Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here tonight to debate Bill C-44, the budget implementation act. I thought I would start my speech by laying out a little context, at least from my perspective, about how the finance minister and the industry minister have it wrong, and how some other members I have heard speak here tonight have it wrong. They talked about economic growth. They talked about their last two budgets, their plan for the economy and how it is working so well, and that they have this terrific economic growth.
One thing we would agree on is that the economy is growing. What we would disagree on is why that economy is growing. In a $2 trillion economy, the budget they have put forward and so heavily back loaded has not moved the dial at all. What has moved the dial for the Canadian economy is a strong U.S. economy, a low Canadian dollar, and strong consumer spending, basically around the housing industry, which is by and large completely financed by debt.
If we read any economic publication about economic growth, we would see no mention of the Prime Minister nor the finance minister's plan, and definitely nothing about the Liberal Party of Canada. Those are the facts. We are lucky. We all root for a good economy, but we have to be realistic about why we have strong economic growth.
The other points where I would like to lay out some context is that in spite of that strong economic growth, the numbers have been revised from where they were before. They were pegged around an annualized rate at 4.1%, which is way up from a couple of years ago, and certainly since last year, but they have been revised down to 3.7% annualized.
Other possibly troubling pieces in these economic numbers are inventories being back loaded, which they are currently, and that exports to the United States have slipped mildly. The annualized rate now, which everyone is projecting realistically to be 2.2%, not surprisingly, is behind the United States in economic growth.
Everyone in this room should know that when the U.S. economy goes well, we do well. When the U.S. economy goes bad, we do not do so well. There are 75% of our exports going to the United States, so it is no surprise. Exports to the United States were up 5.4% in April, and we will see where it goes for the rest of the year.
Another troubling fact that all parliamentarians should have, and Canadians in a broader sense should have, is that if we compare the deficits that we experienced in 2009, 2010, and 2011, for example, it was in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the great depression. With the deficits that we have and the debt we are going to be accumulating over the next four years, for sure to 2019, but if the Liberals somehow manage to get re-elected in 2019, which is looking more doubtful every day, we are trending towards 2055 for deficit and debt repayment.
My point is that the deficits we are adding today are at a time of economic growth, at a time where the economy is actually moving well in the U.S. and here. It is a little less well with the other G7 countries, but it is not too bad. If we compare that to the times of 2009, 2010, and 2011, those were terrible times. It is never a good idea to accumulate debt while times are good. It is never a good idea to accumulate debt at any time.
I am from Ontario, and we have another big problem. Her first name is Kathleen. We have some problems. We have a lot of instability with some of the policies she has put forward. Her cousin Dalton caused us a lot of trouble too. We have had 13 years of provincial Liberal government in the province of Ontario. They have accumulated more debt than all the other provincial governments combined. They might get out of deficit at some point, but they have sold the furniture to pay off the short-term financial issues. We have electricity rates that are absolutely ridiculous, that businesses cannot afford, seniors on fixed income cannot afford, and low-income Ontarians cannot afford.
The province that I live in has the same leadership, with Gerald Butts and Katie Telford guiding the Prime Minister's ship in the same direction that the Province of Ontario has been going for the last 13 years. The only thing that is saving us at this point in time is the U.S. economy. We are thankful for its strength and we are thankful that it continues to buy our products. We are also thankful that our dollar is low relative to the U.S. dollar.
The minister of industry talks at great length about his superclusters and all the other stuff he is doing, but it has not moved the needle. The three western provinces are going to show the best growth and the best strength for our Canadian economy, and that is basically led by the oil and gas sector. As much as the Liberal government considers the words “oil” and “gas” as two dirty words that they do not like to use, the reality is that our economy is still successful with the sector, and as we heard from many of our colleagues, it is the most ethically produced oil and gas in the world.
Other members have talked about companies like Procter & Gamble that have announced it is going to be leaving Ontario. That is 500 good-paying jobs in a small city of 30,000. That is a devastating blow at a time when the U.S. is going to reduce taxes, is cutting regulations, and has a number of infrastructure announcements coming out this week that will lay the foundation for its growth.
Contrast that to what we are doing here in Canada where we are adding taxes. We heard about the excise tax. The government is adding other levies and fees. We are revisiting the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. We heard the Minister of Transport talking today about the navigable waters act. These are all things that will slow our progress, slow our growth. If the Liberals are in government long enough, we will once again be doing environmental assessments on cedar benches in national parks, which is what we were doing before we made those changes.
This has been brought up already, but if I heard it once in the last election, I must have heard it 500 times. I am talking about how the Liberals said they would never do omnibus bills. They said, “Not us, if we ever get in.” Bill C-44 that we are looking at tonight is as prolific as any omnibus bill before it. I am sure that if a student in political science anywhere across this country wanted to have a good look at what an omnibus bill is, that student need look no further than this piece of legislation.
The government House leader has said that everything in this legislation is about money. I guess at the end of the day, everything is about money, but that is not what the Liberals were talking about in the last election.
Another topic we have heard a lot about in the House of Commons, and which is a continuation of the anti-rural policies that the Liberals have, is the investment bank. The overall arching sweep of infrastructure money is $181 billion over the next 11 years. The slap in the face to rural Canadians, which I am one of, is that only $2 billion over 11 years is specifically allocated to rural Canada. It is pretty much a given that not $1 in the $35-billion infrastructure bank will go to rural Canadian towns and municipalities.
Canadians should also be concerned about the wording with respect to the infrastructure bank. I apologize if someone else has brought this up today, but it is that the investments may be made in Canada or “partly in Canada”. This basically means that our Canadian tax dollars, which should be going into building infrastructure in this country, can go toward building infrastructure in China, India, and many other places. That is not what Canadians view as an infrastructure bank when they are talking about it.
In addition, other parts in the briefing that was presented are with regard to a significant portion of the risk. The bank could take on debt that allows other debtors to be paid first in order to provide a loss buffer. Those are not words that Canadian taxpayers want to hear, and they are not words we want to hear, especially when Liberal cabinet members are the ones who will be picking the projects.
I have many more pages to go over here, so hopefully the Liberals will ask questions that pertain to what I have in the rest of my speech.