Madam Speaker, I was listening earlier to my Liberal colleague talk about the new GST agreement between the federal government and the maritime provinces. He forgot to mention that this agreement requires the federal government to pay close to $1 billion to the maritime provinces, a political compensation, as this billion dollars was used to pay off those provinces to accept a proposal that does not kill the GST.
On the contrary, this proposal maintains the GST but makes the Minister of Finance look good by allowing him to say he took some action in this matter. It is Canadians from the other provinces and Quebecers who will have to pay for this $1 billion in political compensation. But it is not the only cost; by reducing the combined sales taxes-the provincial sales tax plus the GST-in the maritimes from around 19 to 15 per cent, the Minister of Finance has paved the way for an increase in equalization payments to the maritimes over the next three or four years. That is what will happen.
So the price to be paid by Canadians from the other provinces and by Quebecers is not only $1 billion; it is not true, as the Minister of Finance claims, that this will end after four years. In fact, the formula for calculating equalization payments to the maritimes shows that we will be paying more and more for this bad agreement that the Minister of Finance signed on our behalf.
The new deal between the federal government and the maritimes will cost Quebecers and Canadians outside the maritimes $1 billion. It is a high price for Canadians to pay for a bad deal, a political deal which maintains the GST. However, it is not the only
price. After four years Canadians will continue to pay compensation to the maritimes through equalization payments. When the taxation base is reduced, like the Minister of Finance's proposal, equalization payments intervene automatically.
Why did the Minister of Finance and the government not do with the maritimes what they have done with Quebec since 1991, that is to say, really harmonizing both taxes without it costing a penny to any Canadian? Why did they approve such an agreement? Why did they agree to take $1 billion from the pockets of taxpayers in Quebec and Canada outside the maritimes to pay for this agreement, which is not even a harmonization agreement, which does not even keep the original Liberal promise to kill the GST? Why? My question is directed to my colleague.