House of Commons Hansard #395 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was company.


Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I appreciate the point of order. The hon. parliamentary secretary is well aware that there is some latitude during debates in the House, and I am sure that the hon. member for Carleton will make sure his speech addresses the budget bill.

The hon. member for Carleton.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, that was a strange intervention from the deputy House leader of the Liberal Party. He is now claiming that deferred prosecution agreements have nothing to do with budget policy. That is funny. Why, on God's green earth, did the Liberals put it in the budget? They put it in the budget, so they have suggested it is a budget matter. Therefore, we are left with nothing more than to debate it within the context of the budget.

It is funny that this is the second time that members of the government have become confused by what they put in their own budget. I was recently at the finance committee and asked questions about deferred prosecution agreements of finance officials. I wanted to know why the finance minister was meeting with top executives and lobbyists from SNC-Lavalin in the weeks following the director of public prosecution's decision not to extend a DPA to the company. All of a sudden, the chair of the finance committee slammed down his gavel and said that this was not relevant and had nothing to do with finance. I said that was funny because the deferred prosecution agreements were amended into the Criminal Code through legislation in the budget that was passed by the finance committee. The government used an omnibus budget bill to introduce this package of special deals for corporate criminals, and that is exactly why we are debating it today when the budget is before the House of Commons.

Let me return to the issue of the audiotape. The employment minister said over the weekend that it was unethical for her former cabinet colleague, the former attorney general, to tape-record a conversation with the Clerk of the Privy Council. As the former attorney general wrote herself in documents released Friday, it would otherwise have been inappropriate but for the extraordinary circumstances with which she was faced. She had been mercilessly hounded in September, October, November and almost all of December when she received a call from the top public servant and knew it was trouble. She knew exactly what was going to happen on that call, because she and her staff had seen it again and again, 20 different times, which she had documented and proven occurred.

Members of the Prime Minister's inner circle, plus the Prime Minister himself, had interfered with this case, and she knew, based on all of their duplicity and dishonesty with which they approached her again and again, that if she did not have evidence of what happened, they would lie and deny. She was absolutely right, because that is exactly what they have since done. The problem is that they picked the wrong person. They did not realize she would keep evidence. They assumed that Canadians would never know the truth, that they would deny her accounts and everyone would say, “Well, he said, she said, who knows, let us just throw up our hands and move on.” That is not possible when someone is as punctilious and specific as the former attorney general.

Let us consider some of the contradictions that have now been exposed since the release of her documentation. First, when the story broke on the front page of The Globe and Mail in February that the Prime Minister and his team had pressured the former attorney general to offer the company a deferred prosecution agreement, the Prime Minister's response was that the story was false, strictly false, that was it, that was all. Liberals would go on to make specific denials in the 48 hours to 72 hours that followed, saying that the Prime Minister's team neither interfered with nor pressured the former attorney general in the case. That story did not last long, did it?

Later on, the Prime Minister's clerk was forced to go before a committee, where he admitted that there was pressure. He said that there was pressure but that pressure was normal, because it is a high-pressure job. That contradicts the very specific denial that the Prime Minister and his team had uttered.

There was the first change of story.

Then the Prime Minister famously said that if the former attorney general or anyone else had issues with anything they might have experienced in the current government or did not feel that the government was living up to the high standards it set for itself, it was her responsibility to come forward and their responsibility to come forward, and no one did.

The Prime Minister left the impression that the former attorney general had just suddenly concocted a problem after she had moved out of the position of attorney general, that she woke up one day in February and decided she was upset with something that had happened months earlier, and nobody told the Prime Minister. He never heard anything about it. None of his team had heard a thing.

Well, it turns out that the Prime Minister was uttering a straight-up falsehood. There are other words, unparliamentary words, that would describe that utterance, because the evidence is clear that the former attorney general did, time and time again, warn the Prime Minister and his team that their behaviour and their interference were inappropriate. In a September 18 meeting with the Prime Minister and the clerk, she reported that she looked him in the eye and asked if he was interfering with her work as attorney general, at which he backed off and said that of course he was not. She said to him that she strongly advised against it. She said that to his face, yet he would go in front of all Canadians, 37 million Canadians, and deny that she had ever raised any concern at all.

If members do not believe the former attorney general's story, which she documented and put on the public record in the justice committee—something the Prime Minister has not had the courage to do himself—then they only need to listen to the audio of the conversation between the former attorney general and the former clerk of the Privy Council, in which at least half a dozen times she uttered terms like, “I feel very uncomfortable”, “this is very inappropriate”, “I can't believe we're even having this conversation”. Over half a dozen times in that 17-minute conversation, she stated very clearly that what was happening was inappropriate, that the pressure campaign had to stop. She not only cited the conversation that she was engaged in at the moment with the clerk as an example; she also spoke to the clerk about Gerald Butts and Katie Telford's visit to her chief of staff and the pressure they applied.

If we count it conservatively, as I am fond of doing, this was over a half-dozen times in this conversation that the former attorney general raised the alarm to the Prime Minister's top public servant, and what did he say? He said that he had a conversation coming with the Prime Minister and that he was not going to be happy to hear this. Michael Wernick was very clear that he was going to get off the phone with her and get on the phone with the Prime Minister.

This weekend we heard from the Prime Minister that he did not know anything about that conversation, did not know that his top public servant had a conversation like that with his attorney general about an issue that everyone in the government says the Prime Minister was very focused on. In the terms given by the clerk himself, the Prime Minister was “firm” on the issue and was in a “mood” on the issue. This was an issue that was very important to him and he apparently knew that the clerk was calling the attorney general about it, but after the call happened, everyone just forgot to report to the Prime Minister or to his staff that it had occurred. What had been said in that conversation just evaporated into thin air.

A month would go by, two months would go by, and the Prime Minister would never learn of all the things we heard in that recording, not until she relayed them in a parliamentary committee months later. Give me a break.

Nobody believes the Prime Minister was blind to what went on in that conversation. His attempts to say he was will only be met with the derision of millions of Canadians who know better. It is utterly impossible to imagine he would not have known.

Even if people want to imagine it, even if they believe that somehow the clerk forgot to mention it to the Prime Minister, there is more evidence that the Prime Minister knew of her concerns.

Before I move on to that evidence, I just want to say that there is a new explanation out about why the clerk apparently did not tell the Prime Minister about the call, and that explanation is that everyone went on vacation. He did the phone call with the former attorney general in which he basically implored her to help the company get a deferred prosecution agreement so that it would not face trial for its $100-plus million of fraud and bribery, and then she pushed back hard, saying it was inappropriate and that she felt very uncomfortable and it reminded her of the Saturday night massacre. This explosive conversation happened and what happened after a talk like that? They were so exhausted that they went on vacation. Everyone just up and left for Christmas.

