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View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2018-11-06 13:34 [p.23323]
Mr. Speaker, we have come together this afternoon to discuss Bill C-86, budget implementation act, 2018, no. 2. Simply put, for anyone listening, this debate is about the bill that implements the principal measures of the budget.
This debate is vital to Canadian democracy and crucial to ensuring that Canadian taxpayers know how their money is being spent. Unfortunately, closure has been invoked on this debate. Three years ago, the government told Canadians that it was committed to doing things differently, that it would never use closure, and that it would not introduce huge bills like this one. It is doing the exact opposite. Closure has been imposed over 50 times. This bill is not just 10 paragraphs long; it has 858 pages. It is what is known as an omnibus bill. Bill C-86 contains provisions dealing with labour code standards, for instance, and other things that have nothing to do with the budget. The Liberal way is to say one thing during the election campaign and do the opposite once they are in power.
Furthermore, when you look at Canada's budgetary situation, you see that it is exactly the opposite of what the Liberal Party had promised, with hand over heart, to win Canadians' trust. The Liberals did have their trust, but unfortunately they have squandered it.
Keep in mind that the Liberal Party promised to run small deficits for three years before returning to a balanced budget in 2019, which miraculously happens to be an election year. The Prime Minister came up with an interesting economic theory. During an interview with CBC, he said that budgets balance themselves, implying that deficits do not exist. I checked with every economic school of thought in the world and aside from the current Prime Minister of Canada, there is not a single serious economist who thinks that budgets balance themselves. The Prime Minister may see rainbows and unicorns when he looks at the budget, but people who know how to count certainly do not.
If budgets balanced themselves then we could expect the budget to be balanced in 2019, but the opposite is true. For three years the Liberals have been running deficits that are two to three times higher than expected. Today, 2019 is just around the corner and the government has absolutely no idea when it plans to return to balanced budgets.
It is certainly not for lack of trying on our part. Just today the official opposition finance critic, the hon. member for Carleton, questioned the Minister of Finance five times. He was in the House, where he could have clearly stated when the government plans to return to a balanced budget.
Our question was crystal clear: When will Canada get back to a zero deficit? We asked him that, not once, not twice, not three times, but five times in a row and, unfortunately, the Minister of Finance dodged the issue. Maybe the Minister of Finance will dodge the issue, but he cannot dodge reality, and certainly not his responsibility to Canadian taxpayers.
Why are deficits bad? They are bad because, ultimately, our children and grandchildren will have to pick up the tab. Running deficits is irresponsible because that is not our money.
I know that the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development is a credible person. He is an honourable man whom I respect and hold in high esteem. The problem is the government saying that it is thinking of children in this budget. Sure it is thinking of children—it is forcing them to foot the bill once they hit the job market. That is the Liberal Party way, but that is not how a responsible government that got itself elected by promising small deficits should behave.
We all remember how the Liberals went on and on about making the rich pay more taxes.
The famous 1% of Canadian taxpayers will get hurt by the Liberal government. Oh yes, looking at the results and the figures, since those guys were elected three years ago, the famous 1% have not paid more taxes, but more than $4 billion less. That is the Liberals' economy. That is the Prime Minister's economy. That is the way those guys were elected, by saying, “No deficit in 2019 and the 1% will pay more”. They said that, but that is not the reality today.
Members will also recall that the Liberals promised to run very small deficits to stimulate the economy while investing billions of dollars in infrastructure. Once again, the results are not there. In one of his most recent reports a few months ago, the Parliamentary Budget Officer indicated that there was no infrastructure plan. It is not the official opposition, members of the NDP or the Conservative Party of Canada who said that. Everything that has been done has boosted the economy by only 0.1%, so that is just one more promise this government has broken.
The Liberal government has completely lost control of the public purse. People need to understand something. It is only natural that government spending will go up every year for two reasons: population growth and inflation. If the population increases, the government has to provide more services, which costs more money. If inflation rises, the government has to spend more to prevent a freeze down the road. That is fine. However, the government did not take into account the combination of these two basic factors in its calculations. It has spent three times more than it should have based on the combination of inflation and population growth. Simply put, the Liberals do not know how to count and they are spending recklessly.
That brings us to the troubling signs we are seeing today. First of all, investments in Canada are in free fall, dropping by 5%. If we break down this sad and alarming reality further, we discover that unfortunately, thanks to the current government's ineptitude, combined with the new U.S. administration's solicitous approach to managing and stimulating investment, Canadian investment in the United States is up 65% and U.S. investment in Canada is down 52%.
