CBC Digital Archives

The House: A new Tory economic agenda

CBC Radio's The House keeps tabs on the nation's business from Parliament Hill. Launched in 1977, this hour-long Saturday morning program examines public policy and the politics of governing. It remains one of CBC Radio's flagship current affairs programs. The CBC Digital Archives highlights programs from the 1984 season — the year Canada had three prime ministers. It was a year that saw the last days of Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa, John Turner's brief moment of glory, and the rise of Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative juggernaut.

Why isn't the Opposition howling over the $3.5 billion overruns by the Department of National Defence? Or the millions in wasteful spending at Public Works? Because, The House reports, the sins uncovered in the Auditor General's report just presented to the new Progressive Conservative government are Liberal sins left over from the last days of Pierre Trudeau's reign. In this big money episode, reports look at the elimination of the Foreign Investment Review Agency, progress on a new energy deal and a heap of recent Tory appointments.
• The Auditor General of Canada took on its current role under legislation introduced in 1977. Appointed for 10 years at a time, the Auditor General's main function is to scrutinize the performance of more than 100 federal departments and commissions, Crown corporations and the three territorial governments and their agencies.
• As Prime Minister Brian Mulroney promised in his speech to the Economic Club of New York, the Foreign Investment Review Agency (FIRA) was replaced by Investment Canada in 1985. FIRA existed for 10 years and its main function was to screen foreign takeovers and other foreign investments proposals in Canada. According the Canadian Encyclopedia, it approved 90 per cent of requests and was not a significant bar to investment. Investment Canada's mandate was not to so much to screen but to encourage both direct and indirect foreign investment.

• The term "branch plant economy", used in this clip, refers to a type of direct foreign investment where foreign companies set up branches of their domestic companies in other countries. It is most commonly used to refer to U.S. companies opening businesses in Canada to sell goods into the domestic Canadian market.

• The deal that ultimately resulted from the energy policy negotiations discussed in this clip was the Western Accord, signed with the three westernmost provinces. To the great delight of western leaders, the new arrangement effectively put an end to the national energy program (NEP). It set June 1, 1985 as the date for effectively deregulating the price of crude oil and natural gas in Canada by allowing them to mirror prices on the world market.

• For more on the national energy program introduced by Pierre Trudeau in 1980, please visit the CBC Digital Archives clip Trudeau slaps on taxes with NEP or the full topic Striking Oil in Alberta.

Medium: Radio
Program: The House
Broadcast Date: Dec. 15, 1984
Guest(s): Phil Andrews, Carl Beigie, Pierre Boutan, Pat Carney, Robert Coates, Ian Deans, Kenneth Dye, Jake Epp, Doug Firth, Ron Huntington, Merv Leach, Rex Loring, Peter Lougheed, Walter McLean, Margaret Mitchell, Winn Morgan, Brian Mulroney, Aideen Nicholson, Jean Piggott, Ian Smyth, Michael Vaughan, Mel Watkins, John Zaozirny
Announcer: Bob Oxley
Host: Michael Vaughan
Reporter: Dick Gordon, Brian Kelleher, Susan Helwig, Judy Morrison
Duration: 47:32

Last updated: June 17, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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