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Results: 1 - 13 of 13
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 Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2018-11-06 16:48 [p.23354]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are drowning Canadian job creators in red tape and tax hikes. Whether it is the carbon tax, small business tax hikes or the many cancelled tax credits and deductions, the Liberals are driving businesses out of Canada and killing Canadian jobs, hurting workers and middle-class families across the country.
Every other day major oil and gas companies cancel future projects, stop expansions or completely sell their Canadian businesses and take their money to other countries. It is a crisis, and it is not a result of external factors beyond the government's control. In fact, it is a direct consequence of the Liberals' message to Canadians and the world that Canada is closed for business because of the Liberals' added red tape and imposed cost increases.
Context is important. The energy sector is the biggest private sector investor and accounts for over 11% of the value of Canada's economy. To put this in perspective, it contributes twice as much as agriculture and fisheries combined, sectors in which farmers and fishermen also often have jobs in oil and gas. It contributes more than the banking and finance sector and more than the auto sector. The benefits are shared across Canada. Every one job in the oil sands creates seven manufacturing jobs in Ontario. Every one upstream oil and gas job in Alberta creates five jobs in other sectors, in other provinces.
However, spending in Canada's oil and gas sector declined 56% over three years, from $81 billion in 2014 to $45 billion in 2017. More money has left Canada's oil and gas sector since the 2015 election than at any other comparable time period in more than 70 years. The equivalent value would be losing 75% of auto manufacturing in Canada, or almost the entirety of the aerospace sector in Canada, something no one rightfully would accept.
The biggest beneficiary is the U.S. where spending in oil and gas increased 38% to $120 billion in 2017. Today, U.S. investment in Canada is down by more than half. Canadian investment in the U.S. is up by two-thirds. The consequences of these losses are hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of work and less revenue for core social programs and services at every level of government in every single province.
Over 115,000 Albertans are out of work and not receiving any employment insurance assistance right now and tens of thousands more have lost their jobs. The Liberals' anti-energy agenda is clearly both hindering the private sector from being able to provide well-paying jobs, but it is also risking the life savings of many Canadians.
Oil and gas companies are a big part of most people's pension plans, and whether through employer provided defined contribution plans or personal investments in mutual funds, chances are that most Canadians are invested in oil and gas. When oil and gas companies leave Canada, the value of those investments in Canada drops, reducing the value of everyone's retirement savings. Now CPP and the Ontario teachers' pension plan are also investing in the United States.
I want to highlight an aspect of this legislation that will compound uncertainty and challenges for Canadian oil and gas proponents. On page 589, in the very last chapter of this 840-page omnibus bill, clause 692 implements sweeping new powers for the federal cabinet to impose regulations on marine transport. Included in these powers is the ability to pass regulations:
(j) respecting compulsory routes and recommended routes;
(k) regulating or prohibiting the operation, navigation, anchoring, mooring or berthing of vessels or classes of vessels; and
(l) regulating or prohibiting the loading or unloading of a vessel or a class of vessels.
This means the Liberal cabinet can block any class of tanker from any route leaving Canada or from docking at any port the Liberals choose. In Bill C-48, oil tankers of a certain size will be prevented from travelling and from the loading and off-loading of crude at ports only off the northern coast of B.C.
This legislation, Bill C-86, would be a dramatic expansion, giving the Liberal cabinet the power to block oil exports from any port anywhere in Canada or to block oil tankers in general from entering Canadian waters. Places like the Arctic could lose access to the fuel tankers that keep power on during the winter. Offshore oil and gas development in Atlantic Canada could be blocked overnight. That is alarming in itself, and it gets worse.
This legislation authorizes a single minister to be able to make legally binding changes to these regulations for a year at a time and even up to three years, regarding “compulsory routes” and “prohibiting the operation, navigation, anchoring, mooring or berthing of vessels or classes of vessels”. One minister with one stroke of a pen can shut down an entire industry with wide-ranging impacts.
This is a pattern. The Liberals repeatedly demonstrate their hostility to the oil and gas sector in Canada. The Prime Minister of course said that he wants to phase out the oil sands, and Canadians should believe him. He defended the use of tax dollars for summer jobs to stop the Trans Mountain expansion. The Liberals removed the tax credit for new exploration oil drilling at the very worst time.
Also, many Liberal MPs ran in the last election opposing the export of Canada's oil to the world. Since they formed government, the Liberals have used every tool at their disposal to kill energy sector jobs.
Canada is the only top 10 oil-producing country in the world, let alone in North America, to impose a carbon tax on itself. While there are significant exemptions for major industrial emitters, it will hike costs for operations across the value chain, and certainly for the 80% of Canadian service and supply companies that are small businesses. Moreover, individual contractors will still have to pay it.
The proposed clean fuel standards—which would be unprecedented globally because they would be applied to buildings and facilities, not just to transportation fuel—will cost integrated oil and gas companies as well as refining and petrochemical development in Canada hundreds of millions of dollars. Canada is literally the most environmentally and socially responsible producer of oil and gas in the world, oil and gas that the world will continue to demand for decades. We are falling dramatically behind the United States and other countries for regulatory efficiency and clarity.
The Liberals imposed the tanker ban, with no substantial economic, safety, or environmental assessments and no real consultation, and a ban on offshore drilling in the north against the wishes of the premier of the Northwest Territories.
The Prime Minister vetoed outright the northern gateway pipeline and then intervened to kill energy east with delays, rule changes and a last-minute double standard. Now, the Liberals' failures have driven Kinder Morgan out of Canada. Construction of the Trans Mountain expansion has never started in the two years since the Liberals approved it, and they have repeatedly kicked the can down the road for months. The consequence is that crude oil is now being shipped by rail and truck at record levels, negatively impacting other sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and retail.
The Liberals would add uncertainty and great expense for any resource project that has even a ditch on its property, by subjecting all water to the navigable waters regulatory regime in Bill C-68. Moreover, their “no more pipelines” Bill C-69 would block any future pipelines and therefore stop major oil and gas projects from being built in Canada.
Kinder Morgan is now going to take all of that $4.5 billion in Canadian tax dollars the Liberals spent on the existing pipeline and will use it to build pipelines in the United States, Canada's biggest energy competitor and customer. The consequences are that large companies are pulling out of Canada and investing in the U.S. or elsewhere.
Encana, a made in Canada success story, is selling Canadian assets to buy into projects in the United States. Gwyn Morgan, its founder, did not mince words. He said:
I’m deeply saddened that, as a result of the disastrous policies of the [Liberal] government, what was once the largest Canadian-headquartered energy producer now sees both its CEO and the core of its asset base located in the U.S.
It is estimated that the Liberal failure to get pipelines built is forcing Canadian oil to sell for $100 million dollars less a day than what it should be worth. That is $100 million dollars a day that is not providing for middle-class families, that is not fuelling small businesses, and not generating taxes to pay off the out-of-control Liberal deficit.
RBC recently reported that in 2008, taxes generated by oil and gas were worth $35 billion a year for provincial and federal governments. That is now down to almost $10 billion a year in 2016. That is more than $20 billion a year that could have gone to health care and education or to cover old age security costs, or be invested in building bridges and roads. Of course, the Liberals promised a deficit of only $10 billion a year and that the budget would be balanced by 2019, but none of that is anywhere in sight. They choose to spend recklessly: millions of dollars on perks like renovations for ministers' offices, a $5 million hockey rink on Parliament Hill that operated for a couple of months, or $26 million for vehicles. Never mind the billions of dollars spent outside Canada, building oil and gas pipelines in Asia with Canadian tax dollars or funding groups linked to anti-Semitism and terrorism.
Never has a government spent so much and achieved so little. The end result is Canada is trapped in a debt spiral. The ones who are going to pay for these deficits are millennials and their children, and it makes life less affordable today while federal government debt increases interest rates across the board. That poses significant risks to Canada and leaves us utterly unprepared for a global economic recession or worldwide factors that the government cannot control, unlike the Liberals' damaging policies. Future generations will find that their governments cannot afford services or programs they are counting on, and their governments will be in a trap of borrowing and hiking taxes. That is why Conservatives advocate balanced budgets, because it is the only responsible thing to do for Canada's children and grandchildren.
The out-sized contributions of the energy sector to the whole country's economy and to government revenue is also why the future of energy development in Canada is one of the most important domestic economic questions facing all of us. That is what makes the Liberal layering of red tape and costs on Canadian energy so unconscionable, and the consequences so devastating for all of Canada.
View Dean Allison Profile
View Dean Allison Profile
2018-09-17 12:31 [p.21373]
Mr. Speaker, I am glad that we are finally here for this debate to, hopefully, get this important trade agreement ratified quickly. CPTPP is a trade agreement that will greatly benefit Canadians and Canadian businesses. It will help diversify and grow our economy, and most importantly, it will help create needed Canadian jobs.
I have to say that it has taken longer than we thought for the current government to be able to get this implementation process in place. Having said that, now that we have NAFTA in jeopardy and a series of other issues on other major trade files, we need Canada to successfully continue to diversify its export markets now. There is no time to wait. We could have easily done this earlier in the summer when the opposition leader asked the Prime Minister to immediately convene an emergency session of the House to approve this agreement. It was disappointing to see that the Liberals rejected that offer. However, we are here now and we are ready to get it done.
For Canadians watching at home, it is important to explain what the CPTPP is. It is important because one out of every five Canadian jobs depends on international trade, and these are essential trading relationships that help generate 60% of our GDP.
CPTPP stands for the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership. It is the successor to the TPP agreement signed by our previous Conservative government. It includes 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It was signed in March of this year and is still waiting to be ratified. Hopefully the government will finally get this job done.
CPTPP reduces tariffs in countries representing 13% of the global economy, or a total of $10 trillion. The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimated that the TPP, in the version signed by the previous Conservative government, would boost Canadian income by over $20 billion over the next decade. The agreement comes into force 60 days after at least six signatory countries ratify it, and the deadline to ratify it is in February 2019. After that, we lose our first-mover advantage, and Canada will have to play catch-up with the other signatory countries.
The Prime Minister replaced his international trade minister earlier this summer and told Canadians that the government would renew its efforts to diversify our exports. This opportunity is now. In fact, the opportunity was there even in June when, on this side of the House, we stood ready to get this deal ratified when the House was still sitting. It is not just Conservative MPs but Canadians throughout the country who have been waiting for the Liberal government to wake up to the many threats that loom large over our national economy.
The Liberals are doing poorly on many fronts: market access for our natural resources, tax and regulatory competitiveness, and international trade diversification. They are also pursuing failed policies to increase taxes and drive down growth. They are trying to ram through a carbon tax and are going overboard with over-regulation.
Imposing the carbon tax on provinces, businesses and families has been a complete disaster for the Liberals. Now the environment minister says that any province that does not get on board with the Liberals' climate plan will not get its share of the government's $2 billion low-carbon economy fund. We ask, “Why are they blackmailing the provinces?”
Despite this, many provinces refuse to sign on to the Liberals' carbon tax. Even Alberta's NDP premier withdrew her support for Ottawa's national climate change strategy. Seeing this, the Prime Minister tried quietly to walk-back how much some large companies will have to pay under this new carbon tax, yet he still plans to impose the carbon tax on smaller businesses and families to make up for the taxes the big guys are not paying. This makes no sense and is fundamentally unfair. The carbon tax is bad for everyone, not just the companies that can afford it most. The fact of the matter is that the Liberal carbon tax has increased the cost of living for every Canadian, including driving already skyrocketing gas prices even higher.
On top of everything, the Liberals are refusing to come clean on the true cost of the carbon tax for the average family. What we know so far is that gas prices will go up by at least 11¢ a litre and the cost of living to heat one's home will increase by over $200. However, again, the Liberals will not tell us the overall cost to an average Canadian family, because they do not want people to know what this scheme will actually cost. The Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report recently that found that the carbon tax will take over $10 billion out of the Canadian economy by 2022, while other estimates argue that this cost could be as much as $35 billion a year. This will, without a doubt, hurt jobs, workers and their families.
The good news is that common sense is winning the debate on this issue. More and more Canadians realize that the carbon tax is unfair and will leave them with less and less of their hard-earned tax dollars. Foreign investors are concerned, because the Liberals are simply making Canada a less attractive place to invest. Investment from abroad went down by 42% in 2016 and a further 27% in 2017.
Even the CEO of CIBC, Victor Dodig, is sounding the alarm over falling levels of foreign investment in Canada, warning that the country needs clearer rules to shore up investor confidence. Last week, The Globe and Mail reported that during a lunchtime speech in Toronto Mr. Dodig said he is increasingly hearing from the bank's clients that opportunities for investment returns are better south of the border. He cited several reasons, from the U.S. tax cuts and regulatory changes to trade uncertainty. He also went on to say that Ottawa's criteria for approving large deals involving foreign firms are not always clear, creating uncertainty for potential investors. He pointed to the debate over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project as a prime example of Canada sending the wrong signals:
“That, to me, should be a siren call that that money is here. It will leave”, he said, “and I can't see any upside to it leaving....” Foreign investors “need confidence”, Mr. Dodig said. “They need an element of certainty. They need to know the rules. They need a clear understanding of how things get approved [here in Canada].”
The Globe and Mail article goes on to say that these comments are in addition to Suncor CEO Steve Williams, who told investors in New York, “There is clearly a question of confidence in Canada”, echoing Imperial Oil Limited CEO Rich Kruger, who said this summer that regulatory uncertainty and concerns about competitiveness are causing investment decisions to be delayed.
