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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-06-12 18:20 [p.29068]
Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House. As usual, I want to say hello to all the residents of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching right now. I had the honour of meeting thousands of them last weekend at the Grand bazar du Vieux-Limoilou, where I had a booth, as the local member of Parliament. It was a fantastic outdoor party, and the weather co-operated beautifully.
Before I discuss the motion, I just want the people of Beauport—Limoilou to know that we will have plenty of opportunities to meet this summer at all the events and festivals being held in Beauport and Limoilou. As usual, I will be holding my annual summer party in August, where thousands of people come to meet me. We often eat hot dogs, chips and popcorn from Île d'Orléans together. It is a chance for me to get to know my constituents, talk about the issues affecting the riding, and share information about the services that my office can provide to Canadians dealing with the federal government.
I also want to say that this may be the last speech I give in the House during the 42nd Parliament. It was a huge honour to be here, and I hope to again have that honour after election day, October 21.
I plan to run in the upcoming election and I hope to represent my constituents for a long time to come. I am extremely proud of the work I have done over the past four years, including the work I did in my riding, on my portfolio, Canada's official languages, and during debates.
I am asking my constituents to do me a favour and put their trust in me for another four years. I will be here every day to serve them.
Today we are debating Motion No. 227, a Liberal motion to conduct a study in committee. It is commendable to do a study at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. This is a very important House of Commons committee. A Liberal Party MP is proposing to conduct a study on labour shortages in the skilled trades in Canada.
As soon as I saw that I wanted to say a few words about this motion. Whether it be in Quebec City, Regina, Nanaimo, or elsewhere in Canada, there is a crisis right now. The labour shortage will affect us quite quickly.
We have heard that, a few years from now, the greater Quebec City area will need an additional 150,000 workers. This remarkable shortage will be the result of baby boomers retiring. Baby boomers, including my parents, will enjoy a well-deserved retirement. This is a very important issue, and we must address it.
I would like to remind the House that, in January, February and March, I asked the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour about the serious labour shortage problem in Canada. Each time, she made a mockery of my question by saying that the Liberals had created 600,000 new jobs. Today, they say one million.
I am glad that this motion was moved, but it is more or less an exercise in virtue signalling. Actually, it is more of an exercise in public communications, although I am not questioning my colleague's sincere wish to look into the issue. In six or seven days, the 42nd Parliament will be dissolved. Well, the House will adjourn. Parliament will be dissolved in a few months, before the election.
My colleague's committee will not be able to study the motion. My colleagues and I on the Standing Committee on Official Languages are finishing our study of the modernization of the Official Languages Act. We decided that we would finalize our recommendations tomorrow at noon, to ensure that we are able to table the report from the Standing Committee on Official Languages in the House.
In essence, this is a public communications exercise, since the committee will not be able to study the issue. However, I think it would be good to talk about the labour shortages in the skilled trades with the Canadians who are watching us. What are skilled trades? We are talking about hairdressers, landscapers, cabinetmakers, electricians, machinists, mechanics, and crane or other equipment operators. Skilled trades also include painters, plumbers, welders and technicians.
I will explain why the labour shortage in the skilled trades is worrisome. When people take a good look around they soon realize that these trades are very important. Skilled tradespeople build everything around us, such as highways, overpasses, waterworks, subways, transportation systems like the future Quebec streetcar line that we have talked about a lot lately, the railroads that cross the country, skyscrapers in major cities like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, factories in rural areas, tractors, equipment and the canals of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which were built in the 1950s.
China, India and the United States are making huge investments in infrastructure. For example, in recent years, the U.S. government did not flinch at investing $5 billion to improve the infrastructure of the Port of New York and New Jersey, which was built by men and women in the trades. In Quebec, we are still waiting for the Liberals to approve a small $60-million envelope for the Beauport 2020 project, now called the Laurentia project, which will ensure the shipping competitiveness of the St. Lawrence for years to come.
There has been a lack of infrastructure investment in Canada. The Liberals like to say that their infrastructure Canada plan is historic, but only $14 billion of the $190 billion announced have actually been allocated. That is not all. Even if the Liberals were releasing the funds and making massive investments to surpass other G20 and G7 countries, the world's largest economies, they would not be able to deliver on their incredible projects without skilled labour. Consider this: even Nigeria, with a population of 200 million, is catching up with us when it comes to infrastructure investments.
It is about time that we, as legislators, dealt with this issue, but clearly that is not what the Liberals have been doing over the past few years, although I have heard some members talk about a few initiatives here and there in some provinces. The announcement of this study is late in coming.
I would also remind the House that this is a provincial jurisdiction, given that provincial regulations govern the training of skilled workers. That said, the federal government can still be helpful by implementing various measures through federal transfers, such as apprenticeship grants and loans, tax credits and job training programs. This all requires a smooth, harmonious relationship between the provinces and the federal government. Not only do the political players have to get along well, but so do the politicians themselves.
