Mr. Speaker, we have been debating these motions for many hours.
A number of themes have been repeated over and over again because they strike members of the opposition as good sound bites, ways to attack the government. Who can fault them for that? That is what they are here to do. The trouble is that it distracts this House and people who may be viewing this debate from considering the real issues at hand.
What we are doing in this harmonization agreement with the provinces that are coming onboard now is we are moving to a system of sales taxation that is coherent, is in the interests of consumers, and is more efficient and easier for businesses. It is a win all around.
It is interesting, particularly as I rise after a member of the opposition, the Bloc Quebecois, to hear the unrelenting criticism of harmonization from that side of the House. One has to ask why that might be. Consider that in the province of Quebec we already have harmonization. So how can it be that members of the official opposition have been in this House day after day attacking harmonization?
As I just said in English, Bloc members are against harmonization, which is very odd because they have harmonization in Quebec. Everyone knows that. Is it because they want to keep the benefits of harmonization for themselves, for their own companies and consumers?
Could it be that they want to preserve for their businesses and their consumers the benefits of a more efficient harmonized sales tax system? I looked at a map of Canada the other day, which one should do from time to time, to remember that Quebec borders New Brunswick. If New Brunswick goes to harmonization and has the benefits of that, then Quebec loses some of the comparative advantage it has had through harmonization. Those advantages will now be available in Atlantic Canada and eventually throughout the country. It is the right way to go for business and it is the right thing for consumers.
I travelled across the country with the finance committee. Members of all parties, even the third party, supported harmonization, but we would hardly know it from listening to the debate of the last few days. We travelled across this country and Canadians said: "While you are fixing the GST please do something about this anomaly. We are the only country in the world that has 10 sales taxes: nine provincial sales taxes and one federal tax". Travel anywhere in this world and try to find that. You will not.
I will speak to one other misconception that has been advanced in this Chamber, which is the issue of hiding tax. Consumers said to us overwhelmingly-and I will have more to say about this in later stages of the debate-that they wanted tax inclusive pricing. As for those who said they did not want the tax to be buried, I asked them if they had ever travelled outside North America and had looked at a cash register receipt in almost any country of Europe or if they had looked at a receipt from the gas pump, whether it was in Alberta or Quebec City and had seen the amount of tax indicated on the receipt. I did not hear a great hue and cry about hidden taxes in gasoline prices in this country. And I have yet to run into anybody in Europe who says: "The Government of France is hiding the tax from me". It is right there on the receipt, as it will be in Atlantic Canada.
I have taken these few minutes to come back to basics. I look forward to hearing what the members opposite have to say, particularly if it is something new and not something that has been said over and over again without looking at the substance of what is being done here, about the wishes of consumers and retailers in Atlantic Canada about what makes sense for economic efficiency in this country. It makes sense in Quebec where they have been doing it for years. It must make sense for the rest of the country as well, and indeed it does.