This is very worrisome. We can just look at what the Liberals have done with Canadian pipelines. It is absolutely stunning. When the Prime Minister was elected, three major energy companies had pipeline projects: northern gateway, energy east and Trans Mountain. They were prepared to build in Canada. Now, thanks to Liberal policies and decisions, we have none of these.
The Liberals piled on new regulations and red tape, and introduced an oil tanker ban and a bill that would effectively ban the future construction of pipelines, and that is on top of their carbon tax. These policies need to be repealed to restore investor confidence in the Canadian energy sector.
However, nowhere has the Liberal mismanagement been more evident than in their handling of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. It would be difficult for them to top this one.
When the Liberals announced that they were nationalizing the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, Canadians were told that it was going to cost 4.5 billion of their tax dollars to allow construction to begin immediately. The reality is that taxpayers are now the shareholders of this monstrous Liberal boondoggle, and not one centimetre of pipeline has been built. It is absolutely unacceptable that Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for $4.5 billion of pipeline that may never be built, and that is in addition to the estimated cost of somewhere around $9.3 billion to actually twin the pipeline. Also, recently, the Federal Court of Appeal found that the government had failed to consult indigenous people on the Trans Mountain expansion and overturned approval of the project.
Thousands of Canadians have lost their jobs because of Liberal failures. We gave the Prime Minister another opportunity to outline his plan on how he will get the Trans Mountain expansion built and Canadians back to work. We tried to do this through an emergency meeting of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and, yet again, the Prime Minister forced the Liberal MPs to shut down a study of the government's handling of the Trans Mountain expansion. His government has been given multiple chances to reassure Canadians, but instead he has chosen to rely on empty rhetoric.
Our hard-working men and women in the resource sector, whose jobs and livelihoods depend on these projects, deserve to have a competent government that does not get in the way of resource sector jobs at every opportunity it gets. These workers deserve a concrete plan to ensure that the Trans Mountain expansion is actually going to be completed. The failure to get the Trans Mountain expansion built is now threatening other expansions in the oil and gas sector, adding to the total number of jobs at risk. The Trans Mountain pipeline is crucial to oil and gas workers across Canada and to the regional economies that stand to benefit from its expansion, including 43 first nation communities that have benefit agreements worth over $400 million, which now hang in the balance. I also mentioned that right here in Ontario, there are all kinds of businesses close to my riding and in southwestern Ontario that would also benefit from building pipelines.
How do we persuade potential trading partners that our country is open for business, when Liberal policies prove the opposite? The Liberals have not been able to address Canada's faltering position on the global economy. It is a position they put us in with their policies. It is one thing after another with the government. In fact, it is difficult to think of an example of a foreign policy win for the government since it took office in 2015.
That is why I hope that ratification of the CPTPP goes through smoothly. We cannot afford any more issues and delays.
Time and again the Liberals have demonstrated their lack of seriousness to our potential international trading partners. Last year, the Prime Minister touted a free trade agreement with China. What happened there? The Prime Minister's visit to Beijing actually set back our trading relationship. It also failed to address any of the concerns Canadians have about trade with China. The Prime Minister then skipped a critical meeting at the CPTPP, angering our Asia-Pacific partners like Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. There was also his embarrassing trip to India that still haunts us to this day. It is time for the government and the Prime Minister to take trade and our relationships around the world seriously.
I want to dedicate some time to speaking about our trade relationship with the United States, who at one point was a signatory to the original TPP agreement. It is important to note that the United States is Canada's most important trading partner. Twenty per cent of Canada's GDP is tied to our commercial relationship with the United States, and over 74% of Canadian exports go to the United States.
It is no secret that the government is in the midst of very difficult NAFTA negotiations. At this stage, the Americans seem to have already struck an agreement with Mexico and are using that as leverage. This could potentially impact millions of Canadian jobs. Canadians are concerned that our government was not at the table while these decisions were being made. It seems like we were on the outside looking in while major sectors of our economy and millions of Canadian jobs have hung in the balance.
We are heavily dependent on our American neighbours. This makes any tariff action against us very painful for our economy. American tariffs imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum are just another example of why we need to expand foreign markets for Canadian manufacturers. The CPTPP is one effective avenue for this expansion. It has the potential to boost Canadian income by billions over the next decade. That is why we cannot risk looking our first mover advantage. We do not want to jeopardize jobs and supply lines by not being part of the first six ratifying signatories.
We all know that this agreement has broad support. Several industry groups representing agriculture, agri-food, and forestry have all come forward in support of the CPTPP. That said, we would work with all sectors to minimize the risk under the agreement. However, we maintain that on balance this agreement is good for the broadest range of Canadian manufacturers.
Economic modelling by both the Canada West Foundation and the federal government confirm that there would be hundreds of billions of dollars in immediate benefits for Canadian firms if we are among the first wave of signatories to ratify the agreement.
I want to go back to American tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum for a second, because they tie in with the urgency of diversifying our trade.
American tariffs have caused great concern among our workers in the Canadian steel and aluminum industries. Thousands of jobs and the livelihood of Canadian workers and businesses are all being threatened. This is even more worrisome considering the U.S. government's repeated threats to impose a 25% tariff on the auto sector. The longer we go without a deal on NAFTA and the closer we get to auto tariffs being imposed, the more anxious Canadians will get and the less certain they will be when it comes to making business decisions. The most pressing priority, and I believe we are all united on this, is to protect Canadian jobs and industry by having tariffs removed from Canadian steel and aluminum, and by stopping new tariffs from being imposed.
That is why we made it clear to the government that we would continue to work with it to bring forward concrete ideas to defend local jobs. Defending local jobs is exactly what my colleagues and I on this side of the House did during the summertime. We travelled across Canada to meet with workers, businesses, and labour groups to determine how best to respond to threats posed by U.S. tariffs and the continued trade uncertainty around NAFTA. We met with over 200 stakeholders from the steel, aluminum, automotive, and manufacturing sectors across four provinces.
We heard from stakeholders that they want the government to do three things: first, conclude negotiations and sign a NAFTA deal as soon as possible; second, provide immediate support to companies struggling to stay afloat; and third, take steps to improve Canada's competitiveness by reducing red tape.
Businesses need certainty. That is why the first recommendation to sign a NAFTA deal was by far the most repeated one by stakeholders this summer. We also heard that businesses have already cut orders, that shifts are being reduced, workers are being laid off, and that others will lose their jobs in the next couple of months.
I also want to mention that despite the government's promise of $2 billion in aid, we found that no one has been able to access any of this money. The $2 billion was earmarked for additional debt offered by EDC and BDC, as well as employment insurance programs like work sharing and retraining.
The challenge I have with the $2 billion is that $1.7 of that was to go to EDC or BDC in the form of additional loans, not tariff relief. We had $250 million to run the strategic innovation fund, and when we dug into that, we found it was for companies doing over $10 million in sales and employing over 200 people. Let us think about that.
No SMEs could get any access to the $2 billion fund. Then we see monies committed for work sharing. Work sharing, to me, sounds a lot like a postmortem of what is going on. It sounds like the horse has left the barn and we are just trying to save the furniture now. Work sharing is a good program, but we need to make sure that people can expand their businesses, not find ways for them not to be able do it. That is the challenge I have with the $2 billion.
We read a great Global News article last week. It said that only $11,000 has gone out, and yet there has been almost $300 million collected in tariffs.
The other thing we found out from talking to businesses is that the tariffs are not actually tariffs, but a surtax. They are actually not eligible for any kind of duty deferral or duty remittances, or any of these kinds of things. It is actually an additional tax.
We have over $16 billion's worth of items being tariffed, anywhere from 25% to 10%, depending on what the products are, which would, if we calculate that out, be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2 billion in additional tax revenue, and yet we have not seen one nickel of that going back to SMEs. There is $2 billion of tax revenue coming in, in the form of surtaxes, and right now we have no plan, other than what was a perceived announcement, on how our small- and medium-sized enterprises are actually going to access any of that kind of tariff relief.
Some of the SMEs are going to have the conversation, asking how they are going to get the money back. They are being informed that they will be told in 60 or 90 days, whatever the case may be. I heard one company say that it may be up to 200 days. Let us think about that. Some of these companies will not be around if that is allowed to continue.
We talked to companies. I was with one of our members in Concord. We asked an aerospace company about what would happen if we did not resolve the issue around tariffs, and they said that it represented an existential threat to their company. They have parts whose prices have now gone up almost 100%.
We see what has happened because of tariffs. We see steel and aluminum prices, steel in particular, going up anywhere from 25% to 50% across the country. That presents a real problem.
I just do not think that piling on more debt, as I mentioned before, or easing workers' transitions into unemployment are adequate solutions. Companies affected by steel and aluminum tariffs are struggling to stay afloat, and need immediate support. This tit-for-tat with the United States makes it even more urgent that we seize every opportunity to expand and diversify our trading relationships.
On this side of the House, we have always supported this. The previous Conservative government had the foresight to conclude free trade negotiations and investment agreements with 53 other countries, including the countries of the original trans-Pacific partnership and the other 28 countries of CETA, which concluded in 2014. Speaking about CETA, another Conservative trade accomplishment, last week the Financial Post reported that CETA has boosted container shipping and promoted a hiring spree at the docks in Montreal.
Once again, the minister mentioned that there had been some increased activity at the docks in Montreal, and it is certainly great to see in Canada that the European free trade agreement is doing exactly what it was designed to do. I would caution, though, that as we have seen imports expand by 12%, our exports have only gone up by 1%. That means there is more work for government to do to get our companies prepared to be able to sell into these markets.
The Financial Post went on to say that the employers association that handles training for the port workforce, as well as the Montreal Port Authority, attributes much of the container flow to the CETA agreement. That is a good new story, but there is still more work that we need to do to expand our exports.
It is also said that the extra dock traffic spurred the association to start hiring 50 more longshoremen and 15 more auditors, resulting in several key terminals nearly doubling their operating time to 17 hours each work day. This is an incredible accomplishment and evidence that benefits come from diversifying Canada's trade.
Canada's Conservative Party is the party of free trade, and we understand the importance of reliable access to markets for Canadian business and workers. In conclusion, I would like to say that given the importance of the bill to Canadian livelihoods, it is crucial to the public interest that Canada ratify the CPTPP agreement as soon as possible.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2018-06-12 21:51 [p.20795]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be rejoining the debate on Bill C-69. I have a tough job. I am following the member for Lakeland, who has probably contributed more in this House, in the last two and a half to almost three years, to defending Alberta and Canada's energy industry than any other member of the House. In fact, she has a very long history of defending Canada's energy sector and Alberta's energy workers in her private sector experience before.
She provided us with an overview of the damage that Bill C-69 would do to Canada's economic sector related to the energy industry, and the depth of how much damage would be caused to the energy workers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.
I cannot match those numbers, but I have seven points I want to go through with respect to Bill C-69, and the different parts of the bill that I think will be very damaging to investments and the future jobs in the energy sector, and to Canada's GDP growth and how much it will be reduced by.
One of the things we often hear about in the House is how strong Canada's growth is. It is often said that we are leading the G7. In fact, that is not even true. We are not leading the G7. The projections by the OECD, and in the PBO's own economic update, has us in the middle, at number four, especially for 2018, with a 1.9% growth. We are actually behind the United States, and we know why. It is because it does not have a carbon tax, which will damage Canada's economy with up to 0.4% less GDP growth.
When I was at the finance committee and I asked the parliamentary budget office officials if ever they had seen a government policy that was intentionally damaging to Canada's economy the way the carbon tax is going to be, they had no answer for me. They could not come up with a response to it because there simply is not one. It is a damaging policy that is being introduced and forced down the throats of provinces that do not want it, including the electorate of Ontario, which last week rejected the damaging policies of the federal Liberal government.
We also know that the natural resource sector in 2016 accounted for 16% of Canada's economic activity. Therefore, 16% of Canada's economic engine is related to the natural resources, and 38% of non-residential capital investment is related to this one sector.
We also know, because the member for Lakeland did a good job of itemizing it, how much foreign investment has fled the country. Again, we know why. It is because we are not as competitive with our main trading partner, the United States, as we used to be. It has introduced drastic tax changes and reforms to its system that make its companies much more competitive. I cannot tell members how many of my constituents, friends, and supporters have moved down to Texas, which I often call “Alberta south”, to work in its energy sector. We know that next year the state of Texas will become the number one producer of oil in the world. It is going to exceed even large producers, such as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Venezuela. It will be producing more oil than any one of them. This is just one state in the United States of America.
We also know that Texas, for instance, does not have a personal income tax system. It has a sales tax instead. However, the offering it provides to workers and to companies is that it will get out of the way. It provides a simple to understand regulatory system that typically does not change from government to government. It provides stability, whereas the current Liberal government is providing more instability.
These are the seven points that I want to raise, and they are in no particular order: moving away from science-based decision-making; the timelines for a final decision will be changed; there are self-processes that will be stopping the clock; we will have open questions about what constitutes a major or minor project; the concentration of power in this legislation; the restoring of the public trust concept, which is highly politically charged; and finally, a question that I asked previously to one of the parliamentary secretaries with respect who would have standing to appear before the renamed NEB regulator to have their voices and their issues heard. Those are the seven points I want to raise in my intervention tonight on this issue.
