Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-47. The Bloc Quebecois could have supported this bill, but I would like to explain why we have not done so.
We would have liked the amendments put forward to include beer, namely the reduction of excise duty on beer produced by microbreweries, to be considered in order.
In the current Excise Act, wine, spirits, beer, tobacco and distillery products are all mentioned. Bill C-47, which is supposed to bring that Excise Act up to date, also deals with absolutely everything, except beer. It is pretty unthinkable.
I would like to tell the House why I am personally against this bill. In my riding of Terrebonne--Blainville, we have the microbrewery which produces the Boréale. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the managers and the 75 employees of that microbrewery.
They expect their MP to stand up for them and put forward their viewpoint and their concerns. They also expect the government to take into account that this substantial tax—which is a surtax in some way—is eroding their profits and stifling the growth of their company.
This microbrewery was established in 1987. It is recognized worldwide for its five different types of beer. I say worldwide because people come from around the world to learn about their brewing methods, and also because of exports. There are 75 employee plus the managers who put their hearts into their work. They give their best for this small business' operations. It is a dynamic and strong company, and management is determined, despite everything, to keep their market share.
This business is 100% Quebec owned and operated. It is the second largest microbrewery in Quebec; it has $12 billion in annual sales, selling more than 45,000 hectolitres, which is very impressive for a microbrewery. As I said, its brewhouse is the most technologically advanced in the entire microbrewery industry in Canada. It has a fleet of 12 trucks, which adds to the indirect jobs it creates. Its distribution is based in North Montreal and in the Eastern Townships and extends all the way to remote areas. In order to ensure incredibly personalized service, its sales reps operate like travelling salesmen, again, creating more jobs.
This microbrewery has to cope with a surtax of 28 cents on each litre of beer, for all of the different beers that it sells. If it were in the United States, it would only pay 9 cents per litre.
How can we explain that here in Canada, we cannot protect our microbreweries against the American microbreweries? The Bloc Quebecois has looked into the matter, and has found out that the Brewers Association of Canada, which claimed to be fighting for the microbreweries, was in fact in collusion to throttle the microbreweries by having them pay the full excise tax.
Which are our big Canadian breweries? Molson and Labatt. When we look at the situation closely, we realize that there is collusion and chumminess between the big Canadian breweries and the chair of the finance committee. Yet she is supposed to be there to find other ways to help the microbreweries.
More than 2,000 employees are directly dependent upon the microbreweries. I proved earlier that the microbrewery located in my riding, the Boréale, also generates a lot of indirect jobs. If 2,000 direct jobs depend on Quebec's microbreweries, how many indirect jobs depend upon Canadian microbreweries?
I think that the government should really pay attention to what it is doing. It is throttling these microbreweries, which are small and medium size businesses that contribute to the Canadian financial policy. There are a good number of them. The big companies are not the only ones we have. There are also people working in small businesses, often family businesses, where women are penalized by the employment insurance system. What will happen to these people if the microbreweries close down? Many people will lose their job. These are people who depend on us, as parliamentarians, and on the government for decision making. These microbreweries will close down and these people will lose their jobs.
As I only have a few moments left, I would ask the government and the Standing Committee on Finance to take into consideration all the people working for the small and medium size businesses. These are the people who are being done in by senseless and foolish policies. They want to make a decent living.