Walter Lockhart Gordon (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)
I wonder if the hon. member is going to tell us from whom he is quoting, Mr. Speaker?
I wonder if the hon. member is going to tell us from whom he is quoting, Mr. Speaker?
The article is under the byline of Mr. Christopher Young, the editor of the Citizen, who was present at the conference.
I use these quotations, Mr. Speaker, as an illustration of the pattern that was contemplated a year ago which indicates there was a readiness to concede almost anything to bring about peace at that particular moment. Certainly, most of the provinces agreed reluctantly and certainly the Minister of Finance (Mr. Gordon), in that conference, put the best foot forward he could for the people of Canada by pointing out the needs facing the federal government in the years ahead.
This brings up the second point. What is the position of provincial governments at these dominion-provincial conferences? Naturally, every provincial premier or the respective minister dealing with any particular subject, must put up the best case he can for his province. He assumes, as a good Canadian, that the federal government will put up the best case it can for the federal government, for those citizens who are not only citizens of a province but citizens of the whole country. There is always a twofold interest on the part of the federal government. I should like to refer once again to what Premier Robarts said at the end of that conference. Admitting that these were matters of provincial jurisdiction in these shared cost programs, he went on to point out and emphasize that there was a place, a need, for the shared cost programs so the federal government could carry out its national function.
More recently, of course, we have seen an article, this time by a person I do not think is as well known to the federal Liberal party for his support, written by Charles Lynch. This article appeared in the Citizen for March 19 and the author stated some of the things about which I am concerned here. What is the place of a federal member in this house? Whom does he really represent, the region
from which he comes, the province or the whole country?
Now I am quoting:
The provincial premiers, who are empire builders by nature, can be expected to favour these new arrangements-but they cannot be expected to have the national interests at heart.
The place for the expression of national interests is in parliament-particularly a parliament where the federal government has only a minority mandate.
I continue to quote:
Another example of how the federal-provincial conference can intrude on parliament may be seen in the opting out legislation, under which provinces can withdraw from shared programs.
Some provinces will withdraw, and others will not. There will be a continuing federal involvement in some provinces, but not in others.
This means that parliament and the federal government will be involved in programs that operate in only part of the nation.
The question arises: Should members of parliament, and particularly cabinet ministers, who come from provinces that have opted out, have a voice in the administration of such programs in other parts of the country?
I went back in my files to find out what the attitude of the Quebec premier was a year ago. I admit immediately the change of attitude in one year by the Quebec premier has been tremendous. This is a transcript of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program on the night of December 2, 1963. A question was asked by one of the questioners on the program, speaking about the French Canadian members in this house:
What, therefore, is the role of these 95-odd people which we elect to the federal government? What is the role and the function of the French Canadian ministers? Do they not represent the French Canadians as much as you do, sir?
No, they don't. Because of the reasons I gave you, that the people, the French speaking of Quebec since they have a majority in the provincial house, give more importance to the provincial government than they do to the federal-
I quote this statement, Mr. Speaker, as evidence of the fact that a year ago the ten provincial governments entered into this arrangement which we have before us now, not only reluctantly, but one of the premiers was under tremendous pressure from the extremist groups in his province. In order to help him relieve this tremendous pressure, the agreement was made which is the basis of this bill. I suggest now that a year has passed by and the pressure is no longer as great, the terror has disappeared, and a more rational approach can be taken. I think this rational approach should be put on the basis of a solid argument. I should like to ask
Dominion-Provincial Relations the house this question: Why are there shared cost programs?
First of all, before I enter that discussion, I may say I was somewhat surprised when the minister said upon introducing this bill that the demand for these shared cost programs is not so great now as it was. I should like to remind him of the views I have already quoted of Premier Robarts. I should like to remind him, too, that at this particular moment in Canada we are facing tremendous challenges to do certain things. Does this mean we are not going to be able to move in the field of medicare, for instance? I could give a list of things, and I intend later on to list a few other examples. The major purpose of these shared cost programs is to achieve national standards. To this end, I am going to remind the Minister of Finance, and I hope he supports me in this, that he has a tremendous task to meet the challenges put before the government by those that we select to keep us informed on monetary policies. I hold in my hand a copy of the Ottawa Journal for March 16, 1965 which contains the Canadian Press story concerning the report of the governor of the Bank of Canada. The headline is "Bottleneck Ahead?". If I may be permitted to quote four little paragraphs, I think my point can be made clear:
Canada must employ its resources more intensively and adapt them more readily to domestic and world needs in order to keep up its rate of expansion, Governor Louis Rasminsky of the Bank of Canada reported Monday.
