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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was firearms.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Yorkton—Melville (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 69% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code September 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the question is a good one.

If the member is familiar with what is happening with regard to section 745 at the present time, I do not have the statistics at my fingertips, but what is happening is that over half of these people are being released because a lot of the evidence is not admissible in these court trials and it is being used as a loophole to get these people off after 15 years.

Part of the problem is being addressed by the legislation and I commend the government for doing that because it will allow victim impact statements to be submitted but it does not indicate how those victim impact statements will be used in these trials. Will the person be able to testify before this jury? At the present time they are generally not allowed to do so unless the judge rules otherwise in some provinces.

In most cases those people who, if we had capital punishment, would not even be here are being released on to our streets. That is what people find unacceptable. These people who in more than half the cases were given a life sentence are now being released. That is the problem.

Much of the testimony that should be given because of other legal loopholes is not even allowed at that trial. It is a very interesting study to see what is happening under section 745 and to see how the criminal element has more rights than the victim with regard to all of this legislation. That is why we would like to close some of these loopholes.

Criminal Code September 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, before getting back into the routine, I would like to wish the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the Acting Speakers the very best for this session. Your patience no doubt will be tested and I pray you will continue to make the decisions that are in the best

interests of all of the citizens of this great country. I wish you the best.

I also bring greetings from the constituents of Yorkton-Melville in Saskatchewan to all the members of Parliament and sincerely hope that all the members will direct their efforts to the most serious problems facing us at this time, problems like the debt, the economy, unemployment, criminal justice reform, as we are dealing with now, and the desperate need to reform our social programs.

I hope that we will focus on these things and apply ourselves to dealing with them.

We have heard from a number of Reform MPs who have expressed their qualified support for certain provisions of Bill C-41. We have also heard of some of their recommendations for improvement. While I share my colleagues's support for the general principles and intent of this bill, it is clear that it is not a bill that a Reform government would have drafted.

For example, section 745.6(2)(d) will now permit judges to receive and consider information provided by a victim at early parole hearings of murderers sentenced to life imprisonment supposedly without eligibility of parole. These people have been sentenced and now, under section 745, they have the possibility after 15 years of applying for parole.

While Reformers would rather have seen the complete repeal of section 745 and have these convicted murderers stay behind bars and serve their full sentences, we commend the government for at least taking a step in the right direction by recognizing that victims do have some rights to be heard at these hearings.

I am concerned that this specific amendment does not specify how the judge may receive the information from the victims or the victims' relatives. Will it simply be a victim's statement or will the victims themselves be allowed to appear in court and give evidence under oath? This has to be clarified during the committee stage. There is no clear evidence here that victims will have any more rights than criminals throughout this entire reform of the criminal justice system. That is a principle that we must clearly enunciate in our legislation and that has not been done in this amendment.

The minister cited the experience of Marie King Forest. Will she have the right to appear before the parole committee and give evidence of the impact the murder of her husband, a policeman, had on her life and the lives of her children? That murderer is now applying for parole and these people are still trying to put their lives together. Will there be clear, ample opportunity for her to personally testify at these parole hearings? That is not specified in this amendment.

After reading Bill C-41 I could not help but conclude that it is a make work project for lawyers. I was listening to the hon. minister a few minutes ago. I am convinced that this legislation will provide more and more work for lawyers in our courts. There seems to be more of a focus on bureaucratic procedures than imposing sentences and getting tough on crime. That is not acceptable and Canadians are calling for this government to get tough and not make more procedures and more work for the lawyers.

When I see that certain murderers will get a more serious or stiffer sentence because their crime was motivated by hate rather than doing something for kicks, as was the case with this policeman, or for some other reason there is a serious flaw here. It will be a lawyer's dream to now work with this new legislation.

Trials will now have this new added dimension. As they discuss this they of course will be accumulating revenue. Let us focus on the crime.

Now to my real concern about this bill. The Minister of Justice has spent the last six months getting Canadians all riled up about gun control. The first opportunity that he has to do something about it, the first opportunity that this government has to address this problem and to do something about the criminal use of guns, they do nothing. They have missed their chance. That is a major concern of mine and of many Canadians. Everyone knows that this is a serious deficiency not only in the use of section 85 of the Criminal Code but also in the sentences meted out by judges.

For the benefit of this House and the Canadian people, section 85 provides for a mandatory sentence for any person using a firearm in the commission of an indictable offence. The sentences can range from a minimum of one year to a maximum of 14 years for the first offence, and for a second or subsequent offence a minimum of three years and a maximum of 14 years. Section 85 also requires that the sentences be served consecutively, added on to their other sentence.

The Minister of Justice talks about imposing more inane restrictions, empty foolish restrictions, on law-abiding, responsible gun owners while he did not take this opportunity to put more teeth into the sentencing of criminals convicted under section 85. That is a grave omission.

I know the Minister of Justice has asked the provincial attorneys general to ensure that more charges are laid under section 85 rather than using it primarily as a plea bargaining tool. The studies show that even when section 85 is used by the police the sentences are rarely in line with what the public would consider punishment fit for the crime or anything near what the people would consider a deterrent-completely lacking.

