Madam Speaker, it has become more and more apparent that this is a Liberal government that has run out of steam and run out of ideas. We are now nearly three months away from what was supposed to be, in the Prime Minister's words, “the most...[consequential] election since 1945”, yet Canadians still have little clue about what direction the Liberal government is taking our country. Canadians can be forgiven, I think, for a profound sense of déjà vu as they read the latest throne speech delivered by the Governor General. In many ways, it reads exactly like the throne speech from 2020, so much so that Canadians are wondering just why we needed to have an unnecessary, reckless and expensive $600-million pandemic election.
To be sure, there are some important points in the throne speech, such as fighting the pandemic and getting Canada back to normal. There are promises to address reconciliation with first nations, to take action on climate change, to strengthen the middle class and to grow the economy. These are all important promises, but when we look at the record of the Liberal government, particularly over the last three years, we see a lot of talk, but little action. Conservatives believe that the purpose of winning elections is so we can legislate to fix problems and seize opportunities for our country. For the Liberals, it is the other way around. They legislate and make promises so that they can win elections and seize opportunities for themselves.
This abdication of leadership has led to a country that is dealing with more than one crisis, where the government can say the right thing, but action is rarely forthcoming. One columnist recently wrote that the Prime Minister is the return of the infamous Mr. Dithers character. Someone who has “hit the ground running at a sloth-in-slow-motion speed.” This is no longer the government of idealists elected in 2015. It is a government that desperately wants to hold onto power, divide and conquer Canadians, and take the bare minimum of action required to safely remain in government.
This has resulted in a terrible situation in our country, where very real problems are not being addressed with the seriousness they deserve. In the throne speech, I was disappointed to see little or no mention of the significant issues Canadians care about right now. For example, in Canada, we are undergoing the most significant period of inflation since I have been alive. For decades, Canadians could rely upon fiscal and monetary policy that maintained an inflation rate close to 2%. This meant that Canada’s economy could grow at a solid rate, while ensuring that prices for goods did not drastically increase. Now we are seeing very significant increases across all sectors, with food, fuel, housing and vehicles all seeing steep jumps in prices.
One recent report also indicated that almost every investment asset class, when calculating for inflation, is returning a net negative real return. The consequences of letting inflation run at these levels will impact families for generations to come. It will mean less money saved for retirement, more resources dedicated to just the essentials and less resources for achieving Canadians’ dreams. It will mean eroded standards of living for retirees on fixed incomes, who will look at the value of their nest eggs shrink as the money supply expands exponentially. The government promises that it will find a way to make Canadians whole, but we saw the consequences in the past of government trying to control wage and price inflation. It only exacerbated the problems further.
The most significant actions that have worked historically to address runaway inflation have been for the government to get its fiscal house in order and for the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates. These are bitter pills to swallow for Canadians who have grown used to massive government largesse and artificially lowered interest rates. The Liberals, I fear, will try and win politically by forestalling this inevitability by increasing spending and allowing the Bank of Canada to let inflation run even higher, thus forestalling the need for increased interest rates.
The consequences of this will mean exponentially more pain for Canadians in the future as the government loses its ability to finance deficit spending and the Bank of Canada loses its ability to control inflation. Canadians deserve a government that will make the tough choices to ensure future generations can have a better life than the one we have. I know from hitting the doors in my community that the cost of living was top of mind for many families. Canadians need to see leadership from the government and they are not seeing it right now from the Liberals.
There is also nothing in the throne speech to comfort the anxiety of my constituents in Alberta. In my region, we rely on the agriculture, forestry, oil and gas, and service sectors to put food on the table. On the agriculture front, there was only one mention in the Speech from the Throne, and that was about creating a Canada water agency. What about a plan to ensure that Canadian farmers can continue to access world markets? What about a plan to address the rising cost of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer and fuel, which are threatening global food security? These are serious issues, but there was no mention of them by this government.
Where is the plan to fight the Americans on the unjust doubling of softwood lumber tariffs? Where is the plan to ensure that our oil and gas sector can continue to sustain our economy for generations to come while reducing and eliminating greenhouse emissions?
I see company after company from Alberta pledging billions of dollars in combined resources to implement revolutionary and effective carbon capture technology. Where is their willing partner in the federal government? Where is the tax credit for enhanced oil recovery, which will sustain new, low-carbon jobs and investments for decades to come? It is not to be found in the throne speech. Instead, we just see ideological talking points and promises to shut down our jobs and our industries.
The words “just transition” have become a nightmare for Albertans. Many people in my riding lost their jobs when coal-powered plants were phased out a few years ago. Communities and workers were promised by this Liberal government that they would have compensation and a just transition. The last promise in the 2019 budget said $100 million for coal communities.
Well, we have not seen any funding from this Liberal government, and it has been two years. Folks in my area know exactly what a “just transition” means. It means fewer jobs, less prosperity and more “just inflation”. It is time for the Liberal government to take co-operative action with the oil and gas sector to ensure the prosperity of all Canadians, not just those who are represented by Liberal MPs.
The Speech from the Throne also failed to address the elephant in the room in Canada right now. One of our most important institutions has been on the news on an almost daily basis, and not a lot of it has been good news. I am talking, of course, about the Canadian military and the numerous scandals that we have seen.
As someone who represents a large military community and CFB Edmonton, I know that my constituents are extremely proud of our Canadian Forces members, but every day they lose confidence when they see the Liberal government fail to act and fix problems. An institution as important as the Canadian military deserves far more attention from this government than it received in the throne speech, where it was not even mentioned once. Sadly, this is just another case of the Liberal government failing to tackle the important issues that Canadians want to see solved.
The Liberals' rhetoric has, yet again, failed to match the reality of action. When the Prime Minister said this was “the important election since 1945”, he clearly was not talking about its importance to Canadians. Instead, he was talking about its importance to his own ambitions for a majority government.
We are seeing bills being passed today that would have been, and could have been, passed if we had not had an election, such as Bill C-2, Bill C-4 and Bill C-6. We see legislation that was passed with unanimous support, like Bill C-3 last night, which fulfilled the promise from all the way back to May 2020 to implement paid sick leave.
This is legislation the Prime Minister said would be implemented without delay, but it took a year and a half to produce a mere page of legislation. In fact, it was not even important enough to merit its own legislation. It had to be merged together with a Criminal Code amendment. We are seeing a recycled throne speech. I praise the government for its commitment to recycling, but the throne speech largely repeats the promises and agenda of the government from last year in 2020.
It is clear, as I said at the beginning of my speech, that this Liberal government has run out of steam and out of ideas. Canadians are growing more disappointed each and every day as they see the priorities they talk about around their kitchen tables with their families every night not being reflected in the policies and action of this government. I hope for the sake of all Canadians that this government can get its act together.