I think we all agree with him.
We shall have to rely to an increasing extent on improving the adaptability of our growing resources in order to avoid serious bottleneck problems and price pressures...
The Canadian economy must do better (in foreign trade) than it has in the past. This means that we have to make continuous headway in achieving a greater penetration of export markets and in bettering our capacity to meet import competition.
To improve the competitiveness of the Canadian economy we have to aim at large improvements in our productivity and at a performance in respect of price and cost stability that compares favourably with that of our principal trading partners.
I have quoted four recommendations given in a Canadian Press dispatch describing part of what the governor of the Bank of Canada, as he is charged to do, has made available as a challenge to the Canadian people. How can these challenges be met? Can they be met by the provincial governments alone? Can they be met even by the federal government alone?
There must be co-operation. There must be the federal government with the power of initiative to move into the provincial fields of jurisdiction in shared cost programs in order to maintain this initiative and meet these challenges.
Shared cost programs have four purposes. The first of these is minimum national standards. Over the last 15 years we have talked a great deal in this house about welfare programs. We are presently engaged in putting the Canada pension plan through parliament. On the horizon we have the medicare proposals of the Hall report, and I would suggest that even on the very delicate subject of education the people of Canada are looking to us. Here is a subject which is purely an unadulterated part of provincial jurisdiction. No party, no individual wants to touch the provincial control of education, the essence of education; yet you, Mr. Speaker, know and I know, that the financial problem of education must be met in Canada.
The province of Quebec has just received the Parent report outlining what is necessary in that province over the next few years. Can the province of Quebec alone carry that out?
A voice says yes. I ask you to look at that report. I am sure Canadians of good heart and good intent, without interfering in any degree whatsoever with the provincial government's right to control education, can find a formula that will help Quebec meet the recommendations in the Parent report.
Other provinces have similar reports and, Mr. Speaker, you know and I know that every province has asked the federal government to try to find ways and means, with them, to assist in this great national task. I do not think we are so poor in intelligence that we cannot find a formula without interfering with provincial control to help meet this tremendous national need which is the greatest challenge before us, namely that of education.
The second purpose of shared cost programs is equality of opportunity. Many times many hon. members have pointed out that in Quebec today 83 per cent of the farmers receive less than $2,000 net a year, that 87 per cent of the farmers in the maritimes receive less than $2,000 net a year and, according to the last census report, 13 per cent of the people living in built up areas have a net income of less than $2,000. Some
22 per cent of the people living in Montreal are in that category.
I ask the simple question, is this equality of opportunity? Is there not a need in the farm areas and in the poverty areas of our urban districts for co-operation between our two governments? Can any province, no matter how wealthy, meet this need without the co-operation of the federal government? This right of Canadians to equality of opportunity must be accepted in the year 1965.
The third purpose of shared cost programs is to achieve national aims. We have had the challenge by the governor of the Bank of Canada on productivity, export markets and development. Leave that be. I know, and everybody else knows, that no matter how willing a province is, no matter how much money a province may get, it cannot solve by itself these problems of productivity, export markets and development.
Then we come to the very serious problem of the ownership of Canada. Can any province, no matter how much money it has, or how willing it may be, solve this problem which is one that must unite everybody in Canada? Whether we speak English or French we have to preserve in Canada the opportunity to buy into the ownership of our resources and our means of production. This is the challenge of the future. It is not a question of English being opposed to French or French being opposed to English. We are all together on this one, and its solution is only possible by co-operation between the two levels of government. To meet these challenges there will have to be shared cost programs, and in many cases we may have to move into provincial jurisdiction, without in any way interfering with the right of a province to maintain itself in a particular field of jurisdiction.
The fourth purpose of shared cost programs is to meet national emergencies. I am not referring here to war and depression alone. But I well remember 30 years ago when the great reforms of the Bennett administration to meet the challenge of that depression were turned down by the courts on the grounds that they were not within federal jurisdiction.
