House of Commons Hansard #373 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservatives.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2019 / 3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Madam Speaker, it has been a very interesting debate today and, I think, a very productive one.

The numbers have been very clear. Our government was elected in 2015 on a plan to grow the economy, and what we have heard here today is that this is happening. The economy has been growing. Unemployment is at all-time record lows.

The opposition really wants to talk about the deficits and the debt and their fiscal picture. In the last 10 years, the Conservatives left us with a 7.1% unemployment rate. We have now brought it down to 5.6%. Does that sound like an economy that is not growing? All the businesses in my area have been having a hard time meeting the needs and demands and hiring more people because of the growth that they have been sharing.

I forgot to mention at the beginning of my speech that I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg North, and we all know that the member for Winnipeg North will add much-needed facts and figures to this debate to shed more light on the debt issue.

Our debt-to-GDP ratio is continuing to decline. That is our plan, and it is a plan that has been working, as we have seen since 2015 through the investments we have been making. The member for Durham mentioned investments several times, and that has been our key focus. Every budget that we as a government have put out has been thinking about what investments we can make in our country, what investments we can make in Canadians, and that is exactly what Canadians in my area, Bramptonians, want to see.

They have been devastated by the cuts of the Doug Ford government. Every time I have a meeting in my constituency, I see an angry commuter because of the cuts to GO transit or an angry student from my youth council because of the cuts to OSAP. That is probably what we can expect from the Conservatives if they come to power, because that is what they like to talk about. They want to try to balance the budget at any cost on the backs of Canadians. They will do it by taking away from health care or by taking away from students.

What have we done as a government? As we have heard, the average Canadian has $2,000 more in their pocket because of the middle-class tax cut that we have provided and because of the Canada child benefit, which is tax-free. The former Conservative government taxed that benefit. We have made it tax-free.

That is not to mention 50% more in student grants and making sure that students do not have to repay their loans until they make at least $25,000. These are measures that help and benefit the average Canadian, the middle class and those who are working hard to join it. If we want to talk in particular of those who are working hard to join it, our Canada workers benefit will benefit those people who have a job and will incentivize them to keep working by giving them a little bit more so that they can make ends meet.

Those are the types of plans that we have put in place and those are the plans that have been benefiting this country from coast to coast to coast. That is why we are seeing record-breaking job numbers. We are seeing 800,000 jobs created by Canadians in this country. That does not happen without investments. We made the right investments at the right time, and Canadians have been taking that opportunity to grow their businesses.

Do members know what else helps Canadians grow their business? It is the tax cuts that we have provided to small businesses. We have provided many measures that have been helping to alleviate the burdens that have been placed on small businesses.

Along with the tax cuts are the services that have been provided by this government. Innovation Canada has provided an excellent tool to serve small business so that they can find grants. They can find money through various levels of government and through various different programs. We are making sure that we are listening to people, not just debating them every step of the way. We are listening to their needs.

What I am hearing from businesses is that they find it very hard to navigate government. That is why we put those types of measures in place, so that they can access the capital and the help that they need to continue to grow. I believe that is why we are seeing the success that we are seeing in our economy.

Canadians do not have to take my word for it. Our federal debt-to-GDP ratio is amongst the lowest in the G7 countries. That is what keeps our economy growing. The International Monetary Fund commended Canada last year for our AAA rating and for our debt-to-GDP ratio. We are looking good. We are in a good financial situation. Despite the Conservatives painting a fake gloom-and-doom picture, it is quite the contrary. We are seeing that in the actual numbers.

In Brampton North alone, the CCB has helped 14,470 families. Over 14,000 families. They are better off under our government. I know the Conservatives like to talk about their boutique tax cuts, but that is not the best way to help all Canadians. With these measures, making the Canada child benefit accessible to anybody and making it tax free, we are allowing families to be able to save for university, to pay for those sporting activities and to pay for tutoring and extracurriculars.

The city of Brampton also saw a major investment in transit by our government. Over $32 million was invested in transit projects, like replacing and fixing buses and having storage facilities for these buses. That has been a tremendous help to the city of Brampton. Our transit system, for those who do not know, is one of the fastest growing at 18%. On average, in the country, we see a 1% growth. It is remarkable. We have one of the youngest cities in the country, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, and because of that we have a fast-growing transit system.