If, God forbid, the Liberals get another four-year term in office, taxes will increase dramatically, since they will want to make up for the huge deficits they racked up over the past four years. In 2016, they imposed conditions on health transfers. Then, they rushed ahead with the legalization of marijuana even though the provinces wanted more time. Then, they imposed the carbon tax on provinces like New Brunswick, which had already closed a number of coal-fired plants and significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions. The Liberals said that they still considered the province to be an offender and imposed the Liberal carbon tax. Finally, today, they are rushing through the study of Bill C-69, which seeks to implement regulations that are far too rigid and that will interfere with the development of natural resources in various provinces, even though six premiers have stated that this bill will stifle their local economies.
How can we hope that this government will collaborate to come to an agreement seeking to address skilled trades shortages when it has such a poor track record on intergovernmental relations?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-27 16:46 [p.24090]
Madam Speaker, I would like to respond to something the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands said. She said the government always has iconic and historical engagement announcements. I have come to think that it is all the government is about. It is always historical, amazing, so great, but we have never in Canadian history seen a government spend so much money to do so little.
I am very happy to speak today in the House of Commons on behalf of the citizens of Beauport—Limoilou.
Centre Block will soon be closing for complete renovations for 10 or 15 years. I wanted to mention that. There is no cause for concern, however, because we will be moving to West Block. I will therefore be able to continue to speak on behalf of my constituents.
Today I am discussing Bill C-86, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures.
I will focus on the fact that the members of the Conservative Party are extremely disappointed with the bill. We have witnessed a string of broken promises over the past three years. It is a little ironic that the hon. member for Papineau, the current head of the Liberal government, said during the election campaign that he wanted to do something to make people less cynical of politics, to help them have more confidence in politicians, in the ability of the executive branch, the legislative branch and members of Parliament to do things that are good for Canadians and especially to respect the major promises formally made during the campaign.
A group of researchers at Laval University have created what they call the Vote Compass. It shows the number of promises kept and broken by the provincial and federal governments.
I remember that, to their chagrin, a few months before the 2015 election, the research institute had to acknowledge that 97% of all promises made by Mr. Harper during the 2011 election campaign had been kept.
The Liberal government elected in 2015 broke three major promises and is continuing to break them in the 2018 budget. These were not trifling promises. They were major promises that were to set the guidelines for how the government was to behave and for the results Canadians would see.
The Canadians we talk to are familiar with the three major promises, since I often repeat them. I have to, because this is serious.
The Liberals promised to limit themselves to minor $10-billion deficits in the first two years and a $6-billion deficit in the third year.
What did they do? The first year, they posted a deficit of $30 billion. The second year, they posted a deficit of $20 billion. This year, the deficit is $18 billion, or three times what was announced.
That is the first broken promise, and it was not just some promise that was jotted down on the back of a napkin. In any case, I hope not. In fact, I remember quite well that the promise was made from a crane in the midst of the election campaign. The member for Papineau was in Toronto, standing on a crane when he said that he would run deficits to pay for infrastructure. That is the second broken promise. He said that the $10 billion a year in deficits would be used to inject more money into infrastructure. However, of the $60 billion in deficits this government has racked up to date, only $9 billion has gone to infrastructure. That is another problem, another broken promise.
That is why I was saying earlier that we have rarely seen, in the history of Canada, a government spend so much money for so few results. This is probably the first time we have seen this sort of thing.
I will give an example. He said that he would invest $10 billion in infrastructure in 2017, but he invested only $3 billion and yet racked up a deficit of $20 billion. Where did the other $17 billion go? It was used for all sorts of different things in order to satisfy very specific interest groups who take great pleasure in and boast ad nauseam about the Liberal ideology.
The third broken promise is an extremely important and strategic one. In fact, it was so obvious that we did not even really think of it as a promise before.
All Canadian governments, in a totally responsible manner and without questioning it, traditionally endorsed this practice. If there was a deficit, the document would indicate the date by which the budget would be balanced. There was a repayment date, just as there is for anyone in Canada. When the families of Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are watching today, want to buy a car or appliance, such as a washer or dryer, not only does the seller ask them to get a bank loan, but he also asks them to sign a paper that indicates when the debt will be repaid in full.
Thus, it is quite normal to indicate when the budget will be balanced. We have been asking that question for three years, but what is even more interesting is that the Liberals had promised that the budget would be balanced in 2019, and now there are 45 days remaining in 2018. Telling us when the budget will be balanced is the least the Liberals could do.
There are consequences to running up large deficits, however. The Liberal government has been accumulating gigantic deficits at a time when the global economy is doing rather well, although forecasts indicate that we will enter a recession in the next 12 months. Although times are tough in Alberta and Ontario, where General Motors just closed a plant, the situation is positive. There are regions in Canada that are suffering tremendously, but the global economic context is nevertheless healthy. Knock on wood, which is everywhere in the House of Commons.
