The House resumed from March 22 consideration of the motion.
It being 3:16 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of the member for relating to the business of supply.
Call in the members.
(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)
(Division No. 40)
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
Total: -- 115
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Total: -- 209
I declare the motion defeated.
Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 306, 309 and 311.
Question No. 306—Mr. John Nater
With regard to the decision by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to recruit social media influencers to promote the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS): (a) how many influencers were sent recruiting requests or similar types of communication by PSPC; (b) what formula or rate is used to determine how much each influencer will receive in compensation for promoting the NSS; (c) what is the total budget for the social media campaign; (d) how many influencers have signed agreements with the government related to the campaign; (e) are the influencers required to have any type of disclaimer on their social media post mentioning that they are being paid by the government, and, if not, why not; (f) what are the start and end dates of the social media campaign; and (g) what are the names and social media handles of the influencers who have signed agreements with PSPC related to the NSS, broken down by platform (Twitter, lnstagram, TikTok, etc.)?Mr. Anthony Housefather (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the national shipbuilding strategy, or NSS, is a long-term initiative to renew the fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard, build our marine industry and create sustainable jobs in Canada.
Consistent with a commitment to transparency, PSPC continues to seek opportunities to communicate openly and regularly about this important initiative to make Canadians aware of this important work and also position the sector as an attractive career choice. To this end, PSPC sent an email to 40 individuals, associations and organizations associated with shipbuilding to determine if they would be interested in sharing information about the NSS through their blogs, newsletters, publications and social media channels.
There was no intent to provide any form of compensation as part of this initiative. There is no budget associated with this initiative. There were no agreements associated with this initiative.
All content shared with recipients would be clearly identified as originating from PSPC, as is required by the Government of Canada communications policy. The email was sent as part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the NSS.Question No. 309—Mr. John Barlow
With regard to the ongoing consultations by the Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) about the regulations surrounding the maximum size of canned white potatoes: (a) what are the total resources, including labour, involved in the consultation; (b) what is the overall budget for the consultation; (c) what is the timeline for the consultation and subsequent decision; (d) how many CFIA inspectors are assigned to ensuring that canned potatoes are of the regulated size; (e) how many instances of improperly sized canned Canadian potatoes have been found by CFIA inspectors since January 1, 2018, broken down by month; and (f) what are the details of each instance in (e), including (i) the date, (ii) the summary of violation, (iii) whether the violation involved Canadian or imported canned potatoes, (iv) what penalties were issued to the grower or vendor in violation?Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, in the case of this request, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency received a request from a food business proposing to change the grade standards governing the size of diced potatoes packaged in cans. These standards are incorporated by reference in the safe food for Canadians regulations and are subject to the cabinet directive on regulations, which the CFIA is obligated to follow to ensure that a meaningful consultation is conducted to allow any affected parties to register their comments.
More detail on how the CFIA fulfills this obligation can be found in the CFIA’s policy on incorporation by reference at https://inspection.canada.ca/about-cfia/acts-and-regulations/incorporation-by-reference/cfia-incorporation-by-reference-policy/eng/1450356693608/1450356805085#a8.
The CFIA has technical experts whose work includes maintenance of all Canadian grade standards, and as such, this consultation was conducted as part of the CFIA’s mandated day-to-day activities. In this particular case, the narrow scope of the request did not require additional resources beyond normal maintenance of the grade standards to consider this application.
As I mentioned before, since this was part of the CFIA’s day-to-day activities in its fulfillment of the cabinet directive, it did not have an assigned budget.
The public consultation period for this request is 30 days. As is standard practice, the CFIA will publish a “what we heard” report to provide a review of the comments. This stage of the process can vary in length and depends on the number and scope of comments received.
Subsequent decisions will be made following the closure of the consultation. As governed by the CFIA incorporation by reference policy, the CFIA will develop a summary of the comments received during the consultation and publish the summary document online. The summary of comments will contain a section on the CFIA’s next steps, which may include proceeding with the proposed modification; revising the proposal, taking into consideration the comments received; or withdrawing the proposal and, if applicable, considering other options.
The CFIA targets its oversight activities to those sectors and regulated parties that represent the greatest risks for food safety, consumer protection, and human, plant and animal health.
While all regulated parties are subject to a base level of inspection oversight, appropriately matching the frequency, level and type of oversight activities helps the agency to efficiently and effectively fulfill its mandate while maintaining confidence that safety outcomes for food, plants and animals are being met. In addition to conducting inspections based on prioritization of risk, inspectors are posted across Canada where needed most. Higher numbers of inspectors are posted in areas with higher concentrations of processing plants. There are also a number of inspection staff positions within the CFIA that are responsible for delivering services for more than one commodity.
Verifying the size of canned diced potatoes is not part of a specific food inspection program. However, the CFIA does have inspectors that are trained to complete grade verification of canned diced potatoes, as required, and this represents a small percentage of the work they do, based on a prioritization of risk-based activities. Oversight activities may also be a result of triggers such as responses to complaints or inspection observations during licence verification activities.
The CFIA has the following number of inspectors available to complete grade verification on canned diced potatoes. In Atlantic Canada, there are no establishments that process canned diced potatoes. In Ontario, there are three inspectors. In Quebec, there are four inspectors, and in the west, there is one inspector.
Since January 1, 2018, there have been no instances of improperly sized canned Canadian potatoes found by CFIA inspectors.Question No. 311—Mr. Kelly McCauley
With regard to the estimated $1,235.4 million in overpayments of income benefit payments by the government listed on page 147 of the 2021 Public Accounts of Canada, Volume I: (a) how many Canadians received such overpayments; (b) what is the value of the overpayments which (i) has been forgiven, (ii) has been recovered, (iii) has not yet been recovered, but is expected to be recovered, by the government; (c) of the amount that has been forgiven, what is the value that was forgiven to higher income Canadians; and (d) what is the breakdown of (c) by income bracket, broken down by $5,000 intervals for higher income Canadians?Ms. Ya’ara Saks (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, actual over and underpayment amounts recorded are disclosed in note 3 of the audited employment insurance operating account financial statements. These figures have been utilized to answer questions included in this request. They can be found in the supplementary statement, section 4; consolidated accounts as of March 31, volume I; public accounts of Canada 2021, Receiver General for Canada, PSPC, Canada.ca; or at https://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/recgen/cpc-pac/2021/vol1/s4/es-ss-eng.html.
The amount recorded as overpayments in the financial statements is $754 million and is based on actuals and estimated accruals. This represents potentially 388,000 claimants.
In accordance with the Employment Insurance Act, no forgiveness may be applied to any amount owing as result of an EI benefit overpayment. Writeoffs are approved pursuant to the debt writeoff regulations. Writeoffs are included in note 3 of the financial statements.
Information on amounts recovered is available as part of note 3 of the audited employment insurance operating account. The reimbursement amount is for all debts that exist, so this includes debt established prior to April 1, 2020, and debt establishment during the fiscal year 2020-21. EI benefit overpayment was $101.5 million.
Information on amounts that have not yet been recovered but are expected to be recovered is available as part of note 3 of the audited employment insurance operating account. The net benefit overpayment receivable and penalties as of March 31, 2021, is $408.9 million.
In accordance with the Employment Insurance Act, no forgiveness may be applied to any amount owing as result of an EI benefit overpayment. Writeoffs are approved pursuant to the debt writeoff regulations. Writeoffs are included in note 3 of the financial statements. However, income data is not available. Debt writeoffs are a last resort. Employment and Social Development Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency are taking steps to mitigate the impact of repayment obligations on Canadians, especially the most vulnerable.
More information is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/about-canada-revenue-agency-cra/when-you-money-collections-cra/benefits-overpayment-recovery.html.
The payment accuracy information shared in the 2021 public accounts of Canada and included in note 10 of the financial statement represents an estimate of “potential” overpayments or underpayments, not actual established overpayments that are being collected. This note is included in the financial statements to provide users with an overview of the operations of the programs and a measure of accuracy of the benefit payments. Specifically, it should be noted that using a monetary unit sampling, or MUS, methodology, the EI payment accuracy review program, or PAAR, estimates the accuracy of EI benefit payments. The quality services division reviews several hundred files each year to identify undetected errors that could result in possible mispayments, which are either underpayments or overpayments. Based on the sampling method, MUS, and the observance and distribution of the mispayments across the sample, various statistics are generated for the primary goal of testing whether mispayments are below the 5% tolerance limit. A goal of 95% accuracy is set as the service standard.
Mr. Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 305, 307, 308, 310 and 312 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Question No. 305—Mr. Kelly McCauley
With regard to overpayments made by the Phoenix pay system: (a) what was the total amount of overpayments made by the system; (b) of the amount in (a), how much (i) has been recovered, (ii) has not yet been recovered; and (c) of the amount not yet recovered, how much has been written off by the government due to (i) the six-year limitation period, (ii) other reasons, broken down by reason?
(Return tabled)Question No. 307—Mr. Earl Dreeshen
With regard to government contracts with Anderson Insight or its principal, Bruce Anderson, since January 1, 2019, broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation, or other government entities: what are the details of all such contracts, including (i) the date, (ii) the amount, (iii) the description of goods or services, (iv) the time period the contract covers, (v) whether or not the contract was sole-sourced?
