Mr. Speaker, I have already committed the cardinal error of public speaking, which is following a terrific speech. I want to thank my colleague for her wonderful maiden speech. She is a welcomed addition to the Conservative family in the House. I think we will all have to run like crazy to keep up with her, and that is a good thing.
Before I talk about the subject at hand, I would like to refer to something that came up in question period, which quite vexed me.
The member for Prince Albert talked about Ukraine and said that the government was crying crocodile tears for Ukraine. I remember in November 2014, I had the honour of accompanying the then prime minister to the G20 meeting in Brisbane, Australia. At that particular meeting, the prime minister had to shake hands with Vladimir Putin. He said to Mr. Putin, “...I'll shake your hand...”, and then he looked him right in the eye and said, “You need to get out of Ukraine”.
Imagine those on the other side, with the leader they have, ever doing such a thing, standing up for Canada, standing up for principle. He would probably want to take a selfie.
As well, the other side downplays the human tragedy that is occurring because of the economic downturn. Often anecdotes and personal experiences are as important or more important than numbers and statistics.
There is a gas station just outside of Winnipeg that I stop at when I drive back and forth between Winnipeg and my constituency. I chat with the proprietor. We have become friends. We were talking about the low price of gas and he was quite worried about it. I asked him why. He said that every day there would be a person or a family stop at the gas station. These people were heading back home to the Maritimes. With the Alberta economy collapsing, they have lost just about everything and their only alternative is to return to the Maritimes. The Maritimes are a wonderful part of the world to be sure, but they are economically stressed. However, these people have to pack up everything, leave secure, well-paying jobs, and go back home to live with mom and dad, trying to rebuild their lives.
The Liberal and NDP war on the resource industries is a war on rural communities as well. These have real and dire human consequences that we lose sight of at our peril.
On the topic at hand, I would like to point out that the Conservative approach is very much one of encouraging personal growth and development through our taxation and financial policy systems. Our goal is to ensure that people are as independent as they possibly can be, that they have fulfilled their ambitions, and that they are allowed to chart their lives in a way they choose. Government policies can encourage that kind of independence or can discourage it.
As Conservatives, we firmly believe that government's role is to enable self-sufficiency and reduce the reliance on government so people can chart their own course, and TFSAs are exactly in that mould.
I hate to say it, but I think it is true, and the record bears it out, that both the Liberals and the NDP on the other hand want more people dependent on government, and I am not sure why. The policies and programs that Liberal and NDP governments have put in place at both the provincial and federal levels across the country result in more and more people becoming dependent upon government. The creation of that kind of dependence, in my view, creates grave problems for society.
Canadians have a lot of pride, and charting one's own path in life enhances that pride. Government has a role to provide mostly a hand up as opposed to only a hand out.
Again, I would like to bring in the personal here. When we brought in our last budget with income splitting, the universal child care benefit, and all those great benefits for families, I received an email from a single mother from the town of Swan River in my constituency, from Ms. Mackenzie Danard, and she gave me permission to use her name.
She wrote to us to thank us for our tax policies. Keep in mind, this is a single mother on a very low income. She wrote, “This helps a lot for single parents”. She also added, “Thank you for helping us raise our children”. So much for the idea that Conservative budgets are for the rich. As I said in my speech yesterday, Conservative members of Parliament are the party for the working people of the country. No one should ever forget that.
TFSAs, tax-free savings accounts, are exactly in line with our philosophy of promoting independence. Again, I am not one who thinks government does not have a role in society. It certainly does. I have never been shy to encourage the spending of government resources on projects and programs that help people. We certainly need tax resources to ensure the health of our society, but they should be kept at a minimum.
The tax-free savings account is kind of a companion to the RRSP. It helps people to become independent. TFSAs are open to all citizens over 18. Let us contrast this with the Canada penson plan. Many members opposite want to see the Canada pension plan contributions increase.
The Canada pension plan, in and of itself, is a pretty good program. However, it is a matter of degree. TFSAs are complementary to the Canada pension plan. Unlike the Canada pension plan, tax-free savings accounts introduce choice in how one invests their money. They also accumulate in one's own personal account. If people contribute to CPP, even an added CPP, and they unfortunately happen to pass on before the eligibility date, there is nothing left for the family. At least with a TFSA a legacy is left that can be passed on to the next generation.
The attacks on the tax-free saving plan are completely unwarranted. My colleague who spoke before me listed chapter and verse the number of groups across the country, including seniors groups. I am in the over 60 club, if the truth be known . My generation is strongly supportive of the approach our government put in place.
I would like to go to the personal about TFSAs. On May 13, 2015, in Hansard, I quoted a constituent of mine who sent me an email. She gave me permission to use her name. Ms. Wendy McDonald is a hard-working wife from Newdale, Manitoba. Her husband farms, and they have children. They were visiting in Ottawa. They said:
The reason we were able to afford our trip to Ottawa was due to our income tax refund, which was larger than expected due to income splitting law...our family chooses to put the child care benefit money we receive directly into RESP for our 2 children, and I will be one of the Canadians that will benefit from the increased allowance on TFSA accounts because saving is important to me and allows me to be fiscally responsible in my own household
This is a family, the McDonalds from Newdale, that is charting its own course in life. These people are independent, saving money for their kids and for their retirement, using the tools our government put in place. These are tools the new government is trying to take away.
My last point is in regard to the so-called tax hike on the wealthy. A typical Liberal, NDP trait is to always penalize success, always envious of people who do well, always thinking that people who succeed in life are just lucky. Most people succeed in life because of hard work and governments should have policies in place that support and reward hard work.
I have The Fiscal Monitor from the Department of Finance. It is very clear. For the April to November 2015 period of the 2015-16 fiscal year, the government posted a budgetary surplus of $1 billion. What could be clearer than that? Our government left a financial legacy of which I am very proud. It is a government that I was certainly proud to be a part of, and in four short years we will be back.