IN THE HOUSE ~ Debate ~ C-14, An Act to amend the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and the Weights and Measures Act

40th Parliament, 3rd Session
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed the speech of the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord. He said the government refuses to do what is necessary to prevent large oil companies from increasing gas prices without valid reasons. Every spring and every fall, around the holiday season, prices go up worldwide, even though we are talking about oil that is already in stock. A few weeks later, it is still oil that was bought at a lower cost, but the price still does not go down for several weeks, or even months.

If we look at various studies, we see that consumers are treated badly. Yet, there is nothing in this government bill to put an end to these practices.

Why does the hon. member believe that the Conservatives refuse to protect the middle class and consumers, who constantly see their money disappear, because oil companies are abusing them?

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-14.

First, I would like pay tribute to the person who is responsible for the little action that the government has taken in this regard, and that is the member for Windsor West. He is the one who raised this issue and has been pushing it and working extremely hard in the House of Commons. He is the one who has pushed the government to do the certain little action that has been brought forward. It addresses part of the problem, but as the member for Windsor West has said all along, it does not address the whole problem in any way. That is why we pay tribute to him for pushing the Conservatives on this, but we will need his continued efforts to ensure the government finally responds to consumers who are ripped off by the petroleum industry.

Because of the huge gaping hole in the legislation, we could almost call it the gas price ripoff enabling act. It does not deal, in any way, with the problems of gas price gouging that we have seen. It has been very clearly indicated year after year. We have had a number of members speak in the House about what happens with old stock. World prices move, but on that old stock, prices all of a sudden spike up and they stay up. Even when the world price has declined and new stock is entering the stream in Canada, we see those old prices maintained. That means the average Canadian family is being ripped off through the course of that cycle. Millions of dollars are being taken out of the pockets of Canadian consumers.

I do not expect that the Conservative Party will take full action in this regard. The government seems to enjoy enabling ripoffs, whether it is the financial industry or the petroleum industry. We have certainly seen this with the telecommunications industry. Every time some company is willing to rip off the public, the Conservatives just seem unwilling to intervene in any way.

We can add to that the kind of actions the government has brought in, for example, the hated HST in my province of British Columbia. The Conservatives brought in the HST and added additional costs for hard-working middle class and poor families, forcing them to pay more for a whole range of things. Whenever British Columbians finally get their opportunity to speak to what the Conservatives have done against them, whether that is in a byelection or a general election, we will see a significant shift in those who may have voted Conservative in the past. They are not going to vote for the party that forced the HST on British Columbia.

As we well know, many Ontarians feel the same way. They feel the Conservative government having imposed the HST on Ontario, making people and families in Ontario and British Columbia pay more is something that deserves a response when they finally have the opportunity to give their voice to what the Conservatives have done.

I am proud to say our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, has stood up for Canadian families. He has called for the removal of the HST on heating fuel, as we approach winter, He stood in the House and he stood up for Canadian families in that way. This corner of the House will continue to press the Conservatives to start addressing the needs of ordinary working families, middle-class families and poor families rather than giving them HST or allowing them to be ripped off by the petroleum industry. They will have to start to listen to ordinary Canadians.

I will finish my speech tomorrow on the bill and what is missing.