Before we look specifically at the sentencing under section 85, we must look at the overall leniency of our criminal courts. In 1991-92 the Canadian centre for justice statistics completed a study of the sentencing of adult criminal provincial court in six provinces using a data base of over 600,000 criminal convictions. It found that the maximum penalties were imposed very rarely in adult provincial courts. Of the 52 offences carrying an identifiable maximum penalty, 31 of the crimes had never had the maximum penalty imposed; 17 had the maximum penalty imposed only one per cent of the time and only four had the maximum penalty imposed over 5 per cent of the time.

I ask the members of this House is this what the government means by getting tough on crime?

Let us look at this study and see what it tells us about sentences for the use of a firearm during the commission of an offence. First of all, the number of convictions is important to look at. The study by the Canadian centre for justice statistics found that in the 1991-92 year in just six provinces there were only 52 convictions under section 85 for using a firearm in the commission of an offence. Compare this with 12,287 convictions for violent crimes that same year; 52 convictions out of 12,287 convictions for violent crimes under section 85 for using a firearm in the commission of an offence.

Here is a breakdown of those violent offences: manslaughter, 73 convictions; robbery, 2,181 convictions; sexual assault with a weapon, 94 convictions; assault with a weapon, 5,787 convictions; careless dangerous use of a firearm, 2,130 convictions; the possession of a firearm or weapon, 2,022 convictions. Out of all of these, there were 52 convictions under section 85 of using a firearm in the commission of an offence. This is a total of 12,287 convictions for violent crimes.

Granted I can hear some people saying we do not know how many convicted criminals actually used a firearm, but we are certain that it was a lot more than 52 times out of 12,287 in all of these violent crimes that I have given here. Robbery, 2,181-did all of these people rob without a gun?

Section 85 is not being used. The Minister of Justice is trying to convince the provinces to instruct their police forces to use section 85 more. Let us look at the sentences for 52 section 85 convictions in 1991-92. The minimum sentence under section 85 of the Criminal Code is one year and the maximum is 14 years.

In all 52 convictions under section 85 every single one of them received the minimum one year sentence. That is getting tough on the criminal misuse of firearms? I find this statistic so amazing I have to say it again. In 100 per cent of the 52 convictions for using a gun during the commission of a crime the criminals received the minimum one year sentence, one year in jail. This is proof positive that something has to be done with regard to sentencing for section 85 convictions.

Bill C-41 that we have before this House must be amended. If the courts will not use the sentencing provisions of section 85 to deter the criminal use of guns then Parliament must. We must not neglect our duty. We must use the responsibility that people have entrusted us with to make our criminal justice system work in this country.

If judges persist in sentencing criminals who use guns to the minimum time in jail then Parliament must act to increase the minimum mandatory sentence to three years. I think section 85 should be amended to read "use of weapons", not just "firearms". That is a serious loophole in the law that must be closed.

I ask the government to do what makes sense and do what the vast majority of Canada is asking: get tough on crime. Do not look at legitimate gun owners and see what restrictions we can put on them. Target the problem where the problem exists.

I cannot believe that this government left such an important provision out of the sentencing bill. What possible reason could it have for this oversight? Could it be that it is not serious about getting tough on crime? Could it be that all the focus of its efforts to control crime will be directed, as I have said, at law-abiding, responsible gun owners rather than at the criminal who uses guns? Why should it be left to Reform MPs to identify the major deficiency in Bill C-41?

I hope now that it has been pointed out that all the members of the justice committee will support an amendment of this bill related to the sentencing for convictions under section 85.

Let us look at how section 85 might be better applied in a recent case. Everyone has heard about the Just Desserts killing in Toronto on April 5. Four men walked in, robbed the patrons of the restaurant and used a sawed-off shotgun to kill one of the customers. Three men have been charged so far, one with murder and 12 robberies and the other two with manslaughter and 12 robberies. As far as we know charges have not been laid under section 85 of the Criminal Code.

Since the Just Desserts killing there have been calls for more gun control by people with the mistaken belief that controlling guns will somehow control crime. It will not. The criminals in the Just Desserts killing were already using a prohibited weapon, a sawed-off shotgun. What are we doing? Are we going to prohibit them even more than they already are?

There have been very few calls for what is really needed, more crime control and not gun control. One way to control crime is to send a clear message to all prospective criminals that the public and our criminal justice system will not tolerate the criminal use

of guns. The best way to send this message is to hand out tougher sentences.

The persons in the Just Desserts killing should not only be charged with murder, manslaughter and 12 robberies but should also be charged under section 85 for using a firearm in the commission of an indictable offence, one section 85 charge for each of the robberies and another section 85 charge for the murder.

This would give the judge the option of sentencing another 182 years in jail for the sentences for each of these convicted of the senseless, horrific crime. What if, after the conviction, the newspaper headlines read: "Just Desserts killers get just desserts, sentenced to a maximum of 507 years each"? "Justice minister promises they will never get out to kill again". This would be the maximum life sentence for the murder, the maximum life sentence for each of the 12 robberies and the maximum sentence of 14 years for using a firearm in each of the robberies and another 14 years for using a firearm in the murder.

Would this not send a clearer signal to those who are going to use guns with criminal intent? Would this not be a clearer deterrent than making laws which ban guns which the criminals disobey anyway? They will still continue to saw off their shotguns and use them any way they want to.

