Mr. Speaker, it was interesting listening to the Liberal member talk today about obsession. He talked about our government being obsessed with fiscal responsibility. We are guilty as charged. I am very proud of the fact we were obsessed with fiscal responsibility during our time.
The hon. member referred to Christine Lagarde, who during the time of the global slowdown in the world economy from 2008 to 2010 was very positive and complimentary of the Canadian Harper government's approach at the time in doing what needed on behalf of Canadians to make sure that Canada weathered the storm better than almost any other country in the world.
The hon. member might remember that during that time we set a five- to six-year plan in place to stimulate the economy, but then to get the budget back to balance by 2015. I had the honour of serving on a cabinet committee that evaluated plans by ministers and departments to contribute to getting the budget back to balance, and I am very proud of the fact that in 2015, we balanced the budget. That is the situation the current government inherited.
It is interesting to contrast that with the Liberal approach to the budget. The hon. member alluded to it, but he never actually answered the question on the promise made by the Liberal Party during the last election campaign to balance the budget by 2019, a promise that seems to have been completely abandoned at this point. He never mentioned the fact that the 40% of Canadians who voted for the Liberal Party to govern voted for a government that promised budgetary balance, with modest $10 billion deficits leading up to a balanced budget by 2019. Of course, 60% of Canadians voted for parties that ran on a promise to balance the budget, but the 40% who voted for the Liberals were, of course, duped by their completely broken promise, a promise they obviously never had any intention of keeping.
I represent the largest constituency by population in Canada. Edmonton—Wetaskiwin is probably zeroing in on about 180,000 people right now. It is the constituency where oil was discovered at its heart in 1947 at Leduc No. 1, something we are very proud of in my area. We have the Nisku Industrial Business Park, which is one North America's largest business parks and is central to the economy in the region, in Canada, and around the world. It is a very significant source of pride for people in our region.
To reach out to my constituents, I regularly host round table meetings and will probably do about 50 of them this year, each with 15 or 16 constituents around a table talking about the issues of the day. We have hosted several hundred of these over the years. Recently we have noticed a trend in the topics of discussion. The top two topics of discussion and the top two questions asked at these meetings are now: one, how do we get rid of this Liberal government at the federal level; and, two, how do we get rid of the NDP government in Alberta? We talk about the democratic process and, unfortunately, at this point in time we still have 17 months until the next election when Canadians will have their say on these governments.
The other top issues are broken promises by the Liberal government. We hear a lot about debt and deficits in Canada and concerns about the future. We hear a lot about pipelines. Constituents want to talk about pipeline policy in Canada. We hear about carbon taxes and their impact on the Canadian economy. I am going to talk about some of those things and relay some of the concerns my constituents have been communicating to me.
On broken promises, I hear about these more and more from people across the political spectrum. It is not just Conservatives coming to the round table meetings, but also people who voted voted Liberal and NDP. They come to these meetings and they have been talking a lot about the Liberal platform in 2015, promises that were made and completely broken.
Predictably, the Liberals have set up a web page. It is a mandate letter tracker to evaluate themselves, and on the tracker the Liberals get straight A's on everything, with almost no broken promises mentioned. In fact, they do not refer to broken promises; they refer to promises that are not being pursued, and I think they only have three of them. Of course, there is an independent tracker of Liberal promises. It is named after the Prime Minister and has counted 40 broken promises to date, which is a bit more accurate. It is interesting that Andrew Coyne had this to say about the mandate letter tracker:
Of course, it’s especially galling to see such opacity being deployed in what is supposedly an example of the government’s commitment to transparency. But transparency, gloriously, may nevertheless be the result. In one clueless swoop, the Liberals have managed to call attention not only to all the promises they have broken, but to their comical inability to admit what is plain for all to see.
That is a good summation of the Liberals' own website to track their own progress on promises.
