Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have this opportunity to address the House today. I will begin by asking members to imagine what we, as legislators, might do if we wanted to ruin the Canadian economy, if we wanted the men and women of this great nation to have less opportunity, not more, and if we wanted families and communities to lose hope in tomorrow.
Since governments derive their power to control from the power to tax, we would start here. To begin, a government out to wreck our economy would enact a carbon tax, thereby driving up the cost of all goods and services paid by consumers. At the same time, personal income taxes would rise, shrinking the take-home pay of Canadian workers, making it uneconomical to work for an extra $1 of income, say, by taking an overtime shift. Also, business tax rates would increase, boosting the cost of investment and making our nation less competitive next to our trading partners. If any citizen believed he or she should be able to keep more income from his or her hard work or risk-taking, the individual would be called greedy.
Next, that government would drive up the spending to levels beyond what taxpayers or even the economy could manage. It would table budget after budget that recorded nothing but red ink as far as the eye could see. It would issue billions of dollars of debt backed by paper IOUs. Those deficits would go up every year and we would be told that all that debt was a necessary investment and a small price to pay for nirvana. That t ruinous government would proclaim this was all being done for the greater good, in the name of fairness and building tomorrow's economy. Should taxpayers think this was the road to serfdom, they would be thought of as uncompassionate.
Lastly, regulations would be enacted to stop the development of our natural resources, even though this abundant gift of nature fuelled Canada's growth. Environmentalism would no longer be about conservation but anti-development and statism. These prophets of doom would urge costly government solutions to our problems. Instead of relying on free markets and the ingenuity of mankind, they would create phony markets that buy and sell carbon credits as part of a cap and trade scheme.
Other proposals to make Canada a poor nation would be a draconian reduction in our energy consumption by a third almost overnight, throwing thousands of people out of work to comply with an international agreement that does not require the world's biggest carbon producers to reduce their emissions. If Canada failed to hit its domestic targets, a government bent on hurting the Canadian worker would pay out billions and billions of tax dollars to nations exempt from making carbon reductions under the very same flawed Kyoto protocol. All this, Canadians would be told, would be done in the name of progress.
Political and environmental groups would receive funding and tax concessions paid by our tax dollars, tax dollars that ought to pay for social programs but do not. That ruinous government, along with environmentalists, would push to shut down producers of abundant cheap energy. Fear-mongering, one asks? Federal regulators were recently petitioned to shut Point Lepreau, which is the only nuclear plant in Atlantic Canada and a provider of affordable energy. The shale gas industry in my province is finding it nearly impossible to establish itself in the face of a reckless environmental campaign. All the while, the New Brunswick government collects tax dollar transfers that come from shale gas earnings in other provinces. Our young workers go west to work in the very same industries that cannot open at home and our communities are despondent that they are hollowing out and the schools emptying.
A government working to damage our economy would hand powers to unelected bureaucrats to control industrial output and enact rules that make it impossible to open new markets and start new businesses. It would make energy from windmills and solar panels appear economical by driving up the cost of power from oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear energy. It would work to de-legitimize the use of abundant natural resources at home and eventually ban the export of those resources to other consumers in other markets. We are already seeing evidence of this with the oil sands.
Finally, a government that wanted to hurt Canada and Canadians would attack the foundation of our economy, notwithstanding that where free markets have been adopted, the west, Japan, more recently eastern Europe, China and throughout Asia, millions have climbed out of poverty, which, it is so easy to forget, was the human condition for most of history. Where statism has triumphed, such as Greece, Spain, Cuba, parts of Africa, people suffer.
It really is not difficult to imagine these ruinous ideas becoming reality since they are, in one form or another, championed almost daily by the official opposition. Yet, we reject these policies. We understand that any government that is big enough to give us everything we need is also a government big enough to take away everything taxpayers have.
What our government is proposing in the 2012 budget is a low tax, low debt plan to keep Canadians working, to make Canada a place where businesses want to invest and to maintain our economic lead over other nations. It is a budget that puts us on track to eliminate the deficit. Voters sent us to Ottawa to manage the public finances the same way households and businesses administer their budgets; , prudently and with respect for the people paying the bills. This budget is a step toward a better government.
Total spending is not being cut this year. It will instead grow slightly by a modest 1.4%. If we listen to the opposition, its members are not proposing a serious alternative. In fact, they are proposing no alternative. We are seeking savings and efficiencies in a federal government that I believe is still too big and too bloated. They want an even bigger government and the inefficiencies and high taxes that come with it. Our focus is on delivering services and programs to Canadians with less bureaucracy. Their policy is more bureaucracy.
We should never apologize for streamlining government. Indeed, this is precisely why Canadian taxpayers sent us here. Of course, it would be easier to spend and spend more but to do so has a cost: higher taxes on ordinary families that make paying the household bills that much more difficult.
According to the Fraser Institute, a typical family makes $74,200 each year and already pays a whopping 41.5% of that, some $31,000, to one level of government or another. It is worth noting that Canadians pay more in tax than they do for shelter, food or transportation. That is why this side of the House believes taxes must be lowered. We recognize that government does not create wealth. It only consumes wealth others have created.
Instead of working to undermine Canadian workers, our plan will promote growth. It will remove burdensome regulation that hurt entrepreneurs and job creators. It will not raise taxes. It will finally wind down federal deficits. We owe it to Canadians to not let the reckless call for higher taxes and more spending coming from the opposition go unanswered or become a reality.
In fact, it is important that we stick to our pledge in the last election that we balance the budget by 2014, not 2015. We need to have a balanced budget so we can continue to bring in some much needed tax relief. Family income splitting is a promise we made to Canadians. We have an obligation to deliver on that promise.
Because of our many years as a minority government, we ended up having to campaign on the same promises two or even three times. Income splitting is a pro-family, pro-work promise I do not want to campaign on a second time.
Our Canada is one that is economically strong, creates opportunity and offers hard-working families a better tomorrow. We will continue to work for Canadians and remain focused on the economy.
Our economic action plan has Canada moving in the right direction. Next, we need to get our fiscal house in order and bring in some much needed tax relief to all Canadian families.