There will always be those who will be saying that sentencing a criminal to 507 years is ridiculous and of course 507 years is impossible to serve. However, it is even more ridiculous to let killers serving life sentences with no eligibility for parole back on our streets in 15 years by using the Liberal loophole of section 745.

What is more ridiculous? Compare those two things. It sounds ridiculous to sentence somebody to 507 years but it is even more ridiculous to let them off easy. I appeal to this government to get tough on crime. The criminal misuse of guns,rather than what they are doing now should be addressed instead of putting in more stupid regulations on law-abiding citizens.

Liberals are very famous for big government, higher taxes and intrusion into the lives of Canadians. More common sense is needed in this legislation. Do not just make it appear like the government is doing something. Really get to the root of the problem and solve it. Do not just talk the talk, walk the walk.

The Minister of Justice said this morning that he has been planning this for 14 years. Why did the government not come up with something more substantive if it has had that much time? Surely it could have closed some of these loopholes and addressed some of these problems.

The minister had many Canadians telling him this summer the ideas that he has been floating with regard to gun control do not get to the heart of the problem. He had an opportunity to do something and he never did it. I hope some amendments will be made in this committee. I look forward to making some suggestions to the minister.

Yukon First Nations Land Claims Settlement Act June 22nd, 1994

In a total of 20 minutes, I have about a half-minute left.

The government has run roughshod over everyone. It is implementing a concept that was not debated and approved by Canadians.

It is obvious this government does not even want this nation to debate this agreement. The people of Canada should be made aware of the fine print because really they are the ones who are a party to this agreement. It is between the Indians and the people of Canada.

Yukon First Nations Land Claims Settlement Act June 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge that I will be sharing my time.

This is the first time I have had an opportunity to speak to this bill. When I first read the umbrella agreement on which this bill was based, I immediately had a number of concerns about the Yukon land claims agreements. I was concerned about the number, concerned about the fact that approximately 7,300 Yukon Indians out of a total Yukon population of 32,000 will receive collective ownership of 16,000 square miles which includes all the subsurface rights on 10,000 square miles and some subsurface rights on the other 6,000 square miles. I have to ask: What do the other residents of the Yukon think of these land claims agreements? What do they think?

In addition to a cash payment of almost $250 million the Yukon First Nations will also receive rental revenues from surface leases and royalties from the development of non-renewable resources. Additionally, the Yukon First Nations will receive a preferential share in wildlife harvesting. What impact will these agreements have on access to settlement lands by non-native people? We are asking these questions. We have heard a lot of rhetoric today but we have heard very little about the details of this agreement and how it is going to impact on the residents of the Yukon.

Will the Yukon First Nations allow hunters, trappers and fishermen on settlement lands and their much larger traditional territories? What is going to happen in that regard?

Another concern that I had was that there was no financial balance sheet accompanying these agreements, none at all. I was concerned that the federal government will still be obligated to make the same payments to the Indian people in the Yukon. My understanding of settling the land claims and entering into self-government agreements was that the financial obligations of Canadian taxpayers would be reduced as a result of these revenues that would be replaced by royalties and resource revenues.

What is the rationale for continuing to make increased annual payments to the Indian people under that kind of an arrangement? What control will the Parliament of Canada have over payment of taxpayers' dollars to the Yukon First Nations? Canadian taxpayers are asking Reformers these questions and I have yet to hear the answers.

I was concerned that if we passed Bill C-33 that future land claim agreements with the 10 remaining bands in the Yukon will not have to come before Parliament for debate. That is a concern. They can be approved by cabinet through orders in council. That is the process written into this whole agreement. I have to ask why the government is trying to avoid the democratic right of the Canadian people to examine all aspects of each and every land agreement in the Yukon. Why are they being denied that right?

Under clause 6 of Bill C-33 the rights contained in these land agreements are "recognized and affirmed under section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982". Does this mean that the Yukon land claim agreements will now be entrenched in the Constitution? Are they now part of our Constitution? If they are entrenched how will they be able to be amended?

If we want to change those agreements at any time, how will that happen? Clause 13 of Bill C-33 makes the provisions of the Yukon land claims paramount over all federal and territorial laws. Is this really what the government has intended? Is this really what the citizens of Canada want or do the people want the laws of Canada to apply equally to all its citizens regardless of where they live? Why is the government trying to ram these bills through without being as up front with the Canadian people as they have been with the Yukon Indians?

Finally, I am very concerned about the precedent we might be setting by entering into these land claim agreements. Will the precedent set here apply to my province of Saskatchewan? Will it apply to Manitoba? Will we be asking these same questions a year or so from now relating to land claim agreements in all the other parts of Canada?

Will future land claim deals contain all the same provisions, transferring the same powers and law making ability, a proportional amount of land, the same control over resources, similar royalty provisions and so on? The list can continue. Will this set a precedent for all of those things? Will the arguments made in future court cases refer to the precedent set in the Yukon land claims agreement? Have we thought through all of this? I have heard a lot of rhetoric but I have not heard anyone address that. This is why the amendments that we tried to make are so important. We were shut down.

The amendments that the Reform Party had proposed would have gone a long way to removing many of my concerns. The amendments proposed by our party would have answered many of the questions being asked not only by Reformers but all Canadians.