The first serious mistake is to run up deficits when times are good. When the global economy is doing well and our financial institutions are making money, we have to put money aside for an emergency fund and an assistance fund, especially for the employees of General Motors who lost their jobs and for all families in the riding of my Alberta colleague who have lost their jobs in the oil sector.
We have to have an emergency fund for the next economic crisis because that is how our capitalist system works. There are ups and downs. That is human nature. It is random. Agreements are signed, things are done, progress is made, and there are ups and downs. The current positive situation has been going on for five or six years now, so we need to be prepared. That is why growing the deficit during good economic times can have very serious consequences.
I would like to talk about another serious consequence, and I am sure this will strike a chord with the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening to us now. Does anyone know how many billions of dollars the government spends on federal health transfers? It is $33 billion per year. To service the debt, to pay back people around the world who lend us money, we spent $37 billion last year. We spent $4 billion more on servicing our debt than on health transfers.
An hon. member: That is shameful.
Mr. Alupa Clarke: Yes, Madam Speaker, it is shameful. It sure looks like bad management of public affairs. It makes no sense, and I am sure Canadians agree. I am sure they are sick and tired of hearing us talk about $10-billion, $20-billion, $30-billion deficits and so on.
Canada's total debt is now $670 billion. My fellow Canadians, that means that, at this point in time, your family owes $47,000. That is a debt you will have to pay.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage was very proud to announce that the government was giving nearly $6,000 a year per child, through the Canada child benefit, to people earning less than $45,000 a year. They are not giving money away, however; they are buying votes, which is unfortunate, since the very children this money is helping will end up having to pay it back. This is completely unacceptable on the part of the government.
I am proud to be part of a former Conservative government that was responsible, that granted benefits without running deficits and that also managed to balance the budget.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-19 16:03 [p.23589]
Mr. Speaker, as usual, I am very pleased to rise today.
Without further delay, I would like to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Barrie—Innisfil.
As always, I extend my warmest greetings to the many people in Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us today.
Today's debate is very interesting. An opposition motion was moved in the House by the Conservative Party, of which I am of course a member. It reads as follows, and I quote:
That the House call on the government to tell Canadians in what year the budget will be balanced, and to do so in this week’s Fall Economic Statement.
Canadians may be wondering what is happening and how it is possible that we still do not know when the government will balance the budget. That has always been a basic concept for me, even before I got into politics.
It seems to me that any reasonable, responsible government, whether it be Liberal or Conservative—and I was going to add NDP, but that has not happened yet at the federal level—with nothing to hide should indicate in its policy statement, budget, and everyday political messaging a date on which it will balance the budget, or at least a concrete timeframe for doing so.
There are two rather surprising things about the Liberals' refusal to give us a timeframe for returning to a balanced budget. There are two historic elements with regard to the practice that they are currently using.
As the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent keeps saying, we have never seen a government run a deficit outside wartime or outside an economic crisis.
According to Keynesian economics, it is normal to run deficits. Keynes made some mistakes in several of his analyses, but there is one analysis he did that several governments have been adhering to for 60 years now. According to his analysis, when an international economic crisis is having an impact on every industrialized country in the world, it is not a bad idea for the government to invest heavily in its community, in its largest industries, in every industrial region of the country, to ensure that jobs are maintained and that there is some economic vitality despite the crisis.
For example, we Conservatives ran a few deficits in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 because the country was going through the worst economic crisis ever, the greatest recession since the 1930s.
Our reaction was responsible. Why? First, because there was a major global recession. Second, because even though we were a Conservative government, we embraced Keynesianism because we felt it made good economic sense. Through our strategic reinvestment plan, we managed to maintain 200,000 jobs. Not only did we maintain jobs across Canada, but we also repaired infrastructure, bridges and overpasses.
Two years ago, when I was a member of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, I read a report that noted this was the first time an economic recovery and stimulus plan had been implemented so quickly. In three or four years, we invested $80 billion in infrastructure to help Canada weather some rough economic times.
The first surprise from the Liberals was that they ran up massive deficits of $20 billion this year, $20 billion last year, and $30 billion in 2015-16, even though there is no major crisis or war going on.
There is a second surprising thing. Let us go back to the time when lords were waging wars against the king of England, which is in the 13th century. In 1215, the Magna Carta resulted from several confrontations between the lords, the capitalist bourgeoisie and the aristocracy, all pleading for their interests with the king. The idea was to create an assembly where they could present their admonitions and complaints to the king and could limit the outrageous sums the king wanted to spend on the holy crusades. That is when our parliamentary system was born.
When I was first elected to the House of Commons, I learned Parliament's primary function. My university professors knew I liked philosophy, but they said I would soon come to realize that, in the House of Commons, discussions are about money, the economy, the country's economic situation and public finances. I learned that, in the House of Commons, debates are almost entirely about public finances.