These investments are needed more than ever. My fear is that the plan the Conservatives have been tossing around would take away a lot of those measures that Bramptonians so desperately need. Bramptonians have seen major benefits through all of the trade agreements that have been signed by our government.

Through the hard work of the foreign affairs minister and her team, and the trade minister, we have now secured access to over 1.5 billion people through CETA, CPTPP and the USMCA. All of that gives us larger market shares, and that helps grow our economy and helps businesses to be able to export more efficiently. That is a plan that cares about Canadians and cares about growing the economy.

I have visited many businesses in my area, and I would like to talk about one. HRWARE is a local, family-owned business that sells innovative technology services and HR software across the globe.

It is agreements like these that have opened up markets for them, so that they can hire on more young students coming out of Sheridan College. Hopefully, one day, Brampton will be able to say that it has its very own university, but unfortunately, very recently we just heard from the Doug Ford government that this was a cut it was going to put in place. It cut a Brampton university from our city, a city that, as I just mentioned, has one of the youngest populations and has a great need. It is the ninth largest city in the country.

That is what worries me about the Conservatives. They try to hide their plan but we know what it really is. It is austerity. It is going to be cuts, just like Doug Ford. That is going to hurt Bramptonians. It is going to hurt Canadians. We will not see the type growth that is needed in this country when those cuts are made.

In conclusion, I would like to say this. We need to make sure that we continue investing, that we keep down this path and that we re-elect this government so we can see even more growth for years to come.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, the member knows that I also spend a lot of time in Brampton North. The people in Brampton North are telling me that they are paying for the mistakes of the current Prime Minister.

The member spoke about the Doug Ford government. I think she knows that Ontario is struggling under the crushing debt and deficit that are the legacy of the Kathleen Wynne government. We want to make sure things do not get that bad at the national level. We cannot let the Prime Minister do to Canada what Kathleen Wynne has done to Ontario. We cannot get into a situation where people have to pay so much for those major mistakes. That means limiting the growth of government spending. That means not spending money on things like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is building pipelines in Azerbaijan. That means not giving money to a Texas-based oil company to buy a pipeline here in Canada with no plan to build it. That is what a responsible plan allowing Canadians to get ahead would look like.

I want to ask the member for Brampton North a question that I know is important to her constituents. We know that the application window for parents and grandparents was only open for seven minutes. While the government is accommodating illegal immigrants, it has no plan to address the crisis at the border. Does she think that seven minutes is fair to those people in Brampton North who are trying to sponsor people to come to Canada?

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to answer my colleague's question. I know he spends a lot of time in Brampton. Therefore, he would know that the immigration needs are great.

Bramptonians have been excited ever since this government has come into place because they finally have a government that has been listening to their immigration concerns. The people who walk through my door are people who have had the door shut in their faces. They were waiting over eight to nine years for their parents to come. Some have even waited 10 years. We have cut that backlog. We have made it so that our system is efficient. Spousal sponsorship is within a year, and much less in most circumstances. When I was elected, there were spouses who had been waiting over three years to be reunited with each other. They had children. I saw the sorrow and tears in their eyes. I no longer have those people walking through my door because that just does not happen anymore.

It is the same thing with parent and grandparent sponsorship. It is fantastic. We have quadrupled the number of people we are taking in. The Conservatives took in 5,000 and we took in—

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I want to allow time for other questions.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for North Island—Powell River.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, when I talk to constituents in my riding, some of the biggest challenges are with respect to housing. We are a small, rural, remote, community-based riding, but the housing crisis continues to grow every day. It is quite traumatizing for so many seniors, families and young people in our riding and region.

I would ask the member to talk about why we cannot have a discussion about a more fair tax process. Right now, the extremely wealthy in this country are not being taxed anywhere near the same amount that a hard-working Canadian is. Therefore, if we are to address these big issues, like finding a house so that people have somewhere to live and can look forward to prosperity in the future, then we better make sure we are doing that.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Madam Speaker, this gives me a wonderful opportunity to be able to address something that was left out of my speech.

