February 11, 1994

BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval)

Mr. Speaker, can the Deputy Prime Minister say whether the Prime Minister did such an about-face to appease the anti-smoking lobby or to preserve the already-damaged credibility of his health minister?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Cigarette Taxes
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment)

Mr. Speaker, he did not do an about-face. What he said is that with the four-part anti-smoking program announced by this government, we will solve the revenue loss problem within a year. We already know that within a few days the Minister of Finance will be faced with a budget where the federal government is already losing up to $1 billion because of smuggling.

What the Prime Minister said here in the House, and it was reinforced in the interview, was that with our four-part program, we will solve the smuggling problem and at the same time bring back revenue to the national treasury to pay for health programs, which cost Canadians quite a lot.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Cigarette Taxes
Permalink
BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval)

Can the Deputy Prime Minister explain to us how she believes that the RCMP will be able to dismantle the smuggling rings, when the Prime Minister of Canada himself is sending the smugglers a signal that they will just have a year off and then business will resume next year?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Cigarette Taxes
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment)

Mr. Speaker, I would remind my hon. colleague that the smoking problem was not created during this government's mandate. We have been here for barely 100 days and it took us barely 100 days to work out a solution. The policy of the opposition leader should be challenged: for a year and a half, he was in the former Prime Minister's Cabinet and he did absolutely nothing.

We must say that when we were the opposition in the House, we raised the problem of smoking four years ago, but when the leader of the opposition was in Mr. Mulroney's Cabinet, he did nothing.

Obviously, a problem which has been dragging on for four years will take more than a year to solve. Yes, we took 100 days to launch our four-part program, which we hope will bring a solution within a year. I hope that is what you want, too.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Cigarette Taxes
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BQ

René Laurin

Bloc Québécois

Mr. René Laurin (Joliette)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

In an interview yesterday before the Commons committee on the GST, the Minister of Revenue announced that the government wants to implement a single consumption tax system in every province, including Quebec.

Does the Vice Prime-

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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?

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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BQ

René Laurin

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Laurin

Does the Deputy Prime Minister- I apologize, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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?

The Speaker

I was about to say "hear, hear" instead of "order!"

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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BQ

René Laurin

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Laurin

Is this her way of asking Quebec to give up its own sales tax?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment)

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I must admit that I have several vices but being Vice Prime Minister is not one of them.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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?

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Ms. Copps

Having said that, I think that the Prime Minister of Canada and his counterparts from every province, including Quebec, are very aware of the problem of overlap in the tax system. This problem was raised on many occasions by the Leader of the Opposition and by the finance departments, and we want to deal with it, mostly with the support of the provinces who also want a more efficient tax system doing away with overlap. That is the basis for the new tax system.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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BQ

René Laurin

Bloc Québécois

Mr. René Laurin (Joliette)

Mr. Speaker, does the Deputy Prime Minister not agree that, instead of initiating major

projects and implementing a single tax system, she should first try to simplify the GST and to eliminate the management and administration problems it creates for all businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment)

Of course, Mr. Speaker, we want to do both. A few weeks ago, the Official Opposition asked the Auditor General to examine all cases of duplication in fiscal and other programs. We in the government want to do our job and eliminate this duplication, and I hope that we will have the support of the Opposition in creating a more equitable a tax system for taxpayers who are paying a heavy price at the federal, provincial and municipal level.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Goods And Services Tax
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REF

Stephen Harper

Reform

Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

Wednesday in the finance committee the minister indicated that the deficit for this year may now not go below $40 billion. This sounds like a return to a familiar pattern.

In the upcoming budget is it the government's intention at least to comply with the spending limits set out in the last budget and under the current spending control act for the fiscal year 1994-95 and subsequent years?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Spending
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the House will understand that with the imminence of the budget it is really not incumbent upon me to make any comment really on what is going to be included in it.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Spending
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REF

Stephen Harper

Reform

Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West)

Mr. Speaker, I would hope that we could make comment on the general budgetary framework and policy of the government without looking at budgetary specifics.

The minister continues to claim that he will reach his goal of reducing the deficit to 3 per cent of GNP by the 1997 fiscal year. We remember the actions of the former Progressive Conservative government, which pushed its deficit targets further back every year.

Can the minister assure us that he will publish his minimum deficit reduction targets for each year until 1997 in his next budget and will he make a commitment to resign if he fails to reach his minimum targets?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Spending
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, I have just started! The Opposition is certainly entitled to make comments, but you must understand that the finance minister has to restrict his given the imminence of the budget. I can assure the hon. member that the 3 per cent objective remains a target of the Liberal government.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Spending
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REF

Stephen Harper

Reform

Mr. Stephen Harper (Calgary West)

Mr. Speaker, I have an additional supplementary question.

The minister is fond of referring to the 3 per cent GDP deficit target of the European Community. He will know that the European Community combines this with a maximum debt target of 60 per cent of GDP. The federal government is already at 70 per cent of GDP. What is the minister's target for the maximum debt GDP ratio in the upcoming period, the period of this Parliament?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Spending
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LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, I am really not in a position to respond on the details of the budget until such time as I have presented the budget.

You have told us on numerous occasions that we should answer through you and I am prepared to do that. But my question to you, Mr. Speaker, is are you passing the answers on to them?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Government Spending
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February 11, 1994