Jean Chretien

Liberal Party

Pierre Trudeau

Canadian Alliance

Chretien "Humble" about Government Failures?

Date: OCT19-00
Source: House of Commons Hansard
Keywords: taxation, despotism, fiscal mismanagement
Comment: Under heavy questioning Chretien admits to the official opposition that his government has problems to fix. Will he be this honest with the Canadian public?
Posted: OCT24-00
Jean Chretien Index



Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, just a few moments ago I was down the street at a coffee shop getting a cup of coffee. The woman who was working there asked if I was upset that the government was making a weak attempt to steal the Canadian Alliance tax plan.

The more profound question I was asked came from the gentleman who was working behind the till. His question in this cynical attempt before an election to capture votes was "Does the government really think Canadians are this dumb?" Will the Prime Minister please address that question?

Right Hon. Jean Chretien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, when we returned in September the first question raised in the House was about having a mini-budget. They wanted the Minister of Finance to say what he would do with the great results he was having in terms of surpluses and so on. We obliged.

We told the Canadian people that because of the good management we have provided to the country over the last seven years there was some money available. We were delighted to return some of it in the form of tax reductions and at the same time investments in education, research, medicare, and so on. I am sure the people of Canada will recognize that they have been extremely well served in the last seven years.

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Prime Minister would be willing to test that sense of confidence. I know he has a busy schedule, but would he be willing to accompany me down to the coffee shop just a few blocks down and try that answer on the people who asked me the question? Would you like to try that on with real Canadians? Do you want to try that one on?

The Speaker: I ask hon. members to direct their questions to the Speaker.

Right Hon. Jean Chretien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I might be visiting a lot of coffee shops in the next few weeks. I am very confident. We are going into an election and members of parliament on this side are inviting me, the Minister of Finance and other ministers of the government to visit their ridings. We will visit a lot of coffee shops. When we come back perhaps we will find the Leader of the Opposition in another coffee shop.

Mr. Stockwell Day (Leader of the Opposition, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the confidence of Canadians has been shaken by the most scathing auditor general's report possibly in our history, by the most scathing information commissioner's report possibly in our history talking about a government undermining democracy, and by one after another of RCMP investigations. They will be remembering a previous tax commitment where the Prime Minister said he would abolish, kill and eliminate the GST. How are these tiny tax cut commitments any different than the big commitment you made and that you have never -

The Speaker: The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

Right Hon. Jean Chretien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition makes all sorts of accusations. I just want to say that in public administration we always have some problems and we have to cure them.

On the wire a minute ago there was an item. I just learned this morning that the company that owns and operates the Swan Hills waste treatment facility in Alberta announced that it would no longer operate the plant. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition is aware of this project as his former government subsidized it to the tune of $440 million, a figure confirmed by the auditor general. Apparently the word for a situation like that, I have a problem with this word in English, is boondoggle in Alberta.


Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, seeing that there are at least four police investigations in the Prime Minister's riding about misuse of funds, perhaps the Prime Minister should keep those kind of comments to himself.

To return to reality for a minute, the auditor general has graded the government's fiscal management. The auditor general gave it an f for a grade. In fact he said that they have placed little emphasis on the importance of maintaining financial controls. Perhaps that is why its own budget estimates for last year were overspent by a few billion dollars. The government wants to open the floodgates even more on the spending. Why should the voters of Canada give the Prime Minister another -

The Speaker: The right hon. Prime Minister.

Right Hon. Jean Chretien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I have explained, and I repeat, that there are problems in public administration anywhere in Canada. Sometimes even in the private sector they have problems and they have to correct the situation. Today the premier of Ontario admitted that all governments have administrative problems which need correcting. As he put it, "I do not want to be casting stones at glass houses". It is a lesson for all of us.

This is why I have to show the hon. Leader of the Opposition that it was only one project of $440 million that went belly-up. I do not say they made a mistake. I just say that it is not a success. They probably did it in good faith.

Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the Liberals seem to think that there is a connection between massive spending and electoral success. They are right. After seven years of boondoggle spending and widespread mismanagement, the Liberals will find the more they spend, the less they will succeed at the polls. Canadians want their governments to manage their money carefully and the government has failed them. Why should Canadians trust the government with more of their tax money when that trust has been so badly broken over the past seven years?

Right Hon. Jean Chretien (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the auditor general has reported. He said there were some problems and we admitted that there were problems. The minister put in place a program of six points that he approved and said was working. It is amazing and a great compliment to the Minister of Finance that they do not dare ask a question on the budget.

Jean Chretien Index
[Home] [Webmaster]