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House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was harmonization.

Topics

Public ServicePrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member is perhaps not aware of the fact that the proposer can sum up only if nobody else wishes to speak. Perhaps the hon. member could call it a point of order. He is not entitled to speak once the proposer has made a final summary.

Public ServicePrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, my point of order would be a matter of debate, and so I will sit down.

Public ServicePrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Since no other member wishes to speak and the motion is a non-votable item, the time provided for the consideration of Private Members Business has now expired and the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

Public ServicePrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West, ON

Mr. Speaker, may I suggest that the House be suspended until noon.

Public ServicePrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed that we suspend the House until noon?

Public ServicePrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11.54 a.m.)

The House resumed at 12.06 p.m.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 10th, 1997 / 11:50 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

moved:

That in relation to 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, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage of the bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, and 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required, for the purpose of the order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Shame.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

12:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from February 6, 1997 consideration of 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, and of the motions in Group No. 3.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the motions in Group No. 3 put forward by the Bloc Quebecois concerning this part of Bill C-70. Because this bill is very substantial, the amendments have had to be grouped.

I am pleased to rise today to express my opposition to Bill C-70, as my colleagues have done before me. As has already been said repeatedly, this bill is a hodgepodge of amendments to the GST, a rather thin and tasteless soup.

One of the aims of this bill is to harmonize the GST and the provincial sales tax of three maritime provinces in exchange for a paltry compensation of $1 billion based on some particularly obscure calculations.

First off, I would like to point out that there would have been no debate on Bill C-70 had the Liberal government kept its election promises. In the last election, the Prime Minister promised to totally eliminate this federal sales tax. However, far from eliminating it, the government now wants to harmonize it, as it puts it, to better hide it. In addition to not fulfilling his election promise, the Prime Minister told Canadians and Quebecers he had never promised to eliminate the GST.

Canadians were probably not watching the right television channel when the Prime Minister said: "We want to scrap the GST; we want to abolish it; we want to eliminate it". Canadians were probably not reading the right newspapers when they read, written

in black and white, during the election campaign, statements made by the Prime Minister and his Liberal colleagues saying: "Yes, we will scrap the GST". Canadians were probably not tuning to the right radio stations when the Prime Minister, his ministers and other members opposite said: "We will abolish the GST; we will scrap it".

Today, we are told: "You misunderstood". And we misunderstood them in both official languages. This is all about respect.

Now, we all know what to make of the Liberals' promises, including future ones, because they will promise us the world again. We have proof that the Liberals are unable to fulfil their commitments. To make things worse, the Prime Minister was disrespectful to a citizen on the national television network when he told her: "No, we did not lie; this is what we meant, but we did not state it correctly".

Not only did the Prime Minister and his government renege on their word, they are now proposing a bill hastily thrown together, a bill that will cost us one billion dollars in compensation to just three maritime provinces. What a nice pre-election gift. They probably need it badly in that part of the country.

I will not discuss in detail the technical aspects of Bill C-70, but I have to point out the government's incompetence in this matter, and its lack of respect for the opposition and for Maritimers, who were not given an opportunity to be effectively consulted and heard.

Before Christmas, the Minister of Finance tabled a bill that has close to 300 pages. He tabled it just before the Christmas recess, giving the opposition 24 hours to review this technical piece of legislation and to prepare for debate at second reading. The purpose was obviously to prevent the official opposition from finding flaws in the bill. Unfortunately for the Liberals, there were flaws and there are still many. In fact, the government botched its work to the point that the Liberals themselves tabled over 100 amendments to their own bill. Their excuse is that they worked so quickly and did such a poor job that they did not have the time to read it over and so they have come up with 100 amendments to remedy matters.

The government has been moving full steam ahead with Bill C-70 so that the public will forget the GST fiasco before the next federal election. It shows, because this is a bad bill and the government is proving it by introducing so many amendments. Not only is Bill C-70 bad, but it is unfair, because it makes no provision for compensation to provinces that have already harmonized their provincial sales tax with the federal tax.

Oddly enough, the only province that has already harmonized its sales tax with the federal tax is Quebec. That is right, once again the Liberal government is thumbing its nose at Quebecers, by refusing to give them the money to which they are entitled. The Government of Quebec calculates the amount at $2 billion. If you work out fairly what Quebec should receive in light of what was handed over to the maritimes, this is the amount owing. We are not asking for a handout or anything extra, we are asking for what is owed us.

When the provincial premiers got together in Jasper last August, they reached an agreement that all provinces should be treated equitably by the federal government. All provinces including Quebec, since it is still part of Canada for a few years to come, are to benefit equally from the agreements regarding the harmonization of sales taxes, which naturally includes compensation.

On December 13, 1996, Quebec ministers Bernard Landry and Jacques Brassard officially requested $2 billion in compensation for having harmonized Quebec's sales tax with the federal sales tax. Since that time, the Liberal government has refused to compensate the Quebec government for this harmonization.

It is worth pointing out that Quebec harmonized its sales tax in 1991, on its own and without financial assistance. The costs of this harmonization were considerable, and part of those costs were borne by Quebec businesses. Moreover, Quebec businesses are still paying the price, and are not even reaping the benefits the harmonized tax will offer, as proposed in Bill C-70. The bill neglects to even mention Quebec.

As for the three Maritime provinces, they will benefit fully and considerably from the harmonization of their sales tax with the federal tax. Unlike the Quebec businesses, those in the Maritimes will be fully reimbursed for input taxes, without the increase in taxes Quebec businesses had to absorb. One of the best proofs of the Maritimes' new advantage is the poaching by New Brunswick's Premier McKenna during Team Canada's latest trip to Asia. During this trade mission, Premier McKenna approached Quebec and Ontario businesses to get them to move to New Brunswick by pointing out the advantages of harmonizing their sales tax with the GST.

The federal government is therefore using some of the Quebec taxpayers' money to finance unfair and unethical competition by the Atlantic provinces. We are also paying for the tax cuts promised by the Government of New Brunswick, while such a luxury is out of reach for us in Quebec. Unfortunately, the harmonization of sales taxes by the Maritime provinces will cost us more than just the $1 billion over the next four years. The reduction in sales tax from 19 per cent to 15 per cent will mean that Quebecers and all Canadians will be contributing more in equalization payments to the maritime provinces.

Furthermore, the federal government is guilty of a total lack of transparency and fairness in this matter. There is no way at the moment to justify the $1 billion the maritime provinces are going to get. The reason is simple, unlike the practice, the standards and method of calculation used to establish the amount of compensa-

tion remain hidden and under wraps. This is unacceptable. The government is being neither professional nor honest in this matter.

Now, a quick word in closing on Bill C-70's supposed elimination of tax on books. Another snow job by the Liberal government in an effort to hide its mistakes. Bill C-70 provides for the elimination of taxation on books purchased by literacy and teaching institutions only. This is a start, it is true. We recognize that. However, it is thanks to the unrelenting demand of Quebec, which, by the way, has eliminated sales tax on all books.

In conclusion, the Bloc Quebecois opposes Bill C-70 and its plan to harmonize the GST with the sales tax of the maritime provinces. This bill is jerry-built and based on nothing more than political and partisan considerations. The Liberal government is attempting to mislead the public with this bill and make them forget the empty promise of eliminating the GST, but people will not be fooled and will still remember in a few months' time.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

1 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-70 and the third group of amendments on harmonizing the sales tax in the maritimes.

We have hard much about how the harmonized sales tax is unfair and complex. I am going to get into some solutions to the GST that the government could employ in order to give all businesses a leg up against competitors in other parts of the world.

The government had an enormous opportunity when it came into office three and a half years ago to finally help Canadian businesses to become competitive with their counterparts in the world. Instead the government has taken an entirely different approach other than business as usual. It has done the exact opposite and complicated our tax structures.

The most recent example is the HST. This sales tax does not make the taxation system simpler. It does not provide an impetus for the private sector. It does not create more jobs. It will do the exact opposite. It will cost jobs. There are some very sad examples of this, particularly since this affects the maritimes. It is supposed to help the maritimes but will actually have a devastating effect on many businesses.

Who is this going to affect? It will cost more for children's clothing, books, auto repairs, gasoline, home fuel. It is not the rich who pay for this but the poor on fixed incomes who really pay. Let us look at some real life examples of businesses on the east coast that are going to be affected by this.

The Canadian Real Estate Association claims that the increasing cost of a new house in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland will be over three and a half thousand dollars. The GST harmonization in New Brunswick will cost almost 80 jobs in Moncton and Buctouche. There are other examples in New Brunswick. There is a 50:50 chance of other store closures in the Greenberg chain and a loss of over 70 jobs in places such as Atholville, Shediac and Moncton. This tax will not alleviate the strain and duress that Canadians from coast to coast feel. It will make things worse.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses made it very clear that harmonizing the sales tax is good but that it has to conform to certain criteria. It stated that a properly harmonized tax is good, but it has to be one sales tax across the country at a lower rate than the present rate. It must have one set of rules, one set of audit procedures, a single remittance requirement and one tax collector.

The HST proposal that harmonizes the sales taxes will not do that. It violates the principles put forward to the government by the business community through the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses. It said to the government: "Here are some good solutions. Take them and use them". What did the government do? It ignored them and went in the opposite direction.

I am sure many members will empathize with me. Before I got into this business, as a member of the public I often wondered why in the world did governments continue to propose solutions that have little or no relevance to what is actually going on in the trenches? I am no closer to answering that question today after three years in this House than I was before I got into this business, and that is sad.

It is a disgrace and a shame that we have repeatedly failed the Canadian public by not putting forward good, effective solutions to the problems that affect us. In no other realm have we violated the trust of the Canadian public more than in the field of economics. This opportunity to harmonize the sales tax was a great chance but a failed opportunity on the part of the government.

Some very good solutions could be put forward, but first I will talk a bit about the GST. I will not discuss the fact that the government violated the public's trust on this issue because that has been spoken about before. Once again I plead with the ministers of revenue and finance to please simplify this tax or eliminate it. It is a complicated tax. I do not know if they really understand the incredible stress and burden it places on the small independent businesses that are trying their hardest to eke out an existence. These businesses are getting it in the teeth and the simplification or the elimination of the GST would be a welcome respite for people who are the underpinning of our economy and the true creators of jobs in Canada.

This tax is not applied fairly. In the medical field, the GST is not applied fairly at all. Physicians are actually singled out and treated unfairly by this tax. I will show members how.

Medical services are designated as tax exempt under the Excise Tax Act. Physicians, on the other hand, are denied the ability to claim a GST refund for purchases such as medical equipment and medical supplies that are necessary to deliver quality care.

Why did the government not support motions put forward by my colleague from Medicine Hat to make that issue fair for all medical personnel? Why are physicians being singled out? Only the government knows that. It is unfair and discriminatory to this group of individuals.

I would like to discuss some things we can do to try to improve the economy in our country. The first thing is to look seriously at introducing a simple, flat tax. The flat tax tells people that the harder they work, the more they are going to keep. Our present taxation system tells the Canadian public the more they make, the more the government is going to take from them.

That is a very serious problem because it takes away the incentive to go out and strive harder. A flat tax with a greater margin of exemption at the bottom takes out the lowest socioeconomic groups from paying taxes and puts more money in their hands.

My colleagues in the Reform Party have proposed that and we have the flat tax in our fresh start platform. It shows ways that the government can actually put more money into the hands of all Canadians, but in particular those who are poorest in our society. I encourage the government, once again, to take a look at that. Frankly, I am not very confident that it will take the initiative.

The complexity of the tax structure absolutely restrains, restricts and compromises the ability of the private sector to go out and be as aggressive as it can be.

Government regulation, in fact government over regulation, must be diminished greatly. If I was a private business person considering opening up a business, I would think very carefully about not doing it because of the level of government over regulation. Three levels of government are the hoops that many business people have to jump through, and that acts as a huge restraint on maximizing the great ideas that they have economically.

