March 26, 1979

?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

These huge expenditures are not made for the people. The people in Montreal did not ask for that airport. They found it very easy to get to Dorval, and they found transport facilities to Dorval very good. Now every time I go to Montreal I hear dozens of complaints about how hard it is to get from Dorval to Mirabel or from Montreal to Mirabel, and anybody who has driven from Ottawa to Mirabel knows that they have not put up a sign telling you to turn off to Hawkes-bury to get on to the Quebec side to get to Mirabel.

All these expenditures and extravagances have been made for one purpose so far as the public is concerned.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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?

An hon. Member:

Even the airlines did not want Mirabel.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

That is true. The people who did not like it most were the airlines, and most of them are not satisfied even today.

A number of changes have been suggested by the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization and by the whips of the parties. Several weeks ago I heard the Liberal whip making a very interesting dissertation on changes that should be made to assist members of parliament to make more reasonable decisions on expenditures. Changes are talked about, but normally are overriden by the need to pass legislation, and therefore allowances are not made to members to participate in gaining an understanding of what are the expenditures of the nation.

I am pleased to learn today that the government has provided members of parliament with two bills. My colleague will probably be able to tell me what the expenditures in those two bills are. I looked at both of them and in one I found an expenditure of about $311 million, I presume. In the other one I was not able to ascertain what is the bottom line in the bill. As we approach March 31 we will be making an expenditure of something like $52 billion or $53 billion. Most of the items that will go into making up that amount have never even been discussed by members of parliament.

There is no machinery which allows members of parliament to make a decision about these expenditures, and for this

Waste and Mismanagement

reason the general public is very unhappy and dissatisfied, to the extent that an article appeared in a newspaper the other day which probably makes a lot of sense to most Canadians. It talks about one of the large supermarkets which has decided to forget all the hoopla, forget all the name items, forget about all the brand name labels like Trudeau, Clark and Broadbent, and choose a no-label party. There is a lot of merit in a no-label party because we have not spent a lot of money and time building the images. There are no brand names, no images to indicate to the Canadian public what will happen, and obviously after the election none of those things will happen.

All members are interested in controlling the expenditures. Proposition 13 in the United States is not dead in Canada. In fact it is badly abused in some parts of Canada. Today we heard a member from Manitoba talk about the joys of many of those abuses where you cut down on the services that are asked for by people, where you cut down on things to which Canadians have become accustomed. Eventually we will have to develop a mechanism, if this institution is to function, that will allow a scrutiny of expenditures before they are made. I believe the Standing Committee on Public Accounts has done a very good job, but it is dealing with accounts after the fact- accounts after something has been spent.

If one looks at some of the items we will pass later this evening, one will find that many of them are dollar items, not statutory items but transfer ones. The initial reason for putting those items down has changed. It has been decided that those moneys will be used for something else. It gives us an opportunity of knowing exactly why we are passing the moneys. We are passing items that are only a transfer from one estimate to another.

There are abuses in the expenditures. Some abuses which are taking place can be controlled and there are other abuses which cannot be controlled. Now that we have made the decision to spend money for the infrastructure across the river, what will happen? Now that it has been decided that we will not go into the business of bilingualism and will cut back on the expenditures of training people in a second language, whether it be English or French, what will happen to those large complexes across the river? Mr. Levesque has indicated that he wants to operate those buildings. There are four or five buildings in Place Campeau as it is commonly called, or Les Terrasses de la Chaudiere. What will happen to those expenditures if there is a major change in the attitude of the provincial government and they decide to operate them?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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?

An hon. Member:

Roll them over.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

I am not sure-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

Order, please. The hon. member for Timiskaming (Mr. Peters) has the floor. I suggest hon. members listen.

March 26, 1979

Waste and Mismanagement

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am not sure whether that comment was made in jest. Perhaps we will move the fence back a few feet behind the parliament buildings and annex it. Perhaps that will be the answer.

If the Governor General was not a friend of mine, I would continue this exercise. Seeing as he is, I will cease and desist.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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THE ROYAL ASSENT


A message was delivered by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, as follows: Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Deputy to the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the chamber of the honourable the Senate. Accordingly, Mr. Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber.



And being returned.


LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber, the Deputy Governor General had been pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-42, an act to provide a means to conserve the supplies of energy within Canada during periods of national emergency caused by shortages or market disturbances affecting the national security and welfare and the economic stability of Canada-Chapter 17.

Bill C-49, an act to amend the Bank Act and the Quebec Savings Banks Act.-Chapter 49.

Topic:   THE ROYAL ASSENT
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GOVERNMENT ORDERS

BUSINESS OF SUPPLY


The House resumed consideration of the motion (Mr. Andre): That this House condemns the government for its continuing waste and mismanagement, and its failure to implement management and administrative procedures that will ensure that the taxpayers' funds are spent efficiently, effectively, and according to the will of parliament.


LIB

Angus (Gus) MacFarlane (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State for Federal-Provincial Relations)

Liberal

Mr. Gus MacFarlane (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State for Federal-Provincial Relations):

Mr. Speaker, I was

[The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner).]

taken by the words mentioned in the motion of the opposition, words such as "waste and mismanagement," and I thought I should at least address myself to some of them.

I find it interesting that there is such stress on waste, and I was rather surprised that one member of the opposition, when referring to the kind of "waste" this government has indulged in, referred to the commission on national unity. I cannot understand how any member of this House could in any way feel it was a waste, no matter what the cost, to send people across this country to deal with a question involving national unity.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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LIB

Angus (Gus) MacFarlane (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of State for Federal-Provincial Relations)

Liberal

Mr. MacFarlane:

I cannot understand for an instant why such hon. gentlemen as Mr. Robarts and Mr. Jean-Luc Pepin ever have any remarks of that nature related to them when they, as honest, true, and great Canadian citizens took on the task for this parliament.

I have no quarrel with the hon. gentleman who said that we members of parliament have a great deal of ability at our disposal and that we do indeed represent our constituencies. I agree with him completely. But quite often we have business here and we need the advice of experts. Experts are not always those who have honorary degrees, earned degrees, or professions. So it was necessary to take two gentlemen and a lady, all of whom we know well, and send them across the country, with others, to hear what ordinary souls had to say about unity. To use this as one of the examples of "waste" and extravagance on the part of the government is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable.

There are other examples. I would like to go back to the days of another Auditor General, Maxwell Henderson. I remember well that during the period when he was talking about government expenditures, he was quite willing to accept that the budget in the Auditor General's office would go from $2.25 million to $4.25 million the next year, and to $6.25 million the following year, while government expenditures did not increase to that extent at all. That, however, was fair from the point of view that he should have the necessary funds to check government expenditures.

This august gentleman commented on something which it might have been more appropriate for the opposition to comment on, rather than them merely making remarks about the wastage on the unity commission. They could have mentioned that there exists inevitably some mismanagement in large corporations and in large governments, as Maxwell Henderson said. This mismanagement often occurs in mid-stream. It is easy in hindsight to talk about all the things which occurred, but the government is dealing with reality and what is occurring now. Some of the innovative changes in policy must be made at the moment. It does not necessarily mean that everything before that time was done wrongly. It means that changes were necessitated as a result of outside forces and

March 26, 1979

forces which occur within the country. Maxwell Henderson recognized this.

The next Auditor General, of course, was J. J. Macdonell. He noted that the Treasury Board had acted on 55 of the 117 abuses singled out in the 1972-1973 report, and that another 33 per cent were under review. He said that the reason his annual report was so short was tjiat so many of the faults he found in various departments get fixed, and therefore lose their materiality. Macdonell said that he was impressed by the people he met in government "lots of sincere, hardworking public servants", were the words he used.

Macdonell said that the average reaction when he finds fault with something is, "Good heavens, we must do something about that", and most times they do. It appears this attitude of co-operation and the low profile approach of Mr. Macdonell will be of great help to us in the future. Mr. Macdonell has quickly revealed himself as a superb professional who is bringing new prestige and authority to his office. He said that the public accounts committee should be delighted with this new report, that at last MPs have a chance to do something constructive. The committee will have before it a report which even notes how departments have mended their ways. That, after all, is what the exercise should be all about.

I would like to read a little note from the press concerning supplementary estimates.

