House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may not recall this because I do not think he was elected at the time. However, on pharmacare, in one of our motions in a previous Parliament, the action we were talking about and wanted the government to do was to convene a meeting with the provinces to talk about how to move forward on pharmacare. The Canada Health Act is a long-standing framework under which the federal government has funded health services, and it is not enough. There is a need to increase the health transfer, including health transfers without conditions.

We are far apart from the Bloc on this, but we are not far away from respecting provincial jurisdiction. We just believe that the federal government can continue to play a meaningful convening role and funding role in health care in Canada.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on your role. It is wonderful to see you take part in a fine Canadian federal institution such as the Speaker.

I am pleased to rise again to talk about Bill C-8. It is another massive Liberal spending bill, with little oversight and probably little chance of delivering on what they have talked about. It is almost a Liberal pre-engagement gift to our colleagues in the NDP.

To summarize, the fall fiscal update added $70 billion in new spending and this is spending on top of that. This is $70 billion, as I mentioned, that does not even include the Liberals' campaign promises, which will be tens of billions more for their election goodies. This is going to add on top of what we saw in the public accounts, the $1.4 trillion of debt for the Canadian taxpayers. Think about that: $70 billion more on top of the $1.4 trillion that has already been added up until now. That does not even include probably $100 billion to $200 billion, depending on which discount rate we use, for unfunded public service pension liabilities and hundreds of billions of dollars more in Crown corporation debt that is not accounted for.

One of the problems I have with Bill C-8, and I have talked about this a lot in the House and in committee, is the lack of proper oversight for the bills and spending. We have heard the previous Treasury Board president admit to committee that he had not been following the rules. We saw it with the WE Charity scandal. The Treasury Board is required to have, for their submissions, an official language analysis. The Treasury Board, under the current government, decided to ignore it and not require an official language analysis, even though it is right in the rules that it is required. They break these rules in order to benefit their friends at the WE Charity, which, of course, was funding members of the Prime Minister's family.

We saw it with the wage subsidy, with the $100 billion. We asked the President of the Treasury Board if it had gone through the Treasury Board approval process. It had not. This is, again, the problem we have. The Treasury Board rules are not just suggestions. They are not mere guidelines. These are actual rules. The Treasury Board is supposed to be the gatekeeper, the adult in the room at the cabinet meeting to ensure that Canadians are getting value for their taxpayer money.

What did we see? The Treasury Board said they were not going to look at that and that it was more important to get the announcement out than to do its job. Therefore, $100 billion did not go through Treasury Board approval.

What did we get? We heard about massively profitable companies making out like bandits. We hear the NDP demanding higher taxes on these companies with excess profits, but it is funny that we never hear them going against their colleagues in the Liberal government to end these massive subsidies and this corporate welfare. As long as we are spending, that is okay. They do not care where it is spent.

We saw that with the Liberals. We saw the Thomson family, one of the wealthiest, the second, if not the top, wealthiest family in the country, receive money in the wage subsidy. Companies like Berkshire Hathaway, worth half a trillion dollars in market cap, a company owned by the Oracle of Omaha, got money from taxpayers in the wage subsidy. Then there is Nike and Rogers. Rogers has $25 billion to do a buyout bid for Shaw Communications, yet it got money from the government. Chinese state-owned banks and airlines received wage subsidy money.

Of course, what would a government handout from the Liberals be without money going to their friends at Irving? It was not enough that they are getting, probably, a $100-billion contract for the Canadian surface combatants and hundreds and hundreds of millions more for the offshore patrol ships, yet the Liberals are also giving them wage subsidies.

As for the offshore patrol ships, the way shipbuilding works, the first ship is the most expensive, the second one a bit less expensive and so on, as the company learns and improves productivity. The sixth, seventh and eighth ships should be a lot less expensive, yet, for the government, with Irving, the price is going up. The more ships, the more productive they get, but somehow the ships are becoming more expensive. Again, it is just another handout without proper Treasury Board oversight.

We heard of an exclusive ski club with a $43,000 membership. We hear the government talk a lot about the middle class and those hoping to join the middle class. How many in the middle class can afford $43,000 for a membership at a ski club? This ski club had $13 million for a new lodge, paid $13,000 in taxes and yet got $1.4 million from the government for the wage subsidy.

