Anthony Chisholm ABBOTT

ABBOTT, The Hon. Anthony Chisholm, P.C., B.A., LL.B.

Parliamentary Career

July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
LIB
  Mississauga (Ontario)
  • Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (September 15, 1976 - September 15, 1977)
  • Minister of State (Small Businesses) (September 16, 1977 - November 23, 1978)
  • Minister of National Revenue (November 24, 1978 - June 3, 1979)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 124 of 124)


October 11, 1974

Mr. Abbott:

The word wrestling has been used. It might be noted that when the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner) attempted to introduce some budgetary improvements, it was necessary to wrestle the Tory party to the ground. This proved to be a relatively easy task. Nonetheless, it was a time consuming job though, fortunately, it resulted in a stable government, one of which Canadians can be proud. I was greatly encouraged by the speech of the Minister of Finance.

I was greatly encouraged by the message in the speech of the Minister of Finance. I found it to be realistic, sound, sober, dealing with the problem, not offering any pat or magical solution, and taking note of the great suffering that a number of Canadians are enduring. People talk readily and easily about citizens on fixed incomes being the victims, but too often we pass quickly over this and fail really to consider what is meant by that phrase.

I was reading in the September 28 issue of the London Economist a paragraph that perhaps described the problem which in Britain is more severe but which cannot be overlooked as being akin to the problem we face here. The paragraph reads as follows:

Although the society appears more concerned than before to look after the old and the unfortunate, which is only partly a reflection of the improved political strength of the pensioners, much of the older generation's sense of independence is being eaten away. The virtue of thrift is disregarded in the general compulsion to spend, the rewards of such

The Address-Mr. Abbott

savings as contributory pensions schemes are being wiped out in the inflation, so that men who retired only three or four years ago with pensions to keep their wives and themselves in modest comfort are now dependent on the charity of their old firms-if those firms are still making profits.

The Minister of Finance has stated what surely any sensible person in this House will recognize if he only reads his daily newspaper, that the fires of inflation are burning everywhere in the world, particularly in the western industrial world; and, if anything, they are burning with less severity in this country than in almost any other country in the western world.

The minister further indicated that this was no matter for comfort or tranquility. He has recognized the problem but said that despite all the world's economists being gathered, under the best possible auspices, no ready solution has been prescribed for treatment.

The President of the United States in his message dealt with the problem in a fashion that I think was responsible. It approached the situation with a number of formulas. Many have already been tried in this country and found to be helpful. He did not indulge in overkill, as the minister stated, and he certainly did not engage in a renewal of the bankrupt policies of wage and price controls which were so favoured by hon. gentlemen opposite.

I have been reading a book called "The Edwardian Era" by Andre Maurois, and one paragraph describing Arthur Balfour could perhaps be applied to the hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield). It need not be added that Mr. Balfour was a very considerable figure in British public life as the Leader of the Opposition is here, and I hope this mildly critical passage has enough complimentary things to say. However, I felt it was curiously apt for the situation that we have seen in the last few months of offering a policy of incomes control to the Canadian people, notwithstanding that it was tried and found to be a failure elsewhere. Perhaps it is not as apt as it seems to me to be, but the paragraph reads as follows:

Like Lord Salisbury, he was frankly conservative because he was gently pessimistic. He considered that a wise man contented himself by a gradual solving of the problems of his generation, with prudence and proportion, and always mindful of his own feeble powers of foresight and of the narrow limits of his field of action. He also believed that there were advantages in doing a stupid thing which had been done before, rather than a wise thing which had never been done. And that is the quintessence of conservatism.

If that is the quintessence of conservatism, I suggest that the Canadian people recognized that spectre and decided that they should return to a strong majority government, and I am proud to be on this side of the House supporting that government.

I am also glad that the Minister of Finance has promised that the government will reduce spending wherever possible, because I believe that government spending in excess is one of the great contributors to inflation. Government spending is not confined to the federal government; the provincial governments of this country have been spending with an open hand, at a rate far exceeding that of the federal government, especially the province of Ontario.

With regard to who is to blame for inflation, government must certainly take its share. Members of the government cannot turn to the business community and assert that they are chiefly responsible for inflation by

October 11, 1974

The Address-Mr. Mazankowski

profiteering, because the facts would indicate otherwise. Smaller and medium sized businesses in this country face very severe problems in terms of maintaining themselves. It is difficult to found a business. Extremely high labour costs and high taxation make entrepreneurship a far less welcome prospect than perhaps going to work for government. I think the government's program to attack this problem is very laudable.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I was further heartened by the promise in the throne speech that the government was going to address itself to parliamentary reform, about which the President of the Privy Council (Mr. Sharp) spoke today. Needless to say, it is a presumption for a new member to rise and start pointing out defects in rules with which he has not yet become familiar, indicating that there should be improvements made. However, I think, like many Canadians who have read their newspapers, or seen parliament in action, that there is an unquestioned assumption that parliament can improve its performance. I hope I am not overstating the case.

It is not simply a matter of parliament improving its rules and so enjoying the comfortable knowledge that it is being more effective and efficient. The real point of it is that if parliament, in what may be difficult economic days ahead, falls into disrepute, if it becomes an object of contempt on the part of the general public, then the consequence will be that all our institutions of government, our courts and our systems of administration, will be also cast into disrepute. At a time when we want Canadians to be conscious of the dignity and strength of their governmental system we must strengthen our own parliamentary system so as to enjoy that confidence better.

Again, Mr. Speaker, may I thank Your Honour and the House for their indulgence, and I look forward, with my fellow members on this side and elsewhere, to the coming parliament.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
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October 11, 1974

Mr. A. C. Abbott (Mississauga):

May I first join with other hon. members in offering congratulations to Mr. Speaker and to his deputies. I know they will carry out their difficult task of overseeing this House with the same skill as was shown by their predecessors. I should also like to congratulate the mover (Mr. Duclos) and the seconder (Mr. Lee) of the Address in Reply, new members like myself, who have set a high standard at the beginning of a new parliament.

I am pleased that I can follow in this debate the President of the Privy Council (Mr. Sharp), and that I can offer congratulations to him on his appointment. I should also like to say, as someone who has known him over the years, that I suspect there is no member of this House, with the

possible exception of the right hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker), who has rendered more service to this country than the President of the Privy Council.

As a new member it is with feelings of some trepidation and awe that I rise to speak in this Chamber. I suppose it is a feeling known to all who have done so. Anyone with a sense of history must feel somewhat overwhelmed by an appreciation of the great figures who have spoken here, or in the Chamber which preceded this one, or in the British parliament itself. I suggest that no greater honour could fall to any Canadian than of being elected to this House and speaking to fellow members of this Chamber.

I am grateful that the right hon. member for Prince Albert is in his place. There is no one probably, in the history of this parliament-who has added more colour, more drama or more excitement to its proceedings, than has the right hon. gentleman.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
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