Monday, March 16, 1992
The House met at 8 p.m.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Laurendeau): Order, please. The honourable member for Radisson with 25 minutes remaining.
Ms. Marianne Cerilli
(Radisson): When we left off before, I was putting the
budget into some kind of an international context and seeing how this budget is
coming from a Conservative government similar to the Conservative government
that brought us the Canada‑U.S. trade agreement, which I was describing,
has wreaked havoc on our
I wonder how many people here know that
there was also a bill that was passed at the same time after the '88 election
We must always offer under this agreement
similar assistance to American corporations as Canadian corporations. Essentially, with the agreement we cannot
stop American corporations from taking over Canadian corporations and through
other instances like this we see that the trade agreement does not have very
much to do with trade, but is actually the basis for the economic union between
Mr. Acting Speaker, I wanted to go from
here and talk a little bit further about the economic disparity that is being entrenched
There is some hesitation to take on the whole issue of taxation. The Conservative agenda seems to be to continually almost play into peoples' greed if you will, because they are always encouraging people not to want to pay any more taxes. I remember in one of the other debates that I was participating in in the House where I went into some length in talking about the amount of disparity in taxation in the country and for us to not kid ourselves when we talk about taxation and thinking that there are no other options. The government likes to use the line that there really is only one taxpayer. I have some problems with that. They try to say that people will also be jeopardized if there is some fair corporate taxation. All of those kinds of quick responses that they make to some kind of fair taxation, I think are taking away the hope that a lot of people might have.
One of the other lines in the budget that I have some problems with is the idea that the best social program is having a meaningful job. Again, it seems to be going along with the Tory Conservative idea that you really do not need social programs, that you really do not need government, that you really do not need support.
I would suggest that a job is not going to help someone who is in need of special education programs. It is not going to help someone who has a dispute with their landlord. It is not going to help someone who is a victim of violence. That is a very narrow view, and I think it shows the true attitude that the government has to a lot of the social programs and the government services that the government provides.
The other fallacy in the budget proposed
by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) is that everyone in
To have in the last couple of years to have to spend some $90 million on welfare is a sign that something is not working with the Tory agenda and the kind of economic policy and budgets that they have brought in. We seem to always be waiting for the miraculous investment that is supposed to follow with the Conservative government, and we are waiting and waiting. We continue to see our social security net attacked and depleted, and people certainly have fewer and fewer government services, but we never seem to get the long‑promised investment.
When I was listening to the Budget Debate, I was noticing that there were some 10 tax breaks for corporations and there was not‑‑[interjection] Excuse me, Mr. Acting Speaker, are you‑‑
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laurendeau): Order, please. The honourable member for Radisson at this time is attempting to debate the budget. If those members not willing to listen would mind to come to the loge and have your conversations there or out in the halls, I am attempting to listen to the honourable member.
Ms. Cerilli: Thank you, Mr. Acting Speaker. I know how eager you are to hear what I have to say.
The other thing that the government has
done with this budget is, especially in rural
The other thing that the government seems very proud of in their budget is that there are some 1,100 fewer positions in the Civil Service than there were a couple of years ago. Again, as I was saying earlier, it shows that they really do not have the kind of value that they claim to have. It seems that there is always a turn of the hand. On the one hand, when we ask them questions about social services, they seem to say that they are the government that has done everything. They have done everything for abused children and domestic violence, they have done more than everything for aboriginal people and people in the North. Then when you read their economic policy in the budget, you see where they truly stand. They devalue the Civil Service and they devalue social programs.
The other thing that was surprising about this budget was there was a mystery of the Fiscal Stabilization Fund. On the one hand they say that they have dipped into the Fiscal Stabilization Fund, they have a few more million dollars out of there, but on the other hand when we talk about the surplus that was left by the previous NDP administration, they say that there was no surplus. Then they will criticize the payroll tax which generated some revenue which this government seems to be incapable of doing, and on the other hand then, after criticizing the payroll tax, they will claim that there was no surplus. Then they have no explanation of where the Fiscal Stabilization Fund came from.
The other thing that the budget addresses
somewhat briefly is another one of these kinds of flip‑flops or double
standards, the whole area of cross‑border shopping. We have Conservative governments across the
country who are claiming that people should buy Canadian, and people should not
spend their money across the border. I
would like to see that same kind of standard applied to Canadian industry. We never see any government media campaigns
to encourage Canadian industry or industry that operates in
I would say that this budget is not as bad as the last one which the government brought in, in terms of the cuts and the kind of attack on a lot of the programs that people rely on.
I just then wonder what is the next one going to be like, because this cannot keep going forever. We cannot continue to have the governments not develop any more revenue, and keep taxes down the way they claim that they are, but at the same time the municipalities are paying more, and not cut any government spending with the economy staying the way that it is. Even though this budget is not as bad, even though they have drained the Fiscal Stabilization Fund, as it could be, but I suggest that we are just getting ready for what is going to happen in the next year.
I guess the government is just continuing to wait for the said investment that the budget claims is just around the corner. It is always just around the corner. Somehow we are going to get all the investment that is going to put those 52,000 people to work and decrease the welfare rolls back to a reasonable, respectable level and eliminate them, which I think is a reasonable level, and which I said is to eliminate them. You know, we are always waiting for this miraculous investment that is going to follow a Tory budget, or a Tory reign in government.
One of the other lines that we find in a Tory budget is that they are always going to find new and better ways to run things more efficiently.
I would like them to explain that to the teachers who are now teaching in classrooms that are overloaded, and how those teachers are supposed to teach and do their jobs more effectively when cutbacks are basically making their jobs more difficult by putting them in situations where they are dealing with more and more kids who have a wider diversity of needs, which are not being dealt with by other areas in the social service net.
Finding ways to do more with less is something else that child care workers are also being forced to do.
The other interesting thing when I was listening to the Minister of Environment (Mr. Cummings), as he was claiming quite proudly, is that his government staff in Environment are taking on additional responsibilities, and they too are being asked to do more for less. That is what the rhetoric we always hear from the Conservative governments means, that being competitive means that you do more work for less pay.
(Mr. Speaker in the Chair)
I want to take some time to look at the Department of Environment. There are a couple of issues there. Again this department is such a shell of a department that they have not calculated specifically if they have gotten increases that will completely meet the inflation that they will face, but there are some interesting changes which are somewhat difficult to understand.
The main function of the department one would think is to ensure that environment regulations are enforced and that there is some monitoring that goes on to see that happens, but in the branch that does the main work of the department that is where we have seen the cuts. We have seen a cut in the environment management area of the department.
As we have discussed over and over in the House‑‑and a lot of people liked to use the rhetoric‑‑we have entered a period when environmental considerations are getting to be more and more of a common concern. There are becoming more and more regulations to enforce; there are becoming more and more kinds of industry that are to be monitored. Yet we are seeing that there is a decrease in the environmental management section of the department.
