Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have this opportunity to talk about Bill C-86.
Over the past three years, our government has been guided by the fundamental principle that real economic progress comes from carefully crafted, targeted investments in people and in communities, and not from austerity and cuts, as we saw in the previous government.
Bill , also known as the budget implementation act, 2018, No. 2, or BIA, 2, is legislation that delivers the next phase of our government's commitment to invest in Canadians and build a vibrant and equitable economy that is fair to all.
Since 2015, we have already taken bold steps, and the impressive returns we are seeing on our investments in Canadians are clear evidence that our economic policies are working well and for the good of the many.
First, we started by asking the wealthiest to pay a little more, so we could lower taxes for the middle class. Today, this tax cut means that some nine million Canadians have more money in their pockets and good reasons to feel more confident about their financial situations.
We are also making significant investments in Canadian children through the new Canada child benefit, which helps Canadian families meet the high costs of raising their kids. This new benefit, or CCB, is tax free. Compared to the previous system of child benefits, the CCB is also simpler, more generous and better targeted to those who need it most. It has left nine out of 10 Canadian families better off.
In keeping with our commitment to reduce inequalities and to offer all Canadians equal opportunities to succeed, the Canada child benefit, or CCB, provides even more financial assistance to the low- and middle-income families who need it most. Roughly 65% of families receiving the maximum CCB amount are headed by single parents, of whom over 90% are single mothers.
Since July 2018, the Canada child benefit has been indexed to keep up with the cost of living. We implemented that measure two years ahead of schedule. Thanks to the middle-class tax cut and the Canada child benefit, by this time next year, a typical middle-class family of four will receive on average about $2,000 more each year. That is $2,000 more than they could expect to receive under the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper.
For single-parent, average-income households with two children, or for families with two children where only one parent is earning an average income, the benefits are even more significant. When the tax-free Canada child benefit and other benefits are added to family income, those families pay effective personal tax rates of less than 2%, which means they keep more than 98% of what they earn.
Through these measures, more families will be able to buy things such as healthy food, warm clothes or winter boots for their growing children. On average, families who receive the Canada child benefit get $6,800 every year. The CCB has helped lift more than 520,000 people out of poverty, including nearly 300,000 children.
That is not all. Salary increases for average Canadians are currently outpacing inflation. If the current trends hold, 2018 is on track to see some of the highest salary increases since the 2008-09 recession. Generally speaking, as we look at the legislative provisions to implement the measures in budget 2018, our economy is strong, healthy, and growing.
Since 2015, we have also been looking beyond our borders in order to reach new, modern trade agreements that will create jobs and help us be more competitive around the world. The fact that Canada is the only G7 country to have trade agreements with each of the other members of the G7 is a testament to the work we have done internationally. The recently negotiated USMCA will give the international business community the confidence it needs to continue investing in Canada.
The many innovative domestic and international economic measures we have put in place mean Canada's economy is strong and growing. Our economic growth rate of 3% in 2017 was the highest in the G7, and we expect to stay among the fastest-growing economies this year and next year.
Thanks to the hard work of Canadians, the past three years have seen the creation of more than half a million new full-time jobs. These new jobs have pushed the unemployment rate to a 40-year low. For the average Canadian worker, wage growth is outpacing inflation. If current trends hold, 2018 could mark one of the strongest years of wage growth in almost a decade.
Confidence is nearing historic highs, both among consumers and business owners, and leading to business expansion and the hiring of new employees.
All hon. members know that small businesses are a key driver of Canada's economy and account for 70% of all private sector jobs. When small businesses succeed, Canada succeeds. That is why we cut the small business tax rate to 10% last January and will lower it to 9% effective January 1, 2019.
In 2019, the combined federal-provincial-territorial average income tax rate for small business will be 12.2%, by far the lowest in the G7. Several federal departments and agencies, including the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada, are working hard to help these important job creators succeed and thrive.
This overall positive outlooks reflects Canada's many competitive strengths, including a highly-skilled labour force, preferential access to global markets and a strong research and start-up capacity in emerging fields. We know that nurturing and expanding these competitive strengths demands policies that keep the focus on people and gives every Canadian the means to contribute fully to our society and our economy.
Wage growth is outpacing inflation for the average Canadian worker, as I mentioned, and we could see that growth mark one of the strongest years of wage growth in a decade.
Overall, as we consider this legislation that would implement measures from budget 2018, it is important to note that our economy is strong, healthy and growing.
I would like to briefly describe the essential pillars of Bill .
The legislation includes an important measure to further stimulate economic growth, namely the new Canada workers benefit. The Canada workers benefit is an improved version of the current working income tax benefit. It is designed to encourage people to enter and stay in the workforce.
Under the Canada workers benefit, a low-income worker earning $15,000 annually could get almost $500 more in benefits in 2019 than he or she would get this year. In addition, the Canada workers benefit's expanded eligible income range would ensure that more workers would be entitled to it.
The new CWB would also be more accessible than the benefit it replaces. The legislation includes amendments that would allow the Canada Revenue Agency to calculate the benefit amount for all eligible tax filers, even if they do not claim it. These improvements to ensure access to the new benefit could be particularly useful for people with limited mobility, those who live far from points of service and those without Internet access.
The government estimates that, as a result of these changes, an additional 300,000 low-income workers in Canada will receive the Canada workers benefit for the 2019 tax year.
This is a major step forward in reducing inequality in Canada. What is more, it is estimated that the investments in the new Canada workers benefit will help lift roughly 70,000 Canadians out of poverty.
Another important aspect is addressing gender inequality, which is a vital component of the bill. Canadian women are among the most educated in the world, but they are less likely to participate in the labour force than men and are more likely to work part-time. Canadian women are too often working in unpaid jobs, which prevents them pursuing the opportunities that would help them reach their full potential.
There is an under-representation of women in leadership positions and the vast majority of Canadian businesses are still run by men. No economy can claim to be operating at full capacity if women are not being offered the same opportunities, including at leadership levels. Gender equality benefits everyone and benefits the whole economy.
We know that the participation of women in the labour market has been one of the key drivers of our economic growth in recent decades. During the past four years, the increased number of women in the labour market accounted for about one-third of real per capita GDP growth in the country. Indeed, RBC Economics estimates that adding more women to the workforce could boost Canada's GDP by as much as 4%.
The increased presence of women on the labour market is increasing household income and making a big difference to hard-working families across the country.
We need to establish an economic climate that will give all Canadians, particularly women, the opportunity to succeed and be leaders.
That being said, the gender budgeting act, which is part of , will make gender budgeting an integral and permanent part of the federal budget-making process.
The bill will also convert Status of Women Canada into a new department, the department of women and gender equality, which will be responsible for the advancement of equality in respect of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The gender gap remains too large and the evidence shows that taking steps to reduce that gap is not just the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do.
Finally, I would like to talk about the measures that we are taking to protect the environment, which are an essential component of Bill . We believe that putting a price on pollution is the best way to reduce emissions because it will encourage businesses and households to make more environmentally friendly choices and find more innovative solutions.
It is clear to us that pollution should not be free. Canadians are aware that that is the reality and that this is the right thing to do. We can see the costs of polluting everywhere. All one has to do is watch the evening news or take a look at the paper to see that droughts, floods and forest fires are becoming regular occurrences. That is not to mention the effects of pollution on our physical and mental health.
By implementing these measures to protect our precious environment, which is under increasing threat, Canada joins 67 other jurisdictions that have already taken this important step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Together, these jurisdictions represent about half of the global economy and more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite efforts in some quarters to persuade Canadians otherwise, this is not an attempt to add to federal coffers. Provincial systems will apply in the several jurisdictions that are either already implementing their own carbon pollution pricing systems that meet the federal benchmark or are on track to do so.
The federal fuel charge will apply, starting in April 2019, in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick. Those governments have not developed a system to price carbon pollution that meets the federal benchmark.
In those four provinces, the federal government proposes to return the majority of direct proceeds from the fuel charge directly to individuals and families through climate action incentive payments, starting in early 2019. Every dollar will remain in the province of origin. For most households, these payments will help offset their increased costs related to pollution pricing and help them to make more energy efficient, greener choices. The remaining proceeds that are not returned directly to households will go toward providing support to sectors within these provinces that will be particularly affected.
We estimate that climate change will cost our economy $5 billion a year by 2020. If we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change, we have to accept the fact that polluting our environment costs us dearly and that it is very logical that polluters pay for the damage they cause.
Canadians can rest assured that they do not have to convince this government to protect the environment because we truly believe that doing nothing would be a failure to live up to our responsibility as federal legislators and would also betray current and future generations of Canadians, who have the right to a healthy, peaceful and prosperous life in a healthy environment.
Our shared quality of life and our economic prosperity are closely linked to the environment we live in. That is why it makes sense to build an economy that benefits all Canadians while protecting our environment and seeking to repair the damage we have already caused.
We want Canadians to feel confident about the future, to be better prepared for what awaits them and not to be concerned about those elements that sustain life, namely, the air we breathe and the water we drink.
The essence of this bill is that we are investing in Canadians, we are sharing the fruits of our strong economy with all Canadians, and we refuse to renege on our environmental commitments. Budget 2018 will help make a better Canada for all Canadians.
For these reasons, I am very proud to rise in the House to speak to Bill , the budget implementation bill, at third reading. I think it gives Canadians measures that will grow our economy, which has always been our goal, and also protect the environment. We believe that these two things go together.
We also think that a greener economy, a green shift towards renewable energy sources and more effective environmental decisions offer some worthwhile business prospects. As has been proven many times, this is also a major market.
Furthermore, we think that putting a price on pollution is the right thing to do. As I explained in my speech, more than half of world economies have put a price on pollution. Quebec has done so since 2013, and British Columbia has for many years. These two economies within Canada are seeing impressive growth records and have had economic success. This shows that the environment and the economy can and must go together.
