Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the economic and fiscal update introduced last week in the House. Before I do, I want to take a moment, as this is my first opportunity to speak in the House, to thank the people of Oak Ridges—Markham for placing their trust in me and for allowing me to be their voice here in Parliament.
I would also like to take a moment to thank my campaign manager, Mathew Ellis, and my deputy campaign manager, Marissa Steiner, for their hard work during the campaign. In addition I thank my campaign chair, Gayle Climpson-Kennedy, my CFO Stephen Wilkinson, and the core group of over 200 volunteers who helped me get the message out and helped me win Oak Ridges—Markham. I am truly indebted to them for all their hard work.
Finally, I give the biggest thanks of all to my wife, Melanie, and our two daughters, Natalie and Olivia, whose support has been spectacular. My second daughter was born on October 4 at Markham Stouffville Hospital, during the election campaign. I would also like to thank the doctors, Dr. Arnold at Markham Stouffville Hospital, and the entire staff for the extraordinary care they gave to my family.
My wife has been with me through everything in politics, through thick and thin. She has always been my best friend and my best supporter. I cannot thank her enough.
Oak Ridges—Markham is a huge riding. It is actually the largest riding in Canada in terms of population. Leading up to and during the last election, I spent many months talking to the people of Oak Ridges—Markham. We talked about everything, including health care and the environment, specifically focusing on the economy.
My campaign focused on the economy. I told the people of Oak Ridges—Markham some of the good things that we had done in the economy. They listened to my message and they decided that the government was on the right track, and they elected me. They understood that since taking office, we have given Canada strong government and that we have made substantial changes to our economy that has left Canada in the strongest position of all industrialized nations.
Since 2006 this government has reduced the federal debt by $37 billion. It has reduced taxes by almost $200 billion. It has reduced taxes on new businesses. It has and is making massive investments in infrastructure, science and technology, and we have created hundreds of thousands of new jobs. This government is also providing the economy with the essential tools that it needs to remain strong and to grow in the future.
When we were cutting taxes as a government, how were the Liberal opposition members voting? When we cut taxes for people, they voted against it, if they showed up at all. When we invested in infrastructure across Canada, how did they vote? They voted against it and they did not show up. When we invested in the armed forces, the brave men and women of this country who are fighting to preserve Canadian freedoms, who are showcasing Canada abroad, how did they vote? They voted against it.
We invested in the environment, including in my riding. The Prime Minister came to my riding of Oak Ridges—Markham and announced that through partnership with Ducks Unlimited we were going to secure naturally significant lands, including the Happy Valley Forest in King. How did they vote? They did not show up and they voted against it.
While we were telling Canadians that we believed in them, that we were going to cut taxes so that they could invest in their future, in their family's future, and we were cutting taxes so that they could invest in business, the members opposite were telling Canadians that they could not be trusted to invest in their families. Indeed, the Liberals were saying that if the government cut taxes, Canadians would spend it on pop, beer and chips, that they just could not be trusted to manage their own affairs.
We on this side of the House have much more faith in the people of Canada. We know that Canadians need more money in their pockets so that they can invest in their future. That is what we have been doing since we have been in government.
I am extraordinarily proud to be part of a government that has done that for all Canadians. We have been working long and hard, even before this crisis hit the mainstream media, to make the investments that I mentioned before and to make additional investments that will ensure that our economy remains strong moving forward.
Over the past few months we have met with our G20 partners. We have worked closely with our provincial premiers and consulted with business, both big and small, to chart a course to protect the Canadian economy. We consulted Canadians on October 14.
Canadians overwhelmingly decided that the Prime Minister, the finance minister, and this government were on the right track to make the necessary changes to the economy to ensure that we remained strong and that we would come out of this world economic crisis better than any other country. They opted for stability. They opted for a measured approach that would not lead Canada into devastation in the years ahead but would make us stronger.
We have acted quickly and confidently, and have always put the bests interests of our nation first. We are moving to restore a greater liquidity to our banking system to guarantee Canadians access to credit. We are reviewing all government spending so that we can provide the maximum investment back into our economy without falling back into structural deficits. We are providing stable funding to our provincial partners. We are providing historic levels of funding for infrastructure. We are moving to stabilize our pension system and give Canadian seniors the support they need in the years ahead.
Over the next few weeks, we will continue to consult with premiers and our G20 partners to chart the appropriate course to maintain our economy and provide all Canadians with security and peace of mind.
The people of Ontario remember all too well what a Liberal democratic alliance party means to an economy. Ontario remembers the disastrous results between 1985 and 1995; what the people of Ontario refer to as the “lost decade”. Ontario taxpayers, unfortunately, remember the highest business taxes. They remember the highest personal income taxes. They remember record business failures and massive levels of debt. It was close to $50 billion in debt in only four years. They remember a deficit of $11 billion.