I thought I would talk a bit about some of the promises that were made during the last election. I look here at page 29 of the Liberal election platform. If the Liberals who are in the room want to follow along, they can pull up their own platform and would read the following. On electoral reform, the Liberal platform stated, “We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first- past-the-post voting system.” I looked that up on the mandate letter tracker and apparently that is not being pursued. It is one of the three promises that are not broken, but just not being pursued anymore. We all remember the process that led to that decision. The Liberals tried to put forward a process to have a committee of parliamentarians from all parties study the electoral process in Canada. They went across the country and heard from various stakeholders, a lot of Canadians, about what they wanted to see in electoral reform. The committee worked together. Members of opposition parties came to agreement. That does not always happen in this place. We saw the Green Party, the NDP, and Conservatives come to agreement on a way forward and, of course, the Liberals then scuttled that agreement because it was not their chosen system. They had one particular system they wanted to go with that would have enhanced their numbers in the House of Commons. Right now about 60% of the MPs have been elected with 40% of the vote, and the system the Liberals wanted would have given them 70% of the seats. In the absence of the committee's reporting what the Liberals wanted to hear, they just abandoned the committee's report and broke their promise, or decided not to pursue it.
I turn to the very next page in the Liberal platform, for those following along. Indeed, I see there are a few people on their computers on the Liberal side. I hope they are following along as I am saying this. They will read on page 30, regarding free votes, that “For members of the Liberal caucus, all votes will be free votes with the exception of: those that implement the Liberal electoral platform; traditional confidence matters, like the budget; and those that address our shared values and protections guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” Those are the only three exceptions in the Liberal platform, and there is another promise.
Those who watch the proceedings in the House of Commons on CPAC could go back to the 10 years we were in government. The Conservative Party had more free votes than any party in the House of Commons at that point. The Liberals at that time were second. The NDP whipped its vote more than any other party. However, what we have now seen is the Liberals whipping their vote like no other government we have seen in the past. I will speak from personal experience. I moved a motion almost exactly a year ago on a Canadian autism partnership, which seemed to have strong support from Liberal members when I talked to them ahead of time. We had 12 of them show up on the Hill for World Autism Awareness Day, but when it came time to vote on the measure, they were whipped and every single one of them voted against having a Canadian autism partnership, which would have cost all of $20 million over five years. It was a partnership that experts had been working on for a couple of years. Clearly, that did not fit any of the Liberal exceptions and yet Liberal members were whipped to oppose it. Here is the clincher. In the mandate letter tracker, the Liberals have given themselves an A-plus on that, meaning it has been completely and fully met. The Liberals apparently have free votes on every single vote that does not fit those exceptions. Hopefully, the Liberals in the House right now who are looking at their computers are putting an X beside that one, and maybe they can answer that in their comments as we move forward.
We are just dealing with two pages so far. We were on page 29, and now we have page 30. On page 30, here is what the Liberals had to say on the subject of omnibus bills:
Stephen Harper has also used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals. We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.
They were going to bring an end to it.
We could have a debate as to whether the government should use omnibus bills. It has been an important topic of conversation for a long time how governments conduct themselves in the House and what tools they use or do not use. However, this is an example of a clear promise the Liberals made, and what are we debating today? We are debating an omnibus bill. The bill is 540-plus pages long, dealing with matters across government. On top of that, the government has used time allocation twice on the bill, at report stage and now at third reading, limiting debate at third reading to just five hours for a 540-plus page budget implementation bill.
Those who have been in the House for a long time would remember the Liberals decrying any use of time allocation on any bill when we were in government. The Liberals used it five times last week alone. In just three days they used it five times, including the time we have right now to debate this.
On the omnibus bills promise, the Liberals gave themselves another A-plus in their mandate letter tracker, as being completed and fully met. I wish I could have had a class with a professor like the Liberals when they evaluate themselves over there. I would have had a 100% average.
