An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (carbon levy)

Sponsor

Mark Warawa  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Second reading (House), as of Oct. 20, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-342.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Excise Tax Act to provide that any tax paid to a province in respect of carbon is excluded from the total purchase price for the purpose of calculating the goods and services tax.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to take part in the debate on Bill C-342, which was introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Langley—Aldergrove.

I have had the great privilege of representing my riding in the House since January 23, 2006, and my colleague and I have had the opportunity to work together in the interest of all Canadians in a way that respects the principle of tax equity, a principle that seems to have been forgotten since this Liberal government took office.

I want to begin by telling the people of Lévis—Lotbinière that the Conservatives will continue to fight the tax hikes imposed by this Liberal government, a government whose hypocrisy knows no bounds and that keeps breaking the promises that it made to honest, hardworking Canadians.

Bill C-342 will amend section 154 of the Excise Tax Act to exclude the collection of GST and HST on provincial carbon pricing systems. From now until the next election, the Conservatives will be the voice of the taxpayer, and we are proud to stand up for Canadians against this tax on the carbon tax.

This is no surprise to anyone. Our party has always opposed high taxes on Canadian taxpayers, and we oppose the Liberal government's unprecedented deficits and spending.

It is no secret that those who voted for a party other than ours are now looking at another option, and that option is the Conservative Party. Our previous Conservative government made it clear that the party respects taxpayers, our wallets, and each person's ability to pay. Our party does what it says and says what it does, in addition to helping Canadians make ends meet. Not only do we do all of that, but we also do so fairly, at no one's expense, and without mortgaging future generations to the hilt.

We hope that the Prime Minister is the only one in his generation to think that the world will end in 25 years and that Canadians will not have to pay down this massive deficit. Unlike the Liberal government, a Conservative government knows, in no uncertain terms, how to balance a budget and eliminate deficits.

The Liberal government's proposal shows the Liberal Party up to its old tricks. This is just another one of these Liberal shell games where Canadians always lose out. Does anyone believe the Prime Minister's claim that the government's new price on carbon will be revenue neutral? It is absolutely shameful that he should have the nerve to try to make the public believe this. He must always be looking for new ways to fill government coffers on the backs of hard-working Canadians so he can outspend our borrowing capacity by a factor of two, if not 10.

What does the Prime Minister take us for? Fortunately, not all of us blindly swallow everything the Prime Minister says in the House. It is patently obvious that by charging GST on top of the price of carbon, the Liberal government will be collecting billions in new tax dollars. Too bad they will not be able to make even more money off this revenue by stashing it in a tax haven, as their Minister of Finance is currently doing. Granted, that scandal is another matter altogether, but it is just one more in a long line of crooked Liberal manoeuvres that, sadly, always end with us losing out or getting the shaft.

This hidden tax is totally unconscionable, obscene, and unfair to Canadians. What is even more appalling is that it represents one more broken promise from this Prime Minister. Instead of taxing Canadians, and taxing the tax, as this unscrupulous government currently wants to do, the Conservatives believe that we need to lower taxes for Canadians, including taxes for businesses, families, and individuals. This is an integral part of the Conservative vision, a vision of prosperity and opportunities for all Canadians.

This bill's objective is very noble and laudable. We want two main things: we want to help the Prime Minister, as a matter of urgency, to keep his promise, and we want to prevent the Liberal government from collecting GST/HST on provincial carbon taxes.

Let us look back at the untruthful comments the Prime Minister falsely made on October 3, 2016:

Provinces and territories will be able to have a choice in how they implement this pricing. They can put a direct price on carbon pollution, or they can adopt a cap-and-trade system....

Whatever approach is chosen, this policy would be revenue-neutral for the federal government. All revenues generated under this system would stay in the province or territory where they are generated.

Budget 2016 included a 21% increase of GST revenue from 2015-16 to 2020-21, despite the fact that federal GST would stay at 5%. The amount of GST the federal Liberal government is currently collecting through carbon taxes for the 2017-18 fiscal year amounts to $65 million from Alberta and $65 million from British Columbia. In 2018-19, it is projected to be $140 million from Alberta and $110 million from British Columbia, and that is for just two provinces. Imagine how much the government will collect from across Canada. This will mean billions of dollars more unfairly taken away from Canadians through this double taxation.

Halfway through their mandate, the Liberals have an abysmal track record. According to a report by the Fraser Institute, 81% of middle-class families are paying more taxes under the Liberals. These are families that pay on average $840 more per year. That is a significant sum.

The Liberal tax hikes are hurting Canadian families and businesses. Among other things, they scrapped the universal child care benefit, fitness and children's art tax credits, post-secondary and textbook tax credits, as well as income splitting for families.

With respect to small businesses, it is thanks to the pressure applied by the official opposition that they will be paying less taxes, as set out in the Conservative plan.

The Liberals also halved the TFSA's contribution limit, scrapped the public transit tax credit, introduced an Uber tax, and raised taxes on beer, wine, and spirits.

They then tried to tax health and dental insurance benefits, as well as employee discounts.

Now the Prime Minister, in true hypocritical fashion, is asking middle-class Canadians to pay more to cover his reckless spending, all while his family's fortune remains intact. For shame.

The Prime Minister is failing in his duty and wasting Canadians' hard-earned money. So far he has used these massive tax hikes to pay for luxury vacations to tropical islands at the taxpayers' expense and to pay for a lovely book cover for the Liberals last budget.

Those who still believe that he is not going to raise taxes on Canadians are a rare breed, and they are tending to keep quiet on the issue. Canada does not have the luxury to pay for another Liberal government. This Prime Minister does not deserve to be reelected because he has already lost the confidence that many Canadians placed in him.

