That the House recognize that the government has mismanaged the economy in a way that is damaging Canadian industries and diminishing Canadians’ economic stability by: (a) failing to negotiate a deal on softwood lumber and instead offering a compensation package rather than creating sustainable jobs for Canadian forestry workers; (b) attempting to phase out Canada’s energy sector by implementing a job killing carbon tax, adding additional taxes to oil and gas companies, removing incentives for small firms to make new energy discoveries and neglecting the current Alberta jobs crisis; and (c) refusing to extend the current rail service agreements for farmers in Western Canada which will expire on August 1, 2017, which will result in transportation backlogs that will cost farmers billions of dollars in lost revenue.
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour to be able to rise here today, on Monday at noon, to talk about how the Liberal government continues to mismanage our economy.
Before I start, I would like to indicate that I will be splitting my time with my friend and colleague, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.
I thought it imperative that we table this motion today, before we head out on summer break later this month, to talk about how the Liberals seem to be incompetent when it comes to managing the important files to support our economy. In particular, they continue to mismanage our oil and gas sector. Critical infrastructure, such as transportation and rail service, has been completely forgotten by the Liberal government, and the resource industries, such as softwood lumber, agriculture, or our mining sector, have also been forgotten.
This is incredibly damaging to the people who live in communities in rural Canada who depend upon these sectors, yet the Liberals only seem to care about their own political pet projects. They have forgotten about rural Canada. They have forgotten about the important industries across this country, particularly in western Canada. We have to make sure that we shine a light on the Liberals' mismanagement of these files. We have to make sure Canadians understand that the Liberals are either incompetent when it comes to these serious files or they are callous and just do not care. To me, that is very disturbing.
The first part of the motion talks about the softwood lumber deal. I would like to remind everyone that, when we came to power under former prime minister Stephen Harper in 2006, we negotiated a softwood lumber agreement with the United States in three months. We then extended it in 2012 to take us right through until October 2016. That protected over 400,000 jobs across this country from coast to coast to coast, in every region, and it supported our businesses, jobs, and communities.
The Liberals have taken a laissez-faire attitude toward softwood. They allowed the agreement to expire in October 2016. They have failed to engage with the U.S. administration to protect Canadian jobs, protect access to the U.S. market, and also protect consumers in the United States who will ultimately pay higher prices. The jobs of Canadian forestry workers are in peril, and Canadian softwood lumber manufacturers and harvesters are seeing their businesses at risk, yet all we have seen from the Liberals is some EI reforms to help out those workers. That does not fix the problem.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is responsible for the softwood lumber agreement with the United States, tweeted this morning that Canada and the United States are miles apart on coming to some sort of an agreement. It is completely unacceptable that we are not getting any resolution from the Liberals on this file. We cannot sit on the sidelines and wait while these jobs, businesses, and communities are in peril.
We have to make sure that the government gets focused. Today is its opportunity to commit to solving the softwood lumber deal, and to take a page from the Conservatives' playbook on how to do it.
Members will hear today from a lot of Conservative members of Parliament who want to see the Liberals try to solve some of these problems rather than sit on their hands. I know that our critics in the official opposition, and members of Parliament from the Conservative Party, will strongly encourage the government to find solutions, while at the same time will be pointing out, without hesitation, the flaws in the Liberals' approach and their callous decision-making process, which are leaving rural and western Canada and the resource industries at risk.
The second part of the motion talks about how the Liberals continue to damage the economy by going ahead with their complete drive to kill the oil and gas and energy sectors in this country.
The Prime Minister is married to a flawed policy, a regressive policy, called the carbon tax, and he is forcing it on the provinces and the territories. This carbon tax is going to hurt the most vulnerable in our society. It will increase the cost of doing business. The cost to farmers in particular for what they are going to have to pay extra for fuel, fertilizer, and other energy costs is going to be huge. Farming is an energy-intensive industry.
My son-in-law is a grain farmer. I come from a farming background. My brothers and my father and mother were all involved in agriculture, as am I. We will be hit the hardest. What will that do? It will not only reduce our bottom line but will increase the price of food. Not only will it increase the price of producing that food, it will increase the cost of transporting that food. Canada is a vast nation, and everything has to be put onto trucks or rail. It is all pulled by diesel. That will see some of the highest levels of carbon taxes of anything.
Low-income Canadians and those living on fixed incomes cannot afford a carbon tax. They have been completely ignored by the Liberal government. The Liberals like to claim that they have been able to bring the biggest tax cuts to the middle class, but that is a farce. It is a shell game, because with one hand they give, and with the other hand they taketh away.
For those Canadians making over $45,000 a year, the Liberals decreased income taxes by 1.5%. They then increased taxation through payroll taxes and CPP premiums by 2%. Middle-class Canadians are short a half per cent right now, and that does not include paying more for a carbon tax, which will impact everything they do, such as their home heating bills and the cost to commute. Public transit will go up, because it will cost more to put fuel in those vehicles.
The Liberals eliminated the tax credit for public transit, Mr. Speaker, again targeting low-income Canadians, students, and seniors. Those who depend on public transit are being completely thrown to the curb.