Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and address this important motion, and more broadly the issues around it in terms of the government's tax policy.
We are having this discussion at an interesting moment in light of what the government is doing. I am a relatively young member. I am the youngest member of the Conservative caucus. I know many young people actually voted for the government with high expectations based on promises made and based on the Prime Minister's effort to strike an optimistic tone, yet we are seeing through the actions of the government on the economic front and other fronts the real cynicism of the Prime Minister and the government in the shameless way in which they are throwing promises over the side. They are throwing out their commitments. They are defending that as if it were not a problem, not a big deal at all.
The Prime Minister said in question period yesterday that he was going to do what he perceived to be in the national interest, not just act to tick a box on a platform. That shows quite a bit of disdain and disregard not only for the platform the Liberal Party ran on, but also for the Canadians who voted based on what was in that platform. We see the cynicism with which the Prime Minister has thrown the electoral reform question over the side, and the cynicism of the government's budgetary policy commitments. It made clear commitments to run $10 billion deficits for three years and then to return to a balanced budget, and yet there are massive deficits that far and away exceed those commitments, with no plan to balance the budget for decades into the future. That is real cynicism coming from the government, and it is hard to take.
The government also promised cuts to taxes for the middle class, and yet people making less than $45,000 a year, certainly the middle class and those working hard to join it, are suffering because of new taxes imposed by the government.
The Liberals' platform promised to lower the small business tax rate to 9%. The first budget said, “Well, we do not need to do that. It is not in the national interest and we are not going to be bound to checking boxes on the platform.” The impact of effectively raising taxes on small business does not just have an impact on business owners, but it also has an impact on people who work for small businesses. Most Canadians work for small businesses. It has an impact on Canadians who are unemployed, who might otherwise have the opportunity to get jobs working for small businesses.
The government also did away with the small business hiring credit. It passed legislation to raise payroll taxes. In so many ways, we see the government introducing the worst possible kinds of taxes: taxes on jobs, taxes on people of modest means who are working, who now will have a harder time retaining their job or finding a new job because of these taxes.
The government lowered the amount a person can invest in a tax-free savings account. The data show that those who use tax-free savings accounts are more likely to be of relatively modest means, likely because of the relative advantage of saving in a TFSA versus an RRSP for those who are of relatively modest means.
We have all these different areas in which the cynicism of the government is on display. We see how much disdain the Liberals have for their own platform and for Canadians who voted based on that platform.
It is ironic, because we hear often from the Prime Minister in particular about getting young people involved in politics. When we see these cynical actions of the government, it really can be discouraging to young people who may have volunteered, or who voted thinking they were getting one thing from the government and in fact what they are getting is the opposite. They are getting effective tax increases for those in the middle class and those of relatively modest means. They are also getting a complete denial of commitments the Liberals made with respect to electoral reform and other areas.
What we are talking about in this opposition motion is the fact that we have seen all of these efforts of the government to indirectly, but, at the same time, in a very concrete, practical, and impactful way, increase the taxes that people pay. Thank goodness we have a very effective opposition here, because up until yesterday, the government was musing about the possibility of introducing a significant tax on health and dental benefits.
Canadians may not know all of the procedural mechanics of this place. When the opposition proposes an opposition day motion, it puts that on notice a couple of days before. Today is Thursday. On Tuesday, Conservatives put notice of a motion forward that on Thursday there would be a debate about the government's plan to increase taxes on health and dental benefits. Then, all of a sudden, on Wednesday, the Prime Minister announces in question period that the government is not moving forward on that. If we had more opposition days, think of how well we would be doing, but, alas, we only have so many days allotted.
While we are having this discussion, let us recognize the reality of the timing of what the government did. I wish that was all it took to make this a great budget. We have improved the budget a little, but I suspect that there will still be issues in the budget that Conservatives take issue with. Perhaps the government will take their advice again and actually check that box in the Liberal platform by following through on the tax reduction for small businesses. Maybe it will restore the hiring credit to help people in my province, especially those struggling with high levels of unemployment, and across the country get back to work.
Let us hope that maybe it will reverse course on some of these major tax increases it has brought in. Maybe it will reverse course even on the carbon tax, a punitive tax against those who would like to heat their homes, a punitive tax against the mother in my riding who actually cannot walk to the grocery store because she has two little kids. These are the people who are suffering because of the carbon tax that has now been imposed in Alberta and that the government wants to force a subsequent provincial government, which some people are looking forward to, not to do away with. That is a real problem on all of these different fronts: the government looking to impose new taxes to raise taxes.
I want to draw the attention of members as well to the fact that over the summer the Minister of Finance asked people to do a review of what are often called tax expenditures. Effectively, these are the mechanisms in the tax code that allow people to reduce their taxes by claiming different deductions. Experts have proposed all kinds of so-called tax expenditures to eliminate. We need to know what the government is actually planning to do, because I know a lot of people are concerned about it. They are concerned that there may be changes with respect to tax credits on charitable donations.
The Conservative government brought in a volunteer firefighter tax credit to encourage people to be involved in their communities and do what they can to be part of fighting fires in their communities. One of the recommendations from the experts has been to get rid of that. There is the public transit tax credit. Here is an idea. When we are trying to improve the environment, instead of levying a tax on people to improve the environment, let us cut their taxes in order to improve the environment. That was the approach that Conservatives took, to have a green tax cut instead of a so-called new green tax. In fact, when the current government thinks green, all it is thinking about are ways of taking more money from Canadians.
There was a proposal with respect to pension income splitting from one of the experts. I hope the government does not go down the road of eliminating pension income splitting. Of course, Liberals said during the election campaign that they would not, but maybe 2015 was the last election in which the Liberals said they would not get rid of income splitting for pensioners. Maybe that is what we will be hearing later on, because checking boxes on their platform just does not seem to matter to the Prime Minister or the government anymore.
Canadians are suffering because of tax increases, and they are suffering because of the shameless cynicism of this Prime Minister. Thank goodness the opposition was able to make a difference on this health and dental plan issue. Hopefully the government will start to listen to us on other measures as well.