Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak after my colleague from the Outaouais region, the hon. member for Gatineau, for whom I have a great deal of respect and esteem, despite his oversights, to put it politely.
Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of this budget, let us establish the facts. What was the state of Canada's economy when the Liberal government was elected nearly two and a half years ago? There is no denying that the Liberals are an extraordinarily lucky bunch. When they came to power, the house was in order. Canada had a budgetary surplus, not a $2.9-billion deficit. We like to compare ourselves to the best. Let us compare ourselves to the G7. Canada had the best debt-to-GDP ratio of all G7 countries. Let us not forget that, when we came to power, we had just come through the worst economic crisis on the planet since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the most challenging economic times, our government was able to keep Canada afloat, allowing it to emerge from the crisis with one of the strongest economies possible.
Then, unfortunately the Liberals came to power. That is the problem. Let us not forget that they were elected on a promise to run small deficits for three years and to return to a balanced budget in 2019. That was the Liberal Party's solemn promise. That promise then vanished into this air as small deficits grew into deficits three times larger than planned and, worse yet, as achieving zero deficit by 2019 went from hypothetical to unrealistic. These people have absolutely no idea when they will return to a balanced budget. We will be in deficit for the foreseeable future.
The finance department says that, if nothing changes, Canada could, technically, in theory, return to a balanced budget in 2045. Our economy would certainly struggle in the meantime. The Liberals were elected on promises that they have now broken. They promised a small deficit, but ran up a big one. They promised a zero deficit and a balanced budget. They said the deficits would support an infrastructure program to stimulate the economy, but that is not what they delivered. They promised hundreds of billions in infrastructure spending, but the finance department's reports show that very little of the infrastructure funding has actually been handed out. The government is using these chronic deficits for routine spending, not investment.
This is economics 101. It makes perfect sense for the head of a household to borrow money to buy a home and then pay that money back, but anyone borrowing money from the bank to buy groceries has a problem. That is not an appropriate way to manage money. Anyone who tries to do what the Liberal government is doing is headed for a brick wall.
My Liberal colleague from Gatineau talked about how amazing the Canada child benefit is, about how the government is lifting people out of poverty and giving them all kinds of money. They have no trouble handing out money that is not theirs, money they are borrowing from our children. A deficit is just deferred taxation, and that is one thing this government is very good at. It is constantly maxing out its credit card.
That is why we completely disagree with the government's policy. The minister, the member, and our Liberal colleagues seem to have forgotten that in their first iteration of the Canada child benefit, which was to be absolutely extraordinary, they forgot a small detail: they forgot to take inflation into consideration. Any accountant at any firm who forgot to factor in inflation would be dismissed with a swift kick in the backside. The government, however, still crows over its lofty principles, claiming to be doing the right thing and giving more money to children. I can see why this is the party for families, the party for children. By working for children, the government is making them foot the bill down the line.
The government boasts about its lofty principles, but reality is catching up to it. For example, the Liberals are always repeating how they are going after the so-called 1%, the richest Canadians. The top 1% of Canadians with the highest salaries are going to pay. The Liberals forgot to mention that these people already pay 70% of the taxes in Canada. They said that these people would definitely pay more taxes. Is that right? Not exactly. In a report released last fall by the Department of Finance, and not by the Conservative Party, we learned that not only do the so-called 1%, the wealthiest Canadians, not pay more taxes, they pay less. The wealthy paid $1.2 billion less under the current Liberal government even though the Liberals kept repeating that they would make the rich pay more in order to give to the poor. Not only are the rich paying less taxes, but the poor were given money we do not have because the Liberals are running up a deficit. They went into deficit financing.
Clearly, this government says one thing and does the opposite. It was elected on promises it cannot keep. Faced with their greatest economic challenge yet, the Liberals are doing nothing.
Now I want to raise the question of competitiveness with the United States of America, our great ally and partner but also our greatest competitor.
We all recognize that the president is not exactly the same kind of man that we had when we were in office. We can like him or we can dislike him, but we have to deal with him. That is the reality of politics. What we see now in the new administration, the Trump administration, is someone very aggressive, someone very productive, and someone who is first and foremost helping small business in America, and big business too. He is helping the business community of America.
What we see in the government is everything but that. Worse than that, it has no plan. The Liberal government has no plan to address the serious issue raised by the new administration in America. There is nothing in the government's budget to help our small business community to face and address the issue of the new competitiveness of America. There is nothing to address the fact that maybe NAFTA will collapse. That would not be good, so we have to be ready for that.
We do not want it to collapse. We were the party that created NAFTA, the first free trade agreement, in 1988, thanks to the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney. We can be proud of this heritage. We also recognize that the other governments pushed that forward, even if at that time they said they were not going to be part of that deal. That was good. Now we have to address the new reality that maybe NAFTA will not be run again.
What can we do? What will the government do? There is nothing in the budget. What is the government doing to help our businesses address the issue of the new help being given by the American administration to their business community? It is doing nothing.
