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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 373

CONTENTS

Tuesday, January 29, 2019




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 373
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business ]

  (1005)  

[Translation]

Bill C-421—Citizenship Act

Vote on the Designation of an Item 

     The Chair wishes to make a brief statement on the manner in which the secret ballot vote will be conducted on the designation of Bill C-421, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adequate knowledge of French in Quebec).
    The Chair wants to clarify some of the procedures to ensure that the proceedings unfold in an orderly fashion.
    Members may obtain their ballot from the table officer seated on their side of the chamber. However, during routine proceedings, statements by members and question period, the ballots will be handed out in the hall behind the Speaker's chair.

[English]

    Members will then be able to mark their ballots in secret at the two voting stations situated in the corridor behind the Speaker's chair. Completed ballots are to be deposited in the ballot box, which will be placed at the foot of the table during Routine Proceedings, Statements by Members and Oral Questions. The ballot box will be placed behind the Speaker's chair so as not to disrupt the proceedings in the chamber.
    I trust this now clearly explains to all hon. members how proceedings will be conducted. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 92(4), I now direct that the vote on the designation of Bill C-421 commence.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Montcalm on a point of order.

Point of Order

Vote on the Designation of an Item  

[Point of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today not to speak about the method you will be using for the next secret ballot on the votability of Bill C-421, which was introduced by the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, but to ask that the result of the secret ballot be announced at the same time as the result of the vote.
    We therefore ask that the Speaker announce not only whether Bill C-421 is votable or not, but also the number of votes in favour and votes against.
    Standing Orders 92(4)(a) and 92(4)(b) have been used only once before. Mr. Speaker, on that occasion, you followed the practice following upon the election of the Speaker, which is to announce the result of the vote with no reference to the number of ballots cast for each side of the question.
    On November 27, 2017, my NDP colleague from New Westminster—Burnaby clearly articulated one of the issues surrounding the announcement of ballot results. On that day, he said:
     This place runs on precedent and previous practice and the only other use of a secret ballot vote in the House is for the election of the Speaker. That procedure is prescribed by Standing Orders 2 through 7 and they are designed to show the importance of the following of these rules.
    It is rather ironic to compare the election of a Speaker of the House of Commons, which falls under sections 44 and 49 of the Constitution Act of 1867, to the votability and thus the constitutionality of Bill C-421, which should be considered as part of the regular legislative work of the House.
    We understand full well why it is important to protect and not undermine a new Speaker by not divulging the number of supporting votes he or she received. That helps prevent the Speaker's mandate from being challenged, but who is the government trying to protect in the case of Bill C-421?
    The purpose of the secret ballot under Standing Order 92(4)(b) is to allow members to vote freely without their party whip knowing how they voted, but how would we know if the vote was in fact whipped?
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Luc Thériault: If any of the members opposite have something to say, then they should rise and say it; otherwise, they should let me talk.
    The government is trying to muzzle the opposition by saying that the bill is clearly unconstitutional, when that may not in fact be the case. We are not calling into question the secret ballot, but we believe that it is essential that the number of members who are in favour and the number who are opposed be made known, precisely to counter the government's will to impose a gag order.
    To put this in context, a bill can be rejected if it is clearly unconstitutional. The third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice from 2017 is very clear on the subject:
     Bills and motions must not clearly violate the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
     During his testimony in committee, a House of Commons law clerk explained that Bill C-421 was not clearly unconstitutional because arguments could be made both for and against its constitutionality. Unfortunately, the Liberal majority decided otherwise, not based on whether the bill was unconstitutional, but for its own partisan reasons.
    Over the next two days, members will decide whether private member's Bill C-421 can be designated votable. This matter relates to the legislative procedure governing private members' bills, which is something we have dealt with about a thousand times since the last election. It is not a constitutional matter like the election of the Speaker of the House.
    It is rare that we see such an obvious imbalance between parliamentary democracy and partisan politics within the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
    For the government to use its majority to defeat a bill after debate in the House is one thing, but for it to stop the debate before it begins is another thing altogether.

  (1010)  

    Civic debate must be allowed in Parliament. What is the point of debate otherwise, if not to serve a parliamentary dictatorship?
    Disclosing the vote results, while respecting each member's secret vote, would fall in line with what seems to me should be the goal of this Parliament in the 21st century, namely transparency and democracy.
    For the same reasons given by the member for New Westminster—Burnaby, for the additional reasons I just outlined regarding the spirit in which the standing order was written, and for the reasons I mentioned about avoiding the kind of obfuscation that can undermine the vitality of parliamentary democracy, we are asking that the vote results be disclosed, specifically the number of votes in favour of the bill and the number against.
    I thank the hon. member for Montcalm for his arguments. I think he will have to seek the unanimous consent of the House, but I will consider the matter and submit my response to the House today.
    I understand that the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel is rising on a question of privilege.

Privilege

The hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel  

[Privilege]
    Mr. Speaker, on December 13, 2018, at the end of the very last sitting of the House before the long Christmas adjournment, the hon. NDP member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley raised another question of privilege about me.
    At that time, the NDP member had the following information in his possession.
    First, he knew that on April 25, 2018, I issued a press release in which I announced that I intended to step down for very serious personal and family reasons and that in the meantime I would continue performing my duties as MP.
    Second, he knew that I was present in the House until the adjournment in June. In fact, on June 12, 2018, I rose in the House to thank my constituents and wish my colleagues well.
    Third, on November 6, 2018, I publicly announced that I would be resigning on January 22, 2019, and that I would be donating my MP's salary as of that date.
    Fourth, two days after the announcement of my resignation and the donation, the NDP member submitted a request for an inquiry by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, who I will henceforth simply refer to as the commissioner.
    In this request, the member alleged that I breached the conflict of interest code by collecting my salary and not being present in the House during certain periods.
    Fifth, on November 26, 2018, the NDP member raised a question of privilege about the same issues found in his complaint to the commissioner.
    Sixth, on December 11, 2018, I addressed the House in response to the question of privilege raised by the member, who admitted that he was aware of my comments, including the statement that I would not keep my salary for the period from the fall to the return of the House.
    Seventh, on December 11, 2018, the Chair ruled on the NDP member's question of privilege and concluded the following:

[English]

    The member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel provided the House with his reasons for his absence.

[Translation]

    He added:

[English]

...the Chair finds that there is no prima facie question of privilege....

[Translation]

    I want to share some other facts with the House.
    On January 11, 2019, the ethics commissioner ruled on the NDP member's call for an investigation. I had previously submitted everything required, as well as the information and answers to the questions asked of me.
    In his ruling on the NDP member's request for an investigation into me, the commissioner stated the following:
    Based on your statements and on the information you submitted describing how you continued to carry out your parliamentary duties while engaging in extra-parliamentary activities, I've decided that an investigation is not warranted in the circumstances, and have informed [the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and his colleague] of my decision.
    Even though the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley was trying every trick in the book to damage my good reputation, all of his complaints and recriminations were rejected by the appropriate authorities. I remind members that no one else has made any accusations against me.
    Since the member waited until December 13, 2018, just before the break, to raise the new question of privilege, you indicated that it would be dealt with when the House reconvened. I asked whether I could respond to it during the break. I intended to resign my seat on January 22. That day, I received a message from you saying that, if I wanted to respond to the NDP member's question, then I would have to do so in the House when it reconvened.
    Although your message was dated January 21, I was unable to read it until the next day because of technical difficulties. Since yesterday's schedule involved dealing with protocol issues, today is the first opportunity I have had to respond.
    On December 11, I responded in French to the NDP member's November 26 question of privilege. I wrote the response myself. When drafting his December 13 question of privilege, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley made a very surprising choice. He chose to rely on the English translation that I had nothing to do with drafting. The NDP member chose to ignore the original French version and rely only on the translation.
    I will never ever, under any circumstances, apologize to anyone for speaking in French. French is the language of this country, my county. French is the language Canada was built on. Although I cannot and do not plan to force anyone to learn it, I can still insist that it be shown the proper respect.
    It is true that I switch between English, French and also Italian when speaking to my colleagues. Let us agree that this is each person's choice to make. In Quebec and in the other provinces in general, I work with Canadians in the language of their choice. However, when I rise in the House, I mainly speak in the first language I learned at school, after my mother tongue, Italian, which I still speak on a daily basis, as does my entire family.
    The NDP MP ignored my French statement. If he had bothered to use the language spoken by the other Canadians he represents, he would have realized I did not say the words he attributed to me. What I said was “je n'empoche pas de salaire”, meaning I am not pocketing any salary. If he had just checked, he would know that “empocher” means “collect”.

  (1015)  

    Furthermore, he knew that I had also said, in the same statement, that I would not keep my MP's salary for the period in the fall when I was not present in the House.
    The NDP member was aware of all these facts and knew that I was not keeping my salary for the period beginning with the return of the House last September. Nevertheless, he chose to tell the House that I had been absent for eight months, although he knew full well that that was false because he referenced a statement I made in the House in June 2018, around the time of adjournment for the summer. His statement is false and the member who made it knew that it was false.
    The vagaries of life would have it that, one way or the other, I would not have been able to carry out my mandate. Nevertheless, I served my constituents to the end. I was not present in the House, but I continued my work as an MP and worked on a cause that is dear to me. At the beginning of my leave I chose not to keep my salary. I was also very clear with those I spoke to. I did not publicize it because, during my career, I made charitable donations in addition to volunteering.

  (1020)  

    Order. Would the member please tell me how much more time he wants? I would like him to conclude his remarks. I appreciate the points he raised, but I would ask him to be brief.
    Mr. Speaker, on December 11, you made the following statement:

[English]

...the presence...in the Chamber is largely a function of politics, not procedure or law.

[Translation]

    Politics is certainly a part of all this, but there can be no doubt that, at all times, I acted, I worked and, above all—let me make this clear— I fought to protect my constituents. I believe in my country, in our values, and in my duty to stand up to danger to ensure their survival.
    On January 22, 2018, I announced that I was donating $100,000 to a cause that is very close to my heart and that I have worked hard to support: preventing impaired driving.
    That amount is much greater than the salary I collected during the period I mentioned. It is much greater than the $120 deducted per day of non-attendance in excess of 21 days as set out in the Act. That deduction was not made because I continued to carry out my parliamentary duties. Anyway, I would point out that, like many of my colleagues, I was switching Fridays from the start. On other days, like my colleagues, I had to be away from Ottawa to participate in various activities. There were also health-related absences.
    As I prepare to leave this place, I do not wish to draw attention to the fact that I worked without keeping my salary for myself. I want everyone to focus instead on the prevention work we can all do to make a difference. I helped establish the National Impaired Driving Prevention Week, created by Motion No. 148, which my government committed to supporting and was passed by all my colleagues in the House. We are in the early months of cannabis being legal, a time when we must all be extra careful and, above all, pursue and redouble our efforts because—and I cannot stress this enough—prevention saves lives.
    Although life circumstances dictate that I can no longer complete my term, there is no question that no matter how much time I have left, I will dedicate all my energy to supporting this important cause.
    In closing, I extend my hand to my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley, who has publicly expressed his doubts about pursuing his career in the House, out of concern for his family. I wish him well. If he looks carefully he will see that there are more things that unite us than divide us. For example, when I look at the things he is passionate about, I can say that I was the first MP in history to come to work in a fully electric car, one without a fuel tank.
    I would also like to say that I have nothing against him. My NDP colleague talked about cynicism in his question of privilege. Anyone looking at the situation could easily see it in a completely different way. It makes me wonder what more I could have done, in my case, to reconcile the service I owed to my constituents with my loyalty to my caucus.

  (1025)  

    Order.
    I very much appreciate the hon. member's comments, but I have already given him a lot of time, and he addressed several topics in his question of privilege. I asked him how many more minutes he needed to finish his speech and I did not get a response. The hon. member is now talking about something else. Perhaps he could conclude his intervention in one minute.
    Mr. Speaker, I continued to work, I fought for my constituents, I worked to save lives, and I made a $100,000-donation. If anyone can do better in my circumstances, I would ask them to walk the talk and prove it.
    I thank the hon. member. I will come back to the House with a ruling.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, it is a proud occasion to have the chance to speak in this new chamber for the first time.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, three reports of the Canadian section of ParlAmericas respecting its participation, first, at the Bilateral Visit to Panama and 3rd Gathering of the Parliamentary Network on Climate Change in Panama City, Panama, from October 1 to 5, 2018.
    The second report is on its participation at the 40th Annual Forum for Parliamentarians for Global Action in Kiev, Ukraine, on November 16 and 17, 2018.
    The third report is on its participation at the ParlAmericas meeting on Transformational Leadership for Gender Equality in the Caribbean, Bridgetown, Barbados, on November 19 and 20, 2018.

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Canadian Heritage  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage entitled “Gender Parity on the Boards and Senior Leadership Levels of Canadian Artistic and Cultural Organizations”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise for the first time in this new House of Commons.
    Pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 81st report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of committees of the House, and I would like to move concurrence in the report now.

  (1030)  

    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

[English]

Petitions

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition in support of Bill S-240 on organ harvesting.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present e-petition 1825 from more than 600 Canadians.
     The petitioners state that the Canadian government has publicly committed itself to the defence of human rights and that the federal law, the Magnitsky Act, has been passed, whereby the government has the power to take action against foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. They are concerned that the government has not taken action on Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Shumko and Volodymyr Balukh.
    The petitioners therefore call on the government to take action to protect the 60 Ukrainians who were imprisoned in Russia and against those Russian entities.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise for the first time in our new facilities, even though we are still struggling to get used to them.
    I have two petitions to present. The first is from numerous residents of Nova Scotia, particularly Pictou County. The petitioners draw the attention of this House to the ongoing threats from the kraft mill at Abercrombie, Nova Scotia. It has a long history of pollution that is causing concern locally. To deal with a pollution problem that for decades was handled completely inadequately by the Nova Scotia department of environment, the proposal the petitioners draw our attention to is to put a pipe out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This pipe will pump untreated effluent directly into the gulf.
    The petitioners call on the House of Commons to call on the Government of Canada to insist on a full environmental review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition was referenced already in the House this morning. It addresses the horrific problem of organ harvesting and of trafficking in human organs. Petitioners from throughout the GTA have signed this petition that I submit to the House today to end this abominable practice.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Federal Deficit  

    That, given the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year and that perpetual and growing deficits lead to massive tax increases, the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019 to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this new chamber for my first speech here, and may it always remain faithful to the principles and practices of its predecessor. That is our inheritance as parliamentarians and as Canadians.
    Speaking of inheritances, the Prime Minister inherited a massive family fortune. He has bragged about it. He has called it a family fortune. Because he has never had to worry about money, he does not worry much about Canadians' money. He believes budgets balance themselves. For people who inherit a family fortune, I suppose they do. He believes one can borrow one's way out of debt. I guess if one has always made other people pay for one's mistakes, that might make sense.
    However, for ordinary, everyday Canadians who get up in the morning and earn a living and pay their bills with their own money, none of those things makes sense at all. The problem with this mindset is not just that it dances riddles in the Prime Minister's brain, but that it plays out in real consequences for Canadians, consequences they feel in their everyday lives. Canadians are paying for his mistakes.
    Political life has only grown the Prime Minister's fortune. He forces taxpayers to fund his nannies while working Canadians pay for their own child care expenses. He was found guilty of breaking ethics laws by accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in free vacations from someone seeking a grant from his government. He accepted thousands of dollars in speaking fees from charities and school boards while he was being paid to work here in the House of Commons. At that time, he had the third worst attendance record of any of the then 308 members of Parliament. He even forced Canadian taxpayers to pay the expense for him to clown around India with a terrorist and a celebrity chef in tow, until that great country laughed him out of town.
    Canadians work hard and they pinch their pennies, so they laugh when the Prime Minister says that the budget will balance itself. Many of them, though, believed him when he put his hand on his heart and promised that the budget would be balanced this year. He looked them straight in the eye and said there would be three modest deficits followed by a balanced budget this year.
    However, now we know that not only did this Prime Minister inherit a fortune, but he is costing Canadians a fortune. The debt is growing to four times as much as he said. Far from being balanced this year, the budget will not be balanced, according to Finance Canada, until the year 2040. We know what this means, and that is the purpose of this debate.
    We know that this Prime Minister's out-of-control and growing deficit today will lead, if he is re-elected, to higher taxes tomorrow. Before we get into the case to prove that reality, let us just point out that not everybody is doing worse.
    The wealthiest Canadians are doing much better. The Prime Minister and people like him who have family fortunes, such as the trust fund finance minister, are in the class of the one per cent. According to the CRA, the wealthiest one per cent is actually paying $4.6 billion less in income taxes than it was in the final year of the previous Conservative government. This, of course, runs contrary to the Prime Minister's promise, but it is the factual reality, which his own department of tax collection has publicly reported, and which has been printed in the Globe and Mail.
    Unfortunately, for everyone else, those people without a family fortune, life is getting more expensive. Let us just recap why it is getting more expensive. When it becomes costly, the government makes life more costly. Deficits drive up interest rates and inflation in the present, and they drive up taxes in the future. That is why Canadians are consistently telling us they cannot make ends meet.

  (1035)  

    Half of Canadians now say they are $200 away from insolvency, not able to pay their monthly bills. I have an unfortunate message, a warning, for all Canadians. Yes, taxes have gone up under the present Prime Minister, but they ain't seen nothing yet, and let me give the evidence for that claim.
    First, the Prime Minister broke his promise and raised taxes once before. The average middle-class family is paying $800 more in taxes than when he took office. This is because he took away the children's fitness tax credit, the transit tax credit, the textbook tax credit from students and the education tax credit from those same students. That is in addition to the increases in payroll taxes that take effect this year and the carbon tax that takes effect on April 1.
    The Prime Minister took in all of the extra revenue from these taxes, and one would think that would have helped the budgetary balance, but instead the $20-billion windfall that resulted from higher taxes and a booming world economy has vanished, because the Prime Minister blew every penny.
    That brings us to the second point. The Prime Minister not only raised taxes, but he got caught trying to raise others. He attempted to impose a 73% tax on small business investment. He attempted to impose new tax penalties on family businesses that transfer the company or the farm from father to son or mother to daughter. He tried to tax health and dental benefits.
    He even tried to put in a new tax on what are called employee discounts, like when a waitress has a chicken salad sandwich on her 10-minute break at one o'clock in the morning. Her employer was going to have to put that on her T4 slip and force her to pay income tax on it at the end of the year. Thank God we caught the Prime Minister and forced him to put that plan on ice.
    He also attempted to take away the disability tax credit from diabetics. These tax hikes will all be back if he is re-elected, when he will no longer need voters but will still need their money.
    Then we have the carbon tax cover-up. It started with the blacking out of documents that I requested in an ATIP, asking for the real cost to average families of the Liberal carbon tax. The Liberals claim that this tax makes people better off. If that were true, surely they would be determined to release every single government document they have to prove it. Instead, there are dozens of pages covered, ironically, with black ink, which is of course a carbon-based product itself. They have not revealed how much carbon went into that ink either, so that is another part of this cover-up. That is only the first part of the costs they refused to reveal.
    The second part is that the documents they released that were not blacked out indicated that they will not be able to meet their climate change goals with a $50-a-tonne carbon tax. They now admit that it will require a $300 carbon tax. That is six times higher than they admit and 15 times higher than the tax is expected to be this year. Rather than, as the government claims, costing Ontario families about $600, when the carbon tax is implemented it will cost them over $3,000. Rather than costing the average Saskatchewan family about $900, it will cost that same family well over $5,000.
    Again, that is based on documents the government released, and the numbers are calculated based on the government's own figures. These are not the opposition's calculations; they come directly out of the government's documents. In reality, if Canadians re-elect the present Prime Minister, they will pay carbon taxes in excess of $3,000 per year in Ontario and $5,000 a year in Saskatchewan.
    The Prime Minister will tell Canadians not to worry because he will send them a rebate for $150 a year. Big deal. Trading $3,000 for $150 might make sense if one has inherited a family fortune, but for the folks who pinch their pennies in order to get by, that is a financial disaster. For families who are $200 away from failing to pay their monthly bills, that is a mathematical impossibility. They recognize that they are already paying for the Prime Minister's mistakes, and they cannot afford to pay a fortune more.

  (1040)  

    The next proof point that the government will impose massive tax increases if the Prime Minister is re-elected is the deficit. The Prime Minister promised we would have a balanced budget. He broke that promise. He broke his promise on deficits; he will break his promise on taxes. It is a mathematical fact that runaway and growing, permanent deficits must eventually lead to tax increases. The only way to avoid that is to set in place a plan, starting this year, to phase out that deficit over a reasonable time frame so that we can avoid the higher taxes that the Prime Minister is setting Canadians up to pay.
    This is an unavoidable fact. We have seen it before. Back in the eighties and nineties, the deficit grew and grew until the interest was consuming one out of every three dollars that Canadians spent on their federal taxes. Now we see the same trend. The deficit is growing, and so is the debt interest. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, by the year 2023, only four years from now, we will be spending $40 billion a year on debt interest. That is an increase of two-thirds from last year. We will be spending more on debt interest than the government currently spends on health transfers. In other words, that means money for bankers and bondholders rather than for doctors and nurses.
    Of course, when that happens, the Prime Minister will come back here and say that circumstances have changed and he can no longer keep his promises, and that yes, he denied and denied during the 2019 election that he was going to raise taxes, just as he had denied and denied that he would run long-term deficits in the election before, but that unfortunately he is going to have to make Canadians pay more. We can almost imagine him giving the speech now, a tear rolling down his cheek, blaming everyone but himself: “It is the world's fault. It is Stephen Harper's fault. It is John A. Macdonald's fault. It is Wilfrid Laurier's fault.” He could go further back into history, I am sure. There is no one who is more skilled at externalizing blame for his own failures than the Prime Minister. We can count on him to do it again in the future. If—God forbid—he is re-elected, he will impose massive taxes.
    It is a common characteristic of those who have never had to pay for their own mistakes. If people inherit a family fortune, they just pass on their mistakes to others and let them pay for it. That is how he has lived his life and that is how he has governed the country. However, Canadians can no longer afford to pay for his mistakes.
    That brings us to the fifth and final proof point: because he inherited a fortune, he costs one. He costs Canadians a fortune.
    Most people understand the basic principle of scarcity. When they are raising their kids, they will tell them they can do skiing in the winter or hockey, but they cannot do both, or they can have a great vacation at the cottage or at Disneyland, but they cannot do both. Most people who go out and buy groceries are going to make sure they get the best price for those groceries so that their dollar goes as far as possible. Someone who inherits a family fortune does not have any appreciation for that sense of scarcity, because there is always someone else's money to spend. It is always “yes” and “get me the most expensive one you can find”. That is exactly how he has run the government.
    Do members know that the Government of Canada is 25% more expensive today than when the Prime Minister took office? Does anybody out there in the real world believe they are getting 25% better services or products from the Government of Canada? I cannot find a constituent who can identify a 25% increase in the benefit.

  (1045)  

    If a grocery store charges 25% more than the competition but says to just trust it because it is worth the money, yet the product is exactly the same as before or worse than before, then really the grocery store is asking the consumer to pay for the brand name. Does that not remind us of someone? Even though it is way more expensive, worse in quality, costs more and does less, we would pay 25% more for the brand name.
    Mrs. Stephanie Kusie: It is Prime Minister's choice.
    Hon. Pierre Poilievre: Someone said that it is the Prime Minister's choice, not President's Choice. I thank the member for that very helpful intervention.
    However, there it is, the case that Canadians need to hear: if the Liberal government is elected with the current Prime Minister at its head, they will raise taxes, and those tax hikes will cost Canadians a fortune. We know this because he raised taxes before. He got caught trying to raise them again, and he covered up the true cost of the carbon tax. We will have to pay for his never-ending and growing deficits. Of course, he inherited a fortune, he spends a fortune, and therefore he will cost a fortune.
    I do not want it all to be about bad news, because in a democracy there is always an alternative, and we have a good one. We have as our leader the son of a working-class family who grew up with the same struggles as ordinary Canadians. He worked at a local restaurant in order to pay his bills and get through university.
    He had a driver too, but his driver was a bus driver. He talks fondly about how hard it was trying to convince a girl to go on a date when they had to meet at a bus station. He worked in insurance briefly before he was elected to Parliament. He raised his five children with the same values he inherited from his working-class family. Those values were that he had to work for everything he had, had to live within his means, and could not make others pay for his mistakes.
    We need to empower individuals and their families to get ahead through their own ambitions and hard work. It is not about us and it is not about him. It is not even about our leader; it is about everyday Canadians achieving their dreams through their own hard work. It is about putting people before government.
    Under our leader, we will make government live within its means so that life is more affordable and Canadians can achieve their dreams.

  (1050)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech, but I find it interesting that once again my hon. colleague quoted the Fraser Institute's numbers. He stopped for a while when he realized that they did not include the Canada child benefit or the CPP changes that our government implemented.
    Why is the member so scared to put up the Conservative Party's own economic plan and instead using false numbers and fake facts to try to scare Canadians into voting for them? Why will the hon. member not speak the truth and demonstrate the real numbers instead of using the Fraser Institute's numbers, which leave out a lot of the equation?
    Madam Speaker, I will list for the member all of the tax increases that she voted for and that the Prime Minister implemented, breaking his promise to the middle class.
    One, he took away the children's fitness tax credit. As his justification, he said that soccer moms and hockey dads are too rich and do not deserve a tax credit, according to him.
    Two, he took away the tuition and education tax credits, making working students, particularly low-income ones who have earned income, pay higher taxes.
    Three, he took away the transit tax credit, which again targets lower-income people who are disproportionately likely to take public transit.
    These are just some of the tax credits that he took away from everyday families.
    Another one that is very interesting is that he imposed new taxes on charities. It used to be that if a business person gave private shares to a charity, the transaction was exempt from a capital gains tax. It meant more money for charities such as food banks, hospitals, dramatic arts centres and other things, but he put a tax on that too.
    These are the tax increases he has imposed on Canadians. They work out to about $800 for the average Canadian family.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to wish the member a very happy new year. I enjoy working with him on the finance committee and will enjoy working with him going forward.
    However, we do not always agree. We do not agree on the rampant tax evasion that we are seeing from the wealthiest of Canadians. As members know, offshore tax havens and the exclusion of the web giants from having to pay any sort of income tax, or taxes of any sort, cost Canadians tens of billions of dollars a year. This means less money for housing, less money to support a national pharmacare program, and less money to make investments in Canadians.
    The Parliamentary Budget Officer tried to get a handle on this and had to fight for five and a half years, first with the former Harper government and then with the current government, to finally get the information for a report about this gap between revenues that should be coming in to make investments in Canadians and the money available to the federal government. The Parliamentary Budget Officer will be publishing the report this spring.
    My question is very simple. Why did the member's government stonewall for three years the Parliamentary Budget Officer's attempt to get the real information on the growing tax gap in Canada?