When we compare that and see where there has been an increase, because the department does show that there is a bit of an increase, we see that it is in the area of legislation and intergovernmental affairs. So here on the one hand, the government is taking away from the environmental management branch, which is the branch that is doing the real work in the department, and they are putting an increase into the legislation intergovernment affairs area, which I assume is the area that may do the drafting of legislation and do the correspondence between the various governments.
That would make sense, because if it was the area that was also dealing with the joint environmental assessments, which we are getting into having in this province‑‑but there is another area in the department that deals with that specifically, and that area has also had a small increase.
I would question what is it that intergovernment affairs does that requires more of an increase and is more important than the work done in the environment management area. We see over and over again where the government is not enforcing the regulations that are existing in the province. One of these days, this government is going to have to develop an area in the branch that is really going to do regulation and enforcement. I do not have any confidence that it is going to come under this current government.
The other area where we have seen a cut in the department is in the Clean Environment Commission and, again, it is interesting. We are entering a time when there are going to be a number of reviews by the Clean Environment Commission. It is very unusual or surprising that we would have a decrease at the Clean Environment Commission when they are entering into a time when they are going to have to do such a large amount of work.
Mr. Speaker, I think I will move over and talk a little bit about one of the other areas that I am responsible for, which is multiculturalism. Again, there have been not any drastic cuts in this budget in that area like we saw in the last budget, but it is interesting to look and do some addition on where the government is spending its money. They are spending over $300,000 for the Multicultural Secretariat, and this is an office that we know is entirely full of people who have been workers on the Conservative government's political campaigns.
(Mr. Laurendeau in the Chair)
We see that they are paying staff who are party supporters, and they put all‑‑I think it is some six or seven staff in there now‑‑who a lot of people in the community are wondering what that office actually does. You compare that to the amount of money that the Manitoba Intercultural Council has, and they have gotten no increase, where they are the body in government that is there to advise the minister. They have the democratically elected representatives from the community.
This, to me, is the example that demonstrates this government's lack of commitment to having democratic processes in government and some kinds of organizations that hold them accountable when they are in one year creating this entire office with six or seven staff and spending over $300,000 in an area that is basically shrouded in secrecy from public accountability. This office, I know that they go to a lot of events on behalf of the minister, but we are going to look forward to our discussion during Estimates to find out exactly what that area of the department is doing with their over $300,000.
One of the other areas that is causing concern is the fact that this budget now shows that there is no support for heritage languages by this government. That was something that was eliminated in the last budget and has not been included at all in this budget. I would suggest that is an area where the government is remiss in encouraging and supporting various communities in their offering courses to retain their heritage languages.
One of the other areas that is causing concern is the erosion of the Community Places Program. The Community Places Program has been important to a variety of sectors in our community‑‑the arts, the sport and recreation areas as well as the multicultural area. This budget line has gone from over $9 million to some $4 million‑‑
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laurendeau): Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.
Hon. Linda McIntosh (Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs): Mr. Acting Speaker, I have followed this Budget Debate with a great deal of interest. I have listened to the comments that have gone back and forth on either side of the House, and I find that the comments have been intriguing, very intriguing, displaying as they do not only a major difference in the sense of responsibility revealed in the handling of taxpayers' money or in the way that members would handle taxpayers' money if they had the opportunity, but also a very great philosophical difference in the basic understanding of the mandate of government.
If the members opposite believe, as they
appear to, ideologically, that government is put in place to control, regulate
and regulate and regulate, and direct every individual's life then I can
understand why they feel a compulsion to spend great quantities of money
because such ideology is expensive, very expensive indeed. Such a controlling government would require a
vast infusion of funds as the former
Those funds, of course, need to come from some place. That some place is actually two places, Mr. Acting Speaker. First, the money comes from the pockets of the taxpayers. When those pockets are emptied or nearly emptied, then it comes from a lender, borrowed dollars that have interest charges attached to them, interest charges on a debt that grows larger every year as the productivity of the taxpayer declines. After all, what use is it to the taxpayer to be productive in a society put forth by those who have the ideology of the members opposite? In an environment such as that which they would create, there is no incentive to work hard to get ahead because there is no ability to get ahead and no reward at the end of those travails. Productivity yields no reward. The reward for hard work is simply more hard work, so indolence and lethargy become the norm even amongst those who have the ability to produce.
When the member for Radisson (Ms. Cerilli) stands in the House as she did a moment ago, and as she did when she first became elected, in her inaugural speech extolling the virtues of communism, because it takes from each according to his ability and gives to each according to his need, she does not understand how ability can be stifled, how ability can be smothered and how ability can be stopped, stopped by punitive measures unleashed against those of ability.
It reminds me of the story of the little red hen, the little red hen who asked for help from her neighbouring farmyard animals to gather some grain. Help me gather the grain, she asked and they gave her no help. Then she asked them for help to grind the grain and they would give her none. Then she asked for help to gather the wood to build a fire so that she could bake some bread with the grain she had gathered, ground and made into dough. She got no help. When the bread came out of the fire, Mr. Acting Speaker, and its fragrance went wafting through the air, the neighbouring farm animals took that bread, because why should the hen have everything? After all, the hen was rich. She had grain; she had wood; she had a fire, and she had bread. I can almost hear the farmyard animals crying, make the rich pay. I can almost hear the little red hen say, I choose not to bake any more bread. When all the people of ability give up, who will there be to bake the bread?
The members opposite in all likelihood would condemn the little red hen for the choice she makes to make no more bread. In fact, they would in all likelihood forbid her that choice, for if she has the ability to bake bread and refuses to bake it when all the others need it, she should be condemned, and she should be forced to continue in her tasks by law, with no reward for her efforts. Her loaves may become inferior in quality and fewer in number, as those societies that have practised the ideology as the members opposite have discovered.
Will all the people of ability give up? When Atlas shrugs and the world tumbles off his shoulders, how are the people in need going to be served? They are not. They go tumbling through space like the unwanted burden of Atlas's globe, unprotected and unsupported.
It seems that socialism cannot exist without capitalism having first created a pool of wealth from which socialism can draw. After the left‑wing governments have used up the wealth generated by free enterprise and people of initiative, and after they have driven away the people of initiative and ability, and after the pockets of the remaining populace are empty, after Atlas finally shrugs, the populace will invariably choose a government like ours to come in and clean up the mess left by years of careless and thoughtless spending, to try and stimulate people again, to bring them out of their lethargy and government‑instilled dependence, and provide them with incentives, incentives to grow and achieve and create, so that the economy becomes strong again.
This is the opposite ideology to that which was just espoused by the member from Radisson (Ms. Cerilli). In order to provide the essential services so necessary in a truly caring society, in a truly compassionate society, one must have a strong economy. Governments do not create wealth. Governments do not generate that wealth; people do, people whose initiatives should be rewarded and encouraged as this budget and this government attempts to do. We want to create the kind of economy, an economy of prosperity and strength, that will serve all people well.
