IN THE HOUSE ~ Debate, Questions, Comments on the HST

40th Parliament, 2nd Session
Context : Debate

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your diplomacy on this. And of course this is probably one of the most despicable episodes in Canadian Parliamentary history. What we have right now is the sorry remnants of the Reform Party that used to believe in popular democracy, that used to believe in consultation, that used to believe in actually consulting the public, allied with the sorry remnants of the Liberal Party that actually used to believe in due process and are ramming through, with closure, a bill that is going to impose on the average family in British Columbia a $2,000 bill. These are families that are struggling economically. These are families that are already finding it very difficult to make ends meet. And the Conservatives, the sorry remnants of the Conservatives ,and the Liberals are allying together to impose closure on all of those Canadians.

In this corner of the House, the NDP is not standing for it. We are speaking it.

I want to make it very clear that if people want to exercise their opposition to the HST then, in coming elections or in coming byelections, they should be voting NDP. It is as clear as that.

Why is closure being imposed this week? We all saw, the whole country saw, the results of the byelection in New Westminster—Coquitlam. The Conservatives pumped unlimited resources into that riding. They were hoping to--what was normally sort of a barometer riding--hoping to take it. And the residents of New Westminster—Coquitlam and Port Moody unequivocally rejected the HST and unequivocally rejected the Conservative Party, on November 9.

Now, if we take those results of New Westminster—Coquitlam and Port Moody and we put them right across British Columbia, there are a dozen Conservative MPs who will not be back in the next Parliament. That is because British Columbians are speaking with one voice and they are saying “no” to the HST.

So, what do we see? We see the Conservatives now, in one of the most sorry Parliamentary episodes that we have ever seen in this country, imposing closure, imposing a motion, and imposing a bill that provides for four hours of so-called committee work, between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on a weekday evening. It is absolutely despicable. It is absolutely despicable that what they are doing to the Canadian public, what they are doing to British Columbians and Ontarians, which is almost half the country, if we take those two populations, is to impose closure and refuse the kind of public participation that we should have.

Only the New Democrats are standing in this House and saying that we do not agree, and we are going to do everything we can to force the public consultations that the government should be performing.

There is no doubt that this plot was hatched by the Conservative government, that it forced the HST on British Columbians and Ontarians. Now, it offered up the so-called bribe money to try to influence those governments. However, in the British Columbia election that was held on May 12, there was not a single reference to the HST. In fact, the premier at that time said he was not even considering bringing in the HST, that it would not come in. British Columbians may have voted on that basis, but they were fundamentally lied to by that government in B.C., and there has been no public consultation. There has not even been a vote in the legislature.

So, for the current government to impose closure on this bill, to impose closure on the HST, is nothing less than an attempt at damage control. The Conservatives have no legitimacy to bring this in. They have no legitimacy, aside from their sorry Liberal allies, to impose this on British Columbians. They are doing it because they are hoping that British Columbians will forget.

British Columbians are not going to forget. They understand the implications, which are: $500 for the average British Columbian; $2,000 for the average family of four. This tax shift that allows the corporate CEOs the Conservatives and Liberals just seem to love--they just cannot give enough love to corporate CEOs. They will give them whatever they want, regardless of whether it makes sense fiscally or not.However, that massive tax shift has to be paid for. That massive and irresponsible tax shift is paid for by ordinary British Columbians and ordinary Ontarians. It is not only bad for the individuals involved, it is not only bad for British Columbia families and Ontario families, it is bad for community businesses.

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Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, I doubt very much that the Minister of Transport will get up because he cannot defend his actions in this House. He cannot defend it to his constituents either. I very much doubt he will actually care to stand up and speak on this.

I want to reply to the question that was asked by the Conservative member who somehow insinuates that standing up against closure and allowing for public hearings on this issue so that real British Columbia and Ontario families can be heard in the House of Commons and heard in committee, that somehow that is anti-democratic. One has to wonder what kind of stuff is in their water.

One would have to be incredibly irresponsible to say that a closure motion, refusing public hearings, refusing committee consultations on this bill is somehow, in any way, democratic. Maybe in Colombia, but not here in Canada.

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Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, those provinces have made their decision. Nearly 80% of the people in Ontario have said they reject the HST. Over 80% of the population of British Columbia has said they reject the HST.