When we came into power, the very first measure we took when it came to taxes was to increase taxes on the top 1%. That is a government that is concerned that all people in Canada need to pay their fair share. That is why we took that measure. Right after increasing it on the top 1%, we decreased it on the middle class.

We have a very competitive tax rate in this country compared with other G7 nations. A family of four in Canada is paying less in tax than all our comparable G7 countries. Therefore, we believe that the measures that have been put in place have been good for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Also, housing is a very important issue. That is why we have invested so much in the national housing strategy.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Before I go to resuming debate, I want to remind members that there are a lot of individuals who want to ask questions on this, so I would ask people to be mindful of their preamble. Given that there are only five minutes for questions and comments, when members give a speech, each question and comment should last one minute to allow for at least three questions to be posed. The same thing goes for those who are answering the question.

Resuming debate, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Kevin Lamoureux Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.

Madam Speaker, I know there was maybe a little disappointment on the other side when members heard that I was going to be splitting the speech. I suspect it is because they were hoping I was going to be delivering a 20-minute speech as opposed to just a 10-minute speech. I thank them for that vote of confidence.

The Conservatives have a plan. I figured out their plan and we have seen it today when the introducer of the motion stood and started to personally attack the Prime Minister. That is the Conservative plan. If we review some of the comments from question period and review the Conservative member's comments who introduced the motion, it was all personal attacks on Canada's Prime Minister.

As the Conservative Party, the official opposition, wants to focus its attention on personal attacks, this Prime Minister and this government will continue to work diligently to support Canada and the programs that are essential in advancing our communities in every region of our nation.

We are not going to lose focus on what is important to Canadians. The days in which I was in opposition when our Prime Minister entered the Liberal Party leadership race, he indicated that he wanted to emphasize and work on improving the conditions of Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. From day one that has been a mission of the Prime Minister.

l believe in our policy initiatives that have been announced since the last election by minister after minister and supported on this side of the House, because time and time again we get resistance from all political parties of the opposition. These initiatives have done everything to focus on enhancing Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it.

We have seen significant results with 800,000 jobs. It took Stephen Harper almost 10 years to achieve that. That is by working with Canadians, other levels of government and small and large businesses alike. We understand that if we want to see the economy doing better, we need to invest in Canadians and in our infrastructure.

My Conservative colleagues said that at some point that we were going to have to go and knock on doors and look in Canadians' eyes and asked what were we going to tell them that our government had actually achieved. I would like to pick up on that point because I am very grateful to the residents of Winnipeg North and what they have entrusted me with over the last number of years.

To give a sense of what I will be telling my constituents in 2019 during the next election, I will tell them that the first priority was to give tax breaks to Canada's middle class. That was bill number two. That gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Canada's middle class while at the same time we increased taxes for Canada's one per cent, the wealthiest Canadians, to ask them to pay their fair share. The Conservatives voted against both the tax increase on Canada's one per cent and the tax break for Canada's middle class.

Shortly thereafter we saw the enhancement of the Canada child benefit program, something that I have talked about on numerous occasions in the House. That is something that I am going to be telling the residents of Winnipeg North because every month we receive approximately $9 million-plus that goes into the community of Winnipeg North to support our children. That same principle applies to every member of Parliament in the House.

That is why it is going to be interesting when we hear the Conservative Party talk about cuts. That is what is going to happen. Just like Stephen Harper and Doug Ford, we are going to see cuts.

Are the Conservatives going to be telling their constituents who are receiving those benefits that we are going to be taking away a portion or all of them? I would hope not.

We also increased the guaranteed income supplement for constituents. Again, the poorest of all seniors in all regions of Canada have received significant increases in their annual income as a direct result of that increase. Much like the Canada child benefit is lifting tens of thousands of children out of poverty, the increase in the guaranteed income supplement is lifting tens of thousands of seniors out of poverty, the poorest seniors.

Winnipeg North has benefited greatly from many of the announcements this government has put forward. If we look at summer students, we have virtually doubled that program. We are hiring tens of thousands more summer students throughout Canada as a direct result of this Prime Minister and the government recognizing the value of giving young people the opportunity to gain employment experience while attending school and between years. Now the program has even been expanded to go beyond that.

