Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance for her speech. I am not sure that people in her riding of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe are happy with the budget. Contrary to what she claims, this budget does not do anything for the ordinary Canadians who work hard every day and keep this country going. This budget helps the interest groups that make up the Liberal Party of Canada's electoral base.
I find it ironic that the parliamentary secretary thanked the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for its hard work in analyzing the 2017 budget implementation bill, since it is quite likely that the other place will ask that the infrastructure bank provisions be removed from this omnibus bill. We have many questions and concerns about the infrastructure bank, questions that have gone unanswered during question period and in committee.
The infrastructure bank protects the investments of private investors to the detriment of Canadian taxpayers. That is ironic since private companies pride themselves on taking risks. Entrepreneurs are the ones who have the moxie to take risks. They have the expertise, the ideas, the innovate spirit, and the courage needed to do things that way. Canadians are already paying taxes to keep the country running. It is not their responsibility to protect private sector investments. That is one of the things that we find worrisome about this bill.
What is more, the government has taken $15 billion away from community infrastructure projects to fund this new bank, a measure that my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent has decried before. He has said that the communities in Quebec's regions will not get any support from the infrastructure bank because it deals only with projects worth over $100 million. Rimouski or Baie-Comeau cannot afford a $100-million arena.
In reality, this bank will serve only the interests of big cities and those that have been especially selected on the basis of the votes for the Liberal Party in 2015. That was my opening statement.
The parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance had the audacity to say that it was a budget for people, for Canadians, when it is the complete opposite. Bill C-44, like the 2016 budget, targets Liberal interest groups, “post-national” interest groups that have very specific goals and that resort to the Supreme Court to argue their political positions instead of going through the House. This time, they certainly have the government’s ear, and their political demands are being heard loud and clear, because this budget does nothing but meet their needs.
There is something else that makes me extremely uncomfortable. The title of the budget is “Building a Strong Middle Class”. What it should have been is “building a strong country for everyone”.
Of course we want a strong middle class; I understand that, but I put myself in the shoes of millions of Canadians who are going to look at their pay and wonder whether they belong to the middle class. It is an open secret in Canadian politics that the Liberal government always talks about the middle class because most people want to be able to feel that the middle class includes them, even if they may not really be part of it, based on their income. It is a trick, a catch-all, but people subconsciously hear that the Liberals are working for the members of one class only, and not for all Canadians.
In my opinion, Bill C-44, which would implement budget 2017, does not really reflect Canada’s structural needs, both current and future. It is a bill that amends certain measures and sprinkles money here and there. There is really no overarching vision when it comes to the direction the country is going in. It is really an ideological, vote-seeking budget plan. What it actually offers is deficits and highly targeted expenditures to please a few interest groups. I will name some of them. I note in passing that these interest groups have all the right in the world to exist, but they should be not be the priority in a budget. The priority should be all Canadians in general.
This budget focuses on NGOs, groups that generate media interest, various civil society groups, and academic elites—the number of research chairs has grown. All universities are receiving incredible amounts of money. That is fine for research, but here again, that is not what helps average Canadians.
Next are the urban and financial elites, the environmentalists, the “post-nationalists”, who pretend that there is no culture or common ground in Canada, that French Canadians do not exist, and that they are just one group among many.
Then there are the civil liberties groups. The groups of litigants who have been going to the Supreme Court since 1982 to get preferential rights, to circumvent the House, to get faster decisions that change the course of Canadian politics in their favour. There are the anti-globalists, the social engineers who think that by changing social policy they will be able to make things better. They are doing it for purely ideological reasons without really stopping to think about the potential consequences of their actions, which are based on a world view rather than on rational facts and most importantly on a desire to help all Canadians.
What I am essentially saying is that Bill C-44 does not meet Canada’s continental challenges, the North American challenges we face on the economic, military, and social fronts. The bill also fails to meet the international economic, military, social, and even environmental challenges we are facing.
Since the end of the 1990s, we have been living in a highly competitive world. More than ever, the west, including Canada, is slowing down. We are seeing the emergence of new world powers, the BRICS we all know about, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. There is also Nigeria, with the largest population in Africa and an economy that is increasingly important in Africa and the world.
With their economic growth, their increasing military importance, and their now enormous populations—the countries I named easily represent half of the world’s population—these emerging countries want energy resources. In spite of what they may say in their speeches at the United Nations, they want cars, they want to be consumers, they want oil, they want to be mobile, and they want a western lifestyle. For the last 20 years, and this is certainly a good thing, we have seen a growing transfer of wealth from north to south. This is undoubtedly a consequence of the decolonization of the 1950s and 1960s. It is to be expected and it is a good thing.
However, we need a government like the previous Conservative government that understands international geopolitics and understands the major economic challenges that lie ahead. The economic crisis of 2007-08 was undeniably terrible and was perhaps the harbinger of other things to come.
There is a certain impoverishment happening in Canada, perhaps not so much for people, but in terms of infrastructure. For example, our icebreakers are completely obsolete, our highways in the Maritimes need repair, and our ports and airports should be updated, particularly Beauport 2020 in Quebec City, which really needs investments.
