Mr. Speaker, I salute all my colleagues in the House and everyone watching us debate the budget.
We are extremely disappointed with the turn of events. The government wants to muzzle the House and parliamentarians in this very important debate. I will come back to that at the end of my speech.
First of all, this budget is totally irresponsible because it confirms that the government has lost control of public spending and it will be our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who are not even born yet, who will have to pay for today's excesses.
On election day, October 19, Canadians spoke. We are democrats and therefore respect their decision. However, what was the state of public finances? The previous government, with the hon. member for Calgary Heritage at the helm, had the best economic performance in the G7. In fact, in economic matters, it won the G7 triple crown. We had the best debt-to-GDP ratio. The current government boasts that it has the best ratio, but members should not forget that we are the ones who generated it.
Second, our country bounced back from the economic crisis of 2008-10 more quickly than any other country. We also had the best job creation rate. Under the former government, Canadians had the lowest taxes in 50 years.
The Department of Finance found that in November, when the Liberals took office, there was a billion-dollar surplus. That is the situation. I am always pleased to quote the Department of Finance's well-known “Fiscal Monitor”, which I always have at my fingertips. We have tried to table it about 50 times, but the Liberals refuse to face the truth.
This is the Canada that the Liberals inherited: a Canada that had a budget surplus, a Canada that had the best debt-to-GDP ratio, and a Canada whose economic performance was recognized around the world as being the best in the G7. What is more, Canadians had the lowest taxes in 50 years. In short, everything was on track, economically speaking.
However, then the Liberals took office and started racking up deficits and debts left and right. Let us look at each of the promises that the Liberals made and broke concerning sound management.
First, let us look at tax changes. The Liberals bragged about wanting to be like Robin Hood by taking from the rich to give to the poor. They said that they wanted to make revenue-neutral tax changes.
They cannot say that anymore because those tax changes resulted in a $1.7-billion deficit. The money that they promised is money that they do not have. We too want to give money to people. We lowered taxes, but we did it in a realistic and responsible way, and we still managed to balance the books in the previous government's last budget. The Liberals were elected on the promise that they would make tax changes without going into debt, which is completely untrue since the changes that they made resulted in a $1.7-billion deficit.
The same is true for assistance for children. The Liberals are proud to say that they are thinking about families and children, that they want to bring children out of poverty, and that this will all cost nothing. However, that is not how it works. That is not reality. Their measures resulted in a $1.4-billion deficit.
They accumulated a $3-billion debt on these two commitments. That is the irresponsible management we keep hearing about. That is why we think these people have lost all control over public finances and that they are acting in an unrealistic and irresponsible way. It is all well and good to promise the moon and the stars, but you have to have the means. In this case, they do not.
What is most absurd is that the Liberal Party promised small $10-billion deficits, which have now become big $30-billion deficits. Not only was this a bad promise, but it also caused a real financial disaster. It was completely unrealistic and irresponsible.
The Liberals did not keep their promise to Canadians. The Liberal Party was elected by promising a small deficit and by saying that they would achieve a balanced budget in three years. This is completely untrue. This year, the deficit is $30 billion, and who knows if the government will even be able to balance the budget in the next four or five years. Some estimate that our deficit could hit $150 billion. That is completely unacceptable, unrealistic, and irresponsible for our future generations.
That is why, in this situation, we really have two contradictory visions, specifically the vision of a responsible government that made tough but necessary decisions, compared to the vision of the current government, which is governing as though nothing was wrong, has lost all control over public spending, and plans to compulsively run up deficits, one after the other.
It is not at all pleasant, especially given that this government's budget contains an appalling clause to abolish the Federal Balanced Budget Act. It is completely irresponsible, especially since on page 51 of the budget document, it states, “The government remains committed to returning to balanced budgets, and will do so in a responsible, realistic and transparent way.”
Two pages later in the same document, there is a statement saying that the Federal Balanced Budget Act must be repealed. They say one thing, and then two pages later, they say the exact opposite, which is so typical of the Liberals.
What is more, regarding this string of deficits, about two weeks ago, the Minister of Finance, an honourable man who had a distinguished, responsible, and exciting career in the financial world, said that we were stuck in this whole balanced budget thing.
Of course we are stuck on that. That is how to manage things properly. I am very proud to be stuck on balancing the budget. That is the Conservative Party's trademark, and we are very proud of that. Meanwhile, what are they doing on that side of the House? The Liberals are running deficits like mad one after the other, and that is totally unacceptable.
Let us talk about creating wealth. To the Conservative Party, the real creators of wealth are entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses. They are the ones who create employment, wealth, and the necessary economic stimulus.
A government does not create employment. A government needs to support businesses in order to create employment, but not tell them what to do. We respect SMEs, unlike the hon. member for Papineau, the current Prime Minister of Canada, who said not so long ago that the wealthiest Canadians use small businesses to avoid paying taxes. Such behaviour is insulting to those who create employment.
When the Prime Minister said that, he might have been looking in a mirror, because the Prime Minister, the hon. member for Papineau in Quebec, filed his tax return in Ontario in order to save $6,000 in tax in Quebec. He had four numbered businesses to save on taxes. As the saying goes, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
In this case, the Prime Minister could tell us what he did and why he is contemptuous of small businesses, because he thinks that small business owners are people who want to reduce their tax bill. The Conservative Party believes that small business owners are people who risk their own money to create jobs and wealth, and we owe them respect.
What is in this budget for SMEs? Absolutely nothing. If it was simply nothing, it would not be so bad, but things are even worse. In fact, some measures directly attack small businesses. We were on a roll and had promised to reduce the corporate tax rate. Poof, no tax cut. Our government proposed tax credits to create jobs. Poof, they are abolished.
Consequently, according to the Department of Finance, these bad Liberal measures will cost SMEs another $2 billion. What I find insulting is that there is no respect for SMEs, there is no help for them, and some measures are detrimental. This Liberal attitude deserves to be condemned.
The same goes for retirement age. Yes it was bold, but it was a realistic and responsible move on the part of our government to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67. Our prime minister made that well-thought-out, responsible choice, and he gave plenty of notice. He announced it in 2011, but it would not have come into effect until 2023. People would have had enough time to adjust.
Who agreed with that measure at the time? The current Minister of Finance. In a book, he wrote: “It would also alleviate any shortages in the workforce due to the aging of the population....Phasing in the eligibility age...from 65 to 67 is a step in that direction”.
That is what the current Minister of Finance said before he became a Liberal Party of Canada flag-bearer, unfortunately.
This budget is completely unrealistic and irresponsible, and it plunges us right into a disastrous deficit spiral. It always makes me laugh when Liberals talk about the Right Honourable Paul Martin. Paul Martin hated deficits with a passion. I think it is a bit unseemly of them to mention Paul Martin.
Most of all, we strongly condemn the fact that the government is going to shut down this important debate. Earlier, one of my colleagues pointed out that this is yet another broken throne speech promise. What was it the throne speech said?
It said, “[The government] will not resort to devices like prorogation and omnibus bills to avoid scrutiny”. That is exactly what is happening today.
That is why we are going to vote against this budget.