Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join all my colleagues virtually, coming live from Teulon, Manitoba.
This is the 11th throne speech I have heard since I was elected in 2004 and this is by far the weakest throne speech I have had to listen to. I even reread it this morning and it is just filled with Liberal dogma. It is about social re-engineering. The only reason we had prorogation by the Prime Minister, since the throne speech is so uninspiring, is the WE scandal. It was not about resetting the agenda; it was about trying to do a cover-up and ensuring the opposition parties could not continue to litigate the government about its scandal and the almost billion dollars it was going to hand over to the WE Charity.
We are going to get around to dealing with that during this session of Parliament, but let us ensure we talk about all the problems the Liberals continue to have, especially with respect to its fiscal mismanagement and how it is building upon that during this COVID-19 crisis.
We have supported the government on ensuring we get timely payments out to Canadians where they are needed, but we have to ensure we take exception to the Prime Minister's comment in the throne speech, when he said, “Canadians should not...take on debt that their government can better shoulder.” Who does the Prime Minister think holds the debt of the Government of Canada? it is Canadians.
As we are now running right past $350 billion in deficit this fiscal year alone, that is the equivalent of $100,000 per man, woman and child in the entire country. I do not know anyone who has received $100,000 from the Government of Canada. Definitely people have received $2,000 a month through CERB and businesses have received up to $40,000 in CEBA loans that will be repayable. However, if we look at a family of four, nobody has received $400,000, and we are doing all of this without an actual budget in place for this fiscal year. Therefore, as we move forward, we will have to hold the government to account as to where this money has gone.
When I was part of the Harper government and we were running deficits, we had a plan as to how we dealt with it. It was called the three Ts. When we were dealing with deficits, they had to be timely, transparent and temporary. I am worried that some of the social re-engineering the government is looking at will make some of the benefits out there to help during these rough times become more than just temporary funding and turn into permanent programs. That will hurt our overall economic recovery as a nation and further indebt Canadians as the Government of Canada continues to pile up these mountains of debt, which is going to exceed $1 trillion for the first time in Canadian history. They have to be timely. So far a lot of Canadians have had to wait for months for benefits from the government, and these have to be transparent.
We do not have a budget. When this crisis first started and Parliament was not sitting, we know the government tried to get control of the entire public purse, without any oversight, to deal with the so-called recovery from COVID. We are not there yet, so we have to continue to drive forward. However, right now we see this ongoing use of non-disclosure agreements and national security designations as a way to hide any government contracts that have been sole-sourced, like the WE scandal, and as we have seen recently with PPE manufacturing, when it used national security as a way to hide a sole-sourced contract for face masks. That makes no sense at all. We have to continue to hold the government to account.
Nothing in the throne speech did anything to address western alienation. Here in Manitoba, as it is in Saskatchewan and Alberta, there is a real concern that Ottawa knows best and the rest of us in the west can just take a hike. We cannot allow that to happen. As a national Parliament, we have to address every region of our country.
The Conservative leader's first ask was how the Prime Minister would deal with national unity, with the rise of western alienation and the ongoing sovereignist movement within Quebec. There is no plan in the Speech from the Throne that even addresses that.
We do not see any action from the government on how it is going to deal with the COVID-19 health recovery. Months after this pandemic started, we are finally getting approval for rapid testing. All the G8 nations that we deal with, and our partners under NATO and the European Union, have been using rapid testing for months. We are only getting there now.
One of the greatest disappointments in the Speech from the Throne is that the government talks about having an economic recovery and job creation, but the only jobs it can create are the ones it adds to the civil service. It has not done anything to set in motion the economic objectives to build our current economy. Liberals do not even address the fundamentals of our economy, or having a fiscal anchor in how we deal with these ongoing deficits, and they have completely ignored the pillars of our economy.
When I re-read the Speech from the Throne on the computer this morning, I did a search for the word “farmers” and it only appears twice in the document. Once to talk about the Liberals finally paying supply managed farmers for any market losses that they are experiencing because of the free trade agreements we have signed, but we have heard that for five years from the government, and it has not done anything yet.
Then the Liberals talk about wanting to make sure farmers are given support to adapt to the new environmental regulations that are coming out. Farmers and ranchers are partners in the environment and they should be rewarded, not penalized, because they are carbon sinks, and they are securing our food supply. We need to help them, not penalize them.
There is nothing in the speech about fish harvesters. We waited in Manitoba for almost five months after the Prime Minister announced from Rideau Cottage in May that there was going to be support for fish harvesters. In my riding of Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, we have almost 1,000 commercial fishers. These are families in our communities and they waited for months before they could even apply. They have still have not received any cheques in the mail.
Energy workers were ignored. Forestry workers were ignored. Those who work in the natural resource sector were not even mentioned. These are the pillars of our economy, yet there is no support for how we create those jobs. There is nothing for manufacturers.
The real drivers of our economy are small business owners. Almost 90% of businesses in Canada are owned by small business owners, and they are the job creators. There was not much said to help them.
Aviation was completely forgotten about. How do we keep our airlines flying and our airports open? Nav Canada has laid off a pile of people, which is impacting Winnipeg and St. Andrews Airport in my riding. In Churchill, how do we use the gateway to the Arctic without having Nav Canada there to help with the safety and planning of those flights?
As the shadow minister for defence, I want to join with all members who have stood and thanked members of the Canadian Armed Forces, especially those tasked through Operation Lentus, which was the work done in long-term care. It was much appreciated. It was much needed, and I know they stand at the ready to do it again.
Again, there is almost nothing in the speech to deal with the military, or the use the defence industry as a way to drive economic recovery, as well as supply our Armed Forces. I know members of the Canadian Armed Forces are worried about these huge deficits. They remember the last time the Liberals had to start paying down deficits and address the national debt, which led to the decade of darkness. We cannot allow that to happen again.
We have to invest in our Arctic sovereignty. We have challenges from Russia and China, so we need to have an upgraded north warning system, make sure we are working in NORAD and use new capabilities. Speaking of China, I want to mention, as the Prime Minister did in the throne speech, that today is 665 days that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been wrongfully incarcerated in China.
It is time to get them home. Let us deal with that head on, as we address all the problems we have in our relationship with Beijing.