The problem is that they did not. Now we have public records that the Prime Minister's vacation did not start for another 48 hours. The clerk and the Prime Minister speak daily, sometimes hourly. Of course, it would have been very easy for him to report the conversation. Furthermore, whatever vacation the Prime Minister had, it would not have lasted longer than a week or two, in which case he would have known about it in January, well before the cabinet shuffle.

Finally, we have the testimony from the clerk, before the justice committee, that this Prime Minister can be reached 24-7.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Michael Barrett

Through the switchboard.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Yes. Pick up the phone. For anybody who has ever called the Prime Minister's switchboard, it is an interesting experience. People can just call up and ask for anyone in the world they want, and they are on hold for about 30 seconds and then they have them. It is a pretty impressive system of communication.

Somehow it did not work in the Prime Minister's office for the month following this extraordinary interaction. The clerk just could not get hold of the Prime Minister. One day he was surfing in Tofino and the next day he was doing something else. It was just absolutely impossible for the clerk to relay this extraordinary conversation about an issue that was extremely pressing. That is what we are expected to believe.

That is an example of a contradiction on which we need clarity. I am standing and speaking at great length, much to the dismay and torment of my Liberal colleagues across the way. I am here to say that I will put an end to this merciless address, as long as they agree that all the witnesses, all of the players who interfered with the former attorney general, will come before a parliamentary committee and answer for their actions so that we can get to the bottom of this scandal.

At any moment, I would welcome the government House leader or the deputy House leader rising to announce that the cover-up is over, that the Prime Minister has agreed that all the witnesses in his office and other ministerial offices, and the Prime Minister himself, will all come before a parliamentary committee to testify under oath about what happened in this scandal.

If they do that, then I will grant the mercy of ending this speech and allowing them to go back to bragging about their deficit spending and their tax increases. They could do it all day long, every day, until October when voters will render a swift verdict against those policies as well.

However, the fact remains that there are enormous and glaring contradictions between the Prime Minister's personal utterances and the now publicly available evidence to the contrary, evidence that the Prime Minister would like us to ignore and sweep under the table, that he would like to bury under tens of billions of dollars of borrowed money that he has piled into this pre-election budget.

Our answer to him is no. We are not going to allow him to bury the truth. We are going to stand here and we are going to speak up, and we are going to use every tool in the parliamentary tool kit to end the Prime Minister's cover-up and get to the truth.

For a moment I would like to comment on the methodology of the cover-up itself. We have talked about the apparent crime and now let us talk about the cover-up. The government came forward with a massive new deficit spending budget. It is a promise-breaking deficit. During the last election, the Prime Minister promised that he would have three tiny deficits never to exceed $10 billion, followed by a balanced budget in the year 2019. In fact, as he put it, “the budget will balance itself”. That was supposed to happen in the here and now. Instead, we have had deficits that have already totalled $60 billion, which is three times the total he promised. As well, the budget deficit this year is $20 billion more. Again, this is in a year in which there was supposed to be no deficit.

Now in this pre-election budget, in order to distract from the Prime Minister's SNC-Lavalin scandal, he added $41 billion in new cash spending. He is basically taking a fire hose and spraying cash in all directions in the hopes that grateful Canadian voters will be distracted from his personal conduct and vote for him in spite of all that he has done. However, Canadians know that spending to distract from a scandal before an election is always followed by higher taxes after the election. That is exactly what is happening in this case.

As I said earlier, this is a Kathleen Wynne three-step: massive scandal, massive spending to distract from that scandal and massive tax increases to pay for it all after the election is over.

What evidence do we have of the Liberals' intention to raise taxes after the election? Let us start with the first and most obvious piece, which is that they have already done it once. The best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour. The government came into office promising it would never raise taxes on the middle class and then it went ahead and did exactly that. It took away the children's fitness tax credit, the public transit tax credit and income splitting, which made life a little fairer for families with a single income or where one spouse earned more than another. The government raised the CPP premiums and even targeted small businesses, with specific tax increases going to small family-owned operations. Those tax increases penalized companies that shared the earnings and work among family members or that saved within the company itself. All of those tax increases have happened already.

According to a non-partisan and impartial study by the Fraser Institute, the average middle-class family is paying $800 more in income taxes than when the government first took office. That does not even include increases to payroll taxes or the carbon tax, which just took effect in Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan today.

These tax increases already exist. Canadians know that if a government is going to raise their taxes once, it will raise their taxes again, and it has tried. It has tried to implement other tax increases that we stopped through massive political pressure and public backlash.

Let us go through the list of taxes the government tried and failed to raise. It tried to take away the disability tax credit from diabetics and families with autistic children, which would have raised the taxes on those families by about $1,000. It backed off after we exposed its doing it. The government then tried to put in a new tax on health and dental benefits. This tax increase was exposed through a series of media leaks, showing that the finance department, under the leadership of the minister, was quietly doing the research and laying the groundwork to raise taxes on anyone who dared have a dental or supplementary health plan. Again through relentless pressure from Her Majesty's loyal opposition and an uprising by Canadian workers who cherish their health benefits, the government had to back down from that tax increase as well.

The government tried to impose a tax on the passive income of small businesses of as high as 73%. It had to put that tax change on ice after a group of farmers, shopkeepers and pizza-shop owners rose up and fought back. It tried to double the tax on small business owners who transfer their businesses from father to son, or mother to daughter. This tax increase would have made the tax twice as high for a farmer to transfer his farm to his son, as it would if that farmer was to transfer the farm to a foreign multinational corporation. That would have ensured that, within one generation, our farmers would be tenants on their ancestral farmlands, rather than owners of the land passed down from generation to generation. Thank goodness the Liberal government, under relentless pressure from the opposition side of the House of Commons, put those tax increases on hold until after the election, when it no longer needs the voters but still needs their money.

That brings us to the reason the Liberals need people's money. The finance minister has been growing spending at a rate of about 7% a year, two and a half times the combined rate of inflation and population growth. When spending grows faster than revenue, over the long run, taxes end up being raised to pay for it. Sure, it can borrow in the short run to pay for it but that makes the problem worse, because not only does the government have to pay for the spending into the future but it has to pay for the interest on all of the growing debt. That interest is growing.

