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House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

National Acadian Day ActPrivate Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

moved that Bill S-5, an act respecting a National Acadian Day, be read a second time and referred to committee.

Mr. Speaker, today is a great day, because we will finally officially recognize August 15 as Acadian Day. This bill originates from the other place, and I am privileged to be able to move it on behalf of my Acadian francophone colleagues here in the House. They were not able to introduce the bill, because they are parliamentary secretaries or ministers. They are good colleagues. They could not accept the invitation from the other place to introduce this bill, so I was asked to do it, and I am proud to be able to do so.

I know that one must be careful in identifying individuals in this House and in the other place, but I believe I should indicate that there were are least two senators who worked particularly hard in this matter. The initiative began with a colleague from the same party in the other house, Ms. Losier-Cool. I would be remiss in not mentioning her initial motion that led to a senator from an opposition party, Senator Comeau, introducing this bill. I will not go any farther with my recognition of them, but I did not want to miss this opportunity to commend their work as the intiators of this bill, which will officially recognize August 15 each year as National Acadian Day.

This date was chosen during the first Acadian National Convention, which took place in Memramcook, the birthplace of one of our Governors General, the Right Hon. Roméo Leblanc. It is also the birthplace of the parents of one of my assistants and I know she will find this reference a little ironic. I wanted to mention it because, since becoming a member of this House, I have discovered an absolutely incredible affinity for the Acadians as a people.

They are an exemplary people. They survived the deportation, which, as we know, began in 1755 and continued for some years. This is a people who have been put to absolutely incredible tests, who reacted with determination, came back to their homeland, and now are a shining example of abilities, energy, imagination and creativity for all francophones in Canada.

This creative energy is found in Acadia in the spheres of the arts, business and politics. There is also a fierce determination to take one's place and put down strong roots in the land. In this people, we see pride that they exist and that they are flourishing. I would like to be able to take this pride and spread it through the rest of the country. The star on Acadia's flag shines brightly and shows us the way ahead.

When I was asked to introduce this bill, I felt very proud, and I accepted at once. I thank my hon. colleagues in the other place for their initiative, and my hon. colleagues in this House, for giving their consent so that next year, we will celebrate not only the first anniversary of National Acadian Day, but also the 400th anniversary of the presence of francophones in the Americas.

National Acadian Day ActPrivate Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, we have a lot of work to do today, especially with respect to the business of supply and the gas tax.

On behalf of the Canadian Alliance, I would like to say that we support this bill designating August 15 as National Acadian Day.

Furthermore, we wish everyone good luck next year, if it goes through. The House can count on the support of the Canadian Alliance on this bill.

National Acadian Day ActPrivate Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure and honour to inform the House of the Bloc Quebecois' enthusiastic support for this bill to officially recognize National Acadian Day.

First, I think Senator Losier-Cool deserves to be commended and congratulated for this initiative of hers. She started by moving a motion to this effect, which was then modified to become the bill before us thanks to Senator Comeau. I would like to pay tribute to them for giving us the opportunity to vote in the House to officially recognize August 15 as National Acadian Day.

I would also like to point out that the bill sings the praises of the Acadian people, not only here in Canada but, by extension, beyond our borders. Indeed, as the member for Ottawa—Vanier said a few moments ago, we must recognize the determination of the Acadian people. They managed not only to survive, but to flourish and establish themselves beyond the borders of Acadia, despite the numerous vicissitudes they encountered.

However, I have a number of reservations which I feel I must raise at this time. We must not forget that this proposal really serves as a sort of consolation prize, to sweeten the bitter pill that Acadians had to swallow when the majority of members of this same government defeated a motion calling on the British Crown to recognize the historic facts surrounding the deportation. It is funny that people talk about the deportation all of the time here in the House and outside the House, but no one wants to recognize it officially.

This bill also demonstrates that the future, as the old saying goes, lasts a long time. Acadians did not wait for the federal government's approval to institute a national day. They did so on their own in 1881, and some 125 years later this reality is finally being recognized. This gives me hope that with time and wisdom, the facts surrounding the deportation of Acadians will finally be recognized.

I also want to point out that what clause 2 does is play down the national character of the Acadian people since the term national in National Acadian Day has been assigned the meaning of pan-Canadian. I have no objection to Acadian Day being celebrated throughout Canada. It would be very honourable, but I would have called it National Acadian Day in Canada. Assigning the meaning of pan-Canadian to the word national plays down the national character of the Acadian people.

