Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Sarnia—Lambton.
It is a pleasure to rise in the House this evening. It is my first opportunity to rise in the House for a speech since the election. First, I would like to thank the residents of Huron—Bruce counties for their confidence in me in re-electing me for a third time. It is a tremendous honour. It is an honour that all members of the House, whether they have been here for many years or are just newly elected, will come to understand. This time, it being a 79-day election, or really almost a two-year election, it certainly put a lot of miles on the feet. For those at home who might be interested, we logged about 400 plus miles knocking on doors. That took a few treads off the shoes.
I should also thank volunteers, my staff, and family for the tremendous help as well. I could not do it without them.
This is the first Speech from the Throne that we have heard from a Liberal government in many years. Two of its themes are a strong economy and a strong environment. One thing that investors looking to reinvest in our country, or new investors, look for is certainty. The Speech from the Throne and the actions taken by the government in the first few months certainly would not give any investor certainty or confidence to make Canada a place to invest. It would probably be in spite of the government that they would make those investments.
There are a couple of points that are open to debate. One is the deficit. During the election campaign the Prime Minister talked about a target deficit ratio he had in mind, and almost immediately after being elected the Liberals admitted they would blow right through that and would actually measure their success by a different means, which would be a ratio. That would not give too many investors a lot of confidence. In addition to that was a price on carbon. It has been a longstanding commitment of the Liberal Party to put a price on carbon. This is at a time when the resource sector in our country, and really around the world, is on its knees and looking for a bit of good news. The news of a carbon tax is not reassuring. We are starting to see some themes in these respects.
In addition to that is the review of environmental assessments. We heard the Prime Minister mention them it in the House today and abroad when he was travelling. We can all debate what an environmental assessment looks like today compared to what it looked like just a few years ago, but if we look back to a few years ago at the height of the economic downturn, projects received funding from the federal and provincial governments. They went through two levels of environmental assessment, federal and provincial. We all agreed, and the provinces agreed at that time too, that if the provincial environmental assessment was suitable, we should cut the red tape and stick strictly to the provincial environmental assessment. It has worked out quite well. I know that in my riding it has worked out well. The municipalities, the engineers, and the contractors understand that red tape has been removed. However, when we hear the Prime Minister talk about environmental assessments, we need answers. The economy needs answers. Business needs answers.
When we look at environmental assessments of large projects that would warrant a federal environmental assessment, we hear there is a new day, a new time for these assessments. That is a cause for concern. There are environmental assessments that have already been undertaken, for example, of the northern gateway project. I have the numbers for the latter. There were 180 days of hearings, 80 expert witnesses, on top of many deputizations that took place. As well, the panel had 30,000 pages to review. Any business looking to make investments in our country, whether on a pipeline, opening a mine, or whatever it may be, even a green hydro electric project, is going to look at this and the words of the Prime Minister. If they are looking for certainty and reasonableness and a threshold to satisfy both what they are trying to do and the environmental concerns, they are going to have second thoughts.
When we are looking now at a carbon tax on the horizon and environmental assessments that may not even improve the current system, but just add layers of red tape that were previously eliminated, it is a concern. When we look at what we also heard about in the election campaign, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, it directly affects my riding. We have many in my riding, none of which are navigable except maybe by a kayak or a canoe. Now we would turn back the clock and ask Transport Canada to look at every project that may involve a river that has no navigation, by kayak or raft, and waste valuable resources at Transport Canada to ask them if there are any concerns. This would not improve the environment, the economy, or red tape. This would add layers and burden to the system. For the economy, we are off to a bad start.
In addition to that, we are asking business owners who want to add more staff or set up new shops in this country to increase their payroll taxes via a proposed addition or new form of the Canada pension plan. In my province of Ontario, the premier has talked about this, and it is disastrous. It would get rid of jobs. It is one more thing that would have business owners take a look and say they will take a pass. It is unfortunate to have this pessimistic view, but people are going to be in the board room, likely as we speak, trying to make decisions on where they are going to allocate their capital for the rest of this year and next year and years beyond, and they are going to have a lot of questions.
If we look at Australia, I do not know if the liberal party in Australia has eliminated the carbon tax that the labour party brought in there, but it was certainly one of the policies that they had. Why? It was because they saw what it did to the country.
Another thing I want to talk about is that brain drain. It has been many years since we have talked about the brain drain, but it will be on the horizon again. We know that many of the professionals in this country, especially in small communities like mine, are valued. We value these professions: the doctors and dentists and so on. With the Liberals' proposed increased tax rates on these professionals, and with the way the dollar is relative to the United States currency, this will cause a brain drain once again, something that was corrected over the last decade. We are now going to be having discussions in the near future about brain drain.
In addition, one of the pledges that the Liberals made in their platform was tax relief for the middle class and hikes in the top tax bracket. This was supposed to be revenue neutral. Shortly after that the Liberals took office, they were again shown to be wrong: it was not revenue neutral. It was at least $1 billion to the wrong side of the ledger, which again gives no confidence to the market.
The energy east pipeline is basically turning out to be a bungled mess politically. For the Prime Minister and some of his Liberal mayors throughout the countryside, it is causing issues. I have lots to talk about here. Perhaps in question time there will be lots of questions to bring up.
Another item I want to talk about is Canada's position in the world. In 90 days, the Liberals have diminished our place on the world stage. Now, we are not asked to meet with NATO countries in Paris to work out a plan to rid the world of ISIS, and that is a shame. Hopefully, we will get more questions.