Madam Speaker, in the last election the current Prime Minister looked Canadians in the eye and promised that, if elected, the Liberal Party would run budgetary deficits of $10 billion per year for the first three years and then return Canada's books to balance in 2019. What a far cry from the reality we are living in today. The government's spending is completely out of control. It is running deficits two and three times larger than initially promised, and it has absolutely no plan to get back to balance. This is not what Canadians voted for.
Our Conservative government left office with back-to-back surplus budgets, a growing economy, and a record that included the best recovery from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. We on this side of the aisle are proud of that.
During the election campaign, the Liberal Party promised that its $10 billion deficits would be spent primarily on two things: infrastructure and tax cuts for the middle class, oh, and for those working hard to join it. I am afraid that my colleagues in the Liberal Party might be suffering from collective amnesia, because not only have they spent far more than they promised, but they have done the exact opposite of what they promised.
First, let me talk about the government's poor record on infrastructure investment.
Bill C-63 includes half a billion dollars spent by the government on infrastructure in Asia. Yes, members heard me correctly: not Canadian infrastructure but Asian infrastructure. Bill C-63 provides Canada with a less than 1% stake in the Chinese- controlled Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The projects in which this bank will invest are determined by the interests of the Chinese government. Considering the sort of virtuous signalling we have seen from the government during the NAFTA negotiations, it comes as a bit of a shock that it would be willing to hand over half a billion dollars to China to spend as it wishes. Do not take my world for it. The following is taken from the Toronto Star about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank:
The United States opposes the institution, warning that it would provide loans to developing countries without requiring any caveats about the environment, labour rights or anti-corruption reforms, as are typically included...from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
I would have thought that the Liberals, who spend so much time on their image, would like to be seen as standing up for the environment, standing up for labour rights, and standing against government corruption, but I guess when push comes to shove they focus on their own best interests.
I understand that trade with China is a priority for the Liberals. The Prime Minister has made that clear by his several cash-for-access fundraisers attended by high-ranking Chinese officials. However, is it really worth forking over this sort of money with no guarantees?
There is all this talk about Chinese infrastructure, but what about Canada? This week we learned that there are massive delays in federal infrastructure spending. Billions of dollars are being carried over year after year in unspent funds as the Liberal government cannot figure out how to get shovels in the ground and get projects under way.
It seems clear to me that it is becoming increasingly clear to Canadians that the Liberal government is spending more time trying to build bridges, fix roads, and prepare water pipes in China than it is here at home in Canada. Again, this is not what Canadians voted for in the last election.
One other thing that Canadians did not vote for in the last election was the Liberal government's attack on middle-class Canadians, the very people it claims to want to help.
We all know that small business in Canada employs 70% of private sector workers. In Canada, 55% of businesses have fewer than four employees. An attack on small business is an attack on ordinary hard-working Canadians. Where would the jobs be if it were not for small business?
This summer in an attempt to quietly sneak by Canadians, the Liberals introduced a number of tax measures that would have had devastating effects on Canada's farmers and small business owners. The backbone of our economy, small business owners, were targeted as tax cheats.
For weeks and months after the plans were made public, my office was inundated with calls, emails, and visits from my constituents, who could not believe that the Liberal government would be increasing their taxes so high that they might have to fire staff, close up shop, or relocate their businesses to other countries. I am sure my colleagues in the House all were recipients of those emails and phone calls.
I heard from one constituent who lives in Elmira. He runs a financial service practice in the greater Waterloo region. He shared with me this email, which states that, for the first 12 years of his self-employed life, it was a real struggle. Trying to run a business and balancing a young family of four children, it was not easy. In 2011, after a particularly bad day, he considered packing it all in, but he didn't. He continued to persevere and try new ways to build his practice. In the summer of 2012, he took the biggest risk ever and he bought a practice from another adviser. That meant taking on a $250,000 debt to do that. He also incorporated at that time, on his accountant's advice. He then took an even bigger risk, hiring two staff members to help him run a more efficient practice. In 2015, he had paid off the $250,000 loan, bought another practice for $500,000, and hired another staff member. He feels he's paid his fair share of taxes, both corporately and personally, over the years. Now he is being told that small business owners are wrongfully using the tax system, unfairly and perhaps crookedly. That is not right, he says.
I also heard from a veterinarian operating a clinic for large animals. His clinic not only employs Canadians but also sponsors four local fairs, two soccer teams, a baseball team, two hockey teams, three plowing matches, two 4-H clubs, a dance studio, and a local volunteer fire department. He sent me an email, which states that, as a veterinarian, he has worked hard over many years to reach the pinnacle of his profession. He's spent many years in university studying veterinary medicine and many more years building his practice and working very hard to serve his clients and their animals. The government referring to his use of the tax laws as a manipulation of loopholes makes him feel ashamed of the success he has strived to achieve. He asks if he is expected to apologize for the success and the rewards he has earned. He says this is divisive, inflammatory, and flies directly in the face of the Canadian dream many of us share: that from hard work comes success.
I heard from a farm family in Elmira who are afraid of what these changes will mean for a farm that has been in the family for generations. The owner wrote as follows:
These proposed changes, will add uncertainty and complexity to farmers and small business owners across the country. I am particularly concerned with the impact these changes would have on succession planning. It is unacceptable that the government of Canada would make it easier and more beneficial from a tax perspective for a farmer to sell their farm business to a stranger, rather than their own child or grandchild. This type of policy threatens the tradition of the Canadian family farm.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention my friend Mike from Tri-Mach. I was glad the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, visited Mike last month to share our positive Conservative plan to lower taxes on the middle class and small business. Tri-Mach employs more than 100 Canadians and has been considering—