Mr. Speaker, I should first announce to all members that I will be concentrating my remarks today more on the budget tabled on March 22 of this year than on Bill C-63, which I am sure all members understand is the BIA, or the budget implementation act. That act would, of course, enact certain provisions contained in the budget. Since they both flow together, all my remarks will be primarily concentrating on the budget itself.
First and foremost, in my opinion, at least, budget 2017 was a terrible budget. In fact, I do not think it would be unfair to say that it was a socialist budget. I use that term, because I am reminded of the famous words of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who once opined that the reason socialism will never work is that eventually socialists “run out of other people's money.” Unfortunately, the Liberal government has not figured that last part out. I believe it thinks money grows on trees, because it is spending it like drunken sailors, thinking there is a never-ending supply of currency. We all know that this is simply not true, but perhaps that is a debate for another day.
What I will attempt to do today is talk about why I believe this socialist budget is so bad. This budget tabled March 22 is basically a combination of two things: it is a budget of broken promises, and it is a budget of higher taxes. I say higher taxes because we know, based on a recent study by the Fraser Institute, that fully 81% of Canadians considered to be in the middle class will now be paying $840 a year more in taxes than they were before. This comes from a government that is proud to stand in this House day after day to say how it has lowered taxes for the middle class. In fact, it has not. It has done just the opposite.
It is also a budget filled with broken promises. As one of my colleagues quite correctly pointed out just a few moments ago, when the Liberal government was running for election in 2015, it promised to run modest deficits of no more than $10 billion a year for the first four years, and then by election year, 2019, it would return to balance. Has it done that? Not at all.
In fact, what is truly alarming is the fact that when asked the question, both the Prime Minister and the finance minister said that they did not know when the government would return to a balanced budget. In my opinion, the reason they did not know is that they could not answer the question. They have absolutely no idea how to get back to balance, and if they do, when that would take place.
If the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer of any corporation said to their board of directors that they did not know when they would be perhaps returning to a profitable situation, I would suggest that both those officers would not be long in their jobs. I think that is what is going to happen in this case. The Government of Canada is, in effect, a corporation, a business, albeit a very large business. If the chief executive officer, that being the Prime Minister, and the chief financial officer, that being the finance minister, do not know when they could return to balance, I believe they should be fired, and I think they will be fired come 2019. It is not just the fact that they made promises they cannot keep. The truly alarming situation we have in front of us is that they simply do not know the answer to a very simple question: when will they return to balance? They cannot even give an approximation of when they will return to balance, and that is truly frightening.
Canadians expect more of their government. Canadians expect more of any government. However, for a government to freely admit, and to take some pride in admitting, that it will be running deficits that could go on in perpetuity, and that it does not know how to get back to balance, there is no pride in that, only shame, and the Canadian public is finally starting to figure that out.
I would suggest to my friends opposite, if they truly care about the Canadian taxpayer, as they so often repeat in this place, they would take immediate steps to try to find out how to return to balance. Second, they would implement provisions within their own spending regime to get back to balance. It is not that they have a revenue problem. They have a spending problem.
Some would argue there is an easy way to get back to balance, and that is to raise taxes. Quite frankly, I think my friends opposite are taking that to heart because they seem to be raising taxes on just about everything. That is not the way to run a government.
Conservatives believe in lower taxes and balanced budgets. That is a foreign concept to many on the opposite side of the aisle, I am sure, but it has proven to be effective in years past. Also, if the government truly wants to return to balance, it should start listening to some of its former colleagues. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for example, returned to balanced budgets after a few years of serious deficits, caused by the worldwide global recession. I suggest to my friends opposite that they take a page out of that playbook and look at what they need to do to return to balance. It would certainly not be by spending, like they are today. It is about fiscal restraint, a foreign concept to many of the members opposite.
If the finance minister wants to prove his competence to the Canadian public, he should start looking in the mirror whenever he delivers an economic forecast and economic update, because we know now, if we did not before, that the finance minister, encouraged by his Prime Minister, is in the middle of a very serious conflict of interest.
I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that every single person in the country, from the time they first achieve cognitive thought, knows the difference between right and wrong, and what the finance minister has done by attempting to hide $20 million in shares in a numbered company in Alberta is simply wrong. The Prime Minister and the finance minister have a choice to do what is right, and do what is right for all Canadians. I sincerely hope they do. The right course of action would be for the finance minister to step down and the Prime Minister to accept his resignation.