Here are some of the other companies. Suncor energy, much as I love energy companies, with a $31-billion market cap rate, got money. Bell Canada was another. Couche-Tard from Quebec, with a $45-billion market cap, got money. Lululemon is another. The money was used for share buybacks and executive bonuses.

Unlike our colleagues in the G7 or the OECD that were also offering wage subsidies, we were the only country that did not set up fencing around who got the money. Britain had a program for wage subsidies, but it banned the use of money for share buybacks and executive compensation. Not this government. “Why?”, we asked. Well, it did not go through a Treasury Board program. We asked the Auditor General. Her comment was that the government did not set up the fencing even though it knew it would be more expensive and knew that companies would take advantage of that.

The CRA did not have all the information it needed to validate the reasonableness of the applications before issuing payments. Why is that important? The Auditor General stated that $300 million in the first tranche of the funding went to companies with a high risk of insolvency. He stated and showed that $2 billion had gone out to companies that had not filed taxes or GST remittances in years. The CRA knows that these companies have a much higher chance of going into bankruptcy. It is one of its leading indicators of companies going into bankruptcy, and yet the government handed out the money without any oversight. The Auditor General's report stated, “We noted that the subsidy was paid to applicants despite their history of penalties for failure to remit and other advance indicators of potential insolvency.” This is the Auditor General. This is not a partisan Conservative MP. Again, why was there no oversight?

I will go back to the poor planning. We have been asking for rapid testing since 2020. If members go back to Hansard, they will see many requests from our health critics over the last two years for more money for rapid testing. Those requests fell on deaf ears.

The government will say, “Well, look, there's $1.7 billion in Bill C-8 for rapid testing, and there is also $2.3 billion in Bill C-10.” I am sure that is going to come back as well, so it is $4 billion. “Big deal”, members are probably thinking, “That's great.” However, in the supplementary estimates (C), which are being deemed reported tomorrow, there is also $4 billion for rapid testing. Therefore, is there $8 billion for rapid testing, because that is what the government is asking approval for? Well, no, it is not $8 billion; it is just $4 billion. The government has basically said that it messed up, so it is going to duplicate the request to Parliament in order to make sure that it has the money. Honestly, one could not run a lemonade stand with such advance planning, yet this government thinks to run the government that way.

Here is the funny thing. The supplementary estimates (C) will be approved tomorrow for $4 billion, and Bill C-8, which was brought in a couple of months ago, will actually approve the $1.7 billion after it is already approved in the supplementary estimates. Again, it just goes back to poor planning by the government.

Also, in Bill C-8, the repayment of the CEBA is being extended for six years. We asked in public accounts if there was no provision for bad loan writeoffs. We were told that there is no provision for loan writeoffs for this money, because there is such little chance of any of it, they were saying, being written off, which is wonderful. However, why then is the government extending payback for a couple more years if the government itself is saying that there is almost no chance of any losses? Again, it just goes back to poor planning by this government.

Bill C-8 all around is a poorly written bill and there are a lot of items that are not needed, which is why we are not going to be supporting it.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his respectful decorum in the House and for his speech.

I have concerns about some of the things he said in his speech. Of course, we do not agree on many things, but he talked about the NDP fighting for and getting supports for workers throughout the pandemic, which is something we are proud and honoured to have fought for. We did want more provisions and more guidelines so that big corporations did not potentially take profits and then pay shareholders, and that is something we did rail against.

The Conservatives cannot point to anything they fought for through the pandemic for workers or for people who struggled throughout the pandemic. We heard them yesterday when they voted against our motion to tax big corporations such as big oil to make sure there was revenue for things like a dental program, but we know they do not support a dental program. They actually do not believe that Canadians need a dental program.

Does my colleague not believe that the super-wealthy who profited from the pandemic should be paying more in taxes to pay their fair share and contribute to supporting important programs like dental care?

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, one thing we do not believe in is supporting the government and the massive corporate welfare that the NDP is backing.

It was the Conservatives who pushed the government to allow people who were working and also on CERB to make up to $1,000 without getting their CERB clawed back, and we achieved that. It was the Conservatives who first asked for the increase in the wage subsidy from the paltry 10% the Liberals offered, and I will note that it was the Conservatives who were asking for a GST rebate on the massive record high cost of gas, which the Liberals and the NDP voted against.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, I find it very interesting that the member from across the way would be critical of this government and its spending and accusing it of spending on frivolous things when he is part of the party that was known for buying $15 glasses of orange juice and building gazebos in individual ministers' ridings.

