Mr. Speaker, I will be dividing my time today with the hon. member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin.
The constituents of my riding, York—Simcoe, are what I like to call severely normal Canadians. They value honesty from those who represent them. They work hard. They pay their taxes. They follow the rules.
They want the government to give them the freedom to succeed and build a brighter future for their families. That freedom means having more money for their own priorities through lower taxes. That brighter future means managing their finances and their mortgages, and ensuring their children do not inherit burdens that block their desire to achieve their dreams.
The previous Conservative government reflected that mindset and those values. Those constituents knew the Conservative government was on their side. They knew it when they saw life become better as federal taxes fell to their lowest level in half a century, since 1963 when John Diefenbaker led a Conservative government.
My constituents knew that the Conservative government was on their side when measures like the universal child care benefit made their lives better. In fact, UNICEF reported that hundreds of thousands of Canadian children climbed out of poverty at that time. That was despite Canada going through the global economic downturn, the most dramatic in my lifetime.
Despite that downturn, the Conservative government delivered the stimulus through tax reductions and short-term stimulus spending to make Canada the first major economy to return to growth. Indeed, we were the first G7 economy to recover the jobs that had been lost during the economic downturn, and the first to recover the lost GDP from that downturn.
Then we set out with determination to return to a balanced budget, with a surplus of $1.9 billion being achieved in the fiscal year 2014-15, a full year ahead of schedule. However, at the same time, my constituents have been burdened by an Ontario Liberal government that does not share their values, one that sees big spending, deficits and debt as the way to go, both in good times and in bad.
As a result, my constituents are drowning under the burdens foisted on them by that Ontario Liberal government, burdens of higher taxes, fees, rafts of red tape, and job-killing regulation, and rocketing hydro rates.
Well the hole is so deep now in Ontario, that this same Ontario Liberal crowd, which has left the cupboard bare, has now spotted the surplus in Ottawa. Now those people have come up here to continue to those big spending debt and deficit ways. What is their way of doing things?
In Ontario, the debt has reached a staggering $300 billion. That is almost $22,000 for each man, woman, and child in the province. The deficit is $7.5 billion. It is now clear that the Ontario Liberal way of doing things is coming to Ottawa.
Three facts are clear from the finance department's report so far.
First, in 2014-15, the last full fiscal year under a Conservative government, there was a surplus of $1.9 billion.
Second, from April to October of 2015, under a Conservative government, a six month period of time, there was a surplus of $1 billion. The same pattern, the exact same trajectory as the previous year.
Third, by the end of March 2016, after just five months of a Liberal government, there will be a deficit of $3 billion. A year later, there will be an even higher deficit.
This should not surprise anyone. The Liberal Party actually campaigned on a commitment to run deficits. During that election when I occasionally ran into people who told me they were voting Liberal, I would ask them what they liked, was it the promised deficits or the higher taxes? They would usually say to me that it was none of those things. I would tell them that this was what they would get. In turn they would say they did not think so.
I would tell them it was in the Liberal platform, that it was spelled out, and that is what the Liberals had committed. Their comment was that the Liberals always broke their promises. To which I would tell they that they might be surprised, that these might be promises they would actually keep.
We are discovering that this is the case. Clearly, whatever new face those Liberals thought they were voting for in the last election, they were not looking for the higher taxes and the deficits that the Liberal government believes is its mandate.
Those constituents are, however, correct in at least one regard. Liberal promises are already being broken. The Liberals promised their tax measures would be revenue neutral, but now they have already admitted that they are not revenue neutral. They will in fact dig an additional deficit hole of $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion annually. That is not my number. That comes from the Liberal Minister of Finance. That is his admission of how that Liberal promise is being broken. Unfortunately, that broken promise and others to come will only make deeper the hole into which Canada will be pushed.
When I was House leader of the government, I was astounded by the remarkable discipline that our then prime minister and our team, working with two very hard-working finance ministers and in fact the whole team, applied to the question of fiscal discipline. The work to achieve a balanced budget overall was in the interests of all Canadians. When there is a chance to be in government and see how challenging it is to manage the finances and the economy, people see how narrow that margin of manoeuvre is. It is like driving a car down a winding mountain road. It takes only a small amount of recklessness or inattention before going in the ditch or worse.
In Ontario, my constituents are waiting for that provincial tow truck to arrive. Their well-grounded fear often expressed to me is that the same crowd who drove Ontario into the ditch now wants to continue that sloppy ride on the federal scene, putting Canada off the solid fiscal road it was on. They know that at the end of the day it is ordinary Canadians like them who will have to pay for it all.
It is often said that history is written by the victors. What is said less often is what we hear from the other side of the House today, and that is history being rewritten by the victors. They did it in the Soviet Union. They do it in North Korea. Now the Liberals are trying to do it in Canada. Fortunately, this is Canada and Canadians will not be fooled by this Liberal overreach. That is because Canadians have access to objective facts, objective facts from the Department of Finance and objective facts from the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
What are those facts? First, there was a $1.9 billion surplus in 2014-15, the last full fiscal year that the Conservatives were in government. Second, there was a $1 billion surplus over the last six months of the Conservative government, April to November, 2015.
The question remains. Why, if the Liberals have promised to run deficits and they make a virtue of it, and there can be no doubt that Liberals see deficits as virtuous, are they so anxious to try to rewrite history, to go into those documents in the library at the finance department and cut out, with their scissors, any reference to past Conservative surpluses? I believe we all know the answer. Liberal deficits will be far higher than anyone thinks and they cannot bear to see the contrast with the Conservatives.
The problem with the party that believes that deficits are a good thing, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons said today, is that they just cannot get enough of a good thing. If people believe a small deficit is good, it is not long before they start believing that a bigger deficit is better and before we know it, a huge deficit is just awesome. That, however, is how Liberal thinking always works. Before we know it we will find that the budget does not actually balance itself. That is the path we are already on. It did not take long, but the spending and deficits that the Liberals promise and are now delivering will ensure that at the end of next month we will be solidly in the red politically and fiscally. We will have gone year over year from $2 billion in surplus to $3 billion in deficit.
Many out there are critical of our Conservative government's focus on achieving a balanced budget. There can be no doubt that the hard work and discipline of running a tight fiscal ship is not a lot of fun and sometimes people want to have some fun, and some money can buy fun. However, there is much truth in the saying that money cannot buy happiness. While some may argue with it, and some may argue that money can buy at least some happiness, nobody can argue that drowning in debt will do anything other than bringing continual misery.
As for my constituents, they would prefer responsible leaders refusing to have fun with their tax dollars to happy politicians spending away, burying Canadians under a mountain of misery, debt, and taxes. Balancing the budget was the right thing to do. A steady hand on the tiller is what Canadians need. Our steady hands, a disciplined prime minister, and our hard-working finance ministers steadied the Canadian ship through the stormy seas of the biggest global economic downturn of my lifetime. We came out the other side with a balanced budget, solid books, low taxes, and a rising tide that was lifting the fortunes of all Canadians. It is a pity that it has taken so little time for that ship of state to start springing leaks and taking on water.