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House of Commons Hansard #162 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Canadian EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister should realize that economic growth should mean more tax equity, more jobs, more humane policies for the unemployed and more social justice.

Will the Prime Minister realize that economic growth should benefit the unemployed and not take place at their expense?

Canadian EconomyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly why in the last budget, for instance, we invested new money totalling $850 million in tax exemptions to fight child poverty, because we on this side of the House have a social conscience and we want to ensure that everyone benefits from the progress we have made.

The first amounts that became available were applied to poverty. We then provided incentives for training people. We invested $800 million in innovation, so Canada will be ready to compete in the 21st century.

Instead of being negative, we look positively to the future because we believe that Canada is the country that will be best equipped to enter the 21st century.

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, what the Prime Minister neglects to mention is that, while a few million dollars will be forthcoming, but only in 1998, to combat poverty, he has cut $4.5 billion from social programs.

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

An hon. member

True.

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Let us talk GST, Mr. Speaker.

Since April 1996, the Minister of Finance has defended the $1 billion in compensation paid to the maritime provinces, through a pseudo-program of adaptation assistance, one which, when applied to Quebec, entitled it to no compensation whatsoever. Such was the minister's position for eight or ten months, the time Ottawa took to provide Quebec with the figures and information on how they were reached. Since then, Quebec has proven that the federal government cheated in its calculations and that, in reality, Ottawa owes it two billion dollars.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Can the Minister of Finance, who generally admits to his mistakes, tell us why he is not giving Quebec the compensation to which it is entitled?

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has been very clear. The compensation program offered to provinces having harmonized their tax with the federal tax applies to all of the provinces.

The provinces which lost money because of harmonization are entitled to compensation equivalent to half of the losses incurred. In the case of Quebec, it broadened their tax base since harmonization. For each of the past six years, it has collected more in sales tax than it did at the time of harmonization. Having lost nothing, therefore, it did not qualify for compensation.

This has been stated clearly, moreover, by the person who was Minister of Finance at the time of harmonization, and is now the opposition finance critic. He stated clearly and honestly that, in fact, Quebec had gained rather than lost in this arrangement with the federal government.

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would invite the Prime Minister to read the ten pages of Mr. Landry's budget, and he will gain some understanding of the matter; at the moment, he understands absolutely nothing.

I am now asking my question of the Minister of Finance. Will the Minister of Finance acknowledge this legitimate claim and reimburse Quebec?

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the answer I have just given applies, because there was no loss for Quebec, there was a gain. That is clear, and easily verified.

When people have nothing else to say, they refuse to look at the truth. I know very well that many Quebecers will recall that, a few years ago, employees were given pay raises before the referendum, and then, for the second time in Quebec history, those who received something before the referendum had their pockets picked by the Parti Quebecois after the elections.

Liberal GovernmentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is preparing to go to the polls after only three and a half years in office, the earliest election call by a majority government in 50 years.

Why is it that the government is going to the polls so early? Not because it has anything new to say on generating jobs. Not because it has anything new to say on its high record of taxation and debt. Not because it has anything new to say on national unity. The government is calling an early election because it has run out of steam. "Running on Empty" is the name of this movie.

How can it be that this Liberal government is so utterly devoid of new ideas that it has to go to the polls after only three and a half years?

Liberal GovernmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, after years of the leader of the third party's wanting us to go to the people, now he is chickening out.

We want to go to the people because of the work we have accomplished since the beginning of our term.

We will say to the Canadian people that his party does not have a program any more. That party was always talking about the deficit. We solved the problem.

We will go to the people of Canada and say that because of the good government we have provided we now have the lowest interest rates in 35 years. We will go to the people of Canada and tell them that because we had a good government their mortgage payments are about half of what they were six years ago. Now when people renew a $100,000 mortgage they have $6,000 or $7,000 more in their pockets each year, after tax.

That is much better than the tax cuts which that party promised to give to the banks.

Liberal GovernmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister must be joking if he thinks he can run on his record. He must be imagining things. He consulted JoJo the psychic who read his mind and went bankrupt shortly thereafter.

The Prime Minister cannot run on his record because during the election he will be running away from it. The Prime Minister is going to be hiding from the 1.4 million unemployed. He is going to be hiding from the two to three million underemployed. He is going to be hiding from those millions and millions of taxpayers to whom he promised tax relief and then broke his promise.

How does the Prime Minister think an early election call will help him to run away from his record, especially when he has nothing new, fresh or creative to say?

Liberal GovernmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I always take into consideration the fear of the leader of the third party before making up my mind.

The leader of the third party says that we will run away from our record. No, we will not.

We were supposed to have a new type of opposition. It was supposed to give free votes to its members. It never did that. There were more free votes on this side of the House than on that side.

I will go. We will go. We are very confident because we have restored integrity in the public's eye. In the last four years there has not been a scandal on this side of the House. We have changed completely the mood of the country.

Last month a poll was taken. Five years ago the same poll was taken. It surveyed 18 countries. At that time the confidence which Canadians had in their national government was at the bottom of the list. Only 15 per cent of Canadians had confidence in their national government. In the poll taken last month we were ahead of every other nation. In four years confidence rose from 15 per cent to 55 per cent. That is the best level of confidence of any of the 18 countries surveyed.

Liberal GovernmentOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is a prophet. He said he will go, and he will go.

The Prime Minister brings back the memory of Liberal Premier David Peterson who called an early election, could not explain it to the public and then played to protect the lead and lost the game.

There are four things which the Prime Minister cannot escape through an early election call or through last minute deal making.

He cannot escape the worst record of unemployment numbers since the depression. He cannot escape the broken GST promise. None of them can escape the obscene MP pension plan. He cannot escape a pathetic national unity strategy that came within 50,000 votes of destroying the federation.

