Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-15. As we know, the government introduces a budget, usually in the spring, then there are two budget implementation acts that turn it into legislation. Therefore, it is appropriate that I make some general comments about the budget, its fiscal implications, and my concerns about the direction in which the government is going. I will also pick out some of the very concerning elements in Bill C-15, the budget implementation act.
It is important to note that the Prime Minister just returned from the G7. That should give him some cause to reflect on the direction he has decided to follow. He went there believing other G7 countries should agree that we should embark on a stimulus spending plan. It was very clear that he was met with a very cool reception to this idea by many countries.
As Brian Crowley from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute indicated, “a 'growth-friendly' agenda can't be written in red ink”, and they know that “today's deficit is tomorrow's tax hike”.
What came out of that G7 was a discussion that every country needed to reflect on its own current situation. He had a goal that was clearly not met in his conversations at the G7.
The Liberals often talk about the spending we did, but I find it quite stunning that they fail to realize that during 2008-09, we had a global recession. It was the biggest crisis in the world since the Great Depression. They seem to not reflect on that point very well. What we have now is slow growth. We have a little stagnation, absolutely, but we do not have a recession and we certainly do not have a global recession. Therefore, to go to other countries and feel they need the same response, the Liberals are not really looking at the current situation and adapting appropriately.
It is important to contrast this response during the Prime Minister's recent visit to what happened when we were in government, when Minister Flaherty, our colleague, played a key role in the response to the crisis. He was named the best finance minister in the world. When they talked about his record, they said was, “Our winner has earned a reputation for maintaining a sound fiscal policy. His country...has performed remarkably well”, and that he had played “a key role in the G8’s discussions”. This is a huge difference in the response to the global recession and the leadership role we played as opposed to what is happening right now.
We need to first look at the Liberal government's first budget. I remember attending a number of all candidates forums, and a number of key promises were made. The first major broken promise was that the Liberals would run a small deficit of $10 billion. We now know that we are looking at a $30 billion deficit, and this does not include the $3 billion they have committed to home care. We see another announcement that was never in the fiscal plan, a very important initiative, global health, but it was not planned for. The Liberals seem to have a way of spending money that I have never seen before, money that has not been planned.
It is also important to note that as we go forward most economists recognize that unilateral stimulus is bound to have a marginal impact on an open economy. Canada is an open economy, so the money the Liberals are spending, which is adding to the debt of the next generation, is going to be very marginal in terms of its impact.
Another important fact to know, even as we engaged in our stimulus spending, is that we had a plan to get back to balanced budget, and we did that. During the worst of times, the net GDP to debt went from 34% to 31%. Right now the Liberals are on track to increase it. They left one marker, being the $10 billion. Then they said they would decrease the net debt to GDP. It now looks like they will blow that one out of the water. It is a really big concern.
It is interesting to contrast what is happening in Britain right now, which is seeing some reasonable growth. The following comes from its budget speech:
Britain can choose, as others are, short term fixes and more stimulus. Or we can lead the world with long term solutions to long term problems...we choose the long term. We choose to put the next generation first.
Unfortunately, that is not what our government has done. The Liberals have chosen short term to take care of themselves, and to make popular decisions rather than worry about their grandchildren.
When our finance critic gave her speech on the budget implementation act, she was able to look at the statements of the Minister of Finance during the pre-budget and when he was in the private sector. She pointed out that he had a really different perspective on the issues around debt and retirement. It put some real holes into his approach in the budget. I do not know how he can align himself or sleep well at night when it looks like the budget goes so contrary to what his fundamental beliefs are.
I will give members a couple of examples.
What does the U.K., Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, and the U.S. have in common? They have an old age security system that kicks in at the age of 67 or older. Australia is going into a system where the old age system kicks in at 67 or older. What have we done in the budget implementation act? We have moved in the opposite direction.
Sometimes the decisions a government has to make are not popular and they are not made lightly. We knew that it was a very difficult decision to make, but we also looked at the demographics of our country. We looked at the fact that people were healthier and living longer. I think there are many people we know who have lived their retirement perhaps longer than their working years. Therefore, it was a difficult decision, but it was not an unusual decision.
What is the cost of the change the Liberals are making? It is estimated to cost an additional $10 billion. It is also important to note for those who are not aware that old age security comes out of current revenue. It is not something like the Canada pension plan where we put money away for our future. Therefore, the Liberals have given my children and grandchildren an additional $10 billion of debt, and that is unacceptable. They have to be in a position to look at the long-term health of our country.
The small business tax rate is another example. The government sat at forums. I sat beside my Liberal counterpart at forums when the Liberals promised a 10.5% to 9% decrease. However, the budget implementation act would turn that around. It was a legislated change. It was a change the Liberals said they accepted, but they reversed it. The budget implementation act would move it from 9% back to 10.5%. It is absolutely unacceptable.
In looking at some of broken promises, whether it is the deficit or small business, my biggest concern is that the Liberals are not taking care of the next generation. They are looking at saddling it with a horrific debt.
The Liberals are also showing they are having a bit of a problem in delivering on their promises. Even when they commit money, they do not estimate it properly, and then they have trouble delivering. We can look at the cost of bringing in the refugees. They said that it would be $250 million, but it is now over $850 million.
The Liberals provided $8.4 billion for first nations, and we support that, but there is no plan for accountability. There is no plan on how it would be delivered. Even when there is money that we believe is well spent, the Liberals' plan for delivery and execution is lacking.
I have a big concern about the overall direction of the Liberals. I have a concern about many of the specific measures. I have a concern about the government's endless lust to spend taxpayer money, as exhibited by its recent March spending spree, where they took a surplus and in one month spent about $11 billion.
We are creating a structural deficit and someday we will have to pay the piper for the foolish choices of today.