That is as it should be, since the philosophical and political foundations of the British parliamentary system are accountability and the principle of responsible government allowing citizens to know what their money is used for. In those days, it was the capitalist bourgeoisie who wanted to know, whereas nowadays all citizens expect it. Nevertheless, the process and the principle remain the same. We want to know what happens with our money. Why are there deficits, if any, and most importantly when is the government going to balance the budget? Deficits involve our money, and it is commendable and reasonable to know when the budget will be balanced.
My colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert was just saying how absurd this is. What would a government MP do if an ordinary Canadian asked him to simply tell him when his party would balance the budget? For three years, members of Parliament have not really been allowed to answer such a question, yet it is quite a normal question. They have to come up with foolish answers, think about something else or say that everything is fine because they have been cutting taxes, when in fact each citizen in Beauport—Limoilou pays $800 more every year in income tax.
That amounts to almost $2,000 per family, not to mention the tax credits they axed, the oil that is not being shipped out of the country, all the cuts in exports to the U.S., all the U.S. investment in Canada that has been lost while Canadian investment in the U.S. has increased, not to mention the fact that household debt is at an all-time high. The OECD remarked on this recently. In short, I could go on for a long time without even talking about the USMCA.
Nonetheless, there are some surprising things. What is incredible, and I repeat this every time I give a speech about Canada's economy, is that, in 2015, the Liberals were smart enough and had enough honour to explain why they were running a deficit even though we were not at war or in an economic crisis. At the time, the member for Papineau, under a gigantic crane in Toronto—I remember watching on television from my campaign office in Beauport—Limoilou and that it was partly cloudy and it rained a little—announced to Canadians that the Liberals would run a deficit of $10 billion in the first two years and then a deficit of $6 billion in the third year. He promised a deficit. Everyone was surprised that he was promising a deficit. It was a first.
He added that the Liberals would run a deficit in order to invest in infrastructure, which, he said, had been abandoned, and to invest more in infrastructure in general across the country. At least he was consistent in his comments once he was elected. He announced that they were creating a historic infrastructure plan—everything is always historic with them—worth $187 billion, which is not bad either. That was a continuation of what we had done. We had invested $80 billion over the course of the six previous years. It is only natural to continue to invest in infrastructure in Canada. Some even claim that Canada exists thanks to the railroad. Infrastructure has always been foundational here in Canada.
However, the Parliamentary Budget Officer—which, I repeat every time, as we must not forget, is an institution created by Mr. Harper, a great democrat who wanted there to be an independent body in Parliament to constantly hold the government to account—informed us in a report that, of the $187 billion invested in infrastructure, only $9 billion has actually been spent over the past three years. If I am not mistaken, $9 billion divided by three is $3 billion. The Liberals have invested $3 billion a year in infrastructure, and yet, they ran a $30-billion deficit in the first year.
Let us not forget that the $10-billion deficit was supposed to be for infrastructure. However, in their first year in office, the Liberals ran a $30-billion deficit and only $3 billion of that went to infrastructure. The second year, they ran a $20-billion deficit with only $3 billion for infrastructure, and they did the same again this year. Obviously, we have never seen a government put so much energy into spending so much money in such a reckless and dishonourable way while achieving so little for the economic well-being of the country and Canadians at home.
In closing, setting a deadline for paying off debt is something that Canadian families do at home all the time, for example when paying off their mortgages or their car loans. When people borrow money for a car, the dealer does not just say, “Have a good day, sir. See you around.” He tells them that they need to take out a bank loan and that they have four years to pay it back. There is a deadline for all sorts of things like that.
When will a balanced budget be achieved?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-06 16:04 [p.23385]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise. As usual, I would like to say hello to the many people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us live on CPAC or on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter later.
I would like to comment on the speech by the Minister of Status of Women. I found it somewhat hypocritical when she said that she hopes her opposition colleagues will support the bill and the budget's feminist measures, which she presented, when the Liberals actually and strategically included all these measures in an omnibus bill, the 2018 budget implementation bill. Clearly, we, the Conservatives, will not vote in favour of Bill C-86 because it once again presents a deficit budget that is devastating for Canada's economy and for Canadian taxpayers. It is somewhat hypocritical for the minister to tell us that she hopes we will support the measures to give women more power when she herself was involved in hiding these measures in an omnibus bill.
I would like say, as I often say, that it is a privilege for me to speak today, but not for the same reason this time. I might have been denied the opportunity to speak to Bill C-86 because this morning, the Liberal government imposed closure on the House. It imposed time allocation on the speeches on the budget. This is the first time in three years that I am seeing this in the House. Since 2015, we have had three budget presentations. This is the sixth time we are debating a budget since 2015 during this 42nd Parliament. This is the first time I have seen the majority of my Conservative colleagues and the majority of my NDP colleagues being denied speaking time to discuss something as important as Bill C-86 to implement budgetary measures. The budget implementation legislation is what formalizes the budget the government brought down in February. Implementation is done in two phases. This is the second phase and it implements the Liberal government's budget.
