Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte.
I am grateful to have this opportunity to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-74, the budget implementation act. This piece of legislation is concerning for a number of reasons, including the fact that it is an omnibus bill that is not being given proper consideration, as the Liberals continually shut down debate.
The Liberals promised not to use time allocation or omnibus bills in this way, but we have unfortunately learned that keeping promises to Canadians is not the government's forte. To name a few, do electoral reform and an end to first past the post, an end to omnibus bills, or balanced budgets sound familiar?
During his campaign, the Prime Minister committed to running a deficit of up to $10 billion during his time in government, with a promise to balance the budget by 2019. We now know that this was patently false. This year's budget is $18 billion and climbing, and the Liberals have added $60 billion-plus to the national debt in just three years. Figures show that the budget will not return to balance until 2045, and now we have nationalized a pipeline with public money, when private money would have done it. We cannot forget the fact that in this budget, there are no plans if NAFTA fails.
The Liberals keep adding to their reckless spending. In football, they would call a penalty for piling on.
In Saskatchewan, we have a tradition at the Kinsmen Kinettes Telemiracle fundraiser, when throughout the event, the show host puts up the totals board and chants, “Where are we going to go?”, and the audience replies, “Higher”. I would point out, however, that this is with private money, not public money, unlike for the Liberals, who throw taxpayer dollars around like it is nothing.
This means that our children and grandchildren will have to foot the bill for the government's reckless spending. The Liberals fail to see that their spending is actually being done at the expense of the very people they claim they are trying to help: the middle class and those who wish to join it.
This omnibus bill contains many provisions, but the most important one for my constituents, and indeed for all people in Saskatchewan, is the carbon tax, yet while the government has the numbers, it will not tell Canadians what it will cost them.
As many members in the House know, the oil and gas industry has suffered greatly in recent years. In my hometown of Estevan, I witnessed the exodus first-hand. Many companies were forced to shut down, and not just those directly in the energy industry. The trickle-down effect killed services too, and restaurants and hotels were forced to close, because the business just was not there anymore. It was and still is a hard time, and we have not bounced back anywhere close to where we were in the past, though the Liberals seem to think that the hard times are over.
Canadians who bought houses now have no jobs or have jobs that pay significantly less, and they cannot afford to pay for the houses they have. Innovation jobs and infrastructure jobs do not exist, and there is nothing for them to grasp onto, not to mention that everyone in the community is in the same boat, and there is no confidence to buy a house or in the housing market generally.
Now, here comes the carbon tax.
I am proud to be from Saskatchewan, the province that thus far has refused to bend to the federal government on its forced carbon tax. The provincial government understands what the federal Liberals do not, that the people of Saskatchewan simply cannot afford another tax, especially since Canadians across our country are already paying more tax under this Liberal government.
This budget gives $1.4 billion to provinces that have signed on to the government's climate agenda. Of the four maritime provinces that have signed on, not one has a carbon scheme or plan. One has a tax that it will rename.
Saskatchewan has a plan and is denied access to these funds. We have learned time and time again that if one does not conform to Liberal values and ideals, there will be a penalty to pay.
When the Government of Saskatchewan put forward its plan to reduce emissions, it was immediately rejected by the federal Minister of Environment. It is her way or the highway.
Saskatchewan's climate change strategy was well thought out, taking into account all aspects of the province. However, it was not deemed good enough by the Liberals here in Ottawa. There was seemingly no consideration given for the work that is already being done in my province to reduce emissions.
I would argue that farmers in my riding have a far better grasp of climate change than the majority of Canadians. These men and women have been stewards of their land for generations. They have spent time, money, and energy in trying to figure out the best, lowest-impact methods to farm, such as zero tillage, air seeding, and crop rotation, which put in and take out nitrogen and carbon from the soil. However, the budget had no mention of farmers at all. Not one word.
Farmers are the epitome of innovation. They have done it through centuries, through droughts, floods, and grasshopper infestations, all of which come regularly and are dealt with using the skill sets these people have developed over generations. They respect the land, because it is their livelihood, and it is only reasonable to assume that these individuals would do whatever possible to ensure they are farming in the most sustainable and responsible way.
Instead of helping out these farmers and ranchers, the Liberals are making their lives significantly more expensive and difficult with a carbon tax. They will now need to pay more for fuel, a huge expense in any farming operation; more for supplies, because transportation of these pieces will go up, and it is not like there is a manufacturer around the corner in rural Saskatchewan; and more for labour. I would be lax if I did not mention that the Liberal government implied that farmers and small business owners were tax cheats.
I have not spoken to a single agriculture producer in my riding who is in favour of a carbon tax, despite what the Liberals claim. Again, the federal government is absolutely failing when it comes to helping the middle class. Perhaps those in the middle class only matter when they are willing to donate to the Liberal Party of Canada, because my constituents do not feel valued by their Prime Minister and his members of Parliament.
One thing that frustrates me in this discussion on the carbon tax in relation to Bill C-74 is that there is almost no consideration given to the work already being done in Saskatchewan to reduce emissions. The coal-fired power plant in Estevan at Boundary Dam utilizes a world-first technology in one of its generators, which has been proven not only to reduce emissions but also to utilize the by-products of this technology, like sulphur, sulphuric acid, and fly ash for cement to the benefit of other industries.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that the carbon is sequestered in the ground. It is called carbon capture and sequestration, CCS, although members may not have heard of it since the minister does not champion it beyond saying, “I've been there”. The public safety minister has stood up and said that he started a study on CCS 25 years ago, yet where is he today, and where is the promotion of CCS at Boundary Dam? It was the Conservative government of Stephen Harper that gave $250 million dollars towards it and actually championed this new technology.
CCS is a technology that allows emissions from coal-fired power plants to be captured and sequestered kilometres underground. Since it has been in operation, the CCS facility at Boundary Dam has already captured and removed over two million tonnes of the CO2 emissions from the environment. This is the equivalent to roughly 500,000 cars being taken off our roads.
As I said, this is a world-first technology. Governments across the world regularly send envoys to Boundary Dam so they can take a look at using this technology to reduce their emissions as well. It is green, it is innovative, yet it gets barely any recognition from the government.
The western states in the U.S. have signed a memorandum of understanding for further investigation of CCS. The country of Taiwan is interested in the technology, as they are shutting down their five nuclear power plants. With all that said, the budget will give $500 million to a foreign infrastructure bank to build pipelines and coal energy plants in China without this technology. Here is where the Public Safety Minister could say, “Let's keep the money at home in Canada.”
It is absolutely frustrating that the Minister of Environment fails time and again to give Saskatchewan and the CCS technology in Estevan its due. The Minister of Public Safety, the lone minister for Saskatchewan, does not champion his own province's initiatives to reduce emissions. It is shameful, and even more so since it is the good people of Saskatchewan who must ultimately pay the price.
Bill C-74 would mean that costs will go up across the board because of this carbon tax. I will repeat that while the Liberals know the cost, they will not tell Canadians. Canadians are sick and tired of being told they need to pay more money when their federal government keeps spending recklessly and adding more and more to our national debt.