This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rights.

Topics

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the Somalia inquiry has requested that the privy council extend its mandate. The inquiry has yet to complete its study on the deployment and the post-deployment phase of the Somalia mission.

Will the defence minister assure Canadians that his government is not going to shut down the inquiry before it finishes all of its work?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the commission of inquiry on Somalia has requested the privy council consider an extension of its mandate. Obviously the government will consider that request.

I want to repeat to my hon. friend that I hope all members of this House will express their views on whether or not the inquiry should continue on, if they would like it to go for a year, two years, three years or four years, or if they think there might be some value in trying to learn the lessons of what happened in Somalia so that we can avoid a repetition of the intolerable incidents that took place there.

I guess it is all a question of whether it happens in our lifetime or not.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is very fine that the Minister of National Defence would blame the members of this House for the delay in the Somalia inquiry. We have to remember that it was the Department of National Defence that caused the delays in the work of the inquiry by failing to supply documents that the inquiry had requested in a timely fashion.

Canadians want to know about the post-deployment phase of the mission and what went wrong at national defence headquarters and the Liberal government cover-up.

Why will the minister and his government not prove to Canadians that they care more about the truth than public relations? Give the inquiry the time it needs to do its work.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I always hesitate to comment on public relations because it is not a skill that I have acquired.

As the government considers this matter I think it will be very important to understand what the position of everyone is with respect to this.

It has been suggested that the government wants to continue the inquiry in order to avoid having to deal with it over the next year or two when an election would have to be called constitutionally. We cannot have it both ways.

If the hon. member through his party wishes to indicate that we should give unlimited time to the Somalia inquiry and the commissioners to do their work, however long that may take, however much it may cost and whatever the results may be, I would certainly ask the government to take that into account. Somehow it does not seem to be consistent with the Reform Party's usual practical and pragmatic and efficient way of approaching things.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry.

Again yesterday, we questioned the Minister of Industry about what is going on at the Space Agency. Once again, he attempted to minimize the allegations against the president of the agency, by reducing them to a mere matter of destroying handwritten notes, but it is far more than that. Obviously, the president of the agency also has a problem with his expense account.

At the time he appointed Mr. Evans to the position of president of the Canadian Space Agency, was the minister aware that he had made an expense account claim which was dubious, to say the least, and which Roland Doré, the former president of the Space Agency, had refused?

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, it is very unfortunate that this member seems to be manipulated by information being spun out by a former employee of the space agency whose position was terminated in a reorganization, who is in the process of suing the agency and who thinks that the official opposition can be a medium for trying to prosecute his lawsuit.

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is not replying to the question in any way whatsoever.

We will therefore ask him how he can explain that the president of the Space Agency attempted to get reimbursed for a travel and meal claim for a trip to St-Hubert on June 3, 1994, when he travelled as this minister's seatmate on the plane and the meal was provided free of charge?

Canadian Space AgencyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

First, Mr. Speaker, just to illustrate how silly this is becoming, yes in fact, Mr. Evans did fly to St. Hubert on that occasion with me. No, there was no lunch provided. Second, Mr. Evans did not return on the aircraft. Third, evidently Mr. Evans did drive back to Ottawa. Apparently an expense claim was made. It was not paid and therefore was not improperly paid.

This is getting pretty silly. I would suggest to the hon. member that she let the courts decide whether this friend of hers has a valid complaint or not. The courts can make that decision. She does not need to come into this place in order to try to disparage the reputation of a public servant without having any facts on her side.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a letter dated December 14, 1995 from the Canadian Wheat Board to a western farmer stating that it has no commercial market for hulless waxy barley.

Could the agriculture minister explain why Alberta and Saskatchewan wheat pools are allowed to grow and market hulless waxy barley into the U.S. outside the Canadian Wheat Board pooling system yet a farmer like Andy McMechan is thrown in jail for doing the same thing?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, it is obviously very clear that under the regulations of the Canadian Wheat Board Act and other pertinent pieces of legislation there is an export procedure provided under the law and under the regulations for the exportation of all wheat and barley. All of those who comply with those rules and regulations may export.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, Andy McMechan was ordered to refund $55,000 to the CWB pool account, the premiums he gained for selling his grain into the U.S. Yet wheat board officials have directed Saskatchewan farmers to flour mills in Saskatoon who have paid millions of dollars in premiums outside the pool account for unlicensed wheat.