By chance, I have the opportunity to speak about the budget today and I want to do so because I would like to remind those listening about some key elements of this budget which, in our view, are going in the wrong direction. First, the Liberals are continuing with their habit, which has become ingrained in their psyches. They are continuing with their deficit approach. It appears that they are in a financial bind. That is why they are creating new taxes like the carbon tax. They also lack the personal ability to govern. You might say that it is not in their genes to balance a budget. The Liberals' budget measures are bad and their economic plan is bad. They are so incapable of balancing the budget that they cannot even give us a timeline. They cannot even tell us when they think they will balance the budget.
This is the first time that we have seen this in the history of our great Canadian parliamentary democracy, established in 1867, and probably before that, in the parliaments of the United Canadas. This is the first time since 1867 that a government has not been able to say when they will balance the budget. I am not one for political rhetoric, but this is not rhetoric, this is a fact.
The Liberals made big promises to us in that regard during the 2015 election. Unfortunately, the Liberals put off keeping those promises. They promised to balance the budget by 2019. Now, they have put that off indefinitely, or until 2045, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, a position that, let us not forget, was created by Mr. Harper. That great democrat wanted to ensure that there was budgetary accountability in Parliament. The Liberals also promised that they would run small deficits of $10 billion for the first three years and then balance the budget. The first year, they ran a deficit of $30 billion. The second year, they ran a deficit of $20 billion. The third year, they ran a deficit of $19 billion. Just a week or two ago, we found out from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that the Liberals miscalculated and another $4 billion in debt has been added to that amount. The Liberals have racked up a deficit of $22 billion. That is 6.5 times more than what they set out in their plan to balance the budget.
The other key budget promise the Liberals made was that the small deficits of $10 billion would be used to build new infrastructure as part of a $187-billion program.
To date, only $9 billion has flowed from the coffers to pay for infrastructure projects. Where is the other $170 billion? The Prime Minister is so acutely aware of the problem that he shuffled his cabinet this summer. He appointed the former international trade minister to the infrastructure portfolio, and the new infrastructure minister's mandate letter says he absolutely has to get on this troublesome issue of money not being used to fund infrastructure projects.
There is a reason the Liberals do not want to give us more than two or three days to discuss the budget. They do not want the Conservatives and the NDP to say quite as much about the budget as they would like to say because we have a lot of bad things to tell them and Canadians.
Fortunately, we live in a democracy, and we can express ourselves in the media, so all Canadians can hear what I have to say. However, it is important for us to express our ideas in the House too because listening to what we say here is how Canadians learn what happened in history.
Things are not as rosy as the Liberals claim when it comes to the economy and their plan. For instance, in terms of exports, they have not been able to export Canadian oil as they should. We have one of the largest reserves in the world, but the Liberals tightened rules surrounding the National Energy Board in recent years. As a result, several projects have died, such as the northern gateway project and energy east, and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain project, which the Liberals managed to save in the end using $4.5 billion of taxpayers money. In short, our exports are not doing very well.
As for investments, from 2015 to 2017, Canadian investments in the U.S. increased by 65%, while American investments in Canada dropped by 52%.
On top of that, one thing that affects the daily lives of Canadians even more is the massive debt, which could jeopardize all our future projects for our glorious federation. In 2018, the total accumulated debt is $670 billion. That comes out to $47,000 per family. Not counting any student debt, car payments or mortgage, every family already has a debt of $47,000, and a good percentage of that has increased over the past three years because of the Liberals' fiscal mismanagement.
That is not to mention the interest on the debt. I am sure that Canadians watching at home are outraged by this. In 2020, the interest on the debt will be $39 billion a year. That is $3 billion more than we invest every year in health.
The government boasts about how it came up with a wonderful plan for federal health transfers with the provinces, but that plan does not respect provincial jurisdictions. What is more, it imposes conditions on the provinces that they must meet in order to be able to access those transfers. We did not do that in the Harper era. We are investing $36 billion per year in health care and spending $39 billion servicing debt. Imagine what we could have done with that money.
I will close by talking about the labour shortage. I would have liked to have 20 minutes so I could say more, but we cannot take the time we want because of the gag order. It is sad that I cannot keep going.
Quebec needs approximately 150,000 more workers. I am appalled that the minister would make a mockery of my questions on three occasions. Meanwhile, the member for Louis-Hébert had the nerve to say that the Conservatives oppose immigration. That has nothing to do with it. We support immigration, but that represents only 25% of the solution to the labour shortage. This is a serious crisis in Quebec.
