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View James Cumming Profile
View James Cumming Profile
2020-03-09 15:27 [p.1810]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the motion put forward by my colleague, the member for Carleton. I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for St. Albert—Edmonton.
It is a very important debate that we are having today, particularly given the circumstances we find ourselves in with the coronavirus, the blockades and a general slowdown in the economy. One thing of note is that the Liberal government has always prided itself on its fiscal anchors. Let us talk a bit about those fiscal anchors that have now put us in a situation where we have limited flexibility to react to crises like these.
The first fiscal anchor the Liberals claimed was that they would balance the budget within five years. They said they would have very small deficits and then they would balance the budget. Of course, that anchor has now fallen off. Next they said they would try to find a balance with debt-to-GDP ratios and continue to see a decline. That fiscal anchor has fallen off the boat as well.
The one anchor they have left is when they talk about employment numbers. I would suggest there is a weakening in the employment numbers and, when we compare ourselves against some of the other G7 countries, Canada's unemployment rate does not look as favourable. Here is a government priding itself on fiscal anchors. I would say the anchor has fallen through the boat, the boat has a big hole, the boat is sinking and the Liberals do not even see it happening.
The Minister of Finance keeps saying that we are in good shape and we have this great reserve built up so that we can weather these storms. I am wondering if we will ever find out what that reserve is because, from the numbers Conservatives are looking at, we do not see that being the case.
The leadership of the government and the regulations that are stopping the growth of business have resulted in over 200,000 job losses in my province of Saskatchewan. There is $150 billion in capital that has gone elsewhere.
I always hear that it is because the commodity price is low. The fact is that the money went somewhere. Norway has now opened up another field and says it will pump oil for as long as it is needed. It put that investment in. The Russians have just put a big capital investment into the resource sector, and we know the Americans have been very successful growing their resource business and market share, which is something the Liberal government has not been able to recognize.
There is also the tax structure that has been put in place, burdening small businesses with increases in CPP, EI and particularly the carbon tax. The carbon tax is a tax on everything. These hard-working small businesses are trying to produce products, trying to be competitive in the global market and are restrained by the government continuing to increase taxes. By throwing in the TOSI rules and limiting the ability of husbands and wives to split income through those corporations, it strikes me that we are doing everything we can to try to slow down these hard-working individuals and great businesses that are the strength of Canada.
Under the Liberal government's weak leadership, the energy sector alone has lost over $150 billion in investment. I can name off the projects: $20 billion for Teck, $8 billion for northern gateway, $16 billion for energy east, $36 billion for Pacific NorthWest, $28 billion for Aurora and $25 billion for WCC LNG. The list goes on and on.
I can give the government a little help. There is a quick fix to send the right message that it supports resource development, that it supports these great Canadian companies getting to market. The government can support my bill, which would take away the tanker ban and allow companies to export their products through a deepwater port, be competitive and export our clean energy to other countries.
Last week, I was in Toronto at the mining conference. There again I heard great concern about the regulatory process in this country. Project after project talked about how the current government does not understand the importance of investments. I hope it is listening to the extraction sector, whether it be the oil and gas or mining businesses. If it wants to get this economy going, it is time it recognizes these businesses are its lifeblood. They are the ones that produce the revenue, can help this economy and will pay for all these programs I continually hear about. At the finance committee, submission after submission was about spending. At some point, we have to have an economy that is growing at a rate to be able to pay for all that spending.
While I am on spending, there is spending that can work toward growing the economy and then there is outright waste. The government seems to be the expert on waste. We can talk about the $50 million to Mastercard, the $12 million to Loblaws or the $40 million to BlackBerry. It goes on and on. Those types of investments are not what we need; we need the government to invest in less regulation, to empower the private sector and let these people get back to work.
We have an infrastructure program. I will acknowledge that the Conservatives also had an infrastructure program. Here is the difference. When the Liberals put out their infrastructure program, they talked about the three anchors they wanted to have within that program: investments in productivity; a reduction in greenhouse gases; and an increase in GDP. When we had a discussion with the PBO about this program, we asked if they were hitting the mark on any of those measures. There is no evidence they are hitting the mark on the measures, particularly in the area of productivity, which is the way we can get this economy going. Putting an infrastructure program together that has a lack of accountability, focus and measurables makes it really difficult to see if it is working. I hope the government will reverse its course on the infrastructure program and recognize that it should be focusing on allowing companies to be more productive, giving them better access to markets and making sure we have the most competitive regime of any country out there.
This program is full of flaws. Now is the time to push the reset button and start to deliver on programs that would be effective, allow us to grow the economy and help industry grow, rather than grow the government's budget.
With respect to the future outlook, beyond anything else we need to see a plan that gets us back to a balanced budget. It is not unreasonable to ask government when it will finally get back to balance, and I think there is an opportunity for it to do that. We need the government to get out of the way of the private sector. The private sector offered to build the pipeline and government ended up having to buy the pipeline because of the regulatory burden the government put on that company. The private sector wants to invest in Canada and believes in Canada, but it needs the government to send the right message to say we are open for business again.
Our energy sector and the province I come from are proud of what they do. They do it well, they do it clean and they have an opportunity to gain market share if we let them. We need to expand our ability to ship. I ask the government to seriously consider making revisions to Bill C-69 to make sure there is confidence in the markets here, as well as eliminate the tanker ban off the west coast. It is certainly not there.
A pay-as-we-go principle would bring some discipline back to government. If government is going to add something new, it has to be able to pay for it, so it should be able to balance those things, which would ensure discipline in the government and make sure it gets back on a path of balancing the budget.
On the tax front for small businesses, we have to eliminate the input taxes, lower the burdens on these businesses and allow them to succeed.
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