House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

June 12th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among all parties in the House and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, immediately after government orders are called on Friday, June 13, the House shall proceed to consider second reading of Bill C-42 and, after no more than one representative of each party has spoken for no more than five minutes each, the bill shall be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole and reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage and read a third time and passed, and the House shall then proceed to consider and dispose of Bill C-44 in the same manner as provided for in this order for Bill C-42.

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion, is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

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Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on the Canadian Alliance motion concerning gas taxes and infrastructure development needs.

In recent years I have witnessed the burden of gas taxes on my constituents. As oil prices have soared so has the government's take in gasoline taxes.

On average, taxes account for 42% of the total consumer price. To add insult to injury or fuel to the fire, the Liberal government collects GST on gasoline taxes. That is charging taxes on taxes. Taxes are neither goods nor services. How can the government charge GST on taxes? This practice is shameful.

In 2001 and again last year I moved a motion in the House calling upon the government to at least stop charging GST on federal and provincial gasoline taxes. Unfortunately, the Liberals have not shown any interest in that idea. The government continues to collect about 2¢, depending upon the province, on every litre of gasoline sold in Canada.

Every day B.C. motorists battle traffic congestion to get to work, daycare, shopping, school and so on. As the population of the Lower Mainland continues to swell, the need for roads and bridges becomes ever more apparent.

Last year the B.C. transportation minister estimated that the province's transportation infrastructure required $10 billion worth of investment by the year 2012. That figure is well beyond the government's present ability to pay. Premier Campbell launched a $600 million program for much needed improvements to roads in February, paid for in part by an additional 3.5¢ per litre gasoline tax. However, there is no room to add even one single extra penny at the pumps. Gas prices are already too high. The money to fund transportation improvements must come from somewhere else.

Hence, the B.C. government is soliciting bids for a 55 year lease of the Coquihalla Highway to a private firm in exchange for a one time payment of roughly $500 million. The firm would initially be allowed to charge private autos $13, up from the current $10 per vehicle, and increase the amount over time.

The city of Surrey has immediate plans for road improvements, repaving and new traffic lights. However, these needed improvements come with a hefty price tag. While the city usually spends $15 million annually on its streets and highways, this year the budget has almost doubled. Work will progress on the Fraser Highway which is going to be turned into four lanes, with sidewalks, a median and more traffic lights. In Surrey, 88th Avenue and 80th Avenue will be repaved.

Provinces and municipalities have a crying need for more money to cover transportation infrastructure costs. This is especially true in urban areas which continue to grow. Transportation infrastructure is handling more traffic than it was designed for and the public is paying the price.

Look at how much time is wasted on the roads. It is almost criminal that the federal government continues to rake in millions of dollars in gas taxes while sending practically nothing back to the provinces.

The Liberals rake in $4.7 billion in fuel tax revenue every year. In addition, they collect $2.25 billion in GST on gasoline. The federal gas tax, including GST, cost an average Canadian $221 last year. In 2001-02 the Liberals transferred a minuscule $118 million to the provinces for highway and road development. That is 1.7% of the gross they have taken from the provinces.

In comparison, the U.S. government spends 84% of its gasoline revenues on road-related infrastructure. Our provinces even do better, spending 91% of the money they collect in gas taxes on transport-related infrastructure projects. Of the little money the Liberals do spend on transportation infrastructure, 99% of that small amount goes to provinces east of Ontario. Does the government not realize that there are roads outside of Quebec and Ontario?

Last November the Prime Minister's caucus task force on urban issues, after an 18 month study, rejected the idea of sharing fuel tax revenues as it was too complicated. While acknowledging cities needed more infrastructure cash, the task force claimed Ottawa needed the money more than the provinces. Can anyone imagine? Would it be that the government needed to use that money for more billion dollar gun registries? Or maybe more sponsorship contracts for Liberal friends? I cannot understand that.

The former finance minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard, claims that if he becomes Prime Minister he will share the federal gasoline tax with the cities. Call me a cynic, but why did the hon. member not deliver cash strapped cities a share of the gas tax during his nine year tenure as finance minister? Where was he for those nine years?

