IN THE HOUSE ~ Question Period ~ on Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)

(below you will find the additional questions posed that same morning by Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP) on this issue)

40th Parliament, 2nd Session
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, why the cover-up on the date? Why the cover-up?
Soyons clairs, l'harmonisation de la taxe de vente en Colombie-Britannique et en Ontario n'est rien d'autre qu'une augmentation de taxes sur les produits essentiels pour les familles ordinaires. Ils vont devoir payer plus cher pour l'essence, les funérailles de leurs proches, le chauffage pendant l'hiver et même pour les couches de leurs enfants. C'est dégueulasse!

Le ministre peut-il expliquer comment le fait de payer plus cher pour les produits essentiels aidera les familles à se remettre de la crise économique?

Mr. Ted Menzies (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, this just follows along the direction that we see consistently day by day in the House of Commons. The NDP does not understand what makes businesses prosper in this country. It is our small and medium enterprises that pay the taxes, that employ Canadians.

Every time NDP members stand in the House, they stand against Canadians. They want to raise taxes, but this government has put forward many pieces of legislation to reduce Canadians' taxes. Unfortunately, they have voted against them every time.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, increasing taxes on everyday essentials is like to trying to dig oneself out of a hole. Yet the government is pushing forward with its HST scheme, raising taxes on items like school supplies, home heating and even funerals. Harmonization will create more harm than good.

Can the government explain how paying higher taxes will help Canadians who are struggling with this recession?

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I encourage the hon. member, if she feels very strongly about this, to run for a position in the British Columbia legislature. This is the place that makes these kinds of decisions, as well as the Ontario legislature. Our place is merely to facilitate decisions that have already been made by provincial legislatures. That is our place in this.

Her party, however, whenever it gets a chance, wants to increase taxes, wants to increase the burden on businesses, as well as individuals. That is her record. Thank goodness it is not this government's record.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is that sort of twisted logic that feeds the cynicism of the public.
The finance minister lobbied B.C. for years to harmonize its sales tax with the GST. Now the minister is trying to convince us that his government has nothing to do with this unpopular tax shift, but Canadians see the $1 billion trail leading to his door.

I would like to ask the finance minister, exactly what date did negotiations with B.C. begin? The people of B.C. would love to know that.

Hon. Tony Clement (Minister of Industry, CPC): Mr. Speaker, all I know is when she and her party were given a chance to lower the GST by two points, she voted against it. Every member of that caucus voted against it. To the shame of its tax-fighting credentials, it is certainly a wolf in sheep's clothing.