Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on the Liberal government's second budget implementation act of 2017.
As with all legislation, members of Parliament must weigh the consequences not only of what is found in a budget implementation act, but also what is not included. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the government is not moving forward to lower the small business tax. That was promised in the 2015 election, but as I have pointed out, they broke their promise. Then after the great tax revolt of the summer of 2017, they had a revelation that breaking their promise to thousands of small business owners and then calling them all tax cheats was not a recipe to get re-elected.
While scouring the many parts of this proposed legislation, I thought that there might have been a line about how they would retract their ill-thought-out tax increases on local businesses, farmers, and entrepreneurs. Lo and behold, the government did not take this opportunity to provide clarification on the details of its tax increases and how it would be plucking more feathers out of the goose. The government's intention to raise taxes is causing great consternation among job creators throughout Canada.
The government likes to proclaim that it and it alone is responsible for any job creation, and in many respect it has been, as thousands of new individuals joined the ranks of the public service from across the country. For example, it has been estimated that the public service has grown by almost 10% in the national capital region since the Liberals formed government. While any government can go out and borrow money it does not have to create new full-time equivalents, we must always remember that such growth in these jobs is not sustainable.
There is an argument to be made that a government should stimulate the economy while in recession. However, it must also include a road map back to balanced budgets, as Prime Minister Harper predicted, and attained one year faster than his original plan. This brings me to the point that there are no measures included in the Liberals' proposed budget implementation act to get back to balance. It reminds me of the broken promise that the Liberals ran on in the 2015 election.
Some would say that the Liberals' election platform was one of the greatest works of fiction in recent memory. While it was not written nearly as eloquently as one would like, it was the platform, however, in which they made promises to Canadians.
During budget 2017, the Liberals projected a $28.5-billion deficit for this fiscal year. This was almost triple their campaign promise of running a small $10-billion deficit and that the budget would be back to balance in 2019. Finance Canada now says that if spending continues at the same pace, there will be no budget balance until 2051, which is almost 35 years.
Now the Liberals think they deserve kudos because their fall economic statement revealed that the deficit is only about $20 billion to date. While not as bad as originally projected for this fiscal year, it is still a broken promise as per their election platform. As they would like to call it, balancing the budget in 2019 is under way, but with challenges.
The Liberals have tabled a budget implementation bill and are asking us to get behind their finance minister's financial plan. Normally this would be par for the course in a parliamentary democracy, but it was only earlier today that the Prime Minister gave no clear answer to a point blank question on whether he would stand squarely behind the finance minister. What was most shocking was that it was a chance for the Prime Minister to publicly state he had full confidence in his finance minister, but he avoided giving a straight answer. This begs the question: If the Prime Minister will not defend his finance minister, why do members of the opposition trust anything the finance minister says?
There are many reasons for Canadians to be concerned about what is found in this omnibus bill. If the proposed legislation passes, it would allow Canada to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This would mean the Government of Canada would be giving $256 million over five years to that bank, even though Finance officials have stated that Canadians should not expect to see any financial dividends or return on this investment.
If the intent of the Liberal government is to send a quarter billion dollars to an Asian bank that will not see any financial gain, it can only lead those people who are questioning this deal to think there are ulterior motives behind this agreement. The government's priority to reach a free trade deal with the People's Republic of China should not be achieved using Canadian taxpayers' money, particularly when the money is being given to a bank located halfway around the world. At the end of the day, the government should not give loans to other countries when Canadians will be taking all the risks and seeing no rewards.
In this legislation, the Liberals are once again going after energy companies by repealing one of the tax credits for energy exploration. The government is phasing out the first one million dollars, and no longer will Canadian development expenses be allowed to be reclassified into Canadian exploration expenses. This change will have an impact on smaller and more up and coming drilling companies, exactly the ones that most rely on this tax credit. Ironically, this change was actually in the 2015 election platform. Raising taxes seems to be a promise the government is willing to keep. The government is more than willing to once again go after the energy sector, which employs hundreds of thousands of individuals either directly or indirectly, but it has no problem adding billions to our debt load while playing class warfare. This is all in the name of politics.
I cannot tip my hat to the government for another aspect of this legislation, It is trying to move the yardstick forward by eliminating many of the non-tariff barriers between provinces. Quite frankly, it is absurd that in many cases it is easier to ship and sell your products in a foreign country than to your provincial counterparts next door. While there has at least been some progress made to reduce interprovincial trade barriers, it should be noted that the list of exclusions to this agreement is almost as long as the agreement itself. I would prefer the Government of Canada to spend its time and energy on eliminating all interprovincial trade barriers than on attempting to woo the People's Republic of China.
It would be irresponsible of any member of this House to vote in favour of this bill. No member should endorse the government's budgetary plan. The government has completely eliminated any hope of ever balancing the budget. It has eliminated even the mere thought of having a plan to return to balanced budgets, and it is causing serious and unnecessary pain to Canadian businesses and our overall economy.
A government that spends more money than it brings in while the economy is growing is foolhardy. I have seen that personally when I spent my 14 years in the Manitoba legislature watching the NDP. The Liberal government is trying to outspend Manitoba's former NDP government. It is adding billions of dollars of new debt with not a lot to show for it. It should come as no surprise that the government is willing to waste taxpayers' money, such as spending over $200,000 to design the cover of their budget document or half a million dollars to make the Canada Post building look like a present.
Let me say this. Canadians are mightily upset about the millions of dollars being spent to build a hockey rink where no one will get to play hockey. They have a finance minister that nobody trusts. They have budgetary numbers that no one believes and they have no plan to create real private sector economic growth, other than spending billions of dollars of taxpayers' money on pet projects.
I cannot, and will not, support this legislation as, in many respects, the government has failed Canadians. It has lost its way and, unfortunately, Canadians are left picking up the tab.
In the weeks ahead we will see if the finance minister will keep his job. It is my sincere hope that, in the best interests of all Canadians, they will stop piling on debt and attacking local businesses.