MONDAY, MARCH 22, 1993


      The House met at 8 p.m.


ORDERS OF THE DAY (continued)




The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laurendeau):  Resuming debate on the proposed motion of the honourable Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) that this House at this sitting will resolve itself into a committee to consider of the Supply to be granted to Her Majesty.

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Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health):  Mr. Acting Speaker, I wonder if I might have leave of the House for a short statement.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laurendeau):  Does the honourable Minister of Health have leave to make a short statement? [agreed]

Mr. Orchard:  Mr. Acting Speaker, I thank my colleagues for granting leave.  This is the first opportunity that I have had to make this statement to the House as the result of newspaper coverage in the Winnipeg Free Press Saturday last.  Given that I have had some opportunity to have further discussions, I wish to table the following letter which will be forwarded to the Winnipeg Free Press as a letter to the editor dated March 22, 1993.

      Mr. Acting Speaker, I have an unqualified apology to make to this Legislature and to the citizens of Manitoba.  In an article appearing in Saturday's Free Press, I am quoted as using profane language to reply to the reporter.  For use of such language, I apologize without equivocation.  At no time have I been defensive about my compensation and my use of public funds to support my duties as a legislator, minister of the Treasury Bench or an MLA.  There has been disclosure of these funds and expense reimbursements as a matter of public record since I was first elected in 1977.

      What inspired my angry response was the question concerning the location of my apartment, that is, the address, and whether I shared that apartment with anyone.  The approach by the reporter led me to conclude the reporter believed that I was somehow using public funds in contravention of statutory provisions.  Since this is not accurate, my temper flared at the prospect of such an allegation, and I used inappropriate language in my reply.  For that, again, I offer an unconditional apology.

      Thank you, Sir.

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Mrs. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Second Opposition):  Mr. Acting Speaker, I rise to continue the debate on the motion on Supply in order to go into Supply, as the motion reads.

      I want to yet once again indicate very clearly what the process is that we are engaged in.  We are engaged in a motion which would create Committee of Supply.  At the time of the motion, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) clearly wanted to use that motion of Supply in order to go into individual Estimates, first of the Department of Highways and the Department of Family Services, and then, if they quite frankly passed the Highways Estimates, to also go into the Estimates of the Department of Agriculture.

      I indicated from the very beginning that I see this as an infringement on my rights as a legislator in this Chamber in that, to me, the presentation of three Estimates without the presentation of the Main Estimates book leaves me at a serious disadvantage in doing my work not only as the critic for the second opposition party in the Department of Family Services, but also as the Leader of the second opposition party, in that I cannot make value judgments about the process of this government's economic agenda, because I do not have all of the details as to that economic agenda.

      I have, over the last few days, indicated clearly that I believe this to be a contravention of custom and precedent, both in Britain, the Mother of Parliament, and here in this Chamber, as in other Chambers across this country, including the House of Commons.  I have tried to focus throughout my debate on the issue of Supply.

      Mr. Acting Speaker, we know that in the past, so‑called filibusters, which is what others would say I am engaged in, have in fact been very broad ranging.  They have talked about a great deal of things.  I have found filibuster motions which have had individuals standing up and reading from the Bible.  I do not intend to do that.  I intend to continue the debate on the issue of the constitutional guarantees, through precedent, for Supply motions and how those Supply motions should be presented in this Chamber.

      I was speaking this afternoon about the evolution of the Supply concept in the House of Commons.  That is where I would like to begin again this evening.  Before I do that, I want to make it perfectly clear yet once again that there are options.

      The Liberal Party is quite prepared to go into Interim Supply and to grant that Interim Supply before we adjourn for the spring break.  What we do not want to see happen is that we have a motion that allows the government to go into Interim Supply and then they use that Interim Supply permission to pivot into the Estimates.

      Since we have had no assurances from the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness), who is the House leader of the government, that he will not do that, then we are not prepared to grant permission to go into Interim Supply at this particular moment in time.  We will do it as soon as we get that guarantee from the Minister of Finance, because I do not want to keep anybody from their family commitments or from their holiday commitments.

      I am also determined that this is, for me at least, a matter of principle.  It is, for me, a deviation from past parliamentary practice and one which I consider to be highly dangerous. Therefore, I will continue until I feel that danger has passed.

* (2005)

      I was speaking about the defeat of the Diefenbaker government when we adjourned on, interestingly enough, a Supply motion.  I would like to pick it up from there.

      As it was, the defeat on the 5th of February removed the need to obtain yet another Interim Supply.  The Diefenbaker government was able to carry on through the election of the 8th of April of 1963, an election for which, I might tell you, I was not in this country.  I was in the United States in my room at Smith College.  I am sure that most of the American students with whom I shared that residence thought this Canuck was strange indeed as I pressed my ear to the only radio broadcast I could get, which was a very poor station out of Montreal, to find out what was exactly happening in the Canadian election.  I remember that date very well.

      The action of the 8th of April 1963, by means of Governor General's warrants‑‑I am reading for the sake of Hansard from a book called The Canadian House of Commons.  The Main Estimates of 1962‑63 never were approved by the Committee of Supply, and the Main Appropriation Act for that fiscal year never was enacted.

      There was only one precedent, the Parliament elected on the 10th of June 1957 was dissolved on the 1st of February 1958, before the 1957‑58 Estimates had been approved by the House. After the 1963 election, the new government, headed by Mr. Pearson, removed any uncertainty as to the legality of the expenditures that had been made during 1962‑63 by means of a special retroactive appropriation act.

      The vulnerability of the government to a long delay in the granting of Interim Supply had been demonstrated.  By holding up Interim Supply, by simply refusing to let a vote be taken, an opposition group, not necessarily the official opposition, could have precipitated an election.  The tactic would have been effective whether or not the government had a majority unless closure was used successfully.

      A more blatant example of the weakness of a government threatened with the stoppage of its Interim Supply business was provided in October of 1963.  As the result of the bifurcation of the Social Credit Party and to the Ralliement des creditistes with 13 members and the Social Credit Party with 10 members, a controversy arose as to the right of the Ralliement des creditistes to be seated as a separate group.

      Incidentally, if they were recognized as a separate group by the House, the payment that had been provided earlier that year by statute for the leader of each group with 12 or more members, other than the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition would go to Mr. Real Caouette and not to Mr. Robert Thompson who had led the party before it split.

      The question of whether or not the House should take cognizance of the split which had occurred after the election so that one or other of the two groups had not received electoral approval was referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.  The committee made slow progress.  When the Pearson government sought an Interim Supply to carry it through October and November, Mr. Gilles Gregoire of the Ralliement announced that the House and the government were to be held to ransom. Unless the committee dealt urgently with the request of the Ralliement des creditistes for recognition, the Supply request then before the Committee of Supply would be delayed.

* (2010)

      In October, Mr. Gregoire stated his position candidly:  Mr. Chairman, I must inform you that we do not intend to end the debate on Interim Supply either tonight, tomorrow or as long as Privileges and Elections committee has not remedied the ridiculous and illogical situation which prevails in this corner of the House.

      It sounds a little familiar, because I feel very much the same way in this particular Chamber at this particular time.  We are not prepared to do what the government does until it ends what we think is an illogical and ridiculous situation.  On the 7th of October‑‑I am now again quoting from the book‑‑the House arranged for the standing committee to deal with the matter immediately, whereupon Mr. Gregoire permitted the Committee of Supply to come to a decision on the request.  In exactly the same way, I am prepared to allow this House to come to a decision on Interim Supply if, in fact, we get an answer to our earlier problem.

      It was the session of 1964‑65 that convinced most members that time limits would have to be placed on the Committee of Supply, as we have in this Chamber, at 240 hours.  That session‑‑I am quoting again‑‑showed that otherwise Supply business was liable to be distorted grotesquely by political considerations, that annual sessions of reasonable length were likely to be rare.  The final Supplementary Estimates for 1963‑64 took over 13.5 days in the committee.  One set of Supplementary Estimates for 1964‑65 dealt with in July of '64 took one and a half days.  Although work on the Main Estimates for 1964‑65 began fairly early, it was not finished until 27 November and required 31 days.

      In the meantime, the Pearson government requested Interim Supply on five occasions.  The first request took one day, the second took two hours, the third took five and a half days, the fourth took nine and a half days, and the fifth took eight and a half days, for a total of 25 days.  The normal Supply business of the session, including the final Supplementary Estimates for 1964‑65 and the first Interim Supply for 1965‑66 both dealt with quickly in April 1965 had taken 77 sittings.

      Although there was no summer adjournment in 1964, the session continued until the 2nd of April 1965, for a record of 248 sittings with the flag debate and Supply as the items that consumed the most time.

      Fresh from the experience of the summer and fall of 1964, the special committee on procedure and organization on 14 December 1964‑‑the same day on which the government used closure to terminate the flag debate‑‑recommended in its 15th report that in the future the Main Estimates should be referred for study to the standing committees and that the Committee of Supply should be limited to 20 days on the Main Estimates in one session.