That is the type of progressive financing we have seen from the Minister of Finance to support Canadians, not only in Winnipeg North but in every riding throughout this country. We recognize that by putting money into the pockets of the middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it, the working class, they are spending that money. By spending that money, they are adding more value to the economy. It is why the Prime Minister, and anyone else on the government benches, says that if we invest in the middle class, we are also investing in the economy. The healthier the middle class, the healthier the economy.

Those are some of the policy initiatives we are seeing locally that deal with finances. If we look at the last few years and the social planning side, there are things such as the health accord. Now we have a Minister of Health who is diligently trying to put together something that will hopefully lead to some form of pharmacare program.

By working with the provinces and territories, the government has enhanced the CPP so that people in the future will have more money to retire with, something Stephen Harper refused to do.

What about the billions of dollars that have been allocated for a housing strategy? The NDP like to talk housing, but at the end of the day, what we announced is tenfold what they talked about in the last federal election. This brings me back to the last federal election, when only one party in this House generally believed that we needed to invest in Canadians and infrastructure. New Democrats and Conservatives were focused on not having any form of deficit. It begs the question: What programs would they be cutting? That is a legitimate question.

The Conservatives talk about the price on pollution. Whether it has come from ideas from Paris or across Canada, it is amazing that people recognize that we need to have a plan. The only party that does not seem to believe that we need to have a plan is the Conservative Party. This leader is no better than Stephen Harper. There is no plan on the environment. Conservatives are very eager to stand and criticize the plan we have put in place, a plan that has already been acted on by many provincial governments. Many governments around the world have actually acted, but the Conservatives do not have a plan. They do not feel that they should have to share a plan with Canadians.

On all of those issues, I would argue that we have seen more tangible action to support Canadians in all regions of this country in the last three years than we saw in 10 years under Stephen Harper. I genuinely believe that to be the case. I would challenge members opposite to list off those so-called accomplishments of Stephen Harper.

I sat in opposition, and there was nothing new coming. In fact, members will recall that some of the worst days under Harper were toward the end, when the Conservatives started to cut things like veterans services. They had just one intent.

I see that my time has already expired. I have not yet talked about the deficit. Hopefully I will get a chance to in a question and answer.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, it is funny to listen to the hypocrisy of a Liberal complaining about our side attacking the Prime Minister. This is from a party that cannot say a single sentence without attacking Stephen Harper. It is quite fascinating. I think perhaps the member should change the name of his riding from Winnipeg North to the member for the riding of “pot calling the kettle black”.

He rants on and on about all the great work the Liberals have done for seniors with the increase in the GIS and so on, yet the Library of Parliament report shows that the poverty rate for seniors has increased every single year under the government.

Why has the government failed seniors so badly? Why does it continue to mislead Canadians on the issue?

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, if the Conservatives want to continue to talk about personal attacks on the Prime Minister, they can do that. We will continue to focus our attention, as the government, on Canadians first and foremost and on making sure that the policies we are bringing in will have positive outcomes. As I pointed out at the very beginning, we have seen that in things such as the 800,000 plus jobs that have been generated. That is not to mention the enhancement of many different social programs, which goes straight to the core of the question that was posed when the member asked about seniors.

I talked about the increase to the guaranteed income supplement. That actually lifted seniors out of poverty. I should also have made reference to the fact that we reduced the age of retirement for old age supplements from 67 to 65. We actually worked with the provinces to enhance the CPP, something the former government did not want anything to do with. That will enhance salaries for those who are going to be retiring in the future.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary did not answer the question posed by my colleague from Edmonton West, and I would not want to let him off the hook.

In his speech, he stated that the guaranteed income supplement was substantially and significantly increased. He also said that hundreds of thousands of seniors were lifted out of poverty. I am not quoting him exactly, but that is roughly what he said. However, seniors in my riding are coming to my office to tell me that their income is stagnating and that they struggle year after year.

Just now, the parliamentary secretary spoke only in generalities and mentioned hundreds of thousands of seniors.

Could my colleague provide specific numbers concerning the increase in the guaranteed income supplement and how many seniors they have helped, and could he tell us how they have helped them?

