Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the fall economic statement implementation act, 2022.
There is an adage that is found in the Book of Proverbs, written by one of the wisest men who ever lived. King Solomon wrote, thousands of years ago, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” It is a statement that reminds us that the decisions we make today impact on the future. They can impact, and do impact, on future generations to come.
How much more is this true of leaders who are in charge of our nation’s finances. This proverb teaches us that if we want to be truly good, if we want to be wise and if we want to leave an inheritance for our children's children, we must conserve. We cannot just spend. We must save and invest in our future.
As elected leaders, we have been entrusted with a profound responsibility to be stewards of our democracy and to preserve our Canadian way.
I am very concerned about the direction of Canada and about the short-sightedness of the government. Canadians want clarity about the social contract that they have engaged in with the government. They know what they are giving, but they do not know what they are getting back. Often their questions are dismissed, laughed at and mocked by the government.
Canadians want answers to simple questions like: How can we buy an electric car to save the environment, when we can barely afford food to eat? Why does the government raise taxes on home heating, fuel and groceries, only to refund us a pittance of what has taken in the first place?
Canadians just want to be able to fill up their gas tanks, to have a roof over their head, to not have to skip meals and to be able to take their children to school and to soccer practice.
Canada is almost $1.3 trillion dollars in debt. The government has spent more than all other governments combined in the history of this nation. Right now, Canadians owe $56,000. That is their share of the national debt, and it is increasing by the day. Next year, interest payments alone will be nearly as much as the Canada health transfer to all provinces combined. That is at a time when people are literally dying in emergency rooms because they cannot be seen within a reasonable time by doctors.
Just a few years ago, the Prime Minister promised to never go over $10 billion deficit. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, 40% of all new spending measures have had nothing to do with COVID. That is over $205 billion dollars.
The Liberal government used COVID as a cover for its non-essential, wasteful spending. The Prime Minister cannot be trusted with our finances. His government cannot be trusted. Things are falling apart.
The government spent $54 million on an unnecessary app, the ArriveCan app, that discriminated against seniors without smart phones and accidentally sent thousands of vaccinated Canadians into quarantine. One developer replicated this $54 million project in one weekend and said that it should not have cost more than $250,000. Several contractors said that they never worked on the app and that they never received the millions of dollars the government said it paid them.
Millions of dollars are missing for which the Liberals just cannot account. The Liberals’ out-of-control has led to inflation, which has caused an increase in the cost of living.
The price of food has seen double-digit price increases, and 1.5 million Canadians visited the food bank last month, which is an increase of over 35% from last year. People are worried that they will have to choose between food and heating their homes this winter.
The cost of housing has become unaffordable. Even for people who do not have mortgages on their property, it is difficult to pay the utilities bills and the cost of heating. Young people cannot afford to move out of their parent’s homes. Seniors and those on disability do not have the ability to earn extra money to supplement their income. People on fixed incomes are living an unaffordable existence.
I met a lady named Hilary this weekend in my riding. She told me that to buy half a tank of oil it cost $1,100, of which $300 was government taxes, and this will only heat her home for one month. I receive calls from farmers, manufacturers and small businesses that are desperate for workers, yet we see massive backlogs at Immigration and Citizenship Canada. Despite this, the government still plans to triple the carbon tax on home heating, gas and food.
We are seeing billions of dollars of spending in this fall economic statement, yet the same problem of lack of transparency still exists. The Liberals have announced the Canada growth fund in the fall economic statement, which is found in part 4 of the act. The fund will largely give corporations money to undertake projects in the area of climate change with investments toward a net-zero economy. While I and most Canadians support protecting the environment, it must be done in a transparent way that yields accountability and reduces emissions.
Under the growth fund, we see a reference to ESG, “Environmental, Social, and Governance”, stated on page 30 of the fall economic statement. While the government has embraced this vague term, the average Canadian does not know what it means, but we have seen these types of pet projects before, like the growth fund, that have resulted in outrageous waste. The $35-billion Canada Infrastructure Bank has not finished one project that the Liberals announced in 2016, six years ago.
The whole approach has been a failure. It was supposed to attract private sector investments, but has repeatedly failed to do so. Instead, the Liberals are spending millions on bureaucracy, overhead, operations and executive termination packages that yield no financial benefit to the taxpayer. Now we are expected to trust the government with billions of dollars in this Canada growth fund, a taxpayer-funded investment fund that, just like the Canada Infrastructure Bank, will subsidize experimental corporate private business projects.
Despite the failure of the Infrastructure Bank in getting a single project completed, the Liberal government wants to invest $15 billion under the promise of a net-zero economy in a similar scheme, but Canadians have questions about the Canada growth fund and about ESG. Here are some of the questions that came to my office.
Since we know that businesses will have to register their products and services and that all transactions will be digitally recorded and tracked under ESG, environmental, social and governance, does that mean that the spending of Canadians will also be tracked?
How will this accounting for the entire emissions life cycle of a project affect small and medium-sized business owners? Will small and medium-sized business owners endure more red tape, and thereby have to spend thousands of dollars on lawyers, accountants and environmental, social and governance consultants in order to comply with this ESG requirement?
Since the goal is to reduce the carbon footprint and reach net zero, will there be limits on what Canadians can buy, where they can go and how much fuel and products they can consume? These are natural questions that Canadians are asking.
There is so much that is broken in our system, and we are not going to fix it with more Liberal policies and continued spending that lacks transparency and accountability. We cannot move forward when questions that Canadians are asking about policies, like environmental, social and governance and how this will affect their lives are left unanswered and mocked by the Liberal government.
This is not about politics. This is about the future of Canada. This is about making sure that we leave a good inheritance for our children's children. That is why, in good conscience, I cannot vote in favour of this reckless, inflationary bill that lacks transparency.