Mr. S. J. Korchinski (Mackenzie):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to participate in the debate on these particular amendments, I am reminded of a few comments by a new Member, one who has just taken his seat in the House of Commons in the last few days. The new Hon. Member for Mission-Port Moody (Mr. St. Germain), in reflecting on part of his life, said to the press: "The harder you work, the luckier you are".
I thought about those words because they are ones upon which we and perhaps the Government should dwell. I was struck by those words because throughout this country there are countless numbers of citizens, taxpayers, who have diligently applied themselves and attempted to make a success of their lives, only to be frustrated by a Government that zeros in on any initiative that they may have shown.
People often speak to me personally about the problems National Revenue raises with them, because the Government is constantly in need of raising money. They frequently tell me that some of the expense accounts that they present are rejected and decisions are rendered whereby it would appear that in order to gain some redress to their grievances appeals must be made. In many instances it is not sufficient to embark on a costly appeal. This is an annoying factor with so many citizens who must produce the revenue that the Government must have if it is to carry on.
September 20, 1983
1 comment in that vein because the Government has embarked on a course, on the one hand, to ensure that justice is done and that everyone pays his fair share of taxes, and that is fair enough; but on the other hand, what I detest and what many people in Canada reject is the wanton way in which the Government is quite prepared to spend that hard-earned money. This is the conclusion that so many people have reached. When one sees the result of a survey showing that 64 per cent of Canadians feel that Parliament is irrelevant, it is no wonder that they reach that kind of conclusion.
You and I, Mr. Speaker, and the rest of the Hon. Members who have had occasion to sit on committees or participate in debates realize that our contribution as Members toward the accountability of the expenditure is really insignificant. In many instances we come into the House and must rubber stamp the expenditure of billions of dollars inside of a few hours. Anyone who has sat in committee realizes that questioners have perhaps an allowance of five minutes each. Regardless of how diligent an Hon. Member might be or how much research was given to the subject, can Your Honour honestly tell me that anyone can cross-examine a witness within that time? That is the situation with Government expenditures.
Let us take the case of a Crown corporation, such as CNR, appearing before a parliamentary committee. In this case, of course, an official from the CNR would be there. We are supposed to examine, inquire and somehow justify what that corporation is doing within a couple of hours. What a mockery that is!
In this instance the Government comes to us to ask for more money so it can just hand it to another corporation which it says it can handle. After all, the Government says, these are senior officials.
I am reminded of what happened with the banks. The banks, which should be providing a lot of this financing, have pulled back in many instances. I think of some of the loans they have provided to other countries only to find that they are suffering losses. While many believe that we in Canada have to pay for the risks that they take, what happens in the case of a Crown corporation? When there are over 300 Crown corporations in this country, how can Members of Parliament, no matter how our membership is divided in the House, possibly examine those corporations? I remind Hon. Members that each questioner is allotted five minutes, and of course the following Member would not necessarily follow the same line of questioning since he may feel he has a problem that should be examined. What kind of an examination can we conduct on behalf of the taxpayers of this country?
The Government is asking for a blank cheque to hand over to this Crown corporation. In the process of governments becoming too big in the drive for socialism and expansion into every branch of our endeavours in this country, we have forgotten one ingredient. It is that someone has to pay for all of these activities somewhere along the line.
Export Development Act
It has become very convenient to hide these activities in a Crown corporation. People who have had occasion to attend a hearing for a rail line abandonment will know that one of the problems faced by the poeple who are affected is that they are confronted with a host of financial experts in the Crown corporation, whether it be CN or CP. These are trained people who have the books and can produce evidence to prove their case. What accountability do these individuals have who are hidden in the Crown corporation? Those people who are affected walked away knowing in their own minds that their situation is not right, yet they do not have the resources to prove the contrary. As Members of Parliament we have to stand here and say that we are also helpless.
How many times have we seen a $1 item introduced in the House? If that is not a cover-up by the Government, I do not know what is, but at least it is introduced in the House so that we have an opportunity to express our concerns on some of those items. What are we to do about the billions of dollars thrown out to the Crown corporations even though the Government may believe it can justify it as being the only way?
I heard the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Lumley) boasting about some expanded exports. The fact is that perhaps exports could or could not be expanded through research and development. It may just be a cover-up for a Government that does not really have a policy. Accountability of Crown corporations is a PC policy. The press, for once in its life, should say that we do have policies on different matters, and that is one of them.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: EXPORT DEVELOPMENT ACT