House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Harmonization of QST with GST
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question because we have to take the best shots that anybody could give and try to lay it out. In Ontario, with the harmonization, it is going to get its compensation. It is also reducing personal taxes at the same time and there are exemptions to what will be taxed under harmonization.

My understanding is, and it is subject to check, that about 70% of Ontarians will actually be better off in terms of cash in their pockets than they are under the existing system in terms of the burden on individuals.

Even more importantly, the impact to the business community, particularly the manufacturing sector, is going to be enormous because the GST has an input tax credit which allows only the end user or the end payer to actually be the one to pay the GST. Someone pays it when they buy a raw material, they get an input tax credit, they charge the GST, and it just travels along.

The PST is not the same. There is not that same credit. That means that all along the line in the manufacturing industry for instance PST is being accumulated. It is just like the old federal sales tax. That is the reason why the federal sales tax which was applied at the wholesale level was eliminated. It was because there was this compounding of taxes within production. By the time it got to the consumer, there was this major tax component.

It is the same thing. There are going to be benefits not only to taxpayers but also to business and industry.

Opposition Motion—Harmonization of QST with GST
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the charming member for Québec.

I am delighted to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about the motion that we have put forward on this opposition day. I will take the time to read it so that all of the men and women listening understand:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should negotiate in good faith with the Government of Quebec to resolve the dispute dating back over ten years regarding the harmonization of the QST with the GST in the early 1990s and agree to provide $2.6 billion in compensation to Quebec for this harmonization, and that Quebec continue to administer these harmonized taxes.

I think that the motion is clear. Since the early 1990s, the Government of Quebec has been collecting the GST on behalf of the federal government. Since the early 1990s, Quebec has said that the sales taxes are harmonized. The federal government has never entered into discussions or negotiations regarding a harmonized sales tax. Since Quebec took charge of the GST for the federal government, other provinces, including the Atlantic provinces, have received compensation for harmonizing their sales taxes. Recently, Ontario received over $4 billion for harmonizing its tax.

Given that, it should come as no surprise that Quebec's National Assembly passed the motion I am about to read. It appears in the National Assembly's Journal des Débats for March 31, 2009. It was passed unanimously by all parties in the National Assembly, including the Parti Québécois, the Liberal Party and the Action démocratique du Québec. I will read it now:

WHEREAS Québec was the first province to harmonize with the Federal goods and services tax (GST) in the early 1990s;

WHEREAS since then, three Atlantic provinces have harmonized with the GST in 1997 and have received compensation for this from the Federal Government totalling close to 1 billion dollars;

WHEREAS the Government of Ontario announced that it would harmonize its sales tax with the GST beginning on 1 July 2010;

WHEREAS the Federal Government will grant a 4.3 billion dollar compensation to Ontario for this harmonization, an amount that is justified in the Canada-Ontario memorandum of understanding particularly owing to the desire to stimulate economic growth and job creation, and the Federal Government will administer this new provincial tax free of charge on behalf of Ontario;

WHEREAS the Ontario sales tax will be very similar to the Québec sales tax (QST) since certain goods, such as books, will not be subject to the provincial tax and that input tax refunds in Ontario may be identical to those agreed to by Québec for an 8-year period;

WHEREAS Ontario is the fourth province to receive compensation from the Federal Government as part of the harmonization of the provincial and federal sales taxes, while Québec has not received any compensation to this day even though it was the first province to harmonize its sales tax;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the National Assembly ask the Federal Government to treat Québec justly and equitably, by granting compensation that is comparable to that offered to Ontario for the harmonization of its sales tax with the GST, which would represent an amount of 2.6 billion dollars for Québec.

The Bloc Québécois did not pick the amount of $2.6 billion out of a hat. That was the amount requested in the motion passed unanimously by Quebec's National Assembly. Every party in this House, Liberal, NDP and Conservative, if they wanted to, could have read this unanimous motion from Quebec's National Assembly. That is why I am somewhat baffled to hear Conservative members ask, “Do we have $2.6 billion? That was not part of our budget plan.”

Ontario decided to harmonize its tax in 2010, and instantly, the Conservatives went running to negotiate with Ontario so they could set these funds aside. Yet I see no one running to negotiate this future agreement with Quebec. It is the same thing with the other parties. The NDP as well as the Liberal Party could have quickly contacted members of Quebec's National Assembly and the leaders of each provincial party to tell them they were willing to stand up for this.

The only party that has stood up day after day in the House of Commons is the Bloc Québécois and its leader. We have asked questions practically every day since the National Assembly of Quebec made its decision. Why? Because we represent and defend the interests of Quebeckers.