(Return tabled)Question No. 308—Mr. Dave Epp
With regard to the government's decision to allow Zijin Mining Group to acquire Neo Lithium Corporation: (a) what specific concerns or issues about the transaction did the government consider when reviewing the purchase; and (b) for each concern or issue in (a), why did the government determine that it was not significant enough to stop the transaction?
(Return tabled)Question No. 310—Mrs. Stephanie Kusie
With regard to applications received by the government in relation to the relocation to Canada from Afghanistan of interpreters or other individuals who assisted Canadian Armed Forces, and their families: (a) what is the number of applications received from Afghanistan, for relocation to Canada, since August 1, 2021; (b) how many of the applications were prioritized as urgent; (c) how many of the applications are supported by (i) retired Canadian Forces personnel, (ii) other Canadian citizens or permanent residents; (d) how many of the applicants were relocated to Canada, broken down by month since August 1, 2021; and (e) how many staff members at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada have been working full-time on processing these applications, broken down by month, since August 1, 2021?
(Return tabled)Question No. 312—Mr. Kelly McCauley
With regard to the budgetary loan provided to China in the amount of $365,714,786, listed on page 307 of the 2021 Public Accounts of Canada, Volume I: (a) what interest rate is China paying on the loan; and (b) what are the terms and length of repayment agreed to by China in relation to the loan?
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The House resumed from March 4 consideration of Bill , as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
Mr. Speaker, it is nice to see you in the chair. We have not had the occasion to get to know each other very well. You have a lot of respect in the House, and that comes from colleagues of yours in Nova Scotia and colleagues on both aisles of the House. I wish you well in the role.
I am here to talk about Bill . Bill C-8, as we know, would implement certain critical components of the economic and fiscal update that was tabled in December 2021. The government has made clear that this bill is a fundamental priority. I see that our colleagues in the House of Commons have looked at it in detail at the finance committee level and we are now at report stage.
I will take an opportunity here to offer my thoughts. There are so many aspects to the bill; it is quite detailed. However, I think it is best to focus on those areas that speak to concerns that my constituents have had over the pandemic, because the bill is entirely focused on the pandemic and the response to it. I will speak to it in that regard.
Before I do, let me reflect on the experience of the past two years, if I could, in a very brief way. There are many lessons to be learned. There is a lot of analysis that has been done and is yet to be completed. That will be left to historians, among others, to put together. When the history of the experience of COVID-19 is written, we will see a fundamental question at the centre of it: What is the role of government in everyday lives? What is the role of government when emergency strikes, when a crisis hits? That is exactly what COVID-19 represents.
There is a view of governing that was quite popular prior to the pandemic, a current of thought or an ideology, if one likes. It is libertarianism, which counsels that a government's role should be limited at best. Governments should provide for a military, a police force, only basic taxation and the maintenance of roads and other infrastructure. Apart from that, they should get out of the way and let people, as the ideology explains, thrive on their own and let individuals be exactly that, individuals. It offers a very precise understanding of individual rights, but at the same time a very limited understanding of individual rights.
That ideology has been called into question. Some in the House will still embrace it, no doubt, namely my friends and colleagues in the Conservative Party. However, I do not think the ideas of libertarianism stand the test of the pandemic. In fact, what we have seen is an approach to crisis and emergency that makes clear the important and fundamental role that government can and must play in response to crises such as COVID-19. There is no doubt the future will hold other crises. There could be other pandemics in the future. We hope not, but it is very possible. Other crises are bound to strike, and the experience of COVID offers a blueprint of what government can do in response to such situations.
In my community of London, Ontario, one of the larger cities in the country, people rallied around one another. They deserve tremendous credit for the way they came together to address the problem of COVID, with neighbours reaching out to neighbours and people who had never even met making sure that their loved ones were taken care of. I am thinking of seniors, for example, who did not have the opportunity, as it would have been dangerous for them to go out, to get groceries and other necessities. They had neighbours whom they had never met stand up for them and do what was needed. That was an example during the pandemic of unity and of people standing up for one another and with one another.
At the same time, we saw governments at all levels step up. In the case of the federal government, a number of emergency programs were introduced so that people could get by and businesses could continue to exist. This is not speculation on my part.
The former governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, came to the finance committee a number of times. He has made very clear publicly since he left his role, and certainly when he held it, that had it not been for the emergency programs the government introduced, specifically the Canada emergency response benefit, the wage subsidy and the Canada emergency business account, or the CEBA, which provided substantial loans for businesses, the pandemic itself would have overwhelmed Canadian society and the economy. We may well have seen bread lines.
I put the question to the former governor about whether it would have been possible to see bread lines in Canadian communities such as London had it not been for those emergency programs, and he agreed. I invite colleagues to go back and look at what he said then and what he is saying now.
The government has a fundamental role to play, and Bill speaks to that. As far as Bill C-8 is concerned, there are a number of critical aspects relating to the pandemic. I am only going to speak about three.
First of all, there is the COVID-19 proof of vaccination fund. This would allocate funding for provinces and territories to implement proof of vaccination systems. Funding would go toward helping to pay for the establishment of proof-of-vaccination credential programs established by provinces and territories and also the issuing of proof of vaccination credentials to residents. There is $300 million allocated for this purpose if the bill passes, and I think it will. It certainly has the support of this side of the House. There is not a member, I think, who does not recognize the importance of helping provinces in this way, because they have also shouldered the burden. We have been there time and again to work with them on important programs such as the one I just mentioned.
Second, there is the safe return to class fund. As we remember, this was originally a $2-billion fund to help ensure the safe return to school. Under Bill , a further $100 million would top up this fund to help with ventilation in classrooms, for example, for better air filtration for kids in schools. This is of fundamental importance. Another lesson of the pandemic is that schools, among other institutions, were not well enough equipped to deal with the emergency that COVID-19 spelled, so this funding would go to that very purpose.
Let me finally mention that the bill would allocate funding for helping with rapid test costs. Originally, we saw $1.72 billion allocated from the federal government to provinces so rapid tests could, first of all, be procured but also distributed, which is fundamental in dealing with COVID-19. Of course, rapid tests do not provide the answer, but they are a tool in the tool box as far as the pandemic is concerned. This is in addition to the $900 million that was already allocated for this purpose.
I will revise what I said. There is $1.72 billion in Bill for this purpose on top of the $900 million I just mentioned that was already sent to the provinces for this reason.
The point is that COVID-19 itself changed Canadian society. Its effects continue to be felt. Its effects will continue to be felt for years to come. We need to learn about that and will continue to analyze that, but also think deeply about the role of government in everyday life as we continue to deal with and grapple with the impact the pandemic had on each and every one of us.
I look forward to questions.
Mr. Speaker, in this bill, the Liberals had the opportunity to make life more affordable for Canadians, but instead they are continuing to let the big companies, and the people at the very top, profit from the pandemic without actually paying their fair share.
Why is there nothing in this bill to close the tax loopholes or offshore tax havens? Why do the Liberals continue to refuse to make the richest pay their fair share?
Mr. Speaker, I would just point to the fact that it was this government that cut taxes for the middle class, which is something we did not see during the era of Reaganomics practised by the Harper Conservatives. It was this government that introduced the Canada child benefit, which is something that has lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
It is this government that has put forward a meaningful agenda of tax fairness, and one that will be continued, as we saw yesterday. We will work with our colleagues in the opposition, and namely our colleagues in the NDP. The agenda will certainly, I hope at least, galvanize support throughout the House because we do need greater tax fairness in this country. This government is absolutely committed to that outcome.
Mr. Speaker, I was very struck by the tough question from the NDP to the government. It seems like there is some trouble in paradise already between the NDP and the Liberals here, because the NDP signed an agreement to support the government's agenda and now it is already trying to say that the government is not good enough. Maybe this is a harbinger of things to come.
I note, as well, that the member just claimed that the Liberals introduced the idea of the Canada child benefit. Let us remember that, actually, it was Conservatives who introduced the idea of giving money directly to parents for child care. Liberals said they could not give money to parents, as they would just spend it on “beer and popcorn”, but the program was so successful that the Liberals have now tried to rename it and claim that it was their idea.
Will the member acknowledge the Conservative proposals? We have tried to work with the government and get it to do better. It was us who pushed for a higher wage subsidy, after all. The government has now spent so much money, and there have been so many scandals in the midst of that spending, and we have seen more debt run up by the in his time in office than in the entirety of Canadian history up until now.
Is the member concerned about the impact on the next generation, in terms of debt, the deficit, higher prices and inflation?
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things there. I do not know where to begin. It will not be a surprise that I cannot agree at all with the member.
First of all, he is a graduate, as I understand it at least, of the London School of Economics, so he will understand, I hope, the basics of parliamentary democracy. The governing side sits here and the opposition sits there, so an accord is not a coalition. That is the first thing that needs to be put to the member. I know he is upset that parties have found a way to work together, but we will do so on behalf of Canadians.
On the point about the child care benefit that was introduced under former prime minister Harper, that was not a means-tested benefit. That benefit sent millions of dollars, in fact, to millionaire families, and that is not meaningful public policy.
As far as the fiscal issues that he raises, first of all, inflation is not in the hands of the federal government to control, but we are helping Canadians deal with costs. Child care would be an example. We will continue to work on pharmacare and now dental care to make sure life is more affordable, and we will present budgets that are absolutely fiscally responsible. I look forward to the coming weeks to see exactly that outcome.
