Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour to stand in this place on behalf of the people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. I will be splitting my time with the eloquent member for .
Over the past few years, we have watched the ongoing demise of our energy sector. Regardless of what people may think of northern gateway, or energy east or the northern tanker ban, the end result is clear. Billions of dollars of investment and thousands of new jobs are leaving Canada. If this were just the Canadian energy sector, that would be a huge concern all on its own. However, we know it is not just the energy sector.
Last week in question period I asked about multiple factories in different sectors that had closed their doors and left Canada: General Electric in Peterborough closed, 358 jobs gone; Campbell Soup in Toronto closed, 380 jobs gone; Procter and Gamble in Brockville closed, 500 jobs gone. These are just a few examples. Keep in mind that these major companies are not leaving North America; they are just consistently saying no to manufacturing in Canada. Should we not pause to consider some of the reasons why?
We all heard the deeply troubling news that General Motors would close its Oshawa plant. To be fair, General Motors is closing plants in the United States as well. However, in Canada, we know this will have a much larger impact. Many smaller plants provide parts and supplies for this Oshawa factory.
Should we not ask why so many of these manufacturing plants are leaving Canada?
When we have raised this question in this place, we have heard mixed messages from our . Some days he will tell us that all is well and that there is nothing to see here. Other days he will find some way to suggest that this is all the fault of the previous Harper government. However, when in Alberta, he will acknowledge that, yes. this is a crisis. Then he turns around and offers up a budget update with no new solutions for Canadian energy. Ultimately, none of these explanations address the underlying fact.
Canada is losing critically important well-paying jobs. What are the reasons?
We know that the enhanced CPP created by the Liberal Government amounts to a payroll tax to employers. It increases the costs of doing business in Canada. Our competitors did not increase payroll taxes in this way.
We also know that a carbon tax increases the price of doing business in Canada. The Liberals seem loathe to hear that point, yet the Liberal government announced carbon tax relief for big polluters in Canada. Why? We all know why. Because our competitors do not have a carbon tax.
A Liberal parliamentary secretary, in this place, on the record, admitted that job losses and economic consequences would result from competitive concerns. Therefore, let us recap.
The Liberal government recognizes and reluctantly admits that the carbon tax is job killer that will harm the economy. They said so in this place. That brings me to the topic of coal.
Recently the Liberal government provided a 95.5% carbon tax discount on burning coal for power in New Brunswick. Why? Because the and his inner circle decided that this was something Canada should do. Is it because the United States and Mexico do not have a carbon tax on the burning of coal? We do not know.
Aside from coal there are other challenges.
Some of our competing jurisdictions in the United States are right to work states. I find that when a company leaves Canada and moves production to the United States, it often relocates to a right to work state.
Look at the Bombardier deal with Airbus. The C-Series jet, subsidized by Canadian taxpayers, now will be built in a plant in Alabama. Alabama happens to be a right to work state.
The General Electric plant that will build 60 new locomotives CN just ordered to help move oil by rail because we cannot do it by pipeline is located in Texas, also a right to work state.
Proctor & Gamble left Ontario and moved production to West Virginia. Virginia has right to work legislation.
I mention this because here in Canada, mandatory union dues are frequently used in playing partisan politics. We are witnessing an example of this with Unifor. However, we have other challenges. Despite a new NAFTA agreement, steel and aluminum tariffs remain, softwood lumber tariffs remain and buy American provisions remain.
In the past, we have had a favourable exchange rate when comparing the Canadian dollar to the U.S. dollar. Sadly, much of those exchange rate savings have now been eaten up by costs and regulations that we have placed on ourselves.
Think about all of the debate around how best to respond to Saudi Arabia. The continues to support buying Saudi Arabian oil while his Bill kills the possibility for the energy east pipeline. Why? Saudi Arabian oil flows to the Irving refinery in Atlantic Canada and Saudi Arabia is a country with no carbon tax. Somehow to the Liberal government this all makes sense.
Make no mistake that Bill will kill our Canadian resource sector. Every single day we watch anywhere from $40 million to $80 million in lost resource revenue go out the door in Alberta. That is almost as fast as our can tweet Canadians' money away in new promises to his American celebrity friends. Meanwhile, we turn the other way while money from outside of Canada continues to fund the very groups who oppose our Canadian oil made by Canadian citizens who pay Canadian taxes.
Seriously, we have a problem here. Make no mistake that it is a Canadian problem. Right now we are talking about General Motors shutting down a plant in Oshawa, Ontario, but what will be next and where?
On a more local note, I would like to share an example. Many members have heard of Tolko Industries. It is a Canadian success story with strong roots in the Okanagan. Tolko runs over 15 different lumber operations in three provinces in western Canada. Where did Tolko announce its next major investment and expansion earlier this year? That would be in the state of Louisiana. Members may have already guessed that Louisiana is also a right-to-work state. The last mill that Tolko closed was located in my riding in the community of Merritt.
Unlike the who tries to lay every one of his failures at the feet of Mr. Harper, I am not going to lay every one of these challenges at the feet of the Prime Minister. We cannot control what happens outside of our borders. We cannot control if other countries reject a carbon tax, and they have. We cannot control if they reject looking at resource projects through a gender lens, and they have. We cannot control if they lower the costs of doing business in their jurisdiction, and they are. We here in Canada cannot stop other nations, our trading partners, from implementing policies that they believe will make them more competitive.
Here is what we can do. This motion proposes that we should recognize we have the power to compete here in Canada. When and wherever Canadians compete on a level playing field, we can compete with the best in the world. We can succeed. In my view, we cannot continue to enact policy, regulation and taxation where others do not follow. We as Canadians like to think we are leading the way, but when others do not follow our lead and when we lose jobs and investment to other jurisdictions, we need to take notice.
There is an upside, in one word: opportunity. Canada is a rich and resourceful country. We have incredibly talented people who live here. We are a world-class place to live and to raise a family. However, we cannot tax away our best and brightest, nor can we regulate new opportunities.
If we are to truly succeed, we need to be competitive. We need to allow our innovators, our best and brightest to have the opportunity they need to succeed. We need new employers knocking on our door, not just because they want handouts and subsidies but because they know they can get a return here on their investments. However, they need to be able to invest and to build easily and relatively quickly. We have almost lost that here in Canada. Deep down, I think most in this place would admit that. Fortunately, we have a capable and skilled workforce. We have good infrastructure to get goods and services to markets and, thankfully, because of considerable effort from previous governments, and with some ongoing efforts from the current government, we have trade access to many of the world's most lucrative marketplaces.
In closing, we must not overlook our opportunity. Compared to many jurisdictions, we have relatively clean power here in Canada. We need to show the world that using Canadian-made goods and services is part of the solution. However, the first step is to recognize there is a problem, and ultimately, that is what this motion is meant to do.
Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect much better than what they are receiving right now. They expect the government to implement policies that will create jobs, steward tax dollars and advocate for the most vulnerable, such as seniors, veterans and those living with a disability. They expect the government to stand up and provide good health care. They expect the government to deliver services with excellence. They expect the government to do this while cutting back on wasteful spending and bringing investment into our country.
Canadians are incredibly hard-working people with a ton of potential and that potential deserves to be realized. It is up to government to put policies in place and decrease regulation to make sure that is the case. Unfortunately, the government has failed. At a time when the government should be focused on making life more affordable by getting out of the way, it is focusing on implementing even more regulations and slamming Canadians with further taxation. It is driving investment and jobs out of our country and making life less affordable.
According to a recent Ipsos Reid poll that was released just after Christmas, almost 50% of Canadian families are within $200 a month of not being able to pay their household bills, not being able to put food on the table, not being able to pay their mortgages or rent and not being able to pay for the fuel for their vehicles that take them to work to earn their next dollar. To make matters worse, the prospect of recovering from this dreadful place in which we exist looks rather bleak under the current government and its policies. We face a looming job crisis in Canada caused by the government's failed economic policies and yet the insists on villainizing those who actually create the jobs that keep our economy afloat. I am talking about the women and men who dare to take a calculated risk, to invest capital and create jobs by creating local businesses.
We might remember the small business tax the government tried to sneak through in the summer of 2017. According to the , 1.4 million Canadians who have led by vision, have taken substantial risk and have worked hard to start and operate their businesses are nothing more than what he called tax cheats. Their businesses, according to him, are not job creators. According to him, they are simply tax havens. They are tax havens for the so-called wealthy. That is rather rich coming from the Prime Minister, who has never worked a day in his life and was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
The was not talking about multinational corporations when he said that. In fact, they are protected. They get the easy route. Instead, he launched an attack on locally owned businesses that sustain our communities. I am talking about the hairdresser we have relied on for years, the family doctor we go to when a child is sick, the cashier who works at the local hardware store, the farmer in Picture Butte in my riding and the college student who just got her first job as a welder. According to the Prime Minister, it is unfair for those who create these jobs to invest some of that money in their company for the further advancement of their well-being and, of course, job creation for others.
However, thanks to the resistance of Canadians and the fact that they pushed back and joined the Conservative Party of Canada in the House as the official opposition, we were successful in pushing back on those changes and making some headway. Collectively, hard-working Canadians took a stand on behalf of small business owners. It is proof that Canadians will not sit idly by as the current government damns our country to a poor future.
Once again, Conservatives are appealing. It is not just increased small business taxes and payroll taxes that are hurting local businesses; it is also the carbon tax. This summer, the federal government granted special exemption to Canada's biggest emitters, but despite providing breaks to these companies, the federal government still intends to impose a carbon tax on local businesses and families.
My question is simple: In what world does that make sense? If, in fact, the carbon tax is being put in place to reduce emissions, then would it not make sense to tax those putting the most pollution in the environment? We have no choice but to conclude that the carbon tax is not actually about reducing the carbon footprint or taking pollution out of the environment. The carbon tax is just another excuse to apply a tax to the hard-working people of this country.
Each and every day I wake up and read the news, I see that investment is fleeing. I am watching companies close their doors. When I walk through the downtown core of my local riding in the city of Lethbridge, I see signs in windows that businesses are shutting down. They are being driven away because of the Liberal government's policies.
The truth of the matter is that the government will continue to impose a huge carbon tax on families and these local businesses. However, it will not reduce the carbon footprint. We still need clothes, we still need food and we still need to drive ourselves to work. All of these things will continue to happen, because Canada needs to stay open. Canadians need to continue to live. Our country and well-being are at stake. The government is being nothing other than cruel, unkind and unfair to the Canadian people by imposing this senseless carbon tax.
Speaking of keeping Canada's economy afloat, let us talk about trade for a moment. This weekend, Canada ratified the USMCA. The fact is we have a deal, but all Canadians should be asking if we have a good deal. Ultimately, the USMCA must be judged on how Canada benefits. The deal should be evaluated based on what Canada gave up versus what it received in return. Sadly, in this case, we gave up much more than we received. There is really nothing in the USMCA that puts Canada in a better position.
The government backed down on automotive, it backed down on dairy and it backed down on pharmaceuticals. As well, for all these concessions, Canada was unable to win anything significant in return. In fact, tariffs still remain on steel, aluminum and softwood, and the U.S. has told us it has absolutely no timeline in place by which it will remove those tariffs. We signed an agreement without insisting these tariffs come off.
We have a who does not care enough about his country and these industries to advocate on their behalf, to ensure their well-being and to stand up for Canadian workers. That is sad.