It has been said and it bears repeating that you cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot expect people to start businesses, create jobs and generate revenues through fair taxation for government programs unless they stand to make a fair and reasonable profit for their efforts. To force ever‑increasing taxes on an already burdened population, on individuals and on businesses is counterproductive. As our Premier (Mr. Filmon) has said, higher taxes mean fewer jobs every time.
In this budget there are no increases in personal income taxes, no increases in business taxes, no increases in sales tax, no increase in the provincial debt. The members opposite are laughing and making fun of all this because they do not feel that no tax increase is significant. They repeat over and over, no tax increase is not of importance to them. They do not feel it is significant that we have not put in tax increases through five successive budgets. They are alone in that view.
One thing a person can always borrow without collateral is trouble. But government has collateral. Government, as the members opposite know, government has the children and the grandchildren of the current taxpayers serving in a prison with more than a lifetime sentence to pay off the debt that has been created by high‑spending governments that do not care to keep taxes down. The members opposite do not feel that the debt is a problem. They even get mixed up sometimes and call a debt a surplus.
The Premier said the Prince of Darkness, the member beside me here said the Duke of Duplicity, and I guess the Prince of Darkness has become the Duke of Duplicity. Syrus said that debt is the slavery of the free, and one only has to listen to the ratepayers to understand how deeply they feel that slavery.
I was interested just a moment ago when the member for Radisson (Ms. Cerilli) said that this budget goes along with an international trend. She stood in her place and she said: This budget goes along with an international trend.
Maybe she should ask herself why, why this budget goes along with an international trend. Maybe she should examine those places in the world where her plan for society has been tried and has been proven to be a disastrous experiment. In those countries where communism and socialism have been practised for 30, 40, 50, 60 years, where suffering has been raised to a higher level, where everyone is equal at the lowest common denominator, where individuality is chilled and killed, and where now we see the leaders of those countries pleading helplessly to world leaders in the western world, to world leaders who espouse the philosophy that we espouse for aid and for assistance which we gladly and willingly provide.
Those countries now recognize, as we do, that while socialism is a benevolent theory, it has one rather major problem. It does not work. It is like a filter turned upside down where what goes in clear comes out cloudy. The member for Radisson also said, the government uses the line that there is only one taxpayer.
Indeed we do. There is only one taxpayer, and that taxpayer has paid and paid, and I know the members opposite have to have been receiving the same feedback we are receiving, because they live in the same world we live in, and that is that this budget has been positively received by the ratepayers who had it up to the top of their heads with the ever‑increasing taxes they had to pay under the previous administration.
I know they have heard that feedback, because I know I have had people who have phoned me, who have said, thank you once again for not raising taxes, and I have phoned the NDP member from such‑and‑such a place to tell him that same message. So I know, when they stand in the House and say, it does not matter that you have not raised taxes, that is irrelevant, you should be spending more, more, more, I know they have heard from the taxpayers as to what the taxpayers really feel, and I know that the members opposite stand alone in their view.
I was also intrigued to hear just a few moments ago from members opposite that we on this side really do not care about social programs, and the budget we presented, they say, does not display any interest in the social programs.
Yet the alternate budget that the NDP presented to the public through their nonelected organization they call Choices, that alternate budget that they presented to the public through their nonelected organization did not address social programs to the same degree and intensity that we did. I am really surprised that any member opposite would be able to stand with a straight face, indicate that the budget does not show any concern about social programs when their own alternate budget presented by their front group Choices did not propose the degree of caring that we did.
For example, Choices said: There should be a 5.1 percent increase in funding to Family Services. They put their budget out and they said, there should be a 5.1 percent increase to Family Services. Well, we disagree with Choices. We disagree with them. We do not think that 5.1 percent is enough. We really do not understand how they could not care about social programs to the degree that we do.
We gave Family Services an 8.7 percent increase, Mr. Acting Speaker. In Ontario‑‑[interjection] The member for Radisson (Ms. Cerilli) is now chirping from her seat about welfare, and I would be very pleased to address the issue. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Doer) is trying to shout me down. He does not want me to address the member for Radisson's point.
The member for Radisson has just indicated welfare. I think maybe she wishes she had not said that from the look on her face.
Let me indicate what everybody here knows,
that while we are giving an 8.7 percent increase in funding to Family Services,
specifically with social allowances, the NDP in
I know that the member for Concordia says
he wants to debate
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (
Mrs. McIntosh: I cannot blame him. The member for
Who is it that cares about social
programs? Certainly we care more than
the Choices budget cares. Certainly we
care more than the NDP in
We are giving over 5 percent increase in funding to Education, 8.7 percent increase to Family Services, over 5 percent increase to Health. We are doing these things during a period of time when our revenues to the province are coming in at around 2 percent increase.
During their years with a double digit
increase in revenues to the province, all they did was double the debt. It took over a hundred years of
They remind me of people who murder their parents and throw themselves in the mercy of the court because they are orphans.
Mr. Acting Speaker, the NDP are always saying that they are the ones who care about the working people. They say they care about the working people, but the working people, whoever they are, and to me that is anybody who gets up in the morning and goes out of the house and puts in an honest day's labour, and that could be a professional, a white‑collar worker, a blue‑collar worker, a farmer, anybody, but they have a particular category that they pigeon‑hole people into. The people in my constituency who work, which is just about all of them because they are hard‑working people, those people‑‑
Point of Order
Mr. George Hickes (Point Douglas): On a point of order. I just wanted to raise the question about‑‑she said all the people in her constituency are working because they are hard‑working people. The constituents in Point Douglas are also‑‑
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laurendeau): Order, please. The honourable member for Point Douglas did not have a point of order. It is a dispute over the facts.
* * *
Mrs. McIntosh: Thank you very much, Mr. Acting Speaker. The member for Point Douglas knows perfectly well that in every constituency there are people who have jobs and people who do not have jobs. The member for Point Douglas also knows that the people from Assiniboia, who work hard at whatever they do whether they are employed or not employed, those people have indicated to me that they do not feel the previous administration did very much for them.
(Mr. Speaker in the Chair)
Those people have indicated to me that the
taxes that were taken from them by the previous NDP administration in this
We look at the things that this budget
puts forward for the people of
It is certainly not what is being said about other jurisdictions in this country headed by socialist regimes.
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): Socialist regimes.
Mrs. McIntosh: The member for Concordia laughs when I say "socialist regimes," and the members opposite laughed when I referred to‑‑
Mr. Steve Ashton (Thompson): Socialism for the rich.
Mrs. McIntosh: You know, "socialism for the rich," says the member for Thompson. Let me tell you, they sit over there and say "make the rich pay, make the rich pay, make the rich pay," and under their administration, everybody becomes rich. The people in my constituency‑‑
An Honourable Member: . . . listen to the working class.
Mrs. McIntosh: Because they have to pay. Everybody in my constituency, the bus drivers, the truck drivers, the homemakers, the small businessmen, the teachers, the nurses, they all become rich because they all have to pay and pay and pay, because of policies put down by the previous NDP administration. They make the rich pay, and they put everybody into that category.