Certainly, gone are the days of cut, cut, cut, when we saw the Harper Conservatives lead the country into an economic mess that this government has helped to clean up.
Mr. Speaker, speaking of degrees, I know my colleague is a graduate of Queen's University and Western University, so I assume he is capable of calculating a marginal tax rate.
The Liberals keep talking about their middle‑class tax cuts, but they do not seem to understand that when the tax rate is lowered by 1.5% for the tax bracket for people making just under $90,000, it is the rich who benefit.
Does my colleague realize that, with the Liberals' much-vaunted tax cut for the middle class, a household with two $150,000 incomes received 50 times the tax relief that a family with two $50,000 incomes got?
Mr. Speaker, I look forward to getting to know my colleague across the way. I understand that we both went to Queen's, so that is only a good thing. We could build off of that to hopefully help deal with some of our disagreements, and we disagree on this point.
I only point to the example set by Madam Lagarde, who, in her time with the International Monetary Fund, made clear that the fiscal approach taken by this government was absolutely fair and progressive and put in place taxation measures that benefited the middle class, so that everybody could thrive and find a way forward, in terms of equality of opportunity in this country. We are going to continue to pursue such an agenda.
Mr. Speaker, members will have to bear with me today as I am not feeling so good. I think my sickness is caused by this new Liberal-socialist-quasi-communist Canada we are going to live in over the next three and a half years.
I want to start my speech by quoting professor Ian Lee from Carleton University. Dr. Lee came to the finance committee on Monday, February 7 of this year, and he brings a wealth of knowledge of banking and public policy. Here is what he said:
[It's] very difficult to put the [inflation] genie back in the bottle unless you take quite draconian measures.
That's not an opinion or a theory. We can look at the 1970s and where it ended up in 1980, and it took interest rates to 20%... it caused the worst recession in North America since the Depression.
Dr. Lee added that:
[Yes], there are solutions to inflation, but they're very, very painful...
Being a student of history, I hope we do not make the same mistakes of the 1970s by pumping cash into the market when it is not necessary. The economy is back to prepandemic levels, and this is what concerns me. When I see over $70 billion of new spending injected into the economy at a time when it cannot handle it, this is what will add to inflation, and it will drive the rate up.
I get calls from constituents in Miramichi—Grand Lake saying, “Jake, I can't afford my hydro bill.” “Jake, we can't afford bacon any more.” “I'm choosing between my hydro bill and pharmaceuticals.” I get these calls every day. I even got a call from a student who was worried that her bank account was going to be frozen because she donated 20 bucks to the convoy. These are the types of calls that members of Parliament are getting, especially in Miramichi—Grand Lake, which is a very rural area.
We need to distinguish between what we need and what we want, and focus on spending needs only. This way, we can justify spending in Canada, and we can justify our constituents' tax money during this inflation crisis. The Liberals and the NDP talk about the climate crisis every day. It is in every speech. It is the solution to every problem, yet the Liberals do not talk about inflation and the fact that the cost of living in our country is becoming so unaffordable that people cannot afford the basic things they need to survive in this country.
We need to stop putting the cart before the horse. We need to start producing the goods that people need to buy, which will create the cash in our economy, and not go the other way around by just printing more and more cash and then putting it in the economy without increasing our output of product. All that does is make more dollars chase fewer goods. This is a key contributor to inflation, and I can guarantee members that Canadian citizens in the ridings of all the members in this chamber are experiencing inflation.
This is another example of a tax-and-spend Liberal, and now Liberal-NDP coalition, government. The government is going to say, “Hey, look at all the wonderful things we gave you”, but in reality the taxpayers are paying for it. The taxpayers are paying for these things, with interest, and now there is the added cost of inflation.
When the assumed office in 2015, a typical home cost $435,000. Now, it is over $868,000. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister. He has now doubled the cost of a home in our country. That is what he has done for his constituents, and that is what he has done for all the people in Miramichi—Grand Lake.
Since the start of the pandemic, the government has brought in $176 billion in new spending, which is totally unrelated to COVID‑19. I think it is relevant to bring this up and get it on the record. The majority of the people I speak with do not believe that it could be possible. They say things like they never heard that on the news and there is no way the government could be allowed to do that. They wonder why they have not heard it on TV or somebody has not reported on it. These are the things my constituents are saying.
My constituents in Miramichi—Grand Lake do not want their grocery bill to increase every single time they make a trip to the grocery store. It is not fair to them. It is not economically feasible. The cost of living in this country is crippling Canadians. They are not able to pay for hydro. Their kids cannot leave the basements of their houses when they are in their thirties to get a home in this country.
Chicken is up 6.2%. Beef is up 11.9%. Bacon is up 19.1%. Bread is up 5%. These are all products that can be produced right here at home in Canada. The writing is on the wall. It is time the government took the time to read it. Canadians do not want inflation to skyrocket like it did in the 1970s. “Justinflation” is real, and we are all paying for it every single day.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to ask the economist Dr. Dehejia, from Carleton University, about this very topic. He told the committee, “I certainly don't think that our inflation problem is driven by transitory factors. I think when you look at the reality of it, in fact Mr. Robson mentioned correctly that some three-quarters or more of the basket in the CPI has gone up in price. That isn't just because of the war on Ukraine or oil...supply disruptions from the pandemic, those things...at the margin...would be maybe 1% of our current 5.7% are factors that may disappear. But when the money supply is growing at 14%, 20%, it is basically a monetary phenomenon. We're [all] just printing too much money. So I'd say no, it's not transitory.”
This is from a Carleton University professor, and I have quoted two economists today. Inflation is crippling Canadians.
I do not support Bill and neither does the Conservative Party of Canada. This is why. We want a Canada where we produce more goods, keep costs down, build more houses and do the things that allow Canadians to have a home, contribute, invest locally and be part of their community. We do not want a Canada that is governed by total and outright socialism by the members across the aisle.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member for the following. When we look at the content of Bill , the funds for vaccines, for HVAC systems in schools and businesses, and what we are doing on the housing front to ensure we address the issue of housing affordability, how can the member opposite not support such measures that benefit his constituents and Canadians from coast to coast to coast?
I think it is almost on the realm of irresponsibility for the member opposite and his colleagues to not support measures that support Canadians, such as funds for vaccines and improving schools, as well as to help educators across this country. I would like the member opposite to address that because we have been there for Canadians since the start of the pandemic. We will continue to have their backs, and the backs of businesses owners, from coast to coast to coast.
Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, on Monday, at committee, said that there was no housing crisis in Canada and that we had a healthy supply and a healthy housing market. This is the type of hypocrisy that I hear in committee.
I will remind the member of this: He mentioned vaccines. I got an email yesterday from a woman who had to purchase so many mandatory masks during the mandate, which was put in place from across the aisle, and she could not claim them on her income tax. Of course, as the national revenue critic, I get all sorts of emails, but here is a guy who is talking about having the backs of Canadians when he has crippled Canadians with mountains of debt, inflation and now hypocrisy.
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague spoke about how hard it is for people right now, and I absolutely and totally agree with him. In my riding of Winnipeg Centre, people are struggling to survive.
However, what I find shocking is that he talks about people struggling to survive a pandemic, yet his party wanted to cut CERB payments from workers, even the frontline workers who kept us fed during the pandemic. They also voted against sick time.
There was a motion put forward yesterday to generate revenue and tax billionaires. What did his party do? It voted against it. The member's party seems to vote against anything that helps people and vote for everything that supports their corporate buddies. Does my hon. colleague support lifting corporations up on the backs of people?
An hon member: Oh, oh!
The hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni on a point of order.
Mr. Speaker, it is already hard to get women to run for politics. To see this kind of behaviour in the House of Commons, the heckling and the absolute assault coming from the Conservative benches, is absolutely appalling. I would like the member who was yelling at her to apologize.
I thank the hon. member, but his point of order is more a matter of debate.
That said, all members of the House are obviously asked to keep the tone of debate very respectful.
The hon. member for Miramichi—Grand Lake.
Mr. Speaker, it is a typical day in the House of Commons to have virtue signalling from the socialist and communist parties here.
An hon member: Oh, oh!
Mr. Jake Stewart: Here is what I will say. I support the development from—
I apologize to the hon. member for interrupting him, but the hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot is rising on a point of order.
Mr. Speaker, the member from the NDP just used language that is absolutely unparliamentary, and I would ask that he retract and apologize for the language that he just used.
You can ask him what that language was, Mr. Speaker. The member for can repeat the words he just shared with me, and we will see if the Clerk sees that as unparliamentary.
I understood the intervention by the hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.
Would the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni like to speak to this point of order?
Mr. Speaker, after the heckling directed at my female colleague, I responded. I do apologize. I called him a misogynist pig, and I should not have done that. It was unparliamentary. I ask that my apology be accepted, and I retract those words to him. It was the wrong thing to do, and I will try to keep myself under control in the future.
However, I do ask for decorum here and that we respect people speaking in the House. A woman should feel safe in this work environment. This needs to be a safe workplace.
The hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni having apologized to the House, I consider the matter closed.
I invite the hon. member for Miramichi—Grand Lake to finish his answer.