Would the minister of agriculture please explain where in the Canadian Wheat Board Act it allows for some farmers to gain premiums outside the pool and others are thrown in jail?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I obviously am not in a position and would not as a matter of propriety comment upon any particular legal matter which is now before the courts.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Why not?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Opposition members cry out "why not". If they do not understand that fundamental precept of justice, then there is nothing that could possibly save them.

In terms of the particular alleged transactions that the hon. gentleman makes reference to, I would be happy to have the Canadian Wheat Board and the relevant grain companies explain the procedure to him.

Regional DevelopmentOral Question Period

December 10th, 1996 / 2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Glen McKinnon Liberal Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry.

Recently in a statement to the Senate committee on banking, the minister committed to increasing the co-operation between regional development agencies, the Business Development Bank of Canada and other branches of its department, including science and research.

What has the minister done to increase co-operation within Industry Canada to promote effective regional economic development and to support science and research in western Canada?

Regional DevelopmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the matter of the co-ordination of the regional development agencies with Industry Canada and the various agencies that are part of the industry portfolio both in respect of science and technology as well as small business and the information highway has been a matter of the utmost importance to me.

In western Canada we have seen the delivery of a variety of services related to each of those areas through the 91 western economic diversification offices that are available in western Canada in part through the Community Futures Development Corporation. We have seen contributions through western economic diversification to research and development projects such as that by TR labs based in Calgary for wireless telecommunications and through Paprican and Ballard Technologies, both based in Vancouver, from Technology Partnerships Canada.

These efforts at co-operation and co-ordination will not only provide diversification of the economy of western Canada but will build a science and technology base that will enable the Canadian economy to grow into the 21st century.

UnemploymentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Chris Axworthy NDP Saskatoon—Clark's Crossing, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

Yesterday a government study showed the huge cost of unemployment of up to $91 billion. The IMF has pointed to the high rate of unemployment in Canada as a cause for concern. Even the private sector seems to have lost faith in being able to create the jobs Canada needs. Indeed it is cutting jobs.

Since the Minister of Finance has no vision for dealing with unemployment, will he pull together the stakeholders in this economy so we can build a vision for the future to deal with unemployment? Or, does he not care about all the unemployed people in the country?

UnemploymentOral Question Period

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, we as a government did not adopt the scorched earth policy of either the Reform Party or the Conservative Party in our approach to the deficit. We simply wanted to deal with the question of growth in the economy and the consequent employment that would flow therefrom.

As a result we have put enormous amounts of money into technology partnerships, as stated by my colleague the Minister of Industry. As my colleague the Minister of Human Resources Development has said, we have put enormous sums of money into youth employment. The Prime Minister's Team Canada approach has paid tremendous dividends to the country.

The hon. member may have learned something from that report, but because of the devastating effects of unemployment the government has taken the decisive action it has taken. As a result we will continue to do so.

The hon. member talked about having stakeholder meetings. We have done that with the business community. We have done that with the Canadian Labour Congress. We have done that with virtually every stakeholder. We will continue to meet with Canadians to create employment in Canada.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-70, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the Income Tax Act, the Debt Servicing and Reduction Account Act and related acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will use my time in this debate to talk about two specific aspects of the bill. One is the use of time allocation, and I will speak specifically about the blended sales tax.

It is important that we have the facts on the record. As of December 10, 1996 the government has placed before the House of Commons a total of 162 bills. Time allocation has been used on 20 of these bills or 12.3 per cent of government legislation that has been presented.

On four of the bills, however, either the Bloc Quebecois or the Reform Party gave procedural assistance for the implementation of time allocation, which in fact means that less than 10 per cent of the bills introduced by the government since the last election have been subjected to time allocation unilaterally applied by the government.

Perhaps more relevant are the statistics on time allocation concerning the actual number of times that time allocation motions have been moved.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Are you proud of this or what?

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Actually, yes, I am.

Since time allocation motions may be moved only at one or two stages of a bill, no bill may pass the House without opposition co-operation unless the government has applied time allocation two or three times to that one bill.

A quick calculation of these facts shows that government bills in the House of Commons have been considered at 429 separate stages at which time allocation could have been applied. On only 27 of these occasions has time allocation been applied, which is only 6.3 per cent of the time. On five of these occasions, however, at least one opposition party gave procedural assistance to the implementation of time allocation, leaving only 22 occasions on which the government unilaterally implemented time allocation. That is only 5.1 per cent of all possible occasions.