The members opposite indicate I have taken over from Harry Enns. I can tell you that Harry Enns has been elected to this Legislature for 25 years, and has made some very good points from his seat in this Assembly. I would be very proud to follow in his footsteps. He has not been here for 25 years because he followed the philosophy of the people opposite, whose budgets did not resemble this budget.
I find it very interesting that members
opposite have been able to generate very little backlash against this
budget. They have tried very, very hard
to do that. They have tried very, very
hard to get the public annoyed and agitated about this budget, and they have
not succeeded. They just, plain and simple,
have not succeeded. All their rash
predictions about the harm this was going to do, all of their rash predictions
about what this budget was going to contain have not come true. The people, who are complimenting us about
this budget, I know are passing on those same compliments about this budget to
the members opposite. They cannot deny
that they have not heard that praise, for they would have to be deaf, dumb and
blind not to have heard it from the people of
The member beside me, the member from Niakwa (Mr. Reimer), in his budget address, said that he thought that we should rename the New Democratic Party to the new dinosaur party because he felt there was a lot of backward thinking over there. You know, I really cannot disagree with him, and I suppose that one of the reasons that I cannot help agreeing with him is because I know the dinosaurs were very large and cumbersome and destructive and had very tiny little brains.
All of the promises that were made prior to the last provincial election in this province have been kept. We have promised that we would keep taxes down. That was an election promise. We have held to it. It was one thing that we said at all the doors we went to, that we would do our best to keep government spending down. We would do our best to keep taxes down. We would do our best to contain the size of government. Those were election promises.
They know as well as we know that going door to door before the 1990 election, the No. 1 issue at the doors was taxation. The No. 1 issue that came up over and over again was, if I vote for you will you keep the taxes down? If I vote for you will you get a handle on government spending? If I vote for you will you promise you will try to eliminate government waste and mismanagement? If I vote for you will you try to undo some of the harm that was done by the government that is in there now, which was the Pawley government. Our answer was always, yes, we will make every effort to do those things, and we have not increased those taxes. No increase in personal taxes. No increase in business taxes. No increase in sales tax. You want the sales tax to go up?
An Honourable Member: No.
Mrs. McIntosh: You do not. Ah, the member for Elmwood (Mr. Maloway) has finally agreed he does not want the sales tax to go up, and that is really a nice thing to have on the record. Those were the promises that we made at the doors.
Contrast that record, Mr. Speaker, to the
record of those people who went door to door in
So they got in, and Premier Bob when he got in said, well now, golly gee, we did not quite expect to get in; we did not really think we were going to get in, and now we have got all these promises. We will try, we will try. Well, we will have to think about it for a couple of months while we are figuring out how we are going to try. Then all of a sudden they had a $9 billion deficit. Then all of a sudden they looked at a $14 billion deficit, and all of a sudden they said, whoa, we have got to break all our promises. We have got to break all our promises. We are so sorry. It is just that we did not know what we were doing when we promised them in the first place. Do not really blame us. There is a recession out there. It is all Brian Mulroney's fault. We should not have promised those things. We are sorry.
We knew enough not to make those kinds of
promises, Mr. Speaker. We had enough
foresight. While we are holding the line
here as promised and keeping the lid on government expenses, they are giving a
14.5 percent increase to the
That is something that people want. Now somebody over there said, I think it was the member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale) who said that he was not a populist. He said, members opposite are populist, they do what their public wants. I am not a populist, he said, I do what is right. I found it a rather surprising statement. I guess the thing that is interesting is that we told the public what we were going to do and, because they agreed with us, they elected us, and so we reflect the popular opinion because we gave them the opinion that they said they wanted.
I also fail to see what is wrong with being a populist if being a populist means that you are doing what the people want you to do. Forgive me, I kind of thought that is why we were elected. I look at the way that we have kept a lid on government expenditures, and I look at the way‑‑I know how the members opposite spent when they were in. It was spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend. I know how they spent, because I watched it happen. I know how the debt doubled, because I watched the debt double. I know how the debt doubled, because it affected me personally, it affected my neighbours, it affected the people in my constituency, it affected my family. They know that too.
An Honourable Member: She cut spending in the school board.
Mrs. McIntosh: Oh, you want to start talking about that? Whoa, you should not have opened that‑‑you should not have opened hat. During the period of time that I was chairman of the board, we did similar things there that we are doing here in that we cut expenditures, we kept the taxes down, we improved the quality and availability of programming, and the people, because we did that, we closed 13 schools, and got elected again and again and again by overwhelming majority every time we ran‑‑every time we ran.
If you want to check the record, you can see the plurality by which we were elected, and you can see that the strong stands we took to be cost effective, to be good business people, to reduce expenditures while improving programming, you will see that the largest plurality in the history of the school division was accorded those trustees who made those firm, strong, carefully thought out decisions.
Carrying on to the budget of the province, having put in the aside at the opposition's request about the budget of the school division, I cannot help but compare when we talk about expenditures, having had some idea of how the NDP spent money here, and knowing the expectations of their "friends."
They keep accusing us of the
"friends" that we had, but you look at what
I know that the opposition, Mr. Speaker, does not wish to support a budget that reflects so well on us and so poorly on them. I know because it has been told me by members opposite that whether they believe in the budget or not they have an obligation to knock it because that is their job. What they believe in their hearts really does not matter. It is their job to oppose. They are the opposition. No matter how good their constituents tell them it is, they feel compelled to stand and criticize it. So stand and criticize it they do, although few are listening to them, and of those who do listen, even fewer believe their rhetoric.
I cannot help but be proud of a budget
that gives increases to essential services, such as health, education, and
family services, substantial increases, and holds the line on taxes for the
fifth consecutive time. I am pleased
that we had the Fiscal Stabilization Fund available to draw monies from on a
rainy day. That fund was set aside for precisely this kind of reason. It was set aside so that when there was a
need and when there was "a rainy day," that it could be our umbrella,
and that we were able to use that for that purpose.I am pleased that we have
had the foresight and the wisdom to set aside that money for that purpose so
that we would not have to raise taxes at this time for the people of
I believe this budget is a budget for all Manitobans. I believe that those of every income level and those of every occupation and those, indeed, who have no occupation will benefit from the initiatives in this budget.
I not only support it, Mr. Speaker, I wholeheartedly endorse it, and I know that 30 years from now, when it is no longer important to the opposition members to oppose simply for the sake of opposing, that they too will acknowledge in hindsight the wisdom of our approach of fiscal responsibility versus their approach which ran us deep into debt, a debt from which we will be a long time surfacing. I ask them if they have the courage to do what I know their constituents want them to do and join with us in supporting this budget.
Mr. Gulzar Cheema (The Maples): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak on this very important document, which is one of the most essential documents any government can bring. That is the budget.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to take a little different approach to the whole debate. [interjection] It looks like the Deputy Premier is going to do the job he has done for the last 40 years, heckle during the speech, but I do not need any help from him today.
