Madam Speaker, I am happy to join in on the debate so soon after the bringing in of closure again.
I am pleased to speak on budget implementation act, no. 2, an omnibus bill that is a sequel to Budget Implementation Act, No. 1, which is also an omnibus bill. This is a sequel omnibus bill to an omnibus bill.
Who cares, some might ask, that this is another omnibus bill? Apparently not our government Liberals. I wonder if they forgot their pledge from the last election regarding the practice of omnibus bills. If they forgot, I will remind them. This is from their website: “We will...bring an end to this undemocratic practice.”
Maybe the Liberals say it does not count because they had their fingers crossed behind their backs when they made that pledge. Maybe they say it does not count because at the time they did not put their hands over their hearts when they made that pledge, so it is okay to break that promise. That is fine. We just ask them not to be hypocrites and to just own it. They should come out and say they are going to do omnibus bills. Unfortunately, what we have right here is another omnibus bill.
The Liberals said they were going to end this practice of bringing forward omnibus bills, and it is actually on the Liberal mandate tracker. In the mandate tracker, it says, under the words “Completed—fully met”, that “[m]easures are in place to end the improper use of omnibus bills”. The Liberals have said in a mandate tracker that they have ended the practice, yet here we have another omnibus bill. Maybe they are hinging this on the word “improper”. It is improper for perhaps Conservatives to use omnibus bills, but it is okay if they do it, because they are Liberals.
What else does it say on this wonderful Liberal mandate tracker? There are 23 items labelled “progress made, facing challenges”, including balancing the budget in 2019-20. With respect to running a $20-billion deficit next year, instead of balancing the budget as Liberals promised, progress is being made and there are challenges.
The world has not seen this level of denial since perhaps the Black Knight in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like the Black Knight refusing to see the truth with his limbs cut off, I can see the finance minister, in response to the $20-billion deficit, bouncing about the finance ministry saying, “'Tis but a scratch. It is under way with challenges.”
What other lies can we find on the Liberal mandate tracker with respect to progress made? “Make sure the Infrastructure Bank supports the construction of new, affordable rental housing.” Keep in mind, Liberals say this is “progress made”, yet their fabled infrastructure bank has not put a single penny into housing. In fact, the only thing Liberals have done so far, which was politically motivated, is invest in a Quebec transit project that is actually going to deliver below-market returns for taxpayers.
One of their other promises is to “Ensure that the [CRA] is a client-focused agency.” Liberals have said they made progress in ensuring that CRA is delivering services to Canada, the same CRA that the Auditor General called out for doctoring its performance standards. CRA was basically hanging up on Canadians or stopping its calls from coming through to show a higher response rate than actually reported. The same Auditor General just recently talked about how the CRA would give special extensions for large companies and offshore tax cheats, but not give those same extensions to small individual businesses or Canadians. However, to the Liberals, this is progress made.
One of my favourite items labelled “progress made” in the Liberal mandate tracker is “Ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces have the equipment they need.” We have the fighter jet issue. The Liberals promised they were not going to buy the F-35, and then, as the Auditor General stated, they manufactured a capability gap. It used to be NORAD first and then NATO. Then Liberals said they needed a reason not to buy the F-35s and get Super Hornets, and said that NORAD and NATO were on the same level so they would need more jets. Then they decided to buy sole-source Boeing Super Hornets, but Boeing got into a fight with Bombardier, and since the Liberals did not want Bombardier to be picked on, Boeing was punted out. They decided they were not going to buy jets from Boeing, so what did they do? They decided to buy used Boeing Hornets from Australia.
They launched what they say was an open and fair competitive process to replace the fighter jets over about a five- or six-year period, even though the mandate letter actually said to have it done by 2019.
Our allies, Israel, Germany, Denmark and South Korea, have all managed to do an open and honest competition in two years or less. South Korea actually started its open competition, suspended it while it reviewed whether it wanted to go to a new plane or stick with the F-16, restarted its open competition and managed to finish it within a two-year period, but we are going to take five years or six years.
Regarding ships, we know the President of the Treasury Board is embroiled in the scandal with Admiral Mark Norman for his political interference with buying the Asterix. Of course, he says that it his job to interfere with contracts as Treasury Board president. We asked him why he did not interfere with the Phoenix pay system, the same system he paid to have the Gartner report done on. The Gartner report very clearly said not to go ahead and that there were too many problems with Phoenix. However, he looked at the report and threw it out because it was not his job to look at it, but it was his job to interfere with the ship contract at Davie.
With sleeping bags, the government is asking our soldiers to return their sleeping bags. We need to use them for other troops because there are not enough sleeping bags, but progress is being made on the mandate letter of course. Our soldiers have to buy their own boots and seek reimbursement from the government, but again, under the mandate letter, progress is being made.
What is the point of all this about the mandate letter? It is to point out the truth and expose the Liberal talking points for what they are, which is simply empty rhetoric. Do people want more empty rhetoric? Just go to any speech made by the Liberals on how they are helping my home province of Alberta. Listen to anything from the mouth of the natural resources minister, who is allegedly representing Edmonton Mill Woods in Alberta.
Here is what the natural resources minister says on Bill C-69, the famous “no pipeline ever“ bill. He says, “It gives a pathway to proponents...You engage early, you get good results.” For seven years, Kinder Morgan engaged and consulted, and was side-swiped by the government. Northern gateway was years in consulting and engaging, and it was killed by the government. It is the same story with energy east. Even the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would look at Bill C-69 and say that this is a disaster which is going to kill the energy industry in Alberta.
What else do we get? A five-year extension of unfair equalization of Alberta shifting money to other provinces. There was no consultation, just a tiny line hidden in a 700-page omnibus bill. In Alberta, we have been in a financial crisis for three years now and a human crisis. Donations to charities are low, access to food banks is at a high, unemployment is at a high, families are falling apart, suicide is rising and the government does nothing. This is how bad it gets, because I am actually going to quote the NDP. Joe Ceci, the Alberta finance minister, said that if it was Bombardier, all hands would be on deck.
The Prime Minister was recently in Calgary and said, “...things...are beyond our control here...we are constrained and have been for a long time...” Out of their control. I have to ask, how is killing northern gateway out of his control? How is hitting energy east with rules and regulations he would not dare put on Saudi Arabia oil out of his control? How is banning oil tankers from the B.C. north coast beyond his control? How is Bill C-69, the “no more pipelines ever" bill out of his control? Basically, I think telling the truth to Albertans is out of his control. The only truth we have heard from the PM was when he said that he wanted to phase out the oil sands business.
With this bill, we have $19 billion of debt this year, another $20 billion next year. Bombardier is laying off people, and obviously GM is laying off people in Oshawa today. What tools are we going to have when the recession hits? Almost nothing. The government is spending now in good times when it should be putting money aside for when the recession hits. Budget implementation act, no. 2 is as bad as Budget Implementation Act, No. 1. It pushes us further into debt and leaves nothing for Canada and Canadians when we do need it.