Mr. Speaker, when I take a walk through this country, I cannot help feeling like everything is broken.
Inflation is at a 40-year high. In a single month, 1.5 million Canadians visited a food bank. In the GTA, the greater Toronto area, that number was 180,000, in one general metropolitan area. One in five Canadians is skipping meals, because they cannot afford their groceries. About half of Canadians are $200 or less away from insolvency. The number of insolvencies is up by a fifth compared to a year ago, the biggest increase in 13 years. One in six businesses is considering closing their doors.
Households now face the prospect of 15% of their income going to debt servicing alone, a recent record. Mortgage interest costs for the average family are up 11%. Year over year that is the biggest increase since 1991. If someone renewed their mortgage today, after having secured it five years ago, they would be paying about $7,000 more per year for the very same house they lived in last year.
If people think home ownership is expensive, they should be careful about renting. That now costs $2,000 a month in the average Canadian city. Vancouver has the world's third most inflated housing market. Toronto has the 10th. In fact, Vancouver is more expensive than New York, Singapore, London, England, and countless others of the world's most famous cities where they have more people, more money and less land.
If we took a walk out of our homes onto the street, we would find ourselves 32% more in danger of being attacked. That is the increase in the violent crime rate since the Prime Minister took office. In fact, there were 124,000 more crimes committed this year than in 2015, when the Prime Minister came to office. There were 788 homicides in Canada last year. That is up from 611 back in 2015, which is another 29% increase. There has been a 92% increase in gang-related homicide and a 61% increase in the reports of sexual assaults since 2015. Police have reported hate crimes are up 72% over the last two years alone. After the government tells us it is investing so much of its rhetoric and its money in fighting racism, we see hatred and hate-based violence has increased by three-quarters.
Some 31,000 Canadians have lost their lives to overdoses. If we take a walk down streets like East Hastings in Vancouver, we will see tent cities where adults are lying face-first on the pavement, having just completed their most recent dose, not sure whether they will actually awaken. Police and social workers literally have to scour the streets 24-7 to check pulses of people lying on the pavement, not as extraordinary circumstances or one-time emergencies, but as daily events. In fact, there were 71,069 Canadians who died of overdoses in 2021. Twenty-one people are dying of overdoses every single day. That is up from 11 per day.
More than six million Canadians do not have access to a family doctor. The most simple expectations that we have for our health, like going into a pharmacy and getting painkillers for our children have now become out of reach. Canadians are now forced to drive south of the border to get the same medications that are not available on this side of the border. In fact, according to an association of pharmaceutical wholesalers that represents businesses in 19 countries, only Canada is suffering from these shortages.
Meanwhile, speaking of the rest of the world, there are still people who want to come here, and we hope they do, but 2.6 million of them are waiting in immigration queues. Over a million have been waiting longer than the acceptable wait time. When they arrive, they would arrive at Pearson, one of the worst-ranked airports on planet Earth. Montreal is not far behind when it comes to records for delays. The port of Vancouver is now ranked 376th out of 380 ports around the world. Speaking of getting people into the country, 10,000 Canadians were sent wrongly into quarantine by a $54-million app that we did not need, that did not work and that could have been procured for $250,000.
Speaking of building stuff, whether it is apps or anything else, our country is now ranked the second slowest for the time it takes to get a building permit. The average building permit takes over 250 days in Canada, but only 28 days in South Korea. It is no wonder we cannot build the factories, the pipelines and, most important of all, the houses that give people homes. We import 130,000 barrels of overseas oil every day even though we have the third-biggest supply on planet Earth.
All of these things are broken. What is most interesting about them is that they all happened under the Prime Minister's watch, while he refuses to take responsibility for any of them. Any one of these things in isolation would be considered a catastrophic embarrassment, but together they show the story of a country that cannot get anything done and that has accepted dramatic reductions in its quality of life and its expectation for what a person can receive living in this country of ours. The Prime Minister, who is in charge of the central government, ought to take some responsibility, but he takes none.
