Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-86, the budget implementation act no. 2.
The Liberal government is attempting to ram a budget through the House that paints a rosy picture of our national finances. It insists on spending massive amounts of money and promising to increase taxes through its new tax on everything, the carbon tax. In fact, the leader of the official opposition hit the nail on the head when he said of this Liberal government, “Never has a government spent so much and achieved so little.” It is true.
Despite the promises of the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, all is not well in Canada, certainly not for the people of Oshawa. For over 100 years, Oshawa and General Motors have had a partnership. Now the Oshawa plant is going to be shut down. This is a tremendous blow to the people of Oshawa and Canadian manufacturing in general.
Before going any further, let me express my concern for the people of Oshawa. I cannot imagine what far too many Canadians in Oshawa are experiencing today. My sincere condolences go out to all of those who are going to be negatively affected and will lose their jobs. This is terrible news, and it comes just before Christmas.
The GM plant is important not only to families in Oshawa but to families across Ontario and Canada. The Oshawa plant is closing, and the Liberals have nothing to show for it. Their high taxes and lack of regulatory clarity are forcing businesses all over the country to stop investing or to just plain leave Canada. They have no way of backstopping anything except through more debt. It is important to run a surplus during good economic times so that when the bad times come, there is money to be spent, and as they say, money to be invested. Running deficits during good times means there will be less when the bad times come.
For the people in Oshawa, times are hard. The only way the Liberal government can help them is through more debt. This is debt that Oshawans and all Canadians will have to pay through increased taxes down the road. All Canadians will have to pay through increased taxes down the road, as will the folks in Oshawa, but if there are no jobs, there will be no extra money to pay extra taxes. This is precisely the situation the Liberal government is creating in Canada.
The U.S. administration has cut taxes for businesses, and this has caused many businesses to choose to relocate to the United States. The finance minister and the Liberal government declined to match any of those tax cuts. Consequently, many businesses are choosing to invest in the United States as opposed to Canada. The tax cuts and the corresponding lack of action by the Liberal government may have played a role in the closing of the Oshawa plant by General Motors.
Manufacturing across Canada is concerned, particularly about the issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel. Despite significant concessions to the U.S. in the recent NAFTA negotiations, now called the USMCA, the Liberal government was not able to get the Trump administration to lift the tariffs on steel and aluminum. This is costing manufacturers and industry dearly.
In my riding, my constituent Marilyn N. is a small business owner. She imports aluminum-based products from the United States, and because of the tariffs and the retaliatory tariffs we have put on, she has indicated to me that if these tariffs are not lifted, she may be forced to lay off workers, as her costs are not sustainable in the long term.
Many business owners across Canada can relate to her story, but Liberal failures are not limited to manufacturing. The Prime Minister and his Liberal government have failed with our natural resources as well. Their failures have resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs and over $100 billion of investment in our energy sector.
Energy east, Pacific Northwest LNG, northern gateway, Aurora LNG, and Grassy Point LNG are all examples of the government's inability to deliver on developing and getting to market our natural resources. The Trans Mountain crisis has made things even worse. The taxpayer is on the hook for $4.5 billion for a pipeline that may never be built. Under the previous Conservative government, four pipelines were built. This included the Enbridge Alberta Clipper, the Trans Canada Keystone, the Kinder Morgan Anchor Loop, and the Enbridge Line 9B reversal.
As soon as the Liberals took office, the Prime Minister and his government started their reckless spending and arbitrary regulatory changes. This caused business investment to plummet and confidence in Canada to decline. Even the Montreal Economic Institute said, “People are giving up on Canada as a safe place to invest in natural resources...It’s seen as a very hostile environment now.”
It is quite clear that the Liberal government has failed in encouraging foreign investment in Canada. Our country has so much to offer and the Liberal government is throwing away potential investment opportunities because of its failures. In fact, though the economy has grown, very little has been the government's doing. Growth was driven by oil and gas markets, a strong housing market and consumer spending. Consumers were able to spend because interest rates were low. The Liberal government has had very little to do with any of that. It has not helped and in many cases it has hindered growth areas in our country.
When it comes to oil, the Liberal government, under the current Prime Minister, has been an absolute failure. When he formed government in 2015, he did so with three large pipelines ready to be delivered. Two of those pipelines abandoned Canada due to the regulatory environment created by the Liberal government. The third was bought by Canadian citizens, through no choice of their own, for $4.5 billion for a pipeline that was worth just over a billion dollars and a potential of building and constructing a new pipeline for another $3.5 billion. That was basically goodwill, and now that goodwill does not look like it is going to be worth very much.
The Prime Minister has failed to realize that oil and gas is not an unfortunate part of Canada; it is a vital component of Canada and our economy. It is important to the people of Alberta and all Canadians who depend upon government services, which are possible because of oil royalties.
When the Prime Minister said that he wanted to phase out the oil sands, I think he meant it. The cost to Canadians has yet to be fully accounted for, but already it is hurting our country. His reckless commitment to dismantling the oil and gas sector, an essential of Canada's economy, will undoubtedly lower our growth potential.
In addition, his inability to build a pipeline to tidewater means that our oil is largely captive to the American market, where it is bought for considerably less than it would be worth on the world market. Less money in the provincial and federal coffers means that without spending cuts, the governments must either raise taxes or borrow more money.
If governments borrow more money, interest rates will go up. Higher interest rates will affect consumer confidence. Less consumer confidence means less willingness to undertake large expenses. Housing will suddenly be less sought after as Canadians are forced to pay more interest. They will borrow less money. Suddenly, the three main drivers of growth in Canada, oil and gas, housing and consumer spending, are no longer the powerful drivers that they once were.
Due to high levels of government debt and historically low interest rates, the federal government will have very few tools left to deal with any upcoming crisis. This is not a healthy place for a government to be in. Nor is it good place for our country. The next crisis to befall Canada is going to be dangerous.
The Liberal government loves to talk about the debt-to-GDP ratio. That sounds good. However, it is only one tool and if we consider the implications, it is not reassuring at all. In fact, it could be bad and very bad for Canada. This way of accounting is only positive if the economy grows. It is based on economic growth. If the government continues to spend money, but the economy starts to slow, then we are in a bad situation and that debt-to GDP ratio quickly gets skewed.
Debt consists of principal, which is the amount borrowed, and interest, which is the amount paid to service the debt. If interest rates go up, we are paying more for the money that we have borrowed. Debt is a reasonable option if it allows for long-term gain. However, the Liberal government has borrowed money with reckless abandon and very little of it has gone to any kinds of projects with long-term sustainable benefit to Canadians.
Spending on infrastructure has not materialized. Of the $180 billion that the government committed to infrastructure spending, only 6% or just under $10 billion of that has actually been spent and invested in Canada. That would be a real investment, spending money on infrastructure, but the government has not allowed it to happen.