We must also deal with education. We need a much stronger education system and it needs to be brought into line with what is taking place in the global economy and what the needs of our country will be in the 21st century. Currently students, faced with an over 20 per cent unemployment rate, are having great difficulty earning the funds to get themselves through school. Almost two years ago Reformers suggested an income contingent loan replacement plan which would provide more funds to students going to school.

Our educational system must reflect the needs of the 21st century. Therefore, closer co-operation between the private sector and the education system is essential if we are going to maximize the needs of our country and the needs of our students. The ICLR program would enable more money to be available for students to get the training required. We also need a far greater input into job training in the work force.

Much to my dismay, I have learned that our country is one of the lowest in all developed countries in investing in their workers in developing the trades and the educational systems they will require along with the skills to be aggressive in the 21st century.

In closing, if the government was to have a flat tax, decrease the complexity in our taxation system, have a strong educational system, decrease the tax burden on Canadians and simplify the tax structure, we could provide enormous input, incentive and impetus to our private sector. As a result, we would create more jobs and have a more secure future for all Canadians.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to voice my opposition to Bill C-70. It is a thinly veiled attempt by the government to fulfil a red book promise to eliminate or redefine the GST.

I never fail to be amazed at the attitude of the government which has changed from such a short time ago when it was in opposition. I clearly remember the debate which went on in this place and in the other place when the former Conservative government brought in the GST. I remember the debate which went on in the other place for hours and hours, day and night, and the Liberal outrage over the proposed GST. The debate caused emotions which at times almost led to physical violence. All sorts of strange manoeuvres were employed to filibuster the bill, yet a couple of years later the Liberals who now form the government have completely flip flopped and seem to be defending this very unpopular and unfair tax in the interests of all Canadians.

When we read some of the debates from the last Parliament we see the Liberal comments which were voiced every time the Conservatives invoked closure on a bill. The Liberals howled and shouted their outrage. Now they are on the other side and they invoke closure on a regular basis. It is almost a daily order of business. There is a lot of hypocrisy in that kind of action.

The imposition of the GST had a lot to do with what happened to the Conservative Party in the last election. It will probably have somewhat the same effect on the Liberal members from Atlantic Canada in the next election if they do not start speaking up and representing the views of their constituents on the harmonized version of the GST. It has all the same problems and faults which the original GST had when it was imposed on Canadians, except

those problems and faults are now magnified. Instead of a 7 per cent tax we are looking at a 15 per cent tax.

The whole concept was sold to Atlantic Canadians on a bill of goods which said they would be better off, that the provincial tax would be lower and that it was the best thing since sliced bread. Atlantic Canadians are quickly coming to realize that the picture is not quite as rosy as the one they were sold.

The provincial sales tax was a tax on goods. Now it has become a tax on goods and services. On top of the billion dollar incentive which was given to the Atlantic provinces by the rest of the Canadian taxpayers to induce them to enter this agreement, the base of the tax will be hugely expanded compared to what was covered by the provincial tax. It has become quite evident to Atlantic Canadians that their cost of taxation will be substantially higher than it was with the two tax system.

On top of that, there is the fundamental dishonesty about trying to bury the GST in the price of the goods so that every time an Atlantic Canadian buys a good or a service they will not be reminded of the hated GST. That it is hidden in the price does not seem to be a very upfront and honest way of trying to make this whole controversy go away and make Canadians forget the most hated tax in Canadian history.

On top of that, a number of well known organizations have exposed the cost of this harmonized tax to Atlantic Canadians. It is certainly going to kill jobs in a major way. It is going to put expansion plans of a number of fairly major retail chains on hold. It will not only cost in investments but it will also cost jobs for Atlantic Canadians.

Of course we can go back to the whole issue that has been plaguing this House for the last three and a half years, which is the difference in what the Prime Minister and other Liberals promised during the campaign and what they have delivered since the election. The recent town hall meeting brought to light very clearly the difference between the two. The expulsion of the member for York South-Weston has certainly exposed the fraud in this whole issue.

