Mr. Speaker, today we will be discussing the motion by the NDP for a universal drug plan. The Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report entitled, “Federal Cost of a National Pharmacare Program”. This 88-page report sets out to give Canadians an overview of its findings. It concludes that a universal pharmacare program would cost $22.6 billion.
There was a time in the House when governments would explain how they would pay for new programs. I understand the NDP is not the current government, but there is a responsibility that falls on all of us in the House to save for the future and take responsibility.
I want to tell a great story, one I heard from the former Speaker Mr. Milliken. We would sometimes have the privilege of entering his chambers in the back and he would point to this wonderful chandelier. There was a great story attached to that.
He told us that there was a former Speaker who felt that because important dignitaries and people would be invited to the office, a proper light was needed instead of the plain looking light that was there. He went out and bought himself a beautiful chandelier. Later on, he was called into the office of then prime minister John Diefenbaker. John threw him the invoice, wanting to know what it was for. The Speaker explained that it was for the new chandelier in his office. John looked at him and said that they did not pay for light fixtures, and the Speaker wound up paying for that bill. I love that story, and I tell it to people.
The real story behind that was that John Diefenbaker knew what was being spent in the House. I wonder how many of us today know exactly what is being spent in our office, let alone in the House. It teaches us something. It teaches us that we are responsible for the public purse. I want to talk about that a bit today. I will talk about other things too, but I want to talk about the Liberals and what they seem to have done.
The Liberals have this new approach to governance, as witnessed by their reckless spending in the past budget. There will be a $30 billion deficit, with no sign of changing that trajectory in the foreseeable future. Now, they adopted a budget that was balanced, yet they set out to indebt future generations, our children and grandkids. They will saddle them with that debt. They had a great explanation that they had a wonderful program. I have kids with kids, and they receive this monthly cheque for child care. It is nice to receive, but they recognize, as do most Canadians, that somebody has to pay for this.
In all fairness, and I want to be fair with my colleagues on the other side, they have been telling Canadians how they are going to pay for this and how they are going to handle their reckless spending. It is through higher taxes. We just had a series of debates and pleadings with the Liberals, putting pressure on them to please stop what they were doing. They are going to put a tax on businesses and start taking away some of the benefits from businesses, farmers, and ordinary Canadians in order to try to balance their books. They want to take this money to pay for their reckless spending.
The Conservative Party knows that businesses hire people. In fact, SMEs, the small and medium-sized businesses, account for most of the hiring in the private sector today. Make no mistake about it. All of us get really excited when we hear about a big corporate organization or company moving into our riding, and those are great things when they happen.
However, the vast majority of jobs in our country are created by small and medium-sized businesses. They account for the wealth that is generated. They fill the coffers of the government, through taxes, so we can give back to the people what they expect to receive. They expect to receive good health care. They expect to receive education. They expect to be defended by our military. The list goes on and on. All in all, we have done an admirable job of doing that as a society. However, there is a troubling trend. We have forgotten that we have to pay for what we want.
The Conservatives, because we understand markets, opened markets for our businesses, our farmers, and our resources. I served on the trade committee as well as the finance committee. It always surprises me when I see the number of free trade agreements for which the Conservatives were responsible, countries like Colombia, Honduras, Peru, Panama, Jordan. One might think these are small countries, but there is bigger stuff, such as Israel and South Korea. For the Ukraine agreement, the work was done by the Conservatives when we were in government. The Liberal government, to its credit, has finalized that. A Canada European free trade agreement was made before the famous CETA one. I will talk about that in a second. There were a number of small countries in Europe that were not part of CETA. Then of course, there is CETA, the largest trading agreement that has ever been entered by two groups. There are 500 million people in Europe, and the possibilities are vast and endless. That is the sort of thing we need to do if we want to grow the economy so we can afford to do the very things the NDP has proposed.
In all fairness, the Liberals are pushing through a new drug bill. I sit on the health committee. We went through clause-by-clause. That bill will be enacted in July of next year. It will give everyone over the age of 18 the ability to smoke marijuana legally. There are a number of added parts to it that, which people really have to get a grip on and understand. We will have an opportunity to talk about that later. The NDP supports the bill. In fact, the party's new leader supports legalizing all drugs.
I am a dad. A lot of members know I have a lot of kids and grandkids. I love to give my kids gifts and good things. That is why the Conservatives, when in power, fought for lower taxes. We knew that if we wanted to give those things to our constituents, the people of Canada, we had to pay for them. We recognized that we had to get our goods to market. Therefore, we began the process, right to the door of the completion of the Gordie Howe bridge, so we would have access to our largest trading partner at the busiest port.
I say these things because we have to pay for what we do in this place. It is our duty as legislators, as representatives of our constituents, to ensure we do not saddle our children and grandchildren with the debt now. We can do a number of great things in the area of drugs. There are things that are possible for us to do, but the proposal by the NDP is not sustainable. As such, I will not be supporting the motion.