Mr. Speaker, before question period started, I had just finished explaining how inflation acted as a tax on ordinary Canadians and that when the government imposed an inflation target, as Canada has, of 2%, that it slowly but surely would eat away at the value of what Canadians had saved. It lets the government off the hook because the liability today to a group, whether that be individuals or other entities, gets eaten away by inflation as the money they end up having to pay back over time is reduced because of the inflationary acts of the central bank policy.
However, I want to shift gears a bit and talk about how savings can be a stimulus. When it comes to economic times, we hear these buzz words of liquidity traps, dead cash, and all these kinds of phantom problems about which we should be concerned. A lot of people have a misconception about what happens when Canadians save money.
When individuals put money into a tax-free savings account, that does not go into a mattress or become dead money. Rather, it gets invested into the market. It becomes capital that businesses and individuals can tap into to expand operations, to invest in new equipment and capital expenditures for their business. It becomes real loanable funds, not the loanable funds the government creates out of thin air through deficit financing or the modern day alchemy like we see in Europe and the United States with quantitative easing, and these types of new monetary tools that many governments around the world have experienced.
It strikes me on how history repeats itself. We hear stories in history books and legends of kings and queens commanding the wizards and astronomers of the day to try to turn lead into gold. We call them alchemists. They used to get the support of the monarchy in the area to take something of no value and turn it into something of great value. The most common example is the practice of alchemy and trying to turn lead into gold. We always see governments around the world doing that with monetary policy, such as quantitative easing, and that somehow printing more dollar bills will improve the economy. We know that is false. Thankfully, under the previous government, we refused to go down that road and engage in that type of trickery.
However, real savings, which is real individuals putting money into investment vehicles, such as a tax-free savings account, mutual funds or bonds, is real capital. That is something tangible. Savings today become a stimulus tomorrow because they are real funds that are there. That is what our economic policy was all about when our party was in power, encouraging private sector stimulus.
As we lead up to the record deficits that we know are coming in the next budget, we have been hearing a lot from the Liberals in the last few days on how we need to stimulate the economy and that the only thing that can do that is government spending. We hear time and again from the parliamentary secretary and from the Minister of Finance, who should know better having been on Bay Street before, that somehow if the government could just spend the right amount of money, we would get back to big growth again. This is the problem we are facing. We hear from the other side that the government was not spending enough money. We can look back over the decades to budget documents.
As an aside, I know the Liberals do not like reading budget documents or Finance Canada reports because they show we left them with a surplus. It is becoming quite clear that the only people who do not believe the government was left a surplus are the Liberals themselves.
With respect to private sector stimulus, I want to point to a couple of examples. The first is the energy east pipeline, which is a $15 billion private sector stimulus package that does not require a cent of taxpayer money and will put people to work because there is a market solution, there is a business case for it. We know there is a business case for it. If there were not, the company would not propose it.
A similar example would be the Toronto Island airport. My friend from Spadina—Fort York cares very passionately about this because he represents a lot of very rich condo dwellers in downtown Toronto who do not want the inconvenience of jets landing and spoiling their waterfront view as they wake up in the morning and drink their fancy coffee.
Meanwhile, people in Montreal who work in the aerospace industry have their jobs threatened because there is no ability for the airlines to buy those jets and land them at the airport. This is a classic Liberal example of putting up a wall, blocking an economic stimulant like energy east or the Toronto Island airport, and then coming along with taxpayers' dollars and saying, “Don't worry; we'll bail out the company” or “Don't worry; we'll expand EI benefits for all those people who are out of work for a long period of time.”
That is the difference between the economic approaches of the two parties. On this side of the House, we want the private sector to provide that stimulus. We want to get the government out of the way. We want to tear down those walls that prevent innovation and investment, and allow the market to do what it does best, and that is to allocate resources, make those investments, and get people back to work. We do not think the government should cause the problem in the first place and then come along with a solution that always, invariably, just results in more taxpayers' dollars being spent.