House of Commons Hansard #186 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-55.


Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:05 p.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find unanimous consent to defer the taking of the recorded division until Tuesday, May 21, at the end of government orders.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Accordingly, the vote on the subamendment is deferred until Tuesday, May 21, at the end of government orders.

The House resumed from May 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-47, An Act respecting the taxation of spirits, wine and tobacco and the treatment of ships' stores, be read the third time and passed.

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

1:10 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak to Bill C-47. The House will remember that there are some worthwhile provisions in this bill, which essentially changes the excise tax.

The Bloc Quebecois believes that the main problem with this bill is not in what it provides for, but in what it does not. We realize that, once again, abiding by the principle that one does not bite the hand that feeds him, the government has bowed down to the big breweries' lobby.

I am not an expert on the beer market, since I only drink a little beer once in a while, but we all know that, in Canada, the beer market is split between two large producers, Labatt and Molson.

A few years ago, maybe less than ten, a new phenomena appeared in Canada: microbreweries. Previously, as members will recall, we used to say that beer was the champagne of the poor. Since then, people have discovered the gastronomical and culinary qualities of beer.

Two years ago, in my riding, we had the Journées de la bière, in Beauport, which is fairly similar to the Festibière in Chambly. Unfortunately, it was not very well attended because of bad weather. We had the opportunity to sample new products made with new processes or with different grains. We all know that beer is the result of the fermentation of various grains.

We realize that the microbreweries' share of the market is expanding steadily in Canada and Quebec. In the last ten years, many microbreweries have sprung up. In our beer festival in Beauport, we even had workshops on fine cuisine to learn how to combine dishes using beer as an ingredient and how to prepare sauces or side dishes made with beer. People are getting more sophisticated. We now have different kinds of beer with fruit. We are finding out more about the potential of beer. And so, the entirely new microbrewery industry has developed, alongside the two major breweries.

Unfortunately, some of these microbreweries had to close because their production was inadequate for their survival, especially with the fierce competition of the two major breweries. Many microbreweries had to close.

Usually, those that survived in Quebec are to be found in the regions. They are not necessarily in an urban setting. In the east end of Montreal, for example, near the Jacques-Cartier bridge, we have the huge Molson brewery. In the west, in Ville Lasalle, we have a Labatt brewery.

To add some regional cachet, some regional flavour, these microbreweries are located outside of major centres, and as a result they can be found in many ridings.

My colleagues who spoke before me on this bill had the opportunity to mention it. The member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord knows quite well that there is a microbrewery in his riding, in Anse-Saint-Jean. I find his silence disappointing. I hope that workers at the microbrewery located in Anse-Saint-Jean will remind the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord of his position, or lack thereof, his laissez-faire attitude regarding Bill C-47. This bill contains no provision to help microbreweries, which deserve help.

As I said earlier, they are a tourist attraction in the regions. It is possible to add an economuseum to a microbrewery, visit the premises, and witness the fermentation and manufacturing processes, from raw materials all the way to the bottling stage.

Regionally a microbrewery is first and foremost a tool for economic development and to promote tourism. Considering the position of the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, we think we will have to remind him of it.

He likes to show off here, trying to torpedo the Bloc, ridicule the work Bloc Quebecois members do. He is constantly predicting the demise of the Bloc Quebecois. However, he should be reminded that in 1993, when he was still the turn-coat member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, in those days he was still a tory, a former PQ member, he ran for the Conservative Party and was defeated by a Bloc member, Gilbert Filion. He should be reminded of that.

Sadly once again the government is doing nothing to listen to regions and those who do not have a monopoly or money to lobby. As I said earlier, you do not bite the hand that feeds you.

If you look at the Elections Canada site, you can see how much money the two major breweries give the Liberal Party. Incidentally, they give approximately the same to the Canadian Alliance and the Conservative Party. It pays politically.

Go and look at the Elections Canada site. You will notice that the major breweries did not give $300,000 or $400,000 to the Bloc Quebecois. We prefer public financing coming from ordinary people who contribute $5, $10 or $20 to our election campaigns.

Thus, after the election, we owe nothing to large breweries. We owe our election to ordinary people who trusted us and who also had confidence that the members of the Bloc Quebecois would defend Quebec's interests.