I was talking to some people from Halifax the other day and we were discussing the Yukon land claims and self-government agreements. The gentleman said that he had not heard anything about these agreements. The people of Canada know precious

little of what is happening here. They do not understand the impact that these agreements will have on their home provinces.

The government has the attitude that the quicker it can push this through the less waves it will make. It would rather not have the people know what is happening here today. I came to Ottawa to represent my constituents, to be their voice in Ottawa. I would not be doing my job if I had not raised their concerns in the House. We have to speak up.

They have similar concerns to the ones I expressed here today. I even heard from an elder. I know many of these people in Saskatchewan. Some of them are my friends and they have raised similar concerns to the ones I have raised here today.

People would rather not listen. They would rather not know what some of the grassroots native people are saying. They would like to hush it up. They would like to keep it quiet.

This is a key element in the process we see here today. This elder from one of the reserves in my constituency complained of the Mafia tactics used by Indian leaders to suppress the will of the grassroots Indian people. We have received many similar complaints from Manitoba.

Were non-native Yukon citizens given the opportunity to review and vote? Were they given the opportunity to review and vote on these agreements? People who do not know are answering but I do not hear the people who know. We are asking these questions to ensure that Parliament is signing agreements that the majority of Indian people and the majority of Canadian taxpayers will support.

These land claim agreements may or may not be able to be changed in the future, so it is vital that all of these important questions be answered before this bill is passed by Parliament. When this bill is passed there will be 10 more land claim agreements that will be passed without any further scrutiny by Parliament.

It is for this reason that Reformers want to take all the time that is necessary to examine, discuss, debate and amend this bill until we can get it absolutely right. I ask members to consider the process that is taking place here today. We have heard a lot of rhetoric but I have not heard many answers to these questions.

Finally, the question of native self-government was put to the Canadian people during the Charlottetown accord referendum and we all know what the people said. They said no, and yet this government went ahead.

Excise Tax Act June 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I think the illustration that has just been used is an excellent illustration of what has been happening in this House. It is not just with regard to this piece of legislation, but the Young Offenders Act and some of the other things that have been happening are good examples of how an opposition that is strong and prods the government can have quite an influence in some positive directions that government can take.

That goes along with what this government is advocating, does it not? Is not this government saying it is listening, it wants that co-operation to take place, it is looking for input?

I hope it is listening because we are trying to make a point. We have been addressing this for quite some time and the health concerns are not going to go away. We have heard some of the statistics that have been quoted and some of the results of this legislation already coming forward on how smoking seems to be on the increase. It is a legitimate concern that we have.

Coming back to the remarks that were made, I am not an expert in this area, someone who is in medicine of course would be. There are some people who will absolutely never smoke. No matter what advertising might take place, they would not be lured into that habit. There are others who will probably smoke no matter what contrary advertising took place. No matter what the government did to try to discourage that, they would still smoke.

There is a group on the edge. They can be influenced one way or the other. I would like the member to maybe comment in this regard about the vulnerable sector of our society that will be influenced by the price. Would that not be a factor that the government should consider?

Some will say they are not going to start smoking just because the price has been lowered. That may be true, there may be an element out there. Some will smoke no matter what the price is. That could be true. I am wondering if there is not an element in between there, a vulnerable element that would be influenced by price. I do not know if the member has any research or any opinion on that.

Excise Tax Act June 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in listening to the debate and some of the concerns which have been expressed, I am now aware that there are at least three states which have higher taxes on cigarettes than the neighbouring provinces in Canada.

Could the member comment a little bit on the taxes in the United States, the direction they are heading and whether we could co-operate with them in that respect. It is a key issue. I do not know if we can solve this problem by ourselves. We are looking at it in this light and is something which needs to be discussed. We need to co-operate with the authorities and attack the problem in this way.

Excise Tax Act June 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the remarks that were made by my hon. colleague across the floor.

I want to clarify something. We do not suggest that this has all just begun. This problem has been building up. It would be foolish to say it was only here since October 25. That is not what we are saying. We are not saying that this plan will not combat smuggling. Of course if you reduce the price and there is no profit in it, there will not be any more smuggling. That is common sense.

The hon. member made a statement that I would like him to comment on. He said that the access to young Canadians is cut off. I doubt whether that is so. I still see young people with cigarettes in their mouths. I wonder how this plan is going to effectively control the use of tobacco by young people. I do not see anything here that is going to in any way guarantee that they will not have free access to tobacco products and will not be using them. If that access were limited we would not see many of the young people at the present time smoking. I would like to know what the hon. member sees as being positive in that regard. I still do not see the problem of health being directly addressed.

What about the alcohol and guns that are now being smuggled? What will the government do to address that problem? The smuggling element is still there. They have simply turned to another product to smuggle.

Excise Tax Act June 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments about the process taking place here today.

It makes it a bit awkward when we have an omnibus bill, one that contains something about airport taxes, tobacco taxes and other measures. It is difficult to support such a bill when it contains something to which you are completely opposed. You may support two of the three measures but have to vote against the bill because of something in it that is unacceptable. I have an objection to that kind of thing happening. The issues should be separated out so we can discuss them and vote on them separately.