This legislation has been referred to in the National Post, and this is how it was described. It said, “This new process repeats the mistake in believing that those groups dedicated to the destruction of our oil industry can be reasoned with”.
I, like many other Albertans, did not work directly in the energy industry but was related to it in ways. I worked in human resources. I was a registrar for a profession, and many members worked for organizations that participated in providing HR advice, recruitment, benefits, pension plans. Therefore, it was not directly related to it, but they worked in companies but also provided ancillary services to them. They believed that there is simply no way to satisfy those who are ardently opposed to large-scale industrial energy development of any kind. We can never create a system that will satisfy any of them. No matter how complex the labyrinth becomes, it will never satisfy those who are opposed to development, period.
Social licence does not exist. There is no way to reach the end point where there is broad consensus. In fact, one of the reasons the carbon tax was introduced in Alberta was so that we could get a pipeline built of some sort. Since then we have lost northern gateway. Since then we have lost energy east. Since then LNG projects have been cancelled all over British Columbia. Oftentimes this would have been an outlet for a lot of the natural gas production in Alberta and in British Columbia to world markets. We often do not talk about those, but they are just as important as oil pipelines.
Now Trans Mountain finds itself in the hands of the Liberal government. The Liberals truly have the ability to follow through on the dream of the Prime Minister's father, and I think of many supporters of the Liberal Party today, to phase out the oil sands, to phase out Alberta's energy industry. Twice that has been said by the Prime Minister. The first time he apologized and we all believed that he had misspoken, but the second time he said it at the National Assembly in Paris, France.
Many Albertans, even those who are not directly in the energy industry simply do not believe the Liberal government when it says it will get this pipeline built, because there is no plan going forward. Liberals have not itemized how they are going to get it done. They have simply talked about a very specific purchase agreement that they have successfully negotiated with Kinder Morgan, because it is looking to flee. It is fleeing because of things like Bill C-69, which add more complexity and do not make it simpler to go from a project application to a project completion.
I do not mean the application process being finished. I mean construction actually being completed on the ground. That should be the measure of success and the very minimum expected by the House. If we are going to spend $4.5 billion of taxpayer funds, a contract should be provided to the House so that we can judge the quality of it, who is getting and receiving payment, but also a plan attached to it that has an itemized detailed timeline of when construction will begin, when construction will be finished on particular components of it, and when it will be operating. Again, something we will not see anytime soon, at least not in my mind.
In terms of the moving away from science-based decision-making in this piece of legislation, the Liberals are adding in a lot more qualitative factors over quantitative factors. It has been said by the GMP FirstEnergy Research team:
The qualitative factors look to be nearly impossible to measure or assess. Additionally, certain quantitative measures such as gender-based analysis may be almost impossible to implement in practice.
This has a huge implication for a company with a large-scale industrial project when it is preparing to apply at the beginning. Just as with any application there will be a bunch of boxes to fill in and information to provide. If companies do not know how to meet the test, if the multiple choice question does not have any multiple choices to pick, how are they supposed to satisfy the government on what it is trying to get? This is where the complexity increases. This is where a lot of energy companies will struggle to satisfy the government's want for more information.
Second, on the timelines for a final decision a lot has been said in the House by members that in fact the supposed timelines provided for Bill C-69 are not true timelines. What will happen instead is that there are ample opportunities for it to be blocked and ample opportunities for it to be deviated.
Third, the sub-processes are stopping the clock. Again, GMP FirstEnergy noted that included allowing for additional studies and submissions by interested parties and “other delaying tactics such as the Governor in Council having an unlimited ability to extend a pending decision by the minister for as long as desired and suspending the time limit under which the notice of the commencement of assessment begins.” These are issues itemized by researchers who work for energy companies, who advise energy companies on how to comply with regulatory complexity, which is increasing under Bill C-69.
If the goal was never to have another major industrial project be built in Canada, then the Liberal government has achieved its goal, but I just do not think that was the goal.
We have the CEO of Suncor Energy who has said that no new major industrial projects will come forward. We have the CEO of Sierra Energy, a smaller player in the field, but still a very important one, saying that under this legislation, no new large-scale industrial projects will be proposed to the regulator. I can understand why. It will become way more complex to get anything done.
I mentioned the problem identifying what is a major or a minor project. That is not clarified in this piece of legislation. It would still be difficult to determine that, and again, researchers said that this was a problem.
There would be an immense concentration of power, which many members have issues with, especially on the Conservative side. We have itemized our concern that the minister is getting too involved in the decision-making around projects. There are paths projects could be redirected to that would add to the complexity and add to the burden on the company to try to prove things with information and criteria that might be difficult to collect.
This would not help energy workers in any way. This would not help us get to the “yes” side. This would not help us get to a project being completed and Canada yielding additional prosperity with wealth generated.
At the end of the day, I am convinced that the government wants more revenue. The government wants people to generate income. It wants projects to be undertaken and built. It wants to see that to have an opportunity to levy income tax and sales tax. That cannot be done without having wealth generated.
If the CEO of Suncor Energy is saying that no new major industrial project is going to go ahead, we have serious issues.
The concept of restoring public trust is highly politically charged. It is a manufactured narrative that before there was no trust, but now there is trust. That is interesting. Perhaps that should be told directly to those who are protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline. Maybe that should have been told to those protesting the energy east pipeline, when it was still on the table before the Liberal government killed it off by introducing new regulatory rules.
In its news release at the time, Trans Canada said that it was the decision to introduce new regulatory rules that led to its cancellation. This false concept about restoring the public trust is not helpful in any way. It somehow speaks again to this idea of social licence, which again does not exist. It has been proven over the past few years that nothing will satisfy those who are opposed to energy development of any sort.
Finally, who can be involved in NEB hearings? That was a question I asked before. Subclause 183(3) would eliminate the NEB standing test, which is very important to narrow the scope of the determination of who could appear before the NEB to make the case that they are impacted, beneficially or not, and could make the case that the project should be modified in a certain way to meet their personal or local community needs. Now there would be the opportunity for international groups to appear before the regulator and make a case that they would be somehow impacted directly.
If communities are the ones that can say yes, then it can only be the local community directly related to the project that should have a role in saying how it would be impacted. It should be individuals in those communities who should have the greatest role. It should not be spokespeople who are self-appointed saying that they speak on behalf of a certain group. It should be people locally who can go before the NEB to make their case, as they were able to do before. Now there would be the potential situation where foreigners or people from different parts of Canada, totally unrelated to the project, would make submissions and appearances, slowing down the process and adding more complexity and further delays to the regulatory process to try to meet their demands and their goals.
There are some in the legal community who have offered their opinions, such as Jean Piette, an environmental lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright, in The Lawyer's Daily, on February 9, 2018. This was very early on, before some of the amendments were made. He said, “I think there are going to be delays inherent to this new process which are going to be of concern to proponents.”
Martin Ignasiak, national co-chair of Osler's regulatory, environmental, Aboriginal and land group, again in The Lawyer's Daily, on February 9, 2018, said, “there is nothing in these legislative proposals that suggests future assessments...will be in any way streamlined, more efficient, or more effective.” In fact, they will not be.
We know that to be true. We know that to be a fact, having seen the final bill that was jammed through the natural resources committee without even a single amendment from the Conservative side accepted as reasonable being added to the docket.
I often hear members of the government caucus say that the committee worked collaboratively. “Collaboratively” gives the false impression that somehow it was a multi-party process, where amendments from each side were considered and included in the final version of the bill that was reported back to the House of Commons. In fact, we know that not to be true. Not a single Conservative amendment was approved on this particular piece of legislation, and often on other pieces of legislation. I hope this will not be a trend that will continue from now until election time, but it speaks to the type of work that is being done on committees. There is a lot of talk and a lot of rhetoric, but the reality is that very few, if any, Conservative amendments are given their full due so that we can consider them in amending government legislation. It does happen, but it is a rare occurrence.
I know I do this quite often, but I want to end on a couple of points, because I know certain points are made by government caucus members about the record of the previous government and how many pipelines were approved and the concept of the economy and the environment going hand in hand. The Yiddish proverb I would like to use on this one is “One cross word brings on a quarrel.” I want to start a quarrel, not directly, but maybe verbally in the House. My quarrel is that we talk about the environment and the economy going hand in hand, but too often, the rhetoric I hear is as if one unit of the economy has to be lost for a unit of the environment to be gained. That is not the case. Why is it that every time the Liberals talk about the environment and the economy going hand in hand, what they mean is that taxpayers pay more and more every single time? They pay more in carbon taxes and more in CPP premiums and payroll taxes and a higher tax on the goods they purchase. On and on it goes. Every single time, small businesses are paying more because of tax changes the Liberals are introducing, despite lowering the small business tax after they rediscovered their promise. It goes on an on.
The second point I want to make is on the record of the previous government. There were countless pipelines, both oil and gas, that were approved: the Melita to Cromer oil pipeline capacity expansion, the TMX-Anchor Loop oil pipeline, the Cochin oil pipeline, the Keystone oil pipeline, the Alberta Clipper oil pipeline expansion—Line 67, the Bakken oil pipeline, the Line 9B oil pipeline to Edmonton, the Hardisty oil pipeline, the Deep Panuke offshore natural gas pipeline, and the South Peace pipeline, and it goes on and on.
There was an immense record of success in the previous system that existed to approve large-scale projects. These pipelines I mentioned are operational today. We know that the government has overseen the cancellation of the most kilometres of pipeline of any government in recent memory. Thousands of kilometres of pipeline have been cancelled or not approved under its watch. I do not see very many new projects going ahead, aside from Trans Mountain, and being put before the regulator for consideration, that would have a meaningful impact on either the differential or on bringing our natural gas to new markets and ensuring that they reach different parts of the United States and international markets.
This is my concern. The rhetoric does not match the reality. The president and CEO of Suncor and other major energy companies, such as Sierra Energy, are right. There will be no new major industrial energy projects proposed under Bill C-69. It is a flawed piece of legislation. It does not address the underlying need to ensure that the rule of law is respected in Canada. That is the fault and defect in the current Liberal government. It is refusing to apply the Constitution. It is refusing to apply the rule of law and to ensure that the permit that was provided in the case of Trans Mountain is actually followed through on. A permit from a regulator is not worth the paper it is written on if it is not backed up by the rule of law, with the courts ensuring that those who continue to obstruct a project illegally face the judicial system. That is the way it should be done. It should also have clear support from the government that does not involve nationalizing a pipeline in the name of trying, in vain, to get it built, when in fact, it is simply bringing it under the control of the government so it can set the timelines on what happens in the future.
Albertans do not trust the government. Alberta energy workers do not trust it controlling the Trans Mountain pipeline, and because of that, I will be voting against the bill.
View Michael Chong Profile
Madam Speaker, Bill C-69, in front of us today, has a lot of different changes to current acts of Parliament, but also introduces new acts of Parliament. While I support one of the principles in the bill, which is the “one project, one assessment” process for major natural resource projects, there are too many problems with this bill for me to support it.
In particular, I want to focus on the new impact assessment act that the bill creates. First and foremost, the bill will not streamline, and make quicker, assessments for projects designated to be included in the project list. While the government says that the proposed impact assessment act would reduce the current legislated timelines for reviewing projects from 365 days to a maximum of 300 days for assessments led by the new review agency, and from 720 days to a maximum of 600 days for assessments led by a review panel, it is failing to acknowledge that while these timelines are shorter, the new legislation also introduces a planning phase ahead of an assessment led by either the review agency or the review panel. That planning phase can last up to 180 days.
In fact, this legislation will actually increase the amount of time that it takes for major natural resource projects to be reviewed under a federal environmental assessment. Furthermore, while the timelines put in place for the actual impact assessment are shorter, the timelines in the current legislation in front of the House can be extended by the Minister of Environment and by the cabinet, repeatedly.
There is nothing in this legislation to suggest that the process by which we review proposed projects will be shorter, in fact it suggests that it is actually going to be longer. The legislation in front of us will not actually lead to more efficient and less costly assessments for companies looking to invest in Canada's natural resource sector. In fact, the evidence in the bill is that it is going to be much more expensive for companies to make these applications, because the government has proposed to substantially expand the number of criteria that the review agency or review panel has to take into consideration when it is assessing a project. It does not just have to take into account environmental factors. It now also has to take into account health, social, and economic impacts, as well as impacts on other issues, and these impacts over the long term.
When we take into account this vastly expanded criteria and that it is vastly expanded over the long term, it is clear that companies are going to have to spend a lot more money preparing for these applications and working through the application process.
Proposed section 22 of the impact assessment act lists more than 20 factors that have to be considered in assessing the impact of a designated project. For example, there is a reference to sustainability and to the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors. These are just some of the added criteria that the government has added to the process, which is just going to increase the cost and complexity for proponents. It is not only going to be a much longer process for proponents to go through; it is also going to be a much costlier process.
This is a big problem, because we have a problem in Canada with attracting, not just domestic but foreign investment for natural resource projects. In fact, Statistics Canada recently, this past spring, highlighted that there has been the biggest drop in foreign direct investment into this country in eight years. Last year saw the deepest plunge in foreign investment in this country since the deep, dark days of 2010, when we were just coming out of the recession of 2009 caused by the global financial crisis of 2008.
We have seen a massive plunge in foreign direct investment, a massive drop in investors willing to invest in Canadian companies. In fact, last year, for the second year in a row, we saw more foreign selling of Canadian companies than purchasing of Canadian companies. This has led to a drop in investment, particularly in the oil sector, with the commensurate drop in jobs and growth.