The Bloc Quebecois has been working very hard on this issue. I also want to recognize my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, as well as my colleague from Drummond, for their contribution to the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Finance; they both attended lengthy meetings that lasted for whole days and whole evenings. They were only doing their job. They were only doing what the people of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and Drummond elected them to do, that is defend them and speak on their behalf in Ottawa.

That is the difference between a member of the Bloc Quebecois and a member of the Liberal majority, such as the members opposite, who only go to their riding to sell Ottawa's ideas and not the opposite.

Both our colleagues on the Standing Committee on Finance deserve to be congratulated. They were quickly isolated. We noticed that. It is sad to talk about the other opposition parties. It is sad to criticize the other opposition parties, because every time the opposition is divided on an issue, it suits the government.

However, when the opposition does not behave correctly, adequately or properly, we must condemn the situation. We must also condemn the flip flop of the Canadian Alliance on this issue of microbreweries. Apparently, it had told at the outset to my colleague of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, the Bloc's finance critic, that it would approve the Bloc's position on microbreweries. After a while, the Canadian Alliance probably realized that it was receiving cheques, or the telephone started ringing; it caved in to the lobby of the major breweries.

The Bloc cannot accept Bill C-47 as introduced by the government.

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

1:20 p.m.


Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

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.

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address Bill C-47 which amends the Excise Tax Act. In my remarks today I will address a few short points.

The Canadian Alliance will be supporting Bill C-47, however it is qualified support. We believe that the interests of major Canadian industrial producers of wine and spirits will benefit from the bill and we recognize that the affected stakeholders were consulted throughout the drafting of Bill C-47. That is where our support for Bill C-47 ends. We are troubled by other factors in the bill: the increase of cigarette taxes; the failure of the government to address crippling tax levels on Canada's microbreweries; and the cloud of questionable ethics that once again surrounds the government.

The committee stage of the bill was quite ugly. Members of the opposition, in particular the member for Calgary Southeast and the member for Saint-Hyacinthe--Bagot, tried to move amendments that would immediately address the plight of Canada's microbreweries that are being driven out of business by onerous excise taxes. Rather than address the issue with a discussion, the committee chair in her abrasive manner ruled the amendments out of order and shut down debate.

These adversarial and arrogant actions led to members challenging her ruling and raising the question of a conflict of interest. The chair had a letter ready in hand from the dubious ethics counsellor clearing her of any conflicts. A note from the ethics counsellor is like a note in high school that reads “Please excuse Johnny from gym class, signed by Johnny's mother”.

The ethics of the committee chair would never have been brought into question if she had not trumped legitimate debate in such a dismissive and autocratic manner. This is yet another example of the members opposite using the tyranny of the majority to settle issues that deserve meaningful debate and co-operation. The government's short-sightedness, arrogant scheming and constant cover-ups cause the opposition and Canadians to assume the worst.

In the end the government got its way and yet another bill went through committee without amendment, fulfilling the facade of democracy. The plight of microbreweries has yet to be addressed. We will not let this issue go. I have a list of every member of parliament who has a microbrewery in his or her riding. I expect each of these MPs to push the finance minister to give microbreweries the tax relief they need to survive.

Back to the bill at hand, I and my Alliance colleagues have been contacted by several people on the west coast regarding clauses 422 to 432 of Bill C-47 which deal with the ships' stores act. Ships' stores relief is intended for ships engaged in international trade or facing international competition. B.C. Ferry Corporation complained about departures from this policy that favoured ships operating in the Great Lakes and lower St. Lawrence and sought remedy through the courts.

On May 10, 2001 the federal court of appeal ruled that the ships' stores act went beyond the scope of the enabling authority and would cease to have effect on October 1, 2001. The court ruling would have allowed all ships' stores in Canada to be entitled to duty and tax relief on their purchases of fuel with an annual loss of federal revenue between $30 million and $35 million. On September 27, 2001 the federal government announced the changes contained in this bill and amendments to the ships' stores act, which reverse the regulatory changes dating back to November 10, 1986.

