Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to participate in the debate on Bill C-15. It is an important debate, because the bill implements a budget that does long-term harm to our country. It sets Canada down a path of reckless spending, over $100 billion in debt, and higher taxes, and leaves a massive burden for future generations.
First, let me address some of the specific items in the bill that are not particularly well thought through. Despite the Liberals' clear promise to small businesses on the campaign trail, this budget hikes taxes on small business owners. That means that hard-working small businesses, the driving force of Canada's economy, are being forced to cough up a staggering $2.2 billion to help pay for the budget spending spree of the Minister of Finance.
I did forget at the start of my speech to inform the House I would be sharing my time with the member for Beauce, so I'm doing that now.
Bill C-15 will further damage the economy because it levels some Canadians with an overall income tax rate of over 50%. Experts across the board predict that this will cause some of our country's most talented people to look elsewhere to pursue their ideas and their businesses.
That is not all. The bill targets charities and ends children's fitness and arts tax credits, but even with all of these ill-considered tax hikes, budget 2016 still leaves Canada with a $30-billion debt. That cuts to the heart of the broader problem of Bill C-15.
Bill C-15 implements a reckless budget for this country. It is completely non-transparent and is built on a set of misleading and questionable numbers. The Minister of Finance arrived in Ottawa telling Canadians that the books were in worse shape than he had anticipated. He outlined a set of fiscal assumptions that have since been completely debunked, and he used them as the foundation for his budget. He ignored the evidence from his own finance department and from the PBO that both said the budget was in surplus. He repeatedly told members of this House that he inherited a deficit, and he built his budget on that assumption. However, we now know he has inherited a surplus of $7.5 billion.
We also know that he jammed as much new Liberal spending as possible into the last month of the past fiscal year to get rid of that surplus. He has not been transparent about his efforts to spend his way out of surplus, and he has been completely non-transparent about the state of Canada's finances. Then he went against the independent advice of private sector economists and against the advice of his own department and unilaterally downgraded Canada's growth forecast.
He build his budget on economic assumptions made without any explanation. Here again, the Minister of Finance was called out by the PBO for his lack of transparency. Then the Minister of Finance had to be forced to reveal his five-year budget figures by the PBO, which he was trying to keep hidden from the public. If that is not enough, the 2016 budget is filled with wild assumptions of job creation, all of which have been repudiated by the PBO and other experts.
Fiscal prudence matters. Managing taxpayers' dollars responsibly matters. Being transparent about managing public money matters, but this Minister of Finance continues to play games with the budget, hide the numbers, and damage his own credibility.
The Liberals received a mandate from Canadians to go into deficit, but it was a very specific mandate. Canadians were promised that the Liberals would discipline themselves by sticking to three core fiscal anchors: deficits of no more than $10 billion, an annual falling debt-to-GDP ratio, and a balanced budget by 2019. These were all articulated in writing and posted for all Canadians to see in the mandate letter the Prime Minister gave to the Minister of Finance. The 2016 federal budget betrays every one of these promises.
Somewhere along the line, the finance minister decided that rather than exercising discipline and delivering what he had promised to Canadians, it would be a lot easier to interpret the election results as a mandate to borrow and spend as much money as he wants, for as long as he wants, on whatever he wants.
Let me be very clear, Canadians did not give the finance minister a blank cheque to go on such a spending spree.
Budget 2016 will saddle Canadians with $100 billion in new debt, which will have to be paid back through higher taxes. Budget 2016 plans for massive deficits and borrowing indefinitely into the future, with no plan whatsoever to return to balance. The budget barely mentions business. It will not create jobs and it throws away Canada's competitive advantage.
I also come from a riding that has a substantial agricultural component to it. It is about 65% urban, 35% rural. There is not one mention in the budget about enhancements to any of the communities in the small rural centres, and no talk about agriculture at all. These are the people who are heart-blood of many ridings, many communities. They are the ones who, daily, toil so that we can have the benefits of living the bountiful life we do from their agricultural pursuits and their risk-taking.
I can speak as a small business entrepreneur, having owned my own company over 25 years. One of the most important things for governments to do for small businesses is to make sure that they do not have the highest tax rates imposed upon citizens who are creating jobs, like small business owners.
I happened to be in the building industry, an industry that is the bellwether of the Canadian economy. We are talking about businesses that employ more than 800,000 workers in this country. This budget does absolutely nothing to improve and enhance the livelihoods of those small builders in my community who are building maybe five, six, or seven houses. All it is doing is adding to their red tape costs and the costs of their taxes and employee remittances.
These are the people who drive our economy. This budget and this budget implementation bill do nothing to help them out.
I urge all members of the House to vote against this reckless Liberal spending spree.