It is as though the government were afraid to recognize that in this country there are several nations: there is an Acadian nation, a Quebec nation and aboriginal nations. When will the government realize that there are several nations in this country? It is not just a multicultural country, but a multinational country.

I will conclude with an observation, but I am not offering to champion the particular cause. The last time I championed an Acadian cause I was criticized and the Acadians lost out simply because the messenger was not Liberal to the core.

I would like the government members to know that last weekend, at the general meeting of the Société nationale de l'Acadie, a resolution was passed to declare 2004—the quadcentennial of Acadia—the Year of Acadia.

I suggest that my colleagues across the way put forward a motion to that effect. I can tell them from the outset that we will not be partisan and we will vote in favour of it.

National Acadian Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. First, as my hon. colleagues have done, I want to mention the contribution of the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier to the House. He is known for passionately defending both official languages and also for supporting his fellow Acadians from different regions who are with him this morning. I also want to acknowledge the work being done in the other place. My hon. colleague from the Bloc named them. I would like to mention again Senator Gérald Comeau, who is a Progressive Conservative. For years, he has been fighting for recognition of the rights of Acadians in Nova Scotia and a greater sense of belonging and enhanced visibility for that community.

As my hon. colleague from the Bloc Quebecois said, this could be a consolation prize. I do not know. Instead, I want to say that it could be a first step in recognizing the Acadian people. Naturally, its good points must be acknowledged, but also the bad things it suffered in the past. Today, we must recognize August 15 as National Acadian Day. Games can be played with the word “national”, but at the very least, this is an important step. Other steps will follow.

I hope that this House will do its utmost to recognize not only the good points, but also the past suffering of the Acadians. I think this is an important part of the process.

I want to thank, too, all the parties in the House for their collaboration in ensuring the rapid adoption of this bill. Our work will be finished shortly. Very soon, I hope, we will be returning to our ridings, but it is important that, starting this year, the House send Acadians throughout the country a signal that the House does note their presence and their contributions. I am sure that, in the fall, it will also note the suffering that led to the Acadians' great sense of pride.

The Acadian flag bears a guiding star. But it is also a sign of remembrance. It is important to never forget our origins, the good times and the bad.

The Progressive Conservative Party is very pleased to collaborate, as are all my hon. colleagues, in recognizing August 15, 2003, as the first National Acadian Day.

National Acadian Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Ottawa—Vanier for proposing Senator Comeau's motion relating to Bill S-5. My congratulations to him for bringing it to this House, and also to the hon. member for Verchères—Les-Patriotes for introducing two measures relating to the Acadians in the House. He has never had Liberal support on this. The first measure was to ask the Queen to apologize on behalf of the Crown, and the second for Parliament to acknowledge the wrong done to the Acadians. Both of these were turned down.

I now see those responsible for this refusal rallying around the member for Ottawa—Vanier in order to share the glory of supporting this national day. That is all very fine if it helps the cause, but it is regrettable that the other motions did not get through. What is involved is more than just a special day; there is also the matter of recognition.

According to the bill,

Acadians, in view of their origin, history and development, constitute the first permanent settlement from France in Canada—

I think that the recognition must be more than just a national day. We can only hope that further recognition will be forthcoming later on.

I think that people all over Canada who have had an opportunity to come to know the Acadians, to live with them, to rub shoulders with them, to laugh with them, to work with them, have seen that Acadians are good people.

They are not known only as growers of potatoes or lumberjacks. It goes further than that, in my opinion. We are a people that need recognition as such, to be celebrated and accepted. This is the message I would like to get across, that there must be celebration, acceptance, not just exploitation.

I am proud of this motion by the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier. The NDP will be supporting it 100%., while hoping this will not be the end of it. What is needed goes beyond mere words, beyond saying that we can forget the rest, once we have given them that. I feel that Parliament should, at some point, acknowledge the wrongs done to the Acadians. Then we can really turn a new page of history.

National Acadian Day ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Pursuant to order made Wednesday June 11, 2003, Bill S-5 is deemed read the second time, deemed referred to a committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.

