Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to address the Speech from the Throne, this being my first speech in the House. I wish to thank the voters of Calgary West for choosing me to be their voice in Ottawa.
When one drives east along Bow Trail toward city centre one cannot help but admire the concrete and steel of Calgary's new downtown rising up toward the blue sky of Alberta. One has to marvel at Calgary's energy, her productivity, and take note of how the city has grown and prospered. No matter how many tax dollars, government jobs or military bases Ottawa has deprived Calgary of, we still have a low unemployment rate, low taxes and a hunger for Canada's lowest income tax rate.
The meaner Ottawa gets, the leaner Calgary becomes. We now have a city that thrives upon private industry, not the fat of the federal government. I am proud to represent a city that still exemplifies the pioneer spirit from the roughnecks who drill for oil to the settlers who moved west in horse drawn carts made of wood. Indeed my own family moved west around the turn of the century to plough its section of land.
Speaking of my family, I would like to thank mom and dad along with all the others who helped in my election. I have my father to thank for my start in politics. He would let me stay up past my scheduled bedtime, but only if I watched the evening news with him and answered questions about what I had observed, to which he often offered the right political spin.
Let me tell the House a story about when I was in diapers. A mess began to develop. It got worse over time. Nearly $700 billion later we call it the accumulated national debt. The man who started the mess was Pierre Elliott Trudeau. When I look across to the Liberal benches I see some of his accomplices. The current prime minister was Trudeau's minister of finance and under Trudeau he learned to spend, indeed he liked to spend. He taxed and he spent until his heart's content, so much so that he still cannot wean himself from the nasty habits he developed under the man who started the wave in Salmon Arm.
Then came the mandarin from Manitoba, the whiner from Winnipeg who now lavishes upon himself as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has begged for political pork, dined diplomats and grovelled for government goodies. Who could forget the hyena from Hamilton who shrieked and shrilled her way under the public's skin and who is now eligible for her $2.8 million gold plated MP pension plan?
I would like to talk about the department that just grew and grew. His bureaucrat parents named him manpower and immigration, but their own rules made his first name politically incorrect so they changed it to citizenship and immigration. The bureaucrats kept on feeding him and tending to his every gurgle, burp and expansion. They proudly watched as their pet department grew into a strapping example of government largesse.
As a right of passage they named him employment and immigration, a title that made the bureaucrats burst with pride, but even the bureaucrats noticed that their fully grown program had developed a nasty streak. Instead of solving the problems he was created to solve he actually made them worse. Unemployment was permanently doubling that of our neighbours to the south. Multiple generations of families were beginning to get hooked on the spiralling dependency that he was pushing. The bureaucrats changed his name to human resources development, but they could not hide what had happened. Their little pet had grown into a $57 billion monster.
Members are probably asking what went wrong when the monster roamed unchecked across the land. The government renamed unemployment insurance, employment insurance, but that did not change the want for work or make good on its 1993 election promises. The government tossed out band-aids, candies and bromides, but it got a bad case of inaction when it came to repairing the structural problems.
For example, UI charges repeat claimants the same premiums as someone who works but has never collected. No actuarially sound insurance plan would have high risk users pay the same or even less than low risk users. Even more UI is distributed disproportionately according to region. Nova Scotia alone has five different regions of eligibility. People living and working within an hour of one another have different eligibility requirements. This begs a question. Does the government have credibility on the jobs issue?
The Liberals have presided over the highest level of unemployment in recent history. They are now into their 82nd month of unemployment above 9 percent. UI has become a payroll tax with overpayments now over $7 billion per year. For the average Canadian worker that amounts to $400 a year in overpayments.
A total of close to $14 billion has been hoarded by the Minister of Finance so that he can gloat about deficit reduction. He even brags about his 43 tax increases and how he has taken $26 billion more from us.
How about an insurance program that is actuarially sound and free from political interference? How about at least lowering the payroll tax that kills jobs? Alas, there is more program mismanagement.
Can we trust the Liberals with our pensions? Canadians under 35 years old do not believe we will have a pension. Why? Because the government has dug an unfunded pension liability of over half a trillion dollars. That is why the government is so gung ho about RRSPs.
Even if the Canada pension plan survives Liberal mismanagement, people my age will receive less than a 50 cents return on every dollar they throw into it. The government is ripping off young people. They want to take 10 percent of our wages for a program that will not be around when we need it. If CPP did survive under Liberal mismanagement it would only pay out $8,800 per year, even with maximum contributions.
In contrast the same contributions invested at a 6 percent rate of return, the numbers the government claims for the CPP, would create their own pension yielding $26,000 per year. Please do not ask us to trust the government. Let us opt out of its pyramid scheme and wrest our money from its corrupting grasp.
Yet I fear there is even more. The Liberals pride themselves on the political machine vote buying tactics. Why they even preened about increasing the size of the bureaucracy by 3,000 temporary bureaucrats with $90 million of taxpayer money.
Then there was the billion dollar student handout. For every single student this handout is intended to help, the program hurts nine more. Increasing debt or the size of government and taxes only deprives young people of work. Young people want structural repairs that will create real jobs, not promises that result in less work and higher taxes.
Cut taxes to stimulate investment, growth and jobs. Stop the pyramid scheme to burden young people with pension debt. Link student loans to social insurance numbers. This would reduce default problems and therefore increase the likelihood and dollar value ceilings on private sector student loans.
This story of the department that grew and grew reminds me of three questions that all politicians should ask before they start feeding a program.
First, how much should it cost? Second, does it benefit all Canadians or cater to a special interest? In other words, is it just a narrowly focused vote buying tactic? Third, would fellow Canadians vote for the program if the question was put to them?