Mr. Speaker, I am extremely proud to take part in this emergency debate on the hike of fuel prices. This issue is very important for me.
In my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche, we often say that we like to be in the headlines and to have our riding and region known all over the country for positive reasons. There is no doubt that during the past weeks, we were also known because of the fuel crisis. I will expand later on this aspect. It is very important for me to take these few moments to make sure the voice of the riding I represent is heard.
In fact, one can look at the situation at the level of gas, heating fuel or oil price. In the end, we are all affected directly or indirectly. We have to take this into account and make sure to make changes to improve the situation and the standard of living of our fellow citizens.
On the personal side, we are affected when we go to a service station or when we need heating fuel for our homes, like most people who live in rural areas. Winter will soon be here. Therefore, the situation could become a problem.
Companies will have to review their operations to continue their development and maintain their profitability. The not-for-profit organizations, like food banks and help centres for disadvantaged people, also have to face the consequences of rising gas prices.
In New Brunswick, my province, my neck of the woods, the economy depends mostly on the forestry sector; the situation affects all sawmill and logging operations. And let us not forget the trucking, transportation and tourism industries that have already been affected. If we do not look into this adequately, the tourism sector will take an even harder hit in the coming years.
The blockade instigated by truckers from my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche and from other parts of the province was a warning, the beginning of an even more alarming crisis if we do not act quickly to stop the rise of gas prices.
As parliamentarians, we not only have the duty to act, we must also take part in debates like this one in order to find a solution, together. This is not about partisan politics. Our work goes well beyond that. That is why I was outraged this afternoon when I heard comments such as those from the deputy House leader of the opposition, who alluded to the Prime Minister's and other ministers' travels over the summer.
One can blame it all on the government or on somebody else, but sometimes the opposition must push matters further and realize that the summer barbecues of its leader did not succeed any better at solving the problems brought about by rising gas prices.
I will not make any other comments of this nature tonight, but I had to speak out against some of the comments I heard in the House this afternoon that were not well thought out.
I was at the truckers' blockade that took place in my riding in northwestern New Brunswick. I met the truckers in order to better understand their reality and to find solutions with them.
My colleague from Tobique—Mactaquac has also helped me a lot. As we know, my colleague also sits on the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology. We have worked closely together to find a solution and to push the issue forward.
The hon. member and I will do our utmost to convene the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology to get answers to questions that we are frequently asked and to which Canadians deserve answers.
I am pleased to see that, as a result of work by my colleague and I, the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology resumed last week on September 22, even if the House had not yet done likewise.
We can understand the frustration felt by truckers, whose income depends in large part on the price of gasoline. Obviously, there are operating costs, fixed costs and equipment rental costs. It is increasingly expensive. However, these people must suffer through this and deliver goods that we need such as food, clothing or any other commodity we want.
As members of this Parliament, we must do much more than understanding the facts. Canadians are calling for action. Those who elected us are asking us to work to improve this situation.
One of my constituents shared his concern and dismay with me about the increase in the price of fuel. This winter, he will have to heat his home with fuel oil. He was just told that the monthly charge will be $185. Less than one year ago, it was $95 per month. We can imagine how this will affect the overall household income.
When we look at this, we think that, obviously, the government will collect more taxes. When cost jumps from $95 to $185, it reaches an entirely new level. The purchasing power, the economic power of these individuals, has been greatly reduced. Ultimately, the government will not be reaping the benefits with regard to taxes.
People on limited or fixed incomes, low-income earners and even the wealthiest members of society are affected. In short, each of us, as Canadians, is affected. People in rural regions, such as mine, are as affected, if not more.
Let us look at the situation. I know that certain of my colleagues have also talked about this. In the last few weeks and again today, in two areas—often in the same province—less than an hour's drive apart, there was a 9¢ difference in the price per litre of diesel. It is difficult for us to understand this, but it is even more difficult for our fellow citizens to understand why there is a 9¢ difference between the price they pay for diesel fuel at one location and another that is located only one hour's drive away in the same province and the same riding.
As a federal member of Parliament, it is much harder to represent a rural riding because there are greater problems to overcome. One of them is that we do not have access to public transit. We do not have buses to transport people. Our only means of transportation is our car. The only means of transportation by which the people of my riding can get their groceries and pay their bills is their car. The only means of transportation by which the people of my riding can go to work is their car. Driving a car costs a lot of money, but their wages are not raised accordingly.
We depend on energy, and we need to find more efficient solutions to offset this dependency in the very near future.
But before we even turn to more efficient solutions, more ecological solutions to counteract this phenomenon of increasing energy dependency on this continent, we need to find solutions to the present situation, in order to remedy the soaring gas and fuel costs.
In recent weeks, within a whole different context, I met with forestry industry leaders in my region. Most of them told me that one of the crises they are experiencing at the present time and will certainly have to overcome in the future is increasing energy costs. Obviously, diesel and gasoline are factors in that increase. There is another problem, however. When energy is produced from diesel or oil, this automatically increases the cost we have to pay for electricity.
This is a situation that requires realism. Producers and people in the forest industry must address it. They must counteract increasing energy costs by remaining competitive, not only regionally or nationally. When we want to do business today, the bulk of it involves exports, particularly in our small regions. So if we want to export, we absolutely must be competitive on the world level. That requires our businesses to have some tools.
When we examine the situation, we can certainly look here and there to find solutions, to put the finger on the problem and to describe the situation. Along with citizens in my riding, we have witnessed the profit margins that oil companies have taken in during the last weeks. This is unrealistic. What other industry in our country or even in the world can increase its profit margins for refining three, four or five times? To my knowledge, no other industry can do so.
If this industry has difficulty taking responsibility, we must, as parliamentarians, make it do so. It is certainly something on which I will work relentlessly. I will work to find solutions for the citizens in my riding.