House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

September 21st, 2000 / 3:05 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent to withdraw Motion No. 251, standing in the name of the member for Kelowna, as well as Motion No. 414, standing in the name of the member for Bras d'Or—Cape Breton.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motions Nos. 251 and 414 withdrawn)

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, on the Thursday question, I would like to ask the government House leader exactly what business he plans for the next week or so. I noticed today during question period there was a lot of interest in fuel tax relief. That is the motion of the Canadian Alliance today.

Does House leader plan to bring a motion tomorrow to bring immediate tax relief to all Canadians through reductions in gas and fuel taxes? If he would like to do so, the Canadian Alliance will certainly waive the 48 hour notice period.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, it is like we are having a second question period sometimes on this Thursday question. Perhaps we could agree that with the Thursday question we could simply put the question and get on with it, rather than making any kind of suggestions as to what might be.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see the new-found enthusiasm for the government amendment proposed to the hon. member's motion for today.

Tomorrow we will consider the second reading of Bill C-41, the veterans' legislation. On Monday we will commence the report stage of Bill C-3, the youth justice bill. On Tuesday we will consider report stage of Bill C-14 followed by third reading.

On each day I would propose as well, time permitting, the second reading of Bill C-17, amendments to the criminal code. We would then return for the completion of Bill C-3, hopefully at third reading then next Thursday.

There is ongoing negotiation on Bill C-38 about which I cannot report this minute but perhaps later on this day or at another time.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am not obliged to urge the government to take a particular position but rather to inquire about the status of legislation the government has already committed to and that is the corporate criminal responsibility legislation, otherwise known as the Westray bill.

Does the government House leader have any idea when that might be forthcoming?

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will inquire about that issue. I understand that there was a motion that was adopted at some point, but I will inquire about the issue of the bill per se and will report to the hon. member at the House leaders' meeting on Tuesday.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Supply
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan.

I am pleased to rise today on the opposition supply day motion. I am going to read the motion so that everybody is absolutely clear about what we are debating today. This motion was brought forward by the member for Prince George—Peace River of the Canadian Alliance. It states:

That given the record increases in the price of gasoline and home and diesel fuel, severely hurting Canadian consumers, truck drivers and businesses, and given the recent promise by the Minister of Finance to reduce taxes, this House call upon the government to give relief on fuel taxes, including repealing the increase in gasoline excise tax introduced as a temporary deficit elimination measure in 1995 and implementing the 1998 recommendation of the Liberal Caucus committee on gasoline pricing in Canada to remove the double taxation of the GST.

I felt it important that we read this into the record again as we start the afternoon session of this debate to ensure that everybody knows what we are talking about.

I want to focus right now on the comments that are coming from the Liberal government members. I am quite amazed with the excuses they are coming up with. There are two that stand out and I have heard them over and over again as I have followed this debate.

The reason they are saying they are opposed to this is that they are waiting for the provinces. That is the indication we are getting right now and hopefully we can change their minds. The other excuse is they cannot do anything with the taxes on gasoline because the fuel companies would then gobble up that difference by increasing the price and no savings would be passed to the consumer.

I have to question who is running this country. Is it the provinces and the oil companies or is it the government? That is a very feeble excuse. Are they leaders or are they followers? I am absolutely amazed that they say we have to take our cues from the provinces. When it comes to anything else, like the cut in transfers to the provinces of billions of dollars for health care, there is no consultation with the provinces. The Liberals run this country sometimes with an iron fist with zero consultation.

When it comes to putting taxes up, they claim to want to have a consultation process. What they really do is show up and tell us what they are about to do. Now when there is an absolute cry, an absolute need to do something on these fuel taxes, the government wants to wash its hands of it and do absolutely nothing.

It is ironic that in this year alone the government is going to collect some $13 billion in fuel taxes. When we look at its record on what it has put into the highway infrastructure in this country, last year I believe it was mere 4.1%. It was in the millions when they are collecting billions and it goes right into government revenues.

I had a call from a person last night. He has been following this discussion in the media. He made a very interesting point. It is widely known across the country that when we go to the pumps to purchase gasoline, anywhere from 36% to 45% of that price is taxes. In fact, members of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation have been advocating two prices at the pumps, the actual price of the gasoline and the actual tax, so people get to see what they are paying in taxes. On average about 41% of the price of gasoline is taxes.

