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House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was municipalities.

Topics

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-51, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among House leaders and I believe you would find consent for the following motion. I move:

That at the conclusion of today's debate on the Canadian Alliance Opposition Motion, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to the end of Government Orders on Tuesday, October 7, 2003.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to adopt the motion?

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates regarding its order of reference of Friday, September 26, 2003, on Bill C-41, an act to amend certain acts. The committee has considered Bill C-41 and reports the bill without amendment.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-453, an act to amend the Criminal Code (failure to stop at scene of accident).

Mr. Speaker, in honour of Carley Regan, a 13 year old child who lost her life unnecessarily at the hands of a hit and run driver, I am tabling this bill in the House of Commons so that we can help to prevent such catastrophes in the future.

The bill equates the penalty of hit and run with death to one that is slightly higher than the penalty for manslaughter, seven years minimum to life, and for hit and run with injury to that for attempted murder, four years minimum to life.

The bill also prevents, for the first time in Canada, Crown counsel from plea bargaining the charge of hit and run, so that those who hit and run must face the charge.

Too many of our citizens suffer the deaths of loved ones or are injured, like David Slack in Aldergrove, British Columbia, only to find injustice in the courtroom. We will vote on the bill in the House of Commons and I want all Canadians to know that Carley's name will live on in this amendment to the criminal code so that others may be spared the anguish of irresponsible behaviour.

This bill, when it becomes law, shall be forever known as Carley's law.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 2nd, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition signed by many members of my riding. Their concerns are that sexual predators are devastating the lives of Canadian families and undermining the very fibre of Canadian society. The petitioners ask Parliament to disallow conditional sentencing for sexual offences against children, to mandate consecutive sentences in cases where violent acts against children are committed, to promote measures of early identification and behaviour modification of potential sexual predators, and to undertake a complete review of the entire issue of sexual exploitation of children. I present the petition on behalf of my constituents.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present three petitions on behalf of the good people of Dauphin--Swan River.

The first petition calls on Parliament to protect our children by taking all the necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls upon Parliament to protect the right of Canadians to be free to share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the last petition calls upon Parliament to take all the necessary means to maintain and support the definition of marriage, which is a supportive relationship between a man and a woman in Canada.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to rise on behalf of constituents and citizens throughout the country on four different petitions. The first one deals with the rural route mail couriers and Canada Post and asks that they have fair and collective bargaining and not be discriminated against.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to present a petition on behalf of my constituents who basically state in their petition that the definition of marriage should be that it is between a single man and a single woman.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions from Lower Sackville stating that child pornography laws should be toughened and that any involvement in pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities should be outlawed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the final petition is on religious freedom and on exercising that opportunity for freedom of religious thoughts and beliefs throughout this entire country.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should initiate immediate discussions with the provinces and territories to provide municipalities with a portion of the federal gas tax.

Mr. Speaker,I would like to indicate that I will be splitting my time with the member for Medicine Hat.

This is the second time in this calendar year that the Canadian Alliance has moved a motion in the House of Commons to channel gas tax dollars to where they will do some good rather than have them disappear into the black hole of Ottawa's general revenue pot.

On June 12 of this year the Alliance tabled this motion:

That, in the opinion of this House, Canada's infrastructure needs should be met by a regime of stable funding; and that accordingly, this House call on the government to reduce federal gasoline taxes conditional on an agreement with provinces that, with the creation of this tax room, provinces would introduce a special tax to fund infrastructure in provincial and municipal jurisdictions.

Today's motion reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should initiate immediate discussions with the provinces and territories to provide municipalities with a portion of the federal gas tax.

This Liberal government cannot say the same thing that the Canadian Alliance can say: The Canadian Alliance has been consistent in principle for a decade in our new agenda for gas tax dollars. The current Prime Minister cannot claim consistency of principle in his position, nor can the new Liberal leader and former finance minister.

Speaking of the former finance minister and new Liberal leader, this motion is an attempt by those of us who believe in fiscal responsibility and a new gas tax agenda to find out precisely how principled he is. On September 25, speaking to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the new Liberal leader said, “No matter how long it takes, we are going to provide Canadian municipalities with a portion of the federal gas tax”.

He had a decade as Canada's finance minister. He had nine budgets with a majority government in which he could have done anything he wanted. He could have invested gas tax dollars into roads. He could have vacated gas tax room to provinces. Or he could have helped out municipalities directly. He did not do any of those things. He failed to show leadership, he failed to walk his talk, and he failed to invest in Canada's cities and infrastructure. Now that he is out of cabinet and wants to become Canada's next prime minister, he wants us to trust him with these kinds of changes in this public policy.