Yes, we are glad that the Liberals and the NDP have decided to support our motion today, but those parties never would have introduced such a motion in the House of Commons. That is a fact. They are supporting the motion because, once again, the Bloc Québécois stood up for Quebec's interests and introduced this motion calling on the government to finally compensate Quebec. For political reasons, the Liberals and the NDP have no choice but to follow suit. When we introduced the motion, we knew these parties had to support us. That is a fact.

Once again, for the Quebeckers who are watching, it is always a battle. It is a battle every time. When we defend a unanimous motion of the National Assembly of Quebec, we are not being partisan because we are supporting our sister party, the Parti Québécois. We are defending the interests of Quebeckers. All the members from Quebec in this House should have stood up, as the leader of the Bloc Québécois and my fellow Bloc members have done since the National Assembly motion was adopted, to make the government understand that we must adopt this motion. Quebec must get $2.6 billion in compensation, because it was the first province that decided to harmonize the tax.

The reason why the federal government is not compensating Quebec is that the Conservatives decided that, in keeping with their position and the proposal they had made to Quebec, the tax would have to be collected by Ottawa. All the parties in Quebec feel strongly about this. Even the federalist parties in Quebec do not want Ottawa to collect the QST. Quebec has collected this tax since 1992 and will keep on collecting it. That is a fact. This is a shared jurisdiction, and Quebec decided to take on this responsibility.

Although the Conservatives have gone to great lengths to reach out to Quebec, they have also appropriated powers from Quebec and transferred them to Ottawa at every opportunity. That is the position the Conservatives are defending today. It is rather disappointing that the Conservative members from Quebec do not support the unanimous motion of the National Assembly. It is disappointing. For those of us who strategically decided to ask questions day after day and to present this motion today on an opposition day, we are very aware that both the NDP and the Liberal Party had to support this motion for purely political reasons.

Once again, we thank them. They have woken up. It is always too late when it comes to Quebec but, fortunately, the Bloc Québécois is here to enlighten them and wake them up when it comes to Quebec. It is with pride that we hope that tomorrow's vote will result in the motion being adopted by a majority. The position defended by the Conservatives leads us to believe that they will vote against the motion once again, because of money according to what we are told.

Earlier I was listening to my Conservative colleague who asked where they were going to find the $2.6 billion. Where did they find the $4.3 billion to compensate Ontario? The compensation will come from the same envelope. It is not true that they had planned to provide compensation. It was Ontario who decided to harmonize its tax. The Premier of Ontario announced it in his budget and he negotiated with Ottawa. The federal government ran to negotiate with the Premier of Ontario and to give him what he wanted.

All we are asking is that, when this motion is adopted by a majority in the House of Commons tomorrow, the Conservative Party proceeds with haste to negotiate with Quebec, that it announces the good news and that it finds the $2.6 million to give to Quebec. We are in an economic downturn. This crisis has affected Quebec as severely as Ontario and, once again, Quebeckers deserve as much attention as the citizens of Ontario and of the Maritimes, who were fully compensated for this harmonization.

Opposition Motion—Harmonization of QST with GST
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague talked about his disappointment with the Conservative Party’s attitude. I would like my colleague, who belongs to my political party, to explain to the public how the elected Conservative Prime Minister approached Quebec to win it over and how he ignored his election promises during the last election campaign.

He said he wanted to respect provincial jurisdictions, correct the fiscal imbalance and put an end to confrontation between Quebec and Ottawa. I am sure my colleague could elaborate more on this. This turn of events can be considered disappointing, but it is more than that. I think the government’s attitude over this issue is frustrating and shocking, after it made so many promises to Quebec.

Opposition Motion—Harmonization of QST with GST
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Quebec for her question. She had to fight the Conservatives’ political organization in the Quebec City area. It is not easy, because the Conservatives use double talk, and they end up saying the opposite of what they used to say.

The hon. member gave the best example of this in her question, that is the fiscal imbalance problem that was to be addressed. Parliament adopted a process that seemed to be fair to deal with equalization. Those who kept an eye on this issue know that. The Quebec premier, who is not a sovereignist or a member of the Parti Quebecois, but a Liberal, had more or less accepted this new equalization program that seemed to redress some unfairness.

This process was accepted, but in the recent budget, the Conservatives decided to unilaterally change the formula because they had reduced the GST and would rake in less revenue. It is a political choice they made.

My colleague from Quebec is quite right when she says the Conservatives, who seemed intent on doing a few things, did the exact opposite of what they promised when it was time to turn words into action.

Opposition Motion—Harmonization of QST with GST
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, an important motion is being debated today in this House. I would like to remind the House of the main features of this motion.

