Madam Speaker, before making a comment and asking a question to my colleague from Drummond, I would like, as a preamble, to indicate to the House that last week I informed my colleagues of the Bloc Quebecois that I will not be seeking a third mandate.
I would like to take this opportunity to say to all my colleagues in the House how I appreciated working with all of them. It is indeed a privilege to represent our fellow citizens in this House.
I would also like to say that as a member of parliamentary committees and associations I had the opportunity to get to know some of my colleagues better, to develop a friendship with them based on mutual respect and consideration and to recognize their competence and their involvement in issues which we all wanted to see properly dealt with.
My only regret would be that it is still necessary to have members from Quebec sit in the House. I would have hoped to be the last federal member from Portneuf. I know that my colleagues had the same hope because if Quebec were sovereign there would be no need for us here.
Obviously the will of the people of Quebec has been different, but the presence of the Bloc Quebecois in the House, as we can see in today's debate and in those we have every day, is essential for the protection and the advancement of Quebec's interests. I might even add that it is more than ever essential. Thank goodness the Bloc Quebecois is here.
That leads me to ask a question to my hon. colleague from Drummond with regard to the mini-budget the finance minister delivered yesterday. Here I will digress to say that while I thought Christmas was on December 25, apparently it was yesterday. However make no mistake, the minister is not a real Santa Claus. He is a phoney Santa Claus because he is not delivering real gifts. I want to talk about the particular issue of the subsidy granted to individuals for heating oil. That is very nice, but not everybody heats their home with oil; others use other sources of heat. What about them?
Now that taxpayers will have a little more money in their pockets to pay their heating oil bill, what is stopping oil companies from raising oil prices? The law of supply and demand is well known. Market forces are at play, and it is not because the minister is offering that kind of fiscal measure that this will change.
Since consumers will have more money available, it will be a strong incentive for oil companies to raise heating oil prices in order to pocket that money. Besides, is that not precisely what oil companies have been doing for some time now, pocketing our money at the pump or at the time one buys heating oil in order to generate profits unheard of in many years?
In fact, the government is not dealing with the basic problem, which is the fact that oil companies are now abusing a situation I would describe as quasi-monopolistic and the consumers have to pay for that.
Does the hon. member for Drummond not think that with this fiscal measure of the finance minister there is a huge risk for the people she talked about, women in particular, to get swindled by the oil companies trying to put their hands on this little amount of money, which is not even enough to cover the additional costs they will be faced with this coming winter?