Madam Speaker, I am honoured to speak on behalf of everyone in my riding, of the miners, mining companies and small mining businesses throughout the vast territory of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Chapais-Chibougamau and James Bay, and on behalf of the James Bay Cree and the Inuit in Nunavik. The riding covers about 850,000 square kilometres in Quebec and is the biggest mining riding in Canada.
I listened to the Bloc Quebecois member who said that noboby had had spoken out. I find this passing strange, because I have documents from the finance minister dated February 2002. It is the answer of the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard to one of my letters. Back in 2002, I asked for a reduction in the general tax rate of mining companies.
We knew that the tax rate for small businesses was supposed to drop from 28% in 2000 to 21% in 2004. This goes to show that we are concerned about the same issues.
Coming back to the mining industry, a story by Juliane Pilon was published in La Dépêche , a paper belonging to Jacques Aylwin, under the title “Decline in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue mining industry”. It said that rates go up, then go down, and may well remain low. That is what we should be promoting.
The Mining Association of Canada wrote us to enlist our support for an amendment to Bill C-48. I note, however, that none of the proposed amendments has been adopted and the Bloc Quebecois did not get anywhere in committee. The Liberal member who spoke earlier has summarized the entire situation very well as far as what the mining association was calling for is concerned. The same thing is happening back home.
If, however, we examine the facts, we know that the federal government is proposing a new rate: 5%, then 7%,10%, 10% and 10% until 2007. The mining association asked us to support 20%.
I listened carefully to the Bloc Quebecois member for Joliette, who said that they too support the Mining Association of Canada. What I find strange is that this is not what they proposed in the standing committee. Their proposal was 10% the first year, followed by 14% the second, and 20% thereafter. I find it odd that the Bloc Quebecois did not call for 20% right off the bat, instead of going from 10% to 14% and finally to 20%.