There are many things under federal jurisdiction that the government could do and that, in combination with immigration, would help fill labour shortages. However, all the Liberals can do is make fun of me, simply because I am a member of the opposition. I hosted economic round tables in Quebec City with my colleagues, and all business owners were telling us that this is a serious crisis. The Liberals should act like a good government and stop making fun of us every time we speak. Actually, it is even worse; they want to prevent us from speaking.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-01 11:34 [p.23157]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Louis-Hébert for his speech.
At the beginning of his speech he talked about historic investments in infrastructure. Sadly, it is historic in theory only, since we have seen just $9.3 billion of the $187 billion announced a few years ago.
Between 2010 and 2015, the Conservative government not only released the $80 billion from our economic action plan, but we also spent it in real time. Many observers even talked about how effective the plan was, since the money was getting out. I just wanted to set the record straight.
I would also like to ask my hon. colleague when the government plans to balance the budget. He did not mention that in his speech. One of the Liberal government's key promises in 2015 was to balance the budget by 2020. Promises must be kept if we want to reduce cynicism among Canadians instead of fuelling it. This is important to our democracy, and yet, it is clear that the government has shelved this promise and that it has absolutely no intention of keeping it.
When will the government balance the budget?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-26 10:49 [p.22914]
Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise to speak in the House.
I would like to say hello to the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us now on CPAC or watching a rebroadcast on Facebook or Twitter.
Without further delay, I would like to address the previous speaker's comments. I find it interesting that he said their objective was to prevent foreign influence from third parties.
The bill will pass, since the Liberals have a majority. However, one problem I have with the bill is that it will allow more than 1.5 million Canadians who have been living outside of Canada for more than five years to vote in general elections, even if they have been outside Canada for 10 or 15 years.
These people have a privilege that even Canadians who have never left the country do not even have. The Liberals will let them randomly choose which riding they want to vote in. This is a massive privilege.
If I were living in the United States for 10 years and saw that the vote was really close in a certain riding, thanks to the new amendments made to the bill, I could decide to vote for the Liberal Party in order to ensure that a Liberal member gets elected. That seems like a very dangerous measure to me. It will give a lot of power to people who have been living abroad for a very long time. That still does not make them foreigners, since they are Canadian citizens.
For those watching us, I want to note that we are talking about Bill C-76 to modernize the Canada Elections Act.
This is an extremely important issue because it is the Canada Elections Act that sets the guidelines for our elections in our democracy. These elections determine the party that will form the next government of Canada.
I am sure that the people of Beauport—Limoilou watching us right now can hardly believe the Liberal government when it says that it wants to improve democracy or Canada's electoral system or allow a lot of people to exercise their right to vote. The Liberals' record on different elements of democracy has been deplorable the past three years.
Two years ago when the House was debating the issue, I was a member of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The Liberals introduced a parliamentary reform that included some rather surprising elements. They wanted to weaken the opposition, thereby weakening roughly 10 million Canadians who voted for the opposition parties, including the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Green Party.
They wanted to cut speaking times in the House, which is completely ridiculous. I have said it many times before and I will say it again. An MP currently has the right to speak for 20 minutes. Most of the time, each MP speaks for 10 minutes. Through the reform, the Liberals wanted to cut speaking times from 20 minutes to 10 minutes at all times. The 20-minute speaking slot would no longer exist.
I have a book at home that I love called The Confederation Debates. It features speeches by Papineau, Doyon, George-Étienne Cartier, John A. MacDonald, Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine, among many others that I could name. These great MPs would speak for four, five, six, seven or eight hours without stopping, long into the night.
With their parliamentary reforms, the Liberals wanted to reduce MPs' speaking time to 10 minutes. They wanted to take away our right to speak for 20 minutes. All this was intended to minimize the opposition's speaking time, to stifle debate on various issues.
What they did yesterday was even worse. It was a clear-cut example of their attitude towards parliamentary democracy. They imposed time allocation. In layman's terms, they placed a gag order on a debate on the modernization of the Canada Elections Act. No example could more blatantly demonstrate their ultimate intent, which is to ram the bill through as fast as possible. It is really a shame. They want to ram this down our throats.
There is also what they did in 2015 and 2016 with their practice of cash for access.
When big-time lobbyists want to meet with a minister or the Prime Minister to discuss an issue, they just have to register and pay $1,500, or $1,575 now, for the opportunity to influence them.
These are not get-togethers with ordinary constituents. These are get-togethers arranged for the express purpose of giving prominent lobbyists access to top government officials and enabling them to influence decisions.
Here is a great example. The Minister of Finance attended a get-together with Port of Halifax officials and people closely connected to the Port of Halifax. No other Liberal Party MP was there. That is a blatant conflict of interest and cash for access.
If Canadians have a hard time trusting the Liberals when they say they introduced this bill because they want to enfranchise people or improve democracy and civic engagement, it is also because of all of the promises the Liberals have broken since their election in 2015.