      Yet once again, Mr. Acting Speaker, we have reference to the Main Estimates.  Over and over and over again, no matter what authority I quote from, there is never any comment, consideration or action taken on single Estimates.  The phrase that is used over and over and over again is Main Estimates, and that is what we have been asking for, over and over and over again.

      Mr. Acting Speaker, let me quote again from The Canadian House of Commons:  Presumably the special committee thought this would enable the House to pass the Main Appropriation Bill early in each fiscal year, thus reducing the government's dependence on Interim Supplies.

      In its 19th report made on 26 March 1965, after debate in the House had revealed how strongly the Diefenbaker group were opposed to time limits, the committee retreated from the bold stand taken in December.  In that report it recommended a far longer period of time, basically 30 days, but possibly up to 45 days for the work of the Committee of Supply.

* (2015)

      The Diefenbaker group objected to this limit also.  Remember they are in opposition, Mr. Acting Speaker.  Quote:  On the 8th of June 1965 in the next session, after another angry debate, the House responded to the experience of the previous year by ordering that the number of Supply motion debates was to be reduced from six to four, the detailed examination of the Estimates was to be assigned to the standing committees and that not more than 30 days of the time of the House, including the time of the Committee of Supply, was to be allotted to the business of Supply in each session.  This time limit applied to the Main Estimates, Interim Supply requests and all Supplementary Estimates introduced before the committee had completed its consideration of the Main Estimates.

An Honourable Member:  There is that word again.

Mrs. Carstairs:  It keeps coming over and over.

      Quoting again, Mr. Acting Speaker, excluded from the limit were all Supplementary Estimates introduced after the Main Estimates had been passed and of course the final Supplementary Estimates.  With this major renovation the House began a movement that was to terminate with the abolition of the Committee of Supply on the 20th of December 1968.

      Before the House adjourned in the summer of 1965 it granted two additional Interim Supplies for 1965‑66.  One had been granted on 2nd of April, just before the end of the session.  On the 8th of September during the adjournment, Parliament was dissolved.

      The new House elected on 8 November 1965, again a Liberal minority, met on the 18th of January 1966.  Since the Main Estimates for 1965‑66 had not been dealt with, the government had used Governor General's warrants after the Interim Supplies had been expended.  The House on the 21st of January 1966 ordered that all the Main and Supplementary Estimates for 1965‑66 might be entered by one Supply motion and that the time requiring for dealing with those Estimates should not be included in the time prescribed for Supply business in a session under the order of 8 June 1965.

      In any event, a total of 26 days, two days for a Supply motion debate and about 24 days in the Committee of Supply, were used to clear away that unfinished business.  The Main Appropriation Bill for 1965‑66 passed the House on 9 March 1966, only 22 days before the end of the fiscal year.

      With the Supply business for 1965‑66 out of the way the House was in a position to ascertain how satisfactory the 30‑day limit introduced on 8 June 1965 would be when applied to the Supply business of a single fiscal year, i.e., 1966‑67.  Because Supplementary Estimates introduced after the Main Appropriation Bill had been passed were outside the time limit, the government found it advantages to move slowly on the Main Estimates.  By the end of October 1966, the four Supply motion debates had been held, but only 14 days had been taken in the Committee of Supply.  At that point the contentious topic on the horizon at the time was the unification of the armed forces.  The official opposition decided to precipitate an election by delaying the Interim Supply needed for November.

      We have not suggested that we would like to, Mr. Acting Speaker, bring down the House, as has been done.  We are far more reasonable.

      The request was considered by the committee on the 31st of October until 15 November and could have been held up for six more days, i.e., until the 30‑day period had been used.  The prevalent assumption was that at some point, about the middle of November, the Crown would be unable to meet its payrolls for the first half of the month.  This intense crisis ended abruptly on the 14th of November, when the Minister of Finance spoiled the game plan by revealing that money had been found to meet the government's immediate requirement.

      When the new special committee on procedure established on the 25th of January 1967 began its work, it found that the idea of time limits in the Committee of Supply was quite acceptable in most quarters of the House.

      Consequently, the committee focused its attention on ways to use the time limits to assure that the Supply business was done both efficiently and early in the fiscal year.  Instead of making it advantageous for the government to delay the Main Supply business, the rules, the committee thought, should provide incentives to the government to return to the old practice of getting on with the Main Supply business in the spring.

      With this in mind, the committee recommended that the 30‑day limit should not apply to Interim Supply requests introduced after the 19th day of the session.  Rather, the first request made after the 19th day was to be limited to three days, and there was to be no limit on the time that the Committee of Supply could take on any later request.

* (2020)

      On the 26th of April 1967, this recommendation was adopted by the House.  The defect in this approach under which the Supply timetable was tied to the first day of sitting in the session rather than to the calendar was demonstrated in the next session.  That session began late on the 8th of May 1967 and the Main Appropriation Bill for 1967‑68 did not pass the House until the 2nd of November 1967, but that was only the 71st day of the session.  As a consequence, the special committee began to think in terms of the Supply timetable with fixed calendar dates selected to assure that normally the government would have the session started early, thus making it possible for the House to conclude the Main Supply business before the summer.

      Well, that is what we have been calling for.  That is why we have been asking for procedural rules in the House, so that we can go in in the fall session; we can come into the spring session; we can immediately be presented with a budget; we can receive our Main Estimates; we can begin debating the Estimates process.

      Unfortunately that is not the way this government wants to do it.  They want to come in the fall; they want to have a Speech from the Throne; they want to put legislation on the Order Paper, which is, quite frankly, noncontroversial in nature.  The one piece of controversial legislation that was put on the Order Paper in the fall session was the Sunday shopping legislation. We passed that into committee, hoping that committee would be called while we were out of session, and the committee has never been called.

      So the whole idea of using this timetable to speed up the session in this House has been irrelevant.  It has not worked. If we had come back on March 1, if we had been immediately presented with the budget within the next few days and had immediately been able to receive our Main Estimates book, had spent eight days debating the budget and then gone into individual Estimates, then the world would have unfolded as we thought it was supposed to have unfolded.

      Now, we recognize that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) had some difficulty in preparing his budget, and so we granted because the decisions had been made in Ottawa.  Although he had been given earlier notice that this was likely to happen, he was not given formal notice until after the new year had begun, and after, I will grant you, much of the Treasury Board discussions had taken place.  So we recommended to the Minister of Finance that he adjourn the House and that we leave this Chamber to come back when he would be prepared to debate the budget and the Main Estimates.  But, no, Mr. Acting Speaker, he did not want to do that either.  He wanted to circumvent the rules, according to his own words, in an unparliamentary process.  He wanted to do something that had never been done before, and he wanted us to sit neatly in the opposition and agree to it.

      Mr. Acting Speaker, I am not prepared to see the change in what has been, I would suggest to you, a Supply process which I have traced back to 1689 and the Bill of Rights, that we are now looking at a process which, for some reason or other, he wants to change.  I consider that to be an extraordinarily dangerous precedent, and that is why I am using the time of this House, and I recognize that it is not the focus of much of the attention of the members of this Chamber, but that is the only option I am given as an opposition member in order to make the government see reason, and see it from our perspective as opposition members who want to carry out our duties to the very best of our ability.

      So let me continue, Mr. Acting Speaker, again reading from the book The Canadian House of Commons:  The time limits on the Committee of Supply introduced on 8 June 1965, as modified on the 26th of April 1967, did not apply to the final Supplementary Estimates.  The danger of leaving even this phase of the Supply process undiked was demonstrated in the winter of 1968.  On February 19, 1968, a motion for the third reading of a tax bill was defeated in the House just a few weeks before the Liberal Party was to hold its leadership convention to select Mr. Pearson's successor.  In the turmoil that followed, the final Supplementary Estimates for 1967‑68 were under consideration by the Committee of Supply for 14 days.

      I digress from the text for just a moment, because that was a very interesting thing.  In fact, there was a defeat in the Chamber.  Mr. Pearson was away on holidays.  Mr. Stanfield had just recently become, the year previously, the leader of the official opposition.  There are many who thought he should have gone for the jugular at that particular point in time and forced the government with Mr. Pearson still the leader, of yet he had resigned, to the polls.

      Mr. Stanfield, whom I know well because he was a Nova Scotia Premier, and one who succeeded Mr. Hicks, who had in turn succeeded my father in 1956, and whose children I grew up with and whose older daughter I taught to swim, was far too nice a gentleman to do this.  Perhaps he should not have been quite as nice a gentleman.  There are many who thought that he was far too nice, quite frankly, for the rigors of politics.  I was one of those.  I have always been an admirer of Robert Stanfield.  I particularly liked his gardens, I must admit.  They were absolutely beautiful, and they were just around the corner from where I lived.

* (2025)

      He did not bring down the government, although he did have that opportunity.  Because the tax bill was defeated and because the tax bill was a money bill and because precedence was that a money bill could lead to the defeat of the government, many would argue that he had the opportunity at that moment to push for a nonconfidence vote.  It probably would have voted exactly as they had voted on the tax bill, and the situation would have been that the government was defeated.