He says that a 40-year high in inflation has something to do with the war between Russia and Ukraine, even though inflation was already two and a half times the target before the war even began and less than 0.3% of our trade is with Russia and Ukraine combined. As for the stuff they produce, the stuff we already have here, he is not responsible for the massive increases in cost.
The Prime Minister is not responsible, he says, for the doubling of house prices or the fact that rental costs are out of reach. He is not responsible for the skyrocketing crime rates in our streets, even though his government oversees the Criminal Code and the national police force and border security. He is not responsible for the overdose deaths of so many Canadians. He is not responsible for the fact that so many people are going to food banks. He is not responsible for the fact that our children cannot get medication.
He says he is not responsible and he is right: He is not responsible. He is not responsible, even though he has the power to affect all of these things and, in many cases, he is the one who caused them in the first place.
I have never seen a prime minister who is so desperate to have more power with less responsibility. He wants to take over what we see and say on the Internet. He wants to control a greater share of the money that Canadians earn by constantly increasing spending faster than the economy grows. He wants to have more power over dental and pharmaceutical and child care, rather than allowing Canadians to control those things for themselves. He wants to have more control over health care by dictating terms to our provinces on how they should run their hospitals, even while he does not want to be responsible for any of the health outcomes that we see in our emergency rooms across the country. He wants more power, but he does not want more responsibility.
When we ask him about these failures, his constant refrain is that he is spending more money, and on that count he is right. There is no question that the government is the all-time heavyweight champion of spending. It has increased spending by 30% over pre-COVID levels even though COVID programs have now ended, but the results, as I have just listed, speak for themselves.
It is not a consolation prize that we are spending more to achieve these failures. The only thing worse than failing is failing expensively, and that is what the Prime Minister is doing.
Only in government, by the way, would politicians think that it is acceptable to measure their success by how expensive they can be. For example, this week, the Auditor General came out and said that the Liberals have spent an extra $1 billion-plus specifically on homelessness. Well, that sounds good, but they cannot keep track of how many homeless people there are in Canada. They have no idea what the results are. They have an overall housing program of $40 billion, which is supposed to make housing more affordable, but all the while house prices have doubled. The more they spend, the more things cost and the worse the results.
In the real world, people judge things by the outcome. For example, if I go to the grocery store, come back home, pull out a receipt and say to my wife, “I spent $700 on groceries” while I am holding two bags of groceries, she is going to say, “Where did all the money go?” I would say she has to give me a high-five because they were really expensive and that whatever I have in those bags must be terrific because it cost more than when she goes grocery shopping.
The reality is that nobody in the real world judges their success that way. We do not have restaurants that say, “Come dine with us. It is $500 a night to be in our dining room. We will not tell you anything about the service, the ambience or what ends up on the plate. What is most important is that our meals are the most expensive and therefore must be the best.” Only in politics do people think it is appropriate to judge success by how expensive government can be. What if instead of judging our success by how much we spend, we judged it by how much we delivered and the results that we actually achieve?
Everything feels broken in the lives of everyday Canadians, but the good news is that we can fix it. We live in the greatest country in the world. Our country has overcome these difficulties before and has rebuilt and given new hope where before there was hurt. There is a very clear path to achieving that result, and that is to start with the issue of money. Instead of spending more, let us achieve more.
How do we do that? Why do we not cap government spending and cut waste, and bring in a dollar-for-dollar law that requires the government to find a dollar of savings for every new dollar of spending measures? That would force politicians to make the same either-or trade-offs when they spend our money that everyday Canadians make in their lives.
When a local mechanic decides he is going to spend a little more on advertising, he has to spend a little more somewhere else in order to free up that money. When a family decides they are going to build a new porch, they might decide not to go on vacation or might try to find a bargain on both. They might get a deal on a vacation and go to the local construction yard to get some discarded lumber in order to build a porch more affordably.
