Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today and speak to the budget. I actually did not think I would get the opportunity to do this. I did not think I would see a budget from the government, so I am pleased to speak to it today.
I want to put this into the context of COVID-19. Last March, the government shut down the economy because of the pandemic, and we Conservatives co-operated with a lot of these emergency support measures, which was important to do at the time. I want to highlight the Liberals' approach to this.
The very first thing the Liberals did was use their bills as a power grab. They wanted to have the superpower to be able to do whatever they wanted and spend however much they wanted until December of this year, which is still six months from now. That is what they had asked for. Of course, we did not allow them to do this.
The second thing they did was take the power they did have, which was to spend some money, and direct that money to their friends. We think of former Liberal MP Frank Baylis, who got a contract for respirators even though his company had no experience or specialty in that area, and of course the WE scandal, which we have heard a lot about this week, where the government found a way to funnel money to its friends the Kielburgers.
When we exposed all those things, the Liberals did a third thing, which was to prorogue Parliament. They did not want investigations. They did not want documents to come out, and they did not want people to know what was going on. That prorogation of Parliament has created where we are now, where we have this last-ditch, last-hour effort to get this budget passed.
While all of that was going on, Canada was in a significant recession. Our GDP was negative 11.5% last summer. We had record double-digit unemployment, and many small businesses were shut down, including many in Saskatoon, particularly in the tourism sector. Then finally, in the fall, we got an economic statement. Finally, there was some acknowledgement that the government needed to provide some numbers, and yet even that understated the depth of the economic calamity that was hitting Canada.
While all that was going on, the solution to the problem, which was the acquisition of vaccines, was a failure by the government. The first thing the Liberals did was bet the farm on the Chinese dictatorship supplying all the vaccines Canada would need. Of course, that failed and the partnership with CanSino was a failure.
Once that failed, the Liberals talked a big game about ordering vaccines. They like to highlight all the vaccines they ordered. I was in charge of a manufacturing plant, and my boss was not overly concerned with what I ordered. He wanted output. He wanted me to produce products. When I told him I could not, he did not want to hear excuses; he just wanted the products produced. It is one thing to talk about excuses, about ordering this and that, but the real deal is landing those products in the country, in this case in Canada, and getting the vaccines into the arms of people.
Canada has consistently been at the bottom of OECD countries when it comes to getting people fully vaccinated. Why is that? It is because of this difference between ordering and actually landing products in the country. After all these months, we are still at less than 10% of Canadians fully vaccinated with two doses. The Liberals are very good at talking and not so good at actually doing.
On this budget, it is a major letdown. Unemployed Canadians feel let down, workers feel let down and families feel let down. It is not a growth budget. There is no plan to encourage Canada's long-term prosperity, and even the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said it will not stimulate jobs or create economic growth. This is a budget about Liberal partisan priorities. It is an election budget. There is not even a plan to return to a balanced budget in the forward-looking years.
For Saskatoon West, there was money for Meewasin Trail and for VIDO-InterVac, our vaccine-producing organization associated with the University of Saskatchewan. Both are projects I have been advocating for since my election. I have asked numerous question period questions, raised it at committee, written to ministers and brought media attention to it, and I think the Liberals finally just got tired and provided some funding there.
Was there money in Saskatoon for housing projects? No. Was there money for palliative care? No. Was there money for fighting the opioid crisis? No. Was there money for mental health resources? No. Did the people of Saskatoon West get slapped with the largest deficit and debt in the history of this country? Yes, they did. Let us talk about that deficit and debt.
This past year's debt is $354 billion, and next year's is going to be $154 billion. The deficit control plan of the government is getting the deficit down to $30 billion a year in five years' time. Now, 18 months ago, $30 billion would have been viewed as a massive deficit, and today it is seen as nothing. It is not nothing.
This document is projecting a $1.4-trillion debt. That is $37,000 of debt for every man, woman and child, every Canadian; $150,000 for a family of four. That is a small mortgage. It is like the government stole the identity of every Canadian, took their credit cards and racked up $37,000 in charges that they would have to pay. Not only that, in the background, the government is still taxing Canadians.
Some people would say, “So what? Who cares? Just print more money.” Basic market principles in economics care. Every time in history when a government prints money to pay off its debts, record inflation follows. Inflation means higher prices and the money Canadians earn is worth less and less.
I want to remind Canadians of events that occurred 30 years ago. The government, at that time, had racked up unprecedented debts, and by 1995, the government was unable to borrow money. Former Liberal finance minister Paul Martin was forced to raise taxes and reduce spending. A period of hardship and pain for all Canadians followed those decisions. The government was forced to get its debt in order by the markets.
I want to personalize this a bit, because decisions that we make here in this House affect individuals. My wife and I bought our first house in 1989, right in the middle of this period. Our interest rate on our first mortgage was 13%. To put that in perspective, if someone has a $1,000 mortgage payment today because of a 2% interest rate, and that interest rate were to go to 13%, like my first one, that $1,000 payment becomes a $2,700 a month payment, almost triple. Even if interest rates only went to 5%, that $1,000 becomes a $1,500 payment. It is a 50% higher payment.
With this budget, the Liberal government has made a trillion dollar bet that interest rates are going to stay low forever. Of course history says otherwise. From 1965 to now, the average five-year mortgage rate was about 9%. There was a 20-year period from 1975 to 1995 where the average mortgage rate was about 12%. It is only in the last decade that it has been consistently below 5%, and that is not sustainable.
The government is repeating the same mistakes of 30 years ago. At best, we are mortgaging our children's future. At worst, we are going to face another debt crisis, like Paul Martin did. The Liberals are spending money now, knowing that inflation is going to cost our younger generations.
What did we get for all this spending? We got $52 million for Liberal pet project A, and $300 million for Liberal pet project B, and hundreds of billions more split up against other Liberal pet projects. Will some of these benefit Canadians? Time will tell. Will the cost of Liberals buying votes for the next election burden generations of Canadians to come? Absolutely.
I want to turn to my home riding of Saskatoon West. Our Saskatchewan economy is built on agriculture, mining, forestry and energy. Saskatoon West is the centre of many of these industries. Our downtown houses many head offices. We have industrial parks, and we have a large railway switching hub and an airport that services all of Saskatchewan, especially the north.
I want to talk specifically about the energy sector. I sit on the environment committee, so I have a unique perspective. The budget was a missed opportunity to grow Canada's largest economic sector. In fact, the Liberals are failing our energy sector. Energy East, of course, cancelled. Teck Resources, Kitimat LNG cancelled. Keystone XL cancelled just this week. The Trans Mountain pipeline is in limbo. Also in limbo is Enbridge Line 5, which delivers much of western Canadian oil to Ontario and Quebec via the U.S.A.
What about small businesses in Saskatoon West? I have been a consistent advocate. The Liberal COVID-19 programs failed small businesses. The initial rent program was horribly designed, and left most tenants without help. The wage subsidy was initially written to exclude most workers, and we had to push the government for the rules to be changed. Then, of course, the CRA began auditing small businesses. We had to put forward a motion to end those unnecessary audits. I have spoken about these issues. Conservatives will continue to be there for small business.
I graduated from university as an accountant, and I worked for many years in business management. I worked in different companies, from large multinational businesses to owning and operating my own small business. The reason I ran for office here stemmed from my desire to bring some business acumen to the federal government. I believe we need a good cross-section of skills. We need drama teachers and journalists, but we also need financially minded people who understand economics and monetary policy. I think this budget proves my point very well.
This is an election budget. The foundational question was not what is in the best interests of Canadians. It was, what is the surefire way to get re-elected. Canadians can see right through this. That is why the people of Saskatoon West elected a Conservative MP in 2019, and that is why we need to elect more Conservative MPs next time. Only a Conservative government could secure our economy and secure our future.