      Interesting that we might be in a similar circumstance right now because as we see more and more members of the federal Conservatives resigning, there is going to be a tendency for them not to appear in the House of Commons quite so often.  The Tories are engaged in, they tell us, a leadership debate, although there does not seem to be much of a contest going on out there right now, but there may be some interesting moments over the next few weeks and months.  It is interesting to see some division in this House with respect to the candidates they are supporting.

      I am delighted to see that the member for Lac du Bonnet (Mr. Praznik) has got on the bandwagon of Mr. Charest, whom I must say to him I have had tremendous admiration for since the Charest report in 1990.  I think Jean Charest tried very hard to put together a constitutional agreement, and it was the only time in that whole process between 1987 and 1990 when opposition parties across the country were indeed consulted.  So I am sure that Mr. Charest may not believe that I would wish him well, but I indeed do wish him well, and I would like the member for Lac du Bonnet to convey it and to convey why I wish him well, because I think it was a difficult moment for him.  I think there are many who thought he bloodied his copybook to some degree because he went out so far on a limb as he had done in that particular Charest report, and I think that he has been one of the unsung heroes for a long time.  Now that does not mean that I am going to vote for Mr. Charest.  I have a certain friend, Jean Chretien, whom I will be supporting, but I do have a great deal of admiration for Mr. Charest, and I hope that the member for Lac du Bonnet will extend that to him.

      Let me continue on The Canadian House of Commons and Supply. By 1968, as a result of the almost constant troubled Supply business and of the experiments made to overcome that trouble, most members were ready to accept a radically new approach recommended by the special committee on procedure, 1967‑68, in the winter of 1968.

      The committee's recommendation was that the Committee of Supply be abolished and that the work of examining the Estimates should be given over entirely to the standing committee, that a specified number of days in the House should be put at the disposal of the opposition, and that the House should decide on or before stated calendar dates selected to conform to the needs of the fiscal year whether or not to grant the Supplies requested by the Crown.  This approach opened up the possibility that the Estimates would be examined thoroughly, that the opposition would wage war against the government by debate rather than attrition and that a return could be made to orderly annual sessions.

* (2030)

      On 20 December 1968, the House adopted the new Supply procedure recommended in outline by the special committee on procedure in 1967‑68 and in detail by its successor, the special committee on procedure, 1968.  The rules now provide, as we saw in Chapter V, that the most essential annual business of the government, its Supply business, is to occupy the House during three limited periods, one ending on 10 December, a second on 26 March, and the third on 30 June, totalling 25 days and that the Appropriation Bill, based on the Main Estimates, is to be dealt with before the end of the third period; i.e., before the beginning of July.

      This means that the House will be in session during the fall, and that as far as Supply business is concerned, the House can adjourn late in June, early in July.  This arrangement, of course, does not guarantee either that the sessions will not be unduly long because of other reasons or that all the business regarded as essential by the government will have been completed in time for the House to adjourn at the end of June.

      The exploitation of the government's highly vulnerable position in Supply business was a major part of the opposition's parliamentary strategy in any crisis throughout the period from 1955 to 1968, but other weaknesses in the rules were used also. Fairly similar to the use of excessive time for Supply business was the use of excessive time for the consideration of the resolutions then required before the introduction of bills authorizing or entailing expenditures.  On 9 October 1964, by agreement among the parties, the House limited the time that might be taken on each such resolution to one sitting or to a total of five hours if the consideration had been adjourned.  On 20 December 1968, as we saw in Chapter V, the standing orders were changed so that such resolutions were no longer required.

      That, Mr. Acting Speaker, is how the orderly process of the development of Supply procedures has been conducted in the House of Commons, but we have had our own traditions here in this House.  The traditions have changed somewhat in the time leading up to 1983 and the time after 1983.  Prior to 1983, it was well within the purview of government to introduce the Main Estimates, to debate the Main Estimates prior to the introduction of the budget.

      After 1983, it became commonplace in this Chamber to introduce the budget, and at the same time, to present to members in this Chamber the Main Estimates book, but we are not looking in this instance to either the pre‑1983 procedure or the post‑1983 procedure.  We are looking at a brand new procedure.

      We are looking at a procedure that takes place nowhere else. We are looking at a procedure whereby the government can cherry‑pick.  They can decide which Estimates they will introduce and which Estimates they will not introduce.  Then they would ask members of the opposition to debate Estimates in isolation, that we will make decisions on three Estimates without knowing what the overall expenditure plan of the government is with respect to other Estimates, so that when we see a change in Family Services, we cannot say that is fair and reasonable, as the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) tells us it is.  He says it is fair.  It is across all of the departments, that they are all going to be held accountable, that they are all going to see cuts, but we do not know that.

      We have no idea whether the Premier's staff is going to be cut in the same say that other departments have been cut.  We do not know whether grants to Education have been cut the same way as grants to Family Services.  We do not know whether grants out of Culture, Heritage, a favourite I know of the member for Rossmere (Mr. Neufeld), the grants to the multicultural industries, whether they are going to be cut in the same way as the grants to the Family Services department.  We do not know that because we do not have the Main Estimates book, and that is the reason for this debate.

      Mr. Acting Speaker, I want to talk now briefly from another book called the Structure of Canadian Government, J.R. Mallory, and he talks about Committees of the Whole.  He says, while the role of Committees of the Whole has been greatly attentuated by the sweeping procedural reforms introduced in 1965 and 1968, the reforms that I just earlier made reference to, before discussing these changes, it is necessary to understand the historic role of committees in order to grasp some important functions of the House of Commons or, I would suggest, also the Legislative Assembly.

      Quoting again:  The Committee of the Whole takes three forms, the Committee of Supply, the Committee of Ways and Means and Committee of the Whole.  Each came into being by a minister moving that the House resolve itself into the committee, which is the exact motion that we are debating at this particular point in time.

      Once the motion was carried, the Speaker left the Chair and the Chairman of Committees presided from the Chair at the head of the Clerk's table.  In Committee of the Whole, the proceedings were relatively informal, so that, for example, a member could speak any number of times.  We know, for example, when we go into that committee, that the gentlemen in the Chamber are allowed to take off their jackets, a rule, by the way, which I also think should apply to very hot days but have never been successfully able to change.  It is more informal.  We sit, particularly in the other room when we meet as Committee of Supply, rather than stand, although that is becoming more common here in this Chamber as well.

      I have to suggest to you that one of the reasons I wanted that particular change, where people could sit down, was not because I wanted to sit down particularly, but I remember Larry Desjardins was the Minister of Health.  He kept getting up, answering questions and sitting down, and up and then down, and he kept getting more and more red‑faced, and I actually went out and took a CPR course because I was very concerned that Larry Desjardins was going to have a heart attack in the House.

      I thought, well, the least I could do would to be go out and take a CPR course so that if it was necessary, we could revive him, at least try, on the other side of the Chamber.  I did not know that I was going to be asked to use it last year in the middle of an election campaign when the member for Crescentwood (Ms. Gray) and I were at Holy Rosary church, and the man who read the epistle collapsed and had a heart attack, and I think the member for Crescentwood was not exactly sure what had happened to me when I rushed to the front of the church and began to apply CPR on his chest, unfortunately, in that case, unsuccessfully, although we were sufficiently successful in getting him revived so he was able to say good‑bye to his wife.  That in itself made the courses in CPR which I had taken well worthwhile, and I would recommend them to other members of the Chamber.

      But I digress, Mr. Acting Speaker, and I know nobody would want me to do that, so let me return to the Committee of Supply.

      The Committee of Supply:  It was principally thought that the Committee of Supply, that the House of Commons exercised control over the annual expenditures of the government.  The payment of money for the public service each year is authorized in an appropriation act.  Since this is a money bill, its introduction required that the House first debate the financial resolutions, i.e., the Estimates‑‑note it does not say the Estimates‑‑which received the bill in Committee of the Whole.

      The business of the Committee of Supply was to give an opportunity for every member of the House to act on that ancient maxim of parliamentary law, grievance before Supply.  The form of discussion facilitated this operation.  The minister whose Estimates were being considered was present on the floor of the House with a group of the senior officials seated at a small table in front of him.  They could not speak or answer questions themselves but were there merely to prompt the minister from their expert knowledge.  Sometimes we have noted that some of them require more prompting than others but, certainly, that is the purpose of all that staff in front of the minister.

      I quote again:  . . . but were there merely to prompt the minister from their expert knowledge and from the material that they had with them dealing with points raised by members.  The usual procedure was for the minister to make a short statement on departmental policy‑‑sometimes not very short, I digress a little‑‑when the first item of his Estimates was called.

      This was followed by short speeches from the opposition parties.

Mr. Paul Edwards (St. James):  Mostly not short.

Mrs. Carstairs:  Also often not short, the member for St. James says, and then individual members would ask questions about particular matters.  Finally, the minister would make a concluding statement answering points raised in the debate.

      The discussion ranged over the general implications of departmental policy as well as matters of detail, so it gave the House an opportunity to discuss any matter for which the minister was responsible.  These opportunities for general debate were not an unmixed blessing either to government or opposition.