However, there is another problem with the bill that I want to highlight, which has to do with the designated project list. In other words, there is a problem in how certain projects get designated for an environmental assessment and how other projects do not. It remains to be seen with the proposed legislation whether or not the government will get it right in regulation.
Earlier this year, the government announced that it was going to undertake consultations with a view to help revise the regulations concerning the designated projects list. The Liberals said they would be coming forward with new regulations under the proposed act, and I hope they read the Hansard transcript tonight of the debates here in the House of Commons to ensure that our input is incorporated, if the bill does pass, in these new regulations.
The problem is one of inequity and unfairness from a whole range of perspectives. If a mine is proposed in western Canada, let us say in Alberta, under both the pre-2012 rules and the current 2012 rules, and potentially under the proposed legislation, it would undergo a federal environmental assessment. However, if that same mine was proposed in southern Ontario, mines that we often call “gravel pits” or “quarries”, it would not undergo a federal environmental assessment.
I will give members an example of this. In 2011, a mega-quarry was proposed in southern Ontario by an American company that had acquired over 2,500 acres of prime farmland in Dufferin County. That American company had acquired the equivalent of 10 square kilometres of land to build an open pit mine. Under the pre-2012 rules and the 2012 rules, and potentially under this proposed legislation, the federal government said that it did not require a federal environmental assessment, yet if that same 10 square kilometre mine was proposed in Alberta, let us say an open pit bitumen mine, a federal environmental assessment most certainly would have been required. This is an example of the unfairness of the current and potentially the proposed system the federal government has.
If one builds a mine to extract iron ore or bitumen in western Canada, one would undergo a federal environmental assessment, but if the same mine is proposed in southern Ontario, then do not worry, the government will turn a blind eye and not have it undergo that federal environmental assessment. Therefore, it is not just treating one sector of the economy different from another, the oil and gas sector, or the iron ore sector compared with the aggregate sector, but it is also treating one region of the country differently from another, and that is not fair. I hope that the government, in undertaking these consultations, takes that into account.
It is also not fair to the environment when a 10 square kilometre open pit mega-quarry is proposed for southern Ontario, which would have plunged 200 feet deep and pumped 600 million litres of fresh water out of the pit each and every day. It should undergo the same federal environmental assessment that a mine of similar size would undergo in western Canada. It should undergo that, because in southern Ontario we have the most dense biosphere in the entire country. There is all the more need to protect this dense biosphere, which is under greater threat than any other part of the country largely due to the growing urban populations we see in the Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Windsor, and Toronto corridor.
I hope the government's yet-to-be-created project list, whether it is based on the current legislation or the proposed legislation, treats all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country fairly, and I hope the department is incorporating this input as it comes forward with new regulations.
There is yet another problem with the proposed legislation before the House, and it plays into a broader pattern of the government, and that is of political interference. As the member for St. Albert—Edmonton just pointed out, the proposed legislation would allow the minister a veto power over natural resource project applications. This is unprecedented in this country. Until the Liberal government came to power, not a single natural resource project had been rejected or approved by the federal cabinet before the federal environmental assessment process had been completed, and not a single federal environmental assessment process had been overruled by federal cabinet.
In other words, up until this government, the federal cabinet accepted every single recommendation coming out of a federal environmental review process over the many decades that it was in place. The current government's rejection of the northern gateway pipeline was the first time the federal cabinet had stopped the process for the review of a major natural resource project before allowing that process to be completed and before allowing the cabinet to accept fully the recommendations of that process.
Here, in this legislation, we see a repeat of that pattern. They are proposing to give the minister a veto power. Before an impact assessment can begin, the minister will have the power not to conduct an assessment if the minister believes the proposed project would cause unacceptable effects. That is so broad a criteria that a person could drive a Mack truck through that. There again we see the politicization of processes that were once arm's length, quasi-judicial, and left to the professional public service.
Another example of this politicization of what was once performed by the professional public service, by quasi-judicial entities, is Bill C-49. Bill C-49 gives the Minister of Transport a political veto over a review of joint ventures by an airline. Up to Bill C-49, and for many years, any airline that wanted to enter into a joint venture had to undergo a review by one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the world, the Competition Bureau, to ensure that there were no anti-competitive results from a joint venture. In fact, when Air Canada proposed a joint venture with United Airlines some years ago, the Competition Bureau said no to the original proposal for that joint venture and said they had to pull out of that joint venture a number of cross-border routes because they would be deleterious to competition, and because it would increase prices for consumers and for businesses across Canada.
What the current government has done through Bill C-49, which it rammed through the House and Senate, is it has given the Minister of Transport the ability to veto that process through a broad definition of public interest to bypass the Competition Bureau's review of a joint venture, and to rubber-stamp a joint venture in the interests of the airline and against the competition interests of consumers in this country. With the recent passage of Bill C-49, Air Canada has announced a joint venture with Air China. I do not think that is any coincidence.
Thus, these are just a few examples of how the government is politicizing the process for law enforcement of our competition laws and for the review of major natural resource projects that no previous government has ever done.
Finally, I want to critique the Liberal government's general approach to environmental issues. The Liberals have created a climate of uncertainty. On pipeline approvals, they have created uncertainty. That is why Kinder Morgan has announced that it is pulling out of Canada and why it sold its assets to the Government of Canada. They have created a climate of uncertainty in the business community. That is why, as I previously mentioned, Statistics Canada, this spring, reported that foreign investment into Canada plunged last year to its lowest level in eight years. There has been an exodus of capital from the country's oil and gas sector. Statistics Canada reports that capital flows dropped for a second year in a row last year, and are down by more than half since 2015. Net foreign purchases by foreign businesses of Canadian businesses are now less than sales by those foreign businesses, meaning that foreign companies sold more Canadian businesses than they bought.
On climate change, they have created a great deal of uncertainty.
The Liberals came with big fanfare with their price on carbon, but they have only priced it out to $50 per tonne to 2022. They have not announced what happens after 2022. We are four short years away from 2022, and businesses and consumers need the certainty of what happens after 2022.
Furthermore, the Liberals have created uncertainty because $50 per tonne does not get us to our Paris accord targets. In fact, last autumn the Auditor General came forward with a report saying that Canada will not meet its Paris accord targets of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 with the $50-per-tonne target. He estimated that we are some 45 megatonnes short of the target.
The Liberals have created uncertainty with their climate change policy because they have been inconsistent on climate change policy. They are inconsistent with how they treat one sector of the economy versus another. For example, they demand that projects in the oil and gas sector take into account both upstream and downstream emissions, while not requiring projects in other sectors of the economy to do the same.
They are inconsistent with climate change policy in the way they treat one region of the country versus another. The Auditor General's report from a week ago, report 4, highlights the inconsistency in the way they treat central Canadians versus the way they treat westerners.
For example, the Liberals tell western Canadian oil and gas producers that climate change impacts need to be part of the approval process of any major natural resource project, and yet they turn around, and one of the first decisions they make as a government is to waive the tolls on the new federal bridge in Montreal, a $4-billion-plus bridge. The Auditor General reported, in report 4 last week, that waiving the tolls will result in a 20% increase in vehicular traffic over that bridge, from 50 million to 60 million cars and trucks a year, an additional 10 million vehicles crossing that bridge every year, with the attendant greenhouse gases and pollution that this entails.
The Liberals tell companies and Canadians on one side of the country that they have to take into account greenhouse gas emissions when they propose a new project in the oil and gas sector, but when the government builds a brand new federal bridge in Montreal for $4 billion-plus, it is not going to take into account those greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it will waive the tolls, which is going to lead to a 20% jump in traffic, with the attendant greenhouse gas emissions that this entails.
Finally, the Liberals have created a climate of uncertainty by their failure to realize that our income taxes are too high. The government talks a good game about the environment and the economy, but the facts speak otherwise. They blew a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reduce corporate and personal income taxes. They failed to seize the opportunity of using the revenues generated by the price of carbon to drive down our high corporate and personal income taxes. They also failed to seize the opportunity to reform our income tax system to reduce its complexity and its distortive nature.
Our system was reformed in 1971 by the government of Pierre Trudeau. It was reformed again in 1986 by the government of Brian Mulroney. It has been over 30 years since we have had any significant income tax reform to our personal income tax system or our corporate income tax system, and the Liberals blew the chance to do it, even though they promised to take a look at tax reform in their very first budget.
The government talks a good game on the environment and the economy, but the facts say otherwise. It is a story of a missed opportunity, and that is why I cannot support this bill.
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
2018-06-05 16:53 [p.20280]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-74 on behalf of the Government of Canada, as well as our government's planned investments to strengthen the middle class and maintain the strength and sustainable growth of the Canadian economy.
Budget 2018, entitled “Equality + Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, represents the next stage in our plan to invest in people and the communities where they live in order to provide the best opportunities for success to the middle class and all Canadians.
The bill we are talking about today, budget implementation act, 2018, No. 1, is the next step in the plan that our government launched over two years ago. When we took office, we jumped into action by helping develop a confident middle class that stimulates economic growth and that is currently benefiting from more opportunities for success than ever.
Giving Canadians the opportunity to reach their full potential is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the smart thing to do for our economy. The decision to invest in the middle class is the right decision. Targeted investments combined with the hard work of Canadians across the country have helped create good, well-paying jobs and will continue to strengthen the economy over the long term.
Before I go into some of the measures introduced in Bill C-74, it is always a good thing to step aside and take a holistic approach to what is going on in the Canadian economy. For example, if we look at the first quarter gross domestic product, we see some continuing good signs. As an economist, I love these terms. We had real final domestic demand rise by 2.1%, driven by a 10.9% increase in business investment.
Recently, off those numbers, the Bank of Canada governor, Stephen Poloz, commented on the signs of the economy of exports and business investment continuing to pick up. Despite the uncertainties in the global economy and the continuing NAFTA negotiations, business investments remain strong.
Those are great signs for our economy, but what does that really translate to? Quite simply, it translates to 600,000 new jobs, 600,000 people working today who were not working two and a half years ago. Those Canadians are our neighbours, our friends, our family. Also, 300,000 kids have been lifted out of poverty because of the Canada child benefit, which we introduced and which is arriving monthly, tax-free, to Canadian families, such as the families in my riding, Vaughan—Woodbridge. Those are great things that we are doing.
The A.T. Kearney foreign direct investment confidence index came out two weeks ago, making comments on what our plan for the economy is doing for Canada. Canada was ranked number two. I would like to read what the A.T. Kearney index said:
Canada moves up three spots to its highest ranking in the history of the Index. An update to the Investment Canada Act, a newly established Invest Canada agency, and new trade agreements [CETA, CPTPP, entering into negotiations with Mercosur] could be boosting investor optimism.
What does a boost in investment translate to? Very simply, it means jobs for middle-class Canadians in my riding, and coast to coast to coast. I am very proud of the measures introduced in Bill C-74.
One of them is the Canada child benefit. We have spoken about it quite a bit, and we should continue to do so. In my riding, Vaughan—Woodbridge, over $59 million was sent via the Canada child benefit to families in a one-year period. It assisted approximately 19,400 children. The number of payments was 10,900, with an average payment of $5,400.
We can throw lots of numbers out there, but behind them are Canadian families like the ones that reside in Vaughan—Woodbridge. These funds are being sent tax-free, not to millionaires but to real Canadian families, families that are working hard to pay their bills every day, assisting them to pay for their kids' sports, lunches, new clothes, and so forth, and maybe save for an RESP for when their children go to university.
I am so proud of the fact that our government indexed the Canada child benefit. What does that mean? Let me simply tell members.
For example, the Canada child benefit is an important government initiative aimed at making a positive change for the millions of Canadian families with children. Close to 3.3 million families with children are receiving more than $23 billion in annual Canada child benefit payments.
A single mom of two children aged five and eight with a net income of $35,000 in 2016 will have received $11,125 in tax-free Canada child benefit payments in the 2017-18 benefit year. Naturally, this $11,125 is absolutely tax free. That is $3,500 more than she would have received under the previous child benefit system.
This means that, for a family making $35,000, once the Canada child benefit is indexed, it would add up to almost $560 more per year. For families in Canada, $500 more a year is a lot of money, to pay for their kids' lunches and school clothes, to bring their son or daughter to a soccer game in the evening or to a soccer practice, and so forth. I am proud that our government has looked at this initiative. I am proud that our government has lifted 300,000 kids out of poverty because of this. I am proud that our government has indexed this. These are real, tangible measures that are assisting families from coast to coast to coast on an everyday basis, and our party should be proud of that.
I am proud to represent a riding, Vaughan—Woodbridge, within the city of Vaughan, that is one of the most entrepreneurial areas of the country. We have approximately 13,000 small and medium-sized enterprises in the city, and I meet with these folks regularly. We are also blessed to have many large organizations. We have Canadian Pacific's busiest intermodal facility in the country, a key barometer of trade and investment. We have Home Depot's eastern Canada distribution centre. We have the FedEx distribution centre for eastern Canada. We have UPS's distribution centre for all of eastern Canada. Again, UPS made that wonderful announcement of investing $500 million in the Canadian economy, creating thousands of additional jobs. We have a furniture maker, Decor-Rest, which employs 700 Canadians, competing globally against furniture makers both here in Canada and in the United States and Mexico, and winning in competing.