In my riding, there is a business called Lethbridge Iron, which continues to take hit after hit with payroll taxes, small business taxes and tariffs on steel. I have met with representatives multiple times and toured the facility. They are working incredibly hard, but they are taking hit after hit and are unsure how much longer they can keep their doors open and their employees employed.
Let us talk about the pipeline for a moment. This is an example of a $400-million investment that was driven out of our country overnight. The government had an opportunity to keep that investment here. It had an opportunity to sign on the dotted line and provide Kinder Morgan with the certainty it needed to stay here and build a project. Instead, the government refused to provide that certainty and drove this investor out. Where did Kinder Morgan go? It did not stop investing. It just went south, to the U.S. We are without this pipeline.
Of course, we know this pipeline is of huge significance to Canada. Yes, it provides great-paying jobs, but more than that, it helps us get a product to market. When we can get that product to market, our country will receive an income. When we receive that income, we can build hospitals, we can build schools, and we can build roads and bridges. All Canadians benefit when we develop the oil and gas industry here in Canada.
The fact of the matter is the has taken tax dollars and invested them in this pipeline, and we are getting absolutely no return for this investment. It is interesting how that works. The takes our money and invests it, and nothing happens. However, if we were to encourage a private investor to come into our country and invest it, a ton would happen.
My point is simple. Right now, because we are refusing to develop the oil and gas industry, we are actually purchasing blood oil. We are purchasing our oil and gas from places like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, places that have atrocious human rights records and almost no environmental standards. That is the type of industry we are choosing to support, instead of developing it right here in our country and bringing investment home.
In conclusion, we are calling on the government to act in the best interests of Canadians by eliminating the carbon tax, by repealing Bill , by resolving the dispute on steel and aluminum tariffs, by resolving the softwood lumber dispute, by lowering taxes, by streamlining regulations and by opening up our markets. Let us bring Canada back. Let us put Canadians first.
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to take part in this debate today.
The motion before the House this morning seeks to pit the economy against social and environmental progress. Over the past few years in Parliament, I have come to expect this trend from the Conservative Party of Canada. While I am disappointed that we have to have this debate, in one sense I am happy to have the opportunity to highlight the progress on the economy and the environment that our government has made.
Today, the Conservatives have essentially laid bare for all to see their strategy to grow the economy. It is to simply abandon environmental and social protections that benefit our communities and grow our economy in the long term. By comparison, our plan is to grow the economy while we enhance environmental protections. The Conservatives seem to think this is somehow impossible, despite the fact that it is actually happening right before their very eyes.
Despite a lot of the rhetoric contained in today's motion, our economy is doing historically well. This cannot be disputed by anyone who is actually looking at the publicly available data. For the long-term sake of our country, it is not enough to focus on short-term economic growth alone. We need to realize that protecting our environment and enhancing social protections are essential if our communities are going to thrive and our economy is going to succeed.
Over the course of my remarks, I hope to address a few troubling aspects of the motion on the floor, but I want to start by highlighting some of the measures we have implemented to grow the economy and discussing the results of those measures, before transitioning into a discussion about the environmental measures we have put in place.
With respect, the Conservatives have offered no plan and seem committed to an agenda of trying to trick Canadians about the measures we are putting in place in order to earn the support of Canadian citizens. They fail to show the leadership that Canadians should expect of a so-called government in waiting.
Off the top, the motion seeks to attack our economic record and suggests there is a job crisis across the country as a result of our policies. Nothing could be further from the truth and, frankly, the results speak for themselves. Since coming into office, our economy has added over 550,000 full-time jobs, primarily in the private sector; the unemployment rate in our country is at a 40-year low, more or less since the time we started keeping track of these statistics, business profits are up and wages are growing. There is a good story to tell.
In fact, our rate of economic growth should make the Conservatives blush. After 10 years in office, they can boast a record of demonstrating the worst rate of economic growth since the Great Depression. This is not a coincidence. The Conservatives' strategy of giving tax breaks to their millionaire friends and taking support from middle-class families is not one that will lead to economic growth; it is one that leads to the inevitable result that we saw under 10 years of Stephen Harper.
Our government has a plan to grow the economy in a way that works for everyone, and the results are demonstrating that it is working. First and foremost, our economic growth record is characterized by support for middle-class Canadians.
We need to look no further than the Canada child benefit, which has put more money in the pockets of nine out of 10 Canadian families and stopped sending child care cheques to millionaires. At the same time, it has lifted 300,000 Canadian children out of poverty. These statistics are very important, but what matters to me is that there is a human story behind these policies.
I can point to a conversation I had with a young woman from my hometown in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. She told me that September was always a difficult time of year emotionally for her, because she could never afford a new outfit for her kids on the first day of school. After she started receiving more money from the Canada child benefit, she told me she was proud to be able to take care of her kids in the way her neighbours are able to, when she sends her kids to school in September. These are the kinds of human stories that breathe life into these policies.
It is not just the Canada child benefit. We have implemented the Canada workers benefit for those who are living in low-income households but are busting their tail to get ahead. At tax time, this is going to put up to $500 more in the pockets of hard-working Canadians.
I note in particular that the motion addresses heightened payroll taxes. The only thing I can think of that the Conservatives are referring to is our strengthening of the Canada pension plan. We want to ensure that seniors can retire in dignity, not just today but for future generations. That is why we have made these enhancements. If the Conservative Party wants to repeal that plan, the Conservatives should just come out and say so.
We have invested in a national housing strategy to the tune of $40 billion and created, for the first time, a national poverty reduction strategy. It is going to cut homelessness in half in this country. We know these investments are important, not just because they are the right thing to do, but because they are the smart thing to do. These investments are going to allow Canada to experience economic growth, not just for the wealthiest few but for all Canadians.
It is not just these social and economic policies that are helping grow our economy. We have taken steps to attract serious investment. I note in particular that LNG Canada recently announced the largest single private sector investment in the history of our country.
This is no coincidence. We have implemented policies to encourage this kind of investment. We have reformed our immigration policies so that we can attract more talent. We are investing in innovation. Recently, in the fall economic statement, we demonstrated that we are willing to change the rules around how we tax the manufacturing sector by allowing 100% writedowns for manufacturing equipment, because we want companies to invest in their factories to create more jobs that will put Canadians to work.
At the same time, we are making historic public investments in infrastructure to the tune of $180 billion. What this translates to in my community as a local member of Parliament is a new twin highway between Sutherland’s River and Antigonish, a new trades innovation centre at the Nova Scotia Community College campus in Stellarton, and a new institute of government and centre for innovation in health on campus at StFX. We have investments in small craft harbours in excess of $15 million, which will help nine small rural fishing communities get jobs in the short term, and provide fishermen with a safe place to land their catch for generations to come. These are the kinds of investments that create jobs in the short term, but set the stage for long-term economic growth.
There is some rhetoric around high taxes in the motion today. It is interesting, because one of the very first things we did as a government was cut taxes for the middle class and raise them on the 1%, and the Conservatives voted against it. When it came time to discuss small business taxation, we are actually reducing the small business tax to 9%, which is the lowest rate in the G7.
When it comes to pursuing new trade opportunities, which the motion suggests we should do, we have secured access to the North American market by renegotiating NAFTA. We have completed the CETA negotiations. We have completed the CPTPP negotiations. We are focusing on export diversification and trying to enhance interprovincial trade. Our record on trade is impeccable, and it is helping to grow the economy and support the communities that I represent.
When it comes to innovation, we are also making serious investments, for example, by announcing the largest investment in research in the history of our country, and by investing in superclusters, like the Ocean Supercluster for Atlantic Canada, which is going to create thousands of jobs by developing expertise in regional hubs.
As I mentioned earlier, the results speak for themselves. We have had historic job gains over the past few years, the economy is doing well, we are experiencing a great rate of growth, our unemployment rate is low, wages are growing and business profits are up.
However, I will take some time in my role as parliamentary secretary to speak to some of the troubling comments in the motion and in the speeches I have heard this morning with respect to the need to combat climate change.
The motion has demonstrated that the Conservative mission in the next election is to oppose meaningful action on climate change. It is really difficult to have a debate about solutions to this threat when certain members of the opposition do not seem to believe that there is a problem to solve. It is hard to debate solutions when we cannot agree that there is a problem.
I do not like that I have to do this, but for the benefit of those present, scientists have understood the potential impact of increased pollutants in our atmosphere for about 150 years, since the middle of the 19th century. The vast majority of the world's scientists agree that climate change is not only happening but that it is the result of man-made industrial pollution. The IPCC has recently warned us that if we do not take meaningful steps to address this problem, we are going to suffer dire social and economic consequences.
The cost of ignoring climate change is too great to ignore.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Sean Fraser: I am being chided from the other side by people sarcastically suggesting that the consequences will not be dire, as I am giving this speech. It is remarkable. Perhaps there is a generational divide, but on this side of the House I can say that there is not a single MP I have talked to in our caucus who does not believe that climate change is real.
We may not be able to point to any given weather system and say that it is the result of a single industrial player from the other side of the world, but we know with a high degree of confidence that, as the result of increased man-made industrial pollution, we are experiencing more frequent and more intense extreme weather events, and the cost of this is pushing $5 billion. I lived in Calgary when we experienced significant floods in 2013. We can look at the forest fires that are ravaging western Canada. We can also look at the floods in New Brunswick.
It is hard to tell somebody whose cultural and traditional practices in northern Canada may no longer be possible that climate change is not real. It is difficult to tell somebody who cannot get insurance for flooding that has impacted their home that climate change is not real. For those here who disagree that we should take climate action seriously, and they were elected to this House, I have hard time understanding that they deserve to be here.
The other thing that really bothers me is that there are certain Conservatives who are unwilling to accept that there is a golden opportunity to fight climate change when it comes to growing the green economy, by investing in energy efficiency, for example. There is a company in my home community, the Trinity Group of Companies, which is helping make homes more efficient, bringing power bills down for people in the communities that I represent. It started with a dream of just two guys who were doing home repairs and they have added dozens of employees and they are doing work all over Atlantic Canada. These are the kinds of investments that make it apparent that, when Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has indicated there is a $23-trillion opportunity in the green economy, it is not a joke. We want to be on the front end of that wave to take advantage of the jobs that we know can result from making investments in the clean economy.
I want to take some time to highlight some of the environmental policies we are moving forward, in particular, the fact that we are putting a price on pollution, which is very important. It is not a difficult policy to comprehend. A lot of Canadians do not appreciate that up until now, it has been free to pollute in Canada and the cost of that pollution has been downloaded to taxpayers. We want to change that. We do not think it should be free to pollute in our country. We are moving forward with a plan to put a price on pollution, so polluters will pay when they degrade our atmosphere.
At the same time, we are going to return the revenues to communities and to Canadians to ensure that families are left better off as a result of this plan. This is not a brand new policy invention that has never existed around the world. There are many jurisdictions that have implemented this with a high degree of success. In B.C., Alberta, California, Quebec, the European Union and previously in Ontario, we have seen economic growth in clean energy sectors as a result of moving forward with these kinds of plans.
In Australia, when a price on pollution was implemented, emissions actually came down and when it got rid of the price on pollution, emissions predictably started going back up. It is interesting who actually comes out to support our plan. We have leading scientific experts. We have leading experts in economics. This year's Nobel Prize winner in economics was awarded the prestigious prize for his research that identified this kind of a path forward to fight climate change as being effective and practical. In fact, he pointed to the system in British Columbia as a model that the world should be adopting.
