Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to this opposition motion presented by the hon. member for Carleton and to provide some insight and my perspective on it.
I will start by saying that, as usual, I am perplexed by the fact that the Conservatives somehow have this moral high ground to stand on to judge this side of the House when it comes to fiscal responsibility. For some reason there is a notion out there, and I would say it goes far beyond just our borders, that Conservative and alt-right governments are fiscally responsible.
In reality, when we actually stop and look at it, what we see, in looking back at the last 19 budgets introduced by Conservative governments in the House of Commons of Canada, 16 ran deficits. This is really easy to prove. Anyone can go on Google and see this. As a matter of fact, and this one takes a little more work, but with help from the Library of Parliament I was able to do it, if we actually dig and look at the debt that has been created by governments over the past 151 years, we actually find that the Conservatives have been in power for 36% of the time yet have racked up well over 50% of the debt.
For some reason, there is a perception out there that Conservatives are somehow fiscally responsible. However, the proof, in the last 151 years of this experiment that we call Canada, has not produced any results that actually substantiate that claim.
We come to today's motion, presented by the hon. member for Carleton. He is specifically trying to drill down in various rhetorical ways, as he has done many times in the past in this House, on commitments made by the government.
What we have been able to see, the results from the government over the last three years plus, is the lowest rate of unemployment since we started recording it over 40 years ago. We are now sitting at the lowest rate. That is what the government has produced.
The debt-to-GDP ratio, which is extremely relevant, but of course, the Conservatives never want to talk about it, because it is pretty amazing as well, is at the lowest rate it has been in Canada, and more importantly, is among the lowest rates among the G7 countries. We currently have among the best, especially when we compare ourselves to our neighbour to the south, debt-to-GDP ratios.
We are also one of the national leaders among the G7 countries when it comes to growth. This is as a result of investing. This is as a result of investing in Canadians. This is as a result of investing in their potential. This is as a result of investing in businesses in Canada. That is what this government is doing, and that is why we are seeing the results we are.
Let us talk about the first thing the government did when it came into power. The first thing it did was reduce taxes for the middle class and raise them on the 1%. We recognized, unlike the Conservatives, that to have a successful economy, we need to have people out there in the marketplace engaging in the marketplace. We are not going to have a successful economy if all the wealth and all the income is among the top 1%.
One would think, from a business perspective, that the Conservatives would get this. We need people to spend money. How are people going to make money in their businesses if we do not have people spending money? That is exactly what the tax cut for the middle class is all about.
It is also about creating equality and equal opportunities. It is about seeing the potential in marginalized segments of our population and how they can contribute to our economy. That includes an issue that I am extremely passionate about as it relates to gender equality and putting more women in the workforce in less traditional jobs in this country. This is about creating opportunities and putting the necessary pieces of the puzzle in place so that we can see the success that continues to see our country grow. That is exactly what we have done.
We also recognize that we have to take care of some of the most vulnerable in our community. That is why the government put in place a $40-billion, 10-year plan with respect to a national affordable housing strategy to assist people. If people do not have the most basic requirement of housing, if they do not have their most basic need, how can they possibly be expected to perform and work in our society and generate wealth and opportunities? That is what we saw, and that is why we are delivering on that.
At the same time that we made sure to put the social elements in place, we also looked at strengthening the private sector and the business sector. That is why this government decided to reduce the small business corporate tax rate from 11% to 9%.
I will note that this was introduced in the budget last year, and the Conservatives voted against it. I challenged them on this many times, asking why they would vote against a reduction from 11% to 9%, and the answer, to be fair, was that they had to vote against the entire budget, so they could not vote for that.
Fair enough, but not once did I hear a Conservative member stand to say, “Despite the fact that I am going to be voting against the budget, I would like to say that I am really happy with seeing the corporate tax rate for small businesses reduced from 11% to 9%.” I may stand corrected and I would love to see the excerpt from Hansard to confirm that I am wrong, but I spend a lot of time in the House through the various debates, and whether from this side of the House or from the opposition putting forward motions, I have yet to hear that.
As we put these different mechanisms in place to strengthen the social aspects of our communities and to strengthen businesses, we are seeing the results coming out on the other end of it. We have 14 new free trade agreements covering 26 countries. We are the only G7 nation with free trade access to the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. This government understands the benefits of putting policy in place that gives us the opportunity to start trading and working collaboratively with other economies so that we can see the win-win scenarios that come out of those. We are going to continue doing that.
We will continue to work to make sure that we strengthen our economy and, more importantly than just the economy, the people who contribute to that economy and who make the economy a reality. We are going to do this by making sure that we put those elements in place.
When I listen to the debate from the other side of the House, as I have this morning and into the afternoon, I wonder about exactly what the Conservatives would cut.
The Conservatives talk about austerity and the need to cut, cut, cut, and one of the things that has come up a number of times in this debate is the Canada child benefit. The member who introduced this motion might be interested to know that 16,400 children in Carleton receive the Canada child benefit, which equates an average of $5,400 per month per family. The member for Carleton might want to start having a conversation with those members of his community as to what he plans to do with the CCB should he ever be put in a position to have the ability to do something with it.
Because the Conservatives refuse to tell us what austerity measures they will take, the only reference point we have is to see what Doug Ford has done in Ontario. We know that the Leader of the Opposition and Doug Ford are pretty tight, since we have seen pictures of them hanging out and they have had several meetings. I can only assume that the Leader of the Opposition is taking his direction from Doug Ford. If that is the case, Ontarians and Canadians should be extremely worried.
Let us look at what Doug Ford has done. He is stripping education, removing free education for the poorest of families in Ontario. He has eliminated repairs to school buildings. He has removed the youth pharmacare plan. Doug Ford eliminated the indigenous culture fund. He scrapped social assistance increases. He scrapped the minimum wage and he put an end to the round table on violence against women.
Who would do that? How much could that possibly have cost? However, Doug Ford did that.
Since the opposition refuses to say what it plans to do in terms of austerity, Canada should look to Doug Ford, who is the Leader of the Opposition's best friend these days, to see what direction it will head in, because that is the direction this country would head in if the people of Canada gave the Leader of the Opposition the opportunity to do so.