      Before 1955, there had to be a separate motion in the House to get the Estimates of each department before the Committee of Supply so that there had to be more than 20 such motions in each session, each of which was debatable and subject to the moving of one amendment and one subamendment.  Oh, my goodness, this means that we can not only amend the motion that I am now speaking to, Mr. Acting Speaker, but one of my colleagues can introduce a subamendment if they so choose.  We can go forever unless we can get some agreement from the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness), the House leader of the government, to get on with this process.

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      These opportunities for general debate were not an unmixed blessing, either to government or opposition.  Before 1955, there had to be, as I said, a separate motion, and each one could be debated at that time.  There could be an amendment, I remind the members, an amendment to the motion that I am presently speaking to, and, in addition, a subamendment which would allow every member of this Chamber to speak to both the amendment and to the subamendment. [interjection] Well, I think they should.  I agree with the member for St. James (Mr. Edwards).  I think that, obviously, there may be more debate on this particular issue than we have, at this point, even considered.  The result was grave delay in getting the Estimates through the House.

      Mr. Acting Speaker, it may appear to a public unfamiliar with rules and traditions of the House of Commons that the often tedious debates and wrangles in the House are worse than a waste of time.

      Well, I see the Acting Speaker nodding in some agreement and I can certainly concur with his nod.  I think that some of the debates have been quite tedious, including the one I am presently engaged in, but sometimes one engages in tedious debates for a matter of principle, and that is what is being engaged in at this particular point in time.  To quote again:  The often tedious debates and wrangles in the House are worse than a waste of time.  They are a fractious attempt to obstruct the legally elected government from carrying out the people's will.

      That is sometimes the opinion.  But let me read to the Minister of Rural Development (Mr. Derkach) who is looking so attentive at the moment.

      This is not the case, says J.R. Mallory in The Structure of Canadian Government.  He goes on to say:  The business of the opposition is to oppose, and it has both a right and a duty to use its legitimate rights in debate to put its own side of the question. [interjection] I am certainly doing that, and I thank the honourable Minister for Rural Development for recognizing that.

(Mr. Gerry McAlpine, Acting Speaker, in the Chair)

      If questions are not fully canvassed in Parliament, then the electorate will not have a chance to judge between the parties at the next election.  A government, in return for the privilege of governing‑‑now I would ask both those ministers to listen very carefully to what I am saying‑‑must submit to the necessity of arguing its case step by step through the House of Commons.  The step right now seems to be a little high, a little difficult to overcome, but needless to say, Mr. Acting Speaker, we are doing it step by step.

      Let me go on to quote from The House of Commons, The Structure of Canadian Government:  The opposition has a right to oppose, but it should not normally carry opposition to the point of obstruction.  It must, in deciding to obstruct the completion of business, calculate whether the issue is important enough to justify the action.

      That, Mr. Acting Speaker, is the crux of the matter.  Let me read that again, because I think it is so important.  The opposition has a right to oppose, but it should not normally carry opposition to the point of obstruction.  It must, in deciding to obstruct the completion of business, calculate whether the issue is important enough to justify its action.

      In my opinion, I have made the decision as a member of this Chamber that the action that I am taking is justified, because I think what we are doing is extremely important and extremely dangerous.  The public will become impatient with needless obstruction which I agree with, while a government unable to carry its business through the House can resort to dissolution of Parliament and appeal over the heads of the opposition to the people in a general election.  Now that is an interesting concept.  Perhaps we can persuade the government that it would like to go to the polls.

      Then it becomes, the book states, important that the issue which brought on the election should be a good one.  For example, the opposition did not press obstruction against the Defence Production Act in the summer of 1955 to the bitter end, but accepted modifications in the most criticized part of the bill, which is exactly what happened last year in the bill introducing the Child Advocate.

      Everyone of us in the House wanted a Child Advocate, but I think it is also clear that the Liberals and the New Democratic Party wanted an independent Child Advocate, not one reporting to the Department of Family Services.  We could not get the government to recognize that, but we finally got an amendment to the bill, which at least required it to have a review in three years, not nearly good enough.  I am delighted that the member, I think it was for Wellington (Ms. Barrett), has again introduced a bill this year that would restore the independence of the Child Advocate's office.

      But quoting again from The Structure of Canadian Government: They contented themselves with obtaining limited time, obtaining limited but important concessions which, of course, is what we did, because it became clear that the issue raised, why did arbitrary powers conferred on the minister, was not understood by the public, so that there would not be good fighting ground if an election were forced.

      That, of course, is the issue that always has to be decided by an opposition party, whether an issue is sufficiently important to pursue it.  I have, quite frankly, decided that this issue, in and of itself, is sufficiently worthy of perusal.

      Let me read now, Mr. Acting Speaker, from Ronald Butt, The Power of Parliament.  What I am doing is trying to make the government realize that I have not selected books that, quite frankly, just agreed with my position.  I asked my assistant to go and bring me all of the books she could from the Legislative Library on the structure and the evolution of the House of Commons, particularly as it related to Supply.  I did not ask her to find books that agreed with me.  I asked her to find books which were dealing with the concept and powers of the parliamentary system, particularly with references to Supply.

      As I read them all, and I did indeed read them all, not in their entirety but with reference to Supply, I found that they did not disagree with me.  In fact, they all agreed with me.  I would be delighted if other members of this Chamber would participate in this debate and would begin to find references that perhaps do not agree with me, but I can honestly say I do not think there are any.

      I think that all the references out there dealing with the power of Parliament and the institution of Supply and the Committee of Supply are all identical because some of these authors certainly have been associated with the Conservative Party, and some of them have been associated with the Liberal Party.  I did not find any that had been associated with the New Democratic Party.  I guess it is too short‑lived for them to have written their books yet.

      The essence is that it does not matter what political party, they are in agreement with what I have to say.  So let me read from Ronald Butt, The Power of Parliament, with respect to Supply:  The nonemployment of Supply procedure by the House to scrutinize the Estimates is to some extent compensated for by the work of the Estimates Committee.

      The first Estimates Committee was set up in 1912, and in two world wars, it was replaced by a select committee on national expenditure.  Before the last war, the Estimates Committee was not a success.  It seemed to concentrate in duplicating work already done by the Treasury, and it was limited in its approach by the need not to intervene in policy matters.  Since the war, the Estimates Committee has proven much more effective.  It operates through six or more subcommittees and has managed to get down to basic issues of policy administration and value for money.  The committee, consisting of 43 members, is empowered to examine such of the Estimates as seen fit to do it and to report on economies consistent with policy implied in the Estimates.

      Now, is that not interesting, because it would appear yet once again that it is essential to present a Main Estimates book so that you could follow through each government department's Estimates, the theory of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness), the theory that he was illustrating today in which he said fairness would carry through all of the Estimates.  Of course, in this book yet once again, he makes reference to the fact, you need to see them all in order to make that kind of evaluation.

      In practice, however, the committee is not so much examining Estimates that seem fit for examination as investigating those for which it has time.  The limitations of so small a committee are obvious.  Moreover, it has no organization to help it comparable to the substantial staff of the Exchequer and Audit Department whose work is reported by the controller and Auditor General which makes the Public Accounts committee so effective.

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      Indeed, it is difficult to see how the Estimates Committee could be provided with such a body as the Exchequer and Audit Department which, for the purposes of auditing government accounts, has representatives in all Whitehall departments and costs the best part of 1 million pounds annually.  As the chairman of the Estimates Committee, William Hamilton, expressed it in 1965, we are doing the best we can, and really it is little more than sticking a pin in 7,000 million pounds of public expenditure and saying we are going to investigate this or that. The danger of missing important subjects for investigation is obvious.

      In 1964 the Public Accounts committee discovered a big underestimate in the development cost of the "Bloodhound" missile with a substantial profit for Ferranti Limited, the company developing the guidance system for this missile.  The subsequent investigation discovered that the company had made excessive profits of 5.7 million pounds, and it was subsequently arranged that the company should repay 4.5 million pounds to the government over a five‑year period.  This was a case which arguably might have been discovered by the Estimates Committee before the event instead of being left to the Public Accounts committee afterwards, provided the Estimates Committee was strengthened.

      The Estimates Committee is further limited in its time by the fact that the Estimates which are produced in February‑‑we are talking here about the British Parliament, as opposed to March for the House of Commons in Canada‑‑must be passed through Parliament by August, and of course in Canada by the end of June.  There is plainly a strong case for providing the Estimates Committee with more facilities for doing its present financial job of seeking economies more effectively and for enabling its subcommittees to specialize in particular types of spending and to employ technical assistance.  However, the handicaps under which the Estimates Committee labours in respect to what should be its real work has been obscured by the emphasis laid on specializing committees with a wider brief than a search for economy and value for money.

      As we have seen, it was suggested by the select committee on procedure in 1964‑65 that the Estimates Committee would have its terms of reference widened so that it would take on this wider duty.  Yet, it is arguable that the essential problem is to make the Estimates Committee better able to do the financial and economizing job over public expenditure, which by common agreement the House cannot be expected to do through the Supply procedure.