There are religious organizations saying that this is the right path forward. There are indigenous communities saying this is the right path forward. The National Farmers Union voted overwhelmingly to intervene in the court case to demonstrate that this is the right path forward because they know that the agricultural sector faces the highest risks of climate change.
There are youth groups across the country that support putting a price on pollution. The provincial government in British Columbia supports the federal government's jurisdiction to put a price on pollution. In fact, Conservatives support a price on pollution, just not in the House. If we look at Stephen Harper's former director of policy, he has indicated the kind of policy that we are implementing today is the right path forward to fight climate change. If we look at Doug Ford's chief budget adviser, a few years ago before the Senate, he indicated that the number one thing we could be doing to transition to a low-carbon economy would be to move forward with a price on pollution.
We have former Conservative prime ministers who support this kind of an approach, whether it is Kim Campbell, Brian Mulroney or Joe Clark. The fact is that Stephen Harper indicated back in 2008 that putting a price on pollution was a sensible path forward. I suspect the opposition to our plan to put a price on pollution comes not from a place of doing the right thing by the environment, but trying to capitalize on a populous wave of politics that has been seen to succeed in other parts of the world.
The motion also refers to our effort to revamp the environmental assessment process. We are moving forward with a plan that will restore public confidence that was lost under Stephen Harper. We can build major projects in this country, but we need to respect our environment and include the perspective of indigenous peoples at the same time. We are putting in better rules that will allow one review for one project, which are going to give more predicable timelines and are going to allow us to get things done, but get them done in the right way.
I mentioned the Trinity Energy Group that is benefiting from investments in clean technology. We have serious investments in green infrastructure in excess of $9 billion that are going to improve the treatment of our water and waste water. After years of having nature and conservation budgets slashed, we have made the single largest investment in nature and conservation in the history of our country, with $1.35 billion. We are making serious investments in public transit to get more people travelling together rather than taking their individual vehicles to their workplace. We are phasing out coal by 2030. The Conservatives had no plan to do so until 2062. This is not only going to have a positive environmental impact but a positive health impact on our communities as well. We know that when Canadians live near coal plants, there are higher rates of things like childhood asthma that drive up the cost of care and do not do the right thing for our kids.
The fact is the Conservatives have failed to recognize not only that we need to take meaningful action but that if we do we can capitalize on an incredible economic opportunity.
I mentioned that it is hard to have debates about solutions when we cannot agree that there is a problem to solve. I heard a recent radio interview by the member for , who was asked squarely whether he believes that climate change is real and is man-made. He refused to answer the question. I have seen the member for suggest that this whole climate thing is just a jig of some kind. The member for has indicated that this whole thing is just a silly agenda. In an editorial recently, Joe Oliver, the former Conservative finance minister, suggested that it is not really worth doing anything about this problem. Recently, we have seen the Ontario provincial government's plan, with Doug Ford, who the hon. seems to be taking his marching orders from, rolling something out that is not going to have a meaningful impact on climate change and has no pact to meeting any kind of goal that is going to allow us to avoid the dire consequences we are concerned about.
I mentioned that I was somewhat disappointed we had to have this debate today. Frankly, I find it remarkable that the Conservatives chose to waste a day of parliamentary debate for me to stand here and highlight the success of our economic and environmental policies to date, while confessing that their strategy to grow the economy is to abandon progress on the environment and social files. This demonstrates to me that they are suffering from a real lack of leadership and an extreme lack of vision.
In light of this, before I conclude, I would like to look at the actual text of the motion itself.
If I look at point (a), the Conservatives talk about a looming job crisis, when we have added over half a million jobs and unemployment is at a historic low.
They talk about the auto manufacturing sector. I have watched them try conflate the losses in Oshawa at GM to a price on pollution, which is disingenuous and hurtful to the people who are having a difficult time right now. It is in a jurisdiction where there is no price on pollution. It is simultaneous with other closures in states in the U.S. where there is no price on pollution. In fact, General Motors itself supports the kind of price that we are putting forward that returns revenues to families. If the opposition wants to dabble in the realm of post-truth politics, I invite its members to peddle their nonsense elsewhere.
When the Conservatives are looking at NAFTA negotiations and the steel and aluminum tariffs, I have seen one of their members stand up in the House and suggest the reason they are there is because our policies are somehow actually having a negative impact on the national security of the U.S., which is ridiculous.
When it comes to softwood lumber, we are not only investing $100 million in innovation in the forestry industry, we protected our dispute resolution clause that allows us to have an objective remedy.
I could pick from one of 100 things here. When we look at trade, we have secured NAFTA, CETA, CPTPP. The Conservatives suggest there are higher personal income taxes. The reality is the middle class is paying lower taxes today and the 1% is paying more. They talk about business taxes, which have come down to 9%, the lowest in any G7 country.
I am proud of the record we can stand on. There is hardly an element of truth in this motion.
The Conservatives' strategy in the next election seems to be to trick Canadians into supporting them, because they know they do not have the ideas to convince them. The fact is our economy is growing, our families are better off, our emissions have come down and the environment is benefiting from better protections.
As I mentioned, the motion suggests that the Conservatives' plan to grow the economy is to ignore progress on the environment and ignore policies that promote social progress as well. Their strategy seems to be to close their eyes and hope for a lucky break. On this side, luck is not part of our strategy. Rather, it is hope, hard work and planning that is going to get us to a point where more Canadians are working and our environment is protected for our kids and grandkids.
If the Conservatives do not change tack, I can tell them right now that their leader can stop beginning his tweets with the phrase, “When I am prime minister”, because they are going to be on that side of the House for a very long time.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for your intervention. Indeed, there seem to be some conversations happening while we are trying to speak, which makes it difficult to understand one another.
I was saying that the carbon tax is the Conservatives' bogeyman, which they like to trot out every chance they get. This strategy seems to have worked well, since the Conservatives used that bogeyman on a daily basis against the NDP between 2011 and 2015, as members will recall. They used to say that we were going to put a tax on carbon and that it would cause an economic apocalypse in Canada. Then, in 2015, we suddenly had a Liberal government and it, too, wants to put a price on carbon. I congratulate the Conservatives on their strategy, for it seems to have worked well.
The Conservatives still seem convinced that that is the best way to convince Canadians to vote for them. We will see next year. However, the bogeyman that they keep trotting out year after year does not seem to be working very well. Even so, according to the motion, the carbon tax is to blame for nearly every possible thing that could go wrong for Canadians.
Many things have gone wrong, of course, as we know. We have been here every time since the beginning to point out the many missteps that the Liberal government has made since 2015. However, by constantly trotting out the carbon tax bogeyman, the Conservatives are treating Canadians like idiots who can be fooled into believing that just one thing is to blame because they do not understand how economics work.
I invite my colleague from to explain that to Canadians later on. He can do it in his speech, if he likes. However, what I want to explain today is that we cannot blame the carbon tax for all of our misfortunes.
The motion mentions certain misfortunes and failures. It talks about the Liberals' many failures in the energy and automotive sectors. On that note, we are the first to sympathize with auto workers in Oshawa and across Canada who are affected by the closure of the plant. The closure will affect more than just the place where the final product is assembled. It will also have an impact on related industries and suppliers of the raw materials and parts needed for assembly. The Oshawa plant will stay open for one more year. Sadly, we know that GM has decided to close this plant, even though it is widely recognized for its performance and quality. This is a very disappointing decision, and we were deeply saddened by this recent announcement.
Besides that, the Liberals also failed to have tariffs removed from steel and aluminum when they were getting ready to sign the new deal with the United States and Mexico. Unfortunately, the only bargaining chip the could come up with was to tell the Americans that unless they removed the steel and aluminum tariffs, he would skip the official signing ceremony photo op. That was the only leverage he had against the U.S. President. He could tell the Americans that if they did not do as he wanted, he would not show up for the photo op.
That worked well as a negotiating strategy. A few days ago, he ended up at the official signing ceremony getting his picture taken with the U.S. President and the outgoing President of Mexico, to the dismay of the many steel and aluminum workers, who are also victims of the Liberals' failures.
The Conservative motion also mentions the forestry sector. The forestry sector is calling for the unfair tariffs also weighing on that industry to be lifted. Unfortunately, the Liberals were unable to get anything done. Let us not forget that the problem started under the previous Conservative government, but the Liberals have been slow to fix the problem ever since.
In the renegotiation process with the Americans, the Liberals could have used this situation as leverage to try to break the impasse. Unfortunately, this is just another failure to add to the Liberals' record.
The motion barely mentions farmers, and I do not understand why. They are the ones most affected by the new free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. For reasons that I do not know, the Conservatives only mentioned the carbon tax in the paragraph on farmers. There they go again trotting out their bogeyman, as if the carbon tax were responsible for all farmers' woes. They did not even mention the new breach in the supply management system.
I was wondering why the Conservatives did not mention the supply management system in their motion when it is what most angers farmers right now, especially those subject to that system. Then I remembered that it was the Conservatives who negotiated and signed the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Europe, which gave up 3% of our dairy market, and the agreement for trans-Pacific partnership, which opened a 3% breach. The Liberals have just given up another 3%. In total, we have lost 10% of our supply-managed market. Perhaps that is why the Conservatives did not mention supply management in their motion. Perhaps they are ashamed that they did the same thing a few years ago.
During those negotiations, the Conservatives opened supply managed markets, promising compensation, just as the Liberal government is doing today. The Liberals are singing from the Conservative song sheet. The Conservatives knew that these breaches would hurt farmers and that opening major sections of the dairy market would have a significant impact, but they said that they would provide compensation. The Liberals are singing the same tune and supply managed farmers do not like it.
Farmers are seeing breach after breach being opened, weakening our supply management system to the point where no one knows how much more it can take. The Liberals are claiming to have made it through the negotiations without completely sacrificing the system, but the breaches they have opened have severely undermined it. Eventually, it will become so weak as to be called into question. A former Conservative member is already casting doubt on supply management. Who knows how many other Conservative MPs are getting ready to stand up and join the hon. member for in calling for an end to this system, which serves our regions and farmers so well. I will not get into that debate today since I have only two minutes left.
The Conservative motion is essentially a grab bag of Liberal failures, and, unfortunately, it sets out very few solutions to the problem. According to the Conservative speeches that I have heard so far, the problem seems to be a lack of competitiveness with the Americans. I would argue that cutting taxes is far from the only way to make a country more competitive. Here are two important points to keep in mind. First, our health care system gives us a significant competitive edge over the Americans. That is important. Businesses need to take the health care system into account when they are looking at where to invest. The education system is also an excellent example. Obviously the Conservatives never bring up those points. They never say that we need to strengthen our health care or education systems. Those are non-issues as far as they are concerned.
When we talk about competitiveness with the Americans or any other country in the world, it is important to consider a universal pharmacare program. The Liberal government was supposed to have already implemented such a program. This is not something that they should put off until the next election. When employees have access to an affordable universal public pharmacare program, it makes businesses more competitive. We also need an affordable and accessible child care system. These types of systems would make us more competitive with foreign countries, such as the United States.