There is a second thing I would like to comment on. My colleague may wish to respond even though he does not have to. We have the freedom to speak up in the House. We may not agree with even our colleagues within the same party but the government should encourage free discussion and debate.

Like my colleague said, we should identify the problem. We should determine our options. We should decide what would be a reasonable course of action to take and it should be debated. The legislation that flows from the discussion should reflect the feelings of every member in the House.

Very seldom do I hear people sitting on the backbenches of the government expressing an opinion that is contrary to the cabinet. That is a shame. It is unacceptable. In a free and democratic society, we should be allowed to express dissent. That is what should be happening. Debate should be taking place.

I wonder why more people do not speak up and express their concerns in regard to this. Surely members of the Reform Party are not the only ones who are concerned about health. There must be Liberals who also have those kinds of concerns.

My colleague has brought up some legitimate health concerns other than tobacco. They could be debated. It might be a related issue but we should be talking about it.

We need to have that kind of open discussion here. We have begun the process. We have allowed for it. It has happened on occasion but I would like to see more of it. If my hon. colleague would like to comment on any of that, I would welcome him to do so.

Excise Tax Act June 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on February 8 the government announced its national action campaign to combat smuggling. At that time Bill C-11 was introduced to address some of the enforcement measures and tax changes which were implemented, using a number of ways and means motions until Bill C-32 was introduced on May 27.

Members of the House may remember second reading debate on Bill C-11 on February 22 of this year. Reformers used that opportunity to consider and respond to all aspects of the action plan to combat smuggling and to express our opposition to the reduction in the tobacco tax. While our knowledge and understanding of the government's tax changes have improved, our opinion and opposition to the tax reduction on cigarettes and tobacco products have not changed.

As a little aside here, it has been an eye opener for me as a new parliamentarian to see the process the government uses in implementing these changes. Behind closed doors it implemented the ways and means motions and made these changes. Then it was brought to Parliament and we debated it, and it became official many months later. It was an interesting exercise. It is interesting to see how government operates. When it wants to

act it can act very quickly. If it wants to drag its feet it can drag them a long time.

Our concerns about the government's tax reduction on cigarettes were confirmed when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health appeared before the Standing Committee on Finance on June 7 and advised that the government's goal was to reduce the demand for tobacco, the number one cause of preventable death in Canada. I will repeat. The government said that its aim or its goal was to reduce the demand for tobacco, the number one cause of preventable death in Canada.

The parliamentary secretary went on to say the government fully recognized that the action plan to combat smuggling and the tax measures associated with it would pose health risks. What a contradiction. On the one hand we have one of the highest risk factors in the nation being acknowledged. On the other hand the government introduces a bill which will be more of a threat to the health of Canadians than probably any other move it has made so far. How can the government continue to sit there and defend this move? I find that unconscionable.

Before we get into the reasons why we are opposed to the reduction in the tobacco tax, I would like to outline the measures announced by the government in Bill C-32 which Reformers support. There are some good things. If the government had listened to some of the amendments we proposed and some of the changes we would like to have made, we could have accepted this. However it was like a stone wall.

Reformers support the imposition of the new excise tax on exported tobacco products. Senior officials with the department informed us that before the tax changes were implemented between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of the total production of tobacco manufacturers in Canada was exported. Between 30 per cent and 40 per cent went outside the country, mainly to the United States. Tobacco companies agree that only 3 per cent of their exports were legally consumed and the rest was smuggled back into Canada. If that were the problem why did we not try to solve that problem before we took these measures?

It seems these figures show the extent of the smuggling problem as it existed prior to February 8. It confirms that Canadian tobacco manufacturers were benefiting directly from the smuggling of tobacco back into Canada. Bill C-32 will permit tobacco manufacturers to export 3 per cent of their tobacco production tax exempt. Under the bill, 3 per cent will be allowed and that is the same level as it was before.

The Canadian Cancer Society is concerned that a potential loophole exists in the legislation. Section 7(1) states: "The export tax will not apply when the national tax of the country of destination is paid". In this legislation the government included a loophole so that these companies would avoid paying the Canadian export tax.

For example, in the United States the national tax is only $2.40 U.S. per carton of 200 cigarettes. That is the tax going into the United States. The Canadian Cancer Society says that by paying this low federal tax in the U.S. the deterrence of the export value is reduced. They do not have to pay the Canadian export tax if they pay the American tax, and the American tax is much lower than the Canadian tax. It is common sense. Will they pay the Canadian tax? Of course not.

Reformers agree with the Canadian Cancer Society recommendation that this clause should be amended so that the export tax is reduced by the amount of foreign paid tax. The government fails to acknowledge the fact that needs to be amended or that loophole needs to be closed.

If the foreign tax paid is greater than $8 per 200 cigarettes then there would be no export tax payable. As I just illustrated it is only $2.40 in the United States where most of the tobacco is exported. If this change were made to Bill C-32 in the United States the industry would pay U.S. federal tax plus a partial Canadian export tax, the total of which would equal $8 per carton of 200 cigarettes. If that were done the loophole would be closed.

Reformers tried to propose an amendment to close the loophole but were told-again this is how government works-by the legislative counsel of the House that this amounted to a tax increase and that only the minister could move such an amendment. We were prevented from moving that amendment because it involved a tax increase. Reformers asked the minister to make such amendment as soon as possible. We ask that this be corrected and that it be done quickly.