Next year, all my colleagues across the way will be allowed to smoke marijuana, but they will not be able to stonewall our ideas on this side of the House. Conservatives are strong, solid, lucid, and determined. Day after day, we will do what this Prime Minister and the Liberal government do not know how to do and that is work hard in the interest of all Canadians to build a strong, stable, and prosperous country.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the bill introduced by the hon. member for Langley—Aldergrove.

Bill C-342 seeks to amend the Excise Tax Act to provide that any tax paid to a province in respect of carbon is excluded from the total purchase price for the purpose of calculating the goods and services tax. Even though I have no doubt that the hon. member has the best intentions in the world, this bill will not only not have an impact on Canadians' taxes, but it will also unnecessarily complicate our tax system.

Experience tells us that passing tax-related private members' bills can undermine the budgetary process and impede the Government of Canada's ability to prioritize public policy issues and urgent expenses when drafting a balanced series of budgetary measures.

Ideally, any changes to tax laws should be made as part of the larger budget process to ensure that they are consistent with the fiscal framework and the tax system. Before I provide a more detailed explanation of the steps and measures that the government has taken in this regard, I would like to talk about the implications of Bill C-342.

A key component of the government's pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change is the commitment to put a federally regulated price on carbon pollution across the country in 2018. This commitment is based on the very basic principle of fairness under which every person or their representative must pay for what they use.

The provinces will be able to choose between two great options for implementing this initiative. The first is an explicit price-based system, for example, the carbon tax that is in place in British Columbia, or a hybrid system made up of a carbon levy and production-based pricing like in Alberta. The second option is a cap-and-trade system like those used in Quebec and Ontario.

The bill before the House would complicate things. Separating carbon taxes and levies from the total purchase price would make tax compliance more complicated and make the total purchase price less transparent.

Above all, this bill weakens our commitment to protect the environment more responsibly and fight climate change. The Government of Canada wants the tax system to be as fair and efficient as possible. If we want strong and sustainable economic growth that benefits Canadians as a whole, we must have in place a tax system that is fair for everyone, especially the middle class.

The GST/HST was always meant to be a consumption tax. Applying that tax to a broad range of goods and services not only makes it equitable, but also gives it the additional advantage of being simpler to manage and more efficient, which is undeniably of benefit to Canadian businesses and consumers.

Here is how the GST/HST works: it is calculated on the final sale price of many goods and services that Canadians consume and use every day. The final amount to which the GST applies generally includes other amounts charged, such as duties, the tobacco tax, and other gas and fuel taxes.

The main advantage of this general approach is that it is simple and predictable, which is better for Canadian consumers and makes it easy for Canadian businesses to calculate and collect the tax.

The final reason this bill does not achieve its goal is a financial one. When we look at the savings this bill would generate, we can see that not charging GST/HST on carbon taxes would have a negligible impact in the case of most fuels and little impact on buyers.

For example, eliminating the GST on the existing carbon tax, which is 6.67¢ per litre of gas sold in British Columbia, would bring the price of a litre of gas down by about 0.37¢, which is about 0.03% if the retail price is $1 per litre.

In Alberta, not charging the GST on the natural gas carbon tax, which will be an estimated $205 in 2018 for a couple with two children, would save about 85¢ per month, which adds up to $10.25 for that year.

Let us compare that to the major tax cuts we have introduced since December 2015. Nearly nine million Canadians are benefiting from the government's middle-class tax cut, and the new Canada child benefit means that about 300,000 fewer children are living in poverty now than in 2013.

That works out to a roughly 40% drop in Canada's child poverty rate. We also took non-tax measures to help Canadians retain more of their hard-earned money and plan for their future.

A year ago, the government took action to help people retire with dignity by strengthening the Canada pension plan. Thanks to a historic agreement between the federal government and the provinces, the maximum benefit will increase by about 50% over time. This real and meaningful action has a major impact on the lives of Canadians. This is in addition to our government's unprecedented investments announced in the last two budgets to help clean up communities and reduce their dependence on energy sources that cause air pollution, have harmful effects on the environment, and jeopardize our health.

We are continuing to work to develop a single, consistent, and comprehensive plan to improve the lives of the middle class and all Canadians, a plan that will yield better results than an ad hoc approach like the one proposed in this bill.

The tax treatment provided for in the bill we are discussing today is neither fair nor efficient. Furthermore, this plan is not consistent with the objectives and priorities we have set with respect to environmental protection. For these reasons, the government opposes this legislation.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2017 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the bill by the member for Langley—Aldergrove. Bill C-342 would amend the excise act so that the government cannot collect GST or HST on provincial carbon pricing systems.

Last year, the Prime Minister imposed a national floor price on carbon that would require all provinces and territories to have some form of carbon pricing by the year 2018. British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec have already introduced carbon pricing systems. Most other provinces are working to do the same before the 2018 deadline.

The Liberals have claimed that putting a price on carbon pollution is the best means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Before I go on, I want to remind everyone of a recent report tabled by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, titled “Progress on Reducing Greenhouse Gases”. It concludes that the minister's department did not make progress toward meeting Canada's commitments to reduce greenhouse gases. This brings into question the effectiveness of the carbon pricing scheme.

The fact is that the Liberals did not introduce carbon pricing to reduce the emissions. They introduced it to fund their excessive spending habits. I believe that Canadians are willing to pay their fair share of taxes. However, the government is demanding so much money from hard-working Canadians that soon there will not be any more money for them to take.

Despite promising that carbon pricing would be revenue neutral, the Liberals' 2016 budget projected a 21% increase in GST revenues from the 2016 to 2021. Why? The GST rate didn't change in those calculations. What did change was the massive growth in taxable consumption of carbon, via carbon pricing.

The carbon tax is just that, simply another tax. The carbon pricing scheme isn't revenue neutral because it increases costs down the line and will increase the cost of the GST and HST on consumers and businesses. That is exactly why I believe this bill is necessary.