Furthermore, a measure like the Canada workers benefit reflects another essential pillar of our goal, as a government, to reduce inequality. For too long, under the former government, our government lacked leadership on reducing inequalities. In fact, the previous government created more inequalities than it reduced.
The measures we have implemented since taking office prove that we are different. We raised taxes on the wealthiest 1% so we could reduce taxes for nine million middle-class Canadians. The previous government sent cheques to millionaires' families, but we put a stop to that with our Canada child benefit. We decided to make that system much more progressive so we could help those who needed it most, and that move is clearly having an impact.
That is one way our government's approach differs significantly from the approach taken by the previous government. We are absolutely committed to reducing inequality and poverty in this country by means of a very ambitious strategy spearheaded by the .
Another way we are different is our national housing strategy. Under the former government and some of its predecessors, the federal government stepped away from playing a role in social housing, but our government launched an ambitious $40-billion strategy. That is the kind of measure Canadians wanted to see, because they want a fairer country where economic growth and prosperity benefit everyone, a country where prosperity is inclusive. I think Bill , the budget implementation bill before the House today, reflects that.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate on this bill at third reading.
In the next 20 minutes what I hope to do is to lay out a case as to why the government has failed to look after the interests of the middle class, has failed to look after the interests of upper energy workers, upper energy families, and then draw attention to a clause found in the BIA, this omnibus piece of legislation, that I think is deserving of an amendment. Mr. Speaker, I am going to request that two minutes before my time is up, I be given notice so that I can move an amendment. Before that I would like to provide commentary as to why I am moving it.
This BIA is the second bill to implement provisions in the budget. The government has added more deficits and more accumulated debt in the last three non-recession years than I think at any time in modern history by any government. The prior government had a great recession to deal with. Governments before that in the 1990s had to deal with the debt wall they had hit and simply could not borrow more money. Difficult choices were made then. The government is basically laying the groundwork for those difficult choices to come in the future. Future governments will be constrained by difficult choices they will have to make.
We all know that the debts accumulated today are the taxes of tomorrow. If we value social programs, if we value retirement pension plans, if we value the services provided by the government, we have to ensure the proper management of government finances and that is not what we are seeing from the government side of the House. It is not what we see in this piece of omnibus legislation.
At the Standing Committee on Finance which I sit on, multiple members, even the members of the New Democratic Party, brought up the fact that the government repeatedly broke promises to not introduce more omnibus legislation. I note that twice already the Speaker has ruled and has divided up the budget bill, and taken out parts that violate the rule that measures found in the budget must be connected to measures found in the budget implementation act. The two cannot be separated.
The budget is three times the size of what was promised in 2015. Canadians made a choice in 2015. We can agree to disagree on the wisdom of that but they made a choice. They were promised multiple series of measures. The budget was supposed to be balanced by 2019, and it will not be. In fact, there are deficits and new debt as far as the eye can see. The government cannot give us in this chamber, at committee, or in public a fixed date of when the budget will be balanced.
We know that the Department of Finance has produced numbers showing that 2045 is likely the date when the budget will balance itself. Hopefully, it will not come to that and we will find some way to balance it before then.
An often-stated goal of the government is to ensure that we have the best GDP growth in the G7, the best GDP growth in the OECD. Different metrics are used to look at it. I am actually looking at OECD data right now. When looking at the data, we see that we have the weakest growth in North America. In 2019, we will be behind Mexico and the United States. In 2018, we are behind Mexico and the United States. The farther back we go, the more often we see that is the case. Actually, there is only one year in the last few years where we had stronger growth than they did. As well, when we project it into the future, that weakness in growth continues.
Our closest competitors, the places to which we are losing manufacturing jobs, the places to which we are losing energy jobs, the places to which we are losing auto jobs, are having stronger growth. That relates to the policies of the government: high carbon taxes, higher taxes in general, uncertainty in the investment climate, $78 billion lost in LNG development. That all adds to an epic failure of leadership on behalf of the government.
This second budget implementation act continues that failure. It continues a record of failure.
In my home province of Alberta we have lived it for three years now, dealing with a government that has as its sole intent the phase-out of the oil sands. Initially, when the said it, he said it was a gaffe, a mistake. He repeated the same thing in Paris at France's legislative assembly. He repeated it in French of course, hoping that we would not know what he had said, but we do. It is twice now he has said it.
There is a tanker ban on the west coast. It is a false tanker ban because it does not apply to the south coast of British Columbia.
Bill is regulatory legislation that would ensure that no major energy infrastructure project ever gets built again in this country. I am sure a government caucus member will stand and say I am wrong, that I have made a mistake, that a $40-billion LNG project is going ahead. What Liberals will not tell us is that LNG project was approved in 2012 and the recent decision was a business decision to proceed, but wait: The contract says it is exempt from the carbon tax. It is exempt from many of the measures introduced both by the federal government and the B.C. provincial government, so it makes business sense to proceed.
That is telling. It is telling that the decisions being made by governments over the past three years are costing jobs and investment and only when they are removed does private business proceed with construction and provide the much-needed, much-wanted middle-class energy jobs.
That is also telling of the business climate we live in. We had an emergency debate yesterday on the plight of energy workers across Canada. Energy jobs are fleeing this country. Alberta is often called Texas north. I prefer to think of Texas as Alberta south as so many families from Alberta are there. They are just trying to make ends meet. They are trying to pay their mortgages, send their kids to good schools and save for their retirement. They will go where they need to go.
They have skill sets that it took Alberta a generation to attract and develop. It was not easy to convince people to come to Alberta. Typically, when people fly from eastern Canada to western Canada, they fly over Alberta and head to the beautiful west coast. To convince people that it is worth staying in our province, they have to be provided great benefits, great pay and a great place to live to raise their families. We have done so, but it took us 25 years to get there. In the span of three years, the Liberal government is robbing an entire generation's worth of work that was done to make Alberta the most productive and best place to raise a family.
That is one of the reasons I moved to Alberta. It was for work. I know that is the same reason everybody living in my area, the suburbs of Calgary, came to Alberta. We all became Albertans because of the work ethic that we bring, the can-do attitude. That is why there is a very common slogan in Alberta now, which the heard last Thursday, “build that pipe”. We should probably replace the provincial slogan with “build that pipe”. Whatever it takes we should build that pipe.
The government's solution has been to expropriate Kinder Morgan and take it into its administration for $4.5 billion of taxpayer money that is now being used by Kinder Morgan to finance pipeline construction in Texas. I do not know in what world that is good policy-making, but it is not. Why are we financing our competitors? It simply does not make any sense.
The government uses numbers to crow about its GDP growth. We should be looking toward the future. The government and government caucus members, especially in the past year, have been really interested in litigating the past. It is something they like to often engage in. Liberals are in government. Government caucus members defend three years of policy decisions that have led to a point where the oil price differential on Western Canadian Select and synthetic crude oil is at a record high.
I worked for the Chamber of Commerce years ago, almost 10 years ago now, and there was an oil price differential back then as well. It was about $15 or $20. It kind of fluctuated. Back then, people talked about how big an issue it was, how we needed to fix it and make good decisions for the future to ensure that pipeline capacity matches expected production growth. That is what many companies in the private sector were trying to do. They were trying to figure out where capital could be expended in the most profitable way possible to maximize their equity return in the most responsible way possible.
Many people in my riding who are now unemployed or underemployed used to work in quality assurance ensuring that pipelines were built safely and in a way that ensured the absolute minimum amount of risk to the population around them. Most Albertans have pipelines in their backyards. They know where they are. There are utility corridors all over the province because this is what Alberta has a competitive advantage in.
I will now move to the clause I mentioned before and the substance of the amendment I will be moving at the end of my speaking time. During debate on budget implementation act, no. 2, clause 470 was brought up. The clause deals with the Canada Labour Code and provides for leave. The member for proposed an amendment at committee to provide 12 weeks of bereavement leave for parents dealing with the death of a child or the perinatal death of a child. That amendment was voted down by the government.
To head off possible arguments against the amendment I will be moving at the end of my speech, there are three main arguments I heard that I want to elaborate on and explain why they are not good arguments to vote against providing 12 weeks of bereavement leave.
First, an argument was made that there are other types of leave being amended within the BIA. A good argument could be made as to why we are doing it in this way, in the BIA, in a budgetary implementation bill when we are amending the Canada Labour Code. I believe there are over 850 pages in this bill, and we may sometimes wonder why it is being done in this way.
One of the arguments was that there is another type of leave which people could be eligible for. Mothers are allowed 17 weeks of maternity leave now. Within that 17 weeks, if their child passes away they can take the full length of the leave as bereavement leave. When I asked officials whether this applied to fathers, they said it did not. Fathers do not get this bereavement leave.
Fathers only get five days, which is consistent with the Canada Labour Code. They get five days, three of which are paid and two of which are unpaid. I thought this was patently unfair. In fact, I asked officials what happens in the case of 17 weeks plus one day. These are very difficult cases, where parents have lost a child, for example, from SIDS, a pre-existing condition or a rare condition. Many members will know that I lost my youngest daughter in August, so this issue really speaks to me. I thought this was a much rarer issue in Canadian society than it actually is. Fathers get three paid days and two unpaid days. This argument that there are other mechanisms to use is not a good one in this particular case.
As I mentioned, we moved an amendment at committee. We had the debate. There was some willingness at least to hear the argument. There is a great Yiddish proverb which speaks to the situation we find ourselves in, “From success to failure is one step; from failure to success is a long road.” My amendment will be proposing a long road to get to success.
Another argument advanced at committee was that there was a motion under consideration at a different committee which considered the situation that parents, mothers and fathers who have lost a child, find themselves in. Motion No. 110 is at the HUMA committee. It does not deal specifically with bereavement leave in the Canada Labour Code, which was perhaps an error in the argument being used at committee to provide a reason for why we should vote down an amendment to provide equality to both parents, mothers and fathers, with 12 weeks of leave.