      Sanctioning, appropriating and vetting the government's expenditure is one side of the Common's financial duty.  The other is consenting to taxation proposed by the government.  We, of course, do not know what is going to come down in terms of the taxation, because we do not have the budget.  We would have preferred obviously to have had the budget at the same time that we got the Main Estimates book, but we recognize that in the past that the Estimates book has been tabled in this House without the presentation of a budget, and therefore we did not hold out for that.  We simply held out for the right of the government to present us with the Estimates process in their Main Estimates form before it digressed and allowed us to only obtain individual Estimates.

      Let me read now from The Canadian Political System: Environment, Structure and Process.  This is written by Richard J. Van Loon and Michael S. Whittington and is a relatively new book and looks at Estimates and a detailed scrutiny of Estimates in a slightly different manner.  Let me quote from that:  A detailed scrutiny of Estimates is the business of Supply.  Before the procedural changes of 1969 abolished the Committee of Supply, it was that committee's responsibility to go over the department Estimates in detail.

      Now the Estimates for a particular department go instead to the appropriate standing committee for detailed consideration. Thus, for instance, the Estimates of the Department of National Health and Welfare are reviewed by the Committee of Health, Welfare and Social Affairs.  Department of National Defence Estimates are reviewed by the Committee of External Affairs and National Defence, and so forth.  This has meant a large saving of time for the House of Commons, but it has increased commensurately the amount of time each member must spend in committee.  Currently by far the largest part of the time spent in committees is devoted to the consideration of the departmental Estimates.

      That is certainly what a great many of us do from now until the end of June, and certainly there is no question that the members of the third party, the Liberal Party, spend more time in committee than do other members simply because there are limited numbers of us and therefore we do not usually have just one department to critique.  We often have two, three, or four departments to critique, and so we spend a great deal of time critiquing those Estimates, and that is all the more reason why we need to receive our material promptly and in an appropriate fashion, so that we can, in fact, do our job as we have been asked to do it.

      If you are, for example, the member for Crescentwood (Ms. Gray) you have to look at the Department of Urban Affairs; you have to look after the Department of Education, K‑12; you have to look after Status of Women; you have to look after the Civil Service Commission.  If you are the member for St. Boniface (Mr. Gaudry), you have to look after Rural Development; you have to look after the Seniors; you have to look after Agriculture.  If you are the member for St. James (Mr. Edwards), you have to do Justice; you are doing Highways; you are doing Native Affairs; you are doing a number of other issues that have to be dealt with in this Chamber.

      If we are to do our job effectively, then it is important for us to have that background material, and we have not been given that background material, nor do we have any assurance from the government that we are going to receive that background material before they would suggest to us that we have to go into those committees.

(Mr. Marcel Laurendeau, Acting Speaker, in the Chair)

      Let me quote again:  The ability of a standing committee to effectively criticize the spending plans of a given department is limited once again by the lack of independent expertise in the committee.  The witnesses called to back up the Estimates of the department are themselves departmental officials.  Furthermore, by the time the Estimates reach Parliament, they have already run the gauntlet of criticism from the cabinet committees, Ministries of State, Treasury Board, Treasury Board Secretariat and the departmental financial experts themselves.

      Is that not fascinating?  You know, we are right back to the quote that I was giving you this afternoon by Norman Ward in the book Dawson's The Government of Canada, where again he states very clearly that it is not an individual department that goes through Treasury Board and then through cabinet, it is the whole Main Estimates book, that they are all done together.

      I can only conclude one of two things.  I made this argument this afternoon, and I think it is important to make it again.  We know there are two things that have happened.  Either all of the Estimates have been approved, at which point there is absolutely no excuse for us not having the Main Estimates book.  If all of the Estimates have gone through Treasury Board, then there is no reason why all of those Estimates cannot be published in a little book and distributed to the 57 members of this Chamber.

      On the other hand, if not all of the Estimates have been approved, then we have government ministers on the Treasury benches, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Findlay) and the Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer) who have allowed themselves to be snookered.  They have allowed themselves to have their Estimates approved without seeing the others in their final state, so that when they should be sitting around the bargaining table at the Treasury Board in a cabinet saying, now just a minute, you have not cut in Education, and yet you have asked me to cut in Family Services.  You have not cut, Mr. Premier, in Executive Council, but you have asked me to cut in Agriculture. You have not cut the honourable Minister of Rural Development (Mr. Derkach) and yet you have asked me to cut in Highways.

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      Well, if they have allowed that to go on, I would suggest they have been snookered but good, because their whole purpose in Treasury Board and then in cabinet is to defend their own ministries.  Yet they have apparently lost that final opportunity because other departments, if you were to accept that rationality, have not yet been approved.  Well, I do not think that is what has happened.  I think all of the Main Estimates are ready.  I think that if they are all ready, then we should in fact have them.

      Let me quote again:  The ability of a standing committee to effectively criticize the spending plans of a given department is limited once again by the lack of independent expertise in the committees.  The witnesses called to back up the Estimates by the department are themselves department officials.  Furthermore, by the time Estimates reach Parliament, they have already run the gauntlet of criticism from the cabinet, cabinet committees, Ministries of State, Treasury Board, Treasury Board Secretariat and the departmental financial experts themselves.

      It is unlikely that the standing committee will be able to improve substantially or reduce the Estimates.  Of course, the fact that the minister of each department must publicly justify estimated expenditures in committee probably prevents carelessness in the preparation of the Estimates in the first place.

      Finally, it must be mentioned that the opposition parties can to some extent use the consideration of the Estimates in committee as an additional forum for criticism of the government's programs and policy priorities.  In a sense the committee stage of the Estimates is at least as important for the general audit function of Parliament as it is for the approving of the Detailed Estimates.

      Mr. Acting Speaker, we have before us some information from some departments, but we do not have that information from all government departments.  I want to briefly discuss with this Chamber why it is necessary for us to have all of that information.

      When I compare, for example, the Department of Highways and Transportation with the Department of Agriculture with the Department of Family Services, I see some factors which are quite different.  I look for example at the Department of Agriculture and at the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Findlay) and, according to the schedule which he has provided to us, he has cut the Administration and Finance line of his budget by 10.7 percent, a rather significant and major cut.  When I look at the Department of Highways and Transportation, I see that the Administration and Finance line of that budget has been cut by 6.3 percent.

      When I look at the Department of Family Services, however, I see that in that department it has only been cut by 4.9 percent and, since that is the very department where I see cuts to program, grants to MAPO, grants to the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, grants to students and funding of those students on social allowance, I say to myself, well, how can the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Findlay) cut his Administration and Finance budget by 10.7 percent?  How can the Minister of Highways cut his Administration and Finance budget by 6.3 percent, but the Minister of Family Services can only cut his Administration and Finance by 4.9 percent?  The question that immediately comes to mind is, what about all the others?  Have they cut 4.9?  Have they cut 10.7?  Have they cut .6 or .3?

      Is there logic over these departments?  Is there a rationale over these departments?  Is there a plan?  Has there been a decision made by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) that everybody's administrative budget had to be cut by 6 percent and some of them made it as the Ministers of Agriculture and Highways?  Yes, Highways Administration and Finance line by 6.3 percent, but not in the Department of Family Services.  Why is it that the Department of Family Services requires this additional Administration and Finance dollars?  I do not know, and I cannot make rational judgments about whether his is in line with the others until I see the others, and I am not being allowed to see the others because of the way in which this government has chosen to introduce the Estimates process this time.

      Indeed, when I look at Child and Family Services and I see that particular line of the Family Services budget cut by 4.7 percent, I ask the question why?  Why 4.7 percent?  That is about what he was able to cut his Administration and Finance.  Why are children expected to take the same kind of cutback?  Surely, if the Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer) was concerned about quality of service in the field, he would have been looking for more rigorous cuts to Administration and Finance, the same kinds of rigorous cuts which it appears were made in the line on Administration and Finance by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Findlay).

      When I look at other lines in the same budget, I see that in terms of the Minister of Family Services, that he has one section that is huge.  The Income Security and Regional Operations which is, in fact, social assistance and welfare went up by 9.3 percent‑‑9.3 percent‑‑and yet we know that they told kids they could not go to school anymore.

      You wonder at the logic of a government that is prepared to pay them social assistance to stay home but is not prepared to ensure that the funding is in place so that they can go to school.  I have to think that their going to school at 15, 16, 17 and 18 years of age, in some cases a little older, is more critical in terms of getting down our long‑term costs than their staying home and twiddling their thumbs.  Any yet, according to this minister, it is better for them to stay home and twiddle their thumbs.

      I do not understand that, but again, when I look at his overall budgetary figure, and I look at the final figure for cuts, I find the Department of Highways, although its capital budget went up by 5.3 percent, mainly due to the funding from the federal government, that their overall total appropriation for Highways and Transportation is down by 1.8 percent.

      I look at the Agriculture budget, and I see that their overall expenditures in terms of that particular department are down by 14.1 percent, and when I look at Family Services, I see they have gone up by 4.5 percent, but I know that all of that money in that 4.5 percent has gone into one line of the budget, Income Security and Regional Operations‑‑welfare, social assistance‑‑not to helping Canadians help themselves, Manitobans help themselves, but to keep on in perpetuity the welfare cycle. That is the tragedy.