The federal opposition parties were caught napping. None of them showed up at the House of Commons committee meeting which was scheduled to hear Mr. Buchanan defend his department's spending estimates. That is hardly the close scrutiny of governmental spending the people of Canada expect from opposition members.

The opposition talks of mismanagement by the government. What kind of management has the opposition shown in the use of the public accounts committee when they do not even turn up to ask questions of the minister when he was prepared to answer them?

We do not get comments like these from everyone. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has a vital interest in this country, and I believe that they are very important. Their comments are very important to the business community and are certainly good guidance to and good criticism of the government. This is what they said about the budget:

The chamber labelled the budget as responsible, and commended Finance Minister Jean Chretien for resisting the temptation to bring in a Financially dangerous program of massive tax cuts. While expressing alarm at the government's cash requirements of $10.8 billion, the chamber said the fact that these requirements are being reduced by $1.3 billion from 1978-79 levels is particularly welcome.

Why can the opposition not give criticism of that nature instead of attacking the money spent by the task force in trying to find out what the Canadian public think of our dream, our rebirth and renewal of our constitution? However, the chamber does not stop there. Later on it says:

The Canadian Chamber has agreed to support the Comptroller General in his initiative to establish financial control mechanisms in various federal departments. The chamber has offered to assist in the implementation of the scheme, and will help to secure the appropriate people for the assignment.

Waste and Mismanagement

With an important step like that having been taken, we are talking like we are in the dark ages, as though everybody has sat by for ten years and done nothing. It just does not happen to be true, and the facts which I have read to you bear this out. Here are a couple more facts. Total federal government expenditures, as a percentage of the gross national product, have dropped since 1975. This is something which is rarely ever said publicly. It is almost as though it is a shame to admit that anything in line with a controlled industry has existed. In the fiscal year 1975-1976 government expenditures totalled 22.5 per cent of the GNP; in 1976-1977, 21.5 per cent; in 19771978, 21.0 per cent; 1978-1979 forecast 20.7 per cent, and the 1979-1980 forecast, 20.3 per cent. How is it that the opposition can presume that nothing has happened? This most certainly gives an indication of efficiency and effectiveness as the motion requests.

The federal government has reduced its expenditures by $500 million for 1978-1979 and by $2 billion for 1979-1980. What about the growth of the public service itself, which has reduced from 5.6 per cent in 1974-1975 to .6 per cent in the 1977-1978 estimates? All these facts seem to be ignored.

What do we talk about? One of the hon. members opposite, a member for whom I have the greatest respect, discusses the terrible plight of a person who is petitioning outside the buildings of parliament. It is not untraditional or unusual that an opposition member or I might not be able to do anything in a situation where the due process of law has been applied in the courts of our land. This person must either accept the judgment or search for higher authority to repeal it. It is ridiculous to expect a parliamentarian, the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), or a member of cabinet to supersede a decision by the courts of this land. It must be remembered that justice stands holding the balance. I notice though that sometimes one eye is covered, but all of us must accept what comes from justice, all of us must accept that cruel lady, and the lady may have to accept that cruel lady as well. That does not mean to say we will not do what we can to defend an individual in trouble, but we must obey the laws of the land. I submit, whether hon. members consider it inappropriate for members of parliament, because it is parliament that is involved, not just the government, that it is certainly not an example of waste, inefficiency or mismanagement.

We seem to forget that in the first few paragraphs of the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister said that from projected spending for this fiscal year the government would be subtracting $500 million, and from the expenditures expected for the next fiscal year it would be taking away $2 billion. If hon. members opposite quarrel with those figures, or attempted to prove them incorrect, I could understand, but instead we end up with arguments concerning some incident which might occur on the Hill or in the other place, and using it as an excuse to condemn the government for almost everything that has occurred.

However, the end of the motion says something else, and I would like to address a few words in that regard. This is with respect to the concern about government spending according to

March 26, 1979

Waste and Mismanagement

the will of parliament. In the motion there is talk of waste, management, and expeditiously doing our work. It also questions whether we will do the spending according to the will of parliament. I will mention briefly some of the measures taken to provide improved disclosure of information to parliament.