(Motion deemed agreed to, bill read the second time, considered in committee of the whole, reported, concurred in, read the third time and passed)

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

moved:

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.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to the Canadian Alliance supply day motion which would bring fiscal responsibility and accountability back with regard to gas taxes.

I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys, a colleague of mine from British Columbia.

The province of British Columbia is struggling with a lot of choices with regard to infrastructure because of the 2010 Olympic bid. It also is under increasing economic pressure because of the softwood lumber dispute. It is struggling with choices with regard to infrastructure and an ongoing dispute has emerged. The member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys will do, as she has always done since first being elected in November 2000, and that is address many of the concerns her constituents have with regard to the B.C. government's choice to solicit bids for a 55 year lease on the Coquihalla highway. It is an ongoing concern for her constituents.

I applaud the member for her efforts to be here to speak on behalf of her constituents, address what is in fact a complicated issue and to do what is in the best interests of her constituents as she weighs those concerns.

The reason for this motion is, frankly, to do four things. First and foremost is to stop the ongoing gas tax ripoff of Canadian consumers.

The second reason is to draw accountability to the mechanism by which gas taxes are collected and spent in this country.

The third reason, and the third thing we wish to accomplish, is to establish some degree of fiscal responsibility.

The fourth reason is to end the Liberal hypocrisy on this issue. Outside this House the Liberal leadership frontrunner, the member for LaSalle—Émard, has said that if he were in power he would go down the road toward something like what this motion would do. However when he was the finance minister he had that power.

One of the things we often forget about in this place is that when a political party, such as the Liberal Party of Canada, by virtue of our first past the post system and by virtue of, quite frankly, an archaic system that is not representative of a 21st century democracy or of a G-8 nation of educated people, holds majority power in this country, has 100% of the legislative power in the House, in the Senate, in the executive and in all the crown corporations, it can do anything it wants.

When the member for LaSalle—Émard was finance minister he could have done anything he wanted in any one of the nine budgets that he presented to this House. With regard to gas taxes, he could have done what he is now talking about doing outside of the House, when he was finance minister. However when he was finance minister he did not have the courage of his convictions to do what was right.

Now, however, in a crass appeal for votes, he is talking about the kind of fiscal accountability with regard to gas taxes that he did not have the courage to demonstrate when he was finance minister. He simply cannot be trusted. I think the Canadian taxpayers know full well that the member for LaSalle—Émard should not be trusted and that will come forward in the fullness of time.

Canadians paid $4.7 billion in federal gas taxes in the year 2001-02 and $2.25 billion in GST on gasoline in 2001-02, which is a tax on a tax. In total, Canadians paid $6.95 billion in gas taxes in the year 2001-02. What does that mean for the average Canadian? Sometimes we talk about macro numbers, but for average Canadians who pay federal gas taxes plus the GST on top of those gas taxes, it cost them $220.66 last year.

Gas taxes vary between 35% and 45% of the cost of a litre of gasoline at the pump. In other words, speaking for myself and the member from Kamloops, both being British Columbians, on every second full tank of gasoline is 100% taxation. The question that must be asked is: What do Canadians get for those gas tax dollars?

Well, we do not get very much. Of the $4.7 billion in gas taxes that were collected in 2001-02, before the GST was collected, the federal Liberal government returned only 2.5% of that amount back into roads, or $118 million back in provincial transfers for road and highway development. Of that 2.5% that was spent back on roads, 99% was spent east of the province of Ontario. There is a dramatic inequity in the mechanism, both in terms of how it is collected and how it is spent in Canada. I raise that point--

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I apologize to the hon. member.

There has been further consultation among all parties in the House and I now believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, in relation to its examination in view of strengthening economic relations between Canada and Asia-Pacific, a group comprised of four (4) members of the Subcommittee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be authorized to travel to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bejing for two (2) weeks in September 2003 and that the necessary staff do accompany the Committee.

Just by way of explanation, this is something that was to have taken place right about now and, for health reasons and so on, members have asked the House for permission to delay their trip until September.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bellemare)

The House has heard the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2003 / 11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, while members of the committee are in that region, perhaps they could take a detour over to Indonesia where Paul Martin could see some of his employees for Canada Steamship Lines. While they are in the region, they may as well.

