Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to represent the constituents of Regina—Qu'Appelle in opposition to the bill that would add more inflationary fuel to the fire.
I caught the last few minutes of my hon. colleague's speech, the Liberal member for Winnipeg North, and I am astounded at how much he can get wrong in just a short 20-minute period of time. However, I give him full marks for efficiency. He crammed a lot of errors and misinformation into one 20-minute speech. I probably do not have enough time to address all of them in my speech because of the sheer volume of inaccuracies in his speech.
I will start by helping the hon. member understand what caused inflation, because that is what this bill is supposed to be about. It is supposed to help address the suffering of families who are experiencing the sticker shock every time they go into a grocery store, a hardware store or any other store they might have to buy goods or obtain services from. Prices they have been used to over the past few years are now much higher. We know the Prime Minister does not think about monetary policy. I am not sure if anybody else in the caucus does that the member leads, but I will help him understand what causes inflation.
The inflation that Canadians are suffering from is directly linked to the massive Liberal deficits that the government chose to run before the pandemic even started. Why do I say that? That is what the Bank of Canada admitted. The Bank of Canada, which is in charge of Canada's money supply, has acknowledged that it was the money creation that it embarked upon in March of 2020, just as the current government was racking up record-high deficits, the biggest deficits Canadians have ever seen. It was on its way to adding more to the national debt than every single other prime minister combined. The government added $500 billion to the national debt.
When the government spends more than it takes in, it has to borrow. It has to find someone who has money to lend to it. That is normally carried out during normal economic times by the bond market. Large investors buy government treasury bonds that are basically IOUs that the government writes after borrowing money from someone who has it and spending it with the promise to pay it back. It is that promise to pay it back with interest that is costing the Bank of Canada money now. As a little aside, the Bank of Canada is now actually losing money for the first time in Canadian history. This has never happened before. However, I will get back to that in a moment.
The government turned to the Bank of Canada and started floating these IOUs, these government bonds, and the Bank of Canada said it would buy the bonds the government was issuing with these massive deficits. The problem is that the Bank of Canada did not have anybody else's money. The Bank of Canada did not have lots of deposits from Canadians or deposits on account from financial institutions that it could use. When I say it did not have deposits, I mean it did not have any of its own money on deposit. It did not have some vaults of cash that it could buy those government bonds with.
What did it do? It had to create the money. It created that money right out of thin air. It exchanged the bonds that other institutions had bought, large profitable banks like the big five banks in Canada and other types of large financial institutions that have accounts with Canada's central bank. They bought the bonds from the federal government and sold them to the Bank of Canada in exchange for brand new money that had never existed before. With little ones and zeros and keyboard strokes, the Bank of Canada just dumped cash into those big banks and large financial institutions and then took those bonds in exchange. That is how the Canadian economy was flooded with over $400 billion of brand new money.
We have seen the effects of that, the Liberal government's trickle-down economics, where it pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the most wealthy and most profitable corporations in Canada: the big banks. It pushed that money through that system. The big winners, when it comes to this type of arrangement, is whoever gets the money first as there is a bit of a lag between rising prices and money creation, because the market has not yet learned that there is a whole bunch of new money chasing the same number of goods. The prices in the grocery store have not yet, at this point, started to go up, and the prices for commodities have not yet, at this point, started to go up.
Those large financial institutions, those massively profitable banks, got to buy up all these assets. They got to push that money through on everything from commodities to real estate to anything else we can imagine, while the prices were still low. They got the new money first, bought as much as they could, and that is when the prices started to rise.
By the time that new money hits Canadians' pockets, it is already too late. The prices at the grocery store have already skyrocketed. We have seen food inflation go over 8% for a couple of months now. The average inflation index, the CPI, has been hovering around 7% for several months now. By the time Canadians start to get the new money the government has created, the prices have already gone up, and that is when those big banks and financial institutions can sell. They make those massive profits on what they can buy low with newly created money and sell high after the inflationary effects are taken into account. That is why we saw record profits during and after the pandemic by Canada's largest banks.
This is the result of the Prime Minister's economic policy, allowing the richest and most profitable corporations in Canada to make even more money, while Canadians subsidize that profit through higher prices in the grocery store aisles. That is why these inflationary deficits are so devastating, and that is why Conservatives are opposed to new measures that force the government to borrow more money to pay for new spending. It is a little like a superficial treatment to a problem.