If the government wants to keep its promise to make carbon pricing revenue neutral, it needs to support this bill. Otherwise, it will be taking billions of dollars from hard-working Canadians because of this tax on a tax. Canadians are being taxed enough. This is just another Liberal tax grab designed to make Canadians pay for the Prime Minister's out-of-control spending habits and his resulting legacy of deficits that our grandchildren and children will have to pay.

Consumers and businesses are finding it more and more difficult to survive under the Liberals. The Liberals say that carbon pricing will force businesses to be more environmentally friendly by raising their operating costs. However, those costs will just be passed down to the consumer.

If someone wants to take their family on a Christmas vacation, it will be more expensive because airlines will pass that cost down to the consumer. Carbon pricing will not change how many gallons of fuel it takes to get from one city to the next. If it does, it will probably be because they have invested in more fuel-efficient technology. That is already in their interest to do because it saves them money. They do not need a carbon tax imposed on them to tell them to be more efficient. They are already trying to be.

A carbon tax targets generally taxes emissions from the burning of fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gas in the hope of discouraging their use. While these fuels produce emissions, they are needed by us to drive our cars, heat our homes, and produce our electricity. The problem is that it does not matter how much these fuels cost us, because we still need to consume them every day, and winter is coming. It does not matter how much it will cost to fill up a gas tank, because many of us still have to drive. It is a half-hour from one end of my riding to the other. I am definitely not going to walk.

It does not matter how much our electricity bills go up, we still have to heat our homes. I have to plug in my vehicle in the wintertime or I will not get back to the house. My riding of Yellowhead is full of oil and gas fields. It is not like in those questionable documentaries where we see a massive hole dug into the earth with no signs of life for miles. The oil and gas leases are scattered throughout the forests and farmland, and are most often just a small teardrop of gravel with a small building or shack on top of the well.

Each company has an operator that has to check on each of these leases every day to make sure they are functioning properly. Additionally, they have to bring in water trucks and other service vehicles to maintain these leases. This is all necessary to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and the safe functioning of wells. Even though carbon tax makes it more expensive to operate and drive to each of these leases every day, the companies cannot decrease their safety oversight and well maintenance. They have to pass the cost on to the consumer at the pump.

As well, a carbon tax is a huge hit to the Canadian farm sector, which relies on these fuels to plant the crops that grow the food we eat. CIBC noted that some experts say that the total additional cost to a farm would be $6 an acre. For someone who has planted 1,000 acres of oats, that is $6,000 more in fuel costs to that farmer. When the cost to farmers goes up, so does the cost of food to consumers. Again, we are just paying again.

I also want to draw everyone's attention to another issue. I have said that the cost from carbon pricing is passed down to the consumer, making the cost of living more expensive. However, some businesses are forced to absorb the blow at the bottom line, jeopardizing the future of these businesses and jobs they provide, all while doing nothing to impact their emissions.

For example, in the auto body industry, companies do not set their own prices. If a person gets their car into accident and needs to get it fixed, their insurance company decides how much it should cost and dictates that to the auto body shop. They tell the auto body shop how much to charge, even though the insurance company does not know the overhead costs of that body shop. This is unfortunately the way insurance systems are set up.

In speaking with one owner near my riding, I learned that suppliers have passed the cost of carbon pricing on to his company. The insurance companies dictate how much he can charge and there has been no increase provided to offset the costs of the carbon tax. It is out of his pocket, the bottom line. Considering that about 90% of his work comes from insurance, his operating costs have increased by 12%, and that comes completely off his bottom line. What does that mean? It means choked growth and maybe staff cuts.

When the Alberta carbon pricing took effect in January, it just so happens that there was an increase in gas prices at the same time. The gas bill for this person's shop went from $500 a month to almost $1,600 a month. He went to his MLA to find out why, and found out that GST collected on top of the provincial carbon tax was the major factor. That is exactly why this bill is important. Small businesses and consumers alike are seeing their costs skyrocket under this Liberal government.

As representatives, it is our duty and responsibility to ensure each of our constituents can afford their groceries, to heat their homes in the middle of January, and to keep providing jobs for their communities. No one should ever have to be let go from a job because their company is being taxed to death.

The Liberal government will collect billions in new tax dollars as a result of charging GST on their mandatory price on carbon. This shameless tax grab is unfair to Canadians, and it is not what the Prime Minister promised, which was to keep the price on carbon revenue neutral. I call on those sitting across from me today and to all of their colleagues to support this bill and help the Prime Minister keep his promise to Canadians.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2017 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank God for this opportunity to have a private member's bill. I was number 71. A vast majority of members of the House do not get a chance to present a bill. It is around 45 bills a year. Two years and I now have the opportunity to close debate on this important bill.

I also want to thank Megan, Liat, MacKenzie, and Maksym in my office in Ottawa for their support in preparing for today. I want to thank Annette, Rebecca, and Jane who are in my riding for their support. Of course, I want to thank my wife, Diane. We have been married 45 years this month. I could not do this job without her wisdom and her support.

It is important to have a bill that means something. I consulted with my constituents and overwhelmingly I heard support for Bill C-342, which fundamentally states that it is wrong and it is unfair to charge taxes on taxes. Canadians understand that. Unfortunately, many in the House do not.

The government has a legacy of broken promises, saying one thing and doing something else. We just heard that the tax would have negligible effect on the tax burdens of Canadians. That is not true. This year, $130 million are being taken out of the economy of British Columbia and Alberta through GST on the carbon taxes in those provinces. The Prime Minister said that it would be federally revenue neutral and that this was good for the environment. We all want to do our share for the environment. We all want to be fair. However, what we were told and what actually is the truth are two different things.

This year $130 million will be sucked out of Alberta and British Columbia. Next year, it will be $250 million, and that is just for the western provinces. When this carbon tax, as mandated by the Prime Minister, comes into effect, billions of dollars every year will be sucked out of the economy just in GST.

