Mr. Speaker, there are many reasons to oppose Bill C-63.
Take, for example, last summer's botched tax reform and the supposed tax cuts for the middle class from which hardly anyone benefits fully because a person has to earn $110,000 a year to be entitled to the maximum amount. Then, there are tax havens. I would like to remind members that Canada signed the OECD's convention on tax evasion five months ago but still has not ratified it because the Income Tax Act is full of holes, and Bill C-63 does absolutely nothing to fix them.
I will talk about just one aspect of the bill, which is truly scandalous and has largely been overlooked so far.
I am talking about the cannabis taxation framework. Cannabis will be legal in eight months. At that time, the federal government will no longer really be involved. Quebec will be responsible for health and detox services. Quebec will be responsible for education and prevention. Quebec will be responsible for the administration of justice. Quebec and the municipalities will be responsible for public safety and security. In short, Quebec will be stuck with all of the responsibilities and the costs, and it will cost a lot. All that Ottawa is going to do is issue the production licences. That does not cost a penny. This is how the bill is drafted, and Ottawa will be issuing permits and raking in the tax money. The provinces will take on all of the costs and the federal government will not take on any.
Part 4 of Bill C-63 has to do with cannabis taxation. It states that cannabis will be taxed “under a single Act of Parliament”.
Yes, I said “a single Act of Parliament”. That is what it says in black and white in the new paragraph 8.8(1)(a), as set out in clause 170 of the bill. Ottawa wants to collect all of the tax. It wants to take up all of the available tax room. That is what Bill C-63 boils down to. It cannot be stressed enough that it is the provinces and cities that will be paying all of the costs. Once the federal government gets its hands on all the money, what will happen? If we want to know the answer, all we have to do is keep reading this nefarious bill, which makes it pretty clear.
The Minister of Finance will turn to the provinces and tell them he has gobbled up all the revenue and siphoned off all the money. He will tell them to come and see him so they can talk it over, and maybe he will be able to give them back a small amount. We heard the Minister of Finance say that he might go fifty-fifty. That means 50% for Ottawa, which will have paid for nothing, and 50% for the provinces, which will have paid for everything. Even then, the parliamentary secretary says this fifty-fifty arrangement is not set in stone and will have to be looked at. None of this is very reassuring.
We could end up with a ratio like 95% for Ottawa and peanuts for the provinces. We do not know. That is the problem with Bill C-63. It allows that kind of theft. The Minister of Finance will be free to do whatever he wants, because he will be the one setting the ratio. If this bill is passed in its current form, Quebec will just have to obey if it does not want to be hung out to dry and left with nothing, zip, zero, to pay for regulating cannabis consumption, educating and treating the public, and ensuring public safety.
A few years ago, former Quebec finance minister Nicolas Marceau coined the phrase “predatory federalism” to describe Ottawa's blackmailing behaviour over transfer payments. My good friend Nicolas Marceau, an excellent economist, was putting it mildly. We are seeing that predation happen in real time today, here in this House, in a debate being rammed through under a gag order. Under Bill C-63, Ottawa gets all the money. The Minister of Finance could decide to give some to the provinces, at his discretion and under his conditions.
Paragraph 8.8(1)(a) mentions those conditions. It says that the provinces must abide by the conditions if they want to get the transfer, but it does not say what the conditions are. That will be up to the federal government to decide later on, by itself, without having to come back to the House.
In Quebec, Minister Charlebois has started drafting a plan to regulate cannabis consumption. The Minister of Finance may decide that he does not like Quebec's plan. He might force Quebec to change its plan if it wants a share of the money the federal government gets its hands on thanks to Bill C-63. He might stop the payments if Quebec does something he does not like. This is serious.
Bill C-63 can say all it wants about coordinated cannabis taxation agreements, but the real story is something else altogether. Something agreed to at gunpoint is not an agreement; it is a shakedown. Bill C-63 is a weapon for extortion. Quebec has its hands full figuring out how to regulate this in terms of security, public service, and prevention, all of which Ottawa dumped on its plate, so the last thing Quebec needs is another pointless federal-provincial battle instigated entirely by a federal government that refuses to respect Quebec. The predatory federal government is taking all of the money and using it to make my people and their government do its bidding. I have had enough of the federal government shoving things like this down our throats with its mammoth bills.
A year ago, Bill C-29 tried to make Quebec consumers powerless against banks. The Bloc Québécois was unable to intervene until late in the process, but we moved heaven and earth. The National Assembly, consumer groups, the Government of Quebec, and everyone else protested loudly, and the government backed down.
There was another omnibus bill, another nasty surprise, six months ago. That time, the government was giving a gift to the private investors putting their money in the infrastructure bank. It gave them the right to ignore Quebec's laws, agricultural zoning, and municipal bylaws. Once again, no one said anything in committee, because the Bloc Québécois was not there to stand up for Quebec. Once again, the National Assembly protested, and so did the Union des producteurs agricoles. However, we lost the battle that time. It is frustrating that there are 40 MPs from Quebec who would rather clash with Quebec than defend it. We are facing the same situation today, another omnibus bill that is hiding a scam.
In the committee study, no one pointed out that Ottawa wanted to take all the money from cannabis and use that as blackmail to impose its conditions. No one raised any issues about that during the study of the bill, because the Bloc Québécois was not at committee.
Although it is late, it is not too late. We will very firmly oppose Bill C-63, and we will not be the only ones. As in the case of other omnibus bills, we will have Quebec behind us.
This time we will see whether the Liberal members from Quebec have found their backbones since last year. It remains to be seen. Time is running out.