Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in this debate, which has not surprisingly attracted a great deal of interest. I would first like to address a very important aspect of wanting to bring in the sort of reform being proposed in Bill C-70, the bill dealing with the GST. I want to talk about the confidence the public must have in our institutions if the decisions the government takes are to become reality.
As I have said, this element of trust is a basic principle in many of our institutions, particularly in the area of taxation. We know that it is a basic principle of tax law that a citizen must file his tax return, and it is presumed that this return is accurate until proven otherwise.
The same is true in the justice system. A person is considered innocent until proven guilty. This principle also applies here in the House, where our rules of procedure prevent us from calling a colleague a liar, and require us to presume, particularly during oral question period, that when a minister gives a reply, he is telling the truth.
Clearly, this element of trust is a fundamental part of our institutions. Unfortunately, when it comes to this extremely important bill, the element of trust is missing. It is missing, and this will have enormous consequences, because members of the public, who are watching us and who must suffer the terrible effects of this bill, will quite rightly rebel, because they do not have confidence in our institutions or in the elected officials who must make decisions.
They have many reasons for expressing this lack of trust. I will give a few well known examples still in the public eye right now. There is the Airbus affair, which has shown us the Minister of Justice tangled up in something that looks more like a settling of political accounts than a real case that supposedly needed clarification.
The reputation of former Prime Minister Mulroney was attacked. The current Prime Minister and Minister of Justice got so deep into trouble that, on the advice of their own solicitors, they eventually made amends and apologized. After dickering for months and wasting millions of taxpayers' dollars in legal fees, they ended up apologizing, saying that a mistake had been made in the Airbus affair and that former Prime Minister Mulroney not only had done nothing wrong but that his conduct should never have been called into question.
The same thing is happening in the tainted blood scandal, with the Krever commission. Documents were destroyed. Obviously, the commission can no longer have access to these documents and use them to make recommendations in its upcoming report.
The same thing is also happening with the Somalia inquiry. The defence minister has just put an end to the mandate of the Létourneau commission, in a highhanded way, in my opinion. He has just decided that the hearings would have to be completed by the end of March and that the commission would have to submit its report by the end of June. However, several witnesses have yet to be heard, and the public is convinced that more remains unknown than known.
These examples show the impact of trust in our institutions, or the lack of it. This is why Canadians no longer believe in their representatives and, more often than not, are cynical about the electoral and political processes. This threatens the future of our institutions.
Bill C-70 is a case in point. During the last election campaign, the Prime Minister himself, the Deputy Prime Minister and all the Liberal candidates kept repeating that they would scrap the GST. Not only was the GST not scrapped, but it was maintained and, through Bill C-70, it will be made even worse. The bill establishes two tax systems: one for the maritime provinces and one for the rest of Canada. This is unbelievable.
This will destroy the confidence that is so necessary for our institutions. Mr. Speaker, you are impartial, but I am convinced that your Liberal colleagues think this is all a figment of my imagination. They think I am making these comments just because I belong to the Bloc Quebecois, the official opposition, and must therefore criticize the government. They say we are trying to destroy the Liberal government's good image every chance we get.
Be that as it may, yesterday, a Gallup poll showed that 29 per cent of Quebecers believe the Prime Minister of Canada and member for Saint-Maurice is doing a good job. Merely 29 per cent of the people in Quebec believe he is doing a good job. This means that 71 per cent believe he is not doing a good job. Therefore, the people do not have confidence in the Prime Minister and his government. In Quebec, in the upcoming election, once again, the people will express this lack of confidence in the Liberal government by re-electing members of the Bloc Quebecois.
Hopefully the Bloc Quebecois' performance will reflect the people's lack of confidence in the government expressed in this poll. I have no doubt that the people of Quebec are fully aware of the bad, unfortunate decisions made by this government, which will adversely affect our fellow citizens in their daily lives. Just
think of the unemployed, whose benefits have been cut every year since the Liberals came to office, just to reduce the deficit.
I will close by saying that, these past few years, not only did the Bloc Quebecois denounce bad decisions-and we will keep doing so for the rest of this government's mandate-but we also proposed major changes which, if implemented, would improve our tax system.
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work done by our colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, with the help of the hon. member for Anjou-Rivière-des-Prairies and the hon. member for La Prairie, so they could table a second report this week. This is unprecedented in Canadian history. I see that Liberal members agree. This is a precedent; the official opposition tabled a realistic, practical tax reform proposal.