Politicians and bureaucrats do not make those kinds of calculations because they do not have to. There is always more in the pot. They can tax more, borrow more or print more.
That scarcity gets passed on to the taxpayer. Every creature in the universe has to live with scarcity. The great economist Thomas Sowell once said that the first law of economics is scarcity. There is always more demand than there is supply. The first law of politics, however, is to ignore the first law of economics. That is what politicians do by simply putting scarcity onto other people by driving up their costs and externalizing the consequences of spending decisions.
If instead we forced politicians by law to live with the same laws of scarcity as every other business, consumer or taxpayer, we would force better results. Politicians would need to go into their departments and ask themselves, “If I want to increase spending on this initiative, where can I find savings somewhere else?" They would be incentivized to go line by line, year after year, to find low-priority items in order to redirect the money to high-priority results for Canadians.
Let us get the Bank of Canada back to its core mandate of 2% inflation rather than printing money to pay for political spending. Let us also get rid of the obvious examples of wasteful spending. We could cancel the ArriveCAN app and get rid of the multi-billion dollar Infrastructure Bank, which has achieved no projects but has guaranteed the profits of large multinationals and the bonuses of executives. Getting rid of this waste would allow us to save money and free up more resources for things that could achieve results for our people.
Instead of creating more cash, why do we not create more of what cash buys in this country? Why do we not grow more food, build more houses and generate more Canadian energy?
Speaking of energy, I had the privilege of visiting the single largest infrastructure project in Canadian history, LNG Canada, a $40-billion private sector investment approved by the previous Conservative government. It could only come to pass because the Government of British Columbia agreed to exempt the project from the carbon tax. Otherwise, it would not have been economical. What result will actually be achieved by this project? The answer is that it will cut 60 million tonnes of carbon out of the atmosphere by replacing overseas coal-fired plants with clean Canadian natural gas.
Is it not interesting that this project had to be exempt from both Bill C-69, the government's environmental law, and the carbon tax in order for it to go ahead and reduce emissions? In other words, for this environmentally friendly project to occur, the government's environmental policies had to be ignored. That proves how backwards they are.
If the carbon tax had been in place, the project would not have been economical. If Bill C-69, the anti-energy law, had been in place, there is no way it would have been approved. What would have happened? About 60 million more tonnes of greenhouse gases would have gone into the global atmosphere because there would not have been clean Canadian natural gas to replace the dirty coal in Asia.
We have an enormous advantage reaching Asia. B.C. is the shortest North American shipping distance to Asia. We also have the shortest North American shipping distance to Europe from the east coast of Canada. Speaking of the east coast, when the Prime Minister visited there, he was asked about approving natural gas projects in Canada's east coast. He said there might not be a business case. He was standing next to the German Chancellor when he said that.
Ironically, the Germans just announced that they completed a new natural gas import terminal in 194 days. Do members know what they will not be importing there? It is Canadian natural gas. Why? It is because we do not export any natural gas overseas. We do not have any terminals completed. Despite 15 of them having been proposed when the Prime Minister took office, not one of them has been completed. Only one is under construction, the aforementioned LNG Canada. The rest are in limbo.
We could be sending the Germans our natural gas to break European dependence on Putin and to transform dollars for dictators into paycheques for our people in this country. Why do we not do that?
Let us think of the human benefit that would bring. When I was in northern British Columbia, I spoke to a Haisla Nation grandmother who broke down into tears when she said that her granddaughter had been diagnosed with autism. After decades of federal promises that these kinds of conditions would be met with services and treatment, there is no treatment in her region of rural, remote northern British Columbia. She said that if natural gas projects like LNG Canada were allowed to go ahead, and if her nation could sign agreements to share in the benefits of those programs, there would be local resources under the control of first nations communities to provide children like her granddaughter with autism treatment and countless other things. Why do we not empower first nations to do more things like that by allowing these projects to go ahead?