Members will recall that this is the same finance minister who in 1995 raised the gas tax from 8.5¢ per litre to 10¢ per litre as a deficit fighting measure. He then conveniently forgot to reverse the increase once the deficit was brought under control with the efforts of the official opposition. In 2001-02 alone this 1.5¢ per litre deficit fighting tax took $705 million out of the pockets of hard-working Canadians.

The Canadian Alliance believes that taxes which are imposed for a specific purpose, like this deficit fighting tax, should be used for that purpose alone and removed when no longer required, as in this case. The former finance minister obviously does not subscribe to that view.

Even though the price of gas has fallen in recent months, it is still much too high. Retail prices this week were between 75¢ and 79.9¢ per litre in Vancouver. Canadians are spending considerably more to fill up their cars than a year ago. Yesterday's news does not bode well for the future. Oil prices surged to $32.36 U.S. a barrel, the highest close on the New York Stock Exchange since mid-March, a 63¢ increase per day.

What will the government do? Nothing. If we were to drive around, we would see gas prices at 55¢ per litre at 8 o'clock in the morning. At 10 o'clock, if we were to drive by, no new truck had come to provide new inventory for the gas station, but the price would go up. Oil companies are colluding and the government is doing nothing.

In closing, the government must do something about this. It must eliminate the deficit fighting tax and reduce taxes on gasoline. The government has no right to charge GST on taxes.

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Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Oak Ridges
Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, gasoline prices are the purvey of the provinces not the federal government. The federal government is responsible for the issue of competition through the Competition Bureau. If the member is unhappy about prices, he can talk to the Government of British Columbia. We know that in fact that is a provincial responsibility and if it wants to freeze prices, it can.

Often there are other problems with the issue of taxes. The Government of New Brunswick learned this a few years ago when it decided to reduce the provincial tax on gasoline by 2%, it was immediately eaten up by the oil companies which raised prices.

The fundamental problem with the member's argument across the way is that his party wants to dedicate a portion of the tax. We know that municipal governments are corporations. They are created by the provinces. Hence, any revenue sharing program between the Government of Canada and municipalities would be subject to provincial control over municipalities.

This is something, at least on this side of the House, that we do not support. In fact, Quebec has legislation which prohibits municipal governments in the Province of Quebec from entering directly into fiscal relations with the Government of Canada. And again, they need provincial approval.

Clearly, we also have concerns. We have seen other cases with tripartite arrangements, however in this arrangement it would not be tripartite. This is simply an arrangement where the hon. member is asking us to turn over moneys to the provinces and hopefully they would dedicate and direct them for municipal purposes, particularly infrastructure.

I would like to ask the member, how does he reconcile this mechanics problem? There is clearly a difficulty here to deliver something which constitutionally would be very difficult.

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Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will the hon. member where the difficulty is.

Wherever the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard goes and on whatever issue, he promises everything to everyone, but he does not know what his record is. When he was finance minister for nine year, he increased gasoline taxes from 8.5¢ to 10¢ and called it a deficit financing tax. But now, there is no deficit, so why is there a deficit financing tax? Why did he not eliminate it at the same time the deficit was eliminated? That is where the difficulty lies.

Another difficulty is that the government is greedy for taxes. It charges taxes on taxes. It charges GST, the most hated tax in Canadian history, on taxes. Those taxes, whether provincial or federal, are neither goods nor services. That is what GST is supposed to be, but it is being charged on taxes. Can members think of any country in the world where the government is charging taxes on taxes?

The weak Liberal government takes in $4.7 billion in fuel taxes and on top of that it collects $2.25 billion taxes in GST. Out of all this money, how much does it spend on infrastructure development? That is what the gas tax is for. It is to be spent on roads, bridges and infrastructure development. Do members know how much it spends? Just 1.7% of the money. Where does the remaining money go that is collected from gasoline taxes and GST? It goes to that big black hole. The Liberal government is mismanaging taxpayers' money.

If the hon. member really wants to find out where the difficulty is, it is with the government's mismanagement, greediness and arrogance.

