That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize that heating a home during Canadian winters is not a luxury, but a necessity as basic as food and shelter; (b) recognize that basic groceries, used residential housing, and residential rental accommodation, are already zero-rated or exempt from GST under the Excise Tax Act; (c) recognize that low-income Canadians are disproportionately affected by energy costs with 21% of Canadian households spending more than 10% of their income on energy; (d) take the necessary steps to remove the GST from home energy bills; and (e) repeal the Carbon tax.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from .
Today, I am honoured to move my Motion No. 230 on the GST on residential energy costs. This motion is part of our commitment to make life more affordable for Canadians.
I will take it step by step. First, when we become financially self-sufficient in life, we quickly learn to differentiate between what we need, the essentials, and what we want, the luxuries. If we ask the average person what they need, they will say food and housing. It is simple, without food we die and and without housing we freeze. While we have made progress in the past 350 years in terms of the energy efficiency of our homes and the sources of energy we use to heat them, there is no getting around the fact that the climate we live in obliges us to heat our homes in winter.
The housing authority in Quebec recommends that the inside temperature of a home in winter be at least 21°C. That temperature was determined because seniors and young children are especially vulnerable to health problems at temperatures below 21°C.
In Ontario, labour standards allow workers to leave their place of employment without reprisal if the employer is unable to ensure a temperature above 18°C.
We can have the warmest wool sweater and the most air-tight windows, and we can wear all the layers we want, but the fact remains that we have to heat our homes in winter.
What role will the federal government play in all this? Canada is a compassionate country. Our social security system ensures that the most vulnerable have protections. Canadians accept that taxes are a necessary evil and that everyone must pay their fair share. However, in some cases, we expect the government not to go after the most vulnerable or those having a tough time.
That is why we have a basic personal exemption for people earning less than $12,000 a year that makes them tax exempt. We realize that, with this amount, they really have very little discretionary money left to meet their basic needs, such as rent and groceries.
This brings me to the following point.
With respect to the GST, the Government of Canada collects a consumption tax on goods and services across Canada. It once stood at 7%, and I am proud to belong to the Conservative Party, which reduced it to 6% and then to 5%.
However, the Excise Tax Act, which authorizes the government to collect the GST, generally draws a distinction between necessities and luxuries. The parliamentarians who crafted that bill previously established that basic groceries would be zero-rated because they are a necessity, whereas restaurant meals would be subject to GST because they are considered to be a luxury or frill.
That means GST is not charged on meat, pasta, fruits and vegetables bought at the grocery store. However, it would apply to a steak, risotto or Caesar salad served in a restaurant.
With regard to housing, the purchase of used residential housing is exempt from GST, as is the monthly rent for residential accommodation. The government rightfully recognizes that housing is a GST-exempt necessity, whereas a hotel stay, which is considered a luxury, would be subject to GST.
Unfortunately, the government is still charging GST on energy bills, whether the energy source is hydroelectricity, natural gas or wood, the primary purpose of which is to heat homes in winter.
I repeat, heating a home in the winter is not a luxury, it is a necessity. This last winter was so cold that the government generated record revenue from the GST on energy bills.
Hydro-Québec reported sales in excess of $4.6 billion this winter, which is $307 million more than last year. God knows this winter was particularly difficult.
Of course, the Government of Canada got its 5% cut thanks to the GST. Honestly, the government should be ashamed of profiting from people's misery in winter and not trying to do anything about that.
The tax is anything but progressive. It hits lower-income people harder because heating is a significant portion of their monthly budget. That brings me to the third part of my motion.
In a March 18, 2018, article, CBC News reported that 21% of Canadian households experience energy poverty. According to a study by Maryam Rezaei, a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia, that means 2.8 million households spend more than 10% of their income on energy. That is particularly true in Ontario, where electricity is very expensive.
Unfortunately, those same poor people will have to pay more because of the Liberals' carbon tax, and they will have to continue paying GST on hydro bills, which ran as high as $500, $600 or more during the two coldest months of winter. I know that for a fact because that was the case in my own house. It ended up being very expensive because of the winter we had.
In regions like mine, where incomes are sometimes well below the average in large Canadian cities, the energy poverty phenomenon is only getting worse. The government then has a choice to make: it can continue to tax the most vulnerable and take advantage of them to pay down the deficit that it created, or it can find a way to give customers a GST credit on their hydro and home heating costs. Right now, customers are suffering and struggling with bills that are increasing and will keep increasing because of the Liberal government's choices. This is the government's last chance to do something about that.