In September, 1973, the Treasury Board published a guide on financial administration for departments and agencies of the Government of Canada. The guide is the policy of the government on financial administration in departments and agencies. It also provides directives and guidelines for a course of action for deputy heads to follow in discharging their responsibilities in financial administration, including the utilization of appropriation authority according to the will of parliament. The guide is designed not only to explain to managers their responsibility to control appropriations approved by parliament, but to provide useful direction for establishing the cost of program achievements or outputs to ensure that results attained would have the maximum effectiveness and efficiency in the use of public funds.

This guide directs that for any appropriations by parliament, the department classification shall be threefold; first, by activity element to make visible the cost of obtaining the output or benefits to be derived from expenditures; second, by responsibility centres to identify who is accountable internally; third, by objective of expenditure to provide a standard for identifying the acquisition of an asset and the utilization of those resources in producing benefits to the public. This hardly sounds like a government which has gone willy-nilly and not indicated ways in which parliament can be informed and cannot inquire into how the will of parliament is being followed through in the expenditure of funds.

These three characteristics of financial administration, which are emphasized in this guide, are financial disclosure, which is concerned with providing information to parliament; accountability displaying information by organizational components to identify financial responsibility; and control whereby only those with properly delegated authority can authorize the use of appropriations for purposes for which they were approved by parliament.

If we do not use these guides which are available to us and ask questions concerning them, and directly get into the government's business and its spending of funds, how can we sit here and talk about waste and mismanagement? We all serve on committees. Each of us has a responsibility. The guidelines are set out to make the information available to us.

On October 7, 1975, two years later, the Treasury Board's report on the study of the accounts of Canada was issued. This report set forth findings, analyses, and recommendations of the representatives of the Treasury Board, the Department of Finance and the Department of Supply and Services, and the terms of reference approved by Treasury Board. The 41 recommendations contained in this report were unanimously accepted by the executive, the office of the Auditor General and the public accounts committee. These are now being

implemented. However, I still continue to hear charges that nothing has been done.

These recommendations focused on the manner in which information is reported, and addressed such items as the annual base of most parliamentary appropriations, including the need for any limitation on commitments applicable to future years, the vote structure used in the estimates, including the effect of allocations of costs between votes, cost recovery techniques and net voting, information reports, including the summary statements in the estimates, the Canada Gazette and, of course, the public accounts. Many of the recommendations in this study have now been implemented, and others are near completion.

We seem to be faced with a feeling that everything must be done, that somehow governments must take a big brush and, if white is beautiful, paint it white, and if black is beautiful, paint it black. It does not happen that way. We go through several shades of grey to get to either white or black. Things do not happen overnight. The sun rises and the sun sets. Some people seem to think that if they were in power, suddenly in one moment they could change it all and everyone would find it all correct. But they would find as many complications as this government has. The important thing is to react to whatever is happening and change policy in mid-stream as a result. There is always someone who says that the previous policy was no good. But it was good for its time, and change had to take place.

Of major interest in this context is the study of the form of the estimates. In the spring of 1978 the program branch of the Treasury Board secretariat, in conjunction with the office of the Comptroller General, formed a task force to study the estimates. The objectives of this study are to evaluate known criticisms of the estimates, to design a presentational format for the estimates which will assist in a better understanding and more meaningful discussion of the government's spending plans to consult with members of parliament departments, and others regarding the design proposal, and to develop plans, procedures, and guidance to implement an agreed upon approach.

Those words are most important in the kind of government which exists in Canada, not just the government per se on this side. It says "an agreed upon approach ." There are many people with expertise on the other side who can say what is required so they can better understand. They are invited to be part of that ongoing system which will make a more meaningful study of estimates possible.

A basic principle has been proposed by this task force. In its statement on the proposal of the progress of this work, the secretary of the Treasury Board recently told the public accounts committee that the role of the estimates committee is to communicate to parliament the level and the nature of the government's spending plans for the coming fiscal year as a reflection of government policies and priorities, and to foster the public understanding of the purposes and objectives underlying the spending plans.

March 26, 1979

The government and the Auditor General are in agreement that a prime means of facilitating accountability is through an information system which provides the bridge between the estimates and the public accounts committee. The end result will be consistency-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-CONDEMNATION OF CONTINUING GOVERNMENT WASTE AND MISMANAGEMENT
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March 26, 1979