  (1055)  

    Madam Speaker, of course we did no such thing.
    However, the member is correct in pointing out that the wealthiest Canadians are paying less tax under the current government. The wealthiest 1% are paying $4.6 billion less in tax under this government. That breaks another campaign promise. It is a reality and it comes from CRA data. It was reported in The Globe and Mail in a very informative front-page piece by Bill Curry, a respected Ottawa-based journalist. That is a fact.
    Another fact—and socialist parties do not like to hear this fact—is that whenever government gets big and expensive, it is always the working class that pays. The rich guys always find a loophole. They move their money out of the country, their hire the best accountants, they go to the black market, or they just make the decision that they have enough money already and do not need to earn more, and therefore they do not have additional taxable income to declare and pay tax on.
    The reality is that big government always falls heaviest on those with the least. That is why we need to limit government and expand the scope of economic freedom: so that everybody, not just the wealthy and well-connected who have their hands in government pockets, can get ahead.
    Madam Speaker, I will be supporting the motion.
    One of the things I wonder about is what we got for all the spending. When we look at the facts, we did not get much.
    Here are four facts that prove we received very little for all of this out-of-control spending.
    The Liberals like to talk about how Canada, under their watch, has improved its standing in the world. Here is a fact: Canada's overseas development assistance goal is 0.7% of GDP. With the Liberal government it is 0.25%, one-third of our international commitment.
    Canada's NATO commitment is 2%. In fact, when President Barack Obama was in that very chair, everybody on the opposite side applauded when he said that Canada needed to meet its 2% commitment. Well, Canada spends less than half of that commitment on national defence each and every year.
    As well, Canada's climate change commitment is not going to be met. We are going to blow through the Copenhagen targets. We are going to blow through the Paris targets.
     Finally, the most important daily activity for millions of Canadians, some 15 million Canadians, is commuting. Commute times under the current Liberal government have gone up. In the GTA alone, it now takes over an hour for Canadians to commute each and every day, a 4% increase over the previous census—so what did we get for all of this out-of-control spending?
    Madam Speaker, I am afraid I cannot answer that question, although it was a good one.
    What did we get for all of this spending? It is funny that the well-informed, hard-working member from Ontario would ask the same question my constituents ask me over and over again. They say that they are paying more and that their government is up to its eyeballs in debt, and what do we have to show for it? We have a big embarrassing trip to India and legalized weed, and what else?
    We have a 25% increase in the cost of government, and what is there to show for it? We just have a more expensive government that is spending a fortune and is led by someone who inherited a fortune who is going to pass on to future generations a massive debt that will cost a fortune.
    Madam Speaker, it is such a pleasure to be here in the new chamber. It is my first opportunity to speak. I could not help but stand to talk about the member's motion to look for a rapid reduction of the deficit. I would point out that $16.5 billion of the expenditures announced in the fall economic statement were directed at business.
    My question to the member is this. If he looked at aggressive tax cuts, would he first slash the housing program for the poor? Maybe he would go after single mothers and the child benefit. Maybe seniors would feel the wrath of the Conservative plan. How about veterans? Let us not forget infrastructure, which we need so much more of. Maybe it would be the program of pay equity that would be the first to go. Would it be, finally, our efforts on reconciliation with indigenous people?
    I look forward to the Conservative plan to see who is going to be hurt first.

  (1100)  

    Madam Speaker, the government has achieved nothing in any of those areas. It is true. It is true that they are more expensive. It is true that everything the government does is more expensive. The only thing it uses as a success metric is how much money it has shovelled out the door.
     If we ask the Liberals how they are doing on, let us say, roads, they say that their road program costs three times as much as the previous government's, and therefore, it must be good. “Are you filling any pot holes?” “No, not filling pot holes, just costing a lot of money.” No other business, no other sector in the world, would judge its success by how deliberately and exorbitantly expensive it can be, none but the government.
    Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to participate in a discussion with hon. members about our government's record on good fiscal management. Our government has strengthened the middle class. We have provided real help to those who need it and we have grown the economy with more good, well-paying jobs for Canadians.
    By investing in people and in their communities, we have created hope and opportunities for success. Hard-working Canadians are seizing these opportunities, building better lives for themselves and their families. Over the course of the past three years, Canadians have created over 800,000 jobs. The unemployment rate is at a historic 40-year low, and the share of working age Canadians with jobs is also at a historic high.
    Our economy grew at the fastest pace among our G-7 peers in 2017, and we are expected to remain among the leaders in growth this year and next year. Most importantly, the benefits of this economic growth are being widely shared among Canadians. Groups that have been under-represented in the labour force, namely young Canadians, new Canadians, women and indigenous people, are seizing the new opportunities we are creating, joining the workforce or improving their positions within it and contributing to a stronger, growing middle class.
    Our government came in determined to help hard-working Canadians have more opportunities to share in the benefits that come from a strong and growing economy, and that is exactly what we have done. We have taken decisive and effective action, based on the shared values that define us as a country, to make Canadians' priorities a reality.
     We asked the wealthiest one per cent of Canadians to pay a little more so that we could cut taxes for the middle class. The middle-class tax cut is benefiting over nine million Canadians.
    We created the Canada child benefit. Compared to the previous system of child benefits, the CCB is simpler, more generous and better targeted to those families that need it most. It is also entirely tax-free. With the CCB, nine out of 10 Canadian families are getting more in benefits than they did under the previous system. Canadian children are better off as a result. The CCB has already helped lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. The extra support it gives makes a big difference for those working hard to make ends meet. This additional support from the CCB helps pay for things that can make a real difference in a child's future, such as nutritious food, sports activities and music lessons.
    Thanks to the middle-class tax cut and the Canada child benefit, a typical middle-class family of four receives on average of about $2,000 more each year to help with the cost of raising children, saving for the future and helping grow the economy for the benefit of everyone.
    With our middle-class tax cut and the Canada child benefit, a couple, one earning the average wage and the other earning two-thirds of that wage, with two children, now keeps nearly 85% of the couple's gross income. For a single parent of two children earning the average wage or for families with two children where only parent is working at the average wage, the benefits are even more significant. According to the OECD, when the CCB and other benefits are added to family income, those families effectively pay personal tax rates of just 1.8% and 1.2% respectively. This means that they keep more than 98% of what they earn. I am proud to be able to say that Canada is truly a global leader.
    We have gone even further to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are widely shared. In our 2018 budget, we introduced the Canada workers benefit. The CWB will put more money in the pockets of low-income workers, encouraging more people to join and stay in the workforce and offering real help to more than two million Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class.
    Beginning this year, the CWB replaces the working income tax benefit. The CWB will provide for a benefit that is more generous and more accessible. To give a sense of what this will mean for Canadians, low-income workers earning $15,000 could receive up to almost $500 more from the Canada workers benefit in 2019 than they would have under the previous system. That money can be used to support their priorities to get ahead, making a real difference for Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class.

  (1105)  

    With these investments in Canadians and a growing economy, we are proving what Canadians already know: a country cannot cut its way to prosperity. A different approach, one that includes smart investments and fair choices, is what keeps us strong, united and growing together.
    That is especially the case when it comes to Canada's most vulnerable. Rather than cutting services for the most vulnerable, we are supporting them while responsibly managing our fiscal track. For Canada's most vulnerable seniors, we increased the guaranteed income supplement top-up, which is providing greater income security for close to 900,000 seniors, 70% of whom are women, while helping to lift 57,000 vulnerable seniors out of poverty.
    We also introduced Canada's first-ever national housing strategy. This 10-year, $40-billion plan will give more Canadians a safe and affordable place to call home, lifting 530,000 households out of housing need and reducing chronic homelessness by 50%.
    Investments in infrastructure, including public transit, roads, bridges and ports that support trade, water and waste-water facilities, cultural and recreational infrastructure, and affordable housing, are helping to improve the quality of life for people across the country while setting the stage for sustained economic growth and the creation of well-paying jobs over the long term.
    In addition to support for Canadian scientists, researchers and innovators, new trade agreements, including the new NAFTA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union and the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership, will mean even greater economic opportunities for Canadians in the years ahead.
    Our government also recognizes the importance of a competitive tax environment for small businesses. Lower tax rates for small businesses allow them to keep more of their hard-earned money so it can be reinvested to support growth and to create jobs. That is why we have reduced the small business tax rate, first to 10%, effective January 1, 2018, and then to 9%, effective January 1, 2019. The combined federal-provincial-territorial average income tax rate for small business is 12.2% in 2019, the lowest in the G7 and the fourth-lowest among members of the OECD. For small businesses, our actions mean up to $7,500 in federal tax savings per year compared to 2017. For the average small business, it means an average of $1,600 per year to reinvest in new equipment, growth and job creation.
    Small business is a key driver of Canada's economy, accounting for 70% of all private sector jobs. The small business tax reductions introduced by our government will support jobs and growth in small businesses and will create new opportunities in communities right across the country.
    We are taking action to ensure that all Canadians benefit from the opportunities we are creating and will continue to benefit in their retirement years. We have worked in collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners to enhance the Canada pension plan so that Canadians can enjoy a dignified retirement. The CPP enhancement will be phased in starting this month. It will mean more money for Canadians when they retire so they can worry less about their savings and focus more on enjoying time with their families. Over time, this enhancement will raise the maximum CPP retirement benefit by up to 50%. This translates to an increase in the maximum retirement benefit of nearly $7,300, from $13,855 to more than $21,100 in today's dollars.
    To conclude, we have accomplished all of this—creating jobs and economic growth, investing in new opportunities in the future and supporting our most vulnerable—while carefully managing our fiscal track. We are being fully responsible in safeguarding the advantages Canada enjoys as a result of this approach to financial management. Canada's strong fiscal position has allowed our government to invest in Canadians while keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio on a downward track and protecting the long-term fiscal sustainability of Canada's economy.

  (1110)  

    Madam Speaker, the hon. member spoke about many things I disagree with. I am flabbergasted that she still contends that the USMCA, for example, was in any way an improvement on the previous situation we had under NAFTA. Canada made nothing but concessions in the context of those deals. The triumphs the Liberals pointed to were merely concessions they did not make.
    I want to ask this, which pertains particularly to the topic of the motion that was proposed. The government talks about all its spending. Does it, at a basic level, acknowledge that when it takes on debt it has to pay interest on that debt, which ends up costing Canadians more over the long term? In other words, if it does not have a plan to balance the budget, if it fails to develop such a plan, that failure has a significant cost to Canadians in terms of higher taxes. What ends up happening then is that we pay taxes not for social programs, not for the vital needs of Canadians, but we simply end up paying more and more taxes to fund interest on debt to pay bondholders more money. Surely, that is not in the public interest.
    Does the member accept, as a point of basic principle, that we should be, as much as possible, using our taxes to fund things for Canadians and not interest on debt that is continually being accumulated as a result of the failure of the current government?
    Madam Speaker, what I will first say is that I would take absolutely zero lessons from the Conservatives on how to manage a stable economy. The Conservative government added $150 billion to the debt in 10 years. The Conservatives speak about the debt, yet they added $150 billion. What did that get Canadians? Tax cuts for the wealthiest, low growth rates, high unemployment rates and cuts to things like services for veterans and Canadians. They did nothing to support seniors and to ensure that Canadians have a dignified retirement.
    Therefore, I do not accept the Conservative member's premise on how to manage an economy that grows for everybody. That is what Canadians elected us to do and that is exactly what we are delivering on.
    Madam Speaker, I wish the member a happy new year. I look forward to working with her on the finance committee. However, I found her speech absolutely unbelievable.
    At a time of the greatest housing crisis in our country and a family debt crisis that is not only the worst in our history but the worst in the industrialized world, with families struggling under record debt levels and unable to pay for their medication, their housing or their kids' schooling, the Liberals are saying that everything is just fine. It is not. Their misplaced sense of priorities could not have been more evident than last fall in the mini-budget when the Liberal government handed out $14 billion to Bay Street so that they could write off their corporate luxuries, such as a private jet or a stretch limousine, more quickly on the taxpayers' tab. This is a misplaced sense of priorities.
    When are the Canadians who are struggling under these family debt loads, and struggling in the worst housing crisis in our history, going to get the same priority from the current government that Bay Street always seems to get?

  (1115)  

    Madam Speaker, we agree that, after 10 years of fiscal mismanagement by the Conservatives, families were struggling. That is why they elected our government, which is focused on them, focused on lowering taxes for middle-class Canadians and focused on creating a more generous Canada child benefit. That is precisely what we have been focused on and delivered on. As I said in my speech, on average, a typical Canadian family will be $2,000 better off under our plan than that of the Conservatives.
    It is tough to hear the criticism from the New Democrats given the fact that in the last election they agreed with the Conservative fiscal plan, which was austerity, cuts and balancing the budget at all costs. We knew we had to make investments to support Canadians, which as a result have created over 800,000 jobs.
    Our plan is working and we are focused on Canadians.

[Translation]

     Madam Speaker, I found my colleague's speech to be very interesting. I have the honour of sitting with her on the Standing Committee on Finance.
    I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question. In 2015, when we decided to invest in Canadians, one thing we did was create the Canada child benefit. I know for a fact that, in my riding, it helped address to some degree the worldwide problem of the gap between the rich and the poor. The benefit certainly helped families in need and made a huge difference for thousands of children in my riding.
    I would like my colleague to comment on the Canada child benefit and the positive impact it has had on Canadian families.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the work he does on the finance committee.
    The Canada child benefit has been transformational. The member spoke of how the benefit is helping families in his riding, which is precisely its intention and why we knew that this type of investment was important. The Conservatives' motion today as well as the press conference done by the member for Carleton earlier is very concerning to me because it indicates that if the Conservatives were to form government they would make significant cuts.
    I suspect, since the Conservatives never supported lowering taxes for the middle class and they did not support the Canada child benefit, that is precisely what they would cut. They are going to cut the Canada child benefit. They are going to hurt the families across this country and in particular in the riding of the member who asked the question. Thousands of families would not be better off and the Conservatives do not care about the hundreds of thousands of children we lifted out of poverty. They just want to cut it.
    Madam Speaker, it is important that we make an accurate comparison today. When the previous government and our prime minister were in power, we faced the most difficult—

  (1120)  

    Dark days.
    Yes, Madam Speaker, it was dark days for the entire world and our government was the envy of the world for the way that we dealt with the issues that we were facing as Canadians. Canadians came out of that recession in better shape than any other country in the world. On top of having to go into deficit numbers for a good reason, we were able to turn around and have a plan to balance that budget to lower taxes for Canadians.
     The current government is spending carelessly at a time when it should realize we are in a good position. The Liberals are wasting Canadian tax dollars with no plan to balance their budget. Do you have a plan to balance the budget if you are so fiscally responsible?
    I want to remind the member that she is to address questions and comments to the Chair and not to individual members.
    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.
    Madam Speaker, if we are going to speak of a history lesson, maybe we should talk about the fact that the Conservatives blew through the Liberal surplus that was left to them long before the global economic changes. Let us talk about that for one second. In addition to that, I love how the member opposite referred to the investments we have made in Canadians as wasting money: things like the Canada child benefit, lifting hundreds of thousands of kids out of poverty; investments in transit; investments in seniors; and investments in veterans services, which the Conservatives cut. These are investments in Canadians who, after the dark days of the Harper Conservatives, said they wanted a change and a government that was working for them and not for the Conservatives' millionaire friends. That is exactly what we have been doing.
    Before I go to resuming debate, as members know, we have been trying very hard to improve decorum in the House. We have some repeat offenders here. I would hope that, just as they are afforded an opportunity to speak, they would ensure that there is no rhetoric being thrown back and forth. Therefore, I want to remind the member for Kingston and the Islands, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and the member for Yorkton—Melville to please refrain from having other discussions across the way or making comments when someone is speaking. I am sure that they would appreciate having that respect as well, and I know that the member for Yorkton—Melville experienced it a while ago when she was making her speech, where people were making comments during that speech.
    Therefore, I would again ask people to refrain. If they wish to partake in the discussion, they should ask to be put on the speakers list or they can wait until questions and comments.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.
    Madam Speaker, I will start by referencing the opposition day motion from the Conservatives, which starts to talk about deficits and ends up with the commitment that the government should never raise taxes of any kind.
    I will start with the issue of deficits. For those who have been following the political debates around the issues of deficits and debt, they could always ask, because every party seems to be raising this issue in the House of Commons, who they can trust when it comes to the issues of deficits and debt. The best way to find out who is credible on this issue is to consult the fiscal period returns of the Department of Finance.
    Over the years, every year, the Department of Finance in Canada tracks how governments of all types manage the fiscal pot that is available for investments in Canadians. NDP governments have the reputation of investing in people. New Democrats do not tend to give massive subsidies to business or a lot of giveaways to Bay Street. In fact, it's quite the opposite. We decry this because we think it is bad practice. We make sure that education and health care are taken care of first. We make sure that those investments go to the Canadians who need them most.
    With an NDP government, people can trust that seniors are going to have their pensions taken care of, that they are going to go beyond the cost of living. New Democrats do not believe that seniors should be living in poverty in our wealthy land. We take the principle that all Canadians should have a roof over their heads and NDP governments have historically been the best at creating housing and making sure it is affordable.
    With those kinds of investments, people would have to ask themselves who has been best at managing deficits. What the Department of Finance's fiscal period returns tell us year after year—we are not talking about a three-year snapshot or a 10-year snapshot, we are talking about the last 40 years—is that Liberal governments historically are not very good at handling deficits. In fact, they have the worst record. The second worst record belongs to Conservative Party administrations. The reality is that even though New Democrats do not put that forward as our number one issue, NDP governments historically, according to Finance Canada, have been the best at balancing budgets and paying down debt.
    That is not something New Democrats carry forward because we believe that, primarily, the business of government is to make sure that those investments are made for those who need them and that the education system is accessible to everyone. Our health care system, of course, comes from Tommy Douglas, the father of Canadian medicare, who had the courage to build the modern health care system, the public, single-payer health care system that we enjoy in Canada. The NDP will be relentless in continuing to push for that next stage in Tommy Douglas's dream, which is to have universal single-payer pharmacare in this country so that every Canadian can take the medication that he or she needs. That continues to be a priority.
    If we talk about deficits generally, the NDP has the best track record, but we do it by eliminating these massive subsidies and handouts to big business. We do it by eliminating the pet project financing that we see by both Liberal and Conservative governments. We do this by making sure the investments are made in people.
    I was very interested to see the member for Carleton stand on behalf of the Conservative Party and point his finger at the Liberal Party, saying the Liberal Party has increased the cost of government 25% over the term of its mandate. We know a lot of that cost of government has gone to Bay Street. There have been massive subsidies to fossil fuel companies, massive subsidies to corporate CEOs and most recently, the $14 billion that was handed out to Bay Street in the fall mini-budget. The priority was not housing or universal single-payer pharmacare. The priority for the government last fall was to give $14 billion to Bay Street. Therefore, it is not surprising to me that we have seen the cost of government increase to 25%.

  (1125)  

    However, we just ran the figures, because the member for Carleton surely would have also tested what the Conservative Party increase in the cost of government had been. He would not be pointing the finger at the Liberals unless he had done his homework before coming forward with another figure. Surprising to me, and this undermines everything Conservatives members will say for the rest of the day, the cost of government under Stephen Harper went up 34%, worse than the Liberals.
     It is incredible to me that the Conservatives did not do their financial homework. They have come forward with a motion in which their key point is that the Liberals increased the cost of government by 25% with handouts to Bay Street and all those giveaways. He is absolutely right, but he did not do the homework to find out what the increase was under the Conservatives. The cost of government went up 34%, again because of these massive subsidies to Bay Street and to the very wealthy and largely foreign-owned fossil fuel sector.
    Handing money left, right and centre to banks and corporate CEOs is something the Conservatives and the Liberals love to do, a pox on both their houses. Neither of them knows how to manage money effectively. Neither of them seems to understand how to invest in people. Neither of them seems to understand how to run government in the interest of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    As the member for Carleton pointed out, it is true that Canadians are living tough times. They are experiencing some of the toughest times we have seen in a number of generations. I completely disagree with my Liberal colleague's point of view that everything is just fine. The Prime Minister said in the House yesterday that he was getting compliments. Therefore, it does not matter that so many Canadians are struggling with the cost of housing. However, the figure that came out last week is indicative of how poor the approach of the Liberal government has been. Forty-six per cent of Canadians, nearly half of our population, is $200 away from financial insolvency in the course of every month. Half our population is struggling with this.
    If this figure does not give a cause for the Liberal government to change what has been the incredibly irresponsible and mean-spirited direction it has taken, I do not know what could. After three years of Liberal government, half the Canadian population is a scant $200 away from financial insolvency every month.
    I am going to mention three people I know personally who experience first-hand that desperation that comes from just trying to make it through every month. In question period yesterday, I mentioned the case of Sarah, and I did not get a response from the Prime Minister.
     Sarah is indicative of so many other Canadians across the country. She is struggling to find affordable housing for herself and her three children. She works full-time as a nurse. She contributes to our health care system. She is dedicated. She works night and day. In fact, she works night shifts. I have knocked on thousands of doors over the course of the last few months and heard these stories so many times about getting affordable housing in Burnaby, British Columbia. In the case of Sarah and her three children, the only affordable housing she can get will take her entire monthly salary. She will have no money for food. She will have no money for clothes, school, transportation or heat.
    The Liberals say that everything is fine when half the country is just a scant few dollars away from financial insolvency. They need to consider the case of Sarah, who is struggling. The $14 billion for Bay Street that came out in the mini budget in November was simply disrespectful to her situation.
    Let me tell members about Heather. I have raised her name in the House before as well. Heather lives with her mother and her disabled daughter. She is trying to get by every month in a one bedroom apartment. It is a family of three. She is struggling every month to get through the month and keep that apartment.

  (1130)  

    This is not a rare story in any way. Right across the Lower Mainland, in parts of Toronto, in many of the big cities in the country, families are living in one bedroom apartments, sometimes in bachelor suites, just to get through the month. In the north it is even worse and more chronic. We hear about families of a dozen or 15 people living in a one bedroom home because there is simply no affordable accommodation available. Heather's case should give the Liberal government pause and have it change direction as well.
    Let me tell the House about Jim, who I have referenced in the House of Commons before. Jim is very indicative of the crisis that so many Canadians are living through while Liberals hand out billions of dollars to Bay Street. Every Liberal MP would pass Jim every day. He is in a wheelchair on the bridge between the Chateau Laurier and the East Block. We can see him as we walk by. If we talk to Jim, he will say that he is there because he needs to get money for my medication. He lives on social assistance. His medication costs him $540 a month. He has to pay $540 a month out of pocket and the only way for him to do that, whether it is -30° or whether it is pouring rain, is to be on that bridge begging so he can take the medication that keeps him alive.
    The Liberals say that everything is fine, that everything is great and they hand out more money to Bay Street. Jim is not fine. Heather is not fine. Sarah is not fine. People are suffering, while the out-of-touch Liberals make the worst policy decisions one can imagine, handing out $14 billion to Bay Street, handing out $15 billion for the Trans Mountain pipeline, which not only have they paid twice its asset value, not only is it a money-losing pipeline but the construction costs are escalating. The impact of that project on the possible loss of jobs in the fisheries and tourism industries in British Columbia is unaccounted. That is where Liberal priorities seem to be. They hand out billions of dollars and do not think of the consequences at all.

  (1135)  

[Translation]

    The question now is how do we fix this. We believe that we need a fair tax system. Our tax system is the most unequal among all industrialized countries. Our effective corporate tax rate is around only 9%, which is not at par with the corporate rate in other industrialized countries.
    We think the solution is the opposite of the Conservatives' proposal. They are suggesting that we maintain the existing tax system, which is antiquated and unfair. Unfortunately, this tax system does not allow for investments to help people like Sarah, Jim and Heather.
    Other countries are currently working on this. Some European countries are taxing web giants. France was upset that web giants were just paying the effective tax rate of 9%, although this is better than what major corporations pay in Canada. France decided to implement a fair tax system. Web giants will be required to pay their fair share of taxes, which will allow for investments to help people like Jim, Sarah and Heather.
    Major corporations are often associated with tax havens, which help them pay an effective tax rate of only 9%.
    People like Sarah pay an effective rate much higher than the 9% that the Liberals impose on major corporations. Fortunately, our Parliamentary Budget Officer heroically stepped in. His office said that we needed to find out the exact difference between what companies should be paying in Canada and what they are actually paying. Five and a half years ago, the Parliamentary Budget Officer started this process and asked the Harper government to disclose how much the big companies were paying. Ordinary Canadians pay their fair share of taxes, but we needed to know what the corporate tax rate was for big business. The Harper government and the Conservative MPs all said they could not reveal that information because it was confidential. For three years, the Parliamentary Budget Officer relentlessly pursued his mission. The Conservatives refused to allow for any transparency in the tax system, which is disgusting. They wanted to keep Canadians from finding out the real tax rate and the difference between the rich and the regular folks who pay their fair share of taxes.
    We got a new government in 2015, but nothing changed. The Liberals blocked the release of that information for two and half years. The Parliamentary Budget Officer finally said that enough was enough and that he was going to take the government to court, so the Liberals gave in and released the information. In a few months, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is working hard to figure out all those numbers, is going to announce to Canadians the exact discrepancy between the amount that big business should be paying and the amount that they are actually paying as a result of tax havens. That will change things. That was the last argument that I wanted to raise.
    Earlier, the member for Carleton said that eliminating a tax credit is effectively a tax hike. That is not what we want. Big oil companies are getting billions and billions of dollars' worth of subsidies. That makes no sense. That sector turns huge profits. Canadians' tax dollars are being used to help those big oil companies, which are primarily foreign-owned corporations. The Conservatives believe that oil companies should continue to receive those billion dollar subsidies, and the Liberals do too. The Liberals say that they do not like it and that they will deal with it later, but how can we possibly count on them do to that?

  (1140)  

[English]

    Climate change is already costing the Canadian economy and Canadians billions of dollars a year, billions of dollars in insurance payouts, billions of dollars as these catastrophic climatic events occur. For the Liberals and the Conservatives to say that they will continue to subsidize wealthy, very profitable fossil fuel companies does not make any sense at all. Effectively, that is what the Conservative motion would do. The tax credit, according to the member for Carleton, is a tax hike. Therefore, Canadians have to continue to subsidize, according to Conservative logic, a sector that makes enormous profits.
    My conclusion is this. The Liberals and the Conservatives have been running the country for decades. They have been running the tax system for decades and they have been running it into the ground. They have created a monster, the most unequal, inequitable tax system in the industrialized world.
     We in the NDP believe that we need a fair tax system, a tax system that ensures that everybody pays, as we say in French, leur juste part. By creating that system, we can have the resources to make the investments that make a meaningful difference in the lives of regular Canadians..

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I always enjoy listening to my colleague from New Westminster—Burnaby. He is very eloquent.
    In 2015, the NDP promised an austerity budget. I would like my hon. colleague to tell me which of the measures we have introduced he would cut. Would he get rid of the tax cut for small businesses, which lowered their rate from 11% to 9%? Would he get rid of the Canada child benefit? Would he raise the retirement age back up to 67? We lowered it to 65. Would he cancel tax cuts for the middle class?
    I just listened to him talk about a fair tax system. Do my colleagues opposite regret having promised voters an austerity budget in 2015?
    Madam Speaker, the Liberals are talking about a fantasy budget. In 2015, they promised all sorts of things, but they have done nothing to keep those promises in 2019.
    In 2015, they tried to reassure Canadians by saying that they would deal with housing. They said that access to affordable housing was important. Today, people like Sarah and Heather are still waiting.
    In 2015, the Liberals said that they were going to institute democratic reform and that the 2015 election would be the last under the existing system. Will that change in 2019? Not one bit.
    Today, the Liberals are presenting a fantasy budget and platform. They had no intention of keeping any of their promises. It is now 2019 and it is clear that the quality of life of most Canadians is getting worse. Household debt has reached a record high, not just in Canada but in all of the other industrialized countries. In 2019, I am convinced that Canadians will question the Liberals about all of their broken promises.