Mr. Speaker, we are trying to debate a bill, and we are dealing with virtue signalling and hypocrisy. I will tell members where it is coming from. It is coming from the government that nobody wanted in Canada, the NDP, the party that is now going to be the government with the real government, which was given a minority. Everyone in Canada knows the stink that is on both of them at this moment, because one is worse than the other.
All we get in here is virtue signalling and total hypocrisy on both sides. I have had enough of that. I hope they realize that, every day that I come in here, I am going to do this job. I am going to promote gas and oil. I am going to promote the things that Canadians need to pay for their economy while the rest of them are going to do nothing.
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 , Natural Resources; the hon. member for , The Economy; the hon. member for , Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill , and not for the first time. I think one of the things to recall about Bill C-8 from the original debate is just how underwhelming it was as a response to the circumstances that the country found itself in at the time of the fall economic statement, and the circumstances that we continue to find ourselves in. I think “underwhelming” is the word to capture what is going on in this bill.
This is a time when we have heard some talk about this already indicating that Canadians are really facing extraordinary pressure with respect to the cost of living. That is very much true in the case of housing. We saw the beginnings of a Liberal attempt to try to address some of those issues in the housing market in this bill with an underused housing tax.
It is our point of view that there are a number of loopholes with this tax that are going to seriously undercut its effectiveness. We do think it is appropriate to try to undertake policy initiatives that will help relieve some of the pressure on the housing market, but there is a lot more that needs to be done.
Other measures in this bill include money for rapid tests and some money to assist provinces in preparing proof of vaccination documents that will be required from Canadians when they travel to other jurisdictions. Those will continue to be a useful tool for travel until worldwide requirements for vaccination no longer apply. We think it makes sense for the federal government to be there, providing some assistance to provinces in preparing that documentation.
We also think it makes sense for the federal government to continue to source rapid tests and distribute them to the provinces or to provide resources to the provinces to be able to source those things themselves for, as much as many public health restrictions have been lifted across the country, the fact is that COVID is still very much here. There is still very much a possibility of it resurging again in various forms. It makes sense for governments be prepared in case that does happen. Rapid tests will be an important tool in that regard.
While this bill is rather underwhelming, we do not think that is a reason for it not to go ahead. In the fall out of having a rather underwhelming bill and an underwhelming fall economic statement, New Democrats have undertaken to try and get the government to do more of what it needs to do to respond to the real needs of Canadians, such as housing, which I mentioned earlier. That is why, in the agreement that was struck between the Liberals and the New Democrats in the House, we talk about changing the definition of affordability in the national housing strategy, which has too often resulted in public funds contributing to building units of housing that actually are not affordable for many of the Canadians who need government intervention to build units that they can see themselves moving into and being able to pay for month to month. We know that is an issue for too many Canadians. We have heard lots of stories.
I shared a story in the House, I believe it was yesterday, of a gentleman who has a job and was living on his own. He is an adult but had to get his teeth fixed. He had to move back in with his parents because he could not afford the cost of it. He had to borrow a lot of money to have his mouth fixed, and that meant that he could not afford to live independently any more and probably not for some time. Those are costs that Canadians are contending with right now.
Yesterday, we saw a Conservative motion that talked about lifting the GST from the price of gas at the pump. I have heard Conservatives today complain about the cost of gas, not only at the pump but also in home heating. As I said yesterday, there is some agreement there in terms of wanting to be able to provide relief for Canadians, which is why I proposed an amendment to their motion to have the GST lifted off home heating.
That something that would apply not just to those getting oil and gas at the pump, but also to a broader range of Canadians. I hazard a guess that although there are many, many Canadians who drive a vehicle every day, there are many more who benefit from home heating. I think that is a larger category. I think that is fair to say. I have not done the research, I will admit, but I think it is probably fair to say there are more Canadians who heat their homes than drive cars. I am guessing, having just survived another Winnipeg winter.
We felt that was a broader-base measure for tax relief that did not only apply to oil and gas and that would have the advantage of having it be harder for the companies that are charging Canadians for the use of that energy to just raise their prices to make up the difference. In many cases, when it comes to the cost of home heating, that is delivered through a utility. There are usually regulations in place that require those companies to go to an independent body to authorize price hikes.
We are here to talk about those kinds of things. We are also here to get action. We are working towards getting the government to change the definition of affordability under the national housing strategy. We have a commitment now from a government that just nine months ago voted against having a dental care plan to moving ahead with a dental care plan, something that is going to make a tangible difference in the lives of Canadians and that is going to help them afford something that is right now beyond reach.
It is likewise with pharmacare. Again, just within the last 12 months or so, the NDP proposed legislation to enshrine the legislative infrastructure we need for a national pharmacare plan to help provide relief for the cost of prescription drugs. Again, my Conservative colleague who just spoke on this bill earlier referenced the cost of prescription drugs and how hard it is to afford them. We have a real idea for how we can make that affordable. It is not just the NDP's idea, but it is something that civil society advocates have done the research on, have been pushing for for a long time and have shown that not only could we extend service and make prescription drugs more affordable for people but that we could actually do it with an overall savings to the taxpayer in the order of about $4 billion every year.
Parliament is a difficult place on the best of days, particularly minority Parliaments. People sometimes take comfort, and not just the government but even, I daresay, sometimes on opposition benches, in a majority government because there is a sense of how things are going to go and how they are going to unfold. We have our usual mechanisms for trying to call out the government for their shortcomings in a majority. There are more options in a minority Parliament in the Westminster system, but our duty remains the same, which is to hold the government to account, to try to use our position and our power in this place to get the things done that we said we would endeavour to do, and to shine a light on the activities of government to make sure that it is doing those things and it is doing them well.
We have seen many examples, let alone outside of Canada but also within Canada at the provincial levels, of confidence and supply agreements where certain parties, for the sake of some political stability and the sake of making progress on items they deem important, agree to a certain level of co-operation with the government of the day, which is not at all a relinquishment of their duty as an opposition party to examine the work of government and to hold it to account.
In question period today, we heard New Democrats asking what I think were difficult questions. Certainly by the government's response they were difficult questions. That is the kind of work we are going to continue to do. We heard questions about the government's failure so far to ensure it is getting people out of Ukraine in a serious emergency, and the bureaucratic hurdles that are making it impossible for people to get out of Ukraine and get to the safety of Canada. Those are things that need to be fixed.
We have an agreement to work on some of the things on which we could find common ground with the government of the day. Bill stands out as an example of why it was so important to be able to develop tools to push the government to do things it is reluctant to do; things it said it would not do, like a dental care plan; things that it has been reluctant to do, like pharmacare; and then some of the things it said it would do but we all know from our experience in this place that those commitments are not sufficient from the government and so other tools are needed in order to get the government to follow through on the things it said it would do.
That is why I am looking forward, and the proof will be in the pudding. I am looking forward to seeing some real, concrete action and initiatives in the next budget that are far more inspiring than what we saw in the fall economic statement and the subsequent Bill .
Mr. Speaker, it is nice to see you in the chair.
When we look at Bill , I am a bit surprised by how forward the Conservative Party has been in its opposition to the bill, given the actual content of the bill. For example, it talks about the purchasing of rapid tests, which were in great demand by the provinces back at the beginning of the year. There was an obligation for the federal government to provide these rapid tests. If it were not for the federal government doing it, there would have had to be another level of government. If not that, then it would be people who might not be able to afford rapid tests.
Could the member provide his thoughts on the contents of the bill, which, one would think, the Conservative Party would have been supporting?
Mr. Speaker, as I had said in so many words, or just about, in my speech, this bill is far more disappointing in its ambition than in its substance. One of the things that is a bit better about this bill, and something that I worked on with members of other opposition parties, the Bloc and the Conservatives, is a provision for better reporting on the money that has been allocated for rapid tests. That is something that we in the NDP thought was important because the bill would authorize a rather major expense. We have heard from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that the government has been late in filing its public accounts. Therefore, we thought that additional financial reporting was warranted, given the size of the expenditure. I also worked with members of the Conservative Party and the Bloc on Bill , a bill that we opposed, to get some assurances that companies who received the new wage subsidy would not be able to pay dividends to their shareholders if the companies were recipients of the wage subsidy.
This is a place where we come to work. We negotiate with various parties to try to get done the things we promised our electors we would do.
Mr. Speaker, I do not normally do this on my phone. I just got a message from the Liberal Party. It says to thank the member for his work.
I am just wondering if there is any level of discomfort at any level of debt. Obviously, it feels good to spend money. I know the member said, as a social democrat, that spending is important to him. What is the number, the debt-to-GDP ratio, that he feels uncomfortable with? Is it 50%? Is it 80%? Is it 100%, or are we just going to spend ourselves into oblivion?
Mr. Speaker, any time we are talking about deficits and public debt, we cannot just talk about spending. We also have to talk about revenue. This is something that is always missing from the conversation when Conservatives want to talk about deficits.
This is why the NDP has proposed a wealth tax on fortunes of $10 million and over. It is why we proposed an excess-profit tax for large corporations that made more profit during the pandemic period than they had in the preceding years. It is why we continue to speak against tax havens. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has estimated Canadians lose $25 billion in tax revenues every year through these tax haven agreements. I could go on.