Mr. Speaker, this budget has given us very mixed feelings, and there are some good things in the budget, and some are not quite acceptable. The one thing which people have liked in my area is holding the tax to the level that the people have expressed that they are unable to pay taxes any more. I think the government has gotten that message very clearly, and they have kept that promise because, with the cynicism and the distrust to the politician, I think it would have been a very severe blow to all of us if the government did not keep that promise. I think it just reflects not only on the government, but all of us, that something which was promised finally was done.
Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about, in
terms of the major part of this budget, which is the health care, and I will
keep most of my comments in that area.
As we all know, not only in this province, but in this country, we have
a major problem at hand. That is the funding of the health care system. We got a 5.6 percent raise in the budget,
which is significant, a very significant amount in terms of inflation and in
terms of what other provinces like
(Mrs. Louise Dacquay, Deputy Speaker, in the Chair)
I think the issue is larger, as I said,
that the funding of health care does not really depend upon each and every
province. It is an issue which depends upon the federal government. Madam Deputy Speaker, I think it will be
worthwhile for us and through this assembly to tell the people of
Why I say that is because I made that clear when I brought Bill 51 as a private member's bill. I made my comment at that time in light of the funding formula that we have or the federal government and how that is having a greater impact. Most people do not realize because they are not being told. It is not the fault of any special government, but they do not know that the money which we fund for the health care system does not come from the province solely. It also comes from a sharing formula, which the federal government has slowly and gradually for the last six or seven years‑‑it has gone down significantly, and the way the funding formula is now, by year 2002, we will not have any federal funding.
That is very sad. People must know that. I think it will be very dangerous for us in
this House as a member of the Legislative Assembly to demand things and not
explain to the public at large that this is an issue which crosses provincial boundaries. It goes to
Madam Deputy Speaker, the Canada Health Act of 1966 and later in 1984 when the federal government reaffirmed the five principles, they have made the law, but they have failed to oblige by their own obligations in terms of the funding formula. They have given us a standard, but they are not funding that standard properly.
That is why each and every province has a
different set of guidelines. Each and every
province has its own definition of a health care system. That is why some services, which are covered in
That is why we are asking all members in this House to support our private member's bill, Bill 51, which will be the first of its kind in this country in terms of finally confirming the five basic principles of health care. Then this government can have some more legal power to negotiate the funding formula of the federal government.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I sincerely hope
that the government will look at this bill very seriously, and the members of
the New Democratic Party will also look at this bill in a very positive way to
make sure of some of the basic principles that we all said in the campaigns,
and so we can stand by those principles and confirm those principles and make
them a part of
I was intrigued by the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) that he had some positive things to say about that bill. We will see whether that materializes in the long run.
Madam Deputy Speaker, it is extremely important for us to have those things put in place so that we can‑‑not only this government, our future governments will have the power to fund the health care system.
Madam Deputy Speaker, the other issues, which are of great concern to people in terms of what is a necessity, and what are the other services in health care which could be termed as nonessential services, that has to be discussed.
I do not think we have any choice in this House to set aside those basic things, because people are simply asking, can we continue to afford an expensive health care system? Can we continue to afford $1.8 billion? Can we continue to increase our health care demand for next year, and the year after that? I think those are very important questions. That is why we are eager to listen to this government in terms of: What do they think are the essential services, and how are we going to preserve those essential services?
That is why we were looking for very bold initiatives and very bold steps from this administration. We got one. At least there was a basic change in terms of the policy direction, that the government would move from institutional care to community‑based care, and that is a very positive step. That is why we simply today asked the Premier (Mr. Filmon): If you are going to abide by their policy, why do you not show us the numbers where you are going? The Premier was not very well informed, so he went in a different direction.
We were disappointed not to see many positive initiatives. As I said from the beginning, a budget is one of the most important economic documents.
Mr. Lamoureux: It is the most important.
Mr. Cheema: It is the most important document, as the
Madam Deputy Speaker, a lot of things can be done to meet the changing needs. To meet the needs of patients and health‑care providers, we have to have a system which will be human, which will have a human approach, which will have a compassionate approach, but at the same time we should not forget that medicare is not free. The taxpayers are funding the medicare system.
The other step that we were eagerly
looking for was changing the direction in the funding of
Madam Deputy Speaker, we were unable to
find in this budget any other specific direction in terms of how the government
is going to shift health care from the institution to the community base, and
how they are going to provide the same kind of care, but with less cost in that
community, but also give us a special direction. When you are having a major policy
announcement, and you are not letting the health‑care provider know how
you are going to do it, it is causing a major concern in the health care community. The government is not telling them exactly
what they are going to do. That is why
each and every hospital is trying to come up with the numbers, and they are trying
to look at how they are going to close some of the beds and then move the services
to the community. I think governments
should make those things very clear to the people of
Madam Deputy Speaker, we wanted those directions to be seen in this budget. We wanted to have exact numbers as to how the government will do it, but they have, once again, not shown any clear direction. I sincerely hope that we will see them in the Estimates process.
Madam Deputy Speaker, the issue of health promotion and prevention has to be one of the cornerstones of any community‑based care, and we saw there was a cut in funding to external agencies and I think that is sending a very wrong signal. It may be a very small amount, but when you are developing a major policy and when you are making announcements which indicate that you are serious to implement some of the policies, if you cut the funding at the same time it sends a bad signal. We sincerely hope that the minister will be able to clarify those situations.
Many individuals were concerned because external agencies are one of the major components of the community care. These organizations have a number of volunteers, many health care providers who give hours and hours of their free time and they work very hard, and they know what is happening in the community. They are the ones where we should be learning and spending some of our tax dollars more effectively. I was disappointed to see that some of the funding was cut from those external agencies.
Today the Premier (Mr. Filmon) said, well, we are giving 5.6 percent. Why are you complaining? We are simply asking, if you are making a major policy shift then you should tell the people and tell them how you are going to do it, and that is missing. That is what I said, we need a more straightforward, more truthful and more honest approach to this issue rather than play to the camera and say the Liberals are asking to spend, spend, spend.
That simply is not true. We have been very consistent, very positive. We have a balanced approach to the system.
Madam Deputy Speaker, we were disappointed with the Premier's answers, but I think when the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) comes, probably he should sit down with his Premier, explain to him that he has a different goal than the Premier himself.
Madam Deputy Speaker, in the area of health prevention and promotion there has to be a major change in the policy direction, and we were hoping that the minister would do it. If there is something where we were disappointed, it was the new Health Services Development Fund. It may have good intentions, but it is not very clear how the government is going to spend that $3 million to $4 million. I think the hospitals, health‑care providers and patients have the right to know how this government is going to spend that kind of money.
Madam Deputy Speaker, we were very pleased to see an increase in the Home Care funding. There is a substantial amount in the area of Pharmacare. There has been an increase in the funding of some other services, but I think there has to be more shift and that shift turned to the institution, to the community, must be shown in terms of the numbers. The mental health care community is very anxious to wait for the Health budget Estimates and see how that $212 million in the area of mental health is going to be divided.