Nonetheless, what we are hearing continuously from across the way is some kind of notion that the Conservatives get to wipe their hands clean of participating in the spending that has happened over the last two years. This member voted in favour of it through unanimous consent motions time and time again. They then get up in here and try to lecture us for all this spending when they voted for it. They did not even want to debate it before they voted for it. They did not even want to bother standing up in this House to vote for or against it. They just said that they were good with it by unanimous consent.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy the fantasy world put forward by the member for Kingston and the Islands. Of course, if he had bothered reading the public accounts, and I do not think anyone in the government has, he would see that his government gave $50,000 to a company to come up with an new flavour for an IPA.

He talks about $15 orange juice. His government gave $50,000 to a brewery. I ask everyone in this House, if they had $50,000 to help Canadians, how many would say that we need a new flavour for an IPA? Only the Liberal government would put $50,000 for an IPA flavour ahead of the needs of regular Canadians.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Edmonton West did a bit of tracing of what looks like double accounting for the same money for the purchase of rapid tests. It looks to me, and in fact there is testimony in the other place by our Auditor General, that the money found in Bill C-10 and found in Bill C-8 is also in the supplementary estimates. He hinted at this. It looks like $4 billion twice. I am curious to know how we think we account for that and make sure $4 billion does not get spent twice on the same rapid tests.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. It is a duplicated $4 billion, and that is my concern. We have only the word of the government that it is not going to get Parliament's approval twice and only spend it once. I do not trust that the government will do that. I would love to have a government member stand in the House today and say that yes, that $4 billion will lapse and will not be spent.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

March 23rd, 2022 / 4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is pleasure to rise today and take part in this important debate on the economic and fiscal update. I of course listened with great interest and I always learn a lot from the detailed research that my colleague from Edmonton West does before he makes any interventions in this House. It is very important that we have that perspective, and I thank him for it.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen record sums of money spent to address a once-in-a-century and a once-in-many-lifetimes event. It is very important to take stock of how the money was spent, and the effect that the spent money will have going forward is incredibly important.

We have heard a lot over the last few days about the federal mandates. While opposition members, members of the public and members of the media have asked the government why it has not aligned its health restrictions with the restrictions that have been guided in all of the provinces by their chief medical officers of health, we have heard a lot about the stats as they relate to health care.

I think that is really important. While the science does tell us in all of the provinces across Canada, because there is only one science, that it is safe to end the vaccine mandates and safe to lift mask mandates, the information that the government points to speaks to hospital capacity and speaks to screening and diagnosis that has not happened as a result of the pandemic.

We have seen, over the last two years, a 20% reduction in cancer screenings. We know that almost half of patients have had cancer screenings and care appointments either cancelled outright or postponed. When that happens, we have to look at another very important statistic, which is that a four-week delay in treatment increases the patient's risk of death by 10%.

We have this tremendous problem in our health care system. Tremendous amounts of money are being spent by the government. As was laid out by the previous speaker, my colleague detailed some of the areas the government prioritized in terms of spending money. What would it look like for diagnosis and treatment if the government prioritized its spending, in partnership with the provinces, on health care?

We are discussing $70 billion of cash today. It is printed money and borrowed money. Canadians will pay interest on that money, and it will fuel inflation. What do we get for it? The previous speaker, the member for Edmonton West, talked about the government spending $50,000 on having someone create a new IPA, a new beer flavour. What could we have done in even one hospital with $50,000? We are talking about a 10% increase in fatalities when treatment is delayed by only four weeks. I think that is a really important frame. We talk about the effect of this spending on Canadians. That is what it could look like if it was directed in a different way.

The government talks about the room it has to borrow and the room it has to spend, but what is it doing for everyday Canadians? If it is not for share buybacks and not for executive bonuses, what is it doing for everyday Canadians? We know the effect of this rapid spending and the pressure that it is adding onto everyday Canadians' budgets because of the inflation that it is fuelling, and people are making impossible choices.

Heating or eating, that is a call I got in my constituency office many times. People cannot afford their home heating bills. They cannot afford the increased grocery bills. Now we have seen, over the last few weeks, that other global pressures, added to the taxes the government has put in place, are pricing Canadians out of even being able to put fuel in their cars to get to work or to take their children to a medical appointment or a recreational activity. It is really hard to see where the priorities are for everyday Canadians when we look at some of the spending we have detailed.