I am blessed to have all these entrepreneurs. I am also blessed to have a number of bakeries and great pastry shops, which I have talked about before, especially during Italian Heritage Month. I visit them and we talk about what makes these companies successful.
One big thing we have done, which is contained in Bill C-74, is the reduction in the small-business tax rate from 11% in 2015, which will eventually fall to 9%. We should be proud of that. For small businesses making $500,000 a year in active income, the savings would be $7,500. That can offset other increased input costs they may face. They can use those savings to invest in their businesses, or whatever they choose. That is something we need to applaud.
Looking at our corporate tax system in Canada, the combined federal corporate tax rate in the province of Ontario, roughly 12.9%, is one of the lowest small-business tax rates globally. We have seen that turn up in the job numbers, with 600,000 new jobs, most of them private sector jobs. That is a good barometer for the economy. That is why we have larger companies like CN or CP hiring. However, we also have small companies, because we know that small and medium-sized enterprises and businesses are the backbone of our economy.
That measure, introduced in Bill C-74, is something we should be very proud of. Cumulatively, that measure would result in approximately $3 billion in tax savings due to lower taxes for small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada through the 2022-23 period. This is a substantial reduction in taxes. When we brought in the tax cut for middle-class Canadians, people said, “Whom does it affect?” It affected nine million taxpayers. We brought in a multi-billion dollar tax cut that benefited millions of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and here we are doing the same thing for small businesses.
We also undertook extensive consultations with small businesses on how we could best work with them to grow their business, because we want to increase jobs and investment and achieve better productivity and a better standard of living for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
We also want to ensure that the businesses that benefit from that low small-business tax rate are the appropriate ones. We undertook a consultation and arrived at a point where we introduced measures where 97% of businesses remain unaffected. If people have an active business, they can continue to invest in it and continue to grow. That is wonderful. These are measures contained in Bill C-74. However, we also have what I think is a very prudent measure. If they have actually accumulated $3 million, $4 million, or $5 million in what is called passive income, which is a little technical to describe, something they can save for retirement or set aside and invest in a separate business, which may not be connected to their own business, that is great. They can continue to do that, and we are not going to change the tax structure within their passive investments. However, at a certain point they will no longer benefit from the small-business tax rate of 12.9%, and we will move them up to the 24% tax rate. It is a fair measure.
Canadians expect fairness and progressivity in their tax system. Canadians expect us to do a thoughtful job. When others take a risk, they should be rewarded, but at the same time they should understand that when they have done very well and have been able to set aside some monies within passive investments, they are also going to move up to the corporate tax rate, which is very competitive globally. Even with the United States' adoption of its recent tax reform, our corporate tax rate is very competitive with the U.S. tax rate, and we need to point that out.
There are a lot of good measures contained in Bill C-74, and I am very proud of them. Another one I would like to talk about is the Canada workers benefit. This is something a lot of low-income working Canadians are going to benefit from. There are a couple of measures that I think are very good and long-lasting, and they will proceed beyond this Parliament and many others.
One is working with CRA and undertaking automatic enrolment. Automatic enrolment means that those in society who do not have the means or access that many of us here enjoy are automatically enrolled to receive these benefits. According to the estimates, just this measure alone is going to lift 70,000 people out of poverty and provide additional benefits. Someone making $15,000, a student or a retiree, can receive up to nearly $500 more with the new Canada workers benefit. It is something I am very proud of. My progressive roots cheer this on. It is something that all Canadians can be very proud of.
We realize that some people, especially indigenous people living in northern and remote communities, have often faced barriers when it comes to accessing essential government services and federal benefits such as the Canada child benefit. With Bill C-74, our government will take steps to ensure that anyone who is eligible for support receives it.
Through Bill C-74, the government proposes to expand outreach efforts to all indigenous communities on reserves and in northern and remote areas, and to conduct pilot outreach projects for urban indigenous communities so that indigenous peoples have better access to a full range of federal social benefits, including the Canada child benefit.
Now I would like to talk about the Canada worker's benefit. Canadians working hard to join the middle class deserve to have their hard work rewarded with greater opportunities for success. We know that these Canadians are working to build a better life for themselves and their families. Low-income Canadians are sometimes working two or three jobs so that they can give themselves and their children a better chance at success.
That is why the government is proposing a new benefit in budget 2018 and in Bill C-74: the Canada workers benefit. This benefit builds on the former working income tax benefit and would put more money into the pockets of low-income workers. It would encourage more people to join and remain in the workforce by letting them take home more money while they work.
Through Bill C-74, the government would increase the overall support provided for the 2019 and subsequent taxation years. In particular, the government proposes to increase maximum benefits under the CWB by up to $170 in 2019, and increase the income level at which the benefit is entirely phased out. As a result, low-income workers earning $15,000 could receive up to almost $500 more from the CWB in 2019 than they could receive this year under the current working income tax benefit. That is $500 to invest in the things that are important to them, and to make ends meet.
The government is also proposing changes to improve access to the Canada workers benefit to allow the Canada Revenue Agency to calculate the CWB for anyone who has not claimed it starting in 2019.
Again, having the CRA automatically register people who are eligible for these programs and others is a large step forward for our tax system.
One thing I would like to comment on is the framework we have introduced for the pricing of carbon. We have done this in a very thoughtful and prudent manner. It is a backstop, and 85% of Canadians are covered by a form of carbon pricing system. The provinces are permitted to do what they wish with the revenues.
However, I agree with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. It was very disappointing that the NDP government in B.C. would move away from a revenue-neutral price on carbon. I am very disappointed. It speaks to fiscal foolishness. We need to allow provinces to do what they wish, but we need the provinces to be transparent. Our carbon pricing system is transparent. The funds flow back to the provinces and the provinces then decide how to allocate those funds, but they should also be transparent about it.
We have an opportunity in this world that we are moving into. Many countries have already adopted this pricing system, and many industries in the private sector, which I am a big champion of, have looked at this. We have companies all over the world, such as Daimler in Germany, FCA, Ford, or any automotive company, looking at adopting electric vehicles, at technology on clean tech, and at renewable energy. We have the system going on. We have this shift going on. We need to be a part of it.
However, this is not, as my Conservative colleagues are saying, scaring away investment. It is not. We saw it in the first quarter GDP numbers. Business investment in Canada is rising. We see that every day, whether it is Samsung announcing its AI facility in downtown Toronto, or Montreal being the gaming sector of North America when it comes to enterprise arts. We see it in Vancouver, with the clustering that is going on, and in the Kitchener—Waterloo area. We see it with many auto parts suppliers in Ontario, and then there is Toyota's announcement. Foreign direct investment in Canada is creating jobs. It created jobs yesterday, it is creating jobs today, and it will create jobs in the future, because we are making those conditions very strong.
Finally, when we talk about Canada's fiscal position, we maintain a AAA credit rating, which we have had for so long. It has been affirmed recently. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is declining. I would argue that we have the best fiscal position of any G7 country on any fiscal measure, and that is something we need to be proud of. It is something our government is proud of.
Therefore, when I hear the banter from the other side, I would love to sit down and chat with them and show them a couple of measures on the economy. These measures that show how well we are doing include the 600,000 new jobs we have created, the 40-year low in the unemployment rate, the increase in wages that Canadians are seeing from coast to coast to coast, and the infrastructure we are building in this country.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
2018-05-31 12:08 [p.19964]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-74, the Liberal government's budget implementation bill. When we consider the contents of the bill and the Liberal government's track record, it reveals a troubling path ahead for Canadians.
We have before us a budget bill that spends borrowed money recklessly. The result of that is a growing debt and higher taxes. Borrowed money always has to be paid back and it is paid back at a premium.
The Liberal government came into power touting modest deficits. The Prime Minister repeatedly promised Canadians that his government would borrow a modest $10 billion a year to grow the economy. He also promised Canadians that the budget would return to balance in 2019. That promise went out the window very quickly.
The Prime Minister has added $60 billion to the national debt in just three short years. Canada's net debt has reached an all-time high of $670 billion. To put that into context, that breaks down to a debt of over $47,000 per Canadian family. What about the plan to return to balance? The budget is not predicted to return to balance until 2045, a far cry from 2019.
The Liberals will wrongly try to take credit for the economic growth that Canada experienced in 2017. A growth rate of 3% in 2017 was largely a result of the oil and gas sector recovering and an unusually strong housing market. The responsible response to that growth should have been for the government to pay down the debt that it borrowed, so in the case of a fiscal downturn, we would be better positioned. However, now, despite all the Liberal spending, private sector forecasts show that Canada is heading for a slow down.
We have legislation before us to help us spend more money and add more debt. Ultimately, it is legislation that would make life more unaffordable for Canadians.
Canadians are already paying higher taxes under the Liberals. It seems that the Liberal government is always finding new ways to dip into the pockets of Canadians. For one, this budget bill would create a costly new carbon tax, which the Liberals are forcing on all provinces that do not have their own. Despite promises of a new era of co-operative federalism, the Liberal government is ramming ahead with its massive carbon tax grab.
My province of Saskatchewan has rejected the Liberal government's carbon tax, and rightly so. The carbon tax will come at a significant cost to the people of Saskatchewan, and the Liberal government is ignoring the basic economic reality that its carbon tax unfairly punishes farmers and rural communities.
My province of Saskatchewan has developed its own climate change strategy, a made-in-Saskatchewan plan that tackles climate change without imposing the unfair carbon tax on Saskatchewan families. However, the Liberal government refused to accept it. The Liberals are forcing it on Saskatchewan against its will.
Well then, what does this carbon tax achieve? We cannot tax our way to a cleaner environment and the carbon tax will not lead to a major emission reduction in Canada.
We can look to British Columbia as an example. British Columbia was the first province to implement a carbon tax. It also has the highest carbon tax in the country. Despite this, carbon emissions have continued to rise there. The real impact of its carbon tax is that British Columbians are now paying more for gas than anyone else in the North American continent.
I will reiterate that point, because it is an important point that needs to sink in. The carbon tax in British Columbia is not reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it is making life less affordable for British Columbians, yet the Liberals continue to strong-arm the province of Saskatchewan.
One would think that given their passion for a carbon tax, the Liberals would be forthcoming with information about its impact. It is fair for Canadians to want to know just how much the federal price on carbon will cost them, but again and again the Liberal government refuses to release those details.
Finance officials have said that the Liberal carbon tax will cost an extra 11¢ per litre of gas and $264 in extra costs for natural gas home heating annually. That alone is already a significant cost. However, there are additional costs and impacts of a $50 per tonne carbon tax.
Repeated requests for information have been issued from this side of the House. We have asked the government over and over again to provide details on the cost of its carbon tax and the results it expects to achieve. However, any response received has been blacked out. What does the Liberal government have to hide? What is it covering up? If the government cannot answer a basic question on what its carbon tax will cost and achieve, it is absurd for it to force it on the province of Saskatchewan.
The Liberals are not only raising taxes on individual Canadians, they are making it more expensive to do business in Canada. Businesses are also being hit with increased costs due to the carbon tax. This is in addition to the increased CPP and EI premiums, higher income taxes for entrepreneurs, and punitive changes to the small business tax rate. While we consider these higher costs, we cannot forget that the United States is lowering its corporate tax rate. Business investment in Canada has dropped since 2015. Meanwhile, business investment in the United States has increased.
The natural resource sector has been particularly hit hard. The energy sector and the jobs it creates are very important to my riding of Battlefords—Lloydminster. The fact that over $80 billion of investment in the energy sector has been lost in the last two years is very troubling for my constituents. They certainly are not comforted by the Prime Minister's repeated confession that he wants to phase out the oil sands.
The loss of business investment in Canada is a troubling trend, and the Liberals have offered nothing to Canadian businesses in this budget implementation act. The higher cost of doing business will hurt the bottom line for businesses. When it drives away business, results in job loss, and injects less money into our economy, everyone pays, and we all lose.
Bill C-74 offers Canadians a plan we cannot afford and does not move us ahead. Spending money we do not have on things we do not need is reckless and irresponsible. I would not run my personal household in that manner, and I would not teach my children to manage their finances in that way. Most of all, I cannot imagine that the members opposite would manage their personal finances that way and teach their children that as well. It begs the question: why is it that when the stakes are even higher, when the fiscal security of the country hangs in the balance, the Liberals would choose this route?
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand to speak about the budget implementation act.
I would like to start with some facts, which may appear at first glance, to be astounding. The Department of Finance and the Parliamentary Budget Officer have predicted that the budget will not be balanced until 2045.
My kids will not see a balanced budget until they are older than I am right now, and that is unacceptable. During that time frame, there will be an estimated $450 billion in additional debt racked up, for a total of roughly $1.1 trillion. It is our youth who will have to pay all of this back. The future our youth inherit is not the one that we inherited. Our youth are being left behind. We are currently sitting at 11.1% unemployment, while in the United States, the youth unemployment rate sits at only 8.4%. Now our youth will have to live with the shackles of this increased debt.
GDP is up 0.1% in two years. Eighty per cent of middle-class Canadians are feeling the tax increases since the government came into office. There was a $60-billion increase in spending in the last two and a half years, up roughly 20%.
There is no doubt there that a spending problem exists within the Liberal government. Quite frankly, we can look almost anywhere to see it.
