Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak on this issue. I have discussed the cost of gasoline in my region, a vast region in Quebec, on a number of occasions over the past few months.
I find the opposition motion rather timid. The Canadian Alliance is saying that taxes should be cut by 50%. We all agree that taxes should be lowered. It is important to lower taxes in order to help families, especially in vast regions such as that of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik.
They forgot to do one thing that I have been doing for several months, and that is to speak about it in the House of Commons, to table bills and motions.
On February 29, I tabled a motion—it will not happen every four years because it was on February 29, it will happen every year—in which I said:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should make sure that all service stations display the base price per litre of gasoline or diesel at the pump, free of the federal and provincial taxes.
On February 16, I gave a speech on the price of gasoline.
On April 12, I tabled Bill C-476, an act respecting the posting of fuel prices by retailers, without taxes. What counts is the consumer filling up at the station. One day, Camil Aubé of Val-d'Or said to me “Guy, that costs too much. Lower the taxes”. He was right, and what counts is for consumers to have their say. It is the most important point in today's debate.
As I rise today in the House, there are people who are at home, listening to us. What is the price of a litre of gas? The government is being criticized because of the taxes, but not the oil companies.
Let me give you an idea of what makes up the price of a litre of gas in Val-d'Or, in the Sullivan area, and explain how things work.
First, the consumer filling up this evening in Val-d'Or, Sullivan or Dubuisson will pay 81.9 cents a litre. The federal excise tax is 10 cents, and the provincial road tax 10.55 cents. Back home, we do not have to pay the Montreal tax, which is 1.5 cents. We do not have that tax. There is also the GST, which is 4.8 cents, 5.33 cents. This means that, out of the 81.9 cents, there is 30.68 cents for taxes and 51.22 cents for fuel.
Why do we not post a price of 51.22 cents on the signs? Prince Edward Island lowered its taxes, but the very next day the oil companies raised the price of oil.
We should post the gross price, because when consumers walk into a store, they know that, if an item costs $17, it means $17 plus taxes. Why not do the same thing with oil companies and majors?
Let me give another example using this price of 81.9 cents a litre. Let me tell you how much retailers operating in Abitibi, where gasoline sells for 81.9 cents a litre, pay for each litre of the gasoline delivered to them. It costs 67.22 cents, including 10 cents for excise tax and 10.55 cents for Quebec's road tax.
Does the Canadian Alliance not know that every year the oil companies give bonuses to all gas stations: Petro Canada, Esso, Ultramar or Shell? If a retailer sells 1.5 million litres of gasoline at his station, he will have a nice little Christmas present of 1.2 cents for every litre sold over 1.5 million. If he does not sell 1.5 million, he will receive 1 cent for what he sold during the whole year.
In addition, I have here a confidential invoice from a retailer in my region. It shows that Petro Canada charges an amount for participating in the RRP. It comes to 14 cents and something, fourteen tenths of a cent, but RRP. Is this Shell's or Petro Canada's “régime de retraite des patrons” or employers' pension fund? We do not know. I am keen to find out.
Nunavik is a large area of Canada. It is the only riding in Canada with villages and communities above the 60th parallel. This evening, as we speak, a litre of gas costs $1.10. Of that, 30.4 cents is for taxes and the oil companies get 79.6 cents.
I spoke about the oil companies this afternoon, with Charlie Alaku from Kangiqsujuag, Adamie Alayco from Akulivik, Magie Emudluk from George River, and Pita Aatami. This is what is too bad and what the Alliance does not mention in its motion. The oil companies have to be put on the spot. We have to tell them: “Wake up. Advertise exactly what you are charging for a litre of gasoline”. We will look after the taxes. Quebec, Ontario the provinces or the government will look after the taxes. But we have to wake the oil companies up. They are ashamed to advertise the real price of gasoline.
In any event, I received many letters. I have one from the Minister of Finance in which he writes “I would like to begin by pointing out that there is no federal excise tax on fuel oil for home heating”.
Do people realize how much profit the provinces are making at this time on oil, gas and fuel? Fifteen billion dollars. How much for Canada? Perhaps $4 or $5 billion. I have a precise figure here, which I will give. In 1998-99, Canada made $4.267 billion on gas, and $437 million on diesel fuel.
Looking at the 2000-01 budget for the province of Quebec, last year it got $1.559 billion in fuel tax.
What is important, at any rate, is that the federal government made $4.5 billion and the provinces $15 billion. I am not complaining about the provinces, but I am saying that we pay one way or the other. We pay for gas, and we pay taxes as well. Yet why do the damned oil companies not display the price without tax? They are afraid to. The chairmen of their boards are afraid to tell people what the price of a litre of gas is, and I cannot understand this.
I have letters here from Petro-Canada, stating that the price is confidential. I have one from the Office de la protection du consommateur du Québec. I have filed a complaint against Petro-Canada in fact. It rejected my complaint in February saying “No, we will send you to Revenu Québec”.
Revenue Québec wrote me, and this is what is interesting, that “We know that this business practice is common among retailers selling gasoline in Quebec and that they do not indicate the gasoline tax separately on any document of sale. In this regard, the Quebec department of revenue is flexible and does not require retailers to comply with the provisions of section 12 if they wish to sell gasoline”. Take note: governments give orders but do not apply them.
I come back to the oil companies. They are listening to us today. Their political attachés are sitting and listening to us. They are right to listen, because I am angry with them, I am hopping mad and consumers are too. Every president of every company is listening, their political attachés and their secretaries. I say to them “Wake up. Display the price per litre of gasoline before taxes”. That way, we will have respect for the companies and we will know how much money they make. But they better wake up. This is important. They better wake up for consumers. This is not the fault of governments. Government deserves respect, but I oppose oil companies that do not display the before tax price per litre of gasoline.