Madam Speaker, in my earlier remarks about the budget, I noted that with this budget, the Prime Minister had squandered a historic opportunity to reposition our economy for long-term success. I did, however, acknowledge that the budget contained a number of temporary measures that were critical to sustaining Canadians as we struggled to get past the pandemic. I commended the government for extending the wage and rent subsidy programs and a number of other measures that would continue to support struggling Canadians.
That is what a responsible opposition does. We offer helpful suggestions where possible and we call out failure when it happens. Therefore, I wish I could say that we Conservatives will support this budget, because we should not let the perfect become the enemy of the good. However, the reality is that this budget completely fails to deliver the growth budget that the finance minister had promised. Instead, it represents, as former deputy finance minister Kevin Lynch recently noted, the largest “transfer of debt and risk” that our country has ever seen. The finance minister failed to recognize the enormity of that challenge and in so doing, failed to include in her budget the strong fiscal anchor and debt management plan for which her own mandate letter called.
This budget would see our massive national debt swell to $1.4 trillion in the immediate term, with a hint from the government that it plans to borrow even more. The only anchor the minister could point to was a trajectory that would see Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio move slightly below 50%, far above what it was pre-pandemic, with endless debt and deficits for our children and grandchildren to repay.
The minister has been asked many times if she ever expects the government to return to balance; in other words to live within its means. She has steadfastly refused to answer, clearly a signal that the answer is no. Is this the growth budget the Prime Minister promised? It is absolutely not. While it would dramatically grow deficits, debt and the size of government, there is little that would position our economy for long-term growth and prosperity.
While other G7 countries have invested heavily in things like critical infrastructure, cut taxes, embarked on regulatory reform, harnessed the value of their innovators and reoriented trade away from hostile regimes like China, our Prime Minister has simply sprayed half a trillion dollars at targets intended to secure his re-election.
There is no plan to reorient our industrial policy from a tangibles to an intangibles economy, and there is no plan to capture the value of Canadian education, research and development, and innovation to ensure our start-ups commercialize and create jobs in Canada. There is no plan to reverse the dramatic flight of foreign capital from our country and to get nation-building infrastructure built. We now have the dubious distinction of being known as the country where nothing ever gets built. The demise of northern gateway, Keystone XL and energy east, and the potential demise of Line 5 under the current Liberal government, are evidence of that. What is worse is that this budget throws our oil and gas sector under the bus by expressly excluding it from the CCUS tax credit.
Again, is this a growth budget? It is not at all. In fact, even the Prime Minister's former policy adviser, Robert Asselin, recently confirmed this when he said that the budget doubles “down on programs that do not address our innovation shortcomings and have yielded few results to date.” He said, “it is hard to find a coherent growth plan.”
The finance minister clearly has not been taking the advice of her own Liberal advisers. She has also failed to act on other pressing issues. Her budget fails to properly address the looming threat of inflation and with it, rising interest rates, which could have a profound impact on millions of Canadians with mortgages.
In fact, last week we learned from Stats Canada that the cost of living continues to rise and is the highest it has been in over 10 years, proving that the minister's trillion-dollar debt and endless deficits are actually making life much more expensive for Canadians. One of the reasons for this is that the minister injected massive stimulus into our economy when economists were warning that she risked stoking the fires of inflation, and here we are. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer commented that the Liberal government may have miscalibrated the necessity to spend on stimulus.
I will not sugar-coat this. The threat that massive borrowing and spending will lead to runaway inflation is real. I know the government does not want to hear that and is hanging on to the belief that inflationary pressures will be transitory. It says there is nothing to see and do not worry and tells us to be happy. However, Germany's Deutsche Bank is not buying it. It recently warned of a ticking inflation time bomb, a warning our minister refuses to heed.
For example, why is the Liberal government spending hundreds of millions of our tax dollars on the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank? It is a bank that makes no investments in Canada and instead supports China's efforts to assert its power and influence across Asia. In fact, why is this government collaborating with the communist regime in China on anything while that regime commits genocide against its own Uighur Muslim population, lays waste to democracy in Hong Kong, engages in harvesting organs from persecuted minorities like the Falun Gong and betrays Canada in the CanSino vaccine debacle? Why are the Liberals partnering with China when the Prime Minister cannot even explain why two Chinese scientists were escorted from a high-security virology lab in Winnipeg and fired? Why is Canadian money being invested in a bank controlled by China's communist regime when our two Michaels continue to languish in Chinese prisons? The minister has refused to answer these questions, as more and more taxpayer money is wasted on the Prime Minister's efforts to appease China.
This budget also failed to deliver a clear plan to safely reopen our common border with our largest trading partner, the U.S. Some two billion dollars' worth of trade crosses our border every single day, yet the budget scarcely mentions border security and trade facilitation, and makes no mention of whether discussions with the Biden administration are under way to safely reopen our border.
We are going to judge the government's budget not on the quantity but on the quality of its spending. Based on that standard, much of this budget remains unsalvageable. We Conservatives are now in a better position to judge the merits of this budget and to determine what it might mean for Canadians in the short, medium and long term. As I said, in the short term there are a number of measures that we can support that will help Canadians through this economic and health crisis, but in the medium and especially the long term, there is very little to get excited about. It is just endless debts and deficits with not even a pretense of the Liberal government ever wanting to return to balance.
As a responsible official opposition, we have no choice but to reject the government's attempt to spend the cupboards bare in order to position the Liberals for re-election, leaving future generations of Canadians to pick up the tab. There is one thing Canadians can be absolutely sure of. A Conservative government will implement a true Canada recovery plan that secures our future by getting Canadians back to work, by helping small businesses recover, by restoring Canada's reputation and competitive advantage and by prudently managing the massive financial burden that the government has left us. The Conservatives have done it before and we will do it again.