Two years ago, we paid $23 billion in annual federal debt interest. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, interest payments will rise to almost $40 billion over the next five years. In other words, we will spend as much on debt interest as we now spend on health care transfers, money for bankers and bondholders instead of doctors and nurses. Who will pay for all of that interest? It will be taxpayers. There is no free money out there and those bondholders on Bay Street and Wall Street do not lend us money out of charity. They expect to get back in return more than they lent us in the first place. That is the way it works. It is government-run capitalism where people get rich by feeding off the state, feeding off big government, at the expense of working-class taxpayers.

That is an example of a wealth transfer, one that people too often forget about. Those who claim they believe so fervently in social justice have no problem whatsoever taking money from the lady who bags groceries at the corner store to pay interest on the national debt to wealthy multi-millionaire bondholders who own the government's debt. It is a direct transfer from the have-nots to the have-yachts, and it is a transfer of wealth with which the Liberal government seems to have no problem as it carries out an unprecedented engorgement of spending that will cost working-class families, present and yet unborn. That is the reality of the debt and we know that debt will metastasize into tax increases if not brought under control in the near future.

We have seen the consequences of rising debt right here in the province of Ontario, where Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty, the Prime Minister's two mentors, whose policy agendas were crafted by Gerald Butts, made Ontario the most indebted jurisdiction in all of North America, more debt as a share of GDP than any of the 50 states or 10 provinces. Now the province is faced with a $14-billion deficit and nothing but ugly decisions ahead of it.

One would think that the Prime Minister would learn from the mistakes of his mentors, that they would sit him down and say, knowing he is trying to follow in their footsteps, please learn from the errors of our ways, but apparently they have not. He will make the same mistakes over and over again, as is customary when people do not learn from history. Today's debt will mean tomorrow's taxes if the Prime Minister is re-elected.

I do not need to talk just about tomorrow. I can talk about today. Today is April Fool's Day, and the joke is on taxpayers. They have shown up at gas stations across Ontario and Saskatchewan, and they have seen gas prices rise. They are up four cents in just one day. However, do not be fooled because it is April 1. It is only the beginning.

The Prime Minister admits, and this is in the government's published documents, that the tax will more than double from $20 today to $50-per-tonne of carbon in three years. He will not tell us how much that tax will actually cost people. Sure, the government puts out public relations documents claiming that the full implementation of the carbon tax will cost a family of two in Ontario only about $600. That assumes that the government is telling the truth.

Carbon taxes are notoriously insidious, because all the costs are embedded in literally millions of products. Anything made with or transported by energy becomes more expensive. Sometimes that expense compounds. A single product, such as a plastic pipe, has petroleum products in it. The carbon tax makes the raw material more expensive. Heating the factory then becomes more expensive, and operating the machinery to run the systems becomes more expensive. In most provinces where we use gas or coal to electrify our economy, electricity becomes more expensive. When the product is finally manufactured, it has to be transported to a store, and that transportation is more expensive.

We can see that for one product, the tax is compounded over and over again until it finally reaches the storefront, where the consumer buys it and pays HST not just on the product but on all the carbon tax pricing embedded in the product. That is a tax on a tax.

The Prime Minister admits, in the government's own documents, which claim that an Ontario family will pay just $600 in carbon taxes, that the $600 does not include the HST on the tax, the tax on the tax. Right there we have an admission that this is a lot more expensive as a scheme than he has thus far admitted. Furthermore, even if the government takes out the HST, can we really believe that it will cost just $600 in Ontario or $1,000 in Saskatchewan? The answer is no.

I filed something called an access to information request to get all the documents that point to the cost of the carbon tax so that I could publish them for the Canadian people. There is good news and bad news. The good news is that I got the documents. The bad news is that all the numbers are blacked out. In other words, one can find out that it costs money, just not how much.

Canadians are expected to just take the Prime Minister at his word when he says that the carbon tax will cost just $600 in Ontario. If he is right, why would he not release all the source documents and put them out there and let the chips fall where they may? If I am wrong and, in fact, the carbon tax does not cost a penny more than $600 bucks in Ontario and $1,000 in Saskatchewan, he could put the unredacted documents out and let everyone analyze them for accuracy.

The excuse the government is giving is that the numbers represent advice by public servants to ministers, which is always confidential. However, I am not looking for advice. I am looking for the numbers. There is a difference between dollar value and advice. The public servants may have recommended one particular model of carbon tax, which would be advice. I would be fine with that being blacked out, because that's what the act says. However, that is not what is blacked out. What is blacked out is the cost to Canadian families of the carbon tax.

If members want to know the difference between dollar value and advice, take a trip to a restaurant and ask the waiter what he recommends. His recommendation would be advice. However, the price on the menu would not be advice. The price might lead to a recommendation, but it is not itself a recommendation. Therefore, the government's legal justification for blacking out these numbers is false, which is why the Information Commissioner is investigating Finance Canada and Environment Canada.

The preliminary finding of the commissioner is that, in fact, no, the information is not to be redacted. It is to be made public. However, we continue to wait and wait, presumably until after the election, to find out the true cost of the carbon tax, because the government is confusing two different concepts: advice versus price. Canadians want to know the price of the carbon tax. How can we do a cost-benefit analysis if we do not know the cost? It is half the equation. It is the difference between these two different things that is profoundly at the heart of my complaint to the Information Commissioner.

I believe that, ultimately, if the government does not relent, eventually the Information Commissioner might have to take the government to court and demand the full and final disclosure of this material. They do not have to take it that far. Let us not spend money on lawyers. Let us not go before a court. Let us not have the government found to be covering up something else. Remember, the reason is it in so much trouble right now is because of a cover-up. It does not need to extend scandal cover-up to a carbon tax cover-up. Just give us the numbers and then let Canadians decide if this tax and this government are worth the price.

I hear a member across the way asking if that is it. Just end the cover-ups, and that will be it. The member for Kingston across the way can have relief—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

It is Kingston and the Islands. The islanders get upset if you do not mention them.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

The member for Kingston and the Islands, the beautiful islands—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I would remind the member for Kingston and the Islands that he will have lots time for questions and comments when we get to that point. In the meantime, I would ask that he listen to the conversation in order that he may have a better opportunity to really ask those questions and comments.

The hon. member for Carleton.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, the member across the way mentioned that the islanders, the people who live close to Kingston who live on the islands, are angry when they are not mentioned. For that I apologize. I will herein ever after refer to his riding as Kingston and the Islands, if only he will do one thing, which is promise to end the carbon tax on those islanders who have to fill up their boats with gasoline to transit themselves where they are going. If I would say the full riding name and he would put an end to the carbon tax, the people right across his riding would be happy as clams. I invite him to do that in the spirit of compromise. We reach across the aisle.