It has been an impossible two years for Canadians. We see the inflationary pressures that are created. We know that it is debt and interest on that debt that will be paid by future generations. In the next couple of weeks, we are going to see increases in taxes again. The skyrocketing prices in every area of life that Canadians have are unsustainable. We know that it is more than one in two Canadians who cannot afford their groceries. They are cutting back every week. We know that it is families across this country who cannot afford $1.80 or two-dollar a litre fuel.

Our national debt is $1.2 trillion, and what do we have to show for it? As the chief medical officers of health in 10 provinces across this country are saying we can drop the mask mandates and end the vaccine mandates, two years later, two years after the official opposition asked for it, after Canada's Conservatives called for rapid tests, the government is saying, “Let us buy some rapid tests.” I would say the government is a day late and a dollar short, but it is two years late and billions of dollars more than we have to spend.

Canadians are in a tough spot. For many things, necessary spending, necessary commitments were made by the House over that two-year period. Then we can look at the shameful waste and missed opportunities that the government had. Again, I will talk about health care. Prepandemic, hospitals operated at between 95% and 130% capacity across the country. Now the government is saying hospital capacity is at 100%. That is where it was before the pandemic. What is the spending that the government has committed that is going to solve these legacy issues? It is not solving legacy issues.

Pork barrelling, pet projects, executive bonuses and share buybacks, that is going to be the legacy of all of this spending that members in this place, their children, grandchildren and their great-grandchildren are going to be paying the interest on before we even get to talk about paying the principal on that debt.

We now have the government partnering with another party that has made unaffordable promises and that is going to balloon the spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. Canadians just cannot afford an NDP-Liberal government. Canadians deserve accountability. They deserve a path back to fiscal responsibility. It is the responsibility of any credible government to do that.

We are just not seeing the results for the money that it spent to date. We are not seeing a real plan for the money it is planning to spend going forward.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Leah Taylor Roy Liberal Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a few things that have been said by the member opposite both now and previously. We have been throwing out numbers on the debt, which the member disagreed on, one being $1.2 trillion and one being $1.4 trillion, but it is done in isolation without looking at the percentage to GDP and without looking at what is happening in the rest of the world. We can shock and scare people with those tactics, but I do not think it is constructive.

If we were to look at Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio and our credit rating from Standard & Poor's and Moody's, both of which I feel have a better grasp on economics than perhaps members in this House, we would see that Canada still has a AAA rating and that our debt-to-GDP ratio is around 85%, about the same as Great Britain, but there are 25-plus countries with a greater debt-to-GDP ratio, including Japan, France, the U.S.A., Singapore and many others that have actually increased spending, as we did, to ensure that the debt citizens could not afford to take on and that all economists across the world knew we were going to incur during the COVID pandemic was taken on by the government.

Could the member please explain why he keeps throwing out these scary numbers without putting them into context and without talking about the global situation?

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill is scared by the numbers, so are Canadians. They are scared because they cannot afford to pay their bills. It is great to talk about a AAA credit rating. It is great to talk about how debt to GDP stacks up against other countries, but it does not matter. In this country, whether people live in Victoria by the Sea, Prince Edward Island, Victoria, British Columbia, or all points in between, life is getting more unaffordable.

When the government says incredibly ridiculous things like the government has taken on debt so that Canadians do not have to, guess what. It is Canadians who have to pay down that debt. They cannot afford the increased prices of natural gas to heat their homes, propane to heat their homes or gasoline to put in their cars. They cannot afford the increased price of groceries at the store.

Liberals can talk all day long and tire themselves out patting themselves on the back, but Canadians know that the spending by the government is unaffordable and unaccountable, and responses like that demonstrate that they are incredibly out of touch. They think they can say they are better than the guy next door, yet people in this country cannot afford to heat their homes and feed their families.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to respond to something. The members opposite talked about having this great low debt-to-GDP ratio, but I have to note that they are including money that has been set aside for CPP assets. We are the only country in the OECD that tracks money that way.

According to the IMF, when we take that money out and compare us on an apples-to-apples basis, we are the 22nd worst out of 29 in the OECD and the fourth worst in the G7. I wonder if my colleague would like to address the fact that the government is not being up front with Canadians on the true debt-to-GDP level.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, again Canadians are well served by the member for Edmonton West and his detailed analysis and breakdown of the spin that we hear from the government benches when its members talk about the massive debt it racks up and how they try to dress it up as something that Canadians ought not to be concerned about.

The government continues to spend money and say things, as I mentioned before, like it is taking on the debt so that Canadians do not have to. Of course it is debt that Canadians are going to have to pay back. While it would try to distract and impress Canadians by inflating numbers in a way that is beneficial to its framing, we know just by walking down the aisle at the grocery store, by pulling up at the gas pumps and by getting our home heating bills that the government is absolutely unaffordable, no matter how much lipstick it puts on the pig.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are in a situation where the fiscal house is on fire. The Prime Minister has run up more debt in his time in office than every previous prime minister, including the last Trudeau prime minister, from 1867 until 2015. Just in time, the NDP has arrived to pour more gasoline on this fiscal fire.

I have been listening to the debate on Bill C-8 today, the government's fiscal plan, if they want to call it a plan. It is a promise to spend more on everything in the midst of an agreement to spend even more with the NDP.

I was struck, hearing the member for Elmwood—Transcona from the NDP describing the levels of spending in this budget as “underwhelming”. “Underwhelming” is what the NDP is saying about the spending. I know his speech was very hurtful to Liberal members, just after they ink a deal. Imagine being called underwhelming during the post-wedding speeches. So much for the work that is supposed to exist. The NDP, nonetheless, has sold out to agree with this deal with the government, but still it is describing the government's fiscal measures as “underwhelming”.

Let us look at the reality, at the overwhelming level of debt and deficit that we have seen run up by the government in the last six years. The Prime Minister, in 2015, promised in the election three $10-billion deficits. It is hard to imagine there was a time when a $10-billion deficit seemed quite large relative to what we had been used to. Up until 2015, there had been a general consensus that outside of extreme events, a global financial crisis—

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

The Acting Speaker Bloc Gabriel Ste-Marie

Order. We have a point of order.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for interrupting my colleague in his speech. We actually have Liberals across the way laughing while this speech is going on, laughing at what the member is speaking about. Frankly, it is hardly funny and hardly funny for Canadians. I hope they would respect the House and actually listen to the member.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

The Acting Speaker Bloc Gabriel Ste-Marie

Of course, we ask that all members of the House maintain decorum.

I would ask the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan to continue his speech.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Kingston and the Islands just assured me that he was not laughing; he was not even listening. It is too bad. He might learn something. I see him chatting over there without a mask, which does not bother me. I think he should be free to choose, but his other Liberal colleagues must be terrified at that reality.

Nonetheless, let us talk about the fiscal situation and the promises that were made by the Prime Minister. In 2015, the Prime Minister said that there would be three $10-billion deficits and a total of $30 billion in deficits, and then in the fourth year there would be a balanced budget. The Liberals blew through all of that in year one. They said they were being ambitious in their hopes for the country. Well, I would say that we should measure our ambition by how much we leave to the next generation, not by how little we leave to the next generation. While calling it ambition, the government is creating a situation where my children and their children will have so much less capacity to develop and invest in their own future because they will be paying for the debt that we have run up in such a short space of time. This was the promise made in 2015, broken right away, blown through. Now tens of billions of dollars in deficits per year have become hundreds of billions of dollars of debt and deficit.

The NDP has continually said throughout this process that it is not enough and the Liberals should be spending more. I just listened to speeches from the NDP members, and it is such a baffling philosophy to me. They talk about people who are struggling, but they never jump to the obvious conclusion, which is to let them keep more of their own money and let them spend it on what they want.

The member for Elmwood—Transcona said that he spoke with a constituent who, sadly, had to move back in with his parents as a result of expensive dental work. I would suggest not creating a massive new government program so the government can pay for his dental needs, because he would have to apply to the government, someone would have to be hired to evaluate his application to see if he qualified and we would have to establish thresholds and determine who the money will be paid through and when. Instead of going through that entire process, how about we cut his taxes? How about we spend less money, financed by inflation, so that his money can maintain its value?

Every time I hear stories from members about people who are struggling in this country, it strikes me that those on the left use these stories as an excuse to say we should have more government. More government is not going to help people who are struggling. Why are people struggling? It is because the cost of living is being driven up by high taxes, by inflation and by the fact that the government is financing its out-of-control spending by reducing the value of money that people have.

This is most evident in the case of gas prices. Let us be very clear and honest about why gas prices are where they are. It is because of a policy decision by left-wing parties, Liberal and NDP, that believe the gas price should be high because they want to use high gas prices as a tool to discourage people from driving. The only reason to support a carbon tax or carbon price, whatever we call it, is to discourage people from buying gas by making the costs higher.

Now, of course, the price of gas fluctuates and responds to other events, because absent the tax there is an underlying price that goes up and down. However, a significant amount of that price is determined by the taxation that sits on top of whatever price a private entity would charge. Of course there are fluctuations and of course those fluctuations are shaped by global events, but on top of those fluctuations we have policy choices made by politicians who believe that gas prices should be higher.

What strikes me is that almost nobody in the House is prepared to honestly acknowledge that. I hope that someone here, Liberal, NDP or Green, is willing to say what they honestly, clearly believe, which is that they want gas prices to be high. That is the point of a carbon tax. It is to make gas prices high. However, somehow, they think they can fool people by saying that even though they have put these taxes on gasoline, they would like prices to be lower, and then they blame something else for that fact. Their solution is to have higher and higher taxes and then to create more programs to allegedly treat the affordability problem.

To me, this is like being in a hole and we just keep digging, because the more spending we have, the more programs we promise, the more government intervention we have and the more expansion there is of the state sector, the more that money will have to come from somewhere and the more we are going to see deficit, inflation, higher prices and higher taxes. That in turn is going to make life less affordable. We are in this vicious cycle that is going to accelerate now as a result of this union between the Liberals and the NDP. We are going to see more spending. That is the promise of the deal these parties have made.

Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people are saying that we need to get our spending under control and back off of some of these spending measures and move back toward balanced budgets, the government is agreeing to an extreme NDP economic policy to put its foot on the gas further. My concern about this deal between the Liberals and the NDP is that we are going to end up with the worst of both worlds. Historically what we have seen in the House is the NDP pushing far-left economic policy but sometimes standing with us in trying to hold the government accountable on its ethical failures. Very often, those in the NDP have opposed things like time allocation and programming motions. They have been willing to join with us on requests for documents on things like holding the government accountable over the WE Charity. We have had significant disagreements with the NDP about economic philosophy, but at least we have been able to work together on some issues around protecting Parliament and the functioning of Parliament and on holding the government accountable for significant ethics violations.

However, what we see with this deal is that the government is talking about being able to get a free pass to move its legislation faster without the kind of accountability and scrutiny that are required. It will be expecting the NDP not to hold it accountable on ethical issues and not challenge it on issues regarding access to documents in defence of Parliament. At the same time, we see, without any seeming reluctance, the Liberals diving fully into the radical left-wing economic philosophy of high taxes, high inflation, high deficits and high spending. What we are left with is this picture of an accord that looks like Liberal ethics with NDP economic philosophy, and that is a disaster for this country.

If we must stand alone, the Conservatives will indeed take a stand and fight back against these abuses of Parliament, abuses of process and broken promises to voters, and the escalating damage being done to our economy. We will not solve the affordability crisis through higher taxes, higher deficits and inflation. We will solve it by supporting economic growth driven by individual freedom and individual initiative. That is the kind of philosophy we need. We need support for economic growth driven by individual ingenuity and getting the government out of the way.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, only a Conservative would refer to taking care of Canadians during a pandemic as ultra left-wing ideology. In any event, I find the rhetoric coming from across the way to be absolutely remarkable. This is the same party that three or four years ago was criticizing the Prime Minister of Canada for the low prices of oil in Canada. As a matter of fact, members of the Conservative Party, for all of the failings and incompetence they claim the Prime Minister has had, say he was somehow able to affect the global price of oil. Meanwhile, now that oil is where they want it to be in order to extract more out of the ground, suddenly they are saying the price of oil is too high and it is the Prime Minister's fault. He is the reason that people are paying more at the gas pumps.

Can the member explain to the House which Conservative he is? Is he a Conservative in favour of high prices of oil so that we can extract more out of the ground in his home province, or is he a Conservative who supports lower oil prices so that gas is cheaper at the pumps?

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, that question was actually below the standards we are used to hearing from the member for Kingston and the Islands. He said that he was not listening to my speech earlier and his question did make that eminently clear.

On the question of gas prices, it is not for me to set the price of oil. It is not for me to say what the optimal price of oil would be. The member should listen to me now at least, but he is not and that is okay.

The issue is that his government is pursuing a policy of intentionally raising the price of gas through a carbon tax. That is the purpose of a carbon tax. What I am saying, recognizing that the price of oil is set by global factors, is let us give people relief at the pump by eliminating the carbon tax, which is the amount they pay to the government on top of the price set by the private sector.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would really like to speak about the gas tax, but I am going to choose my words carefully, because I gave my speech yesterday.

The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan said the fiscal house is pretty much on fire. He also spoke of future generations. Yes, I think it is important to think about future generations.

I have a suggestion for putting out the fiscal fire. Last spring, there were measures in the budget to fight tax havens. However, we have heard nothing more about it, and it has completely fallen under the radar. Now, if we were to really fight tax havens, we could happily think of future generations without worrying so much.

What does my colleague think of the government's leadership in the fight against tax havens?

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the issue of tax havens, I think people should follow the law and we should have rules that are designed to ensure that people who work in Canada are paying taxes on things in Canada. What we cannot control, though, is that when taxes are too high, sometimes people will simply choose to make investments elsewhere. They will choose to live and work elsewhere.

While we do need to address loopholes or points of unfairness that people are taking advantage of in the tax system, we should be looking to make Canada a jurisdiction that is desirable from an investment perspective and desirable from a taxation perspective. In a world of international competition, we cannot get away from the fact that if we do not do that, people will make other choices with their money.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, Ted, who is a constituent of mine in Parksville, came to me last week and most of his teeth had fallen out. I have since learned that all of his teeth have fallen out and he cannot eat. He is having challenges. He is one of the 6.7 million Canadians who do not have dental coverage and do not see a dentist on a regular basis.

The member asked what the New Democrats honestly believe. We believe that big oil companies, big box stores and big banks that have profited over a billion dollars should pay more tax. We know the Conservatives believe, according to their leader, that Canadians do not want or need a dental care plan. Ted does.

Can my colleague speak about what he would say to the 6.7 million Canadians who do not have a dental care plan? Does he believe they do not need it?

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know Ted and I do not know his situation, but I think what Ted would like most is to have the dignity and ability to have a good job and low taxes. This will allow him to afford to make his own choices with his own money, including being able to attend to those kinds of needs.

We should have significant compassion for those who cannot afford those things, but I do not want Ted and others in his situation to have to go to a bureaucrat and ask for permission to pay for the things they need. I want him to be able to earn and keep more of his own money. I do not know the particulars of his situation, but for people in that situation, I say giving individuals control and autonomy, and ensuring they have resources and that our economy is functioning at a level where they can make those investments in themselves, is a much better way to go.

Economic and Fiscal Update Implementation Act, 2021Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to stand in this place and represent the good people of Battle River—Crowfoot.

Entering into debate on Bill C-8, I believe there is some incredibly important context that is required for an understanding of the circumstances our nation finds itself in when it comes to the fiscal realities the government and so many Canadians are facing.

Recently, it was revealed that there is a 5.7% inflation rate. For context, the average wage in this country goes up by somewhere around 2.5%, so the reality is this. By virtue of inflation and the average wage, and I certainly hear from constituents often who are not getting that 2.5% increase, the buying power of Canadians is being reduced each and every day.

I found it astounding that when I asked a question yesterday in question period, and some of my colleagues continue to ask these questions today, that the Associate Minister of Finance for our country would stand up and say that a tax break on gas, diesel and home-heating fuel would not help. My challenge to all Liberal members who agree with the Associate Minister of Finance would be to ask their constituents whether or not a 5% savings in a province such as Alberta, and more savings for provinces that have HST, would make a difference. I say to all the Canadians who are watching that, if they have a Liberal member of Parliament, they should share with them whether or not the tax break would make a difference when it comes to the reality that so many Canadians are facing, with the increased costs of things such as fuel at the pumps.

