highlights for Individuals-Tax Reform and You", and "Rental
February 25, 1972
Speech from the Throne
Income and Undeveloped Land-Tax Reform and You", and "Goodwill and Similar Assets-Tax Re'form and You", and "Valuation Day-Tax Reform and You". And so it goes, Mr. Speaker. Floods of information and material come out of government offices trying to explain to the people of Canada what all this legislation means to them. But they cannot understand it; they do not know what to do and so are confused and disturbed. They feel that we must have a change.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Manpower and Immigration spoke about the situation at Bathurst, and other members have talked about the confusion at unemployment insurance offices. I have here a letter that just came yesterday from a man who has not worked since November 23. When I wrote to the minister about this on January 26 the man had not received a cent of unemployment insurance. It is interesting to note that, according to the letter from the minister's office, all of a sudden on January 24 a computer payment of $486 was made and the next day a manual payment of $437 was made.
Where is this great organization, this great unemployment insurance program that the parliamentary secretary claims is the greatest in the world? When I hear the hon. member for Bruce and the parliamentary secretary talk about programs like the unemployment insurance, the veterans' affairs and the old age pension being the greatest in the world, I wonder what the man in the moon is thinking. We will be up there one of these days. Will they be the greatest program up there, too, or on Mars? I have sat in this House for a number of years, Mr. Speaker, and I know the problems that exist from province to province and region to region. You cannot take the programs that work in other countries and expect them to work here. They talk about our programs being the best in the world but a lot of people, particularly the unemployed under 24 years of age trying to find work with no hope for the future, are not so sure that they are the best.
The Globe and Mail which carried the headline about Bathurst has another headline "35 per cent out of work in building unions-highest rate ever". I was a member of the government that inherited the tremendous unemployment problem in 1957-58. It was not created by the Conservative government but was inherited from an overbearing government that had sat for over 22 years. What did the Conservatives do about it? They brought in the winter works program. Last year in this House it was suggested that in view of the unemployment situation the Prime Minister should initiate a winter works program, but we were told that this was an outmoded approach and would not be used. Then, all of a sudden the Prime Minister saw the light. When he realized that the problem would not just go away, there was a crash program for employment and help to municipalities which was the same as the old winter works program. But the Conservative program had put a lot of carpenters, electricians and service people to work during the winter who had previously been drawing unemployment benefits. They were given jobs to help householders fix their premises. The slogan was "Why wait for Spring-Do it now" and it was successful.
Last fall an organization of people engaged in construction presented a brief to the government pointing out that the cost of a house had increased by approximately $1,000 in the last year and suggesting that removal of the 11 per cent sales tax on building materials would help reduce that increase. Nothing was done about that.
There has been a lot of talk about providing housing for people on middle and low incomes. Even if some of these people could manage to buy a home, they could never manage to get it paid off. Surely, the insurance companies and banks, even the Bank of Canada, could sit down together and find a way of reducing interest rates so that the average individual could afford to buy a house. With interest rates of 9 per cent or, 10 per cent and 15 per cent or 20 per cent on second mortgages, it is pretty difficult for the average individual to manage, even if he can get the down payment together. It means that he will carry a load for the rest of his life. There was nothing in the Speech from the Throne about help in these two areas.
Mr. Speaker, when I first participated, in a Speech from the Throne debate on December 1, 1953, I spoke about the importance of decentralizing industry. In the area I represent there are small communities which have been crying out for industry and assistance from governments for many years. They would like to get a little factory or something to provide employment for young people graduating from high school so that they would not have to leave the area. I have been calling for this for years and on December 1, 1953, I used the following quotation, which appeared at page 530 of the Hansard of that date:
We have heard it said, and we presume that it was meant seriously, that it was the desire of our great leaders to decentralize industry and to build up the smaller communities where the labour situation is easier and the living costs are less.
