Madam Speaker, I am pleased to follow my colleague from Oshawa in speaking to this opposition motion.
I am pleased to debate the motion moved by my colleague, the member for the riding of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola in British Columbia. We may be separated by more than 4,000 kilometres, but my hon. colleague seems more attuned to the challenges my own riding is facing than the Liberal Prime Minister and his 40-odd members from Quebec, who insist on pushing for policies that are harmful to rural Canada.
My speech will primarily address the matter of forestry workers, who are still being affected by the Liberals' failure to settle the softwood lumber dispute during the NAFTA negotiations, as well as the matter of farmers affected by the increasing costs connected to the Liberals' carbon tax.
The softwood lumber dispute is nothing new. It has been around for almost half of NAFTA's lifetime. However, when the time came to negotiate a new agreement, now known as the USMCA, the Liberals could have resolved this issue. The tariffs imposed by the Americans hurt not only our Canadian exporters, but also the American construction industry, which has indicated that our wood is needed to supply one-third of the country's demand. They will have to pay more to buy our products, and our exporters will have to lower prices to remain competitive.
The Prime Minister's announcement that he had signed an agreement with the United States on September 30 raised all kinds of questions. The government was short on answers. Would the new free trade agreement address the tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum? No. Would the new agreement protect our dairy farmers from losing market share to the Americans? No. Would the agreement put an end to the Buy American Act rules, which prevent Canadian industries from bidding on contracts in the United States? No. Does the agreement solve the softwood lumber dispute? Once again, the answer is no.
The Prime Minister gave Donald Trump everything and asked for nothing in return. We know that the Prime Minister cares little about Canadian workers and still less about our regions. All he wanted was to score political points by putting some nice-sounding words in the new agreement. As long as the text contains some token phrases about indigenous peoples, women and unions, the Prime Minister is okay with signing all the rest of it and taking a photo, just like he did last Friday in Buenos Aires.
My riding is home to forestry producers such as Bois Daaquam in Saint-Just-de-Bretenières and Maibec and Matériaux Blanchet in Saint-Pamphile. They provide quality jobs and sustain our regions, which are already having a hard time retaining young families.
Just as our dairy farmers feel abandoned by the current government, Quebec's forestry industry is also not very pleased about the signing of the USMCA. These workers are just as Canadian as people from Montreal or Toronto. They pay their taxes like everyone else. The government has a duty not to forget about them. However, we see that that is exactly what the members opposite are doing. The Liberals are not only killing jobs in the regions by refusing to defend our interests in trade agreements, but they are also trying to increase the cost of living. It is a double whammy.
In addition to racking up annual deficits of $20 billion that help the government buy votes without having to worry too much, since future generations will be the ones to pay for it all, this government is imposing a new carbon tax nationwide. Canadians will not have the opportunity to assess the impact of that tax before the next election. My hon. colleague, the member for Carleton, regularly asks the government to tell us how much its proposed carbon tax will cost middle-class Canadian families. The government has systematically refused to answer and prefers to hide behind platitudes like “pollution is not free”. Everyone knows that pollution is not free.
This government, which claims to be open and transparent, blacked out the numbers when we asked the Liberals to reveal the results of their own study on the financial impact that the carbon tax will have on ordinary Canadians. They are not done yet, since the carbon tax is an escalator tax that will start at $20 a tonne and gradually increase to $50 a tonne by 2022. I would like to remind members that 2022 is just around the corner. It is practically 2019. In another four years, it will be 2022. The tax will more than double, going from $20 a tonne to $50 a tonne.
A lot of people say Quebec has nothing to worry about because it is already part of a carbon market that fits the bill, so the Liberal tax will not apply. That is true for now, but we will have to wait and see what happens.
According to an internal Environment Canada memo that came out in March 2017, the government admitted that its $50-a-tonne carbon tax will have no measurable impact on Canadians' GHG emissions. The government is taxing carbon to reduce emissions, but the scheme will have no impact on emissions. Quebec's carbon market is proof of that. The carbon market is now worth over $1 billion thanks to the green fund, but new studies show that it is having no effect on Quebec's GHG emissions.
The tax would have to be increased to $300 a tonne by 2050 for Canada to meet its targets. It is just a matter of time before Quebec gets caught up in this.
Why does the government not just ask Canadians to pay $300 a tonne immediately if it is so sure this will work? The reality is that the Liberals are starting with $20 a tonne, but they will increase that to $50 a tonne. However, if that is truly the magic solution, then why does the government not go straight to $300 a tonne? If the Liberals did that, I am not sure they would get re-elected in October 2019.
If the government is so reluctant to tell us how much a $50-a-tonne carbon tax will cost, just imagine how much a tax six times greater will cost.
The people in my riding are close to nature and love green spaces. When I was mayor of La Pocatière, I was one of the first to set up recycling and brown bins for organic waste for environmental reasons.
I encourage people to eat local and to support local producers. However, the reality is that in our climate, the ground is frozen six months of the year. We depend on goods being shipped in for our survival, and there is currently no alternative. The government is gearing up to tax the transportation sector, which will likely pass on the cost to consumers at the grocery store.
I can speak to this because my wife works in the transport industry. For 30 years, she has been in charge of making purchases and paying transporters. The company she works for exports daily, and costs related to transportation, and especially insurance, are literally exploding.
Public transit is a good option for people who live in Montreal, but not for the people back home, unfortunately. I will not be seeing a subway in Rivière-du-Loup in my lifetime, sadly. Subway trains are built in La Pocatière, but they are exported to big cities.
Our farming sector also relies on heavy machinery during the growing season, and there are no electric tractors. The equipment can be made more energy efficient, and I think that all the manufacturers are doing that, but diesel power remains essential in the short and medium terms. The carbon tax will increase production costs, and all Canadians will have to pay more for food, including those who own a condo downtown and walk to the grocery store. A report published yesterday estimates that in 2019, grocery bills will go up by roughly $300 to $400.
We are ready to take over in 2019. We are a party for the regions. I can assure this House that we will take care of our regions. The carbon tax is going to affect the Canadian economy, including my region.
With respect to home heating, much of my riding is made up of people who are retired or nearing retirement. I am talking about people who worked hard their entire lives just to pay for their houses and save a bit of money for their golden years. They are definitely not millionaires, unlike the Prime Minister.
Many people will have to live on a fixed income from sources like the Quebec pension plan, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. The GIS, incidentally, was enhanced by the Conservatives.
The carbon tax means that seniors could see a drastic increase in their heating costs in the winter. The Prime Minister had better not tell them to invest in solar panels or reinsulate their houses. They are living paycheque to paycheque and cannot exactly remortgage their home at age 70 if their annual income is only $15,000.
By supporting the motion moved by my colleague from British Columbia, I hope the government will leave its fantasy world behind and finally realize what is really going on in the regions in Quebec and Canada.