GUILBAULT, Jacques, B.Sc.A.

Personal Data

Saint-Jacques (Quebec)
Birth Date
October 29, 1936
professional engineer

Parliamentary Career

June 25, 1968 - September 1, 1972
  Saint-Jacques (Quebec)
October 30, 1972 - May 9, 1974
  Saint-Jacques (Quebec)
July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
  Saint-Jacques (Quebec)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Secretary of State of Canada (October 1, 1976 - September 30, 1977)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence (October 1, 1977 - September 30, 1978)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
  Saint-Jacques (Quebec)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
  Saint-Jacques (Quebec)
  • Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole (January 16, 1984 - July 9, 1984)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
  Saint-Jacques (Quebec)
  • Liberal Party Deputy House Leader (October 11, 1984 - February 1, 1989)
  • Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition (October 11, 1984 - February 1, 1989)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 379 of 380)

May 31, 1972

Mr. Jacques Guilbault (Saint-Jacques):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to take this opportunity to make a few remarks concerning Bill C-201, which provides for the review of acquisitions of control of Canadian business enterprises by foreign investors.

If I rise on this matter, it is because I feel that the Quebec people are very much concerned about the economic independence of Canada and the threat which foreign capital represents. Moreover, the people of my constituency of Saint-Jacques have every reason to be especially concerned about this. On the one hand, as many hon. members know, this constituency includes St. James St. and Dorchester Blvd, in Montreal, which are at the center of the economic activities of the whole of eastern Canada, and the officials of these firms are impatiently awaiting the decisions which the House will make in connection with this bill.

Similarly, most residents of Saint-Jacques who are in contact with financial circles earn a very modest salary. Quite a few are unemployed. Making allowance for the employment situation, they are very eager to know the decisions taken by the House concerning foreign investments.

This being said, I would like to comment on the decision of the government to deal with the foreign investment issue. As for me, the government's decision is realistic. Of course, some of my friends are already saying that I am not serious, but it is obvious that some people will accuse the government of being too weak in this respect whereas others will say that the government went too far. It is always easy to say such things when you just have to deliver a speech before the House and when you are not responsible for the administration of the country.

However, this government is responsible for the administration of the country and, when they make decisions, they have to consider the effects these decisions will have on the Canadian economy and on the standard of living in Canada. That is why I say the decision made by the government is realistic. In fact, the question is to proceed gradually rather than to take drastic steps that could harm the present state of the economy in Canada.

Obviously, according to our colleagues of the New Democratic Party, we are not going far enough. To them, there should be short term guarantees of complete economic independance for Canada. As the hon. member said who spoke before me, this is a policy for buying back foreign companies set up in Canada and we all recognize that this type of policy would be a waste of money. To my mind, we would be better off investing our money in new undertakings, instead of using it to buy companies already in operation and which create jobs, even though they belong to foreigners.

To my mind, economic independence, as some members of the Waffle group would have it, is an utopia, for our economy is no longer independent nor will it ever be. Like the economy of every country in the free world, ours is an international and interdependent economy. It is pointless to try to escape that reality.


May 31, 1972

Foreign Takeovers Review Act

As barriers fall between countries, the more the economy of each country is influenced by the economy, the economic activity of its neighbours. We all know that in the field of international trade, neither Canada nor the United States can do what they want. We realized it recently when the United States had to impose a 10 per cent surcharge to settle difficult economic conditions.

Even a country as powerful as the United States, a country which enjoys just the same a greater degree of economic independence than Canada, must legislate to try to protect themselves on the economic level against the trading activities of other countries.

This clearly indicates that all countries are subjected to an interdependent mechanism and that trying to give one complete economic independence is an utopia similar to a suggestion that Canada should be changed into an Eldorado.

We know that even the rates of exchange greatly influence the economy of the free world countries and those rates are not easily controllable. For example, as a result of the government's decisions, Canadian currency varies on the international money market.

Today, I am told that the Canadian dollar is worth $1.02 compared to the American dollar. Obviously, this does not favour our exports, but is one more proof that the thesis of economic independence is easily made.

Finally, I should like to say one word on the investment requirements of Canadians. No doubt, Canada needs now massive investments of capital.

That is obvious in Quebec and again recently Premier Robert Bourassa went to New York to try and get some capital investment in Quebec.

