The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill , the Liberals' so-called affordable housing and groceries bill. I say “so-called” because nothing in the bill would make housing affordable or reduce grocery prices.
After eight long years of the Liberals, Canadians are facing an unprecedented affordability crisis. Let us look at the facts. After eight years of the Liberals, housing costs have doubled; rent has doubled and mortgage payments have more than doubled, up 150% compared to eight years ago. After eight years of the Liberals, Canadians have seen 40-year-high inflation. Meanwhile, interest rates are rising at the fastest rate in Canadian history and have reached a 22-year high. Interest rates are projected to be hiked even further. When it comes to essentials like groceries, prices have gone up a staggering 70%, resulting in nearly two million Canadians a month going to the food bank. What Canadians are facing after eight years of the Liberals is a dire situation in which Canadians are struggling to put food on the table and to keep a roof over their head.
This begs the question “Why is it that Canada faces an affordability crisis?” There is one person who bears primary responsibility, and that is the . It is the Prime Minister who has created an affordability crisis as a result of eight years of reckless spending. This is the Prime Minister who, in eight years, has run up the largest deficits and has managed to double the national debt. So reckless and so out of control is the spending on the part of the Prime Minister that he has managed to do the seemingly impossible: rack up more debt in eight years than all of his predecessors over the previous 150 years combined. This is the Prime Minister who thought it was a good idea to pay for his out-of-control reckless spending by printing, through the Bank of Canada, $600 billion. As a result, the money supply has increased eight times faster than economic growth. Is it any wonder that, in the face of that, Canadians have seen 40-year-high inflation and interest rates rising faster than ever before?
That is the record of the Liberals after eight years. That is what they have to show. They have manufactured a cost of living crisis, and everyday Canadians are hurting. In the face of that, what have the Liberals done and what are they doing to address the issue of affordability, the mess they have created? Earlier this week, Canadians got the answer, and that is based upon the 's presenting the government's fall economic statement. What did we get from the finance minister? We got $20 billion in new deficit spending on top of the more than $100 billion of deficit spending that the finance minister has racked up in the three years that she has held the portfolio. There is $20 billion in new deficit spending that pours fuel on the inflationary fire and is sure to keep interest rates high. There is $20 billion in new deficit spending, notwithstanding the fact that even the Bank of Canada is calling on the Liberals to rein in their spending, and has made clear to the Liberal government that its reckless spending and money printing are contributing to inflation.
There is $20 billion in new deficit spending, notwithstanding Scotiabank's issuing a report recently that confirmed that a full 2% of interest rates is directly attributable to the government's inflationary spending. Canadians have been hit, after eight years of the Liberals, with a double whammy: high inflation and high interest rates. They are now also being hit with a third whammy by way of the Liberals' punitive carbon tax. It is a tax that the Liberals falsely sold as a means to reduce GHGs, but we know, after eight years of the Liberals, that GHGs have gone up and not down. I would remind Liberals across the way, who talk so much about climate action, that the COP27 rankings ranked Canada, after eight years of the Liberals, at 58 out of 63 countries.
However, I digress. The carbon tax is nothing more than another tax, but I qualify that because it is not quite that. It is, after all, a tax that disproportionately impacts lower- and middle-income Canadians. It is a tax that increases the cost of everything, including essentials such as food, fuel and heating. It is a tax that, according to both the Bank of Canada and the Parliamentary Budget Officer, is exacerbating inflation. Despite that and despite the fact that Canadians are facing an affordability crisis, with nearly half of Canadians $200 away from insolvency, the Liberal government's plan is to quadruple its punitive carbon tax for hard-working, everyday Canadians.
I say to the Liberals across the way that I would be keenly interested to see whether one of them can stand up in their place and explain to Canadians how the policies of the government, namely money printing, massive deficits and the quadrupling of the carbon tax, all of which are exacerbating inflation and increasing interest rates, are a policy prescription that is going to make life more affordable for Canadians. Very simply, those policies are making life less affordable. Canadians are paying a very dear price after eight years of the costly policies of the Liberal .
