Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question. It will give me an opportunity to raise a point I did not cover in my speech.
It is true that the provincial governments, and I am going to talk about Quebec, with which I am more familiar, tax gasoline, but they have responsibility for the roads. I would point out that, when we add up the revenues from the two taxes mentioned, compared to what the Department of Transport contributes, it works out to about the same.
Ottawa is collecting close to $5 billion a year in excise tax alone. How much is Ottawa putting back into roads? Very little. Not even 20% of gasoline taxes is reinvested in transportation or in the environment, and I am talking about the entire Department of Transport budget.
We must keep things in perspective. Nor is it necessary to be a math wizard to see that the provincial coffers are not in the same shape as those of the federal government. Here, only four months into the year, there is a $11.2 billion surplus, whereas a surplus of $1.5 billion or $2 billion would be exceptional for the government of Quebec.
Yes, there are provincial taxes on gasoline. If the hon. member is interested in more information, she should know that there are regional rebates. The 15 cents a litre she is referring to is not the figure everywhere; it is 15.2 cents, but in certain regions with less tax it can be as low as 10.9 cents. It is not 15 everywhere. Of course, if a person were to take the maximum and use it as a comparison, that does yield the figures we have just been given.
This does not mean that one day the provinces will not join in a movement, but it is not true to say that Ottawa is going to use the fact that the provinces do not initiate the offensive as an excuse not to do so itself. Ottawa should set the tone. If the provinces want to improve the process later, all the better. I am not excluding that possibility.
First of all, the federal government has the capacity to take action, and the responsibility to do so, particularly since I would very much like to see reference in this debate to the profit the government makes from gas taxes, from its shares in Petro Canada, from its partnership as well in the Hibernia drilling rig. The federal government rakes in a lot from all this but very little gets reinvested in transportation infrastructures, the road system or the environment.
There is material for a very worthwhile debate on this matter and I am ready any time to make a comparison with what Ottawa is doing.