That is also worrisome. The budget needs to address today's realities. However, today's global economic reality is not about the collapse of oil prices as it was in the past. On the contrary, oil prices have risen. It is not about dealing with the worst economic crisis. It is exactly the opposite. We are experiencing an economic boom.
It is not about the collapse of the American economy, like it was in 2008-09. On the contrary, the American economy is booming. However, we are dealing with an aggressive protectionist American President. That is his right. We respect his choice and he makes his own decisions of course. We are dealing with a very aggressive protectionist American President and the government is doing absolutely nothing. The American President strongly supports the private sector and helps entrepreneurs a great deal, unlike Canada, whose government led an unspeakable attack against our entrepreneurs last summer with the reprehensible plan it tabled on July 11, in the middle of the summer, if memory serves. Fortunately, thanks to the extraordinary work of the member for Carleton, Canadian business people across the country united and put a stop to the Liberal government's plan, which sought to punish them for creating jobs and wealth. It is a good thing that we were there.
There is nothing in this budget to help business owners or meet their needs. The government is going on a spending spree, as we have mentioned, and is creating deficits. We are talking about a 20% increase in spending. Twenty percent in three years is a lot. It represents $60 billion. A 2% or 3% increase would be in keeping with inflation. A little is okay, but in this case, we are talking about hyper-inflation, not inflation. A normal increase would have been 6% in three years. However, this government has increased spending by 20% in three years. Such is the hallmark of the Liberal government. We think this is very bad. The spending was supposedly for investments in infrastructure, but there have not been any infrastructure investments. The government is investing just 0.1% of our GDP on creating wealth and jobs in our country. This is not what the government promised during the election campaign. It promised to run small deficits. This is no surprise, given that the Prime Minister may not have studied at the great schools of economics. This is no guarantee, but three years ago, the Prime Minister introduced an unprecedented economic policy, or economic philosophy. I remind members that when the hon. Joe Oliver tabled the final budget of the previous government, the leader of the Liberal Party said that the budget would balance itself.
I was in university when I was young. I studied a lot, and I have never seen the fiscal or economic theory elsewhere, other than from the present Prime Minister, that a budget balances by itself. If there is someone else who has some information about that, I will welcome it. I really want to understand how someone can seriously speak such stupidity, but that is the signature of the present Prime Minister.
The Liberals have attacked businesses in several ways, by raising their taxes and reducing the government assistance they might be eligible for. The best way to help our businesses is to tax them less. However, in the past three years, the government has done something entirely different. First, it imposed a carbon tax, which will come into force across Canada in a few short months. Next, it reduced all the tax credits we had introduced for research, recruitment, and business development. The tax credits we brought in have been abolished by this government. That is the kind of thing that makes businesses owners lose confidence. This is troubling. All the economic indicators of business confidence are negative. Private investment in Canada is down 5% since 2015. Compared with the United States, it is not just a drop of 5%, it is actually another 5% to 9% on top of that. That is a difference of 14%. Canadian business owners feel uncomfortable and are investing less, while American business owners are investing three times more, relatively speaking. That is not a good thing.
Foreign investment in Canada has fallen by 42% over the past year. This means that less wealth is being created, since nothing is better for a nation's economy than foreign investment. It is a real source of wealth creation. When entrepreneurs create jobs and wealth, it is basically because their products are sold abroad, whether in Europe, Asia, or the United States. This is about the Canadian dollars, yen, euros, or even pounds that might be invested in our economy. That is the real source of wealth creation. That is why we are very worried about the fact that foreign investment has fallen by 42%.
As a final point, I want to talk about the debt. I have a bit of an obsession with the debt, because those folks over there were elected on a promise that they would run up small deficits and balance the books again by 2019, but they are not keeping their promises. On top of that, the debt generated by deficits is money that we cannot spend for our children. Quite the opposite, it is our children who will be forced to pay because of today's mismanagement. This government will go down in history for bringing Canada's national debt to $1 trillion. This is not “billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles” for those familiar with Tintin, but rather $1 trillion. This has “Liberal government” written all over it.
All these bad signs have shaken people's trust in their political leaders. A party can be elected on a certain campaign platform and then change direction based on external factors; however, in this case, there are no external factors. It is nothing but bad faith that has led the Liberal government to run up such huge deficits, rather than the small deficits promised and the balanced budget promised by 2019. Instead, it has absolutely no idea when we will return to a balanced budget. This government has just catapulted Canada towards the sad reality of a trillion-dollar debt. That is right, I said $1 trillion.
For all these reasons, we will vote against this budget. We feel it is an irresponsible, wrong-headed budget that will force our children to pay the price. It does nothing to help our economy and our entrepreneurs prepare for the new reality of a powerful neighbour that is both our number-one partner and our number-one competitor, the United States of America.
We hope this government will get public finances under control and take the bull by the horns so that one day, maybe a year and a half from now, we will be fortunate enough to have a realistic and responsible government led by the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.