In all seriousness, if the member wants to bring an end to my speech, he can do so. There is one thing I am asking to stop this speech: that the Liberal government agree to bring all the participants in the SNC-Lavalin cover-up scandal before a parliamentary inquiry. We can do it at the justice committee or at the ethics committee. We have to do it, because Canadians are demanding that we get to the bottom of this scandal.

I have digressed from the previous argument I was making that if the current Liberal government is re-elected, Canadians will pay massive tax increases. I was finishing up talking about how the government refuses to reveal the true cost of a $50-a-tonne carbon tax. What I was about to progress to from there is that $50 is just the beginning. The government has admitted that in the year 2023, which will happen after the next election, it plans to increase the severity of the carbon tax, which will kick in during the mandate of the next government. However, the current Prime Minister expects Canadians to vote for him in October without knowing how high he will raise the tax. Even if people believe that a $50-a-tonne carbon tax will only translate into a $600 bill for the average Ontario family, and I do not believe that, they have to be suspicious about how much he will increase the tax rate after the next election.

Documents produced for the finance minister suggest that the tax will have to increase in severity at that time. Other documents produced by officials for the environment minister suggest that the tax will rise to as much as $100 a tonne in the short run and $300 a tonne in the long run. That latter price would be 15 times higher than the tax is today. According to the government's own numbers, a $300-a-tonne carbon tax would translate to a cost of $5,000 for a family of two people in Saskatchewan or $3,000 for a family of two people in Ontario.

If people inherit a big family fortune like the Prime Minister has, a trust fund, and have been able to shelter their money from taxes, as he did for so many years while his trust fund was able to grow and multiply without counting against his own income, they might not worry about a $5,000 carbon tax in Saskatchewan or a $3,000 carbon tax in Ontario. However, for everyday Canadians who struggle just to get by, for single mothers, for seniors on fixed incomes, for the small business owner of a pizza shop in Findlay Creek, in my riding, I can say that $3,000 is one heck of a lot of money. The people I am speaking to, as I knock on thousands of doors in my riding of Carleton, tell me that they are just getting by. They are not getting ahead. Yes, they are getting by. They are barely paying their mortgages. They are barely paying their property taxes. They are filing their income tax, regrettably. They are just getting by. They cannot afford a $3,000-a-year carbon tax.

I have to give the Prime Minister some kudos for his Machiavellian scheme, because he, under the guidance of Gerald Butts, came up with a scheme to get the Liberals through the election. It is quite audacious to go into an election right after bringing in a massive new tax on people's energy use.

How are the Liberals going to do it? They are going to give people a few bucks in rebate cheques before the election and then hit them with thousands of dollars in higher taxes after the election. It is very clever. People will think that even though gas and home heating costs are going up by 10% and groceries are getting more expensive, the little cheque they will get for $100, which will arrive just a few months before the election, will get them through until October.

Then, after the election is over, there will be a surprise: The carbon tax will be a lot more expensive than they thought it was. However, it will be too late to do anything about it. It is like buying a product in a store and only finding out the price charged to the credit card after the purchase has been made, and then finding out that there is no return policy and that the purchaser is stuck paying for it for four years.

That is the Prime Minister's scam. It is the carbon tax cover-up. The government gives people some assurance before the election and then raises their taxes after the election, when the Prime Minister no longer needs voters but still needs their money.

This tax increase will cost people a fortune, and the Prime Minister knows something about fortunes, as he inherited one. He inherited a multi-million-dollar fortune from his grandfather, who ironically made his money with an empire of gas stations, the same gas stations where the Prime Minister's tax is taking effect today.

The Prime Minister's grandfather was an example of a great Canadian. He was an entrepreneur. He started, as I understand, from reasonably modest means, but built something great. He passed that fortune down to Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who, as a result of his father's effort, did not have to work a day in his life, and it has passed on to this Prime Minister, who has enjoyed a similar privilege.

The Prime Minister kept that fortune in a trust fund, called a testamentary trust fund, which had a special tax treatment that allowed him to avoid paying the same tax rates on his income that other Canadians would have to pay. He kept it in that trust fund until 2014, when he rose in the House of Commons and voted against a bill by the former Harper government that got rid of the trust fund loophole. Ironically, the Harper government was getting rid of this trust fund loophole, and the Prime Minister, then an opposition MP, stood up and voted based on his personal interest to keep that loophole in place. Why should we be surprised, as he had benefited from it for so long?

I say this because I think it gives us a window into his state of mind. He believes that there is no such thing as scarcity, that we can just get money from someone else and make others pay for our mistakes. People who come from a working-class background grow up with parents who tell them that they can either ski or skate, but they cannot do both, or the family can either go to a cottage or to Disneyland, but definitely cannot do both. That is the basic scarcity that most middle-class kids grow up with.

As a result, when they get a job and have to pay off their student debt, they know there is scarcity. They therefore make responsible decisions in their early 20s to pay down debt so that they can get a mortgage and buy a house. People who have grown up with those kinds of preoccupations have a different outlook from the Prime Minister's, since he has never had to worry about money. He has never had to worry about his own money, so he does not worry about anyone else's either, and that has informed the fiscal policy that he brings to the floor of the House of Commons.

However, in the real world where people have to work for a living and have to live within their means, they understand some basic things. They know they cannot borrow their way out of debt, they cannot tax their way to prosperity and they cannot just make others pay for their mistakes. They understand those basic rules of life that have allowed them and all of us to build an unprecedented level of prosperity in this country and countries like ours. It is the free market system. It is the basic idea that through the voluntary exchange of work for wages, product for payment and interest for investment, people trade what they have for what they want, and because there is a willing and voluntary partner on the other end of the transaction, everyone is always better off when they do. If I have an apple and want an orange and another person has an orange and wants an apple and we trade, we each have something more valuable to us than we had before, even though between us, we still just have an apple and an orange. That is the genius of the voluntary system of free exchange and free enterprise.

The Prime Minister does not believe in free enterprise. He believes in crony corporatism. He believes economic resources should be moved around by government, that economic decisions should be political rather than voluntary, that we should move money by mandatory taxation rather than by voluntary exchange.

We see that in the crony corporatism that he has played out as Prime Minister. He gave a $400-million interest-free loan to his friends at Bombardier. What effect did that have? The company, since getting that money from Canadian taxpayers, has moved the jobs to South Carolina and the intellectual property to Europe. In other words, South Carolina got the jobs, Europe got the intellectual property and Canadian taxpayers got the bill.