  (1145)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is entertaining to watch those two parties argue over who can be more expensive to Canadian taxpayers, who will pay more than the other. It is really impressive to see how quickly they can run up the costs for Canadians taxpayers and that they measure their success by how costly they can be. We will let them continue to carry on this bidding war. We will stand on the side with people who earn the money in the first place, hard-working Canadian taxpayers.
    The member is debating a motion related to gradually eliminating the deficit and balancing the budget. He claims always to be against handing fortunes to wealthy people, on Bay Street in particular. There is no mechanism that more readily hands money to the wealthy on Bay Street than interest on our national debt. Who does he think the lenders are who collect the interest? Does he think they just hand over the money out of the generosity of their hearts, all of these investment banks and private equity fund managers? Does he really believe they expect nothing in return? I do not think he does.
    He accepts that we pay interest on that debt, that the interest comes from the working class and then it goes to the super rich, that it is a transfer from the have-nots to the have-yachts. Does he not therefore support our view that we should limit public debt?
    Madam Speaker, the member for Carleton is really hilarious on this because he asked the question just a few minutes ago about who would increase the cost of government most. He should already know the answer if he was listening to the debate. The answer is, the Conservatives. Yes, the Liberals increased the cost of government 25% over the term of its mandate, and the member raised those figures quite rightfully in the House of Commons. What he forgot to do, in not doing his homework, was check what the comparative figures were for the Conservatives. There was a 25% increase for the Liberals. What happened under the Conservative mandate? It was a 34% increase in the cost of government. Thirty-four per cent is far worse than the Liberals.
    The Conservatives love giving money to Bay Street, love giving money to have-yachts, love giving money to anyone who is rich. With the motion today, they will permanently fossilize any attempt to actually build a fair tax system.
    According to the member, the web giants will never have to pay a single dollar of income tax in Canada and all of those offshore tax havens will continue under the Conservatives. That is why we are voting against the motion. The Conservatives did not do their homework. They actually win the gold medal for increasing the cost of government from 2006 to 2015.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to commend my colleague for his speech. He spoke very eloquently about the major differences between them and us and about both the Liberals' and the Conservatives' lack of vision when it comes to management. He talked about the measures that make it easier for web giants to do business and make profits here in Canada without paying any taxes.
    I would like to ask him about compelling web giants to collect sales tax, GST and HST, since, unlike Canadian companies, they are currently not required to do so.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I know he is working tirelessly to fix this very situation. This is not just about taxes. It is also about unfair competition. Many Quebec companies have to compete against web giants while paying their taxes and their employees. They are doing everything they can to be good citizens, yet web giants are exempt from all these obligations. I am very grateful to my colleague for asking the big question.
    What are European countries doing? The United Kingdom and France are in the process of making web giants pay their fair share and levelling the playing field between them and British and French companies. Only Canada is giving foreign web giants a leg up instead of instituting a system that is fair for everyone.
    An NDP government led by Jagmeet Singh will change that and bring in a system where web giants pay their fair share of taxes.

  (1150)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is very fascinating to be in this room today, listening to the Conservatives lecture us about fiscal responsibility. In reality, out of the last 19 budgets the Conservatives introduced into the House, 16 of them ran deficits. Now we are also hearing from the NDP about balancing budgets and ensuring we are fiscally responsible. In the last election, the NDP committed to balancing the budget.
    I am not going to ask the question that we seem to ask a lot, which is why the NDP committed to balancing the budget. These are straightforward questions for the member. Did he agree with the position that his party took in 2015? If he did not, is he regretful of the fact that his party did take that position in 2015 to balance the budget?
    Madam Speaker, I agreed with the NDP position that we should have universal single-payer pharmacare in the country, and most Canadians agree with us. The Liberal promises have been broken and shattered, left in Centre Block. We have seen more broken promises even since we started here.
    The NDP's commitment to universal single-payer pharmacare has never wavered and we will continue to push for that. The NDP principle and commitment to ensuring all Canadians have a roof over their heads at night is a commitment from which we have never wavered and one we will never change.
     We believe in making investments in Canadians. We do not believe in handing out $14 billion to Bay Street, as the Liberals did this fall. Next October 21, Canadians will be the judge of who is more true to the principles of putting in place a government that actually works in everybody's interest.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support the motion before the House. I will be sharing my time with the member for St. Albert—Edmonton.
    Members may recall that in the last election campaign in 2015, the then leader of the third party promised modest deficits, if elected, leading to a balanced budget by the end of that Liberal term. He said that the promised balanced budget in 2019 was “very” cast in stone. It is not very grammatical, but that is what he said.
    The Conservatives warned the brash new leader that in times of modest growth, responsible governments did not run the country into deficits. I am sure members will recall that in 2015 Canada was in modest growth mode. After guiding the country through the 2008-09 recession, Canada was hailed by economists around the world for being the last country to go into recession and the first to emerge, and emerge strongly.
     After guiding the country through the 2008-09 recession, our Conservative government raised infrastructure spending by three times and we did it while balancing budgets and lowering taxes on Canadians. In short, our previous government's building Canada plan was the largest long-term infrastructure plan in Canadian history that was itself structured to keep the country out of a structural deficit.
    We know that Canadians, for a variety of reasons, made a fateful choice at the ballot box. Almost immediately, buyer's remorse began setting in as the new Liberal government began breaking promises. It broke promises across the policy spectrum. There is not time to list all of those broken promises again today, but the biggest, the most damaging broken promise was the “very cast in stone” promise to run three modest deficits of $10 billion a year, returning to balance in the final year of the mandate, this year, 2019.
     Instead, and despite a $20 billion windfall of a booming world economy, the Liberal government blew it all, and has run huge budget deficits, leading to today when the Parliamentary Budget Office tells us that the deficit is more than $21 billion this year alone. According to Finance Canada, the budget will not be balanced until at least 2040. By then, Canada will be looking at an additional $271 billion in debt.
    It is abundantly clear that as the Liberal government and the misguided Liberal Prime Minister runs now chronic deficits, he is borrowing money not only from our children but from our grandchildren, in fact, from our great grandchildren. Today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes. As much as taxes have been raised by the Liberal government and continue to be raised based on its past, current and future spending plans, the worst is yet to come.
    As the leader of the official opposition, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, warned Canadians on the weekend, if the Prime Minister is re-elected, our taxes will go up. Taxes will go up in many areas and for a variety of reasons. My colleagues have spoken, and will speak, about the results of misguided policy mistakes and ineffective spending. However, I would like to discuss another example of irresponsible deficit spending with regard to the almost $650 million committed to the ill-considered commitment to bail out the Canadian news industry, widely seen as a cynical election year attempt to co-opt, to buy-off, media owners and publishers.
    Members will recall that $50 million was allotted in the 2018 budget and another $595 million promised in the 2018 fall economic statement. There is a stark disagreement between the owners and shareholders and those who actually generate news content on the worthiness and acceptability of the bailout, and I will address that in a moment.
    I grew up and was blessed to develop a career in the golden age of 20th century conventional media after arriving in Canada from England near the end of the Second World War. I was born in a Canadian army hospital in Sussex to Albertans serving in the army and army medical core. My father went to work for the Southam newspaper chain in Canada: the Ottawa Citizen, the Medicine Hat News, the Calgary Herald and so forth.

  (1155)  

    I enjoyed many happy days with my dad at the various papers, captivated by the smell of hot lead, clanking Linotype machines and the wonderful roar of the presses. That led me to a wonderful career in journalism, more than four decades in radio, television and newspapers, working for CTV, Global, CBC, NBC and Monitor Television. I was honoured to host CBC's The National for a couple of years in the mid-70s, before being assigned, or actually exiled, abroad for successfully challenging Trudeau government interference in CBC editorial decision-making during the time of the Parti Québécois government in Quebec.
    I participated in the ultimately ill-fated attempt to converge the Global Television Network with the former Southam newspapers to adapt to the rapidly changing media changes at the turn of the century.
     I saw far too many colleagues deal with the harsh downsizing of newsrooms, as fragmented advertising budgets and audiences took a destructive toll on the gathering and generation of Canadian news content: local, national and international.
    Back now to the stark disagreement over the almost three-quarter-billion dollar news industry bailout I mentioned earlier between boardroom and newsroom. News organization CEOs and publishers, who draw multi-million dollar salaries and equally outsized bonuses as their newsrooms are depleted, are delighted. Then Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey enthusiastically welcomed the finance minister's fall economic statement announcement. Mr. Godfrey recommended that “Everyone in journalism should be doing a victory lap around their building right now.”
    However, I agree passionately with a host of Canada's most respected journalists who immediately rejected the Liberals' bailout as an unacceptable intervention that will compromise the independence of their craft. I share their opposition to the Liberal proposal of a panel of news experts who would distribute the election-year beneficence by deciding which newsrooms are credible and worthy and which newsrooms are not.
    The Canadian news industry is not disappearing. It is being transformed from conventional print and broadcast forms to digital platforms. To my mind, struggling conventional organizations will survive only with public policy adjustments that will reset and level the playing field for private sector newsrooms.
    The finance minister cannot justify the Liberals' $600-million-plus election year bailout, because he has absolutely no idea what will happen after his subsidized transition period. That is unacceptable. Intervention should have a goal beyond short-term survival and dependence.
     I will save discussion of the public policy remedies the government should be considering for another day. I offer the misguided attempt to bail out the Canadian news industry as just another example of the out-of-control deficit spending by the Liberals.
     I will conclude by returning to the ask of today's worthy motion:
    That....the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019 to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.

  (1200)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise for the first time in this new chamber. It is always a privilege to sit here.
    I will get to my question to the Conservative member in just a second. There is also the whole question of how we pay for the things we need in our society. We have had the Liberals throwing the old canard at the NDP that somehow, in the last election, we suggested an austerity budget, when nothing could be further from the truth. We suggested a budget that served the interests of ordinary working Canadians and in which everyone, including corporations, and especially the big web giants, paid their fair share of taxes.
    What I just heard from my hon. friend is that the Conservatives are asking for no new taxes ever. My question is fairly simple. Are the Conservatives actually telling us that we should never ever place any new taxes on those great web giants, like Google or Netflix, and that they should continue not paying their fair share for the services that ordinary working families need in this country?
    Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with the member that the Liberals grossly misspoke in describing their last budget as an austerity budget, which required stimulation to an economy that was in growth, although through no credit of their own. They have been riding a worldwide economic revival, and they have been spending money when they should have been putting money aside for the next economic downturn.
    When it comes to the digital mega-giants, the data-opolies, that is one of the public policy adjustments I would like to see considered. It is being considered by our ethics committee today with regard to the Canadian advertising dollars that are going untaxed to American digital platforms. If they were advertising in American conventional media, they would be paying taxes and supporting the Canadian advertising industry.
    Mr. Speaker, I have heard several members talk about things such as getting rid of the child fitness tax credit. One of the things that stands out to me from before the election was a conversation I had with someone who was telling me that she could not afford to actually sign her daughter up for soccer, because she could not afford the cleats or the registration fees. This was something that was outside her means. What she needed was help to afford that initial cost.
    I was looking at an article by the CBC, which reported that when the tax savings from this tax credit were analyzed, the credit began to look more like a windfall for rich families, which could likely afford the activities regardless, rather than something that helped pay for what lower-income parents could not otherwise afford. I put that out there because I think what everyone wants to see from government is that we are smart about the decisions we make with a budget and our spending.
    Would the member not agree that doing something like the Canada child benefit, which gives money to families in need so they can actually sign up their children to participate in those sports is a better decision than having a tax credit available so that wealthy people can sign off on something they were already able to afford?

  (1205)  

    Mr. Speaker, I agree with my Liberal colleague that too many Canadians are simply getting by. They are not getting ahead. It comes back to the basic motion before the House today that these tax-and-ineffectively-spend Liberals sending billions of dollars out of the country because they bought the Trans Mountain pipeline, sending billions of dollars to the Asian Development Bank to develop infrastructure in Asia and not in Canada, and raising taxes on hard-working Canadian families with a carbon tax that is a revenue plan, not an environmental plan, are contributing to the economic pressures on hard-working Canadians who are struggling to not only get by but to get ahead. I would suggest, and remind my colleague, as we remind members today during this opposition day debate on this motion, that these deficits will only be translated permanently into continuing tax increases. If we re-elect the Liberal government, as we were told by the official leader of the opposition on the weekend, Canadians' taxes will certainly go up.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise for the first time in this new chamber. It is a privilege to rise to speak to this Conservative opposition day motion. By bringing forward this motion, we are fulfilling our duty as the official opposition to hold the government to account.
    What we have before the House today is a relatively straightforward motion, a motion that, quite frankly, I would hope the government would support, because, after all, all we are asking the government to do is fulfill the promise it made to Canadians to balance the budget.
    When the Prime Minister was elected in 2015, he inherited a Conservative balanced budget. Indeed, it was a surplus budget, and very quickly, the Prime Minister turned the Conservative surplus into a Liberal deficit. One could say that was not entirely surprising, given that the Prime Minister, during the 2015 election campaign, campaigned on what he called short-term small deficits. To be fair to the Prime Minister, by turning a Conservative surplus into a Liberal deficit, one could say that it was consistent with the promise he made to Canadians.
    Aside from turning a Conservative surplus into a deficit, when it comes to keeping promises made to Canadians with respect to the fiscal management of this country, it has been all downhill from there.
    It is important to remind members of the government what the Prime Minister said in 2015 when he was talking about what he again characterized as short-term small deficits. What he meant by that was that in the first year of the Liberal government, the deficit would be no more than $10 billion. What happened to that promise? It turns out that it was a Liberal promise made and a Liberal promise broken. Instead of running a $10-billion deficit in the first year, the government managed to run a deficit of $19 billion, 92% higher than what the Prime Minister promised Canadians.
    When the Prime Minister talked about short-term small deficits, he said that in the second year of the Liberal government, the deficit would again be no more than $10 billion. What happened to that commitment? What happened to that promise? Once again, it was another Liberal promise made and another Liberal promise broken. Then the Prime Minister said that in the third year, the deficit would be no more than $5.7 billion. What happened to that promise? It was another Liberal promise made and another Liberal promise broken. We are beginning to see a pattern of Liberal promises made and Liberal promises broken.
    The Prime Minister, quite famously, in the 2015 campaign, made the commitment that in fiscal year 2019-20, Canada would be back in the black. The budget would be balanced. What happened to that promise? Again, it was another Liberal promise made and another Liberal promise broken. Instead of balancing the budget, the government is projected to run yet another massive deficit in 2019-20, another massive deficit in fiscal year 2020-21 and another massive deficit in fiscal year 2021-22, and on and on.

  (1210)  

    It is quite interesting, given how specific the current government was about balancing the budget in 2019, that when the member for Carleton rose in the House and asked the finance minister a very straightforward question, namely, in what year the budget would be balanced, he refused to say. He would not answer the very simple, straightforward question of what year the budget would be balanced.
    It is no wonder the finance minister refuses to answer that question, because the true answer is that the budget will never be balanced with these Liberals. Indeed, according to the Department of Finance, at the current rate of spending, the budget will be balanced in 31 years. I am 34. In 31 years, the Liberals will maybe get around to balancing the budget. Therefore, instead of three years of what the Prime Minister characterized as small, short-term deficits, what the government instead is delivering is more than three decades of red ink.
    What is quite remarkable about all of this is that the government has managed to run rather large deficits, which are two and three times larger than what it promised Canadians, in times of modest economic growth. It begs the question of what the fiscal situation would look like in the not so unlikely event of an economic downturn.
    According to the Fraser Institute, if the economic conditions were the same as 2008 and 2009, the last time this country saw a major economic downturn, instead of running a $20-billion deficit, the deficit would balloon to $120 billion. If the member for Kingston does not like the Fraser Institute, I think he and any reasonable person would agree that the deficit will increase substantially in an economic downturn because two things happen immediately, without any change in policy, when we have an economic downturn: revenues decrease and government program spending increases.
     The fact is that the current government has set Canada on a very slippery course, which is unsustainable and comes with a price. It comes with a price in the form of higher taxes. We have seen that from the government. This is a government that rolled back tax credits for public transit users and cancelled tax credits for students and families. This is a government that has shaken down diabetics and the most vulnerable in our society by trying to take away disability tax credits. This is a government that tried to get away with taxing employee discounts and health and dental benefits. This is a government that has increased taxes on the average Canadian family by nearly $1,000. This is a government that is now prepared to impose the mother of all taxes, the tax on everything, a massive and unfair carbon tax.
    Quite frankly, it is time the current government did what it said and said what it did, kept its commitment to Canadians and tabled a plan in this House to do what the Prime Minister said he would do all along, which is to balance the budget.

  (1215)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I always listen closely to what my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton has to say.
    Does he know that families in his riding have received 11,910 tax-free child benefit payments for 22,430 children? That is an average of $6,840 a year. Our hon. colleague voted against that.
    I would like to know what the Conservatives' plan is. What are they going to cut? Are they going to promise to balance the budget in 2020? I would love to hear what they have to say.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, every day that this government spends it becomes more and more difficult because the government keeps digging a hole. It keeps digging it bigger and bigger. It is completely unsustainable.
    What a Conservative government will do is ensure that the government lives within its means, spends no more and puts more money back into the pockets of hard-working Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I always think it is interesting when the Conservatives, who express their concerns about the influence of foreign money and politics, then turn around and cite the Fraser Institute, which receives enormous donations from the Koch brothers in the United States. However, my question to the motion today goes back to the last part, which says there should never be any tax increases ever and no new taxes ever.
    I want to ask the member for St. Albert—Edmonton this. Does he really agree that the web giants should continue to pay no taxes, even while profiting greatly upon their activities that take place in Canada? Does he believe that the super rich in this country, who have seen their marginal tax rates go down, should never pay their fair share for the benefits they have achieved from their economic activity in Canada? Is he fully in support of this motion that would allow those people to continue to avoid paying their fair share of taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, what we are committed to doing is making life easier for everyday Canadians by putting more money into their pockets and scrapping the carbon tax.
     I will say this. We have seen many examples that when governments cut taxes, not only does it put money back into the pockets of hard-working people; it helps stimulate the economy and it helps stimulate growth. That results in increased revenue, not decreased revenue, over the long term.

  (1220)  

    Mr. Speaker, I find it very perplexing to hear the Conservatives lecture this side of the House on fiscal responsibility and, in particular, balancing budgets when, in reality, 16 of the last 19 budgets introduced into this House by Conservative governments ran deficits. Of the three that ran surpluses, two of them came on the heels of Paul Martin's $13-billion surplus. The other one happened in 2015 when the former Conservative government slashed veteran services and sold off shares of GM at bargain prices, just so it could produce a phoney budget to take into the 2015 election.
    My question to the member specifically is this. What would the Conservatives cut in order to do what they are proposing? I want to hear specifically what they are going to start cutting out and what services they are going to take away from Canadians in order to get to the desired place he wants to be. In fact, will they actually commit today to being able to do that in 2020 if they were given the opportunity to govern?
    Mr. Speaker, we would not have spent $4.5 billion to buy a pipeline that cannot be built. We would not have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build pipelines in places like Azerbaijan, instead of getting our product to tidewater here in Canada.
    With respect to the fiscal record of the previous Conservative government, let the record show that under that government a historic amount of money was repaid in terms of debt, more than $40 billion. The previous Conservative government guided Canada through the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, creating more than one million jobs, the best economic growth rate in the G7 and a balanced budget that the current government has blown.
    Mr. Speaker, it is wonderful to rise in this new year in this new chamber. It is not wonderful to rise to speak to an opposition motion brought forth by the member for Carleton that is, in my opinion, useless, if I can be so direct. It is an opposition motion that does not speak to the needs of everyday hard-working Canadians, middle-class Canadians at home, and their concerns of ensuring they have a bright future for themselves and their kids, or ensuring we make life more affordable for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Reading the text of this motion, it does nothing to that effect.
    Let us speak to the record. We, as a government, cut taxes for nine million middle-class Canadians in the last three and a half years. The opposition, the Conservatives, voted against that. As a government, we raised the guaranteed income supplement by 10% for our most vulnerable seniors. They, as the opposition, voted against that measure. As a government, we brought in the Canada child benefit, which makes nine out of 10 families in Canada better off by $2,300 on average. They, as the opposition, voted against that.
    We expanded or enhanced the Canada pension plan, which will benefit generations of hard-working, middle-class Canadians. They, as the opposition, voted against that. We asked the wealthy to pay a little more. They have done well and we all know that. They, as the opposition, voted against that. We cut the small business tax rate to 9%, a savings of $7,500 for SMEs from coast to coast to coast, and Conservatives voted against that.
    We have created 800,000 new jobs, a majority of which are full time and in the private sector. We have the lowest unemployment rate in 44 years. What did the Conservatives say? Nothing. Do they have a plan? No. What services will they cut? We know what Doug Ford is doing. He is cutting services for university students, making education less affordable for hard-working families in Ontario. That is the Conservative philosophy. That is what we have. Shame on the Conservatives. Shame on them for not bringing out any ideas.
    We are growing our economy. In 2017, we led the G7 with 3% growth. This year, we will come in at 2% and change. Where is the Conservatives' plan? There is no plan. On our fiscal finances, the finance minister met with the rating agencies. They affirmed our AAA credit rating here in Canada. I think the word they used about our fiscal finances was “solid”. Canada's finances are in great shape.
    We are doing things to benefit Canadians. For hard-working, low-income Canadians, the ones we really want to help get into the middle class, we introduced the Canada workers benefit. The Conservatives voted against it.
    We need to speak about records. As someone who has worked in the financial markets for 23 years, both in New York and Toronto, someone who grew up working at a McDonald's, the Donut Factory, Zellers and a pulp mill and grain elevator, and who comes from the low middle class because my parents were immigrants, I can say we are doing things that are lifting people, children and families out of poverty. What did the Conservatives do? They voted against everything, everything helping families in my riding.
    Over 15,000 kids and their families receive the Canada child benefit in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, which amounts to almost $5 million a month. What did the Conservatives do? They voted against it.
    I will move to the speech I would like to give today, but when it comes to leadership on the economy and the environment, we are acting. That is what Canadians want. They do not want platitudes. They do not want hot air. They want us folks here, who have been elected and have the privilege of serving, to demonstrate leadership. They want us to leave a better environment for our kids, as well as a stronger economy and future for all Canadians.
    I welcome all opportunities to remind the House and all Canadians of the work this government is doing because we are very proud of it. We are building a stronger Canada, a better Canada, while continuing to reduce the federal debt-to-GDP ratio. In fact, the work our government is doing is attracting praise from all around the world. The IMF has hailed Canada as an economic model for the world, with the IMF's managing director, Christine Lagarde, saying that the world needs more Canada.

  (1225)  

    I know the opposition party members like to comment and state facts from the Fraser Institute. How about if we just listen to the residents of our ridings and what they are saying? Why do those members not just go back and speak to them instead of to some think tank? Why do they not ask them what they want to do on the environment? They would like us to put a price on pollution and they would like us to make life more affordable for our residents, and that is exactly what we are doing.
    Let us talk to our residents. Let us talk to them about our tax cut for nine million Canadians. Let us talk to them about the Canada pension plan enhancement. Let us talk to them about rolling back the age of eligibility to 65 from 67, which the Conservatives brought in. Let us talk to them about that.
    Last year, the OECD gave us positive recognition for the government's historic investments in infrastructure and our first-ever national housing strategy, as well as the expected positive impacts of the new employment insurance parental sharing benefit.
    Last week, the best-country rankings the U.S. News and World Report for 2019 put Canada at number one for quality of life, something we should all be proud of, because a strong economy is about people and ensuring that all Canadians have the tools to succeed. From the beginning, this government has put people at the heart of its plan for economic growth. It is one thing to grow the economy, but we must grow it in an inclusive manner, and that is what we are doing.
     That is why we have lifted 300,000 kids out of poverty. That is why our national housing strategy, which again the Conservatives voted against, is lifting hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty and giving them a secure place to stay and to live. We are doing that. In my riding alone, in 2019 we will open a new building with 162 units of affordable housing for our residents. There is much work to be done, and we will do it.

[Translation]

     We came in determined to help hard-working Canadians have more opportunities to share in the benefits that come from a strong and growing economy, and that is exactly what we have done. That is why our government's first action was to ask the wealthiest Canadians to pay more so that we could cut taxes for the middle class.

[English]

    Yes, there is a tax cut for nine million hard-working Canadians at home. Maybe some in Ontario are home today because it snowed so much, but most of them are out working.

[Translation]

     Thanks to the middle-class tax cut, over nine million Canadians can save more, invest, or buy what they need. To help parents raise their children, the government created the Canada child benefit, the CCB, a more generous, tax-free benefit targeting families that need it the most. Thanks to the CCB, nine out of 10 families are receiving more money now than under the previous system. This benefit has raised hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
     Thanks to the tax cut and measures such as the CCB, a typical middle-class family of four now gets about $2,000 more each year to raise their children, save for the future, and contribute to economic growth, which benefits everyone. That money is changing these families' lives. For example, it is helping them provide healthy food for their children and buy new winter boots.

  (1230)  

[English]

    The Canada child benefit is transformational. We brought it in, and it is helping families every month in ridings across Canada, including the ridings of the opposition parties, and we have to acknowledge that. It is lifting hundreds of thousands of kids out of poverty and it is helping families, and that is something we all need to be proud of.
    Would the Conservatives cut the Canada child benefit when they talk about it? Would they do what Doug Ford is doing, cutting services to hard-working Ontario families? I hope not, and they will not.

[Translation]

    This money is changing these families' lives. Moreover, in fall 2017, the government introduced measures to help low-income workers, which led to the creation of the Canada workers benefit, or CWB, in budget 2018. The CWB is an enhanced, more generous and more accessible version of the working income tax benefit. Since January 1, the CWB has made it possible for low-income workers to keep more money in their pockets. It will also encourage a larger number of workers to secure and keep jobs while providing real assistance to more than two million Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class.

[English]

    These Canadians are working hard. We are going to help these low-income Canadians with the Canada workers benefit. People earning about $15,000 right now will get roughly about $500 more when they file their income taxes. We will help them join the middle class.
    We will ensure that we take care of all Canadians, including our most vulnerable Canadians. That is why we brought in the 10% increase to the GIS. In my riding alone, over 2,000 seniors received the 10% increase to the GIS, almost $847 on average. It is real and it is helping them.
    Our measures have helped Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and we are going to continue to build a strong and inclusive economy for today and tomorrow.

[Translation]

    Retirement is a reward to look forward to after many years of work. For many seniors in Canada, and especially women, retirement can be fraught with financial difficulties. We think that is unacceptable.
     That is why we increased the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors with modest incomes, thereby giving the most vulnerable seniors greater financial security and greater peace of mind.
    We also improved the Canada pension plan, a historic measure if ever there was one. The improvements to the Canada pension plan, to be phased in beginning early this year, will give Canadians more money when they retire, allowing them to worry less about their future and spend more time with their families.

[English]

    Ensuring Canadians have a secure and dignified retirement is something we ran on in 2015, and we did several things.
    In Switzerland, the former Conservative prime minister announced that his government would raise the eligibility age for OAS and GIS from 65 to 67. We reversed that bad plan. For bricklayers or carpenters who had worked all their life and whose bodies were showing a bit of wear and tear and who were looking forward to retirement, going from age 65 to 67 was asking a lot from them. What the Conservatives did was unfair, and we reversed that. That measure would have put people into poverty, and because of the way the system worked, that would have been dumping it onto the provinces. We reversed it.
    We enhanced the CPP for future generations, and that was something great. We increased the GIS again. We said we would do that and we acted.

  (1235)  

[Translation]

    By working with the provinces and territories to improve the Canada pension plan, and thanks to the government's decision to restore the eligibility age for old age security to 65 from 67, more Canadians will be able to spend their retirement under better conditions.
    Thanks to the 30,000 infrastructure projects approved since 2016, we are also building strong and resilient communities. The majority of these infrastructure projects are already being built, which is creating more well-paying jobs for the middle class.
    As a result of many of these useful economic measures, consumer confidence is practically at an all-time high. With more money at their disposal, Canadian consumers have every reason to have greater confidence in their financial situation and their future.
    That is also true for Canadian businesses. Since 2015, their after-tax profits have nearly doubled, which means that businesses and Canadians have more money to invest, stimulate growth and create good jobs.
    We know that small businesses drive our economy. Small businesses provide 70% of all private sector jobs. That is why we lowered taxes for small businesses last year. In January 2018, the government lowered the small business tax rate to 10% and this year we lowered it again to 9%.