The new Liberal leader voted against our motion on June 12, showing yet again that he cannot be trusted on this issue; when he had the power to do something, he failed. But, being fair minded Canadians, and given his statement of last week at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, it is time for the new Liberal leader to show up in the House, stand in his place, vote for his own words and show his commitment to making sure this happens. It is time that the former minister did this, just as a token of acknowledgement. Not only would it show that he is committed to this policy idea, but, as a token of acknowledgement, if he does come to this place and does vote in favour of the motion he will be demonstrating that the entire time that he was finance minister he was a hypocrite for not doing what he would be voting for in terms of this motion.

Canada's road system is comprised of a total of 900,000 kilometres of roads, highways and bridges. Of those 900,000 kilometres, 15,000 are federally owned, which is only 1.7% of the total. Two hundred and thirty-one thousand kilometres are provincially owned, which is 25.5%, and 655,000 are municipally owned, which constitutes almost 73% of all the roads.

Over 98%, almost 99%, of all the roads, highways and bridges in our country, all this infrastructure, is engineered, built and maintained by provinces and municipalities, but 50% of the cost of a litre of gasoline is taxation. Half that taxation goes to the black hole of general revenue in Ottawa and does not get invested in highways and infrastructure.

It is an important paradox to consider. While half of all taxation goes to the federal government, half of the gas taxes goes to provinces. So let us look at the provincial record, which is part of what the Canadian Alliance motion and our policy are about: to find some kind of accountability. We see that 91.6% of all provincially collected fuel taxes is invested in transport related infrastructure projects. That 91.6% is the provincial average across Canada. In Ottawa, 2.4% of the 100% of gas taxes collected goes into roads. In fiscal year 2001-02, 99% of the 2.4%, that meagre amount, was invested east of the province of Ontario, in Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The international comparison is not good either. While 2.4% of Canada's federal gas tax revenue is invested in roads, 84% of the U.S. federal gas taxes is earmarked specifically for highway and infrastructure improvements. Canada's record on this is appalling.

One of the principal problems of Canada's fiscal federalism has been the disconnect between the level of government, the taxes and finances, government projects and policies and the level of government that actually manages and delivers those projects and policies. We see this happen all too often in public policy. We see it in health care, which has led to divisive political fights and finger pointing. We have seen it throughout Canadian history with regard to natural resource management, language programs, education, financing and certainly transportation.

When this cleavage emerges between the level of government that taxes and finances for a set of policy goals and when that level of government is incongruent with the level of government that manages the public policy agenda, we have had incredibly divisive arguments that at times have spiralled down to the point where they have almost threatened national unity.

I want to talk for a minute as a British Columbian. I have a responsibility to not only represent my riding, but to represent my province as well in the House. In 2002 British Columbia motorists paid Ottawa roughly $750 million in federal fuel taxes and an additional $378 million in GST on that fuel, making Ottawa's total tax bite out of British Columbians over $1.1 billion in 2002 alone. In return, in 2002, the same year, Ottawa transferred to British Columbia a pathetic $37 million for infrastructure improvements, which is a paltry return of just over 3%. Three per cent of the total gas tax dollars we sent to Ottawa came back to British Columbia. The infrastructure financing struggles are everywhere in British Columbia.

I want to talk to this separately for a minute about my riding. The city of Port Moody is struggling with infrastructure. We are part of the GVRD in the lower mainland, the northeast sector. Because of the Olympic bid in 2010 and all the money that will be available in terms of financing projects from Whistler down to the airport and the city of Richmond, the northeast sector in my riding will be completely ignored, unfortunately, by the federal government and the provincial government, just because there is so much money being sucked out of my riding in British Columbia and none of it going back into roads.

In my riding, the city of Port Moody, Ioco Road is nearing capacity. Access to Rocky Point Park is getting difficult. The David Connector has been a struggle to build. St. Johns Street is nearing capacity and there have been far too many accidents in the city of Port Moody. The city of Port Coquitlam wants to have better links between north Port Coquitlam and south Port Coquitlam. The proper expansion of Port Moody to the south is a big project that the city of Port Coquitlam would like to do. Major congestion on Shaughnessy has been a problem for the city as well. The city of Port Coquitlam is the youngest city in the province of British Columbia and it is growing rapidly, but the city is struggling to move forward because so many gas tax dollars are being ripped off by the Liberals in Ottawa and not finding their way back into my riding.

