July 4, 1972 (28th Parliament, 4th Session)


Max Saltsman

New Democratic Party

Mr. Saltsman:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The federal government realizes, perhaps, that unless there is a polarization of views, people expressing themselves for or against in a positive way, we shall never be able to dead effectively with the issue of foreign ownership. In the case of Quebec, the policy of the government was to force a polarization of opinion in the province; the people of Quebec will have to choose whether or not Quebec is to stay in Canada. At the moment, the situation looks encouraging. For a long time we carried on pretending there was really no problem in Quebec-that with the help of quiet diplomacy things would work themselves out. But that was not the wisest course to take. Until people are confronted with a choice, no decision can be reached. A similar situation arises in connection with foreign ownership. 1 realize that many difficulties will present themselves if the amendment we are discussing is accepted. On the other hand, I believe it is necessary to confront this issue head on.
When the House was debating tax reform, members of this party called attention over and over again to the necessity of taxing all industries equally. We argued that the resource industries in particular should pay their full share of taxation to the federal government. It is often said that if the resource industries do not pay their full share of taxation to the federal government they are escaping scot-free. In fact, what happens just as often is that when the federal government decides not to tax on behalf of the people of Canada as a whole the provinces move in to take the available revenue. This creates a situation in which some provinces accumulate wealth for themselves. In Ontario, where the principal occupation is manufacturing, the taxes on the manufacturing industry which goes to the federal government are spread across the country and the rich province of Ontario thus helps to support the poorer provinces of Canada. This is the way it should be.
But when resources are not taxed as heavily as they might be, the rich provinces, Alberta, for instance, try to take as much of the revenue as possible for themselves. A good many people who live in Alberta will, doubtless, say: They are our resources and we are entitled to the revenue. But every government in Canada could argue that the wealth it produces is a product of its resources, or its talent, and that it is entitled to all the benefits. This is not the basis upon which we are trying to build up our society, however. We are trying to build it on the basis of sharing and, for the reason I have explained, when the government does not tax equally we are not sharing equally. Oil and gas have now been discovered in the Maritimes and the maritime provinces want to keep the revenue themselves. Why should they not do so? After all, this is what Alberta has been saying for years, as well as other provinces, to the extent that they possess such resources. On this basis the Maritimes are fully justified in insisting that the benefits from offshore mineral rights should accrue to them. The federal government contends that the revenue must be shared with others. But it has failed to follow the principle of taxing resource industries equitably across the country and in these circumstances it is difficult for the federal government to argue convincingly that maritime resources should be shared with the rest of Canada. This is the problem which the federal government has created for itself.
As I said earlier, we are all aware that great difficulties will arise when an attempt is made to negotiate the foreign ownership and takeover issue with the provinces. But I believe these conflicts of opinion should be brought into the open so that they can be discussed and dealt with. This is really the point of the amendment. I do not really believe that the amendment, if accepted, will make things easier either for the federal government or for the provinces. It may be we are in trouble now because in the past we have looked for the easy way out instead of trying to do the proper thing. I am suggesting that we agree to the amendment, face the problem and oblige the federal government to discuss with the provinces the whole question of foreign ownership and takeovers so that we can reach a settlement which will be of benefit to this country and, more especially, lead to the establishment of an intelligent policy of foreign ownership. It will probably mean that some day a way will have to be found to share all of the resources of this country among the people. Whether they are resources in Alberta arising from mineral deposits or whether they are resources in Ontario in the form of manufacturing, they will have to be distributed across the country if we are to solve the long standing difficulties existing between the provinces themselves and between the provinces as a whole and the federal government. The sooner there is consultation with the provinces and they are asked to consider foreign ownership and foreign takeovers, the closer will draw the day when an intelligent policy is devised.

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