After eight long years of the Liberals, costs are up. Rent is up, taxes are up and debt is up. The government's time is up.
Madam Speaker, I will first say that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
I am honoured to speak to this programming motion, Government Business No. 30, and its amendment today.
Before I start, I would like to pay tribute to a great constituent by the name of Dot Thompson, the spouse of the late member of Parliament Myron Thompson, whose funeral I attended this past weekend. The two were inseparable and always had the community of Sundre in their hearts. Myron was an unforgettable MP who served on town council, was the high school principal and, through his athletic prowess, taught many youth how to play ball. Sundre was lucky to get him as his New York Yankees professional ball career was put on hold as he played backup to Hall of Famer Yogi Berra.
I am sure that Myron Thompson would have seen many pieces of legislation over his time with bills like Bill , an act to amend the Excise Tax Act and the Competition Act, as well as motions that would have found their way to the floor of Centre Block for discussion. During his 1993 to 2005 era, there were many “suggestions” that the official opposition had lifted by the Chrétien and Martin Liberals in order to minimize the economic damage that had occurred from the era of stagflation caused by Trudeau, the elder.
Sadly, that Liberal government chose to drastically cut the transfers of health funding to provinces, which has haunted our provincial health care services for decades. Handcuffing the provinces was an easy fix to change the federal government's bottom line, but downloading the costs onto other levels of government simply took the heat off the feds and pushed it onto the provinces and their local authorities.
I am well aware of how federal neglect and financial shell games work because I was a hospital board chairman during those dark days. The federal Liberals of the 1990s artfully joined with the Friends of Medicare to back provinces into a corner when they were forced to rationalize services. There is no better example than the daily attacks on former premier Ralph Klein when he was faced with the economic reality of federal cuts to health transfers. The effects of that federal action are still evident, but, thankfully, no government has returned to the era of cuts to health care transfers since the Chrétien era.
The reason that I give this historical reference is that there are different paths governments can follow when trying to work their way through, or out of, a crisis. They can download the problems onto other levels of government; they can analyze policies of other parties in the House and, as is usually the case, claim them as their own; or they can at least acknowledge that the official opposition takes its responsibilities to Canadians seriously and that by usurping the learned advice, the government is ignoring the views of a large number of Canadians.
I will get to some of the specifics in the legislation in a minute, but, as many have stated, it is the heavy-handedness of the government and its inability and unwillingness to work with other partners, unless they are willing to rubber-stamp initiatives in exchange for propping up a minority government, that are at issue here.
What we are seized with today is the government's programming motion, Government Business No. 30. Programming motions have the effect of not only limiting debate in the House, which to many is an affront to democracy in itself, but also dictating instructions to the committee as to how it will deal with this legislation once it gets to committee. Issues related to Government Business No. 30 have to do with the expanded scope that the committee must consider. I will read from Government Business No. 30, which says:
(c) if the bill has been read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance,
(i) it be an instruction to the committee, that during its consideration of the bill, it be granted the power to expand its scope to,
(A) increase the maximum fixed penalty amounts for abuse...,
(B) allow the Competition Bureau to conduct market study inquiries...,
(C) revise the legal test for abuse of a dominant position prohibition order to be sufficiently met if the Tribunal finds that a dominant player has engaged in either a practice of anti-competitive acts or conduct....
If those points were important, perhaps they could have been in the bill in the first place.
Also, we will then start with a marathon sitting of two days, after the motion's adoption, to gather witness testimony, with amendments to be submitted within 12 hours at the end of the marathon sitting. Then, at the next meeting, once that time is up, no further debate or amendments will be entertained. Finally, after a few other points, we will have closure after the bill is reported, which will once again be guaranteed.
The Conservative amendment tries to infuse some credibility by at least ensuring that the , the and the will be ordered to appear as witnesses for no less than two hours each. At least some level of accountability will be salvaged if this amendment is adopted.
