Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to debate Bill C-63, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures. I find the “other measures” part interesting. It almost indicates that it may be an omnibus bill, despite the protestations to the contrary. It certainly seems like an omnibus bill. One would have hoped we might have been able to apply the provisions of Standing Order 69.1. Of course, the government carefully worded that Standing Order change to specifically eliminate the provision to budget implementation acts. However, I digress. That is certainly a debate that would be joyfully had on another occasion.
This bill further indicates the problem with the Liberal government. It has a spending problem. Time and again, we have seen the Liberal government commit to tiny deficits of $10 billion, small one-time deficits over three years, and to quickly return to balanced budgets by 2019. However, that is not happening and yet we see reckless spending time and again, like, for instance, $212,234 on a budget cover. We cannot invest in the priorities of Canadians when money is recklessly spent by the Liberal government.
Looking at the projections going forward, we see at least $100 billion in new deficit spending over the next six years, far beyond what was promised by the Liberals in the last election campaign.
It is intriguing. On the day before Christmas eve of last year, the government, through the Department of Finance, released its long-term economic and fiscal projections. Already the Liberal finance minister has projected that he will once again release these figures later in the year. I suspect we will all be feverishly refreshing finance.gc.ca to see these new figures released, perhaps on Christmas eve or perhaps on New Year's Eve. Either way, I am sure it will not be done with much fanfare.
When the figures were last released on December 23, 2016, we saw that the government would not be able to balance its books until at least 2055. That means high school students graduating this year, at the age of 18, will not see a balanced budget until they are 56 years old. They will spend nearly their entire working career dealing with the reckless spending of the Liberal government. That is 30 years. My children, who are now three and one, will spend this time paying for the reckless spending of the Liberal government.
It is not just Conservatives who are saying this. In fact, the parliamentary budget officer is saying similar things.
In the October 31 report entitled “Economic and Fiscal Outlook”, the parliamentary budget officer predicts that program spending will continue to rise every year until 2023. Public debt charges will also rise, surging from $24 billion this year to $38.5 billion by 2023. A lot of hard-earned taxpayer money will be going to service debt. The parliamentary budget officer predicts that the federal debt itself will also rise every year, reaching a total of $700 billion by 2023. It is unprecedented for our national debt to grow so steeply in the absence of a world war or global economic crisis. Moreover, such incompetent fiscal management is both inexcusable and intolerable.
Throughout the debate on the original budget tabled on March 22, I received a number of emails, phone calls, and letters from people in my riding. They were concerned that taxes were being raised on families, students, small business and, particularly in my riding, on family farms. Now, we see this going even further, with taxes being raised on those suffering with type 1 diabetes. This is all being done to garner more money for the government's out-of-control spending.
Last spring I received an email from a constituent in Arthur, Ontario. I should mention that Arthur, Ontario, is known as Canada's most patriotic village. As we lead into Remembrance Day later this week, I want to comment on the bravery of our brave men and women who serve today and have served in the past.
A constituent from Arthur wrote,“I feel compelled to pass on this feedback in regard to personal income tax, as I recently filed our taxes. We're virtually a single income family, as my wife makes less than the personal basic amount. We saw very limited changes in our income and deductions in 2016 relative to previous years. However, our tax refund is 50% less than it was in 2015. I know we are not alone, as others have told me similar stories.”
This is reflective of the changes the Liberals undertook in their first two budgets, which included cancelling the fitness credit for kids in sporting activities, the arts credit, the textbook credit for those undertaking post-secondary education, and the public transit tax credit. Time and time again, the Liberal government has made hard-working Canadians pay for its fiscal mismanagement.
What is more, the burden is being placed on the middle class. A recent study found that 87% of middle-class taxpayers are paying more in income tax now than they were just two years ago, as much as $800 more per year.
In division 2, clause 176, of Bill C-63, we see the government sending money overseas. In fact, the Liberals are sending nearly half a billion dollars to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Canadians may have heard about the bank, but for those who have not, let me read from the Department of Finance backgrounder. It says:
Founded in January 2016 and based in Beijing, the AIIB is an international financial institution focused on addressing the estimated US $8 trillion infrastructure gap in Asia.
Just last week we found that the Liberals will be delaying $2 billion in infrastructure spending here in Canada, yet half a billion dollars would be sent for overseas infrastructure projects. I think of my riding of Perth—Wellington and so many of the important infrastructure investments my municipalities are calling for. I look at places like West Perth and the town of Mitchell, which are looking to put in a second bridge and a second water crossing to connect the two sides of the town and to allow the flow of the water system to be more efficient and with a better flow capacity. There should be funding for that, but we have yet to see the government reopen the new building Canada fund to allow for investments in important infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.
I think of places like Arthur and Drayton, which have important waste water projects that need to be undertaken to allow those communities to continue to expand and development. I look at places like Perth South and the town of St. Marys, which are continually updating their roads, bridges, and important infrastructure to make sure those towns remain viable.
I look at places like Stratford, where there is strong cultural infrastructure and they are looking for funding through the Government of Canada, yet we see $2 billion in domestic infrastructure spending being delayed. The government sees fit to send half a billion dollars overseas, rather than investing in important projects in Perth Wellington and across Canada.
I was very pleased recently to be named by our leader to serve as the shadow secretary for interprovincial trade. I note that division 10, part 5, of the budget implementation bill deals with the implementation of the Canada free trade agreement. This alone could take hours and days of debate in the House, but we are not being given that opportunity. The free trade agreement is 353 pages long but has 147 pages of exceptions and exemptions, especially those related to the sale and import across provincial boundaries of beer, alcohol, spirits, and wine.
The government has not acted on interprovincial trade, and this sham of an implementation of the free trade agreement does not address the true interprovincial trade barriers that exist within Canada. We must work together to remove those trade barriers to see our communities and small businesses prosper.