Very clearly the public in both of those provinces has spoken out. What they are not getting from either Conservatives or Liberals is any sort of respect for the democratic process. This is closure. This is not allowing any sort of public participation, any sort of public consultation, any sort of committee work, nothing at all.

This is nothing but anti-democratic closure, pure and simple. That is why one party is standing up for British Columbians and Ontarians.

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Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, it affects the environment and environmental legislation. It affects community hockey. What could be worse than an attack on hockey in this country?

As many of the minor hockey associations are realizing, they are going to have to spend tens of thousands of dollars more to access ice time. Is that absurd or what, that in British Columbia and Ontario the Conservatives are even attacking hockey through this HST?

They simply have gone low beyond belief. They simply do not understand why this is such a hated tax. However they do understand that it is hated and that is why they are invoking closure in the most fundamentally anti-democratic way. They are trying to ram the whole thing through this week and are hoping that British Columbians and Ontarians are going to forget.

We are not going to forget. Ontarians are not going to forget. By targeting hockey, environmental programs and everything else, they will suffer the consequences.

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Context : Debate
Mr. Speaker, as you well know, as these fees go up throughout the whole spectrum of necessary purchases that families make in this country, the small businesses are going to find that their clients have less money to spend. That is why the restaurant industry, dry cleaners, hairdressers and barbers are all opposing this incredibly misguided, irresponsible and outrageous tax shift. It does not just hit individuals. It hits community businesses as well.

We have another sap to foreign companies so the money can go to Houston and the Bahamas, but people and businesses on Main Street in small towns and cities across British Columbia and Ontario are going to be negatively impacted. Some businesses will go under and some families will lose their homes because, quite frankly, $2,000 breaks the backs of some families who are already suffering because of this recession.

This irresponsible move is something we in the NDP will oppose. We will oppose it here, we will oppose it as we go across the country and we will see the consequences of this irresponsible folly in the months to come.

Every NDP MP actually listens to his or her constituents. Unlike Conservatives and Liberals who seem to come in here with the idea of representing Ottawa to their home constituency, we in the NDP actually listen to our home constituents. We have all been flooded with emails and letters that talk about this appallingly irresponsible tax shift.

I am going to read just a few of the many emails and letters. I could spend 12 hours reading them into the record, but I only have a few minutes.

Marie from Burnaby said:
I oppose the HST. I supply much of the clothing for my great grandchildren, as well as my grandchildren. I am 68 years old and will be unable to keep this up as the extra 7% will make a big difference.

Patricia from New Westminster said:
I strongly oppose this tax on the basis that the B.C. Liberals have no mandate to create such a tax. It is being unfairly implemented in B.C. and will place too great a burden on consumers struggling to cope with the recession.

Doug from Burnaby wrote to the leader of the Liberal Party, who is not listening, as the leader of the government is not listening, and asked:
Does it not concern you that the overwhelming majority of citizens of B.C. have spoken loudly and clearly against the HST?

Nadia who is from Burnaby and works in the food service industry stated:
I am very worried about the impact of the HST on our business. Consumers today don't have money to spare and higher prices will mean fewer customers.

Ning, who is a new Canadian, who has come here from overseas, said:

I am strongly against the application of the HST. I am extremely disappointed with my decision of emigrating to Canada because this is a country discouraging positive endeavour. The HST will be just like frost on the snow of our future lives.

Members can laugh about new Canadians opposing the HST, but we are their voice in the House and the government should start listening to ordinary British Columbia and Ontario families and new Canadian families. It should start listening for the first time. It should actually listen to the voices coming from across this country opposing the HST. Rather than invoking closure, what it should be doing is holding public hearings and allowing the real voices of Canadians to be heard.

We in the NDP have opposed this unfair tax shift not only nationally but we opposed it in each of the provinces. In Saskatchewan we stopped it cold, rolled it back and abolished the HST because we knew it was bad for ordinary families. In Manitoba we stopped it cold and refused to implement it in Nova Scotia. The new NDP government in Nova Scotia has cut it out on heating fuel because it knows what this means for ordinary families in Nova Scotia.

Across this country we oppose the HST. It is unfair to ordinary families and British Columbians and Ontarians deserve better from the government.