House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was armenians.

Topics

Springtime In Ottawa
Statements By Members

April 23rd, 1996 / 2:10 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Fraser Valley West, BC

Well, folks, it is springtime in Ottawa. Recently the solicitor general sprang into action by apologizing and offering compensation to rioting prisoners.

The justice minister is helping Clifford Olson spring out of prison after August by allowing section 745 to stay as law.

The Prime Minister is springing from country to country because his absence keeps him out of trouble in Canada.

The finance minister is springing yet another fiscal trap by disguising the GST instead of scrapping it. Veteran Liberal MPs spring-no, they are bounced-out of the party for voting their conscience.

Yes, it is springtime in Ottawa all right, but fall is coming in the next federal election for the federal government.

The Late Clara Smallwood
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Hickey St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, on April 14, Mrs. Clara Isabelle Smallwood, wife of the late Hon. Joseph R. Smallwood, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador from 1949 to 1972, passed away at the age of 94 at the Interfaith senior citizens home near Carbonear, Newfoundland.

Mrs. Smallwood witnessed some of the most crucial turning points in the history of Newfoundland. She saw the transition of politics from the commission of government in the early 1930s, ran from the Houses of the British Parliament in London, England, to the birth of the 10th province in Canada at midnight on March 31, 1949, an event that truly united our country from sea to sea.

She stood by her husband through six successful provincial elections and watched as the province made its mark in Canadian society as it brought with it unique heritage, culture and lifestyle which have not altered over generations.

Mrs. Smallwood will be missed by not only her large circle of family and friends but by all Newfoundlanders who remember the day we joined Canada and by future generations which, through history books, will learn of the indelible contribution made to this nation by the Smallwoods.

The Late Clara Smallwood
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Simmons Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the late Joey Smallwood in his autobiography

I Chose Canada

wrote: "My marriage to Clara was one of the most fortunate events of my life. I do not know what I would have done without her".

Clara Smallwood passed away last week. It had been my privilege over many years to observe the special chemistry between Clara and Joey Smallwood. Clara Smallwood avoided the limelight but still distinguished herself in many dignified ways. She was a marvellous human being, kind hearted to the core. She was a very talented musician, intelligent and well read. She was a great family woman who showered her three children, Ramsey, William and Clara, and her many grandchildren and great grandchildren as well as countless others with much affection.

Her support for her husband was unwavering, indeed legendary.

I salute her today for her wonderful contribution, behind the scenes but significant nevertheless, to Newfoundland and Labrador and to Canada.

Copyrights
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, UNESCO has designated today as International Copyright Day.

The Bloc Quebecois wishes to take this opportunity to remind the Minister of Canadian Heritage that authors are eagerly awaiting phase II of the copyright legislation review.

Like them, we are ready to roll up our sleeves and work to better protect their rights, to obtain not just symbolic but real recognition of neighbouring rights, as well as royalties on data storage and recording devices.

We would be dismayed to see the minister use the legislative review process as an excuse to undermine copyrights by introducing a series of exemptions.

Copyrights allow originators to retain ownership of their work and to authorize its use. They must not be restricted but adapted to the technological realities.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance this morning announced that he had reached an agreement on the harmonization of the GST with the provincial sales tax.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, Hear.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, you will have noted that the Liberal members and ministers applauded the fact that the GST remains, but will be hidden in the future.

Will the Minister of Finance acknowledge that, in his admission to journalists this morning of having been wrong in thinking he could replace the GST with another tax, he was confirming that the GST will stay, but will be hidden in the future?

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, what we announced this morning was a major reform in the Atlantic provinces. Now we really do have a tax that will eliminate overlap and duplication, and I am sure the member opposite will agree. The tax will be harmonized, as it is in Quebec.

As most consumers, small and medium businesses and retailers have asked, the tax will be visible in the purchase of a dress, for example, but it will be transparent at the same time, because the tax itself will appear on the bill.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, everyone, including his Liberal colleagues, will have seen that the minister is in no rush to comment on his own remarks to the effect that the GST will indeed remain in place.

Will the Minister of Finance confirm that the $1 billion or nearly that in compensation paid to the Maritime provinces to encourage them to go along with his system will mean that the rest of Canada will be paying about $1 billion of their taxes in compensation to the Maritimes for a sales tax they will no longer be paying because the provinces agreed to the minister's deal?

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Not at all, Mr. Speaker. What we did was arrange a formula to compensate provinces wishing to harmonize their sales tax but facing a loss in revenues, that is, the four Atlantic provinces. The offer was made to Saskatchewan and Manitoba as well. Other provinces, like Quebec in 1990, suffered no loss. This is true as well for Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

It is in fact a well established practice in Canada, when a region undergoes a major restructuring or faces some hardship, as in the case of the payments to western farmers in the 1990s, for the federal government to provide assistance, because Canada is built on the principle of regions helping each other. This is in fact what we have done here.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval
Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this is not economic compensation for a problem created by the federal government; it is political compensation.

It is very easy to understand. If consumers in the Maritimes are asked to pay less sales tax in order to participate in the minister's proposal, and the federal government pays out $1 billion in compensation for this tax Maritimers will no longer have to pay, this is tantamount to saying to the people in the other provinces:

"Pay up $1 billion now, so the people in the Maritimes can pay less sales tax". This is what everybody understood.

Will the Minister of Finance confirm that the government's propensity to centralize everything including the collection and management of the GST and sales tax will cost Quebecers some $250 million?

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Not at all, Mr. Speaker. First, costs are being shared between the federal government and the governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. In other words, the costs are shared more or less equally for four years. The adjustment payments will stop at the end of the four years.

Clearly there is a structural change. We are sharing the costs of these changes, because all of Canada will benefit when we create more jobs in the Maritimes, which will certainly be the outcome.

Second, the idea of centralization is perfectly ridiculous. The federal and provincial governments are joining together to reduce the burden on the taxpayers in these provinces and to reduce administrative costs.

Representatives of Canada's accountants' association have said this streamlining will save taxpayers $100 million. They have said that Canadian firms could save as much as $700 million, if we could do the same thing. This is a lot of money, and I think it is worth it.

Now, with the basic point the member is making is that taxpayers in the other provinces should not help in the case of structural change, for example, he is in fact denying the principle of equalization payments, which benefit Quebec enormously.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Finance has any reason to excuse himself to the people of Canada, on behalf of his party, it will be for having made political hay by promising abolition of the GST and then not making good on the promise. That is what he ought to do.

This morning, the government decided to disguise the sales tax by hiding it in the price of goods and services. Yet, while in opposition, the Liberals stated in the dissenting report of 1989 that "if the GST is camouflaged in the price, it will be far easier for the government to raise it later on".

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Does the minister acknowledge that, through his operation this morning, all that he has done to make people think that he was eliminating the GST was to hide it in the price of goods and services.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the hon. member does not understand the plan. It is perfectly visible. The tax will be on the bill when the purchaser's bill is rung up. It is visible. There is no intention whatsoever of hiding anything at all. I trust that the hon. member now understands.

Goods And Services Tax
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the bill or not, the Prime Minister's commitment, the Minister of Finance's commitment, their party's commitment, was to abolish the GST. The Deputy Prime Minister even laid her seat on the line, as did some other Liberals at election time or shortly thereafter.

Will the minister admit that what he is proposing at last to the people of Quebec and of Canada is what he condemned loudly not so very long ago, disguising the GST in the price, where it will be far easier for the government to raise it from time to time without the public's noticing?