When we talk about competition for investments from around the world, we need to consider these solutions. We should not focus exclusively on the tax or carbon tax bogeyman, which is unfortunately what the Conservatives are doing.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from for his excellent speech. I will attempt to continue in the same vein. I really liked the fact that he called the Conservative motion an omnibus motion. It touches on so many subjects that we could write a speech about any one we like and that would be fine.
I would call this motion the “everything” motion, because it makes me think of the theory of everything. I do not know if the Conservatives are at all interested in science, but the theory of everything is very interesting. It seeks to unify the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. That said, I do not think they want to go that far today.
If I were to agree with them on any of the points in their motion, it would be, first and foremost, that people in our society are suffering. There are people who are struggling and having trouble making ends meet. Incomes have stagnated, and inequality in our society is growing considerably. Many people are forced to struggle with situations of extreme poverty.
In all of our ridings, people are having to make really tough choices, like paying for their medication or paying for their groceries, or similarly, buying food or buying school supplies for their children. There are still millions of people living in poverty in our country, people who are struggling as a result of the Liberal government's decisions. This government is not doing enough for them today and, instead, is merely promising to eventually deliver certain things, if it is voted in again once or twice in the future.
Yes, there are people who are suffering because of the Liberal government's decisions. Take, for example, aluminum and steel workers or Ontario's auto sector workers, like the people in Oshawa, who are losing good jobs despite all the Liberals' fine promises. There are also the dairy farmers who work the land in Quebec and Ontario, in their family farms, making all of our regions proud. The Liberal government keeps turning its back on them by signing agreement after agreement to open up huge breaches in the supply management system, allowing American milk into our market and failing to stand up for the people raising the animals that produce our milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products.
The Liberal government's decisions have resulted in 3% of the supply-managed market being given away three times. It happened with the European Union agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and again with the free trade deal with the United States and Mexico. All this is starting to add up. It is starting to have an impact on people. We cannot understand how the Liberals can keep saying they are here to defend supply management, when the reality is that they have given up nearly 10% of the market in all these free trade deals, at the expense of our dairy farmers.
There are also people suffering as a result of the housing crisis, which is real and is affecting many regions of the country and many of our big cities. Montreal had been largely unaffected until now, but recently the vacancy rate in Montreal dropped to under 2%. The mayor of Montreal is sounding the alarm, because this is putting tremendous pressure on rents and renters. It has been a problem for a while now in Toronto and Vancouver. That is why the leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, presented a plan to solve the housing crisis, especially for the people of Burnaby South, but also for the entire Vancouver area. The Liberal government is not doing enough when it comes to investing in social housing and affordable housing.
When the national social and affordable housing strategy was introduced, it came with a promised investment of $11 billion. That is a huge amount of money, but it is spread over 11 years. As someone who likes nice even numbers, it occurred to me that $11 billion over 11 years should work out to $1 billion a year. No, that would be far too simple. Actually, the billions of dollars promised will not be invested until after the next federal election, or even the one after that, that is to say, in 2023.
The people who are suffering today, who are struggling to make ends meet, whose rent is going up and who cannot afford to live in the neighbourhoods they have been living in, do not need help in 2024 and 2025. They need help right now. Unfortunately, the Liberal government is putting things off and refuses to invest in creating social and affordable housing. Montreal alone is in need of 12,000 social housing units.
In my riding, 78% of residents are renters. One-third of these renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing. We are talking about thousands of families and households that are living in poverty and who need help now. Unfortunately, they have not gotten any help with social housing from this Liberal government. In the short term, this would help mitigate the crisis many of our municipalities and regions have been experiencing.
The Liberal government has also failed on everything related to addressing pharmacare or the fact that people are struggling to care for themselves. Canadians have a hard time taking the necessary measures, as prescribed by their doctor, to look after their health. This forces people to either go into debt or make agonizing choices.
The government is also failing when it comes to the basket of services. How, in 2018, can a G7 country as rich as Canada not cover dental and eye care in our public health care plans? How can our pharmacare plan be so schizophrenic that a leg and the heart are covered, but the eyes and teeth are not? It is as though the plan does not see the body as a whole and is making choices about which parts it can treat.
As for the solutions proposed in the Conservatives' motion, we have very different views. We do not think that giving handouts to corporations is how we will stimulate the economy. If that were the case, it would have worked before. Between 2000 and 2012, under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, the corporate tax rate dropped from 28% to 15%. That is a nearly 50% reduction for corporations that make massive amounts of money.
Trickle-down economics does not work. It did not generate investments that would have led to good new jobs. Companies are sitting on $600 billion in wealth. That did not work.
The NDP agrees with putting a price on carbon, because failure to act now on climate change will end up costing even more than the investments or choices we have to make today.
Dealing with the increasing intensity and frequency of natural disasters will take a huge toll, both human and economic, not to mention the insurance costs. On this, we do not agree with the Conservatives' plan to do nothing about climate change. This is the challenge of our generation. We will be judged on the decisions we make now and on our ability to fulfill our commitments, for example to reduce greenhouse gases, under the Paris climate agreement. This is extremely important. I will be attending COP24 next week, in Poland, and I hope that the rule book is robust enough to enable us to keep our promises.
The Liberal government is not keeping its promises. Everyone agrees that it is not going to meet its 2020 or 2030 targets, which are not even ambitious enough to limit global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C. We cannot allow the global temperature increase to rise any higher than that. I am therefore calling on the Liberal government to stop providing oil subsidies and to not buy a pipeline that would triple the production of the dirtiest oil in the world, but rather to invest in renewable energy to create jobs for today and tomorrow.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to be sharing my time with the member for .
To say that competitiveness is struggling is probably the understatement of the year, in terms of where we are and how we are competing in energy, manufacturing and a number of different areas. One of the things I want to talk about today is how we move forward to the future.
One of the things that has happened in the U.S. is there has been a whole bunch of uncertainty created by Mr. Trump's tax cuts, his tariffs and a whole bunch of things that have gone on, which causes us all the more to be committed to being more competitive and doing things that are well within our control.
We cannot control when someone like Mr. Trump decides to give us increased tariffs, or decides to increase restrictions to make it tougher to do trade. This is why more than ever we need to do the things that we are good at. We need to do the things that, quite frankly, we are known for as a country. If we do not do these things, we are going to be left behind.
I have talked about pipelines and some of the issues we have right now. The fact remains that the current government vetoed the northern gateway project. Energy east was one of the ones that the government kept changing the regulations on. As a result of that, what happened was that we have seen some $80 billion, $90 billion, $100 billion in energy infrastructure investment flee the country.
Trans Mountain is a good example. We ended up buying the pipeline for about $4.5 billion, which means that we now own a pipeline. The challenge with that is that now we are going to be expected to rebuild the pipeline. Where private sector could do the work, we should make sure that we are giving it the tools, which is making sure there is a regulatory pathway and that people understand the process fairly clearly as they move forward.
I always give the example of when we were in government. Under Stephen Harper, we were doing a number of things, things that were important in terms of the ease of doing business or being competitive or being a place where people wanted to invest.
If I look at what the Conservatives did, it was our government that lowered taxes. We had the lowest corporate taxes in the G7 and G8. That was good. In and of itself, it does not matter unless there is a whole bunch of other things that are going on at the same time. Taxes are important. That is why something like a carbon tax, something which no one else is paying, certainly in North America, puts us at a complete and total competitive disadvantage.
I would say that the government has pursued and finished some of the trade deals that the Conservatives started. The Liberals brought some of the deals across the finish line. I will give them credit for that. They actually realized that those were important.
Trade deals in and of themselves are not the be all and end all. I totally agree that they are important, but if we keep going back to the whole issue of competitiveness, if we do not have the ability to compete globally, then no amount of trade deals is really going to matter because we would be less competitive, and we would not be able to compete. Already, we cannot keep up with the Chinese, and we are struggling under the whole issue of tariffs right now with the United States. That makes it problematic.
Infrastructure was something the Conservative government supported in a big way. There was over $30 billion committed towards infrastructure. It was not just roads and bridges, but it was also critical trade infrastructure. That is something the Liberal government has dropped the ball on. It talks about it. It said it was going to set up an infrastructure bank, but for three years there has been no money going out the door. We have lost three years, where we had an opportunity to look at infrastructure as a way we could help be competitive. Once again, it is one of those other things we are talking about.
I saw a recent Financial Post article which said there were over 4,100 projects approved, valued at $13 billion, but only $430 million had been paid out. That is obviously problematic as we look at missed opportunities over the last two or three years. That is something that needs to happen.
If I look at the infrastructure bank, in terms of what it is going to mean. What is it going to mean for small communities in the riding of Niagara West which I represent, communities like Pelham, Lincoln, Grimsby, Wainfleet and West Lincoln? Is there going to be an infrastructure bank that wants to come in and lend millions of dollars to build a bridge or a road? What is the return on investment? What is the payback on that?
I am left with the challenge that we have missed three years of critical infrastructure. If I look at trade infrastructure, whether it be ports, airports, highways, rail and the like, this creates a challenge.
As I said, at the end of the day, not only do we need to spend money on infrastructure in our communities, we need that critical infrastructure for trade so that we are able to become a trading nation. We have to look not too far to the west in Canada to see that we have all kinds of oil on railcars, which makes it tough for agricultural producers to get their products to market. That is a bit of a travesty.
Regulation and red tape is one of the largest issues. In terms of trade deals and non-tariff barriers, this fits into that category. There were things the Conservative government was working on, such the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council, beyond the border and things like that, which the current government has continued. However, if I look at energy infrastructure around pipelines and Bill and some other things, there are challenges. That is what causes people to sit on their money, invest it south of the border, in the U.S., with its regulatory framework, or identify ways to get their projects approved in a big way.
I sat on the red tape reduction round table. We went across the country and had conversations about how we could reduce red tape. This is something we will always have to work on. It is not just the federal government that throws up red tape; it is also municipal and provincial governments. This is something, quite frankly, every government needs to be diligent about.
On research and development, we certainly spend our fair share proportionally in R and D dollars, but at the end of the day, we need to make sure that we are not only getting the results we want but are able to commercialize our R and D. That was something the Conservative government looked at and worked toward.
With respect to entrepreneurship and access to capital in this country, there are a number of things we still need to do. The Conservative government looked at a $400-million fund for venture capital as a way of finding seed money, but there are still lots of opportunities.
At the international trade committee, one of the challenges we see every day is that small and medium-sized enterprises are challenged in getting access to capital. That remains difficult in terms of what they are trying to do. As we move through our work on the trade committee, we are not only looking at investment and capital. We are also finding that some of the trade programs are very hard to access by small and medium-sized enterprises.
When we look at competitiveness, it is not just about tax relief. I will note that in the recent economic statement, there was a commitment to an accelerated capital cost allowance, and I want to thank my colleagues for that. It may be too little too late, but it will hopefully help manufacturers that are trying to invest in new machinery that will make them competitive. Automotive, aerospace and advance manufacturing all need to continue to invest in their equipment. If they do not, they will fall behind fairly quickly.
As we move forward, there are a ton of things on the horizon that are very challenging. I know it has been mentioned before, but I need to mention again that having a carbon tax, when the rest of North America is not paying one, creates a competitive disadvantage. Increases in CPP and employment insurance premiums are coming in January, which will make it more expensive for businesses. We also have increased personal income taxes. I am never sure why any government thinks working people should be paying over 50% in income tax. I do not understand why, at the end of the year, we pay up to 53% and then throw on the GST or HST consumption tax. We throw on property taxes and a lot of other things, which does not make a whole lot of sense.