Corporate welfare is something I have spoken about over and over again. Why are we taxing Canadians who can barely make ends meet and giving those dollars to millionaires and billionaires so they can make more money? It seems to be done without a strategy or understanding the effects. It seems to be done without a clear measurement as to what is a success or a failure. I have examples: the Bombardier bailout just under a year ago; the superclusters, which were in the last budget and continued in this budget, $900 million going to superclusters, mainly into urban areas, that were recommended by a committee, struck by the industry minister, that included people in charge of superclusters, like the MaRS in Toronto.
A few weeks ago, the Conservatives started saying no to corporate welfare when it came to Kinder Morgan. We did not want government dollars used to prop up the private sector in this circumstance. Not in our wildest dreams did the Conservatives believe we would see corporate welfare enacted when it came to Kinder Morgan, in fact, an outright nationalization of the entire program.
I would like to congratulate some people in the House, such as the member for Vancouver Quadra, the member for Pontiac, and the member for Burnaby North—Seymour, on owning one of the largest oil transportation companies in Canada. I thought they were environmental activists. Usually I would say, “If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.” What the Liberal government has done is first beat the oil industry and then it has joined it. Ironically, growth in the oil and gas sector last year was what drove our economy. Without the oil and gas sector, we would have had exactly zero growth.
This is not because of the Liberals, this is not because of the federal government; it is despite them. In the oil and gas sector, they have caused a lot of instability, because they have continued to attack it. When I look at Kinder Morgan, it makes me think the government has neglected what lies beneath our feet and has opted to rely on what is between the Prime Minister's ears. It is a failing strategy.
The Prime Minister created a carbon tax of $50 per tonne to put in through 2023. After he did that, creating instability in the oil and gas sector, and in fact across our entire economy, threatening the way those who earn the least in our society actually make ends meet, he realized the ramifications of that decision. The ramifications are that projects like Kinder Morgan can no longer make it. They are no longer viable. The private sector has realized that, and then the Prime Minister realized it, and at the last second, he said he was going to step in, take money from people who earn almost nothing and invest it in this project the private sector is abandoning.
It is very interesting when we break down the carbon tax and look at the effect it is going to have on the average family. With fuel costs, there is the cost of actually producing that gasoline. It is about 50% of what we pay at the pump. Then there are provincial and federal excise taxes. Those taxes were originally put in place to deal with the ramifications of pulling out of that original resource. Then we have our new carbon tax that is being put in place on top of that. The government does not stop reaching into our pockets at the fuel pump, but says that it will charge HST on top of that. That is another 13%.
The carbon tax is going to cost average families $2,500 per year. What does that mean? It means higher food costs, higher gas costs, and higher costs of everything Canadians consume. That is the three-year legacy of the Liberal government. The fact that middle-class Canadians do not have trust funds seems to be lost on the Prime Minister and the finance minister. The legacy that we see over and over again, in budget after budget, is that the government can take and take from Canada's middle class, that it can take and take from the economy, and it can put that money wherever it sees fit. Then when it realizes that is not working, the government will take and take to buy a failing project whose failure, by the way, the government was responsible for in the beginning by introducing more and more taxes.
It is more taxes on payrolls; more taxes on gasoline as a result of the carbon tax; more taxes on Canadians across this country. That does not even begin to deal with the fact of red tape and environmental assessment after environmental assessment, the issues and regulations that constantly hold down the Canadian economy. The Liberal government constantly holds down Canada's poorest people who are looking for jobs, who are searching for that next job, who are looking for growth, and who want to create a new life for their families.
Those are the effects of the Liberal budget. Those are the effects we have seen from three years of Liberal government. The family tax cut is gone. The arts and fitness tax credits have disappeared. The education and textbook tax credit is nowhere to be seen. The life vision of young Canadians is not the one we inherited, the one in which we believed that if we went out to work day in and day out, it would be easy. Manufacturing is not creating more jobs in Canada. The oil and gas sector, while it is moving forward, has seen incredible setbacks. The housing sector, while on fire, is preventing our young people from being able to actually access a home and own it for the first time.
These are the issues that we are seeing in the Canadian economy. It is these budgets that are driving this ship.
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
Mr. Speaker, again, congratulations on working through 409 amendments. You did a great job. I listened intently, and you did not miss one, and we do appreciate that.
It is drawing close to 10:30 in the evening, and I am honoured to stand in this place once again to speak to the budget implementation act, 2018. On April 4, I stood in the House to speak to the budget. During that time, I focused my remarks primarily on our competitiveness, or I should say our lack of competitiveness, and the troubling effect of budget 2018 on our competitiveness and business investment in this country.
We are struggling today, as we were then, to attract capital from abroad, with foreign direct investment plunging last year to the lowest level since 2010. As I pointed out in the House over a month ago, the province of Alberta has experienced the worst decline in business investment in the country, much because of the NDP government we have there, much because of the lower price of oil, and much because of the Liberal government here.
Energy investment is at its lowest level on record, below even the worst of the 2009 global recession, with a loss of $80 billion of investment and more than 110,000 jobs. Drilling rigs are leaving Canada, heading to the United States, where there is a more hospitable investment climate. There has been a significant decline in capital spending.
I stood in the House to debate the budget just one week after Kinder Morgan announced that it had suspended its work on the Trans Mountain expansion project and had given the Liberal government until May 31 to provide the necessary assurances that this project would go ahead. We know that the Liberals were funding protesters to protest against that pipeline straight from government programs here. That was the first time I had an opportunity to speak to this budget.
Kinder Morgan's skepticism was based on the fact that Canada had approved the project in November 2016, following an expanded environmental review process that included additional consultations with indigenous communities, yet more than three months into 2018, there was no movement and much added red tape, frustrating Kinder Morgan and others that would invest here in this country. Kinder Morgan saw nothing in immediate sight that would give it any confidence that it could go ahead, so it put the ultimatum of May 31.
I lay the blame for that unfortunate thing with Trans Mountain development at the feet of the Prime Minister, and rightfully so. The Liberal Prime Minister failed to take any concrete steps to ensure that the project was completed. This failure added to the significant economic difficulties facing my province of Alberta and a number of my constituents, as this project is a pivotal part of both Alberta's and the country's economic future.
While yesterday's announcement regarding the purchase of Trans Mountain by the federal government may help get our oil finally, some day, to new markets, it came at an extremely high price. It is a price taxpayers should not have to pay. Given what the government has done, chasing $4.5 billion out of Canada to a Texas oil company so that it can invest in America and around the world, because it is very unlikely that it will come back here to invest soon, there is no guarantee that the government is going to ever be able to build that pipeline.
Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for $4.5 billion, and that shows the Prime Minister's failure. I have zero confidence that the government can see this pipeline through to completion. The private sector has more experience in building pipelines, more experience in building infrastructure, and more experience in building the infrastructure needed to move its product than any government ever has had.
Kinder Morgan never asked for a single dollar of taxpayer money. All the company wanted was certainty. Now, Kinder Morgan's assets have been sold. It is abandoning its expansion plans in Canada and taking its significant investment in this country elsewhere. It is doing so at a time when business investment in Canada has fallen by 5%, or $12.7 billion, since 2015. During that same period, business investment in the United States has grown by 9%. Foreign direct investment plummeted by 42% in 2016, and then a further 27% in 2017.
Why is business investment so weak? There are many different reasons. One reason is all of the added red tape, the red tape piled on top of red tape in environmental assessments and reassessments. It has weakened investment in Canada, because Canadian businesses understand that they are facing rising costs, such as increased CPP and EI premiums, personal income taxes for entrepreneurs of over 53%, and, again, new carbon taxes.
Budget 2018 did not reveal exactly how much the carbon tax will cost the average Canadian. We have tried day after day in the House to get the Minister of Finance to tell us what that carbon tax is going to cost Canadian families, but he will not tell us.
Although the budget did not reveal how much, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation predicts that the carbon tax will cost $2,500 per family at a time when taxpayers recognize they have less and less money in their pockets. Trevor Tombe of the University of Calgary estimates that it may cost $1,100 per family. The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently released a report that found that the carbon tax will take $10 billion out of the Canadian economy by 2022, while other estimates argue that the cost could be as much as $35 billion per year. None of these numbers can be verified because, unfortunately, the Liberal government continues to refuse to tell Canadians exactly how much that carbon tax will cost them, just like they refused to tell us the total cost of the nationalization of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
What is the final cost of that pipeline? Is it $4.5 billion for the assets of Trans Mountain today? What will those costs be by the time the pipeline is built, if it ever is built? We can ill afford the $4.5 billion price tag, let alone the billions of dollars in untold costs, especially given our massive debt.
I would add that the finance minister has finally started to pick up on the Conservatives' talking points, because that $12 million a day, or $42 million a week, is the differential in the price for oil that we do not receive because we are not getting our oil to the Asian markets. This money could build a school or a hospital a day or a week.
In their first three years in power, the Liberals will have added $60 billion to the national debt. Last year, Canada's net debt reached an all-time high of $670 billion, or $47,612 per Canadian family. The growing debt is a direct result of the Liberals' broken promises on their projected deficits. This fiscal year's deficit is $18 billion, which is triple of what was promised.
In comparison, in our 10 years in government, we paid down the national debt. We took surpluses and paid down just under $40 billion. However, during what was considered the worst recession since the Great Depression, we ran deficits. Although fundamentally opposed to debt and deficit spending, we realized, like every G7 country, that we needed to kick-start the economy. That was not enough for the Liberals or the NDP, but that is what we did. We invested in large infrastructure programs in Canada, the largest in Canadian history. With Canada's economic action plan, we got a significant return on this investment. We were the first G7 country to come out of the recession and back to growth.
I see that my time is up. I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on this budget implementation bill.
View Ed Fast Profile
View Ed Fast Profile
2018-04-30 16:12 [p.18927]
Mr. Speaker, I have been looking forward to the opportunity to engage in this debate.
I am going to frame this discussion in terms of Canada's competitiveness and our future, what our future will look like for the coming generations if we continue to go along the path of sending terrible signals to the global investment community. My comments will actually focus on how Bill C-48 is poorly thought out and really does not reflect the reality of Canada's resource economy.
I am a proud Canadian, but I am also a very proud British Columbian. Unlike many of my colleagues in this House, I have had the chance to hike many of the different remote wilderness areas of British Columbia. I have had the chance to hike the Chilkoot Trail, where one hikes out of the coastal rainforest in Alaska into the drier interior area of British Columbia and follow the trail the early gold miners took to the Yukon gold fields. I have had a chance to hike the Bowron Lakes. In fact, we canoed the Bowron Lakes, 12 lakes connected with portages, where one is almost guaranteed to see moose and bear along the way. I have had a chance to climb the Rockwall and Skyline trails in the Rocky Mountains. I have had a chance to hike in the Cathedral Lakes area outside of Keremeos, British Columbia. Also, in the northeast corner of British Columbia, there is the Muskwa watershed, Gathto Creek, and Pine River. British Columbia is an awesomely beautiful province, a place we as Canadians can be very proud of. It is a legacy that has been left to us.
Anything that would threaten our coastal areas, any threat to the marine life in our oceans, is something I take very seriously. We know oil tankers have been plying our coastal waters for many, many years. Over those years, how many crude oil spills have actually happened in British Columbia waters? Does anybody want to guess? Zero. There have been zero crude oil spills as far back as we want to go. Why? Because we have superior pilotage, and we have tankers today that are double-hulled as opposed to single-hulled to make sure if they strike something, that object does not penetrate the hull. We now have a world-class marine oil spill response, and we love the government for doing that. That is good. We want to protect our coastal areas.
What we do not want to do is undermine Canada's prosperity as we do this, so we have to be careful how we implement policy. We have to ask ourselves what the Prime Minister's motive is behind imposing a moratorium on tanker traffic off our west coast. By imposing a moratorium, we are preventing Canada from getting its oil and gas products to foreign markets where they fetch the best price. What is the motive? Well, we could just follow the Prime Minister around the world on his global travels from costume to costume, leader to leader. Guess what? We found him in France, where he thought he was safe and he started badmouthing Canada's resource sector. More specifically, he badmouthed Canada's oil sands and lamented the fact that he had not been able to phase out the oil sands by now.
There is the hidden agenda. We have a Liberal government that wants to phase out our oil industry. It wants to put all kinds of impediments in the way of our resource sector to make sure Canadians do not get the maximum dollar that they should for their products.
The Prime Minister goes so far as to pretend he is one thing in British Columbia, where of course he is the champion of the environment whenever he visits, but when he travels to Alberta of course he suddenly becomes the champion of the energy sector.
In fact, what he did in Alberta was to say, “If you impose a massive carbon price on your residents, you'll be able to get the social licence to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built.” What happened? Alberta followed suit. It trusted the Prime Minister, which is something I think Canadians are now very wary of. Premier Notley trusted the Prime Minister when he said, “Hey, a carbon tax and you'll get your pipeline to tidewater”. Well, do we have a pipeline to tidewater? Today we have protesters, no leadership from the Prime Minister, and court challenges. What happened to the social licence? It is bogus.
Along the way, this moratorium on tanker traffic off our Pacific coast is just one more nail in the coffin of completely undermining Canada's competitiveness within the global marketplace. Every day that goes by, Canada becomes less and less competitive, especially vis-à-vis our partner to the south, the United States. I will mention a few things that this government has already done. If imposed, a moratorium on offshore drilling in the north undermines prosperity, because we leave resources in the ground that could have fetched good dollars, but we leave them there.