The Reform Party also supports the health promotion surtax which will increase by 40 per cent the taxes paid on profits made by tobacco manufacturers. We support this surtax. We feel the surtax on profits of the tobacco companies is an excellent approach based on the principle that the tobacco companies should assume more responsibility for the health problems caused by their products. The surtax would do that. It is a surtax on their profits.

Unfortunately the tobacco companies have had a windfall of profits as a result of the increased sales of tobacco products. It is estimated that tobacco manufacturers will have earned enough

in increased profits in six months to more than pay the full three-year health promotion surtax obligation. That is interesting.

Reformers are confused about the rationale used by the government in only having the health promotion surtax apply for three years. In six months they will have made enough increase in their profits to pay it for three years. That surtax comes off in three years. It is built right into the legislation. It will only apply for a three-year term, while the tobacco tax reduction will be in effect and still cause increased consumption and increased health costs long after the surtax is taken off.

Reformers believe that the health promotion surtax should be in effect until the tobacco taxes return to their pre-February 8, 1994 levels. That is how long the surtax should remain in effect. That is common sense.

Reformers tried to propose an amendment to extend the health promotion surtax from three to six years. However again we have that problem. The legislative council advised us that the expansion of a tax could only be made or moved by the minister. The Reformers respectfully request the minister to do that as soon as possible, to make that change and to close the loopholes.

Reformers also support the increase in fines for illegal possession or sale of unstamped tobacco products: increase the fines and solve the problem where it exists.

Reformers believe that increased enforcement combined with the effective export tax should have been tried by the government before it reduced the taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products. If we knew there was a health risk here why did we not try some other avenues first?

We could have put an export tax on those cigarettes. We could have tried enforcement to see how effective it would have been. We knew where the problem existed. We knew where the smuggling was taking place. Reformers believe that if we had tried these things we may not have put the health of Canadians at such great risk.

The final part of Bill C-32 which the Reform Party supports is the immediate payment of tax rebates owing to retailers and distributors throughout Canada. Retailers and wholesalers are owed an estimated $150 million in rebates of excise tax paid on tobacco products held in inventory while the excise tax rates were reduced. That is legitimate. We support the government in that rebate.

The minister cannot issue the rebate cheques until Bill C-32 is passed. While we oppose the reduction in tobacco taxes retailers are likely to get upset if we delay the bill, and rightfully so, thereby delaying their rebate cheques even further. We do not want to hold them up.

Reformers proposed at committee stage to have a separate bill introduced dealing with the rebates so that it could be passed quickly. This would allow retailers to get their money quickly. It would allow Parliament the time necessary to debate the full health costs. We would not have to rush the legislation through. Implications resulting from the tax reduction on cigarettes and tobacco products could be more thoroughly examined. The finance committee refused to even consider our request.

Let us start to discuss the provisions of Bill C-32 which we oppose. We are opposed to the tax reduction on cigarettes and tobacco products because it will increase smoking particularly among young people, the most vulnerable sector of our society. As a result it will increase health costs. Increasing smoking will increase health costs. It is a logical conclusion. That is what will happen.

Reformers find it amazing that the government caved into the criminal element of society so quickly. This sent the wrong signal to those who chose to break the law. The Liberal government said that if you defy the law it will change the law rather than enforce it. That is the signal it sent out to the criminal element and I cannot accept that.

Reformers find it hard to believe the government did not take a more reasonable approach and impose an effective export tax and increase enforcement in the areas where the majority of the smuggling was occurring. Even the commissioner of the RCMP confirmed in February that 70 per cent of the contraband tobacco was coming through the three Mohawk reserves between Cornwall and Montreal. If that is where the problem was, why not have the courage to enforce the laws of Canada?

What will we do now when the criminal element redirects its smuggling to alcohol, drugs and guns? My understanding is that they are already looking at this. They are looking at where else they can turn to make some money.

When the government caved in and lowered tobacco taxes, all MPs received representation from Canadian distillers that we should also lower the taxes on alcohol and booze. That is the logical thing. If we can reduce taxes in this area, let us reduce it over here because the smuggling will now occur in a different area. Are we going to treat that in the same way? Are we going to reduce the taxes on that? Is that going to be our approach?

There are some segments of this society, law-abiding citizens who very much wish that their taxes were reduced as quickly as this government has chosen to reduce the taxes on tobacco. The problem will still exist, but it will only be transferred to other areas.

The further reduction of the excise tax on cigarettes negotiated in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island has now created an interprovincial

smuggling problem. Now it is an east-west smuggling problem. The problem has simply been transferred to a different area.

The government responded to this problem by implementing excise tax and offence provisions to prevent interprovincial smuggling. While Reformers support these provisions, we must point out that these provisions would not have been necessary if the government had tried to increase enforcement and a new export tax on tobacco products in the first place rather than reduce the tax on tobacco products. Now we have to deal with the interprovincial smuggling.

Senior officials at finance say the four western provinces are satisfied that their anti-smuggling campaign is working and that their revenues are holding. They are not likely to reduce their tobacco taxes. Therefore the government's attempt to stop smuggling has created another smuggling problem as I have just explained.