What would have motivated the Prime Minister to do something like that? It turns out that the billionaire Bombardier-Beaudoin family owns 53% of the company's shares. Normally when a company like that is short of cash, it sells more shares, but that would dilute the interest of the billionaire family and cause it to become a minority shareholder. In that case, this billionaire family would lose control of the company, so instead of issuing more shares, it asked the government for a handout and had a willing partner in the Prime Minister, who was happy as a clam to provide it. Instead of using the free market system, in which resources are allocated based on the voluntary decisions of investors, consumers and workers, he used the government system, coercing $400 million out of the pockets of taxpayers and giving it to a favoured few.

The difference between these two approaches to economics is this: In the free market, one gets ahead by having the best product; in crony corporatism, one gets ahead by having the best lobbyist. In the free market, business has to obsess about pleasing customers; in the government-run economic system, business gets ahead by pleasing politicians.

I do not know about anyone else, but I think we would all be better off if businesses saw their interests as being intrinsically linked to pleasing customers rather than appeasing politicians.

We hear a lot of talk about inequality from our friends across the way. It is one of their favourite excuses for growing the size and cost of government. Of course, they claim government is this wonderful Robin Hood. It is just so strange, though, that their Robin Hood always steals from the poor and gives to the rich.

They have created something called the Infrastructure Bank. The Infrastructure Bank is designed to give low-interest loan guarantees and investments directly to companies like SNC-Lavalin to protect them against their own bad investments, and here is how it works.

Right now, if a large construction company builds a bridge and that bridge goes way over budget, the company has to pay for the loss. It is called a fixed-price contract. Thank God for that, because when these incompetent CEOs mess up a big construction project, I believe they are the ones who should pay for it, not taxpayers.

However, the Infrastructure Bank would give that company a loan guarantee, so that if it messes it up, the taxpayer will come to the rescue and pay for all of its mistakes. In other words, we have another example of these large construction companies and the private equity and investment bankers that back them up being protected against their own incompetence by the taxpayer.

Here again it is the same working-class person who is already paying taxes to pay the interest on our national debt—money that will go to wealthy bondholders—who will now have to pay for the incompetence of executives and shareholders in construction companies that mess up, go over budget, or fail to deliver their projects on time and on budget. That is yet another example of big government coming to the rescue of the rich at the expense of everyone else.

By the way, did I mention that the Infrastructure Bank has only one project so far, and can we guess what company is involved in that project? We have a winner over there. Yes, SNC-Lavalin was one of the companies involved in the only project that the Infrastructure Bank has now approved. I guess we can call it the SNC-Lavalin bank, a big multi-billion-dollar pile of cash to protect wealthy corporate interests that have access to government levers.

Again in this example, the free market has a solution. The free market is absolutely ruthless with incompetent CEOs. It punishes them brutally, because if they do not deliver a product or service on time and on budget to the satisfaction of the customer, they get fired. Then the shareholders vote out that executive and put in someone who can do the job properly.

However, in a system in which governments are always coming to the rescue, incompetent CEOs and executives get to stay around and suck off the system and bleed everyone else dry. That is exactly the system of crony capitalism that the Prime Minister is creating, and it is playing itself out in the corporate corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin that we are discussing today. The Liberals never learn.

It is ironic how they were caught. It points to the circular nature of history. I will tell the story.

It is the story of the sponsorship scandal. The Liberal Party was engaged in what a judge called an “elaborate kickback scheme” to flow millions of dollars through a program that was supposedly designed to help fight separatism. Money went to Liberal-linked ad agencies, which then flowed the money back to the Liberal Party.

It was funny, because a lot of the ad agencies were charged by the RCMP for fraud, but who was never charged? It was the Liberal Party itself, even though the party came forward and admitted that it had stolen at least $1 million.

I guess one could say it was to their credit that they agreed to pay that money back after they were caught, but strangely, even after that admission, no one charged them. We began wondering back in 2005 why they were not charged, since stealing $1 million is a crime, and we came to a conclusion: It was because the Attorney General, a Liberal politician, was in charge of prosecutions and in charge of laying formal allegations under breaches of federal law. Naturally, when a Liberal politician is deciding if the Liberal Party is going to be charged, we run the risk that even when those charges are merited, they will not even happen.

Along came Stephen Harper with the Federal Accountability Act. He took the position of prosecutor out of the office of the Attorney General and made it a stand-alone entity. Madame Roussel is our top prosecutor, and she has the ability to prosecute any federal crime. She does not have to ask a politician for permission when she does so. Here is where the problem started for the Prime Minister.

He was expecting to use his massive powers to reach into the bureaucracy and order that SNC-Lavalin get a special deal for its $130 million of fraud and bribery charges. All of a sudden, he realized he could not do that, that we do not live in a banana republic, that the Prime Minister cannot simply order a prosecutor to call off a trial, so he called his attorney general and told her to do it. He told her to tell the prosecutor to lay off SNC-Lavalin. She said that under the accountability act of Stephen Harper, if she were to do such an outrageous thing, it would have to be put in writing.

That written document would then be published. Any political direction that goes to the top prosecutor in the land must be written down and put before the eyes of every single Canadian, so people can judge for themselves. Because of that change, which I helped pass through the House of Commons in 2006 as the parliamentary secretary to the then Treasury Board minister, this former attorney general was able to prevent this hideous interference in our criminal justice system.

Is it not funny that what tripped up this Liberal scandal was actually the last Liberal scandal? However, the Liberal Party never learns. The Liberals always go back to their own ways. “And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire”, as the old poem says. Of course, here we are again: Liberals burned by scandal and expecting everyone to cry crocodile tears for them. The reality is, for those people who have been caught up in all of the melodrama of this Liberal soap opera, that it is tempting to think it is all triviality, that it is an interpersonal spat between a bunch of Liberal politicians; they are catching lots of media headlines, but really it is not all that important, so let us just ignore it and get back to the $20 billion deficit or the carbon tax or something like that.

As tempting as it is to dismiss it all as a bunch of interpersonal wheeling and dealing and a soap opera, let us remember this. There is nothing unique about the water in this country, other than that we have a lot of it. There is nothing intrinsic about us as a Canadian people that distinguishes us from the other peoples of the world. I love Canadians more than any other people, but we are all one species; we are all the same. However, what makes Canada enjoy a superior standard of living is not that we have something special or magical in our water or in our people; it is that we have freedom under the law. This is a law that has applied to every single human being with a beating heart and breathing lungs ever since the Magna Carta in 1215, when King John was forced to submit himself to his subjects and sign into existence the great charter, Magna Carta. He subjected himself, as a king, to following the law.