[English]

    In my riding of Vaughan--Woodbridge and in the city of Vaughan, there are over 12,000 small businesses that employ over 200,000 hard-working Canadians.
    Yes, we have reduced the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%. Yes, we brought in a fall economic statement, which the NDP does not like—to be honest, I am not sure what the NDP likes these days—and it is going to help firms make capital investments and invest in machinery to make their firms more productive and more competitive.
     I visited Alps Welding in my riding. It is building components for pipelines in Kazakhstan and components for pipelines in Canada, in Ontario, in Alberta. It is building components worldwide. I invite opposition members to come to Woodbridge so that I can take them to see the great work being done.
    The company's biggest issue is that it cannot find enough welders. Its order book is full and it is hiring and expanding, but it cannot find enough skilled labour.
    The company is exporting to Alberta, south central Asia, the United States, Ontario and Quebec. It is a Canadian success story owned by a Canadian immigrant family, and that is something we need to be proud of.
    My hon. colleagues can taunt and tease, but the family has built something they are proud of and they worked hard doing it. I do not think that is a laughing matter, nor should my colleagues taunt and tease, especially from the opposition side. I tell my kids who are six and eight to grow up sometimes, and sometimes I think the opposition members need to grow up.

[Translation]

    The combined federal-provincial small-business tax rate is 12.2%, which is by far the lowest rate among G7 countries. The results speak for themselves. The Canadian economy is strong and is growing rapidly. Its performance ranks highest among G7 countries. There are more good, high-paying jobs for Canadians. Over the past three years, Canadians have created more than 800,000 new jobs, which brought the unemployment rate down to its lowest in more than 40 years.

[English]

    Canadian companies are doing well and Canadian workers are doing well, but we want to make sure that anyone who is looking for work in Canada can find that job. We are investing in skills training and better data collection. I understand that the Conservative Party cut Stats Canada, cut the long-form census, but we brought it back. Why? It is because we want to ensure we have the information Canadians need when they are looking for work. We want to make sure that the programs the government enters into with the provinces are working well. It is too bad that the Conservatives do not believe in science, data collection and information.

  (1240)  

[Translation]

    Consumer confidence remains strong and corporate profit margins are good, which opens the door to other investments that could lead to the creation of more good, better-paying jobs for Canadians.

[English]

    We know that we cannot take Canada's economic strength for granted, and 2018 was a challenging year for Canadian businesses with regard to the recent tax changes in the United States and the ongoing global trade disputes.
    Last summer, the government heard from a number of business owners and business leaders that there is strong interest in making investments, the kind that can position businesses for long-term growth and create good, well-paying jobs for Canadian workers. We heard many businesses express relief when we announced our new trade deal with the United States and Mexico, because securing that deal does help when it comes to confidence to invest in the future.

[Translation]

    Co-operation between Canada and the United States is nothing new. We have a longstanding productive relationship that is the envy of the world. The connections between our peoples, governments and economies have been yielding positive results for both countries for more than 150 years. We know that if we work together, we can continue to deliver real results for Canadians in the coming years.
    The agreement we recently signed with the United States and Mexico reaffirms that our trade relations with our North American neighbours are very important.

[English]

    We welcome this new modernized trade agreement because we know it will help support good, well-paying middle-class jobs right across the country. At the same time, we know that we need to do more to protect and maintain Canada's competitive advantage. We did that in the fall economic statement with accelerated investment incentives, a measure that will now allow firms to make investments in Canada at a lower marginal tax rate than firms investing in the United States. Yes, call it the Canadian advantage, but it is there.
    It is four points lower. It is going to encourage more investment and more creation of good, middle-class jobs in this country. We have created 800,000 jobs since we came into power in October 2015. The majority are full time and in the private sector. We are going to continue doing the job that Canadians sent us here to do.
    Mr. Speaker, the member talked about so many different issues, and there is so much I could pick up on.
    Does the member believe that the budget should be balanced at some point? It need not necessarily be this year, like he promised in the last election, but does the member think it should be balanced at some point, and if so, when?
    Mr. Speaker, the debt-to-GDP ratio and the deficit-to-GDP ratio are both on a declining trend. That is what is important. As long as we continue to reduce that deficit over time, we continue to grow the economy, and we continue to invest in Canadians, we are on the right path.
    As someone who worked in the financial markets for 23 years of my career, I know that path is sustainable and fiscally prudent. That is why both Standard and Poor's and Moody's recently reaffirmed our AAA credit rating. I have read these reports and they are quite glowing in terms of our government's record, the strong financial figures, and the path we are taking this country on.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciated hearing the speech about how everything is just hunky-dory and everybody is doing great.
    Unfortunately, from what we are seeing, big city mayors are not in agreement with what the Prime Minister reported to us yesterday. In fact, they are very dissatisfied. The big city mayors caucus chair, Mayor Don Iveson is from my city. He advised the Prime Minister of a number of things.
    One of the things the municipalities want is delivery of money now to deal with housing and homelessness. They are not happy with the delivery of the monies on housing. They want permanent funding for public transit, because it is an ongoing issue. The Liberals promised they were going to resolve climate change by investment in public transit, but where is the long-term commitment? They want more money for municipalities, because they are dealing with the major impacts of climate change, and they want a new intergovernmental forum that would give them a voice in federal decision-making.
    I am wondering if the member could respond to what the big city mayors actually asked for.

  (1245)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are at the table with the municipalities. We have been at the table since 2015, rolling out PTIF 1, which was our first plan for infrastructure, and PTIF 2, which was our second plan for infrastructure. There is money on the table for cities. It is being invested in thousands of projects across the country.
    In terms of the agreements, as the hon. member knows, the federal government is there in partnership with the provinces and the cities. We need full co-operation on that front. The hon. member also knows that constitutionally, the cities in Canada do not have a role. It is between the provinces and the cities.
    We are not going to do what the Province of Ontario did, when it jammed through changes to the Toronto city council without consultation. We are not going to do any of those things.
    We are at the table. We are working co-operatively with our provincial partners and with our municipal folks, and we will continue to do that. The money is there, there is funding, programs are laid out, and we should be proud of the amount of infrastructure that is happening in Canada. That will continue to happen under our $180-billion plan over 12 years.
    Mr. Speaker, there were a couple of things that really interested me in the member's speech. Number one was about listening to his residents. I would suggest that the member indeed listen to his residents, because in the last provincial election, Michael Tibollo was elected as a Conservative MPP in his riding, where the Liberal cabinet minister was running on the very same things that the federal Liberal government is running on: higher debts, higher deficits and structural deficits that were going to impact the economy.
    However, it is what the member said at the beginning that really piqued my curiosity. He said he felt that this motion today, which calls for reducing deficits and balancing the budget, was a useless exercise. Does the member actually believe that lowering taxes for Canadians, balancing budgets and lowering deficits is a useless exercise?
    Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil for acknowledging the fact that we have reduced taxes for nine million Canadians. I thank him very much for acknowledging in his comments the fact that the deficit is going down on an absolute basis year after year. It is also going down in percentage on a relative basis year after year in terms of debt to GDP or deficit to GDP, whichever number you want to look at. The United States is running on about a 5% deficit-to-GDP basis. We are well below 1%. We are trending lower. We are going in the right direction, and we are making the right investments in Vaughan—Woodbridge and in the member's riding.
    I would ask the member what services he would cut. What taxes would he increase? He is saying he wants to balance the budget right away. You have to cut something or raise something. What is it? What choice would you make?
    We are getting a lot of the “you” word in play. I would ask hon. members to direct their speech to the Chair and keep it in the third person.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague's speech. I want to ask him a question, because I realize that, when investments are made, it is important that they eventually produce results. One does not invest money to see it wasted. Ideally, it should result in something concrete.
    One measure that I find very concrete, and my hon. colleague mentioned it in his speech, is the Canada child benefit. Once again, it is a remarkable, unprecedented Canadian program that helped reduce Canada's child poverty rate by more than 30% in one historic year. That is amazing.
    Does my colleague think that is a good outcome for a government program?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

[English]

    How many kids in Barrie—Innisfil receive the Canada child benefit? It is around 10,000 to 11,000 families every month. Does he want to cut that? That Canada child benefit is tax-free and simple, and they receive it every month. They depend on it. It helps them enjoy a good quality of life. That is what our government is about: lifting children out of poverty, helping families and helping middle-class Canadians. That is why we have created 800,000 jobs, ensuring good services for families. It is why our unemployment rate is at a 44-year low. That is the record, and that is what we need to speak about.
    We will continue to reduce and maintain a strong fiscal situation as our debt-to-GDP ratio declines. We will do it in a prudent manner that ensures our services are kept and that we continue to maintain a low tax jurisdiction both on the personal side and on the business side. That is what Canadians expect of us.

  (1250)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to commend my colleague for giving part of his speech in French. I greatly appreciate it.
    I would also like to remind members that the Bloc Québécois believes it is important to have a plan to quickly eliminate the deficit. We agree with the principle of the motion being debated today. There is no justification for spending more than we take in, given the economic climate.
    We are concerned that the government solution to reducing the deficit is to again cut transfers to Quebec and the other provinces, in such sectors as health, even though the needs are real.
    However, we cannot accept the part stating that the government should commit to never raising taxes of any kind. For example, we want the richest 1% to pay more taxes. We also agree with the whole issue of fighting tax havens. We want the government to look for more money in tax havens.
     I would like to ask my colleague about that. Does he agree with the idea of doing more to recover money from tax havens?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I would like to answer him in French, but I am sorry, I find it very difficult.

[English]

    We will not do what the Conservatives did and undertake austerity measures where we cut. That is not something any government wants to do or should do. However, the Conservatives decided to do that, and it hurt our economy in 2014-15. Job growth was very anemic and very weak.
    On the question of tax evasion and tax avoidance, our government has invested $1 billion into the CRA. We have invested a lot of funds in beefing up measures. Another measure we have undertaken is on base erosion and profit shifting, and we agree with our international partners. Obviously, that is a big issue for us. It has been a big issue since we came to power.
    It is very important, because we want to ensure that hard-working Canadians who are paying their taxes receive the services they deserve, and that any high-net-worth individuals or corporations that are avoiding paying their fair share do pay their fair share. That is what Canadians expect us to do, and everyday, hard-working Canadians demand that.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure to rise today in this new interim House of Commons, representing the good people of Barrie—Innisfil. History will certainly be made in this place over the course of the next 10 years or more. It is nice to know that we will get back to Centre Block before a balanced budget is even expected in this country.
    Last year, on December 21, four days before Christmas, the finance department released a report, from which we learned that the budget will not be balanced until at least the year 2040. Let us think about that. My son, who is now 14 years old, will be 35 years old before the budget is balanced. I do not even want to begin to think how much he and those his age will have to pay in taxes.
    Like many Canadians, I am worried about my children and their children. With the current government's record on spending, I want to know what tomorrow's Canadians are going to have to pay. I want to know whether they will be able to buy houses and have a good quality of life in spite of the government's spending.
    I am also worried, quite frankly, for the residents in Barrie—Innisfil who are heading into retirement, seniors who will be profoundly affected by this fiscally irresponsible government. That is why I am happy to speak today to this motion by the member for Carleton. I will again remind the House what the motion says. It states:
    That, given the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year and that perpetual and growing deficits lead to massive tax increases, the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019—
    That is in a few short months.
—to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.
    It stands to reason that when a country is faced with debt and deficits, the inevitability of raising taxes is going to happen. There is no question about that. Canadians should not be questioning that. The government ran on the fact that the budget would be balanced this year. We are finding out that the deficit this year will be $20 billion, and in fact the budget will not be balanced until the year 2040.
    Think about the impact that is going to have on everyday working Canadians who quite simply cannot afford it. A report came out last week that said that 46% of Canadians are $200 away from insolvency: $200. It is a very fine line that Canadians are walking right now with respect to the level of debt and deficit they are facing, not to mention the fact that the government is putting it on.
    I am also very pleased and honoured to be sharing my time today with the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.
    The Prime Minister does not have to worry about household debt or incurring deficits. In fact, he has inherited a family fortune, so he has no worries at all, unlike the families in Barrie and Innisfil who have to worry on a day in, day out basis about their financial situations.
    The other thing is that the Prime Minister got caught trying to impose tax hikes. He tried to put a 73% tax hike on small businesses. It was not until the opposition brought that forward and spoke to businesses across the country that the backlash occurred and the Prime Minister and the Liberal government backed down on those tax hikes.
    Do not think for a second that those tax hikes will not come if the Prime Minister is re-elected. He also tried to impose a tax on health and dental benefits and employee discounts. Waitresses and waiters who get free meals as part of their working conditions were going to be taxed on those things. Again, the opposition brought that forward. He also tried to impose taxes on a disability tax credit for diabetics. These tax hikes, make no mistake, will be on the table again if the Prime Minister is re-elected.
    As I mentioned earlier, he has also broken his promise on higher deficits. Higher deficits today mean higher taxes tomorrow. Somebody has to pay for this.

  (1255)  

    Those living in Ontario saw 15 years of Liberal mismanagement. The Liberal structural debt was the largest sub-sovereign nation debt in the world. It was billions of dollars of debt. Billions of dollars were being paid toward interest payments that could have gone to government services to help those who were vulnerable and in need. Instead, the provincial Liberal government ended up incurring debt and deficits.
    We are on the same path. In fact, during the last election, I spoke often in all candidates debates and I toured around, talking to my constituents. I spoke about the fact that we were on the same path federally as we were provincially in Ontario. That path was one of structural debt and deficits from which it would be very difficult to recover.
    That is why the election in 2019 has become one of the most critical elections in the country's history. We cannot allow the federal Liberal government to do what the Ontario Liberal government did in Ontario. We have to stop it now. As we have seen from finance department reports, the budget will not be balanced for another 31 years.
    We know this is the Prime Minister's plan. There is no reason to believe him on a lot of things he promises. He promised that the deficit would be low. He promised that he budget would be balanced this year. The only thing that is sure, as a result of what the government's fiscal policy has shown, is that taxes will rise after the 2019 election once he is given that further mandate. Canadians cannot afford that.
    They cannot afford a carbon tax either. We have heard that the carbon tax will cost $20 a tonne. Some finance department projections say that it could cost upwards of $300 a tonne. What would that mean for families in Ontario? It would mean $3,000 extra a year in carbon taxes when they are already struggling. When they are already on a razor-thin line of insolvency, how will this help them meet their economic needs? It will not.
    We also heard that families in Saskatchewan will be spending up to $5,000 with the carbon tax. It is really interesting. When the Liberals are talking about taking from one pocket and giving to another, they are talking about giving a rebate. If the purpose of a carbon tax is to change people's habits, what incentive and motivation is there when the government taxes them and then gives them a rebate?
    How is that going to help families in Barrie—Innisfil that are required to drive up and down Highway 400 every day to get to Mississauga or Vaughan to go to work? What about those soccer moms who have to drive their kids to soccer? What about those hockey families that drive all over Ontario? My family was one of them. We would drive from Barrie to Peterborough to Kingston so our kids could play hockey. Why are those families going to be penalized with a carbon tax that the Prime Minister even admitted on a Quebec television show would have no difference in the country at all in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
    The government's own documents say that it has to raise that carbon tax by $300 a tonne. That is 15 times more than what it is going to cost now. The only way the Liberals are going to do that is if they raise it after the election, if they are elected again.
    Just as in Ontario, we cannot let this take root. We as Canadians have to stop this now. If we allow the Liberal government four more years or more, we will be in a structural deficit and debt situation that will profoundly impact the lives of Canadians in a negative way.
    We as an opposition are here to stand up for Canadians. We are here to stand up for them and their dreams, not what the government wants to impose on them. We and our leader will continue to fight. We will continue to stand up for what is right for Canadians. We will ensure that we balance the budget and that Canadians pay lower taxes so they can achieve their dreams for their families.

  (1300)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil, whose speech was very interesting.
    I would like to know what they would promise voters. I would also like to know if my hon. colleague is aware that his constituents received 11,610 tax-free Canada child benefit payments, which helped 20,870 children. At an average of $7,080 per family, those payments are among the highest in Ontario.
    Supposing the Conservatives were to be in office in 2020, would my hon. colleague scrap the Canada child benefit?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we will cut the things that are most important to the Prime Minister but not necessarily important to Canadians. The Prime Minister has spent billions of dollars to send money outside the country when he should spend that money inside our country. Therefore, we will find ways to cut without affecting and impacting the lives of people in a negative way.
    The hon. member brought up the Canada child benefit. The other side forgets that it is income tested. In Barrie—Innisfil, the median average household income for families is roughly $80,000. Those families were receiving a universal benefit before to help their children. Now, in many cases, they are receiving less. In fact, I had a phone call last week from a family that was quite concerned. It was making $47 a month on the Canada child benefit when it was making more before. Why? Because it is income tested. That is why the Canada child benefit is a lot less than what the Liberals purport it to be.

  (1305)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are here to debate a Conservative motion on balancing budgets, and part of the motion is about no new taxes. I think what Canadians want is a fair tax system. We hear every year that inequality in Canada is growing. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Most Canadians do not feel they are getting ahead. We hear stories such as the mining company in Vancouver that has a mine in Mongolia. It is supposed to pay $600 million in Canadian taxes and $200 million in Mongolian taxes. However, because it opened a post box in Luxembourg, it pays no tax at all here or in Mongolia. Mongolia is taking it to court, fighting back. In Canada, the CRA has said it is okay. It even got a letter from CRA to say it was fine. Could he comment on that?
    Mr. Speaker, one of the important points within the motion is that we get a written commitment that the Prime Minister will never raise taxes of any kind.
    I spoke specifically about the carbon tax issue. The government's own documents show that the carbon tax has to increase to $300 per tonne. That is a tax. We are trying to get the Prime Minister to commit not only to balance the budget and reduce the deficit, but also to ensure he does not commit to any new taxes.
     Therefore, let the Prime Minister and the Liberal government tell Canadians that they will not raise taxes. Let them say that so Canadian can be sure as we head toward the 2019 election. As I said earlier, the one thing that will happen as a result of the debt and deficit situation is taxes will have to go up. Let the government tell us they will not.
    Mr. Speaker, let me try to explain carbon taxes for the member for Barrie—Innisfail. We had five serious national experts before the environment committee yesterday who explained it. The reason a carbon tax works, even if a consumer gets a rebate, is as the price goes up, people try to avoid paying it. Therefore, they will economize within their own home and then they benefit even more when they get a rebate.
    This is the essence of what the Green Party has been proposing, which is carbon fee and dividend, which has recently been endorsed by two prominent Republicans in the United States, George Shultz and James Baker. Does the hon. member recognize that carbon taxation was developed by Republicans?
    Mr. Speaker, the problem with the carbon tax in the area I represent is that if it is intended to change people's habits, as the hon. member says, there is no way that will happen. They have to heat their homes. They have to drive their cars. They are involved in all kinds of things. Therefore, this carbon tax represents a tax on the necessities of life.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, first off, I want to thank my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil for giving a speech that reflects our philosophy as Conservatives.
    Since this is my first time speaking in the new House, I also want to take this opportunity to thank the people who built it, the craftspeople who succeeded in melding the modern with the historical. I think they did an incredible job.
    I invite all Canadians to come and visit this place to meet us and discover the new House, because we will be here for at least 10 years.
    I rise today because the current government is not keeping its promises. Back in 2015, it got elected by saying it would start by running a modest $10-billion deficit in 2016 and balance the budget by 2019. It is therefore perfectly fair for every Canadian to have questions today about our country's future. I think that the motion tabled by our party is very timely. I will read it out:
     That, given the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year and that perpetual and growing deficits lead to massive tax increases, the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019 [which will come out in a few weeks, in April at the latest, or maybe in March, depending on the Liberals' agenda] to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.
    That is what the motion says, and I think it is responsible. I simply want to remind the House that, during the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals made a lot of promises that they did not keep. I would like to mention a few of them. There is an extremely long list and I only have 10 minutes, so I will not be able to talk about all of them.
    I represent the beautiful riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier in the Quebec City region. The Liberals promised to have the Quebec Bridge painted or to find a solution before June 2016. No one forced them to make that promise. It is now January 29, 2019, so people can reach their own conclusions. Of course, on a national scale, that is a very small promise.
    The Liberals also promised Canada Post letter carriers that they would send them back out to do home mail delivery. Did the Liberals do that? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Furthermore, in 2015, the Liberals said that the 2015 election would be the last under the existing voting system. This is an election year. Has anyone heard anything about a new voting system? I do not think so. Elections Canada is giving training sessions, but no one has told the organizers or those involved in the election anything about a new voting system. That is another promise the Liberals did not keep.
    The Liberals also said they would change the House of Commons Standing Orders to put an end to omnibus bills, which interfere with proper debate in the House. We all know what happened in December. They bundled a bunch of bills and muzzled us.
    Now I want to remind everyone about the most important promise the Liberal government made in 2015, the one about running small deficits early in its mandate and balancing the budget. Today the Liberals are accusing us of moving a ridiculous motion. How absurd. The deficit is $80 billion. It is unbelievable.
    We just want the government to behave responsibly and take real action. How can Liberals travel across this country, look Canadians in the eye and tell them they should put their trust in them and vote for them? How can they tell Canadians that they are meeting expectations and keeping their promises? Seriously. We are giving them an opportunity to table a plan to balance the budget, an opportunity to promise they will not make our children and grandchildren pay the price, because that would be irresponsible.
    Speaking of children, I would like to talk about a fable by Jean de la Fontaine, The Cicada and the Ant. It is not very long, so I would like to read it now:

  (1310)  

    

Cicada, having sung her song
All summer long,
Found herself without a crumb
When winter winds did come.
Not a scrap was there to find
Of fly or earthworm, any kind.
Hungry, she ran off to cry
To neighbor Ant, and specify:
Asking for a loan of grist,
A seed or two so she'd subsist
Just until the coming spring.
She said, “I'll pay you everything
Before fall, my word as animal,
Interest and principal.”
Well, no hasty lender is the Ant;
It's her finest virtue by a lot.
“And what did you do when it was hot?”
She then asked this mendicant.
“To all comers, night and day,
I sang. I hope you don't mind.”
“You sang? Why, my joy is unconfined.
Now dance the winter away.”

    Obviously, the cicada is our current Prime Minister, and the ant represents workers, people who are responsible and hard working, our leader, and the entire team at the Conservative Party, which is currently in the official opposition. We are a government in waiting.
    The moral of this story is that hard work always pays off and that we must work instead of dreaming. The ant worked hard to collect provisions for the winter, while the cicada was singing and lounging around, and then found herself in a difficult situation.
    It is unfortunate, but that seems to be the situation in Canada. We have been in a period of economic prosperity for the last three years. Any good manager would take this time to fill the coffers. It is only logical. If we look back through history, there are always recessions and periods of lower prosperity. I do not want to be alarmist, but we have to be responsible. We do not know what the future holds, but we know that we have been prosperous for the last three years.
    What did the current government do? It spent money like crazy without keeping its promises, without meeting expectations, and without improving life for hard-working Canadians. Canadians are paying higher taxes, and more tax increases are coming. Their children and grandchildren will also be left paying the price for this Liberal government's irresponsibility.
    I am not a prophet or an economist, but we have resources, and I am smart enough to do my research. Many economists are saying that an economic slowdown is on the horizon. When heading into a period of uncertainty, it is important to have a plan and to be prepared.
    The members opposite are accusing us of having run up deficits, but we have to consider the circumstances. The worst economic crisis took place when the Conservatives were in power. We invested in infrastructure, we took steps to keep the economy going, and we were applauded by the international community. We were told that we did a good job in Canada, under the circumstances. We took charge, and we were responsible.
    Since April 26, 2018, my riding has had a pilot project to provide labour to private businesses and to work on economic development in the regions. We have not asked for any money. These are initiatives driven by entrepreneurs. Today is January 29, 2019. I am not asking for money. I am only asking that we do what we have to so we can look after the regions.
    Can the members opposite govern, think about what is in Canadians' best interests, and commit to balancing the budget and not passing the bill on to future generations?

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question. I am very pleased to hear him talk about our grandchildren. I am also hearing the Conservative members talk about the price on pollution, a measure they oppose.
    When I think about our grandchildren, I think about the future we are leaving to them. Thinking about climate change is very important. My kids play soccer and do synchronized swimming, and like all mothers, I have to drive them to their activities. We always hear that “soccer moms” do not want a price on pollution, but that is not true. In my community, people are always saying that we need to take care of our children and grandchildren and that climate change is an important issue.
    My colleague said we need to cut all spending, but when it comes to climate change, will it not cost more to do nothing? Insurance costs will rise, and there will be more costs associated with the natural disasters that will destroy our infrastructure. Inaction will cost us even more.
    What is my colleague's plan for fighting climate change?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Toronto—Danforth for her great question. I am glad she is asking me this kind of question, because just yesterday, I was at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, of which I am a member. I am happy to reiterate that we, the Conservatives, do not get up in the morning planning to destroy the planet. We are responsible people. We do not agree with the carbon tax, but we are interested in finding solutions.
    At the end of yesterday's committee meeting, I asked five witnesses if the carbon tax is the only possible solution. The answer was no.
    We need to be responsible. We need to stop taking money out of taxpayers' pockets to mortgage our workers' future and place an even greater burden on our children and grandchildren.
    I would like to close by saying that we do have a plan for the environment. The Prime Minister is going to call an election. Right now, he is the one in office. Until we form government, we do not have to release a plan. We will release our plan for the environment once the campaign gets under way, and Canadians will be able to trust us to protect the environment, our children and our grandchildren.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier gave a very interesting speech.
    I did some research on La Fontaine's fable, The Fox and the Crow. The moral of that fable is this:
    

The flatterer
lives at the expense of those who will listen to him.

    The Conservatives should be careful about what they are proposing.
    Does my colleague know that his riding received 12,780 tax-free child benefit payments and that the average payment was $5,760?
    We created 800,000 new jobs in Canada. The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 40 years. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is on a downward track. We are in the right place.
    My colleague said earlier that he did not want to say what his party's plan will be. Will the Conservatives make a commitment? All they do is criticize the government. What is their plan?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.
    The fact remains that the past is the foundation of the future. Our government left a budgetary surplus.
    Ms. Linda Lapointe: With help from the EI fund.
    Mr. Joël Godin: Mr. Speaker, I would answer my colleague's question by saying that we left the house in order. The Liberals have been wasting money for three years. It has been ridiculous and irresponsible. We already know that the next government will have to be a responsible government. We know that the current Liberal government has not kept its promises.
    I am sure that Canadians will make the right choice on October 21, 2019.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Kingston and the Islands.

