Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be involved in this debate.
When the Leader of the Official Opposition gave his maiden speech he said initially that we should remove the partisanship in this debate and let us work in the interests of all Canadians. I almost fell for it until all his colleagues burst into laughter. I should have known that nothing has changed.
My colleague the member for Pickering—Uxbridge—Ajax tried to introduce an amendment to the motion and members of the Alliance used the trick that they have used ever since they came here. They used a procedural ploy. Canadians who are watching the debate may not fully comprehend the subtlety of it; it is procedural gobbledegook frankly. They denied Canadians the opportunity to see a real debate and denied members of the House an opportunity to choose either their motion or an amendment to the motion proposed by my colleague.
Nothing has changed. They talk about a new way of doing parliament. They talk about how their name is different but I look across the Chamber and the people are the same, except perhaps for one, and the policies and philosophies are exactly the same.
I would like to talk about fuel costs. Of course rising fuel costs are a concern to all Canadians. We need to understand what is driving the increase in energy costs.
In the last 12 months the price of crude and the price of fuel at the gas pump has about doubled but surprise, surprise, the federal taxes have not changed. The excise tax on gasoline and diesel is on a per litre basis. It does not change when the price goes up or down. If the government reacted to the concerns of Canadians and who knows, maybe it will, but it would not be because we are the culprits. It would be because we would be concerned about the plight of a number of Canadians and the amount they have to pay at the gas pump and the concern about the heating fuel costs for the upcoming winter.
We need to put the whole debate into another context as well. If we compare the taxes on gasoline in Canada with the industrialized world, our taxes as a component of the total pump price are actually relatively low at around 42% on average. In many of the OECD countries they are 70% to 75%.
Gasoline taxes in Canada comprise about 42% of the price at the pump and are very low by international standards. All we have to do is travel to see the price of gasoline at the pump in places like the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. I am not trying to trivialize the problem but we need to understand that our gas taxes here in Canada are really low in comparison to the other countries of the industrialized world.
When was the last time that the taxes went up over a long weekend? It does not happen. The taxes have not changed for many years. We are talking about a situation of pricing policies of oil companies.
The member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge and I have been working on this issue for some time. Through his leadership our caucus has been concerned about energy costs for some time. The caucus made a number of recommendations which have led to action on the part of the government by the industry minister with reviews of the Competition Act. That is an area where we have jurisdiction. It is an area where the government might act to put more teeth in the Competition Act.
In talking about fuel costs, we are obviously looking forward, but we have to be concerned about the context of the debate. As I pointed out earlier in rebutting the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, it was during the tenure of the Tory government that diesel excise taxes were invented and the excise tax on gasoline was increased six times.
Likewise, we can look across the floor to the Leader of the Opposition. When he was in the legislature in the province of Alberta fuel taxes went up six times. In the province of Alberta they now sit at nine cents a litre. Our excise tax on diesel fuel is four cents a litre compared to the Alberta government's fuel tax of nine cents a litre.
Some people say that the federal government should just act unilaterally. I was on a talk show last night in Edmonton. I was reminded many times that these were not government tax dollars but the tax dollars of Canadians. If we are trying to alleviate the concerns of Canadians, why would we not be concerned about the question of whether any reductions in excise tax will flow through to consumers? Are we saying that we would reduce excise taxes? If they did or did not get into the hands of consumers is an irrelevant question. Let us do it. Let us show leadership.
As the Minister of Finance has said, if we are to provide real relief for Canadians we have to work in concert with the provinces. Unlike what some members have proposed in the House, the provincial taxes on fuel are in general higher than the federal excise taxes on gasoline and on diesel, for sure.
The problem is that the motion before the House seems to have been crafted in a very hasty fashion. If one were a cynic, one would say it is based on political opportunism. It talks about heating oil, consumers and truckers. As my colleague earlier pointed out, the motion fails miserably in trying to address these questions.
For example, there is no federal excise tax on heating oil. That is the first problem. The second problem is that they talk about alleviating the problems of truckers. I have great sympathy for truckers. I have a lot of trucking companies in my riding. When truckers pay the GST they receive a GST input credit when they pass it on to their customers. The GST they pay is a flow-through. All of us in the House understand that.