The action on smoking and health group appeared before the Standing Committee on Finance. It told members of Parliament how a 12-year old called a 1-800 mail order number advertised by the fax network which goes right into private homes. The 12-year old ordered and received four cartons of cigarettes by mail, no questions asked. That was across provincial boundaries. That is how easy it is to contravene the regulations this government has put into effect. A 12-year old can simply order cigarettes by phone and get them by giving a credit card number.

These volunteers asked the finance committee to make improvements in the enforcement provisions and increase the fines for this activity. The finance committee approved Bill C-32 without discussion, without further change.

The main point I would like to make today is with regard to the government's disregard for the health of Canadians, particularly young people. When the government first introduced its national action campaign to combat smuggling in February, we asked the government to tell us what the increased health care costs would be.

How many people will start smoking as a result of the tax reduction? Because cigarettes cost less, how many people will begin this habit that they will later find very difficult to break?

How many Canadians will become addicted? If this is a temporary tax reduction, will we then have an addiction problem to deal with later? How many people will get lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease and strokes as a result of this plan? How many people will suffer or die as a direct result of the government's tax reduction? How much will this cost the Canadian taxpayer? This tax reduction will end up costing us a horrific amount of money.

The government has continued to push the implementation of this bill despite not having the answers to these very important questions. If we do not have the answers to these questions, how can we continue with this bill?

While the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health has made it clear that the tax reduction would pose increased health risks, these risks, the costs, the implications for government and the human suffering have not been quantified. Reformers find this appalling.

The Canadian Cancer Society asked the Standing Committee on Finance to complete a thorough evaluation of the health care costs and implications of smoking in Canada, because such an evaluation had not been done since 1986. The finance committee listened politely, but it completely ignored the dozens of recommendations and passed the clause by clause reading of Bill C-32.

Do you know how long it took the committee to pass all of those clauses in Bill C-32? It took 15 seconds. After all the representation we received and all the concerns that were expressed in 15 seconds the committee said: "Here they are, we approve them all". This clause by clause review of a 62 page bill was done in 15 seconds. That is democracy.

Is it any wonder that Reformers are advocating and pushing for a triple-E senate where legislation like this could be reviewed seriously and thoughtfully and amended reasonably. Amendments could be proposed and debated intelligently. Some sober second thought could be given to some of the things the government is doing. A triple-E senate would prevent some of the serious mistakes we are making in pushing legislation through so quickly.

I ask again: What will the increased health costs be? The Canadian Cancer Society provided the Standing Committee on Finance with some estimates prepared by Professor Robert Allen from the department of economics at Harvard University.

Using Professor Allen's most conservative estimates, he predicted that the national cigarette consumption would rise by 14 per cent among adults and it would rise by 35 per cent among young people. Those are the most conservative estimates.

Thus the tax reductions implemented by the Liberals will increase the total number of tobacco users in Canada by 840,000 and of these 175,000 will be teenagers. At this rate Professor Allen predicted health costs would rise in the long term by $1.33 billion-one thousand, three hundred and thirty millions of dollars-a horrific increase in costs. Those are conservative estimates; it could be higher.

This government will not be in power any more when the detrimental costs of the legislation it is implementing will have to be paid by the people of Canada. The government will not even be around to harvest its returns. As Professor Allen has said these are the most conservative estimates. It could be much higher. It could result in 1.89 million new smokers and if it was that high 245,000 of those would be young people.

If that happens it would result in increased health spending of an additional $3 billion every year. Still the government fails to tell Canadians what the impact will be. It has hidden that. It refuses to conduct its own evaluation of health costs and implications. It does not even look at it. That is ignoring the health of Canadians.

This is an example of a bill that has such serious health implications and risks it should have been debated jointly by the Standing Committee on Health and the Standing Committee on Finance. Both committees should have been involved. Only in this way could Canadians' concerns about the health risks be properly debated during committee stage.

Had this been done I believe many of the amendments proposed by the Canadian Cancer Society and action on smoking and health would have been made by the government rather than Reformers just talking about them today in the House of Commons. They would have had a chance to make the amendments.

For a government that claims to be listening to the people it does very little of it. Precious little listening is being done to the concerns of Canadians through the Canadian Cancer Society and action on smoking and health.

Another one of our major concerns is that the government has not provided Canadians with a timetable showing when the tobacco taxes will start going up again. Already the cost of cigarettes in three border states is higher than in Canada. Across the line you have to pay more for cigarettes than in Canada because of the action this government has taken.

The government acknowledges the dramatic effect high taxes have on tobacco consumption. It acknowledges that the health promotion surtax will end in three years, but it has not told Canadians what it plans to do at the end of three years. We proposed an amendment but as I said, it is out of order because the minister has to propose the amendment if it is a tax increase.

Will the government make a commitment to raise prices to what they were prior to February 8, 1994 when the health promotion surtax is removed at the end of three years? Will the government make that commitment? Reformers proposed it but legislative counsel advised us that only the minister can do that. Reformers respectfully request the minister to introduce a new bill to bring such an amendment into effect.

