Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-24 which deals with some tweaking and fiddling the Liberal government is planning to do with regard to the GST and the HST.
As is typical with the government opposite these changes were actually announced in 1997. Finally it is getting around to exempting a few items from the GST. It is interesting that in the last few months, just before it brought in the bill, it added a few other items that will now be taxed at an increasing level which were not taxed before.
Overall the particular bill points out a credibility shortfall on the other side. It was mentioned by the previous speaker. The actions on the particular bill and on the GST by the Liberal government have eroded public confidence in elected officials.
Let me refer to some comments made by the current Prime Minister regarding the GST years ago. The bill before us is a fine tuning or a tweaking of certain aspects of how the GST and the HST are applied. It is amazing so many years after these election promises by the current Prime Minister and his government that we are still doing this dance with the GST.
In 1990 the current Prime Minister said that he was opposed to the GST, had always been opposed to it and will always be opposed to it. In 1992 the thinking was, according to the Deputy Prime Minister, that they wanted to get rid of the GST. On January 23, 1992, they said that there was no doubt they would replace it. Also the Prime Minister said that we would know they have replaced the GST when we see their budget. All the way through I have many quotes from the Prime Minister who said that it would be gone in two years, just before the election in 1993.
Here we are some seven years later and we are still looking at the GST. We had an election promise in the red book. Canadians were led to assume that they would not have the GST. They voted often on that basis. Many people may have voted a different way but had promises and guarantees from the leader of that party that the GST would be gone.
When that is the platform, when that is the promise, it is not unreasonable for Canadians to have the expectation that when the government comes in with a majority it will implement one of the key pillars of its platform. We can understand that may not be in the first year or the second year. Maybe there has to be some time to consider how to phase it in. For goodness' sake, we are seven years past those promises and there has not been one real movement dealing with the GST. We expected to see some results from that election promise.
It is not surprising that Canadians feel overburdened by taxes from the government. It throws lots of optics around some small tax relief. On the other hand it is taking more and more out of our pockets.
The GST is a good example. I met with the mayor of the city of Calgary who told me that out of all the services Calgary gets from the federal government and all the money it sends to Ottawa there is a net outflow every year to Ottawa from Calgary of $4 billion.