The last thing is the continuation of large and massive deficits. We are borrowing our children's future, and while the economy has been doing fairly well, this should be the time when we are saving money for a rainy day. When we start moving forward, as we spend too much money and continue to tax people, we will realize that there are only two ways to fix this, either with massive reductions in programs or with tax increases to pay for the massive deficits.
In a day and age when we are trying to be competitive, not only globally but with our friends and neighbours south of border, these are things we need to look at.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join this debate on our Conservative opposition motion.
The member for has put forward a motion such that all members of the House can find something to speak to that relates to what is happening in their constituencies or is affecting the people they represent.
I will focus a lot of my comments on the energy sector. I come from the suburbs of Calgary, where a great many families are still hurting three years after this government took power. It has failed all of them. There are a lot more people who are unemployed or underemployed today, and much of that relates to policy decisions made by the federal government. I will refer to some of them in trying to itemize the case against the Liberal government's economic policies thus far.
One of the things in the motion members will notice is that there are a litany of issues the energy sector and energy workers are facing today in Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and different parts of British Columbia. We have a government that is intent on phasing out the oil sands, but it is also hurting the energy industry and energy workers who depend on those jobs.
We have a who twice now has said that he wants to phase out the oil sands. The first time he said it was a mistake. The second time, he actually said it in Paris in its legislative assembly. Perhaps he thought Albertans would not catch on, but we did, and we know that he has it in for us. He has it in for the industry that accounts for over 20% of Canada's exports, in dollar figures. That is an incredible amount when compared to the auto sector.
We all saw the news of General Motors shutting down its plant in Oshawa. I, as an Albertan, and I know many of my constituents back home, feel the pain. We understand the pain of losing a job and being told that one is not welcome to come back to work tomorrow and is no longer needed. We understand it, because it has been going on month after month in the province of Alberta. People have been losing their jobs or have been told that they are not needed five days a week anymore. Someone working in construction may come in one day a week. A person cannot feed a family on one day a week of work.
There is a great Yiddish proverb that says, “If things are not as you wish, wish them as they are.” I wish the government would take that advice. Stop saying one thing and doing another. Stop wishing for the end of certain jobs in the private sector. Why not wish them all to succeed?
We have been given an incredible natural endowment of oil and gas. Alberta is also the sunniest province in Canada. It has the most sunny days of any province in Canada, which is a great boon for the solar power industry. There is quite a bit of renewable energy being developed and that has been developed by energy companies, because they are in the business of energy, whichever way it is delivered. Why not promote all of them? Why not defend all of them? That is what Alberta needs and what Canada needs.
We need a government that wants to champion the private sector, not meddle in the private sector. Let it expand, create jobs and do what it does best: provide prosperity for Canadian families. We do not need a government plan. We do not need a government strategy. We do not need government tinkering with different rules. However, that is exactly what we have here. We have a government that is more intent on creating plans and strategies and strategies for plans to plan for strategies, creating more jobs in the public sector here in Ottawa, instead of allowing the private sector to simply do what it does best. We do not have a champion.
Many members have said this already, and I am sure many members will come after me and say it. We have a government that has cancelled pipeline projects. The government strangled energy east to the point that TransCanada could not continue. We have a government that defeated northern gateway. We will hear government caucus members say that it was actually a court decision. Well, that is not true. There was an order in council cancelling northern gateway passed in 2016. Order in Council 2016-1047, passed November 25, 2016, cancelled northern gateway.
The government has crowed about a $40-billion investment in LNG, while we lost $78 billion in LNG development. That $40 billion was approved back in 2012 by the regulator. It was recently approved to go ahead by the private sector, but only after it got assurances in the final deal that it would be exempted from British Columbia's carbon tax, that it would be exempted from basically the last three years of bad economic policy passed by both the Liberal government and the provincial NDP government, in the case of British Columbia. If that is not an indictment of how bad things have become, I do not know what is.
The $40 billion project, approved in 2012, can only go ahead this year with the proviso written into the contract that the past three years of bad economic policy do not apply to them. I do not know what we could call that, other than that it is a form of corporate welfare. This project could not go ahead because the government has been intent on strangling it, making it impossible for them to continue to develop the project, create the jobs and the prosperity to ensure that they can provide taxes and pay royalties to different levels of government. We have a government that is intent on making it more complicated.
When I talked about our needing a champion, I want to reference one of my constituents who is always willing to send me detailed technical information. David Robinson sent me information about New York State pursuing a court case it has brought forward. It is a civil lawsuit against a bunch of oil companies, stating that they failed and disguised the carbon emission costs in their regulatory filings. It specifically targets the Alberta oil sands and Alberta corporations. This is a huge danger to publicly listed companies, especially those based in Alberta and Canada. With this lawsuit there is the potential that a state government and the attorney general of that state, Barbara Underwood, would force the companies to undertake massive write-downs if the state wins this case. Why is the government not championing the cause of Alberta and Canada's energy sector to protect our good name before the courts? The U.S. has a very litigious culture, but it is pursuing this exactly so that it can undermine our continued prosperity and ability to develop our resources. We do not develop our resources just for the purpose of developing resources; we develop them because they provide prosperity, jobs and income so that workers can feed their families. What the vast majority of people want is to be left alone. That is what we hear from countless Albertans. The slogan we have adopted is, “build that pipe.” We really do not care anymore which pipe it is; just build that pipe.
First, we hear the government members say that the previous government did not get it done. What they mean to say is that the previous government did not get a pipeline built to tidewater. It is difficult to get any pipeline built by a private corporation nowadays in Canada because the government and many of its caucus members were helped by volunteers and all of the different environmental groups that are adamantly opposed to any type of development at any time. Therefore, it is quite rich for the government to now turn the argument on its tail and deny that it got help from those environmental groups that opposed all development.
Second, what is ridiculous is that northern gateway got to tidewater. Energy east would have got to tidewater. The Anchor Loop upgrade that was proposed, completed and built by Kinder Morgan expanded shipping out of Burnaby. The Enbridge Line 9B, the Keystone pipeline, not the XL but the basic pipeline that went to Cushing, eventually went to tidewater in Freeport, Texas.
Therefore, to say that the previous government did not get it done is simply to ignore the facts as they are presented.
There is an order in council that cancelled northern gateway. That is an indictment of the government's ability to get any pipelines built. The people who have suffered from three years of bad economic policy are Albertans and Canadians who need these jobs in the energy sector. Canada's number one export is energy. The vast majority of jobs in Alberta are either directly or indirectly related to the energy sector. We have a government that for the past three years has been trying to impede Albertans' prosperity, the jobs that provide for our families and the opportunity that comes with that.
As I have said before in the House, we have spent a generation doing two things. We have attracted people to our province and convinced them to join the shared prosperity that hard work can create, even though we do not have the great advantage of beautiful west coast beaches. Also, we have spent a generation convincing young people and women to get into the STEM fields of the sciences, technology, engineering and math. Convincing them to do that took a generation. Because of the government's decisions and its three years of bad economic policy, all of that work has been undone.
I hope all members of the House will join me in voting for this motion.
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for . I thank the hon. member for for the motion we are debating today. Unfortunately, the motion has so many false claims and false premises that it is hard to know where to begin.
Still, I would like to start with the first part of the motion on the energy sector and Bill . We know that the Conservatives' approach undermined Canadians' confidence in how major resource development projects are assessed and reviewed. It was a failed approach that called for the comprehensive solution proposed in Bill C-69, which restores the balance between economic opportunities and environmental stewardship. Under this bill, good projects can move forward, which builds confidence among investors and Canadians.
That is one of the many reasons I will be voting against today's motion. This motion would bring us back to a time where some believed that it was acceptable to ignore public concerns, environmental protections and indigenous rights. Those days are over, but the impact of those failed policies is still felt today, especially with the price differential for oil, which is so harmful to western Canada.
That is critically important to remember. The motion does not mention it, but our government inherited a flawed review system that led to projects going before the courts rather than getting shovels in the ground. That is why our government has been taking steps since day one to ensure that good projects that improve market access move forward.
That is precisely why we have supported the Keystone XL project and approved the Line 3 replacement pipeline. It is also why we are helping producers build up refining capacity here in Canada, and why last month, in the fall 2018 economic statement, we announced major tax incentives for refiners and upgraders. It is also why the has written to the National Energy Board about ways to maximize existing pipeline capacity. Of course, it is why our government purchased and invested in the Trans Mountain expansion project, a $4.5-billion investment in Alberta's energy sector.
Today's motion is conveniently silent on all of those points. However, Canadians know that our government is a staunch supporter of Alberta's energy sector and that we have been since the day we took office. We are committed to developing Canada's resources the right way.
Now, to be fair, on the oil price differential, there are a number of factors behind the perfect storm that caused the almost unprecedented price discount. For example, there was a temporary drop in demand of over 900,000 barrels a day for Canadian oil when a number of refineries in the American Midwest were offline. That came as increased oil sands production was outpacing Canada's capacity to transport and export additional barrels.
As the said, all of these factors combined to create the crisis that continues to hang over the heads of Canadian oil workers. Albertans are suffering. They are worried about their future. In response, the Government of Alberta announced that it would reduce the province's oil production by 325,000 barrels a day as of January 1. We recognize that the province made this important decision in the interests of Albertans, and we share their frustration over the unacceptable price differential.
We have also made it clear that we cannot go on like this, because when Alberta suffers, all of Canada suffers. However, this price differential cannot be put down to chance or an unfortunate coincidence. One reason the withdrawal capacity is currently lacking is because of the Canadian oil sector's lost decade, a whole decade of inaction, when 99% of our oil exports were still going to the United States. Once again, there is no mention of this in the opposition's motion. Instead, the Conservatives' motion would repeal Bill C-69 in favour of their failed approach.
As we often say on this side of the House, our government came to office to do things differently, to do different things, to get the hard work done for Canadians.
Central to that was restoring confidence in impact assessments, improving transparency and enhancing public participation through project reviews, all of it reflected in our proposal for a single, integrated and consistent process, a process that would include the specialized expertise of federal regulators and a new Canadian energy regulator. That is important and, frankly, overdue. While the National Energy Board has served Canadians well, its structure, role and mandate have remained relatively unchanged since it was created in 1959.
Bill would replace the NEB with a new regulator that would have the required independence and the proper accountability to oversee a strong, safe and sustainable Canadian energy sector in the 21st century.
The new Canadian energy regulator would provide: a more effective governance model; greater certainty and timelier decisions; more public consultation; better indigenous engagement; and stronger safety and environmental protections. This new approach would also help to diversify Canada's energy markets, expand our energy infrastructure and drive economic growth. How? By ensuring that good resource projects would get built in a timely, predictable and transparent way.
Bill would actually tighten those timelines, eliminate overlap among review panels and make government more accountable.
Bill is part of our broader plan for moving Canada's resource sectors forward the right way, creating good jobs and real opportunities for all Canadians. Again, the motion ignores that larger context.
The motion ignores the fact that private industry is onboard with our plan. Across the world we are seeing companies take the lead in tackling climate change. For instance, Shell announced yesterday that it planned to link executive salaries to emission targets as part of its efforts to cut the net carbon footprint of the energy it sold.
