House of Commons Hansard #72 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was saskatchewan.

Topics

Employment Equity Act
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

London North Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana Minister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the Employment Equity Act, chapter 44, section 20, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2004 annual report of the Employment Equity Act.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Ocean which is unanimous. It is entitled “Here we go again...or the 2004 Fraser River Salmon Fishery”.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Health. Your committee recommends that, notwithstanding the fourth report of the committee presented in the House of Commons on Friday, February 16, the government enact the proposed regulations amending the tobacco reporting regulations with an amendment.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Health. We recommend that, notwithstanding the fourth report, the government take under consideration a recommendation with respect to the proposed regulations amending the tobacco reporting regulations.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a response to this report.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Health. Your committee adopted a motion on Monday, March 21, calling on the government to immediately extend compensation to all those who contracted hepatitis C from tainted blood.

Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I believe you would find there is unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That all questions necessary to dispose of government order, Ways and Means No. 7, be put and disposed of this day immediately after the consideration of the business of supply.

Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by no fewer than 13,000 people, calling on the government to amend the regulations of the Textile Labelling Act and require companies to disclose the name and address of every manufacturing facility where clothing sold in Canada was made.

This initiative carried out by young francophone members of Amnesty International is designed to raise public awareness of the plight of individuals who are the victims of worker exploitation and give people the chance to make a choice in support of human rights.

It is therefore with great honour that I table this petition.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of a number of Canadians, including from my riding of Mississauga South, on the subject of marriage.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that the majority of Canadians believe that fundamental matters of social policy should be decided by elected members of Parliament and not by the unelected judiciary.

They therefore call upon Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative matters, including the invocation of section 33 of the charter known as the notwithstanding clause, to protect the current definition of marriage being the lawful union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supply
Government Orders

March 22nd, 2005 / 10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

moved:

That the House call upon the government to immediately extend the expanded benefits of the recent Atlantic Accord to all of the provinces since the existing equalization claw-back on non-renewable resource revenues severely curtails the future prosperity of Canada by punishing the regions where the economy is built on a non-renewable resource base.

Supply
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending March 26, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bills. In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bills be distributed now?

Supply
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supply
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is truly a pleasure to rise in this assembly today to speak to the motion because equalization is truly a unique Canadian program.

First conceived in 1956 and implemented in 1957, which as we know was coincidental with Newfoundland entering Confederation, this is a program that treats all Canadian provinces equally, in terms of wealth distribution. In fact, the program was designed to allow all provinces to have the ability, in relative terms, to offer the same basic programs and benefits to its citizens at relatively the same tax rate. In other words, the way the program works is to allow the have provinces, or the more wealthy provinces, the ability to assist financially those provinces who are considered to be have not, or poorer, provinces.

This is a very complicated program, and probably in Canada there is no more than a handful of people who actually understand the formula that goes into designing the equalization program. However, suffice it to say there are approximately 33 revenues bases that comprise this program. Out of those 33 revenue bases, 11 of them deal with non-renewable natural resources.

What we are asking today in this motion is that the non-renewable natural resources should be removed from the equalization formula.

Before I go on, Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the hon. member for Prince Albert.

There are many reasons why we feel that non-renewable natural resources should be removed from the equalization formula, but I only will deal with two or three of them. I think that will illustrate exactly why the current formula is flawed.

First, right now it is almost a disincentive for many provinces to develop their non-renewable natural resources. The reason for that is quite simple.

Currently, under the formula, provinces are clawed back or taxed back on revenue derived from natural resource development, and I will make most of my comments designed around what is happening in Saskatchewan because I am far more familiar with my home province. We have the perverse situation where for every dollar that Saskatchewan receives from oil and gas revenue in past years, the government has clawed back or taxed back over 100% of the revenue. In other words, if we get $1.00 from an oil and gas sale, the government has taxed Saskatchewan anywhere from $1.03 to $1.08 in previous years. That is just perverse. It should not be allowed to happen.