As a result of Bill C-47, the only vessels which qualify for relief under the ships' stores regulations are tugs, ferries and passenger ships operating on the Great Lakes and lower St. Lawrence River that are engaged in international trade. The government went to great lengths to fight regulations which favoured central Canadian vessels over coastal vessels. B.C. Ferry Corporation won an appeal to finally strike down these discriminatory regulations.

The bill puts in place a phase-out period to aid the central Canadian vessels through that transition. The stated purpose is to allow these vessels to honour existing contracts and pricing. I wonder why.

The government has frequently passed bills that will retroactively penalize Canadian industry. Do we think it has anything to do with the fact that Canada Steamship Lines is the largest carrier in the region? Probably not, just like the way Halifax and Vancouver have to pay ice-breaking fees in harbours that do not freeze just to subsidize the same region preferred in the bill.

In closing I want to reiterate my opposition to the government's increase in excise tax on tobacco products. Bill C-47 seeks to increase the federal excise taxes on tobacco products and to re-establish a uniform federal excise tax for cigarettes across the country of $6.85 per carton. The stated purpose of the tax increase is to improve the health of Canadians by discouraging tobacco consumption.

The federal excise taxes on cigarettes will increase $2 per carton in Quebec, $1.60 per carton in Ontario and $1.50 per carton in the rest of Canada. This will bring the total federal excise burden on cigarettes to $12.35 per carton. Federal revenues will increase by approximately $240 million per annum through this tax hike.

We all want Canadians to live healthier lives, especially our youth. The reduction of smoking is a big part of that. My problem with this legislation is philosophical and based on the process. The past decade has proven that high levels of excise tax on cigarettes do not reduce consumption but only increase or create an underground market.

The role of government is to provide the information for consumers to ensure that citizens have an informed choice. Make no mistake, it is the right of an individual to choose whether or not to smoke. It is my belief that the government is increasing the tax levels simply to increase revenues. It is the only politically correct tax increase at its disposal. The finance minister has never found a tax that he does not like.

The truth is that while the federal excise revenues have increased, transfers to provinces for health care have decreased. What are Canadians going to get in return for this blatant tax grab? I challenged the government opposite to detail what its plan is for the revenue and no stats have yet been brought forward.

The Liberals have once again piggybacked meaningful legislation and political opportunism. Today they are hiking taxes under the guise of tax fairness and that is unethical.

Once again my colleagues and I will hold our noses and support the bill which just is not good enough for Canadians.

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

1:35 p.m.


Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to Bill C-47, which deals with the taxation of spirits, wine, tobacco and beer.

I hesitate to say “and beer” because it is not mentioned in the title. However, the bill defines what beer is, what a brewery is, what this and that is with regard to beer.

It makes me wonder. Why would there be a definition of beer when beer is mentioned nowhere else in the bill? I have the feeling that, as a result of pressures from large breweries, the government decided to exclude beer from this bill.

Why exclude beer? When we talk about beer, we obviously have to talk about microbreweries. We know that microbrewery products are becoming increasingly popular in Quebec.

Unfortunately, if the beer market continues in the same direction and if the government does not decide to be fair to these microbreweries, there will not be a single one left five or ten years from now. For those who need proof, in 1997, there were about 90 microbreweries in Canada, but that number has now dwindled down to less than 30.

I am speaking from experience. In my beautiful and charming riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, which I am proud to represent and which includes the cities of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Deux-Montagnes, Saint-Eustache, Boisbriand and Sainte-Thérèse, we lost, in Saint-Eustache, a microbrewery that employed some twenty workers. These workers, who were beer experts, could not find another job. I think that, unfortunately, when they stopped drawing EI benefits, they became social welfare recipients, which means that the Government of Quebec has to support them.

Why are these microbreweries, of which the two most popular in Quebec are the Brasseurs du Nord which brews Boréale, and Unibroue which brews Blanche de Chambly, U, etc., in dire financial straits? Simply because microbreweries pay excise taxes that are way too high.

They pay a 28 cent excise tax per hectolitre, while their competitors, microbrewers from United States, France, Germany and Belgium, pay 9 cents a litre. Once they are established on the Canadian market, they have difficulty to remain competitive.

