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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was officers.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Okanagan—Coquihalla (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply September 21st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I, honestly, have lost track of the number of taxes, fees and costs that I specifically reduced in Alberta. I will produce a definite list for the member because it is quite exciting that my colleagues and I were able to do that.

On the issue of the gas tax itself, when that question came up as the price of oil started to move up over the last year, my proposal clearly was that it should be for a rebate rather than the tax because of the lack of ability of a province to harness those national companies around a table and tell them they would be monitoring it.

The consideration at that time was not to go the tax route but to send out to all consumers, to everyone in the province, a rebate. That took place about three or four weeks ago. I was gone by then so I cannot claim the full credit for it, but that was my approach and that is what has taken place.

Supply September 21st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I first want to congratulate the hon. member for his work in this particular area.

Rebating is a legitimate form of returning to taxpayers that which has been taken from them in an excessive amount, as the federal Liberal government has been doing. I have even recommended that at various times in the past. As a matter of fact there is one government in the country which is now doing that.

The issue of the tax is the quickest, easiest and least administrative in terms of that particular reduction. I sense and share some of the concern that if the taxes are lowered, how do we keep the oil companies in line from, as I have been quite properly quoted as saying, filling in that particular ditch.

I would say that the federal government has the clout to sit down with oil companies, and far from presuming that that would happen, give those companies the benefit of the doubt, tell them there will be a very close monitoring and allow that to happen. However, administratively the signals could be sent out immediately through the tax process.

I again commend the member for continuing to advocate this. I am not sure how he will be voting. I am sure the history of a previous member on his side, who raised the concern about taxes, haunts him somewhat considering where that member is not today. However, sir, I commend you for your courage and insights on this issue.

Supply September 21st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I would say that its emphasis on education has had a significant effect. In fact I am surprised to hear the member for Edmonton Southeast say that it is free. We know that there is no free lunch and there is no free education. That cost is being picked up somewhere.

However, I certainly would agree with him in terms of saying that everything we can do to maintain high education levels and research and development is something that should be followed. He is right from the point of view that Ireland's emphasis is on education but it is not free. The taxpayers pick up the cost.

Supply September 21st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, we already have. I would say that the hissing has been going on for some time. We need to be careful about that.

Something we should know in terms of general principles related to taxation is that any jurisdiction which lowers its taxes will always experience a stimulus effect in the economy. It will always experience growth in the economy, more jobs, more opportunities, more businesses, businesses arriving in that jurisdiction and businesses deciding to stay and invest more. An increase in revenues will be seen going into that jurisdiction. Sometimes, as history notes, it is in the first or second year. Sometimes the revenues are forgone for more than a year, but the jurisdictions with lower taxes will always increase in terms of their revenues.

Let that be a dispelling of the myth which unfortunately some Liberals and others are trying to propagate, that lowering taxes means a weakening of our social structure and our social programs. It does not. It will bring more revenue to government for protection of social programs. If we truly believe in social security, we will be aggressive about lowering taxes.

We can look at history and we can make this non-partisan because I strive daily to make this a non-partisan Chamber and always think of the good of the country. We can talk about JFK, a Democrat, significantly lowering income taxes, and gas taxes would have the same effect, and we can see and track the revenue increase to the government coffers of that day. We can talk about Ronald Reagan, a Republican, so this is non-partisan, and a reduction in taxes and an increase in revenues. There was a corresponding increase in spending, and some say unfortunately especially on the defence side. But definitely and clearly there was an increase in revenues which many economists are now pointing to being the single greatest factor in what appears to be an unbroken approach in the business cycle and a great opportunity that we have seen in North America, unlike at any other time in history.

Moving to Canada, we can talk about Ontario. There is an amazing coincidence between reducing taxes and increased revenues to the government. We can talk about Alberta, which I will be happy to do in some detail in a moment.

We can talk about Ireland which is an Atlantic jurisdiction. For decades it has been very low in terms of productivity, income growth and opportunity. It has taken a very significant approach to the reduction of taxes. Yes, there was some subsidy input at the beginning but it has moved away from that. That gives great hope and opportunity to Atlantic Canada having seen other jurisdictions experience long term growth because of this particular approach. It will always work to lower taxes, increase opportunity and increase revenues to government.

If people do not mind, I will use the Alberta experience. In 1986 to 1993 there was an increase in taxes and a lack of corresponding response in the economy. From 1993 on there was a very significant reduction in taxes and an expansion not just of revenues but of the base economy.

I will tell the House how significant that was. In 1986 the total amount of income from corporate revenue coming from oil and gas in Alberta was 59%, a pretty significant portion of that corporate base. After six years of lowering taxes, from 1993 onward, there was a significant broadening of the base of the economy. New businesses such as high tech businesses came in. We looked at the 1998 results. In terms of reliance on one single resource area, only 21% of revenue from the corporate sector was from oil and gas. The economy was vastly expanded. It happened in Alberta and it is happening in Ontario. It happened in Ireland. It will continue to happen.