      That is the decision this government made, and we know, we keep hearing from the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) and from the First Minister (Mr. Filmon) that this is a tough budget, that the government is under incredible pressure, that they have a credit watch today, that there have to be ways to bring down expenditures.

      But our question is not that they are not trying to bring down expenditures, it is, what is their rationale for bringing down those expenditures?  What is their raison d'etre?

      I said this afternoon, and I will go over it again, there were $3 million cut from grant levels.  Some of those cuts, quite frankly, I think make sense.  They are reasonable and logical.  I mean it is, for me, pretty hard to justify in tough economic times that the Manitoba Drama Educators' Association gets a grant.  I find that hard to justify.  I do not fault the government for cutting that.  I do not fault the government for cutting a grant to the Manitoba Teachers' Society.  They have got money to fund their own operations.  There is no need for the government to do that.

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      I can even see a cut to the National Public Health Inspectors Conference.  It does not bother me.  I mean, they may do very good work, but I think we are going to have to look at all the conferences and all the entertainment budgets and question whether any of those need to be spent.  I have asked my Whip, for example, in his dialogue with the Whip for the governing party to ask the importance of particular conferences, as to whether or not those travel expenses are justified and necessary.  I think there are some conferences which are indeed necessary.  When the Ministers of Family Services from across the country meet, particularly when the federal government has done specific cuts and it is needed to have a national strategy, that conference is a legitimate visit, a necessary meeting, and that meeting should take place.  But I want to know if all of the meetings that ministers are attending are, quite frankly, legitimate.

      I do not have any difficulty with cuts to organizations that, it appears to me, have large quantities of funding that they can access, but that is not what we see in this list from a great many of them listed here.  I have been to five or six of the Indian and Metis friendship centres in this province, including Flin Flon, including Thompson, including Winnipeg, including Selkirk, and I know there is no lavish spending going on in those friendship centres.  I know that the money is not free flowing, and that it is spent primarily on service, that it is directed, generally speaking, to those most in need.  I have to question why they have been cut.  If they had received a cut of 5 percent‑‑and perhaps it would have been justified if I had seen a province‑wide cut of 5 percent in almost everything‑‑that could perhaps have been justified, but that is not what happened.  They eliminated the grant in its entirety.  It disappeared from the face of the earth.

      There is no fairness when it is decided that the Manitoba Anti‑Poverty Organization should lose its funding in its entirety from this government.  Not that it has been taken from $63,000 to $60,000 or to $55,000 or to $50,000, but it gets nothing.  It is as if the government says, and in fact did say it in essence, they do not provide a valuable service.

      Well, by whose definition of valuable?  Do they honestly believe that the telephone line at MAPO, which people use on a daily basis to find jobs, is not a valuable service?  Is the Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer) going to open a phone line in his office so all these poor and unemployed can come into his office and make phone calls?  Because that is one of the services that was provided by MAPO.

      Is he going to have newspapers there so that the unemployed can look up the want‑ad columns, so that they can search to see if there is a job that they are qualified for, that they could apply for?  Is he going to provide that service?  I mean, is this what they want provided?  That is what MAPO does.

      Is he going to provide some counselling on nutrition for those on social assistance?  Is he going to encourage them to shop effectively, because that is what MAPO does.  It helps them with those kinds of decisions.  Is he going to provide advice and support when these people have to go on welfare for the first time and they are horrified at the prospect, they feel degraded, they feel unimportant, they feel as if they have lost everything of value to live for?  Is the Minister of Family Services going to open a counselling office in his office in this building and begin to provide that kind of support?

      I think not, and I know of no other organization in this town that is going to do that.

      Yet, by cutting the grant to this particular organization, that is what they have cut, and they would argue in the House, as they did in Question Period today, that it is fair, that it is across the board.

      Well, show us.  Show us it is across the board.  Show us that all the departments have been treated the same way.  Show us what your rationale was.  Show us through the presentation of the Main Estimates what you believe to be the critical issues of service, because what I see in this document, and I think it is important to read it, because the Minister of Finance says:  Despite increasing financial pressure, the Manitoba government will continue to provide funding, though at mostly reduced levels, to the majority of grant recipients in the 1993‑94 fiscal year.

      So before I can make real judgments about this, I have to know what the funding levels are to others.  What have you done to other organizations?  What has happened to Community Places grants, for example?  Did they disappear?  Have they been wiped out?  Community Places grants, when you have lots of money, are a good idea, a good concept, but one has to wonder about a Community Places grant to build tennis courts when you take away grants from organizations that provide food and organizations that provide counselling and organizations that provide basic levels of education services.

      So the question becomes, where are the priorities, and we do not know where the priorities are, but we also see, Mr. Acting Speaker, a process of this government which is, in my opinion, quite bizarre.  We have watched the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) stand in his place and tell this House that what he is doing is quite unprecedented, what he is doing is unparliamentary, but we should do it anyway.  Why should we do it anyway?  Because he says so.  He tells us we should do it anyway.  Even though it is unparliamentary, even though it is unprecedented, we should do it anyway.

An Honourable Member:  He even says it is unparliamentary.

An Honourable Member:  Or innovative.

Mrs. Carstairs:  Well, innovative.  That is an interesting word‑‑innovative.

      Is it not interesting that there have been a few words or a few ideas in projects that have been bandied about this year by the government that I suspect they want to refer to as innovative?  I am sure they would suggest to each of us in this Chamber that Bill 16, which will cut the ability of school divisions to increase the special requirement by more than 2 percent, is innovative‑‑except that I asked the critic for my party the other day to specifically put a question to the Finance minister about how much money that innovation was going to bring into provincial coffers.

      Well, of course, we could not get a direct answer from the Minister of Finance.  There is a direct answer.  The direct answer is zero.  It is not going to bring one cent into the coffers of the Minister of Finance.  When he introduces his budget he is not going to be able to say, now this is the additional revenue that I got by limiting the school divisions from increasing their special requirement to 2 percent, because it does not bring a cent to the provincial treasurers, not a cent‑‑no money at all‑‑zero‑‑big goose egg. [interjection] The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Findlay) from his seat says, well it saves a good deal of money. [interjection] Well, to the taxpayer, the Minister of Agriculture says.  Surely that is the choice not of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness), but of the individual school division.

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      What I see in this Minister of Finance and in this government is an arrogance that they know best.  They are prepared to throw out parliamentary tradition and rules.  They are prepared to do away with the concept of precedence because they know best.  They are prepared to tell the school divisions this is what thou shalt do.

      Now it is clear that those school divisions have trustees. Those trustees were not elected on September 11, 1990, as these members were.  Those trustees were elected on October 28, 1992. They campaigned, most of them, I would suggest to the Minister of Agriculture, on the basis of fiscal responsibility.  They said, we want to be fiscally responsible.

      They should have been allowed, I would suggest to the Minister of Agriculture, to accept the liability for that fiscal responsibility, because the liability would have been for them to determine how much of an increase, if any, the trustees should have been able to increase. [interjection] I would suggest to the Minister of Agriculture that the Government of Canada is responsible in large part for the credit rating of all of us. The credit rating of the federal government has been downsized because of a failure on the part of the Mulroney government since 1984 to meet a single one of their commitments to reducing the deficit‑‑not one.  They made promises each and every year.  They did not meet their target number once, but that is only a portion equalled by the fact that this government has not met its target number once either.  So, if in fact we have a situation in which the credit rating is in jeopardy, it is because the power brokers in a financial sense of the world do not think we have been sufficiently fiscally responsible.

      But, you know, the power brokers do not determine the values in a particular society.  The power brokers do not determine whether you should spend any money here or there or whether you should cut here or there.  They want to see cuts.  There is no question about that, but they do not make the decision about where those cuts have to come from.  The decision as to where those cuts have to come from comes from the provincial government, and that is what we want to see.  We want to see in the Main Estimates book whether there has been fairness, whether there has been some equity, or whether it is true that, as it has been with their federal counterparts in Ottawa, the rich have gotten richer and richer since 1984 and the poor have got poorer and poorer, because the tax changes have made it that way.

      I have to tell the Chamber of my own family.  I have watched as my husband's taxes have gone down and my taxes have gone up. He still pays more than I do because he earns a lot more than I do, but his taxes have gone down.  He pays less tax now on more money, as a matter of fact, than he paid five years ago.

      What does he do with it?  He does what every other well‑off Canadian does, he invests it.  He makes more money, and he invests it at money to which he does not pay the tax rate.

An Honourable Member:  The important thing is, does he invest in Canada?

Mrs. Carstairs:  Yes, he does invest in Canada.  He even invests in Manitoba Hydro Bonds, as do I.  But the reality is that he is getting the breaks, and at least I admire him because he is one of those so‑called fat cats who says:  I do not deserve it; I should be paying more taxes.

An Honourable Member:  Come in and write a cheque any day.

Mrs. Carstairs:  Well, he does come in and write cheques to a lot of charitable organizations in this community because he thinks perhaps he has a better set of priorities than the people opposite.

      That is what has happened, but the government did not leave it at that, Mr. Acting Speaker.  I mean, the member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock) who is out, hopefully, getting nominated tonight in a constituency‑‑

An Honourable Member:  Oh, you are taking sides.  You want to get rid of him now.