In the city of Coquitlam, Como Lake Road is nearing capacity. Coquitlam centre is a problem. There was an accident a couple of weeks ago on Pipeline Road because it does not have adequate lighting and appropriate infrastructure. Two young men, who were driving along the road, were killed because there is not appropriate money for infrastructure. I applaud the mayors in my riding.

Part of our objective with this motion, part of what the Canadian Alliance wants to do is give municipalities money. As I said, almost 99% of all the roads, bridges and infrastructure in the country are engineered, built and maintained by provinces by municipalities. They need to have more money to manage the projects that they deliver.

I want to applaud Mayor Jon Kingsbury of Coquitlam, Councillor Kent Becker of Coquitlam and a number of people in my riding who have done an amazing job of communicating with me. Barrie Lynch is a new city councillor in Coquitlam who has done an outstanding job of keeping in touch with me and letting me know what is going on in the city in terms of transportation. Mayor Scott Young, a young mayor from the city of Port Coquitlam, has done a great job in transportation infrastructure, keeping me in the loop and ensuring that his city is put forward. The same with Councillors Mike Bowen and Arlene Crowe, Michael Wright and Mike Forrest. In Port Moody, Mayor Joe Trasolini, Councillor Karen Rockwell and Councillor Gerry Nuttall have done a great job as well. These municipalities in my riding in British Columbia are struggling to build for the future. It is not exclusive to my riding. The province of British Columbia overall is struggling.

A big debate is going on in Vancouver right now about the RAV project, the Richmond Airport Vancouver line. This is a symptom of a larger problem in British Columbia, whether it is the RAV line, the Kicking Horse Canyon Highway, a new bridge into Kelowna, the Sea to Sky Highway, transportation expansion to the northeast sector of the lower mainland into my riding, financing of the Coquihalla Highway, the inadequacy of Highway 16 or countless other infrastructure programs and problems in British Columbia. The problem for British Columbians is the same and the problem for my constituents is the same. Ottawa is ripping us off at the pumps with gas taxes and not investing it into roads; not investing it into infrastructure.

The Canadian Alliance stands for fiscal accountability, fiscal responsibility and straight lines of accountability so taxpayers get what they pay for at the pumps. We believe in empowering municipalities and putting gas tax dollars into roads. That is what we are doing today, and the Canadian Alliance is showing the leadership that this Liberal government never has.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as the member acknowledged, we debated this once before in June. At that time I was delighted to hear that the Canadian Alliance, after many years in the wilderness on this issue dealing with municipal infrastructure and supporting municipal governments, had finally come on board.

I am a bit surprised, and I would put my record up against anyone across the aisle. I would like to ask this question. The motion states basically that the Alliance would like the provinces and territories to provide municipalities with funding. There are obviously no assurances there. We have seen that problem before. The federal government believes in tripartite relationships, working directly with municipalities and with the provinces and territories.

Through the motion, how would we have any assurance that in vacating the tax room municipal governments would benefit directly from the provinces and territories? Would the member respond to that?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have that assurance because there is a track record. If the member opposite liked our motion from this past June, because it was more specific in terms of accountability mechanisms, why did he vote against it? If the member does not like this motion, then why is he supporting the former Liberal finance minister for the leadership of his party?

The hon. member is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. He has no legs at all to stand on with regard to pointing his finger at the provinces in terms of fiscal accountability for transportation.

Under watch of the parliamentary secretary and the watch of the federal Liberal government, half of the cost of a litre of gasoline is taxation. Half of the taxation goes to Ottawa and half goes to provincial governments. Provinces on average invest 91.6% of gas tax dollars into roads and infrastructure. This Liberal government, the new Liberal leader when he was finance minister, invested 2.4% of all the gas tax dollars it collected into roads.

The Liberal government has no accountability, has no track record and has no legs to stand on with regard to this issue.

At the beginning of his comments the member said that the Alliance is new to the issue. We are not. For over a decade, in Parliament after Parliament, we have stood up in the House as the official opposition and have been consistent and persistent in pursuing fiscal accountability responsibility, proper infrastructure and putting gas tax dollars where they belong.

Just this past year the leader of the Canadian Alliance said that what we were proposing instead was that the federal government permanently vacate a portion of the federal gas tax and allow provinces the option of collecting that revenue to ensure that the money would not be used for other purposes. The transfer of these revenues to provinces and on to municipalities would be conditional in a signed agreement that these resources would be used for infrastructure.

The member opposite asked for accountability. He asked for a plan. That is the Alliance plan. That is Alliance policy. We believe in the kind of accountability that the Liberal Party, the new Liberal leader and the finance minister has never ever stood for and could never deliver to Canadians.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by applauding the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam for his supply motion today.

