Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to follow my friend, the formidable MP for Peterborough—Kawartha. We come from different parts of the country and different backgrounds, but as are all Conservatives in our big, growing movement, we are united with our Conservative leader to fight to axe the carbon tax; to bring down food and fuel prices, as well as heating and cooling costs for all Canadians; to build homes Canadians can afford; and to bring jobs, money, businesses, natural resource development and exports.
Conservatives will bring project approvals up and the cost of traditional energy down. We will green-light green technology and ensure major projects and infrastructure can get built in this country again, so all Canadians can have accessible, affordable, reliable fuel and power, and, most importantly, hope for the future.
Our leader and Conservatives warned the NDP-Liberal government repeatedly during the past eight years that its reckless tax, spending and inflationary deficit agenda would drive investment out of Canada and make everything more expensive for everyone. Only a few months after I was elected as the MP to represent the people of Lakeland, in response to the 2016 budget, even I warned of the dangers of this regressive, repressive tax. Before the Liberals imposed it, I said then, which is clearly true today, that the carbon tax was just a revenue generator for government to feed reckless spending and out-of-control deficits masquerading as environmental policy.
However, the NDP-Liberals have traded on all Canadians' deep concern and care for the environment to cover their obvious cash grab. The proof is in the most difficult ways. Almost a decade into their irresponsible, harmful experiment, it has been all economic pain and no environmental gain for Canadians. Of course, the MP who predicted everything about the consequences of the NDP-Liberal agenda was our leader, the MP for Carleton, in his previous role as the official opposition finance shadow minister. What is remarkable is that he also warned of the risks and costs back in 2007, 16 years ago, of the Liberals' plan to implement a carbon tax, which he warned would cost everyday Canadians thousands of dollars that they would not be able to afford. He has always opposed it, and we still do.
In terms of inflation, rising interest rates and the skyrocketing prices for essentials such as gas, groceries and home heating, Conservatives warned about the connections of all these policies. We warned that the dreams of new and young Canadians would be compromised and undermined by the NDP-Liberal policies that always do, in real terms, the very opposite of what they claim. The NDP-Liberals like to say that they do not take lessons from Conservatives or our leader, but they really should have. It would have saved all Canadians years of struggles, bankruptcies, foreclosures, anxiety, catastrophic losses of generational opportunities, hundreds of thousands of job losses, billions in investments and a brain drain to other countries, allies and foes alike. It is a tragic hindsight, and it is obvious that they really should have listened.
Canadians remember the Liberals' main 2015 promise that they would help the middle class and those working hard to join it, but the facts are stark, and these are pesky things for politicians such as the Prime Minister, who do not keep their word or take responsibility. As the Prime Minister has been in power for almost a decade, it is time for him to answer for it. The truth is that, under the previous Conservative government, more Canadian kids and vulnerable families were lifted out of poverty than at any other time in the history of our country, and Canada's middle class became the richest middle class of any country on earth in 2014. At that time, it really was sunny skies ahead.
What has happened today? The Liberals have moved the way their government measures the poverty line to pretend their policies have worked. The middle class is dwindling, because the vast majority of Canadians cannot pay their bills or cover their essential costs, and more Canadians are falling behind after eight years under the Prime Minister and the NDP-Liberal government.
The truth is that there is no honest way to skirt the fact that the NDP-Liberals' carbon taxes have very real, punitive and burdensome impacts on everyday Canadians. In Lakeland, the NDP-Liberals' carbon tax will cost people nearly $4,000 a year in the next six years. The consequence is that Canadians everywhere, not just in Lakeland, are struggling to make ends meet, to put food on the table, to fuel their vehicles, and to heat and cool their homes and businesses. In the vast majority of our country there are just no other immediately available and affordable options for Canadians. They are left with no choice. They are squeezed by all sides, and it is at a breaking point after eight years under the Prime Minister and his NDP-Liberal policies.
The Liberals can spin it all they want. They can dig in and stubbornly justify their harmful agenda, but the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer confirms what we warned, that the NDP-Liberal carbon tax hikes the cost of literally everything. This is why 80% of Canadians pay more than they will ever get back from the Liberals, exactly as we said.
