Mr. Speaker, I sat through this debate today as did the other members in the House.
Quite frankly I am a little exhausted, extremely exhausted, with the partisan rhetoric and the comments from the government side and the opposition side. Perhaps if we could have a bit of attention we can set the record straight. The comments of the Reform Party leave me perplexed. The member for Portage—Lisgar and the member for Calgary Southeast have both stated that the Reform Party would get rid of the GST. That is shocking. It is amazing. This is the tax critic. I want the explanation. I would like to see the numbers.
Let us go back to this little history lesson. The history lesson is very simple. We were in a situation in this country where we were looking at having free trade with the Americans. In order to have free trade with the Americans the Parliament of Canada, the government of the day, had to face the fact that Canadian businesses were faced with an extremely harmful and punishing tax called the manufacturers sales tax. It was 13%. Our companies which exported to the U.S. were penalized 13% on everything they sent across the border.
The only way we could have growth in this country, the only way we could have any possibility of a fair and level playing field to bring in free trade was to get rid of the manufacturers sales tax.
This is a simple lesson in economics. If you have this much money in one hand and you have this much money in the other hand and you are willing to throw that away, you have to replace it. You just cannot draw it out of thin air.
Therefore the GST was brought in to replace the manufacturers sales tax. We could continue to gather revenue. We could continue to pay down the deficit. Some day we could even think about tackling the debt.
Now we are in the situation of listening to a bunch of overblown rhetoric about getting rid of the GST. I am wondering if we are going to get rid of free trade too. Is that the way we are headed? I question the wisdom.