By forcing Motion No. 30 to the committees through the House process, the Liberals avoid the other option, which is to force a programming motion through the committee. They always say that committees are masters of their own fate, which is true, until, as we see with Motion No. 30, it is not. Programming motions are usually enacted when the government knows it has messed things up royally.
Our responsibility as legislators is manyfold. First, we must thoroughly analyze legislation to minimize potential unintended consequences. As a country that boasts six time zones, the need to have regional voices heard is paramount in order to head off such negative consequences.
Second, it is important that Canadians get an opportunity to have input as well. Those who live in the real world understand how legislation will, good or bad, affect them.
Third, and this is so evident presently at our natural resources committee, once federal legislation has been challenged, once the regions take on their responsibilities to protect their citizens through such initiatives and once such legislation has been deemed unconstitutional, the government must stop using the challenged parts of legislation in its development of new legislation. This procedural motion, Motion No. 30, is to be determined through a vote in the House. Since the Liberal government has found various willing dance partners, that has been virtually assured.
The only time I saw this process sidetracked, ironically, was when the Liberals had a majority government. It became quite evident at the time that the Liberals never really showed up for duty on Monday mornings. The Mulcair NDP managed to create a second reading vote on a prized Liberal bill. It was quite the scramble, but the vote ended in a tie. Because it was at second reading, the Speaker voted with the government so it would live to fight another day, and, oh my, it did fight. It produced a motion that would have stripped the opposition of all tools to do its job of holding the government to account. That motion dictated how things would transpire in the House and would have been one of the most egregious motions ever moved in our Westminster system of government.
When the vote on that motion was to take place, once again, the members of the NDP were milling around and were in the path of our whip Gord Brown. There is a tradition we see all the time where the whips walk toward the mace, acknowledge each other and then, once their members are settled, take their seats to start the vote. The confusion in the aisle caused one of the most unhinged actions I have seen anywhere. The rushed through the crowd, grabbed our whip by the arm and told him to get the “f” in his place. As he did that, he swung around and hit a female NDP member in the chest, which forced her to leave the chamber. That bizarre action caused a question of privilege that continued for days, whereby the juvenile actions of the PM were constantly on trial by his peers. In order to prevent the continued series of questions of privilege, the government relented and withdrew the egregious motion.
Now, with voting apps being used, perhaps the can avoid such a conflict in the future. Of course, maybe by now the government is also aware that there is a time-out provision whereby the vote would take place whether the whips walk down the aisle or not. Hopefully this motion can be defeated without the theatrics.
Madam Speaker, after eight long years of the Liberal , costs have shot up and millions of Canadians are struggling to make ends meet. Housing costs have doubled, rent has doubled, mortgage rates have doubled, grocery prices are soaring and the lineups for food banks are shocking.
I received an email from Tyler, who bought a home a couple of years ago. His mortgage has gone up from $1,600 to $4,000 a month. He says he has no other choice but to sell his home and downgrade to make his life livable.
Candis is from Maple Ridge, and she has seen her payments double also. She can no longer afford new clothes for her children and needs to take them out of sports to try to make ends meet.
Then there is Shaffy. I met him at Seaspan Shipyards in North Vancouver. He is a welder. He showed me on an app that his mortgage is $7,528 a month. He told me that he is not living in a palace. It is a 40-year-old four-bedroom home in one of Vancouver's suburbs. He is being forced to work 10-hour shifts seven days a week and has no freedom. He said he cannot give his body a rest or he is going to lose his home.
These are not just stories. These are real lives, and the same thing is happening across Canada.
The blame rests fully on the members of the Liberal-NDP coalition for their incompetence and ultimately, I would say, their lack of concern for Canadians. They have shown they lack a basic understanding of economics or how to run a country. I will take that back. They are good at running a country into the ground.
It was not that long ago that our nation was one of the richest in the world, but under the , our rankings have been dropping. Country after country is passing us in GDP and per capita ranking.
I met a tourist on the way to Vancouver Island about a month or so ago. He has come to Canada numerous times over the past 40 years. He asked me what has happened to Canada. From his perspective, it just seems to be in decline. Unfortunately, he is right. What has happened to Canada is eight years of being run by an incompetent Liberal government that is joined at the hip with the socialist NDP and Bloc.