Sometimes I get the impression that Canada does not realize that it is losing ground in terms of its international role as an economic and diplomatic driver.
There is also the North American context. The United States is suffering from the emergence of the BRICS countries. That is one of the reasons why the current president was elected. Americans are extremely worried because 20 million people are unemployed in the U.S. Isolationism is taking hold again. The media talks about this as though it were a new phenomenon, but on the contrary, isolationism re-emerges in the U.S. roughly every 50 years.
In this isolationist context, there will be major tax cuts in the United States for businesses and individuals. This political context is reactionary on economic, social, military, and diplomatic levels. It is not up to us to decide whether this is good or bad. The Americans will develop their economic isolationism.
I see that in Bill C-44, which would implement budget 2017, the Liberal government does not seem to explain how we are going to deal with this new North American reality or how we are going to make sure that Canadian companies are competitive in the face of American isolationism and a less porous border that allows for less trade. Trade between Canada and the United States is worth $2 billion a day, so that is pretty significant. These isolationist American reactions, which will last at least three years and a few months, are going to have very significant effects on Canada, but we are not hearing the Liberals talk about this.
We are also seeing a Canadian context taking shape before our eyes. The economic health of the federation has been going downhill for two years. For example, we are astonished to see that the Liberals never talk about the significant loss of economic growth in Alberta and the major job losses for Albertans. They also do not talk about the employment problems in the Atlantic provinces. They do not talk about the importance of Montreal and Quebec City. Simply put, we are not hearing them really talk about the role of each province in our country’s economic unity.
For example, we have been telling them for several months now that it is incomprehensible that there is no free trade between the provinces in Canada, when it is right there in the Constitution. That is why we have asked them to make a reference to the Supreme Court to have the judges interpret the Constitution as it is written, and give us a definitive judgment that sets out, in black and white, that we should have free trade among the provinces. That would certainly help our businesses everywhere in Canada.
There is a real need to complete major projects for the next 100 years. Once again, this budget tell us about building a strong middle class, but it does not contain any major projects that will ensure there will be even more wealth creation in 50 years. All the interest groups that the Liberals favour in their platform and their budget are systematically opposed to any long-term major projects.
I always like to take the example of the premier of Quebec, Mr. Bourassa, who created gigantic hydro-electric projects in the 1970s, dams such as had never been seen in the history of humanity. Recently, the record was topped by a dam in China, but until very recently, we had the biggest dams in the world in Quebec. That means that today, we in Canada and Quebec are the ones who pay the lowest prices for electricity. That is one of the few things that we pay the lowest prices for, but because of that, we have a healthy welfare state in Quebec and services that are overall quite adequate.
What is there in Canada at present, however, that guarantees that in 50 years—I will still be here if I am lucky—our children and grandchildren will enjoy rising wealth? There is nothing in this bill that guarantees us that, because it focuses only on the present moment and aims simply to please vote-getting groups that make up the Liberal voting base, which is slowly but surely crumbling.
According to my own and my Conservative colleagues’ analysis, Bill C-44 shows that the Liberals are working for the financial elite of the infrastructure bank of Canada and the social elites who want to make major policy changes, not to create jobs, but to suit their own world view. There is nothing there for working people, however. That is why the Conservative opposition has a moral and political obligation to be the voice of taxpayers in the House.
As I said in the House yesterday, we might be better off talking about the responsibilities of citizenship, the Canadian Armed Forces, and how we can serve our country. Instead, we have no choice but to talk about the importance of lowering taxes and creating jobs because those two things are in peril under this government.
Taxes keep going up. This year alone, Canadians' tax burden is going up by nearly $5 billion. That includes taxes on public transit, carpooling, beer and wine, also known as the Friday and Saturday night tax, medication, child care, small business owners, oil and gas companies, which represent millions of jobs in Canada, and tourism. That is a very long list of taxes, and the government is breaking one promise after another.
Worse still is the $29-billion deficit, which has nothing to do with economic conditions. Unlike the deficit at the time of the 2007-08 economic crisis, this deficit has nothing to do with a need to stimulate the economy and create jobs. This deficit exists because the government wanted its budget to cater to the needs of the interest groups I mentioned at the beginning of my speech. Plus, these deficits have no end date.
This is the first time that we have a Canadian finance minister who is incapable of answering a simple question: when does he plan to eliminate Canada's fiscal deficit? Will it be in 2017, 2018, 2020, 2030, or 2040? He has no idea. He does not take the economy as seriously as he should.
It is important to remind Canadians that the deficit has exploded over the past two years. Through words and actions alike, the Liberal government is creating budgets to take money away from taxpayers and spread it around to certain special interest groups, rather than all Canadians. The government is trying to divide Canadians by saying that it is working for the middle class, and not for everyone else. It has no overall vision for Canada, particularly when it comes to continental and international challenges. In addition, it keeps introducing outdated bills in the House, like the one to raise the salary of ministers of state.
They should be focusing on more important matters. I am sure you are also concerned about this, Mr. Speaker, but you can rest assured. Until 2019, we will continue to stand up for Canadian taxpayers every day, until midnight if necessary, and we will make sure that this government does not win another term, so that 60 years from now, Canada will not reflect this terrible mismanagement.