Let us talk about appropriate spending. Let us talk about smart investment. Let us talk about balancing the budget, not only by looking at our costs but also looking at the revenues that we have coming in, as any responsible business would do.
Mr. Speaker, the agreement between the Liberals and the NDP is not the only agreement that was negotiated in the dead of night. The 1982 Constitution, which was negotiated in the middle of the night to the detriment of Quebec, clearly states that health is a responsibility of Quebec.
Can my colleague tell me why the NDP is always ready to help everyone? It is even prepared to help the Liberals have a majority.
However, it is never there when it comes to respecting Quebec's jurisdictions or getting the to sit down with the premiers of Quebec and the nine other provinces to arrange health transfers with no strings attached.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may not recall this because I do not think he was elected at the time. However, on pharmacare, in one of our motions in a previous Parliament, the action we were talking about and wanted the government to do was to convene a meeting with the provinces to talk about how to move forward on pharmacare. The Canada Health Act is a long-standing framework under which the federal government has funded health services, and it is not enough. There is a need to increase the health transfer, including health transfers without conditions.
We are far apart from the Bloc on this, but we are not far away from respecting provincial jurisdiction. We just believe that the federal government can continue to play a meaningful convening role and funding role in health care in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on your role. It is wonderful to see you take part in a fine Canadian federal institution such as the Speaker.
I am pleased to rise again to talk about Bill . It is another massive Liberal spending bill, with little oversight and probably little chance of delivering on what they have talked about. It is almost a Liberal pre-engagement gift to our colleagues in the NDP.
To summarize, the fall fiscal update added $70 billion in new spending and this is spending on top of that. This is $70 billion, as I mentioned, that does not even include the Liberals' campaign promises, which will be tens of billions more for their election goodies. This is going to add on top of what we saw in the public accounts, the $1.4 trillion of debt for the Canadian taxpayers. Think about that: $70 billion more on top of the $1.4 trillion that has already been added up until now. That does not even include probably $100 billion to $200 billion, depending on which discount rate we use, for unfunded public service pension liabilities and hundreds of billions of dollars more in Crown corporation debt that is not accounted for.
One of the problems I have with Bill , and I have talked about this a lot in the House and in committee, is the lack of proper oversight for the bills and spending. We have heard the previous Treasury Board president admit to committee that he had not been following the rules. We saw it with the WE Charity scandal. The Treasury Board is required to have, for their submissions, an official language analysis. The Treasury Board, under the current government, decided to ignore it and not require an official language analysis, even though it is right in the rules that it is required. They break these rules in order to benefit their friends at the WE Charity, which, of course, was funding members of the 's family.
We saw it with the wage subsidy, with the $100 billion. We asked the President of the Treasury Board if it had gone through the Treasury Board approval process. It had not. This is, again, the problem we have. The Treasury Board rules are not just suggestions. They are not mere guidelines. These are actual rules. The Treasury Board is supposed to be the gatekeeper, the adult in the room at the cabinet meeting to ensure that Canadians are getting value for their taxpayer money.
What did we see? The Treasury Board said they were not going to look at that and that it was more important to get the announcement out than to do its job. Therefore, $100 billion did not go through Treasury Board approval.
What did we get? We heard about massively profitable companies making out like bandits. We hear the NDP demanding higher taxes on these companies with excess profits, but it is funny that we never hear them going against their colleagues in the Liberal government to end these massive subsidies and this corporate welfare. As long as we are spending, that is okay. They do not care where it is spent.
We saw that with the Liberals. We saw the Thomson family, one of the wealthiest, the second, if not the top, wealthiest family in the country, receive money in the wage subsidy. Companies like Berkshire Hathaway, worth half a trillion dollars in market cap, a company owned by the Oracle of Omaha, got money from taxpayers in the wage subsidy. Then there is Nike and Rogers. Rogers has $25 billion to do a buyout bid for Shaw Communications, yet it got money from the government. Chinese state-owned banks and airlines received wage subsidy money.
Of course, what would a government handout from the Liberals be without money going to their friends at Irving? It was not enough that they are getting, probably, a $100-billion contract for the Canadian surface combatants and hundreds and hundreds of millions more for the offshore patrol ships, yet the Liberals are also giving them wage subsidies.
As for the offshore patrol ships, the way shipbuilding works, the first ship is the most expensive, the second one a bit less expensive and so on, as the company learns and improves productivity. The sixth, seventh and eighth ships should be a lot less expensive, yet, for the government, with Irving, the price is going up. The more ships, the more productive they get, but somehow the ships are becoming more expensive. Again, it is just another handout without proper Treasury Board oversight.
We heard of an exclusive ski club with a $43,000 membership. We hear the government talk a lot about the middle class and those hoping to join the middle class. How many in the middle class can afford $43,000 for a membership at a ski club? This ski club had $13 million for a new lodge, paid $13,000 in taxes and yet got $1.4 million from the government for the wage subsidy.
Here are some of the other companies. Suncor energy, much as I love energy companies, with a $31-billion market cap rate, got money. Bell Canada was another. Couche-Tard from Quebec, with a $45-billion market cap, got money. Lululemon is another. The money was used for share buybacks and executive bonuses.
Unlike our colleagues in the G7 or the OECD that were also offering wage subsidies, we were the only country that did not set up fencing around who got the money. Britain had a program for wage subsidies, but it banned the use of money for share buybacks and executive compensation. Not this government. “Why?”, we asked. Well, it did not go through a Treasury Board program. We asked the Auditor General. Her comment was that the government did not set up the fencing even though it knew it would be more expensive and knew that companies would take advantage of that.
The CRA did not have all the information it needed to validate the reasonableness of the applications before issuing payments. Why is that important? The Auditor General stated that $300 million in the first tranche of the funding went to companies with a high risk of insolvency. He stated and showed that $2 billion had gone out to companies that had not filed taxes or GST remittances in years. The CRA knows that these companies have a much higher chance of going into bankruptcy. It is one of its leading indicators of companies going into bankruptcy, and yet the government handed out the money without any oversight. The Auditor General's report stated, “We noted that the subsidy was paid to applicants despite their history of penalties for failure to remit and other advance indicators of potential insolvency.” This is the Auditor General. This is not a partisan Conservative MP. Again, why was there no oversight?
I will go back to the poor planning. We have been asking for rapid testing since 2020. If members go back to Hansard, they will see many requests from our health critics over the last two years for more money for rapid testing. Those requests fell on deaf ears.
The government will say, “Well, look, there's $1.7 billion in Bill for rapid testing, and there is also $2.3 billion in Bill .” I am sure that is going to come back as well, so it is $4 billion. “Big deal”, members are probably thinking, “That's great.” However, in the supplementary estimates (C), which are being deemed reported tomorrow, there is also $4 billion for rapid testing. Therefore, is there $8 billion for rapid testing, because that is what the government is asking approval for? Well, no, it is not $8 billion; it is just $4 billion. The government has basically said that it messed up, so it is going to duplicate the request to Parliament in order to make sure that it has the money. Honestly, one could not run a lemonade stand with such advance planning, yet this government thinks to run the government that way.
Here is the funny thing. The supplementary estimates (C) will be approved tomorrow for $4 billion, and Bill , which was brought in a couple of months ago, will actually approve the $1.7 billion after it is already approved in the supplementary estimates. Again, it just goes back to poor planning by the government.
Also, in Bill , the repayment of the CEBA is being extended for six years. We asked in public accounts if there was no provision for bad loan writeoffs. We were told that there is no provision for loan writeoffs for this money, because there is such little chance of any of it, they were saying, being written off, which is wonderful. However, why then is the government extending payback for a couple more years if the government itself is saying that there is almost no chance of any losses? Again, it just goes back to poor planning by this government.
Bill all around is a poorly written bill and there are a lot of items that are not needed, which is why we are not going to be supporting it.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his respectful decorum in the House and for his speech.
I have concerns about some of the things he said in his speech. Of course, we do not agree on many things, but he talked about the NDP fighting for and getting supports for workers throughout the pandemic, which is something we are proud and honoured to have fought for. We did want more provisions and more guidelines so that big corporations did not potentially take profits and then pay shareholders, and that is something we did rail against.
The Conservatives cannot point to anything they fought for through the pandemic for workers or for people who struggled throughout the pandemic. We heard them yesterday when they voted against our motion to tax big corporations such as big oil to make sure there was revenue for things like a dental program, but we know they do not support a dental program. They actually do not believe that Canadians need a dental program.
Does my colleague not believe that the super-wealthy who profited from the pandemic should be paying more in taxes to pay their fair share and contribute to supporting important programs like dental care?
Mr. Speaker, one thing we do not believe in is supporting the government and the massive corporate welfare that the NDP is backing.
It was the Conservatives who pushed the government to allow people who were working and also on CERB to make up to $1,000 without getting their CERB clawed back, and we achieved that. It was the Conservatives who first asked for the increase in the wage subsidy from the paltry 10% the Liberals offered, and I will note that it was the Conservatives who were asking for a GST rebate on the massive record high cost of gas, which the Liberals and the NDP voted against.
Mr. Speaker, I find it very interesting that the member from across the way would be critical of this government and its spending and accusing it of spending on frivolous things when he is part of the party that was known for buying $15 glasses of orange juice and building gazebos in individual ministers' ridings.
Nonetheless, what we are hearing continuously from across the way is some kind of notion that the Conservatives get to wipe their hands clean of participating in the spending that has happened over the last two years. This member voted in favour of it through unanimous consent motions time and time again. They then get up in here and try to lecture us for all this spending when they voted for it. They did not even want to debate it before they voted for it. They did not even want to bother standing up in this House to vote for or against it. They just said that they were good with it by unanimous consent.
Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy the fantasy world put forward by the member for . Of course, if he had bothered reading the public accounts, and I do not think anyone in the government has, he would see that his government gave $50,000 to a company to come up with an new flavour for an IPA.
He talks about $15 orange juice. His government gave $50,000 to a brewery. I ask everyone in this House, if they had $50,000 to help Canadians, how many would say that we need a new flavour for an IPA? Only the Liberal government would put $50,000 for an IPA flavour ahead of the needs of regular Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Edmonton West did a bit of tracing of what looks like double accounting for the same money for the purchase of rapid tests. It looks to me, and in fact there is testimony in the other place by our Auditor General, that the money found in Bill and found in Bill is also in the supplementary estimates. He hinted at this. It looks like $4 billion twice. I am curious to know how we think we account for that and make sure $4 billion does not get spent twice on the same rapid tests.
Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. It is a duplicated $4 billion, and that is my concern. We have only the word of the government that it is not going to get Parliament's approval twice and only spend it once. I do not trust that the government will do that. I would love to have a government member stand in the House today and say that yes, that $4 billion will lapse and will not be spent.
Mr. Speaker, it is pleasure to rise today and take part in this important debate on the economic and fiscal update. I of course listened with great interest and I always learn a lot from the detailed research that my colleague from does before he makes any interventions in this House. It is very important that we have that perspective, and I thank him for it.
Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen record sums of money spent to address a once-in-a-century and a once-in-many-lifetimes event. It is very important to take stock of how the money was spent, and the effect that the spent money will have going forward is incredibly important.
We have heard a lot over the last few days about the federal mandates. While opposition members, members of the public and members of the media have asked the government why it has not aligned its health restrictions with the restrictions that have been guided in all of the provinces by their chief medical officers of health, we have heard a lot about the stats as they relate to health care.
I think that is really important. While the science does tell us in all of the provinces across Canada, because there is only one science, that it is safe to end the vaccine mandates and safe to lift mask mandates, the information that the government points to speaks to hospital capacity and speaks to screening and diagnosis that has not happened as a result of the pandemic.
We have seen, over the last two years, a 20% reduction in cancer screenings. We know that almost half of patients have had cancer screenings and care appointments either cancelled outright or postponed. When that happens, we have to look at another very important statistic, which is that a four-week delay in treatment increases the patient's risk of death by 10%.
We have this tremendous problem in our health care system. Tremendous amounts of money are being spent by the government. As was laid out by the previous speaker, my colleague detailed some of the areas the government prioritized in terms of spending money. What would it look like for diagnosis and treatment if the government prioritized its spending, in partnership with the provinces, on health care?
We are discussing $70 billion of cash today. It is printed money and borrowed money. Canadians will pay interest on that money, and it will fuel inflation. What do we get for it? The previous speaker, the member for , talked about the government spending $50,000 on having someone create a new IPA, a new beer flavour. What could we have done in even one hospital with $50,000? We are talking about a 10% increase in fatalities when treatment is delayed by only four weeks. I think that is a really important frame. We talk about the effect of this spending on Canadians. That is what it could look like if it was directed in a different way.
The government talks about the room it has to borrow and the room it has to spend, but what is it doing for everyday Canadians? If it is not for share buybacks and not for executive bonuses, what is it doing for everyday Canadians? We know the effect of this rapid spending and the pressure that it is adding onto everyday Canadians' budgets because of the inflation that it is fuelling, and people are making impossible choices.
Heating or eating, that is a call I got in my constituency office many times. People cannot afford their home heating bills. They cannot afford the increased grocery bills. Now we have seen, over the last few weeks, that other global pressures, added to the taxes the government has put in place, are pricing Canadians out of even being able to put fuel in their cars to get to work or to take their children to a medical appointment or a recreational activity. It is really hard to see where the priorities are for everyday Canadians when we look at some of the spending we have detailed.
It has been an impossible two years for Canadians. We see the inflationary pressures that are created. We know that it is debt and interest on that debt that will be paid by future generations. In the next couple of weeks, we are going to see increases in taxes again. The skyrocketing prices in every area of life that Canadians have are unsustainable. We know that it is more than one in two Canadians who cannot afford their groceries. They are cutting back every week. We know that it is families across this country who cannot afford $1.80 or two-dollar a litre fuel.
Our national debt is $1.2 trillion, and what do we have to show for it? As the chief medical officers of health in 10 provinces across this country are saying we can drop the mask mandates and end the vaccine mandates, two years later, two years after the official opposition asked for it, after Canada's Conservatives called for rapid tests, the government is saying, “Let us buy some rapid tests.” I would say the government is a day late and a dollar short, but it is two years late and billions of dollars more than we have to spend.
Canadians are in a tough spot. For many things, necessary spending, necessary commitments were made by the House over that two-year period. Then we can look at the shameful waste and missed opportunities that the government had. Again, I will talk about health care. Prepandemic, hospitals operated at between 95% and 130% capacity across the country. Now the government is saying hospital capacity is at 100%. That is where it was before the pandemic. What is the spending that the government has committed that is going to solve these legacy issues? It is not solving legacy issues.
Pork barrelling, pet projects, executive bonuses and share buybacks, that is going to be the legacy of all of this spending that members in this place, their children, grandchildren and their great-grandchildren are going to be paying the interest on before we even get to talk about paying the principal on that debt.
We now have the government partnering with another party that has made unaffordable promises and that is going to balloon the spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. Canadians just cannot afford an NDP-Liberal government. Canadians deserve accountability. They deserve a path back to fiscal responsibility. It is the responsibility of any credible government to do that.
We are just not seeing the results for the money that it spent to date. We are not seeing a real plan for the money it is planning to spend going forward.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a few things that have been said by the member opposite both now and previously. We have been throwing out numbers on the debt, which the member disagreed on, one being $1.2 trillion and one being $1.4 trillion, but it is done in isolation without looking at the percentage to GDP and without looking at what is happening in the rest of the world. We can shock and scare people with those tactics, but I do not think it is constructive.
If we were to look at Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio and our credit rating from Standard & Poor's and Moody's, both of which I feel have a better grasp on economics than perhaps members in this House, we would see that Canada still has a AAA rating and that our debt-to-GDP ratio is around 85%, about the same as Great Britain, but there are 25-plus countries with a greater debt-to-GDP ratio, including Japan, France, the U.S.A., Singapore and many others that have actually increased spending, as we did, to ensure that the debt citizens could not afford to take on and that all economists across the world knew we were going to incur during the COVID pandemic was taken on by the government.
Could the member please explain why he keeps throwing out these scary numbers without putting them into context and without talking about the global situation?
Mr. Speaker, if the member for is scared by the numbers, so are Canadians. They are scared because they cannot afford to pay their bills. It is great to talk about a AAA credit rating. It is great to talk about how debt to GDP stacks up against other countries, but it does not matter. In this country, whether people live in Victoria by the Sea, Prince Edward Island, Victoria, British Columbia, or all points in between, life is getting more unaffordable.
When the government says incredibly ridiculous things like the government has taken on debt so that Canadians do not have to, guess what. It is Canadians who have to pay down that debt. They cannot afford the increased prices of natural gas to heat their homes, propane to heat their homes or gasoline to put in their cars. They cannot afford the increased price of groceries at the store.
Liberals can talk all day long and tire themselves out patting themselves on the back, but Canadians know that the spending by the government is unaffordable and unaccountable, and responses like that demonstrate that they are incredibly out of touch. They think they can say they are better than the guy next door, yet people in this country cannot afford to heat their homes and feed their families.
Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to respond to something. The members opposite talked about having this great low debt-to-GDP ratio, but I have to note that they are including money that has been set aside for CPP assets. We are the only country in the OECD that tracks money that way.
According to the IMF, when we take that money out and compare us on an apples-to-apples basis, we are the 22nd worst out of 29 in the OECD and the fourth worst in the G7. I wonder if my colleague would like to address the fact that the government is not being up front with Canadians on the true debt-to-GDP level.
Mr. Speaker, again Canadians are well served by the member for and his detailed analysis and breakdown of the spin that we hear from the government benches when its members talk about the massive debt it racks up and how they try to dress it up as something that Canadians ought not to be concerned about.
The government continues to spend money and say things, as I mentioned before, like it is taking on the debt so that Canadians do not have to. Of course it is debt that Canadians are going to have to pay back. While it would try to distract and impress Canadians by inflating numbers in a way that is beneficial to its framing, we know just by walking down the aisle at the grocery store, by pulling up at the gas pumps and by getting our home heating bills that the government is absolutely unaffordable, no matter how much lipstick it puts on the pig.
Mr. Speaker, we are in a situation where the fiscal house is on fire. The has run up more debt in his time in office than every previous prime minister, including the last Trudeau prime minister, from 1867 until 2015. Just in time, the NDP has arrived to pour more gasoline on this fiscal fire.
I have been listening to the debate on Bill today, the government's fiscal plan, if they want to call it a plan. It is a promise to spend more on everything in the midst of an agreement to spend even more with the NDP.
I was struck, hearing the member for from the NDP describing the levels of spending in this budget as “underwhelming”. “Underwhelming” is what the NDP is saying about the spending. I know his speech was very hurtful to Liberal members, just after they ink a deal. Imagine being called underwhelming during the post-wedding speeches. So much for the work that is supposed to exist. The NDP, nonetheless, has sold out to agree with this deal with the government, but still it is describing the government's fiscal measures as “underwhelming”.
Let us look at the reality, at the overwhelming level of debt and deficit that we have seen run up by the government in the last six years. The , in 2015, promised in the election three $10-billion deficits. It is hard to imagine there was a time when a $10-billion deficit seemed quite large relative to what we had been used to. Up until 2015, there had been a general consensus that outside of extreme events, a global financial crisis—
Order. We have a point of order.
Mr. Speaker, I apologize for interrupting my colleague in his speech. We actually have Liberals across the way laughing while this speech is going on, laughing at what the member is speaking about. Frankly, it is hardly funny and hardly funny for Canadians. I hope they would respect the House and actually listen to the member.
Of course, we ask that all members of the House maintain decorum.
I would ask the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan to continue his speech.
Mr. Speaker, the member for just assured me that he was not laughing; he was not even listening. It is too bad. He might learn something. I see him chatting over there without a mask, which does not bother me. I think he should be free to choose, but his other Liberal colleagues must be terrified at that reality.
Nonetheless, let us talk about the fiscal situation and the promises that were made by the . In 2015, the Prime Minister said that there would be three $10-billion deficits and a total of $30 billion in deficits, and then in the fourth year there would be a balanced budget. The Liberals blew through all of that in year one. They said they were being ambitious in their hopes for the country. Well, I would say that we should measure our ambition by how much we leave to the next generation, not by how little we leave to the next generation. While calling it ambition, the government is creating a situation where my children and their children will have so much less capacity to develop and invest in their own future because they will be paying for the debt that we have run up in such a short space of time. This was the promise made in 2015, broken right away, blown through. Now tens of billions of dollars in deficits per year have become hundreds of billions of dollars of debt and deficit.
The NDP has continually said throughout this process that it is not enough and the Liberals should be spending more. I just listened to speeches from the NDP members, and it is such a baffling philosophy to me. They talk about people who are struggling, but they never jump to the obvious conclusion, which is to let them keep more of their own money and let them spend it on what they want.
The member for said that he spoke with a constituent who, sadly, had to move back in with his parents as a result of expensive dental work. I would suggest not creating a massive new government program so the government can pay for his dental needs, because he would have to apply to the government, someone would have to be hired to evaluate his application to see if he qualified and we would have to establish thresholds and determine who the money will be paid through and when. Instead of going through that entire process, how about we cut his taxes? How about we spend less money, financed by inflation, so that his money can maintain its value?
Every time I hear stories from members about people who are struggling in this country, it strikes me that those on the left use these stories as an excuse to say we should have more government. More government is not going to help people who are struggling. Why are people struggling? It is because the cost of living is being driven up by high taxes, by inflation and by the fact that the government is financing its out-of-control spending by reducing the value of money that people have.
This is most evident in the case of gas prices. Let us be very clear and honest about why gas prices are where they are. It is because of a policy decision by left-wing parties, Liberal and NDP, that believe the gas price should be high because they want to use high gas prices as a tool to discourage people from driving. The only reason to support a carbon tax or carbon price, whatever we call it, is to discourage people from buying gas by making the costs higher.
Now, of course, the price of gas fluctuates and responds to other events, because absent the tax there is an underlying price that goes up and down. However, a significant amount of that price is determined by the taxation that sits on top of whatever price a private entity would charge. Of course there are fluctuations and of course those fluctuations are shaped by global events, but on top of those fluctuations we have policy choices made by politicians who believe that gas prices should be higher.
What strikes me is that almost nobody in the House is prepared to honestly acknowledge that. I hope that someone here, Liberal, NDP or Green, is willing to say what they honestly, clearly believe, which is that they want gas prices to be high. That is the point of a carbon tax. It is to make gas prices high. However, somehow, they think they can fool people by saying that even though they have put these taxes on gasoline, they would like prices to be lower, and then they blame something else for that fact. Their solution is to have higher and higher taxes and then to create more programs to allegedly treat the affordability problem.
To me, this is like being in a hole and we just keep digging, because the more spending we have, the more programs we promise, the more government intervention we have and the more expansion there is of the state sector, the more that money will have to come from somewhere and the more we are going to see deficit, inflation, higher prices and higher taxes. That in turn is going to make life less affordable. We are in this vicious cycle that is going to accelerate now as a result of this union between the Liberals and the NDP. We are going to see more spending. That is the promise of the deal these parties have made.
Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people are saying that we need to get our spending under control and back off of some of these spending measures and move back toward balanced budgets, the government is agreeing to an extreme NDP economic policy to put its foot on the gas further. My concern about this deal between the Liberals and the NDP is that we are going to end up with the worst of both worlds. Historically what we have seen in the House is the NDP pushing far-left economic policy but sometimes standing with us in trying to hold the government accountable on its ethical failures. Very often, those in the NDP have opposed things like time allocation and programming motions. They have been willing to join with us on requests for documents on things like holding the government accountable over the WE Charity. We have had significant disagreements with the NDP about economic philosophy, but at least we have been able to work together on some issues around protecting Parliament and the functioning of Parliament and on holding the government accountable for significant ethics violations.
However, what we see with this deal is that the government is talking about being able to get a free pass to move its legislation faster without the kind of accountability and scrutiny that are required. It will be expecting the NDP not to hold it accountable on ethical issues and not challenge it on issues regarding access to documents in defence of Parliament. At the same time, we see, without any seeming reluctance, the Liberals diving fully into the radical left-wing economic philosophy of high taxes, high inflation, high deficits and high spending. What we are left with is this picture of an accord that looks like Liberal ethics with NDP economic philosophy, and that is a disaster for this country.
If we must stand alone, the Conservatives will indeed take a stand and fight back against these abuses of Parliament, abuses of process and broken promises to voters, and the escalating damage being done to our economy. We will not solve the affordability crisis through higher taxes, higher deficits and inflation. We will solve it by supporting economic growth driven by individual freedom and individual initiative. That is the kind of philosophy we need. We need support for economic growth driven by individual ingenuity and getting the government out of the way.
Mr. Speaker, only a Conservative would refer to taking care of Canadians during a pandemic as ultra left-wing ideology. In any event, I find the rhetoric coming from across the way to be absolutely remarkable. This is the same party that three or four years ago was criticizing the of Canada for the low prices of oil in Canada. As a matter of fact, members of the Conservative Party, for all of the failings and incompetence they claim the Prime Minister has had, say he was somehow able to affect the global price of oil. Meanwhile, now that oil is where they want it to be in order to extract more out of the ground, suddenly they are saying the price of oil is too high and it is the Prime Minister's fault. He is the reason that people are paying more at the gas pumps.
Can the member explain to the House which Conservative he is? Is he a Conservative in favour of high prices of oil so that we can extract more out of the ground in his home province, or is he a Conservative who supports lower oil prices so that gas is cheaper at the pumps?
Mr. Speaker, that question was actually below the standards we are used to hearing from the member for . He said that he was not listening to my speech earlier and his question did make that eminently clear.
On the question of gas prices, it is not for me to set the price of oil. It is not for me to say what the optimal price of oil would be. The member should listen to me now at least, but he is not and that is okay.
The issue is that his government is pursuing a policy of intentionally raising the price of gas through a carbon tax. That is the purpose of a carbon tax. What I am saying, recognizing that the price of oil is set by global factors, is let us give people relief at the pump by eliminating the carbon tax, which is the amount they pay to the government on top of the price set by the private sector.
Mr. Speaker, I would really like to speak about the gas tax, but I am going to choose my words carefully, because I gave my speech yesterday.
The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan said the fiscal house is pretty much on fire. He also spoke of future generations. Yes, I think it is important to think about future generations.
I have a suggestion for putting out the fiscal fire. Last spring, there were measures in the budget to fight tax havens. However, we have heard nothing more about it, and it has completely fallen under the radar. Now, if we were to really fight tax havens, we could happily think of future generations without worrying so much.
What does my colleague think of the government's leadership in the fight against tax havens?
Mr. Speaker, on the issue of tax havens, I think people should follow the law and we should have rules that are designed to ensure that people who work in Canada are paying taxes on things in Canada. What we cannot control, though, is that when taxes are too high, sometimes people will simply choose to make investments elsewhere. They will choose to live and work elsewhere.
While we do need to address loopholes or points of unfairness that people are taking advantage of in the tax system, we should be looking to make Canada a jurisdiction that is desirable from an investment perspective and desirable from a taxation perspective. In a world of international competition, we cannot get away from the fact that if we do not do that, people will make other choices with their money.
Mr. Speaker, Ted, who is a constituent of mine in Parksville, came to me last week and most of his teeth had fallen out. I have since learned that all of his teeth have fallen out and he cannot eat. He is having challenges. He is one of the 6.7 million Canadians who do not have dental coverage and do not see a dentist on a regular basis.
The member asked what the New Democrats honestly believe. We believe that big oil companies, big box stores and big banks that have profited over a billion dollars should pay more tax. We know the Conservatives believe, according to their , that Canadians do not want or need a dental care plan. Ted does.
Can my colleague speak about what he would say to the 6.7 million Canadians who do not have a dental care plan? Does he believe they do not need it?
Mr. Speaker, I do not know Ted and I do not know his situation, but I think what Ted would like most is to have the dignity and ability to have a good job and low taxes. This will allow him to afford to make his own choices with his own money, including being able to attend to those kinds of needs.
We should have significant compassion for those who cannot afford those things, but I do not want Ted and others in his situation to have to go to a bureaucrat and ask for permission to pay for the things they need. I want him to be able to earn and keep more of his own money. I do not know the particulars of his situation, but for people in that situation, I say giving individuals control and autonomy, and ensuring they have resources and that our economy is functioning at a level where they can make those investments in themselves, is a much better way to go.
Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to stand in this place and represent the good people of Battle River—Crowfoot.
Entering into debate on Bill , I believe there is some incredibly important context that is required for an understanding of the circumstances our nation finds itself in when it comes to the fiscal realities the government and so many Canadians are facing.
Recently, it was revealed that there is a 5.7% inflation rate. For context, the average wage in this country goes up by somewhere around 2.5%, so the reality is this. By virtue of inflation and the average wage, and I certainly hear from constituents often who are not getting that 2.5% increase, the buying power of Canadians is being reduced each and every day.
I found it astounding that when I asked a question yesterday in question period, and some of my colleagues continue to ask these questions today, that the for our country would stand up and say that a tax break on gas, diesel and home-heating fuel would not help. My challenge to all Liberal members who agree with the Associate Minister of Finance would be to ask their constituents whether or not a 5% savings in a province such as Alberta, and more savings for provinces that have HST, would make a difference. I say to all the Canadians who are watching that, if they have a Liberal member of Parliament, they should share with them whether or not the tax break would make a difference when it comes to the reality that so many Canadians are facing, with the increased costs of things such as fuel at the pumps.
This again is important context. I represent a largely rural constituency and the reality is this. We do not have access to a subway. As much as Drumheller, Camrose, Wainwright or Provost would love these massive public infrastructure projects, such as light rail transit and whatnot, these communities of 20,000, 10,000, 5,000 or fewer people do not have an option. The members opposite would suggest they should simply buy an electric car, or simply take the bus. As a representative of a rural constituency, I know that is for sure not the reality of the 10% of Canadians who do not live in major urban areas, and certainly many others who do not have equitable access or easy access to public transportation.
Let me share this observation. I find it interesting. I hear from many constituents who are concerned about the cost of the carbon tax on their daily lives. A carbon tax on their home heating bill, which is in some cases as much as the cost of the gas itself, will be added on April 1. It will be close to 12¢ per litre, in addition to the cost of the commodity itself and the various other taxes. The reality of the carbon tax is this: It is important for Canadians to understand that the Liberals want these prices to be higher. The stood up again today and said that this was an effective mechanism to address emissions. Okay. The context for what he is saying is this. The more Canadians pay, the better, because it will force behaviour change.
Again, I ask. When it comes to the feedback from the Liberal and NDP MPs and their new coalition arrangement, which let me make very clear Canadians did not vote for, the reality is that the Liberals and the NDP want higher taxes and higher prices for elastic commodities such as the natural gas that heats people's homes, the heating fuel that is required in many first nations communities, and the gas or diesel that is required for people to take kids to soccer practice or commute to work, and for truck drivers or locomotives to deliver the goods that Canadians need.
The reality is that Liberals want those higher prices, so now they are going to talk about affordability and make excuses around how somehow a bit of a break for Canadians will not actually help. The reality is that Canadians know otherwise.
I would just share an inconvenient truth with the new Liberal-NDP government that exists in this country. When it comes to the results of the last election, it was actually the Conservatives who received the most votes. An inconvenient truth again is that it was actually the Conservatives' environmental plan that received the most votes.
An inconvenient truth for the members opposite is that it was the Conservatives' plan, which was highly recommended by economists when it comes to addressing the housing crisis that exists in many areas of this country, that received more votes than the Liberal plan, the NDP plan, the Bloc plan or any of the other parties' plans. That is an inconvenient truth, because the Liberals are desperate to cover up the fiscal disaster that is present within Canada and to further distract from the reality of the situations of the many constituents I hear from who are facing challenges to simply make ends meet each and every day.
We stand here debating Bill . I guess the one bit of solace, when it comes to the reality of being faced with the new NDP-Liberal government, is that this is basically what we said would happen in the context of the last election. We said that a vote for the NDP was a vote for the Liberals, although the media and many Liberals said it would not happen. In fact, the said that it would not happen. The true colours have now shone through.
I have advice to all NDP members watching. If they look throughout the history of coalition agreements, they will see it rarely works out for the coalition minority partner. History has a pretty strong precedent in that regard. My suggestion is especially to the backbench of the Liberal Party. I certainly hear from constituents that they are encouraged that a few of those members are starting to stand up against the authoritarianism that has been represented in the front bench and the Office of the . The constituents simply ask that these members stand up for the people they represent, whether it be on issues related to COVID, affordability, housing or agriculture.
In listening to some of the talk about agriculture, as a farmer myself, I agree and appreciate how important food security is. With the situation in Ukraine and energy security, we have a situation developing that could be absolutely disastrous for global food security. This is directly related to so many of the issues we are faced with here, yet the Liberals would do something like suggest a 30% reduction in the fertilizer required to grow the food that is needed to feed the world. It is this sort of absurdity that, although the members opposite like to gloss over some of those realities and facts, certainly has a massive impact.
As I come to the conclusion of my speech, we have seen the carbon tax reality impacting Canadians. We have seen the out-of-control spending, and more dollars chasing fewer goods, and the reality it has on impacting Canadians' buying power for things such as groceries, fuel and housing. We see the devastating impact of a government that puts more credence in big announcements and carefully worded press releases than in actual, carefully crafted monetary policy for a G7 power.
So often, we see the challenges our country is facing being simply dismissed, ignored, or in some cases ridiculed by a now NDP-Liberal government. It truly needs to take a moment and consider carefully the implications of the massive expenditures, and massive direction that Canadians certainly did not vote for, in terms of a functional majority within the House of Commons.
These are the things that need to be considered as we debate these important issues within the people's House—
If we want to have time for questions, it is time for them now.
The hon. member for Vaughan—Woodbridge.
Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot is a very eloquent orator. I will give the member that. Sometimes, I am not too sure about some of the substance, but his voice does carry in the House. We can hear him.
Obviously, in a parliamentary democracy, Canadians vote. They send us here to represent their interests. For the last two and a half years, we have had their backs. We will continue to have the backs of Canadians, day in and day out, as we exit COVID-19 and the pandemic.
In reference to Bill , there are many provisions in the bill for affordable housing, for vaccines, and for helping businesses and schools with their HVAC systems and their ventilation systems. There are many measures in Bill C-8 that would assist the hon. member's constituents, his businesses and the wonderful folks who get up every morning and work hard every day. There is also an improved tax credit for educators.
Can the hon. member not at least admit that there are many provisions here that would assist his constituents, and that the members of the official opposition should actually vote for Bill ?
Madam Speaker, I just have a note before I answer the substance of the member's question. My constituents speak often about how they would like the Liberal government to get out of the way for them to be able to prosper and for things like our agricultural and energy sectors to be able to prosper. They want us to be a country of “yes” again, to be a country that allows major infrastructure projects, and to be a country that allows economic development that is uninhibited by the heavy hand of bureaucrats in Ottawa.
I would quote the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who recently said, “It appears to me that the rationale for the additional spending initially set aside as stimulus no longer exists.”
It was not me who made those statements initially. That was the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who is somebody who thinks long and hard about Canada's monetary policy.
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I agree with him that the increase in the cost of living is deplorable for the people in his riding and those in mine. We need to find a way to help our constituents with the rising cost of rent, food, gas and so on.
In my opinion, slashing the carbon tax is not the solution, and it is not a good idea either. In Quebec, we have the carbon exchange, which is working well.
For the other provinces, the tax that was imposed increases people's bills by a few dollars a month, but they can recoup that money through a tax refund. Will eliminating the carbon tax generate enough money to help our constituents? I do not think so.
I think we that we should go after the money in tax havens rather than eliminating the carbon tax, since that tax is a good measure to help combat climate change. Does my colleague agree?
Madam Speaker, the simple answer to the member from the Bloc's question would be yes. Let us have a meaningful effort to actually make sure that those who are illegally avoiding taxes in this country are discovered and prosecuted and, wherever possible, that those funds are recovered.
When it comes to the record high prices that Canadians are facing at the pumps, whether because of the carbon tax, although I disagree with the carbon tax and its policy and Albertans vehemently disagree with the carbon tax and its policy, I think the member from the Bloc would agree that it should be up to a province to make that determination for its citizens. It should not be a big-handed, bureaucratic, heavy initiative determined in the hallways of offices in our national capital city. It should be the people of—
I have to interrupt the hon. member because it is 5:43. The hon. member will have about a minute left to continue answering questions the next time the bill is debated.
It being 5:43, the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.