There is something even more degrading and malicious about the bill. I want to talk about Brassal, a microbrewery in LaSalle. It had to compete with Labatt, which is also located in LaSalle. It also had to compete with foreign microbrewers who were exporting their products to Canada through Labatt.

The big Canadian brewers, Labatt, Molson—about Molson, allow me, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate your son Brad for the remarkable work he is doing with the Montreal Canadiens. As I was saying, Molson and Labatt import American beers onto the Canadian market to compete against small Canadian brewers with a homemade product.

So they take the gun, if I can put it that way, and shoot our small Canadian brewers by using imports against them. That is the way they show their pride in being Canadian and Quebecers: by killing the competition in a roundabout way. This is unacceptable.

We learned that the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance unfortunately rejected an amendment moved by my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe--Bagot, which would have included beer in the bill. I think that beer was previously included in the bill, since it had definitions for beer and brewery. Why include definitions when one does not want to talk about what they refer to? Why define beer when one does not want to refer to it in the bill?

Were government members subjected to undue influence? Did the government do the bidding of the big breweries by withdrawing the beer from Bill C-47? This stinks. It reminds us the Gagliano case. We will have to open new embassies in distant lands for some ministers.

On a more serious note, when the bill is referred to the Standing Committee on Finance, we will have to sit down, get serious and really be mindful of the needs of microbreweries. Beer and most of all microbreweries will have to be part of Bill C-47 again.

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again on this bill. I would reiterate that the official opposition does not object in principle to the bill which seeks to modernize and make more efficient the operation and collection of the excise tax system, particularly for wine and spirits. Also, it would raise the amount of excise that will be collected from tobacco products.

In that respect, I would like to reiterate our concern that the government frequently uses these excise taxes as a means of increasing its overall general revenues when we believe that taxes are already too high in Canada. The government already collects too much and with a total tax burden 40% higher than that of our major economic competitor the United States, measured as a percentage of GDP, we ought to be reducing the overall tax take of the federal government and not increasing it. Therefore, we would seek to have the government reduce taxes in other areas such as income taxes, corporate taxes, capital taxes and capital gains taxes to offset the increased revenue anticipated from the measures included in this bill.

However the government is addicted to taxation and it looks at bills like this as an opportunity to bring more revenue into the general revenue fund which the finance minister can then use to further pad his surplus through which of course he uses creative accounting, as identified by the auditor general, to hide such financial instruments as these so-called arm's length foundations which are beyond the proper scrutiny of parliament and the auditor general.

Just to underline, I want to say that we seek a proportionate reduction in general tax rates to offset any increased revenues which come about as a result of this bill, including this $700 million increase in revenues from tobacco taxes.

Having said that, I want to turn my attention to the aspect of the bill which concerns me most and which has been emphasized at length by my colleagues in the third party. That namely is the failure of this bill to address the very dire circumstances of the microbrewery sector of the Canadian beer industry.

There are some 50 or 60 brewers in Canada. Only two or three companies are responsible for about 92% of the beer produced in Canada. However there are some 40 microbreweries that are responsible for a small fraction of the total beer produced in this country, and it is a very good product that they produce. I have sampled the odd microbrewed product from time to time, such as the excellent beers produced by the Unibroue company at Chambly, brasserie de Chambly. They are fantastic. Fin du Monde is my favourite there. Of course there is the Big Rock Brewery in my riding of Calgary Southeast, the best microbrewery in Canada bar none, which produces my favourites: McNally's special ale, traditional ale and grasshopper. This is a marvellous industry which produces a truly great product.

As members can tell from looking at me, I did a practicum in this policy area because I wanted to make sure that the products were good. I can assure the House that they are.

The problem is that the people who operate these small breweries are real entrepreneurs. They do not have huge overheads. They do not have access to enormous unlimited financing. They do not have a heck of a lot of equity. What they do have is an entrepreneurial drive and a desire to produce an excellent product. They also have a desire to export it to grow the Canadian economy and increase jobs in their local communities.

I have toured the facilities of Big Rock in Alberta which started as tiny microbrewery about 15 years ago employing a couple of dozen people. It now employs hundreds of people and has become a success story. However its success and the success of other microbreweries in Canada is seriously threatened by the burden of excise taxation imposed on them by the federal government. This is not properly addressed in the bill.

Small breweries in Canada are seeking essentially the same treatment given their competitors in the United States. In Canada we charge breweries 28 cents per litre or $28 per hectolitre of beer produced. That is a flat excise charge regardless of the size of the brewery or the amount of its production. In other words, Labatt or Molson which produce literally millions of hectolitres and have enormous overheads and financing are charged the same excise rate as tiny, virtual cottage breweries that service local markets or mid-size microbreweries like Big Rock which attempt to export to the United States.

This is hugely unfair, particularly given that the United States offers a preferential rate for small breweries which is much lower than the general rate. We are putting our Canadian firms at an enormous competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis their American counterparts. That is why over the past several years nearly a third of the microbreweries operating in Canada have gone bankrupt.

We all know small business is a high risk enterprise in that there is no guarantee of success in any small business. However in general in tax law we recognize the importance and the difficulty of operating small businesses. We recognize that small and medium sized enterprises are responsible for over 90% of the new jobs created in our economy. We also recognize that lack of access to capital and the difficulty of starting and maintaining new small businesses requires reflection in the tax code. For that reason we do not assess a single corporate tax rate on all companies regardless of size. We have a differential between large corporations and small businesses. There is a separate lower tax rate for small businesses up to a certain amount of revenue.

The Brewers Association of Canada and the Canadian Council of Regional Breweries are seeking a reflection of this principle in the application of excise tax law. They are seeking to have an excise tax rate of 40% of the normal tax rate imposed on microbreweries for their first 75,000 hectoliters of production. They define microbreweries as companies with a total production of less than 300,000 hectolitres a year. This would cover companies responsible for only 2% or 3% of beer production in Canada.

The measure has been endorsed by the Brewers Association of Canada which includes the large producers. The large producers do not feel threatened by it. They think seeing the microbrewery sector thrive and succeed would help the overall industry in Canada.

Furthermore, based on a static analysis it would cost the federal treasury only about $10 million in notional foregone revenues. That is a tiny ostensible revenue cost. I have every confidence finance officials would confirm this were they to run a dynamic econometric model on the impact of the policy change. It would result in higher revenues for the federal government. If more companies were able to survive, grow, reinvest retained earnings and employ more people the federal government would collect more in corporate, excise and employment taxes.

Once again, the government ought to adopt the recommendations we have moved in the form of amendments at committee. I hope we will soon come forward with legislation to save the microbrewery sector in Canada from the unfair competition it faces by accepting these sensible policy recommendations.

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

1:50 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to take part in this debate on Bill C-47 at third reading stage. I spoke to this bill at second reading stage and said there was collusion. I was never in favour of collusion.

In this case, there is collusion between two groups, the government and the big breweries. For the Bloc Quebecois, this does not come as a surprise. We often stand up for a majority of people who do are not in high finance, while the Liberal members—and we see how confused they are now—are still working with the small minority of those who control or try to control our economy.

One only has to look at contributions. The seven big oil companies, the big breweries and the big banks are probably the ones that contribute most to the Liberal Party. They have the government's ear.

I listen to what my colleagues from the Canadian Alliance are saying. They are no better because they want to change place with these people. They tell us, “It will bother us greatly to support this bill. There are provisions that we do not like in this bill regarding the microbreweries”.

In fact, like the Liberal Party, they do not have the courage to say, “We will stand up for the ordinary people, we will stand up for those who do not belong to the minority controlling the economy”. This is the diabolical plan that we are facing. It is the great hypocrisy of the big breweries, who have been saying all along that they would like the excise tax to be reduced to the level applied in the U.S. This is what they have been saying.

And then a bill is introduced, but beer is no longer included. Why? Why do the Americans pay 9 cents a litre in taxes while Canadians pay 28 cents a liter?

You will say that the big breweries and the microbreweries alike have to pay the 28 cents. It is true, but the microbreweries cannot withstand that. The big breweries know that very well, and they just sit there waiting for the microbreweries to close down. This is absolutely outrageous. The big breweries already control 95% of the market, and they want it all.