In that 800 years that has followed, in which the commoners met first in grain fields, hence the green carpet, we here have passed the law, and an independent and separate judiciary has administered that law. It has been a tradition that the Crown and all of the people of the court are subject to the law just like everyone else. That is why, it might be the greatest and most powerful corporation that ever existed, or one might be the wealthiest man on earth, but in the court of law the mighty are made low and everybody is equal. Whether one is a homeless person charged with stealing a loaf of bread, or a wealthy CEO charged with over $100 million of fraud and bribery, as is the case with SNC-Lavalin, everyone must face the law. As soon as we accept that it is normal for a prime minister to pick people who are not subjected to the rules, as soon as we say that there are two laws, one for the people and one for the powerful, then we will be in a new and ugly era where we will replace the rule of law with the law of rulers.

That is not the foundation of our country, and that is not the way we should ever exist in this country. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has taken us on a very slippery slope with this unprecedented degree of personal and political interference in a criminal probe of SNC-Lavalin.

I have already gone through a very extensive list of offences that members of this company have already plead guilty to and that the company itself now faces in court. That brings us to the present, where the government is trying to distract from the scandal before it by spraying $41 billion of new spending all across the land in the hopes that Canadians will ignore or miss the scandal that is before them today.

A member across the way screamed out, “What about the budget?”, wanting to know why we cannot move on to talking about all of the deficits and the tax increases instead of about the scandal. The answer is that if he wants to talk about something else, there is a very easy way that we can do that: Tell the truth; just let all of the facts come out.

If the Prime Minister had done that at the outset instead of trying to cover it up, instead of stating repeated falsehoods about the affair, if he had stepped up to the plate and revealed everything he had done to interfere with the former attorney general's role and to block the criminal trial for this Liberal-linked corporation, it would have been politically damaging, but at least we would have been able to move forward.

However, as is so often the case, the cover-up is just as bad as or perhaps worse than the crime itself. Hence, here we are today, having to pull facts out of the Prime Minister, one by one, like a rotten tooth. I have a solution, and that is to bring all of the players who are alleged to have interfered with the former attorney general before the justice committee or the ethics committee and have each and every one of them testify under oath about what they did and what they know.

When that happens, we as Canadians will be able to judge what happened and whether the Prime Minister is culpable for making it happen. If he has absolutely nothing to hide, surely he would say yes to this request. At the very least, if he cares at all about the well-being of members on the other side, he would succeed in making me stop this speech, which I know members on the other side are not enjoying at all.

I am told that on this side there is a different opinion. It would probably give the Prime Minister great pleasure to disappoint this group over here by bringing an end to my speech and agreeing to end the cover-up. If he were to simply allow all of the witnesses to come forward, then that would put an end to all of this right now. I await a member of the government rising to his or her feet on a point of order to interrupt my speech and say that they will relent, that they will end the cover-up, that they will open the committees for a full-scale investigation. In that spirit, we could go forward and find out what really occurred.

If I could reiterate, here are some of the things we would like to know. First, the Prime Minister claimed that the former attorney general never warned him that his interference in the SNC-Lavalin scandal was inappropriate. He claimed that he did not know she was so upset; he did not find out about it until after the story broke in The Globe and Mail.

However, we have documented evidence going back to September showing that the former attorney general told the Prime Minister personally, as well as his senior staff, again and again, from September to December, that she was uncomfortable with their inappropriate interference in her role as Attorney General with respect to the SNC-Lavalin criminal trial.

We want to know why the Prime Minister looked 37 million Canadians in the eyes and told them that he knew nothing about the former attorney general's complaints and that it was all news to him. He said that if anyone, including the former attorney general, had issues with anything they might have experienced in this government or did not feel that the government was living up to the high standards it had set for itself, it was their responsibility to come forward, and no one did.

We now know that statement, which was delivered at a press conference on February 15, was patently false. Why will the Prime Minister not come before a parliamentary committee, put his hand on the good book and testify to explain why he would have made a comment like that to 37 million Canadians when he knew it was not true?

Next, we want to know about the inconsistencies in this scandal. The Prime Minister has offered varying and confusing explanations about why the former attorney general was moved out of her position to Veterans Affairs. First of all, it was Scott Brison's fault. Does everyone remember that old line? Scott Brison left as Treasury Board president and so the government had to get rid of its Attorney General. It is a whole intricate story of musical chairs that resulted from this one man leaving, even though she was not the one who replaced him in his job.

Then, last week, we heard a funny new story that the reason the Prime Minister moved the former attorney general was because she wanted to appoint a respected judge to the head of the Supreme Court who was just not Liberal enough. If he had been more Liberal, then the Prime Minister would have been more happy with his Attorney General and would have kept her in that position. That is the latest explanation on why she was moved out as Attorney General.

On and on this story goes. We all know what happened was that after a period of relentless lobbying, the former attorney general refused to grant a special deal to SNC-Lavalin. On December 19, she told the top public servant in the Prime Minister's government that she was waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” She compared it to the Saturday night massacre when Richard Nixon fired his whole staff to try to cover up Watergate.

The former attorney general said that she was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Of course, a month later it did drop. She was moved out as Attorney General after this collision she had with the Prime Minister over his intention to give a special deal to SNC-Lavalin with respect to the criminal charges it faced for fraud and bribery. We want to know the real reason that the Prime Minister moved his Attorney General. Is the Scott Brison story still the current one, or are we now moving on to the story about her picking judges who are not Liberal enough?

The former attorney general has a very simple story, and she has stuck to her story. That story is that she was moved out because she refused to grant a special deal to this company. We want to know the truth in that matter. We want to know about why it was that the chief of staff to the finance minister repeatedly hounded and used threatening language in writing, through text messages we have now seen, to senior staff in the former attorney general's office.

We also want to know about this story regarding jobs. The government initially claimed that the reason the Prime Minister was so eager to prevent criminal charges was that SNC-Lavalin would leave Canada if the charges went ahead.

We now know that is not true. The company has a $1.5-billion loan agreement with the Quebec pension plan requiring that it keep its headquarters in Montreal where, incidentally, it just signed a 20-year lease on its building and is making major renovations to accommodate its roughly 2,000 Montreal employees. We also know that the company has 52 billion dollars' worth of contracts, the five biggest construction projects in the country. Construction projects cannot leave the country because the construction has to be done at the construction site. In other words, it is not possible for SNC-Lavalin to get up and ship out tomorrow if it faces charges, and the CEO of the company has confirmed that he made no such threat.