Elections and electoral platforms form the foundations of Canadian democracy. Each party's political platform contains election promises. Personally, I prefer to call them commitments. The Liberals made some big promises. They said they would run small $10-billion deficits for the first two years and then reduce the deficits. Year after year, however, as they are in their third year of a four-year mandate, they have been running deficits that are much worse: $30 billion, $20 billion and, this year, $19 billion, although their plan projected a $6-billion deficit.
They broke that promise, but worse still, they broke their promise to return to a balanced budget. As my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent has put it so well often enough, this is the first time we are seeing structural deficits outside wartime or a major recession. What is worse, this is the first time a government has had no plan to return to a balanced budget. It defies reason. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, an institution created by the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, said again recently that it is unbelievable to see a government not taking affairs of the state more seriously.
Meanwhile, with respect to infrastructure, the Liberals said they were introducing the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history—everything is always historic with them—worth $187 billion. What is the total amount spent to date? They have spent, at most, $7 billion on a few projects here and there, although this was supposed to be a pan-Canadian, structured and large-scale program.
The Liberals also broke their promise to reform the electoral system. They wanted a preferential balloting system because, according to analyses, surveys and their strategists, it would have benefited them. I did not support that promise, but it is probably why so many Canadians voted for the Liberals.
There is then a string of broken promises, but electoral reform was a fundamental promise and the Liberals reneged on it. It would have made changes to the Election Act and to how Canadians choose their government. That clearly shows once again that Canadians cannot trust the Liberals when they say they will reform the Election Act in order to strengthen democracy in Canada.
Let us now get back to the matter at hand, Bill C-76, which makes major fundamental changes that I find deplorable.
First, Bill C-76 would allow the Chief Electoral Officer to authorize the use of the voter information card as a piece of identification for voting. As one of my Conservative colleagues said recently, whether we like it or not, voter cards show up all over, even in recycling boxes. Sometimes voter cards are found sticking out of community mailboxes.
There are all kinds of ways that an individual can get hold of a voter card and go to the polling station with it. It is not that difficult. This Liberal bill enables that individual to vote, although there is no way of knowing if they are that person, unless they are asked to provide identification—and that is not even the biggest problem.
It does not happen often, thank goodness, but when I go to the CHUL in Quebec City—which is the hospital where I am registered—not only do I have to provide the doctor's requisition for blood work, but I also have to show a piece of ID and my hospital card.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:33 [p.22259]
Mr. Speaker, I can understand my colleague's concern. I did have a point I was getting at. I want to talk about clauses 54 and 101 of Bill C-78 and how they contradict Bill C-75.
However, I was talking about something that is very important to me. I will use a different analogy. Let us leave NAFTA behind for a different analogy.
We have a Prime Minister who introduced Bill C-78, telling Canadians that after 20 years, he is proposing important amendments, some fundamental and others more technical, that will strengthen the legislation and the institution of marriage in Canada.
Notwithstanding the fact that we Conservative members plan to support this bill, following the committee studies, we feel it is hard to trust the Prime Minister when he says he wants to strengthen marriage, considering his behaviour as the head of government.
For example, when Mr. Trudeau was elected in 2015, we might say that it was a marriage between him and the people of Canada. However, after everything that the Prime Minister has done in the past three years, a marriage would not have lasted a year since he broke three major promises. I would even say that these are promises that break up the very core of his marriage with Canada. I will get to the clauses in this bill that have me concerned, but I want to draw a parallel. How can we trust the Prime Minister when it comes to this divorce bill, when he himself does not keep his promises to Canadians?
He made three fundamental promises. The first was to run deficits of only $10 billion for the first three years and then cut back on that. He broke that promise. The deficits have been $30 billion every year.
The second fundamental broken promise of his marriage with the people of Canada was to achieve a balanced budget by 2020-21. Now we are talking about 2045, my goodness. Is there anything more important than finances in a marriage? Yes, there is love. I get it.
However, budgets are essential in a home. Finances are essential for a couple to remain together. I can attest to that. Love has its limits in a home. Bills have to get paid and children have to eat. Budgets need to be balanced, something that Canadian families do all the time. Our Prime Minister is unable to keep that promise.
The other promise has to do with our voting system, how we are going to run our home, our political system. Just before they got married, the Prime Minister promised Canadians that he would reform the voting system. That was a key promise and he broke it. In fact it was one of the first promises he broke and it is a serious broken promise in his marriage with Canadians in my opinion. It is a broken promise to every young person who trusted him.
Personally, I completely disagree with reforming the voting system because I believe that the first past the post system is the best guarantee for a parliamentary democracy. That said, it was a key promise that he made to youth and the leftists of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, who view proportional representation as being better for them, their future and their concerns. However, he broke his promise. The marriage has been on the verge of breaking up for a long time now. I predict that it will only last one more year.
I have one last point to make in my analogy and then I will discuss the bill. I want to talk about his infrastructure promise. The Prime Minister said that he would invest $183 billion in infrastructure over the next 14 years. It was the largest program in the history of Canada because, according to the Liberals, their programs are always the largest in the history of Canada. I would remind members that ours was incredible as well, with $80 billion invested between 2008 and 2015.