Today's motion ignores the progress that the private sector is making. It ignores the generational investments we are making to drive innovation and support clean technologies in the resource sectors, including Canada's oil and gas industry.
The motion also ignores the new free trade agreement signed with the United States and Mexico this past weekend, which will greatly benefit Canada's energy sector. It increases Canada's competitiveness and investors' confidence. It will save Canada's oil sector more than $60 million a year in administrative and other expenses. Once again, the motion says nothing about that.
The motion also does not mention the 2018 fall economic statement, which responded directly to the recommendations of the economic strategy tables and the joint working group on the future of Canada's oil and gas sector, as well as industry comments from companies in Canada and abroad. They all called for measures to improve tax competitiveness and develop innovative, modern, flexible regulations to help companies grow.
We listened, and we took action. I am proud of our government's efforts. Bill is a key element. We are developing better rules for a better Canada. We are proving once again that our government is a strong supporter of Canadian resource workers.
Mr. Speaker, it is great to rise to speak to this opposition day. It is great to rise because we know the economy of Canada is strong. We know the economy is growing. We know that benefits all middle-class workers and those Canadians who are working very hard and diligently to join the middle-class. I am proud to state that.
I would like to offer my colleagues on the other side a chance to take a look at The Globe and Mail today and the article from the CEO of Linamar, Linda Hasenfratz. She talks about her company investing hundreds of millions of dollars in their plants in Guelph. She talks about the company competing and winning. She talks about Ontario being a place the world can invest in because of its innovation and highly-valued manufacturing. She talks about those jobs coming to the province of Ontario.
I, as a member of Parliament for the riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, know full well the economic contributions of our entrepreneurs who are working diligently, putting capital to work and employing thousands of Canadians and, most important, creating those good middle-class jobs that we want for Canadians and their families.
Three years ago, Canadians chose a government committed to growing the middle class and creating new opportunities for Canadians to succeed. They wanted a government that would base its decision on science and facts. They wanted a government that would be bold, that would be a trailblazer, that would lead, and we are certainly doing that. They wanted solutions that worked, with a proven record of delivering positive results for Canadians.
Canadians do not want Canada to be more competitive simply to enrich the top 1% at the expense of everyone else. Canadians want a more competitive Canada so hard-working Canadians have more opportunities to share in the benefits that come from a strong and growing economy.
We asked the wealthiest 1% of Canadians to pay a little more so we could cut taxes for the middle class Canadians, a tax cut for nine million Canadians over a five-year period, a multi-billion dollar tax cut for hard-working middle-class Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
With new measures like the Canada child benefit, we have provided real help to those who need it. These results are not built on ideology; they are built on facts and the facts are clear. Over the course of the past three years, Canadians have created over half a million full-time jobs. Many of those jobs are in the city of Vaughan in the riding I represent, Vaughan—Woodbridge.
The unemployment rate is at a historic 40-year low and the share of working-age Canadians with jobs is at an all-time high. Our economy grew at the fastest pace among our G7 peers in 2017, at 3%, and we are expected to remain among the leaders in growth this year and next year. Most important, the economic growth we are seeing in Canada is inclusive and Canadians are benefiting from it. Groups that have been under-represented in the labour force, such as young Canadians, new Canadians, women and indigenous peoples, are joining the workforce and improving their position in it.
Our successes in building a more competitive economy are far from over. We know, for example, that there is tremendous untapped potential within Canada's small business sector. By empowering entrepreneurs, we are empowering Canadians.
Seven out of ten jobs in the private sector are created by small businesses. We know that keeping taxes low and competitive allows Canadian business owners to keep more of their revenues so they can invest more in their companies and create even more well-paid jobs.
That is why we reduced the small business tax to 10% effective last January. In January 2019, the rate will be reduced even further to 9%.
However, there is still work to be done. Even though Canada's economy is strong and growing, we know that we cannot take that for granted. The Government of Canada listened to the business community. We understood that many businesses are concerned about their competitiveness, the recent tax reform in the U.S., and the impact that current international trade disputes could have on their bottom line.
We also know that Canadian businesses have what it takes to compete and succeed. In our fall economic statement, we looked for ways to encourage this investment in a responsible and targeted way so that businesses can have confidence in the future and be better able to invest in jobs for the middle class.
We continue to grow and strengthen our middle class here in Canada, the backbone of our economy.
Our fall economic statement proposed a number of tax changes designed to support business investment. These changes include allowing businesses to immediately write off the full cost of machinery and equipment used in manufacturing and processing as well as the full cost of specific clean-energy equipment.
We are also introducing the accelerated investment incentive to allow businesses of all sizes and across all sectors to write off a larger share of the cost of newly acquired assets in the year they are purchased.
These are important changes because increased deductions will attract more investment in assets that will stimulate business growth and make more jobs available for middle-class Canadians.
An accelerated capital cost allowance will grow our economy, incentivize firms to invest here in Canada and continue to invest here in Canada, and is something we can be proud of as a prudent fiscal measure in response to the measures that were brought in by the United States. We are doing it in a fiscally prudent manner. We are lowering our debt-to-GDP ratio. We are strengthening our fiscal anchor. We are growing our economy. We are strengthening our middle class, something we should all be proud of in this country.
The fall economic statement also proposes measures to do more to modernize regulations so as to make it easier for businesses to grow.
Perhaps my colleagues have heard people say that one of the biggest challenges for businesses is complying with all the necessary regulations imposed by the government. Members who have owned businesses might have first-hand experience with this. Let me be very clear: regulations play an important role.
We need to understand that regulations play an important role in attracting investment. Our regulations need to be transparent. They need to be effective. There needs to be a certainty. With bills like Bill , that is what we are doing. We are putting regulations in bills for investors to know and understand the rules that they face so that they can invest here in Canada and continue to grow our economy.
Regulations serve as a book of rules governing how businesses must carry out their activities, and they play a crucial role in protecting the health and safety of Canadians and protecting our natural environment. Over time, however, regulations can become outdated, and regulatory burdens can accumulate, making Canada a less attractive place to invest and do business.
In our fall economic statement, we are taking action to overcome that challenge, for example, by planning a review of the legislative provisions so as to encourage regulators to take into account efficiency and economic considerations. To that end, we are introducing an annual modernization bill to keep regulations up to date, striking an external advisory committee to look at Canada's regulatory competitiveness, creating a centre for regulatory innovation and taking immediate action in response to a number of business recommendations.
We are also taking steps to help make Canada the most globally connected economy in the world. With the successful conclusion of the new North American Free Trade Agreement, as well as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP. We are continuing our ongoing negotiations with Mercosur, and let us hope we can come to a trade agreement there. We know that progressive liberalized trade lifts all boats, strengthens our middle class, creates jobs here in Canada, creates jobs abroad, and is something good that we need to do for our future, the future of my children, and those great manufacturers and entrepreneurs located in the riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge.
Canada is now the only G7 country to have free trade agreements concluded with all other G7 nations. We want to give Canadian businesses more opportunities to grow and succeed. That is why we are proposing things like an export diversification strategy, to help grow Canada's overseas exports by 50% by 2025, with more help for small and medium-sized businesses, to help them explore new export opportunities.
To boost trade overseas, the government is also proposing accelerated investments in transportation corridors leading to Asia and Europe.
The actions taken by our government are not just making Canadians more competitive, we also want Canadians to benefit from being more competitive, with more jobs and brighter futures. That is what our government is about: strengthening the middle class.
Mr. Speaker, I know members are riveted and want to know the answer to a question that was asked of the last Friday in question period, and the member of Parliament for also brought it up. Earlier in debate, the member for Central Nova misled the House by saying that I do not believe in climate change. I want to put this to rest. Yes, I believe in climate change. Hopefully that puts—
An hon. member: Hallelujah.
Mr. Todd Doherty: Yes, hallelujah. I hope that is put to bed.
What I do not believe is how a carbon tax is going to do anything to bring down global emissions. It is not going to do anything to mitigate any global emissions and fight global climate change. Liberals like to say they have a plan when really it is a tax plan. The voters who elected our friend from should probably be a bit concerned. I guess that is what happens when voters elect somebody from away. He might have been born in Antigonish, but he spent his formative years outside the riding and that is what we are seeing here today.
I am honoured to stand in the House to speak to this motion, brought forward by my colleague and good friend, the member for .
I should have said I will be splitting my time with the member for .
It is fitting that the member for brought this motion forward. I am going to focus my debate on softwood and how the Liberal government's failures have impacted the hard-working foresters and forestry families who depend on forestry and softwood for their livelihoods.
I want to give kudos where they are due. The very first time the word “softwood” was mentioned in the House was December 7, 2015, and it was by none other than the member for . I want to go on record that I was the second person to say the word “softwood”. At no other time in the House has the importance of softwood and fighting for our forestry families been more evident than on this side of the House with the Conservative caucus.
It was not mentioned in the mandate letter to the minister and it was not mentioned in the first throne speech by the current government. As a matter of fact, the very first mention of softwood in Hansard by a Liberal member of Parliament was January 29, 2016. That is shocking. As I said, there was no mention of it in the minister's mandate letter and no mention of it in the Speech from the Throne. This is a $69-billion industry that provides a quarter of a million direct jobs and approximately one million indirect jobs. That is huge, and there was not one mention of it by the government. It has failed hard-working forestry families and rural communities. Over 600 communities across our country depend on forestry and yet the government, its economic policies and its failure to take action on critical issues are failing.
These are jobs in communities where there are often few other options: rural communities and northern communities. Forestry is one of the largest employers of our indigenous people, over 12,000 people, and an industry that works with over 1,400 indigenous-owned companies and suppliers. Softwood lumber is now being held ransom by an increasingly protectionist U.S. administration and the government's failure to act when it mattered the most.
The Liberal government has failed time and time again. There is so much fodder for us to use in today's motion. It is like a pre-Christmas gift. The fall economic update tabled just a few weeks ago did nothing to protect forestry jobs. The failed economic policies of the government are having a severe impact on Canadians right across our country.
Two weeks ago, notices of mill closures, work curtailment and layoffs swept through my province, British Columbia. There were hundreds of job losses in my riding alone. These are families who, just weeks before Christmas, are now facing tough times. What do they get from the government? Time and time again over the last three years, as we continue to press, it is, “Just hang in there. Don't worry. Be happy.”
West Fraser Timber, Conifex Timber, Tolko Industries, Canfor and Interfor have all announced some form of work or job action. Lumber producers in my riding have shut their doors because of the government's failed policies and inaction on critical issues. The Liberals are pandering shamefully to environmental groups. Over the last three years, we have stressed the importance of this industry time and time again, yet all we have heard from these guys is, “Hey, we've got this.”
B.C. is the largest exporter of softwood lumber to the U.S. The B.C. forest industry is the major contributor to the provincial and national economy. Every province is being negatively impacted by the government's economic policy, but nowhere are the government's failures in the forestry sector more evident than in my province.
Those members say it has never been better. There are hundreds of job layoffs, and it has never been better, according to them. That is like the tweet the sent last week, where he gave away $50 million. My gosh, when there are job losses in Alberta and B.C., how insensitive can he be?