Why has everything become so unaffordable? The Liberals went on a crazy spending orgy, doling out hundreds of billions of dollars. The definition of that word is “excessive and indiscriminate indulgence in a specified activity”. We will call that spending.
The has added more debt to Canada than all the prime ministers before him, for 150 years. The Liberals have been absolutely careless with finances and have been racking up, for all intents and purposes, the credit card debt. This has caused great problems and chaos, but they have made sure that their friends, buddies and insiders have gotten their share.
I think of the ArriveCAN app scam, where millions of dollars were spent, essentially given to a two-person company in the basement of a house for no work, other than sending a few emails out. Something that should have cost a few thousand dollars has cost millions of dollars. There has been scandal after scandal. It has almost become part of the narrative.
Last week, we heard about the billion-dollar green slush fund. The chair of Sustainable Development Technology Canada had to resign and is under investigation by the RCMP because money was going directly to her company and to her.
These are some of the buddies we are seeing. This is happening, and I do not have time to talk about all the different situations and the people who have become rich off the Liberals. The Conservatives will turn over these stones. That is our objective here in Parliament, as it will be if we are elected to government.
The message from the Liberals for a long time was essentially that interest rates were low so what was the danger of borrowing. With this borrow and borrow and spend and spend, what has happened? For one thing, interest costs have escalated. We are now spending $51 billion on interest payments alone this year. That is more than we spend in health transfers. It is twice as much as we are spending on the Canadian military. One of the very few things the Liberals decided to cut back on is the Canadian military, at a time of great danger. Look at what happened with Russia attacking Ukraine and the situation with China. With all sorts of threats, the Liberals decided to cut the one important piece they should be increasing, but that is typical for them.
Canadians are suffering by the Liberals' indulgence in spending, their addiction. We keep hearing the word “investing” and that the Liberals are investing in this and that. It is not their money; it is taxpayers' money. Their actions have led not just to increased interest charges but to a significant rise in inflation. Anybody who goes to the grocery store can attest to that. People are not eating as nutritiously as before because of this.
I met with a number of university students last week, and they said they are having a hard time making ends meet. They are using food banks. I talked to the president of a university, who said there are lineups and that the use of food banks has gone up dramatically. Two million Canadians a month are going to food banks. This is not good, and the Liberals and the NDP need to be accountable for this. They can try to blame Harper from eight years ago, but it rests fully square on their shoulders.
What is happening here? The Liberal brain trust, as we see in the bill, has begun to panic. To the Liberals, this is about politics, power and money. As inflation has gone up and costs have gone up, guess what has gone down. It is their poll numbers, and that is causing a bit of panic on the government benches.
What have they been forced to do? They have raised interest rates, which is a time-tested way to lower inflation. However, what they have succeeded in doing is escalating the cost of carrying a mortgage. Half of mortgage owners will be renewing their mortgages in the next two years, 70,000 per month, and it is hitting them hard. This is happening everywhere in Canada, especially in areas with the biggest mortgages, such as metropolitan Vancouver, Toronto, Victoria and other large centres. People are losing their homes and losing their quality of life. This is real and it is painful.
One of the Liberals' solutions is to extend mortgages to 90 years or 100 years so their great-great-great-grandchildren can pay off the mortgage and people can keep their homes. That is not a solution.
The Liberals have realized the big mess they have created and the political urgency, and what they have done is taken a piece of Conservative Party policy, put on their superhero outfits and told people not to fear because they are here to help with solutions. They took one of our solutions, which was to take away the GST from purpose-built rental housing, but there is a lot more they need to do.
Madam Speaker, before I get started, I really want to thank the member for for answering my question. He could have tried to skate around it, but he hit it right on. I question the sincerity in his answer, but at least he answered my question. He did not skate around it. I appreciate that, and I just wanted to put that on the record.
Here we are talking about this very important piece of legislation that has to do with affordable housing and the groceries act and how we can amend other acts in order to improve those two challenges that Canadians are facing right now. However, I have heard at least two Conservatives in this debate. Just moments ago, the member for was talking about time allocation and concerned about limiting debate on this, but then he never even talked about the bill. The member for never even talked about the bill. My original question for him, had I not been waiting to ask him this question on the carbon tax in B.C., was going to be whether he had actually read the bill because what he was talking about had nothing to do with the bill. He did not even reference all the measures that are in the bill. An NDP member asked him a question, and he still did not answer it.
I find it very fascinating that here we have the Conservatives with their full outrage jumping up and saying, “You're not letting us debate” and “You're allocating time.” Meanwhile, with the time that is allocated to discuss this bill, they are not even talking about it. I can only imagine it is not all that important to them if they are not even using the allocated time to actually discuss it.
I am noticing a trend. When we introduced the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement a few weeks ago, the Conservatives were taking a very similar approach. They talked nothing about the bill and did not seem to have a position on it. However, after it had been tabled for quite a while and there had been a prestudy in committee and it had been going on for quite a while, all of a sudden they decided, “Oh, I think we found something that we could use to justify why we are going to vote against this. It mentions a carbon tax in the preamble. Yes, this is exactly how we will vote against this.” Suddenly, the next week, they focused on this narrative and then they voted against it, but they did not mention it once before that.
I wonder who the award goes to in the Conservative Party for finding that red herring for them. It is absolutely shameful. I say this in the context that this is what is happening with the bill before us. I would love to know if they are going to vote in favour of it or if they are still in the process in the backrooms over there trying to figure out what words they can find in it to justify voting against it.
In this debate, I will try to focus a little bit on what I have heard. I have heard the member for and a couple of members earlier talk about the price on pollution, or the carbon tax, and I will take the opportunity to set the record straight on some of that stuff.
Eight out of 10 Canadians are better off with the rebate they get back after the price on pollution. Now, I should clarify, in all honesty, that the two out of 10 Canadians who do not are probably the most well off and probably the base that the Conservatives are banking on and so they spread this misinformation to try to suggest that this is not the case. However, I will give members the facts. This has just recently been published.
The average family of four in Alberta gets $1,544 back per year. The average family of four in Manitoba gets $1,056 back. In Saskatchewan, it is $1,360. In Nova Scotia, it is $992. In P.E.I., it is $960. In Newfoundland, it is $1,312. In New Brunswick, it is $368. In Ontario, my home province, it is $976. As a matter of fact, when we look at the four provinces that are fully under the federal backstop because they have not implemented their own program, the average family spends about $500 on the price on pollution and gets back $804. Eight out of 10 Canadians are better off as a result of what they are getting back.
The raised this in a question earlier. Why do they never talk about the rebate? The rebate is such a fundamental core part of this.
Conservatives are more interested in spreading misinformation by suggesting that this is a tax, by suggesting that it contributes to inflation, which we know it does not, and then, most recently, by suggesting that it somehow impacts the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement.
That was probably the biggest mistake they made. What they did was make a concerted effort to obviously find this little bit in the agreement and say, “Aha, we found it. In the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement, we found it. It says 'carbon tax' in the preamble. Let us use it.”
The genius who discovered that probably did not take the time to look. Had they done that, they would have discovered that Ukraine has had a price on pollution, a carbon tax, since 2011. Ukraine needed to do that because as part of its efforts—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Madam Speaker, the reason Ukraine has had that price on pollution since 2011 is that in order to get into the European market, which it had been trying to do for so long, the European market required that it have a price on pollution in order to stay competitive. That is why Ukraine had it. This incredible red herring that we are hearing recently from the Conservatives is nothing more than just that, a red herring.
The reality is that there is a faction within the Conservative Party of Canada. Some of the MPs over there have gone down the rabbit hole of alt-right-wing American politics. Now we are seeing that come out. I kind of always suspected it, because we have been seeing it happen over the last number of years, but I did not realize that this faction actually had a stranglehold on the party.