My colleagues who represent ridings in the Maritimes also know precisely what I mean.

We have an urgent need of capital; we need a massive injection to boost our economy which has been showing signs of recovery for some time now. We need them above all in order to reduce unemployment, particularly in the eastern provinces and in Manitoba. And we need capital to solve the problems resulting from unemployment.

When the Canadian government must make a decision with regard to foreign investments-it has had to do so recently and it is trying to have it ratified by the House- that is the dilemma in which it finds itself. On the one hand, the government must find solutions to an intolerable level of unemployment. On the other hand, some radicals ask us to prevent foreign capital from coming into Canada.

How can the two positions be reconciled? Obviously, that is impossible. And this permits our friends from the NDP to continue to preach the utopia that is economic independence and, at the same time, to accuse us of doing nothing to fight unemployment.

In my view, the Canadian electors will not be misled by such dramatic productions. They know that we need investments for economic development, to reduce unemployment, to ensure better social measures because, obviously, when our economy is in good shape it is easier to

[Mr. Guilbault.J

put such measures into application than it would be otherwise. Besides, economic independence in Canada is best assured if the economy is healthy.

I would now like to say a word about what I call the threat of foreign takeovers. In my opinion, such a threat to the Canadian economy, within a short, medium or even long period, is a myth.

First of all, capital, either foreign or Canadian, has no nationality. The foreign corporation investing in Canada has in mind one single and clear purpose, always the same: finding a market, a place to produce at reasonable costs and ultimately profits and dividends for the benefit of its shareholders.

Capital coming into Canada is neither Japanese, American nor Belgian. It is international and it seeks a good soil where to grow. Nobody comes to Canada to invest capital with the avowed purpose or even the consciousness that some day he will control the policy decisions that Canadians will have to take to fulfil their destiny.

Moreover-and this is related to what I said a few minutes ago-it is always foreign corporations that invest in Canada, never foreign governments. This is why the myth of control over our economy by foreign countries is a real myth.

It is never the United States of America that come here to invest capital, but independent corporations which, while they are American, do not necessarily have convergent interests. Most of the time, they are companies which do not care for the neighbouring society and which being in the same field, are often in competition and want to make higher profits than their competitive organisations which invest capital in Canada at the same time.

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words about the provisions of this bill. First, generally speaking, this legislation seems to me particularly reasonable, given the set of circumstances Canada is in at present.

First of all, the legislation does have some scope, although opposition members have been trying to have us believe it is very limited. I suggest that at least concerning takeover of Canadian businesses by foreigners the legislation is quite adequate since it allows the government to screen all takeovers of companies with gross annual incomes of over $3 million. Everyone will agree with me that a company with a gross income of less than $3 million a year car hardly have detrimental effects on the Canadian economy in the near future.

Furthermore, the government will be able to assess takeovers of all companies with gross assets of over a quarter of million dollars and will exercise the right to look into their operations. There again, it will be admitted that a company with assets of less than a quarter of a million dollars has little chance of exercising an unfavourable influence on the Canadian economy.

Thus the legislation is adequate and covers all industries and all takeovers liable to affect substantially the course of Canadian economy, or at least the economy of the area where a foreign company plans to locate.

I suggest that the legislation, besides being adequate in the area it covers, seems reasonably flexible. In fact, the

May 31, 1972

government retains the privilege of examining all projects of foreign takeovers. However, after assessment, the government retains the privilege of approving the request for purchase of a Canadian company by foreigners, or to reject it. And this looks like a good thing to me, because the Canadian government which must answer to the people has a responsibility to decide whether in its opinion the takeover of a Canadian company by foreigners might be beneficial or detrimental to the interests of Canadians.

As hon. members know, at the end of each year, the minister will be required to table before the House a comprehensive report of his department's activities in this field, which will provide the opposition with ample opportunity to comment on and even criticize the measures taken and decisions made by the government. I suggest that this provision is highly desirable.

Besides, I refuse to believe, as a certain party has been suggesting, that this measure is weak and will have no strength. The provisions contained in the last clauses of the bill are severe enough to potential offenders. In my opinion, this bill has teeth.

For instance, people who simply fail to give notice of their intention to sell their enterprise to foreign concerns will be liable to a $5,000 fine. We must admit that the government does not joke when it introduces a measure of this type. This is likely to make people who might have avowed intentions to transgress the law think twice.

