Madam Speaker, I rise today to give my first speech in this great chamber as the member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre. I want to take a moment to thank the constituents of my riding for putting their trust in me to voice their concerns in this important institution. My promise to them is to represent their interests forcefully, with the utmost integrity and conviction.
This opportunity would not have happened without a dedicated group of volunteers who knocked on over 70,000 doors, many who have helped me for over six years. To the hon. Laurie Hawn who first approached me to serve, I thank him for his belief in me and his service. I will not let him down.
I want to express my profound gratitude to my family for their endless dedication and selflessness in helping me get here today. My wife Debbie has supported me in every adventure I have travelled on for over 37 years. I thank my kids Garrett, Taylor and Kennedy, son-in-law Steven and granddaughter Maya. Dad and Papa C will make the family proud.
I would like to give a special shout-out to my son Garrett. He has inspired me every day as I watch him reach his goals as he overcomes the challenges of living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Garrett gives me the energy and resolve to fight for what is right every day.
I now want to discuss the nothing burger that the Liberal government across the aisle served us last week. It was badly cooked, had a stale bun, lacked Alberta beef and had just a sprinkling of condiments that left us completely unsatisfied.
All in all, the Liberals' Speech from the Throne was full of platitudes and not much else. It did not touch on healing our regional divides, strengthening our position on the world stage or getting prairie Canadians back to work.
Instead, we got a whole lot of grandstanding with no actual plans to do anything for small business owners struggling in this declining economy. This was a disappointing experience for me as a newly elected member hearing my first throne speech.
As an Albertan, I was also disappointed that the economic engine of our country was ignored. The plight of 170,000 unemployed Albertans has been continuously treated with indifference by the party across the aisle. My constituents of Edmonton Centre recognized this and responded accordingly in the last election, and I will not take their trust for granted.
This past fall, I met a family in my riding in the neighbourhood of North Glenora where the husband had lost his job with a drilling company that had redeployed capital to Texas. He has since found a new job, but his income was reduced by $5,000 a month. In order to get by, his kids moved in to help pay the rent. There are thousands of other stories similar to this one that the Liberals do not care about when they throw around their space-time continuum nothingness.
The leader of the official opposition recently appointed me as shadow minister for small business and export promotion. In that capacity, I want to make some remarks about the missed opportunities in the Liberals' Speech from the Throne.
As a lifelong entrepreneur, business leader and former Chamber of Commerce CEO, I have heard and experienced what impacts small business success over the years. I am grateful that I can use what I have learned and put that expertise to use in this chamber.
The Liberal government has so far completely ignored the plight of small businesses across the country, and the difficulties they face as the private sector tries to create more jobs and expand during these uncertain times. Small business owners are risk-takers and hard-working entrepreneurs. They need to be respected, which the government has failed to do, even to the point of calling them tax cheats, which I find to be a great insult.
The throne speech did not touch on the massive job losses, personal bankruptcies or the regular flight of capital that businesses across the country, especially in Alberta, are battling. In fact, just last week, Statistics Canada announced that over 71,000 jobs were lost in November, which brings the overall unemployment rate to a high of 5.9%, the biggest increase in a decade. In October alone, over 13,000 Canadians became insolvent. That is a 13% increase, which is a 10-year record.
In 2018, the Fraser Institute reported that the amount of money Canadians invested abroad increased by 74%. Business investment in Canada also declined 2% in recent years, and foreign direct investment dropped by 55%. Investments in intellectual property are also down. These are just some of the reference points to give my colleagues an indication of how bad the situation in the private sector is, and why our economy is bleeding.
Where were all these losses? They were in the private sector of course, which is the main driver of our economy and which the government continually fails to support and encourage. Small businesses cannot grow and create jobs if the Liberal government continues to burden them with higher payroll costs and a carbon tax that increases the input costs on everything. Compliance costs and regulations are also issues that kill businesses' ability to compete.
There was virtually no discussion around lessening the burdens on competitiveness in the throne speech, which begs the question why the Prime Minister and his government are behaving like this. Why do they not take pride in Alberta's energy sector? It is respected and admired all over the world for its ethical labour standards, regulatory compliance, environmental conservation efforts and community commitments.
If given the opportunity to export our energy and technology, we could grow the Canadian economy and lower global emissions at the same time.
When will the government start focusing on policies to bring this country together rather than pull it apart? This is why more Albertans sent us to Ottawa, to voice their concerns and frustrations and make Liberal members across the aisle hear what is going on in that part of the country that they so frequently overlook and downplay.
This is why our Conservative caucus now forms the strongest ever official opposition in Canadian history. We will hold the government to account and stand up for our constituents and Canadians across the country.
The Liberals were given a humbling mandate to work collaboratively with the members across the aisle. However, I am skeptical, given the promises in the throne speech. Compared with their 2015 draft, this recent one was double the length, which did not mean more policies were put in, just more platitudes and empty promises and far fewer sunny ways, as members might have noticed.
We can all see that sunny ways and Care Bear economics led to an unemployment rate of 5.9% across the country and to tens of billions added to our deficit, not to mention sky-rising economic debt and the ballooning of government spending of taxpayer dollars with no return to balanced budgets, which is a big concern both for my constituents and for small business owners too.
In fact, government spending during the first half of this fiscal year compared with the same period last year increased by 9%, which is staggering. We all know that we cannot spend our way to oblivion. Someone, somewhere down the line, will be paying the price for the unstoppable spending habits of the Liberal government. That means we will all be chipping in to correct this damaging behaviour sooner or later.
In conclusion, I want to reiterate my gratitude to my family, volunteers and community for putting their trust in me. I look forward to representing their interests and concerns and serving in my roles, as member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre and shadow minister for small business and export promotion, in this great place.