Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the consideration from those members. I am disappointed that the Liberal member from Ottawa, the upper valley, did not provide unanimous consent because I wanted to ask the member for Vancouver Island North a very important question about the Liberals, which I will get to momentarily.
I am very pleased to stand in the House and support the motion by my colleague, the member for Churchill River, who is also an NDP member, which reads:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should provide initiatives to deliver natural gas to unserviced regions and address environmental concerns and high energy costs.
I appreciate the Conservative members' views. They support this motion because they too are concerned about the kind of high energy costs that Canadians are being subjected to without any kind of justification or regulation.
On the point of having some kind of regulatory agency for energy, we have a regulatory agency for communications. We have over 150 television stations. We have hundreds of radio stations. We have all kinds of opportunities to choose whatever kind of communications that we like in terms of getting information.
Lo and behold, we have the CRTC which regulates communications in the country. We also have a regulatory board for transportation. There are many different ways to travel in this country and we have a regulatory board for transportation, the Canadian Transportation Agency. I support those regulatory boards because we need some sense of order.
However, the underpinning of our economy is energy. Everything we do, everything we consume and everything we move, whether we are going to work or it is the goods and services we buy, they all depend on the price of energy, be it natural gas, home heating fuel, diesel fuel or gasoline. There is no backbone in the Canadian Alliance Party or the Liberal Party to support a regulatory agency for what is controlled basically by four or five companies.
We have communications controls by the CRTC for hundreds of companies. We have transportation controls for many companies, 50 or 100 companies at least. I do not know the number. We have four or five companies that establish the price of energy and there is no regulation. They set up the market forces to determine what the prices are.
I ask the member for Vancouver Island North and the member for Winnipeg North—St. Paul, if we have regulatory agencies for all of these other things where there is pure competition, why not for the underpinning of our economy, which is the price of energy? Explain that one to me.
Maybe the reason they do not support that is that they get substantial political contributions from the oil companies. Lo and behold, surprise, surprise, surprise. Bite my tongue. I do not understand what the reason could be. They receive hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from the energy companies to do what? To let the market forces determine the price of energy. This is the underpinning of our economy. This is not a chocolate bar. If we do not like the price of a chocolate bar for dessert we can buy some other candy, a piece of cake, a piece of pie, or we can choose not to have dessert. With energy, we cannot choose. We have to buy energy to get to work, whether it is a bus pass, or driving a car or a taxi. We need energy to pay for transporting of goods on rail, air or by ground. Everything we do depends on that.
The price of energy in this country has gone up so high, at record levels right now, because the government has no backbone to regulate the gas industry, be it natural gas, diesel fuel or home heating fuel.
I think Canadians see through these two parties. The former leader of the Reform Party, who was a former oil company executive, would not let this band of MPs from western Canada, the Alliance members, talk about any kind of regulation for energy because he was a former energy executive. Guess who primarily funds the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance Party? Primarily it is the energy companies, followed by the banks and then Conrad Black. Conrad Black gives these guys more money. He is actually becoming a bigger backer of the Reform Party than the energy companies, which is really incredible because the energy companies have lots of money.
I want to return specifically to this motion because it is really important. I have been dealing specifically with the motion in a very embracing way. We have heard the Liberal member from Winnipeg North—St. Paul talk about market forces. Given that kind of approach, members should know that government is obligated to provide a balance in the country. Everyone knows that the big corporations and the wealthy families run our economy. However, the government's obligation is to provide a balance to defend people and to provide a balance to the economic powers that run our country. This is not the approach of Liberals or the Alliance members. All they want to do is move the weights and the power more to the wealthy who run our economy now. That is wrong.
If we asked anybody whether or not the government should be the balance to the powers that run our economy, or to give them move power, I would venture to say that 90% would say that government should be the balance. That is why we are asking in this particular motion that government provide some balance.
Not all members live in the northern parts of Canada. I have worked in northern Saskatchewan for many years. The price to install a natural gas outlet in rural Saskatchewan, in the southern part of the province, can go as high as $30,000 for one installation. That is just the cost of the pipeline to the home of the rancher or the farmer.
They think the market forces should determine this. If they are so committed to Kyoto and the environmental concerns of millions of Canadians, they would say that natural gas would reduce the greenhouse effect and reduce greenhouse emissions, and that we should move to natural gas so that people living on farms in northern Canada could to use natural gas, which is our resource, to reduce emissions and provide a more cost efficient way to heat their homes, farms and businesses rather than burning home heating fuel which has higher emissions in terms of pollution. We could eliminate the use of wood or coal. Many people in northern Canada use wood or coal. These have a very high degree of pollutants compared to natural gas which is a very clean burning element.
I want to outline as well that we, as a country, have a very large reserve of natural gas and other forms of energy such oil, coal, and so on. We are viewed as a net exporter of these resources; that is, we produce more oil and natural gas than we consume so we export the difference.
When the Minister of Industry stood in the House this morning in question period and said that we are the second lowest gas priced country in the industrialized world, I think he needs a little correction here, because he is dead wrong. Of all of the exporting nations in the world, Canada has the highest priced gasoline.
I am not talking about the U.S.A. which is a net importer. It has to import more oil because it consumes more than it produces. Therefore, its prices are reasonably lower than ours when you compare them. Its prices should be higher than ours because we export our surplus to the Unites States.
If we look at countries like Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, the Middle Eastern countries, all the countries that are exporters of oil and natural gas, we see that their gasoline prices are way below ours.
I think the Minister of Industry stands corrected. If he was here I think he would feel quite ashamed that he said that Canada had the second lowest price of gasoline. I wanted to correct the record on that.
We have a motion that is a very important motion. My colleague, the member for Churchill River, has told his constituents and northern Canadians that they are important, that they are part of Canada.
All we are asking in this motion is for the Liberal government and the Alliance Party to recognize that we do have people living in northern Canada who are Canadians too. We should provide a balance in terms of programs to these people who live there, settled in this country and defend our north in terms of environmental and other situations.
I thank the Liberal member for commending my colleague from Churchill River on his natural gas motion. I also think it is a very important motion. However, the member stated that the federal government does not subsidize natural gas pipelines. He may not be aware but the federal government does indeed participate in the industrial natural gas initiatives through the tax regime. I wanted to correct the record on that.
I ask all members to reconsider our duty and obligation as members of parliament to defend and support people living in northern Canada. I ask them to revisit this motion and consider supporting it so that we can bring northern Canadians into our country as equal citizens.