The Liberals say that we need fairer taxes and that it will not be fair to not tax a tax on tax. That is really hard for me to grasp, and I really do not even want to try to grasp the fact that it is fair to charge taxes on taxes and that to stop this will be unfair. The GST is a tax on goods and services. Is a carbon tax goods? No. Is it services? I guess in the mind of Liberals a tax is a service to Canadians. However, Canadians do not believe that. It is unfair to charge a tax on tax.

The Prime Minister promised it would be revenue neutral. This is what Canadian media is saying.

Tim Powers of Power & Politics said that it was not revenue neutral when applying a second tax, that more money actually would come into the federal coffers. We have seen that in the budget. We are talking billions of new dollars coming into the federal coffers in the GST. The GST would be charging tax on tax. Rosemary Barton from CBC said that it was not really about what it would cost the consumer; it was about the government's claim that it would be revenue neutral, and it was not. Ian Capstick said that it was not neutral, that it was profitable to the federal government.

Canadians get it. The media get it. Unfortunately, my colleagues across the way do not get it. It is not fair to charge a tax on tax. I hope the House will do the right thing and support Bill C-342.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 8th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

moved that Bill C-342, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (carbon levy), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is truly a great honour to have the privilege to introduce a private member's bill.

One of the first things that happens in Parliament is that we elect our Speaker. The second thing is that every member's name is drawn from a hat. I was given the great privilege of being number 70 drawn out, and here we are, almost two years into this Parliament, and my turn came up to introduce a bill.

There is a lot of thought that goes into what the important issue is that needs to be addressed in a private member's bill. In the last Parliament, I was very happy that I was able to introduce the “safe at home” bill, which required a safe distance between a victim of sexual assault and the offender. During the warrant period of sentencing, there has to be a separation to protect both physical and psychological health. This passed, which made me very happy. However, here we are in the current Parliament and I am again honoured to have a private member's bill. What should it be? I truly wanted to represent the community that I love, Langley—Aldergrove, which is one of the most beautiful parts of Canada and the world.

One day, I was checking out my energy heating bill. I am quite excited that the Conservative position always has been and in reality is the only party to stand up for the Canadian taxpayer. Traditionally, both the Liberals and the NDP have supported tax increases whenever possible. I hope that is not the case now, but one expects an action based on past performance, so I would expect the Liberals to support more and more taxes.

Canadians, as the Prime Minister has said, are willing to pay their fair share. Canadians are very fair. However, when I looked at my energy heating bill for heating my home, and I live in Langley, British Columbia, there is the carbon tax. There is a line that shows the cost of the natural gas, then other charges, the carbon tax, and two lines below that there is the GST. Suddenly, I realized that the government is collecting a tax on a tax.

There are diverse opinions on whether or not we should have a carbon tax. The government is supporting the greenhouse reduction targets, which are part of the targets of the Paris accord, and it is one of the reasons why this side supported it. Those were our targets and the Liberal government has used those targets in the Paris accord, but how do we achieve those targets? Some would like to see energy efficiency through regulation.

My colleague for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa has a long successful history in protecting the environment. I want to thank him for the great work that he has done. I have been honoured to work with him on the environment committee. However, he is a Conservative member of Parliament who does not believe that the government should be taking every opportunity to tax Canadians. Here is an example of where the Liberals have that right to come up with their policies, and they are going to put a price on carbon. This is how the Liberals believe they can reach those targets. We do not believe that will be successful, but that is their right and that is their policy.

However, when the Prime Minister announced putting a price on carbon, he said, for that price on carbon, it would be up to the provinces as to what they would do with those revenues. The Prime Minister promised Canadians that it would be federally revenue neutral. Yes, each province would determine how they would collect that price on carbon, but federally it would have zero effect on the revenues to the federal government. This was a promise. There are a lot of promises and a lot of statements made by the Liberal government here in the House and to Canadians. Be it in the House or out publicly at town hall meetings, there was promise after promise that it was federally revenue neutral, but that is not true.

I saw it on my bill, and I started talking to constituents, asking them to check their bills. For everyone who checked their bill, sure enough, the government was charging GST on the tax. That is a tax on a tax.

Time and time again, Canadians were shocked. They had believed the Prime Minister. They had trusted him. He had said, like Yoda trying to play the Jedi mind tricks, “High taxes, they are good for you”. Canadians were believing it until they saw the truth. What the Prime Minister was saying was from the dark side. It was not the truth. The truth is now being revealed, and Canadians are realizing they have been deceived.

We also called on the Library of Parliament and asked it to do a study and tell us if this is just a little money, because the Prime Minister has continually said this is a small cost and that we would go into a deficit of $10 billion, that it is just a little to build a strong Canada. We did the research with the Library of Parliament, and we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars coming out of B.C. and Alberta every year. As the price of carbon goes up, so does the GST.

There must then be evidence in the budget the Liberals introduced that there are additional revenues on that line for GST. There it was. The Library of Parliament indicated hundreds of millions of tax dollars coming out of Canadians' pockets.

The Liberals believe in high taxation and lots of social programs, but as a Conservative, we are the only party in the House representing the Canadian taxpayer and saying we trust that money in the pockets and in the bank accounts of Canadians. They will use their money wisely. The Liberals on the other hand say taxes are good, this is fair, and it will be revenue neutral. That is all not true. We know from the report from the Library of Parliament it is not true, and we also now see it in their budget. There it is. It is a little hidden, but if we dig, there it is. There is a massive increase in revenues for the federal government. It is not revenue neutral.

What do we do? Being good Conservatives, representing Canadian taxpayers and low taxes, we told the truth and presented that document from the Library of Parliament in the House and asked for unanimous consent that it be tabled. Sadly, we did not receive unanimous consent. The Liberal Party did not want that made public. However, it is a public document, so we released it to the media and the Canadian media put it out there. Canadians can now see it by looking at their energy bill.