We need to get the government out of the way so these opportunities can occur. We need, for example, to incentivize more home building by requiring our large municipalities with overpriced markets to approve fast and affordable building permits so that we could build the millions of new homes that are required for our existing population and for those who have yet to come to our country. We need to require that every federally funded transit station be pre-approved for high-density housing around it so that our young people do not even need to own a car to live in an affordable house.
We also need to sell off 15% of the 37,000 underutilized federal buildings so they can be made into affordable housing for our young people. We need to get government out of the way so that our projects can get completed and our people can have homes and energy.
Finally, we need to get government out of the way and off the backs of our farmers so they can produce more nutritious food in this country. Is it not an outrage that Canada has the sixth-biggest supply of farmland per capita on earth, but in one in five households, people are actually skipping meals because of the excessive cost of food?
We should not only be able to feed our own families but be the breadbasket of the world by cancelling the carbon tax, not just on primary farming but on drying food and transporting it. We need to cancel the carbon tax on our truckers so they can bring that food affordably to our supermarkets. We also need to remove the ridiculous fertilizer tariffs and taxes the government is bringing in so we can produce more food on every acre of land in order to have greater output and reduce the amount of fuel that has to be burned to produce that prodigious output. Let us unleash the fierce power of our farmers to feed us again.
Let us also make it possible for our people to walk safely in the streets once again, something we used to take for granted. The answer is clear: The vast majority of crime is committed by a tiny minority of criminals. A recent letter from the Union of B.C. Municipalities demonstrated the number of instances of crime and criminality that are generated by a tiny minority. For example, in Vancouver, 40 individuals were responsible for 6,000 negative interactions with the police, most of them arrests. Let us think about that. The same 40 people were arrested 6,000 times in a year. That is like 150 arrests per person per year.
We all agree that if a young person makes a mistake, we should invest in rehabilitating them to get them back on the street once they are ready and into a job as productive members of society. However, when someone commits 60, 70, 80 or 100 violent offences and we consistently and automatically release them early on bail and even after they are convicted, that is contributing to the criminality that has grown by one-third since the Prime Minister took office. Let us target that small minority of criminals with serious consequences to get them off the streets and keep the streets safe.
It is not out of hatred for the criminal that we take these actions. It is out of love for the victims, the people who desperately want to live safely in our neighbourhoods. Instead of investing money in going after the lawful, licensed, trained and tested hunters and sport shooters, we should put that money into bolstering our borders to keep the smuggled drugs and guns that are terrorizing our communities out of our country altogether.
Finally, we need to come to the rescue of the people living in these all-too-common tent cities, whether they are in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal, or in smaller centres like Peterborough, where this phenomenon is growing out of control. We see people who could be our brothers, sisters or, God forbid, sons or daughters who have lost their homes, are living on the streets and are playing Russian roulette with their lives. Every single time they ingest these poisons, they risk stopping their hearts, and we can change that.
We know that the government's current approach is to liberalize access to the most dangerous opioids and, in fact, use taxpayer funding and public resources for so-called safe supply to make them even more abundant. There is no such thing as safe poison; it is all deadly. We know what we can do to save these people's lives, because they are doing it in Alberta today.
Alberta has redirected the resources away from a so-called “safe”, taxpayer-funded supply of drugs over to recovery and treatment, getting addicts off the street and into a recovery centre, where they are first given detox, which cleans the poison out of their system, and then given 60 to 90 days of treatment, in-patient care, building up the habits of a clean, drug-free life. They are then gently reintroduced into society in jobs and opportunities, during which time they have counselling that keeps them on the right track. What is the result of that approach? It has cut overdoses in half and they are saving lives, proving there is always hope. It is possible to save these people.
Everything feels broken in this country, but it is our role in the House to turn all of that hurt into hope. It is our job to come forward with the practical, common-sense solutions that have made this the best country on earth. It is our job to take responsibility for the suffering that exists in this country today and replace it with opportunity, to give people back control of their lives here in Canada, the freest country on earth, where people can chart their own destinies and be masters of their own fate.