We have to have shared cost programs to meet this kind of constitutional difficulty. Also, according to the governor of the Bank of Canada, we will have to meet an international balance of payments crisis probably in 1970. This problem can only be solved by co-operation between the two levels of government.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I shall have to speak at a high speed in order to finish within my
allotted time. I would like to say a word about shared cost programs based on the experience I have had over the last number of years. First of all, if you accept the purposes of shared cost programs, that does not mean they are being carried out perfectly. I think provinces have a good case in trying to get some greater freedom in administrative control. I think provinces have a good case in trying to have more flexible financial control. Nothing is so conducive to slowing down progress than in having the treasury board here in Ottawa clear every single agreement and detail before you can start a program. Certainly changes have to be made in these shared cost programs, but more important than this is the fact that the provinces are now aware that there has to be some form of priorities established. Then there is the variable factor. Any money not spent in any one year on a designated program cannot be used by a province for another program. The question of priorities is vital and this is the heart of the reason behind the amendment we have moved.
I would like to see this parliament in the year 1965 finally grapple with the problem of need. Shared cost programs are not new. I have read the debates which took place in this chamber in 1911, and I found the minister of the interior of that day moving a proposal, as a member of the then government, for a roads to resources program based on the principle of need for the program. The principle of need is not only the fiscal ability of the province to perform; it is also the need for the program. Certain provinces with great areas to be opened up for the national good need more moneys than provinces with all their areas developed.
In 1911 the proposal passed this house but the bill was turned down in the Senate because it said it should be done on a formula basis, paying out so much per capita. Since then this question of need has not been faced frankly by any government, but it certainly came up in the roads to resources program when I was minister. I would hope the Minister of Finance (Mr. Gordon) would agree with me and take time to study this question of shared cost programs to see if we cannot build on the question of priorities, to see if we cannot face up to some sort of acceptance by all political parties that the need for an over-all program on the shared cost programs is now mandatory if we are to achieve national ends.
I would like to see these positive things done. In self-defence I might say that we,
Dominion-Provincial Relations when we formed the Conservative government, did try. We put more money into the hands of the provinces in direct taxes, shared taxes and shared cost programs. Under ARDA we tried very hard to give administrative flexibility. I have the Hansard reports here which show very clearly that in drafting that legislation we tried to give that flexibility. We tried very hard under the Canadian council of resource ministers to give to the relationship between the provinces and the federal government a flexible, sophisticated type of financial control, of program control and of priorities which gave hope to the sincere people at every level in Canada that at long last we had got around the difficulties which had always existed between the federal government and the provincial governments.
We even moved a supply motion on cooperative federalism, pointing out that without any loss of provincial jurisdiction, without any giving away of federal jurisdiction, provinces and federal governments could get along using the techniques that I have mentioned. So I think there is a positive case for this amendment. I think there is a need for a rational, co-ordinated effort. Make the administration more flexible; give more financial flexibility to the provinces in these shared cost programs. Yes, examine priorities; and above all, look at the program based on the need of each province.
For example, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Forestry (Mr. Sauve), who is responsible for the ARDA program, said a little while ago that $125 million would be given to the provinces over the next five years, and that he had an additional sum of $50 million. How much better it would be if, instead of saying, "Oh, I have the right to decide where the $50 million goes", he called in his officials and the council of resource ministers and said, "I would like to put this $50 million where it is needed the most. You and I know that Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and, yes, even parts of Quebec and eastern Ontario have a much greater need; so we will take the $125 million and distribute it on a formula basis. But let us all agree that with regard to this $50 million some areas, even if they are offered a shared cost program cannot take part in it, and let us give that province 60 per cent, 70 per cent, 80 per cent or 90 per cent so they can participate". I know right now provinces that want to do something; but 50 per cent, which the formula calls for, is not enough. But if the government gave them 75 per cent or 90 per cent, they would be able to par-
Dominion-Provincial Relations ticipate. These are Canadians and deserve equal opportunity. They deserve, also, minimum standards the same as those all across this country.
I think I have said enough, Mr. Speaker, to make my point. I know that the government in the first 60 days of decision rushed here, rushed there and then had to come back and retreat, and confusion resulted. I also know that this bill was born in confusion, because it was born a year ago when the confusion was at its maximum. I am simply suggesting now that rather than continuing the policy of confusion which was at its height a year ago when the decision to come forward with this bill was made, we sit back and look at this whole question of so-called opting out and this question of the constitution. There is deep, deep uneasiness about this, and we would like to have a good, hard look at it. The logical way to take a look at it is in a co-ordinated fashion with all the provinces; not under the pressure of dynamite bombs in post office boxes, but all the provinces and the federal government considering this question as part of a procedure something that may be guiding us for a century to come.