How is this going to affect Canadians? As I said, the report indicates hundreds of millions of dollars being taken out of Alberta and British Columbia. As the price of carbon expands across the country, we are talking about billions of dollars.

If we think back to the party that represented the Canadian taxpayer. The Conservative Party of Canada, in 2006, promised we were going to lower the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. We all remember that. One of the things I really respect, and a reason I am so pleased to be a Conservative, is that Conservatives keep their promises. If they say they are going to lower the GST down to 5%, it will happen.

A lot of times, our promises are delivered even before Canadians expect it. That is what happened. We could see the economic clouds on the horizon, and instead of lowering it from 7% to 6% to 5% over a gradual phase, it was done almost overnight from 7% down to 5%. Why the GST? The Conservative government provided the lowest taxation in Canadian history, whether it was income tax or lowering taxes for corporations and small business.

That was one of the promises that was made by this party, that if we had formed government, we would have lowered small business taxes. The Liberal Party made the same promise, and of course that is another broken promise. The Liberals have refused to lower taxes.

What is the advantage of low taxes to small business? It helps businesses create jobs. We are competing provincially and locally, but also internationally. For Canada to remain competitive and for small businesses to able to expand their distribution and create jobs, lowering taxes creates a much healthier economy. However, the Liberal government made that promise, and it is another broken promise.

The former Conservative government lowered the GST. It is the tax, the one tax that affects everyone, and it benefited those living on fixed incomes and in poverty more than any other tax, but particularly those on fixed incomes who have difficulties in choosing between buying medicine, heating their homes, what they are going to have for supper, or how they are going to get around. We provided a bus credit, so that transit costs would be lower. Unfortunately, that is another thing that the Liberal government took away from our Canadian seniors.

The Liberals are deceptively moving the GST from 5% to 7% and higher. As the price of carbon goes up so does the GST. Again, billions of dollars are deceptively being taken out of Canadian taxpayers' pockets.

I have not yet met one Canadian in my riding who thinks it is fair to charge a tax on a tax. Canadians, as the Prime Minister has said, are fair. However, it is not fair to quietly, deceptively charge a tax on a tax. A goods and services tax, GST, is a tax on goods and services. Is a tax a good? No. Is it services? No. It is a tax. Maybe the government, if it is going to continue on taxing taxes, needs to rename what it is doing.

What are Canadians saying? As I said, none of my constituents think it is fair. I have not met one Canadian yet who thinks it is fair to charge a tax on a tax, in principle, except for some of my Liberal colleagues, and unfortunately, some of the other colleagues in the House. I do not want to prejudge what they are going to do, but it is fundamentally unfair.

What Bill C-342 does is, and it is very simple, it makes an amendment to the Excise Tax Act of Canada so that the price of carbon is GST exempt. There are a number of items under the GST legislation, the excise tax legislation, that are exempt. One of those should be tax. A government should not charge a tax on tax, especially when it promised that it would be revenue neutral.

It is only a Liberal government, supported by members of Parliament who think it is okay to charge tax on tax, that would oppose this. I hope I am wrong. I am prejudging from what I have heard. I am thinking of all the times the Liberals have said that providing marijuana to our children will be good for them. They have said that it is revenue neutral and higher taxes are good for us.

It is like Jedi mind control. I am thinking of a quote from Yoda, “Powerful you have become...the dark side I sense in you.” I sense that high taxes and deception are coming from the dark side.

I am proud to stand up in a party that believes in low taxes and standing up for the Canadian taxpayer. I encourage everyone to support this very important bill. Let us make the change. Let us be fair to Canadians.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 8th, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Mr. Speaker, the best way to deal with that is to send Bill C-342 to committee to make sure it can be applied fairly so that all provinces benefit equally. The only way that can be ensured is if it goes to committee and is studied and, if necessary, amended. I am open to amendments. It is up to each province, including Quebec and British Columbia. Each province can determine how it puts the price on carbon.

My bill is to ensure, in the spirit of fairness, that Canadians are not paying tax on a tax. I hope the member will not oppose fairness and will support a low-tax scheme for Canadians. The people it will help the most are those on fixed incomes. A lot of Canadians can afford to pay taxes, but a lot of Canadians are really struggling. He knows that, and I am hoping the Liberals will support this bill going to committee.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 8th, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs Québec

Liberal

Marc Miller LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to the bill proposed by the member for Langley—Aldergrove.

Bill C-342 proposes to amend the Excise Tax Act to provide that any tax on carbon pollution that is imposed by a province be excluded from the total purchase price, and consequently that it excluded from the calculation of the goods and services tax or the harmonized sales tax, the GST/HST.

Although the hon. member has good intentions, the bill presented would unnecessarily complicate our tax system without providing any significant benefits for taxpayers.

The Government of Canada wants our tax system to be as fair and as effective as possible. If we want strong and sustainable economic growth that benefits Canadians as a whole, we must have in place a tax system that is fair for everyone, especially for the middle class, which is central to our economy.

Before taking time to explain the steps and measures that the government has taken in this regard, I would like to explore the consequences of Bill C-342 as proposed by the member.

The GST and HST have always been intended as a tax on consumption. Applying that tax to a broad range of goods and services not only makes it equitable, but also gives it the additional advantage of being simpler to manage and more effective, which is undeniably of benefit to Canadian businesses and consumers.

This is how the GST and HST work: they are calculated on the final sale price of numerous goods and services that Canadians consume or use every day. I am sure that as consumers we are all subject to the tax. That final amount, to which the GST is applied, includes the other taxes, expenses and levies that may have been incorporated into the final price, such as customs duties, the tobacco tax, and other gasoline taxes.

The main advantage of this long-standing general approach is that it is simple and predictable, and that is good for Canadian consumers. It also means that it is easy to calculate for companies that do business in Canada and that it is easy for them to comply with it.

This bill would eliminate those advantages, but without offering any clear benefits in exchange.

The government believes that changes to tax laws are ideally considered to be part of the budget process, to ensure that they are consistent with the financial framework and the general uniformity of the tax system.

Making the tax system fairer and more effective is certainly an important objective of the current government. That is why, last year, we launched a broad review of tax expenditures. The objective of that review is to eliminate tax measures that are poorly targeted or ineffective. The review will also enable the government to identify cases where it would be possible to eliminate measures that unfairly benefit the wealthiest Canadians.

Budget 2017 brings in the first measures intended to implement the changes that came out of the review of tax expenditures conducted by the government. That review identified opportunities for making existing tax measures more effective, fairer, and more accessible to Canadians.

In this regard, budget 2017 provided for measures to improve the tax relief offered to family caregivers, students, and persons with disabilities. Tax fairness is a complex objective that calls for ongoing engagement on several fronts. As the government’s work in this area progresses, it will continue to aim for a fair tax system that benefits the middle class and those who are working hard to join it.

As our Minister of Environment and Climate Change has stated clearly before, pollution is not free. A successful climate change strategy puts a price on pollution, enabling Canadians to make choices about their consumption habits to ensure these choices do not come at the expense of our environment. Separating the carbon tax from the total purchase price would instantly make tax compliance more complicated.

A central component of the government's pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change is the increase of nearly $2,300 in tax-free child benefits this year. We have also taken steps outside the area of taxation to help Canadians keep more of their hard-earned money and plan for the future.

A year ago, the government acted to help people retire with dignity by strengthening the Canada pension plan, reaching a historic agreement with the provinces that will increase the maximum benefit by about 50% over time.

These are real, significant actions that decisively and definitely impact the lives of Canadians.

Add to that the government's historic investment through our previous two budgets and last year's fall economic statement. These investments will help communities become cleaner and less reliant on sources of energy that pollute the air, harm the environment, and compromise our health and the future of our children.

We continue to work toward executing a single, cohesive, and comprehensive plan to improve the lives of middle-class Canadians, a plan that will achieve more than an ad hoc approach like the one proposed in this bill. Commitment to pricing carbon pollution across the country by 2018, which is in line with the federal benchmark, is based on a very basic principle of fairness: people or their proxy must pay for what they use.

When it comes to implementation, provinces that have not already done so have two broad choices. The first is an explicit price-based system. It might be a carbon tax like the one in British Columbia or a hybrid approach composed of a carbon levy and an output-based pricing system, such as the one that is in place in Alberta today. The other possibility is a cap and trade system such as the one here in Ontario and in Quebec.

The final reason the bill falls short of its intent simply comes down to dollars and cents. When we take a closer look at the savings this proposed legislation might achieve, we find that the impact of removing GST/HST on carbon taxes or levies would be relatively negligible for most fuels and would have little impact on purchasers.

For example, removing the 5% GST on the current 6.67¢ per litre carbon tax on gasoline sold in British Columbia would reduce the price per litre of gasoline by about three-tenths of a cent. On a 50-litre fill-up, the amount of relief would be only 15¢. In Alberta, removing the 5% GST on the estimated cost of $205 for the carbon levy on natural gas in 2018 for a couple with two children would result in savings of about 85¢ per month, or $10.25 in that year.

Let us contrast that with the meaningful tax cut that the government introduced shortly after taking office in 2015. Through the middle-class tax cut, nearly nine million Canadians saw a drop in their personal income taxes. Single individuals who benefit are saving an average of $330 each year, and couples who benefit are saving an average of $540 each year.

With the introduction of the Canada child benefit plan, which has been in effect since July 2016, nine out of 10 Canadian families with children will receive an average tax cut that is extremely significant.

The bill before us today proposes a tax treatment that is inefficient and fails to support our environmental objectives and priorities. We are proposing to move forward in a clear and cohesive way in co-operation with provinces and municipalities while making sure the middle class and those trying hard to join it are properly protected through a fair and equitable tax system.

For these reasons, the government opposes this legislation.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 8th, 2017 / 6 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to my colleague’s bill, Bill C-342. He is certainly well-intentioned, as he demonstrated in his speech. However, when we take a closer look at the bill’s technical details and its application across the country, not just in Alberta and British Columbia, the provinces he always mentions, there are a number of problems with it. As a parliamentarian, it troubles me to be asked to support such a bill.

I will first discuss the problems with this bill, which are why I am personally opposed to it. The fight against climate change is certainly my first priority, as a certain Liberal minister likes to say, and I hope it is also a priority for the Liberal government and all parties in the House. This issue affects my generation and future generations, so we need to take it very seriously. I am therefore happy to talk about it.

This issue relates to the bill, since it deals with carbon pricing and the polluter pays principle. There must be a price put on consuming polluting products and activities, since pollution comes with a cost. There needs to be a cost to the environmental footprint of using or buying goods and services that pollute more, so that governments can offset our pollution by investing in a greener and more environmentally friendly economy.

I wanted to demonstrate just how important this issue is to me and my party, the NDP. I am sure that I speak for my colleagues when I say that the fight against climate change is very important.

Let us talk a little more about the details of the bill now. Although it is short, consisting of only one paragraph, when we look more closely at it we see that it could be difficult to apply. Each province may decide to put a price on carbon in its own way. For example, Quebec and Ontario have created a common carbon exchange. That is one way of putting a price on carbon and pollution. On the other hand, my colleague has often spoken about Alberta and British Columbia, which have chosen another way of pricing carbon and pollution.