It is very likely that the is part of that, given everything that he has done. Let us go back to the YouTube meta tags.
If members want to understand the 's support for Ukraine, they should just look at his social media posts from when President Zelenskyy visited us in September. He did not tweet about it. He did not put anything on Facebook about it. He did not put anything on Instagram about it. He was completely silent. He never said a word about Zelenskyy's visit.
The irony is that he did say a word about Zelenskyy appearing before this Parliament when he came a year earlier, when he came by video conference. He actually tweeted, at that time, in 2022, how proud he was to see President Zelenskyy appear before Parliament.
Do members know what the member for did? I do not know if a lot of people caught this, but it was almost a little subtle act of defiance. Do members know what she did? When he came this year in 2023, she quote tweeted his tweet from a year ago, congratulating him on coming. That was clearly a dig at the because she recognized how silent he was on it.
The member for and all Conservatives can stand up and preach to me all they want about how much they support Ukraine, but their actions speak louder than words. They are silent when the president comes here. They are silent when it came to determining what they were going to say on the Ukraine free trade deal, and then they voted against it.
This is a deal that President Zelenskyy asked us to vote in favour of—
Madam Speaker, I do not know if the member was sitting in the chamber when his two colleagues just spoke, but neither of them spoke about the bill at all.
The reality is that the Conservative Party of Canada does not support Ukraine. The Conservatives can say all they want about what they do, but their actions speak louder than words. We have seen that, and Canadians have seen that. It is coming to light now, and everybody is becoming aware of it.
It is not supporting Ukraine for the same reason that Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are not supporting Ukraine, which is that far right influence, and it is in the Conservative Party of Canada. They know it. For those who are still wondering, the real reason the is so petrified to show support for Ukraine is that he would lose votes to Maxime Bernier. It is that simple. He is trying to hold on to a base.
When it comes to this particular piece of legislation, we are talking about increasing competition and, by default, increasing trade. We know that, to ensure we put the right measures in place when we are looking internally within our own country, we have to recognize that there are anti-competitive practices going on. When Loblaw has nearly 40% of the market share of groceries between Loblaw's and Shoppers Drug Mart and every other entity it owns, we quickly start to see that it would be extremely difficult for competition to exist.
In comparison, Walmart in the United States, which is the retailer with the largest grocery share, has about 18% of the marketplace. We know that, in Canada, there is a problem with this. That is why this bill seeks to strengthen the rules around competition. It seeks to empower the Competition Bureau further, providing it with more resources and the money it would need to effectively operate and giving it the tools to make advances and make moves, when it needs to, to ensure that competition exists.
Competition is great, and we need to encourage competition, but sometimes government, or government-charged agencies, have to get involved because we do run into situations where that competition starts to get limited, and then we see price-fixing, as we saw with the Canada Bread Company and its bread price-fixing. That is why this is so incredibly important.
Conservatives are going to tell people that inflation is driven by a price on pollution, when it has virtually no effect on it. They are going to tell people that a price on pollution is why the price of gas and oil has skyrocketed over the last year, and it is simply not true. The reality is that, in the oil and gas sector specifically, the carbon tax added two cents per litre. It is two cents and people get more than that back.
Meanwhile, wholesale profit margins for the large oil distributors rose by 18¢ per litre. I do not hear the outrage about the profits. The profits of Loblaw were announced just yesterday for its third quarter, and it was, again, a double-digit increase in profits over the previous quarter. It is extremely important that we put the right measures in place to assist with this.
I can understand why Conservatives are reluctant to do this. They never seem to fall on the side of those who are struggling, of those who need these supports and tools in place, or of those who need the benefit of healthy competition. This government will do that. I have said this many times in the House before, and I will say it again: I am very glad there is another party in the room who are acting like adults, which is the NDP. It sees this need as well, and it sees the need to push this legislation through for the betterment of all Canadians.
We all know that, if we had not put closure on this today, the bill would be here forever. That is what Conservatives have done with so many other pieces of legislation.