My Liberal colleague opposite has indicated that this is a problem which has persisted for many years. The member and I have served for many years in municipal governments in the past. For at least a decade the municipal governments have been crying about the collection of the gas tax by the federal government and not using it for the purpose for which it was collected, which is for certain highway infrastructure.

As we know, over the years American states have dedicated pretty well their whole state fuel tax to roads and the federal government has done the same.

Could the member explain how it would be possible, other than through his motion, to force the federal government to acknowledge the problems and also to dedicate the tax for infrastructure?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, it can be done upon agreement. The Canadian Alliance preferred option would be to vacate the tax room and allow provinces to consumer that area. This has happened in my province of British Columbia, where the provinces has vacated the tax room and dedicated those points directly to municipalities. Then the municipalities can finance their infrastructure needs properly.

As I said, the problem with our fiscal federalism is this dramatic disconnect between the level of government that taxes for projects and the level of government that actually delivers the projects.

In the sweep of Canadian history this has caused enormous problems. With regard to health care, we have one level of government that collects so much money. The federal government is only financing 15¢ out of every dollar that is spent on health care but it is collecting so much revenue in the name of health care through income taxes, which is a real problem. We end up with finger pointing and divisiveness.

If we look at all Canadian history, with natural resources and all kinds of other things, this kind of absence of accountability in straight lines has led almost to the disintegration of the country with the development of regional parties, certainly in the province of Quebec. This kind of thing should not happen.

There are accountability mechanisms. The province of British Columbia has partly shown the way. There is a way to do this. The Liberals cannot deliver it. The motion is part of the way. The Alliance and the conservative movement in this country can get it done.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise and address this issue today.

I want to congratulate my friend from Port Moody--Coquitlam--Port Coquitlam for his speech and for leading off the debate today. He has made a number of good points, but before I get into the reasons why we are promoting this motion, let me read a previous motion that he put forward in June so people understand what we are talking about. The motion stated:

That, in the opinion of this House, Canada's infrastructure needs should be met by a regime of stable funding; and that accordingly, this House call on the government to reduce federal gasoline taxes conditional on an agreement with provinces that, with the creation of this tax room, provinces would introduce a special tax to fund infrastructure in provincial and municipal jurisdictions.

I want to start by just reminding the House how important this is. My friend was talking a minute ago about some of the problems in his riding and in British Columbia with respect to the lack of funding for roads that has caused all kinds of safety problems.

My riding of Medicine Hat is right on Highway 1. If one travels the highway into Saskatchewan, all of a sudden it goes from a great divided highway into a two lane highway, the Trans-Canada Highway. For years and years that stretch of highway between the Saskatchewan border and Swift Current was a two lane highway with no division, and there have been hundreds of accidents on it.

Remember this is the Trans-Canada Highway and a tremendous volume of traffic goes up and down that road. However because of inadequate funding, lives were lost there every year. It is only now that we have started to get to the point where that road is being divided and we will have a proper highway, but it still not complete. It still has a long way to go.

Saskatchewan of course is not really in a position to fund that by itself. Year after year it has been calling on the federal government to devote some of the money that comes out of excise tax in Saskatchewan to the roads in Saskatchewan, which is hardly unreasonable. If that had happened, I would argue that countless lives could have been saved. However it did not happen, and still has not happened, and people, to some degree, take their lives in their hands when they go down that stretch of highway. It is extraordinarily dangerous and that is the most powerful argument I can make for the government to move ahead and approve this motion. We need it.

I also want to point out that with the end of the Crow rate, we have had a lot more trucking of grain in the prairie provinces. A lot of cattle liners move up and down the highway, not as many as there used to be with the BSE crisis. Typically that is what happens. I live just off Highway 36 in Alberta and I see those cattle liners going up and down that road all the time. They beat up those roads pretty good but it is not like they do not pay the taxes necessary to pay for the upkeep of those roads. The problem is the taxes do not get back from the federal government into those roads.

As my friend pointed out a minute ago, only a couple per cent from the federal government is put back into highways in Canada and that is a disgrace. The point is this. If the government taxes a specific commodity, in this case fuel, to such a degree that it does, at 10¢ on average in excise tax, the expectation is that money should go back into looking after, in this case, highway infrastructure. I think that is reasonable.