On the massive carbon tax that Canadians are now being expected pay, members can imagine how that undermines our competitiveness as we layer tax upon tax. Foreign investors wonder why they would invest in Canada and not go to the United States where the corporate tax rate was dropped from 35% to 21% and it got rid of all the red tape. The Liberal government funds a Canada summer jobs grant to an organization that is actually organizing and protesting against the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Prime Minister publicly says that it is going to build, but then gives cash to oppose it. That is our Liberal government.
Then, of course, there is Bill C-69, the new regulations that the Prime Minister would impose on resource projects. The bill would add more discretionary powers to the minister to extend and suspend timelines. There would be longer time frames. There would be new criteria added, including upstream and downstream impacts. This is how crazy it gets. The government would impose criteria, conditions, upon our own oil and gas producers that we do not impose on those who ship gas from foreign jurisdictions like Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and Venezuela. The oil that comes from those countries into Canada right now does not have to comply with any of those criteria, but our own homegrown producers of that product, which is the cleanest in the world, and is subject to the toughest conditions in the world, have to comply with those criteria. We wonder why we have lost 100,000 jobs in our economy. It is because of policies like that. Over 87 billion dollars' worth of capital has fled Canada because of the poorly thought out policies of the Liberal government.
As Conservatives, and the word “conservative” implies conservation, we believe that the highest environmental standards have to be complied with. When we extract our resources in Canada, whether it is mining, oil, or gas, Canadians expect that it be done to the highest environmental standards. Canadians also understand that those resources that lie in the ground represent huge opportunities for economic growth in our country, for jobs, for long-term prosperity, and for funding the programs that governments want to provide to Canadians. It is absolutely critical that moratoria, like the one the Prime Minister is trying to impose on our west coast, not proceed, because at the end of the day, Canadians will pay a very significant price for that. Quite frankly, if in fact the Prime Minister cannot get the job done, he should step aside and let the adults take over. Let someone else take over, someone who really understands the economy, someone who understands the environment, and the appropriate balance between the two.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2017-02-07 12:02 [p.8555]
Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today in the debate on Bill C-36, an act to amend the Statistics Act.
My understanding is that this bill was introduced by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development on December 7 of last year. It proposes amendments to the Statistics Act with the purpose of strengthening the independence of Statistics Canada. That truly is the rub in this bill. Will this bill actually achieve that?
What this bill purports to do is it would appoint the chief statistician during good behaviour for a fixed renewable term of five years, removable only for cause by the Governor in Council. It would also assign the chief statistician powers related to methods, procedures, and operations of Statistics Canada. What does this change in the bill practically do and where do some of my concerns lie?
First of all, while the minister would still have the ability to issue directives on statistical programs, which means being able to have some ministerial or government oversight on various statistical programs, he would no longer be able to issue directives on methods, procedures, and operations.
It is incumbent on the government to provide more information to Parliament on why it feels that change needs to be made. To me, I think there is actually a functionality of Parliament that could be lost in that particular change. Certainly the minister and his department would, from time to time, require some directive on those particular issues, and making this change might impede their progress on certain efforts there. I would be interested in hearing from the government specific examples or cases which it felt led to the necessary precipitation of this particular change.
The chief statistician may require any directive given to be made public and in writing before acting on the directive. I am not a statistician. My background is in economics. However, for anybody who is doing any sort of research methodology, there might be a survey bias or sample bias or failings in statistical methods if that publicity happens in the wrong format. Certainly the minister might have some interest in that particular component of it as well. Again, I would like to hear from the government about why it is making this particular change, and if there were cases presented to the minister that precipitated this change proposed by the bill.
It is also my understanding that even though this might not be the specific intent of this change in the bill, the chief statistician could now have authorization to choose where data is housed. That is a big concern. I know that privacy and data management are concerns for many Canadians. We have been talking about cybersecurity in various forms and shapes in parliamentary committees and through different pieces of legislation here in the House of Commons.
The government needs to clarify whether or not through this bill the chief statistician would have the authorization to change the data storage locations. My understanding right now is that there is an agreement that much of our data will be stored at Shared Services Canada. There is a broader policy discussion around Shared Services Canada and data management.
I think there would be agreement on all sides of this House that any decision to be made on the warehousing of very sensitive data that Statistics Canada might decide to collect should be informed by ministerial oversight. Prior to this bill passing, the government needs to clarify whether or not it would amend the portion of the bill that might allow that to happen. I certainly would not want to see the chief statistician, who is essentially not accountable to anyone, make an overarching decision on where that level of sensitive data would be housed, especially when there has been parliamentary direction to the housing of data made to date. I might add, just to contextualize this, let us say that the chief statistician chose to use a third party to house some or part of the data. There could be security concerns.
While the whole privacy component sounds sort of dry, it is quite valid. Again, it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that component is clarified and perhaps removed from this bill. I do not think that is an appropriate power for the chief statistician to have.
The chief statistician, under this change, would also have authority to develop questioning within surveys. There is a whole debate around that. We could spend hours talking about how sensitive or how invasive a survey from Statistics Canada should be and what the requirements are to that effect.
I was talking to a colleague at one point about how certain data collection around agricultural activities on farms could be used by businesses to form monopolies and price gouge and all these sorts of things. Many Canadians are very sensitive about the types of information that they share.
Again, I almost feel like the bill is a solution in search of a problem. The government has not really explained why it would give this power to the chief statistician. If there have been particular instances that the Liberals feel that removal of ministerial oversight on this particular issue is beneficial, I think they need to explain that to Canadians. Again, this is within a bill that might seem benign in so many different ways, but this is very impactful on the lives of Canadians. My question on that point is why? I do not understand.
Many of my colleagues have talked about the fact that the bill would create the Canadian statistics advisory council. It would be comprised of 10 members and would replace the National Statistics Council. The council would advise the chief statistician and the minister and would focus on the “quality of the national statistical system, including the relevance, accuracy, accessibility and timeliness” of the statistical information produced. Under this bill, the council would be required to “make public an annual report on the state of the national statistical system”.
The government has produced no evidence as to why it would make this change. This seems crazy. We are replacing a board. I want to refer to a quote on this. The National Statistics Council, which this bill is trying to dissolve, has been in place to advise the chief statistician since the 1980s. It is made up of 40 experts and has been described by the UN as, “a bulwark in defence of the objectivity, integrity, and long-term soundness of Canada's national statistical system”.
With this bill, the Liberals are trying to replace a body that has been described by the United Nations, which the government is quite fond of, as something that is fantastic and working great with a council that is appointed by the government. Given the powers that this council is going to have and the fact that the government is changing it from something that is quite objective and working well, it begs the question, why are the Liberals doing this? Why would they replace this council with political appointees?
Again, there is no evidence in the bill and there has not been any evidence with concrete examples presented in speeches by my colleagues opposite as to why something that is functioning well needs to be replaced. I feel like this is almost something that somebody who wants to be appointed to this new board cooked up and gave to the minister and it was put in this bill. It just makes no sense.
Even so, if the government wants to come forward and say that the NSC is not functional in five or six different areas, then why not just give it a revised mandate? Look at the terms of reference under which the NSC operates and revise them.
I want to park that point for a moment, because in the latter half of my speech, I want to talk about why we are even spending parliamentary time with this bill as a priority. However, to continue on, my colleague who spoke earlier talked about how the NSC has representation from all corners of Canada. My understanding is that with the reduction in numbers, there will definitely be regions of this country that will lose their representation on this board.
That is important, because when looking at the priorities of Statistics Canada and the scope that is currently there, representation from each corner of the country is important. This is why we have Statistics Canada. It looks at regional differences in different types of datasets, which inform us on the best public policy options to take. I am concerned that the reduction in membership will remove the breadth of representation on the board right now.
The bill would no longer require “the consent of respondents to transfer their Census information to Library and Archives Canada and repeals imprisonment as a penalty for any offence committed by a respondent.”
We often talk about consent rights in this place in a wide variety of contexts but consent on information sharing is a topic that Parliament should be seized with. I would suggest that the bill perhaps violates the consent rights of Canadians in this regard. That is certainly not transparency. That would be the opposite of transparency. It is incumbent upon the government to talk about something that is not in the bill right now and that is how it plans to safeguard the consent rights of Canadians as to their information being shared before the bill is passed.
The bill would amend “certain provisions by modernizing the language of the Act to better reflect current methods of collecting statistical information”. That seems reasonable to me. Our legislation in this regard should not be static. We should make sure that our legislation reflects technological advancements and new methodology. That does seem reasonable to me.
The bill will head to industry committee should it pass the House. Industry committee will be seized with hearing witnesses on some of the points that I just raised.
Why is this legislation a priority? This is going to be the third bill that comes through the House of Commons and goes to industry committee and yet none of the bills have had any sort of reference to a jobs plan, innovation strategies, or anything that could particularly help Canada. My question is just simply: why? Why is this a legislative priority of the government? Why is this a priority of the House of Commons, which could be debating issues of much greater importance?
We are talking about statistics and the importance of statistics and I would like to give the House some statistics. Right now, my province has seen a change in unemployment rates in roughly an 18-month period from essentially the natural rate of unemployment in my home city of Calgary to over 10%. This is a sobering statistic.
When I think about what industry committee and the House should be seized with as opposed to changing the structure of the National Statistics Council and spending hours of debate on this, I have to wonder why are we not talking about how Canada's trade policy could be bolstered in light of some of the decisions that are being made in the United States right now. I would love to spend hours debating some strategy in terms of how we can take advantage of the opportunities created by the Canada-European free trade agreement. These are the things that industry committee should be seized with. The fact that the government wants to send this legislation to industry committee seems like it is filibustering that committee. It is very strange.
There are some other things I would like to see come out of the industry committee as opposed to this legislation.
We talk about economic diversification in Alberta, which is something I have been interested in during the course of my parliamentary career. Why is the industry committee not talking about a jobs plan that could create broader economic conditions for growth? I am speaking of things like a lower tax climate, especially when we look at the changes being made in the United States.
I hear colleagues in the United States saying that the new administration is going to be lowering taxes in several key areas that are going to render investment opportunities in Canada unattractive. Why is the industry committee not studying the Canadian tax system, especially the proposed tax increases by the government, and how that will affect the competitiveness of our industries and our investment climate? That would be a great study for industry committee to look at. It could refer some recommendations back to the House. Instead, we have before us a bill that would change the National Statistics Council from 13 members to 10 who are now appointed. It makes no sense.
Something else I would like the industry committee to study that would use statistical data provided by Statistics Canada is how to spur innovation in a country where we have traditionally seen very high publication rates and we have focused on academic research. I fully support academic research and a strong academic research system, but that is where a lot of our investments over successive governments have gone. Why do we not see more industry-sponsored R and D, and why are some of our key strategies for the commercialization of research and development simply licensing technology out of the country? In some of our new and up-and-coming industrial sectors like the competitiveness and the opportunities we have with clean tech, why do we see such low adoption rates of technology that is grown in Canada into Canadian industry? Why is that happening? Is there a policy that the government could undertake that could incent adoption of Canadian clean tech?
I have great respect for the current president of Sustainable Development Technology Canada. I just spent an hour talking to her about these sorts of things. Yet, I am coming into the House of Commons to debate the National Statistics Council when the government has shown no evidence that this needs to be changed.
If I were sitting on the industry committee, I would love to see the government study whether the impact of the carbon price affects mid-size energy sector companies at perhaps disproportionate ways to larger-sector companies; and whether this is the best public policy option to ensure the growth and development of the energy sector. That would be something that I know people in my riding would be very interested in because perhaps that could lead to a revocation of what I think is a very bad piece of public policy. It would not be tangential for the industry committee to even look at topics around price elasticity assumptions related to the carbon tax and potential impacts on the energy sector and various other industrial sectors as they relate to either job growth or job decline. I think that would be in the committee's scope. These are the things that parliamentarians on the industry committee could be studying.
What the government has prioritized in this bill is essentially reducing accountability from Statistics Canada to Parliament. I do not understand it. It seems bizarre to me.
Something I have heard over and over again from people in my community is that they are wondering why the government has not talked about how to retain skilled labour in Alberta during this downturn. I would love to see the industry committee spend some time in Alberta and go and talk to some of the key trade associations and professional groups like geologists and geophysicists and accountants and lawyers, and our whole services industry that we have taken decades to build up in Alberta. I would love the committee members to talk to those groups of people and ask what changes they are facing in terms of their decision to stay in Alberta or not; and then what public policy options the government can look at in terms of keeping them there, so that if there is an opportunity for further investment down the road, labour is not a deterrent to growth.
In fact, the industry committee could even look at the impacts of skilled labour availability in western Canada in terms of how that impacts jobs and growth in the energy sector. That would be such a relevant, interesting study. I have a hope that it would even get national media attention because that is something that parliamentarians could use their time on that would certainly help jobs and growth in Canada, which I would hope would be the mandate of the industry committee. Indeed, I hope it would be the mandate of Parliament.
I have significant concerns with this bill. To re-emphasize, I do not understand why the government has put this forward. More important, the government really owes an explanation to Canadians as to why it has chosen to spend the industry committee's time looking at this when there are so many other pressing concerns that the committee members could be using, and then reporting back to the House with concrete recommendations that could produce a jobs plan for Canada.
In conclusion, outside of explaining some of the key components that I had at the front end of the speech as to why these changes are being made, I hope that the government will also use the time of this House in a more effective way when it comes to creating jobs and economic growth for Canadians.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2016-11-28 17:16 [p.7335]
Mr. Speaker, at a time when so many people have lost their jobs or are at risk of losing their jobs in the near future, the government is about to implement a new payroll tax and take more money off the paycheques of my constituents.