The Bloc Québécois is asking the Conservative Party to negotiate in good faith with the Government of Quebec. There has been a dispute for the past 10 years with the National Assembly of Quebec about the harmonization of the GST and the QST.

Clearly the Conservative Party did not take the initiative on this motion. The Conservatives did not admit to Quebec that they had made promises during the last campaign. They did not apologize and say that they would like to stop fighting over this issue and, once and for all, give Quebec what it is asking for, so that the GST and the QST can be harmonized with respect for the jurisdictions of Quebec.

Quebec wants the federal government to provide it with $2.6 billion in compensation and it wants to continue administering the two taxes. The recognition of the Quebec nation should not be invoked against this motion. If we recognize the Quebec nation, it should go without saying that we recognize also that Quebec has its own way of doing things and its own jurisdictions. Why then can we not legitimize the collection and the administration of the two taxes by Quebec?

As we know, in 1997, when a Liberal government was in office, it harmonized the GST with the sales taxes of the maritime provinces, and it provided $1 billion in compensation for the losses generated by the harmonization of the two taxes. However, the Liberal government had also specified that the compensation was to be calculated when revenue losses would exceed 5%.

Then, the Conservative government got elected, and what did it do? It ignored that rule. It threw away the 5% rule and said that it no longer applied.

Such is the Conservative Party: it sings two different tunes, as a fellow Bloc member said. It would have us believe that it is flexible, that it is open towards Quebec, but it is just the opposite. So, that criterion was no longer taken into consideration by the Conservatives after they took office.

In fact, this is what led the Conservatives to provide a $4.3 billion compensation to Ontario, so that the province would harmonize its sales tax. So, we are talking about a double standard here.

The Quebec National Assembly introduced a motion dealing specifically with this request from the Quebec government, asking for a $2.6 billion compensation. Perhaps I should explain what this loss of revenues means.

The harmonization of the sales tax in 1990 was the result of an agreement between Ottawa and the Quebec government. Under that agreement, Quebec would collect not only its QST, but also the GST for the federal government. So, this is a tax on a tax. It is called a value-added tax, and it is a tax on the price of a product. In other words, a tax is collected on the product that is bought, and the GST is based on this added value to the product that is bought.

So, we are talking about a loss of $6 million in value added taxes, which is the tax on the tax, and of $500 million in QST, which medium and large businesses must pay on certain products called inputs, such as vehicles and gas. That tax is not refunded to them. That is why Quebec wants a $2.6 billion compensation. It has calculated that this loss of revenues is hurting its fiscal capacity, particularly since the province must deal with many other issues and must assume numerous responsibilities.

Our motion today has the support of the Quebec National Assembly.

Why is it that, after several years in office, the Conservative government has yet to move forward on—

Opposition Motion—Harmonization of QST with GST
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member for Québec.

The hon. member will have five minutes left after Question Period.

Rockhound Gemboree
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, each year Festivals & Events Ontario recognizes and celebrates the many excellent festivals and events that Ontario currently enjoys through its annual top 100 Ontario festivals program.

Today I would like to formally congratulate Bancroft's Chamber of Commerce, vendors and volunteers as the Bancroft Rockhound Gemboree earned the distinction for the fifth year in a row of making the top 100 Ontario festivals. The Rockhound Gemboree, Canada's largest gem and mineral show, has been going on for 44 years. It takes place every August and draws thousands of collectors, rockhounds and geologists.

Again, I offer my heartiest congratulations to the Bancroft Chamber of Commerce. Also, I invite everyone to visit Bancroft, the winner of the most talented town in Ontario, this August to enjoy the amazing Rockhound Gemboree. Rock on.

Israel
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the price of democracy is eternal vigilance, then today we should all rise to honour the 61st celebration of Israel's independence. Every day for 61 years Israelis have turned the necessity of vigilance into the nutrition of survival and invention. In fact, Israel's high tech sector, the arts, and universities are world leaders.

Still, there remain challenges that are too real to ignore. Efforts to delegitimize and vilify Israel have taken on dimensions of a global campaign. Canada, sadly, is not immune from these activities.

Attacks on our sister democracy are attacks on all of us. We need to end activities like Israel apartheid weeks, as well as calls for boycotts that are based on false narratives. Otherwise, the smears will infect us all.

Today, Israeli Jews, Muslims and Christians celebrate their freedom. Canadians can join the House in wishing all the celebrants a Happy Yom Ha'atzmaut.

Emmanuelle Ouellet
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to welcome to the Hill today Emmanuelle Ouellet, the winner of the third MP for a day competition at the Cégep de Victoriaville. As part of their course on political life and regimes, participants had to write an essay on the issues involved in the recent political crisis in Ottawa. By so doing, they were able to explore all the facets of the issues, and they were required to use some creativity to present realistic solutions.