It is a good argument that work being done by a committee of the House, with a report that will come some day, hopefully before the election, should not stop us from doing the right thing right now when presented with an opportunity to do so in the BIA. The BIA is going to deal with different pieces of legislation, from the Canada Labour Code to budgetary measures, to spending announcements, to changes to the accelerated capital cost allowance, to changes to export and import permits. Therefore, why not deal with this too? We are already making modifications to it. We are making small amendments to it.
It is not a good argument to say that another committee is taken with the issue when it is not actually this specific issue it is reviewing. It is reviewing it in a broader sense. It is looking specifically at employment insurance. Although important, that committee's work should not preclude us from making a decision in this chamber that parents are deserving of equality. That is a very important concept here.
Another argument advanced at committee was that we did not have all the facts of the impact that introducing up to 12 weeks of bereavement leave would have compared to 17 weeks in maternity benefits being offered, which specifically applies to mothers, as I mentioned. Again, I found this argument unconvincing.
I offered at the time a subamendment. We could have delayed clause-by-clause consideration of the BIA before it came back to this chamber to give ourselves an extra day so that the Department of Justice lawyers could provide us with an opinion. I think it is not a good argument until we have all the facts before us.
As opposition members, and I am sure many New Democrats will agree, we are saddled with these omnibus pieces of legislation, and they have gotten longer and more complex. I see some nodding heads. Not only are we now sitting down, and our staff is sitting down, to compare what is in the budget implementation act and what is in the budget to make the connection between the two so that we can then rise in this chamber and explain why certain parts do not belong in this particular budget implementation act and could be separated out so we could go into the details, the specifics, clause by clause, section by section, but on top of all that, the government used cloture, a guillotine motion, to send the bill to the finance committee as quickly as possible, limiting debate in the House of Commons on the generalities at second reading.
The government then produced a programming motion, a guillotine or closure motion, at committee to force us to consider it expeditiously within just a few weeks, which included a constituency week. There was very little time for the finance committee to actually give the bill a fulsome, in-depth review.
Of course, we pick and choose the portions that are most interesting to us. The most interesting to the Conservatives is the case of bereavement leave and the Canada Labour Code provisions, because there is an issue of unfairness that is embedded right now. That will continue if we do not propose an amendment, which I mentioned I will be proposing, to fix this issue so that fathers would be provided with the same equitable benefits mothers are provided. More broadly, I think it will give us an opportunity to get at all the facts and have an opportunity to have officials return to committee and explain to us in a more fulsome way how it would work.
As I mentioned, we had officials at committee, and they provided some information, but not all of it. An argument advanced by the government caucus members was that, in fact, we did not have all the facts and therefore we should not proceed but should let another committee of the House do some other work on a related issue not specific to this particular one. However, if it is found in the BIA, my argument is that we should deal with it. It should not be that whatever the government proposes in a budgetary bill simply passes and we should just accept the fact that it will be carried forward.
This has happened before in the last few years. The Senate actually had serious misgivings about a specific portion that dealt with and affected Desjardins Caisse populaire, so that measure was eventually dropped by the government. Therefore, it is not unheard of for the government to accept amendments to slow down and have reconsiderations.
I think it would be a wise decision in this situation to offer mothers and fathers, especially fathers, in this case, an opportunity to take advantage of bereavement leave of up to 12 weeks. This would be for federally regulated employees, of course. We know that in the private sector, employers offer varying types of leave.
Having presented the case, I believe the amendment I am proposing is reasonable. It will give us time to reconsider the matter. I think the House, in its infinite wisdom, can provide the committee with this type of direction. Therefore, I move, seconded by the member for :
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following: Bill C-86, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures, be not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Finance for the purpose of reconsidering Clause 470 with the view to ensuring that every employee, regardless of gender, be entitled to and shall be granted a leave of absence from employment of up to 12 weeks if the employee is the parent of a child who has died, including in cases of perinatal death.
Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed to rise in the House to speak to Bill . I think the disappointment I feel about the promise of the government in 2015 versus what it has delivered recently is felt acutely by many Canadians. Hopes were high in 2015 that things would change.
Certainly the , in his admittedly very effective campaign, talked about how things would change in Ottawa, how parliamentarians and Parliament would be respected and get back to doing the work we are paid to do on behalf of Canadians from coast to coast to coast after the Harper years.
In the Harper years we saw a systematic denial of the ability of parliamentarians to get amendments and legislation through and systematic dumping of two or three hundred page omnibus bills in the the House of Commons. Then there was fairly systematic recourse to the “guillotine”, as we say in parliamentary procedure, meaning that parliamentarians were not able to speak to and address their constituents' concerns on the floor of the House of Commons.
Those days seem almost quaint now. The offence we took at the Harper government's use of 200 page budget omnibus bills, the dumping of a whole range of unrelated factors into omnibus legislation and forcing it through the House of Commons in a week or two, seem almost quaint now as we come into 2018, almost 2019. I say this because of what the Liberal government has done instead of keeping its commitments to make parliamentarians get back to the work we are paid and asked to do on behalf of Canadians, to scrutinize and improve legislation, to work through and hear witnesses and make sure that everything that we pass through the House is the best possible legislation and does what it is purported to do.
Instead of putting back in place a Parliament that would function well, one where there was consultation with opposition parties, what we have seen saw from the has been a doubling down. I will come back to that later in my speech, because what we have seen over the last few months in particular really goes to the character of the government and the Prime Minister and .
Bill is the living embodiment of everything that has gone wrong with the government over the last three years. Despite the high promise and firm commitment by the Liberals before they came to Parliament, three years later we now see in Bill C-86 another example of how the government is no different from the government before it, but even worse in many respects. Instead of 200 or 300 page omnibus budget implementation bills that throw everything but the kitchen sink into one piece of legislation, we now have almost 900 pages, and with Bill C-86, some seven stand-alone pieces of legislation being included.
Instead of having the week or two of parliamentary scrutiny that we had under the Harper regime, which in itself was inadequate, we now have one or two days of consideration before the bulldozer is brought in and parliamentary rights and privileges are simply pushed aside. Instead of the government's being willing to accept the expert testimony of witnesses and to work with opposition parties to improve legislation, we see a government that is purporting to push legislation through that it knows is inadequate and will lead to court challenges.
That is the sad case with Bill . Under the Harper regime it happened half a dozen times. The Conservative government rammed legislation through the House after a week or two of consideration, knowing that ultimately it would be decided in the courts. Half a dozen times the courts rejected the legislation because it was so shoddily made, because the government refused to hear from witnesses.
Bill has not been adopted yet, but the government is indicating, with all of its strength, that it will refuse to heed any advice or counsel that would improve this legislation in any way. The Liberals say they are just going to force it through, and we know now that women will be forced to return to the courts on the pay equity issue. It is a sad commentary that a government that knows that what it is doing is bad is relying on spin over substance. The Liberals have been saying in the House that they have brought forward pay equity legislation. The fact that it is full of flaws, the fact that witnesses identified the flaws, and the fact that the NDP systematically brought forward amendments that would fix the flaws so that we would have solid pay equity legislation are all tossed aside.
The government feels that spinning the point that it has put forward pay equity legislation will override the sad substance of what is in Bill as currently constituted. This will force women back to the courts again so that they can get the right of equal pay for work of equal value. It is incredible that a government would do that. It really beggars belief that a government that knows that what it is doing is wrong still intends to do it anyway, because its members think they can spin their way out of it.
That is why I say that is the living embodiment of the dashed illusions and dashed hopes of Canadians, who back in 2015 were quite enthusiastic about the government. They felt that the government would make a difference and that it would be a change from the Harper regime. Three years later, so many Canadians, including people in my riding who voted Liberal back in 2015 and were so enthusiastic, now only say that they might perhaps vote Liberal. The Liberals will say that in the opinion polls they are still doing well, but what they do not understand is that there is a difference in the strength of intensity of belief. The reality is that in the next few months there will be a debate on a whole range of government decisions, and the traditional Liberal sense of entitlement and arrogance that seems to have re-established itself after three brief years in power is going to encounter that reaction from Canadians.
Indeed, the living embodiment of Liberal broken promises contained within this massive budget, Bill , has planted the seeds of what could well be, in the coming 11 months, a strong reaction from Canadians that the government does not deserve another mandate. We do not want to go backwards to the Harper regime years, but Canadians, and certainly my constituents, feel tired of a government that makes promises and then promptly breaks them.
The biggest flaw with Bill is what is not in it and what could have been in it. I will include within that the mini budget that we heard last week, which was so out of touch with Canadian realities. It was so out of touch with Canadians struggling with profoundly deep debt loads, the the highest debt loads in our history and the highest debt loads of families in any industrialized country on this planet. Those debt loads were prompted by government policies over the last 30 or 40 years, the refusal to provide supports for affordable housing or pharmacare, the refusal to provide supports for families.
What we saw, both in Bill and the mini budget, was a cascade of money for corporate CEOs. The government seems unable and unwilling to address any of the concerns of regular folks right across the length and breadth of this land. To do a quick accounting, in just the last few months, the cascade of money includes $4.5 billion for an old leaky pipeline, twice its asset value. Despite that, the government did not flinch at throwing $4.5 billion into that purchase. Now we are seeing the construction costs of that pipeline again going up, being anywhere between $11 billion to $15 billion, but the government is not flinching. The does not even have a firm estimate of the costs. He is going with Kinder Morgan's estimate. That is most probably another $15 billion on top of the $4.5 billion.
In the mini budget last week, we saw $14 billion being given to corporate CEOs. The Liberal members will say that it is going to revitalize the economy, but when we look at the budget documents—because that is what we do in the NDP; we read through the documents—we see what the mini budget actually aimed to do was to accelerate tax writeoffs, so it included tax gifts for CEOs for very plush private jets and stretch limousines. I questioned Finance officials about this, because I wanted to be sure I understood it. I asked if a stretch limousine was covered by this accelerated writeoff, this big tax gift given by the Liberal government. They said it was. I asked if private jets were covered. They said yes. That is another $14 billion, and I am not even talking about the over $20 billion a year that goes to overseas tax havens.