Under the plan announced by the federal government, by 2018 all provinces must have a method of pricing carbon and pollution. Since each province is free to choose how to do that, this bill, which proposes an exemption from the 5% goods and services tax, will have the effect of deducting the carbon tax from the GST. However, if we consider how this bill would be applied in each province, we quickly realize that it would not apply where there is a carbon exchange or some other carbon pricing or carbon levy system. We therefore cannot be sure that the member’s good intentions would materialize in those provinces.

My colleague often refers to electricity or energy bills to support his arguments and his bill. In fact, however, it would apply to much more than energy bills, if we take the example of Alberta and British Columbia. The GST is paid on a range of goods and services, not just energy. It is important to make the distinction.

My colleague said just now that applying the bill could be complicated. The example he gives regarding energy would be relatively complex. However, in other situations and for other kinds of products, it would be a complex matter to determine what portion the carbon price represented, and then exempt only that portion of the product from the 5% GST. The increased complexity involved in applying the Excise Act could cause a number of problems to its implementation in a province where someone decides to make a trade on a carbon exchange and where pollution rights may be purchased.

For example, a company may buy pollution rights and trade them. This is a cap-and-trade system. At that point, it becomes even more difficult to exempt that carbon price, when it is applied in a carbon exchange where businesses have something a little more intangible, namely a right to pollute.

However, that will not necessarily appear on consumers’ bills. Consumers may be involved in the production of a good, since we might say that part of the production is connected with pollution, and thus also connected with carbon. However, it becomes complex to administer and to truly separate out the price connected with carbon in the price of a product, and then try to exempt it from the GST.

With respect to the simplicity of our tax system, I do not think the measure makes it a lot simpler, because it is quite complicated itself.

There is also the entire question of the polluter pays principle. I am not opposed to that principle. The Conservatives want to talk about the GST on the price of carbon, but I think behind that is an effort to defeat the carbon pricing plan.

In fact, we often hear the Conservatives flatly opposing everything associated with the polluter pays principle. That is unfortunate, but it is probably what is hidden behind the intentions of the member who is proposing this measure.

When the member talks about fairness, I would like to tell him about an interesting situation that parliamentarians could consider as the debate continues, namely a way to achieve the objective.

When a carbon tax was introduced in Alberta, they also introduced a rebate system to reimburse the consumers hardest hit by it. Thanks to the NDP government of Alberta, the people with the lowest incomes have been able to obtain refunds. They receive cheques based on a rebate system connected with the carbon tax, and this makes it possible to achieve one of the objectives mentioned by my colleague. What my colleague said was that people with the lowest incomes will be the ones hardest hit by this. In Alberta, they have managed to find a good solution. I encourage my colleagues to consider that measure.

In our tax system, we already have a way of giving a rebate on the GST, and people are thus able to get reimbursed for a certain amount connected with that tax. This would be an opportunity for the federal government to examine that option in more depth, as it prepares to put a price on carbon.

We may differ on the definitions, but a price on carbon covers all forms of pricing. We could therefore consider this option for compensating low-income people, as Alberta has done. We could also give them a refund on the GST, an option that may be more generous for low-income Canadians. This would be a way of finding a compromise so that our tax system remained as simple as possible, even though it is already very complex, and at the same time achieve my colleague’s objectives, that is, not to unduly affect low-income people.

I will be very happy to hear my other colleagues' comments on this bill, and I hope to hear opinions from all sides.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 8th, 2017 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Langley—Aldergrove for this important debate today. Bill C-342 would make amendments to exclude the collection of GST and HST on provincial carbon pricing systems.

I have unequivocally opposed the carbon tax since my very first words in the House of Commons on behalf of Lakeland. Since December 2015, I have questioned the carbon tax here in the House and in committees. I was the first MP to sponsor a petition against the carbon tax, with over 10,000 signatures. I fight for oil and gas workers, for small business owners, families, and for everyday Canadians, all of whom are rightfully angry and worried about their futures. This blatant tax grab is not environmental policy. It is a tax hike, a cash grab, full stop. It is all economic pain for no actual environmental gain.

Immediately, I opposed the Liberals forcing a carbon tax on all Canadians, and I oppose the Liberals' anti-energy agenda at every step. The Liberals say provinces and territories must comply by 2018, or a carbon tax will be forced on them. I oppose the Liberals' anti-energy agenda by supporting pipelines and LNG projects, all Canadian natural resources development, and Albertans.

Last year, the Prime Minister told Canadians, “All revenues generated under this system will stay in the province or territory where they are generated.” Now, Canadians know that is not at all the case.

As recently as April 2017, internal documents show the Liberals plan to collect billions in new tax dollars by taxing the carbon tax. That is a tax on a tax. This grab will result in more revenue for the Liberals, and less money for hard-working Canadians.

There is no guarantee from the Liberals at all that provinces and territories will ensure revenue neutrality. In Alberta and British Columbia, the GST collected by the Liberals on provincial carbon taxes in 2017-2018 will be $65 million from both provinces. In 2018-2019, Albertans will pay $140 million. British Columbians will pay $110 million in GST collected from the carbon taxes, all going into federal coffers.

The Liberals' claims are just not true. It is a scam. The Liberals know they are getting new revenue by taxing the carbon tax. In fact, they admit it in their own budget projections. Budget 2016 even shows a 21% increase in GST revenues between 2015 and 2021, despite the federal GST rate staying at 5%, and despite the Canadian economy projected to only grow by 15% during the same time period. There is no doubt this increase is coming directly from this tax on a tax scheme.

Canadians are rightfully worried. They are concerned about where their hard-earned tax dollars are going, and it is just the beginning. The Liberals are hiding the details from Canadians on the long-term costs, and the full economic impacts of the carbon tax.

Environment Canada says the carbon tax would have to be $300 a tonne by 2050 in order to reach emissions targets. Canada can reduce emissions, like it did for the first time in Canadian history, under the previous government, without a carbon tax. Crushing the economy is not the only solution.

