Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan.
I am pleased to rise today on the opposition supply day motion. I am going to read the motion so that everybody is absolutely clear about what we are debating today. This motion was brought forward by the member for Prince George—Peace River of the Canadian Alliance. It states:
That given the record increases in the price of gasoline and home and diesel fuel, severely hurting Canadian consumers, truck drivers and businesses, and given the recent promise by the Minister of Finance to reduce taxes, this House call upon the government to give relief on fuel taxes, including repealing the increase in gasoline excise tax introduced as a temporary deficit elimination measure in 1995 and implementing the 1998 recommendation of the Liberal Caucus committee on gasoline pricing in Canada to remove the double taxation of the GST.
I felt it important that we read this into the record again as we start the afternoon session of this debate to ensure that everybody knows what we are talking about.
I want to focus right now on the comments that are coming from the Liberal government members. I am quite amazed with the excuses they are coming up with. There are two that stand out and I have heard them over and over again as I have followed this debate.
The reason they are saying they are opposed to this is that they are waiting for the provinces. That is the indication we are getting right now and hopefully we can change their minds. The other excuse is they cannot do anything with the taxes on gasoline because the fuel companies would then gobble up that difference by increasing the price and no savings would be passed to the consumer.
I have to question who is running this country. Is it the provinces and the oil companies or is it the government? That is a very feeble excuse. Are they leaders or are they followers? I am absolutely amazed that they say we have to take our cues from the provinces. When it comes to anything else, like the cut in transfers to the provinces of billions of dollars for health care, there is no consultation with the provinces. The Liberals run this country sometimes with an iron fist with zero consultation.
When it comes to putting taxes up, they claim to want to have a consultation process. What they really do is show up and tell us what they are about to do. Now when there is an absolute cry, an absolute need to do something on these fuel taxes, the government wants to wash its hands of it and do absolutely nothing.
It is ironic that in this year alone the government is going to collect some $13 billion in fuel taxes. When we look at its record on what it has put into the highway infrastructure in this country, last year I believe it was mere 4.1%. It was in the millions when they are collecting billions and it goes right into government revenues.
I had a call from a person last night. He has been following this discussion in the media. He made a very interesting point. It is widely known across the country that when we go to the pumps to purchase gasoline, anywhere from 36% to 45% of that price is taxes. In fact, members of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation have been advocating two prices at the pumps, the actual price of the gasoline and the actual tax, so people get to see what they are paying in taxes. On average about 41% of the price of gasoline is taxes.
The gentleman I spoke to made a very interesting comment. He said that on every dollar he earned, he paid at least 40 cents in income tax and probably a lot more. Let us be conservative and 40 cents in tax. That would leave him 60 cents. Before he even gets to the pumps he only has 60 cents of that dollar he earned. When he gets to the pumps of that 60 cents about 25 cents of that is taxes. From that dollar he ends up paying 65 cents in taxes. For every dollar earned by that working Canadian he is paying 65 cents in taxes. At least 40 cents in income taxes are taken off before he even gets to take what is left to the pumps, which would be 60 cents, and of that another 25 cents goes in taxes. Clearly there is a problem with taxes.
Ironically the Liberal caucus had a committee that looked into this issue in 1998. It made a number of recommendations to the government. Was it listened to? No. Its recommendations fell upon deaf ears, as have so many reports by members on all sides including those on the backbenches of the government across from me. They put work into these reports and they are absolutely ignored. They are thrown on shelves to collect dust.
The government's own backbenchers agreed with the Canadian Alliance that it was absolutely wrong and unacceptable for the government to charge a tax on a tax. That is what the government is doing. The federal government charges GST on its own excise tax. Liberal backbenchers said that was wrong, with which we agree 100%. In our supply day motion we give them credit for coming forward to their government.
We included in the supply day motion the recommendation by the Liberal caucus committee on gasoline pricing to remove the GST on the excise tax. We give that committee credit for coming forward in 1998. Yet will the government listen to the committee now? It did not listen in 1998. From the debate I have heard so far today there does not appear to be any interest in listening now.
I find it absolutely unbelievable when we look at the taxes the government is collecting. We watched the Minister of Finance announce a $12 billion surplus. Can we wrap our minds around $12 billion? Is it easy to say what $12 billion mean? That is $400 for every man, woman and child in the country. For a family of four that is $1,600 the government has collected in excess taxes. Even in the first quarter of this year alone the surplus is $11.4 billion. It is out of control.
What we have put forward with respect to gasoline taxes is a start. Let us not make it too onerous. Let us eliminate the tax on the tax. Let us get rid of that GST on the excise tax because we all know it is wrong. It is not acceptable to start taxing tax. That is wrong.
Let us eliminate the l.5 cent increase which the government put on the excise tax specifically to reduce the deficit. We all know the deficit is gone. When it put that tax increase on the excise tax the government said it was specifically for that. It is still there. There is no interest in removing these tax increases.
I want to summarize. In the interest of the Canadian people we have to look at what is best for the country. We are asking the government to follow through. In the wording of the motion it only has to do two things. There are many other things we could look at down the road, but the first one would be not to tax a tax. It should eliminate the GST on the excise tax and eliminate the 1.5 cent increase on fuel.
Let us look at the other taxes as well. The government can do that by responding to the motion, voting in favour of it and bringing forward legislation. I know it talked about a motion. It could include that discussion in the legislation it brings forward and we could discuss it.
Government members should support this motion to show Canadians that they are actually concerned. Then they would support not only the Canadian Alliance but their own backbenchers.