Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the NDP motion regarding the Liberal plan to increase the basic personal amount from $12,298 to $15,000.
Before I address the substance of the motion, this is the first time that I have had an opportunity to rise in the House since the last election to give a speech, and I want to thank the constituents of St. Albert—Edmonton for their vote of confidence. It was an overwhelming vote of confidence of 61%, which was 16% higher than in 2015, and I am very humbled by that.
It would not have been possible without all of the individuals who worked so hard on my campaign, who believed in me. While I cannot name all of them, I will name two who worked harder than anyone other than perhaps myself and they are my parents, Tom and Rita Cooper. In fact, they may have worked harder than I worked.
I will say to all of the residents of St. Albert—Edmonton, just as I did in the last Parliament, that although I am not perfect, I will do everything that I can to take their issues and priorities here to the House and be their voice in Ottawa.
Turning to the motion before the House and the issue of increasing the basic personal amount to $15,000 from $12,298, let me say that this is nothing more than a Liberal middle-class tax gimmick. This is a government that talks a good game about the middle class. Indeed, the Prime Minister even appointed a minister responsible for middle class prosperity to demonstrate the Prime Minister's apparent concern for middle-class Canadians, how caring he is and always from the heart out.
It is certainly interesting that, when the minister appeared before the finance committee, she was unable to explain her mandate. She was asked by my colleague, the member for Edmonton Centre and again today in the House to define what constitutes a middle-class Canadian. She could not answer the question. However, I digress, because the fact is, despite all of the talk, what matters is not words but action, and the actions of the government time and again are to make life less affordable for middle-class Canadians.
For a government that is so preoccupied with the middle class, it sure has a strange way of showing it. This, after all, is a government that scrapped tax credits that benefited middle-class Canadians. This is a government that scrapped the children's fitness tax credit, the children's arts tax credit, the student textbook tax credit, the public transit tax credit and I could go on.
However, not to be outdone, the government decided to jack up CPP, taking $2,200 out of the wallets of the average middle-class Canadian family. This is some way of showing its love for the middle class, nickel-and-diming them and taking money out of their wallets.
Of course, there is the massive tax on everything, the carbon tax, which as my friend, the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley noted just yesterday the Alberta Court of Appeal determined to be a “constitutional Trojan horse”. Nonetheless, the government is adamant about imposing a massive tax on middle-class Canadians. The government would say, “Don't worry, be happy, we delivered a middle-class tax cut”.
We heard the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity refer to the Liberal middle-class tax cut, which sounds like a good idea.
Who could be against a middle-class tax cut? Like anything, the devil is in the details. For example, if one earned between $62,000 and $78,000, how much would that Canadian save under the Liberal middle-class tax cut? That sounds like a middle-class Canadian to me. The answer is $117. Now, is that $117 a day, a week or a month? No. It is $117 a year. How much does that work out to a week? The answer is $2.25, not even enough to purchase one extra-large regular coffee at Tim Hortons. So much for the Liberal so-called middle-class tax cut. The Liberal so-called middle-class tax cut is a Liberal middle-class tax gimmick, not to be outdone by the latest Liberal middle-class tax gimmick of increasing the basic personal amount.
I say, with respect to the increase that the Liberals are proposing, it is too little, too late. It is too late because Canadians would not see the full benefit for four years. I say it is too little because by the time they do, a large part of that increase will be gobbled up by inflation. While the benefit to Canadians is not going to be all that much, having regard to inflation, the government says $550, $600 for the average Canadian family. That is less than the average $800 that middle-class Canadians have seen in terms of their taxes going up, not down, under the Liberals. For this nominal benefit to some middle-class Canadians, it is going to come at an enormous cost.
According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the cost of this Liberal middle-class tax gimmick will be $21 billion, at a time when the government is running a deficit of $26.6 billion, $7 billion more than projected with nearly $30 billion of deficits for the fiscal years ahead, with no end in sight. The Minister of Middle Class Prosperity talked about the government's fiscal anchor, debt-to-GDP ratio, which she says is going down, except it has actually gone up this year from 30.8% to 31%, and that is before taking into account the $55 billion of spending promises that the Liberals made in the last election.
What middle-class Canadians deserve is action. They do not deserve more talk. They do not deserve more empty promises. They do not deserve more gimmicks. Canadians deserve broad-based tax relief. It is something that Conservatives committed to. It is something we intend to deliver on should we be entrusted with the confidence of Canadians, which I expect will happen, and cannot happen soon enough.
In the meantime, we will hold the government to account for the fact that it has made life more unaffordable for everyday Canadians, all the while mortgaging the future generations in Canada with higher taxes, higher deficits and more debt.