Mr. Speaker, when the Liberals formed government, they made a great number of promises with regard to indigenous peoples. They spoke of taking action to address government injustices that have gone on for decades and, in some cases, even centuries.
With the previous government, a great deal of work was done to advance the rights of aboriginal people, including Jordan's principle, which was put in place with unanimous consent across all party lines in the House in 2007. It has been over a decade ago since that was put into place. The current Liberal government has been in power now for more than two years, so the question is what has been done to advance the rights of aboriginal people and uphold Jordan's principle? The answer is quite simple: nothing.
The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs thought that the best use of her money was to hire the former Liberal candidate for York—Simcoe, Ms. Wesley-Esquimaux, to write a report. One might ask the excellent question of how much she was paid to write this report. She was paid $430,000 for a mere eight months of work on the report. Quick math tells me that that is $53,000 per month, which is not a bad salary. In fact, $53,000 is twice the average yearly salary of most aboriginal people in Canada.
When the head of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada, Cindy Blackstock, questioned this decision, Ms. Wesley-Esquimaux, the one who was paid $430,000 for eight months of work, accused Ms. Blackstock of using “lateral violence”. She said it would be more respectful to support and congratulate her rather than question the use of the money. She went on to say that if Cindy and her bunch would work together and stop attacking, they would all get along and get more done. That statement is rather rich coming from someone who was paid $430,000 for a mere eight months of work only because she was a Liberal insider.
More than anything, though, this is what I am hearing from Canadians. Canadians are absolutely fed up with the hypocrisy of the current government. The Prime Minister claims to stand up for the middle class, but all he as done for them is increase their taxes and made life far more difficult for them. Most recently, the Liberals have increased taxes on the hard-working women and men who have had a dream, developed a plan, and taken a risk to start a new business and create jobs.
According to Statistics Canada, two-thirds of small business owners in Canada are taking home less than $73,000 per year. This firmly places them in the middle class, the class that the Prime Minister claims he represents and takes a strong stand on. Dan Kelly, the president of the CFIB, states, “The notion that most small business owners are rich, or part of the ‘one per cent’, is pure fiction.”
The Liberal small business tax hikes are, in fact, a direct attack on entrepreneurship and, as such, are a direct attack on the 8.2 million Canadians who are employed by local businesses. What makes this worse is that the Prime Minister had the audacity to refer to small businesses as “tax shelters” and label their owners as “tax cheats”. In truth, most small business owners are within our neighbourhoods. Local businesses are the backbone of our economy. Without their vision and leadership, Canada's economy would stop thriving as the place it is today.
Privately run businesses not only provide jobs to the large majority of Canadians, but also support local charities and play a significant role in supporting the social programs that we enjoy in this country. They are the local accountants, hairdressers, tradespeople, landscapers, coffee shop owners, and farming families in my community of Lethbridge. These individuals are trying to earn a living and provide jobs for others while pursuing a dream and using their talents.
It is rare for someone to be hypocritical, cruel, and blatantly ignorant at the same time, but I am afraid that the Prime Minister and his government have accomplished just that. Whether it is failing to follow through on its promise to stand up for aboriginals or failing to defend the middle class, the government insists on saying one thing and doing another. Why is the government so hypocritical?