The two indices that we use to determine whether the Canadian economy is getting sufficient stimulation from an investment standpoint suggest that Americans are investing less in Canada and Canadians are investing more in the United States. That is bad news on two counts.
Another concern is related to the announcement made by the Governor of the Bank of Canada. I am not referring to the Governor General, although former governors general have been in the news lately, some for debatable reasons and others for very bad reasons. The current Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, made it clear that playtime was over last week when he announced that after modest interest rate hikes, we should get used to the idea of a minimum interest rate of 3%, or potentially higher.
This warning sign should to be taken into account when major budget checks or manoeuvres are being done, but unfortunately, this government is not doing anything about it. It does not care. Given that we will be paying $24 billion in interest on our debt this year alone, and that figure could soon rise to $35 billion and beyond, it seems obvious that we need to curb our spending. We need to stop spending three times more money than the inflation rate combined with population growth allows. We need to ensure sound management of public funds.
Canadians will have to contend with the Liberal carbon tax next year. The Liberals boast about their lofty principles. They are always ready to work with the provinces as long as the provinces work with them and say exactly what they are saying. When the provinces want nothing to do with the Liberal carbon tax, it is imposed on them by the government.
That is not how federal-provincial relations should be conducted. We must work together. If by chance the provincial governments want to have a carbon tax or participate in the carbon exchange, it would be their choice. However, if they are not interested and decide to opt out, the federal government will twist their arm. That is not the right approach.
The government is obviously talking out of both sides of its mouth. It says that there must be a price on pollution, which is their new slogan, but it is not for everyone. Under the Liberals, the big emitters will get a discount, not of 5%, or 10% or even 50%, but of 90%.
These are the same people who said that the rich would pay more, when in fact they are paying less. These are the same people who said that they want to tax carbon and polluters, except for the biggest polluters.
In light of this, we will be voting against the bill and exposing the Liberal government's contradictions.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2018-04-16 17:00 [p.18338]
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.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2017-06-05 16:59 [p.12017]
Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I speak to you today because, just 15 minutes ago, the Liberal majority in the House of Commons voted in favour of time allocation on Bill C-44, a major bill to implement the Liberal government's budget. It is, however, much more than that. It is also an omnibus bill that affects a whole range of things. That is why my speech will focus on the omnibus nature of this bill and the problems it causes as well as the fact that the budgetary measures it implements are bad.
First of all, let us talk about the omnibus bill. I remember that the Liberal Party was elected by claiming that it would never present omnibus bills as we had done at other times, it seemed to say, when we formed the government. This again shows that the Liberal Party said one thing during the election campaign and is doing exactly the opposite now that they are in power.
Furthermore, every time the previous administration tabled a bill that might include some distinctive elements, the Liberals would tear their hair out, saying it was the end of the world, that it did not make sense, and that the rights of parliamentarians had been infringed. Well, then, these people are doing exactly the same thing today. This is what makes people cynical, unfortunately.
Let us now look at the fundamental elements that, in our opinion, make this an omnibus bill. First of all, it literally provides for the creation of the Canada infrastructure and investment bank, and even brings major changes to the nature and mandate of the parliamentary budget officer. Let us examine these elements one by one.
The parliamentary budget officer is a fundamental institution of our Parliament. He is the person who ensures that the management of funds is carried out rigorously. However, this government, in the initial version of Bill C-44, is proposing, suggesting and imposing on the parliamentary budget officer a new obligation to report on his game plan for the year, which must be approved by the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons. This makes no sense, and I would even say that it is a denial of democracy.
Why? First of all, the parliamentary budget officer must draw up his plan for the year, and if a particular event occurs during that year, he will not be able to analyze the plan. This is the first mistake. Worse, however, is that he will become a figurehead who can be manipulated by the Speaker of the Senate, someone who is not elected, but rather appointed by the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House of Commons, who is appointed by all political parties.
This is exactly the opposite of what should be taking place. The parliamentary budget officer must be absolutely protected from any political intervention. With Bill C-44, the government will hold the parliamentary budget officer hostage, to some extent, to the decisions of the House of Commons. This is not acceptable.
I would now like to talk about Investment Canada. This is another invention of the Liberal government to attract foreign investment to Canada. Has the member for Papineau and new Prime Minister just invented this? Does he think no foreign investments have ever been made in Canada? Does he think that as a result of Investment Canada, the whole planet is going to discover that Canada exists and they can invest here? I would remind him that snow fell before he was born. If he has any doubt, I would remind him that when he was born, his father was the prime minister of Canada. He should know that Canada has favoured foreign investment for more than 150 years. Some might even say that it was the backbone of the creation of our country 150 years ago, since foreign investment was welcomed at that time.