In fact, under the Liberal democratic alliance in Ontario, Ontario was spending $1 million more an hour than it was taking in. Imagine that, $1 million more an hour than it was taking in, without a plan to get out of a hole. It was cutting health care spending and the number of hospital beds, and there were record levels of unemployment. This is the record of a Liberal democratic alliance party when in power in Ontario. The people of Ontario remember this all to well and the people of Ontario massively rejected that on October 14.
What did the Liberals do when they were in power in the nineties? They shifted the burden onto the provinces. There were over $25 billion in cuts to the Canada health and social transfer. They did not work with our provincial partners to make sure that they could sustain such massive cuts. They unilaterally cut, forcing the provinces to find savings in health care, to find savings in social assistance. There had to be cuts in health and education. Why? Because the members on that side of the House were not interested in cutting back their entitlements. They were not interested in finding out how government could work better. Their solution was to transfer to another level of government. Canadians again massively rejected that, and installed a government that actually cared about Canadians and understood how finances work in this country.
At a time when the world economy is in crisis and stability is required, what do the opposition members want to do? They want to set aside the results of the last election and install a government led by a prime minister who was massively rejected by the people of this country. They then want to change the government in four months when they have selected yet another leader; again, another leader not elected by the people of Canada. They want to raise taxes. They want to take some of the NDP policies and increase taxes to businesses at a time when they cannot afford to do so. They want to give a blank cheque to the members of the Bloc Québécois to decide the future of this country.
The people of my riding and the people of Canada do not agree with that approach. They overwhelmingly selected a government that was charting the right course. That is what I hear from the people in my riding.
What are the people saying about the proposed new Liberal democratic alliance party? I have been absolutely inundated with emails and telephone calls from people in my riding. I would like to give members a little sample of what the people are saying to me. Dr. John Cocker wrote: “Just to let you know I am outraged by the action of the opposition to grab power. I feel that [the Prime Minister] is on the right track. Everyone I have spoken to feels the same way”.
A constituent from Newmarket said:
If the NDP and the Liberal Parties are allowed to force out the Conservatives now, this Canadian among thousands will totally lose faith in the Democratic Process in this country. What's more, an overthrow of the current government in these challenging and troubled times looks like a real recipe for the very fiscal disaster that the Opposition Parties claim [that they want to resolve].
A constituent from Markham said:
All I know is that the possible coalition between the Liberal, NDP and Bloc is completely ridiculous. MPs were voted for so that they would put their locals first and actually try to look out for us. This is not for the people it is petty politics that does our economy and country absolutely no good.
A constituent from Stouffville said:
How do I voice my opinion strongly to the government of Canada that if I wanted an inept leader like [the leader of the Liberal Party], I would have voted for him!!!!!
A constituent from Richmond Hill wrote:
We the judges, THE PEOPLE OF CANADA, voted him [the Prime Minister] in and most importantly did NOT vote [the leader of the Liberal Party] in.
Is this how democracy works? No, it is not.
Another constituent from Markham wrote:
I am writing to express my concern over the undemocratic backroom dealings that are being done in parliament. With the economy the way it is and the global environment, [this] high tension, global recession, we need a government to run the country, NOT a bunch of backroom dealings of people who believe they know better than the results of the election--
A resident in Schomberg wrote to me:
You are my MP and I am begging you and [the Prime Minister] not to leave us in the hands of [the leader of the Liberal Party] and [the leader of the New Democratic Party].
Another constituent from Markham wrote:
I believe such a coalition would be unproductive, distract from the country's real problems and nothing more than political posturing by the Liberals, NDP and any other party choosing to join.
A constituent from Nobleton wrote:
I don't want the NDP to look after my finances. I don't want the Bloc making decisions for Canada. I don't want the Liberals with their leadership fiasco and infighting to govern Canada. None of them are ready collectively or separately. AGAIN, NONE OF THEM WERE ELECTED.
That is what the people of my riding are saying. That is just a small sampling of the over 500 emails and telephone calls that I have received since the signing of that document yesterday. What else are people saying about this?
I will refer to some of the previous debates by the member for Markham—Unionville:
The fundamental point about the NDP is that those members do not understand economics. They never understood economics and they never will understand economics. In effect, the NDP is mired in a time warp in the 1960s.... It is mired in the 1960s. It has no vision of wealth creation and no clue how to go about it should that be its desire, which is why that party will remain a marginal protest party.
He went on to say:
At the latest NDP convention, a motion was put forward by the leader's riding association that Canada should get out of NAFTA and out of the WTO. Those members also want Canada to get out of Norad, by the way. The NDP's official policy since 1997 has been that Canada should get out of NAFTA. That was delusional, clueless, irresponsible policy and it is still characterized as the Neanderthal economic thinking of the New Democratic Party.... The NDP members would have constructed a wall around Canada to keep everything out, a wall so high that it would be reminiscent of the wall then prevailing in communist Albania.
That was said by the member for Markham—Unionville about his new coalition friends. What else did he say? He stated:
--to the federal NDP, which has never been a government and never will be a government, and whose basic problem is that it may have a heart, as it knows how to redistribute income, but it does not have a brain.
Imagine, the member for Markham—Unionville is now prepared to sit in alliance--