Finally, the government kept claiming that if the charges went ahead the company would lose access to federal contracts, costing the company billions of dollars and many jobs. We also know that is not true because the government, in December 2015, gave an exemption to SNC-Lavalin, allowing it to continue to bid on federal work even though it had previously been banned because of charges of corruption and bribery. In other words, the government has the ability to extend an exemption to SNC-Lavalin again if the company is convicted of corporate corruption.

Therefore, if it is not about protecting jobs or federal contracts, who exactly is the government protecting with its relentless and endless attempts to get this company out of a trial? It is extraordinary. There are thousands of trials and thousands of charges laid in this country every year, and politicians never get involved in them. It is just not done. If someone comes into one of our offices and says that they have been charged with bank robbery or some other offence and asks for our help, we politely show them the door.

However, this company, accused of stealing $130 million from the world's poorest people, knocks on the door of the Prime Minister's Office and asks if the government can help it get off of these charges and the Prime Minister agrees, not once, not twice but 20 times, to badger and hound his Attorney General to get the company off of the charges.

Now that we know that this was not about protecting jobs, we need to know who the powerful players are who are being protected by the Prime Minister's attempt to block this trial—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

2 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Unfortunately, I have to interrupt the hon. member for Carleton, but he will have the opportunity to continue his speech after question period.

Quebec's Right to Self-DeterminationStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, it was insulting enough when the Conservatives took Quebec to court over its right to self-determination, but now the Liberals are adding insult to injury. They are now claiming, in English only, that Quebec's independence is illegal without permission from the rest of Canada.

I stand with the Quebec National Assembly, which unanimously recognized that Quebec's right to self-determination is non-negotiable.

On behalf of the Quebec nation, I want to reiterate that, whether one is a separatist or not, our future is ours alone to decide.

I want to reiterate that no matter what anyone says or does, Quebec is a distinct society, free and capable of assuming its destiny.

The only permission Quebec needs to form its own country is the permission of the Quebec nation. Let me be clear: Quebec will not allow anyone to control its democracy.

Aerospace IndustryStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Stephen Fuhr Liberal Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, the Canadian aerospace industry is an important economic driver in every region of the country.

British Columbia, for example, has the third-largest aerospace footprint, with over 200 companies directly or indirectly employing nearly 30,000 workers. In my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country, both KF Aerospace and Carson Air continue to have a growing need for experienced aircraft maintenance engineers and technicians.

In fact, Canada-wide, nearly 5,300 new aircraft technicians will be needed by 2025. As with the current pilot shortage, it is important that public and private sectors work together to engage the next generation of aircraft maintainers.

Aviation connects Canada. The health and well-being of this sector is of critical importance to our economy and deserves our utmost attention.

Beer, Wine and Spirits IndustriesStatements By Members

2 p.m.


John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Madam Speaker, today I invite everyone in the House to raise a glass for some hard-working Canadians: our brewers, winemakers, distillers and farmers. They deserve it because, after today, their lives will be much more difficult, as Canadians will have to pay more to enjoy their world-class local products.

Today, the Liberals are increasing the price of everything but not just through the carbon tax. The Liberals' never-ending escalator tax increases the cost of beer, wine and spirits for the third time in two years. It is Liberal tax grab after Liberal tax grab. The rest of us will have to pay over and over as the escalator tax increases each and every year.

I know this is April Fool's Day and I wish this were a joke, but it is not. This industry supports more than 150,000 middle-class jobs. We are in the middle of a canola crisis. Now our barley, wheat, rye and grape growers are also going to have to pay the price for Liberal failures.

It is time for sober second thought. The Liberals need to repeal this pocket-picking tax on Canadians and stop taxing the fun out of April Fool's Day.

The Daughters of the VoteStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, this week, 338 dynamic and passionate young women are on Parliament Hill to share their vision for Canada as part of the Daughters of the Vote program.

I am proud to announce that, this year, one of the members of my youth council, Chloé Chaudron, was selected to represent the riding of Hull—Aylmer.

Chloé is a psychology graduate from the Université du Québec en Outaouais and now works in the riding for the Association québécoise de défense des droits des personnes retraitées et préretraitées.

I recently rose in the House to talk about my two youth councils, and it is once again an honour to acknowledge the efforts of a young woman from my region.

As I mentioned last week, young people are not the future leaders of our country; they are today's leaders.

Chloé, know that we all support you and we wish you good luck this year.

Automotive IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, there has been steel dumping, steel tariffs, government loans with no Canadian content obligations, no basic manufacturing strategy and massive auto layoffs.

We heard devastating news last week. This time it is our Chrysler Windsor assembly plant and feeder plants like Integram that are hit, yet nowhere else but in Windsor—Tecumseh, and the rest of Essex County, will one find our concentration of vast talent and innovation and the premiere workforce to support it.

Our Chrysler Unifor Local 444 workers are proud of their work and we are proud of the products they make and the reputation they give Canada on the world stage. That is what all workers want from their livelihoods, to work for a reputable company, putting out reputable work and good jobs.

The current Liberal government is just—

Automotive IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for London North Centre.

Peter HardingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to highlight the legacy of a remarkable Londoner, Mr. Peter Harding.

During his stellar career with the London Fire Department, Peter rose through the ranks to become deputy chief, prior to retiring in 1998. He also volunteered for 37 years with the St. John Ambulance Brigade, obtaining the rank of provincial superintendent. He was a chartered member of the London and Area Food Bank and served on the Irish Benevolent Society's board of directors. In 2003, Peter was given the honour of being knighted as a Knight of Justice. Devoted to his church and a member of the Knights of Columbus, Peter worked tirelessly to build London.

On December 4, sadly, Peter passed away due to ingesting carcinogens during his career as a firefighter. Last week, the City of London voted to rename Fire Station No. 4 in his honour, a fitting tribute for all Peter has contributed to our city.

To Peter's wife, Janet, to their children, to his grandchildren, indeed to his entire family, please know that Peter was a hero and Londoners, for generations, will continue to learn of his legacy.

Carbon PricingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, starting today, the Prime Minister is sticking Canadians with his punitive carbon tax, but Canadians are no fools and they know they will pay more at the pump, more to heat their homes and more for food to feed their families. It is no laughing matter to punish people with a useless tax just to get from point A to point B when they live in rural communities or on farms.

The Liberal carbon tax starts at $20 per tonne, goes up to $50 in three years and the Liberals are planning to increase it to $300 per tonne. For many Canadians who are barely making ends meet, this crippling carbon tax is more than a bad joke. Shame on the government for forcing Canadians to pick between being warm in the winter or feeding their families.