There are a number of issues that are creating this terrible environment. I am not going to put all of the burden on the government. We have massive infestations, whether it is the pine beetle, the spruce beetle or the Liberals. That is what we are hearing. There have also been devastating wildfires in the last two seasons. In 2017, we lost 1.2 million hectares. In 2018, we lost 1.25 million hectares of fibre. It is getting harder and harder for our forestry companies to compete.
Another issue that these ministers and the government are aware of and yet have failed to act on is rail access for our forestry companies. In a recent survey, over $500 million of product had been stranded. The government has stranded our forestry companies and failed to deal with this issue. It would rather piecemeal this rail system issue with a smattering here and there, but our western Canadian producers are getting nothing. That is shameful. Eighty per cent of forestry mills in Canada are dependent on only one rail line. There are few other options, especially given a truck-driver shortage.
We also have a species at risk, which is the caribou herd problem. Canada has one of the most rigorous, environmentally sound forestry practices in the world. We are known around the world for careful management of our forests, yet the government continues to engage and put a priority on environmentalists and their programs, rather than on our producers, who are sustainable.
We also have the most sustainable harvesting in the world. As a matter of fact, just last week the government hosted a round table on the caribou herd issue. It brought in an activist group called the Natural Resources Defense Council. They had the nerve to say on the stage that in Canada, they do not replant their trees. However, it is the law that we have to replant the trees. As a matter of fact, in British Columbia, for every tree we harvest, we plant three.
That is what the government is listening to, and it is shameful, because it gives more credibility to environmentalists like Greenpeace, which wants to shut down our forestry companies. As a matter of fact, a few years ago, Greenpeace chose Resolute Forest Products as its next victim. Greenpeace went after it and its customers, and said that it is a forest destroyer and is causing caribou death and extinction. Then, when there was a lawsuit, Greenpeace came back and said that it was hyperbole, heated rhetoric, non-verifiable statements or subjective opinion, and should not be taken literally or expose them to any legal liability. That is who the government is listening to, and that is shameful.
We will always stand up for Canadian jobs, and we will stand up against the government's failed economic policies.
Mr. Speaker, it is nice to hear so many cheers, or jeers perhaps. I am pleased today to speak to our opposition day motion calling for the House to recognize the looming job crisis.
Liberals will stand here in the House, and outside as well, one after the other and spout off how rosy things are: super-duper low unemployment, best-in-class GDP, dropping levels of poverty for everyone, rising wages, all the work done for women in the workforce and the $40-billion national housing study.
Actually, I have just done as much work for all these items as the Liberals have, because all they have done is announce things and not delivered anything.
I want to look at the facts. It reminds me of the meme, “Annoy a Liberal, use facts and logic.” Well, I want to give a warning right now. I am going to use facts and logic.
Let us look at the unemployment rate. It is 57% higher than the U.S. unemployment rate right now. The U.S. has probably the largest disadvantaged and marginalized demographic in the free world, and we have a 57% higher unemployment rate than it does. We have the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the G7. We are ahead only of France and Italy. They have basket-case economies with low growth and high average age, and we are barely ahead of them.
I want to go over how the unemployment rate has changed in the last couple of years, since the economic crisis. In the U.S., unemployment has dropped by 55%. The U.K., which is dealing with Brexit, was still able to drop its unemployment rate by 50%. Japan dropped it by 38%. Germany has dropped its unemployment rate by 52%.
Where does Canada sit? Ours has dropped by 19%. It is great; every job created is a win, but why are we so far behind all the other G7 countries?
The world is riding on an economic boom and we are sitting out on the sidelines. We hear again and again from the other side that Canada has the highest GDP growth in the G7. Liberals used to repeat that every day, until I rose on a point of order and offered to table a document from the Library of Parliament, showing that we were not first. All of sudden, they changed their mantra to, “Canada has among the highest growth in the G7.”
In just the last couple of weeks, they are now back to saying we are the best in the G7. Well, here is where we are. We are not the best and we are not the second-best. We have fallen behind the U.S. and Germany. We are also well below the IMF advanced countries, mostly made up of the OECD countries. Our GDP growth is well below OECD levels, and also well below world GDP growth.
The government talks a lot about reducing poverty. Just on Friday, we were discussing its poverty reduction plan. We talked about how we are going to measure it from now on. Page 8 of the document, which has the metrics, is blank.
The government said on Friday that it is reducing poverty for seniors. The reality is that poverty rates for seniors have gone up since the government took over in 2015.
Regarding wages, the stood in this House and said that Canadians are seeing the strongest wage growth in years. Guess what? The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that basically the entire growth in wages is due to the increase in the minimum wages in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. We can debate all day whether an increase in the minimum wage is good or bad, and whether it takes away employment from those at the bottom or benefits them, but the reality is that the provincial government-imposed minimum wage increases basically make up the entire wage growth in Canada.
The PBO also stated that for the first time in decades we are reaching the end of a growth cycle without wage gains. People in Canada feel they are not getting ahead; they are falling behind. They are feeling that because it is true. Therefore, the Liberals say, “What the heck, people are in trouble. What should we do? Let us hit them with a carbon tax. Why not?”
With regard to women in the workplace, we hear again and again from the government about gender-based analysis and what they are doing for women. It is wonderful, but it is not working. Workforce participation for women has dropped since the government took over. It reached a high under the Harper era, but has dropped since the current government took over.
Time after time, Liberals stand here and brag about all they are doing, but it is not working. With the national housing program, on Friday, we heard Liberals talk about $5 billion this year. Former PBO Kevin Page, from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, has stated that he is only able to identify $1.5 billion over five years, not $5 billion this year. He says that the Liberals' entire plan for housing is just a glossy document.
Last week we held an emergency debate on the crisis in Alberta, where Liberal actions have led to the price of a barrel of Alberta crude being valued about the same as two lattes at Starbucks, and those are the tall size, not the venti.
I want to review the Liberal record.
First, the Liberals discredited the National Energy Board. The PM said it had been gutted and therefore that it could not be trusted. He said decisions would go back to being based on science, facts and evidence, as if the NEB were not already making decisions based on that. He said that the NEB would have to consider the views of the public. Therefore, it is science, facts and evidence if necessary, but not necessarily science facts and evidence.
Proponents jumped all over the newly discredited NEB. They used the PM's own word against the NEB's approval of pipelines, such as northern gateway. That pipeline would have brought oil to a deep-water port for large ships to bring it over to Asia. That was killed by the Liberals through an order in council. They will stand and say that it was a business decision. Rather, it was killed by cabinet through an order in council.
The Liberal MP for was in cabinet at the time. Calgary Centre is the heart, the headquarters, of our oil industry. He said that northern gateway was merely paused. However, it was killed. It just shows how completely out of touch the Liberals are with reality.
We asked the Liberal member of Parliament for to stand and tell the people of Edmonton that he would vote against the job-killing, pipeline-killing, Alberta-killing Bill , the “no new pipeline anywhere” bill. This is a bill to ensure that no new resource projects will ever be built in Canada again. He said he was proud of the bill and of the government. He was proud that the government gave taxpayer funding to Tides Canada. It is the same Tides organization that is funded through the U.S. and working to destroy the Alberta economy and jobs, and the current government gave money to it. He was proud of that.
He said he was proud of the carbon tax, a tax that sees Edmonton cement companies losing out on government infrastructure contracts to China because they are priced out of the market because of the tax.
He said he is proud of the policies that have sent people to the food bank in record numbers in Edmonton.
The Liberal member for said he was proud that the Liberals killed energy east by constantly moving the goal posts.
He said he was proud of his government rewarding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with guaranteed markets to the east coast by blocking Alberta oil.
He said he was proud to have voted for the tanker ban to landlock Alberta oil, all the while ignoring the fact that we have never had an oil spill on the B.C. coast. It is a testament to the great work of the Pacific coast pilots.
The Liberal member for said he was proud of the government and how it has driven Kinder Morgan out of the country with $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money to invest in Texas to compete with us and to let the TMX sit unstarted.
He said he was proud of the Liberal policy that sent hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to China for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to build oil pipelines in the suburbs of Beijing. That was taxpayer money from Alberta to China to build pipelines outside Beijing. By the way, not one penny of any of the infrastructure bank projects have gone to Canadian businesses.
Alberta is suffering through its worst crisis since Trudeau senior almost destroyed Alberta with his national energy policy, and today's Liberals are right back at it. It is shameful that the three Liberal MPs from Alberta are proudly watching this happen. With friends like these, Alberta does not need enemies.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
Today, we will be talking about economic growth in Canada and job creation. With the fall economic statement, the government continues to meet its commitment to strengthen and grow the middle class while investing in a financially responsible way to promote the strength and growth of the economy today and for the long term.
In the 2018 fall economic statement, we proposed improving competitiveness by allowing the full cost of machinery and equipment used in the manufacturing and processing of goods to be written off immediately for tax purposes, and by introducing the accelerated investment incentive to support investment by businesses of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy. That is good for the farmers in the Pontiac. It is good for the forestry sectors. It is good for my entire riding and all of Canada.
These changes will make it more attractive to invest in assets that will help drive business growth and secure jobs for middle class Canadians.
We propose increasing investment in the clean-tech sector by allowing specified clean energy equipment to be eligible for full and immediate expensing. This will help Canada achieve its climate change goals and become more globally competitive.
We also want to work with the provinces and territories to remove internal trade barriers so that businesses can transport goods more easily, harmonize food inspection and regulations, and harmonize regulations governing the construction sector, including building codes across Canada.
We want to make it easier for businesses to ship alcohol to other provinces and territories. My riding, Pontiac, is close to Ontario, and interprovincial trade is very important to us. I know these measures are of great interest to my constituents.
We also want to help businesses grow by modernizing federal regulations and encouraging regulatory bodies to take economic competitiveness into account in designing and implementing regulations while continuing to protect the health and safety of Canadians as well as our environment.
We will also create a social finance fund to support charitable, non-profit and social purpose organizations across the country with a new source of funding that will help them connect with non-governmental investors.
Lastly, I would like to mention that we are going to move forward on pay equity by ensuring that women and men working in federally regulated sectors receive equal pay for equal work.
In terms of the state of the economy, I am so pleased to be able to speak to the people of the Pontiac and say that our economy is strong and our economy is growing. At 3%, Canada had the strongest growth of all the group of seven countries, the G7, in 2017 and is expected to remain among the fastest-growing economies this year and next.
There are more and more good, well-paying jobs for Canadians. That is what happens when a country, together, creates 550,000 new full-time jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to a historic 40-year low. We are talking about a strong economy, both in the Pontiac and across the country. This is reflected in wage growth. Canadians' wages are growing. For the average Canadian worker, wage growth is outpacing inflation, and if current trends continue, we know that 2018 could mark the strongest year of wage growth in close to a decade.
Consumer confidence is strong. That is reflected in Christmas purchasing already. With more money, more jobs, rising wages and lower taxes for the middle class, Canadians are feeling confident about their own financial positions. This is reflected in consumer confidence, which is elevated, by historical standards.
Business profits are also way up. The after-tax profitability of businesses in Canada is elevated compared to the historical average, adding further positive conditions for more investment.
Then, of course, there is the federal debt-to-GDP ratio. My riding is very concerned about ensuring that we are in control of our expenditures. The federal debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to continue to decline and to reach 28.5% in 2023-24.
No discussion on growing the economy would be complete without mention of the environment. Protecting the environment and growing the economy go together.
Last month's IPCC report confirmed that we are the last generation that can stop climate change. We must act now. Last week, doctors from all over Canada called climate change a “public health crisis”.
Our government has a plan to protect the environment and grow our economy, and this plan is working. Emissions are going down, and since we came to power, Canadians have created hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.
We are putting a price on pollution, which is what Canadians were expecting. It is an issue we campaigned on, and now we are following through. We are phasing out coal to make sure that 90% of our electricity will be clean by 2030. We are making historic investments in public transportation and green infrastructure, including cycling trails across the Pontiac region.
As I mentioned, we are offering significant incentives to those who want to invest in clean technologies. We have placed a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Arctic, which is a very important issue. Lastly, we are better protecting nature through a $1.3-billion investment over four years.
Any serious government, any government concerned about climate change, understands that we need to put a price on pollution. The World Bank, former Conservative prime ministers, a Nobel Prize winner and business leaders from across our country all support this.
For a decade, the Conservatives had the chance to do something about it, and they did not take that opportunity. Because they could not grow the economy or protect the environment, it seems they chose to do neither.
I would posit that the Conservatives of today are no different from the Conservatives of the Harper era. Instead of bringing ideas to the table, they are fearmongering. They are trying to play the same old game. They are ignoring the cost of climate change, which has impacted Pontiac severely, with floods, droughts and terrible weather events. Ignoring the cost of climate change is putting the future of our kids and grandkids at risk.
The Conservatives have no climate plan, none whatsoever. They have no intention of creating one, so far as we can tell. It is irresponsible. Canadians deserve better.
That is why today, on my Facebook page, Will Amos-Pontiac, Canadians can see the open letter I have written to Andrew Scheer. I am talking about the leader of the official opposition—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Speaker, I would like to address some concerns raised by my colleagues across the way about the ongoing softwood lumber issue. This is an important sector of the Canadian economy, as we know, that supports thousands of jobs in communities across our land, creating many positive spinoffs in related industries and services. Of course, we are focused on modernizing and on making sure that we have efficient, environmentally sustainable lumber companies. We have the potential to serve the entirety of the market here in Canada, in the United States and around the world.
In the U.S., where there is a demand for lumber that exceeds supply, housing and other industries rely on Canada for stable, predictable access to quality products. When not available, house prices in the United States have increased by a significant amount due to the increase in softwood lumber prices, which is a direct result of the imposition of U.S. tariffs on Canada's softwood lumber. This dispute has become one of the most enduring trade disputes between our nations, with a history of well over 25 years. Indeed, it goes back close to 80 years.
Over the past 25 years, the United States' lumber industry has frequently sought U.S. government restrictions on reliable, high-quality Canadian softwood lumber imports through the application of import duties. The countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Canadian softwood lumber are entirely unjustified. Canada believes that these determinations are inconsistent with U.S. trade law and with the international trade obligations of the United States under the World Trade Organization. In the past, U.S. claims have always been found to be without basis. Canada believes this, once again, to be the case.
Our government remains committed to vigorously defending the interests of the Canadian softwood lumber industry. Starting in late 2017, the Government of Canada initiated dispute settlement proceedings under the NAFTA chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism. Canada is pursuing three challenges before NAFTA chapter 19 panels: against the countervailing duty determination, against the anti-dumping duty determination, and against the U.S. International Trade Commission's finding of material injury.
We worked very hard to maintain the independent and impartial chapter 19 binational panel review mechanism for anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations in the new NAFTA, which is one of the immediate by-products of the good work that went into that. The modernized NAFTA preserves this binational panel in chapter 19. It enhances the existing exclusion of NAFTA partners from global safeguard action. It adds new elements that strengthen cooperation on duty evasion, and it enhances transparency in trade remedy investigations. These are good things.
Given the integrated nature of the North American economy, it is important to minimize these disruptions that can, as we have seen, result from the imposition of unfair and unjust trade remedies and trade tariffs, such as those on steel and aluminum. This outcome ensures that trade remedies are applied in a fair, transparent and responsible way while maintaining recourse, when necessary, to an impartial binational panel.
Canada is also challenging the U.S. final determinations on softwood lumber through the World trade Organization. The WTO Director-General has appointed panellists to rule on Canada's challenge of the U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing duty determinations. We have submitted briefs in both cases. A second anti-dumping hearing took place very recently, on December 4, and the first hearing on the countervailing duty case will take place from February 26 to February 28, 2019.
On June 1, 2017, the Government of Canada announced a softwood lumber action plan in the amount of $867 million over three years. This was aimed at supporting the needs of affected workers and communities. This plan strengthens the forest industry and diversifies markets for Canadian wood and wood products. It also includes a basket of resources, over three years, of $105 million from the Business Development Bank and up to $500 million from Export Development Canada to viable firms. That is the Canadian government in action. On top of that, it includes an additional $90 million to help reduce layoffs, by extending the duration of work-sharing arrangements, and to help affected workers upgrade their skills.
Our government is committed to opening new markets for our softwood lumber. The , the and the all have been actively pursuing such objectives.
The softwood lumber dispute is historically an extremely challenging issue. Our government has allocated a tremendous amount of resources, totalling almost $1 billion, to alleviate the suffering that has been imposed by these unfair and unjust duties by the Americans on their Canadian compatriots.
With regard to the way forward on NAFTA, Canada will only accept an agreement that reflects the interests of the Canadian softwood lumber sector. In the interim, we will continue to stand up for forestry workers and communities that depend on this critical sector of Canadian economy.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from . I am delighted to be rising in the House to discuss the motion introduced by our party today with Canadians and my colleagues in the House. Our motion highlights the Liberal government's constant failures with measures it has been responsible for implementing in the more than three years it has been in office. Fortunately for those tuning in, we are more than halfway through the Liberals' term, and the next election is just around the corner. Everyone will have a chance to do themselves a good turn and try to get this country straightened out.
The motion is an opportunity for the government to fix its mistakes from the past three years and more. The economic update tabled by the and the , who presumably have the occasional chat before tabling such documents, does everything it can to convince Canadians that the economy is doing well under their policies. Unfortunately, that is not true.
We need only look to what is happening in Oshawa, Quebec, in the VIA Rail file, or in Alberta, western Canada, and in the natural resources and oil sector, which is floundering because this government lacks the will to support workers across the country.
I am also going to take this opportunity to talk about deficits and conflicts between different provinces and the federal government. God knows that we, in this place, have a responsibility to work with other levels of government. However, that is not happening.
Then, I will speak about the carbon tax, which negatively affects Canadians and increases their cost of living. We see what is happening in France, where workers are tired of handing over the money they work so hard to earn every day. These men and women see the government taking money out of their pockets and then have fun sending out tweets, like the did, on the weekend, when he told his friends that he had $50 million to donate because he wants to run with rock stars.
I am going to talk about the carbon tax, the deficit, Trans Mountain, marijuana legalization and, if I have time, illegal immigration, which is costing a fortune. I hope to have time at the end of my speech to talk about the government's ethics problems and a number of Liberal MPs who are tarnishing our international image and hurting our economy.
I will start with the economic agreement that was just signed with the Americans. On the weekend, the government went and signed a document that is going to be of no help whatsoever to our economy. That is clear from what happened in Oshawa, regardless of what the government would have us believe. The agreement sends a message to our farmers and our steel and aluminum workers that they do not matter. It gives the Americans a say over our economic sovereignty. If we want to negotiate economic agreements with certain countries, we have to get the Americans' permission first. What is more, our signed the agreement without making sure the American President would lift the steel and aluminum tariffs.
Moreover, we still do not know what the government will do to help our dairy farmers. One thing we do know is that prescriptions will cost Canadians more. Our government is not helping small and medium-sized businesses be competitive, but the U.S. government is supporting American businesses by lowering their taxes so they can create jobs and invest.
Foreign investment in Canada has declined by 50% since the Liberals took office. The impact is clear from the indicator of foreign investment in Canada.
It is also clear that our entrepreneurs, our men and women who invest their money to create jobs, are headed for difficult times very soon. There has been a direct impact in Oshawa. GM decided to close its plant and let 2,500 workers go. These are the jobs that will be directly impacted, but if we add on all the collateral sectors, the closure will affect almost 10,000 jobs. When it signed the economic agreement, however, the government told us outright that it wanted to support Ontario's auto industry. That is another Liberal government failure.
On top of that, there are all the disputes the government is having with different provinces. We expect a prime minister to work with the provinces. Since our Prime Minister was elected, he has clashed with Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick over the carbon tax. I want to repeat that this tax hurts Canadians and families who still need gas every day to get around. This tax is going to increase the cost of food, goods, and things we need every day to live.
There is also a dispute with British Columbia and Alberta over the Trans Mountain pipeline. The government took $4.5 billion of our money, Canadians' money, and gave it to a U.S. company to build a pipeline in another country. The government was unable to create the right conditions for private business to support our natural resources sector.
On the issue of the legalization of cannabis, the government is at odds with Quebec and Manitoba. The is at odds with 79% of the population if we add up all these provinces and their populations. That is not the kind of leadership we expect from a prime minister.
I spoke about the carbon tax earlier. My colleague's motion makes clear mention of it. This tax simply allows the government to take even more money out of taxpayers' pockets. There is absolutely no evidence to show that a carbon tax will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are calling on the government to show us the numbers, if they exist. The reality is that there are no numbers. The proof is that, since the Liberal government has been in office, it has not managed to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, unlike the Conservatives, who, despite everything the Liberals have been saying, succeeded in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2.2%, I believe, while growing the economy.
There are a lot of problems. I spoke about the Trans Mountain pipeline earlier. I do not have much time left, but I really want to mention the deficit. For three years, the government has been tabling budgets that our children and grandchildren will have to pay for. The government promised to run small deficits in the first two years with a gradual return to a balanced budget by 2019, before the next election. The former Conservative government was able to balance the budget when it was in office three years ago.
The government is adding $20 billion per year to the national debt. That is enough to build about 50 NHL arenas. Just to be clear, if we were to add up all of the deficits the Liberals are racking up, 250 communities across Canada could have an NHL arena. The way things are going, it will take over 30 years to balance the budget, unless we stop them, as we plan to do next year.
The government has made many mistakes, and those mistakes will have consequences. I therefore encourage my colleagues to vote in favour of the motion moved by the hon. member for . I will read it.
That the House: (a) recognize the severity of the looming job crisis in Canada caused by the failed economic policies of the Liberal government, especially for (i) workers in the energy sector impacted by the Liberal carbon tax, the no-more-pipelines Bill C-69, and the ban on offshore oil tankers, (ii) workers in the auto and manufacturing sector impacted by the Liberal carbon tax and failed policies that put Canada in a competitive disadvantage, (iii) workers in the steel and aluminum sectors impacted by the Liberals’ failure to have tariffs removed from their products during NAFTA negotiations, (iv) workers in the forestry sector impacted by the Liberals’ failure to resolve the softwood lumber dispute during NAFTA negotiations, (v) farmers impacted by increased input costs due to the Liberal carbon tax, (vi) workers in sectors that rely on those above, whose jobs and incomes depend on the vitality of the Canadian economy, (vii) workers in all sectors impacted by the toxic [and I think this is a great adjective to describe it] medley of carbon taxes...
I did not finish reading out the motion, but I urge everyone to read the whole motion, which I am very proud of, and to vote for it.