Madam Speaker, I will split my time with the strong, new member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.
In their first call, our Conservative leader urged the Prime Minister to address western alienation and national unity. By failing to even mention it in the throne speech, the Prime Minister completely ignored the people I represent, and yesterday he called them crazy, and so it is impossible for me to support it.
Canada is in fiscal peril. The throne speech shows that the Liberals will keep risking Canada's finances so that kids the same age as my nieces and nephews and younger generations will struggle with affordability, starting a business, buying a home and planning for retirement. They may never experience the same health care, pensions or services their grandparents did.
In 2014, the Prime Minister said, “The budget will balance itself”, but his first one was twice the deficit he promised. In four years, he put Canada $87 billion in debt and now, when Canadians need support most, the Liberals are running a massive $343-billion deficit. The PBO warns that “we cannot afford deficits of over $300 billion for more than just a few years. ...it would [be] unsustainable.”
Conservatives do not advocate for fiscal responsibility as an end in itself. Instead, our caution is precisely to prepare for days like today so that there is fiscal firepower to support Canadians in crisis, but Canada is doing worse than our European allies. Under the Liberals, in March and April, three million Canadians lost their jobs and more than a million Canadians are still out of work. Canada has the highest unemployment rate in the G7, and the largest industries are sustaining major, prolonged damage, costing real people real jobs and hope for a better tomorrow.
This month, 70% of Canadian small businesses reported lower sales, 60% are not fully staffed and one in three are still fully closed. After six months of the Liberals turning Parliament into a special committee, stripping powers from MPs and opposition parties, spending hundreds of billions of dollars with limited scrutiny while attacking as heartless anyone who would dare to ask questions or ask for oversight and accountability, and after six weeks of shutting down everything to avoid his own scandals, what is missing from the throne speech is a clear post-pandemic road map and a real plan for the private sector to lead Canada's economic recovery.
It is fair to say that Canadians want elected representatives to work together. Conservatives have done so, but it is also our job to speak truth to power. Let us be real about the Liberals' failure to close the borders early, risking health and lives in response to COVID-19, and now to support Canada's front-line medical workers and first responders, who make up 20% of Canada's COVID cases, which is twice the global average. The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions links that reality to a lack of protective equipment.
Last week, I heard from firefighters who cannot source N95 masks in rural or smaller population centres. So many of those first responders across Canada are volunteers. That is inexcusable, given all the early warnings. On January 17, Canadian military intelligence warned the defence minister about COVID-19. On February 7, the World Health Organization warned about global PPE shortages. On February 13, the Public Health Agency warned that Canada's stockpile was inadequate. However, the Liberals did not even try to buy PPE from international suppliers until late March and had already sent planeloads of Canadian PPE to China without any plans to replace it.
To protect public health, obviously, decisions must be based on science, evidence and practices in best-performing countries. Announcements must be clear and accurate. However, the Liberals have confused Canadians who are worried about making ends meet, and worried about their kids going back to school and whether they will be able to go back to work. People just cannot keep waiting for test results.
On August 26, infectious disease specialist Dr. Andrew Morris called Health Canada's rejection of home testing “absurd” and said that rapid testing is the backbone of infectious disease management, but the throne speech had precious little to fix Canada's failure to adopt the most effective models. The U.K., Japan, Germany and even the U.S. in April approved instant and rapid home testing, but not Canada. One single approval trickled in just today from Health Canada—some urgency.
On a personal note, I am grateful to our new Conservative leader to be the public safety shadow minister. It is not just a title or a huge responsibility for me, it is personal. I live on a farm in a rural riding in an escalating crime epidemic. My constituents fear for their families, homes and businesses, vulnerable to increasingly brazen criminals in a slap-on-the-wrist, revolving-door system. It is costing them enormously, financially and in their peace of mind. That is why, in 2018, I pushed Motion No. 167 to combat rural crime as an anxious rural resident and MP myself, and as the daughter-in-law of a proud RCMP detachment assistant for more than 40 years.
I know so many under-resourced officers, administrators and victim services advocates who are at their wits' end, just like rural residents who feel like sitting ducks.
In Lakeland, there are 10 first nation and Métis communities. As a person who happens to be part Ojibwa, my heart aches when they share their worries about pervasive crime, recidivism, safety and their youth. Multiple indigenous communities in Lakeland declared local states of emergency because of out-of-control gang activity and crime since 2015. They worry about the exact same shortages of front-line mental health, addictions and police support and services as everyone else in Lakeland and in Alberta. What a shame the Liberals did not actually act on my Motion No. 167, but Conservatives will not give up.
The Liberal approach to firearms is a complete failure. In Toronto, shootings are up 83% under the current Liberals, with 2020 the worst year on record. In the throne speech, a single sentence promised to control the flow of illegal guns into Canada, as if the Liberals have not been in government for the past five years. What is worse is that the public safety minister knows mass confiscation of legal firearms will not reduce crime. Last year, about handguns, he said:
...that would be potentially a very expensive proposition...it would not in my opinion be perhaps the most effective measure in restricting the access that criminals would have to such weapons, because we’d still have a problem with them being smuggled across the border....
He is right. Where are the real resources and political will for front-line law enforcement and CBSA to tackle guns, organized crime and border smugglers, who are the main sources of firearms violence in Canada? Every dollar and every minute spent on this pointless and ineffective firearms ban could instead be used to go after criminals, who are not worried about filing paperwork and do not follow firearms laws already.
As for those who have been crime victims, I have walked their path. My lifelong and childhood best friend, the kind who is family, Dana Turner, was murdered in 2011 by a guy who also attacked an undercover cop and a prison cellmate. It is still seared into my mind: the desperation in looking for her, the hope that we would be wrong or that it was not what it seemed. I struggled through Dana's sister Paula's victim impact statement in Parliament to support life means life legislation, a Conservative bill the Liberals defeated in 2016. Later that same year, Dana's murderer was sentenced to prison for 16 years with no chance of parole. Two years ago, thank God, the appeal court upheld the judge's sentence. Dana was the victim of Mark Lindsay, but so were her parents, her sons, her siblings, every relative and her friends. As Paula generously said, so, even, were his parents because crime ricochets through so many lives and impacts so many people forever.
Canadians should not have to hold their breath and cross their fingers, hoping upon hope for exceptional lawyers, or that they can afford them, and for the grace of individual judges for justice to always be served. That is also why I am proud. Our new Conservative leader is committed to ensuring that even if someone is not criminally responsible they will not be a threat to the broader public. It is why we will keep calling on the Liberals to reverse their reduction of sentences for major offences, and I will ask for more action on dangerous offenders.
It is not just Canada's domestic security that is vulnerable on the Liberals' watch. The Prime Minister's naive admiration of the “basic dictatorship” of China is also a threat. Canadians are still unjustly imprisoned in China. Whether it was the Nortel hack in the 1990s, the Equifax hack in 2017 or the BlackBerry hack discovered in 2020, they all trace back to one place: the Chinese Communist Party.
China's state agencies are stealing Canada's cutting-edge research and innovation and interfering with critical infrastructure like telecoms. The Five Eyes partnership is Canada's most important international security and intelligence-sharing agreement, but Canada is the only member to not ban Huawei. While the Liberals are dithering, our new Conservative leader is clear: He will not allow the Communist Party of China to spy on Canadians through Huawei. China's state-influenced companies are setting up massive databases to compromise influencers and decision-makers, including 16,000 Canadians, while it is using its financial power to expand and control crucial and physical infrastructure in other countries. Of course, China's state owned and affiliated enterprises are consolidating control of resources and resource producers, including Canada's, which are all the more vulnerable because of Liberal policies and the severe economic consequences of the pandemic.
In closing, the Prime Minister could have outlined a concrete plan to keep Canadians safe, to create jobs and to restart the economy. He did not, so I will vote no confidence in the government.