For the sake of the health of all Canadians, for the sake of all of those young people who will take up smoking as a direct result of the government's action, for those people, will the government tell Canadians today that this is not a permanent tax reduction? Will it come in with a plan to increase this again? Will this government tell Canadians that their health is of more concern than the interests of a few smugglers and a few tobacco manufacturers? It is very important that the government send a signal to Canadians that yes, it is concerned.

In closing, I have a list of recommendations for the government in regard to the whole subject of cigarettes and tobacco products.

First, we need an immediate evaluation of the health care costs and implications, particularly for young people. This government should begin to find out what is going to happen as a result of its action.

Second, we need to extend the health promotion surtax beyond three years. It should be in effect as long as tobacco taxes remain as low as they are. That is common sense. There should not be an end to one measure and a continuation of another.

Third, we need to make tobacco companies fully accountable for the increased health care costs. Accountability and responsibility must be laid at the feet of those that are profiting from the sale of this product.

Fourth, we need a clear timetable to increase taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products. That should be done. It should begin now. There should be an amendment put in place to make sure that these tobacco taxes are again increased. Co-operate with the Americans. Consult and discuss with them how we can jointly combat this problem.

Fifth, we need to close the loopholes in the export taxes. I have illustrated already, and I will not belabour the point, but let us close those loopholes. If the loophole is there, people will be going through it and profiting from it.

Sixth, we need a better enforcement strategy to stop the east-west smuggling problem. Mail order advertising has not been stopped. I gave the example of a 12-year old who was able to order cartons of cigarettes through the mail.

Seventh, the level of fines also needs to be increased to deter people.

Eighth, we need to ban small packages of smokeless tobacco products. I addressed this previously. I will not refer to it again other than to say that it is on the record.

The hon. member opposite acknowledged that the amendment I proposed should be implemented, but it was not done because of a technicality. Snuff and chewing tobacco designed for sale to young people should be discouraged.

Ninth, health warnings on cigarette packages are being obscured by manufacturers and government should put an immediate end to this practice. An example of that was given in committee, but the government has not addressed the problem.

Tenth, there is a need for a complete and total ban on tobacco advertising.

From what my constituents are telling me and from what I have been hearing from Canadians, it is clear that the government has once again passed a law that clearly the majority of Canadians do not support. The government continues to push things through, to railroad them through the House, when they are unacceptable to the majority of Canadians.

Reformers believe that the health of Canadians should be the government's first priority. The government has sacrificed the health of Canadians by lowering taxes on cigarettes and Canadians will have the opportunity some day to decide if it was the wisest thing for the government to do. But it may be too late.

Nothing much has changed since we began debating this. The government seems to have an agenda and no amount of common sense will cause it to ever amend the bill. I find that very regrettable. I hope government members are listening like they claim they are.

Excise Tax Act June 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a few remarks to make in addition to what I said at the previous readings. These remarks are with regard to the amendments presented by the Bloc, the Official Opposition, on the air transportation tax.

We will be opposing the bill because of the reduction in taxes on tobacco and so on. Basically we support the government in the other aspects of this omnibus bill. We support the government's changes to the air transportation tax. It is moving toward privatization, moving toward user pay, moving toward cost recovery so that this part of the industry does not have to be

supported by government. That is why we oppose the amendments the Bloc is making because it will take away from the direction in which the government is moving.

There is currently a flat fee of $10 plus 7 per cent to a maximum of $40 on all airline tickets purchased in Canada. These fees are part of the Excise Tax Act even though they appear to be closer in function to a user fee than actual taxes. All the revenue is directed toward the Department of Transport which routes the funds to the aviation component of their expenditures. This tax makes up most of the funding for aviation services provided to all Canadian airports whether they are public or private. These services include air traffic controllers, aviation control for take off and landing and air navigation costs.

Current revenues from this tax of nearly $600 million do not fully cover the government cost of aviation which runs at about $870 million. Because of the implementations the government wants to make, this airport tax would come closer to meeting the actual costs of this by the airlines, then we would support that and therefore oppose the amendment.

To reduce the tax burden on short haul, domestic and trans-border flights by decreasing the flat charge per ticket and increasing the maximum fee is one change that was to be made, along with a flat fee decreasing to $6 and the maximum increasing to $50. This is good.

Last, the change would bring an additional $24 million in 1994 and an additional $41 million in 1995. That is a positive move. The burden on the taxpayer would be reduced.

In analysing this, this levy should not be part of a complicated tax system. The funds do not go into general revenue but are spent specifically on aviation. Therefore we should change this into a user fee on a full recovery basis.

We support these changes toward this move to more fully recover the costs that are experienced in this area. However we also acknowledge the difficulties with giving any department both a monopoly on revenues and a monopoly on service delivery. Mechanisms must be in place to ensure cost effective delivery.

Perhaps we should look closer at what the possibilities for privatization of these services are. We could probably even save the government more money if we looked at this whole area of privatization.

We support this change. It makes the air transportation tax move toward a full cost recovery basis. Further moves in this direction should include changing the tax to a user fee administered by the Department of Transport. This would necessitate adequate competition in place to ensure cost effective delivery service.

In summary, we are opposed to the amendments that the Bloc is making. We support the direction in which the government is going. It is not far enough but it is heading in the right direction. We would like to see it consider more privatization of this and more of a user fee cost recovery basis.