The Prime Minister is wildly out of touch with reality and his vindictive carbon tax is a form of extortion on rural Canadians. As Conservatives, we understand that fuel, food and heat are not luxuries. They are the necessities of life. A Conservative government in October 2019 will eliminate all tax on home heating and axe the carbon tax.

Special Olympics Medal WinnerStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a proud Islander to recognize Roy Paynter of Kensington, P.E.I., for his incredible accomplishments at the Special Olympics World Summer Games last month in Abu Dhabi. Roy brought home four medals in swimming: gold in the 200-metre freestyle, gold in the 100-metre breaststroke, silver in the four by 50-metre relay and bronze in the 100-metre backstroke.

Roy earned his place on Team Canada through his strong showing at the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in 2018 when he took home five medals, including two gold. For Roy, the competition is not just about medals. It is about meeting new people, making new friends and being part of a team that supports each other in common goals. For Sarah, Roy's mother, who coached him all of these years, it was a proud moment.

Roy is a role model and has made his country, his province and his community proud. On behalf of Canada, I say thanks and congratulations to Roy.

Peter DeMarshStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise with great sadness to honour the memory of Tobique—Mactaquac constituent and noted forestry advocate Peter DeMarsh. He was among the 18 Canadians who died in the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 tragedy.

Peter was the chair of the International Family Forestry Alliance and president of the Canadian Federation of Woodlot Owners. A true steward of the environment, he was headed to Nairobi to speak at a conference about family-owned forests and climate change. I had the pleasure of meeting with Peter on many occasions over the last four years and always admired his devotion to the well-being of our planet and his dedication to his rural community and the production of small woodlots.

Peter was a proud New Brunswicker, a fearless and tireless advocate for the protection of small woodlots and a true community leader. My thoughts and prayers go out to Peter's family, friends, those who worked with him and all those affected by this great tragedy.

International TradeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, it has been almost a month since China first blocked canola imports from a Canadian company. Since then, another company has had its licence revoked and China has ceased all purchases of Canadian canola. We know that Canada produces the highest quality of canola in the world.

This crisis is not about product. It is about politics and it requires immediate action to resolve it. Our farmers are paying for the Prime Minister's failure to handle Canada's relationship with China, but he has offered them no real assurances. This crisis is creating a lot of uncertainty, and if left unresolved, its impact will be devastating.

Spring is here, bins across the Prairies are full of canola and seeding is right around the corner. Our farmers need to have confidence that their government is standing up for them on the world stage and they deserve answers from the Prime Minister.

Royal Canadian Air ForceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Neil Ellis Liberal Bay of Quinte, ON

Mr. Speaker, as MP for the Bay of Quinte, it is an honour to rise in the House to mark the Canadian air forces' 95th anniversary of service to Canada and the world. My riding is home to Canada's largest air force base, CFB Trenton and boasts one of the largest veterans populations in the country.

The legacy of our air force members stretches back to 1924, when the service was known as the Royal Canadian Air Force. Now Trenton's National Air Force Museum shows off the RCAF's impact, especially in World War II, when it was the fourth-largest allied air force and training took place at the bombing and gunnery schools, No. 6 in Mountain View and No. 31 in Picton, and at the Central Flying School and the Flying Instructor Schools in Trenton.

Our 437 Transport Squadron at CFB Trenton continues to undertake vital air transports and air-to-air refuelling in some of the most challenging deployments abroad.

I invite all my honourable colleagues to recognize this important milestone and thank our CAF members and our veterans for their service.

CanadaStatements By Members

April 1st, 2019 / 2:10 p.m.


David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, it has come to our attention that there is a petition across the United States that calls on Canada to buy Montana for a trillion dollars. While we appreciate their interest, we would like to present our counter-offer.

We will annex Washington state, Oregon, California, New England and enough of New York to get the rest of Niagara Falls and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who, with her values, could be a pretty average Canadian. We will offer, in exchange, to take over Puerto Rico and make it a province, to provide the 74 million new immigrants created by this deal universal free health care, regardless of what they believe or where, and to take Montana.

We believe that this is a fair deal that would also help compensate for our century-old reticence to accept the Turks and Caicos, which was a grave error, we now recognize. In that spirit, if they are not intending to help make Britain great again, we could also make room for Scotland in our Confederation

Carbon PricingStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share a few excerpts from emails I have received in my office about the Liberal carbon tax.

The first is a letter I was copied on that was sent to the Prime Minister. It was sent from Bob Ward, a small business owner and an advocate for trade.

I fail to see your party's logic behind imposing a carbon tax. I certainly understand the theory but this tax will only fuel a climbing [consumer price index]. When will these additional taxes STOP? I don't know about you but my “money tree” died many years ago.

The second is from a senior living in my riding. She wrote, “As an ailing senior my concerns are...the cost of our utilities [and] having enough left over for food and clothing”.

People in Canada are tired of being taxed. Today residents of Ontario are going to see prices at the pumps rise 4.5 cents. The government is making everything more expensive for all Canadians. This is not an environmental plan. This is a tax plan. It is that plain and simple. Canadians have grown tired of the government.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, budget 2019-20 builds on Canada's middle class, and it also supports our infrastructure. This is a government that has invested hundreds of millions of extra dollars in this budget to support municipalities in all regions of our country from coast to coast to coast, because we understand that by investing in Canadians and by investing in our infrastructure, we are going to have a healthier middle class. We are going to have a more prosperous economy in all regions of our country, and that is good for all of Canada.

SherbrookeStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you about my constituency, the wonderful riding of Sherbrooke. The city of Sherbrooke is a beacon of diversity. From our cultural backgrounds to the languages we speak, the religions we practice and even the way we look and the clothes we wear, the people of Sherbrooke are proud to be unique and diverse. I am proud to say that these differences are our strength; we celebrate and foster them.

Last week, as part of Action Week Against Racism, I attended the diversity gala hosted by SAFRIE, a support agency for refugee and immigrant families in the Eastern Townships. The hundreds of attendees took in artistic performances put on by many citizens of Sherbrooke from diverse backgrounds who were proud of their roots and happy to share their culture with their host community.

This week we are also celebrating movies from around the world at the Sherbrooke global film festival from April 4 to 11. Festival-goers are invited to experience movies differently, to discover the world through the eyes of movie makers from here and abroad, and to experience the diversity of the film industry.

I invite my fellow Canadians to join me in celebrating Sherbrooke's diversity and experience what the world has to offer.