Mrs. Carstairs:  At least that is what he wants to be, and I always want what people want for themselves.  Of course, I think it would be nice if Linda Asper got nominated and if Malli Aulakh got nominated and Mohinder Dhillon, but obviously only one of them is going to get nominated tonight, even Kenny Wong.  One of them is going to be successful tonight, and he is certainly, obviously, hoping that that is what is going to happen to him.

      He raised an issue which is also critical to this budget because it again deals with the concept of process.  The member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock) asked the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) the other day the same time he asked the question about how much money was going to come into the coffers of this government from the 2 percent restriction on school divisions, and the answer was zero, a big, fat goose egg.  We also asked him how much the provincial Treasury was going to get from increasing visa students' fees by 75 percent?

      You know what the answer is, Mr. Acting Speaker?  Zero‑‑big, fat goose egg.  Nothing, not a penny, is going to come in to the Treasury from the fact that visa students have been increased by 75 percent.  Who were they trying to appeal to in this decision? I mean, I can understand if the Minister of Finance was trying whatever way he could to get a little bit more revenue into his pockets because he has a big deficit, but this is not going to bring new money into his pocket or the pocket of government.

      What it is going to do, I am very fearful, and so are the universities in this province, that it is going to drive visa students out of this province.  Those visa students spend up to $28 million a year in this province‑‑$28 million a year.  When you speak to them and you suggest to them, if you had a choice between going to the University of Toronto and the University of Manitoba, where would you go, they will say, the University of Toronto.  It is a bigger university.  It has better worldwide recognition.

      That is one of the liabilities we suffer with.  It is unfortunate, but that is reality to many of these students.  One of the attractions of their coming to Manitoba was that the tuition fees were so much lower, so they chose to come here, but they cannot work.  They are not allowed to work, by virtue of their visa, so they bring their money in, they spend it here. They buy food and clothing and shelter and books and pay tuition, and we say, well, we are going to increase your fees by 75 percent, at no benefit to the provincial Treasury, and then we are going to expect them to stay in this province.

      I do not think they will stay in the province unless they have family connections here or unless the program that they are engaged in is such that they are so far along that they want to finish and to graduate.

      I ask, what is this?  I mean, is this some kind of PR exercise that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness), in some kind of sham says, I am going to make myself look good, I am going to appeal to those people out there who would like to think that I am fiscally responsible, and so I am going to say, this is what the limitations are going to be, these are the new impositions I am going to make, so here I am, Mr. Big Tough Guy?

      The reality is that nothing ends up in the provincial Treasury.  That, Mr. Acting Speaker, is part of the dilemma that we are faced with as opposition members.

      You know I was interested the other day in hearing some comments of the Premier (Mr. Filmon).  I did not hear them myself so I am not quoting him directly, but I think I am quoting the content of what it was he had to say when he was discussing, of course, the fact that the only reason that I was doing what I am doing and have been doing over the last few days is because it was an ego run wild.

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      He also went on to make the statement, oh, what difference does it make anyway?  You are going to vote against the budget anyway, so it does not matter if they have the budget.  Well, that is an interesting statement.  Does he presume that everybody votes against something before they have seen it?

      I remember times in this House when I have, in fact, voted with the government.  I remember times in this House when I voted against the government.  I am sure I will vote for them again and against them again.  Depending on the piece of legislation, depending on the initiative, depending on the concept, depending on the idea, I will cast my vote.

      How you can make the decision that I am going to cast my vote no before I have even seen it is I think a bit presumptuous.  He has obviously decided that is the way it is going to be, that we are all going to vote no.

      I would cast this House's attention back to a very interesting phenomenon back in 1988.  I am sure the member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux) will remember this, because we had a budget debate.  It was a minority government‑‑maybe even the acting Speaker remembers it. [interjection] Oh, you were not here.  I am sorry, you were not here in those days.

      A very interesting thing happened.  You will be very interested in this, because the budget vote was called.  All the government members entered the Chamber.  All the Liberal members entered the Chamber.  We kept waiting for the NDP.  There were 12 of them.  Do you remember this, the Minister of Environment (Mr. Cummings)?

      We saw the critic for Finance, the former honourable Maureen Hemphill, now the newly nominated candidate for Winnipeg‑North Centre‑‑not going to be the M.P., mind you, but the nominated candidate.  She sat there and she cast a vote.  The now Leader of the official opposition, then the Leader of the second opposition party, cast his vote, and nobody else entered the Chamber, nobody‑‑on a budget.

      What were we to be led to believe by that‑‑that 10 of them favoured the budget and only the two who were going to vote against it came in?  I do not think so, Mr. Acting Speaker.  I think, you know, there was a little deal between the Tories and the NDP that dealt with keeping the Tories in power for two years, and they could not, therefore, bring down the government before that two‑year period was up.  So 10 people chose not to cast their vote and only two people cast their vote, but you could not guarantee that the other 10 would have all voted no.  I mean, they did not show up to vote no.  So one certainly cannot guarantee that they were going to vote no.  If one is to believe the Premier, the presumption was of course that they were to vote no.

      (Mrs. Louise Dacquay, Deputy Speaker, in the Chair)

      So we have a presumption on the part of the Premier (Mr. Filmon) that we are all going to vote no.  Perhaps he is right. Maybe if the circumstances of the budget are such that he makes cuts in an unfair way, then perhaps we will find ourselves having to vote against the budget.  But I do not think that anybody can make the automatic assumption that we, as a political party, are going to vote no.

      I think the assumption has to be made that we will take the budget as we see it.  We will make our decisions based on the issues of the day, and we will make a decision based on whether or not this is a legitimate cut or whether it is not a legitimate cut.  That will be the basis upon which we make our decision.

      Mr. Speaker‑‑Madam Deputy Speaker‑‑I have difficulty giving you the right title, and I am sorry for that, Madam Acting Speaker‑‑Madam Deputy Speaker.  There I did it again.  It is just not going to come out until I do it sufficiently often to get this Madam Deputy Speaker down.

      We have taken a position this time on a matter of, we believe, principle‑‑principle based on being able to do our job. I remember being in this House back in 1986 when I was a lone member for the Liberal Party.  That first year I did the Estimates of Family Services, the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education.  Each time I went into those Estimates I tried to arm myself as best I could with the budgetary decisions of this government, which was not this stripe.  It was, in fact, the New Democratic Party.

      I wanted to ask questions as to their priority setting.  One of the issues which I, quite frankly, took affront at them‑‑and I find it fascinating today that they criticize so eloquently the cuts to the Department of Education, because in those days the funding of the Department of Education was well below the increases in funding to this government‑‑well below.  It has not been the case with this government, that is true.  They have tried to keep education at a funding level approximately to their income levels.

      They all know that education is my No. 1 first love, that I probably would never be satisfied with anything done in the Department of Education, but I do give them credit because they have not had an easy financial time.  They have not had, except in the first year of their mandate back in 1988, huge revenues. They have had declining revenues, and they have tried to do the best they could, in some instances, with those declining revenues.

      Where I have disagreed with the government and disagree with them now is their establishment of priorities.  If they are going to go public time after time and say that they put a high priority on education, then they have to be prepared to show that.  That is not what has happened.  They say they place a high priority on education, and then they take away the autonomy of the various people who have been elected to provide the school divisions with their guidance, their good advice and their decision making.  I do not understand that.  Surely it is up to the taxpayers in every riding to determine whether their trustees have served them well or not.  It is not up to the Department of Education to make that kind of decision, and yet that is what they have done.  They have mandated program after program after program.  They have said this is what has to happen, but they have not provided the funding and nothing is more noticeable in terms of that than special needs funding.

      Before I can make a decision about Family Services in Family Services Estimates I have to know what they have done to Education.  I have to know whether those 1,200 students who have been cut from social allowance so that they can continue their education have found any comfort, any support in Education because if they have, then maybe it is a reasonable choice. Maybe to move them from the Department of Family Services and to put them in the Department of Education is logical, reasonable and rationale.  If I do not know that they are there, how can I make a decision?  I suspect they are not.  By the grin on the Minister of Family Services' face, perhaps I can assume they are not, but I cannot make that assumption because I do not know.

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      At least give me credit for not putting words in your mouth and making assumptions that are not yet valid.  They will not be valid until I have the Main Estimates book.  That is the crux of this debate today.  I am an opposition member trying to do my job, and that is all I am in this debate, an opposition member trying to do her job, a job I have been trying to do since 1986.

      I suspect that because of the years I spent in here as a single member I may indeed have critiqued more departments than any other member of this Chamber, except perhaps maybe the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns).  He has been here so long he may have been through them all.  But, because I was here for a number of years by myself, it was necessary for me to go through a number of departments; and, as the Leader of my party, I always chose to do additional Estimates.  I did not have to.  I could have chosen to do no Estimates other than Executive Council, but I chose to do Estimates and I chose to do Estimates very deliberately.

