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.