The gentleman I spoke to made a very interesting comment. He said that on every dollar he earned, he paid at least 40 cents in income tax and probably a lot more. Let us be conservative and 40 cents in tax. That would leave him 60 cents. Before he even gets to the pumps he only has 60 cents of that dollar he earned. When he gets to the pumps of that 60 cents about 25 cents of that is taxes. From that dollar he ends up paying 65 cents in taxes. For every dollar earned by that working Canadian he is paying 65 cents in taxes. At least 40 cents in income taxes are taken off before he even gets to take what is left to the pumps, which would be 60 cents, and of that another 25 cents goes in taxes. Clearly there is a problem with taxes.

Ironically the Liberal caucus had a committee that looked into this issue in 1998. It made a number of recommendations to the government. Was it listened to? No. Its recommendations fell upon deaf ears, as have so many reports by members on all sides including those on the backbenches of the government across from me. They put work into these reports and they are absolutely ignored. They are thrown on shelves to collect dust.

The government's own backbenchers agreed with the Canadian Alliance that it was absolutely wrong and unacceptable for the government to charge a tax on a tax. That is what the government is doing. The federal government charges GST on its own excise tax. Liberal backbenchers said that was wrong, with which we agree 100%. In our supply day motion we give them credit for coming forward to their government.

We included in the supply day motion the recommendation by the Liberal caucus committee on gasoline pricing to remove the GST on the excise tax. We give that committee credit for coming forward in 1998. Yet will the government listen to the committee now? It did not listen in 1998. From the debate I have heard so far today there does not appear to be any interest in listening now.

I find it absolutely unbelievable when we look at the taxes the government is collecting. We watched the Minister of Finance announce a $12 billion surplus. Can we wrap our minds around $12 billion? Is it easy to say what $12 billion mean? That is $400 for every man, woman and child in the country. For a family of four that is $1,600 the government has collected in excess taxes. Even in the first quarter of this year alone the surplus is $11.4 billion. It is out of control.

What we have put forward with respect to gasoline taxes is a start. Let us not make it too onerous. Let us eliminate the tax on the tax. Let us get rid of that GST on the excise tax because we all know it is wrong. It is not acceptable to start taxing tax. That is wrong.

Let us eliminate the l.5 cent increase which the government put on the excise tax specifically to reduce the deficit. We all know the deficit is gone. When it put that tax increase on the excise tax the government said it was specifically for that. It is still there. There is no interest in removing these tax increases.

I want to summarize. In the interest of the Canadian people we have to look at what is best for the country. We are asking the government to follow through. In the wording of the motion it only has to do two things. There are many other things we could look at down the road, but the first one would be not to tax a tax. It should eliminate the GST on the excise tax and eliminate the 1.5 cent increase on fuel.

Let us look at the other taxes as well. The government can do that by responding to the motion, voting in favour of it and bringing forward legislation. I know it talked about a motion. It could include that discussion in the legislation it brings forward and we could discuss it.

Government members should support this motion to show Canadians that they are actually concerned. Then they would support not only the Canadian Alliance but their own backbenchers.

Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member's comment about a customer who bought gasoline at a gas station, and I have a question for the hon. member.

In British Columbia, oil companies do not just indicate the price of gas before taxes. Taxes are always included in the price, as they are almost everywhere in Canada. But it would be important to see the net price of a litre of gas, before taxes.

The hon. member mentioned taxes in Vancouver. Could he tell us what these taxes are? Are there two, three or four taxes? What are the taxes you were referring to and how many cents do they amount to on a litre of gas?

Today, in the Abitibi region, a litre of regular gas retails for 81.9 cents, with 30.6 cents being taxes and 51 cents going to oil companies.

I would like to know the member's response to my question about the taxes charged on a litre of gas in British Columbia.

Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, back on Vancouver Island the price of gasoline is in the high 70s and approaching 80 cents per litre. Depending on where one goes it fluctuates a few cents, but it is in the 78 to 79 cents per litre range. Around 35 cents of that amount is taxes: provincial taxes, the GST, the GST on the excise tax, and the federal government excise tax.

The hon. member said that he would like consumers to see that the price at the pumps is 45 cents and 35 cents is in taxes. That would be a good thing.

Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Etobicoke North
Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, from time to time the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands can be a reasonable person, but most reasonable people would agree that if the federal government were to make any moves on excise taxes the provinces would be expected to do something as well.

If we look at British Columbia, the gasoline tax is 11 cents a litre. That compares with our 10 cent excise tax. The diesel is 11.5 cents and our diesel is 4 cents a litre. In addition there is another 1.5 cents a litre that is applicable for transit in the Victoria area.

If the federal government moved on excise taxes, realizing that the provincial taxes should come down as well, would the hon. member support a cut in the ferry services that serve the Gulf Islands, his constituents, and the transit systems within Victoria that his constituents use as well?