Another important issue about time allocation is that Canadian citizens expect us to get on with the business of governing. They request that we move forward. We hear all the time about how slow government is and how much it needs to move forward. I would suggest, as those of us who came from the world of business know, that the time the discussion is called to an end we can agree to disagree, vote and move forward. I have absolutely no problem with our record.

With regard to the blended sales tax I understand in this morning's debate there were some particularly outrageous comments on the concept of the blended sales tax.

It seems the Bloc Quebecois has spent its time for debate on this important issue telling Atlantic Canadians that their elected officials, the bureaucrats and the people of Atlantic Canada themselves do not know what they want and that the BQ knows what

Atlantic Canadians want. It is a pretty curious situation. They are trying to deny the Atlantic provinces the blended sales tax when they have had that system since the GST was implemented.

The second component of their time was used to talk about the adjustment assistance package when that is not even being considered today. In fact it has already been dealt with in a previous bill.

What do members of the House of Commons do? They are supposed to be debating the issue at hand. They are supposed to be getting on with the business of the day. They are supposed to be implementing legislation that Canadians want. Instead the opposition parties are getting into a silly game of trying to oppose the business we are trying to accomplish, to debate other issues that are not on the table and, in the case of the BQ, to use the time to tell people who actually elected them to make the decision for them that they are wrong and the BQ knows better.

I suggest they run federal candidates in all the provinces in the next election and we will see where the chips will fall.

I am particularly disturbed that my province does not have the opportunity to have a blended sales tax, even though we hear from Canadians and business people all the time about the complicated procedure of two sales taxes on two different bases, with two different collection times.

In the last provincial election our premier advanced to the Canadian Manufacturers' Association the reasons we in Ontario need a blended sales tax. I will quote the premier of the province:

I want something that works. And I'll tell you this: that if we had one VAT (value-added tax), one base, one bureaucracy to collect it, the manufacturers and the businesses in Ontario would save over a billion dollars by being able to deduct those costs that you cannot deduct today on the sales tax.

Mike Harris went on to say:

It has been one of the areas of major competitive disadvantage that Ontario manufacturers have had and Ontario businesses have had and I say, stop the rhetoric, stop the politics, stop the finger-pointing. Get on with harmonization and simplification of the GST-or whatever the new initials are-and the PST.

Mr. Harris underestimated the savings to provincial businesses and manufacturers by some $6 billion. The savings to the provinces and their businesses would be $7.8 billion with a blended tax system. So I say to Mr. Harris to stop the rhetoric, stop the finger pointing. Let us get on and make a better system for those provinces and businesses.

Why are we giving a competitive advantage to the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Quebec? Why do our business people have to struggle with complicated paperwork many times during the 12 months of the year on two different bases. Why can they not deduct what they should be able to deduct for their input costs?

Now is the time for action. Now is the time to end this debate and to move on to a vote on this issue. Let us go to the electorate with our platforms in place.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Allan Kerpan Reform Moose Jaw—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the debate on Bill C-70 since question period and before. It occurs to me it has been a very interesting day in the House of Commons. We are faced with what I considered to be a double Liberal whammy. First, for the umpteenth time we are faced with time allocation or closure invoked by the government.

The second whammy is the HST, the BST, the GST or whatever. I will speak for a second about the speech of the member for Burlington. She had some interesting statistics I would like to discuss.

She spoke about using time allocation or closure for 12.3 per cent of the times that it could have been used. I would hardly be proud of that record. It amazes me. If the bar is set low enough it is easy to jump over it.

To talk about the debt and the deficit, the Liberal government is now claiming what a wonderful job it has done with the economy and the finances of the country. The deficit is still well over $20 billion a year. They are proud of using closure 12 per cent of the time. It blows my mind. It amazes me that anybody from any party, including my own, would ever have the gall to stand up and be proud of records like that. It just shocks me.

Let us talk for just a second about the idea of closure. After we were elected in 1993, we came to Ottawa and heard all the media stories. The Prime Minister and members of the government would stand up and say: "We are going to be different. This is going to be a new Parliament. The 35th Parliament is going to be something of which we, as parliamentarians, can be proud".