The parliamentary secretary has said that it is a provincial problem. That is what the government always does on any federal issue, it transfers the responsibility to the provinces. Even in the case of mad cow disease, SARS and anything else, it will transfer the problem to the provinces.

In this case, with the facts and figures I have quoted, I will tell the hon. member to look into the facts and not simply transfer the responsibility but do something on that side. The government takes so much money away from the provinces, but it gives the provinces only 1.7%. That is where the difficulty is.

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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, oddly enough this debate, this motion, brings me back to why I ran for Parliament in the first place. It was just such a motion in principle, or a move in principle, that the government of the day, the previous government, the Mulroney government, was attempting to bring in as the Charlottetown accord that prompted me to set aside what was at that time a very interesting career as a writer and on impulse to put my name in for the nomination locally, and after that to become a member of Parliament.

I was very fortunate, Mr. Speaker. I was reacting to the Charlottetown accord negatively. I went in and put my name in for the nomination, in the sort of sense that I wanted to become a politician, and a Liberal politician to make sure that the Liberals never supported something like the Charlottetown accord ever again.

The reason, Mr. Speaker, and why it relates to the motion, is that what the Charlottetown accord did is it transferred all kinds of federal powers to the provinces, and in so doing, also undertook to strike agreements with the provinces in these areas of jurisdiction whereby there would be a transfer of tax points and there would be cash subsidies to the provinces.

If you remember, Mr. Speaker, in the Charlottetown accord it proposed to transfer exclusive jurisdiction to the provinces in mining, in forestry, in housing, and in several other areas, tourism was another, recreation, and municipal and urban affairs. The reason why I was upset by that proposal--and I was one of the many, many Canadians who voted against the Charlottetown accord--is I felt that that proposal, had it passed, would have fatally damaged the ability of the central government, the government here in Ottawa, to maintain a sufficiently significant role in Canadian political life that Canada could stay together. I believe then and I believe now that the Charlottetown accord would have devolved so much power to the provinces that 11 years later we would not have a country.

My problem with this motion is it does precisely the same thing as the Charlottetown accord proposed to do with these various sectors that I mentioned. What it proposes to do is to take federal tax revenue in the form of GST and excise taxes on gasoline, and transfer that revenue, that tax collecting privilege shall we say, to the provinces. So instead of the federal government collecting $4.8 billion in excise taxes plus I think it is $1.1 billion in GST, it would allow tax room for the provinces to collect that same tax and then to spend it, along with the municipalities, on municipal infrastructure.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is not just the thin edge of the wedge. That is giving away the ability of Canada to function, because we have all seen time and time again and have experienced in the last 10 years certainly with very, shall we say, right-wing governments in some key provinces, and rich provinces like Alberta and Ontario, where the governments of the day, in order to exercise an ideology based on tax cuts for personal spending, have taken advantage of the money that was transferred by the Mulroney government, primarily in the form of health care transfers but a lot of money. Instead of investing in health care themselves, they have relied on the federal funding, complained that it is not enough, and used the money that should have been used by the provinces on health care in order to cut personal income taxes. That is precisely the phenomenon that has occurred in Ontario. We get this thing happening all the time, Mr. Speaker.

When the federal government does not control and stipulate how transfers of federal money are to be spent by the provinces, the provinces usually rely either entirely on the federal transfer and back off and use the money that they should be putting in the program in some other way and what happens is the Ottawa government winds up losing control of how federal tax money will be spent. It ceases to have an effective voice in national programs across the country. We see that very much in the phenomenon that occurred in health care where, because so much was transferred in the ability of the provinces to raise their own money to finance health care, we get situations where the quality of health care in the provinces has deteriorated enormously.

Now on the case of roads and municipal infrastructure, this is entirely a provincial jurisdiction. Under the Constitution the provinces are required to spend themselves on roads and municipal infrastructure. What the Charlottetown accord would have done, however, it would have elaborated on the agreements so that there would have been an increased use of federal taxes to be acquired. The right to collect those federal taxes would have been acquired by the provinces to spend how they would.