If the government does not take action, it will have to explain why to Canadians during the next election campaign, because we intend to make this a campaign issue. Our leader has already announced that the content of this motion will be part of our platform in the upcoming election. I have already talked to some people in my riding about it, and this is something they are already looking forward to.
The made a promise in this regard in Mississauga on March 6. A Conservative government led by our leader will eliminate the GST on home heating and energy bills, which will save households nearly $107 a year.
I want to emphasize that this should not be a partisan issue. It should not matter if people are on the left or the right, because this issue brings us all together no matter which end of the spectrum we are on. In 2008, former Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer introduced Bill , and the former NDP leader, Jack Layton, made a similar promise in 2010 leading up to the 2011 election campaign.
I sincerely hope the NDP will support this motion. The NDP might accuse us of stealing their ideas, but that only proves this is not a partisan issue. It is a fairness issue that Conservatives and New Democrats alike can agree on as a way to improve Canadians' quality of life. Our leader has often said that his philosophy is about putting people before the State. That is what we believe.
Unlike the NDP and other opposition parties, the Conservative Party is the only viable alternative to the current Liberal government.
Quebec's Union des consommateurs supports the proposal to remove the GST from home energy bills and even wants the Government of Quebec to do likewise with the QST. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation also called our plan a step in the right direction.
We are also calling on the government to eliminate its ill-conceived carbon tax, which will have no measurable effect on our greenhouse gas emissions but will raise costs for Canadian consumers from coast to coast.
The carbon tax will cause price increases for heating oil, natural gas and all goods produced, imported, manufactured or delivered in Canada. On top of that, the GST is charged on the retail price, which means that the government will have its hands in our pockets twice: once for the sales tax and a second time for the carbon tax. This is a tax on a tax. It is clear what will happen if we do not adopt this motion.
We have a realistic plan, and I thank the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who took the initiative in recent weeks to conduct a cost estimate of the removal of GST from residential energy use. He determined that this attainable objective would save Canadians an average of $117 a year and would cost the government around $1.3 billion or $1.5 billion. The figures in the studies are close. I said “would cost” because I do not agree with the presumption that this money belongs to the government, when in reality it belongs to taxpayers.
I was particularly disappointed yesterday when the Department of Finance spokesperson accused us of wanting to spend billions of dollars on a policy that would help only wealthy Canadians with the biggest homes. Talk about arrogant. This is absolutely unbelievable, especially coming from a government that is making families and small businesses cover 92% of the carbon tax and granting exemptions to major polluters, which will pay just 8% of this tax.
The government is currently running a deficit of $19 billion, and not because it is not taxing Canadians enough. Figures from the Government of Canada's annual financial report for fiscal year 2017-18 show that revenues actually increased by $20.1 billion last year, and they are projected to reach a record $339 billion in 2020-21.
The deficits are entirely due to the Liberals' overspending, period. They are quite simply bad with money, and if they are not willing to support this motion and find a way to stop collecting this $1.5 billion a year from Canadians who are just trying to keep their homes warm, and who already collectively paid the government an extra $20 billion last year, we would be ready to debate this issue thoroughly in the next Parliament, when a Conservative government will be sitting on the benches to your right, Mr. Speaker.
As we know, heating is not a luxury. It is a necessity. As elected officials, we are here to ensure that the government meets the needs of families, not the other way around.
Since this may be my last chance to speak in the House before the next election and the 43rd Parliament, which I hope will be led by a Conservative majority government, I would like to say a few words in tribute to my mother, Suzanne Boulanger-Généreux, who left us on March 26 for a journey to a destination known to her alone.
Having had the privilege of being raised by her, as well as the joy, pleasure and humility of being at her side with my brothers and sisters during her last days on earth, I can say that she stayed true to herself to the very end. She was smart, curious, loving, easygoing, staunchly open-minded, humble and welcoming. I could stand here all day listing her good qualities. She taught us the meaning of freedom, respect, altruism and the quest for work-life balance.
Mother, on behalf of your children, my sisters and brothers—Monique, Andrée, Marie, Luc, Pierre, Nicole, Hélène—and myself, your 19 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and three others on the way, Godspeed. You will be in our hearts forever. We will love you always.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to debate a motion bought forward by the member opposite. The motion highlights the very different visions we have for Canada's future and the future our children and grandchildren.