I am afraid that I have been seriously disappointed in that aspect. Yes, the first couple of months of January 1994 started with some level of decorum that probably has not been seen in this House for many years. It deteriorated rapidly.

We are seeing again on a regular basis things like closure being used in the most undemocratic fashion anyone could ever imagine. We live in Canada. I am proud to be a Canadian. I am proud to live in our democracy. By the same token, I am deeply ashamed to be part of a system at times uses the most undemocratic tactics. I

would expect to see those kinds of tactics in many other countries but those are countries that I would prefer not to live in.

To stand up in the House today and talk about using closure12 per cent of the time is something that I find unbelievable. The member for Burlington said: "Let's have an election. Let's find out what the people want". That is good. Let us have an election. I am prepared to do that. When Canadians see and understand what kind of undemocratic government we have at this point in time, they will say: "Thank you very much. We will try somebody else". I am looking forward to that day with great interest.

The member for Burlington seemed disappointed and was complaining that perhaps the opposition parties, including our party, wanted to stall the debate further. Some of these bills have great importance. She implied in her speech that it is fine to speak in debate as long as we agree with the government.

I think back to three bills in particular, Bill C-68, Bill C-33 and this bill, where the government used closure to ram the bills through as fast as it possibly could. Why did it do that?

It is because Canadians are not in favour of these types of bills. I believe that the opposition has a duty to convey in the House the thoughts of the people of Canada. That is why we did it. We do not do it to stand up here and waste time. We are very busy people. We do not need to listen to ourselves speak.

They are important bills. Bill C-68, Bill C-33 and now Bill C-70 have tremendous impact on the future of this country. It is our right and our duty to speak. That is why I was elected and why everybody else in this House was elected, to truly debate those very critical issues.

Just recently we supported the government on the Tobacco Act. We wanted to see it go through as quickly as possible. We felt that Canadians were in favour of it. We agreed with the government. We said: "Let's do this. Let's get it through". We did. It is done.

I do not think it is fair for any government member to stand up and criticize us for asking for more open, honest, democratic debate. I know I do not have much time left but for the minutes that I have left, I want to talk about the GST or the HST or the BST. I do not care what it is called. They are all one and the same.

The member for Kindersley-Lloydminster talked a few minutes ago, before question period, about the BST. He is from Saskatchewan where we all know what BS stands for. I am from Saskatchewan as well. I also know what HS could stand for. It is all one and the same, it is still a tax. I have horses on my farm and therefore I do know what HS could stand for.

A tax is a tax is a tax. One cannot get around it and it cannot be hidden. People are not stupid and they realize exactly what is going on. To call it the HST or the BST or the GST or the ABC, it is still a tax. Canadians are tired of taxes. We are taxed to death.

In question period we talked of jobs and what the high unemployment rate costs in dollars. It is difficult to put an number on it but we do know that high taxation causes unemployment. That is just a plain and simple fact of life and there is no getting around it.

I have two friends in my riding, Elwood Nelson and Keith Talbot, who are both auctioneers. Recently I was talking to them about the problems the GST causes in their business. It causes tremendous trouble. These two gentlemen generally hold farm sales where they sell pieces of equipment, tools and so on. There would be hundreds and hundreds of items at any one auction sale on a farm.

Their difficulty is determining for what each individual item has been used and whether it is a personal item or a business use item. There are hundreds of items at one auction sale and these auctioneers hold sometimes 60, 80 or 100 auction sales a year. It is impossible to determine whether that piece of equipment or that tool has been used as a personal item or for business purposes. There is a difference in how they collect the GST and submit it.

They do not have a clue and they have been led down the garden path by Revenue Canada on the GST for six years. The rules change every six months. Somebody comes in with a new idea and they change it all over again. The same thing is going to happen when the tax is harmonized. They are going to have to go back and start all over again just has they have done so many times in the past.

I think of people who run stores. Recently I asked a woman: "What do you think of the GST?" She said: "I hate it, Allan, but at least it is in. It is in my computers, in my cash register and it is done. I don't like it but I have to live with it". What is going to happen when the HST comes in, or the BST, or whatever it is called? They are going to have to change again.

Mr. Speaker, do you know who they are going to remember? They will not think about Brian Mulroney. They are going to think about the Liberal government. They are going to think about this finance minister and they are going to say: "That's the guy that did it to me this time. First it was Mulroney, now it is the finance minister". The same thing, it makes no difference.

