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View Cathy McLeod Profile
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Dufferin—Caledon.
As this is the first time I have had the opportunity in the 43rd Parliament to stand and speak, I would like to thank the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo for giving me the honour of representing them again.
Everyone in the House owes so much gratitude to the people who volunteer for their campaign, the people who donate money, the people who do so much to ensure that democracy is strong and vibrant and that their goals and values are heard as we go through the election process.
A new parliamentary session is always opened with a Speech from the Throne. People watching on TV might be wondering about the purpose of the Speech from the Throne. The throne speech outlines the government's agenda for the upcoming session. In actual fact, in the 42nd Parliament, it outlined the government's agenda for the entire four years. The throne speech is a really important document in terms of the government's plans and where it is going to take this country.
On December 18, many of us in the House either went over to the Senate chamber to hear the speech or listened to it on TV, and in preparation for our comments about the Speech from the Throne, we had an opportunity to reread it.
On reading it again in the new year, I saw a number of statements that struck me as significant, not only in terms of what was said but more importantly in what was not said. We had some real concerns about what was not mentioned. If we partner that with ministers' mandate letters, which state how they are going to implement their plans, we realize that what was not said was not just a miss in a document that by nature has to be somewhat limited, but that there were really some big gaps in terms of what the government was going to do moving forward.
I want to first talk about fiscal discipline. The Liberal government is spending money that it cannot afford to spend. In many cases that money will not be spent in important areas like student loans, but rather will be wasted in many other areas.
The Liberals talk about a debt-to-GDP ratio, but they are using old figures. They have not looked at the more recent trends and the more recent numbers. They are on a very concerning path. The Liberals are talking about debt to GDP and saying Canada is in great shape, but they are also projecting significant deficits. Interest rates will not stay at historically low levels. We are spending more per capita adjusted than we ever have in the history of this country.
The Liberals not only lack fiscal discipline; they do not understand where that money comes from. They are moving forward on a position that over time will erode the revenue base that we in this country count on for paying for the important programs that my colleague from Milton talked about. We all care about having important programs such as support for students and seniors and support for health care, but we cannot do that if we destroy what drives our economy.
I want to start by talking a bit about the natural resource development sector, which is the portfolio I am delighted and honoured to focus on.
Out of the thousands of words about how the Liberals are going to support Canadians, about how they are going to spend money, about how they are going to do many things, natural resources came up in only one sentence. In the entire Speech from the Throne, there is only one sentence about natural resources, and that sentence is basically just lip service to the importance of natural resource development to this country. That sentence is not about the opportunities for our natural resource sector but rather an acknowledgement by the government of the hardships that our natural resource sector has experienced and a claim that it cares about those hardships.
It was not about opportunity. It was not about creating wealth. It was that people have had a hard time and we do need to care about that issue.
It is a huge problem if Liberals do not understand the importance of our natural resource sector to the economy of our country. I am going to be giving some more examples specifically as they relate to forestry and mining.
In 2017, the Prime Minister said that he was going to get a new softwood lumber agreement with President Obama. He did not get the job done. I do not question that we have a more challenging environment for arriving at a softwood lumber agreement, but there has been no effort to get it done. With the NAFTA agreement, the biggest trade irritant for the last 20-plus years in this country has been softwood. Did the Liberals attach this issue to the negotiations for NAFTA? The answer is no.
When the U.S. wanted to talk about having an agreement around minerals, did they say they would be willing to talk about minerals but that they also wanted to talk about the softwood lumber agreement? Did they do that? No. Are those issues in the minister's mandate letter? No.
We have 10,000-plus jobs there in British Columbia. New Brunswick is having its challenges as well, and this is adding approximately 20% to the cost of our products going over the border. Workers are hurting and suffering, but the government has not even put solving this issue in the mandate letter. Quite frankly, that is absolutely shameful.
I saw a presentation last week, and in terms of the lumber agreement, British Columbia is now the highest-cost producer in the world. It is not about labour or the cost of machinery and equipment. It is about the cost of doing business. It is about carbon taxes. It is about the eight pieces of legislation and the thousands of regulations, both federal and provincial, that are adding to the cost. B.C. is the highest-cost producer in the world in terms of its product. No wonder that its businesses are moving to the U.S. and fleeing the country.
I had another conversation with someone who wanted to add value to his products. He builds a very good product and has two factories where he does value added. When he hits the U.S. border, it is on the value added. He is not even paying 20%; he is paying significantly more in terms of the tariffs at the U.S. border. The Liberal government did not care, so what was his ultimate decision? He set up a factory in Everett, Washington, because he could not afford to do business anymore in Canada. He moved the jobs down to Everett, Washington. This softwood lumber agreement needs to be done, and it is shameful that the government has not made it a priority.
Mining is an increasingly non-competitive place to do business. We talk about the carbon tax. We talk about the clean fuel standards that will be added. We talk about all those additions.
I was at presentation where I learned Alaska exploration is going through the roof. What is happening in the Yukon and British Columbia is that they are worried about exploration. Why are they worried about exploration? The reason is the government has created a situation that makes it not competitive or appropriate for them to do business anymore.
The Liberals had a very unusual line in the Speech from the Throne about our being inextricably bound to the space-time continuum and the same planetary spaceship. I would like to suggest that maybe they have left energy workers off that spaceship. They are not on the same spaceship. Liberals have given areas like forestry and mining the lower berth and continue to support their favourite industries.
I am very worried about a blind spot of the government. I am very worried about our competitiveness and the generation of revenue, and I am certainly very worried about the Speech from the Throne and the direction it is going to take our country.
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