Madam Deputy Speaker, we want the government to move into the community‑based care. We want them to move on a gradual basis. We want them to have a specific plan. We want them to let people as well as the health care provider understand how they are going to do it so that there could be mutual co‑operation and understanding of the whole process. It is a very important issue. We spend one‑third of our provincial budget on health care.
I think people have the right to know, and at the same time, I think they would like to know how the money is being spent, and they want to be responsible. We want the minister and this government to look at educating the public about the health care issues. I think it is one of the most important things for the government to do. We sincerely hope that they will come up with a policy which will teach people how we fund our health care system, who is finally paying for those things, and also, that will eventually save some money. That is one of the suggestions we would like the minister to follow up on.
I was told that as a member of a opposition we can come here, we can make all the noise, we can make all the suggestions, but the government gets the credit and that is fine with me. I do not have any particular desire to claim some of the things which have been done in the past, but at least people are getting the benefit and that is the most important thing.
That is why we are asking that it does not matter if the government wants to do our Bill 51 to reaffirm those five basic principles, because any reform has to be guided by those principles. If the government wants to do it, we will be very happy to have them that bill. I am sure everyone in this House will be very happy to see our Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) taking that kind of approach, and we will support him in that direction.
Madam Deputy Speaker, the other issues
which are extremely important to people of
I think that will give dignity back to the patient; I think that is the most important thing. I do not think anybody in his right mind is going to oppose that bill because that bill was basically‑‑Manitoba Law Reform Commission has worked very hard. We were hoping that the government would bring that bill, and once they failed to do so, we have brought that bill forward. If government will do it in the future, we will be very willing for them to take this bill also.
That is fine with us as long as those
bills are passed and people get their say, and they get the credit. I think that issue, hopefully, will resolve
because if we all remember what happened with a patient in
I think this Bill 16 will help in those situations. As I said from the beginning, we strongly feel that will give patients their final say, and also to some extent it will save money in the long run. I think that is a secondary thing. The primary thing is giving the right to a patient to control their destiny and control their right of treatment.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I hope that the minister would look into that bill very seriously. That is one of the positive suggestions, again, because we have been accused that we do not bring anything positive, we just complain. So far, Madam Deputy Speaker, we have been telling the government what they can do differently. I will again emphasize that the government should look at our health care funding and also look at the whole spectrum of educating people about the health care system.
I want to talk in terms of reforms which
have been in the works for a number of months now, and in terms of the Urban Hospital
Council which has a number of subcommittees, and a lot of credible people are
on those committees. They have right intentions,
but any decisions which are being made, I think they should have a broader
public consultation. Those things are
not being done. So we would ask the
government, any health care reform must be within the parameters of the five
basic principles of health care. I do
not think we should sacrifice the five basic principles. Keep the five basic principles that
I hope that the minister would look into the health care reform, not to cut services, but I think to spend smartly and spend effectively and manage our health care dollar in the long run. I think we will do a good service as members of this Assembly if we continue to follow those directions.
I do not think it is any more a monopoly or a special right of any political party in this country, but I think every person in this House cares for health care. I sincerely believe that is true. Even though we may have a basic difference in some of the approaches, basically we want positive things for all of us. I think we want that what we have today, we can preserve it for tomorrow for our children and for the future generations.
Madam Deputy Speaker, anything which will be eventually done should reflect our way of life and our way of thinking and also our way of approach, that is a human approach. I hope that any reforms which will eventually come into effect should be guided by those five basic principles.
Madam Deputy Speaker, we believe that we have made a significant contribution in the area of health in a very positive way. Some of the things the minister has followed, and they have carried this view, I think in the area of mental health and he has done a very good job. Also, there has been a significant contribution from the members of the official opposition in terms of some of the issues they have brought forward. We still think that as long as we continue to bring the positive suggestions, and not be overdemanding, and make sure that we take care of the public purse the way we would take care of our own purse, probably I think we will be more careful in some of the demands we make in this House.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I will emphasize again that our approach is going to be in health care in the same fashion as has been for the last four years. It is politically very risky, but it is the responsible opposition approach, and I think people are realizing that. We all will benefit from them. When I say "we all," the members of this House and, I think, taxpayers will benefit from those things.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I want to go into another point in terms of what the government announced today. It was the credentials for the foreign‑trained professionals. Finally, it was brought to our knowledge that there was a working group. The government has made a positive step in the right direction, but we want to study that document and want to make sure that should not be only a PR document. It should have a real meaning in the long run, a real substance in the long run.
We want that when people come to this country, Madam Deputy Speaker, they bring with them a lot of education, they bring with them a lot of hopes and a lot of good will. If we do not utilize all three components of a person, then I think we lose in our resources, and we should make sure that we take full advantage of those situations.
Madam Deputy Speaker, in particular, I
want to make another positive suggestion which the minister should consider,
and that is to set up a program for foreign‑trained physicians who have already
passed their exams, who are clinically competent, who are eligible to practise
only if they get their internship in
Madam Deputy Speaker, while I am discussing the foreign‑trained physician, I want to emphasize there are a lot of foreign‑trained teachers, nurses, engineers, accountants, carpenters, name it, that bring a lot of good will with them, and this government has a chance to do it and show a good will. They are more and more, I think, realizing now that eventually something has to be done; and, if you create one job, I think that will help one family, and I think that helps everyone. That is why it is so important, whatever we do in this House, if we continue to work toward the creation of jobs.
I wanted to talk about that. As the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) said the other day, and I was very impressed when he said that: The best thing that we can do as social justice is to have a job for everyone. I think that is a statement which has a lot of meaning, and I think it is very, very positive. [interjection] It does not matter. I do not know where it came from, but I think the intentions are there, very positive intentions, but as long as that is true. I mean, if the intentions are true and if there is a good will, I think it will happen in the long run. I think that will also provide at least a minimum guarantee to a person that he or she can afford and live and contribute in a positive way, because without jobs you are really a desperate person and your potential is being taken away.
We were very disappointed to see the
statement is there, but we do not have any meat attached to that
statement. We do not have anything
positive, any initiative to start some jobs in terms of job creation. The minister and the government would say that
it is the tough economic times, that they do not have money and they cannot
borrow. But, Madam Deputy Speaker, when
you are giving so many tax holidays to big corporations‑‑and I am starting
to believe that now, because I see the numbers now‑‑that if you
give the tax breaks to individuals in terms of, as we have proposed, having a
three‑month tax holiday for sales tax reduced by 3 percent, that will
boost the economy. That will help it, and
then we can reassess the situation. That
should be done, and that will give people a chance to have confidence in the economy. We are not asking too much. I think that will help. That will create jobs
for us in
I think it is very easy in this country, or in this province, that if you want to please your own supporters, then probably look for their interests, but that if you want to serve each and every person, then I think you have to have a program that will meet the need of each and every person. You cannot just please your own ideological approach. I think that you have, when you are the Minister of Finance or you are the government, a major responsibility. I sincerely want to see that in five or 10 years' time, people can say that this government and this Minister of Finance did a good job, but that remains to be seen.
