Madam Speaker, I am speaking today about our important opposition motion. Just so everybody remembers what it is, I will read that motion again. I believe it is vital that the House is provided with documentation “discussing warnings or concerns of economic downturns, their potential impact on the fiscal framework, or advice or recommendations on how to deal with them” that any department, agency or Crown corporation has produced since 2015. That is what we are talking about today.
In 2015, the Prime Minister promised that he would have a few $10-billion deficits, small deficits, before returning to a balanced budget in 2019. Do members remember that? Teeny-tiny deficits and then everything would be rosy in 2019.
We know what happened. The budget deficits turned out to be a whole lot larger than $10 billion annually. The year 2019 has also come and gone and despite promises made, we are nowhere near a balanced budget, not even close. In his first four years, the Prime Minister added more than $72 billion to the national debt. That is just disgraceful. The Bank of Canada has now slashed its interest rates, citing negative outlooks for the Canadian and global economies.
A responsible government would have prepared for a downturn. A responsible government would have set money aside for future uncertainty. We are certainly seeing that uncertainty now. It is absolutely a financial mess. A responsible government would have paid down the debt during years of economic growth. However, the Liberal government has not been responsible. Instead of showing leadership, the Liberals doubled down on unnecessary spending. They called it investment and investing in Canadians.
Let us just think back at some of those wise investments. The Liberals gave $50 million to Mastercard, a multinational company that made $16 billion in 2019 alone, and Mastercard gets $50 million. They gave $12 million to Loblaws to buy new fridges. They are basically giving more than $600 million as a bailout to the media. Here is a whopper: They spent $1,900 on cardboard cut-outs of the Prime Minister. How is that for value for money? They spent more than $12 billion on the still unbuilt Trans Mountain pipeline after scaring away investors. There is also the $256 million the Liberals gave to the Asian infrastructure bank to build pipelines in Asia. It seems the foreign pipelines are the only ones the Liberals can get built.
There is also the $186-billion infrastructure program. It has been a huge failure. In fact, it is now being audited by the Auditor General because of the Liberals' lack of transparency and accountability to Canadians. The bottom line is that the Liberals have failed to responsibly manage Canadian tax dollars. That failure has left Canada much more vulnerable to global economic downturns. We are seeing that right now.
Across our country, Canadians work hard to live within their means. They know that racking up credit card debt just is not sound policy. It leaves them unable to manage unexpected expenses, yet that is exactly what the Liberals have done in Canada. The Liberals have done what is easy instead of what is best for our country.
Let us compare this to the actions of the previous Conservative government.
Prior to the global recession of 2008-09, the Conservatives had paid down more than $37 billion in debt. This allowed the government flexibility to meet the fiscal challenges of the recession head on. That was why Canada had the mildest and shortest recession of the G7 countries.
In a 2010 report, Philip Cross, then chief economic analyst at Statistics Canada, said:
One reason for the relatively mild slump is that Canada was better positioned to weather the global recession than other large western economies, primarily due to savings as reflected in our national balance sheet.
He went on to say:
...strong balance sheets in Canada stood it in good stead to endure the recession and emerge into recovery. The recession was shorter and milder in Canada than in other G7 nations, partly because the flow of credit was not disrupted as it was in other nations and a large pool of savings was available to finance spending when income fell temporarily.
That was good fiscal policy under the Conservative government.
However, The Liberals have deliberately done the opposite. It sounds like a bad Seinfeld episode. That is the reason, in the elections of 2015 and 2019, the Conservatives promised voters that we would be responsible and that we would balance the budget. We knew that a responsible government needed to be prepared for global downturns.
The chickens are coming home to roost. We see what happens with global downturns in the situation we are in now. Just today, we saw the stock market plunge. Trading was actually halted. To say the least, the economic outlook is very grim. Now the Liberals will have to deal with that from a position of weakness. True leadership requires fiscal restraint.
Despite the Liberals wasting billions of dollars, they failed to build the key projects that would have helped Canadians weather this storm. The Trans Mountain pipeline is still nowhere near complete. Both the energy east pipeline and the northern gateway project are gone, thanks to the Liberals. The Teck Frontier project that promised thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of revenue was killed by government dithering and delay. Even Warren Buffett is moving his money out of a Quebec project, citing “the Canadian political context”.
In total, more than $160 billion worth of investment have been lost under the Prime Minister's watch. This is a direct result of the policies he and his Liberal government have advanced.
Take, for example, Bill C-69, or the no more pipelines bill. Bill C-69 would make it even harder to build a new project. Many critics do not see how any new projects can be built under this new regulatory process. There was widespread opposition to this regulation, including from provincial governments, industry, communities and indigenous groups, yet the Liberals went ahead with that harmful legislation anyway.
The bottom line is this. We have to return to fiscal accountability, to balanced budgets and to paying down the debt. This is what is showing up today and it is a disaster.