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I will use the residents of Winnipeg North as an example. Through the guaranteed income supplement increase the government put in place, the poorest seniors in Winnipeg North will in fact have received a $900 increase in one year. That is a significant percentage of an increase.

That very same principle in Winnipeg North applies to every constituency in every region of Canada. The government understands the pressures on our seniors. That is one of the reasons we work toward dealing with issues like prescribed medications and many others that also affect our seniors.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, I cannot ask my question without first telling the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government that I really admire him, even though I may not always agree with what he says. He is a great parliamentarian. There should be a documentary about him. He seems to be in this House 24/7. He is a key part of this parliamentary democracy, I must say.

Now, we are talking about balancing the budget, and therefore about taxing and spending. I would like to know how the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government can look taxpayers in the eye, without any shame, when his government is allowing Canada's big banks to continue engaging in tax avoidance. They send their money to Barbados, which means it cannot be put to good use here. They make billions of dollars in profits every quarter. That could help a lot of people, particularly in the health care system.

How could my colleague vote against our motion, which would have made that illegal?

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I would first thank my friend and colleague for his kind words. They were very thoughtful.

One issue we could look at is that in two consecutive budgets, we have seen substantial increases in money allocated, $900 million, maybe a bit more than that, to Revenue Canada to go after individuals who are trying to avoid paying taxes. There is no doubt that there is always room for improvement, but in the last few years, we have spent almost a billion dollars in total to try to ensure that people are paying their fair share. It is one of the reasons we put that tax increase on Canada's 1% wealthiest. Between that and going after tax evaders, that has been a high priority of this government.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Beauport—Limoilou.

The motion before us today reads as follows:

That, given the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year and that perpetual and growing deficits lead to massive tax increases, the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019 to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.

This is a very reasonable motion put forward by the Conservative Party's shadow minister of finance. It speaks to the responsibility that we have as parliamentarians to be wise stewards of taxpayer dollars.

I want to briefly outline why the Prime Minister's broken promise on deficits is so important to Canadians, why they should be concerned about it, why these deficits will undoubtedly lead to higher taxes and why it is so important for my colleagues across the way to look away from the Prime Minister and say what is in the best interests of their constituents, which is to bring the deficit down significantly, work back to balance and to not raise taxes on Canadians.

First, I will talk about the Prime Minister's broken promise. In 2015, the Prime Minister made the following promise to Canadians, a balanced budget in 2019, and from the Liberal platform, “modest short-term deficits of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years”and a balance sheet with a debt to GDP ratio of 27%. Where are we today on those promises after the Prime Minister famously said that the budget would will balance itself?

The Liberals made these three promises in the 2015 campaign. Their management approach was that the budget would balance itself. My colleague has asked many times when the budget will balance itself and we have not heard an answer.

This is where we are at today. The finance department itself, the government's own public servant, has said that there will be no balanced budget until at least 2040, 21 years from now. That is really irresponsible to not even have a target on when we can get back to balance.

The amount of debt just on the current course that we are on, never mind having to deal with future issues or whatever, is that the Prime Minister will have added an additional $271 billion of debt on our country. This comes on the fact that the Prime Minister, when he came into government in 2015, inherited a balanced budget from the former Conservative government.

In October of this year, in time for the 2019 election, or it might be earlier we never know with the Liberals, the Liberals have added over $75 billion of debt in that short period of time. They have clearly broken their promise and the debt to GDP ratio will be around 30.5% in October, so they have increased that as well.

Why is this so important? First, we notice that when a lot of Liberal cabinet ministers or parliamentary secretaries stand in question period, they use something of a success metric that no small business owner or anybody in a household would use as a success metric. They say that the Liberals have spent x amount of money. When we ask how they are going to solve this problem, they say that they have spent x amount of money. They do not talk about actually fixing the problem. They just talk about spending money. That is because the Liberals do not understand that spending money is not a metric of success in government, that we need to be very wise about when we spend money.

The problem with this deficit is that Canadians do not really have anything to show for all that debt the Liberals have incurred on their behalf. I do not see the green line in Calgary that our former government committed to under the context of a balanced budget bill. The only infrastructure that really has been filled under the present government was the then minister of infrastructure and communities office renovations, which was about $1 million.

What the Liberal government has done is expanded the size of government just for the sake of expanding it, not to help Canadians. That is a problem.

