Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to follow my colleague from Calgary.
Today, I am wearing black for a very sad reason. We will be voting in the House of Commons on the bad legislative measures for marijuana legalization for what is likely the last time.
Speaking of colour, let us talk about the colour red. Let us talk about deficits, a Liberal government hallmark when it comes to finances and managing public money. That is what we are talking about today, as we debate the Liberal government's latest budget implementation bill.
This government has an impressive track record of promising one thing and doing the opposite. It promised to run small deficits, but it is running big ones. It promised to put more money in the pockets of middle-class Canadians, but they have less. It promised to make the rich pay more taxes, but thanks to its legislative measures, the rich are paying less. I can prove it.
During the election campaign two years ago, Canadians were asked to consider the various electoral platforms. What did the Liberal Party say in its platform, entitled “Real Change: A new plan for a strong middle class”? I would like to read something from page 76:
With the Liberal plan, the federal government will have a modest short-term deficit of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years....our investment plan will return Canada to a balanced budget in 2019-20.
The Liberals were elected on that promise. Now let us look at the reality at the halfway point of their term, two years after they were elected. First of all, it is no longer a question of a modest deficit of less than $10 billion. It is double what was projected, that is, $19.9 billion in the last fiscal year. That is classic Liberal government. The Liberals promise small deficits and then run up deficits twice as big.
Furthermore, their platform predicted a return to a balanced budget in 2019, but they have no idea when they will be able to balance the budget. This is completely unacceptable. Canada is experiencing strong economic growth, and we are not at war. This is the first time in the history of this country, not including periods of war or major international economic difficulties, that the government has no idea when it will be able to balance the budget.
We are stressing this so much not only because the Liberals betrayed Canadians' trust by saying one thing and doing another, but also because they are sending the bill to our children and grandchildren, and that is even worse. When a government runs a deficit, it is borrowing money from our children. Sooner or later, the money will have to be paid back. That is why we strongly condemn the Liberals' approach of allowing deficits that are two times higher than projected and having no plan to balance the budget. This is unacceptable.
The Prime Minister always talks about the famous 1% wealthiest Canadians, as though these people had a venereal disease. It is terrible that the Prime Minister has so much contempt for those who are fortunate. The government has a supposedly progressive policy that will make the wealthiest Canadians pay even more.
Let us look at what the Liberals have managed to do in two years. I have here a report from the Department of Finance entitled “Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada Fiscal Year 2016–2017”. The report states the following on page 16:
Personal income tax revenues decreased by $1.2 billion...largely reflecting the impact of tax planning by high-income individuals....
In a report on the past fiscal year, the finance department found that the wealthiest Canadians paid $1.2 billion less in taxes since this government took power. Why? Despite the so-called progressive measures that would have the rich pay more taxes, the richest Canadians found ways to sidestep these measures, with the result that the wealthiest Canadians pay less taxes today than they did under our government. If someone is paying less, someone else is paying more. The middle-class family is paying more taxes. According to a Fraser Institute study, 80% of Canadian families are paying, on average, $840 more than they did under our government.
Let me read a statement by Mr. Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute, on measuring the impact of the federal personal income tax changes on middle-income Canadian families. He said:
The federal government has repeatedly claimed they've lowered income taxes for the middle class while in reality, taking their major income tax changes into account, they've actually raised taxes on the vast majority of middle-class families.
The Fraser Institute is speaking out against the Liberal government's flawed measures that are costing middle-class families more money, among others.
The Liberal government did away with the child fitness and arts tax credits. It did away with the textbook tax credit that helped our children when they went to school, and believe it or not, the Liberals did away with the public transit tax credit. I will never tire of saying that I never in my life would have believed that the Liberals would go after public transit.
When we were in office, some of the good things we did were to provide help for Canadian taxpayers, workers, students, and public transit users. We took proactive measures. We should thank and commend those who take the bus. The way we did that was to give them a tax credit that amounted to about the equivalent of two free months of public transit per year. That was a direct measure, a measure that made people happy, a measure that provided direct assistance to ordinary Canadians and helped them keep more money in their pockets. However, the Liberal government went after that measure and did away with it. That is sad.
The government is so righteous about its so-called environmental principles. It goes on and on about how we have to save the planet and about how we need public transit infrastructure so people pollute less. Then it axes a measure specifically designed to help people who help the planet by taking public transit. How very Liberal.
That is not even counting the revenue minister's sneaky measures that make life even harder for the poorest and weakest members of our society.
When we were in power, we had a tax credit that helped people suffering from illnesses such as type 1 diabetes, and 80% of the people who applied for that tax credit got it. Under the Liberals, 80% of the people who apply for it do not get it. Under our government, 80% of the applications were approved. Now that the Liberals are in office, 80% of them are rejected. Attacking the poorest and weakest members of our society is a despicable strategy.
Furthermore, this government launched a direct assault on small and medium-sized businesses, which the Conservative Party believes are the backbone of our economy. Small and medium-sized businesses are the true job creators and the true wealth creators. It is through personal initiative and support to our SMEs that we stimulate initiative, the desire to work, and the creation of wealth and jobs across Canada. On July 18, however, right in the middle of summer, this government decided that it would launch a direct attack on businesses when it introduced a package of thoroughly ill-advised measures.
Fortunately, we were on the alert. Thanks to the amazing quarterbacking of the member for Carleton, we mounted daily head-on attacks, under the guidance of our leader, on those who were going after our small businesses. Chambers of commerce across the country banded together, and fortunately, the government ended up scaling back its assault on small and medium-sized businesses.
I would also remind members that the government abolished several tax credits that were designed to stimulate growth and investment in our businesses and that it did finally uphold its election promise to lower the small business tax rate, but far later than expected and far too late overall, not to mention the fact that it raised taxes on pension funds.
I could go on for hours, but for all these reasons, we believe that the budget implementation bill is a bad bill, which is why we are appealing to all members of the House to reject it and vote against it.