The Liberals claim the tax will be revenue neutral, but it is not. Alberta's NDP claimed its carbon tax was revenue neutral simply because it was spending the proceeds on pet projects. B.C.'s carbon tax has not been neutral since 2013.

The carbon tax grab, and now the tax on the tax scheme, will punish Canadians, especially the poor and people on fixed incomes, those whose livelihoods depend on energy and agriculture, and Canadians who live in rural, remote and northern communities. It will hurt public institutions too. School boards will need to cope with millions of dollars in extra bills.

The Elk Island Catholic School board in Lakeland has to cover an additional $82,000 in increased costs for this school year, and about $143,000 in 2017-2018, for increased transportation and infrastructure costs because of the carbon tax, gutting budgets for necessities.

Municipalities will also struggle. St. Paul works to keep spending as low as possible, knowing the carbon tax will make it even harder to stay in the black in the next few years. Vegreville projected the carbon tax will hike the town costs by more than $36,000 in 2017, and up to more than $54,000 in 2018. These are significant costs for small towns, villages, counties, and MDs.

The carbon tax will hit all Canadians. A Lakeland resident near Vermilion shared a bill on Facebook recently. It showed a cost of $778 on top of a $900 bill on a single truckload of energy products to heat his home. A Bonnyville family-owned trucking business warned he will have to fire four people. The NDP carbon tax is the biggest tax hike in Alberta's history. It is a tax grab, not environmental policy. This broad-based tax on everything will not reduce emissions. Experts say carbon taxes have to be upward of $1,200 to be punitive enough to reduce emissions.

The Liberals are using international agreements with all our allies and trading partners to justify their bad tax hikes and their damaging red tape. For example, the Paris agreement does not mandate a carbon tax on countries. It does not dictate policy for members. It does not even mandate emission limits for those countries. The Liberal carbon tax will not earn so-called social licence or approval from anti-energy extremists who will never grant it.

The federal Liberals and the the provincial NDP are manipulating caring for the environment, a priority shared by all Canadians, all Albertans, and all parties. It is crass to suggest otherwise, and it is all politics to the Liberals. The Liberals are all talk, both betraying Albertans and energy workers, while breaking promises to Liberal voters who often have usually supported the Green Party and the NDP.

The Prime Minister claims provinces have a choice. However, there is no choice at all. At the beginning of the debate on the Paris agreement, before any MP had a chance to even say a word, before any provinces were consulted, he declared they must impose the carbon tax or Ottawa will do it for them. His Paris agreement motion included a carbon tax. I opposed, and still oppose, the carbon tax.

Globally, carbon taxes have led to economic disaster. Australia's carbon tax was repealed two years after it was created. What is alarming is that its policy was $24 per metric tonne Canadian. That is roughly only half of what the Liberals are forcing on Canada. About 75,000 businesses paid the carbon tax directly or paid an equivalent penalty of duties and rebates. They almost always passed on part or all of that cost to customers, small businesses, and households, because they had to, hiking prices exponentially as a result.

However, after the economic consequences of that bad policy, Australians defeated the left-leaning government and elected a conservative coalition, which repealed the tax, and created an almost $3 billion fund for industry incentives. Australia's economy is similar to Canada's. As a result of that failed policy, Australia's natural resources became less globally competitive. Canada should heed that example.

Here in Canada, British Columbia's carbon tax is often cited by proponents as ideal. It is not a theoretical debate. It has not reduced emissions. Every year, since 2010, B.C. emissions have increased. B.C.'s carbon tax was also sold as a revenue-neutral way of encouraging British Columbians to drive more fuel-efficient cars, make fewer trips, car pool, or switch to public transit. It was also applied to home heating and electricity in hopes of promoting more energy-efficient insulation and smaller homes, plus more conservation by families. That did not happen. The average Vancouverite's commute is close to 50 minutes one way, and longer than it was when the tax was imposed.

The promised gains never materialized. According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the carbon tax raises nearly $240 million a year, while the Lower Mainland's per litre transit tax raises $320 million from the Vancouver area alone. Even though Vancouver has by far the highest gasoline prices on the continent, there has been no significant reduction in gasoline purchases.

Out of necessity, British Columbians quickly adapted and returned to their old levels of fuel consumption, but with less money for essentials and the ever-rising costs of housing. This broad-based tax on everything increases the price of everything for everyone. It will rise over time, taking $38 billion away from Canadians annually by 2022.

The Liberals must be honest with Canadians. This is not about environmental stewardship. It will not earn social licence from those who are anti-energy or anti-Alberta. It is only about getting more revenue for a government that believes the budget will balance itself, that promised a so-called modest deficit, and has already racked up the largest deficit in Canadian history outside of war or recession. The Liberals started with a surplus, and two years later they are mortgaging the economic future of young Canadians. Their GST on the carbon tax is just another way for them to take even more from hard-working Canadians.

All members should support this bill. The Liberals should stop hiding the details, end this scam, and end this tax on tax.

Excise Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

March 20th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-342, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act (carbon levy).

Mr. Speaker, I am so honoured to present in this Parliament my private member's bill. We will begin debate next month on it. I would like to thank the hard-working member for North Okanagan—Shuswap. It turned out that we were both very interested in the same important issue. The issue is that Canadians are willing to pay their fair share of taxes, but Canadians are being tricked by the government.

The Prime Minister said that we must all pay a new carbon tax on everything. He said that the provinces and territories may make this revenue-neutral, but he said that his new tax on carbon would not create any new taxes for his federal government. However, that is not the case. It has been revealed that the federal Liberal government will be collecting billions of dollars of new taxes by charging GST and HST on top of the price on carbon, which is a tax on the tax. That is not fair. It is not what the Prime Minister promised.

I have introduced this bill to prevent the federal government from collecting GST or HST on the carbon tax. It is a good bill. It is not fair to charge a tax on a tax. I call on all members in this House to support this excellent bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)