There is no doubt that the promise to eliminate the GST after the election, because it has been such a very unpopular tax with Canadians since its implementation, had a very major impact on the number of seats the Liberal Party gained in the last election. Doing a flip-flop and turning its back on that promise will have a major impact on the next election. I do not even think this attempt to harmonize the tax will cover the failure to fulfil that promise by this government.

We in the west and even those in Ontario, the largest province in Canada, have shown little interest in joining in this effort to harmonize the tax for the same reasons that now, after the faults have been exposed, Atlantic Canadians are rejecting it. In Alberta where we have no provincial sales tax, the implication of a blended tax is of little interest to Albertans and would do nothing but cost a substantial amount of money.

Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia are the three provinces that are not even willing to talk about the proposal. It appears that even the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island are quickly backing away from having any input into the whole proposal. It is simply no better than the GST which Canadians have been rejecting for so long.

It is understandable why the provincial governments of some of the Atlantic provinces did fall into the trap set by the federal government to get them into this scheme. It was simply because of the billion dollars which was put up by all Canadians through their tax dollars to bribe them into becoming part of the scheme. There is also the very complicated issue of tax credits where one tax is applied on top of another tax and the province receives a rebate in those instances. One can see how it could be appealing to a provincial government if in fact it is looking after its interests instead of the interests of the people it represents, the people of the Atlantic provinces.

While it might have more appeal to the governments in the Atlantic provinces, certainly for the same reasons as for all other Canadians it has little appeal to Atlantic Canadians. That is probably one of the reasons the Liberal government refused to hold public hearings on this issue in Atlantic Canada.

Certainly, considering the implications of this bill and the tax the government is proposing, it would only be natural that the committee would have travelled to Atlantic Canada to hold public hearings and hear the opinions of all Atlantic Canadians but that just was not to be. I find it quite curious that this government would not have been willing to go there to hear the opinion of those most affected.

We oppose the GST in its entirety and we oppose this bill to harmonize the GST, but to somehow neutralize at least some of the problems with it we introduced a number of amendments. It will be realized that with the imposition of closure on the bill the Liberal government is not interested in hearing any amendments to improve the bill any more than it is interested in hearing any more debate on the bill.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to tell the hon. member that his time has expired. The hon. member for Cumberland-Colchester.

Excise Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to stand before this House today as a

member from the Atlantic region to talk about the Atlantic region. I wish to clarify the point that some of the members from the third party have referred to it as the maritime region when in fact we are talking about the Atlantic region of Canada. The harmonized sales tax is indeed an issue for intelligent discussion in this House.

The member indicated that members of the finance committee did not go to the Atlantic region because we were afraid to hear what the people might have had to say. That is not the case. We were in the Atlantic region in November. We held hearings across the country on the GST and we had open discussions. We even had political leaders from other parties attend our hearings here in Ottawa. It was the generous availability and the invitation of members of the finance committee that brought them to Ottawa.

Some key points in the harmonized sales tax that are being missed are really valuable. A point of fact is that on average, a Canadian consumer and in fact a consumer in the Atlantic region visits the grocery store approximately two times each week. In the items the average consumer will buy, approximately 40 per cent of them are taxable. What this means in the Atlantic region is a reduction of that tax through a harmonized process. In Nova Scotia alone that reduction is almost four percentage points. In the other Atlantic provinces, such as Newfoundland, it goes down even much further. In fact consumers at the grocery store will see a benefit in a reduced tax of up to four percentage points at the minimum in buying approximately 40 per cent of their goods on average twice a week in the average consumer pattern.

There is another important point. I talked to farmers in Atlantic Canada this very morning. The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture are very pleased with what this tax will do in the farm sector. Barns and new silos are being built across my constituency already. This is in the event that when the tax comes into place on April 1 these farmers will get a rebate of 15 per cent on all capital expenditures.

Let me tell this House that Ontario farmers are now saying: "Why can't we have this in Ontario?". That is the message which is coming from the farm sector in this country. They want what Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New Brunswick are getting in the farm sector. This 15 per cent tax credit looks a heck of a lot better to the average farmer than does a 7 per cent GST rebate.

When we talk about the input tax credit, the 15 per cent input tax credit that is available to all manufacturing sectors in the harmonized zone is a benefit to the Atlantic region. Why is it a benefit? Because it will sustain those who are manufacturing and creating long term jobs in our area.

This is the real benefit to our harmonized tax and the single tax system. Why is it a benefit? People have been asking us what to do in terms of simplifying tax. We have heard the hon. member speak about a flat tax here today. This is not about a flat tax and this is not part of this reform. It is about a harmonized tax.

In the Standing Committee on Finance we had companies in Ontario that manufacture goods for this nation say to our committee: "We will be looking at the harmonized zone. There is an incentive in that for us to even look at relocating to a harmonized zone because a simplification of a single tax, no tax on tax, is beneficial to the manufacturing sector and to the long term sustainable sector of our society that will keep our economy employing young people and generating an economy that will sustain us as we move into the 21st century".

A controversial point in this whole debate is a tax in pricing. Those who are making the most noise regarding tax in pricing are the multinationals and the internationals. When they come to Atlantic Canada they have told us that they do not benefit from the 15 per cent input tax credit because they do very little infrastructure in the harmonized zone. They have cashiers and people who work at the front line who stock shelves but the money for the most part is simply in employment wages and it leaves the region in the benefits from the sales. My invitation to the multinationals, if they really wanted to get the maximum benefits from the harmonized sales tax, was to come to the Atlantic region, to the harmonized tax zone and set up basic infrastructure, develop the long term sustainable businesses that will generate our economy.

For several decades now, maybe even a century, we have lost a large part of our economy. We have been an underprivileged region accepting large transfer payments. That is not because we want to, that is not because we are hard workers and that we do not have large numbers of entrepreneurs. I can give the history of my own businesses. We had put money where our mouth was and started a scientific company that has since went on to the stock exchange to become a very successful international company. We wanted to manufacture in the Atlantic region. We wanted to hire young scientists to create jobs and to be sustainable so that we would not have to be that have not province and have to take those transfer payments that we have depended for so long.

Some of the hon. members are advocating that this is not good news for the Atlantic region because they would like to continue for us to be that transfer receiving province and dependent on the provinces that are more sustainable economically. This is a chance for us to change that pattern.

There are comments from APEC, the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, that this harmonized tax is good news for the Atlantic region. There are comments from the CIBC this morning saying the Nova Scotia resale sector was strong in 1996 and the introduction of the harmonized sales tax is expected to further increase sales.

The harmonized tax does many things for our region but above all it allows us as Atlantic Canadians to have a stronger resource sector, a stronger manufacturing sector and to develop those jobs that can be sustained through a modern global competitive economy, and that is what we want. There will be some costs associated with the transfer of new cash registers or change over but these are minimal to the benefits of the overall 15 per cent harmonized tax and that 15 per cent input tax credit.

I could go through sector by sector, whether it is fishing, farming or manufacturing, but all those sectors in our economy, the building supply sector, the grocery store sector, have invited us to push forward with this harmonized tax and to make it forceful and make it strong. As I indicated moments ago, talking to our farmers this morning from the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, they are pleased with this. They are being told from the Ontario farmers they would like to have the same thing. I expect that farmers in Ontario, a strong, vibrant part of our economy, will put the push on the government there that it join in and get a harmonized tax as well.

To display some of the myths about this whole tax is that it is a two package deal. It is a harmonized tax at the manufacturing and business level and it is a tax in pricing at the consumer level. The reason it is a package deal is want the consumers of the Atlantic Canada and of our nation to eventually receive this through put in the reduction of prices of a tax in pricing. When we see a commodity on a shelf, whether cat food, dog food, lumbering supplies or whatever, we will know that the price which is marked on the shelf is the price we will pay when we go through the cash and exit the store. That is the benefit-