Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I want to let you know that I will be sharing my time with the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
It is always a privilege to rise in the House and talk about matters of state. That is all the more true today as the end of the parliamentary session draws near. We have just a few weeks to go until the summer recess, and there is going to be an election this fall. With that in mind, I would like to express my support for Bill S-6, an act to implement a tax convention between Madagascar and Canada for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion, as my colleague opposite just explained.
As a number of members have said today, we already have 93 such agreements, some of which were signed by our government before 2015 and all of which are meant to prevent tax evasion. I want to emphasize that tax evasion is a scourge that prevents the government from collecting monies owed, which it uses to provide services to Canadians.
Of course, the important thing is that there be trust between two countries. It is the reason why we are supporting the bill. Trust between the public and the government is equally important, but it has been shaken. It has been shaken because, as we are about to sign an agreement with Madagascar, we have to face the fact that Canada has its own major challenges with tax evasion.
For example, in an article published by the Journal de Montréal, Guillaume St-Pierre said that the Canadian treasury is losing up to $3 billion each year in unpaid taxes because wealthy Canadians are hiding money in tax havens.
A Canada Revenue Agency study revealed that Canada is losing significant tax revenue to tax evaders. These people use complex schemes to hide taxable income abroad. The $3-billion figure could be just the tip of the iceberg. It has been suggested that companies or individuals who evade or avoid taxes could owe as much as $17 billion in unpaid taxes.
Our system already has certain weaknesses. It is important that Canadians pay their fair share of taxes. This week, we learned that British Columbia also has challenges with money laundering, which is pouring huge amounts of money into B.C.'s real estate market. Several billions of dollars have been injected into the real estate market.
When the time comes to meet a need as fundamental as housing, the average Canadian who pays his taxes must turn to the real estate market, where he is in competition with unknown sources of money.
We support Bill S-6, but the trust between Canadians and the government has been undermined at a time when we are headed towards an election. I would like to remind those listening that, on taxation, which is the issue we are discussing today, the Liberal government looked us in the eye and promised that by now, so in 2019, there would be no deficit because the budget would be balanced.
Why is this important?
It is important to balance the budget, because a period of relative economic prosperity is the perfect time to generate revenue and pay down the deficit so we can get money flowing in the event of an economic crisis, in order to stimulate and support the economy. That is what our Conservative government did.
The difference between what is happening now and what we went through is that we were faced with an economic crisis. The Conservative government did three things: we paid down debt, stimulated the economy in a period of economic crisis and balanced the budget.
The Liberal government's four-year term is almost over, and we have yet to see the government taking any of these measures. In fact, it has done the opposite and plunged us into a bottomless deficit pit.
Writing about the 2019 budget for the Journal de Montréal, Michel Girard mentioned the $71-billion deficit and called the budget blatant vote buying. He wrote:
True to form, the Trudeau government is spending like there's no tomorrow. That is why, for the fourth time in a row, it's kicking off the new fiscal year with a colossal deficit.
I mentioned trust, and members will recall that we were promised a balanced budget and modest deficits.
Michel Girard goes on to say:
How big will it be this time? Nearly $20 billion, including a “small” $3-billion cushion.
Adding it all up, since [this Prime Minister and the Liberals] came to power, they have dug a massive $71-billion hole with four successive huge deficits.
As a result, [at a time of relative economic prosperity, under the Liberals' watch] the net federal debt has skyrocketed by $100 billion.
Where is that $100 billion going? Is it being invested in families, in infrastructure or in the fight against climate change?
Most of the Liberal government's spending is the result of direct program expenses, particularly expenses associated with the federal government's departments, agencies and Crown corporations.
What concrete benefits are there for taxpayers? Most of that $100-billion deficit goes to the departments. Basically, it goes into bureaucracy, unfortunately.
Direct program expenses have skyrocketed by $30 billion. Who is footing the bill? Ordinary Canadians are. Since the Liberals came to power in 2015, government revenues have increased by $43 billion. Money does not grow on trees. The Liberals are taking that money out of taxpayers' pockets, the same taxpayers who have recently been burdened with a carbon tax whose effects are still unknown.
Such is the government's record. It has lost the trust of the people.
It is okay for the government to sign partnerships with Madagascar, as it has done in 93 other cases, but it is not okay for the government to break its word.
I was saying that the Conservatives restored budgetary balance and that we invested during the economic crisis and paid down the debt. The Liberals spend left and right with no real result. I just explained today how this money went to the bureaucracy and taxpayers are the ones paying an extra $45 billion. Unfortunately, that is not all. This deficit includes measures that taxpayers will not benefit from but will have to pay for. For example, the Parliamentary Budget Officer told us that the government paid $4.5 billion for a pipeline. Taxpayer money is being used to pay an expense that will not even help Canadian energy access the market at a fair price.
I see that my time is running out. I will simply say that it is important that there be trust between countries, as is the case between Canada and Madagascar in this agreement, but the trust between the Canadian public and the Liberal government has been broken.