[Translation]

    I often wonder what newspaper my colleague from Carleton, who moved today's motion, reads. He clearly does not read all the news and wants to breed uncertainty among the Canadians watching us today.
    Canadians made a choice in 2015. They chose a plan to invest in the economy, strengthen and grow the middle class, and provide real support for those who are working hard to join the middle class.
    Since 2015, the government has continued to focus on the middle class and on helping make life more affordable for hard-working Canadian families.
    The government lowered taxes for the middle class and increased taxes on the wealthiest Canadians in order to allow Canadians to save more money, invest and help grow the economy.
    To help families with the cost of raising children, the government created the tax-free Canada child benefit, or CCB, in 2016, and we indexed it to increases in the cost of living as of 2018, which was two years earlier than planned. In the riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, 10,270 CCB payments have been made, totalling nearly $6 million a year, for an average of $6,840 per family. This makes a big difference for all families.
    I would like to tell you about the Boisbriand family. The mom, Sabrina, has three wonderful little girls aged three, six and nine. She works for the Government of Quebec, and her husband is a retail sales director. Every month, they get $1,350, which makes a big difference when it comes to paying for their children's activities and school supplies and making the investments they want to make for their family.
    I would also like to emphasize that our government recognizes the importance of fiscal responsibility and a strong fiscal position.
    I would like to remind the member that, before we took office, the Canadian economy was struggling. When I was knocking on doors in 2015, the economy was sluggish. That is what people were saying. Half of the jobs in my riding were precarious. In late 2015 and early 2016, national and international economic conditions pointed to Canada slipping into yet another general recession. Canadians were apprehensive about their future.
    That is why the government took immediate and decisive action to address the growth problems and respond to Canadians' concerns by doing what needed to be done, which meant investing in Canadians, in communities, in the economy and in Canada's future.
    In 2016, in our first budget, the government took a head-on approach to tackling the challenges faced by Canadians and the Canadian economy. We focused on a certain number of key principles with a view to strengthening the middle class and Canada's economy.
    First, we took advantage of record low interest rates to make responsible, targeted investments that will stimulate the economy over the long term. These investments were intended to stimulate robust growth, increase employment and create more opportunities for Canadians across the country.
    Our efforts yielded real results. For instance, over the past three years, thanks to their hard work, Canadians have created more than 800,000 new jobs, bringing the unemployment rate to its lowest level in over 40 years. This year, we expect Canada to have one of the fastest-growing economies in the G7 once again. The government is also committed to advancing gender quality, which will support growth in Canadian businesses.
    We lowered the small business tax rate to 10% as of January 1, 2018, and we reduced it again to 9% as of January 1, 2019.
    We signed new, modern trade agreements, namely the CPTPP, CETA and the USMCA, which will create more economic opportunities for Canadians.
    Canada is making historic investments in infrastructure, innovation, science, research, and training and skills development.
    However, to maintain that momentum and remain competitive in a complex global economy, Canada needs to become even more innovative.

  (1325)  

    We need to be more open to the world of science, technology, engineering and math. Today, we need to work together to achieve even better results than we thought possible.
    In budget 2017, the government launched the innovation and skills plan to build an economy that benefits everyone, an economy where Canadians have access to good quality jobs and Canadian businesses are well placed to compete in a rapidly evolving global market.
    Over the past 18 months, the innovation and skills plan has made it possible to launch the pan-Canadian artificial intelligence strategy to ensure that Canada remains a global leader in that field.
    Montreal is home to the artificial intelligence supercluster. Many businesses in my riding benefit from that supercluster. Take, for example, Kinova, which manufactures robotic arms. Those are really good jobs that attract a lot of people to my region.
    The global skills strategy was also launched under that plan, ensuring that companies can have more predictable access to top talent.
    Our innovation and skills plan also helped create six new economic strategy tables that serve as a new model for industry-government collaboration, and five new innovation superclusters around the country that have created tens of thousands of middle-class jobs.
    To make the most of this plan, we need to focus more on the foundation of innovation, namely, science. That sector was completely ignored by the previous government.
    A strong science sector is the pillar for the discoveries and innovations that improve our world, such as new medical therapies, quantum computing technologies and new agricultural practices, to name just a few.
    We expect these investments to lead to greater benefits for all Canadians.
    In closing, all of these policies correspond to promises we made to Canadians during our mandate. We made these investments because it was the right thing to do for Canadians, to create jobs for the middle class and build a stronger economy.
    As we have seen, when we invest in Canadians, when we give them the tools they need to succeed, they contribute by working hard and generate economic outcomes that are among the best we have seen in a generation.
    Together, we are strengthening the middle class, ensuring its growth and helping those working hard to join it. We are giving Canadians the help they need to succeed by making targeted investments to grow our economy for the long term, while keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio on a downward track.
    That is what Canadians expect from us, that is what we promised and that is exactly what we are doing.

  (1330)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there is not a great deal of specific information about the Liberals' plans for Canadians, so I am hoping that the member will respond to my question with details in regard to the actual motion put forward today.
    Could she tell me specifically what the Liberal plan was in regard to deficits and balancing the budget?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, our plan is working. We have created 800,000 new jobs, pushing unemployment to its lowest level in 40 years and giving Canada one of the highest economic growth rates in the G7.
    Our debt relative to the size of our economy is clearly on a downward track. Recent reports have shown that our plan is working. Last year's positive economic results have a significant impact on our long-term projections.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech.
    Today, the Conservatives are asking the government whether it will make a commitment to not create new taxes. For my part, I will be speaking about existing taxes.
    The member opposite is very familiar with the retail sector. She knows full well that merchants and SMEs must collect the HST on their clients' transactions. It is not money taken from their account, but it is their job to collect this tax.
     Speaking of an existing tax, why is the government intent on being one of the last lax governments not to charge a “destination” tax, such as the GST, on over-the-top television services of web giants such as Netflix?
    Mr. Speaker, I know what my colleague is referring to, but since we are talking about SMEs, I would remind members that we lowered their tax rate to 10% on January 1, 2018, and lowered again to 9% on January 1, 2019. Yes, we are working for SMEs.
    Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague from Longueuil would have appreciated an answer about Netflix collecting tax.
    We agree with the principle of the motion, which is about having a realistic plan to balance the budget as quickly as possible. However, the Bloc Québécois is against the last part of the motion about a commitment to never raise taxes of any kind. We are for the carbon tax or something similar, which would give Quebec a relative advantage.
    We would also like to see tax hikes for the wealthiest 1% of the population as a way of reducing the middle class's tax burden. We also want the government to go after all businesses, beginning with Canadian banks, that report the bulk of their earnings in tax havens and do not pay tax. We think that would be a good way to balance the budget. Things that are immoral should be illegal.
    I would like my colleague to comment on that. Why not make things that are immoral illegal and tax the profits that banks declare in tax havens?

  (1335)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have a plan, and we have presented budgets. The Bloc Québécois opposed these budgets. I have to wonder how my colleague opposite, who, like me, lives in Quebec, feels about having voted against the Canada child benefit. This is a tax-free benefit that has significantly helping families in my riding and in his.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I hear the Conservatives continue to talk about investments as if everything happens on the general ledger and everything has to have an immediate response, where really, the investments are coming from Canada's balance sheet, looking at investing in our economy to create growth and show the positive results we are seeing.
    Could the hon. member comment, as a small business person, on how investments from the balance sheet help to create growth within the general ledger?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.
    Like me, he strongly believes in investing in science. He believes that innovation brings change, which is absolutely the case. We have created 800,000 jobs since 2015. That is a lot. The unemployment rate is at its lowest in 40 years. Yes, this is working. We must invest in small business, in innovation, in training and in superclusters.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to this opposition motion presented by the hon. member for Carleton and to provide some insight and my perspective on it.
    I will start by saying that, as usual, I am perplexed by the fact that the Conservatives somehow have this moral high ground to stand on to judge this side of the House when it comes to fiscal responsibility. For some reason there is a notion out there, and I would say it goes far beyond just our borders, that Conservative and alt-right governments are fiscally responsible.
    In reality, when we actually stop and look at it, what we see, in looking back at the last 19 budgets introduced by Conservative governments in the House of Commons of Canada, 16 ran deficits. This is really easy to prove. Anyone can go on Google and see this. As a matter of fact, and this one takes a little more work, but with help from the Library of Parliament I was able to do it, if we actually dig and look at the debt that has been created by governments over the past 151 years, we actually find that the Conservatives have been in power for 36% of the time yet have racked up well over 50% of the debt.
    For some reason, there is a perception out there that Conservatives are somehow fiscally responsible. However, the proof, in the last 151 years of this experiment that we call Canada, has not produced any results that actually substantiate that claim.
    We come to today's motion, presented by the hon. member for Carleton. He is specifically trying to drill down in various rhetorical ways, as he has done many times in the past in this House, on commitments made by the government.
    What we have been able to see, the results from the government over the last three years plus, is the lowest rate of unemployment since we started recording it over 40 years ago. We are now sitting at the lowest rate. That is what the government has produced.
    The debt-to-GDP ratio, which is extremely relevant, but of course, the Conservatives never want to talk about it, because it is pretty amazing as well, is at the lowest rate it has been in Canada, and more importantly, is among the lowest rates among the G7 countries. We currently have among the best, especially when we compare ourselves to our neighbour to the south, debt-to-GDP ratios.
    We are also one of the national leaders among the G7 countries when it comes to growth. This is as a result of investing. This is as a result of investing in Canadians. This is as a result of investing in their potential. This is as a result of investing in businesses in Canada. That is what this government is doing, and that is why we are seeing the results we are.
    Let us talk about the first thing the government did when it came into power. The first thing it did was reduce taxes for the middle class and raise them on the 1%. We recognized, unlike the Conservatives, that to have a successful economy, we need to have people out there in the marketplace engaging in the marketplace. We are not going to have a successful economy if all the wealth and all the income is among the top 1%.
    One would think, from a business perspective, that the Conservatives would get this. We need people to spend money. How are people going to make money in their businesses if we do not have people spending money? That is exactly what the tax cut for the middle class is all about.
    It is also about creating equality and equal opportunities. It is about seeing the potential in marginalized segments of our population and how they can contribute to our economy. That includes an issue that I am extremely passionate about as it relates to gender equality and putting more women in the workforce in less traditional jobs in this country. This is about creating opportunities and putting the necessary pieces of the puzzle in place so that we can see the success that continues to see our country grow. That is exactly what we have done.
     We also recognize that we have to take care of some of the most vulnerable in our community. That is why the government put in place a $40-billion, 10-year plan with respect to a national affordable housing strategy to assist people. If people do not have the most basic requirement of housing, if they do not have their most basic need, how can they possibly be expected to perform and work in our society and generate wealth and opportunities? That is what we saw, and that is why we are delivering on that.

  (1340)  

    At the same time that we made sure to put the social elements in place, we also looked at strengthening the private sector and the business sector. That is why this government decided to reduce the small business corporate tax rate from 11% to 9%.
    I will note that this was introduced in the budget last year, and the Conservatives voted against it. I challenged them on this many times, asking why they would vote against a reduction from 11% to 9%, and the answer, to be fair, was that they had to vote against the entire budget, so they could not vote for that.
    Fair enough, but not once did I hear a Conservative member stand to say, “Despite the fact that I am going to be voting against the budget, I would like to say that I am really happy with seeing the corporate tax rate for small businesses reduced from 11% to 9%.” I may stand corrected and I would love to see the excerpt from Hansard to confirm that I am wrong, but I spend a lot of time in the House through the various debates, and whether from this side of the House or from the opposition putting forward motions, I have yet to hear that.
    As we put these different mechanisms in place to strengthen the social aspects of our communities and to strengthen businesses, we are seeing the results coming out on the other end of it. We have 14 new free trade agreements covering 26 countries. We are the only G7 nation with free trade access to the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. This government understands the benefits of putting policy in place that gives us the opportunity to start trading and working collaboratively with other economies so that we can see the win-win scenarios that come out of those. We are going to continue doing that.
    We will continue to work to make sure that we strengthen our economy and, more importantly than just the economy, the people who contribute to that economy and who make the economy a reality. We are going to do this by making sure that we put those elements in place.
    When I listen to the debate from the other side of the House, as I have this morning and into the afternoon, I wonder about exactly what the Conservatives would cut.
    The Conservatives talk about austerity and the need to cut, cut, cut, and one of the things that has come up a number of times in this debate is the Canada child benefit. The member who introduced this motion might be interested to know that 16,400 children in Carleton receive the Canada child benefit, which equates an average of $5,400 per month per family. The member for Carleton might want to start having a conversation with those members of his community as to what he plans to do with the CCB should he ever be put in a position to have the ability to do something with it.
    Because the Conservatives refuse to tell us what austerity measures they will take, the only reference point we have is to see what Doug Ford has done in Ontario. We know that the Leader of the Opposition and Doug Ford are pretty tight, since we have seen pictures of them hanging out and they have had several meetings. I can only assume that the Leader of the Opposition is taking his direction from Doug Ford. If that is the case, Ontarians and Canadians should be extremely worried.
    Let us look at what Doug Ford has done. He is stripping education, removing free education for the poorest of families in Ontario. He has eliminated repairs to school buildings. He has removed the youth pharmacare plan. Doug Ford eliminated the indigenous culture fund. He scrapped social assistance increases. He scrapped the minimum wage and he put an end to the round table on violence against women.
    Who would do that? How much could that possibly have cost? However, Doug Ford did that.
    Since the opposition refuses to say what it plans to do in terms of austerity, Canada should look to Doug Ford, who is the Leader of the Opposition's best friend these days, to see what direction it will head in, because that is the direction this country would head in if the people of Canada gave the Leader of the Opposition the opportunity to do so.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member likes to go on and on about the things that Conservatives cut, but what he has failed to mention is that the Liberal government severely cut back the environmental measures in its new trade deal with Mexico and the United States. Why do I know that? I worked for the secretariat under the former trade deal. It was a very strong entity that gave citizens the right to file petitions alleging failed enforcement. Liberals took all of that way.
    So much for Liberals saying they work hard to make sure they balance economic development and environmental protection. They do the absolute opposite when they get to the bargaining table.
    Mr. Speaker, I would disagree with what the member said. Liberals, and this government in particular, recognize the fact that there is a balance. Nothing was more telling than the debate we had yesterday on the bill that came back from the Senate, when the Conservatives talked only about the economy as if that were the only thing that mattered. They never mentioned the environment. If we jump over to New Democrats, they only talk about the environment and never mention the economy.
    We have to respect the fact that in order for us to be prosperous, in order for us to promote, encourage and ensure strong environmental protection, we have to have a strong economy. That is probably the thing that puts New Democrats in the position they are in. It is because they have never been able to comprehend this fact. Unfortunately, it has led to their current status in the House.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers are lucky because we can use green energy to grow our economy. We are perfectly positioned to combine the two. Here, by buying a pipeline, this government is promoting oil sands development even as it claims to be an environmental crusader. That does not work for us at all.
    We are in favour of eliminating the deficit quickly. One way to do that would be to increase taxes on Bay Street banks that post record profits every quarter.
    Why is the Liberal government not looking at that option? Why is it not considering making things that are immoral illegal and taxing the profits that banks squirrel away in tax havens to legally avoid paying taxes here? Why not just make that illegal? That would go a long way toward eliminating the deficit.

  (1350)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, one has to look at the options. If it is not the Liberals in government, it will be the Conservatives. Let us look at what the Conservatives do when it comes to, in particular, renewable energy and green energy. They will copy the playbook of Doug Ford, who ripped electric vehicle charging stations out of the GO stations, and for what purpose? Spite could be the only reason. They cancelled renewable energy contracts throughout the province of Ontario. That is what we are going to get if, God forbid, this country ever goes down the road of having the Conservatives in power.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be sharing my time with the hon. member for Durham.
    Our Conservative Party of Canada official opposition motion of the day states:
    That, given the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year and that perpetual and growing deficits lead to massive tax increases, the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019 to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.
    Today's official opposition motion contains two facts, followed by two requirements. I know the facts resonate with Canadians across the country and reflect the frustration and anger of Saskatchewan constituents, who can hardly sleep because they are so motivated to see this be a “won and it's done“ disastrous blip in our country's history.
    As for the two requirements, we are simply asking the Prime Minister today to table a plan to eliminate the deficit, as he promised, without any tax increases. The government has one more opportunity before the door hits them on the way out to stop spending foolishly—while insisting that veterans are asking for more than they can give—and live within their means instead of crippling the life out of our economy.
    When the election is over and Canadians breathe a common sigh of relief, there will be no rewriting of this history of the Liberal damage done. The ghost of Pierre Elliott Trudeau still haunts this country, and now the son who thought he could follow in his father's footsteps will be making his own footprints in the snow, contemplating with incredulity that budgets actually do not balance themselves after all.
    The first fact is that the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year. Canadians laughed when he said the budget will balance itself. They are no longer amused. He promised he would balance the budget in 2019. Instead, he continues to spend. The PBO confirmed that the deficit is more than $21 billion this year alone. The Prime Minister clearly thinks he can borrow his way out of debt. According to Finance Canada, the budget will not be balanced until at least 2040, by then racking up an additional $271 billion of debt.
    When trying desperately to change the channel, the Prime Minister sings the praises of his only two claims to fame. He claims to have lowered taxes for the middle class while raising them on the wealthiest 1% of Canadians. He claimed that the loss of revenue to the government from the temporary gift of tax relief to middle-class Canadians would be offset by the increase on the wealthy.
     On December 8, 2015, just weeks after the Liberals won the election, the Financial Post recorded that although the Prime Minister claimed during the campaign that the increased taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Canadians would raise $2.8 billion in fiscal 2016, the Liberals had already had to change their prediction—i.e., break their promise. It would only raise $2 billion.
    The artificial stimulus to rejuvenate the middle class was forecast in their platform to cost $2.9 billion in fiscal 2016. That prediction also fell short. The new forecasted cost, weeks into governing, was $3.4 billion. The Financial Post article on December 8, 2015, stated that “In other words, the middle class tax cut and corresponding increase on high earners was pitched as roughly revenue-neutral and will now cost $1.4 billion.” We know it is not costing the wealthy, because in fact they are actually paying over $4 billion less in taxes.
    Here is the thing: Somehow the costing was not accurate. Whether it was due to poor fiscal advisement or simply a devious spin to win votes at any cost, lo and behold, the scheme was not revenue neutral but instead left a gaping hole of $1.4 billion. I think we can safely say that the trend of a $1.4-billion gap continues on at the very least annually to the current day.
    Clearly, right from the get-go, the Prime Minister had no understanding or capability to cost or administer anything with the term “revenue neutral” attached. Do members need more proof? I will get to the carbon tax in a minute.

  (1355)  

    The Prime Minister's second claim to fame is the Canada child benefit, which he says is putting more money in the pockets of nine out of 10 Canadians. I was speaking with a young father of four children last week who was really concerned and represents what I hear throughout my riding. He and his wife are both full-time students. He is working full time and his wife is home schooling their children. Yes, of course, they can always use the extra money. It helps out. However, he said that every month he cannot help but think about how his kids are going to suffer in the future, because by 2040 they will start to pay this debt off while starting to raise their families and will continue to be burdened with this huge debt they did not agree to.
    It is not right to do this on the backs of the next generation. Every year that the Prime Minister runs deficits, he is borrowing money from future generations, maybe not from his kids and grandkids, but definitely from the children and grandchildren of today's middle-class parents. Today's deficits are tomorrow's tax hikes. The failure of the Prime Minister to balance the budget means higher taxes down the road and less protection against the next economic downturn.
    Let us examine tomorrow's taxes, with the fake revenue-neutral spin attached to the current government's carbon tax. For New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the Liberal carbon tax will increase the cost of gas, home heating and everyday essentials. This will impact the everyday lives of families in those provinces. It will do nothing for the planet, other than continue to destroy Canada's economy and force us to use resources from lesser environmentally concerned countries. It is compounding the uncertainty that is sending investment, bright leaders and capable, competent workers out of Canada, thus devastating businesses all over this country.
    Worst still, it is going to get even more expensive. In 2019, the federal carbon tax starts at $20 a tonne, going up to $50 a tonne in three years. However, internal government documents confirm the Liberals are already planning for a carbon tax of $300 a tonne. That is 15 times larger than it will be on April 1, when it kicks in. This is no April fool's joke. A special carbon tax side deal with Canada's largest emitters means they will not be impacted, while families and small business owners get hit with the full force of this tax. For wealthy Liberals, like our Prime Minister, an extra $100 a month for groceries or an electrical bill may not be a big deal, but it matters a lot to a family trying to make their household budget last to the end of the month.
    Then there is the silent killer, the additional GST being charged on the carbon tax. There's nothing to see here, right? It was intended all along as another way to make up for the poor fiscal management of the current Liberal government, a government that thinks it knows better and could provide better from a postnational ideology that destroys the rights of individuals to create their own wealth, grow their own families and enjoy a life where government does not dictate values, make demands or punish the very people it is there to serve.
    In 2019, Canadians will have a clear choice between a leader who knows their challenges because he has lived the same challenges and his family is his plumb line, and a leader who has never known what it feels like to go without so that his kids could have more, or work every day to earn what he has. Canadians deserve a government made up of talented, passionate, motivated men and women, who fight every day to help Canadians realize their dreams. That is what our Conservative team is offering. We will lower taxes, put people first and enable Canadians to be proud on the world stage once again.
    The Conservatives will continue to expose the Prime Minister's many failures and expose how Canadians will be paying for more of those failures if he is re-elected, while presenting our own vision for creating opportunity to help Canadians get ahead.
    I can imagine the Prime Minister would love to get his hands on our Conservative platform for the 2019 election. He has asked for it almost every day: “What's your plan? What's your plan? What's your plan?” He is going to have to be patient. We want to show it to Canadians first.

  (1400)  

[Translation]

Vacancy

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel  

    Order.
     It is my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation, namely Nicola Di Iorio, member for the electoral district of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, by resignation effective earlier today.
    Pursuant to paragraph 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed a warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill this vacancy.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Religious Freedom

    Mr. Speaker, today, we remember that, two years ago, six people were killed and 19 others were injured because of their religion.
    On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to once again offer my condolences to the family and friends of the victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting. Today, let us come together to honour the memory of the six Quebeckers who lost their lives to hate on January 29, 2017.
    It bears repeating that there is no place for hatred of Muslims in Quebec, and all Quebeckers, if they so choose, must be able to practice their religion without fear.
    I would also like to tell the survivors, the families, the orphans and the entire Muslim community of Quebec City that they have our unwavering support. All those whose lives were changed that night and for whom life goes on should know that we stand behind them now and forever.

[English]

540 Golden Hawks Squadron

    Mr. Speaker, named after the world famous Golden Hawks precision flight team of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Oakville's 540 Golden Hawks squadron has been serving the youth of Oakville since 1951. With 240 cadets, it is one of the largest air cadets squadrons in Canada.
    Cadets are encouraged to become active, responsible members of our community and contribute to society in terms of environmental, citizenship and community activities. Their band has been a staple at the Oakville Santa Claus parade for years. Cadets are trained in drills, first aid, instructional techniques, leadership, marksmanship, meteorology, navigation, principles of flight, survival training and much more.
    Recently, the 540 Golden Hawks invited me to tour and inspect their squadron. It was inspiring to speak with these young leaders about why they chose to become cadets and what they are doing to make Canada a better place for us all.

Canadian Junior Curling Championships

    Mr. Speaker, last week, the 2019 New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships took place in the city of Prince Albert. At the tournament, Alberta's Selena Sturmay guided her undefeated team to a 9-6 win over B.C.'s Sarah Daniels in the women's gold medal game. Only six other women's teams have run the table since the inaugural event in 1971.
    On the men's side, British Columbia's Tyler Tardi won a record-setting third straight junior title. The B.C. skip defeated Manitoba's JT Ryan 7-5 in the men's final. ln junior curling history, this has never been done before.
    Both winning teams will represent Canada at the world junior championships in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, in February of this year. I say to both teams, good luck.
    I would like to personally congratulate chair, Bryan Rindal, the over 300 event volunteers and all event sponsors who devoted so much of their personal time, effort and money to make this event a great success. Well done, Prince Albert.

  (1405)  

Lincoln Alexander Day

    Mr. Speaker, January 21 was Lincoln Alexander Day in Canada. The first black member of Parliament, federal cabinet minister and Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, I covered Linc's first election victory in 1968 as a young radio reporter, and he became a good friend and mentor.
    When I first ran for public office his advice to me was “don't spend any of your own money” and “campaign in elevators” because nobody stays too long and there are always new faces.
    After the 9/11 attack, Hamilton suffered a retaliatory hate crime when arsonists burned our Hindu Samaj Temple. The community rallied to assist and arranged a fundraising gala highlighted by an address by Lincoln Alexander. Few of us could have delivered Linc's message with the conviction he had when he told the Hindu community in his remarkable voice with a tear in his eye, “I feel your pain”.
    Those of us who knew the hon. Lincoln Alexander will never forget him.

Milton Orris and Murray Swales

    Mr. Speaker, l would like to pay tribute today to two men who truly made a difference in their communities and this country.
    Milton Orris grew up in Grand Forks where his family owned the Grand Forks Gazette. He began his working career at that newspaper and then went on to teach health care administration at the University of Toronto. As a dean at Ryerson College, he helped define what continuing education could be in an urban environment. He retired back to the B.C. interior and was totally involved in his community through his passions for peace, education, youth and the environment.
    Murray Swales was another pillar of the south Okanagan community who helped many local groups through his expertise in financial organization. He was that busy person you could always count on to do more. I particularly appreciated his role in creating the Dream Café Co-op, which allowed Canada's best live music venue to go on and thrive.
    Both Milton and Murray passed away before Christmas. They will be missed by their families, their friends and their communities.

Canada-Mexico Relations

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark the 75th anniversary of Canada-Mexico bilateral relations.
    Relations between Canada and Mexico began as allies in World War II. Since then, Canada and Mexico have made major strides to increase trade and strengthen diplomatic relations, including the signing of the NAFTA agreement in 1994 as well as the updated version, CUSMA, late last year.
    Canada and Mexico are each other's third largest trading partner and we are working hard and creatively to increase our trade moving forward to our mutual benefit.
    In late 2016, our government lifted the visa requirement for Mexican visitors to Canada. This has increased the flow of travellers, ideas and businesses between both countries.
    We also co-operate in the areas of environmental, indigenous, immigration and bilateral security and defence.
    [Member spoke in Spanish]

[Translation]

50th Anniversary of the Official Languages Act

    Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act.
    As everyone knows, it is no ordinary act or simple guideline for the development of our public policy. On the contrary, not only does this act reflect the history of our Canadian identity, but it should also reflect our current society, specifically by meeting the present-day needs of minority language communities.
    That is why anglophones and francophones across the country expect their legislators, everyone in this place, to commit to modernizing the act immediately.
    The Official Languages Act will guarantee the continuity of what has defined us as Canadians since 1867. In doing so, the act will undoubtedly ensure the peaceful coexistence of our founding peoples and unite our great federation. That is why the Conservative Party of Canada and our leader are firmly committed to modernizing the act.

  (1410)  

[English]

Religious Freedom

    Mr. Speaker, two years ago today, Canada witnessed one of its deadliest mass shootings, a terrorist attack at a mosque in Ste. Foy, Quebec that killed six Canadians as they worshipped. Make no mistake, this was an attack not only on those gathered at CCIQ that evening, but on our values and the very ideals that have shaped our country, the values of pluralism, friendship and diversity.
    Martin Luther King once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
    It is in that spirit that a Pickering resident, Ryan Slobojan, began “Push Back the Darkness”, an initiative meant to combat lslamophobia. Tonight, people across Canada will be placing a light in their windows to symbolize their commitment to pushing back the darkness.
    Ryan is here today with his daughter Elizabeth and members of the Muslim community across Durham Region to remember the lives lost and to encourage us all to fight back against hatred and intolerance.

Canada-Peru Relations

    Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 75th anniversary of Canada's official bilateral relationship with Peru. Canada and Peru have a long-standing commitment to multilateral co-operation and democratic institutions, most recently, our country's leadership on the crisis in Venezuela through the Lima Group.
    Throughout the years, Canada maintained a very close relationship with Peru. In 2017, over $250 million was invested in strong development assistance programming, focused on support for women and girls, indigenous youth and girls and supporting small agribusiness.

[Translation]

    Peru is Canada's third-largest bilateral trading partner in Central and South America. Canadian merchandise exports to Peru reached nearly $710 million in 2017, while Canadian merchandise imports from Peru reached $1.8 billion.
    Canadian direct investment in Peru totalled $11.1 billion in 2017, mainly in mining, oil and gas, and financial services. Canada also promotes educational and scholarship opportunities in tandem with Peruvian institutions.
    Together, let us celebrate the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations with this key player in South America.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, one thing is for certain. The Liberals will raise taxes and make life more expensive for everyone.
     The Liberals love to laud the B.C. carbon tax, but let me tell a different story. It was designed to be revenue neutral, but with the stroke of a pen, the NDP government betrayed British Columbians by turning it into just another tax grab.
    I suspect that the federal carbon rebate cheques will also quickly disappear in order to pay for the Prime Minister's out-of-control spending. Experts agree that if it is going to work, it has to be 15 times larger. Therefore, the carbon tax is not an environmental plan; it is a tax plan.
     The results for rural communities is that families will pay at every turn. They have no alternative. They will be unfairly punished when they are driving their kids to hockey, commuting to work, buying groceries and heating their homes. Everyday Canadians cannot afford another four years of the Liberal government's spending and mismanagement.

[Translation]

Montreal Non-Profit Organization for Refugees

    Mr. Speaker, this month, the Action réfugiés Montréal organization is celebrating its 25th anniversary. This is the perfect occasion to recognize the important work of this association, which strives tirelessly for more social justice for asylum seekers and refugees. With its three awareness programs, Action réfugiés Montréal has become indispensable in Montreal.

[English]

    Over the years, Action Réfugiés Montréal has helped private groups sponsor over 1,200 people from countries such as Afghanistan, Burundi and Syria, just to name a few. Through its twinning program, which matches newly arrived refugee women with women already living in Montreal, it is helping create social support systems to break the isolation many newcomers feel.
     When many countries are turning inward and there are a record number of displaced people around the world, the work of organizations like Action Réfugiés Montréal needs to be celebrated and supported more than ever.

[Translation]

    Together, let us continue to support these programs that promote inclusion and help our wonderfully diverse Canadian society.

  (1415)  

[English]

Religious Freedom

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark the second anniversary of the attack at Le Centre culturel islamique de Québec. Mamadou Tanou Barry, Azzedine Soufiane, Abdelkrim Hassane, Ibrahima Barry, Aboubaker Thabti, Khaled Belkacemi, these fathers, husbands, brothers and sons were killed while praying at a mosque.
    Today is a day to recommit to fighting islamophobia and all other forms of hate and discrimination in Canada and around the world. We are truly enriched by the diversity of our country, but in order to preserve this way of life, we must challenge those who divide us. We must work toward building a more inclusive society, one in which we treat each and every person with respect, dignity and equality. In doing so, we will forever remember and honour these men, their family and their friends.

[Translation]

Religious Freedom

    Mr. Speaker, Azzedine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, and Ibrahima Barry are names that the people of Quebec City and all Canadians will forever keep in their memory.
    On January 29, 2017, exactly two years ago, a criminal killed them in cold blood. These men, these fathers and brothers, were gathered at the Quebec City mosque. Brought together in faith, they were the victims of human cruelty. The entire country knows that the freedom to practice religion is sacred and that intolerance must be condemned at all levels.
    Let us never turn a blind eye to actions that can lead to such tragedies.
    January 29 should become a national day of solidarity with victims of intolerance and anti-religious violence. These six men will live forever in our hearts and minds.
    [The member spoke in Arabic]
    [Translation]
    We will remember them.

[English]

Mental Health

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be the first to rise in this new chamber to speak to the issue of mental health in Canada.
    This afternoon, I was pleased to welcome Samuel Breau from the Bell Let's Talk initiative to discuss how members of Parliament could be a part of the conversation, to raise their voices and fight to end stigma around mental illness. This initiative effort has raised nearly $100 million for the cause. Seeing him speak on this issue in person and from the heart never fails to inspire and impress.
    Each year on Bell Let's Talk day, Canadians can use #BellLetsTalk to support mental health initiatives across the country. Awareness of the impact of mental health and illness has never been higher, and we must all continue to raise awareness and learn to be open and accepting of our struggles.
    Tomorrow, I invite all of my colleagues and neighbours in my community to do their part and join the conversation.

[Translation]

Religious Freedom

    Mr. Speaker, on the night of January 29, 2017, 17 children were orphaned because their fathers were targeted for their beliefs. Hatred struck, and these 17 children were orphaned. Since that freezing winter evening, six families and an entire community have lived each day with the repercussions of this act of terror.
    Our thoughts are also with the first responders affected by what they saw and experienced. All too often, these unsung heroes suffer in the shadows.

[English]

    Today is a painful day for the Muslim community in Canada. Two years ago, a gunman opened fire during evening prayers at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. Today, we stand in solidarity with the survivors who are still struggling with the repercussions of this act of terror.

[Translation]

    Today, let us help the survivors look to the future.

[English]

Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today humbled and grateful at the mandate given to me by the electors in the greatest riding in Canada, Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
     My constituents know that my door is always open to them. I thank them for their trust in me and promise that I will represent them in Ottawa and fight for what is important to them each and every day: standing up for our farmers, reducing the burdens on small businesses, advocating for infrastructure money, fighting the backdoor gun registry and the ineffective carbon tax.
    My election comes out of sad events: the passing of my mentor and friend, Gord Brown. He worked hard for his constituents and he was a great Canadian. I will continue that legacy of hard work.
    One final note is to acknowledge and thank my wonderful family, my wife Amanda and my children Luke, Ama, Michaela and James.

  (1420)  

[Translation]

Religious Freedom

    Mr. Speaker, two years ago today, six men who were praying in a Quebec mosque lost their lives.
    Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane and Azzedine Soufiane were all killed. A father, a son, a brother, a husband, a friend, and a colleague were all victims of hate.
    After the massacre, vigils were organized across Quebec and Canada. Many people gathered and were united.

[English]

    Today we stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters. We condemn this hateful act as an attack on all Canadians. Together we remember the victims, and we strive to see the humanity in our fellow citizens. No matter our race, the colour of our skin or our religion, we are all Canadians.

[Translation]

    There have been discussions among representatives of all the parties in the House, and I understand that there is consent to observe a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the attack at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec, which took place two years ago.
    I invite hon. members to rise.
    [A moment of silence observed]

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman served his country with distinction and deserves every opportunity to defend himself, and the Liberals have done everything they can to deny this right. The Prime Minister has refused to release documents needed for the defence case. Now we know that code names were being used to evade access to information laws within the ministry. Today we have learned that the former president of the Treasury Board has withheld personal emails from Mr. Norman's lawyers. When did the Prime Minister know that the minister was withholding personal emails in this case?
    Mr. Speaker, first, it would be inappropriate to comment on this matter before the courts. The sub judice convention indicates that MPs should refrain from discussing ongoing legal proceedings. Courts are dealing with the handling of evidence, and we respect the judicial independence and the House of Commons rules.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, a minister of this Prime Minister's government is withholding personal emails from the lawyers of Mark Norman. In October, the former minister said that the only contact he had with Irving was being copied on a letter, but there would appear to be copious documents that are relevant, and as a result, he has lawyered up to try to work his way out of this cover-up. This is all very concerning, and it lies at the feet of this Prime Minister.
    Once again, when did the Prime Minister learn that his minister was withholding personal documents relevant to the Mark Norman case?
    Mr. Speaker, as we all know, these are matters before the court right now. The court is engaged in it. We know that in Canada, the independence of our judicial system is something that must be a bedrock of our society and indeed of our functioning as a society and as a parliament. We respect the independence of those courts. We will allow the courts to do the job they need to do.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, it is the end of the month, and in the normal world, families are taking a look at their personal budgets and trying to figure out how they are going to balance their own, because they know, unlike the Prime Minister, that budgets do not balance themselves. They also know that if they are short this month, they cannot just borrow their way out of debt, unlike the Prime Minister, who thinks that the country can. Finally, Canadians know that they will be the ones paying for the mistakes of the government and this Prime Minister.
    Therefore, at the very least, Canadians deserve a clear answer before the election. Will the Prime Minister impose massive tax hikes on these Canadian citizens?
    Mr. Speaker, from the very beginning, our plan has been to lower taxes for the middle class and raise them on the wealthiest 1%. That has been an issue for the Conservatives, because we know that they prefer to give tax breaks and advantages to the wealthiest. Unfortunately, that approach for 10 years under Stephen Harper did not work to create any more than anemic growth. What we have been able to do, by investing in Canadians and investing in their communities, is have the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years and see Canadians create 800,000 new jobs. We are going to continue to invest in our communities, because our plan is working to grow the economy for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the former Conservative government was so good at fiscal management that this government inherited a balanced budget.
    Now, 80% of Canadian families are paying more in taxes to make up for this Prime Minister's out-of-control spending.
    However, during the last election campaign, he made a formal promise that they would rebalance the budget before the end of their first term.
    Will he table a plan to rebalance the budget without forcing Canadian taxpayers to foot the bill through increased taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, in 2015, we presented a plan to invest in Canadians and in their communities and to stimulate economic growth, after 10 years of failures under the Harper Conservatives.
    We have created a strong and growing economy. Canadians have created 800,000 good jobs in the past three years. We continue to see the lowest unemployment rates in decades.
    We will continue to invest in Canadians to create more prosperity for the middle class and those who are working hard to join it.
    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that this government is spending uncontrollably at the expense of our children and grandchildren. Who will have to pay for that? Who will have to pay for the Prime Minister's failures, mistakes and out-of-control spending? Workers, business owners and families across Canada, that's who.
    I will therefore repeat my question to the Prime Minister. Will he table a plan to balance the budget without raising taxes for Canadians, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, we have not and will not raise taxes for Canadians. On the contrary, we have lowered taxes. We lowered taxes for the middle class by asking the wealthiest Canadians to pay a little more.
    That is precisely what upsets the Conservatives because they would rather grow the economy by making investments that benefit the wealthy and giving them bigger tax breaks. That does not work. The trickle down effect does not work in Canada or anywhere else. That is what the Conservatives do not understand.
    We created economic growth by investing in the middle class and we will continue—

  (1430)  

    Order. The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.

[English]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister misled Parliament and all Canadians when he said in this House that he has already “helped more than one million Canadians find affordable housing”. We checked the CMHC record, and it says that only 14,703 new units have been or are even being built, so the government gave away $14 billion in corporate tax writeoffs in the mini-budget but has only built a few new housing units.
    Why is the Prime Minister deliberately misstating the facts? When will the government find new affordable housing for Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve housing that is safe, affordable and accessible. That is why we have made unprecedented investments in housing across this country since day one, including with our national housing strategy. We have already helped more than almost one million Canadians access homes. Our plan is for stable housing and financing now and for the next decade. We know that quality of life, that better opportunities for kids, for families, for everyone, relies on housing. That is why we are investing in a national housing strategy.
    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. Doing routine repairs and maintenance is not finding new housing for Canadians. That answer shows appalling disrespect for Canadians in Burnaby and everywhere else who are suffering through the worst housing crisis we have ever had. Canadian families are struggling under the worst family debt crisis in our history and in all the industrialized world. Forty-six per cent of Canadians are $200 away from financial insolvency in any given month.
    Why does the government not build affordable housing? Why does the Prime Minister not start to care as much about Canadians as he does about Bay Street billionaires?
    Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the NDP be careful about maligning the idea of repairing or refurbishing existing housing stock. Far too many Canadians live in housing that is unacceptable, and the investments we have made that have helped rebuild, refurbish, renovate, improve housing for Canadians right across this country are making a real difference. That is part of the money we are flowing to communities and to Canadians to make sure they have safe and affordable places to live. Yes, there is much more work to do, but we are doing it with unprecedented investments in housing.

[Translation]

Poverty

    Mr. Speaker, a study has shown that nearly half of Canadians are $200 away from not being able to pay their monthly bills.
    Sophie, one my constituents, was telling me how difficult it is for her and her mother to make ends meet at the end of the month. People are struggling under crushing levels of personal debt, and the Liberals' priority is to give billions of dollars in gifts to big business.
    When will the Liberals really help people instead of choosing to help the richest companies?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, our priority from the beginning has been to invest in the middle class and those working hard to join it. That is why we lowered taxes for the middle class. That is why we created the Canada child benefit, which is lifting hundreds of thousands of children across the country out of poverty.
    We invested in a national housing strategy, which has already helped nearly one million people find housing, and we will continue to invest in our communities and in Canadians to help them build a better world for themselves and their families.

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister left out Canadian seniors who are in a lot of debt.
    Paul, a senior in my riding, told me that he and his wife have a hard time making ends meet with their small pension despite having worked their whole lives.
    I should also mention the lack of affordable housing for seniors across the country.
    When will the Liberals choose to give our seniors a real helping hand instead of spending billions on pipelines and corporate welfare?
    Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to talk about everything we have done for seniors, starting with the national housing strategy, which includes a significant investment in housing for seniors.
    The Harper Conservatives raised the retirement age to 67, but we brought it back down to 65. We increased the guaranteed income supplement by nearly $1,000 for the most vulnerable seniors.
    We will keep investing to address the challenges facing seniors. We will help them. We are here for them.

  (1435)  

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians have been waiting at least three years for the Liberals to keep their promise to return to a balanced budget in 2019. Unfortunately, the reality is altogether different. In 2019, we have a $30-billion deficit.
    The Prime Minister is quite likely the only person in the world who believes that budgets balance themselves. Canadians know that budgets do not balance themselves. On the contrary, when we run deficits we have to pay them off one day.
    What is the government's plan to return to a balanced budget?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in 2015, Canadians had a choice between the Conservatives and the NDP who promised austerity and cuts at all costs.
    We knew that after a decade of failed economic policies under the Harper Conservatives, we had to make the right kinds of investments for Canadians. By doing so, Canadians have created over 800,000 new jobs. We have the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. A typical Canadian family is $2,000 better off.
    We know how to grow the economy. We are not going to take the same approach as the failed Conservative economic plan.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should tell that to 80% of Canadian families who are paying $800 more since the Liberals came to power. I look forward to hearing Liberal candidates say that they keep their promises in a few months. It is not true. The Liberals do not keep their promises.
    Canadians want to know how the government plans to return to a balanced budget. Is there even a plan?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we committed and kept our promise to grow and invest in Canadians, to grow the economy for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
    We did not take on the same economic plan as the Conservatives, because they could not manage the economy to help create a more prosperous economy for everyone. All they did was focus on their millionaire friends. We are focused on Canadians and we know our plan is working. When we invest in Canadians, they create the economic success that—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I would ask members to listen to both the questions and the answers.
    Mr. Speaker, what millionaire friends? There is the millionaire friend, right in the front row, who inherited a big, multi-million dollar family fortune, as he likes to call it. He says, “You have never had it so great, fellow Canadians.”
    For those with family fortunes, that is true. For people who are struggling to pay their bills, who have lost their children's fitness tax credit, their transit tax credit and their textbook and education tax credit, the costs have never been so high.
    Why will the Liberals not admit that if given another chance, they will raise taxes, just like they have already done?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives continue to relay fake information. The fact is that we actually lowered taxes for middle-class Canadians. We lowered taxes for small businesses and we increased benefits like the Canada child benefit.
    When will the Conservatives finally tell the truth and say that they are taking their marching orders from Premier Ford and that we are going to see more and more cuts across this country, cuts to education, cuts to Franco-Ontarian language rights? Why will the Conservatives not be honest and tell Canadians about the cuts they plan on making?
    Mr. Speaker, there is the Liberal election platform: Do to all of Canada what Kathleen Wynne did to Ontario. She doubled the debt, she doubled power rates, driving the poorest people to the food banks, and she lied about her plans to raise taxes after every single election that she won.
    Does that remind us of anyone? Someone sitting right there in the front. He knows that he will do exactly what the Wynne Liberals did. He will hide his plan and he will raise taxes massively and it will cost Canadians a fortune. Why will the member not admit it?
    Mr. Speaker, look at our record. Over the last number of years we have actually cut taxes. The member is talking about hypotheticals, but the record shows that we reduced taxes. We reduced taxes on middle-class Canadians. We have reduced taxes for small businesses.
     It is clear from the fact that the member for Carleton is speaking about Ontario that he just wants to create a nationalized plan of the Premier Ford cuts. That is what the Conservatives' platform is. When are the Conservatives going to be honest with Canadians and tell us what they plan on—

  (1440)  

    The hon. member for Carleton.
    Mr. Speaker, there is the latest defence. Now their plans for higher taxes are hypothetical. In other words, we get to find out about it after the election when the Prime Minister no longer needs voters but still needs their money.
    Canadians without trust funds and family fortunes know what he has failed to realize, that never-ending and ever-growing deficits lead to higher taxes down the road. Why will he not tell the truth about that now instead of hiding it until after the election?
    Mr. Speaker, it is simply not true. A typical Canadian family is $2,000 better off under our plan than under the Harper Conservatives. That is real money in the pockets of everyday Canadians that need it. The Conservatives talk about their austerity and cuts. Let me talk about the Canada child benefit. Over 16,410 children are benefiting in the member's riding alone. Is he going to look those children in the face and take that money from them just to prove a point? We believe in investment. Conservatives believe in—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. The hon. member for Carleton.
    Mr. Speaker, to the contrary, when we created the child care benefit, we did so with a balanced budget and we lowered taxes. By contrast, when the Liberals brought in their changes, they did so by raising taxes on those children's parents and building up more and more debt for those children to pay down the road. We on this side of the House will create a financial environment that is secure for Canadians so that we can keep taxes low. We have a motion before the House. It simply asks the Prime Minister to commit in writing that he will not raise taxes. Will he?
    Mr. Speaker, we have already cut taxes and the member opposite talks about the Canada child care benefit, which they taxed. We, on the other hand, made it tax free. We continue to make the right kinds of investments. We are focused on Canadians. At the end of the day a typical Canadian family is $2,000 better off. With a decade under the Harper Conservatives, we know what Conservative cuts look like and Canadians voted against them.

Pharmacare

    Mr. Speaker, we are in year four since the Prime Minister issued a mandate letter to the health minister directing her to lower prescription drug prices for Canadians. This was important because Canadians pay among the highest drug prices in the world and millions cannot afford their medicine.
    Now officials at the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board admit that they have abandoned their plan to reduce the prices that drug companies can charge Canadians.
    Will the Liberals admit that they have folded and betrayed Canadian patients because of pressure from the pharmaceutical industry?
    Mr. Speaker, we recognize that Canadians should not have to choose between buying groceries and paying for medication. That is why this government has taken action. As a government we have joined the pan-Canadian pharmaceutical alliance, which is able to bulk purchase drugs with all provinces and territories. As a result, we have saved billions of dollars.
    Also in budget 2018, we were pleased to launch the advisory council on the implementation of a national pharmacare program. We expect that report in the spring of this year.
    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that Canadians are choosing between medicine and their rent. The Liberals promised these reforms in 2016 and said they would be in place last year. This is a straight betrayal of a clear promise. The Liberals also said these changes were essential to bring in universal pharmacare and that we could not have it until prices were reduced. That is not happening.
     With Eric Hoskins soon to release his study on pharmacare, can Canadians expect to see the Liberals once again cave in to the drug lobby and refuse to bring in universal, comprehensive and public pharmacare?
    Mr. Speaker, unlike the NDP, this side of the House wants to have a plan. That is why we have introduced the launch of the advisory council for the national pharmacare program. We are pleased that this council is being led by Dr. Eric Hoskins and a group of stellar Canadians to really look at this issue.
    I am looking forward to receiving that report in the spring of this year, with its recommended options and also a path forward.

  (1445)  

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has had no control over the issue of illegal migrants in Canada from the very beginning. The influx of illegal migrants at our borders is costing another $115 million. Why? This is the fault of the Prime Minister, who tweeted out a welcome to everyone in January 2017. When will the Prime Minister secure our borders and stop making Canadians pay for his mistakes?
    Mr. Speaker, no matter how loud my colleague gets, his alarmist statements are not based on fact. Although the number of border crossings continues to go down, we understand that, in partnership with the federal government, the Province of Quebec and the City of Montreal play a key role in providing temporary housing. Our partnership with the Government of Quebec is very important to us, as is the issue of border security. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that we maintain both at the same time.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Liberal government announced another $114 million for illegal border crossers. Yesterday, the Liberals also closed the application window to sponsor parents and grandparents in just 10 minutes. Under the current Prime Minister, if people are illegally entering the country, they get immediate entry into Canada and free hotel rooms, yet if one's grandmother is trying to legally enter the country, she would get the door shut in her face.
    Why is the Prime Minister making Canadians pay for his mistakes?
    Mr. Speaker, it is amusing to watch the Conservatives pretend to care about family reunification because, under their watch, parents and grandparents were stuck in a backlog of 167,000 people and had to wait seven to eight years to reunite with their family members.
     We have slashed the wait times down. We have ended the backlog. We have quadrupled the number available for Canadians and permanent residents to reunite with their families. While the Conservatives are busy dividing Canadians, we are focused on reuniting families.
    Mr. Speaker, what is shameful to watch is the government allowing over 40,000 people to illegally enter our country and abuse our asylum system. What is shameful to watch is the government using language to divide Canadians as opposed to using strong policy to restore order and compassion to our immigration system. It shut the door on parents and grandparents who were to trying to legally enter the country yesterday.
    Why is the Prime Minister trying to make Canadians pay for his immigration mistakes?
    Mr. Speaker, the facts speak for themselves. This is the Conservative position on parents and grandparents. The Conservatives described parents and grandparents as a “burden” on the federal government in terms of financial support. They have described parents and grandparents as a drain on the provinces. That is their position. They can run, but they cannot hide from that position.
    We are responsible for quadrupling the number of spaces that parents and grandparents have to come to Canada. We will continue to reunite more families. I am amused by the Conservatives' new-found passion for reuniting families. However, when they had the chance they failed.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government announced $114 million for people who are illegally entering the country, hotel rooms, immediate work permits and social welfare payments. At the same time, it shut the door in seven minutes on people who were trying to legally enter the country. There are over 9,000 angry comments on the immigration website from people who are saying this is not fair, because it is not. It is not right.
    Why is the Prime Minister trying to make people pay for his immigration mistakes?
    Mr. Speaker, I am really amused that suddenly the member opposite has found some sort of light in her enthusiasm for family reunification. However, family reunification was never the Conservatives' priority. Families had to wait between seven to eight years to join their loved ones. They only had 5,000 spaces to reunite family members. They had a backlog of 167,000 people stuck in that program. They even tried to hit the delete button where, for two years under their watch, Canadians could not be sponsors.
    We are focused on getting the job done. The Conservatives will continue to—

  (1450)  

    The hon. member for Jonquière.

[Translation]

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have not mentioned the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs for a long time.
    A Russian aluminum company recently managed to be taken off the list of U.S. sanctioned entities. They no longer pay the tariff.
    What are the Liberals going to say to the people back home, the people of Jonquière? Thousands of families and good jobs are affected. They have the right to know.
    What are the Liberals going to do to have these steel and aluminum tariffs lifted?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague that the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum are unfair and illegal. Canada is working on these tariffs at the NAFTA and WTO round tables.
    I spoke to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer about this issue yesterday and today. We continue to work on it.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is not enough to talk to them. We have to do something now.
    On Sunday, the U.S. administration lifted sanctions on the Russian aluminum giant, Rusal. Meanwhile, Canada is still slapped with Trump's tariffs that are hurting Canadian businesses and workers. Let me get this straight. Trump is saying that Canada is a national security threat, but Russia is not?
    Canada is the closest trade and security partner the U.S. has. Canadian workers are tired of paying the heavy price of losing their jobs because the Liberal government will not stand up for them. What is the plan to remove these devastating tariffs?
    Mr. Speaker, as the member for Essex knows very well, we are not just talking when it comes to the illegal and unjust U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. We acted decisively on July 1 by imposing retaliatory tariffs, the highest, strongest retaliatory trade action in Canadian history. This action is having results. In fact, just this week, Kevin Brady said in the U.S. that he did not see how the U.S. could ratify NAFTA while these tariffs were still in place.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, we can all agree that every first nations child deserves the best start in life. We know that the path forward includes first nations control of first nations education and long-term sustainable funding.
     Could the Minister of Indigenous Services please share with the House the great news from B.C. that advances this important priority?
    Mr. Speaker, last week I joined the first nations education steering committee in the province of British Columbia to celebrate the new BC tripartite education agreement. It will benefit more than 12,000 first nations students. It will provide important changes, including a more sufficient and sustained funding model for new first nations education, and a new $20 million investment for first nations schools, including for language and culture. It reflects the commitment of all parties to work together and strengthen first nations control of first nations education.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, when one has inherited a family fortune like the Prime Minister, one never has to worry about paying for anything, including the carbon tax. However, as families and seniors struggle every month just to get by, government documents show the carbon tax will be 15 times higher if the Liberals are re-elected. That's up to $5,000 per year for a family of four. Canadian families are already paying for the Prime Minister's mistakes.
    Why will the Prime Minister not tell Canadians the truth about his plan to raise the carbon tax if he is re-elected?
    Mr. Speaker, it is really unfortunate that Conservative politicians continue to peddle misinformation. We have been clear that we are going to tackle climate change. We are going to do it in a way that it is effective and also affordable.
     I am very proud to tell the member opposite that a family of four will get $307 in Ontario more than they will pay. That has been our approach.
    However, the question is this. Does the party opposite understand that climate inaction is a huge cost and that the Conservatives are passing that cost to their kids, that climate change is real and that Canadians deserve a plan?
    We are going to continue moving forward on our plan to make—
    The hon. member for Lethbridge.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps telling Canadians “Don't worry; it's okay”, but okay for who? It is okay for him because he inherited a family fortune of course, so he is fine. Meanwhile, a government document just revealed that the carbon tax would increase by 15 times after the next election.
     The Prime Minister will not be honest about this because it is before the election. However, it is the Canadians after the election who we are concerned about.
    Why is the Prime Minister deceiving Canadians by covering up the true cost of the Liberal carbon tax until after the election?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, once again, the misinformation that is being spread by Conservative politicians, from Premier Ford to the leader of the opposition, is appalling. In fact, I am happy to point to the legislation that we passed, which the Conservatives voted against because they wanted to be free to pollute. It shows that we are giving all the money back. Guess what. A family of four in Ontario will get $307 more than they will pay.
    We are focused on making life affordable. We are also focused on protecting the environment. The party opposite wants to take us back to the Harper days when the Conservatives did not protect—
    Order, please. The hon. member for Niagara West.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, it has been seven months since the Prime Minister backed down to Donald Trump and agreed to a trade deal that would keep steel and aluminum tariffs in place and continue to hurt our manufacturers.
    The Liberals have already collected over $839 million dollars in retaliatory tariffs. They promised to give this money back to our struggling steel and aluminum producers, but almost none has gone out.
    Why are Canadian businesses continuing to be forced to pay for the Prime Minister's mistakes?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear about supporting the steel sector and steel workers. We put forward a $2-billion support package for those steel workers. To be specific, $664 million of financial support has been provided to the steelworkers and the steel sector. We have invested in Algoma. We have invested in ArcelorMittal. We have provided financing through EDC and BDC.
     We will continue to support the steelworkers and the steel sector.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the government has collected nearly $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs.
    However, the Liberals have allocated only a fraction of the $2 billion they promised in support for the steel and aluminum industry. On top of that, everyone knows that we produce the greenest steel and aluminum in the world. That is another broken promise.
    Why should businesses in Saguenay and across Canada continue to pay for the Prime Minister's failures in trade negotiations?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear. The steel sector is very important to our economy.

[English]

    That is why we have invested $2 billion worth of support for this sector.
    As I have highlighted, we have provided that support in a meaningful way, particularly to the small and medium-sized businesses that need the financing in terms of being able to compete going forward. We provided $255 million through BDC, $169 million through EDC and $140 million through the strategic innovation fund.
     We will continue to defend the steelworkers and the steel sector.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, we are now three weeks into the state of emergency at Cat Lake and the minister has yet to meet with the leadership or visit the community. I am not sure if he fully understands the seriousness on the ground: the need for ground heaters, holding tanks, stand-by generators, 120 emergency units that have to be moved up before the winter road goes out.
    Yesterday, he told the House that his officials, who have not yet visited the community, were expecting a community-based solution. This is a community facing a total and complete breakdown of social infrastructure. What on earth is he talking about?
    Mr. Speaker, I have spoken to the leadership to affirm our commitment to working with them and indeed we do want it to be a community-led solution because we know that is a solution that will be lasting.
    I did tell the House that officials would be meeting with the community yesterday or today, but they were unable to make it in due to bad weather. However, they will be meeting with them, and they are in constant contact with them.
    We are committed to developing not only an interim but a long-term plan of action to take on the housing challenges that we know they face.
    Mr. Speaker, I spoke with the chief this morning. He said the government has done “squat”. We have houses that are so toxic that 75% of this community needs to be demolished. We just had a child medevacked out to London because of mould contamination.
     The officials in his department have ignored the crisis at Cat Lake for years, so sending him up to put on a Band-Aid solution is not going to cut it.
    What is it going to be? Are we going to see leadership from the minister, more jargon from Indian Affairs or an admission that his department has failed the people of Cat Lake, that he is going to take responsibility and he is going to make sure that action happens, yes or no?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, the health and safety of the people in Cat Lake is immensely important. I have spoken to the chief on this issue. I have spoken to members of council on this issue. We will be meeting with leadership to develop an interim and long-term solution.
     We have made immense progress in partnership with the community. We know there is a long way to go, and we will continue forward in a spirit of partnership.

[Translation]

Intergovernmental Relations

    Mr. Speaker, it is a new year and we are in a new House of Commons, but the Liberals are still playing the same old broken record.
    The Liberals are showing their true colours when it comes to Quebec. They pretend to listen, but Quebec's requests fall on deaf ears. The Prime Minister remains firmly opposed to the idea of making the lives of Quebeckers easier and ignores the consensus in Quebec regarding the single tax return, claiming that it would lead to more tax evasion.
    What is the real reason for the Prime Minister's refusal to listen to Quebec, for once?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, the Conservatives are stooping to petty politics by making empty promises they have absolutely no intention of keeping.
    The Canada Revenue Agency employs over 5,500 people in Quebec. It is an economic driver in places like Shawinigan, Gaspé, Rimouski, Quebec City and Montreal.
    Our employees are bilingual and capable of serving all Canadians. We will be here and we will keep working—
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.
    Mr. Speaker, was the minister trying to scare people just now?
    This is about an administrative agreement, about one form instead of two, about making it easier for Quebeckers to complete their tax returns.
    Only Quebeckers have to send in two tax returns. Quebeckers do not have two pockets. They do not have one pocket for the federal government and another for the provincial government. They get only one paycheque, but two governments try to get their hands on it. Enough already.
    When will the Prime Minister understand that Quebeckers are not a threat and that they can handle a single tax return?
    Mr. Speaker, it is quite something to listen to the Conservatives, who were in power for 10 years and unable to figure out how the Canada Revenue Agency works.
    I can say that we have put in place programs to address tax evasion, unlike the Conservatives who do not want to get in the way of their rich friends.
    We have invested $1 billion and hired 1,300 auditors. We have put everything in place to deal with tax evasion and we will continue to work—
    Order.
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.
    Mr. Speaker, it is important to trust Quebeckers. Instead, the government insists on making life more expensive for Quebeckers. It insists on making their life more difficult.
    The Prime Minister is tuning out the consensus in Quebec calling for a single tax return. I know that the Prime Minister has never had to file his own taxes, but not all Quebeckers can afford to pay an accountant for that.
    Why will the Prime Minister not make life easier for Quebeckers and allow them to file a single tax return?
    Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives are making unrealistic promises, I am pleased to tell my colleague and any Canadians who may be listening to us what the Canada Revenue Agency is doing to make life easier for Quebeckers and Canadians.
    We have invested in our call centres, we have simplified tax returns, we have invested in volunteer community programs, we have encouraged low-income non-filers to file their returns, all so that more Canadians can get the money they are owed.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, as the member for Vimy, I am fortunate to have many members of the Canadian Armed Forces living in my riding as well as a reserve unit of the Royal 22e Régiment. Every year, many recruits receive basic and other training there.

[English]

    Many of them join the reserves to get good-paying summer jobs and hone their leadership skills.
    Could the Minister of National Defence inform the House how our government is investing in young Canadians and the Canadian army reserves?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Vimy for her important question and her hard work for her constituents.
    I was proud to be in Quebec a few weeks ago to talk about our new full-time summer employment program for members of the reserves. Through this initiative, new recruits will receive guaranteed summer employment and competitive pay and will gain valuable military experience, all of this guaranteed for the first four years.
    Our government is committed to supporting the reserve members of our Canadian Armed Forces.

  (1505)  

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are paying for the Prime Minister's failures on China and national security.
    Chinese law requires any Chinese company to spy for the government, and Huawei is no exception. The U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Japan have banned Huawei. The U.S. has threatened to withdraw intelligence sharing if Canada does not do the same.
    Cyber-intelligence is the new arm's race, and it is escalating. The U.S. has now brought 13 criminal charges against Huawei and is unwavering in its extradition request.
    When will the Prime Minister ban Huawei?
    Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member should know, the issue of safety and security in the supply chains for new technologies are under very careful examination by the Government of Canada.
    All Canadians want to take advantage of the world of improvements that can come from the application of 5G technology. At the same time, we want to be absolutely certain that our systems are safe and secure. Canadians can be confident that the decisions made by the Government of Canada will not in any measure sacrifice safety and security.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government continues to devalue the contributions of parents and grandparents. First it was family reunification based on the luck of the draw. After scrapping that colossal failure, it was right back to the Conservative plan to make families race, at breakneck speed, just to submit an application before an arbitrary cap was reached. It took all of 11 minutes yesterday before the door was slammed shut. Now families have to wait another year to even have a shot at submitting an application.
    Will the Liberal government do what is right and cancel the cap?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians asked us for a more fair system, a system that would treat everyone on a first-come, first-served basis.
    We have quadrupled the number of spots available for permanent residents and Canadians to sponsor parents and grandparents, from 5,000 to 20,000. We have slashed the wait times. It used to take seven to eight years to sponsor parents and grandparents.
    We have listened to Canadians, and we continue to improve the program. We are proud of our record, and we will continue to reunite families.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is investing in renewable energy technologies to reduce carbon emissions and create good middle-class jobs for Canadians.
    Could the Minister of Natural Resources provide the House with an update on the solar energy project he recently announced in Suffield, Alberta?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Calgary Centre for his hard work.
    Last week we announced $15 billion of investment our government is making in the Suffield solar project in Alberta. This project will create 250 well-paying middle-class jobs during construction and power over 7,000 homes every year.
    We are delivering on our plan to grow the economy and at the same time protect the environment.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I encourage members to hold their opinions until it is their time to speak, not to speak, like the member for Calgary Signal Hill, for example. He could do that.

[Translation]

Riding of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, constituents of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel have been waiting seven months for an answer about the special status of the Liberal member.
    On June 22, he announced that he was resigning. On September 27, he changed his mind. On November 14, he announced on his Facebook page that he would resign on January 22. We were just officially notified that he is resigning.
    Unfortunately, the constituents of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel are suffering because of the member's seven-month absence and soon the lack of representation for several more months.
    The question I would like to ask the Prime Minister is simple: does he intend to call a by-election before the end of the term, or will the constituents be without an MP for more than 17 months?
    Mr. Speaker, as members know, the member announced his resignation only today. We will examine the situation and proceed accordingly.

  (1510)  

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, in Quebec, we want to integrate our newcomers. We want people who choose Quebec to participate in Quebec life. We want them to take on our culture. For this to happen, we have to be able to speak to each other. Quebec has one official language, and that is French.
    Does the minister agree that to become a citizen through Quebec, a newcomer must have adequate knowledge of French?
    Mr. Speaker, we recognize the traditional discourse of the Bloc Québécois, which seeks to divide and create barriers on the basis of language, culture and colour. The Bloc Québécois has not changed, but Quebeckers and all Canadians have continued to progress and move forward. The Bloc Québécois is the only one that has not and never will move forward.
    Mr. Speaker, I had the honour of introducing a bill to require that residents of Quebec have an adequate knowledge of French in order to obtain citizenship.
    Knowledge of French is needed to integrate those who decide to join us, who want to be part of us and who want to be us. The Government of Quebec understands this.
    Is this government in favour of a law that requires residents of Quebec to have an adequate knowledge of French in order to obtain citizenship?
    Mr. Speaker, that “us” is the problem here. Their “us” seeks to divide people based on language. For the Liberals, “us” includes francophones, anglophones and people from all over the world who come to Quebec and Canada to work together to build a better future for themselves and their children. We on this side of the House do not seek to divide, but to unite.

[English]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, despite selling our oil at discounted prices, the oil and gas industry last year contributed $117 billion to the Canadian economy. That is lots of money, but the number could have been even higher had we had the pipeline capacity to deliver our oil to other markets. We need the Trans Mountain pipeline now more than ever. CNRL is warning that it will have to lay off workers, and how many other companies will be following suit?
    My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. What is the timeline for getting construction under way on the Trans Mountain pipeline? Are we close?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians understand that in order to continue to grow the economy and get our resources to non-U.S. markets, pipeline capacity is very, very important. We are moving forward on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in a responsible way, in the right way, with meaningful consultation with indigenous communities and at the same time making sure that we are dealing with the impact of tanker traffic on the marine environment. We have eight teams currently consulting with indigenous communities, and the NEB is on track to provide a report on February 22. We are moving forward in the right way on this project.

Presence in Gallery

    I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the recipients of the 2018 Governor General's History Awards. It is a long list, so bear with me, please, and stand as I call the names: Jonathan Chassé, Kaira Picard, Leah Baptiste, Pat Watson, Eric Chassé, Temma Frecker, Jean-François Gosselin, Lisl Gunderman, Maxine Hildebrandt, Paul Paterson, Sarah Pashagumskun, Deborah Dobbins, Jean-Paul Guiard, Sergio Gutiérrez, Elsbeth Heaman and Bill Waiser.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

  (1515)  

[Translation]

Use of Images of the Lac-Mégantic Tragedy by Netflix

    Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it you will find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion:
    That the House of Commons:
(a) condemn the use of images of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy in works of fiction;
(b) demand that Netflix Inc. remove all images of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, which took 47 lives, from its fiction catalogue; and
(c) demand that Netflix Inc. financially compensate the community of Lac-Mégantic for using those images for entertainment purposes, without concern for the trauma of citizens, survivors, and the victims' families.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for me to table in this House a document entitled “Modelling of Pricing and Emissions Reductions”. This document from Environment Canada shows the government's plan is to increase the tax to $300 a tonne, not the $50 it admits to, which will mean much higher taxes for Canadians.
    Is there unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find unanimous consent of the House to table the official Liberal Party platform. On page 76, it states that the budget would be balanced in 2019-20.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?
    Some hon. members: No.

[English]

Business of Supply

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that Thursday, January 31, 2019, shall be an allotted day.

Privilege

Member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel  

[Privilege]
    Mr. Speaker, there have been many interventions, as you know, regarding the now former member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel. I wish to point out two brief but important facts after having read through the Hansard records of our former colleague's intervention.
    The first point is that the former member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel made many accusations during that speech, many of the ad hominem nature, against my personal character. Those I will leave aside, but very importantly he accused me of having relied upon the interpretation of a speech he had made previously. He said I relied upon that interpretation to present my facts before the House.
    It is fine to go after members of Parliament for different points of view on the topics of the day, even sometimes character assassination, as in this case, but we must leave aside at all times the excellent, non-partisan and highest-quality nature of the interpretation services that happen for all of us here. We must not suggest there is any defence made available to members of Parliament because those interpreters do not do an excellent job on behalf of us all in what are oftentimes very difficult circumstances.
    The second point is that despite the insinuations that were made by our now former colleague against me, this was never a personal issue for me. I have no actual personal interactions with the former MP.
    This was personal for me, though, with respect to the House of Commons and the reputations of members of Parliament, which we must jealously guard because they are constantly under siege. Raising the issue of members of Parliament who claimed to be leaving their office and then did not for a number of months is an attempt to hold up and try to maintain what we can of the esteem of Canadians, on whose behalf we seek to speak.
    Now that the former member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has resigned his seat, I can do nothing but wish him health in his future. The people in Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel will finally have representation again because they, like all Canadians, deserve no less.
    I thank the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his additional arguments. In particular, I thank him for recognizing the wonderful work of our interpreters. I know all members agree with him because I heard the applause, as we often do, though not often enough.

  (1520)  

Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on December 13, 2018, by the hon. member for Skeena-Bulkley Valley concerning an allegedly misleading statement made in the House by the former member for Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel.

[Translation]

     I want to thank the member for having raised the question, as well as the former member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel and the member for Grande Prairie—Mackenzie for their interventions.

[English]

    In raising his question of privilege, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley stated that, on December 11, 2018, in response to another question of privilege, the former member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel had misled the House when he said he was not collecting his salary as a member of Parliament. He concluded that that statement had to have been incorrect given that, pursuant to the Parliament of Canada Act, the House of Commons administration has an obligation to pay a salary to all sitting members and that the former member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel was still a member when he made that statement.

[Translation]

    Earlier today, the former member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel reaffirmed that he had no intention of ever “pocketing” his salary and, in fact, had donated it to a cause of his choosing. He also explained that his statement was made in French but the English translation, used by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley as a basis for the current question of privilege, did not accurately represent his views and led to a misinterpretation of his remarks.
    I have carefully reviewed the statement made on December 11, 2018, by the former member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel in which he stated, indeed several times, that he was not “collecting” a salary. The words spoken at the time, or at least what one could easily understand them to mean, appeared to contradict the established facts, specifically the House of Commons administration’s legal obligation to pay a salary to all members until such time as they are no longer members of Parliament. Today’s statement clarifies what the former member intended to say.

[English]

    The charge of misleading the House is always regarded by the Chair as a most serious one for it touches not only on the technical aspects of the charge but also the integrity of the member. The Chair, of course, is bound to respect the established conventions accepted by the House on such matters; this does not include assuming a role in the interpretation of what members intended to say. As Speaker Parent reminds us at page 9247 of the Debates on October 19, 2000:
    What I am required to rule on is a more narrow procedural issue: whether a wilful attempt has been made to mislead the House....Only on the strongest and clearest evidence can the House or the Speaker take steps to deal with cases of attempts to mislead members.
    After a careful review of the precedents and the current case before the House, the Chair cannot find that there is sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie question of privilege.

[Translation]

    Before I conclude, I would once again encourage members to be more mindful of the need to choose their words carefully to help minimize any confusion, however inadvertent, that could lead to a serious misunderstanding. Of course, this is even more important when the ambiguous statement cannot be readily clarified as happened in this case. At the same time, I would urge members to be cautious in considering a charge against a fellow member.

[English]

    I thank all hon. members for their attention.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Federal Deficit  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    Mr. Speaker, I am always happy to take the floor, particularly in this brand new West Block Commons. To start, I want to echo the comments of many of my colleagues and our leader in thanking all the people who have been part of this historic move and the renovation of this amazing space. Our Parliament is in session when Canadians send their representatives and we meet to debate the issues of the day, with you, Mr. Speaker, moderating the debate, and with the mace.
    While the room may change, the institution is core to our country, and the success we have had as one of the leading countries of the world is rooted in our democracy. I will speak about that in depth, because there has actually been an erosion in responsible government under the current government. In fact, when it comes to debt, deficit and taxation, the Liberals are deviating from the historic responsible-government model that Canada's parliamentary democracy enjoys.
    I will get to that later, but the member for Carleton brought a good motion today, because the government has no plan. There is no plan to balance the budget and no plan to withhold more and future tax increases on top of the ones that are already in place, and there have been broken promises by the Liberal government with respect to its core economic agenda. Therefore, this opposition day motion raises this as an important national issue, and the House is calling upon the government to do a simple thing: table a plan to get back to balance, and do it with a pledge of no future tax increases.
    Why is that plan a good one, and why should it be simple? The Harper government did that amid the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, when we were the only country of stability within the G7 and we had a balanced budget that was maintained while we lowered taxes on families, seniors and employers. That was tough to do, particularly when there was global stagnation. We had positive growth, we had a balanced budget, and we had lower taxes. We had to have a plan to do that.
    Before I speak about the plan, let us talk about the promise, because Canadians were misled by the Prime Minister. I have said a few times in the House that what should scare Canadians is that midway through an election, the current Prime Minister, then the third party leader, changed his core economic plan in the middle of the election to win votes away from the NDP. He was willing to throw out the Liberals' economic plan, the most important thing a government does, in order to curry votes.
    At the beginning of the election, the Liberals were the party of Paul Martin, of balanced budgets. They quoted David Dodge and all these things about prudent and sound economic management. Midway through, the Liberals lied to Canadians. They said we were in a recession, which was not true, so they were going to run modest deficits, which we know is not true, in order to stimulate the economy with infrastructure spending. That, as the Parliamentary Budget Officer has shown, is not true either.
    Therefore, the Liberals lied to Canadians about the crisis, that we were in a recession, and they suggested they were going to have short-term, modest deficits based on infrastructure to get the economy moving. All of that has proven to be untrue.
    We recall the Liberals' election pledge to Canadians. We have seen it online. We just have to scroll to see the Prime Minister's comments from various speeches and debates. He said the Liberal government would run modest deficits, never larger than $10 billion, and that it would be back into balance by 2019. All of that, again, was false. Despite having the best economic times in 25 years because of a booming U.S. economy, we have seen deficits that have been double or more what he promised. Rather than balancing the budget this year, in 2019, the Prime Minister and his finance minister refuse to even give a future date for balance.
    We have seen that money has not gone out to infrastructure in the GTA, in Whitby, in Pickering or in Brampton. The Liberals are waiting. There has actually been a slowdown, and when it comes to spending on affordable housing and other forms of social infrastructure, they have back-end loaded all the funding announcements. Therefore, they announce big numbers but the money will not flow until the mid-2020s.

  (1525)  

    Why have we moved this motion today? We want the government to stop its shell game on the economy and stop relying on Canadian families, seniors and small businesses as the people it can squeeze and squeeze again for its overspending.
    How can I say that? It is because this current government, by its third budget, had increased spending by over 20%. It increased spending across the board, including spending for the hiring of personnel, which is the largest expense for most departments. There is a 20% increase in spending by the government. There are increased revenues, but revenue forecasts are out by $5 billion and $10 billion. The government is bringing in more money because the economy has been doing well, but it is spending even more than it is bringing in. It has increased spending by the federal government by 20%, and most Canadians families could not tell us about any positive development from that. As we see more growth in the office towers in Ottawa, we hear reports in the last week of a majority of Canadians being $200 away from bankruptcy, or almost a majority, I believe.
    These are challenging times. In manufacturing in Ontario, the Oshawa area had the GM announcement. Our resource sector in western Canada, for years now, has been feeling it. The Prime Minister and the finance minister, who live in gilded cages, do not understand the needs of families, seniors and small businesses in my area in Durham. It is why they say there is no problem and that we do not need to ever balance the budget, because in their world budgets do balance themselves. They hire someone to do that. They hire someone to manage the affairs of their trusts or their family fortune, as the Prime Minister puts it. They need to do a reality check with Canadians. Life is not 20% better from the government's 20% overspending. Canadians are being squeezed, and we all know that the deficits of today, be they $18 billion or $28 billion, which are the numbers we have had in the last few years, are the higher taxes of tomorrow. My daughter, who is 12 now, will be in university before the current government can balance the budget at the current rate. She can guarantee herself that she will have to pay higher taxes then because of the Liberals' mismanagement now.
    The deficit and the spending are out of control. In the last budget, the Liberals used the word “investment” more than 450 times in the budget document. Do members know what “investment” is in Liberal language? It is spending. They can frame it in more positive-sounding language, but it just shows reckless and wanton spending, because they always feel they can squeeze Canadians. They can squeeze farmers in terms of transitioning the family farm in succession planning. They can squeeze small businesses, physicians and other people who have retained earnings to try to make sure they can plan for the uncertainties in life, such as unemployment, maternity leave and retirement. The government is even talking about re-auctioning wireless spectrum, which is essentially expropriating resources so that it can squeeze more money out of it.

  (1530)  

    The Liberals actually have Crown agencies right now that have been tasked with trying to raise more revenue. They have both a spending and a revenue problem. They have raised taxes on people and small businesses. They are bringing in a nationalized carbon tax. They brought in a payroll tax on small businesses. They cut tax-free savings accounts, which hurt seniors in particular. They have raised new taxes on ride-sharing and on Saturday night, as they say, because they have raised taxes on alcohol and the Uber ride home. The Liberals love the cannabis change, because they can tax that too.
    Do members know what the Liberals tried to do, contrary to representative government? They tried to put an escalator clause on the alcohol tax raises, meaning they were not even going to come back to the legislature before they raised taxes yet again.
     Dozens of tax increases on Canadians and reckless spending: these are the reasons we are asking the Prime Minister today for a plan to get back to balance and to lower taxes.

  (1535)  

    Madam Speaker, we saw what the previous government did. The Conservatives thought they could cut their way to growth and very quickly realized that this is not how things work. We need to invest, as any person who has been in business knows. I ran a small business for 25 years, and in order to grow that business, I invested in it, and it grew. As my income increased, I was able to increase the level of debt to invest in that business and bring about even further growth in that business.
    We cannot cut our way to growth. We have invested in Canadians, and that has seen a record 800,000 jobs created in the country and the lowest unemployment rate in over 40 years.
    To the member opposite, what are you going to cut? What is your plan? Are you going to cut the tax-free Canada child benefit?
    I would remind the member that he is to address questions to the Chair and not to the individual members.
    The hon. member for Durham.
    Madam Speaker, I do not think the member from Hastings would be going back to his riding and talking to many of his small business friends, because his government's attempt to tax retained earnings, to tax dividends, to tax the small businesses he claims to come from caused almost a tax revolt from small business, including those throughout Prince Edward, Hastings, Durham and Northumberland.
    All of those members are very worried, and they should be, because small businesses are seeing less growth. They are seeing higher taxes and more regulation. They are seeing a government whose plan, after a bad deal on NAFTA, is to tax them with Canadian tariffs.
    In fact, when I go by the member's area or through southern Ontario, I see that small businesses have had enough with this government. It sees them as a piggy bank it can keep using to fuel the overspending of the Prime Minister on issues that are not a priority.
    It is about a plan. What is wrong with having a plan?
    Madam Speaker, when the Conservative government was in power, it upheld a tax system that was not working for everyday Canadians. It supported tax havens that we saw benefited the wealthy and it supported CEO stock option loopholes. In the meantime, that Conservative government ran a deficit of $160 billion. On its pathway to balancing the budget, it upheld a tax system that benefited the rich. Its cuts were on the backs of everyday Canadians and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, our veterans.
     I have a lot of respect for the member because he has stood up for veterans. He has called for support for veterans and he was the veterans affairs minister. Under the Conservative watch, a thousand staff at Veterans Affairs were fired. That has resulted in a backlog that has affected veterans, whose disability applications are unopened and are waiting to be addressed in a timely fashion. Of course, this Liberal government promised to fix that.
    Does the member regret cutting the thousand staff at Veterans Affairs, which has created this enormous backlog and has inhibited veterans from getting the services they rightfully deserve?
    Madam Speaker, I will correct the member on both his tax claims and his veteran claims.
    Specifically, he talked about the pathway the Harper government took to get back to balance. We did; after the global recession, we had a very difficult but planned path to get back to balance, and we did not raise taxes. In fact, our cuts to the GST and raising the basic personal exemption helped low-income Canadians the most. We helped lower middle-class incomes across the board and we helped small businesses, which are the hirers.
    On the veterans front, we actually removed most of the paperwork. We created the My VAC Account, which the member knows. I had veterans actually say how they wanted to be served as Afghan veterans. They did not want to go to the offices like the World War II veterans did. By the end, we knew where resources needed to be put, so we put about 300 employees back in to some of the claims processing for mental health. That got the backlog down under my watch, and the member knows that.
    The current government has allowed the backlog to rise back up because there has been no effective hand who understood veterans. The Liberals broke their promise on pensions. They were just placating people. I am hopeful that the new minister, who is much more substantive than the previous two, will bring some truth and a plan as well to veterans, because the government has there are enough resources to keep the backlog down. They just need to apply it to the employees.

  (1540)  

    Madam Speaker, it has been a very interesting debate today and, I think, a very productive one.
    The numbers have been very clear. Our government was elected in 2015 on a plan to grow the economy, and what we have heard here today is that this is happening. The economy has been growing. Unemployment is at all-time record lows.
    The opposition really wants to talk about the deficits and the debt and their fiscal picture. In the last 10 years, the Conservatives left us with a 7.1% unemployment rate. We have now brought it down to 5.6%. Does that sound like an economy that is not growing? All the businesses in my area have been having a hard time meeting the needs and demands and hiring more people because of the growth that they have been sharing.
    I forgot to mention at the beginning of my speech that I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg North, and we all know that the member for Winnipeg North will add much-needed facts and figures to this debate to shed more light on the debt issue.
    Our debt-to-GDP ratio is continuing to decline. That is our plan, and it is a plan that has been working, as we have seen since 2015 through the investments we have been making. The member for Durham mentioned investments several times, and that has been our key focus. Every budget that we as a government have put out has been thinking about what investments we can make in our country, what investments we can make in Canadians, and that is exactly what Canadians in my area, Bramptonians, want to see.
    They have been devastated by the cuts of the Doug Ford government. Every time I have a meeting in my constituency, I see an angry commuter because of the cuts to GO transit or an angry student from my youth council because of the cuts to OSAP. That is probably what we can expect from the Conservatives if they come to power, because that is what they like to talk about. They want to try to balance the budget at any cost on the backs of Canadians. They will do it by taking away from health care or by taking away from students.
    What have we done as a government? As we have heard, the average Canadian has $2,000 more in their pocket because of the middle-class tax cut that we have provided and because of the Canada child benefit, which is tax-free. The former Conservative government taxed that benefit. We have made it tax-free.
    That is not to mention 50% more in student grants and making sure that students do not have to repay their loans until they make at least $25,000. These are measures that help and benefit the average Canadian, the middle class and those who are working hard to join it. If we want to talk in particular of those who are working hard to join it, our Canada workers benefit will benefit those people who have a job and will incentivize them to keep working by giving them a little bit more so that they can make ends meet.
    Those are the types of plans that we have put in place and those are the plans that have been benefiting this country from coast to coast to coast. That is why we are seeing record-breaking job numbers. We are seeing 800,000 jobs created by Canadians in this country. That does not happen without investments. We made the right investments at the right time, and Canadians have been taking that opportunity to grow their businesses.
    Do members know what else helps Canadians grow their business? It is the tax cuts that we have provided to small businesses. We have provided many measures that have been helping to alleviate the burdens that have been placed on small businesses.
    Along with the tax cuts are the services that have been provided by this government. Innovation Canada has provided an excellent tool to serve small business so that they can find grants. They can find money through various levels of government and through various different programs. We are making sure that we are listening to people, not just debating them every step of the way. We are listening to their needs.

  (1545)  

    What I am hearing from businesses is that they find it very hard to navigate government. That is why we put those types of measures in place, so that they can access the capital and the help that they need to continue to grow. I believe that is why we are seeing the success that we are seeing in our economy.
    Canadians do not have to take my word for it. Our federal debt-to-GDP ratio is amongst the lowest in the G7 countries. That is what keeps our economy growing. The International Monetary Fund commended Canada last year for our AAA rating and for our debt-to-GDP ratio. We are looking good. We are in a good financial situation. Despite the Conservatives painting a fake gloom-and-doom picture, it is quite the contrary. We are seeing that in the actual numbers.
    In Brampton North alone, the CCB has helped 14,470 families. Over 14,000 families. They are better off under our government. I know the Conservatives like to talk about their boutique tax cuts, but that is not the best way to help all Canadians. With these measures, making the Canada child benefit accessible to anybody and making it tax free, we are allowing families to be able to save for university, to pay for those sporting activities and to pay for tutoring and extracurriculars.
    The city of Brampton also saw a major investment in transit by our government. Over $32 million was invested in transit projects, like replacing and fixing buses and having storage facilities for these buses. That has been a tremendous help to the city of Brampton. Our transit system, for those who do not know, is one of the fastest growing at 18%. On average, in the country, we see a 1% growth. It is remarkable. We have one of the youngest cities in the country, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, and because of that we have a fast-growing transit system.
    These investments are needed more than ever. My fear is that the plan the Conservatives have been tossing around would take away a lot of those measures that Bramptonians so desperately need. Bramptonians have seen major benefits through all of the trade agreements that have been signed by our government.
     Through the hard work of the foreign affairs minister and her team, and the trade minister, we have now secured access to over 1.5 billion people through CETA, CPTPP and the USMCA. All of that gives us larger market shares, and that helps grow our economy and helps businesses to be able to export more efficiently. That is a plan that cares about Canadians and cares about growing the economy.
    I have visited many businesses in my area, and I would like to talk about one. HRWARE is a local, family-owned business that sells innovative technology services and HR software across the globe.
    It is agreements like these that have opened up markets for them, so that they can hire on more young students coming out of Sheridan College. Hopefully, one day, Brampton will be able to say that it has its very own university, but unfortunately, very recently we just heard from the Doug Ford government that this was a cut it was going to put in place. It cut a Brampton university from our city, a city that, as I just mentioned, has one of the youngest populations and has a great need. It is the ninth largest city in the country.
    That is what worries me about the Conservatives. They try to hide their plan but we know what it really is. It is austerity. It is going to be cuts, just like Doug Ford. That is going to hurt Bramptonians. It is going to hurt Canadians. We will not see the type growth that is needed in this country when those cuts are made.

  (1550)  

    In conclusion, I would like to say this. We need to make sure that we continue investing, that we keep down this path and that we re-elect this government so we can see even more growth for years to come.
    Madam Speaker, the member knows that I also spend a lot of time in Brampton North. The people in Brampton North are telling me that they are paying for the mistakes of the current Prime Minister.
    The member spoke about the Doug Ford government. I think she knows that Ontario is struggling under the crushing debt and deficit that are the legacy of the Kathleen Wynne government. We want to make sure things do not get that bad at the national level. We cannot let the Prime Minister do to Canada what Kathleen Wynne has done to Ontario. We cannot get into a situation where people have to pay so much for those major mistakes. That means limiting the growth of government spending. That means not spending money on things like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is building pipelines in Azerbaijan. That means not giving money to a Texas-based oil company to buy a pipeline here in Canada with no plan to build it. That is what a responsible plan allowing Canadians to get ahead would look like.
    I want to ask the member for Brampton North a question that I know is important to her constituents. We know that the application window for parents and grandparents was only open for seven minutes. While the government is accommodating illegal immigrants, it has no plan to address the crisis at the border. Does she think that seven minutes is fair to those people in Brampton North who are trying to sponsor people to come to Canada?
    Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to answer my colleague's question. I know he spends a lot of time in Brampton. Therefore, he would know that the immigration needs are great.
    Bramptonians have been excited ever since this government has come into place because they finally have a government that has been listening to their immigration concerns. The people who walk through my door are people who have had the door shut in their faces. They were waiting over eight to nine years for their parents to come. Some have even waited 10 years. We have cut that backlog. We have made it so that our system is efficient. Spousal sponsorship is within a year, and much less in most circumstances. When I was elected, there were spouses who had been waiting over three years to be reunited with each other. They had children. I saw the sorrow and tears in their eyes. I no longer have those people walking through my door because that just does not happen anymore.
    It is the same thing with parent and grandparent sponsorship. It is fantastic. We have quadrupled the number of people we are taking in. The Conservatives took in 5,000 and we took in—
    Order. I want to allow time for other questions.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for North Island—Powell River.
    Madam Speaker, when I talk to constituents in my riding, some of the biggest challenges are with respect to housing. We are a small, rural, remote, community-based riding, but the housing crisis continues to grow every day. It is quite traumatizing for so many seniors, families and young people in our riding and region.
     I would ask the member to talk about why we cannot have a discussion about a more fair tax process. Right now, the extremely wealthy in this country are not being taxed anywhere near the same amount that a hard-working Canadian is. Therefore, if we are to address these big issues, like finding a house so that people have somewhere to live and can look forward to prosperity in the future, then we better make sure we are doing that.
    Madam Speaker, this gives me a wonderful opportunity to be able to address something that was left out of my speech.
     When we came into power, the very first measure we took when it came to taxes was to increase taxes on the top 1%. That is a government that is concerned that all people in Canada need to pay their fair share. That is why we took that measure. Right after increasing it on the top 1%, we decreased it on the middle class.
    We have a very competitive tax rate in this country compared with other G7 nations. A family of four in Canada is paying less in tax than all our comparable G7 countries. Therefore, we believe that the measures that have been put in place have been good for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    Also, housing is a very important issue. That is why we have invested so much in the national housing strategy.

  (1555)  

    Before I go to resuming debate, I want to remind members that there are a lot of individuals who want to ask questions on this, so I would ask people to be mindful of their preamble. Given that there are only five minutes for questions and comments, when members give a speech, each question and comment should last one minute to allow for at least three questions to be posed. The same thing goes for those who are answering the question.
    Resuming debate, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Madam Speaker, I know there was maybe a little disappointment on the other side when members heard that I was going to be splitting the speech. I suspect it is because they were hoping I was going to be delivering a 20-minute speech as opposed to just a 10-minute speech. I thank them for that vote of confidence.
    The Conservatives have a plan. I figured out their plan and we have seen it today when the introducer of the motion stood and started to personally attack the Prime Minister. That is the Conservative plan. If we review some of the comments from question period and review the Conservative member's comments who introduced the motion, it was all personal attacks on Canada's Prime Minister.
    As the Conservative Party, the official opposition, wants to focus its attention on personal attacks, this Prime Minister and this government will continue to work diligently to support Canada and the programs that are essential in advancing our communities in every region of our nation.
    We are not going to lose focus on what is important to Canadians. The days in which I was in opposition when our Prime Minister entered the Liberal Party leadership race, he indicated that he wanted to emphasize and work on improving the conditions of Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. From day one that has been a mission of the Prime Minister.
     l believe in our policy initiatives that have been announced since the last election by minister after minister and supported on this side of the House, because time and time again we get resistance from all political parties of the opposition. These initiatives have done everything to focus on enhancing Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it.
    We have seen significant results with 800,000 jobs. It took Stephen Harper almost 10 years to achieve that. That is by working with Canadians, other levels of government and small and large businesses alike. We understand that if we want to see the economy doing better, we need to invest in Canadians and in our infrastructure.
    My Conservative colleagues said that at some point that we were going to have to go and knock on doors and look in Canadians' eyes and asked what were we going to tell them that our government had actually achieved. I would like to pick up on that point because I am very grateful to the residents of Winnipeg North and what they have entrusted me with over the last number of years.
    To give a sense of what I will be telling my constituents in 2019 during the next election, I will tell them that the first priority was to give tax breaks to Canada's middle class. That was bill number two. That gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Canada's middle class while at the same time we increased taxes for Canada's one per cent, the wealthiest Canadians, to ask them to pay their fair share. The Conservatives voted against both the tax increase on Canada's one per cent and the tax break for Canada's middle class.
    Shortly thereafter we saw the enhancement of the Canada child benefit program, something that I have talked about on numerous occasions in the House. That is something that I am going to be telling the residents of Winnipeg North because every month we receive approximately $9 million-plus that goes into the community of Winnipeg North to support our children. That same principle applies to every member of Parliament in the House.
    That is why it is going to be interesting when we hear the Conservative Party talk about cuts. That is what is going to happen. Just like Stephen Harper and Doug Ford, we are going to see cuts.

  (1600)  

    Are the Conservatives going to be telling their constituents who are receiving those benefits that we are going to be taking away a portion or all of them? I would hope not.
    We also increased the guaranteed income supplement for constituents. Again, the poorest of all seniors in all regions of Canada have received significant increases in their annual income as a direct result of that increase. Much like the Canada child benefit is lifting tens of thousands of children out of poverty, the increase in the guaranteed income supplement is lifting tens of thousands of seniors out of poverty, the poorest seniors.
    Winnipeg North has benefited greatly from many of the announcements this government has put forward. If we look at summer students, we have virtually doubled that program. We are hiring tens of thousands more summer students throughout Canada as a direct result of this Prime Minister and the government recognizing the value of giving young people the opportunity to gain employment experience while attending school and between years. Now the program has even been expanded to go beyond that.
    That is the type of progressive financing we have seen from the Minister of Finance to support Canadians, not only in Winnipeg North but in every riding throughout this country. We recognize that by putting money into the pockets of the middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it, the working class, they are spending that money. By spending that money, they are adding more value to the economy. It is why the Prime Minister, and anyone else on the government benches, says that if we invest in the middle class, we are also investing in the economy. The healthier the middle class, the healthier the economy.
    Those are some of the policy initiatives we are seeing locally that deal with finances. If we look at the last few years and the social planning side, there are things such as the health accord. Now we have a Minister of Health who is diligently trying to put together something that will hopefully lead to some form of pharmacare program.
    By working with the provinces and territories, the government has enhanced the CPP so that people in the future will have more money to retire with, something Stephen Harper refused to do.
    What about the billions of dollars that have been allocated for a housing strategy? The NDP like to talk housing, but at the end of the day, what we announced is tenfold what they talked about in the last federal election. This brings me back to the last federal election, when only one party in this House generally believed that we needed to invest in Canadians and infrastructure. New Democrats and Conservatives were focused on not having any form of deficit. It begs the question: What programs would they be cutting? That is a legitimate question.
    The Conservatives talk about the price on pollution. Whether it has come from ideas from Paris or across Canada, it is amazing that people recognize that we need to have a plan. The only party that does not seem to believe that we need to have a plan is the Conservative Party. This leader is no better than Stephen Harper. There is no plan on the environment. Conservatives are very eager to stand and criticize the plan we have put in place, a plan that has already been acted on by many provincial governments. Many governments around the world have actually acted, but the Conservatives do not have a plan. They do not feel that they should have to share a plan with Canadians.

  (1605)  

    On all of those issues, I would argue that we have seen more tangible action to support Canadians in all regions of this country in the last three years than we saw in 10 years under Stephen Harper. I genuinely believe that to be the case. I would challenge members opposite to list off those so-called accomplishments of Stephen Harper.
    I sat in opposition, and there was nothing new coming. In fact, members will recall that some of the worst days under Harper were toward the end, when the Conservatives started to cut things like veterans services. They had just one intent.
    I see that my time has already expired. I have not yet talked about the deficit. Hopefully I will get a chance to in a question and answer.
    Madam Speaker, it is funny to listen to the hypocrisy of a Liberal complaining about our side attacking the Prime Minister. This is from a party that cannot say a single sentence without attacking Stephen Harper. It is quite fascinating. I think perhaps the member should change the name of his riding from Winnipeg North to the member for the riding of “pot calling the kettle black”.
    He rants on and on about all the great work the Liberals have done for seniors with the increase in the GIS and so on, yet the Library of Parliament report shows that the poverty rate for seniors has increased every single year under the government.
    Why has the government failed seniors so badly? Why does it continue to mislead Canadians on the issue?
    Madam Speaker, if the Conservatives want to continue to talk about personal attacks on the Prime Minister, they can do that. We will continue to focus our attention, as the government, on Canadians first and foremost and on making sure that the policies we are bringing in will have positive outcomes. As I pointed out at the very beginning, we have seen that in things such as the 800,000 plus jobs that have been generated. That is not to mention the enhancement of many different social programs, which goes straight to the core of the question that was posed when the member asked about seniors.
    I talked about the increase to the guaranteed income supplement. That actually lifted seniors out of poverty. I should also have made reference to the fact that we reduced the age of retirement for old age supplements from 67 to 65. We actually worked with the provinces to enhance the CPP, something the former government did not want anything to do with. That will enhance salaries for those who are going to be retiring in the future.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary did not answer the question posed by my colleague from Edmonton West, and I would not want to let him off the hook.
    In his speech, he stated that the guaranteed income supplement was substantially and significantly increased. He also said that hundreds of thousands of seniors were lifted out of poverty. I am not quoting him exactly, but that is roughly what he said. However, seniors in my riding are coming to my office to tell me that their income is stagnating and that they struggle year after year.
    Just now, the parliamentary secretary spoke only in generalities and mentioned hundreds of thousands of seniors.
    Could my colleague provide specific numbers concerning the increase in the guaranteed income supplement and how many seniors they have helped, and could he tell us how they have helped them?

  (1610)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I will use the residents of Winnipeg North as an example. Through the guaranteed income supplement increase the government put in place, the poorest seniors in Winnipeg North will in fact have received a $900 increase in one year. That is a significant percentage of an increase.
    That very same principle in Winnipeg North applies to every constituency in every region of Canada. The government understands the pressures on our seniors. That is one of the reasons we work toward dealing with issues like prescribed medications and many others that also affect our seniors.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I cannot ask my question without first telling the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government that I really admire him, even though I may not always agree with what he says. He is a great parliamentarian. There should be a documentary about him. He seems to be in this House 24/7. He is a key part of this parliamentary democracy, I must say.
    Now, we are talking about balancing the budget, and therefore about taxing and spending. I would like to know how the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government can look taxpayers in the eye, without any shame, when his government is allowing Canada's big banks to continue engaging in tax avoidance. They send their money to Barbados, which means it cannot be put to good use here. They make billions of dollars in profits every quarter. That could help a lot of people, particularly in the health care system.
    How could my colleague vote against our motion, which would have made that illegal?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would first thank my friend and colleague for his kind words. They were very thoughtful.
    One issue we could look at is that in two consecutive budgets, we have seen substantial increases in money allocated, $900 million, maybe a bit more than that, to Revenue Canada to go after individuals who are trying to avoid paying taxes. There is no doubt that there is always room for improvement, but in the last few years, we have spent almost a billion dollars in total to try to ensure that people are paying their fair share. It is one of the reasons we put that tax increase on Canada's 1% wealthiest. Between that and going after tax evaders, that has been a high priority of this government.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Beauport—Limoilou.
    The motion before us today reads as follows:
    That, given the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year and that perpetual and growing deficits lead to massive tax increases, the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019 to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.
    This is a very reasonable motion put forward by the Conservative Party's shadow minister of finance. It speaks to the responsibility that we have as parliamentarians to be wise stewards of taxpayer dollars.
    I want to briefly outline why the Prime Minister's broken promise on deficits is so important to Canadians, why they should be concerned about it, why these deficits will undoubtedly lead to higher taxes and why it is so important for my colleagues across the way to look away from the Prime Minister and say what is in the best interests of their constituents, which is to bring the deficit down significantly, work back to balance and to not raise taxes on Canadians.
    First, I will talk about the Prime Minister's broken promise. In 2015, the Prime Minister made the following promise to Canadians, a balanced budget in 2019, and from the Liberal platform, “modest short-term deficits of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years” and a balance sheet with a debt to GDP ratio of 27%. Where are we today on those promises after the Prime Minister famously said that the budget would will balance itself?
    The Liberals made these three promises in the 2015 campaign. Their management approach was that the budget would balance itself. My colleague has asked many times when the budget will balance itself and we have not heard an answer.
    This is where we are at today. The finance department itself, the government's own public servant, has said that there will be no balanced budget until at least 2040, 21 years from now. That is really irresponsible to not even have a target on when we can get back to balance.
    The amount of debt just on the current course that we are on, never mind having to deal with future issues or whatever, is that the Prime Minister will have added an additional $271 billion of debt on our country. This comes on the fact that the Prime Minister, when he came into government in 2015, inherited a balanced budget from the former Conservative government.
    In October of this year, in time for the 2019 election, or it might be earlier we never know with the Liberals, the Liberals have added over $75 billion of debt in that short period of time. They have clearly broken their promise and the debt to GDP ratio will be around 30.5% in October, so they have increased that as well.
    Why is this so important? First, we notice that when a lot of Liberal cabinet ministers or parliamentary secretaries stand in question period, they use something of a success metric that no small business owner or anybody in a household would use as a success metric. They say that the Liberals have spent x amount of money. When we ask how they are going to solve this problem, they say that they have spent x amount of money. They do not talk about actually fixing the problem. They just talk about spending money. That is because the Liberals do not understand that spending money is not a metric of success in government, that we need to be very wise about when we spend money.
    The problem with this deficit is that Canadians do not really have anything to show for all that debt the Liberals have incurred on their behalf. I do not see the green line in Calgary that our former government committed to under the context of a balanced budget bill. The only infrastructure that really has been filled under the present government was the then minister of infrastructure and communities office renovations, which was about $1 million.
    What the Liberal government has done is expanded the size of government just for the sake of expanding it, not to help Canadians. That is a problem.

  (1615)  

     Canadians are spending money and not getting anything out of it. However, someone has to pay for this at some point, which is why the government will absolutely raise taxes on Canadians. They are seeing this massive debt increase. The Liberals are expanding government. They have ever-increasing costs of so many different things without results, but the economy will not be resilient. It is not going to be competitive. Therefore, when the economy retracts, we start seeing a decrease in government revenue.
    We have the Liberals increasing expenses for no reason and racking up massive deficits, putting in place very negative scenarios for economic growth over time, which means there is a high probability that government revenue will decrease. Therefore, how do we get more money? If we are not going to decrease expenses and not increase revenue through economy growth, what is left? It is taxes. People should be concerned about the deficit because every Canadian will have to pay through increased taxes for the Prime Minister's mistakes. The mistake is the deficit, a promise he broke to Canadians.
    Let us talk about competitiveness. While our major trading partners in other parts of the world have been trying to put in place competitiveness aspects by reducing red tape and reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens or lowering taxes, we have been increasing those things. What do we see in Canada? We see talent and capital leaving Canada to invest in more competitive jurisdictions. That is a problem for the revenue side, which is going to precipitate a need for more taxes. Again, it is paying for the Prime Minister's failures.
    Over time, that lack of competitiveness makes increased deficits. They make the government less able to withstand shock if we have a major economic incident as we saw in 2008, which we were able to weather with targeted short-term infrastructure investments and then a return back to balance in 2015.
    The Prime Minister inherited a balanced budget, a very strong performing economy, and the campaign narrative was now was a good time to borrow money. The Liberals did not talk about why or the need to go into deficit. We are going to be less resilient and the government is going to be less able to spend in the future if we have these massive debts. Why? Because the more debt we have, and people who have a credit card bill understand this, the more interest payments we have. The Government of Canada has to pay interest on its debt. The more taxes that the Prime Minister has to collect to pay down the interest on his deficits means that we cannot spend money on things like infrastructure, like the green line in my riding of Calgary.
    The government has created a massive problem by its deficits for no-reason policy, by adding all of this debt to the Canadian government and the Canadian people and it is going to result in higher taxes. That is why we put forward the motion today. It is for government members to have an opportunity to say, “You're right, we need to stop this.” Canadians should not be in a position where they have to pay for the Prime Minister's mistakes.
    Also, we have ample evidence now that the budget will not balance itself.

  (1620)  

    Madam Speaker, my colleague mentioned that we did not have anything to show for the investments we had made in Canadians and that Canadians were not going to get anything out of it. What Canadians have seen, and will see, is that we have the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years and the strongest growth in G7 countries. Through our investments, we have been able to create conditions where 800,000 new jobs have been created by Canadians. This helps to build resiliency.
    In addition to that, to help our businesses grow, expand and export, we are the only G7 country with trade agreements with each of the other G7 countries. In fact, we have 14 trade agreements. In terms of competitiveness, we have the LNG, a mega project, the largest investment of $40 billion, and we have decreased red tape for small businesses. Canadians can clearly see that our investments are working on their behalf, and this government is working on their behalf as well.
    Madam Speaker, it is kind of brave for my colleague opposite to stand and talk about unemployment for a member from Calgary because of the environmental policies and the regulatory policies, which do nothing to improve the environment of Canada but just kill jobs in my riding. In my riding, we went from about the natural rate of unemployment to nearly double-digit unemployment under the government. Therefore, she should spare me on unemployment figures and job growth.
    With respect to any of the investments she talked about, there was nothing material there. Kinder Morgan was prepared to invest $7 billion into the Canadian economy and the government went and used tax dollars to pay for something that private industry was prepared to invest in, which still is likely not going to see grow. This has to stop. There is nothing to show for this outside of increased taxes. The Liberals have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on people who are illegally crossing the border in upstate New York.
    One of my colleagues, who was here, made a good point. How many more government positions have been padded on those employment figures? The government does not—

  (1625)  

    Unfortunately, I do have to allow for other questions. I did mentioned a while ago that we needed to keep it a little short during the questions and comments.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia.
    Madam Speaker, first, I would like to thank the member for visiting my riding last week. I hope she spent lots of money during her time there, supporting small businesses.
    The opposition day notice says “a written commitment” that the government will never raise taxes of any kind. As the member knows, there is a growing disparity between the really rich in Canada and the rest of us. Is she saying that this means we should never raise taxes on the wealthiest Canadians or wealthy corporations and what would that do for the middle class?
    Madam Speaker, tax records show that the wealthiest Canadians, the ones who have revenue higher than $140,000, pay $4.6 billion less in taxes under the government. I am looking at it from the perspective of my riding and the people who ask me to fight for them on a daily basis. They know that under both the Liberals and the NDP they are going to see increased carbon taxes, small business tax increases, payroll taxes and EI premium increases. Everything is tax, tax, tax.
    Nobody in this place outside of the Conservative Party ever stops to ask why we are spending this money. Why are we forcing Canadians to bear the brunt of our spending here? That is a principle we need to get back to. It is fair for Parliament to consider that request, to say that we should have a written commitment to not raise taxes. That would create certainty. It would create an investment climate for growth. Frankly, Canadians need some good news for once. They are tired of the tax and spend politics under both of those leftist parties.
    It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Essex, International Trade; the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, Health, the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, Foreign Affairs.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise here in the new House of Commons. Looking down, it feels like we are in the old chamber, but looking up, that is clearly not the case. It is certainly a lot brighter here than in the old chamber, so bright that it is difficult to look up at the sky.
    I am honoured to rise on behalf of the 100,000 people of my riding, Beauport—Limoilou. Now that it is 2019, we are slowly but surely gearing up for an election campaign. Personally, I intend to be re-elected, if my constituents would once again do me the honour, but since we can neither know what fate has in store nor determine the outcome, I will, of course, work very hard. For that reason, I am savouring this honour and this opportunity to speak here for yet another parliamentary session.
    Today, I would like to clarify something very important for the people of my riding. This morning, the member for Carleton moved a motion in the House of Commons, a fairly simple motion that reads as follows:
    That, given the Prime Minister broke his promise to eliminate the deficit this year and that perpetual and growing deficits lead to massive tax increases, the House call on the Prime Minister to table a plan in Budget 2019 to eliminate the deficit quickly with a written commitment that he will never raise taxes of any kind.
    My constituents may find it rather strange to ask a Prime Minister to promise not to raise taxes after the next election, if he is re-elected. He might even raise taxes before the election. After all, the Liberals tried to raise taxes many times over the past three years. I will say more about that in my speech. However, we are asking the Prime Minister to make this promise because we see that public finances are in total disarray.
    In addition, the Prime Minister has broken several of the key promises he made to Canadians and Quebeckers. Some of them were national in scope. For example, he promised to return to a balanced budget by 2019, which did not happen. Instead, our deficit is nearly $30 billion. The budget the Liberals presented a few months ago forecast an $18-billion deficit, but according to the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer—an institution that forces the government to be more transparent to Canadians and that was created by Mr. Harper, a great Prime Minister—the deficit would actually be around $29 billion instead of $18 billion.
    The Prime Minister quite shamelessly broke his promise to rebalance the budget, since this is the first time in the history of Canada that a government has racked up a deficit outside of a war or serious economic crisis. There was a big economic recession when the Conservatives were in power between 2008 and 2012.
    I like to remind Canadians who may be listening to us that accountability is a key part of the Westminster system. That is why we talk about the notion of government accountability and why we have question period every day. It is not all about the theatrics, I might add. We ask the same ministers, although sometimes other ministers, questions every day because one day they are going to slip up and tell us the truth. Then we can talk about responsibility and accountability.
    In short, the Prime Minister broke his promise to balance the budget by 2019. He also broke his promise to change our electoral system, which was very important to a huge segment of the Canadian left and Canadian youth.
     He also broke his promise about the Canada Post community mailboxes. Although we believe that Canada Post's five-point action plan was important for ensuring the corporation's survival in the long term, the Prime Minister nevertheless promised the return of community mailboxes. I travelled across the country with my colleague from Edmonton and other members of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. All Canadians told Liberal members of the committee that they hoped the government would restore community mailboxes. However, the Liberals only put in place a moratorium.

  (1630)  

    The member from Quebec City and Minister of Families, Children and Social Development said that the state of the Quebec Bridge was deplorable, that the bridge was covered in rust and that some citizens were concerned about security and public safety.
    I would like to reassure them. Our engineers' reports states that the bridge is not dangerous. That said, it is a disgrace that this historic bridge is completely rusty. The Liberals promised that this would be taken care of by June 30, 2016. That was over two years ago.
    They also promised to help the middle class. In fact, to some extent, they followed in the footsteps of Mr. Harper's Conservative government, which also focused on helping Canadian families as much as possible. I held three public consultations in 2018. It is already 2019. Time flies. I called those public consultations, “Alupa à l'écoute”.
    I will table my report in a month and a half. It will express my willingness to suggest to my leader to either table a bill or include in his election platform measures to address the labour shortage and to help seniors return to the labour market without being further penalized. I go door to door every month. What is more, during my public consultations, what I heard most often from my constituents, who I thank for coming, is that they are surviving. Their lives have not improved at all in three and a half years. On the contrary, they are facing challenges as a result of the Prime Minister's repeated failures.
    I said we needed the Prime Minister to promise not to raise taxes either before the election or, if he wins, after. We all know what he has done over the past three years. He tried to tax dental benefits. He tried to tax employee benefits and bonuses. For example, some restaurant owners give their servers free meals. That is what happened when I was a server. The Liberals wanted to tax that benefit. They tried to tax small and medium-sized businesses by taxing their revenue as capital gains, and that was a total disaster. They wanted to tax every source of income businesses could use to prepare for bad times or retirement so they would eventually be less of a burden on the state.
    The Liberals also significantly increased taxes. Studies show that 81% of Canadians have to pay more than $800 a year in taxes because the Liberals got rid of almost all of the tax credits the Conservatives had implemented, such as those for textbooks or public transit. They got rid of the tax credits for sports and for families. The Prime Minister and his Liberal team got rid of all kinds of family credits, which significantly increased taxes. Furthermore, they tried many times to significantly increase other taxes. They also tried payroll deductions, like the increase to the Canada pension plan. If we really take a look at the various benefits or income streams Canadians receive, we can see that their taxes have increased.
    We do not trust the Prime Minister when he says he will not raise taxes after the next election if he is re-elected. We know he will have to raise taxes because of his repeated failures. In economic terms, there is an additional $60 billion in deficits on top of the debt. His deficits now total $80 billion after three and a half years. I am also thinking of his failures on immigration and on managing border crossings. Quebec is asking for $300 million to make up for the shortfall it has suffered because of illegal refugees. I am also thinking of all the problems related to international relations. I am also thinking of infrastructure.
    How is it possible that the Prime Minister, still to this day, refuses tell the people of Beauport—Limoilou and Quebec City that he will agree to go ahead and help the CAQ government build the third link? All around the world, huge infrastructure projects are under way, yet over the past three years, the Liberal government has been incapable of allocating more than a few billion dollars of the $187 billion infrastructure fund.

  (1635)  

    Canadians are going to pay for the Prime Minister's mistakes. We want him to commit in writing that he will not raise taxes if he is re-elected.

[English]