Since the government has a record like that and it has nothing new or creative to say to Canadians, why is the Prime Minister going to the polls after only three and a half years?

Liberal GovernmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I want to go to the people of Canada. I will tell them that when we were fighting for unity in the referendum the leader of the third party said nothing, trying to make our life difficult.

I will tell them that if we want to keep the country united, we need a party that can get members elected in every province and territory of the land.

I will go to the people to tell them that Canada will survive with Liberal values and not with values that try to divide the country on different bases.

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

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

The Minister of Finance has nothing better than unconvincing sophistries to offer in response to the Quebec Minister of Finance, who reviewed his calculations and was able to provide evidence, in black and white, that Quebec is indeed entitled to $2 billion, and not to zilch, as maintained by the minister.

Since it has been established that the minister's McKenna formula, when used properly, provides for $2 billion in compensation for Quebec, why is the minister not paying this $2 billion to Quebec? Why is he stubbornly defending the indefensible?

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, we talked to the Quebec government. The federal government held numerous discussions with the Quebec government on the calculation of the compensation for the GST and the QST.

We continue to arrive at the conclusion that Quebec simply does not qualify for adjustment assistance. Quebec has not suffered losses to the harmonization of the QST and the GST, the public accounts of Quebec.

I suggest the hon. member look at the public accounts. They show us that the annual revenues derived from the QST increased following the signature of the harmonization agreement. They went from $5.1 billion in 1988-89-90 to $5.4 billion. That is up. In 1991 they went to $6.2 billion.

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 19, the Minister of Finance himself compared the adjustment assistance paid to the maritimes for harmonizing their taxes to the financial support provided to the Saguenay flood victims and to equalization payments, as if this was just another federal assistance program for have-not regions. The minister finally admitted that his harmonization adjustment assistance formula was a front, a pretence to deny Quebec compensation.

With his share of the $1 billion paid to the maritime provinces, Frank McKenna is wooing away our businesses with our own tax money. When will the minister put an end to this unfair competition? When will he pay Quebec the $2 billion it is entitled to?

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

April 23rd, 1997 / 2:35 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, when the federal government does the calculation, assuming a full harmonization of the GST and the QST in 1990, using data supplied by Quebec, it still arrives at the conclusion that Quebec simply does not qualify for the adjustment.

Liberal GovernmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the pork has all been divvied up now. The tires are being checked. The beer is on ice right now and it looks like the Liberal campaign plane is all but ready to take off, except for one small problem. The fuel tank reads empty.

Canadians are still wondering what this government intends to run on. Maybe it is its job record: 1.4 million Canadians unemployed; 800,000 Canadians moonlighting; 78 months in a row of unemployment over 9 per cent; the worst jobs record since the Great Depression.

Since the Liberal jobs, jobs, jobs record is in the tank, can the Prime Minister tell Canadians if this is the record his government plans to run on?

Liberal GovernmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I suggest the hon. member look at the labour market statistics which are published each month. I suggest he look at the labour market statistics for October 1993: 11.2 per cent unemployment. That was at the time of the last election. Presently it is down almost 2 per cent to 9.3 per cent. That is a record.

Today the IMF has come out with a new statement. The IMF says that this year and next year Canada will have the highest growth of the G7 countries, 3.4 per cent, which will bring the unemployment rate down even more.

Of course that is not enough. Of course our unemployment rate is too high. We are working on it and are bringing down. That is the Liberal system.

Liberal GovernmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, apparently there is still a little gas in the tank over there.

If we add in all the people who have dropped out of the job force over the last couple of years, the real unemployment rate in Canada is over 12 per cent, more than double the American rate.

If it is not the Liberal's jobs record, maybe the minister wants to run on their tax record or on their bankruptcy record. How about the $3,000 drop in disposable income Canadian families have suffered since this government came to power and the 37 tax increases? What about the record levels of bankruptcy, a record in 1995, 1996 and 1997?

Which one of these is the minister planning to run on, or do the Liberals plan to run on empty just like they have done for the last 3.5 years?

Liberal GovernmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, talk about a party running on empty, I wonder how many times the record shows that same question being asked by the Reform Party.

Let us take a look at the Reform Party's taxpayer budget. What does it state in this taxpayer budget? It says it is going to do this and that but it will cause a little higher unemployment. If we want higher unemployment, we should go to the Reform Party.

We are going to run on our record, and our record in deficit reduction is second to no government in the country. The Globe and Mail quoted a major Japanese newspaper on Japan's adopting Canada's system: ``Canada's method, consisting of the adoption of clear deficit targets and bold cuts that don't spare any of the so-called sacred cows, could very well serve as a model for Japan''.

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

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

Yesterday, the minister told us about his intention to set up new programs for home care and pharmacare. The election campaign is already underway for the Liberals, who announced that they intend to promote a new intrusion in an area under provincial jurisdiction, so as to make political gains.

Will the minister guarantee to those provinces not interested in taking part in these programs an opting out privilege, with full financial compensation?

HealthOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite is only about four months late in assessing what this government has done and said with regard to health care.

The national forum indicated quite clearly to all Canadians that governments, both federal and provincial, examine the prospects of a national home care program and a national pharmacare program.

I do not understand why members of the Bloc Quebecois do not want to support senior citizens across the country and senior citizens in the province of Quebec. I think it is very important that the Government of Canada work co-operatively with all provinces to establish those programs for senior citizens all across the country.

HealthOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, after cutting some $4.5 billion in social transfers to the provinces, including over $2 billion for health, does the minister recognize it is outrageous that his government would now consider implementing new programs in an area that comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces? This is what is outrageous.