Moreover, the bill provides that people who refuse to comply with the law will be liable to a $10,000 fine or six months in jail, or both. This shows that here again the penalties are very heavy, so we can hope that the law will be complied with; we can at least conclude that the government has made this legislation strict enough for it to be enforced.

Reading through the bill a moment ago, I even noticed that the mere fact of impeding a study or investigation being made of a foreign takeover makes the person guilty of this offence liable to a $5,000 fine. I would say this legislation has teeth and will be complied with.

I think this bill will be welcomed by the Canadian public. Of course, I already know that it will not be welcomed by the radicals, by those who would have liked the government to do nothing to prevent the foreign takeover of Canadian industries. On the other hand, this bill will not please those radicals who would want the Canadian government to buy back dollar for dollar every foreign-owned Canadian enterprise.

But I think that most Canadians will agree with this measure, in view of the circumstances we are experiencing in Canada-and it must be said that this is only one step taken by the government in this direction.

Over the last few years, the Canadian government has introduced several measures to give Canadians firm control over their economy. I do not want to detail them since the hon. minister has done it already when he tabled the bill. However, I would like to add that this legislation is another stone in the setting up of a reasonable system of controls by Canadians on their economy. I suggest it would have been ridiculous, at this time, to hurry things up and take drastic measures that could have affected or

Foreign Takeovers Review Act

substantially reduced the inflow of foreign investment in Canada. It is enough for us to realize that some 1,300,000 Canadian students are on the eve of entering the labour market. This considerable number of students will add to that, already known, of the unemployed which we are reminded of every day by the opposition during the oral question period.

It is obvious that the principal concern of the government, at this stage, is the now intolerable unemployment situation and the creation, as soon as possible and by all means possible, of the necessary job opportunities. This is certainly not the best time to propose measures that could prejudice the attainment of the major objective that the government, I repeat, has set for himself, that is to try and guarantee to each Canadian the availability of a job.

That was the dilemma facing the government: on the one hand, to fight unemployment and, on the other, to secure a reasonable independence for our economy.

I believe that the government has efficiently solved this dilemma in submitting Bill C-201 and this is why, Mr. Speaker, I will support this bill when it comes to a vote. I urge my hon. friends to do likewise.

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November 27, 1970

Mr. Jacques Guilbault (Saint-Jacques):

Mr. Speaker, 1 have a question for the Secretary fo State for External Affairs.

I would like to know whether the minister has made representations to the board of directors of the International Civil Aviation Organization to have them establish their headquarters in the east end of Montreal.

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November 9, 1970

Mr. Jacques Guilbauli (Saint-Jacques):

Mr. Speaker, I should like first to commend the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath) for introducing this motion which I think is quite necessary.

The hon. member is not the first one to object to the disclosure of facts concerning the private life of individuals. I remember reading, a few years ago, a book written by an American, Vance Packard, entitled Naked Society, where the activities of American credit bureaux were described in detail and which contained several cases where the life of an individual had been publicly revealed and scrutinized by those agencies.

Personally, for the last four years I have been closly associated with a large insurance company. I have had the opportunity to look at credit reports and I have often noticed, with disgust, that some of those credit reports contained information which had nothing to do with the financial situation of the persons involved. I read, in those credit reports, sentences such as these: "This individual is often intoxicated. He is a shady character and goes with several women."

I would say that those famous little pink reports often contain similar information and that they are handed to dealers, or any person who is in business and who regularly requests information of this kind from the credit bureau, information which have absolutely nothing to do with the financial situation, the steadiness and solvency of the individual involved.

Those are the reasons why I think the member for St. John's East is quite right in presenting his motion and I will support it.

I would like to offer two constructive solutions along this line, mainly intended for the Minister of Consumers and Corporate Affairs (Mr. Basford) whom I invite to introduce soon in the House a piece of legislation aimed at protecting individual privacy.

This legislation should at least have two characteristics. First, a copy of any credit record should be sent to the individual concerned. I see no reason why a bill should not be submitted to the House including such a

November 9, 1970

provision and ensuring that the individual who has been inquired upon be sent a copy of the report. If this report is true, what is wrong with letting the individual involved having a copy of it? The individual is supposed to know the content of the report. Why not let him know the content of a report that will be circulated on request to several financial organizations?