Why, then, create Investment Canada, when our economic development agencies and our embassies have been doing the same job for decades, if not 150 years? We have institutions in Canada that work to attract foreign investment. Why, then, have another Liberal invention, other than to please some pals and create another administrative structure that will make the apparatus of Canadian government more complex? We do not need it; the job is already being done very well.
The same applies to the infrastructure bank, which is by no means a small matter. We are talking about hundreds of billions of potential dollars that are to be managed by that institution, when this kind of tool already exists: PPP Canada allows for investment of foreign capital and private capital to develop our infrastructure.
What does the Liberal government find fault with in PPP Canada? Does it think it is physically not a good thing and it has to oppose it because it was created by the Conservatives? If that is the case, what a poor approach this government is taking. We must admit that this is surely is the case because that party denounces everything we did, although it is doing exactly the same thing as us today.
In the case of the infrastructure bank, it is no small thing. They want to create a bank that will use $35 billion of taxpayers’ money, $15 billion of which will be used immediately to create the operating fund. That means there will immediately be $15 billion less in the economy, at a time when people need it.
Then they are going to set that money aside to attract foreign investment, but on what terms? First, it will involve only projects of $100 million and over. Already, they are leaving out almost three-quarters of the Canadian population, because few cities can afford the luxury of having $100-million infrastructure projects.
Last Friday, I had the extraordinary privilege and honour of representing my leader at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. I addressed an audience of about 1,000 people. There were municipal politicians, councillors, wardens, mayors, and even reeves, the term I learned that is used for the mayors of rural communities in English Canada. I asked those people whether, in their municipalities, they had ever carried out projects worth over $100 million. Only three people raised their hands, in an audience of about 1,000 people.
That is clear proof that this does not affect Canada’s rural communities, or even Canada’s semi-urban communities. They are part of the backbone of the Canadian economy, but this government is snubbing them by allocating only $2 billion out of the $180 billion to investments.
Need I point out that we Conservatives are in favour of investment in infrastructure? Under the leadership of the member for Lac-Saint-Jean, we put in place the most impressive infrastructure budget, the difference being that we did it while balancing the budget and not by creating compulsive gigantic deficits as the present government is doing.
The infrastructure bank will mean that private and foreign investors will only rake in the profits, leaving Canadian taxpayers to assume all the risks. That is why it should not be. Virtually all observers agree that the clauses of the bill relating to the infrastructure bank should be withdrawn so they can be studied properly. This kind of thing is not something to be created by snapping your fingers. It deserves our attention.
This bill also implements this government’s unfortunate budget measures. First, let us talk about the deficit. The Liberals got elected by saying they would run a small, $10-billion deficit, but they are now at $30 billion. They also said there would be a return to balance by 2019 when, in reality, it will not happen before 2055. I am not the one saying it; the information comes from the none other than the finance department.
Let us also not forget that these people are attacking families and the middle class by inventing new taxes on tobacco, on alcohol, Friday night beer or Saturday night wine, and by eliminating the tax credits for sports and arts activities and school textbooks, which helped families directly.
What is even worse is that this budget, in the form of Bill C-44, eliminates the tax credit for public transit that had been instituted by the Conservative government. Of the 200 or 300 tax credits we have, if someone had told me that the Liberals would eliminate the public transit tax credit, I would never have believed it, because they are always going on and on about their fine ecological principles. Here they are, however, doing away with the tax credit for Canadian taxpayers who take the bus to work every day.
For these reasons, we vigorously oppose this bill and we hope that the House of Commons will defeat it.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2016-12-02 10:36 [p.7567]
Mr. Speaker, that is quite true, and I recall that the NDP had the courage, the honour and the dignity to run on a no-deficit platform—a very bold move. I salute his keen foresight on the matter.
Mr. Speaker, did you hear any talk of the infrastructure investment bank during the campaign? No. It was totally absent from the Liberal platform, and now it is a major part of the government’s economic game plan. What will it do? It will receive $15 billion slated for investment in order to attract foreign investment. Why?
Nothing currently prevents foreign investment from coming into Canada: quite the contrary. Nothing prevents private partners from working hand-in-hand on infrastructure projects with the Canadian government. We call that PPP Canada. It exists, it is going on, and it is working. The Windsor-Detroit bridge that we are currently building between our two great countries, our two great nations, is a public-private partnership. We are able to work that way.
Why did the government dream up this new infrastructure bank if not to please its many pals once again?
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