My colleague for Prince George-Peace River gave a very fine speech in the House just before question period and he said: "Liberal, Tory, same old story". They are going to remember the people who made them change and cost them a tremendous amount of money once again.

I cannot believe this is going on. If I were a Liberal member of Parliament who is seeking re-election I would be embarrassed to go out back on the campaign trail to be asked: "What about that GST

thing"? and have to say: "Oh, we are sorry, we made a mistake". I am ready. Let us try it.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is really quite an occasion to be able to stand up and speak one more time on the GST. In fact, if we could go over a little of the history of it, Mr. Speaker, I am sure you will remember all too well back to 1990-91. Many of the people who are in the Chamber today cannot remember the experience but you and I certainly do, sir. You will remember the vitriolic attacks that came from this side of the House. I could point out the seat that you sat in when you criticized the GST. It was really something. Of course, we were in agreement. This member looks so young he was hardly born at that time, but in fact he was around somewhere, but not in the Chamber. I remember all too well the attacks that came from the Liberal opposition about the GST and how terrible it was.

Of course when the Liberals came into power-you remember this, Mr. Speaker, because you campaigned in 1993 just as I did-and it was going to be gone. I am sure the people in the Niagara Falls area as well as the people in northern Alberta thought: "Oh, finally, if the Liberals come into power, then we are going to see an end to this dreaded GST".

For heaven's sake, what do you think happened next? Page 22 of the red book became absolutely famous. I would quote from it now, Mr. Speaker, but you know I do not have my copy any longer, but I certainly know what page 22 said. It said that the federal government was going to do away with the GST. What do we have? It is a kind of symphony really. It is a harmonization. The GST is still here. It is alive and well. Now it is going to be the HST, the BST or whatever it is. It is not a good thing.

It is easy for members to put on a brave face now that the Liberals are in government and say: "What we are doing is the very best thing for you". We hear time and time again about people who have retail businesses. In my area we have a lot of farmers. The horror stories that they are phoning my office with are hard to believe.

Here is a good one, or a bad one, depending on which way one wants to look at it. A farmer phoned my office not too long ago and said that because farm equipment is exempt he is allowed to receive a GST rebate or exemption on it. It was okay if he bought a half-ton truck. He would be able to get the GST back.

However, one farmer bought an extended cab half-ton truck. A regular truck with no extended cab was fine but he bought an extended cab truck because he kept his saddles and bailer twine and so on in the back seat. Do you know what happened? The GST department said: "No, no. This becomes a luxury vehicle and so you have to pay GST on it".

Then I would get another call from somebody else who would say: "I have a suburban, an entirely closed in vehicle, and I can claim exemption on that".

It just shows what a disastrous nightmare this whole thing has been. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you have had the odd call in your office as well. I do not think our regions of Canada are that much apart on these issues that you have not had a call or two in your own constituency office saying: "What in heaven's name is going on here".

I would like to go back to when the GST initially came in. It was going to be revenue neutral. I am sure if I jog your memory,Mr. Speaker, you will remember it was Bill C-21, the deficit and debt reduction account, that was passed in the 34th Parliament. All excess revenue was to go to pay down the deficit and then the debt. Guess what. That did not happen.

I put several dollars into that because I believe that if we are going to put our money where our mouth is then we had better contribute to that. As you know, Mr. Speaker, I have put my 10 per cent pay deduction into the deficit and debt reduction account for some time.

The question is far bigger than that. Is this tax a good tax or not. The answer across the country has to be no. Some points of it were good in terms of making it visible. Canadians are not the type of people who are going to remember something for five years generally. We complain about something for 20 minutes and then we get out our cheque book, write a cheque and say: "That is the government for you" and we carry on.

Yet five years later there is a vehemence, a vitriolic spirit across the country about the GST and now the heat is being raised one more level with the BST in Atlantic Canada. If you look at the specifics of that, the Atlantic premiers were bribed into signing this $1 billion deal. It was borrowed taxpayers' money. They were Liberal governments. They were tempted, if you will. They were bamboozled. It was hogwash. The point is it was $1 billion of borrowed money.

It is as if the government said: "We are doing a great thing here. We are going to pay off our Visa but we are using our Mastercard to do it". That simply cannot happen. The federal government took this $1 billion of borrowed money to their political friends in Atlantic Canada, the Liberals, and said: "Come on guys. We have to live up to page 22 here. We have to have harmony here in the symphony, so please help us out any way you can". It cost a billion dollars of taxpayers' money borrowed on MasterCard. There is something dreadfully wrong with that because we cannot live beyond our means. I suppose the Canadian taxpayers, those from Atlantic Canada who have signed on to this deal and those of us who live in other parts of the country can literally say thanks a billion.

Where is this cash coming from? The money does not just bubble up from under the surface. These are real cheques which are being sent to the government at income tax time from real people working in real jobs. A billion dollars to kick this thing into motion and people on the other side of the House say it is a really great deal. They say: "We are are from the government and we are here to help you". No wonder people get nervous when they see people from the government here.

Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia are not even willing to discuss the federal proposal. Support for it is weak in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island. When the government talks about full harmonization and how well everything is going to blend together and that it will be happy times for us in Canada as we move toward the next century, it simply is not true.

People from my constituency, not just farmers but business people also, continually phone my office saying: "Deb, you just cannot imagine how much manpower it takes to fill all of this out". Sadly enough, one more level of it is being added at the Atlantic Canada level. The rest of Canada is saying absolutely not.

It makes me think of my colleague next door in Edmonton Northwest who said that in Alberta it would be really great to blend or harmonize the sales tax. Mr. Speaker, I am not good at math and you know that. You have known that for years. However, if we have zero provincial sales tax in Alberta then what can we harmonize the GST with in order to make it 15 per cent? Any person in their right mind would say: "Wait a minute, I am not sure we can blend this because there is nothing to blend it with". We had enough of a hard time in Alberta going to any tax system. We have been blessed out there and we appreciate it is because of our natural resources.

When I hear the Minister of Natural Resources say that in Alberta it would be a really good thing to blend it, she has to give her head a shake. If she thinks she is going to go door knocking in the next election saying: "Harmony, ebony and ivory, let us live together in harmony", it simply is not going to happen. They are going to laugh her right off the block.

As my friend said earlier, I suspect that whether it was the Tories who brought in the GST or the Liberals who have pushed up the heat one notch on it to the BST, people really do not know the difference. All they know is they have been stuck with this tax and every time they buy two newspapers, let us say the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun , which equals a dollar, they also have to find a nickel and two pennies some place in their pocket to pay for them. I know that because every week when I go to the airport I run into the store to buy two newspapers. I cannot just flip a loonie out. I have to find the pennies and a nickel. It is a pain. Not a day goes by that a consumer does not say that they hate this tax.

What is amazing about this tax is that Canadians are still angry about it this many years later. Whether it is the Conservative government that brought in the GST or whether it is the Liberal government that brought in the BST, which it is in the process of doing by ramming it through with time allocation, when Canadians go to the polls next time they are not really going to remember the difference. As far as it goes, with the old line federal parties, they say that whether it is the Liberals or the Conservatives, it means higher taxes, bigger government and more money in debt. Whether it is the Conservatives or Liberals, they are the two sides of the same loonie.

One has to ask how Atlantic Canadians are feeling about this. Let us look at a couple of examples. Let us remember of course that all these people are represented in name by Liberal members of Parliament.

The Halifax Chamber of Commerce predicts that the harmonized sales tax will push up new house prices by 5.5 per cent as well as force municipalities to raise property taxes. Does this make any sense? I would not think so. The Halifax Chamber of Commerce should be able to go to its MP's office and say: "Okay girl, you go on up to Ottawa and tell them just exactly how we feel about it". I am not sure she has been able to do that.

The Canadian Real Estate Association says that harmonization will increase the costs of a new house by $4,000 in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and by $3,374 in New Brunswick. Nobody has that kind of cash to pay out.

The GST was wrong. The GST was bad. The BST is wrong. The BST is bad. I know that Canadians are still going to be angry about this in the next election campaign. They will say: "Wait a minute. Liberal, Tory: one gave us one, one gave us the other. They are the same thing. They are the two sides of the same loonie". The Liberals may meet the same fate that the Conservatives did in 1993.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, just to reiterate, we are talking about Bill C-70, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act and other acts so as to accommodate the GST and make it into the BST or blend it or harmonize it or otherwise.

My question to the House and the people of Canada is: What is the impact of the GST? Is this a good thing or is it dividing us?

