Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance today to discuss the latest iteration of the Liberals' budget implementation legislation, Bill C-63.
When the Liberals were running their election campaign back in 2015, they made a number of promises to Canadians. One of those promises was that they would incur a small deficit of less than $10 billion. During that same time, they also promised they would balance the budget by 2019. We now know that neither of these things are true, and that every time the Prime Minister gives with one hand, he takes more with the other.
As the Liberals like to make up words and change their meaning, I have made up a word for this action. It is “dispocketnesia”, which means using one hand to take from one pocket to the other and forgetting about it.
When the Minister of Finance tabled the government's fall economic statement just a couple of weeks ago, he confirmed the Liberals were borrowing $20 billion this year to pay for their out-of-control spending; that is $20 billion this year alone. That means the current deficit is more than double what the Liberals initially promised. This also means, as confirmed by the government, that the budget will never be balanced under the Prime Minister.
Of course, with reckless spending comes the need to increase taxes, which is in part what Bill C-63 would do. Since the Prime Minister is adding debt at twice the rate he promised and since his government projects that debt will grow every year into the future, someone needs to foot the bill. Unfortunately for my constituents and for all Canadians, it is the taxpayer who will bear the burden of the government's irresponsible spending.
I say all this because the Liberal track record of the broken promise after broken promise has fostered an environment of distrust and skepticism among the residents of my riding, and certainly across the country.
The Liberals constantly say that they are helping the middle class and those who wish to join it, yet over 80% of middle-class Canadians are now paying more taxes than they did before the Prime Minister took office. Bill C-63 would not help these people, but rather would push our country further and further into debt.
The 80% figure I just quoted does not even include a measure that will drastically affect my constituents in a multitude of ways. That measure is a carbon tax, or do the Liberals hope Canadians have forgotten about that, because that is 54 days away?
The good people in my riding just simply cannot afford another tax, certainly not one that will affect so many aspects of their lives. They will now need to pay more to heat their homes, to drive their cars, run their tractors and combines, get to work or see their doctor, and operate their businesses. What do these people get from their government in return?
I would like to say my riding is currently booming with government-funded infrastructure projects that it sorely needs, but that would be a lie. I would like to tell my constituents that in return for the increase in their household bills due to a carbon tax, they would have a government that cares about western Canada, but I definitely cannot say that under the Liberals.
I would very much like to tell the small business owners in my riding that the government will start making life easier for them by not changing the tax rules to the point they are unsure if their businesses will even be viable in the future. Alas, I cannot do any of these things. The government lacks the credibility, as shown by their dismal track record, and Canadians expect better.
One of the major measures contained in Bill C-63 that I would like to touch on is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the effect this investment will have on Canadians. The Liberals are investing $500 million, half a billion dollars, to be a part of an investment bank in another country. We would think that an investment of that size would be overwhelmingly beneficial to the Canadian public, especially given the fact that the federal government is not exactly swimming in dollars at the moment.
Unfortunately, there will be very little direct benefit to Canadians as a result of this investment, and those who do benefit are the wealthy 1% who are the only ones who can afford to consider bidding on contracts through the infrastructure investment bank. We do not know how our investment will be used. We do not know what it will be used on or whether it will be to fund a pipeline. No, not a pipeline in Canada, despite the fact energy east was cancelled, but rather a pipeline in Asia. Instead of making it competitive for Canadian companies to see their oil, this makes it easier for foreign countries to compete against us.
How can the Liberals claim to be helping and representing the middle class when they are investing in measures such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank rather than using even a portion of that money to helping Canadians at home? The Liberals love to spend and we understand the need to create strong relationships and international partnerships through initiatives like investment banks, but it should not be at the cost of the Canadian taxpayer who will see no direct benefit. This is yet another reason why my constituents tell me they have completely lost faith in the government's ability to spend money responsibly.
It appears that the Liberals have a hard time understanding the needs of the middle-class Canadians for whom they say they are working. This is not surprising, given that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have never actually been middle class. The finance minister cemented this general lack of faith when it was recently discovered that he failed to disclose financial assets to the Ethics Commissioner. He should have done this as soon as he became a minister, and yet it was overlooked.
If average Canadians failed to disclose their assets to the appropriate government body, they would be punished accordingly, but when it is the Prime Minister's right-hand man, the problem seems to simply disappear. How are Canadians supposed to trust the finance minister with control of our country's finances when he cannot even properly take care of his own?
The finance minister also refuses to disclose whether he recused himself from important conversations surrounding legislation that would have an effect on his multi-million dollar company, Morneau Shepell . As far as we know, he took part in discussions surrounding Bill C-27. Was he involved in the talks on pensions for Bombardier and did he fail to recuse himself from discussions on the Bermuda tax treaty? Thankfully, he was unable to recuse himself when the Ethics Commissioner came calling. He paid the $200 dollar fine for his actions, but this leaves the question of just how open and honest our finance minister really is.
Canadians expect the Liberal government to do better and be better. We expect that cabinet ministers will uphold the rules to the letter of the law and will also do the right thing. The government has shown that the conduct of its cabinet ministers is not befitting the expectations of the people they represent. Not only are they unable to follow the rules themselves, but they expect the support of Canadians who are being punished for doing just that, as they stated in their messaging surrounding the tax changes to close perceived loopholes.
Those tax changes are going to hurt Canadians, especially in my riding where there is a plethora of small businesses, including farms. There are huge concerns over the cost to transfer a farm down from one generation to the next, something people in my constituency have been doing for over a century in some cases. The cost of doing business is going to go up for all business owners too, not just farmers.
Who is the cost not going to go up for? The Prime Minister and the finance minister, whose family fortunes are safely tucked away and will be unaffected by these tax changes. This just goes to show how out of touch the Liberals are when it comes to the needs of hard-working middle-class Canadians.
Bill C-63 contains many provisions given that it is an omnibus bill. Unfortunately I am failing to see how this “sunny ways” legislation will actually help the people in my riding. My hometown of Estevan is known as the “Sunshine Capital of Canada”. Even with that moniker, everyone knows the Liberals are not building green transit lines in rural Saskatchewan.
On this side of the House, we believe in responsible government spending, lower taxes, and making life more affordable for every Canadian. We have learned that we absolutely cannot trust the Prime Minister to give Canadians a tax break. In fact, the only thing we can trust is that he will continue to break his promises and put us further and further into debt, one tax increase at a time.
This is not what my constituents want. It is not what Canadians want. We will continue to fight the Prime Minister's continued tax hikes every step of the way.