Mr. Speaker, as you will recall, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is a hero, along with everyone else who works in that office, struggled for three years under the Harper regime, and another three years under the Liberal regime, before he was able to get the tax data that will allow us, for the very first time next spring, to have a conclusive and comprehensive evaluation of the amount of money that the wealthiest Canadians and Canada's most profitable corporations are squirrelling away offshore.
Small business owners, trades people and single mothers are paying their taxes, and Canadians are proud to do that because it is part of the character of our country that we provide for funds in common that are then to be invested to support all of us. However, that is not the way some of Canada's wealthiest and most profitable corporations have acted. The estimates go up to $20 billion, but the PBO could well find much more than that.
Let us do a quick accounting. We have $4.5 billion, another $15 billion, and another $14 billion on top of that. That is over $20 billion, and we are well over $50 billion without even pausing to take a breath or a sip of water.
What is not in Bill and not in the mini budget? Universal single-payer pharmacare was not in it. I have mentioned this before and I will mention it again. Every day, Parliamentarians pass Jim, begging on the bridge between the Chateau Laurier and the East Block. He is begging because there is no single-payer universal pharmacare system in our country. He has to beg for $500 a month. He lives on scant savings and a little money, but he has to beg so he can get the medication that keeps him alive.
Business owners pay $6 billion a year for drug plans, and yet we know that with our universal medicare program, that is a competitive advantage. That is $3,000 per employee per year, as a result of Canadian businesses not having to pay into the medical plans that American businesses have to pay into.
Pharmacare is a win-win for everyone, and the PBO indicated that it would be. It would represent $4 billion in savings overall for Canadians. However, there is nothing in Bill and nothing in the mini budget that addresses the crucial difficulties that people like Jim are facing. If any member of Parliament from the government side in any way is skeptical, they can just go to talk to Jim. He is out there now, begging for money so he can get the medication he needs to stay alive. It is incredible that in a wealthy country like this, a country where the Liberal government has been willing to fritter away $50 billion over the last few months with no hesitation, the government is unwilling to provide support for pharmacare.
Nothing in Bill addresses the housing crisis we are living in. It is incredible what Canadians are forced to live through in this housing crisis. Every time I mention housing, the Liberals start heckling and reacting very badly, but we are talking about real Canadians who are suffering profound difficulties.
I have spoken in the House about John, a senior who has ended up homeless and is in a homeless shelter now because of the lack of affordable housing in the country. I have talked about Heather. I have talked about Raj and Wade. I can mention so many stories.
Here is another one, and this comes from last night.
I turned left as I exited the Wellington Building last night and there was a woman, who I will call Yolande, sleeping outside under the canopy at the building. Every MP who left last night would have seen her. It twisted my gut to see her there. I am a parliamentarian. Despite the fact that there are 40 New Democrats here, we have been unable to get the Liberal government to understand there is a problem.
Canadians are getting increasingly frustrated with the Liberal government's inability to recognize that we are in a profound crisis. Thousands of Canadians are sleeping on the streets in our towns and cities. People like Yolande in Ottawa are sleeping under canopies. People are sleeping downtown on top of steam vents, or in parks, or in entryways of stores that have closed for the day. They are desperately seeking shelter for the night. That should not happen in a country as wealthy as Canada, full stop. Nothing in Bill addresses the profound crisis we are living through.
Nothing in Bill addresses the profound crisis in our education system for indigenous children who are underfunded and are living in appalling conditions. They go to schools that belie belief. The average is $6,500 to $10,000 less per student per year for students in an indigenous school as opposed to kids in other schools. Nothing in Bill C-86 addresses that at all.
It is not just the Liberals approach in Bill . It is not just the glaring misplaced sense of priorities. It is the fact that witnesses have said, as they did with pay equity, that the bill needs to be improved otherwise women will have to go back to court. It is a sense from the Liberal government that it will not change it, that it does not care.
That is the biggest part of my profound disappointment, after three years of the Liberal government. I have a profound of sense of disappointment in the lack of an understanding of priorities, the sense of entitlement that somehow being able to spin words and say that pay equity is in the bill is the most important thing, not whether it is done right, not whether women have to return to court. It is the Liberals overall overall sense that it is fine, because they can spin it and tell everybody that they put equity legislation through, regardless of whether women have to go back to court or not.
It is like the excise tax that was imposed on medical cannabis users. The Liberals were stunned when I started to ask questions about it. Finance ministry officials had to look into it and realized that the excise tax had been imposed on medical cannabis users, 250,000 Canadians who need medical cannabis for pain management. They are often in intense pain.
We tried to fix that last spring and the Liberals said, no. They did not care. We tried to fix it again last week in Bill , and Liberal members again rejected the amendments on eliminating the excise tax on medical cannabis, as they did with every other amendment that came from the opposition. This means that medical cannabis users join other Canadians who cannot afford their medication. It is just a lack of empathy, full stop.
I understand the comes from a life of privilege as does the . I do not begrudge them that and I do not think any Canadian would. However, it is the lack of empathy, the lack of understanding of how their policies are making, demonstrably, the lives of so many Canadians worse that I and the rest of my party decry.
Bill could have been improved. It should have had other measures that addressed the concerns of Canadians. Because it does not, I will be voting against it.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to talk about the importance of the intellectual property strategy.
From the beginning, our government has always worked to strengthen Canada's IP laws.
IP incentivizes and rewards intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields, and it is essential to a modern and dynamic economy. In fact, I would argue that it is a fundamental asset of the knowledge economy. IP protections act as an incentive by rewarding creators and inventors for their contribution to the economy in our society. IP enables them to profit from their ideas and their creativity and provides them a mechanism to obtain a return on their investments. IP laws achieve this by granting them exclusive rights, thereby preventing others from making, selling or using the fruits of their labour without their permission.
In addition, the use of IP is correlated with positive economic outcomes. Businesses with a solid understanding of IP and a strong, strategic plan for its use and protection are important contributors to the Canadian economy. In fact, these businesses create jobs that pay, on average, 16% more than businesses with little or no IP. Also, businesses using IP in patent-intensive industries have about eight to 10 times more revenue than those not using IP.
Canada's laws cover many forms of intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, industrial designs and copyrights. Following on budget 2017's commitment, budget 2018 proposes $85.3 million over five years and $10.1 million on an ongoing basis for measures in support of a new intellectual property strategy.
In April 2018, on World IP Day, our government officially launched the IP strategy that will help solidify investments in creativity and innovation, support our efforts to create high-quality jobs and enhance the understanding of the elements necessary to succeed in the global, modern economy.
The IP strategy is an important element of the innovation and skills plan, by fostering an ecosystem that enables businesses to grow to scale. The strategy will ensure that Canadian firms have the awareness and incentive to strategically use IP to grow and compete. The elements of the IP strategy fall under three strategic pillars: the need to increase IP awareness, education and advice; the provision of strategic IP tools for growth; and legislative amendments.
A number of initiatives are under way and planned under the first pillar of IP awareness, education and advice. Most notably is that the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, CIPO, will continue to build on current learning tools and resources and also develop new educational resources to better equip innovators and businesses with the knowledge they need to succeed. Its teams of IP advisers located across Canada work directly with companies and innovators to deliver seminars and participate in innovation and business-related events.
We will be conducting an IP awareness and use survey to identify how Canadians understand and use IP, including groups that have traditionally been less likely to use IP, such as women and indigenous entrepreneurs. The results of the survey will help better meet the needs of these groups.
We will support increased engagement between indigenous people and policy-makers both domestically and internationally by providing support for this engagement, for research and for capacity-building.
We will encourage the creation of IP legal clinics by providing funding to help clinics obtain resources and tools to improve the quality of prior art searches. We see IP legal clinics as a win-win-win, enabling law students to learn more about IP, helping businesses get a sense of their IP needs and facilitating access to the profession that can provide quality IP advice.
Finally, there will be a new team of dedicated IP experts working through existing federal programs to ensure that Government of Canada program officers have the knowledge and capacity to address IP issues and guide program recipients to improve their IP knowledge and savvy. These advisers will supplement, rather than replace, existing IP professionals.
The second pillar of the IP strategy provides some tools to help Canadian businesses make the most of their new-found awareness of IP. First, one of the recurring issues that we heard during the consultation process was the lack of visibility of IP held by federal public institutions and institutions of higher learning. To this end, the IP strategy includes a new online IP marketplace designed to help surface dormant IP that was funded by public institutions.
We also heard about the time that it can take to resolve IP disputes and to get a ruling on a new copyright tariff. We all know that time is money. The IP strategy includes additional resources for the Federal Court to assist in the management of complex litigation, as well as a reform of the Copyright Board.
The additional fiscal support for the Copyright Board and accompanying legislation will make it more efficient and effective. These changes will help rights holders who now better understand the value of the IP they hold by reducing the time they spend fighting over their IP and more time monetizing it.
Canadian technology is cutting edge and should be recognized as such more often. The IP strategy will support enhanced participation of Canadian businesses in the standards-setting process, and encourage the inclusion of Canadian innovations in international standards.
The Standards Council of Canada will work with innovative Canadian companies to leverage their IP during this standards-setting process.
Finally, the last tool will be the development of a patent collective to bring together businesses to facilitate IP outcomes for its members. The patent collective is the coming together of firms to share in IP expertise and strategy, including but not limited to gaining access to a larger collection of patents and IP.
The third pillar involves proposed amendments to key IP laws, notably the Patent Act, the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act. The proposed amendments are intended to encourage creation and innovation by either clarifying acceptable behaviours or discouraging actions that have possible negative consequences. The proposed amendments would protect consumers by clarifying that notices that include settlement offers or payment demands do not comply with Canada's copyright notice and notice regime. They would also fulfill the earlier objective of expediting IP disputes by making the Copyright Board's decision-making process more efficient.