This is a byproduct of globalization. The government wants everyone to be identical. We will have only one beer in Canada, called John Labatt or Molson. The two will merge and get rid of all the microbreweries, which are making exceptionally good products, not only in Quebec, but everywhere else in Canada.

The Alliance must understand that, in voting for this bill, its members are voting against their own microbreweries. They are voting for John Labatt and the big breweries and against microbreweries in their ridings.

Before you interrupt me, Mr. Speaker, because we will soon proceed to statements by members, I will say that this is what is at issue. We will defend the microbreweries, the folks at home, those who would not have a voice if the Bloc Quebecois were not in the House of Commons. These people cannot rely on the Liberal Party or the Canadian Alliance. I will conclude my speech after question period.

Excise Act, 2001Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member for Saint-Jean for his co-operation. He will have more than six minutes left to conclude.

Infrastructure ProgramStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Diane St-Jacques Liberal Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share with the House of Commons the news of a construction project. A multipurpose performance space will be built in the city of Saint-Hyacinthe, in Quebec, funded by the Canada-Quebec infrastructure program.

The financial contribution of the Government of Canada is in excess of $3 million.

The City of Saint-Hyacinthe will therefore be able to continue to fulfill its role as the cultural hub for the Montérégie region. The direct economic fallout from this investment is estimated at $1.5 billion, and it will help revive the downtown area of Saint-Hyacinthe.

My congratulations to the artists and creators of the 30 or so cultural organizations of Saint-Hyacinthe, the cultural council and the Société des diffiseurs de spectacles, as well as the municipal councillors, who have made this project possible.

The Government of Canada is proud to be associated with a project of such importance to this community.

Reproductive TechnologiesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government has finally tabled the long overdue legislation on reproductive technologies and related science.

There are things that we support in the bill but there are important flaws as well, loopholes in the surrogacy provisions that would lead to abuse. There are no criteria for determining when to experiment on human embryos. The new regulatory body would not have to report to parliament.

Most importantly, the government ignored the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Health to recognize human individuality, dignity and integrity. Accordingly the government has opened the door to experiments on human embryos, treating life as a mere object. Adult stem cells are now being used to treat Parkinson's, MS and spinal injuries. We should focus our scarce resources on adult stem cell research that is making a difference now.

Finally, this legislation touches a profound issue of conscience. A free vote on the legislation is imperative for all members of the House.

Arts and CultureStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, support for the performing arts and community theatre is alive and well in towns and cities right across Canada. Nowhere is live theatre more successful than in my riding of York South--Weston where members of the Weston Little Theatre have performed 15 plays so far, ranging from the hilariously funny murder mystery farce While The Lights Were Out to the dramatic Whose Life Is It Anyway? .

Weston Little Theatre has received two Thea Awards, which in community theatres is equivalent to the Oscars, for its production of Italian American Reconciliation . As in community theatres across Canada, Weston Little Theatre is managed by an all volunteer board of management. Membership is open to anyone in the area, no experience required, just a love of theatre.

I congratulate community theatres across Canada and in particular the Weston Little Theatre which this summer will be performing Theatre in the Park: A Night of One Acts at the bandshell in Little Avenue Memorial Park. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Discovery CentreStatements By Members

May 9th, 2002 / 2 p.m.


John Richardson Liberal Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize the Discovery Centre at the Normal School campaign in Stratford, Ontario.

The $2.5 million fundraising campaign to renovate the former teacher's college has passed the halfway mark. The fundraising volunteers have pledged their support for this five year campaign to restore and renew this magnificent building that was originally built in 1903. With its heritage status secured, the Discovery Centre will remain loyal to its architectural and historical integrity by stepping into the 21st century yet remaining true to its past.

The Discovery Centre will house the Stratford-Perth Museum; a visitor information area with Internet access; Gallery 96, a non-profit, artist run gallery; as well as rehearsal space for the Festival Theatre. This worthwhile project will preserve the city's heritage as far as possible by offering modern uses for this beautiful building located adjacent to the world renowned Stratford Festival Theatre.

I congratulate all constituents of Perth--Middlesex for enhancing another piece of their rich and diverse heritage.

Economic DevelopmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.