And now my second recommendation: the individual receiving a copy of his report should be entitled to request the deletion of erroneous information contained in it.

I myself have checked the contents of certain reports with the people concerned. They contain, for unknown reasons, information that is entirely false, that was collected by the agent entrusted with the inquiry who could question neighbours, the neighbourhood grocer on the habits of the person concerned. Still, that information is in the report and often gives a distorted picture of the life of the individual.

To my mind, when we deal with facts and not opinions, and the facts are erroneous, on receiving copy of such a report, the individual should be able to have the false information deleted.

I feel, it might be well to introduce a bill containing far more details than those I have just mentioned. Such a bill would surely please the hon. member for St. John's East as much as me.

In closing, I merely wish to add that I am very pleased with the initiative taken by the hon. member for St. John's East, and were the government to introduce such a bill, I would be the first to support it.

[DOT] (5:50 p.m.)

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October 16, 1970

Mr. Jacques Guilbeault (Saini-Jacques):

Mr. Speaker, first of all I wish to congratulate as warmly as possible the hon. member for Charlevoix (Mr. Asselin). His words and particularly the position he has taken, clearly identify him as a member from the province of Quebec who understands the serious problems now facing Canada, and especially Quebec.

I would ask the hon. member for Charlevoix and his three Progressive Conservative colleagues from the province of Quebec to talk to the other members of then-party and bring home to them what the situation is in the province of Quebec, so that when the question is put they will not be the only ones to speak with the voice of reason, but the whole opposition along with them.

Mr. Speaker, rather than make a bombastic speech leading nowhere this morning, the Leader of the Official Opposition (Mr. Standfield) should have immediately

Invoking of War Measures Act

given the floor to his colleagues from the province of Quebec, for they can appreciate fully what is taking place in their province and will know which way to vote when the motion is put.

Mr. Speaker, I was disgusted today when I heard the member for Peace River, (Mr. Baldwin) read from the Ottawa Citizen a melodramatic story telling of a family being awakened and a bird cage searched. I have always respected and trusted the member for Peace River. He is a serious man, steady and experienced. But, when in a debate as serious as this one is, he introduces sentimental and futile arguments like that one, I wonder what to think.

Mr. Speaker, we have had, in the ranks of the New Democratic Party, dedicated defenders of the rights of the individual, but I imagine that today's spectacle will continue later when one of its members is recognized. Still, I should like all hon. members to understand that when we come to a decision later on, we will have to decide on the suspension of individual rights. We all realize that whether or not we like it, individual rights will be suspended temporarily, and it is up to us to decide whether they will be suspended by an order of the government, or by the activity of the terrorists in Quebec. That is the choice we must make. We will suspend them through the legality of an act adopted by this House, or we will allow the terrorists in Quebec to suspend them in their own way.

We will also have to choose between the rights of the individual or collective rights. We may be violating individual rights by granting greater powers to the police forces; this doubtless will annoy some people. But, are not the collective rights of the people to live in peace, harmony, free from fear, more important than sparing a few individuals the annoyance of being awakened in the morning? That is the whole question.

To my mind-and I say this sincerely-the harmful effects of the legislation the government put before us will be very limited. Indeed, who is afraid of being disturbed by the police, if not that i per cent of the Quebec people who live outside the law and pursue the aims and objectives of the FLQ.

[DOT] (8:30 p.m.)

As for me, I am not afraid of the police force. I am sure that my honest neighbours, the citizens of my riding who lead a normal life will not be inconvenienced by such measures. Of course, those who live in cells, who attempt to destroy our society, who are plotting, I am sure, while we are discussing, are inconvenienced and cry that their civil rights are being violated. However, common sense tells us that the majority of Canadians were expecting some action on our part, a positive action. Well, the time has come. Whether we extend the debate for two three or four days, the people expect Canadian parliamentarians to restore law and order in Canada.

Before closing, I should like to read an excerpt of the editorial published in La Presse, in this morning's edition. We can read the following, and I quote:

For the second time in one year, the army has been called out in Montreal. These two interventions of the army prove, in the

October 16, 1970

Invoking of War Measures Act

last analysis, that there can be no lasting authority without force.

