Mr. Speaker, I would like to share my time with the excellent member for Calgary Nose Hill.
Today's motion is quite simple and has two objectives. The first objective is something that we do not often take the time to do as politicians, but it is still important. I am talking about thanking those who dedicate their lives to public service. Today, we want to thank our experts at the Department of Finance, specifically, but we want to also thank all public servants.
The second objective is just as simple, and it involves recognizing that two and two equals four. As my colleague from Milton pointed out, in the latest “Fiscal Monitor”, Canadians learned that for the period from April to November 2015, and I hope that my colleagues opposite are listening closely and that they cleaned out their ears, the previous Conservative government posted a budget surplus of $1 billion. That is the truth.
Today, all the members of the House are invited to support a concept that is important to all Canadians and all parliamentarians: the truth and the facts. The Conservative government posted a $1-billion surplus, just days after the election on October 19. That is a fact.
Our first objective is to thank public servants. Throughout my political career—this is now my 10th year—and even before that, I myself have been a federal public servant. I worked for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in a regional office in Quebec City. I still deeply admire the work ethic of the men and women who worked there and who are still working to improve the lives of our first nations people. I know people who left after dedicating their lives to improving the lives of first nations people, as well as young people who entered the public service with plans to do the same. I have so much respect for public servants.
While I was a minister, I had the opportunity to work with public servants at Veterans Affairs, including deputy ministers Suzanne Tining and Mary Chaput and their team. The people working here in Ottawa and in Charlottetown care so much about improving the lives of our veterans and making sure that all Canadians are aware of the sacrifices they made. That was from my time at Veterans Affairs.
More recently, I was the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, with deputy minister François Guimont and his team. I have nothing but praise for them at a time when our country needed an effective public service focused on protecting people from the terrorist threat. Mission accomplished, I say. I thank the public servants at Public Safety Canada, who did amazing work in concert with the people at the Department of Justice and other departments that were involved. Because of their work, our country is now safer from the terrorist threat. Who do we have to thank for all that? Our great prime minister, of course, but also a team of dedicated public servants.
It is quite simple. We should not overthink things today and just read the motion for what it is. As I just illustrated, there are very good reasons to adopt the motion. However, as we know, this is Parliament, this is politics, and, unfortunately, the current government seems to have a problem with facts and figures. It is worrisome because we saw our current Prime Minister go to Paris early on in his term and talk to international stars about sustainable development. He tried to impress them by saying that he would take $2 billion of Canadian taxpayers' money and distribute it here and there around the world. Obviously, Canadian taxpayers are going to foot the bill.
As everyone knows, we have a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% over 2005 levels by 2030, and we have to invest that money here at home in order to meet that target.
However, the government decided to take taxpayers' money and put $2 billion elsewhere. The government also decided, as soon as it took office, to take taxpayers' money and create a deficit.
In my riding, some people earn $40,000 a year, while others earn $90,000. They work at Rotobec, Plastique Micron, and Exceldor, and they are not part of what the government calls the middle class.
However, those who earn $150,000, $200,000, $300,000, or $500,000 a year are part of the Liberal government's middle class, and the tax cut that the Liberals plan to give them is going to create an $8-billion deficit. That is the reality.
The Liberals were bragging over cocktails in Paris, while mortgaging the future of generations to come by putting them into debt. That is what the government opposite is doing just months after taking office.
One thing that we cannot accept is playing fast and loose with the truth. That is why we are respectfully reaching out to the current government in a constructive manner. We are calling on the government to acknowledge the facts, namely that there was a $1-billion surplus in December, and to thank the people who dedicate their lives to the public service, such as the employees of the House of Commons.
We managed to balance the budget because we worked hard to do so. It is quite easy to say yes, pull out one's chequebook for anyone who asks and write a cheque. Anyone can do that. Santa Claus likes to do that, too. However, the government is accountable to taxpayers, and we were very responsible in that regard.
When our country was facing an economic crisis, we did not hesitate to invest to stimulate the economy. We also managed to avoid structural deficits. That is where the current government is headed. I demonstrated that we were heading towards nearly $10 billion in recurring deficits before this government even tried to present its tempting measures.
Unfortunately, the government did not bother to consult parliamentarians or set up an advisory committee on finance to find out what direction we wanted to take as a country. That is what I did in my riding, and I have some recommendations that I would like to submit to the Minister of Finance. These recommendations will help our seniors.
Instead of throwing money out the window, will the government help our seniors? Will it keep its promises concerning the guaranteed income supplement for our poorest seniors? Will it keep its promise about more generous pension indexing? Those are some of the things I heard, but the government did not hear, because it did not consult Canadians.
I would like to share a brief quote. This week I read a book about former president Ronald Reagan.
Here is what Ronald Reagan had to say about Jimmy Carter's tax scheme to raise the taxes for those earning more: “getting the most feathers as possible from the fewest...in order to minimize the quacking”.
Can we steepen the tax brackets any more than they are without being totally unfair to those who work and earn and make this country go?
The question President Reagan asked at the time is relevant today.
We should continue to invest in Canadians in order to create wealth, but we must acknowledge the facts. Let us support the very clear motion that is before us today.
In November 2015, the federal government had $1 billion in its coffers, and we thank our public servants, who do a great job.