Proposed amendments to the Trademarks Act would prevent the abusive use of the trademark regime, such as by applying for registration with the sole intention of seeking remuneration from the legitimate owner of the trademark by creating—
To continue, being the chair of the industry committee, we had lots of conversations with our witnesses. Universities were saying they had a lot of great practices. Businesses were saying that finding access to IP was very challenging.
One of the initiatives that we introduced earlier this year was the $950-million supercluster initiative. Part of that supercluster initiative is having academia and industry come together, to work together, to create jobs and economy, but also to share the intellectual property that is sometimes locked away in places that will never see the light of day.
It is important if we want to grow our economy and if we want to create jobs, to have intellectual property accessible not only to academia but to businesses as well.
When we look at how we are moving forward and the investments we are making, it is so critical that we create an environment where all of our businesses and academia can work together, so that they can thrive and build the economy and grow good, well-paying jobs.
When we look at B.C., for instance, we have the digital supercluster that was awarded to British Columbia. B.C. is already at the forefront of digital media and IP is so critical. When we look at the economic tables, we can tell that currently on digital health care products, our revenues are about half a per cent or about $7 billion. By 2020, it is estimated that the digital health care marketplace in the world will be about $322 billion.
We are trying to create an environment where we get the best minds, the best people, the best research and the best companies that can work together to put us at the forefront of that marketplace. That is where we want to be. Do we want to be behind the eight ball, or do we want to be in front, leading the charge?
We are attracting the best and brightest minds here in Canada. This is what a government should be doing, to be able to lay out the environment where we can all thrive. We heard from all of our witnesses that it is so critically important that we have a national IP strategy and what is proposed in this budget is going to help address those issues. The $85 million over a five-year term will help to grow the landscape of intellectual property and help educate people so that they have an understanding of what that means.
If they do not know what kind of intellectual property is out there, people either have to reinvent the wheel or they have to go through an expensive process. The more we can share intellectual property, the easier it becomes because then they can license it for a short period of time, which allows them to move faster and create the products necessary to grow our economy.
When it comes to intellectual property, we have to look at those three pillars and education is absolutely critical. We need to be able to help people understand the ins and outs of intellectual property.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to speak to the government's budget implementation bill. It is a very long bill, unprecedented in its length in terms of Canadian parliamentary history, despite promises to the contrary from the government.
There are many different aspects and themes that one could dig into. I am going to focus my remarks on what I see as five dominant debates that have emerged around this budget. I will share some thoughts on each of those five areas.
I want to speak about the government's carbon tax and associated debates about the issue of climate change and how we should respond.
I want to address deficits. The current government's massive deficit is relatively without precedent in peacetime and in times without a global economic downturn.
I want to discuss some of the debates around poverty, equity and how we can and should be responding to those very real issues.
I will speak about the energy sector and pipelines.
Finally, I want to address the government's media bailout. It has been interesting observing the debate around the media bailout and having conversations with the people I know in the press. I will contend very strongly that our position, opposing the bailout, is the fundamentally pro-media position. We recognize the importance of strong, independent media, and there is a legitimate discussion about what can be done that establishes conditions for the financial success of the media.
However, the way in which the government has approached this, whereby the media are dependent on the evaluations of a government-appointed panel, makes the media very vulnerable in terms of perceptions of lacking independence. They will be vulnerable to the kinds of challenges that naturally arise when they have been put in a position of having to come to a government-appointed body for dollars. I will speak more to that in a few minutes.
The first issue I want to address is that of the carbon tax. We have a government that does not want to have a debate around the effectiveness of the carbon tax as a tool. The Liberals will accuse anybody who does not agree with their chosen policy mechanism of somehow being not serious about responding to the challenge of climate change.
I sincerely believe that we need to respond to the challenge of climate change, and that we need to do it in a way that is effective, which means not using the climate change issue as an excuse for imposing new taxes on Canadians. Let me make a few points about that.
The first point is a historical one. Let us look at the records of the past Conservative government and the current Liberal one, as well as at the record of the previous Liberal government, by way of a contrast.
A previous Liberal government, under Chrétien and Martin, signed the Kyoto protocol, yet greenhouse gas emissions went up significantly during that period. Our Conservative government proposed binding, sector-by-sector, intensity-based regulatory targets. In other words, they did not penalize companies for increasing their output, but sought to regulate in a way that enhanced the efficiency of our production here in Canada.
In the long term, those kinds of measures would ensure and indeed increase our competitiveness. They would also ensure that we were part of effectively responding to the challenge of climate change.
The objective record of greenhouse gas emissions under the previous government shows that emissions went down. It was the first government in Canadian history under which emissions went down. In response to that, people like my friend from will praise the record of the Kathleen Wynne Liberals, which is not as popular in Ontario as he might wish it to be.
However, across different jurisdictions we see that in every single Canadian jurisdiction, emissions under the Conservative government either went down, or they went up by less than they had under the previous Liberal government. Although the member for Spadina—Fort York might not want it to be true, he must recognize that under the previous Conservative government, progress was achieved in terms of the issue of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in every single jurisdiction across this country.
That was done with an approach that emphasized binding sector-by-sector regulations but also ensured that individuals had the capital they needed to make investments in these kinds of improvements.
Rather than a punitive approach, like the carbon tax which punishes people, we had things like the home renovation tax credit, which ensured that people who wanted to make energy innovation investments in their own homes had the tax advantage in the process of doing so. That empowered people to engage with an issue that I think many people want to engage with, rather than the punitive approach adopted by the Liberal government.
What have we seen from the government? Upon taking office, the Liberals decided they would take the punitive approach, that they would impose new taxes on Canadians. Make no mistake that this approach is designed to raise revenue for the federal government. The GST is consistently being charged on top of the carbon tax. The GST, as everyone knows, is a federal tax. The imposition of the carbon tax in association with the GST means that this tax is designed to and will increase revenues for the federal government.
It is a punitive approach. It is a negative approach. It is a taxation-oriented revenue approach that is imposed on all Canadians. Because it is a point-of-sale tax, it is particularly regressive. We know that consumption taxes are more likely to hit those who are struggling economically. Even the natural regressivity of a sales tax was not enough for the government, which decided on top of that to provide an additional benefit for Canada's largest emitters.
It makes one wonder how sincere the government is in its rhetoric. The Liberals will extol the virtues of a carbon tax, yet they give a break to the largest emitters. The Liberals say these large emitters will really struggle to pay the carbon tax and it might hurt us economically. However, they are completely indifferent to the suffering this imposes on small and medium-sized businesses and to the suffering this imposes on individual consumers.
It especially hurts low-income people. Without the benefit of things like the home renovation tax credit, without some of the positive, constructive policies we had in place before and without things like the transit tax credit, which was an environmental measure that benefited people who were using public transit, without those kinds of measures, we are in a situation under this government where many people may not be able to make those kinds of investments that would allow them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
This underlines the failure of a punitive approach instead of a constructive approach. Our party believes that through constructive regulations and supporting innovation and not through punishing people we can work collaboratively for environmental improvements that do not hurt the economy. That is what we saw previously.
I would just note parenthetically that whenever we talk about the issue of how greenhouse gas emissions went down under the previous government, members on the other side will always say that was only because of the global recession. However, they never bring up the global recession in the context of deficits, which I will talk about next. When they want to complain about the fact that deficits were run under the previous government, they mysteriously forget that there was a global recession, but then when they are trying to explain away the real progress that was made under the previous government on the issue of greenhouse gas emissions, they are happy to talk about the fact that there was a global economic downturn.
The reality is that Canada was relatively less affected by the global economic downturn because of prudent policies that were pursued by the previous government in the lead-up to that. Canada was relatively less affected and our emissions still went down; whereas other parts of the world were more affected and yet global emissions went up. It is simply not logical to say that greenhouse gas emissions went down only because of the global economic downturn, because Canada was outperforming the rest of the world in terms of environmental improvements as well as the economic situation relative to the rest of the world. That very much contrasts with what we see under the Liberal government.
I want to speak now to the discussion about deficits. Let us be very clear that we are dealing with a significant dissonance between what the government promised in the last election and what it is saying today.
The government promised three deficits which would be a maximum of $10 billion and then in the final fiscal year, which is the one upcoming, the budget would be balanced. However, the government has articulated absolutely no plan to balance the budget ever.
It is great to see young people watching the debate today. I know they will have to pay for the spending of the government long into their future, as a result of the fact that the government has no plan to balance the budget and is spending money today that those young people will have to pay back tomorrow. At the very least, it is a broken promise.
How do members of the government respond to the reality that they broke a promise? The previous speaker, the member for , talked about when they came into office, they started to take a look at the situation. Maybe the Liberals should have started to take a look at the situation before they wrote their platform. The fiscal situation is quite clear in the reports coming out from the government, in terms of all the financial data that is publicly available. It is not as if there is any surprise in the fiscal situation.
The made commitments that he said were set in stone, yet he broke those commitments as soon as he came to office. The Liberals have to explain why they brought one spending plan to Canadians in the election and delivered a completely different spending plan as soon as they were elected to government. Beyond the question of broken promises, it is hard for me to understand how anyone who claims to care about their children and the next generation would impose on them the burden of paying for the benefits we enjoy today, plus interest.
Sometimes we hear members across the way raise the spectre of austerity. Let us be clear that the worst cases of austerity are those that we have seen in countries which have had no choice as a result of a debt crisis. When governments spend without a plan of ever balancing the budget, it causes a situation where the most severe form of austerity is forced on them whether they like it or not. What goes up ultimately must come down.
What we advocate then is having a plan to control spending, that is, to moderate the growth of spending in such a way as to balance the budget, not to dramatically increase spending beyond government revenue. It is a little bit absurd to suggest that any call for spending control or any call for balance will somehow be austere. It is a grievous misuse of the word “austerity”, as if to imply that we only have two choices, austerity on the one hand or out-of-control spending on the other. I actually think we can pursue a middle way, which is prudent measured spending that recognizes fiscal realities, while still investing as much as possible in the future in social programs but in a way that ensures that those social programs will be sustainable.