As I was saying, it is important to note that of the over $4.7 billion in gas taxes that are collected by the federal government, only 2.4% of that amount is actually spent on roads. Of the 100% of the 2.4% spent on roads, 99% was spent east of the province of Ontario. There is a dramatic inequity and it is something that needs to be considered. I am citing a report from Walter Robinson, a good friend of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. He reminds us of an important fact, that Canada is a confederation, that it is a unity of provinces each looking out for their interests, united together for the common purposes of a national identity and national interest. We need to keep that in mind.

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%; 231,000 are provincially owned which is 25.5%; and 655,000 are municipally owned which constitutes almost 73% of all the roads. If we take that in total, of the 100% of the cost of a litre of gasoline, about 50% is taxation. Half of that taxation is federal and half is provincial.

Ninety-eight per cent of all the roads are engineered, built and maintained by provinces and municipalities but half of the tax gouge on gasoline is going to the federal government. The federal government is only returning 2.4% of that into roads and of the 2.4% that it turns back into roads, 99% is spent east of Ontario.

It may sound like a lot of numbers but it is an extraordinary gas tax ripoff that is happening for Canadians. What we are trying to do in the Canadian Alliance is to stand up for Canadian travellers, to stand up for Canadian taxpayers and to ensure that they are getting a fair deal for what they are paying at the pump.

Here is another number. Only 2.4% of gas tax revenues on the federal side is spent back into roads. Here is the reality: 91.6% of all provincial gas tax revenues that are collected are invested back into roads. That is what the accountability mechanism of this motion we are debating today is all about.

While 50% of the price at the pump is taxes, half of the taxes go to the federal government and half of the taxes goes to the provincial governments. Ninety-one per cent of the revenue collected by the provincial governments is going into roads, 2.4% of the revenue by the federal government is going into roads and 99% of that amount is only going east of the province of Ontario.

What we are endeavouring to do with this motion is to turn over to the provinces a portion of the gas tax revenue. The provinces have demonstrated clearly by the statistics I have cited to be more fiscally responsible and more accountable with regard to engineering, building and maintaining the roads that they are responsible for, in over 98% of the roads that we drive on in this country.

We have a broad problem in this country with regard to fiscal responsibility. There is one level of government that has to provide a service; a second level of government that taxes money away that would provide that service; and then there is bureaucracy between the two levels of government that causes confusion and a lack of straight line accountability for Canadian taxpayers.

We see this with regard to health care. The fact is there is not a single provincial government, not Mike Harris, not Ernie Eves, not Gordon Campbell, not Ralph Klein, not a single provincial government has ever cut from one year to the next the net amount of dollars spent on health care. It is only the federal government that has ever cut health care but because of the way that taxes are collected and spent, there is not a clear line of accountability. The Canadian Alliance with this motion is trying to create that sort of accountability.

I understand that I only have one more minute left to speak which is unfortunate because there is a lot to go into. As the leader of the Canadian Alliance, the leader of the official opposition, said in a speech just a week ago, what we are proposing is that the federal government permanently vacate a portion of the federal gas tax, say 3¢ to 5¢ a litre, and allow provinces the option of collecting that revenue. In order to ensure that this money is not used for other purposes, the transfer of these revenues to provinces and on to municipalities would be conditional on signed agreements that these resources would be used for infrastructure.

That is what is needed for accountability. It is what is needed to stop the gas tax ripoff. It is what is needed to ensure that the taxes that are collected for a certain public purpose are used for that purpose, which is the building of roads. As 98% of all roads are engineered, built and maintained by provinces and municipalities, those levels of government need to have the tax dollars necessary to ensure that this important element, not only of infrastructure but of nation building is maintained into the future.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Reed Elley Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, this topic is very important for Canadians across the country. My hon. colleague has done a good deal of research into this area. He is very eloquent and articulate about sharing this information with Canadians.

I would like him to comment on the Liberal government and the previous Conservative administration taking dedicated taxes and using them for the purposes that they said they would use them for when they imposed the taxes on Canadians. It is a dismal record. Perhaps the hon. member would like to comment on that.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

My colleague from Nanaimo is quite right. According to a chart I have here, if we go back to fiscal year 1992-93, which means it was a government budget under the Progressive Conservatives, of the $3.4 billion that was collected in gas taxes, only $100 million went into roads. This year it is $4.7 billion and $119 million going into roads. Under either administration there has not been much improvement.

We hope that there is a shift across the country with regard to all political parties in terms of having more accountability and responsibility with regard to fuel taxes.

