Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here to speak to this budget implementation bill. My speech today will be called “promises, priorities and plans”. When we put a budget together, we should consider the amount of money we will need to keep all the promises we have made. Of course, there is not an endless amount of money in the world so there is a need to prioritize those promises we have made to ensure we hit the important ones and put those first.
Then it is important to have plans. We all know that without plans, we may spend a lot of money and not really accomplish anything, which we have seen an incredible amount of from the Liberal government.
With respect to promises, one of the early promises made by the government, which we hear repeatedly, was that it would run very small deficits, a small deficit of $10 billion in the first year, coming to balance in the fourth year. However, we have seen double that deficit in the first year, double the deficit in the second year, and triple that deficit in this budget. There is no end in sight with respect to balancing the budget. It is certainly not going to be in the fourth year of the mandate. Now it looks like it may not be until 2045. This is promise was broken into about 1.5 trillion pieces.
The other thing is that a lot of promises were made that were extremely important to rural communities across Canada. The first one was the restoration of home mail delivery, which for people who are living in very rural places, especially those who are elderly, is a very important service.
Even more important than that was the promise about infrastructure money. Members can remember that we were going to spend infrastructure money to create jobs and get the economy going, and that money was going to be spent on roads and bridges in municipalities. This is a critical thing in ridings like Sarnia—Lambton, where we have a lot of roads and bridges that need to be fixed, and the municipality certainly does not have the money to fix them. I was disappointed with the last budget when the government took $15 billion from those municipalities and put it into the infrastructure bank. Of course we have seen nothing come out of that whole situation.
Then there was the Asian Infrastructure Bank to which the government gave another half a billion of taxpayer dollars to build roads and bridges in Asia, which is not helping the rural community at all. Thus was another broken promise.
One of the most disturbing promises broken by the government was that of openness, transparency, and a higher ethical standard. Every time we ask questions about what is in this budget, such as the carbon tax that is outlined heavily in the budget, the government refuses to say how much it will cost the average Canadian taxpayer. The average Canadian taxpayer wants to know. If it is not a bad number, then why is it afraid to say it? Obviously, if it does not want to tell Canadians, it is because it is bad news.
Beyond not telling them how much it will cost, it will not even tell us what it will accomplish. The environment minister has been asked multiple times at committee, and here in the House, what kind of a greenhouse gas reduction she expects from this, and she has no answer. There is a huge amount of money being spent in the budget in this area. There is a huge amount of tax that will be paid by Canadians, yet there is no openness and transparency from the government with respect to those issues.
The government promised not to use omnibus bills, and here we are again with this huge budget bill. So many things have been snuck into this bill that if we did not really read all the pages, we might not be aware of them. My colleagues to the left have already talked about the medicinal marijuana issue and the taxes associated with that. However, more so, there is language in the budget bill that suggests that if people had a drug information number, they would be exempt. The fact remains that there is no drug exemption number for any medicinal marijuana because of the variability of all the components. Therefore, that is just another misrepresentation in the budget bill.
With respect to the taxes on cigarettes' portion of the bill, there is an escalating tax that continues to go up in perpetuity, without any parliamentary vote and without Canadians being able to talk about that. This is the same kind of deceptive tax that was put on beer and wine. It is fine for the government to put a sin tax on something when it wants to, but when it wants to hide a tax in there that continues to go up and generates revenue for the government, and it sneaks it onto page 324, Canadians may never get to that.
Therefore, there is no openness and no transparency in omnibus bills.
As members know, I am a passionate advocate for palliative care, so I was very excited when the government said it would spend $3 billion on home and palliative care in the 2016 budget. Then the government updated the 2017 budget and said that it would spend $6 billion over 10 years. It was a little more paced out, but at least it was something. I was really disappointed to see the word “palliative” removed from the 2018 budget. It was taken out altogether, even though the government supported my private member's bill, Bill C-277, on consistent access for palliative care for all Canadians. Surely, if we want there to be consistent access, we know we will have to plan something to back up that promise and put money in the budget. I was very disappointed there was nothing in the budget on that.
I will go to priorities.
One would think that in a country with one person out of six being a senior, maybe seniors would be a priority, but no. The Liberal government took position of minister for seniors away, and there is relatively nothing in budget 2018 that will help seniors, many of whom really struggle to afford to live and pay for many of the things they need, such as cataract surgery, perhaps hearing aids or dentures. I certainly heard this when I went door to door. A priority has been missed.
Then there is the agriculture sector. Agriculture is hugely important in Canada. Everyone can agree that we need to eat. This is one of our largest industries. What is the government doing? First, it is loading all kinds of bureaucracy on the Canadian agriculture industry that does not apply to other people. It has taken away pesticides without any replacement. Those very pesticides are used by countries that then import their food to Canada, putting us at a competitive disadvantage. Most recently, it decided it would not allow the sale of premixed feed that contains antibiotic. This product has been sold safely for quite a number of years. Again, it is a burden on our industry that is not on other industries outside of the country that ship products into Canada.
There is very little support for research in agriculture, very little support for the industry overall, and total betrayal when it comes to the agreement that was made with respect to the TPP, that farmers would be compensated for the quota they had to give up. That is gone. They still have to give up the quota, but they do not get the compensation. It is another broken promise for the agriculture industry.
Regarding health care, the government's priorities are really screwed up. The government putting $80 million in a budget to get people to stop smoking tobacco is a wonderful thing. However, to then put $800 million in the budget to get people to start smoking marijuana just does not seem like the right message from a health point of view, especially when we consider the danger to children.
Then there is the $7-billion slush fund. I am not sure what kind of priority that is backing up in an election year, but I can only guess. That is a disappointment as well.
Then there are plans. We do not see any plans. We have talked about how there is no climate change plan and no answers on the carbon tax. What about NAFTA? The Liberals have known for over a year that tariffs could be put on the steel industry. There is no plan and no money in the budget to address that whatsoever.
What about this $4.5-billion pipeline? Members can hear that my voice is a bit hoarse from having a $4.5-billion pipeline that is 65 years old being shoved down my throat. Where was the plan for that in the budget? It is missing.
Overall, when we look at this budget, we can see that when it comes to promises, priorities, and plans, the Liberals have broken their promises, their priorities are definitely screwed up, and they have no plan to achieve anything. That is a super disappointment.