We can all think of examples of what might look like a course of action that would help with a problem but that actually makes the problem worse. We might have experienced in our lives and have seen public service videos about fire safety where they say to never pour water on a grease fire. However, we can imagine a young child perhaps or someone who was never educated along the lines of fire safety seeing a fire, and we are all taught from a very young age that water beats fire. We put out fires with water, and we always keep a bucket of water if we are having a campfire and things like that. We all understand that. We see pictures of firefighters putting out fires with big hoses of water.
We can imagine someone about to dump water on a grease fire, thinking that they are helping, but we all know what will actually happen. We have to resist the temptation to apply a superficial antidote to a problem. We all know on this side of the House that instead of pouring water on that fire, we have to treat it in other ways. We have to put a lid on that fire and remove it from the heating element. There are others ways to tackle that fire rather than making it worse.
A thirsty person might look at an ocean shore and think, “Boy, I'm so thirsty, I'm going to go down and take a nice long drink of water.” As Homer Simpson taught us, “Water, water everywhere, so let's all have a drink,” but that is not actually how the poem goes. It is “Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink,” because ocean water makes thirst worse. However, that is what we are seeing with this Liberal government bill.
The member for Winnipeg North gave a speech pretending and trying to convince Canadians that this would help, that while prices are going up in many aspects of their lives, the government is coming along with a way to reduce some costs for them. Where are they going to get the money for that? They are going to have to borrow more money to pay for that, so any benefit that any Canadian might hope to receive under the government's plan that we are debating today will evaporate because of the effects of this new government plan.
In other words, the government is trying to convince us that a government program will help alleviate the problems caused by government programs, and that is where Conservatives come along because we take a more comprehensive look at issues.
The Liberals and their allies in the costly coalition, the NDP who are pushing all this new spending and working hand-in-hand with the government to drive up the costs of living with higher spending and more borrowing to pay for it, is where this is coming from. That costly coalition's approach is always very superficial. We can make the comparison to candy before supper. There is a problem, so here is a simplistic solution: We are just going to have a new government program to dole out more money.
Conservatives understand that we have to treat the fundamental issues that caused it first. We would be doing Canadians a far greater service, including low-income Canadians who are being hit hardest by inflation, if we came to this place every day trying to reduce the cost of government, looking for ways to reduce spending and cutting out inefficiencies, like the half a billion dollars the government tried to give to its friends at the WE organization or the $54 million for the arrive scam app that did not work, was not needed and could have been designed and programmed in a weekend for a fraction of the $54 million taxpayers had to pay for it. The Prime Minister might have looked at ways to visit London where he did not have to charge $6,000 a night for a single room. Those would be the types of things.
We could all come together and every member of Parliament could go back to their offices tonight and scroll through the public accounts, which were just tabled this morning. We could all put our collective heads together to look for ways we could eliminate wasteful spending and bring down that cost of government, so that the government could pay back those IOUs, retire those bonds and take that brand new created money that is floating in the system out of the system to return it back to normal, where that money is backed up by real economic activity and not just ones and zeroes on the computer terminals at the Bank of Canada.
If we did that, we would put a lot more purchasing power back in the hands of Canadians who have worked so hard to earn it. That is why they call inflation the hidden tax, the most insidious tax of all. When the government raises a tax rate, it has to do it in the House for all to see. It has to bring forward a motion or a bill to raise those taxes, opposition parties hold it to account and every Canadian has an elected representative who can vote yes or no, based on that proposal.
However, when the government causes inflation through the Bank of Canada by forcing the bank to purchase those government bonds, there is no vote in the House, there is no debate and there is no accountability. Not any one of us got to read the proposal, make a decision and vote based on our constituents, and our constituents cannot hold us to account because none of that ever took place. It just happens. It happens because those powerful unaccountable officials just made a decision one day, and that is why Conservatives are opposed to this legislation, knowing it would make the problem worse.
There are other ways the government could tackle the cost of living crisis. This opposition has proposed a very concrete proposal, which we should be debating today instead of a bill that would add more borrowing costs on the government and, therefore, lead to even worse inflation.
We are about to head into the winter months, and many Canadians are already getting a taste of what those home heating costs are going to look like over the next few months. I want to take a few moments right now to inform members that the higher costs that Canadians are about to get hit with, and some have already started to experience, are not some accidental outcomes from government policies. These are not unintended consequences. It is not like the government was trying to do something and accidentally caused home energy costs to rise.