My colleague is quite right. There are two other examples both of which fall under the previous administration and the current administration. In the final budget of the former finance minister and the leadership frontrunner for the Liberal Party, he introduced the infamous $24 air security tax. That tax was supposed to go into air security. It did not. It went into general revenues. It was supposed to be channelled from general revenues into air security. We still have not had a clear base line accounting on how that money was collected and spent. This is an example again of the Liberals saying that they are imposing a tax for a purpose and the tax does not go to the purpose for which it was imposed.

The most infamous example perhaps of the last decade was imposed under the Progressive Conservatives and which the Liberals said they were going to deal with but they have not dealt with. They said that the goods and services tax was supposed to go specifically to paying down the debt and that it would not go into general revenues. That was in fact not true and it was deliberately not the truth. That is not the kind of fiscal responsibility that was expected by Canadian taxpayers.

If a tax is imposed for a purpose, taxpayers expect politicians to keep their word and make sure those dollars go to that purpose. The GST did not serve that purpose, the $24 air security tax did not serve that purpose and gas taxes day in and day out are ripping off Canadian travellers.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I first want to acknowledge my colleague's motion today. I congratulate him and the Canadian Alliance on finally recognizing after many years in the wilderness the issue of infrastructure.

For many years that party across the way opposed the national infrastructure program. The Johnny-come-latelies in that party have now decided that this is a politically motivated motion which they are now trying to bring before the House. It is very nice to see. It is better late than never. Obviously they got themselves a new sun dial. Now they realize that this is an important issue. This is an issue that the government embraced immediately in 1993 when it was elected, so it is nice to see that.

I would like to ask the member one specific question. I am sure I will have an opportunity to ask a few questions during the day. How does the member believe, in terms of its structure, if the federal government vacated tax room that we would actually see the moneys vacated utilized by the provinces for the purpose for which the member suggests should be done?

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

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

Mr. Speaker, that is easy to do. It is done all the time. The federal government did it last fall with regard to health care. It has done it in all kinds of agreements. It happens all the time.

In fact, the province of British Columbia, a Liberal administration, has allocated the gas tax room to the municipalities where the municipalities have used it.

I want to back up and comment on the member's original comments at the beginning of his question. The fact is that when he said that the Canadian Alliance members are Johnny-come-latelies, if he thinks he can posture that the Liberal Party actually believes in this policy, I very much look forward to his vote and the Liberal Party vote. If he is saying that we are Johnny-come-latelies to a position that the Liberal government has had, I look forward to the Liberal government voting in favour of our motion and in fact seeing this come to pass.

The Canadian Alliance members need to take absolutely no lessons with regard to fiscal responsibility from the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberal Party, which broke its word with Canadians with regard to the GST, which takes the air security tax and puts it into general revenues, rips off the air industry, continues, in terms of infrastructure and putting money into roads, to rip off Canadians at the pump. If the Liberals believe in fixing it, they can fix it. Paul Martin had his chance and he did not do it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. member knows full well that he cannot refer to the member by his name but by referring to him as the former finance minister or the member for LaSalle--Émard.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to follow my colleague from Port Moody--Coquitlam--Port Coquitlam. My colleague gave the logic, and I will give a bit of the emotion.

Mr. Speaker, I would like you to buckle your seat belt because we are going for a ride. The destination is Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys. The ride is a little rough and that is what we are going to talk about today, but the trip is well worth it. The people in the area are wonderful.

In order for members to really understand the big picture I have to provide a bit of background information. Two of the main industries in my riding are forestry and cattle ranching. The third is tourism. All of them rely heavily on roadways. Let me start with forestry.

Under this incompetent government's watch, forestry is on life support. I have listened day after day for two years as the Minister for International Trade has tried to convince Canadians that he is working very hard for the industry. Road apples.

It is physically impossible to bury one's teeth in a trade issue with the United States while puckering up at the same time for political and diplomatic blunders made regarding Iraq. No Liberal, including the anointed member for LaSalle--Émard, can fix the mess that the government has created on this issue. The U.S. does not take any Liberal issue seriously, and with good reason.

The $110 million in diversification funds that the Minister of Natural Resources keeps bragging about is also a joke. B.C.'s share of that will be $55 million split between 100 communities. I say will be because not one red cent has passed from this greedy government's hands into the hands of those decimated communities, regardless of how the minister wants to spin it. Not one penny.