There is no urgency now for this program; the pressure is over. We would like to see this amendment supported, (a) because shared cost programs are good, and (b) because if we are going to amend them, let us sit down and amend them in a constructive fahion, taking our time rather than pushing through this hastily considered, reluctantly agreed on decision and getting into one more mess of the type which has ruined this government so many times in the past.
I would like to ask the minister and the government what reason there is for this legislation. I say to the minister that the only reason I can see is that it is really a device to transfer to the provinces a federal tax percentage before the next federal-provincial fiscal conference meets. That is the only purpose of it. In my opinion Mr. Speaker this is poor bargaining ground. It is the wrong policy to give things away before you get to the bargaining table. I would like to see this house support the amendment which will provide for a co-ordinated rational approach to this question. If the house supports the amendment it will come out in support of shared cost programs in principle. This bill does nothing Mr. Speaker and if we can get rid of it and stop the spread of this vague uneasiness I think we will have served our purpose well. To my mind this amendment
does offer a rational co-ordinated approach that will tend to ease this vague and deep uneasiness that disturbs Canada.
Mr. Reid Scott (Danforth):
Mr. Speaker, as has already been indicated by my colleague the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan-The Islands (Mr. Cameron) the New Democratic party intends to support the legislation now before the house. The bill itself while not unimportant does not warrant the tremendous fanfare with which it was greeted prior to its introduction. But the bill is important in that the principle that it raises forces us to consider in its passage the relationships which ought to exist between the federal government and our provinces and makes us give considerable thought to how we are going to work together as a dominion government with the provinces and how we are going to proceed with Canadian fiscal and monetary policy in the years ahead.
As has already been pointed out, the legislation deals with the operation of certain established federal-provincial programs which are at the present time largely administered by the provinces, with the federal government paying a large portion of the costs of the programs. These agreements cover a wide variety of activities, including old age assistance, blind and disabled persons allowances, unemployment assistance, projects under the Technical and Vocational Training Act, health grants, hospital construction grants, certain forestry programs and camp recreational programs. The legislation merely provides that any province, if it so desires, may now take over sole responsibility for the fields covered by these contracts and may receive the money in the form of tax abatements instead of the form in which it has previously received the money. So that in essence nothing very much is changed. For that reason we can see little merit in the amendment proposed by the official opposition, since the legislation does not change the amount of money being allocated but merely changes the source from which it comes. It is therefore very important, when considering this legislation, to emphasize that what is really involved is merely a change in the method of compensation to any province which exercises its option under the terms of the legislation.
As has been said, the programs under the legislation continue in force until 1968 and 1970 and any province that is taking its option must assume responsibility for the programs and continue to carry them out, even though it is getting its money in a
different way. What we are really doing, it seems to me, is buying time, because these programs will all lapse at the end of the statutory period, the tax abatement will cease and the jurisdiction will come back to the federal government, unless in the interval some new formula is devised for handling the fields covered by these agreements.
It has already been said that this particular type of legislation constitutes a serious weakening of the powers of the federal government and a strengthening of the provincial powers at the expense of the central government, and it is argued that the net result of this legislation will be stronger provincial governments and a weaker federal government which will be unable to carry out its constitutional responsibilities. If this were true there might be cause for alarm in passing this bill, but from a close examination of the bill, the fields covered by it, the amount and value of the funds involved and the nature of the tax fields being assigned, it seems to indicate that such is not the case.
Moreover, I should like to suggest that those who take this view have really not only misunderstood the legislation but also closed their eyes to some very hard facts of economic and fiscal life which have overtaken us here in Canada. Over the past ten years certain pronounced trends have been at work which have now suddenly become apparent to all of us. We have reached the point in Canada where the municipalities and provinces are taxing more and are spending more than the federal government. These municipal and provincial revenues and expenditures are going to grow at an even faster rate because they cover areas which are accelerating in their expansive qualities. Also, if you analyse our federal budget you will find that a good deal of it is fixed in its expenditures and that the size of our expenditures no longer really constitutes an effective method of control. On the other hand, in our provinces 20 per cent of provincial expenditures are in the capital area, and these can be varied with great ease and flexibility. These facts give us certain basic lessons and there are conclusions we can draw from them.
I think it is important for us to point out, first that the size and range of municipal and provincial taxing and spending means that in Canada we will probably never again see the day when the federal government can operate in its sole majesty to control fiscal and monetary investment policies.
Second, it means that we have reached a point in Canada where we shall have to work
Dominion-Provincial Relations in closer co-operation with the provinces if fiscal policy is to be effected-because they can exert almost as strong an influence on this field as the federal government.
Third, these provincial and municipal expenditures are going to grow more rapidly, and therefore I think we have to reconcile ourselves to joint provincial-federal action in the fields of investment policy and economic planning.
Fourth, the real problem that faces this government and this house, and as a matter of fact, the country, is to try to devise some means by which federal-provincial fiscal power can be co-ordinated. This is the great task that I think faces the minister, and it is an area in which the minister has to take a very, very strong initiative. Because if he does not, the provinces are, as I have said, capable of influencing economic policy just as much as he is; and if he does not take a strong initiative to bring about co-ordination and co-operation between the provinces and the federal government they will all end up going their separate ways, with a resulting lack of co-ordination.
That is the real danger, it seems to me, in the present bill
not that we are turning over certain responsibilities to the provinces, but that we are failing to use the freedom from administrative responsibility that this gives us to take new and bold initiatives in other areas of activity. What we are really doing in the bill is telling the provinces to go their own ways in these respective fields. Unless we compensate for that by new initiatives, we are giving away more and more of the financial leverage that we have had in the past to exercise control over the Canadian economy.
As I have said, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that in the period between now and the running out of these agreements, some in 1968 and some in 1970, we will have an opportunity to devise a new formula under which federal and provincial fiscal and monetary investment policies can be co-ordinated, and so that each is working as much as possible in harmony with the other. As I have said, to us the bill before us is not a very striking document and does not excite us to any great degree. It is obvious that the government has only three choices in the fields concerned: it can transfer them back to itself, or have the provinces do so; it can give them money; or it can give the provinces a share of certain tax fields to carry out the responsibility.
The first of such alternatives is an impractical one and it seems on balance it is probably just as well to assign certain taxes,
Dominion-Provincial Relations as long as the government does not give up the wrong tax fields and provided it does not carry the policy or trend to the point where the over-all financial ability of the government to direct economic and fiscal matters is impeded.
As I said earlier, the bill is of interest to us because it forces us to give consideration to the whole problem of Canadian unity, in its economic sense certainly, and what our approach is going to be to this essential problem. I am not one who thinks that the problems of our Canadian unity can be solved by the approach either of the Liberal party or of the Conservative party, although they both hold their views from a sense of conviction. It seems to me that you cannot get unity under the cry of one Canada, because this cry will eventually become an anti-Quebec sentiment. That is because it completely ignores the hopes and aspirations of that province, which in many ways are unique, as against those of the other provinces. In this direction lies a continually growing apart and a furtherance of disunity.
Nor can unity come in Canada by the policy of the present government. It poses as the party of national unity because it has a unique ability, which only it possesses, to reach an accommodation with Quebec which will keep her in confederation, and hold the country together. This, it seems to me, again is a limited and weak approach which in the long run will prove unsuccessful, because it is essentially sterile and piecemeal and fails to get at the real problems facing Canada, many of which are economic in nature.
In his speech the other day, the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan-The Islands (Mr. Cameron), leading off for our party, pointed out that in his judgment it was essential that the present government, having relinquished these powers to the provinces in these fields, embark upon new and fresh initiatives of its own, and that as long as this expansionary view was followed there was no real danger of interfering with the function, strength and ability of the central government. In his speech he dealt with the external initiatives that he would like to suggest to the government, and discussed foreign aid and other matters. I wanted in my presentation of the views of this party to mention briefly the domestic scene and some of the domestic initiatives that we would like to see this government undertake.
I think the first one that we would suggest is this, that if you are really going to build unity in Canada you are going to be successful in
so doing only if the federal government is prepared to give a very strong sense of leadership and direction to the Canadian people. This we have not received from this government in its years in office. By "leadership" we do not mean in a personal sense as centred upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson). By leadership we mean a conscious setting before the public of national goals, of national objectives, and a sense of national purpose and direction. Unless the government is prepared to do this and to create an expanding, prosperous economy as a whole, an economy under which the provinces will have the ability and the resources to pursue their own responsibilities, an umbrella under which all the provinces can work with the federal government toward agreed national objectives, we do not really see how you are going to bring about the unity of purpose of this country.
What do we mean by goals and objectives? I think first of all that this government has to make a statement of policy on its attitude to the report of the economic council of Canada.
That council in its report set out a whole range of potentials for the Canadian economy to 1970, and they are very challenging potentials. We have had no statement from the government as to whether it accepts the report or whether it accepts the objectives set out in the report. We have had no statement as to its policy and plans for progressive moves to achieve these objectives.
Anyone who has read the report will be impressed certainly with the statistical information that it contains. It sets out a very impressive set of things we have to achieve, if we are going to retain economic stability. It refers, for example, to one and a half million new jobs by 1970, but it is quite silent about any ideas as to how to attain that position. It refers to the necessity for a continually rising gross national product, ever and ever increasing foreign exports and the holding of prices in line-and that is one of the reasons we have raised price questions in the house, asking the government to do something about that objective of the economic council-but it does not suggest any means of attaining these goals.
Mr. Speaker, the main thing about the economic council, and this is why we must have some statement from the minister, is that the report itself is a banquet of ideas but a famine of suggestions. It tells us of the marvellous things that have to be achieved, but it is very conveniently silent about any
ideas as to how these things are to be brought about.
In short, nothing that the council wants to happen will happen unless this government takes the necessary action to bring them about. If we are going to get any sort of leadership, any sort of national direction or any sort of national purpose, then this government has to come forward and tell us and the people of Canada where it stands on this economic council report and how it intends to chart the course that Canada will follow between now and 1970. Such a decision would go a long way to clearing the air in Canada and toward giving us some idea where this government is trying to take us in respect of these initiatives which we would like to see them take.
As was mentioned by the hon. member for Qu'Appelle (Mr. Hamilton), we would like to see some initiative taken on the whole question of a national medicare program. What is the government going to do about the whole report? There has been a great gulf of silence since the report came out. The medicare idea involves another area of federal leadership and federal initiative, and we want to know what the government intends to do.
Third, we should like to see the government take the initiative in respect of a second trans-Canada highway program. It might have to include some opting-out provisions for one or two of the provinces, but again this provides a golden opportunity for the government to launch itself into this field of activity.
We would like also to see the establishment of a national power grid which is long overdue in this country, but which has been talked about vacuously by successive governments.
I would strongly appeal to the Minister of Finance to resurrect the course of the Canada development corporation. This was the great arch of his first budget. This was the organization that was going to cure the problems of foreign control, enabling Canadians to invest in our own developments. This was going to provide the development capital that this country needs from internal sources. Of course it has gone up in a puff of smoke, and we have heard nothing more about it.
We are a little disappointed with the minister. He is such a nice person we expected more of him and find it difficult to become angry with him. In this area he has sorely disappointed us. Many of us still look back with a bit of excitement to his first budget because, even though it turned out to be a
Dominion-Provincial Relations fiasco, we felt that he was embarking on some imaginative schemes in an attempt to grapple with some of the problems facing this country. The minister whispers under his breath: Wait until the next budget. We will wait, with the hope that it will show more imagination of an expansive nature than the last one.
The minister should consider the method used for operating these corporations in France. Just the other day the head of the French trust was in Quebec advising Premier Lesage and his government how to handle the investment funds which will be available to them under the pension plan, when it is in operation. He outlined the very great contribution that investment trust makes in France. It has assets of $14 billion which it makes available for business expansion and economic development throughout the country. This has had a profound effect upon the whole system of economic planning in France and has proven very popular.
We should like the minister to get up and tell us before this debate ends what he intends to do about the Canada development corporation, and tell us when its corpse is going to appear in some live form.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, we feel that great initiative can be taken in the whole field of housing and urban development. Something has been done about this by parliament, but the whole field still awaits attention because of the running down of our cities and the need for rejuvenation, and I refer particularly to the old, gigantic urban centres in Canada. Very little attention has been paid to this very important and urgent need. We must solve the problem of financing our housing programs so that we may supply the capital for housing expansion. This has usually been treated as a tap which is turned off when things are good and turned on when things are bad. This program has never been correlated into a proper housing program.
Finally, the initiative we would strongly urge upon the government is that initiative which would undertake a national Canadian manpower policy. This would do more than anything else to grapple with the problems of trade adjustment and the rationalization of our economy in a technological revolution. This would do more to solve these problems from the point of view of developing this country than almost anything else that could be undertaken. You cannot really say that you have a policy, because your own economic council has shot it down in flames in its report. It is very clear that your manpower policy in Canada is a joke.
