Mr. Speaker, much of my answer was already in my speech. This measure was announced, but so far no legislation has been passed. That is why I said in my speech I was happy to see that it was not included in the bill. I hope that it will never be introduced in the House. I do not think that it is good to eliminate the exemption for tourists who come and purchase products here and then take them back to their country of origin.
What is particularly striking in this government proposal is that it is based on unreliable data. They say that the program is ineffective because—if memory serves—only 4% of travellers make use of it. Obviously, though, this is not the right way to assess the program’s effectiveness. We have to do our calculations properly.
First, when a group of people travel together, usually only one person claims the credit. When a family of four buys a certain number of items, they obviously do not fill out four applications when they reach the border, just one. The government’s figures are therefore wrong.
Second, we need to compare the amount of the credit that is requested in dollars with what travellers are actually entitled to request in dollars. If a tourist comes to Canada to spend a weekend in Montreal and returns to the United States without having purchased any goods, he will obviously not apply for a credit to which he is not entitled. This does not mean, though, that the program was ineffective. We would have to be able to make the comparison in dollar terms to assess the effectiveness of the program, and we would also have to discuss it at the Standing Committee on Finance.
Third, there is the entire marketing aspect of this provision. Companies rely on it a lot. For example, they use the postal rebate.
Companies that offer a postal rebate know very well that there will always be a large number of consumers who never claim it. They buy the product because they are entitled to a postal rebate, but then forget to claim it. This does not mean that the marketing strategy was unsuccessful. The same applies to the GST visitor rebate: the fact that people do not claim it does not mean that the program did not work.