The purpose of any civilization is to delay the outbreak and the use of force; to replace force by words, that is to say by the law and negotiation within the law. But when words have become meaningless, through too much lies; or when they have been replaced by machine-gun and dynamite, force must be used. A disciplined and visible force is better than an invisible and lawless force.

Is authority necessary or not in a society? The answer is simple: It is necessary.

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April 20, 1970

Mr. Jacques Guilbault (Saint-Jacques):

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I think that I can give satisfaction to the hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Godin), who hopes that several members will support him. In fact I am one of those who will support him.

I believe that the need for a guaranteed income system was felt in Canada for many years. However, let me tell you that the motion of the hon. member for Portneuf has a serious weakness, since it purports to restrict the guaranteed minimum income allowances to the unemployed Canadian citizens. Therefore, such a system would not apply to the poor workers, no more than the existing welfare programs. It would be almost identical to the present programs based on a means test.

Mr. Speaker, the tremendous economic growth experienced by Canada after the second world war could leave many people under the impression that as our gross national product would increase, the problem of poverty would gradually lose its importance. However, the facts have shown the contrary.

The real per capita revenue has increased noticeably, but a good number of the people have not benefited enough to get rid of poverty. The affluent society is more and more conspicuous for the poor, but the rich, to a great extent, remain unmoved by the predicament of the poor.

Guaranteed Minimum Income

During the past years, we have become more and more aware of the persistence of poverty in Canada. If we are not more sensibilized to the problem, perhaps it is partly due to the fact that we keep believing that poverty means full deprivation. In other words, the threshold of poverty has often been considered as the level of minimum physical sustenance, providing one with just enough to be able to live and work.

Human needs, however, also involve many conventional or social features related to the changes in the way of life of the community. Obviously, these features change with time. For instance, more and more people are now becoming aware of the fact that many people are poor because they are deprived of income, of job opportunities, of the environment and the self-respect, which are considered normal in the community. Poverty should therefore be considered as a fact related to the average standard of living, which is constantly developing. This, however, does not preclude isolated cases of utter destitution.

The tentative evaluation of poverty which appears in the fifth annual Eeport of the Economic Council of Canada shows that about four million Canadians may be considered as living at or below the poverty level. Preliminary estimates for 1967 involve 840,000 families and 586,000 single persons, adding up to some 3,850,000 people.

The data provided by the Canada Assistance Plan and the Old Age Security Program show that out of this number, almost two million people are now receiving an income supplement based on a means or needs test, or an income supplement to the old age security pensions. In spite of that, their income remains below the poverty level.

[DOT] (5:20 p.m.)

We can therefore conclude from the Economic Council figures that most of the remaining two million persons belong to families of small wage-earners who belong to the labour force but whose income is below the poverty level.

We will therefore note that there are now m Canada more than four million men, women and children who live in poverty compared to their fellow citizens. Some, if not all of them, are inadequately housed, fed, undereducated, deprived of leisure and frustrated even in their own sense of dignity. Most of them can be fitted into one of three main categories, the first of which includes the people on welfare.

DEBATES April 20, 1970

Mr. Speaker, the term "welfare" has become a bitter one for more than a million persons who rely on the system. Benefits vary considerably from one province to another, but in practically all cases, they fail to meet the actual needs of the recipients. People in receipt of relief feel stigmatized. They are often fearful and scornful of the local welfare officials because of the great power they wield and because of their often irrevocable decisions. That category is made up mostly of mothers without husbands either as a result of desertion, death or divorce. Disabled persons, a great number of whom are totally unable to fend for themselves, also belong to this category.

Another class belonging to this category are the older people. The economic situation of the aged in Canada is amply evidenced by the fact that 52 per cent, or almost 750,000 of those on welfare, are eligible, either partially or fully, to the guaranteed minimum income.

For a good many of those elderly people the guaranteed income supplement does not provide decent living conditions. And yet most of them cannot get the advantages provided by the Canada Assistance Plan. It should be pointed out that a relatively small number of elderly people who are living in a state of poverty receive some supplementary assistance through the provinces.

Those I call the working poor are another category of needy people. More than two million people fall into this category. A good many of them note bitterly that in spite of all their efforts to succeed in supporting themselves their lot is actually worse than that of their fellow-citizens who are not working and get welfare payments. Those people sometimes earn their low income from marginal industries, from jobs on farms, from work done as woodcutters or as fishermen. It may be also that they live in economically underprivileged areas where they can find parttime or low-paying jobs only. They are also found in big cities with a very high cost of living and where they manage somehow to make both ends meet with an income in the neighborhood of the minimum salary.

But the motion presented by the hon. member for Portneuf does not provide for any benefit for those two million people who live, in spite of the fact that they work, in a state of poverty. I should like to add, in this connection, that this motion is not that much different from existing provincial welfare schemes.

April 20, 1970 COMMONS

Bachelors and married people with no children are not as a rule eligible to the various programs designed to meet the needs of particular classes of people. Still, it was expected that the unemployment insurance program would apply to all persons actually in need. But we note that, at the provincial level, welfare programs have not generally taken into account the needs of the low wage earners, that is what I call the category of poor workers.

Everyone knows that, generally speaking, poor workers are not entitled to social welfare benefits under present regulations. This situation prevails despite the fact that, under the provisions of the Canada Assistance Plan or of the agreements concluded with the provinces pursuant to that Plan, there is absolutely no restrictions concerning the federal share of the costs of assistance to fulltime workers.

Some provinces are determinedly against financial assistance as the basis of the general policy for full-time employees; other provinces do not reject it. However, the principle of granting financial assistance is extremely limited in those provinces and benefits are usually available only to the families which experience severe hardships.

The proposal of giving welfare allowances to full-time workers naturally raises the much debate question of determining reasons, more particularly so when it is considered with regard to the application of adequate forms of assistance to people who are unable to work. The objection is often raised that the fact of providing those who are unable to work with a satisfactory allowance can dampen the sense of independence of the recipients who are partly able to work and of those full-time workers who could not earn more than what the assistance brings. That is the basic dilemma.

If the welfare systems provide adequate assistance for the unemployables and give

identical help to employable recipients, but without any income exemption, the latter will

not be encouraged to work: any income arising out of a job only reduces the amount of benefits and leaves no advantage to someone who works.

If employable individuals are granted partial income exemptions beyond a basic adequate level, not only a huge expenditure of public funds will be necessary to help those whose income is lower than that level, but the systems will then apparently be subsidizing the small wage-earners. If to give an


Guaranteed Minimum Income incentive to work to employable individuals, a certain form of guaranteed income lower than an adequate minimum level is applied, the difficulty remains as far as the determination of an adequate income for the unemployables is concerned.

For two years now the federal government

has been carrying out a reappraisal of its social security programs and of their objectives in order to decide which method among those that I have just mentioned, or which combination of methods, would be more in harmony with the aims of social security in the future. A close analysis of the costs and consequences of each method is necessary.

In the throne speech last fall, as hon. members will recall, the government announced the preparation of a white paper on social security to be tabled in the House during the current session. That document will make known the results of the reappraisal that has been underway for the past two years. It will give the federal government an opportunity to make known its views and its intentions in this field. It will also allow for a general discussion on the matters in question and for a dialogue with the public on the methods to be used with regard to income security in Canada in the next ten years.

I ask the government of Canada to include in this white paper proposals relating to the establishment of a guaranteed minimum income plan for Canadians.

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North

Centre): Mr. Speaker, although there are one or two aspects of the motion now before us with which I must take exception, I should like as my first word to commend the hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Godin) on bringing before us once again the question of a guaranteed income for the Canadian people. While I am in a mood to extend congratulations, may I also commend the hon. member for Saint-Jacques (Mr. Guilbault) on his insistence that our concern for those living in poverty should not be confined to persons and families on relief, social welfare and so on. He makes the point very well when he emphasizes that many people who are working are on incomes so low that they too are living in poverty. As a matter of fact, I suspect the figure he gave of four million Canadians really existing in poverty is probably a conservative one. I suggest this figure probably is five million or more.

April 20, 1970

Guaranteed Minimum Income [DOT] (5:30 p.m.)

However, Mr. Speaker, although I commend the hon. member for Portneuf for again bringing before us the question of the guaranteed income, even as I commend all hon. members who are interested in the problem of poverty, I must again say that I feel very strongly that we are not really comprehending the problem nor coming up with a solution when we talk about income guarantees that in effect are based on means or income tests. That, indeed, is my one quarrel with the motion placed before us by the hon. member for Portneuf, in that he wants this guaranteed minimum income, as he defines it, to be made available to every Canadian citizen "who is without work or other source of income." It seems to me that if we continue to think in terms of social assistance, social welfare, social security programs or what-have-you as having to be based on what people already have, based on whether or not they are at work, based on whether or not they have enough income, we are in effect keeping people in a category of poverty.

Hon. members are aware of the recent book by Ian Adams, entitled "Wall of Poverty". In it he has a chapter entitled-I think I have this correct although I do not have the book in front of me-"Keeping the poor that way." That is what concerns me about most of our approaches to the problem of poverty. We think of these people as the poor and so we must do something to help them; we do it out of kindness or compassion, or to keep the economy going. But we seem to assume they will still be the poor; they will still be in need of assistance. I submit that some day society will get wise to itself, and I do not see why we cannot start now and make to our people grants that are a form of guaranteed annual income without any reference to work, means tests or what-have-you.

There are in society many things in respect of which we do this already. We provide all our people with education. Oh, there are varying degrees of education that people get, depending upon their incomes, depending upon whether or not they can go up into the higher grades, to university and so on; but we provide it, and we boast of our society as one that provides education for all. We provide police and fire protection for all. We provide roads, highways and national defence. There are many things that are part of a society, and if you live in the society you are entitled to share in them.

I believe the day will come when we will say the same thing about a basic standard of living and about the number of dollars, the income, that is necessary so that everybody achieves that standard of living. We will grant everyone a basic income and let the income tax take it back from the wealthy. We started to move in that directiotn with respect to the old age security pension back in 1950 or 1951 when we provided a pension to everyone of a certain age regardless of his means or other income.

We retreated a bit when we added the guaranteed income supplement and put it on a means test basis. But I submit that it is still true that some of the sting that used to go with old age, when the old age pension was on a means test basis, has been taken out because there is this money available to everyone. That is what I want to see, not just for our senior citizens but for all groups in society.

Indeed, I think that a practical way to do this is to start with one group and move on to another. I would like to see a guaranteed income provided first of all to our senior citizens. I do not mean a guaranteed minimum income based on means; I do not mean a guaranteed income supplement-I mean raising the basic $75 to $150 and giving it to everyone, across the board.

I think our veterans group is another in respect of which we could practice the principle of a guaranteed income for all without regard to means or to other income. Then perhaps the next area is our families. Although people say that family allowances do not play the part that they did when they were brought in in 1945, this is a way of providing certain basic guarantees of income to all our family units regardless of the other income that people may have, regardless of whether they have jobs or not, and therefore family allowances should be increased. Mr. Speaker, that is the point I want to make, that providing a guaranteed income means granting it across the board, without any means or income test.

People ask about the cost of these things. Of course these programs cost money, but my hon. friend from Portneuf-even though he may have put it in words that the rest of us say is Social Credit jargon-is awfully close to the truth when he says we can provide things out of our gross national product. What is it that we want to provide? Do we want lots of filling stations, tall office buildings, great bank buildings and affluence of that

April 20, 1970 COMMONS

kind; affluence for a few at the top-or do we want the purpose of our gross national product first and foremost to be a guaranteed income for all our people? I believe it can be done. I believe it will have to be done.

I do not want to be accused of trying to paraphrase something a great man once said, but I think it is true that society, whether it is ours in Canada or that of the world around us, cannot go on half well-off and half poor, half secure and half insecure. If we are to hold together any kind of unity, any kind of society, certain things will have to be shared and enjoyed equally by all our people. I think the way to get this kind of thing started is to work for a guaranteed income. As I say, I would pick out certain groups as the first ones, such as senior citizens, veterans, and families.

The day of this kind of social security will come, and I do not think we should resist it by saying that it is futuristic or by going along with this gobbledegook about selective programs of social security and social welfare. That is turning the clock back, Mr. Speaker, and we do not want that. We want to move ahead into the kind of society that is possible in the future. Why does the future always have to be so far out in front, especially when you consider that in the meantime, as my hon. friend from Saint-Jacques (Mr. Guilbault) has said, four million or five million people in this great country of Canada, with all the wealth we are producing, are living in poverty today? It is not good enough. A guaranteed income could solve it, and I welcome the fact that the hon. member for Portneuf has asked us to do some thinking about this question again today.

[DOT] (5:40 p.m.)

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