I do not intend to go on because this is beginning to sound like a speech in the debate on the speech from the throne, but I have been trying to indicate to the government that, as it lets the provinces get into some of these fields which it has occupied, it is absolutely essential, if it is going to maintain any sort of direction or give any leadership, or if it is going to have any idea of where it is taking this country in the years ahead, that it embark upon initiatives of this kind. I could go on and name many more, but those are a few which we would urge upon this government, and in respect of which we would ask them to provide leadership of the type needed to create and sustain a growing and expanding economy. As I said, this would create an umbrella under which all the provinces would find greater opportunities to expand and carry out their responsibilities.
Here in Canada we have been sorely disappointed with this government, which came into office with plans to excite the daring, because it has never really got off the ground. We hope that in the years ahead, if this parliament should last so long, the government will regroup itself and will forget about the fiasco of its two years in office. We hope that in the next budget it will take a fresh start in respect of the problems which face Canada and will begin to give the leadership that this country needs. We hope that it will begin to give to this country that which it needs more than anything else, a sense of national purpose and direction.
Would the hon. member answer a question?
I listened very carefully to the hon. member's speech and found a great deal of it interesting. I take it that the hon. member approves in principle of Bill C-142, because he stated that he feels the provinces should have these powers to which they are entitled under the constitution, and the fiscal authority to carry them out. Would he then not agree that in respect of Bill C-142 now before the house, which he has stated he agrees with in principle, the government has given just the kind of leadership and direction which is required and which the hon. member feels is necessary?
Mr. Speaker, I was flattered at first when the hon. member said he had been listening very closely to my speech, but he could not have been listening very closely.
My first sentence was to the effect that we were going to support the bill and accept the program envisaged. However, as to the second part of his question, regarding the fact that by bringing this bill in the government has somehow given magnificent leadership, I can only ask the hon. member to please refrain from insulting me by making such asinine remarks. The very idea is the reverse, that you are giving away powers to the provinces-which is perfectly all right; but unless you move into the vacuum you thereby create and take greater initiatives that we have suggested, you are failing in your essential function as a federal government.
Would the hon. member not agree-
Mr. Deputy Speaker:
Will the hon. member answer another question?
Mr. Deputy Speaker:
Will the hon. member hear a further question and answer it?
I will at least hear it.
I would ask the hon. member if he agrees that the necessary constitutional trend is to return to the constitution and to give the provinces the fiscal authorities and powers they need to carry out their obligations under the constitution? As I take it, the hon. member's party would like to have it both ways. He would like to do this and at the same time have new powers vested in the federal government. Is that a correct statement of his party's view?
You had better read the speech.
I do not know how to get over to the hon. member the point we are trying to make. We are not suggesting that the federal government needs new powers. All we are suggesting is that you should get up on your hind feet and begin to use the powers you already have in order to take strong initiatives, that instead of hiding behind the constitution and doing nothing you should begin to use the powers you now have, to give some direction and leadership to the country.
Mr. Robert C. Coates (Cumberland):
Mr. Speaker, it was very enlightening to listen to the hon. member for Qu'Appelle (Mr. Hamilton) and the hon. member for Danforth (Mr. Scott) this afternoon because I consider that both of them made valuable contributions to the debate on Bill No. C-142 and gave the
government some reasons why they should consider very seriously the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Edmonton West (Mr. Lambert). I believe also that the hon. member for Danforth is entitled to a good deal of sympathy, for he certainly has, in view of the government's performance over the past two years, a far too optimistic outlook with regard to the ability of the government to perform in the manner in which he would like to see them perform. Certainly the appreciation of the hon. member for Renfrew South (Mr. Greene) of what the hon. member for Danforth said, and his comments thereon, would not indicate, if he is an example of the appreciation of Liberal members of what was being said, that there is going to be any kind of substantial change in the type of performance the government is going to produce for the Canadian people in the future.
I do not disagree with the hon. member for Danforth in his assessment of the bill as such. Certainly it is an indication of the return to the provinces of certain programs which fall within their jurisdiction. However, what concerns me to a very substantial degree is not what is contained in the bill but what will follow the bill if it is adopted by the house.
In my opinion it is absolutely necessary that this country have a strong federal government, and from my knowledge of the philosophy of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Gordon), as outlined in various publications in the past, I have always considered that to be his philosophy as well. But there have been strange happenings with regard to both the philosophy of the Minister of Finance and of the government since they assumed a role where they have had something to do with the running of the country.
While I can understand the provincial governments being quite willing to adopt and agree to the plans proposed in the bill, I find as a federal member that I must be hesitant and wary about what may follow bills of this type, for they have inherent in them great dangers to the federal system as we know it today. In view of the fact that most of the programs are close to running out, surely there must be some reason other than the bill for the government to ask members of the house to consider a bill of this type. Most of the programs will end either in 1967 or 1970. Therefore, what is the great concern to get out of these programs today?