It has been a very unsettling thing from its inception. The way the government is carrying on at the moment, trying to get different regions to buy into it, is once again pitting Canadians against Canadians. It is characteristic of the government to do just that. It will confer special privileges on some groups of people and say: "If you are in this group, then you have these privileges. If you are not, then you do not have them".

What we need in Canada is equality. We need equality between all Canadians and we need equality between all of the provinces. My suggestion is that the GST and any of its offshoots are tearing the country apart and that is not good.

The other aspect which I would like to address concerns integrity. I will keep using the word integrity to show in what way the GST is reflective of integrity in government. Let us start with the GST as an election promise.

Canadians are probably tired of hearing all of this, but this has caused us to say: Why did the Liberals as a party make a bunch of promises and put them in the red book? Was it to get themselves elected or was it to better govern the country? The answer is obvious. It was a book of promises cobbled together to win an election. Never mind the results. As long as they could promise enough and get the message out, people would vote for them and then they could do whatever they wanted.

We have used the GST as an example of a Liberal broken promise time after time in the House. Perhaps it is the prime example, but it certainly is not the only one. We did a study of the red book promises. We calculated that 30-odd per cent of the promises in the red book have been kept by the Liberal government. The government's estimate is that 70-odd per cent of the promises have been kept. Canadians can make up their own minds by looking at the red book, if they want to take the trouble to find out who is speaking the truth.

In any event the GST is typical of an integrity issue. Before the government was elected it said: "We must form the government. It does not matter what we say, we have to get the votes".

The red book is also typical of the difference between the Liberals and their way of doing things and Reform and its ways. The Liberals in cobbling together the red book, started from the top. It is a backroom document, with input of course from other areas. They said: "What is it that we need to really convince the public?"

On the other hand, Reformers get together and say: "Here are the principles and policies. We need to make positive changes in the country". Those policies and principles come from the bottom up. They are grassroots stimulated and they are ordinary people who say: "These are the changes that we need". Our fresh start document is a reflection of that, from the ground up rather than from the top down.

I am using the GST as an example, but let us look at integrity as reflected by the current government. There was talk about an ethics counsellor. Again it was a red book promise that there would be an ethics counsellor. Not only would the Liberals deal with the GST but they would do all these other things.

The ethics counsellor has turned out to be a will-o'-the-wisp. What are the terms of reference for the ethics counsellor? Some of them have been published, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, they are concealed. It is a matter between the Prime Minister and that counsellor and not open for the rest of us to see. That is not integrity.

Look at party discipline across the way. The member for York South-Weston is a prime example. Here is a man who stood on his honour and said: "I as a member of the Liberal Party took part in the decision to eliminate the GST. We have reneged on that decision. As a matter of honour, I will opt out". He is being severely punished and will continue to be for being an honourable man. That is not a good example of integrity on the part of the Liberals or the Liberal government, however one would choose to put it.

What else is this negative GST tearing apart? What else is it doing to the country? We hear examples from across Canada about the negative effects of it.

One of my constituents felt strongly enough about the GST that he said he believed the government was doing something illegal with this tax so he refused to pay it. He ran a shop called the Sandwich Tree in Nanaimo. He was prosecuted by Revenue Canada for not collecting the GST, but he held his ground. So far he has won two court decisions on this but of course he is not finished with it. Through Revenue Canada the government is saying: "Get him". Whether the government has good legal background to say this, I do not know. But the evidence I see is that this man is not just being prosecuted, rather I think he is being persecuted. His wife's salary has been garnisheed as has his own. He is not a free many any more, I can assure the House of that, whether or not he has won the first two rounds of this case.

Integrity. There are examples of integrity or its opposite in this House every single day, whether it is talking about the GST or about other subjects. I hear the Minister of Finance every day saying things that are patently not correct about the Reform Party. He puts our policies in a way which is totally twisted, and this is wrong. If that is an example of integrity as with the GST, I am not with it.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage today in exactly the same way did the same thing when talking with one of our members, supposedly answering a question on what our policy is with regard to the CBC. She deliberately chose to say things that are not Reform policy. She absolutely, deliberately said: "No, this is what you guys are advocating", and it was patently wrong.

The GST is not doing good things for the country. It is not doing anything for individuals, for groups or for regions. It is certainly

not doing anything for our economy except driving it underground. That makes the situation even worse. We do not need the GST.