Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to conclude this two-hour debate in which we were simply asking that the only person living in Canada who was not paying taxes began doing so like everyone else.
NDP and Liberal members said it is only normal that all citizens pay taxes. I was very pleased to learn that, in the last budget, the government followed up on this proposal and decided to make the Governor General pay taxes like everyone living in Canada, like the Queen and like all the other Governors Generals in the Commonwealth.
However, a few days later I was shocked when the government said that since the Governor General was going to pay taxes, it would double his salary. As my colleague pointed out earlier, to bring the Governor General's salary from $137,000 to $270,000 is a salary increase. He used to earn $135,000 net and now he will make about $150,000 net. Therefore, his salary has increased.
Moreover, his pension was taxable. When he was earning $135,000, he would later collect a pension of about $95,000 or $97,000 for the rest of his life, this after only five years of service. Now, he will collect $150,000 for the rest of his life. All this for just five years in office. It does not make any sense.
Does anyone know a worker in Canada who works five years and then collects a pension equal to 100% of his salary? It does not exist anywhere. Yet, that is the case with the Governor General. The government decided to make him pay taxes. However, by doubling his salary it has increased his annual pension by about $50,000. That just does not make any sense.
I am surprised that we have so much money to spend on a person who holds an honorary position, when the government is cutting benefits for the unemployed, when it is about to cut old age pensions for people who often live below the poverty line, and when it is slashing funding for environmental organizations and women's groups.
However, I am very pleased that my colleague tabled an amendment that adds meaning to this motion, since that amendment provides that the salary must remain the same. The Governor General must pay taxes on his current salary.
I wished that while debating this motion, we would also reflect on the relevancy of the honorary and archaic position of Governor General, which is a symbol of monarchy that is totally out of place in a democratic society. Monarchy and democracy do not go together. These two terms are totally opposed.
As the hon. member suggested earlier, for royal assent, we could have a letter from the Speaker of the House and a letter from the Speaker of the Senate confirming that there was a majority vote on the bill. In that way, the bill would be enacted, and we would not have to wait for the signature of the Governor General, a symbolic and archaic gesture.
The government is trying to make cuts right and left. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is a perfect spot for cuts. You could cut tens of millions of dollars in spending right there instead of attacking the unemployed, seniors and non-profit organizations.
The Governor General costs us $60 million, almost the salary of 300 hon. members for one person. The Senate costs $45 million in total, with the expenses of all 104 senators.
Let me conclude by saying that we have to really think about the Governor General's role. I would also say to the members opposite that I am a Quebecker, that I am proud of it and that I have my Quebec symbols. Are they proud to be Canadian? If so, then why do they not have Canadian symbols instead of symbols of the monarchy, a vestige of colonialism?