What we really have here is almost a case of bait and switch. People pay the tax with the understanding that it will come back in the form of better roads, but all of a sudden there is a switch and the money goes into general revenues, never to be seen again. It is not like all those general revenues are devoted to things that people want. Yes, we want good health care and yes, we want good national defence. However lately there has been an endless list of scandals where that money has gone to all kinds of things that people would argue have nothing to do with their priorities. In fact some of them are outright scams. They are scandals at the very least.

Clearly, all of that money is not spent on things that are high priorities. There is a very good argument to be made that this money must start coming back to the provinces so that municipalities can provide some of these services. Roads need to be paved and that type of infrastructure not only provides people with safety but also leads to a good economy. We must have good infrastructure if we want to have the easy transport of goods and services in our country. This leads to a much stronger economy. I would argue that the government has failed us in that respect.

One of the things that is most striking about this debate is the hypocrisy of the government. We brought forward a motion in the spring that effectively argued what we are arguing today. The government voted against it. We have the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance getting up and criticizing us. He voted against that motion and so did the member for LaSalle--Émard, the new Liberal leader. They voted against it in the spring, but now they are proposing something very similar to it and swallowing themselves whole.

I will be very interested to see how they vote tonight. It will be amazing. If they vote against it, they will be voting against what the former finance minister, the new Liberal leader, is arguing for. If they vote in favour of it, why did they not support it in the spring? Why would they not support it all those years ago? We have been arguing for this for years.

The Liberals across the way have been playing politics with this and they do not care about doing what is right. They care about doing what is politically convenient for them. It has nothing to do with what is clearly right economically and clearly right from the standpoint of providing public safety. What they are doing is covering their rear ends as it suits them, and I am afraid to say that the public pays a big price as a result of that.

I want to point out that it is not this way in all jurisdictions. My friend has pointed out that the provinces are extraordinarily good about turning about 92% or so of the sales tax, the excise tax, on gasoline back to roads and infrastructure. In other jurisdictions in the U.S. it is something like 84% that is turned back out of their excise taxes. These jurisdictions are very responsible. The only one that is not responsible is the federal government. The Liberals love it when the issue is clouded by several levels of government being involved in taxing and distributing this income.

My friend has pointed out that it is the same thing with health care, where we have different levels of government involved. The Liberals love not having that direct line of accountability between collecting revenues and distributing the services because it allows them to get away with all kinds of actions. They then take credit when it suits them.

We all know that they will put up a sign on a highway saying that a road is funded by the federal government. When it suits them, the signs are up, but on the other hand, 99% of the roads that are built in this country are not built by money that comes from the federal government. So when it does not suit them they are out of it. They do not want to spend that money if they are not going to get a big political bang for it.

It is time to have a little accountability here. Some of that money that goes into excise taxes must start to come back to municipalities and the provinces.

In this case, we would step out of that tax room, vacate it and allow the provinces to take it over, contingent upon an agreement with their municipalities to ensure the money gets back to the municipalities so they can use it for roads and infrastructure as it was intended.

In conclusion, I hope that Liberal members across the way will swallow themselves whole and vote in favour of this motion today even though they voted, to a person, against it last spring. We look forward to seeing how they will vote on this issue.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his speech. I want to reiterate to his colleague from the reform party who spoke previously that not just the federal government plays politics with gas taxes.

The provincial government of New Brunswick played a big political game a few years ago with the gas tax when it cancelled the road tolls and said it simply could not allow the road tolls on the Trans-Canada because it would suck $15 million a year out of New Brunswick taxpayers. So what did it do instead? It applied a 2¢ a litre gas tax for all New Brunswickers. Bernard Lord was complaining that the province could not take $15 million out of the economy but it sure could take $30 million out of the economy.

My question for the member is quite clear. With the gas taxes going to municipalities, if that is the direction the federal government will go, how do we ensure that the more rural areas of the provinces, especially those areas in the northern parts of the provinces, get adequate funding for their roads and for future development as well? How would he envision that?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. It asks, how one would ensure that rural areas, and maybe areas where there is not much population but in need of roads into those areas, would be funded?

None of this would stop the provinces from continuing to do that job. We are not suggesting for a moment that the provinces would step out of their role and responsibility for providing roads into these remote communities. That is something they do already. What we are arguing is that there needs to be more money coming in to supplement that. The best level of government to determine what the concerns and priorities are is the municipal level of government.

In the little community I live in, Brooks, Alberta, I have complete confidence in the county, in our reeve, and our mayor and his council to make those kinds of decisions. They hear from people everyday about the potholes, stop signs and what is wrong. I say, let them make those determinations. However, they need the money in order to go ahead and actually bring about some action in accordance with the priorities they have heard from their people.