Mr. Speaker, as the official opposition, it is the Conservative Party's responsibility to tell the Prime Minister what hard-working Canadian families expect to see in his budget tomorrow.
Canada’s Conservatives are the voice of the taxpayer. We focus on results for Canadians.
Budget day used to be an exciting time for Canadians. Looking at some of our past Conservative budgets, I was thinking about the day before the budget in the 10 years we were in government. It was an exciting day, because we all knew that the next day, we would be giving Canadians a break. For all those people back home who are working hard, who are struggling, who are working in their small businesses, who are worried about their kids, we knew we would be giving them a break. We did that in every consecutive budget, so it was an exciting time.
Our plan created 1.1 million net new jobs. It cut taxes to their lowest level in 50 years and increased health transfers to the provinces by 70%. We had a very aggressive free trade agenda. We introduced tax free savings accounts so families could save for their retirement and for their future. We introduced income splitting so couples could afford to have a family. Business confidence was high. However, today, the day before this budget, people feel anxiety. There is anxiety all across the country, and people are wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. Question after question keeps coming up. I have never seen anything like this before a budget day in the House of Commons.
Small-business owners are wondering, families are wondering, “Are the Liberals going to raise capital gains taxes?” They say they are, we just do not know when. “Are they going to come after our homes? Are they going to come after my business?” These are the questions people are asking. “What tax credit are they going to take away from my family that I use day in, day out to make life more affordable? What is next? What taxes are the Liberals going to raise?” These are the kinds of questions Canadians are asking.
Business investment is at an all-time low. Business confidence is low. This is the kind of business climate and economic climate the Prime Minister has created.
This will be the Prime Minister's second budget, and we are now encouraging the government to seize this opportunity to change course, but all indications are that it will not. There is so much anxiety, in fact, that the Liberals are not even going out to their ridings after the budget.
I think back to the 10 years we were in government. Not only was the day before a budget exciting, because we knew we were going to give hard-working Canadians yet another break, but we were excited to get out to our ridings to tell everyone about it. We would meet with our chambers of commerce. We would meet with all of the families and business owners in our communities, excited to tell them about how we made their lives more affordable.
Do members know what the Liberals are doing? They are staying here for the weekend for an emergency caucus meeting. I guess they are a little embarrassed about what might be in this budget and what might not be in this budget.
After a year and a half, the evidence is clear. There are a lot of broken promises and there is a lot of spending, but no results for hard-working Canadians. Let us go back to the Prime Minister's original election promise, that he was going to borrow his way to prosperity. He was going to borrow only $10 billion in order to grow the economy and create jobs. On that first part, on the borrowing, Canadians got a lot more than they bargained for. On the second part, the job creating, they got far less than they deserved.
The promise to borrow no more than $10 billion has been forgotten, broken even before last year's budget was presented. The deficit is now much higher—we will know how much higher tomorrow—because of an irresponsible policy of increased spending that has been described as unprecedented in modern times.
In a report that was quietly released right before Christmas, the Department of Finance admitted that the government will not be able to balance the budget for at least 30 years. Under the Liberal plan, the next generation will be forced to pay down our generation's debt. Canadians who are 18 years old today will not see a balanced budget until at least the age of 50.
Imagine, a Canadian who turns 18 years old today will not see a balanced budget until he or she is 50 years old. I do not remember this being in the Liberals' election platform.
The Prime Minister broke one of his key election promises when he said that he promised to balance the budget by 2019. He still believes, apparently, that the budget will balance itself, and those words are just as foolish today as when he said them during the campaign.
What have Canadians actually got for all of this spending and red ink? Growth is no higher than before the borrowing began. The Prime Minister is not growing our economy; he is just growing the size of government.
Let me repeat that. The Prime Minister borrowed all of this money. He put the next generation in debt and this generation in debt and he has not actually created any growth. He is not creating the jobs that he promised, so what was it all for? It was to grow the size of government.
Imagine: the Prime Minister actually promised to add 0.5% to GDP in 2016. He was very specific. However, Statistics Canada data shows that the economy grew no faster than initially projected. The only thing he is growing is the size of government.
He promised he would spend this money on infrastructure, but guess what—the infrastructure funds are not flowing into critical projects like roads, highways, or bridges. I know that people in my home province of Alberta hoped the government would get the shovels in the ground so those jobs would be created, but in fact the construction industry shrank by 3.3% last year. The shovels are not in the ground and jobs are not being created through infrastructure projects.
Now the Prime Minister is looking for more money anywhere he can find it to fund his pet project, the so-called infrastructure bank, because apparently there are not enough banks in Canada. All of us are concerned that the money that the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister desperately needs will come from a sale of important assets, such as Canada's airports. Private investment might be beneficial for Canadian airports, but the complete lack of transparency about a proposed sale leaves Canadians asking a lot of questions, such as whether this is in our national interest, whether this is just a fire sale to fund the Prime Minister's reckless spending, or whether it will increase costs for travellers, businesses, or airport authorities.
This is not about a vision or strategy. It is just because the Prime Minister has run out of money and needs to find more. A botched airport sell-off does not protect Canadian travellers and could also lead to dramatically higher costs, but we have none of those questions answered.
Of course, this morning, as usual, the Prime Minister creates all kinds of anxiety and then says the government may not do that. That creates a lot of conflict. Once again, he says he is backing away from this idea of selling off strategic assets like airports, but yesterday the Prime Minister refused to actually commit one way or another. It is not good enough to keep Canadians guessing about such a critical issue. He does this on taxes. He does this on everything. This constant indecision and lack of any clear plan or vision for our economy is creating anxiety all across the country. The Liberals move from one thing to another, from one idea that they float out there to another. They actually have no real plan.
Whether it is airports or other assets, the Prime Minister should not be selling off the furniture because he ran up the credit card. That is not a vision for this country.
Canadians pay among the highest air transportation costs in the world. Canadian families who want to go on vacation and entrepreneurs who need to travel to build and grow their businesses should not have to pay for this government's mistakes.
The rumours that airports are to be sold off at a garage sale are problematic and not just because of the costs involved. Canadians have every right to question whether selling those airports is in Canada's best interest or is simply a way for the Liberals to finance their out-of-control spending.
We also know that lurking behind of all these ideas of selling off strategic assets to an infrastructure bank, there is this idea that the Prime Minister is very welcoming to Chinese government-owned companies and their interest in buying up Canadian assets. In fact, Conservatives feel he is ready to sell just about anything to them. The sale of Canadian airports or any other strategic Canadian assets to companies with links to foreign governments must first meet a test of national interest, always, because they are strategic assets, but we have no transparency on this as well.
Let us remember that this is the same Prime Minister who held closed-door cash-for-access fundraisers where he met with people from the Chinese government and then weeks later reopened national security reviews on the sale of Canadian companies to companies that were controlled by the Chinese government.
When they hear this, Canadians rightly wonder, “Is our national security for sale to the highest bidder?” Canadians have good reasons to be concerned about the Liberals selling off assets, and we demand more transparency. Canadians do not want to see a fire sale in tomorrow's budget or the next budget. In fact, since the Prime Minister took office, Canadians are actually working less. Their paycheques are not rising, and they feel it.
The young people of our country feel it the worst. The youngest workers have now lost over 40,000 full-time jobs just in the past year. We have a youth unemployment crisis. What did the Prime Minister do? He promised an EI break for workers who hire youth. Then what did he do? He broke that promise, and instead he raised EI premiums on businesses, making them less likely to hire.
We want the budget to include immediate measures to put young Canadians back to work and address the youth unemployment crisis.
However, as we have seen, creating a realistic plan to stimulate the economy and help Canadians find good jobs is simply not a priority for this Liberal government.
However, that is not what we are going to see tomorrow. This will be a budget written by Liberal government consultants, and it will grow the size of government. For some reason, Liberals are enthralled with these latest glossy, jargon-laden consultant schemes, all about moon shots and innovation strategies, but it is really simple when we are thinking about innovating the economy. As economist Jack Mintz says, if we want to create innovation, we have to create an attractive business climate, cut red tape, lower taxes, and boost entrepreneurs' confidence in the economy.
I have a lot of confidence in Canadians and I know they are going to see right through this. They know that these buzzwords and these brochures do not actually put people to work. These flashy programs also come with a $1-billion price tag, and this bill gets paid by the millions of regular Canadians who are not so lucky to work somewhere that the Prime Minister wants to go visit for a photo op, such as New York.
Canadians see this Prime Minister's priorities. If people are fashionable and well connected and work in a certain sector that he thinks is sexy, then he is very generous. However, for the taxpayer—well, they have to pay up. They have to pay up to $2,500 per household for a new national carbon tax, and add another $2,200 per household for higher CPP premiums. Then they have to give back their family tax cut on income splitting, watch their tax-free savings account get slashed, and say goodbye to their kids' arts and fitness tax credits and the textbooks and education tax credit if they are students.
The Liberals have an innovation program for every government consultant, but to pay for it, they have a tax hike for every Canadian. Frankly, families cannot take any more of this. With the cost of living rising, the last thing they need is more government. The last thing they need is their government looking for new ways to nickel-and-dime them.
This government is taking far more from Canadians than it is giving them, and that must stop.
The situation calls for a change in direction, and that is what everybody was hoping to see tomorrow, especially when we know the United States is about to slash taxes and cut red tape to pull investment and job growth south of the border. We are already seeing it. There is a reason that business investment is already leaving Canada to go to the U.S.
We cannot meet these challenges with decades of deficits, an ever-increasing tax burden, and a government that cares more about pleasing major foreign investors than helping Canadian families get by.
Tomorrow Canadians, regular Canadians, want to see a plan that makes their jobs and their families a top priority. They want a break from the government. They want a plan that gets spending under control, focuses on real-life job creation, and stops these nickel-and-diming tax hikes.
As the voice of the taxpayer, we will be judging tomorrow's budget on whether it meets those priorities. Canadians can always rely on the Conservative Party and the opposition to put them and their families first. That is why we are calling on this House to adopt our motion today.