This again is important context. I represent a largely rural constituency and the reality is this. We do not have access to a subway. As much as Drumheller, Camrose, Wainwright or Provost would love these massive public infrastructure projects, such as light rail transit and whatnot, these communities of 20,000, 10,000, 5,000 or fewer people do not have an option. The members opposite would suggest they should simply buy an electric car, or simply take the bus. As a representative of a rural constituency, I know that is for sure not the reality of the 10% of Canadians who do not live in major urban areas, and certainly many others who do not have equitable access or easy access to public transportation.

Let me share this observation. I find it interesting. I hear from many constituents who are concerned about the cost of the carbon tax on their daily lives. A carbon tax on their home heating bill, which is in some cases as much as the cost of the gas itself, will be added on April 1. It will be close to 12¢ per litre, in addition to the cost of the commodity itself and the various other taxes. The reality of the carbon tax is this: It is important for Canadians to understand that the Liberals want these prices to be higher. The Minister of Environment stood up again today and said that this was an effective mechanism to address emissions. Okay. The context for what he is saying is this. The more Canadians pay, the better, because it will force behaviour change.

Again, I ask. When it comes to the feedback from the Liberal and NDP MPs and their new coalition arrangement, which let me make very clear Canadians did not vote for, the reality is that the Liberals and the NDP want higher taxes and higher prices for elastic commodities such as the natural gas that heats people's homes, the heating fuel that is required in many first nations communities, and the gas or diesel that is required for people to take kids to soccer practice or commute to work, and for truck drivers or locomotives to deliver the goods that Canadians need.

The reality is that Liberals want those higher prices, so now they are going to talk about affordability and make excuses around how somehow a bit of a break for Canadians will not actually help. The reality is that Canadians know otherwise.

I would just share an inconvenient truth with the new Liberal-NDP government that exists in this country. When it comes to the results of the last election, it was actually the Conservatives who received the most votes. An inconvenient truth again is that it was actually the Conservatives' environmental plan that received the most votes.

An inconvenient truth for the members opposite is that it was the Conservatives' plan, which was highly recommended by economists when it comes to addressing the housing crisis that exists in many areas of this country, that received more votes than the Liberal plan, the NDP plan, the Bloc plan or any of the other parties' plans. That is an inconvenient truth, because the Liberals are desperate to cover up the fiscal disaster that is present within Canada and to further distract from the reality of the situations of the many constituents I hear from who are facing challenges to simply make ends meet each and every day.

We stand here debating Bill C-8. I guess the one bit of solace, when it comes to the reality of being faced with the new NDP-Liberal government, is that this is basically what we said would happen in the context of the last election. We said that a vote for the NDP was a vote for the Liberals, although the media and many Liberals said it would not happen. In fact, the leader of the NDP said that it would not happen. The true colours have now shone through.

I have advice to all NDP members watching. If they look throughout the history of coalition agreements, they will see it rarely works out for the coalition minority partner. History has a pretty strong precedent in that regard. My suggestion is especially to the backbench of the Liberal Party. I certainly hear from constituents that they are encouraged that a few of those members are starting to stand up against the authoritarianism that has been represented in the front bench and the Office of the Prime Minister. The constituents simply ask that these members stand up for the people they represent, whether it be on issues related to COVID, affordability, housing or agriculture.

In listening to some of the talk about agriculture, as a farmer myself, I agree and appreciate how important food security is. With the situation in Ukraine and energy security, we have a situation developing that could be absolutely disastrous for global food security. This is directly related to so many of the issues we are faced with here, yet the Liberals would do something like suggest a 30% reduction in the fertilizer required to grow the food that is needed to feed the world. It is this sort of absurdity that, although the members opposite like to gloss over some of those realities and facts, certainly has a massive impact.

As I come to the conclusion of my speech, we have seen the carbon tax reality impacting Canadians. We have seen the out-of-control spending, and more dollars chasing fewer goods, and the reality it has on impacting Canadians' buying power for things such as groceries, fuel and housing. We see the devastating impact of a government that puts more credence in big announcements and carefully worded press releases than in actual, carefully crafted monetary policy for a G7 power.

So often, we see the challenges our country is facing being simply dismissed, ignored, or in some cases ridiculed by a now NDP-Liberal government. It truly needs to take a moment and consider carefully the implications of the massive expenditures, and massive direction that Canadians certainly did not vote for, in terms of a functional majority within the House of Commons.

These are the things that need to be considered as we debate these important issues within the people's House—