Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with my colleague from Red Deer—Mountain View.
I am very pleased to be here today as the Conservative Party's new public services and procurement critic and very happy to have this opportunity to reply to the throne speech.
I was very pleased to be with my leader, the member for Durham, yesterday during his response to the throne speech. His reply was nearly an hour long and was very heartfelt. He was down to earth, as we say back home. I am sure Canadians will pick up on the difference in terms of vision between the current Prime Minister, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
I could spend my time today talking about the government's gaffes, its bad management, its duplicity and, according to some, its corruption. We could also talk about how badly its female cabinet ministers have been treated, its ethical breaches and its bungled border management. The Prime Minister tends to be dictatorial in managing his team and in his approach to Canadian politics.
What bothers me the most is that so many of his cabinet ministers refuse to say anything. They are like statues; they say nothing, turn a blind eye and let their Prime Minister do as he pleases. Of course, it is easy to criticize and I could go on all night. We have five years of experience behind us. Early on, the Liberals lamented the fact that the Conservatives had been in power for 10 years, but the Liberal record for the last five years is far more complicated and bleak than anything the Liberals could say about us.
Today I want to talk about our position on the Speech from the Throne, our vision for Canada and the positive proposals we would like to put forward. What we are proposing to Canadians is an agenda and vision that are realistic, honest and transparent. The word “transparent” is very often misused on the Liberal side. The Conservatives are going to make sure that that word becomes meaningful once again.
As my leader said, the dangerous and ideologically driven economic decisions made by this government over the past five years have resulted in the decline of Canada's competitiveness. We will restore Canadians' trust by working with small businesses, major industries, innovators and not-for-profits to help move this country forward. We will establish a financial plan to balance the budget in a way that is prudent and compassionate towards the disadvantaged. On the one hand, we must look after the most vulnerable and, on the other, we must get Canada's finances back on track.
Financial visions are often diametrically opposed. Those on the far left will bust the budget to give more to everyone, even if it means ending up in the red. At the other end of the spectrum, those on the far right will tighten the screws as much as possible. However, it is possible to strike a balance, and that is the Conservative approach. We must be compassionate and take care of the most vulnerable while properly managing our finances. We must avoid spending and creating pointless programs purely as an illusion. We must deal with real life, not the abstract. We want to be compassionate, but we must also think about everything that is happening and the deficits.
Everyone agrees that the spending and investments associated with COVID-19 were necessary. We supported the various measures taken to help Canadians.
Let us forget COVID-19 for a moment. As of January 2020, the Liberals had been in power for four years and had added $100 billion to Canada's debt. That is a problem. Who is supposed to pay for that? Money does not grow on trees. Taxpayers will have to pay back these deficits through taxes. Of course, with the pandemic, the deficit is becoming even bigger.
We need to show compassion for taxpayers. We must always consider the people who pay for all the government's spending. Take young people, for example. My kids are teenagers. My daughter wants to do some things, my son wants to do others. What does the future look like in the next 10, 20 or 30 years? We certainly need to think about it. We have a duty and responsibility to do so. Every government should make this a standard priority. It will be the priority of a Conservative government.
When it comes to taxes in Canada, there is a problem: it is very complicated. There are lots of tax rules. People who have the means or know tax experts and lawyers find ways to pay less tax, but workers and small business owners who do not have the resources keep on paying taxes. They do not know how the system works because it is too complicated. The next Conservative government will simplify the Income Tax Act.
We will also take a look at barriers to interprovincial trade, which have been preventing free trade within Canada for too long. We negotiate free trade agreements with other countries, yet selling Quebec products in British Columbia and vice versa is difficult. That makes no sense. We need to remove interprovincial barriers. Our confederation is supposed to include an economic union, and we will make sure Canada can operate that way. A confederation is the number one place where things should be done intelligently.
Canada must never again be caught off guard by a crisis like COVID-19. We need to have a domestic stockpile of personal protective equipment, key essentials and medicines. These items are important for any country to have, and Canada must always be prepared. This is an important lesson, and we have taken note. There is no question that one of the next Conservative government's priorities will be to ensure that Canada has all the essentials it needs and does not have to rely on other countries.
Rapid response capacity is important. Recently we saw that some countries were able to approve saliva tests quickly, while in Canada, it is going to take months. That is not normal. Health Canada and every government department need to take a hard look at their operations in order to speed up the process. The response has to be rapid and immediate. We cannot allow the bureaucracy to prevent Canada from getting out of this crisis faster than another country. We have to overcome these problems.
We also have to think about protecting the food supply. Canada has a cold climate. Foods like fruits and vegetables often have to be imported, except in the summer. We need to find ways to develop structures that will enable us to have greenhouses where we can grow food year-round. All essential products should come from Canada as much as possible.
When it comes to foreign investment, Canada must protect itself. Certain countries and foreign corporations have their sights on our land, our mines and our high-tech companies. We need to make sure that Canadian interests are protected first and foremost. National security checks are important to ensure that we do not let any part of Canada get into the hands of malicious foreign actors.
The Conservative government was in office during the great recession and crisis of 2008-09. The Harper government faced the crisis, and most importantly, it was able to overcome it. Yes, we had to make the necessary investments. Those investments often went against basic Conservative principles, but it was the right thing to do. The Conservative government then got Canada back to a balanced budget. Actually, I would remind the House that Canada returned to a balanced budget in time for the 2015 election.