For those who are listening, who may not realize what is about to happen, the Liberal government is about to increase the amount of money taken off an individual's paycheque that goes to the Canada pension plan. Also, the amount of money that their employer pays into this plan will also increase.
For many Canadians, this amount of money coming off their paycheques will make it harder to pay their monthly bills. For employers, especially small businesses, this increase to their operating costs will force many to make choices on whether to hire more people or simply to let people go.
Today I want to do two things in debate. First, I want to refute the government's primary argument for doing this, and, second, I will refute the government's assertion that this is the best policy to help Canadians save for retirement. I will point out how many of its policies are actually detrimental to them doing so.
On the first point, this is a payroll tax increase. The Liberals believe that my constituents cannot be trusted to make the right decisions to save for their retirement. They want my constituents to believe that the lowly taxpayers do not have the capacity to plan for their own savings and manage their retirement. They want them to believe that dependence on their government in their old age is the path to their security. They want them to believe that the government's seizure and control of their funds is in their best interest.
While there is a role for government in many situations, the fundamental belief in the freedom of Canadians is what sets Liberals apart from common-sense people. Liberals believe that it is only through government control that Canadians can prosper; whereas common-sense Canadians understand that the government should exist to enable our freedom, not to diminish it.
When I listen to the rhetoric around this particular bill and this particular financial instrument, I hear the government saying that Canadians are not saving enough and the government will come in and save them. I hear nothing about how the government will enable their freedom and enable their choice to be economically prosperous.
There is a huge fallacy in trying to convince the Canadian population that the best way for them to plan for their old age, for their retirement security, is to depend upon a large bloated Liberal government. I cannot believe that the government would actually put out that duplicitous comment and not believe that there would be some sort of push-back from the Canadian population.
This is why it is not the correct policy at this point in time. First, the government is creating a crisis where there is none. Certainly we need to ensure that Canadian seniors are well taken care of, that they are well looked after and honoured in their retirement. This measure will not impact Canadian seniors who are already into their retirement. In fact, it will do absolutely nothing for them. This will not increase their pension or help their prospects. Moreover, this will certainly not help their children, which many retirees are concerned about. In fact, this will disable them and disadvantage them.
I think the Liberals have been trying to sell this plan as some form of curative for pensioners who are already in retirement, and we know that is not the case. The fact that there is duplicity in the communications is so dishonest.
Let us talk about people who are planning for their retirement right now. First, there has been no formal consultation to date, absolutely none. The government has not talked to anyone. The Liberals announced this with great fanfare, hoping the Canadian public would turn a blind eye to this absolutely abysmal piece of legislation, which is based on zero financial credibility, and, frankly, zero actuarial credibility. However, I digress.
Beyond the lack of consultation, I would like to see the government commit to creating jobs for Canadians and creating the economic conditions in which people can increase their opportunity for economic growth and prosperity.
In terms of looking at policy instruments which would enable the prosperity of Canadians and my constituents, the government has absolutely failed. The bill will not do this. All this does is take away Canadians' freedom and require more dependence on the government. That is shameful.
Let us talk about these things. First, aside from the great arrogance of the government assuming that Canadians cannot save for themselves and must rely on the great saviourship of the Prime Minister and all of his wonderful gazes into the cameras, Liberals want to put in place a national tax on everything. There is the carbon tax, which will actually not reduce greenhouse gas emissions but only function as a GST, because, number one, they have not done any proper modelling in terms of price elasticity around the demand for carbon. It would only increase the price of everything for people who are struggling to make ends meet.
Liberals want to increase EI premiums, which would put a further chill on small businesses and job creation. They have put in place regulatory uncertainty for major resource projects. Anyone who is looking to invest in Canada right now is going to decide not to because of the political uncertainty, which also puts a chill on job creation. They are not doing anything to retain labour in my province of Alberta. They are allowing the best and brightest in Canada to bleed into the wind.
Liberals talk about increasing humanitarian levels of immigration without looking at the economic implications of that. They are running up a huge debt. I looked at some of the numbers that came out of the parliamentary budget office this year, and, in a non-recessionary period, the government is spending at unprecedented levels. If we are talking about the future of people's retirement, the level of debt that the Liberal government is going into is shameful. I cannot even think about this most of the time. Spending for spending's sake, rather than with any sort of outcome or goal, is not going to help Canadians with their retirement.
Moreover, the thing I find so fundamentally arrogant, in saying that only the government can help them save for their retirement with a program that might not be solvent at some future point, is the fact that the government eliminated the tax-free savings account increase that the Conservative government put in place. They said average Canadians cannot deal with that, average Canadians cannot be trusted with putting their own money into it. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, it is the people in my riding, who are now out of work in the energy sector because of the Liberal government's ideological opposition to that sector, who used the TFSA the most.
Rather than giving Canadians a vehicle in which to save their money, the government is saying it is not going to do that. It is going to take it away. Canadians are going to depend on the government and the Prime Minister and his sunny ways, because he is going to see everyone through with all of his financial acumen, his economic expertise, all of his great connections and understanding how to scrimp and save given his trust fund background. It is saying that everyone should trust in him, and he will show everyone and their children the way. Canadians do not believe that. That is hogwash.
Canadians need economic opportunity and a commitment to freedom, a commitment to understanding that it is Canadian families and workers who first and foremost understand how best to use their money. It is Canadian families who best understand what they need to do to make their families prosperous and give their children opportunities. Increasing CPP premiums, for many small business employers, boils down to a choice between one employee or two. This is at a time when the government has sent a chill through investments and is sending that sort of message. Then it is deciding to put a further chill on investment right now. It is irresponsible and garbage.
I do not even understand how Canadians cannot be infuriated with the arrogance that the government is putting forward in this bill, in saying that Canadians do not know how to spend their own money or how to save for retirement. From the bottom of my soul and with every fibre of my being, I oppose this bill. Because of the arrogance of the leftist, socialist school of thought, that the government first and foremost knows best how people should spend their money and save for their futures, I oppose this bill, and I know many of my constituents do as well.
Instead of putting this absolute pile of garbage forward, I wish the government would commit to creating economic conditions in which investment could occur in Canada and small businesses could thrive. I wish the government would push back against harmful economic practices in fragile economies like Alberta, like a price floor on labour or a carbon tax. This is the sort of economic policy that bankrupts and fails countries. I hope that my colleagues will take that into account.
View Harold Albrecht Profile
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2016-11-01 11:13 [p.6385]
Madam Speaker, today I rise in the House to participate in the debate on the Liberal government's second budget implementation bill. In the spring, the Liberals presented their first budget. The actual implementation comes in two phases: Bill C-15, budget implementation act, 2016, No. 1, which was passed last spring; and now we are implementing the next phase of the budget, known as budget implementation act, 2016, No. 2, which are the technical measures to make the budget law.
Left with a $2.9 billion surplus by the Conservative government, confirmed by the parliamentary budget officer on October 24, the Liberal government, which campaigned on controlled deficit spending, blew through its promises and did not just double its projected spending but tripled it. If that was not enough, it has now been made clear by the Bank of Canada, the International Monetary Fund, and the OECD that Canada's forecasted growth will be much less than anticipated. This means the deficit will actually be larger than three times the government's original promise. In fact, TD Bank estimates that the deficit will be approximately $34 billion.
If we consider debt charges alone over the course of the government's mandate, interest charges increased by almost $10 billion. Over the next four years, the interest costs alone will rise from $25.7 billion to $35.5 billion. That is just interest alone. This is a lot of money that could be invested better, perhaps reducing taxes, especially for the small business sector.
Canadians believed the Liberal Party when it said that the deficit spending it would undertake would lead to prosperity and growth. Following the release of the budget, my office sent out surveys to every household and business in my riding, asking whether they supported the out-of-control spending of the Liberal government. Of the responses I received, over 90% of my constituents did not support these ballooning deficits and unnecessary spending.
Canadians will remember the stimulus spending the Conservative government undertook during the recession years of 2008 to 2010 and the ability of that government to lift Canada out of the recession stronger than any other G7 country. On top of that, our Conservative government kept its promise to return the budget to balance and, as I said before, even left the Liberal government with a surplus of $2.9 billion.
However, we are not seeing the promised results of the Liberal deficit spending. Just a year ago, the Liberals promised that they could spend their way to prosperity and growth. Hard-working Canadians trusted them to borrow just a modest sum. They said that they would create more jobs and put more money in their pockets. Canadians are still waiting.
By most measures, Canadians are worse off than they were a year ago and the unemployment rate has not changed since the Liberals took office. Good jobs are in short supply. The vast majority of new jobs created under the Liberals have been part time, which helps explain why weekly earnings for the average worker have not budged. Meanwhile, the cost of living has gone up and it is now harder for Canadians to afford new homes. The new federal rules announced last month mean even fewer will be able to buy a first home.
During the summer, I invited the member for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, who was the critic for economic development for southern Ontario, to my riding to participate in a manufacturing round table. There was a great turnout and I was pleased to listen to the concerns of many in the Waterloo region.
In addition to a number of small business owners, also present were the Cambridge and Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chambers of Commerce. One point that came up time and time again from business owners was they cannot operate businesses for very long by borrowing for operating costs.
All of us realize that a major capital investment, such as a home or new equipment, will require sensible borrowing, but to borrow more and more for operating costs is a recipe for disaster. It is really only a matter of time until businesses are finished. The same principle needs to be operative at the federal level of budgeting. We cannot continue to borrow to operate a bloated government.
Another issue that was brought up during the round table were the increased challenges the Liberal government was forcing on businesses such as changes to the CPP program, and, at the same time, the prospect of a national carbon tax. With both of these changes being implemented in the near future, these job-creating businesses in the Waterloo region will be forced to make hard decisions and limit their own growth or perhaps even lay off workers.
The Waterloo region has a strong manufacturing sector and for the Liberal government to be putting unnecessary pressure on these businesses simply does not make sense.
In addition to these manufacturing businesses, other small businesses in my riding and members of the agricultural community have great concerns with the Liberal government's changes to CPP and the implementation of a national carbon tax. Small businesses have learned already through the Liberal government's broken promise to lower their tax rate that this government is not making decisions that are in the best interest of job creators.
However, if that were not enough, just like the manufacturing businesses I heard from, the increase in mandatory CPP paycheque hikes would cost these companies jobs. It would force them to reject the proposal for expansion, postpone new initiatives, or to put off hiring that new employee.
Layered on all of this is the government's new top-down mandatory carbon tax. In my riding, there are over 1,200 farms, approximately 1,400 farms in all of Waterloo region. This new tax will raise their operating costs by thousands of dollars per year, which will in turn raise the grocery bills of Canadians from sea to sea. The cost of living under the Liberal government keeps rising, while employment and wages are stagnant or, in fact, on the decline.
Over the past several months I have been petitioning the Minister of Transport, through letters and questions during question period, on the topic of ultra low-cost carriers. My office has been contacted directly by Jetlines and the Waterloo international airport, asking the Minister of Transport to change the foreign ownership rules for carriers so companies, such as Jetlines, can operate in Canada.
Nine months ago, the pathways report was made public, and this clear recommendation came to the transport minister. Here we are, nine months later, and still no action. This change would provide Canadians with low-cost and convenient travel, as these carriers would primarily be servicing secondary airports across Canada. This is an absolutely clear issue. This has the potential to create thousands of new jobs and offer a more affordable option for travel. However, the Liberal government remains committed to standing in the way of private enterprise.
The Liberals said a massive deficit would create jobs. The parliamentary budget officer's employment assessment said that after a year of Liberal borrowing, there have been zero new full-time jobs created. Job growth is at half the rate of the previous government, and all of the jobs are part time. Despite the low dollar, there are 20,000 fewer manufacturing jobs than there were a year ago.
I would like to talk about the tax credits the government has abolished with this new budget and the introduction of the Canada child benefit.
The Liberal government's removal of the student textbook tax credit has big impacts on the Waterloo region, which is home to several universities and colleges. With the cost of tuition increasing and fewer and fewer job prospects, students need help covering costs. This was one method the government was able to help them.
The Waterloo region is also home to many great sports clubs and associations. Our previous government introduced the child fitness tax credit to help families pay for the cost of their children's sports fees. This helped many families that otherwise might not have been able to afford it and it also encouraged health and wellness through sport, which in turn reduces health care costs.
The Liberals defend these cuts by citing their Canada child benefit, but recently we discovered that their own budgets did not allow for indexing to inflation. This would mean that Canadians would actually be losing money each year under this new plan. In an effort to remedy this monumental error the government has included in this legislation updates to the program allowing for indexation.
The parliamentary budget officer had estimated that indexing and enriching the Canada child benefit would cost $42.5 billion over the next five years. The parliamentary secretary said that the Liberals were going forward with this regardless of the financial pressure it put on public finances. The parliamentary budget officer found the program would cost more than double the original amount budgeted if indexed over the next five years. Where will the Liberals find money for this new spending?
As we have seen already over the past year, and I have made clear in this speech, the government will be digging deeper and deeper into debt without any plan of ever returning the budget to balance.
It is clear that the government's uncontrolled spending and poor policy decisions have been, continue to be, and will be over the next three years, disastrous for the Canadian economy. That is why I cannot support the legislation. I ask the Liberal government to reconsider the poor economic decisions that are included in the bill.
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