A country cannot be run like that. A country the size of Canada cannot be run like that. Mr. Speaker, do you know what would happen if this motion were to go forward and the federal tax collected of $5.6 billion were transferred to the provinces to use how they would on roads and municipal infrastructure? I can tell you what would happen. I can tell you what would happen as it occurs right now in Quebec.

The Trans-Canada Highway is a road that was a national project that involved spending in provincial jurisdiction because the provinces are obligated to spend on the roads. But in order to have a single highway that crossed from one end of the land to the other, the federal government of the day put up the money to enable the provinces to build the Trans-Canada Highway.

Mr. Speaker, if you take the Trans-Canada Highway from New Brunswick to Montreal in Quebec, what you will find is that road is in a permanent state of incredible disrepair. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the reason why it is in a permanent state of disrepair is that the province of Quebec is confident, because it is the Trans-Canada Highway, a federal, national project, that it can count on the federal government to come in and give the province the money to maintain that road.

We hear the Canadian Alliance from time to time in question period, we hear the same theme repeated, where a section of the Trans-Canada Highway in British Columbia--I think it is on the British Columbia side of the border--is narrow and dangerous and a member opposite has repeatedly called upon the federal government to pay for its expansion. The reality is even though it is called the Trans-Canada Highway, it is a provincial road and theoretically the provinces who maintain the care and maintenance of that road should pay for its expansion.

I am not against the federal government investing money in something like the Trans-Canada Highway because it is a national project. It is an important national project because the Trans-Canada Highway not only unites us culturally, it unites us economically. The problem is if the federal government gives away the revenues to the provinces that it would normally spend on the provinces, the $5 billion it has in the kitty as the result of the excise and GST taxes on gasoline, well then the provinces might not invest in a national project like the Trans-Canada Highway. They might consider it more important to pave the streets of Lethbridge or develop country roads.

Those are all important projects but it would be at the sacrifice of a national transportation responsibility that the federal government sees in the interests of all Canadians, because the Trans-Canada Highway crosses borders. It crosses provincial borders and it is one of those things, like the railways, that holds us together.

So I have to reject the motion, Mr. Speaker, because, and this is fundamental with me, I confess to be a Trudeau Liberal in that I believe that the only way we can keep this country together is to have a strong central government. If that strong central government does not have any money because it has passed its tax collecting power off to the provinces, it cannot keep this country together. To me, this motion strikes to the very heart of what we are as a nation.

I have sat here for 10 years in this chamber and I have heard repeatedly the arguments from the Canadian Alliance Party, formerly the Reform Party, and repeatedly from the Bloc Quebecois, who have constantly harped on the idea that more spending power should be directly in the control of the provinces. That is the theme of the Canadian Alliance and the Bloc Quebecois, and it is not a theme that is conducive to national unity. It goes the other way, Mr. Speaker, and marches in the direction of breaking this country up.

We cannot support a motion like this and I point out that Canadians cannot support it either, because this was actually put to the test with the Charlottetown accord in October of 1992. The previous government, the Mulroney government in my view fell over itself to try to give as much as it could to the provinces, and had it been in office for another term and had the Charlottetown accord passed, Mr. Speaker, I think the provinces would have been so powerful that the central government here in Ottawa would have been completely meaningless.

We cannot fool the people. We can have all the rhetoric in the world and say all these things about provincial rights, but in the end Canadians in every province know that it is in their interests to have a strong central government. One never knows when there might be a provincial government that is so foolish in its spending habits and its spending practices that it actually drives that province down economically, and that province may have to come to the federal government for rescue. I cite British Columbia, Mr. Speaker, where we had a New Democratic government for a number of years that managed to drive one of the richest provinces in the country onto its economic knees in a few short years, in a period of economic prosperity for the country.

I do not lay that blame with the Canadian Alliance, they are federal politicians, but I think Canadians want and need a federal government that has sufficient financial resources that when required can reach out to whatever province it is and help them in their hour of need. I cite mad cow disease. I cite SARS. I cite the crisis in agriculture that has occurred. I cite the problems in the Maritimes. All these problems have to do with the need of a particular area or region of the country for cash input. They need to be rescued with money. The problem is, Mr. Speaker, that the more a federal government gives away its ability to raise money to the provinces, the less it has the ability to come to the rescue of those regions and provinces that are in need.

