Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour to stand in this place on behalf of the people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. I will be splitting my time with the eloquent member for Lethbridge.
Over the past few years, we have watched the ongoing demise of our energy sector. Regardless of what people may think of northern gateway, or energy east or the northern tanker ban, the end result is clear. Billions of dollars of investment and thousands of new jobs are leaving Canada. If this were just the Canadian energy sector, that would be a huge concern all on its own. However, we know it is not just the energy sector.
Last week in question period I asked about multiple factories in different sectors that had closed their doors and left Canada: General Electric in Peterborough closed, 358 jobs gone; Campbell Soup in Toronto closed, 380 jobs gone; Procter and Gamble in Brockville closed, 500 jobs gone. These are just a few examples. Keep in mind that these major companies are not leaving North America; they are just consistently saying no to manufacturing in Canada. Should we not pause to consider some of the reasons why?
We all heard the deeply troubling news that General Motors would close its Oshawa plant. To be fair, General Motors is closing plants in the United States as well. However, in Canada, we know this will have a much larger impact. Many smaller plants provide parts and supplies for this Oshawa factory.
Should we not ask why so many of these manufacturing plants are leaving Canada?
When we have raised this question in this place, we have heard mixed messages from our Prime Minister. Some days he will tell us that all is well and that there is nothing to see here. Other days he will find some way to suggest that this is all the fault of the previous Harper government. However, when in Alberta, he will acknowledge that, yes. this is a crisis. Then he turns around and offers up a budget update with no new solutions for Canadian energy. Ultimately, none of these explanations address the underlying fact.
Canada is losing critically important well-paying jobs. What are the reasons?
We know that the enhanced CPP created by the Liberal Government amounts to a payroll tax to employers. It increases the costs of doing business in Canada. Our competitors did not increase payroll taxes in this way.
We also know that a carbon tax increases the price of doing business in Canada. The Liberals seem loathe to hear that point, yet the Liberal government announced carbon tax relief for big polluters in Canada. Why? We all know why. Because our competitors do not have a carbon tax.
A Liberal parliamentary secretary, in this place, on the record, admitted that job losses and economic consequences would result from competitive concerns. Therefore, let us recap.
The Liberal government recognizes and reluctantly admits that the carbon tax is job killer that will harm the economy. They said so in this place. That brings me to the topic of coal.
Recently the Liberal government provided a 95.5% carbon tax discount on burning coal for power in New Brunswick. Why? Because the Prime Minister and his inner circle decided that this was something Canada should do. Is it because the United States and Mexico do not have a carbon tax on the burning of coal? We do not know.
Aside from coal there are other challenges.
Some of our competing jurisdictions in the United States are right to work states. I find that when a company leaves Canada and moves production to the United States, it often relocates to a right to work state.
Look at the Bombardier deal with Airbus. The C-Series jet, subsidized by Canadian taxpayers, now will be built in a plant in Alabama. Alabama happens to be a right to work state.
The General Electric plant that will build 60 new locomotives CN just ordered to help move oil by rail because we cannot do it by pipeline is located in Texas, also a right to work state.
Proctor & Gamble left Ontario and moved production to West Virginia. Virginia has right to work legislation.
I mention this because here in Canada, mandatory union dues are frequently used in playing partisan politics. We are witnessing an example of this with Unifor. However, we have other challenges. Despite a new NAFTA agreement, steel and aluminum tariffs remain, softwood lumber tariffs remain and buy American provisions remain.
In the past, we have had a favourable exchange rate when comparing the Canadian dollar to the U.S. dollar. Sadly, much of those exchange rate savings have now been eaten up by costs and regulations that we have placed on ourselves.
Think about all of the debate around how best to respond to Saudi Arabia. The Prime Minister continues to support buying Saudi Arabian oil while his Bill C-69 kills the possibility for the energy east pipeline. Why? Saudi Arabian oil flows to the Irving refinery in Atlantic Canada and Saudi Arabia is a country with no carbon tax. Somehow to the Liberal government this all makes sense.
Make no mistake that Bill C-69 will kill our Canadian resource sector. Every single day we watch anywhere from $40 million to $80 million in lost resource revenue go out the door in Alberta. That is almost as fast as our Prime Minister can tweet Canadians' money away in new promises to his American celebrity friends. Meanwhile, we turn the other way while money from outside of Canada continues to fund the very groups who oppose our Canadian oil made by Canadian citizens who pay Canadian taxes.
Seriously, we have a problem here. Make no mistake that it is a Canadian problem. Right now we are talking about General Motors shutting down a plant in Oshawa, Ontario, but what will be next and where?
On a more local note, I would like to share an example. Many members have heard of Tolko Industries. It is a Canadian success story with strong roots in the Okanagan. Tolko runs over 15 different lumber operations in three provinces in western Canada. Where did Tolko announce its next major investment and expansion earlier this year? That would be in the state of Louisiana. Members may have already guessed that Louisiana is also a right-to-work state. The last mill that Tolko closed was located in my riding in the community of Merritt.
Unlike the Prime Minister who tries to lay every one of his failures at the feet of Mr. Harper, I am not going to lay every one of these challenges at the feet of the Prime Minister. We cannot control what happens outside of our borders. We cannot control if other countries reject a carbon tax, and they have. We cannot control if they reject looking at resource projects through a gender lens, and they have. We cannot control if they lower the costs of doing business in their jurisdiction, and they are. We here in Canada cannot stop other nations, our trading partners, from implementing policies that they believe will make them more competitive.
Here is what we can do. This motion proposes that we should recognize we have the power to compete here in Canada. When and wherever Canadians compete on a level playing field, we can compete with the best in the world. We can succeed. In my view, we cannot continue to enact policy, regulation and taxation where others do not follow. We as Canadians like to think we are leading the way, but when others do not follow our lead and when we lose jobs and investment to other jurisdictions, we need to take notice.
There is an upside, in one word: opportunity. Canada is a rich and resourceful country. We have incredibly talented people who live here. We are a world-class place to live and to raise a family. However, we cannot tax away our best and brightest, nor can we regulate new opportunities.
If we are to truly succeed, we need to be competitive. We need to allow our innovators, our best and brightest to have the opportunity they need to succeed. We need new employers knocking on our door, not just because they want handouts and subsidies but because they know they can get a return here on their investments. However, they need to be able to invest and to build easily and relatively quickly. We have almost lost that here in Canada. Deep down, I think most in this place would admit that. Fortunately, we have a capable and skilled workforce. We have good infrastructure to get goods and services to markets and, thankfully, because of considerable effort from previous governments, and with some ongoing efforts from the current government, we have trade access to many of the world's most lucrative marketplaces.
In closing, we must not overlook our opportunity. Compared to many jurisdictions, we have relatively clean power here in Canada. We need to show the world that using Canadian-made goods and services is part of the solution. However, the first step is to recognize there is a problem, and ultimately, that is what this motion is meant to do.