Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to what I believe is a very important issue, an issue that affects all Canadians, no matter where we live in Canada. It is ultimately an issue to which Canadians can relate. For the first time, they see a political party that actually has an idea to create jobs.
The New Democrats can wish all they want where they might be on this position, but the Conservatives might want to reflect on their idea, and I would encourage them to do so. I will provide some comments on their idea and how that could be improved upon.
The Liberal caucus and our leader are very much focused on the middle class. We recognize that if we want to assist the middle class, we need to work on job creation. Jobs are very important. We get that message in the Liberal caucus. However, we do not understand why the Conservative government has missed the mark so badly.
To give an example, since May 2013, there has been a net loss of full-time jobs to the Canadian economy. Everyone here should be concerned about that. At least one party wants to see direct action taken by the government that would have a positive impact on the creation of full-time jobs. This debate is all about that.
We come to the table with experience on the issue. As has been already pointed out, back in 1993 the unemployment rate in Canada was at 14%. I remember the commercials and I remember former prime minister Kim Campbell saying that we would have to settle for double digit unemployment rates into the future.
Back then, Jean Chrétien of the Liberal Party said that we did not have to settle for that. At the end of the day, the Liberal Party of Canada was able to bring down that double digit unemployment rate of 14% under the Progressive Conservatives to 6.5% when Paul Martin left office in 2006.
Not only did we bring down the unemployment rate to 6.5% nationwide, we handed the Conservative government a multi-billion surplus as well as a multi-billion trade surplus. The Conservative government had a wonderful opportunity to really develop our economy, to provide the jobs that were important to Canadians, to ensure that there were full-time jobs for those individual Canadians who wanted full-time work and it blew that opportunity.
In the last couple of weeks we have seen a great example of government incompetence, the inability of the government to recognize that it made a mistake. All the Conservatives have to do is look at the small business jobs grant. The program is flawed. An honourable government, a strong leader in the Prime Minister's Office, would recognize that it blew it. It is time the Conservatives changed the program, and I have an idea for them.