Canadians are spending money and not getting anything out of it. However, someone has to pay for this at some point, which is why the government will absolutely raise taxes on Canadians. They are seeing this massive debt increase. The Liberals are expanding government. They have ever-increasing costs of so many different things without results, but the economy will not be resilient. It is not going to be competitive. Therefore, when the economy retracts, we start seeing a decrease in government revenue.

We have the Liberals increasing expenses for no reason and racking up massive deficits, putting in place very negative scenarios for economic growth over time, which means there is a high probability that government revenue will decrease. Therefore, how do we get more money? If we are not going to decrease expenses and not increase revenue through economy growth, what is left? It is taxes. People should be concerned about the deficit because every Canadian will have to pay through increased taxes for the Prime Minister's mistakes. The mistake is the deficit, a promise he broke to Canadians.

Let us talk about competitiveness. While our major trading partners in other parts of the world have been trying to put in place competitiveness aspects by reducing red tape and reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens or lowering taxes, we have been increasing those things. What do we see in Canada? We see talent and capital leaving Canada to invest in more competitive jurisdictions. That is a problem for the revenue side, which is going to precipitate a need for more taxes. Again, it is paying for the Prime Minister's failures.

Over time, that lack of competitiveness makes increased deficits. They make the government less able to withstand shock if we have a major economic incident as we saw in 2008, which we were able to weather with targeted short-term infrastructure investments and then a return back to balance in 2015.

The Prime Minister inherited a balanced budget, a very strong performing economy, and the campaign narrative was now was a good time to borrow money. The Liberals did not talk about why or the need to go into deficit. We are going to be less resilient and the government is going to be less able to spend in the future if we have these massive debts. Why? Because the more debt we have, and people who have a credit card bill understand this, the more interest payments we have. The Government of Canada has to pay interest on its debt. The more taxes that the Prime Minister has to collect to pay down the interest on his deficits means that we cannot spend money on things like infrastructure, like the green line in my riding of Calgary.

The government has created a massive problem by its deficits for no-reason policy, by adding all of this debt to the Canadian government and the Canadian people and it is going to result in higher taxes. That is why we put forward the motion today. It is for government members to have an opportunity to say, “You're right, we need to stop this.” Canadians should not be in a position where they have to pay for the Prime Minister's mistakes.

Also, we have ample evidence now that the budget will not balance itself.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague mentioned that we did not have anything to show for the investments we had made in Canadians and that Canadians were not going to get anything out of it. What Canadians have seen, and will see, is that we have the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years and the strongest growth in G7 countries. Through our investments, we have been able to create conditions where 800,000 new jobs have been created by Canadians. This helps to build resiliency.

In addition to that, to help our businesses grow, expand and export, we are the only G7 country with trade agreements with each of the other G7 countries. In fact, we have 14 trade agreements. In terms of competitiveness, we have the LNG, a mega project, the largest investment of $40 billion, and we have decreased red tape for small businesses. Canadians can clearly see that our investments are working on their behalf, and this government is working on their behalf as well.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, it is kind of brave for my colleague opposite to stand and talk about unemployment for a member from Calgary because of the environmental policies and the regulatory policies, which do nothing to improve the environment of Canada but just kill jobs in my riding. In my riding, we went from about the natural rate of unemployment to nearly double-digit unemployment under the government. Therefore, she should spare me on unemployment figures and job growth.

With respect to any of the investments she talked about, there was nothing material there. Kinder Morgan was prepared to invest $7 billion into the Canadian economy and the government went and used tax dollars to pay for something that private industry was prepared to invest in, which still is likely not going to see grow. This has to stop. There is nothing to show for this outside of increased taxes. The Liberals have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on people who are illegally crossing the border in upstate New York.

One of my colleagues, who was here, made a good point. How many more government positions have been padded on those employment figures? The government does not—

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Unfortunately, I do have to allow for other questions. I did mentioned a while ago that we needed to keep it a little short during the questions and comments.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, first, I would like to thank the member for visiting my riding last week. I hope she spent lots of money during her time there, supporting small businesses.

The opposition day notice says “a written commitment” that the government will never raise taxes of any kind. As the member knows, there is a growing disparity between the really rich in Canada and the rest of us. Is she saying that this means we should never raise taxes on the wealthiest Canadians or wealthy corporations and what would that do for the middle class?

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, tax records show that the wealthiest Canadians, the ones who have revenue higher than $140,000, pay $4.6 billion less in taxes under the government. I am looking at it from the perspective of my riding and the people who ask me to fight for them on a daily basis. They know that under both the Liberals and the NDP they are going to see increased carbon taxes, small business tax increases, payroll taxes and EI premium increases. Everything is tax, tax, tax.

Nobody in this place outside of the Conservative Party ever stops to ask why we are spending this money. Why are we forcing Canadians to bear the brunt of our spending here? That is a principle we need to get back to. It is fair for Parliament to consider that request, to say that we should have a written commitment to not raise taxes. That would create certainty. It would create an investment climate for growth. Frankly, Canadians need some good news for once. They are tired of the tax and spend politics under both of those leftist parties.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Essex, International Trade; the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, Health, the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, Foreign Affairs.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise here in the new House of Commons. Looking down, it feels like we are in the old chamber, but looking up, that is clearly not the case. It is certainly a lot brighter here than in the old chamber, so bright that it is difficult to look up at the sky.

I am honoured to rise on behalf of the 100,000 people of my riding, Beauport—Limoilou. Now that it is 2019, we are slowly but surely gearing up for an election campaign. Personally, I intend to be re-elected, if my constituents would once again do me the honour, but since we can neither know what fate has in store nor determine the outcome, I will, of course, work very hard. For that reason, I am savouring this honour and this opportunity to speak here for yet another parliamentary session.

Today, I would like to clarify something very important for the people of my riding. This morning, the member for Carleton moved a motion in the House of Commons, a fairly simple motion that reads as follows:

That, given the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year and that perpetual and growing deficits lead to massive tax increases, the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019 to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.

My constituents may find it rather strange to ask a Prime Minister to promise not to raise taxes after the next election, if he is re-elected. He might even raise taxes before the election. After all, the Liberals tried to raise taxes many times over the past three years. I will say more about that in my speech. However, we are asking the Prime Minister to make this promise because we see that public finances are in total disarray.

In addition, the Prime Minister has broken several of the key promises he made to Canadians and Quebeckers. Some of them were national in scope. For example, he promised to return to a balanced budget by 2019, which did not happen. Instead, our deficit is nearly $30 billion. The budget the Liberals presented a few months ago forecast an $18-billion deficit, but according to the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer—an institution that forces the government to be more transparent to Canadians and that was created by Mr. Harper, a great Prime Minister—the deficit would actually be around $29 billion instead of $18 billion.

The Prime Minister quite shamelessly broke his promise to rebalance the budget, since this is the first time in the history of Canada that a government has racked up a deficit outside of a war or serious economic crisis. There was a big economic recession when the Conservatives were in power between 2008 and 2012.

I like to remind Canadians who may be listening to us that accountability is a key part of the Westminster system. That is why we talk about the notion of government accountability and why we have question period every day. It is not all about the theatrics, I might add. We ask the same ministers, although sometimes other ministers, questions every day because one day they are going to slip up and tell us the truth. Then we can talk about responsibility and accountability.

In short, the Prime Minister broke his promise to balance the budget by 2019. He also broke his promise to change our electoral system, which was very important to a huge segment of the Canadian left and Canadian youth.

He also broke his promise about the Canada Post community mailboxes. Although we believe that Canada Post's five-point action plan was important for ensuring the corporation's survival in the long term, the Prime Minister nevertheless promised the return of community mailboxes. I travelled across the country with my colleague from Edmonton and other members of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. All Canadians told Liberal members of the committee that they hoped the government would restore community mailboxes. However, the Liberals only put in place a moratorium.

The member from Quebec City and Minister of Families, Children and Social Development said that the state of the Quebec Bridge was deplorable, that the bridge was covered in rust and that some citizens were concerned about security and public safety.

I would like to reassure them. Our engineers' reports states that the bridge is not dangerous. That said, it is a disgrace that this historic bridge is completely rusty. The Liberals promised that this would be taken care of by June 30, 2016. That was over two years ago.