I think that it may be taken very lightly, that the member from the opposition third party cannot be taken seriously, but we know that we have a sincere approach. We have a major concern that we as human beings are contributing in a major way. If we are not going to achieve the basic things for all of us, all of our families and as a society, then I think we are failing. I would emphasize that we are going to achieve that minimum goal of a job for everyone, then I think we should look at the person as a whole and try to help the individual, irrespective of their deficiencies in terms of whether they may not have the right education, or they may not be born into a rich family, or they may not have the environment where they can progress.
I think that is why I differ with the minister, this government's philosophy. I think as a government there is some responsibility, that you have to help in difficult times. I think that is why it would have given me at least a sense that we are contributing, and that we can tell each and every person when we go out that something is being done for next year and the year after that. I think it will be very much easier for all of us when we have six years of normal life of a politician; then you can go and make a decision that is going to impact on somebody for years to come. Then they are going to say, well, somebody else made a decision.
I think it is a tough job, and I can understand and appreciate the Minister of Finance and their difficulties, but I think it is about time that maybe something else should be done. I am not an economic master, and I do not have all the answers, but I am just asking, they have the resources, they have the right individual to contact and maybe come up with a policy which will create the environment which will help everyone to have a job and have a minimum guarantee of life and feel good about themselves. At least they can be positive and contribute.
I do not think we are here to represent a specific interest group. We are paid to represent each and every person. I think of how the time in Question Period is being spent, what somebody did there two years ago or four years ago or six years ago. I think that kind of nonsense has to be stopped, because that is not taking us anywhere. I think we have a major responsibility. I think, with the changing society and changing need, our attitude in this House, I have seen it, has changed dramatically. I sincerely hope that the minister will look at the sales tax proposal‑‑3 percent cut for three months, and see that there is a boost in the economy.
Madam Deputy Speaker, as I said, it is coming from my heart. I did not get anybody to write my speeches and have a look at the political ideology. I am telling her what is important from the people's point of view, everyone, whether they voted for a right or a left or the middle. I am simply asking for the human approach.
The most important thing, as I said, is the creation of jobs and a healthy economy, and I think that brings the good lifestyle that brings people‑‑you know, the health improves. I mean, it is a well‑documented thing, that with poverty health goes down and there are a lot of problems with poverty. There is substance abuse and family violence and the disease which is now called homelessness.
(Mr. Speaker in the Chair)
I think it is very crucial that any government's policy has to look at a person and try to create an environment around that individual, so that person from each and every spectrum of life is given the best possible option. I think then we can bring the best out of them; I think then we are doing the best service. I think it will be taken care of at that time.
I do not think anybody wants to sit idle. I cannot think of any human being who does not want to contribute. When we talk about individuals, they are people on welfare. I think you just have to look at them and talk to them. They are desperate, they are in a very bad situation, because they have no place to go and they want to work.
Mr. Speaker, I am talking about this very serious matter in terms of looking at the statistics with the homelessness in an industrial nation which has become a disease in one of the seven economic powers in the world. I think we are dreaming. That simply is not true anymore. With the cold war ending, as I said, there is economic warfare going on around the world. Do not underestimate other nations. We have to compete at the level in terms of their abilities.
I think that is why it is so crucial for any government to look for the best in a person and work with them. I think if we even tried today in terms of maybe we can improve the next generation‑‑it is not going to show up tomorrow. That is why education, the economy, health, environment‑‑you cannot differentiate any one of them. The person is in the middle. I see it, and I see the economy as the main engine, and I see society as a whole as a major spectrum which is going to build a nation. A province is a collection of people and families. That it is why I would have liked to have seen the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) give more weight to his own statement. I think that was missing in the whole budget. I cannot be more specific than that.
I think people wanted to have something that they can grasp and say, I can go forward. That is missing. It may not be a bad budget in terms of the public opinion at this time, but I think they have just given up. I mean, 52,000 people without jobs, without any hope for the future. That is terrible. Can you imagine any one of us without a job for five days? It would be very tough.
So I was disappointed that the government has not done anything for the unemployed. Some of them, it may not be under their control, but I think‑‑I see that I just have four minutes, so I will try to sum up.
Mr. Speaker, I will end up by saying that there were some positive things in the budget and some negative. Other than negative, I do not see any hope for the future. We may see short‑term things. Playing with their Fiscal Stabilization Fund, the numbers game, is not going to wash with people, because when each one of us goes to sleep at night, I think we must be honest ourselves. That is why I am simply asking for honesty from this government to deal with the person as a whole.
That is missing. I would have been very happy to support the whole thing and say, well, it is best for people, but it is not best for each and every person. It may be best for the higher‑income people. I think the Minister of Finance should look at his own statement and try to search his own conscience and see how they could have done differently and in a better way.
I have put a lot of positive suggestions for health care, and I hope the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard) will have a good look at them. I hope that we can all support my Bill 51, that is to preserve medicare in this country and in this province.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for letting me speak on this very, very special document. I hope that we can have at least a good debate and see next year how we do it because, once we are gone from here, which is every sixth year of life, people are not going to be very happy but, if we fail them today, I think we are failing ourselves in the long run.
Mr. Ashton: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to speaking again on another Budget Debate. The Budget Debate really is one of the more interesting debates we have in this Legislature. It gives us a chance to debate the overall economic policy for the government, to perhaps reflect as well on some of the events that have taken place since the last time we had the opportunity to debate economic policy in full, and to perhaps look ahead beyond merely a statement of a government's intentions to the kind of province we would like to see, the kind of economic policy we would like to see put in place to bring that about.
Indeed, I am pleased that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) is here because later on in my speech I intend on pulling out a few dusty but rather interesting speeches he has given in previous reincarnations as a critic from the opposition side, and I look forward, Mr. Speaker, later on to the Premier (Mr. Filmon) also hearing some of his comments from previous speeches he gave as the then Leader of the Opposition, but I actually wanted to deal with a number of the themes that we have heard throughout this debate from government members.
I must say that it was with some interest that I recently read Hansard, March 12, 1992. I have been a member of this Legislature for just over 10 years now. This is not an old comment, but it will bring into context some of the speeches that I have heard from Conservative members who predate the 1988 election‑‑there are a number of them here today‑‑and some of the comments that they used to make when they were in opposition.
I think this might be somewhat edifying for new members of the Conservative caucus, because I noticed, and I could not believe it when I read it, so I read it again, and I read it again, but the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard)‑‑boy, we remember the Minister of Health from his days in opposition. It says here: ". . . I have been in opposition and I know how difficult it is to make a point from time to time, except when you really have an issue to go after the government on,"‑‑and I want to emphasize this, Mr. Speaker, and this is a direct quote from Hansard: "but whenever we did not have issues, we tended to resort to name‑calling and allegations and wild‑eyed rhetoric."
