Madam Speaker, as always, it is a privilege to rise in this place and talk to opposition day motions. As I said before, and will say again, it provides an opportunity for the opposition parties to put forward some level of policy intent and ideals. For Canadians watching at home, opposition day motions are not binding on the government in any way whatsoever, but they allow us to debate the topics that opposition members want to raise.
Today, of course, the motion is broadly around fiscal prudence and the idea that the Government of Canada needs to continue to focus on maintaining fiscal balance. I could spend a lot of time going through the text of the motion, but folks at home will know that it is there. However, I want to talk a little bit about some of the concerns I have.
I will build upon what the member for Kingston and the Islands said, which is that I feel as though, with these opposition day motions, there is always a poison pill. There are always lines in there that, in my personal view, become disingenuous and are then used as a political tactic.
Canadians do not watch this place every single minute of the day; they are busy, and they are working. However, they get highlights, such as clips on social media, to see what we are up to.
For example, last week, the Conservative Party put forward an opposition day motion on carbon pricing. There are a number of reasons I voted against it, but, in part, it was because the carbon price motion in question had a lot of elements that I felt were not factually true. The motion talked about such things as removing all elements of carbon pricing and not just adjusting the federal backstop, which I am on record for saying. However, of course, the Conservative Party takes that, without context, and puts together a little montage of images and puts it out, in my mind, to gin up a lot of animosity and misinformation around what does and what does not happen in this place. I suspect today will be the same, as has been said by the member for Kingston and the Islands. I have not been part of the debate all day, but the member had said that the government, the NDP and probably the Bloc will vote against this, and the Conservatives will go out with some fake outrage on social media to drive concern about it.
I will start by saying that, of course, the concept of fiscal responsibility is an extremely important one. I was pleased to see this government actually announce on October 3 that the President of the Treasury Board was asking all ministers and all departments to look at ways that they can find cost efficiencies so that there can be an ability to reduce departmental spending without impacting the programs that really matter to Canadians. That is a responsible approach.
The Minister of Finance will have a fall economic statement forthcoming in this House, presumably in the next couple of weeks, or certainly before Christmas. It seems to me that the fall economic statement will highlight the finances of the country and how we are striking a very difficult balance between making sure that we have programs that matter for Canadians and at the same time making sure that we manage the debt burdens that the country and the government have.
Again, I have chastised some of my Conservative colleagues over the years for being very quick to point to certain elements that they would like to see changed, but they do not highlight a whole lot of the programs that they would cut. In the middle of the pandemic, we would hear one Conservative member stand up in this House and say that the government is not doing enough to support businesses that are being impacted by the pandemic. The next member would stand up, literally on the same question, and say that this government is spending too much money on programs in the middle of the pandemic. In fact, the leader of the official opposition is on record saying that the pandemic-related programs that mattered to small businesses and individuals at a time of great uncertainty were “big fat government” spending. He can tell that to the small businesses in my riding, to the restaurant owners and the people who were supported through a very difficult time, which helped give them a bridge to where we are today.
The Conservatives will offer this opposition day motion without any detail on what they would cut in terms of spending. Of course, they will cherry-pick certain elements for political gain, but the question is this: Would they walk back child care if they were to form government? I do not know, but I would love to hear from them on that, and I am sure Canadians would too. Would they walk back environmental progress? Well, we know that is indeed the case, and they have been very clear on that. What about such programs as the dental program, which we have worked as a Parliament to help introduce and which this government has put forward? That program is really going to matter for seniors in Kings—Hants. In fact, I know that my seniors are eagerly awaiting the announcement before Christmas about what those programs could look like.
That is not to say that I do not believe in making sure that the government is balanced in terms of its spending. In fact, in this House, any time I get the chance to do so, I am up on my feet talking about it. What is not recognized in the text of this opposition day motion is that Canada has one of the best debt-to-GDP ratios in the G7. Our deficit size in relation to G7 countries is also one of the best. That is never mentioned from the opposition benches.
I know there are challenges right now on affordability. In the House, the member for York—Simcoe said we cannot eat a AAA credit rating. I guess he was saying people cannot eat AAA. We could eat a AAA steak, but we are trying to balance a credible pathway on finances versus delivering for Canadians.
There are a couple things I think are important. The text of the motion says that in order to try to avoid future interest rate increases, the government needs to introduce a balanced budget essentially by October 25. The government is going to introduce its fall economic statement, and it will talk about those things in the days ahead.
Let us make no mistake about the interest rate increases we are seeing. The Conservative Party would like to suggest they have to do with government spending, and yes, that may play a marginal part. However, there is a war in Ukraine. There is a war in Israel and the Palestinian territories. There are factors like climate change-related events and demographics.
A lot has happened around the world that is actually driving interest rates. I think, when having an intellectually informed policy debate about interest rates and how they correlate to bringing down consumer spending when there are broader events, there is a lot to be said.