Members across the way know that if one spends consistently more than one has, or makes promises as the Kathleen Wynne Liberals did that are completely unbudgeted with no plan to pay for them, then yes, people are going to be disappointed when those things cannot be delivered. However, it is a result of overspending. It is a result of out-of-control debt and deficits. Then subsequent generations will have to pay not only for their own needs, but they will also have to pay down the debt and interest on the consumption of previous generations.
We propose a fiscal policy that avoids the need to pay massive interest and instead is prudent and measured. It is one in which when we make spending commitments to people, we do so in the context of a balanced budget so that they can have the certainty that those programs will be there for the future.
What we see from the Liberal government are these branded plans, these national strategies that often involve most of the spending in the latter years of those programs, but they have no realistic fiscal plan of actually delivering on. It is a grievous problem. It is one that will negatively affect the next generation and the most vulnerable. Inevitably, the government is promising things that it will not be able to deliver. I think that is a good segue into making a few comments about the government's approach to the issue of poverty.
The budget implementation act proposes to legislate goals, legislate the hopes and aspirations of policy-makers. Might I humbly submit, that is not going to provide very much confidence and reassurance to those who are living in poverty. What makes much more sense are concrete policies that would benefit the most vulnerable.
I have already spoken about how the carbon tax disproportionately impacts those who are most vulnerable in terms of being forced to pay more and not getting the same holidays that the large emitters get.
The government legislates goals. It spends half a million dollars developing a logo for an anti-poverty organization, yet it does not pursue the kinds of policies that we pursued that help the most vulnerable.
With respect to homelessness, the Conservatives invested significantly in housing first. We raised the base personal exemption and lowered the lowest marginal tax rate. We also cut the GST, which is the one tax that everybody pays.
Our approach was to recognize the need to help the most vulnerable but also to understand that helping the most vulnerable should not be an excuse to increase the size of government. Big government does not benefit those who need help the most. Constantly growing government benefits well-connected insiders, as we have seen consistently from the policies of the Liberal government.
The Liberal government could consider following the positive track record of the previous government. It could provide tax relief through raising the base personal exemption, through lowering the lowest marginal rate, through cutting the GST, through providing relief on the carbon tax to those who need that support the most.
There is nothing progressive about the government's approach to policy which gives huge amounts of money in corporate welfare, in payouts to companies like Bombardier. Bombardier even said it did not need the money, and then used some of that money to give benefits to its executives.
Nothing helps the most vulnerable when the government subsidizes CEOs through policies like the supercluster. Instead we could have a competitive tax regime. We could cut taxes for the most vulnerable. We could establish the conditions by which people could keep more of their own money and use more of their own money to meet their own needs.
Instead, the government uses climate change, uses poverty, uses whatever excuse it can come up with as part of its insatiable plan to increase the size of government and to increase government spending.
I am going to try to hit my last two points in the brief time I have left.
When it comes to our energy resources, the government spent a huge amount of public money to buy a pipeline with no plan to get that pipeline built. Under the previous government, four pipelines were built, some of which did increase our ability to move resources to tidewater.
The government has no plan to proceed with pipelines. It brings in legislation like Bill and Bill that would significantly hurt our ability to move forward in terms of pipelines, while, through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, it is paying a Chinese-controlled bank, an instrument of Chinese foreign policy, to build pipelines overseas. Its justification is that Canadian firms might get some of that work.
I have visited the headquarters of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing. It told us that regardless of whether Canada is a member of that bank or not, Canadian firms would still have the same ability to bid for work through that bank.
This talking point for justifying sending hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars to China to build pipelines in Azerbaijan and other places instead of building pipelines here by getting out of the way of the private sector holds absolutely no water.
Finally, on the point of the independence of the media, $600 million of taxpayers' money is going to a bailout of the media. Leading voices in the media have talked about how problematic this would be, because in order for the media to be strong, independence of the media is required. It also requires the perception of independence.
Journalists recognize that the perception of government handing over significant amounts of money through a process that fundamentally can be controlled by government makes them so much more vulnerable to misperceptions and criticism. We need to have media that are independent of government and that can do their job well.
This is an attack on the independence of the media through the government's attempt to control the process of allocation of funds. It is a significant threat to the media's independence more so than we have seen in the recent history of this country and more so certainly than the odd verbal criticism here and there.
For these and many other reasons that I do not have time to go into because it is such a large bill, I will be opposing this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for .
Before I start, I want to say that this could very easily be a great day for indigenous people in Canada, because just after 3 p.m., if things go according to Hoyle, which sometimes does not happen in this Parliament, there will be a discussion on the use of aboriginal languages in the House. It would be a great sign of reconciliation for indigenous youth to see their indigenous languages used at the centre of our democracy and nation. Therefore, I look forward to that discussion and hope everyone else does as well.
My speech today is on a topic that has come up quite often during this debate, which is omnibus bills. I will explain the technical aspects and how they work for new members of Parliament and new senators. Therefore, if members are not interested in hearing about the Standing Orders and how an omnibus bill works, they can go for lunch.
Since 1888 in Parliament there was no description or definition of omnibus bills until the recent government came to power. There were accusations of legislation being abused to do too many things or more than one major thing in a bill. An example would be a budget bill with a lot of clauses and things related to the environment that are unrelated to the budget speech. This was seen to be an abuse of a bill, or what some people called an “omnibus bill”. This was viewed as unacceptable.
In the last campaign, our party made a suggestion to remove the potential for such abuse by making a change with respect to that. On June 20, 2017, we made that correction so that people could no longer bring forth bills, in the general course of Parliament, that aimed to do a lot of things, or at least more than one thing, or to bring forth a budget implementation bill containing things that were not at all related to the budget. The way we fulfilled that promise was by adding Standing Order 69.1 to the Standing Orders, which we in the House, here in Parliament, approved.
There are two subsections in the new standing order. The first subsection is with respect to the general course of bringing forward legislation. Subsection 69.1(1) states:
In the case where a government bill seeks to repeal, amend or enact more than one act, and where there is not a common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked, the Speaker shall have the power to divide the questions, for the purposes of voting, on the motion for second reading and reference to a committee and the motion for third reading and passage of the bill. The Speaker shall have the power to combine clauses of the bill thematically and to put the aforementioned questions on each of these groups of clauses separately, provided that there will be a single debate at each stage.
That is how that was dealt with. Not only was that promise kept, but subsequently, use of that section has been requested at least twice. I will cite the two examples. On June 11, 2018, it was used with regard to a bill relating to national security, which the Speaker split into three votes. On October 31, 2017, a request for use of this new provision, which protects against abusive use of omnibus bills, was proposed for a corrections bill. However, the Speaker ruled that the items were related, and the bill was not split for the purpose of a vote.
The second potential use of an omnibus bill is with respect to a budget bill.
Those who understand legislation know that we have a budget speech, but, of course, that is not the law. We need a budget implementation bill to actually bring into force what is in the speech. As I have said, the Liberals thought there was an abuse of power in using that budget implementation speech to do a bunch of major, serious things that were not limited to the budget. Therefore, they wanted to remove that potential for abuse.
Standing Order 69.1(2), entitled “Budget implementation bills” reads:
(2) The present Standing Order shall not apply if the bill has as its main purpose the implementation of a budget and contains only provisions that were announced in the budget presentation or in the documents tabled during the budget presentation.
Budgets, as members know, often deal with the spending for dozens of departments. That is what a budget does. A budget implementation bill has to implement all of those things, and so it could be very long. It could be 1,000 or 2,000 or 3,000 pages. It is whatever it takes to implement what is in the budget.
Most parliamentarians would suggest that more changes to improve things in Canada would obviously make a longer bill. Whether we reduce, increase or modify expenditures, it would have to be put into the implementation bill. Therefore, the length is not relevant, unless we go off-course from what is in the budget. It could be very long, but the key is whether there is abuse, or doing something major that is not in the budget.
Standing Order 69.1(2) makes sure that we can do a budget, but it gives authority to the Speaker to split things out that were not in the budget or in the documents tabled with the budget. Therefore, in both ways, this promise was obviously fulfilled. Provisions were made to stop the abuse that was thought to be occurring on budget bills, as well as abuse in the general course of doing legislation.
In the second case, I will give members an example. Not only has this been put in place and now legislated, but it is part of the Standing Orders approved by this Parliament, and Standing Order 69.1(2) has actually been used as well since that time. It was used at least once, on November 3, 2017. The Speaker split that budget bill into five votes, because there were items that were not in that particular budget. If I remember correctly, although the Standing Order says that an item must be in the budget, the items had been in a previous budget. The Speaker did not agree to this. He then split that vote. Therefore, this provision allows the Speaker to split the bill, and it has been used.
As I said, there were no provisions for this type of protection previously, but I think it makes our legislative system better. Even with normal legislation, we cannot put a whole bunch of things in one bill that are totally unrelated. A budget bill can be really long, but it cannot include things that are not in the budget documents or in the budget speech.
Since 1888, there had been no provision to protect against this in Parliament. There were times when bills were split, but it was done through politics and not through the Standing Orders. Members may remember the great bell-ringing exercise on March 2, 1982, which convinced parliamentarians to change and split a bill, but it was not done under the authority of any Standing Order.
I just wanted to clarify and get this on the record so that people know how these types of bills get split or not, and what is more appropriate to try and improve the legislation in this Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to Bill , the budget implementation act, 2018, no. 2, and particularly to speak to division 18, which would establish the department for women and gender equality, or WAGE for short. Creating the department for women and gender equality would modernize and formalize the important roles of the Status of Women Canada agency and of its minister and provide a secure base from which to reinforce and expand the work that Status of Women Canada has been doing for decades.
Canada has had a minister responsible for status of women since 1971, but it was only under our that the first minister fully dedicated to status of women was appointed. Since its early days as an agency, Status of Women Canada has grown into a centre of gender expertise. It has led the way in areas such as gender-based research and gendered policy development and analysis, as well as intergovernmental coordination and international leadership on gender issues.