This is a feature of the NDP and Liberal coalition's plan to make home heating costs more expensive. They want Canadians to pay more for filling up their tanks and for heating their homes. Members do not have to take my word for it. They have admitted it. They have built a fake environmental policy around the idea of making Canadians pay more for fuelling their cars, for purchasing goods that have to be transported to Canada and for the crime of heating their homes in the winter.
That is what they want. They want Canadians to feel pain when it comes to those types of goods. They admit it. It is in the rationale for the carbon tax. Here is the thing: The carbon tax is not working. Canadians are getting all of the pain and none of the environmental gain. The government has not hit a single target it has set for itself. The people who are concerned about climate change the most should be opposed to the carbon tax the most, because the government has gone all in on a failed policy that, for seven years now, has been proven not to work.
That is why the official opposition and Conservative members of Parliament have been working so hard, since this fall sitting began, to convince the government to do no further harm when it comes to borrowing and spending and driving up inflation, to control some of the things it can control and to cancel the planned tax hikes.
The government's plan is to triple the carbon tax. The member for Winnipeg North might like to make jokes about the Tim Hortons double double, but there is a reason we are highlighting it and a reason we want Canadians to understand. It is because it is already hard enough to make ends meet for the vast majority of Canadians. We are hearing really shocking stats. Canada is a G7 developed country, and 1.5 million people visited a food bank last month. That is unbelievable.
It is a record high. It has gone up 15%. There have been 15% more visits to food banks last month than the month before. It is Canadians who are working, who have two jobs in some cases, and those in double-income households. Because they have to pay more for their mortgage as interest rates go up and costs are higher at the grocery store, they now have to turn to charity at food banks just to be able to feed their children.
What else is very alarming is that food banks are running out too, because Canadians have fewer goods to donate to the food banks. That is the thing about Liberal-NDP coalition economic policies. They lead to scarcity.
When Conservatives are in government, we lower the cost of government. We leave more money in the economy and more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians, and that does more good for low-income Canadians, because there are more jobs to fill and there is more opportunity. When Canadians have more at the end of the month, they can make decisions to be charitable. They can fill up those shelves at the food banks so that the less fortunate have more choice, more options and more support when they need it.
NDP and Liberal policies that drive up the cost of fuel, home heating and other essentials and chase away jobs and investment mean there is less at the end of the month for Canadian families to donate to charities, so those families who do need it have less.
That is the constant and unblemished record of failure of the government and its failed policies. That is why Conservatives are fighting this instead of voting in favour of a bill that would just add to the cost of government, leaving Canadians with a situation in which the government has to go out and borrow more, paying higher interest rates.
I mentioned at the beginning of my speech how the Bank of Canada is losing money for the first time in Canadian history. This is the perverse outcome of the bond purchase program the Bank of Canada initiated to help pay for the government deficits. When it bought the bonds, the Bank of Canada bought them at very low rates. The Bank of Canada had lowered its overnight rates as low as 50 basis points; it was down to 0.5%. The interest the government had to pay on the bonds the Bank of Canada holds was at 0.5%.
Let us remember that the way it bought those bonds was by putting large deposits into the bank accounts of the large financial institutions. For example, TD Bank and CIBC have accounts at the Bank of Canada, and there are deposits in those accounts for the bonds the bank sold to the Bank of Canada. As interest rates rise, the Bank of Canada has to pay more interest to those large financial institutions than the government pays the Bank of Canada in interest. That is unbelievable.
This is a direct transfer of wealth: Hard-working taxpayers pay money to the government; the government then turns around and pays the Bank of Canada interest, and the Bank of Canada does not have enough, so it is going to lose money. I believe it has indicated that it expects to lose about $4 billion this year. That is from the bank's website. If the member for Winnipeg North thinks I should not believe everything I read on the bank's website, he should maybe call his friend, Tiff Macklem, and ask him to be a little more accurate.
The question for the government is, is it going to have to bail out the Bank of Canada with taxpayers' money? After taking taxpayers' money to pay interest on the bonds it sold, it will now have to underwrite the difference that the Bank is paying out to other large banks. If we follow the logic here, basically the government is going to have to underwrite the deficits that the Bank of Canada is racking up due to its own deficit spending. It is a triple insult to Canadians, when we look at all the interest that is being paid.
I will close by urging my colleagues on all sides of the House to stop digging when they are in a hole and to not pour water on that grease fire. Let us have no more inflationary spending that will make the problem even worse.