The following is the most critical promise. I could spend the entire five hours, if I were given the time, just talking about broken Liberal promises from their platform alone. However, I will finish with page 12 of the platform, where it talked about the budget. This is interesting, because the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge asked a question about this. It feels like it was probably our thousandth question on this subject. He asked when the budget would be balanced. Of course, he got a meandering response that had nothing to do with the question. Every time a Canadian hears that question asked, they should refer back to the promise from page 12 of the Liberal platform. I will give my hon. colleagues across the way time to look this one up, in case they do not remember, because it seems like no one over there remembers this promise. Here is a direct quote from the Liberal platform:
We will run modest short-term deficits of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years
—this was back in 2015, and I think we are three times that now—
to fund historic investments in infrastructure and our middle class. After the next two fiscal years, the deficit will decline and our investment plan will return Canada to a balanced budget in 2019.
This is kind of funny. The mandate letter tracker evaluates this one as “underway with challenges”. I do not even know what that means.
I could probably give another 20-minute speech analyzing those three words, but I am going to come back to the debt and deficit promise, the promised modest $10 billion deficits that would be balanced by 2019. The reality is that the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the finance minister's own office have said that the budget will not be balanced until 2045. Some say it will be 2052, or more than a generation away.
The really interesting contradiction here is that the Liberals, whenever they get up and answer questions in question period, or Q and A time here, point to how fantastic things are in the Canadian economy.
The Liberals say the Canadian economy is doing great, and yet, as great as they claim the Canadian economy is doing, they cannot find a way to balance the budget. They are running a $22-billion deficit right now and claim the economy is doing fantastically, leading the world, but they cannot balance the budget, which is in a $22-billion deficit.
I will give a bit of a history lesson. In 1968, Canadians elected a Trudeau government, and Canada had almost no debt in 1968, or very little debt. That Trudeau government ran deficits in 14 out of 15 years in power. In 14 out of 15 years, it ran deficits. In 1984, when the Liberals were finally defeated, Canada had high interest rates, our economy was in a shambles, and for the next nine years the Mulroney government ran deficits. The Liberals like to point to those deficits as being very large, but what people do not realize is that if we look at the numbers behind those deficits, we see that the Conservative government, during those years, brought in about as much money as it spent, and, on top of that, the interest payments on Trudeau's debt were among the biggest deficits in Canadian history at that time.
The interest payments on Trudeau's debt accumulated over nine years, to the point where, in the mid-1990s, another Liberal government came to power. Canadians across the country who were around at that time remember the devastating cuts of the mid-1990s. Thirty-five billion dollars was cut from health care spending, social services spending, and education spending through the Canada health transfer and the Canada social transfer. If we were to talk to virtually any stakeholder who works in the kind of world that the Liberals describe as important, those stakeholders would say that those cuts in the mid-1990s, such as to international development, were absolutely devastating to the things that Canadians hold dear and the things that Liberals purport to hold dear.
Where are we going now? The projection for a generation from now says that we will be running continued deficits, that we will be in the neighbourhood of $1 trillion in debt by the time these deficits accumulate, and our demographics will have changed. Some have said that for every senior citizen right now, there are about four people in the workforce. We will have two and a half people working for every senior citizen by 2030, the numbers show, and those two and a half people are going to have to pay down the Liberal debt. There is no way.
We saw it before, in the mid-1990s, and we are going to see it again. If we keep going in the direction we are going, we are going to be looking at massive cuts to health care, education, social services, international development, cuts to whatever is important. Governments of the day a generation from now are going to have to take a look at cutting those things to pay down this Liberal debt. Remember that in the mid-1990s, it was a Liberal government that had to make those cuts to pay off the Trudeau debt, and we are looking at the same situation repeating itself.
I will quickly touch on pipelines, because that is a big issue in my constituency. On top of the debt that we are running up, we are completely hamstringing ourselves when it comes to the revenue side. The situation the Liberals inherited was that northern gateway had been approved, and we had energy east, which they regulated out of consideration. After TransCanada had spent over $1 billion on red tape, they finally decided to make, as the Liberals called it, an economic decision—of course, they made an economic decision not to move forward on something that had already cost them over $1 billion in red tape—and they had to nationalize Trans Mountain to make it work.
I have a lot more to say, but I will move an amendment. I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures, be not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Finance for the purpose of reconsidering clause 186 with the view to requiring the government to reveal how much the carbon tax will cost.