Certainly the provinces are not going to gain anything very significant by contracting out of these programs when they only have
Dominion-Provincial Relations such a short period of time to run. This being the case, there must be something else involved in the presentation of the bill at this time than is indicated by the contracting out arrangement in the bill and the minister's statement in this regard. If this is the case, we should be told what else the government anticipates doing in this field and what it is going to cost us as Canadians from a federal point of view both in tax dollars and in power.
Coming from the province of Nova Scotia I must work for and assist in the maintenance of a strong federal government. It is absolutely necessary that we have such a government, for we look upon it to provide us with the minimum standards that we must have if we are to survive. Nova Scotians have long memories about the kind of attention that has been given to our provinces by past Liberal administrations from the point of view of providing our people with the minimum standards we require. Anyone in Nova Scotia can tell you about the 22 years of Liberal rule in Ottawa, and at Halifax and they can tell you of how little we derived in the way of benefits for our people during that period of time.
Indeed, they can tell you of the many trips that were made to Ottawa by the late Angus L. Macdonald, and the frustration of this Liberal premier on those trips time after time. They can tell you also of the various substantial changes in philosophy when the Diefenbaker administration was elected to office. They can tell you of the Atlantic development grants and what those grants meant in the way of providing better services for our people. They can tell you of the fact that $100 million was made available under these grants for a period of four years from 1958, and of how these grants were increased to $150 million over a five year period in 1962. They can tell you of the establishment of the Atlantic development board, and what this board has meant, even in its amended form, for our area, in providing those necessary things that will give to our people a better chance in the future.
We are concerned here, Mr. Speaker, and we are concerned every day with the problems facing provincial governments. We are told how badly they need money to carry out the programs which they desire to provide for the people of the various provinces of this nation. Well, Mr. Speaker, in addition to the special Atlantic grants of which I have just spoken, let me point out to you that in
Dominion-Provincial Relations 1956-57, when the provinces of this nation received $689 million, we watched the continual consideration of these problems until the amount that was being made available to the provinces of this nation from the federal treasury increased to $1.8 billion in 1962-63. This $1.8 billion has been further increased since this government took office. There is, and there always will be on all governments, pressing need for financial resources. I think it would be fair to say that the provinces have been looked after well in the past six or seven years, and that we can go far too fast in giving away our financial resources. Indeed we can reach the point where the federal government becomes nothing more than the tax collector for provincial governments. Certainly, I do not intend to stand here and support legislation that is going to put the federal government in that position.
There are some who will say, how can you find anything to be concerned about in this legislation, in view of the fact the premier of your province has agreed to it? Well, Mr. Speaker, I find myself in this position: I find myself reading of these secret conferences that go on between the provinces and the federal government and I learn from the results that it is almost always a one way street, that the federal diplomacy that is being provided today is for the federal government to give anything to the provinces for which they ask. The end result is depreciation in the federal government's control of the monetary system. While it might not be of any great concern to the federal government to have its monetary control weakened in good times, it is a very serious matter in times of difficulty. No government knows better than the government which was formed by the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker, and no man knows better than the former minister of finance, the present member for Digby-Annapolis-Kings (Mr. Nowlan), what they were faced with in 1957, in grappling with the problems of this country which was facing a serious depression. They returned the economy to a buoyant position. No government did a better job or produced the necessary results in a shorter period of time than did that government.
What do we have today? We have a government that produces a piece of legislation which appears to me to be an example of the provinces trying to get their foot in the door-in the door of a week-kneed government which in two years has produced nothing
but ineptitude, stumbling and bumbling to a degree that no one could have imagined in 1963 when it was elected to office. This is a government of big words and small deeds, a government that talks in platitudes and produces nothing. Why would any member from an area such as the maritime provinces not be concerned about legislation like this, with a government such as we have in office today? Let me give you a couple of examples, Mr. Speaker, of why I am concerned today. Let me apply some very useful statistics to the situation of agriculture in the province of Nova Scotia.
Mr. Deputy Speaker:
Order. It seems to me the hon. member is now going rather far afield. He says that he wants to give examples of legislation like this, but I feel he must address himself at the moment to this particular legislation. Certainly there has to to be some leeway in discussing the second reading of a bill. However, discussion should be restricted to the principle itself.