André Harvey Liberal Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the representative of our government in my region, I am pleased to announce an investment by Canada Economic Development in Alma, for a project that will introduce new cultivars with high economic potential for in vitro cultivation.

The project will contribute to maintaining employment and to creating new specialized positions in biology. In addition to retaining and encouraging the development of expertise in the in vitro production of plants within the region, the need to import plant stock from the United States will be reduced.

The new experimental products will eventually be available on the domestic and export markets. The people of Lac-Saint-Jean will be able to count on the co-operation of our government in the advancement of a number of different sectors of activity.

Veterans AffairsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, it has been 57 years since the end of World War II, so let us take a serious look at how Veterans Affairs is looking after our veterans.

The merchant navy dispute is resolved but only after decades of struggle by the merchant seamen. In a similar vein the aboriginal vets still have their dispute with the government unresolved after 57 years. The government looked after incapacitated vets and kept their money. The government is being sued, lost two court cases and will probably appeal this all the way to the supreme court. I would like to take my grandchildren to see the new national war museum but there is not one. The promised museum has been delayed now for decades.

Veterans Affairs seems to have adopted the same motto as National Defence: Hurry up and wait. I just hope it is not too late for our vets and their families.

Goo ArlooktooStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I inform the House of the passing of Goo Arlooktoo on April 30 at the age of 38.

As MLA for South Baffin in the government of the Northwest Territories Goo Arlooktoo was involved in the creation of Nunavut. In the government of the Northwest Territories Goo served as minister of justice and housing, was deputy premier and was acting premier of the Northwest Territories for a short period of time.

I have fond memories of visiting Goo's beautiful home community of Kimmirut with my colleague from Brant, Ontario and enjoyed the great fishing.

The loss of such a man as Goo Arlooktoo deprives Nunavut of an energetic visionary and we will all feel the loss of his contribution. My thoughts are with Dorothy Zoe, Goo's wife, and their four children and all his family in this time of sorrow.

Société Radio-CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, in recent days, thousands of people who watch and listen to Radio-Canada have signed a petition asking for the French language station to resume regular service.

Yesterday, 22,000 signatures were presented to the president, Mr. Robert Rabinovitch, reminding him that the public service provided by the French network was essential to the cultural life of Quebec and New Brunswick. In a many regions, it is the only radio and television service that exists. Three thousand more signatures are expected today.

The quality information produced by the SRC professionals is being missed. The frustration of viewers and listeners has clearly reached its highest point, since so many of them, 25,000, have voiced it.

Management has chosen to lock out employees. However, according to the papers this morning, there is a faint glimmer of hope. The Bloc Quebecois hopes that a fair and equitable agreement will put an end to this conflict, over the course of which management has demonstrated a great deal of arrogance.

TuberculosisStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to bring to the attention of the House a recent agreement between the foundation run by the former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner and the pharmaceutical company Aventis to fight tuberculosis in South Africa.

The purpose of this joint initiative of the Mandela Foundation and Aventis Pharma is to increase the country's rate of detection and treatment based on standards established by the World Health Organization, and to set up the infrastructure needed to educate health professionals and patients on the need to ensure the continuity of treatments.

Aventis has made a commitment to support this important project and inject close to $20 million Canadian over a five year period.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation was established in September 1999 to expand and formalize the work Nelson Mandela has done throughout his life. The foundation focuses its efforts on three primary sectors: democracy, education and health.

I congratulate them on this partnership.

University of SaskatchewanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon will be hosting the 2002 Canada-Wide Science Fair being held May 12 to 19.

This science fair is organized by Youth Science Foundation Canada. This national non-profit organization promotes extracurricular science and technology education.

Youth Science Foundation Canada provides opportunities for Canadian youth to investigate scientific fields. Education and technology is in demand, and science fairs, such as the one being held in Saskatoon, give young science-minded individuals the opportunity to learn and explore.

The University of Saskatchewan is an outstanding facility and an excellent forum in which to hold the Canada-Wide Science Fair. On behalf of the residents of Saskatoon--Rosetown--Biggar, I wish to extend to the organizers and participants in this year's fair every success. I hope everyone enjoys their time in Saskatoon.