After the end of World War II, we lived under the threat of atomic warfare but today I think we have a greater challenge, that of pollution and destruction of our natural environment due to the urban sprawl which is causing so many problems. When the hon. member for Trinity (Mr. Hellyer) was in charge of housing he talked about satellite cities as did his successor. One of the reasons I have been so interested in the location of the international airport to be built some place north of Toronto is that I know it to be a slow growth area. Many communities there have lost population over the last 25 years. In a township in my riding there are 67,000 acres and only about 50 active farmers, so it could accommodate the airport. It would create incentive for all the little towns and communities and enable them to grow. I think this is a matter worthy of serious consideration and that is why I presented a motion in the House recently.
I sometimes feel that big decisions involving 50,000 or 100,000 people should not be left to the bureaucrats in the deputy minister's office to make but should be made by all members of the House. I think a committee of this House should look at the sites in question, then sit down with the people of the area to discuss the matter. That way the best interests of the people concerned and the best interests of the country will be maintained. It is the best way to consider the site of an international airport such as the one to which I am referring.
February 25, 1972
I know some will say that if the committee looks at any particular site or parcel of land, some people may assume that the government intends to establish the airport at that site, buy up land in the area and drive up land prices. Nevertheless, there are federal and provincial organizations that can take care of this sort of thing. Of course, if four different sites are looked at, for example, the committee could make its report or recommendation in camera, and that report can be forwarded to the officials of the department. I think that is the way a decision as vital as this ought to be taken. That is why, when I saw an item in the Toronto Star last Monday indicating that Pickering had been chosen as the site for the new international airport, I was disturbed. I knew interest had been displayed in the site. However, on calling the minister's office, I learned that no decision had been made.
Another r^Sson for establishing a committee to look into this matter is that such a committee would stop speculation. As I suggested, the longer this process goes on the greater the number of areas of the province will be considered. People will start buying little bits of land here and there in the hope of making tremendous profits in case any particular piece of land is chosen for the airport.
I have always been interested in seeing that railroads that serve my particular area are maintained. However, four years ago the Canadian Transport Commission autocratically decided to remove all passenger service in my region north and west of Guelph and west of Stratford. This has been a slow growth area, and rail service is important to it. By removing the service, the possibility of growth and increase in the area is removed. When people want to establish a factory in any area, they first ask, "What kind of transportation is there in the area?" I raised this matter in the committee last year. I was sorry that the Air Canada strike made it impossible for the Committee on Transport and Communications to go to western Ontario and look at the situation first hand, because I do not think the decision to remove that train service was a valid one.
The regulations under the National Transportation Act provide that before any passenger train service can be removed there must be evidence of good alternative service. At the meeting in Owen Sound it was thought that the assurance there would be alternative service had been given. However, the bus service is inadequate. The service that is provided for most of the area is inadequate and inefficient, and has not improved transportation facilities in that part of western Ontario. I am concerned especially about elderly people who cannot drive their cars and who must use existing services. There may be a good bus service on the eastern side of the area; I concede that. However, an equal service has not been developed on the western side of this particular area. I feel that the committee in question should be set up as soon as possible to look into this whole matter. If possible, arrangements should be made for it to go to the area to hear the tremendous number of briefs which many people have prepared. So far, these briefs have not been used.
The committee could not make its trip to western Ontario because of the air strike. So, Mr. Speaker, I hope that this committee will meet soon and will consider the motion that was passed in the previous session of parliament. I think that a similar motion will be accepted by the
Speech from the Throne
House in the present session, and the committee will be able to go to western Ontario and look at the transport problems of the area. I am referring to the problem relating to passenger transportation. I hope the committee can assure the people of the area that adequate transportation facilities will be set up.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, it has been a pleasure to represent my constituents in the House of Commons. I feel, as I have tried to indicate, that given the situation that has developed in Canada and the trends which are being shown not only in my riding but right across the nation, after the next election the member who will come down in my place, as well as those who are sitting with me on this side of House, will be sitting on the government side, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield) will be prime minister of Canada.