They also promised to help the middle class. In fact, to some extent, they followed in the footsteps of Mr. Harper's Conservative government, which also focused on helping Canadian families as much as possible. I held three public consultations in 2018. It is already 2019. Time flies. I called those public consultations, “Alupa à l'écoute”.

I will table my report in a month and a half. It will express my willingness to suggest to my leader to either table a bill or include in his election platform measures to address the labour shortage and to help seniors return to the labour market without being further penalized. I go door to door every month. What is more, during my public consultations, what I heard most often from my constituents, who I thank for coming, is that they are surviving. Their lives have not improved at all in three and a half years. On the contrary, they are facing challenges as a result of the Prime Minister's repeated failures.

I said we needed the Prime Minister to promise not to raise taxes either before the election or, if he wins, after. We all know what he has done over the past three years. He tried to tax dental benefits. He tried to tax employee benefits and bonuses. For example, some restaurant owners give their servers free meals. That is what happened when I was a server. The Liberals wanted to tax that benefit. They tried to tax small and medium-sized businesses by taxing their revenue as capital gains, and that was a total disaster. They wanted to tax every source of income businesses could use to prepare for bad times or retirement so they would eventually be less of a burden on the state.

The Liberals also significantly increased taxes. Studies show that 81% of Canadians have to pay more than $800 a year in taxes because the Liberals got rid of almost all of the tax credits the Conservatives had implemented, such as those for textbooks or public transit. They got rid of the tax credits for sports and for families. The Prime Minister and his Liberal team got rid of all kinds of family credits, which significantly increased taxes. Furthermore, they tried many times to significantly increase other taxes. They also tried payroll deductions, like the increase to the Canada pension plan. If we really take a look at the various benefits or income streams Canadians receive, we can see that their taxes have increased.

We do not trust the Prime Minister when he says he will not raise taxes after the next election if he is re-elected. We know he will have to raise taxes because of his repeated failures. In economic terms, there is an additional $60 billion in deficits on top of the debt. His deficits now total $80 billion after three and a half years. I am also thinking of his failures on immigration and on managing border crossings. Quebec is asking for $300 million to make up for the shortfall it has suffered because of illegal refugees. I am also thinking of all the problems related to international relations. I am also thinking of infrastructure.

How is it possible that the Prime Minister, still to this day, refuses tell the people of Beauport—Limoilou and Quebec City that he will agree to go ahead and help the CAQ government build the third link? All around the world, huge infrastructure projects are under way, yet over the past three years, the Liberal government has been incapable of allocating more than a few billion dollars of the $187 billion infrastructure fund.

Canadians are going to pay for the Prime Minister's mistakes. We want him to commit in writing that he will not raise taxes if he is re-elected.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, in my riding I have knocked on thousands of doors and I have seen the adverse impacts of the cuts that happened under the last government on so many residents and constituents in my riding. After the election, I continued to knock on thousands of doors and to keep in touch with my constituents, and I have seen the incredible differences that the tax-free Canada child benefit has made, as well as the increase to the guaranteed income supplement and the reductions in taxes to the middle class and to small businesses. This money is benefiting not only them: it is money in their pockets that is now being spent locally in our small rural communities, making such a huge impact in our rural communities.

What is the Conservatives' plan, and what would they cut? Would they cut the Canada child benefit, which is making such a big difference?

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, it is quite simple. We will do as we did before: We will have responsible management of our finances here in Canada.

We will never cut services to Canadians; we will cut and stop the increase of money flowing to the bureaucrats. We have never seen in the history of Canada so much money being spent on deficits by a government, with so little result for Canadians individually. We gave the Liberals a surplus of $3 billion while having child benefit measures and one of the best OECD numbers of economic development and while being the first country to get out of the financial crisis of 2008.

Opposition Motion—Federal DeficitBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague seemed to be implying that the motion is asking the government not to raise taxes. However, what is written in black and white is that the government, or those who vote for this motion, would be prohibited from raising taxes indefinitely.

Does my colleague believe that, in 2019, voting for a motion that would forever prohibit tax increases in Canada, no matter who is involved, whether the rich, major corporations or others, is a responsible thing to do?