Through its women's program, the agency has also led the way in providing funding support for equality-seeking organizations across the country that work at increasing women's economic security and prosperity, encouraging women's leadership and democratic participation, and ending violence against women and girls.
Our government has made gender equality one of its top priorities. Transforming Status of Women Canada into a full department reflects the central importance this government places on gender equality. Gender equality, we know, is not a women's issue; it is an issue for everyone. If we get this right, we all benefit. This is not just a philosophical or theoretical observation; it is based on our actual economic performance.
Labour force participation rates of women have grown tremendously over the past few decades from just 22% in 1950 to well over 80% today. Bringing more women into the workforce has been one of the most powerful drivers of our economic growth. In fact, increasing numbers of women in the workforce over the last 40 years has accounted for approximately one-third of the per capita growth in Canada's real gross domestic product. Having more women in the workforce has not only opened up new doors of opportunities for women; it has also driven economic growth, boosted family incomes, and helped more and more families join the middle class. Canada today is a much richer, healthier and more equitable country than it was just a few decades ago.
Despite our progress, that door of opportunity is not yet fully opened. There are still too many barriers to the full participation of women. There are still too many missed opportunities caused by gender gaps in a number of different areas, including education and career options, economic participation and leadership. For example, there is still a substantial gender wage gap in this country. In Canada in 2017, for every dollar a man earned, a woman earned only 88.5¢. This does not tell the whole story because many more women than men work only part-time, largely due to the fact that many women cannot take on full-time employment because of household and family-care responsibilities.
Key sectors in our economy that represent high-quality and well-paid jobs, like the high-tech sector where women make up only a quarter of the workforce, have major labour shortages. We have heard that in the House. We are working to remove barriers to women's participation in these fields so we can fill those jobs and, in doing so, grow our economy and our middle class.
Increasing our efforts to remove barriers and enhance gender equality in this country is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do to strengthen the middle class and grow Canada's economy. In fact, RBC Economics estimates that if men and women participated equally in the workforce, Canada's GDP could be boosted by as much as 4% more over the next few years and could partially offset the expected effects of an aging population.
How do we get there from here? For one thing, we start with the basics: budgets. Budgets are about making choices on where we allocate limited resources. Putting a gender and diversity lens on budgeting gives us the ability to understand how our economic decisions affect people differently. When we know that, we can allocate government resources more equitably and more efficiently, benefiting all Canadians.
We presented our first-ever gender statement in a budget in 2017. We are now introducing a new gender results framework, which is a whole-of-government tool to measure how we are doing and to help define what is needed to achieve gender equality as we go forward.
At the same time, we recognize that gender identities are complex. Not all women experience inequality and not all men experience privilege. Binary notions of gender do not work for all Canadians. Race, class, sexuality and ability among other factors all intersect to profoundly impact how gender is experienced in daily life.
With this legislation, promoting gender equality and the advancement of women, including women with disabilities, indigenous women and women in other vulnerable areas such as newcomer and immigrant women, will continue to be the central focus of the new department for women and gender equality. However, the new department will also have an expanded mandate for gender equality, which includes sexual orientation as well as gender identity and expression in response to the unique challenges faced by members of the LGBTQ2 community.
Our government will not shy away from taking strong action on equality, from appointing the first-ever gender balanced federal cabinet, to the first federal minister fully dedicated to gender issues, to the first gender budget launching Canada's first-ever strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence and unparalleled investments in women and girls. Our government is advancing gender equality within Canada and around the world.
Our government understands that gender equality creates economic growth and with the department of women and gender equality wage, we will strengthen our capacity to advance gender equality and grow the middle class through policy, programming and support for equality seeking organizations and community partners.
Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in this place on behalf of my constituents who sent me here to add my voice to the debate.
I would like to take us back to the election in 2015 and review the Liberals' proposition that they put to Canadians.
The Liberals campaigned on a very specific promise. They ran on a promise to run modest deficits for a maximum of three years and then return to a surplus within the fourth year of the mandate. That was a key promise. It was a point of differentiation between not only themselves and the Conservatives, but also between themselves and the New Democratic Party. Therefore, this was an important piece of the Liberal campaign and was part of the basis upon which they were elected. They have ignored the question of balanced budgets in this bill and continually in this Parliament.
I want to draw the attention of Canadians to the Liberal campaign document. It says, “Real Change: A New Plan for a Strong Middle Class”. There is a nice picture on page 11, with the pretending to operate a crane. On the next page, page 12, it says:
We will run modest short-term deficits of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years to fund historic investments in infrastructure and our middle class.
After the next two fiscal years, the deficit will decline and our investment plan will return Canada to a balanced budget in 2019.
The government took that message to the doors across Canada. It was part of a platform that every one of the Liberal members of Parliament signed on for and took to their constituents. We know they were successful with that message. They put it to Canadians that a small, modest, short-term deficit was necessary in order to fund infrastructure and that it would not be a structural deficit, or how they would fund ongoing program expenditure and general government bloat. They promised to build infrastructure with that deficit money and that the budget would then just balance itself.
Canadians were taken in by that Liberal promise, as well as many others that have been subsequently broken, like their promises on electoral reform, on military procurement, on access to information reform, on strengthening privacy protection, to never use time allocation, which they have done on this bill, and to never introduce omnibus legislation, which this bill is. I could go on.
However, the promise to not return Canada to the bad old days of structural deficits was a promise Canadians must have believed when they voted for the Liberals. I hope Canadians believed the Liberals. I hope Canadians have not become so cynical that they actually assumed the Liberals were lying when they promised a balanced budget. I presume Canadians took them at their word and believed they were planning to run modest deficits the first three years, with a return to balance in 2019.
Setting aside the question of credibility and cynicism in politics, why does this even matter?
The previous speaker told us at length why, suggesting that the Liberals could not balance the budge, that it was not all that important, that all these other things were much more important. However, it matters, because today's deficits will be paid for in the future by service cuts, or the expenditures they are proudly talking about undertaking in years to come will be paid by tax increases, or both. Structural deficits really are an exercise in taking away from the future in order to pay for today. It is intergenerational theft and Canadians do not support it.
Interest on the federal debt is expected to grow quickly to $37 billion per year, which is almost the amount the federal government transfers to the provinces for health care. Canadians would rather have health care than interest on debt. These deficits are extremely important to programs on which Canadians rely.
The might not be too concerned about deficits. The , as has been said by others before, is not concerned. He has never had to worry about money and so he does not worry about the money of Canadians.
Now that we are in the fourth year of this government, we still do not have a budget that has balanced itself, and the government has had all the good luck it possibly could have. It inherited a fiscal legacy that was the strongest in the G7, a legacy that was a product of the previous government's economic stewardship, which led Canada through the global economic crisis and its aftermath. It had that hard-won legacy that, admittedly, even previous Liberal governments had contributed to under successive finance ministers. However, it was especially Conservative finance minister Jim Flaherty who handed this a legacy that he has squandered. That is a fact. It is not a question for debate. The Liberals were left a balanced budget. The PBO confirmed that the government inherited a surplus that was quickly squandered through the immediate undertaking of additional expenses, pushing Canada into deficit.
The Liberals inherited much more than the sound fiscal management of the previous government, and to be fair, even the government before that. What they also inherited were rising commodity prices. Global commodities were at rock bottom when the government was sworn in, the price of oil, in particular, having collapsed during the last year of the previous government. Prices were at rock bottom and have been rising steadily since. They inherited a global economy that was on the brink of recession when they were elected and has been humming along strongly since. They inherited a booming American economy. They inherited low interest rates. They inherited a housing boom in Canada's two largest housing markets. None of these things were things they should have counted on, yet even with all these advantages, they have not been able to keep their own promise. Take away any one of these advantages, and their fiscal situation will deteriorate very quickly.
Rising interest rates will have a negative impact on Canadians who are already deeply in debt, and they will affect the government's budget as well. Government borrowing competes with private borrowing, driving up consumer interest rates and inflation. The government is not prepared for a shift to historically normal interest rates. Significant portions of the national debt will mature in the next few years, and the minister has not given sufficient answers as to how that would affect Canada's finances.
The end of the real estate boom may hurt economic activity in Toronto and Vancouver. That is going to be a factor in Canada's budget balance. A global recession, another collapse in commodity prices, protectionism or a future worldwide financial collapse, any of these things could happen at any time, and the government has squandered its fiscal capacity to deal with these things through its structural deficit, which it broke a promise to create.
There is nothing in the budget implementation act to address the deficit. There is also nothing in it to get the Trans Mountain expansion built. There is nothing in it to address the flight of capital from Canada. There is nothing in the bill that would give comfort to the thousands of auto workers in Oshawa who have just lost their jobs or the tens of thousands more who are likely worrying that they are next.
There is nothing in the bill to give relief to Canadians concerned about whether they would be able to afford basic necessities that would be made more expensive by the government's carbon tax, even as chosen industrial emitters would be exempted and others would merely be chased out of the country.
The budget implementation act would do nothing to help strengthen the middle class. In fact, it would do quite the opposite. It telegraphs a future of deficits, debt and capital flight, which would lead to further job losses.
The other thing is that the budget implementation act would not get any energy products to market, as others on this side have suggested. The Liberals promised that TMX would be under construction by this past summer. The summer has come and gone. The money has gone to Texas. There is no pipeline, and that will continue to exacerbate the price discount on Alberta oil, which is threatening to expand and make it more difficult for this government, or a future government, to balance the budget.
With that, I am very disappointed with the act, and I will not be supporting the bill.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour today to participate in this debate on the budget implementation act for another budget by this government, and another progressive opportunity to advance many of the important social initiatives we are seeking to undertake to grow this country and make Canada an even better place to live, invest and work, as we move further forward into the 21st century. Today, I am going to talk about a couple of the elements in this budget that are particularly interesting and important, namely pay equity, the Canada workers benefit and our poverty reduction strategy. I also want to take a bit of time toward the end of my remarks to talk about the price on pollution and how I see that as contributing to our overall economic objectives in this country.