It is also interesting to note that the $110 million proposed for diversifying a primary Canadian industry--

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but I really question the relevance of her speech to this point. I certainly hope that she will tie in what she has just said to her party's opposition motion on infrastructure.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, and I do have respect for the Chair, it is relevant. All the things I will talk about have had an impact on my riding and all of them require transportation.

I will go back to what I was saying. It will be split, because not one cent has passed from the greedy government into the hands of the people who need it; not a penny. It is also interesting to note that the $110 million proposed for diversifying a primary Canadian industry just happens to be the same amount the Prime Minister spent on two new Challenger jets for his personal use; so much for Liberal priorities.

I see you are getting a little anxious here, Mr. Speaker, so let us move along. Now I will talk about the cattle industry, which is also dependent on transportation.

We had one incident in the country involving one cow. The devastation caused by that has changed the industry for evermore. There is a very good chance that some of those markets, on which we used to rely, will no longer be there because they have now been absorbed by other parts of the world and other countries will be contributing the cattle that we used to contribute.

I do not like to condemn people for nothing. It was one cow, though, and the government has taken so long to try to come up with some sort of solution, and it still has not reached one. Not only have we lost the forest industry in my riding or it has changed forever, we are now looking at the possibility of a forever and a day change in the cattle industry.

Cattlemen have been around since the start of the country. They are the original entrepreneurs. That is one more industry in Canada that has been damaged severely. When we look at the big picture, it is not hard to understand why we are not getting cooperation from the United States. Hon. members should go back to the reason I gave them for forestry. It is very difficult for the government to take a firm stand with the United States or anywhere else in the world right now because of the decisions it has made, diplomatic blunders.

The third part is tourism. That most definitely relies on roadways. We need roads and all forms of transportation if we are to diversify our economy to bring tourism up to a level that may help compensate for the losses we have suffered because of the softwood dispute, and now with cattle.

The part that is really upsetting to my residents, because the federal level of government gives so little money, in fact it gives less than a nickel for every dollar we pay in taxes on gasoline, is now we have a provincial government, which is also Liberal, poised to rent out an asset. The leasing of a major artery in the interior of British Columbia for the next three generations is providing an enticement for business people around the world. By the deadline for proposal calls this week, 28 people have penned a letter of intent and have sent it to the provincial government saying that they are interested in leasing the Coquihalla highway for the next 55 years.

I have the same reaction as the majority of the people I represent. I do not like that. I see absolutely no reason why a provincial government should be put in a position of having to lease an asset that was paid for by taxpayers because it cannot afford to keep up the road. If the federal level of government had any kind of decency, it would realize it has been gouging people for years at the gas pumps. That money was collected for a purpose. It was supposed to be for transportation and that includes roads.

I have a bit of a personal bent about the Coquihalla highway. I happen to be one of the people who cut the ribbon and opened it. It was put in place for Expo 86, which was a tremendous success. It brought in many tourists from all over the world to British Columbia and to Canada. As a result of that, we have seen changes across the entire country. British Columbia gets to take credit for part of that. It had the foresight to do these things, which worked out really well.

Like most people from my riding, I have driven the Coquihalla highway enough to actually believe that I probably own at least a kilometre of it. I have paid enough tolls and have gone over it enough times, and that is pretty much the way most people in my riding feel. They feel ownership of that highway. Therefore, when it is being jeopardized because there is not enough money to keep the highway going under provincial jurisdiction, people have a right to be upset.

The people of Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys are asking how anyone could lease out an asset that has been paid for with their tax dollars. I happen to agree, and it is a question I would like to have answered in the House.

I know what one of the answers is. From the provincial side of it, the answer is desperation. That desperation could be eliminated if that side of the House would take a serious look at what the Canadian Alliance is proposing today, which is a viable solution that hurts no one and does not increase taxes in any way, shape or form. It is just a matter of sharing.

That sometimes is something the Liberals do not do very well but I hope they will make an exception in this case because this is a very serious issue. Do we want to have highways within Canada leased out to possible foreign ownership? It is quite possible. One person who bid was from Spain. I do not think this is the direction in which we want to go. We are trying to maintain sovereignty in our country. That is not something that we really want to entertain.