An Honourable Member: Who said that?
Mr. Ashton: Who said that? The Minister of Health. I go further to quote: "I have to admit that upon occasion I did do that, I have to confess."
The Minister of Health, whom those of us who were in government at the time remember very well, and I can imagine if I had gotten up at the time and said that this is exactly what the opposition was doing, this was what the Minister of Health was doing, I probably would have ended up like the former Minister of Health Larry Desjardins who was kicked out of the Legislature for calling the now Minister of Health, the member for Pembina (Mr. Orchard), a frequent abuser of the rules. I would have been vilified by the Conservative opposition, Mr. Speaker.
They at the time claimed that they had only one interest, the public good of the province, but now we see on March 12, 1992, the Minister of Health perhaps is mellowing. It is true‑confessions time, and perhaps when we hear the speech later on from the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Downey) we will hear a similar confession, or perhaps from the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) himself, or any of the dwindling number of Conservative members who predate to those days in which they were in opposition.
I wonder if any of the new members of the government side have actually looked at some of the comments that were made, as admitted to, by their own Minister of Health on the front benches, because I find it interesting that a number of members again said, oh, well, the opposition is only trying to be negative. I can say, Mr. Speaker, I remember those speeches. I remember the now First Minister (Mr. Filmon) giving a speech, and I calculated that in a speech that he gave on the budget‑‑I believe it was in the mid‑80s‑‑I actually calculated that out of all the paragraphs, only two of them were positive, and they made reference to the Speaker and other officers of the House. Every single other one of the paragraphs was negative, and the speeches I was able to come up with were also equally negative and, not only that, were completely devoid of any suggestions, any ideas. You know what the Conservatives used to say at the time, any time that they were asked what they would do? It was: Call an election, call an election.
Well, Mr. Speaker, there was that call often made by Conservative members, in fact I think by the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Downey) himself. I will say that I will now say the same thing, and we have a chance to do it here in terms of the province without going to the full expense of a 57‑seat election, which I am certainly prepared to do. I know all members of our caucus would love to see an election right now.
I challenge this government, if they think this is a good budget, to at least call the by‑election in Crescentwood and take it to the people in Crescentwood in a 35‑day by‑election to ensure, first of all, that the people of Crescentwood have the opportunity to be represented in this Legislature and, second of all, that we have a referendum on the budget. Call an election in Crescentwood.
An Honourable Members: We will.
Mr. Ashton: We will. And I ask the Finance minister, when?
Hon. Clayton Manness (Minister of Finance: When a few more Tim Sales come out of the hiding.
Mr. Ashton: When a few more Tim Sales come out of the hiding, Mr. Speaker. I note that the Finance minister does not mention that he will urge his Premier to call a by‑election. We know they do not want to test this budget or the performance of this government in a by‑election or an election of any kind.
I found in going back over the last number of years and particularly watching the evolution of the Minister of Finance, it shows to me that there were a couple of people who perhaps were better observers of conservatives and conservative parties than I was. George F. Will, an American commentator once said: They define themselves in terms of what they oppose.
Well, if anybody cares to look at‑‑[interjection]
Mr. Speaker, the Finance minister is now saying what he is opposed to. I remember the days when he was opposed to
what he called a high deficit of $500 million.
In this budget he is going to have a real deficit in excess of $500
million. I remember those days, and I
compare them to today. I believe this is
part of the difficulty that the Conservatives have had in
Now they are a government; they have tried that now. We heard earlier the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Mrs. McIntosh) attacking the previous government. Well, they are the previous government. This is their second term. They have been in government since 1988. There was an election in 1990. When she is attacking the previous government, she is attacking the previous Conservative government. Let her understand the facts.
Mr. Speaker, because it is becoming more and more tiresome as we approach four years now since the election of this government, four years, the fifth budget of the Minister of Finance, this Minister of Finance still believes that he can run against the previous NDP government. He believes he can do that, but he knows full well that he inherited a surplus from Eugene Kostyra, the Minister of Finance, and has admitted so. He knows that as we go into his fifth budget.
I said this across the floor the other day, that this is not the Minister of Finance's budget. I do not believe the Minister of Finance can, with a straight face, after all the comments he has made in this House, say that he is pleased with a budget that really has a high deficit, has funding increases that probably will not be sufficient, that we know will not be sufficient to keep services in place, and has no significant expenditure on job creation, Mr. Speaker.
The NDP government budgets during the last
recession, in 1982, 1983, 1984, at least made an effort in terms of job creation. This government has made none, and he knows
that. As I said, that is part of the
problem. We are seeing increasingly that
this government tries now to be running against
How much good did it do them? In the
I will say that in my speech that I have no hesitation on giving firm advice to the Minister of Finance and not just criticism, something that was never the mark of a Conservative opposition. I have no difficulty in doing that, because I think what we have to do is recognize what is happening globally.
I must say, Mr. Speaker, that we live in
times where history is accelerated. I find
it unfortunate that I really believe members opposite have no interest from
learning from that. The Minister of
Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Mrs. McIntosh) earlier, I think, was the best
example of that, with the same old tired 1950s Red‑baiting rhetoric. She had the nerve 30 years after that was
discredited in this province, in
I do not know what planet she has been on
for the last 20 or 30 years, but the types of economies that have had social democratic
governments have been
You know, I found another quote that I think is probably of interest to this minister because‑‑this was written in the time when it was not as progressive as today, in 1656, by James Harrington: No man‑‑of course, today we would be more progressive and say "no person"‑‑can be a politician except to be first a historian or a traveller, for except he can see what must be or what may be, he is no politician.
What must be, or what may be, from
history, from what is happening today.
What is happening? I believe, Mr.
Speaker, that what is happening is an interesting acceleration of history. Just look at what is happening in
Well, the member opposite talks about
socialism. Is George Bush a
socialist? George Bush who now is
finding that he is collapsing in support; in
There is another more disturbing trend
though, Mr. Speaker, if one looks at what is happening, and that is the rise of
fascism in eastern Europe. For those who
doubt that, they should travel and see what is happening. The rise of fascism in Russia‑‑they
should see the rise of fascism in
Mr. Speaker, it is time to recognize the broader picture in what is happening and the fact that this government must judge all its actions in terms of that broader international context. I will in my comments tomorrow go further in outlining to this government the kinds of errors of judgment they are making, the fundamental errors of judgment, and how they are missing the currents of world history, and how they are going to unsuccessfully turn us into an island, a declining island, of the kind of Reaganite, Thatcherite policies of the 1980s that are increasingly being discredited throughout the world and, first and foremost, in the United States where George Bush, the inheritor of Ronald Reagan and his policies, is now finding himself in a fight for his political life. So I will outline those concerns tomorrow as I continue on the Budget Debate.
Mr. Speaker: The hour being 10 p.m., when this matter is again before the House the honourable member for Thompson will have 24 minutes remaining. This House now adjourns and stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday).