March 18, 1974

PRIVILEGE

MR. STANFIELD-ENERGY EXPORT TAX PROCEEDS AND EQUALIZATION-POSITION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE

LIB

John Napier Turner (Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Hon. John N. Turner (Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to reply to the question of privilege raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield) on Friday and to clear up a misunderstanding that has arisen with respect to the equalization of provincial receipts from the export tax on oil. Since last Tuesday when I responded to a question from the hon. Leader of the Opposition I have reviewed the various exchanges that have taken place on this subject and I can now understand why there is some ambiguity about my position.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. STANFIELD-ENERGY EXPORT TAX PROCEEDS AND EQUALIZATION-POSITION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. STANFIELD-ENERGY EXPORT TAX PROCEEDS AND EQUALIZATION-POSITION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

John Napier Turner (Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. Turner (Ottawa-Carleton):

When I made my statement on this subject on January 4,1 was under the impression that provincial receipts from the sharing of the oil export tax for the period October, 1973, to January, 1974, would be included in the provincial revenues subject to equalization. Under the circumstances, I calculated that the cost to the Canadian taxpayer of the additional equalization payments involved would be about $25 million.

Although I was disturbed about the long-term consequences, because I had not yet verified the legal situation, I simply assumed that they would be subject to equalization. At the same time I was very concerned that the inclusion of rapidly rising oil royalties in the equalization formula and the resulting sudden jump in equalization payments would have grave consequences for Canadian taxpayers and, indeed, for the continuing viability of the equalization program itself. Hon. members will be aware of my concern from the remarks I made to the House on January 3, the day immediately preceding my reference to the potential $25 million equalization payment. During those remarks I said that if oil prices reached international levels, arid were reflected in provincial revenues subject to equalization, I could foresee an increase in costs to Canadian taxpayers of over $800 million. As I later stated outside the House, the costs could be considerably more than this. Under such circumstances we would be forced into considering appropriate amendments to the equalization formula. It was these dangers I foresaw that formed the context in which I asked the Leader of the Opposition to view increased equalization payments, when I answered his question on Tuesday March 12.

In the ordinary course of pursuing this matter, I sought legal advice as to whether, under the present statute and regulations, the provincial share of receipts from the oil export tax was to be included in the provincial revenues that are equalized. The opinion I received, some time after

January 4, was that these provincial receipts are not subject to equalization. Having received this advice I then attempted to clarify the situation to the first ministers at their conference on energy in January, to my colleagues the provincial treasurers and ministers of finance and subsequently to members of this House. My explanations, however, may not have been adequate, Mr. Speaker, and I am sorry if I have caused any confusion.

The one feature of this whole problem which disturbs me in the statements of the hon. Leader of the Opposition is the implication that I had misled him in our discussions prior to the passage of the export tax bill. I tried to see him last week but he was heavily committed in a way which I quite understand. It is my impression that he feels that I misled him in my argument that I needed freedom with respect to the federal share of revenues from the oil export tax after January 31 in order to pay for equalization, yet it now appears that equalization may not be due on provincial revenues charged from that tax.

First, may I say to him that when we had those discussions in early January, I, myself, was under the impression that equalization was payable against those revenues. Second, the reason for my saying that I needed freedom with the federal share of oil tax revenues was that they were required to cover the cost of any price shelter in eastern Canada if we were to achieve uniform prices across Canada and the cost of equalization. That is still the fact. The price shelter will require almost the total proceeds of the export tax. I still do not know the full amount of the total increase in equalization payments that will be due, if not on the proceeds of the provincial share of the export tax, then upon the normal flow of provincial revenues which would be eligible for equalization.

The concern I expressed to the hon. Leader of the Opposition in our private discussions, which he generously accepted, is very much alive and valid. I do not want to see the basic principles underlying the equalization program destroyed. This program has served Canadian federalism well. It has been generous to the "have-not" provinces which, this year, will get an additional $400 million to bring the total payment to cover $1.4 billion. The program enjoys an enviable international reputation and is one all Canadians can be proud of. I shall continue to protect its basic principles against the dangers I see emerging from the current energy crisis. However, Mr. Speaker, if the hon. Leader of the Opposition still feels he is owed an apology because of my failure to explain it to him and the House before now, he shall have it freely.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. STANFIELD-ENERGY EXPORT TAX PROCEEDS AND EQUALIZATION-POSITION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
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MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES

PC

Otto John Jelinek

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Otto Jelinek (High Park-Humber Valley):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege arising from the

March 18, 1974

Privilege-Mr. Jelinek

remarks made by the Postmaster General (Mr. Ouellet) on March 8, when he attempted to twist remarks I made in the House the week previous, March 1, regarding some of the circumstances surrounding the 1976 Olympic games.

I was most surprised, after the government's admitted lack of interest and their recent statements pertaining to the fact that the Montreal Olympics were not a federal matter, that the Postmaster General saw fit to waste his entire speech in the throne speech debate on just that matter. From his statements of that date, it is inconceivable that a minister of the Crown-even this minister- could pursue a course of such bigotry.

The minister is entitled to voice any opinion regarding his thoughts and feelings toward my competence to act as the spokesman for this party on Olympic matters. His suggestion to the leader of this party as to a possible replacement will, I am sure, receive the consideration it deserves. But, Mr. Speaker, the minister goes beyond the point of parliamentary etiquette and, in fact, contradicts himself outright when he says that I and my party are anti-Quebec and anti-Olympics.

If the minister would take the time to check the record, he would find that on numerous occasions, inside as well as outside the House, I have stated, on behalf of myself as well as on behalf of our party, our support for the Olympics in general and the site of Montreal as host city in particular.

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
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PC

Otto John Jelinek

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Jelinek:

On March 11 my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe, rose on a similar question of privilege on behalf of the party. I now rise on this same matter in defence of my convictions not only regarding the Olympics but in the very important matter of the unity of this country. Therefore I request as a matter of privilege that the Postmaster General retract his statements which are totally untrue and completely unfounded.

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member claims that he has a question of privilege. I have serious doubts about that. In any event, his notice and the speech he has just made do not include a motion. I have some qualms also in that this matter is being raised by the hon. member on March 18 and he is referring to a statement made on March 8, ten days ago. I doubt very much that there would be a question of privilege in such circumstances. The minister has indicated that he wants to reply. I wonder whether anything would be gained by pursuing the matter further at this time.

The hon. member claims to be replying to a statement made by the minister during the throne speech debate. That was ten days ago. The hon. member asks that I invite the minister to retract his statement. He knows that the Chair has no power to do this unless the statements made are clearly unparliamentary. I have heard similar statements, perhaps worse, made from time to time, and I would not think that the Speaker should be invited to intervene when a statement of this kind is made in the

House in the course of debate, sometimes heated debate. Hon. members are aware of the well known precedent that matters which relate to a dispute as to facts should not be the basis for privilege, and I would think that in the circumstances the matter should not be pursued further. [Translation]

I hope that the minister will agree with me that it is really of little avail to keep on discussing this point. I do not want to deprive the minister of the opportunity to reply since generally it has always been customary to allow an hon. member involved in a statement to reply to it. Should the minister insist, I will have to hear him but I must say that I doubt very much that this is really a question of privilege.

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
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AGRICULTURE

PC

Norval Alic Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Norval Horner (Battleford-Kindersley):

Mr. Speaker, I rise pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 43 to ask for the unanimous consent of the House to discuss a matter of urgent and pressing necessity. As a result of the beef subsidy announced by the Minister of Agriculture last Friday, cattle markets are in a state of confusion. They are in effect closed today. The terminal markets are convinced that the subsidy will ruin them, the small packers will then be unable to operate and the large meat packing houses will be able to set the price free of competition. I move, seconded by the hon. member for Pembina (Mr. Hollands):

That the government rescind the subsidy announced last Friday and that they instead institute a subsidy on grain fed to cattle for finishing.

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   SUBSIDY TO BEEF PRODUCERS-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

This motion requires unanimous consent under Standing Order 43. Is there unanimity?

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   SUBSIDY TO BEEF PRODUCERS-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   SUBSIDY TO BEEF PRODUCERS-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   SUBSIDY TO BEEF PRODUCERS-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

There is not unanimity.

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
Subtopic:   AGRICULTURE
Sub-subtopic:   SUBSIDY TO BEEF PRODUCERS-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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DEFICIT UNDER CANADA-UNITED STATES AUTO PACT-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION

NDP

John Edward Broadbent

New Democratic Party

Mr. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa-Whitby):

Mr. Speaker, I rise under the provisions of Standing Order 43 concerning the massive turnaround in Canada-U.S. automotive trade, according to figures released today by Statistics Canada which reveal that we have moved from a surplus position to a more than $350 million deficit position, a turnaround of more than $400 million in one year. I therefore move, seconded by the hon. member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Orlikow):

That this House instruct the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce to make a statement on motions within 24 hours explaining the

March 18, 1974

reason for the $356 million deficit in Canada-U.S. automotive trade for 1973, and outlining the course of action, particularly concerning future investment, the government plans to take to remedy this situation.

Topic:   MR. JELINEK-COMMENTS BY POSTMASTER GENERAL ON REMARKS BY MEMBER ON 1976 OLYMPIC GAMES
Subtopic:   DEFICIT UNDER CANADA-UNITED STATES AUTO PACT-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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March 18, 1974