Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to participate in the debate on the Liberal government's budget on behalf of the 100,000 people I represent in Lakeland.
I am here in this House today because of the farmers, energy workers, small business owners, public servants, and hard-working families across Lakeland who put their trust in me on October 19. People in Lakeland are facing adversity head on, struggling against job losses, the downturn in the energy sector, and helping their neighbours, friends, and families whose lives have been forever impacted by the raging wildfires in northern Alberta.
As they continue to build and to rebuild their communities and to pursue their dreams, I am committed to making sure their voices are heard on government decisions that matter to them, and particularly on how their hard-earned tax dollars are spent.
The people of Lakeland believe in a free market economy where Canadian workers are rewarded for their efforts, where entrepreneurs, inventors, investors, and hard workers can provide jobs and prosperity for their communities, and where self-reliance, personal responsibility, and generosity bolster incredible community spirit that supports charities and cares for the vulnerable.
In fact, 73% of my constituents voted for fiscally responsible leadership that values every dollar that belongs to the Canadian taxpayer. They know that, as the member for Carleton mentioned last week, a free market economy is the greatest poverty-fighting machine ever invented.
Like all of my Conservative colleagues who are privileged to serve the people who sent us here, my focus will always be on everyday Canadians, like the middle class the Liberal government purports to care about. Our focus is on everyday Canadians, without trust funds, and without friends and family in high places, people who go to work and run businesses to earn the money that they dutifully hand over to the government, trusting that their best interests will be taken into consideration and that their money will be spent wisely and with careful discretion and due diligence.
The government needs to fund priorities, to put needs before wants, and to remember that it cannot spend on everything, just like Canadians plan and prioritize with their families, businesses, and their personal budgets every day.
When Liberal politicians cut child care benefits, when they disallow families to split their income, and when they limit their ability to save for their futures, and then they use taxpayers' dollars to pay for their own nannies, their own personal domestic support, when these politicians use tax dollars for their families to go on trips, for swanky new furniture, paintings, and art, on office renos, while Canadians and their neighbours, their families, and their friends are losing their jobs and limiting their budgets to ensure they can pay their bills and their taxes, that is when Canadians lose faith in politicians. No wonder why. When that happens, we MPs are failing our responsibility to Canadians.
I am talking about all of the Albertans still working, and of all those who have lost their jobs in almost unprecedented numbers, and of the millions of Ontarians who must strictly budget to ensure they can pay their bills every month, and rural Ontarians and those on fixed incomes who limit groceries or go to food banks because of skyrocketing hydro rates courtesy of big out-of-touch government and bad public policy.
I am referring to Maritimers, where my family is from, who once worked in the oil sands, who are now back at home without a job and with few prospects while governments block opportunities for responsible natural resources development that would provide jobs and benefits for all communities and all provinces.
These are the people I think about every day, and these are the people I am standing to support today, as I speak about the government's fiscal fiction budget, as my colleague from Calgary Shepard has called it.
Let us start with the fundamentals. Any government expenditure takes money from someone and gives it to someone else. The Liberal budget includes excessive untargeted spending that will end up hurting businesses, families, and hard-working Canadians in the form of future tax increases in order to fund government handouts.
It has tried to pass this off as standing up for the middle class, but I think Canadians see through the smoke and mirrors, and see it for what it really is. I know Canadians in Lakeland do.
The government is simply redistributing wealth. The worst part of this, of course, is that what the Liberals are really doing is taking money from people who need it most. As an example, they have alluded to a potential carbon tax in their budget. The Liberals have not provided details yet, and like so many other things the government is doing, of course we are uncertain but we know one thing for sure.
Ultimately it is Canadians, families, consumers, business owners, the middle class, people on fixed incomes, the working poor, and charities, who are going to pay the high costs and increased prices of all goods and services, the guaranteed result of yet another tax. This particular tax will disproportionately target and harm rural and energy-based communities.
Canadian governments collect $17 billion annually from revenue generated by oil and gas workers to fund programs and services and provide benefits that increase the standard of living of all Canadians. Piling on more costs, especially during such challenging times, will only make things so much worse. It is a cold-hearted cash grab Canadians just cannot afford.
There can also be no guarantee that a national carbon tax would be so-called revenue neutral. What taxes are ever revenue neutral? Or dedicated to initiatives aimed at innovation and environmental stewardship. The carbon tax is just a revenue generator for government to feed reckless spending and out of control deficits masquerading as environmental policy.
Such a tax shift was rejected by Canadians in the 2008 election, something the member for Calgary Heritage reminded me recently. The Liberals are also sending hundreds of millions of Canadians' tax dollars to other countries instead of focusing on the priorities of Canadians and on the services they need and value.
Let us not forget the 700,000 middle-class small business owners who were counting on the promised lower small business tax rate of 9%. They are Canada's leading job creators, employing hundreds of thousands of Canadians, contributing to the economies of communities big and small, from coast to coast to coast. Because of the Liberals' broken promise, they are going to take $2 billion away from these hard-working business owners over the next four years. That is a lot of money that cannot be used to grow their businesses, to start up new ones, to hire people, and to increase wages.
Meanwhile, the Liberals are still pondering a government bailout of a multibillion-dollar company while denying the expansion of an airport that would have effectively boosted that company without any taxpayers' dollars. Why does this big government insist on making things so complicated when the answers are often so obvious?
I am not sure Canadians really anticipated the government would blow through their money so quickly. It is not the government's money, it is Canadians' money. They certainly did not anticipate a deficit ballooning to $30 billion and they did not anticipate it because that is not what the Liberals said they would do.
Of course, we know that this exorbitant deficit is a result of choices and not of circumstances. It is because of spending, given that the former Conservative government left a healthy surplus when the Liberals took office.
Canadians know that spending more money, increasing and introducing new taxes, and continuously hindering a key sector on which our economy relies will lead to an ongoing spiral of deficits and debt.
Who is going to pay for all of this? My friend, Michelle's brand new baby daughter, the young women in high school with Girls Inc. I met this week, the young guys apprenticing to start a career or upgrading their skills to get jobs in a different sector in Lakeland. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be paying off the tab, setting them up for fiscal failure before they even begin.
Because of decisions today, future governments will have less money for programs and services today's young Canadians deserve. It is irresponsible and it is wrong.
The government does not seem to get that hiking taxes does not create jobs. Governments that go down this path get stuck in a permanent cycle of taxing, borrowing, and spending.
Research has found that a negative relationship exists between government debt and economic growth. It impacts real lives. This will come as no surprise to my Conservative colleagues. According to a 2016 study on the cost of government debt, when government debt expands, it can cause long-term interest rates to rise, which in tum increases the cost of private sector borrowing. Higher borrowing costs can then discourage private capital investment, the key driver to long-term economic growth and jobs.
Government debt also results in significant interest payments, similar to paying mortgages or vehicle loans resulting in less money for priorities that directly impact Canadians' lives, like reducing the tax burden or paying for health care, education, and social services.
Take Ontario, which has the largest subnational sovereign debt in the world. Ontario spends nearly $1 billion per month on debt repayment. Imagine what governments of every level could do with the billions of dollars they are spending on debt servicing from broad-based tax relief to funding core programs and services.
I assure Lakeland and all Canadians who are growing increasingly concerned about their bank accounts and their prosperity that my Conservative colleagues and I will continue to stand up for the hard-working taxpayers and communities from Prince Rupert to Bonnyville, from Lloydminster to Charlottetown and everywhere in between. We will continue to be the voice of hard-working people who actually earn their own money and work tirelessly to provide for their families.