      I chose to do Estimates because that is how I get a sense of the attitudes and the orientations of government ministers.  That is how I decide just what is their priority setting, what it is that is important to them as opposed to what it is that is not important to them.  I have said it before on other debates, and I will say it again, the member of this Chamber with whom I enjoy doing Estimates the most was the member for Emerson (Mr. Penner) when he was the Minister of Rural Development.  I enjoyed doing Estimates with him because there was a genuine dialogue.  You could stand in your seat and ask a question, present an initiative or an idea for consideration, and he would enter into a genuine dialogue, no cheap shots, no trying to put a blossoming on the rose which the rose was not intended, but would tell you very clearly that his department had considered that or, no, they had not considered that, yes, they would consider this, that they were interested in doing that.

      It was a very positive feeling, and I always came out of those Estimates feeling that I had made a contribution.

      I have to suggest, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I do not often have that feeling.  I often come out of the Estimates process thinking that it has been an absolute, total waste of time.  I am sure for some of the ministers that feeling is absolutely mutual, that they spend hour after hour after hour.  I think that there is a basis for our need to change.  There has to be a better way to do them.

      I find, for example, even Madam Deputy Speaker, when she becomes the head of committees and the endless repetition that she is forced to ask the Mr. Minister and then the honourable member for and Mr. Minister and the honourable member for and I think, my goodness, there has to be a better way that we could facilitate dialogue so that we could work on some kind of structural changes so that we could have a session which left us, not in agreement‑‑I do not expect to be in agreement‑‑but left us all with a better sense that we were making some kind of real contribution to the process.

      I know that the Minister of Rural Development (Mr. Derkach) the other day, and I know that he and I certainly have not gotten on over the years, particularly when he was the Minister of Education, said of course that I was the member who knew everything.  Well, I do not know everything, and I am pleased to admit I do not know everything, but I also know that I constantly read everything I can find on health care reform, and that is why my party has not denigrated every single thing that the member for Pembina (Mr. Orchard) has tried to do in the issue of health care reform, because I know that much of what he is trying to do is very valid.

      We have tried to be very supportive, and our critic has tried to be very supportive.  Sometimes it is very hard to do it.  A couple of weeks ago when I was actually complimenting him, he interpreted it as a criticism and jumped back in the way that only he knows how to jump back.  So it is difficult sometimes.

      I know that the Minister of Rural Development, because he is listening at the present moment, sometimes did not like my criticisms of the Department of Education but, in terms of what I was trying to do and the literature which I was reading on a fairly regular basis, I would have been happier in a different kind of approach.

      I would have liked to have had the opportunity to really dialogue with the minister about the kind of articles that I was reading, the kind of initiatives that I was encountering in educational journals, questioning some of the things that we were doing in the Province of Manitoba, examining a variety of options.  Unfortunately, the process‑‑and I do not fault the minister for that‑‑does not lend itself, but certainly there is no way that we can dialogue in an effective and positive way, we do not have the information.  That is fundamental.

      I do not know why the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) does not want us to have the information.  We have argued before that if the information is not available, then let us go home until it is.  We are prepared to do that.  We will go home and do our constituency work.  I will edit the first edition of my book.  I have work to do.  I do not mind doing that, because I do not like wasting time.  I do not even like what I am doing here now.  It does not appeal to me.  I would much rather be getting on with the affairs of this House.

      I only asked my caucus, and let their be no mistake, this was not the decision made by the member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux) or the member for Crescentwood (Ms. Gray) or the member for St. Boniface (Mr. Gaudry) or the member St. James (Mr. Edwards) or the member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock).  This was a decision made by me.  It was made the moment the House leader for the Liberal Party (Mr. Lamoureux) arrived in my office, and said to me, this is what the government proposes to do, and I said, no, they will not do that.

      I am not going to be in politics very much longer by my own choice.  I chose to resign, partly out of frustration, partly because I found the Chamber and the activities not as positive as my personality would lead me to want to be and thought that I could make better use of my time, and maybe my skills, by teaching people, rather than to argue endlessly with people who, no matter what I said, are never going to agree with me.  After nine and a half years, you say, well, is that not enough, have you not made your contribution.

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      Then I was confronted with an issue, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I felt that I just could not sit by and allow it to happen because I feel very passionately, as I know the member for Lac du Bonnet (Mr. Praznik) does, about tradition and about heritage and about parliamentary tradition.

      There are so many people who think that so many of the rules and regulations are a fluff, but almost each and every one of them are steeped in some kind of tradition, some kind of evolutionary process, summaries on debt for their existence.  If one scratches enough below the surface, one can usually find out why those things do exist, why they are there.

      Although I spent much of my younger life studying political science as well as history, for me it was a wonderful opportunity to combine the two.  That is why I have a double degree.  Because when I studied the history of Canada, I studied the government of Canada.  When I studied the history of the United States, I studied the government of the United States.  When I studied the history of the Soviet Union, I studied the government of the Soviet Union.  And when I studied the history of Japan and China, I studied their political institutions at the same time.  It gave me a deep‑seated love for this parliamentary system.

      I am sure that I have bored more than the occasional student in my day when I tried to instill in them the same kind of love for parliamentary tradition.  It is very hard to convince a group of teenagers that being passionately concerned about the Constitution or the Charter or the principles of parliamentary democracy is often not an easy thing to do, but I considered it my responsibility to do so.  It is very much a part of my heritage.

      When I look at my own immediate family, you know, I have an uncle who was a Speaker in Nova Scotia; I have a father who was a Premier of Nova Scotia; I have a sister who is a school trustee and a brother who was an alderman.  Part of the tradition of my family was to participate in the political process at whatever level that you could do it.  So when it appeared that the Liberal Party was not really going to have a contest back in 1984, it seemed logical for me to do this, to fulfill what had been so much of a part of my tradition.

      Part of that tradition was respect for institutions.  My husband likes to tease me and tells me that I am a compulsive rule follower.  If it says, do not enter, I do not enter.  He is quite right.  I think it probably is a result of a number of years in the convent being trained by a very strict order of nuns that you rarely did anything that they told you that you were not allowed to do.  But that gave me also a respect for order and for tradition and for principles, and that is what this debate is all about.

      When the member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux) arrived at my office and said they wanted to do something, I immediately said to him, I do not think they can.  Go check with the Clerk.  He checked with the Clerk, and the Clerk said, well, yes, there had been precedent for introducing Estimates without the budget, but, no, as far as he knew, no precedent for introducing the individual Estimates without the presentation of a Main Estimates book.

      So I asked my research staff to make calls to find out just what the situation was elsewhere.  I found out it had never been done.  It had never been done for the very reasons why I told my member I was concerned, because nobody could do their job properly if it was done this way.

      I do not know why the NDP decided to allow this change of tradition.  Nobody has explained it to me.  I am sure there was a reason for it.  I suspect they wanted to get on with business, and I can understand their wanting to get on with business, I mean, if that was their rationale and reason.  But to go on with business in and of itself and in the process break parliamentary tradition seems to me very dangerous‑‑very dangerous.

      I have said before and I will say again, my concern is not just for this moment in time.  My concern is for the ramifications of this decision in this Chamber on other Chambers.  However, it is also of concern for this Chamber itself because, if the Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness) can introduce three Estimates this year, is it two Estimates next year?  If it is the fact that we are only going to have to wait a week and a half or two weeks for a budget this year, is next year at a month or two months or three months or four months?

(Mr. Speaker in the Chair)

      Once you have opened the door to change a precedent, then it quickly becomes clear that the little sports car that worked its way out and through the rules eventually becomes a giant truck, and the process becomes steamrolled.  Once you have changed a parliamentary principle in process and procedure, you may find it very difficult to change it back again.

      The Speaker of this Chamber stands up day after day after day and he quotes everything from "Is this a parliamentary word?" to "Is this an appropriate use of procedure?"  He quotes chapter and verse.  He says, according to Erskine May, on page this or page that, or according to Maingot, this citation or that citation, or according to Beauchesne, this citation or that citation.

      Well, Mr. Speaker, I would ask you, where do all those citations come from?  Well, they come from events which happen in Chambers like this throughout the world.  We tend to primarily quote Canadian citations, occasionally those from Great Britain, but mostly Canadian, mostly the House of Commons.  The reality is that all of those citations come from the attempts by one or more members to change something or to use a word that has not been considered parliamentary in the past but all of a sudden becomes parliamentary or perhaps vice versa, depending on the use of the word and the inflection of the voice and the anger with which perhaps it is given.

      That is one of the interesting things about this Chamber.  I remember when I first read Beauchesne and saw this great long list of parliamentary words and unparliamentary words, some of which could be in both.  If you enjoy the whole parliamentary process, that in itself becomes a fascinating sideline.

      I know that the Speaker's son spoke to me one day when he heard that I was going back to teach.  He asked if anybody was ever going to teach procedure, if anybody was ever going to talk about the rules and the regulations of this particular Chamber. I said, well, not me, because I certainly did not feel equipped to talk about those kinds of things.  So my course is going to be a course on the emerging role of women in politics.

      The role of the House is a very critical one, and one that I think needs to be addressed and should be taught to those interested.

Mr. Speaker:  Order, please.  This matter will remain standing in the name of the honourable Leader of the second opposition party.

      The hour being 10 p.m., this House now adjourns and stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday).