MacGuigan on the record

May 14 1984

MacGuigan on the record

May 14 1984

MacGuigan on the record

Justice Minister Mark MacGuigan is one of seven candidates in the Liberal leadership race. Like most of the contenders behind the acknowledged leaders, John Turner and Jean Chrétien, MacGuigan wants to increase the number of delegates supporting him before the leadership convention next month in Ottawa. In the third of a series of Maclean’s interviews with the leadership candidates, the former law professor and MP for Windsor-Walkerville discussed the campaign and current issues with the magazine's senior editors.

Maclean’s: What do you have to do between now and the convention to win? MacGuigan: I have to heighten my profile with the delegates. I have the advantage of being very well known by sight everywhere in Canada, but it is probably fair to say that people do not yet know what makes Mark MacGuigan tick and I hope to make that very clear in the next month.

Maclean’s: What do you think is the most important single issue in the campaign?

MacGuigan: Unemployment is the only thing that Canadians consider to be on the political agenda at the moment. After the latest Gallup poll we are now free to choose our leader, not in an atmosphere of fear, an apprehension that we might lose, but in the sense of looking for the best person. The delegates will be looking to see who can best express their vision of the Liberal party, who can best talk about what it is going to be like to have a Liberal government for the rest of the century. Maclean’s: For the rest of the century? MacGuigan: We are at a crossroads here. We are coming out of a recession. We have to turn in a new direction, a direction of full employment for Canadians. We can establish that goal and meet it. I do not think that we will be voted out of office for a long time.

Maclean’s: What would you do to bring unemployment down?

MacGuigan: I would begin a program of immediate and rapid economic expansion. I am the only candidate that has said we must establish a full employment economy policy as our foremost objective. We must create what I call the incentive society and we have to do that while at the same time not putting ourselves in an inflationary framework. The only way we can accomplish both those objectives simultaneously is by creating a national consensus. Maclean’s: Would you be more specific about economic expansion?

MacGuigan: There are certain government megaand miniprojects that the government must do directly in fisher-

ies, forestry and agricultural development. But most of what I envisage would be accomplished by the private sector. I think of tax incentives and the availability of capital to the extent that the government can make that available from private sources. I would aim in particular at export industries and also at smalland medium-sized businesses because that is where the greatest employment growth is possible.

Maclean’s: What effect would those programs have on the deficit?

MacGuigan: You can approach the deficit either negatively or positively. The Conservative way is to approach it negatively by slashing programs in all directions. The positive way, and the Liberal way, is to increase the gross national product to the point at which the deficit becomes insignificant.

Maclean’s: Many Canadians would call that voodoo economics. How can you stimulate the economy and keep the deficit in line?

MacGuigan: Well, if the question is

whether I would be prepared to tolerate a temporary increase in the deficit to achieve my objectives, the answer is yes.

Maclean’s: Do you agree with the Bank of Canada's interest rate policy? MacGuigan: We cannot envisage a return to the kind of interest rates that we had in 1982 but the slight increases we have had recently should not draw a government response. I do not see any likelihood of problems with interest rates in the near future.

Maclean’s: Should we have a common market with the United States? MacGuigan: We should in selected sectors where it is clearly advantageous for us, but I would like to aim for a more independent solution to our problems. There are many dangers in putting all our eggs in the American basket. Maclean’s: Should Canada join the Organization of American States? MacGuigan: Yes. But as a consequence of joining the OAS and becoming more active in Latin America, I see more political disagreements with the United States and more trade collisions with them in that area.

Maclean’s: Would you maintain the existing network of social programs? MacGuigan: I would. I do not think that we should follow the Conservative/Republican impulse to start slashing our social programs in order to save a few million dollars here and there. But our immediate emphasis cannot be on redistribution of income. It has to be on creating income.

Maclean’s: In 1976, when you were running for the leadership of the Ontario Liberals, you said that French should not be an official language in the province. What is your position on bilingualism for Ontario now?

MacGuigan: You have to remember that the other part of that statement was that there should be full provision of French services. That subsequently became the policy of the provincial government.

Maclean’s: Has the time come now for official bilingualism in Ontario? MacGuigan: I took that position in 1978. I have taken it consistently since then. I think I provided leadership there. Maclean’s: Where do you stand on the issue of the cruise missile?

MacGuigan: I stand for reduced arms and eventual disarmament. The cruise is not where the action is in disarmament, and I would certainly live up to our obligations. What I am concerned about are star wars.

Maclean’s: You are not opposed to more cruise tests?

MacGuigan: No, I am not. We should try to make NATO less dependent on nuclear arms and become a more conventionally armed alliance, but the action in disarmament is increasingly in space. O