The motion before us today, which calls to repeal the federal price on carbon pollution and remove the GST on home energy purchases, would seem to suggest that pollution has no cost and that it is free. It would also undermine a key feature of the GST that allows it to function effectively and fairly. The motion would undermine a vital part of Canada's plan to act on the real and serious threat posed by climate change.
It was wisely said by the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan that “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Certainly, people are entitled to their opinion that the Earth is flat, that the moon is made of cheese or that pollution has no cost. However, at the end of the day, we defer to science. We look at the facts and we look at the evidence. That is the basis of our government's policies. We base them on the evidence before us.
The fact is that manmade climate change is real. It is causing more frequent and devastatingly extreme weather events and it is making it harder for people to live today. That is the global scientific consensus on this.
Moreover, the costs associated with climate change are growing every year, with higher costs for health care, emergency services, structural repairs, insurance premiums and food as a result of climate change. All told, climate change is expected to cost Canada's economy $5 billion annually by 2020. The facts do not stop there.
We know that climate change is real and manmade, but we also know how to make fast and meaningful change. Canadians cannot wait. We need action now. The expert consensus, based on evidence and supported by Nobel Prize-winning economists is clear. The most effective and economically sound way to address the consequences of climate change is to put a price on carbon pollution, which is the primary driver of manmade climate change. That is precisely what our government has done.
Despite the efforts of the opposition and their allies, it is no longer free to pollute anywhere in Canada. This is an approach based on science, based on years of building a co-ordinated, international approach to stopping climate change before it is too late; based on respecting the autonomy of provinces and territories to choose a system that works best for them and meets a certain standard; and based on ensuring that every dollar directly collected under the federal system will be returned to the province or territory it came from, either to the provincial government in jurisdictions that have requested the federal system or by giving the bulk of the direct proceeds of the price on pollution directly to individuals and families in the form of climate action incentive payments. This is money that ensures middle-class Canadians are not carrying the brunt of pollution pricing.
As the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer noted, most households will get back more money in climate action incentive payments than they would pay in increased costs from the carbon pollution pricing system.
For Canadian businesses, carbon pollution pricing delivers economic benefits as well. It encourages Canadians and businesses to innovate and to invest in clean technologies and in long-term growth opportunities that will position Canada for success in a cleaner and greener global economy.
This presents significant opportunities for Canadian companies to tap into the global market for low-carbon goods and services, which is currently estimated to be worth over $5.8 trillion. In provinces that have not take action to meet the Canada-wide federal standards for reducing carbon pollution, our government will provide a portion of the proceeds from the federal carbon pollution pricing system to support small and medium-sized businesses.
These outcomes are not just fair for Canadians. They are good for the environment, they are good for our future and they are good for the economy.
By undermining these outcomes, Motion No. 230 would be bad for the environment, bad for our future and bad for the economy.
Canadians understand that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand and that their quality of life today and economic success tomorrow rests on the commitments to protect our natural legacy and preserve our environment for future generations.
That is why the government has made significant investments to protect Canada's air, water and natural areas for our children and grandchildren and to create a world-leading clean economy.
To combat climate change, in budget 2017, the government increased financing support for Canada's clean technology sector by making available more equity finance, working capital and project finance to promising clean technology firms. In total, almost $1.4 billion in new financing was made available through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to help Canadian clean technology firms grow and expand.
If that is not enough reason to oppose the motion, it is also bad from a tax policy perspective.
As we know, the GST is a value-added tax that is applied to the purchase of goods and services in Canada. Applying the GST to as broad a base as reasonably possible is important in allowing its rate to remain low. Removing the GST from home energy purchases, as proposed in the motion, would erode the broad tax base that provides for a simple and efficient GST and would allow the GST to be set at a low rate. Removing the tax on home energy would favour wealthier Canadians and would provide no relief to those living in apartments, nursing homes or rental houses, where energy costs are included in the rent.
Our government does want to help families with the cost of heating their homes, but this is not the right way to do so. Instead, we are starting by helping those who need it the most, providing tax relief from the GST to low and modest-income Canadians through the GST credit. The GST credit provides more than $4.5 billion in annual assistance to help offset the sales tax burden of low and modest-income families and individuals.
Budget 2019 also includes measures to help make more homes energy efficient, reducing heating costs overall and helping us down a path to a greener Canada.
Finally, I would like to point out that not only did the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal recently rule that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was constitutionally valid, but it prefaced its ruling by saying that climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions was “one of the great existential issues of our time”. While Motion No. 230 would have the government turn its back on this threat, Canadians know we cannot and we must not.
We will move forward with our a plan, which is based on facts and evidence. I ask the House to vote against the motion.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Motion No. 230 from my Conservative Party colleague. I am pleased to have the opportunity to share my opinion.
As my colleague said in his speech, he took this measure from the NDP's policy book. He even said that a number of NDP members and our party's leader spoke about the idea of lowering heating costs for Canadians. That said, our new plan is even more ambitious. Our idea of lowering heating costs for Canadians has evolved, so much so that our leader recently announced an even more ambitious measure than the one proposed by my colleague. The measure would lower heating costs at the source, which is the real solution to the problem we are debating today.
Of course heating is essential in Canada with our climate. It is a basic need just like housing. The recently unveiled NDP plan is very clear. We were just talking about it this morning, when we were unveiling our broader plan for the environment and climate change. Our plan would renovate all Canadian homes by 2050 to make them more energy efficient. This solution would allow Canadian homes to save $900 a year. My colleague's proposal, which consists in removing the GST from home energy bills, would save Canadians only $117 a year on average, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
This week, Habitat for Humanity in partnership with Université de Sherbrooke and engineers, announced that they would develop a house using new technologies that would cost on average $8 a month to heat. That is the type of solution we need to be looking at instead of a half measure that simply removes the GST from home energy bills. The Conservatives should have chosen that solution instead of coming up with a half measure and hoping that would solve all our problems. We have to address the problem at the source. Homes have to be more energy efficient. The less energy we need to heat our homes, the more we save. We think that is the best approach.
I know several members and leaders of APCHQ-Estrie back home in Sherbrooke. They told me that they were pretty disappointed when the previous Conservative government cancelled the eco-energy retrofit program, a program that offered savings to Canadians that make energy efficient retrofits. The Conservative government decided to cut that program between 2011 and 2015 in its attempt to balance the budget at all costs.
The Conservatives speak out of both sides of their mouths. Today they are complaining that the cost of heating is too high, but when they had a chance to fix the problem, they went in the opposite direction and cut a program that helped people renovate their home and make it more energy efficient, which reduced their energy bill at the source, not just when they got their bill. This encourages people to be more environmentally conscious.
I would to remind members that buildings, which must be heated and air conditioned, are the third largest source of greenhouse gases. They represent 25% of energy-related emissions. Of the current stock of buildings, 70% will still be in use in 2050. Thus, to reduce current and future emissions, one of the most important steps we can take is to make our housing stock more energy efficient.
There is another aspect of this motion that is disappointing. When I started reading it, it was familiar and was something the NDP had talked about already, up to the last paragraph, paragraph (e). Once again, the Conservatives are trotting out the carbon tax bogeyman. They seem to be fixated on this. They talk about it every day in the House. They mentioned it at the very end of this motion, and it seems like a poison pill to prevent the NDP from supporting it.
As the member said in his speech, these are measures that we presented in the past, but they added the provision to repeal the carbon tax. It would seem that my colleague has managed to ensure that he will not have the support of our party on this issue. In the spirit of co-operation, he should have stuck to the issue of the GST.
That was a little disappointing, so I am going to propose a slight amendment to the motion that will reveal my colleague's true intentions. I am going to propose removing the part about the carbon tax. He can mull that over for the few minutes we have left. We will see if his desire to advance his cause by collaborating with other parties is genuine or if he is just trying to score political points.
Regardless, I think his main intention, gaining traction for his idea, is good. In general, his intentions here are good, but I want to point out that the real solution is reducing at-source energy costs. By merely lowering the final bill after calculating energy consumption, we are not encouraging households to reduce consumption because we are not reducing costs at the source. That means the more energy one consumes, the bigger the discount at the end of the year. Some of my colleagues have already talked about this. The bigger one's house, the more energy it takes to heat, the more it costs and the bigger the annual savings. It is contradictory, in a way. We should be encouraging people to consume less energy, not more.
I am going to propose an amendment that will reveal my colleague's true intentions and show us whether his mindset is one of collaboration or confrontation. I propose that the motion be amended by deleting the words “(e) repeal the Carbon tax”.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 230. I would like to thank my colleague, the member for , for the motion. I know my colleague is a very committed to his constituents. On this side of the House, he is famous for his annual tour throughout his riding, when he puts tens of thousands of kilometres on his van, his bike and even his canoe, getting out to know his constituents. I am very happy that he has brought this motion forward, representing the desires of his constituents to live more affordable lives and save money on essentials.
I would also like to recognize that this motion was also put forward in a private member's bill by the hon. member for a short while ago. Again, the intent was to provide more affordable lives and lifestyles for Canadians. Roy Rogers is famous for saying he never met a man he did not like. The current government is the same, in that it never met a tax it did not like, and its desire to keep taxing home energy seems to be part of that.
Home heating is a necessity; it is not a luxury. I have had the pleasure of living across the country, from Victoria to St. John's and a lot of places in between. Even in Victoria, where I have lived three separate times, I have seen severe winters. In the winter of 1996, I was living in Newfoundland, where winter is year round. In 2001, the year of the big snow, there was 22 feet of snow in Newfoundland. I remember shovelling my driveway after a snowstorm in June, but never in my life had I seen as much snow overnight as I did in Victoria in 1996. We got about three feet of snow overnight. A lot of houses in Victoria are not set up like houses in the rest of the country to deal with cold, so the heating is on non-stop when it turns cold, which, in Victoria, is usually at about 15°C.
The fact is that Canada is a winter country. I have lived in Fort McMurray, in Edmonton three times, in Toronto a couple of times, as well as Ottawa and St. John's.
An hon. member: Winnipeg.
Mr. Kelly McCauley: I have not lived in Winnipeg, though my family is from Winnipeg. I have lived in Huntsville, Scarborough and Lake Louise and I have seen the effects of winter. As I said, heating our homes is a necessity and not a luxury.
I will note that in Edmonton, not this winter but the winter before, there was a record 176 consecutive days when the temperature dropped below 0°C and we had to heat our homes. Putting GST on top of home heating punishes Canadians. I would also note that on the last day of those 176 days, even as the temperature dropped below zero, I opened my front door and there was a spider hanging there, so my nightmares continue even in the winter.
Essentials are not taxed in this country. Groceries are not taxed, medical supplies are not taxed, sanitary products are not taxed, so home energy should be no exception. We asked the people of Ontario after years of provincial Liberal governments what it is like paying the GST on catastrophically high energy bills. People are getting punished.
Alberta has a carbon tax, which thankfully was just repealed by new premier Jason Kenney. Albertans were paying more in carbon tax than for energy, and then they were paying GST on the energy, as well as on the carbon tax. It puts a lie to the Liberal line that the carbon tax would be revenue neutral. In B.C. and Alberta alone, there was over a quarter of a billion dollars collected in GST alone. The PBO report, which Liberals like to reference so much, neglects to mention that there is GST on their imposed carbon tax, which goes straight into the coffers of the government.
I want to applaud my colleague from , who is fighting cancer right now. I want to let him know that we are thinking of him and that he is my prayers every night. He put through a private member's bill to remove the GST on the carbon tax, not to allow a tax on a tax.
What happened? Well, people on this side voted to eliminate the GST to help everyday Canadians, but of course, our Liberal colleagues voted against it, because again, there is never a tax they do not like.
Every dollar saved under this motion would be a dollar in the pockets of Canadians. I want to go over how much people would save on this. By 2022, people living in Newfoundland would be saving $151 a year; in P.E.I., $155; in Nova Scotia, $135; in New Brunswick, $142; in Quebec, $93; in Ontario, $116; in Manitoba, $95; in Saskatoon, $127; in Alberta, $121; and in British Columbia, $92. Therefore, the average Canadian would save over $100.
Why is this important? We heard recently in a report that 50% of Canadians are only $200 a month away from insolvency. They are just $200 away from not being able to pay their bills for food or whatever. That $200 is not very much, and so every little bit, every extra dollar in Canadians' pockets, is going to help them.
What would be covered under this rebate? All home energy, including electricity, natural gas, heating oil, propane, wood pellets, other heating sources for primary residences, would be exempt from the GST, and the CRA would get the utilities to rebate directly.
Earlier in my speech, I spoke about putting an Order Paper question to the government asking how much taxpayers' money it actually wasted sending out postcards. The Liberals submitted that it was $1 million. However, we just found out today that the total was actually $3.5 million the government wasted on postcards to send out to Canadians to let them know that they were going to get a GST rebate.
We heard a Liberal member earlier stand up and say that he is against the motion, that it is not good for the economy and that we need every penny we can get. Under this member's plan, we could have helped 31,000 families, or we could send out a postcard and waste $3.5 million, and that is a priority for the government. It had a chance to help 31,000 families or send a partisan, politically driven post card. What did they choose? They chose the partisan, politically driven postcard instead of helping 31,000 families. Every action the Liberals take has an effect on Canadians. They could have helped 31,000 Canadian families and chose not to.
I will go back to some of the comments from my constituents who are having difficult times right now in Edmonton and why it is important that we push this through to save them the GST on their home heating.
I got a note from Karen, who said, “l'm a senior with a fixed income and everything going up, it gets tighter every year.” Do members not think she would like to have the GST off her home heating? Maybe she could be one of those 31,000 families we could have helped instead of sending a postcard in the mail.
Bruce writes, “A lot worse off! I am 62 years old. I was forced into early retirement.... I take money out of my RRSP and Canada Revenue hammers me with taxes”. At 62, it is difficult to get back into the workforce, especially in Alberta after the government punished it with a tax on its energy industry. Do members not think we could help that person by rebating his GST on his home heating in Edmonton, when we have winter, God bless us, six or seven months a year?
Another said that he is worse off with higher taxes, including the carbon tax, and that there are fewer opportunities at work. Do members not think that we could help him with this instead of standing here and virtue signalling on a carbon tax? Of course not.
We have Sam, who says that he is worse off as prices are going up and up, and he is on a fixed income.
I would like to help seniors in our riding. We put through a motion on helping to protect them from fraud. They are on fixed incomes. Again, these are people we could help every single day across the entire country by taking the GST off home heating.
Conservatives support it. Canadians support it. I hope the government will get in line and support it as well.
Mr. Speaker, it is somewhat interesting listening to the Conservatives. We have heard them, not only today but in previous weeks and months, talk about the tax on tax, as if Stephen Harper never did it. One would think the Conservative Party never had a tax on tax.
Every week, Canadians from coast to coast to coast were paying a tax on a tax that Stephen Harper was very supportive of. When people put gas in their vehicle, there is a provincial and federal levy, and then there is the GST. My understanding is that the GST is a tax that is applied onto a tax. Yet, the Conservative Party is so offended by taxes on taxes, as if it has never happened before.
Why did Stephen Harper not deal with the tax on tax? What happened then to the oomph of the Conservative Party today, saying that a tax on a tax is bad? The Conservative Party is probably the one that came up with the idea of a tax on a tax. It was actually the Progressive Conservative Party in Alberta that first came up with the idea of a price on pollution in North America. That is the reality of it.
The Conservatives are really good at opposition, and I have said this before: I hope we keep them in opposition for many years. However, we really need to reflect on some of the speeches that Conservatives give in the House. They are truly amazing. We hear all about the balanced budget stuff. Conservatives try to give the impression that the Conservative Party is good at managing budgets. Seriously.
Stephen Harper took a multi-billion dollar surplus and turned it into a multi-billion dollar deficit even before there was a recession. That is the honest to God truth. That is the reality. Stephen Harper had deficit after deficit, and I would have to say it was for eight or nine years. He accumulated over $150 billion in deficits, and yet Conservatives try to give us advice on deficits.
By the way, as we know, the current leader just flip-flopped on his deficit projections. Now a Conservative government would take five years to get rid of the deficit. I can appreciate that, if we take a look at what Liberals have been able to do in the last little while because of many of the budgetary measures we have taken. We have seen the generation of over a million new jobs in Canada in the last three and a half years, because of some of the changes we have made.
The Conservative Party wants to ask about this tax or that tax, but what did it really do when it mattered the most to most Canadians?
The most substantial tax break given in many years by the House of Commons was in Bill . We call it the middle-class tax break, the tax cut for Canada's middle class. Millions of families benefited all across Canada. Hundreds of millions of dollars were given to Canadians, to the middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it.
What did the Conservative Party do? The Conservatives voted against it. It is hard to believe that when it comes right down to voting, a Conservative Party that preaches about giving tax breaks voted against our tax cut. In fairness, the Conservatives also voted against a tax increase on Canada's wealthiest 1%, which is consistent with many of the different types of boutique tax credits the Conservatives like to come up with.
I would suggest that the Conservative Party and those deep thinkers within it, and here I am talking about people like Doug Ford and Jason Kenney, the potential leadership contenders in the next go-around, need to sit down with Stephen Harper and the current leader and start revisiting the types of issues they have to try to overcome between now and the next election.
When I go door-knocking and speak to residents of Winnipeg North, I am always happy to share with them the reality of the Conservative Party, and I must say that it can be very discouraging at times.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!