Mr. Speaker, I reject this motion absolutely. I do not think it is a motion that is acceptable to Canadians. I do concede that it is a motion that is very much in keeping with Canadian Alliance philosophy, and that is fine, Mr. Speaker, because of course this is a place where we have differences of opinions. The one thing that I have come to know about the Canadian Alliance and the Bloc Quebecois is that both parties are parties that look more to their provincial responsibilities than their overall federal responsibilities. That, I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, is the reason why the Canadian Alliance is in one region of the country, the Bloc Quebecois is in another region of the country, and why in effect we only have three national parties, parties that actually look to the full interests of the country, that look all the way across the country and are concerned about every part of the country.

One of the three parties is the NDP. The NDP especially are very, very aware that we have to have the money in the kitty in the federal government if we are going to bring in social programs that would be the standard across the country.

I would say the Conservatives, sometimes I despair of them because they begin to sound as though they favour provincial rights. There is a disturbing echo of the ideology of both the Bloc Quebecois and the Canadian Alliance in some of the things the Conservatives say, but I still believe they are a national party. However the true national party is this party. The party I represent on this side of the House is the majority, so obviously Canadians feel it is the national party of the land.

In a final note, if I really had my druthers, if I were Prime Minister, which is extremely unlikely and not a possibility at all, and I see there is a certain amount of accord on the opposite side, I would be so tempted to take those tax points back from the provinces, those that were given away under Mulroney, and increase the decision making ability of the federal government, particularly in health care, because it is simply a tragedy, the loss of control that has resulted from giving the tax points that we once had to the provinces.

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3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the member's speech. I am in serious disagreement with one point. Provincial governments are democratically elected. Most people, whether the hon. member agrees with it, look primarily to the provincial government as the government that delivers the programs and services that mean something to them.

The other thing he implied in his speech is that the federal government does a better job of managing things. Let us take some exclusive areas of federal jurisdiction, such as the fisheries. We almost have more people involved in the fisheries today than we have fishers, and the fisheries are almost dead. Let as look at aboriginal policy, national defence, Air Canada and the air transportation system across the country. Let us look at our national parks. The roads are terrible. The drinking water on our reserves is pathetic. These are areas of exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government.

Why does the member and his party always knock the democratically elected provincial governments, with which most people feel far more comfortable than this four year elected dictatorship under the Liberal regime?

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not knocking the democratic process whatsoever but the reality is the municipalities look after their very local interests and provinces look after the regional interests. The difficulty is we have to have somebody with the money who will look after the national interests and come to the rescue when provinces or regions are in trouble.

I submit to the member a classic example that the roads are in dreadful shape in Saskatchewan. It is a crisis in Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan government cannot afford to repair them. It is just a desperate situation.

I would submit to the member, if we followed the motion and gave the money to the provinces, on a provincially divided basis, does he think Alberta would come to the rescue of Saskatchewan and its roads? Does he think Ontario would spend in Saskatchewan to save the roads?

It is the same thing down in Nova Scotia. There are severe highway problems in Nova Scotia and recently, in the last few years I have been in the House, federal money went to improve highways in the corridor between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This was federal money. Because these are poorer provinces, they could not afford it.

What it all boils down to is we have a national government that does not only look at the national interests, and I talked about the Trans-Canada Highway, but that also can plunge in there and attend to the very local interests where those regions of the country cannot afford to look after themselves.

I am sorry, but the record of municipal and provincial governments is that there is always an element, and I do not say this disparagingly, of fiscal selfishness. In my own region, my own city of Hamilton looks to getting the cash to look after itself and it is not looking beyond its borders. That is the case.

Others have mentioned the fact that with this motion there would probably be internal civil war between the cities in the various provinces taking this money at the expense of the rural municipalities. As I say, if there is a poor region in the country that cannot afford or does not have enough cash to attend to an essential infrastructure, it would be helpless.