First, pay equity is a great challenge that this country and indeed many parts of the western world, if not more than that, have faced and struggled with for many years. For decades now, we have been trying to wrap our heads around how we can combat this problem with the various different initiatives that have been brought forward. What we are seeing today, through this budget implementation act and this government's efforts, is a genuine and meaningful attempt to make real change.
The new act would require that federal public and private sector employers who have 10 or more employees establish and maintain a pay equity plan within the set time frames so as to identify and correct differences in compensation between predominantly female and predominantly male job classes for which work of equal value is performed.
The new act also provides for the powers, duties and functions of the pay equity commissioner, which include facilitating the resolution of disputes; conducting compliance audits and investigating disputes, objections and complaints; as well as making orders and imposing administrative monetary penalties for violations of the act. The new act would also require the pay equity commissioner to report annually to Parliament on the administration and enforcement of the new act.
Equal pay for work of equal value is the smart thing to do. As we are seeing, this is not just about doing what is right; this is about creating a policy that will also better enrich our economy. As we heard earlier from one of the parliamentary secretaries, by properly allowing for and making sure that pay equity is enforced so that women are receiving equal pay for equal work, we actually will have the potential to grow the GDP of this country by up to 4%. We think of the staggering effects that would have, especially for a country that already leads the G7 in gross domestic product growth.
Regarding the Canada workers benefit, part 1 of the act would implement certain income-tax-related measures to ensure that an individual who is eligible to receive a Canada workers benefit could receive that benefit without having to claim it. These changes would allow the Canada Revenue Agency to calculate the Canada workers benefit for any taxpayer who has not claimed that benefit. This means that Canadians who qualify for the benefit would automatically be enrolled, thereby ensuring that no worker is left behind. As we have seen, budget 2018 would also revamp the Canada workers benefit by an additional $500 million per year starting in 2019. Therefore, what we are seeing here is an opportunity to make sure that processes are in place so that each individual who qualifies for this Canada workers benefit would automatically start to receive it. People would not have to go through filing the paperwork, and the hurdles and potentially the red tape involved. Rather than spending their time dealing with those constraints and things that can slow their ability to be out there looking for new employment and new opportunities, we are suggesting that this should be, writ large, something the everyone is entitled to. After all, just because individuals might not have the resources or know how to go about accessing a benefit or, for that matter, even know that it exists, that should not preclude their being able to properly get what they rightfully deserve. That is what this part of the legislation seeks to improve.
For 2019, the Canada workers benefit would be equal to 26% of each dollar earned in income in excess of $3,000, to a maximum benefit of $1,355 for single individuals without dependants and $2,355 for families, couples and single parents.
The Canada workers benefit will put more money in the pockets of low-income workers and deliver real help to more than two million hard-working Canadians. These are people who need our help and who we come to this place to ensure they are taken care of. Therefore, I am delighted to see this new measure in the budget implementation act. it will automatically, by default, set in motion how people will access what they are rightfully entitled to through this program the government is offering.
We are also seeing in this budget implementation act a poverty reduction strategy, and in particular the setting of targets. I know there has been some criticism over the setting of targets in legislation. However, the reality is that if we are not continually setting out our objectives and then coming back to measure how we are completing and living up to those objectives, there is really no way of analyzing how effective we are. As a matter of fact, I would argue that these targets give the official opposition more ammunition to criticize a government if it is unable to meet them. Therefore, I think this is a very bold and important move not just to be able to hold future governments to account, but also to be able to assess how effective a government is at delivering various different programs and strategies, particularly as they relate to the poverty reduction strategy.
Let me talk a bit about what the strategy proposes. Division 21 of part 4 of the budget implementation act will enact the poverty reduction act, which sets out two targets for poverty reduction in Canada. This act in fact launches Canada's first-ever national poverty reduction strategy. The reason we need this is quite clear. Canada is a prosperous country, yet in 2015 roughly one out of every eight Canadians lived in poverty. Let us think about that for a second. In a country as rich as ours in terms of economic performance and resources, we should not be seeing one in every eight people in our country living in what we would consider to be poverty. The investments made since 2015 to support the social and economic well-being of all Canadians, as well as a new investment of $22 billion, will help lift 650,000 Canadians out of poverty by 2019, with more expected as the impacts of these investments are realized for years to come. This strategy sets new poverty reduction targets and establishes the federal government as a full partner in the fight against poverty.
The vision is clear. Canada's first-ever poverty reduction strategy is built on a vision that all Canadians should be able to live in dignity. All Canadians deserve to be treated fairly and have the means to meet their needs. Canada's first-ever poverty reduction strategy is built on the vision that all Canadians should have a sense of security and be hopeful that tomorrow will be a better day than today for them, their loved ones, and generations to come.
As I see that my remarks will likely run right up to question period, I want to make sure that I leave time for my colleagues to question me. However, before we get to that, I want to spend a bit of time talking about carbon pricing.
The facts are clear. Despite the fact there might be some out there who still believe that climate change is not real, it is overwhelmingly accepted that climate change is real and a problem that governments, local, provincial, territorial and federal, need to combat. Indeed, we need to work intergovernmentally throughout the world. This is not a challenge that one part of the world is facing, but one that we are all going to face together. Therefore, we all have to do our part.
In the previous reading of this budget implementation act, I read out 54 different regions throughout the world that currently have a price on carbon, and I will not bore the House by reading them again because they are already cited in Hansard if anyone wants to look at them.
For those who ask what the real impact will be on Canada of putting a price on pollution, I would ask what the real impact was on Iceland, Ireland, Kazakhstan or smaller jurisdictions—I will not list them all again—like Poland and Quebec, that is, whether provincial, territorial or national governments. Throughout the world, there is already a price on pollution and it makes perfect sense to price pollution.
If a company builds a product or an end-user uses a product, they have to pay to make that product. If a company—my background is in economics and I always reference widgets—builds widgets, it will need the various components that go into that. If one of those components harms the environment by polluting it, then it makes perfect sense that the company should have to pay for that component that goes into the widgets.
This is why I am very frustrated trying to understand the Conservative Party's argument against a price on pollution, because pricing pollution leads directly into the economic model of the free market that the Conservatives tout all the time. The Conservatives always say that they believe in a free market. Sure, just as that makes sense, everyone should also pay for the components of their products that contribute to pollution when those productes are being produced, but one would think, by the way the Conservatives are arguing, that they believe in both a free market and free pollution. Therefore, the market is not totally free, because the polluting part is not considered free in the market sense, but as something that can be done without consequence.
According to the recently released report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we know we are heading toward dire circumstances by 2030. If we have do not start to dramatically reduce the amount of carbon and pollutants we put into the atmosphere, we will not be able to go back on this. The said very appropriately during a recent debate on this topic that we are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and we are the last generation to be able to do anything about it. Think about that.
It is not just the minister, me, or any one individual who is saying this. This is in a report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that many nations throughout the world contributed to. It basically says that we are the first ones to feel the effects of climate change and the last ones to be able to do anything about it.
I have two very young children. One is four months old and the other is two and a half. I also have a 14-year-old who is in high school. One of the things that keeps me up at night is wondering what kind of environment and world we are leaving our children. The reality is that if we do nothing about this now, we will be leaving them an environment and a world that will be suffering not only the environmental consequences but also the impacts of weather changes. We are already seeing the changes in weather throughout the world.
We should think about the other social impacts that will occur. Climate genocide is one thing this generation will be accused of if it does nothing. There will be climate refugees, people moving throughout the world to escape the effects of climate change. That will impact the rest of the world. It will impact world order. We know what happens when we start to affect those things: it inevitably leads to war and conflict in various parts of the world.
There are many benefits to a price on pollution. Even if people do not believe any of what I just said, even if they do not believe in climate change and do not believe in the realities of what the intergovernmental report said, they should definitely believe that incentivizing businesses to create new ways of doing things and building new products, investing in renewable energy, and investing in electric cars which are more than doubling in sales globally every year is the way to go.
I have heard my Conservative colleagues quite often tout what we versus other parts of the world are doing. Despite what they might think, I want them to know that China is actually a leader when it comes to renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is a leader when it comes to bringing new electric vehicles into the marketplace.
We can work on these problems jointly with other countries throughout the world and that is what I implore us to do. By putting a price on carbon we are providing an opportunity not just to green our environment and to create a better environment, but we are providing an opportunity for Canadians through pushing the envelope and looking for new opportunities, new efficiencies and new innovations to drive forward this new economy.
We should be on the leading edge of this. Let us not follow suit to what we are seeing happen south of the border where clearly a lot of the real opportunities are happening in other parts of the world as it relates to innovative programs and projects by the new industry we are creating for the 21st century.
Before I close, I want to talk about one more thing and that is the non-stop rhetoric we continue to hear from the other side of the House as it relates to debt and deficits. The last time that a Conservative government left a surplus was in the 1800s. I find it so ironic how there is this narrative which, to their success, they have been able to build out there and for the large part most people quite often resonate well with it, which is that the Conservatives somehow know how to protect an economy and build up an economy.
In reality, if we look at the last 151 years, 38% of the time that Conservative governments were in power, they racked up 73% of the national debt. How is it possible that we live in this world that they can tout that they are somehow the saviours of the economy? Out of the last 19 budgets introduced by Conservative governments in the House, 16 of them ran deficits. That includes Mulroney and Harper. Of the only three surpluses that they ran, two of them came on the heels of Paul Martin's $13-billion surplus and the other one came in 2015, when they had to sell off the shares of GM at bargain prices, cut EI and slash services to veterans, all to produce a phony balanced budget with which they could go into the 2015 election.
Canadians did not buy into that. They saw right through it and as a reality, the Conservatives now sit in opposition. I reject the notion that the Conservatives are somehow the saviours of our economy because the evidence does not support it.