Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise on this occasion as the member of Parliament in the 42nd Parliament of Canada. The people of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke have my sincere gratitude for giving me the honour and the privilege of being their representative in this sixth consecutive election.
Now that the election is over, I renew my pledge that I never forget the people who made this possible, the good people of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. They can be assured that I will continue to fight for the issues that they tell me are important. As always, I am their servant.
There are many individuals to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude for the confidence they have placed in me, for their hard work, and for the long selfless hours they put in to build a winning streak that has become our standard for successful campaigns.
For the many newly elected MPs who are not aware of the history, the Ottawa Valley became the eastern beachhead of democracy in the year 2000. That marked the beginning of meaningful change as Canadians entered the 21st century, and from the period 2006 and on, a period that will be fondly remembered as the good old days of responsible leadership while today's Conservatives take a short break from government.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to our entire campaign team, my spouse Jamie, and the many hundreds of volunteers who demonstrated what a truly grassroots campaign Ottawa Valley style is really all about.
Before I begin my comments regarding Bill C-2, I want to make it fundamentally clear that the Conservative Party I am proudly a member of stands for lower taxes and less government interference in the daily lives of Canadians. The best anti-poverty program is a job. We do not create employment by taxing, borrowing, and spending more than we can afford.
My constituents support lower taxation. They sent me to Ottawa to reduce government and to fight for lower taxes. Bill C-2 is about a misleading campaign promise that was presented to a distracted public as reducing taxes at the expense of raising taxes for others, when in fact all this does is raise taxes for everyone.
In the case of this so-called middle-class tax cut, it was claimed during the last election that taxes would be reduced on the middle class by asking the wealthiest Canadians to pay more. Canadians have since learned that higher taxes for the wealthiest Canadians will not begin to pay for this campaign promise that is the basis of the legislation before us today. The promise was made without even the most superficial analysis. It was made to get elected.
More from the wealthiest does not go far among the rest of the population. The middle class will end up paying for its own tax cut, plus the interest on billions borrowed to cover the tax change, and to cover successive deficits that were promised by the Liberals, a promise they intend to keep, and more, and that should be meant to be broken.
The mark of Liberal generosity is with other people's money. Deficits are just deferred taxes, which is our children's financial inheritance. The irony is that ample evidence shows that government loses revenue when it targets individuals who can afford to pay for avoidance, including by moving their financial affairs to places like Bermuda, which was the tax haven of choice of the last Liberal prime minister before the current occupant.
The legislation before us today, being introduced as the first finance bill in the opening session of a new Parliament, and before the federal budget, when these tax measures could easily have waited to be included in the next federal budget, is intended to fulfill a signature campaign promise. I get that.
It was former Ontario Conservative Premier Mike Harris who set the bar when it comes to keeping one's election promises, so I understand that a political party does not want to be accused of lying to get elected, which is what a government is doing when it breaks its promises. For the Liberal Party, it would seem, then, that there are two types of campaign promises: those made to get elected and those meant to be broken.
I actually had an individual who worked for a major Canadian chartered bank tell my office that he believed that once elected, the Liberal Party would do what it had always done and break election promises it had made to appeal to those confused between election promises made to get elected and election promises made to be broken. He could not believe that the Liberals would attack the middle class by tampering with TFSAs, which, in his professional estimation, were better than RRSPs as a savings instrument, particularly for seniors, and certainly for young families aspiring to be middle class and saving for their first home.
If the debate about Bill C-2 is actually about helping the middle class, there are many other campaign promises that should be broken.
A measurement of a vibrant middle class in a society is home ownership. A recent study by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis has identified those under the age of 45, families with two income earners, who cannot find affordable housing without a long commute as being those most under pressure.
I know a dual-income family in Toronto where both spouses are lawyers, and they are shut out of the housing market, where a starter, fixer-upper home costs $1 million in the neighbourhood where they rent.
TFSAs are being used by young families to save for their first homes. Housing is a need, just like food or water, and if we need it, there is a greater and greater pressure on us to get it, regardless of the cost.
What is occurring at the moment in places like Toronto and Vancouver is not sustainable. The fear in places like my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, in eastern Ontario, is that eventually, the dream of home ownership that has died in the big cities will start to die in areas like ours, smaller local areas, and that rising taxes, electricity costs, transportation, and other big city problems will also contribute to barriers to home ownership locally.
Take away the dream of home ownership in Canada and we take away the middle class. It is no secret in Ontario that this province is struggling because of a misguided energy policy that has caused the exodus of jobs, fleeing some of the highest electricity prices in North America, to U.S. border states. Lower electricity prices will spur economic activity. Lower energy costs are good for consumers and manufacturers.
Where there was once a burgeoning middle class based on blue collar manufacturing jobs, the decision, in the words PMO principal secretary Gerald Butts puts in the mouth of the Prime Minister, to transition away from manufacturing jobs has cost the middle class dearly in Ontario.
I urge members of the Liberal caucus and the rest of Canada to pay attention to Ontario's problems. The same people who ran the corrupt McGuinty provincial government have fled the sinking provincial ship and are now backroom operators in Ottawa, and they promise to take the entire country down the same deficit-spending, tax-the-rich, let-them-eat-cake attitude that is so toxic in Ontario today.
Focus on the one thing that would really improve the economy and help the middle class: create employment. Avoid the incessant talk about the environment. The greed energy act in Ontario, which was brought in under the guise of helping the environment, caused the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, of good-paying jobs, in Ontario's manufacturing sector.