House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was witnesses.

Topics

Electoral Boundaries
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting debate but neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives will ever do anything about gas prices because they are both committed to the corporately dominated market when it comes to this.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister and it has to do with the democratic deficit. With all the shenanigans going on in the Liberal Party and the refusal to divulge positions on important issues like health care and various other things, it is easy to be cynical, but I want to give the Deputy Prime Minister an opportunity to redeem the government.

Will she tell the House that the government will honour the decision of the Federal Court to reverse the new boundaries in Acadie—Bathurst like the Liberal candidate in that area recommends.

Electoral Boundaries
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I am very much aware of the arguments used in this case relating to the issue of community of interests. As I explained yesterday, this ruling is an extremely important one, and I would like to take time to examine it in detail before reaching any decision.

I think we need to acknowledge at least the integrity of the process, which consists in looking at the result of this ruling, and its real impact. It will, in fact, impact on much more than the difference between Acadie—Bathurst and the next riding. Once we have an informed answer ready, we will give it.

Electoral Boundaries
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the historic federal court ruling is unequivocal, and acknowledges that the Electoral Boundaries Commission did not respect the community of interest for Acadie—Bathurst.

The Liberal candidate for that riding, Serge Rousselle, says that the Liberals support the court ruling. The Liberal government, however, is intimating that it will not take any action before the election, and may even file an appeal.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Can he explain to us why, every time minorities win a court case, and obtain justice at great expense to themselves, the Liberal government refuses to recognize them?

Electoral Boundaries
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has always been the staunchest defender of Canada's minorities.

In this particular instance, there are consequences we need to look at in greater detail. I am fully aware of the considerations relating to the community of interests. I have read the Supreme Court rulings by Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dubé on these issues and on the balance to be achieved among their demographic considerations. What I want is a bit of time to be able to properly gauge the impact of this ruling.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, last year the industry committee studied gas prices in Canada and found that taxes are the fastest growing component of the final price of gasoline. Over the long term the price of gasoline, excluding taxes, increased by 50% while taxes themselves increased by 67%.

When will the government finally provide some relief to Canadians from high gas prices by eliminating the GST on the excise tax?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman talks about tax increases with respect to fuel. I am very pleased to tell him that the federal excise tax on fuel has not changed since 1995 and neither has the GST percentage changed since then.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, my point is their take goes up as the price goes up.

The Liberals say that we did not recommend anything. In fact the official opposition recommended a petroleum information commissioner. We recommended more resources to the Competition Bureau to investigate these cases. We recommended sharing the gas taxes with the provinces and municipalities. None of these recommendations have been acted on.

Why is the government not doing anything to alleviate any of the pain on consumers across the country? When will the Minister of Natural Resources finally step up to the pump and take some action and produce some gas relief for Canadians?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. gentleman that the last time there was an international spike in the price of crude petroleum that drove prices up internationally, including in Canada, the Government of Canada offered to take action in partnership with the provinces to see what could be done by both the Government of Canada and the provinces to reduce their tax take with respect to fuel. Only one province responded to that invitation.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

It has become pretty clear, Mr. Speaker, that the government has no intention of providing Canadian drivers with any relief on the exorbitant gas prices and taxes. Perhaps the lack of motivation is understandable, given the fact that every cent increase in a litre of gasoline puts $32 million into its pile of revenue. It even adds insult to injury by forcing Canadians to pay GST on the excise tax.

With this in mind, maybe the government should consider the fact that many Canadians will not be able to afford to start the car at the end of June to go to the polls. Why does the government not do the fair thing and axe the tax on the tax?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, again I would point out to the hon. gentleman that the difference he is proposing in terms of the actual consumer impact would be perhaps a penny or two. In the course of a complex pricing chain, a penny or two is hardly going to constitute the kind of relief that Canadian consumers would expect.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, Bono might not mind getting used by the government but Canadian taxpayers are sick and tired of it.

The government seems incapable of understanding the impact that it has on individual Canadians. Consider the impact that high fuel taxes are having on farm families impacted by the BSE crisis. It is a big cost. A big portion of their inputs is gasoline taxes and fuel taxes. Half of that is the taxes they pay to the government.

Why can the government not begin to see Canadians as people with real problems and real challenges instead of just as a source of revenue?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government does indeed see Canadians as real people. Those real people live in real communities across the country. That is why we are in the process of developing the new deal for those communities.

We have already made a $7 billion contribution to that new deal. We have already accelerated our infrastructure programs from 10 years down to 5 years. We are also in the process of beginning the work on a multibillion dollar program of fuel tax contributions to those municipalities as we promised to do.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

May 13th, 2004 / 2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government has had an entire term to prepare and adopt acceptable reforms in employment insurance. It made promises during the election campaign of 2000, and now it is 2004.

How can the government decently justify this week's announcement of just a few temporary measures, which do not come anywhere near to fulfilling the promises made in 2000, and especially to meeting the needs of workers in the regions? When will the government stop impoverishing them?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Ahuntsic
Québec

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development (Social Economy)

Mr. Speaker, the measures announced this week will help at least 100,000 claimants throughout the country, including workers in Quebec. The measures, however, are directed at regions with the highest unemployment rates, 10% and up.

On this side of the House, we want to help the workers. We do not just want to give empty speeches and rend our garments. We are taking real steps to help them. They have access to five more weeks of benefits.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, they have had a whole term to correct the injustices in the EI system, yet they come up with a plan that will give out, at most, $135 million of the $3 billion stolen from the EI fund in the last year alone—that is incredible.

How can we not accuse the government of bad faith, when it has made the decision to spend less than 4% of its surplus on improving the system?