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4 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who spoke said that he thought the federal government should not give away the ability or the right to tax. However, I would point to section 91 of the Canadian Constitution which states:

It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, the House of Commons, to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned...to the Legislatures of Provinces.

Section 92 states:

In each Province the Legislature may [make certain] Laws in relation to Matters coming within Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated.

Item 2 states:

Direct Taxation within the Province in order to raise money for a Revenue for Provincial Purposes.

The courts have provided that what this means is the provinces have the exclusive right to impose direct taxation to raise revenues for provincial purposes.

This has been challenged in the courts and upheld. The federal government is actually taxing the use of provincial jurisdiction. It is quite possibly an illegal tax. The government is coming in to individual provinces, like British Columbia, taxing the use of our highways, which is a provincial jurisdiction, and putting back a pittance.

Therefore why do we want the money left to the provinces to tax because: (a) it is their right; and (b) we would not mind if the federal government did it if it put some of the money back. Out of $5 billion, it puts $300 million for the whole country. It is shameful. It is criminal. Something should be done about it and that is what we are trying to do.

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4 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, the gasoline taxes we are talking about are federal taxes, the excise tax and the GST. If the member feels that a province ought to raise the provincial tax it charges on gasoline, it should do it: double it, triple it. It does not matter.

However do not ask the federal government to surrender a federal tax that we need in order to run the country, to guarantee the fuel supply. This argument that gasoline tax should be only used for roads ignores the fact that the money the federal government collects through excise tax is used to fund the military, to guarantee the supply of oil from the Middle East, to guarantee that we have the ability to create trade across the border.

The federal government has all kinds of obligations that indirectly impinge on where that oil comes from, how it is turned into gasoline and how it fuels the country. To suggest that the federal tax collected on gasoline should only be used for road infrastructure or infrastructure is that we can make the same argument that the provincial tax collected on gasoline should be used to subsidize the military. We need helicopters, we need all this kind of thing. Why is the provincial government not doing that? It is just crazy.

I will not go on any further. With all respect to my colleague, I do not think the answer merits any greater exposition.

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4 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised, shocked and upset by what the member across the way said. It was like a step back to the 1930s. It was all about federal supremacy and the servitude of the provinces. That is even lower than what Trudeau used to say.

That is not what we are talking about today. We are talking about an Alliance motion that seeks to remove the 1.5¢ that was levied in 1995 to cover the deficit. In 1998, the former Minister of Finance said that the objective had been reached. There is no reason for this tax still to exist.

We would agree if they stopped there. However, they are saying that it is conditional on the provinces allowing their jurisdictions to be trampled on and there being additional taxes.

From Quebec alone, the federal government collects $4.7 billion in excise tax. What does it do with this money? Nothing. We do not know what it does with this money. It is a tax grab.

There have been negotiations in the past on infrastructure. There have been two agreements. Quebec was prepared to renew the agreement, but the government thought it did not have to do anything with the money it takes out of the taxpayers' pockets.

Is the hon. member from the Liberal party going to sit down with people and discuss facts or is he going to make things up?

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4:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, my reaction is simply this. I think the federal government, if it is ever going to see the Trans-Canada Highway repaired in Quebec, it will never be able to rely on the provincial government in Quebec because it will not do it simply because it has a little sign beside the road as one goes on the Trans-Canada Highway from New Brunswick. It is a little maple leaf, Trans-Canada Highway. I submit that if were it not for the fact that the federal government reserves the ability to fund infrastructure in the provinces, to make the decisions, the road would never be fixed.

I would also like to point out to the member who just spoke that in the Charlottetown accord one of the provisions in the accord was to devolve in the provinces labour market training. While the Charlottetown accord never passed, this government did devolve on Quebec labour market training, the exclusive jurisdiction on labour market training. What happened? After a couple of years under the provincial jurisdiction and it was a total mess. The member has to acknowledge that the province failed when it took the responsibility.

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4:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

We are somewhat straying away from the subject. Resuming debate, the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.