Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to stand and speak in the House today. I stand on behalf of all Kootenay—Columbians who are struggling to get by and looking for some meaningful action from the government to help make their lives better.
I must begin by bringing the government's attention to a dire economic situation in the village of Radium Hot Springs. This community is a wonderful gem within my riding. It is uniquely located at the edge of Kootenay National Park and overlooks the beautiful headwaters of the Columbia River.
The good people of this village and businesses within it depend heavily on tourism dollars generated by the hot pools located in Kootenay National Park. These pools were closed on January 11, 2020, until further notice due to a structural safety concern, and they remain closed today. The economic impact on the village of Radium Hot Springs as a result of the closure continues to be severe, with job losses expected. Timely repairs and upgrades are needed, and they need to become a priority for the government, which must take action to expedite the process of repair that has been delayed by the procurement process.
The end result of the delay is a severe economic hardship on the people and economy of Radium Hot Springs. My constituents are wondering when the minister responsible will create an expedited solution that will lead to the reopening and stabilization of the local economy.
We have been elected to represent our constituents, and there is a need to acknowledge the hard work and diligence of all members of the House. All of us, those currently serving and those who have come before, are passionate Canadians possessing a desire to create a better future for those who call this country home.
I naturally gravitate to constructive dialogue and positive action stemming from good discussion. However, today requires something different. The role of Her Majesty's official opposition must create room for constructive criticism. Discussion about the economy, recessions and wasteful spending are at the top of my mind for my constituents. I am here on their behalf with questions for the government. My riding of Kootenay—Columbia depends on both industry and tourism, and with its proximity to Alberta, we have felt the economic difficulties created by the government.
The Prime Minister cannot blame the current economic position on the coronavirus. Our country's economic growth slowed to 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2019, the worst performance in almost four years. That was all before the impact of illegal blockades or the coronavirus.
The Liberal government's lack of accountability has weakened the Canadian economy. Investment is falling and jobs are leaving Canada. In some cases this is from a blatant lack of leadership on the part of the Prime Minister, who places a higher value on a UN seat than on leading our country through a blockade crisis. In other cases this is from the government's wilful dismissal of the west's resource sector. In either case, Canadians deserve more from their government. Investment in plant and equipment by Canadian businesses has dropped 20% over the past five years, the worst performance in more than five decades. Since 2017, over $192 billion of investment in the energy sector has been cancelled.
At a recent meeting, the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce expressed a genuine concern that we are blindly moving into a recession similar to that of 2008. The chamber is reporting that foreign investment in the Kootenay region is dwindling and that there is a general drop in confidence within the business community.
These issues are directly tied to the government's approach to dealing with small business owners, who the Prime Minister has referred to as tax cheats. Tax rules for small businesses, implemented by the government, make it impossible for them to operate.
Thousands of businesses across Canada, including those in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, will no longer qualify for the small business tax rate or will see it reduced. With new carbon taxes and increased CPP and EI premiums, businesses are facing difficulties. These tough new rules will also raise taxes on compensation paid within family businesses, which will have a devastating impact on families within my riding.
The former CEO of the Bank of England has warned that we are “sleepwalking” into a financial crisis. The Liberal government is both blind to it and wilfully unprepared. When will the government begin to listen and act in the best interest of Canadians?
We now have some of the most burdensome regulations on earth, which are strangling the energy industry and making it impossible to move the country forward in a way that allows us to make meaningful contributions, through the export of LNG for example, to reduce the impacts of climate change.
The government has implemented a taxation strategy that takes more from the paycheques of hard-working Canadians and then pickpockets the very same families through cancelled tax cuts, such as a cancelled family tax cut of $2,000 per household, cancelled arts and fitness tax credits of up to $225 per child and a cancelled education tax credit of up to $720 per student. The list is too long.
As a result, 48% of Canadians are within $200 of not being able to pay their bills and debt obligations; 10% of Canadians are within $100; and 33% have no money at the end of the month and are unable to cover their payments. My constituents are barely making it by and these increases make it impossible to cover the bills. Canadians are falling further into debt.
During the recent election, I was asked by constituents for tangible solutions the government could provide to make things a little easier. They were hopeful for any action that would help them obtain a more affordable life. If elected to govern, the Conservatives are committed to do more than just help them get by.
I made this promise to Kootenay—Columbians and look forward to the next election when Canadians will have an opportunity to choose a different path forward, one that will deliver tangible results and solutions that will actually help Canadians get ahead.
The Liberal government could have built a world-class infrastructure that would improve Canada's competitiveness and our quality of life. Instead, it squandered billions in an infrastructure plan that did not exist, according to the PBO. The Prime Minister's billions of dollars in spending did not result in any additional infrastructure built in Canada.
The government could have chosen to improve Canada's innovation programs to refocus research and development on commercializing products. Instead it created subsidy programs that have not created any growth.
My constituents are wondering why the government has created financial roadblocks for their families, while at the same time shelling out massive corporate welfare cheques, such as $50 million to Mastercard, $12 million to Loblaws and $40 million to BlackBerry. That is $102 million handed out to profitable multibillion dollar companies for projects these organizations would have undertaken anyway. In the case of BlackBerry, the CEO candidly admitted it did not need the money. From the perspective of a hard-working Kootenay—Columbia, imagine hearing the news that the Prime Minister gave $40 million to an organization whose CEO said it did not need the money.
The Prime Minister's sky-high taxes, wasteful spending and massive deficits have put Canada in an incredibly weak position. The possibility of a made-in-Canada recession is becoming more real.
Despite a healthy Canadian economy, boosted by a booming southern neighbour, soaring real estate prices and record low interest rates, the government still managed to add $72 billion to the national debt during its first four years in power.
What is worse is that so much of the money has been wasted. There is no evidence that there is any increase in growth. There is little to show for it. Never before in Canadian history has so much been spent to achieve so little. It is unprecedented for a government to have a $187 billion infrastructure program that the Parliamentary Budget Officer said resulted in a zero increase in infrastructure built in Canada and no increase in GDP growth because the infrastructure plan did not exist.
Imagine spending $1.6 million to renovate the offices of ministers, $23 million to buy cars for a G7 summit and $8 million for a skating rink. Imagine promising to spend $150 million on subsidies to help people go camping.
Let me be clear. I love the idea of investing in the outdoors and fostering the reality of spending more time enjoying the great outdoors. However, practically speaking, imagine the government telling a family that is barely making ends meet that it will give it $2,000 if it goes camping in the Laurentians. The government is out of touch financially and it is out of touch with Canadians families.
When a recession hits, deficits soar as the economy's automatic stabilizers kick in. Government revenues fall because people are earning less and paying less in taxes, while spending surges on unemployment insurance and other programs. If we start with a $30 billion deficit and Canada goes into a significant recession like we saw in 2008, that deficit can grow to $60 billion or $70 billion. That is before the government has to spend the money to stimulate the economy to get us out of the recession.
In the lead-up to the global recession from 2006-08, the Conservative government paid down $37 billion in debt. This gave Canada more financial resources to navigate the storm. Canada came out of the crisis faster and with a stronger growth than any other G7 country.
That is a true example of leadership and that is what Canadians and those in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia expect from the government. They expect the government to be open and transparent and to provide the documents that shed light on the spending of taxpayer dollars.