Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my seasoned colleague from Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis for sharing his time with me.
What we have before us today is the debate on Bill C-2, which, to some extent, implements the financial commitments made by the Liberal Party, which now forms the Canadian government.
To put it mildly, the reality presented by the Liberal Party during the election campaign is a far cry from the reality facing Canadians today. In fact, the two could not be more opposite. We are talking about black and white, night and day.
I would remind the House that during the election campaign, the current Prime Minister boasted that the Liberals were going to make changes to the tax system that would benefit the middle class, that the wealthy would finally pay their fair share, and that it would all be revenue neutral. That was a serious mistake. First of all, let us be honest: these Robin Hood stories never work. Should we be surprised to see such a political approach from this Prime Minister? Is this not the same person who said on February 11, 2014, that “the budget will balance itself”?
When someone who believes that the budget will magically balance itself finds himself in government, reality hits hard. The Liberals' promise that the tax changes would be revenue neutral were nothing but a pipe dream.
The parliamentary budget officer recently announced that the Liberals' promise would result in a $1.7-billion deficit. That is far from a balanced budget, far from revenue neutral, and far from the Prime Minister's pipe dream that the budget would balance itself.
The tax changes for the so-called middle class come at a cost. The bill is being sent to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are not yet born, but who will be paying for this government's lack of political judgment, as seen in Bill C-2.
Speaking of the middle class, my colleagues, the New Democrat member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, told us how the interpretation of middle class is rather broad, to say the least, especially when someone who earns more than $180,000 is supposed to be part of the middle class. The scope is quite large.
This brings us to the structural deficits run by the Liberal Party. Let us remember that, during the election campaign, the Prime Minister said over and over again that there would be very small deficits for the first two years. In the third year, the deficit would be even smaller, and then, bam! In the fourth year, the budget would be balanced again. That was what the Liberals were saying during the election campaign. Unfortunately, reality has now caught up to the Liberal Party. What did the Minister of Finance say just two weeks ago? He had to confess that Canada was headed for an $18-billion deficit.
Prestigious banking institutions all across Canada have concluded that, in the next four years, we are headed for deficits of $100 billion, $130 billion, and $150 billion. That is a far cry from the very small actuarial deficits that were going to be eliminated during the third year. Is this not the same Prime Minister, who during the election campaign, said that the budget would be balanced by the fourth year? Today, he can no longer say that. In an editorial board meeting with La Presse, he indicated that he could not confirm that the budget would be balanced.
Let us not forget the government's election platform. Unfortunately, the Standing Orders do not permit me to show it, but I have it here with me. The party leader was not present when the platform was released. I have been actively involved in politics for seven years. I was a journalist for 20 years and, honestly, this is the first time I have seen a serious national political party present its economic platform without the party leader being present. Some might say that perhaps it was better that way, because he believes that budgets and deficits balance themselves. However, the minister from Quebec City, my neighbour, was there and I commend him for that.
What did the Liberal government's economic plan say? On page 3, it says, “We will be honest about the government of Canada’s fiscal position”.
Really? In fact, that is not untrue. Last week, they acknowledged that we are headed to an $18.7-billion hole. In terms of being honest, that is a start.
Further on it says, “We will run modest deficits for three years.” That did not happen.
On page 4, it says, “A new Liberal government will release a fall Economic and Fiscal Update.” That is true. We got that update.
In the April to November 2015 Fiscal Monitor published by the Department of Finance, we see that there was a $1-billion budgetary surplus. It is true that in this regard, they kept their promise. They released a report, a positive one when it comes to what they inherited from the Conservative government.
Nonetheless, the sad thing in all of this is to read in black and white on page 7, “With the Liberal plan, the federal government will have a modest short-term deficit of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years...After the next two fiscal years, the deficit will decline and our investment plan will return Canada to a balanced budget in 2019/20.”
It is a pipe dream. These promises are not worth the paper they are printed on. That is the reality of the current Liberal government.
What really gets us is that the government is in the process of literally killing the rich legacy left by the government led by the right hon. member for Calgary Heritage. We left the house in order.
I want to remind members of the facts. We took power in 2006 and remained in power until 2014. In 2008, the entire world was hit by the global economic crisis, the worst crisis since the great recession of the 1930s. No one denies that. What did our government do? It took the bull by the horns. It made bold, brave decisions, with the result that in 2014, our record was very good. We had the best debt-to-GDP ratio. That is important, because if debt is under control, it does not cause problems, especially when the ratio is good and our GDP is higher than our debt. That is the legacy of the Conservative government. The best debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7: that is our legacy. The best job creation record in the G7 during the crisis: that is our legacy. The fastest economic recovery in the G7: that is our legacy.
We believe in infrastructure programs. As all sides of the House have noted, we are glad to see the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean back in fine form today. I applaud my colleagues for welcoming him back in a civil and honourable fashion. On his watch, our government introduced the boldest infrastructure plan ever. Our top priority was always to reduce taxes and let people keep more money in their pockets. Our government passed over 140 measures in 10 years. Let me remind everyone that the grandest and most effective of them was reducing the GST from 7% to 6% and from 6% to 5%. We promised, and we delivered. They promised revenue-neutral tax cuts, but they are not delivering. That is why we strongly condemn this government and will not vote in favour of Bill C-2.
Saving money is another issue that is close to our hearts. That is why our government created the TFSA, which this government is trying to water down, unfortunately. That is the wrong approach, and we hope the government will see the light on this.
This government's policies are unrealistic and irresponsible. The government is putting Canada on the road to disaster. It is scuttling the Conservative government's legacy. The Liberal Party has at times left an onerous legacy and at other times left a rich legacy. It is a political party that has vigorously tackled deficits. As the MP for the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent, I would like to point out that the Right Honourable Louis Saint-Laurent was the prime minister who eliminated the debt after the war. The Right Honourable Paul Martin also steadfastly addressed deficits not so long ago. He made very contentious decisions including the decision to drastically reduce health transfers to the provinces. However he at least wanted to leave a strong economy and, above all, healthy public finances. That is not what the current government is doing.
It is never too late to do the right thing. Bill C-2 could be amended to give Canadians a better economy and, above all, to ensure that their government is realistic and responsible.