Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to speak to the fall economic statement, and I am lucky I got the chance before the government shut down debate, which it is doing today. In my usual format, I will look at the different sections of the fall economic update and tell members what I think about them.
To start off, the first section is called “Sound Economic Stewardship in Uncertain Times”. That sounds like something everybody would want. These certainly are uncertain times, so sound economic stewardship sounds like just what we need. The problem is the document has nothing to do with sound economic stewardship.
We have more inflationary spending, after economists and experts have said that more inflationary spending is just going to cause more inflation. We have the highest levels of inflation we have had in 40 years. I am not sure why, but I expected more from a Prime Minister who has spent more money in his term in office than all other prime ministers have spent put together. The earning power of Canadians is at the lowest point it has been in decades, and I am very concerned that we have not taken the appropriate actions in the fall economic statement to address sound economic stewardship.
Our debt is so large that we will pay $22 billion of interest on the debt next year. In two years, we will be paying $44 billion for interest on the debt. That is not the debt itself; we are not paying the debt down. Just the interest on the debt will be $44 billion. That is more than all of the health transfers to all of the provinces. I really think that was a missed opportunity.
Let us move on to the second part: “Making Life More Affordable”. Again, it sounds like a really good idea. I think Canadians would say they need life to be more affordable. However, this is what the Liberals always do: What they say sounds good, but what they actually do is not that good.
Fifty per cent of Canadians cannot pay their bills. Personal debt is at an all-time high. What do the Liberals do? They increase the tax that is going to drive up the price of groceries, gas and home heating. Is that going to make life more affordable for Canadians? No, it is not; it is just going to make it worse. I really think the government needs to listen to what Canadians are saying and understand the dire straits that many Canadians are facing in losing their houses and having to choose between heating and eating. Something needs to be done and the “something” is not what was in the fall economic statement.
There is a lot of wasteful spending going on, and I was shocked to find out about the $450 billion we pumped out the door during COVID. Some supports were definitely needed during the pandemic, but I heard the Parliamentary Budget Officer say that 40% of them had nothing to do with COVID. That is an incredible amount of money. We have to stop wasting it.
I agree that climate change needs to be addressed and I agree we need to reduce emissions, but we have spent $100 billion and the Liberal government has failed to meet any of its emissions targets. We are number 58 out of 60 on the list of countries that went to COP27 with Paris accord targets. We spent $100 billion, but what do we get for it? We get absolutely nothing.
We have to do better about spending taxpayer money to get results. Members today were saying that it is a real emergency; we have flooding and wildfires. They can ask themselves how high the carbon tax in Canada has to be to stop us from having floods or stop us from having wildfires here.
As a chemical engineer, I will say that Canada is less than 2% of the footprint. We could eliminate the whole thing and we are still going to have the impacts of floods and wildfires until the other more substantive contributors in the world, such as China, which has 34% of the footprint, get their act together. We can help them get their act together. If we replace with LNG all the coal that China is using and the coal plants they are building, it would mean jobs for Canadians and would cut the carbon footprint of the whole world by 10% or 15%. That would be worth doing, but it was not in the fall economic update.
I do not know if there are problems with math on the opposite side, but the Prime Minister ordered 10 vaccines for every Canadian. I do not know if he knew that two or three vaccines, or four or five maximum, were all we were going to take. Now all the rest of the vaccines have expired and have all been thrown away. What a huge waste that is. They could have gone to countries that do not have vaccines or that cannot afford to buy them. That is just one example of the wasteful spending.
The next section was called “Jobs, Growth, and an Economy That Works for Everyone”, and I think that sounds like something everybody would like. Every Canadian wants jobs, growth and an economy that works for everyone. However, in the fall economic statement we saw that we have only half the GDP growth we expected and predicted earlier this year, so we did not get the growth, and we have lost a lot of jobs and gotten a few jobs back, but it did not work for everyone.
If someone was unable to take a vaccine due to a medical issue or because they made a personal choice, they got fired, lost their job. Just to make the pain double, even though they had paid into an employment insurance program, paid the premium and should get the benefit, the government made sure that nobody who refused a vaccine could get that, so it does not work for everyone.
The last section is called “Fair and Effective Government”. Again, who could disagree with fair and effective government? I want the government to be fair. I want to live in a fair democracy, and I want the government to be effective. That would be wonderful, but today we have passports taking seven months to process, and there are 2.5 million immigrants caught in the backlog at IRCC. The average wait time for some of those types of permits is 82 months. We have the Phoenix pay system and the ArriveCAN app. Everything is broken all over the government. There is not any effective government happening. Yes, I think we should have it, but it is not in there.
With respect to a fair government, this is the Liberal government that brought in the Emergencies Act. We are waiting for the final word on it, but a lot of people have said there was no threat to national security and there was no emergency. The law enforcement people did not ask for it and the provinces did not ask for it, yet the government froze the bank accounts of Canadians without any warrants. That is not a fair democracy.
There is a freedom of speech war going on in our country. Bill C-11, Bill C-18 and all the bills the government brings forward whereby the government is going to get to control the speech of Canadians and the media, are not fair. We have evidence that CSIS talked to the Prime Minister and said Chinese money from Beijing was funnelled to 11 election candidates, with no transparency on who they were, and that there was interference in the 2021 election, again with no transparency. That is not a fair, democratic government.
I could go on about rental and dental, where the government has driven up the cost of housing. The average cost of housing rental was $1,000 in Canada, and now it is $2,000. With one hand the government is going to give a cheque for $500, but with the other hand its policies cost an increase of thousands of dollars, $12,000 a month on average in Canada. That is the way the government is working. It gives a little but takes a lot back, and that is not what we want to see, so I cannot support the bill that goes with the fall economic statement. I think we have to do better.