People have talked about advantages across the country. Do we not think it is time that we had the Canada advantage? As we look at the possibility of lowering these fuel prices, we are at an all-time high in history of revenues going to the government through various taxes. For the last seven years, over $1 trillion in revenues has gone to the government.

It is interesting to look at some of the comparisons, especially with G-7 and the OECD countries, groups of which we are members. I say this very dubiously but in the G-7 alone we have the proud distinction of having the greatest increase in taxes compared to economic growth of any of those countries. It is 14%. Fourteen per cent is not the amount of taxes individuals pay. As we know, depending on where we live it can be over 50% of our income. Canada has the greatest tax increase versus GDP increase, at 14%. That is not something to be proud of. The United States was only 11.6%, the U.K. was 8.8% and Japan was only 5.9%. These are not things of which we can be proud.

Canada has had the greatest increase in terms of the marginal rates for people moving from low income to middle income. We try to encourage people to move up that scale. However, there is a 14% increase in the marginal rate when they move from low income to middle income. That is disrespect for middle income earners and a significant disincentive.

If we do a comparison of 25 countries in the OECD, which nation had the greatest growth in GDP, the greatest expansion of the economy over the last 10 years? It was Ireland which had a 92% increase in its GDP over 10 years. Where is Canada in GDP growth? Out of the 25 nations, we proudly stand at number 24. We only had a 5% increase in our GDP growth because of taxation policies that are repressive.

If we want to measure in terms of labour productivity which is a very key indicator, one of the nations that leads in labour productivity is the United States. We are at only half of its rate in terms of increase of labour productivity. We are at the bottom of the list of OECD nations in terms of labour productivity. This is a very significant disincentive for our citizens.

With this reality in place, we need to look at where we can begin to send a signal to Canadians that this is a country in which they can work and be proud and labour and receive the rewards of their labours.

Let us look at gasoline taxes and a variety of approaches that we can take. We can look at lowering that excise tax 1.5 cents.

Just today it was recorded in a national newspaper. I do not want to advertise which one it was, but it was posted today in one of those national newspapers that the federal Minister of Finance said that the government has a moral obligation to lower that 1.5 cents off the excise tax, as we have suggested, because in 1995 it was put in place to reduce the deficit. The deficit is gone and the finance minister to his credit said there was a moral obligation to reduce that.

I am glad the Prime Minister wants to talk about values because his finance minister is saying it is a moral obligation, that it needs to be put back. I congratulate members who have talked about doing that and who have recommended doing that.

There is the issue of the GST. This is so insidious. With all the costs that are already on fuels, add on to that provincial taxes, add on to that the excise tax, and then insidiously put on top of that the GST, a tax on a tax on a tax.

It was at the University of Manitoba that Professor Nicolaou did the study in terms of pricing of gasoline. He said that the cascading effect of the GST, the tax upon tax upon tax alone would save Canadians 1.7 cents a litre if the GST was moved down just to below where other taxes are put on.

We are not even going after the Liberals for totally not acknowledging their promise to kill, scrap and abolish the GST. We are saying if they are not going to do that, could they at least move it down so that they are not punching people out at these different levels. We are asking for that.

There are truckers with long term contracts who face the inevitability of losing their businesses and their livelihoods. Let me make it very clear. We are suggesting this change not in the threat of a truckers strike. We talked about this before there was that threat. We are talking about this because it is the right thing to do.

A happy coincidence of moving in this area would be to alleviate the possibility of a truckers strike or slowdown, and also to see families and individuals with a great increase in confidence in their government because it was responding. We need to move that diesel tax downward also.

It is significant to note that small things can lead to great things happening. It was Demosthenes who said that by taking small opportunities one can lead to great enterprises. What greater enterprise than to send a signal of hope from coast to coast to coast?

Who would be affected by that signal of hope? The person who sent me an e-mail from Saudi Arabia who said there are many Canadians over there who consider themselves tax refugees because of the high levels of taxation in this country. It would send a message of hope to people whom I talked to throughout the summer across the country who said because of the Canadian Alliance position on taxes, they were going to delay their decision to move out of the country, or to move their business out of the country in the hopes that we would be elected and form the next federal government.

Let us turn the hissing of Canadians to cheering. Let them cheer the fact and let me invite members of the Liberal government to vote with us on this great motion, to say that they acknowledge that the government has huge surpluses and it is partly as a result of taxing people at too high a rate. The other reason the surplus is there is because of what has happened in a number of provinces that have their fiscal houses in order. They have reduced taxes, have rejuvenated economies and have created surpluses which then of course quite properly are shared with the nation. It is time for great enterprise.

I thank the members who are already indicating they will join in this great enterprise. I invite our Liberal counterparts to join also and send a message of hope and opportunity across this great nation of ours.

Supply September 21st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to address an issue of prime importance to all Canadians. It is especially an honour for me to do this in what is known as my maiden speech.

Just bypassing any references or reflections to that, I do know that walking down this aisle the other day felt somewhat matrimonial. I found only seconds after that sense of great bonding among the people here. It did seem as if the honeymoon was over in a matter of seconds, so I will approach this speech in a similar manner.

I dearly and deeply thank the constituents of Okanagan—Coquihalla who have allowed me this opportunity, with a great demonstration of support, to be here to address an issue which actually I heard much about while I was campaigning in that riding in the byelection.

I also say a word of thanks to the voters of Red Deer, a previous constituency of mine, who over the years continued to support me and allowed me to work with others and find and discover in reality outside the theoretical laboratory that the principles we will discuss today in fact do work, not just in theory but in practicality.

The situation we are discussing today in terms of the possibility of seeing our gas taxes lowered is of very significant importance.

I believe that today there is an opportunity, for the federal government in particular, to show the public that we have members of parliament and a government that respect the taxpayer. It is an opportunity to provide our support in principle and to plan for the day we will be able to reduce the tax rate, not just on gasoline, but on other products as well.

It is a great opportunity to demonstrate to Canadians that not just the members of parliament here but the government itself respects hard work and understands the implications of high policies of taxation.

Let us be very clear about this, that just as ideas have consequences policies have consequences. Tax policies have consequences that are immediate and future and far reaching. As we look at the base of these discussions and the effect of gas taxes, we need to consider the broader base of taxation and build a platform of discussion so that we can see the importance of zeroing in on some taxes, whether it is a few at a time or in a broad measure. This is what the Canadian Alliance proposes to do.

I do not think anybody in this Chamber is standing and exclaiming that there should be no taxes anywhere. As a former minister of finance I would be grieved in my heart if I thought there would be no ability to get dollars from the taxpayers, but it has to be done in a way that is not just fair but seen to be fair. We recognize the need for taxes, but we also recognize that there is a point in time where the level of taxation actually becomes a disincentive and a discouragement to people. We need to be aware of that.

As a matter of fact, it was in this Chamber in 1917, during the first world war, that the concept of a tax on income was first discussed for the war effort. Canadians rallied to that. The original suggestion was that taxes would be implemented on income at a level of 2%. In the ensuing debate one of the hon. members commented that if we were to allow governments to begin to tax people at a rate of 2%, he said “Mark my words, the day will come when governments will tax people's income at maybe 3% or 4%”. Just as we are laughing now at where that has gone, that was the reaction of the day. We have gone far beyond that.

We recognize that taxes are necessary, but we have to be careful about the level. It was Jean Baptiste Colbert, the fine minister of finance for King Louis XIV who described taxation by saying that the art of taxation consists in plucking the goose in such a manner as to get the most amount of feathers with the least amount of hissing. He was being a very honest finance minister. I would never have suggested anything like that in my days as finance minister. I hope we will never see that from our federal minister.

Fuel Taxes September 20th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, my record as finance minister was to continue to lower taxes at a rate unseen across the country, even when prices were low.

If the Prime Minister is sincere when he says he thinks the increase in the price of gasoline may increase the risk of a recession, why will he not support the Alliance proposal to reduce the price of gasoline by almost 5%, which would reduce the risk of a recession?

Fuel Taxes September 20th, 2000

The Prime Minister is correct, Mr. Speaker. When I was minister of finance we had the lowest tax on gasoline in the country and lower taxes right across the board. We lowered the debt at a time when oil prices were low and global commodity prices were high. When the Prime Minister was the minister of finance, taxes went up and debt when up.

I am asking the Minister of Finance this. While he is parlaying at that palace in Prague next week and the people from P.E.I. to Penticton and Princeton continue to have their pockets picked at the pump, will he please, before he leaves, make the recommendation to lower that price?

Fuel Taxes September 20th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I am kind of new around here, so I am trying to get a handle on this government policy.

As I understand it now, when the government is in a position to give money back to people, it says it cannot because it has to consult. However, when it wants to take money away from people, as it did when it reduced health care to the provinces by 33%, and as it did when it raised the gas taxes in 1995, there is no consultation.

Will the Prime Minister please abandon this self-interested policy and state clearly that his government will in fact allow consumers to have a reduction in their taxes at the pump?

Fuel Taxes September 19th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I see now why they call this question period and not answer period.

I would like to suggest that maybe the problem is not that he does not care but that he does not know what his constituents are going through paying the price at the pumps.

Can the Prime Minister tell us what the price of gasoline is currently in his riding of Saint-Maurice?

Fuel Taxes September 19th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister talk about responsibility because I would like to ask the following question. In the event that this nation could be crippled by a truckers' strike, will the minister responsible for such eventualities tell us what the contingency plan is that is in place right now?