The Coquihalla highway is beautiful. If anyone ever has a chance to travel it, I suggest they do so. That highway is a lifeline between the interior of British Columbia and the mainland. It carries three million passengers and vehicles per year. That is a fairly well used piece of roadway. Therefore, when we hear that people are upset, we understand why.

While the provincial government is holding garage sales of major assets, the federal government continues to take 95¢ out of every dollar collected on gas. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

In conclusion, Liberals do not think big. They have no national visions or dreams. They think paving the street in front of a Liberal voter's home is what government is all about. Canadians deserve better and are demanding better. They want government that thinks big and grasps the magnificent potential of Canada and all it various parts and its people.

We have an opportunity today to make a change that will matter. By voting in favour of this motion, we will not only eliminate a problem, we will have done it without increasing taxes. This is about common sense. Let us use it for a change in the House.

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11:35 a.m.

Oak Ridges Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first, I know the Coquihalla highway very well since my parents used to live in Kelowna. I have driven it many times to Vancouver. It is a wonderful highway and, obviously, not only is it great to drive but from an infrastructure standpoint is quite an engineering feat.

The member talks about vision. I want to indicate to her that when it comes to vision, this government is the first government to say that we will be partners with municipal governments, that we will embrace a national infrastructure program, that we will embrace the strategic infrastructure fund, that we will deal with the green enabling fund, all these things to make our cities better. There are some in the House who were with me, who fought those battles with the FCM against the government of the day. We said that we needed to do this, that we needed to go back to our communities.

The premise of the motion is based on faith that the provinces will do their part. The provinces have not done their part. Ontario is an excellent example of the slash and burn policy of the Harris-Eves government in terms of not delivering moneys to municipalities. In fact they have cut back continually.

Why does the member have such great faith in governments that--

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys.

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11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a good thing I have a sense of humour. We are talking about vision and the only vision I have seen come from the Liberal side, in the last two and a half years that I have been here, is tunnel vision. The member mentioned that the Liberals have this infrastructure plan in place and the country is moving ahead, et cetera. Saying it and doing it are two different things.

The member for LaSalle—Émard spoke the other day in Winnipeg. He pretty much said exactly what this motion says. It is Canadian Alliance policy. He actually was quoting Canadian Alliance policy No.15. It would be wonderful if it would happen but we know better. We are putting an insurance policy in place today and we are asking members to do the right thing and save this country.

We need to have the money from the gas taxes to put the infrastructure in place for roads. If we are going to travel and if we are ever to meet eye to eye, we have to improve the roads in this country.

The member says that I have to have faith. Does the member think this is a motion of faith? I do not know why we should not have faith. If we do not, then we have a very good way of going around that by putting it into the agreement.

My colleague has just explained all of that. This is not difficult. It is not rocket science. It is written into the agreement that if the federal government gives back 3¢ to 5¢ on the litre, the provinces have to agree they will put that towards infrastructure for roads, and the federal government has to ensure that.

I do not think there will be any argument from any of the provinces. In my particular case, British Columbia is looking at the loss of an asset because it does not have the money to pay for the upkeep, and the government can fix that. The governments are supposed to be cousins. It is the Liberals in British Columbia and the Liberals in Ottawa. Do the right job, stand up for the family for a change and help these guys out because British Columbia will lose a road.

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am confused with some of the comments.

The implication of the previous question implies that the federal government is a terrific success at whatever it does. I look at things such as defence, security, Air Canada, firearms registration, aboriginal policy, the pension system, et cetera. I really do not know where the Liberals get their enthusiasm because I certainly do not share it with them.

I do want to pose a question to the member from Kamloops. Her speech was very much on point. I come from the province of Saskatchewan. Our economy is dispersed throughout the province. We have roads from one end to the other. There are only a million people in Saskatchewan. We are dependent on gasoline and diesel fuel to move product out of Saskatchewan. It is a big burden in our province and our highway system is a big burden.

If I hear the prime minister in waiting correctly, he wants to invent this great big urban bureaucracy to spend money in infrastructure in the urban areas. It seems to me that the more common sense approach is the Canadian Alliance motion, given the capacity to provide proper infrastructure and not create another huge federal government bureaucracy. What is the member's reaction to--

SupplyGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

There is no more time on the clock. However, with the indulgence of the House I will give a minute to the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys.