Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Edmonton West.
I have had the honour over the last 10 years to speak to at least some aspect of every budget that has been presented in the House. Therefore, standing here this morning to once again present the views of my amazing constituents in my riding of Red Deer—Mountain View is truly a highlight of this fall session. It is especially memorable because it will be the last time that this type of debate will take place in this chamber for the next decade or more.
I would like to start by reflecting on some of the most important points of the last 10 years.
In the fall of 2008, the global economy as we knew it was collapsing. Global economists were clamouring about how countries were going to need to stimulate their economies by at least 2% GDP, no matter what, and that the consequences of the greatest economic meltdown since the Great Depression could last for years.
What did our government do? Having foreseen tough times ahead, it had reduced the GST from 7% to 5%, which along with other tax-cutting measures nearly covered the prescribed 2% GDP stimulus. Why was that important? Because it put dollars back into the hands of everyday Canadians for them to spend on their priorities.
The second phase of stimulus was related to infrastructure spending, which, amazingly, got out to the municipalities in record time so that it had the effect of keeping contractors employed and even resulted, because of the local economic downturn, in getting many projects done under budget. This is one of the most celebrated stimulus projects ever implemented. Not only that, the temporary home renovation tax credit was a godsend to local businesses.
I remember speaking to a gentleman from the U.S. who was amazed at how such a simple concept had created so much economic activity. It came at a high price, one which did add to the deficit as part of the economic reality of the time, but it also helped us move out of the economic malaise quicker than any other country.
I always like to bring this up when my friends from the Liberal Party crank up their rhetoric about nearly 10 years of our Harper government. I also like to point out that over that 10 years, we only had a majority for four years. Perhaps the Liberals, in a reflective moment, could imagine how much of their agenda would be carried out if they were in a minority. They might also find they would need to have other voices in their heads other than Butts'.
Alas, what transpired was that the member for Papineau, with his family name and his foul-mouth antics, rose to power as the Liberals' messiah. They chose a leader who did not know the difference between a decimal point and a decibel reading, who spent his time as a backbencher charging charities for speaking fees when he was supposed to be speaking in this chamber and who orchestrated, with an NDP member, fake outrage where he called our then environment minister a name, which I will not repeat, and ran out the door to the press to tell it that the devil made him do it.
It was at that moment that my impression of the member was forged. Therefore, when the Liberal leadership race was on, I would always say that the member for Papineau would not even have made the now transport minister's cabinet. However, no one on that side was a match for the 20-plus page coronation from Maclean's magazine. That adulation, so terribly misplaced, unfortunately continues to this day.
Therefore, here we are, dealing with a budget implementation act that shows just how far the government will go to force its will on the people.
My constituents are concerned about the tax that is being charged on medical marijuana. We are talking the non-THC variety, not the good stuff the PM brags about using. This is an issue that has people rightfully concerned.
The next issue that is so important to Canadians is trade. I have heard it said that our Conservative government had already hit the walk-off home run with both CETA and TPP and that all the PM had to do was to sign the ball, which was proudly presented to him on behalf of an amazing negotiating team. However, he and his cabinet team botched that so badly that our trading partners looked at Canada as being both bizarre and illogical. Thank God we have business people who were, and are, there to carry the day, because this government's political counterparts around the world had no idea what to expect from the government.
My next issue with the bill is the massive debt the Liberals are downloading to my children and grandchildren. We know that the words of the Prime Minister are never to be taken seriously. The path that the government has chosen could not be any more socialist than if the NDP had been victorious in the last election.
The most significant concern I have with the bill, beyond my normal lament as a former hospital board chair that these Liberals have shortchanged our health care system, is what they are doing to our global competitiveness through their insistence on a carbon tax.
Most Canadians see this as something in the future, but there are Canadians who are well on their way to the government's initial goal of a $50 carbon tax. The one I am most familiar with is my province of Alberta.
As the real climate leaders in our country, we have been reducing our carbon footprint for years. Long before the present NDP government signed onto the Liberal carbon tax plan, we Albertans were reducing our per unit emissions not just by legislation, but because we felt it was the right thing to do. After all, would having a technology fund that encouraged greenhouse gas reduction with the possibility of selling that technology to places in the world that need the help not be a logical business decision? The federal government said it did not care, that it was its way or the highway, which is what it is now telling those provinces that have chosen to stand up to its tyranny.
What are these numbers? I am going to compare the average Alberta crop land farm, which in the next few months will be paying a $30 carbon tax, to the average PEI crop land farm, where my good friend, the hon. Minister of Agriculture, is from, and I will use the same figures, recognizing Alberta's reality in our bid for this allusive social license will be P.E.I.'s reality in a few years.
Using calculations from the agriculture census 2016 and the National Inventory Report 2017, an average Alberta farm of 855 acres at $25 per tonne equals $6,631, while in P.E.I., on an average size farm of 323 acres, the cost would be $5,403. Adding the on-farm energy and transport emissions cost, again from the same reports, there is an additional $2,030 for Alberta and $820 for P.E.I. The total for this is $8,661 for the average Alberta farm and $6,223 for the average P.E.I. farm.
As I have said, Alberta will soon be paying $30 per tonne. The reality is that when we hit $50 per tonne, as is the Liberal government's initial figure, which is of course much lower than what its environmental guru activists envision for any country so inclined, the costs would amount to $17,332 for Alberta and $12,446 for P.E.I.
The occupants of the government front bench may not know this, certainly the PM and the finance minister do not know this, but these “tax cheating farmers” do not have the means to pass this cost on to the consumer. It is kind of the situation that exists in agriculture when one buys retail and sells wholesale.
Since I know this will come up, I am looking forward to hearing from the Minister of Agriculture just how much the carbon tax exemption for marked fuel will reduce the costs for farmers. I will be seeking those answers in the weeks ahead.
I was honoured to scrutinize budgets in the past from a prime minister who, as an economist, understood not only Canada's financial realities inside and out, but also how Canada fit into the interrelated financial global markets. I also admire our Conservative team that respectfully and responsibly pursued trade deals where Canada's economic future was always considered first.
I stand with Canada's farmers who are going to be greatly impacted by the governments blindness to the role our men and women of agricultural play in the preservation and conservation of the land that produces the safest high-quality food on the planet.
I am thankful for the privilege of being allowed to speak in the final days of this chamber on a subject about which I and my constituents of Red Deer—Mountain View are so passionate.