This non-partisan competition seeks to foster an interest in politics and helps to raise awareness among young people about the realities of life as a parliamentarian, as well as to showcase the work politicians do and politics in general, always, of course, with a critical eye.

I would like to thank Mr. Jean-François Léonard, a political science and geography teacher at the Cégep de Victoriaville, with whom I set up the competition. My thanks also go to the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste du Centre-du-Québec and La Capitale Centre-du-Québec for their contributions to the $500 scholarship awarded to Emmanuelle, a young woman with a promising future.

Workplace Safety
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP caucus, I rise today to join with people from across this country to mourn workers who have died on the job, to extend our sympathy to workers who have been injured on the job and to express solidarity with their families, friends and co-workers.

In 1991, the House enacted an NDP bill to proclaim April 28 as the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job, yet the number of workplace fatalities is still increasing. In the last decade that increase was a staggering 35%. In 2007, the last year for which data are available, 1,055 people lost their lives on the job. That is four people every workday, dead because their workplace was not safe.

No one should leave his or her home in the morning wondering whether today is the day he or she will die on the job. Every single workplace death and injury is preventable.

We have an obligation to act. We have an obligation to enact and enforce laws that prevent occupational fatalities and diseases. We have an obligation to ensure that every workplace is safe.

Today we mourn. Tomorrow--

Workplace Safety
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Palliser.

Notre Dame Hounds
Statements By Members

April 28th, 2009 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.

In Selkirk, Manitoba on April 26, the Hounds shut out the Calgary Buffaloes 4-0 to capture the TELUS Cup, Canada's National Midget AAA Hockey Championship. A 43-save shutout by goaltender Chris Gibson, two goals from forward Drew George and a strong game from forward Brad Cuzner helped give the Hounds their first title in 23 years.

The Hounds play out of Wilcox, which is in the Palliser riding. Many NHL stars, such as Curtis Joseph and Wendel Clark, have benefited from the Notre Dame hockey program. As the team's head coach, Del Pedrick, said Sunday after the game, “This group of guys wore our jersey proudly and represented not only our school but all of Saskatchewan”.

I wear the team's jersey proudly today in the House of Commons. I thank the Notre Dame Hounds for representing so well their school, the Palliser riding and all of Saskatchewan.

Victims of Crime
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honour of the fourth annual National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.

Victims of crime are not unique to any area of the country. Every parliamentarian represents constituents whose lives have been traumatized by the selfish acts of those who have no regard for the law.

We must stand by all those who need assistance and support and remember that on the scales of justice, the lives in the balance are not simply the criminals for rehabilitation, but the victims too. I encourage all of my colleagues to reach out to victims in their communities and provide a voice for their concerns in the House of Commons.

A Capital Experience
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a special group of students here today. They are participating in a program I call a “Capital Experience”, where two student leaders from each of the seven high schools in my riding come to Ottawa for three days each year to learn about career opportunities in public life.

They have visited Parliament, the Korean Embassy, Amnesty International, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister's office, the press gallery and Summa Strategies. I wish to thank those who have taken their time with these students and thank the businesses and service clubs who sponsor them.

Today, I welcome to Parliament: Jesse Besaw and Lori Josephson from Brock; Loretta Shaughnessy and Danielle Goldberg from Crestwood; Grant Leeder and Laura Backman from Fenelon Falls; Lindsey Snelgrove and Mitchell Rea from Haliburton; Waylon Skinner and Sarah Prozak from I.E. Weldon; Cody Welton and Wyatt Weir from Lindsay Collegiate and Vocational Institute; Jessica Lang and Olivia Demerse from St. Thomas Aquinas; and Amanda Hickey from St. Peter's.

I ask my colleagues to join me in wishing these young people all the best as they make decisions regarding their future careers.

Ahuntsic Braves
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Montreal Canadiens have had many players within their ranks who have excelled through their determination, their talent and particularly their ability to dazzle and inspire their fans. Among those is one everyone will recall: the famous native of Ahuntsic, Maurice Richard.

While everyone is aware of his important role in the development of our national sport, fewer people are aware of the role he played within his community.

Today we welcome to the Hill players and volunteers of the Ahuntsic Braves hockey association, which has benefited from the ongoing support of the Rocket. Not only did he, like so many other parents, watch his children play on outdoor rinks and drive players to practices, he also refereed numerous games and generously allowed the hockey association to benefit from his fame. Still today, he remains a source of inspiration and a model to all.

May hockey continue to be a healthy school of life for our young people, a place where they can learn to have fun while respecting themselves and others.

Long live the Ahuntsic Braves.