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View Warren Steinley Profile
View Warren Steinley Profile
2020-02-25 17:15 [p.1537]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Calgary Shepard. I look forward to his comments.
I have listened intently to the speeches throughout the day in this esteemed chamber. I think everyone is very passionate about the motion brought forward by our hon. NDP colleagues.
The motion states:
That the House call on the government to change its proposed tax cuts by targeting benefits to those who earn less than $90,000 per year, and use those savings to invest in priorities that give real help to Canadians, including dental coverage for uninsured families making less than $90,000....
We can break this motion down into two parts. I agree, and I think most people in this House will agree, that we need to do more to serve the most vulnerable in our communities. I think all members have heard heartbreaking stories from their constituents. I have had constituents in my office talking about the difficulties they are facing related to dental care, health care or employment. There are a lot of important issues that we as members of the House of Commons should bring forward on behalf of our constituents. Therefore, I do not think we will hear very many people disagree with the need to have more means to help the most vulnerable in our ridings.
I am from Saskatchewan. I was an MLA in Saskatchewan for two terms and eight years. I have heard all the stories about Tommy Douglas. I know our NDP colleagues like to quote Tommy Douglas and talk about him bringing medicare forward. I believe it is one of the great advancements in Canadian history and he should be applauded for that, but he was also a very fiscally conservative individual. There are other quotes here that Mr. Douglas has often said that our hon. colleagues from the NDP do not attribute to him, but I would like to bring one forward. At one point in time, Mr. Douglas stated that if governments do not get out of debt, the decisions are made by the ones who lend the money. In other words, he was saying that, as a government, we need to have balanced budgets. That is something Mr. Douglas took very seriously, because if not, we are giving up some of our sovereignty and some of our ability to make decisions. Bringing forward public health care was very important, but he was also fiscally responsible. An NDP premier is not one of the first people I thought I would be quoting in this House. I hope my colleagues will forgive me. It is important to be fiscally responsible, because then we are able to make better decisions.
Another thing Mr. Douglas knew is we need to have a strong economy. If there is no money there to spend, we cannot spend it on our most vulnerable. That is very much something that should be brought into this motion.
We have had some very disturbing decisions made over the last few days regarding our energy sector. I understand the commitment was $5.6 billion if fully implemented. However, over the last few years we have forgone $120 billion worth of investment into our oil and gas sector, which would have paid for programs for the most vulnerable, for public schools and for public health care. I find it very alarming, to say the least, that we have a motion brought forward by opposition members talking about the need to spend money, and on the other side we have the same people trying to ensure that projects do not go forward that would pay for these programs. At some point in time, that bill has to be paid.
Two days ago, Teck Frontier withdrew its project worth $20 billion. We saw Enbridge withdraw the northern gateway project worth $7.9 billion. We saw the TransCanada Corporation withdraw the energy east project worth $16 billion. We saw Petronas withdraw the Pacific Northwest LNG project worth $36 billion. We saw Aurora LNG withdraw its project worth $28 billion. We saw Prince Rupert LNG withdraw its project worth $16 billion. We saw ExxonMobil withdraw its WCC LNG project worth $25 billion. It is unbelievable.
What all these have in common is that they are all private companies that wanted to invest their shareholder dollars, not public dollars. It is private dollars that they wanted to invest. When those projects go forward, they help pay for some of the programs that we want to have for our most vulnerable people.
Moving forward as a country, we need to understand that the pie is getting smaller. That means there is less for everyone. There are fewer ideas for people to bring forward programs for everyone. There is less opportunity. I have constituents who have very rare diseases that they want covered by the drug formulary. They cost a lot of money.
Where do we get the funds to pay for that? It is through private investment, through oil and gas companies, and through people investing in Canada because they have confidence that our economy is going to be strong. Right now, in the letter that was sent by Teck Frontier's CEO, that confidence to invest in our country is not there. That should be a worry for everyone in this chamber who wants to bring forward motions to spend more money on our most vulnerable, which I agree with. We need to ensure that we have the resources to do that.
I listened intently to my hon. colleague across the way. He was talking about the generic drug program. When I was an MLA, I am quite sure, coming out of the COF conference, the premiers conference, that Premier Ghiz and Premier Wall were commissioned to do a health report that brought forward the generic drug plan to make drugs more affordable for people across the country. I do not believe Premier Ghiz and Premier Wall were NDP premiers.
They were two premiers who got together and had some different philosophical ideas. They brought forward a report to ensure that cheaper generic drugs could be bought in bulk to benefit all Canadians. That is something we benefit from now.
Having people come together from different political stripes is a good thing and brings forward solutions. I am pretty happy that I was able to be a part of that. I learned a lot from Premier Wall. Working with partners is one thing that we learned as the government in Saskatchewan. I was part of the Saskatchewan Party government. That was a combination of Liberals and Conservatives in Saskatchewan coming together and forming a party to make sure that we would have good government.
I appreciate working together with people from across the aisle to bring forward good ideas, good policies and good programs, and to make sure we could be a better government for all Canadians. I believe that is why people sent us to this House.
When I think about this motion, I think about breaking it into two parts. I believe everyone in this chamber thinks that for the most vulnerable in our society, programs need to be in place to ensure that they have a better quality of life. I think everyone in this chamber would agree with that.
The other part is the financial aspect. How do we get there? Conservatives think we need to grow the pie, not just slice it up differently. We need to make the economic pie bigger. We need to ensure that we have more money and that our economy is growing so that we can bring forward these programs for all Canadians, making sure that there is a better quality of life for Canadians.
I believe that is something we need to have a very serious discussion about in this chamber going forward. I think that will happen after we are done these proceedings and are into the emergency debate. Is this a country that allows projects to be built? If it is not, then we need to have a discussion on how we are going to bring forward programs. It is going to be a more difficult discussion. There would be a much smaller pie for us to divide into programs that we want to see for our constituents.
I believe we were sent here to grow this country, to grow our economy and to make sure our children and the next generations have more benefits, more ability to have great jobs and a better quality of life than we had. Going forward, we need to have that conversation to ensure that our economy is growing. We need to make sure we have good discussions about this to ensure that we have good programs for the most vulnerable in our society and so that Canadians have a better quality of life going forward.
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