There is no incentive for provinces to fully develop their non-renewable natural resources if they realize that the more money they make off natural resources, the more money the government will claw back. That program is deeply flawed and should be amended.

We have seen in years past, particularly in the year 2001-02, situations in Saskatchewan where the government has clawed back certain revenues from oil and gas exploration as much as 200%. Other provinces, particularly the Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, which cut a separate deal with the government, will only be clawed back up to 70%.

However, in Saskatchewan, particularly, the money that we gain from oil and gas revenues and all non-renewable natural resource revenues should be reinvested back into the province.

In Saskatchewan about 85% to 90% of all our oil and gas reserves are still in the ground. It is very difficult to get oil, particularly heavy oil, out of the ground. Saskatchewan has been an industry leader, with some new innovations such as horizontal drilling. Now we are looking at new and innovative ways to get oil out of the ground by pumping carbon dioxide into the ground, which ends up trapping itself but allowing more oil and gas to come to the surface. That requires an incredible amount of reinvestment in the province to employ these types of technologies and to employ the research and development required. However, how can we do that if the government is taking at least $1.00 to $1.03 for every $1.00 we gain from revenue? This should not be allowed to happen.

Second, I believe there is a very strong economic argument that suggests that oil and gas, non-renewable natural resources, should not be included in the equalization formula. I would like to frame this in the sense of a business model.

If I were a business owner and had a capital asset that I wanted to sell, converted that capital asset in my company into a cash asset, it would not show up on my income statement. It simply would be a balance sheet transaction. The income from my business is from the sale of my primary products. If I owned a shoe store, I would get my income and my profit and loss would be determined by the amount of shoes I sold. However, if I just converted a capital asset into a cash asset, that would not be considered income. It would be a balance sheet transaction.

What the government is doing with oil and gas, which should be considered a capital asset and when sold converted into a cash asset, is treating it as income. That is not the way the equalization program should work.

The economic indices and the tax revenue bases which compromise the economic argument for equalization suggest that revenue bases such as taxation, whether they be corporate, sales or personal, are the types of revenue bases which should determine the fiscal capacity or the net worth of a province. The government should not be allowed to take a capital asset that is converted into a cash asset and say that proves the net worth or the fiscal capacity of a province.

Finally, one of the most overwhelming arguments for why non-renewable natural resources should be removed from the equalization formula is the recent history with the new deal, the Atlantic accord, signed by the government with the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

I absolutely believe that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance did the right thing. It was a matter of fairness. They recognized that these provinces needed to keep 100% of their oil and gas reserves. They cut a deal, signed an accord and allowed these provinces to keep that money.

While I believe in the inherent fairness of that deal, I also believe, as the name suggests, that the formula for equalization should be equally applied to every province and territory in Canada. In other words, I do not believe the government can make one deal with one or two provinces and not apply the same deal to other provinces across Canada. The formula fundamentally must be the same. We must have the same equity, the same formula applicable to all provinces. We cannot go into a situation where the government says that it will treat one province differently than another. This is equalization and the same equalization formula must be applied to all provinces.

While I believe that Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia were treated fairly, I urge the government to give the same consideration to Saskatchewan.

I was born and raised in Saskatchewan and I will probably die in Saskatchewan. I love my province. I absolutely know one thing and that is the Minister of Finance loves Saskatchewan as well.

Saskatchewan people are some of the most honest, industrious, hard-working and optimistic people in Canada. We have faced our share of adversity over the years, starting with the dirty thirties and most recently with the drought and the frost situation affecting our farmers. However, one thing the Saskatchewan people have never done is complained unnecessarily. Unlike the comments of some of the members opposite who seem to categorize Saskatchewan people as whiners and complainers, all Saskatchewan people want is to have a fair deal.

That is why I urge all members of the House, when the vote takes place tonight, to recognize that in issues of fairness across the board everyone should vote in support of this motion without equivocation, without compromise and without exception.