The independent PBO also found that the tax has not actually reduced emissions since it was imposed. It is a cash grab. It is not a bug, an accident or an unintended consequence. It is a feature of their agenda. The Liberals themselves admitted that their carbon tax is meant to make driving more expensive, and they are plowing ahead to quadruple those costs and add a second carbon tax on top of it. Together, those taxes would hike prices at the pumps by 61¢ a litre in the next seven years. Seriously, who could afford this?
There is no light at the end of the tunnel for most Canadians under these NDP-Liberals, who are totally out of touch. Now, exactly as we warned, Canadians are out of money. Canadians are not sitting around hoping the government that claims it is here to help would make it totally impossible for them to afford to drive and heat their homes, but this is actually exactly what the NDP-Liberals and Bloc want to do and are doing.
As we warned, it is mostly hurting the working poor, people on fixed incomes, rural and remote Canadians, indigenous communities and, especially, people in rural regions in the west and Atlantic Canada. This is because of the differences in the realities of the various regions and provinces.
Canadians in our biggest cities can hardly even afford to rent a single room in a single house. That alone is thousands of dollars. They cannot keep up with interest rate hikes caused by soaring inflationary deficit spending, which are pushing their rent and mortgages out of reach. We also warned about this in 2016.
It is not a pleasure, at all, to tell the NDP-Liberals that we told them so, because of all the pain, anger and anxiety they have caused. However, they also cannot pretend that Conservatives did it.
Colinton is a village of 170 people near Athabasca, in a beautiful area where the landscape shifts to rolling hills and more lakes, giving way to the treasured and beautiful boreal forest that spans throughout northern Alberta. Gordie from Colinton wrote to me and said that his daughter and her husband have four kids, and here is the crucial and horrible part that would be familiar to most Canadians: They both have well-paying jobs. However, by the time they pay rent, gas, power and heating, the family has to skimp on groceries or choose to not pay some bills. As we all know, this often ends up in a spiral people cannot escape.
This is not just happening in Lakeland. It is a common reality, and it is a travesty that Canadians now face, after almost a decade under the Prime Minister, in urban and rural communities alike, in every region of the country.
Rob from Bonnyville had never contacted my office before, but he recently did so because he needed to tell me about the dire situation with his gas bill. He said,
We are paying more than 100% tax on the small amount of gas we are using. If this tax is supposed to be for the amount of CO2 generated by the burning of the gas, something is definitely wrong here.
What happens in winter when the gas bill is $100 or more, are we going to be gouged over $100 for the tax as well? This is certainly an unfair tax charged to Canadian citizens.
He also said, “What about the seniors on a fixed income, they cannot afford this kind of charge.”
It was -52°C for a couple of weeks in my backyard last Christmas, so it is obvious why Ron is worried. He is just one of the four out of every five Canadians who will pay more in carbon tax than they get back, while nearly half of Canadians are forced to borrow just for basics and have no emergency savings. More than ever before, 20% of Canadians are skipping meals, and seven million struggle to put food on the table. Sixty-nine per cent of seniors have to postpone their retirement because of these NDP-Liberal policies.
All this, in a first world country blessed with all the human capital and abundant natural resources that underpin our entire economy, if only the Liberal government would stop keeping it in the ground through red taping and gatekeeping. It is a disgrace.
This is not really a theoretical debate either. What Conservatives are saying is true. It is happening in real time. It is literally how things work when an out-of-touch, out-of-ideas government taxes the farmers and ranchers who grow the food, the processors and all the agri-food businesses that make the food, the truckers who ship it, the stores that sell it, and the people who buy it, which is literally all of us because we all need to eat, who are also taxed on their own fuel and home heating. The consequences are that Canadians cannot cover the basics. They cannot afford to eat. What is this for?
No one can really answer that anymore, because there is no proven or discernible impact on emissions reduction. Emissions have increased every year in the past eight years, except when all Canadians were locked down by COVID.
Conservatives will axe the carbon tax to bring prices and costs down for Canadians so they can have hope for the future. We will turn hurt into hope. The NDP-Liberals should be ashamed of themselves. It is clearly not worth the cost.