I will ask my colleagues a question they are sure to know the answer to. How many billions of the $183 billion have been spent after four years? The answer is $7 billion, if I am not mistaken. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer mentioned it in one of his reports.
Therefore, how can we have confidence in the Prime Minister, the member for Papineau, who is introducing a bill to strengthen the institution of marriage and the protection of children in extremely contentious divorces when he himself, in his solemn marriage with the Canadian people, has broken the major promises of his 2015 election platform?
The bond of trust has been broken and divorce between the Liberals and the people of Canada is imminent. It is set to happen on October 19, 2019.
Bill C-78 seeks to address some rather astonishing statistics. According to the 2016 census, more than two million children were living in a separated or divorced family. Five million Canadians separated or divorced between 1991 and 2011. Of that number, 38% had a child at the time of their separation or divorce. I imagine that is why the focus of Bill C-78 is protection of the child.
However, we have some concerns. Clause 101 introduces the idea that Her Majesty ranks in priority over the party that instituted the garnishment proceedings if the debtor is indebted or has any moneys to pay. That has us concerned. We will certainly call witnesses to our parliamentary committee to find out what they think and to see if we can amend this.
We also believe that clause 54 is flawed. It extends Her Majesty's binding period from five to 12 years. That is another aspect of the bill that could be problematic in our view.
I do not like to end on a negative note, but I absolutely have to mention a major contradiction pertaining to Bill C-78. Today, the Liberals enthusiastically shared with us, through this bill, their desire to make the protection of children, rather than parents, a priority in cases of divorce. However, when we look closely at Bill C-75, which, with its 300 pages, is a mammoth bill if ever there was one, we see that it seeks to rescind all of the great measures to strengthen crime legislation that our dear prime minister, Mr. Harper, implemented during his 10 years in office, a fantastic decade in Canada.
We are distressed to see that this bill lessens sentences for crimes committed against children. The Liberals are not content with just saying that they are good and the Conservatives are bad. They, who profess to believe in universal love, want to lessen the sentences for criminals who committed terrible, deplorable crimes against children. Then they tell us that the purpose of their bill is to help children.
We see these contradictions and we are concerned. I do not think that my constituents would let their spouses break promises as important as the ones the Prime Minister has broken since 2015. They would not want to stay in a relationship like that.
Canadians need to realize that their divorce from the Liberal government is imminent.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-31 16:21 [p.20030]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for recognizing me. First of all, I would like to say hello to all the people of Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are listening today, and to thank them for all their work. They are definitely listening. When I go door to door, many of them tell me that they watch CPAC.
I would like to say something about what the hon. Liberal member for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas said in response to the speech of my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. She engaged in the usual Liberal demagoguery. She asked if we believed in climate change. I really would like my constituents to listen closely, because I want to make this clear to them and to all Canadians: we, the Conservatives, believe so strongly in climate change that, in 2007, Mr. Harper held a joint press conference with Mr. Charest to announce the implementation of the new Canada ecotrust program, supported by a total investment of $1.5 billion. The aim of the program was to give each province hundreds of millions of dollars to help with their respective climate change plans. It is easy to look this up on Google by entering “ecoTrust,” “2007,” “Harper,” “Charest.” Not only did Mr. Charest commend the Conservative government’s initiative, but even Steven Guilbeault from Greenpeace at the time—and I am certain that my colleague from Mégantic—L’Érable will find this hard to believe—saluted the initiative as something unheard of.
There is a reason why greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2% under the decade-long Conservative reign. We had a plan, a plan with bold targets that the Liberals made their own.
Now let us talk a bit about the 2018-19 budget, which continues in the same vein as the other two budgets presented so far by the hon. member for Papineau's Liberal government. I would like to begin by saying that the government has been in reaction mode for the past three years and almost never in action mode.
It is in reaction mode when it comes to the softwood lumber crisis, although we do not hear much about it because the softwood lumber rates are still pretty attractive. However, the fact remains that this is a crisis and that, right now, industrial producers in the U.S. are collecting billions of dollars that they will eventually recover, as they do in every softwood lumber crisis.
The Liberal government is in reaction mode when it comes to NAFTA. They will say that they are not the ones who put Mr. Trump in office, but this is yet another major issue that has been taking up their time in the past year, and they are still in reaction mode. They are also in reaction mode when it comes to the imminent tariffs on aluminum and steel.
The Liberals are in reaction mode when it comes to almost every major issue in Canada. They are in reaction mode when it comes to natural resources development, for example with regard to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. Once again they were in reaction mode, because Kinder Morgan said that it would walk if the government could not assume responsibility and tell British Columbia in no uncertain terms that this was a matter of federal jurisdiction.
All of this shows that the Prime Minister is not the great diplomat he pretends to be across the globe, and in celebrity news and other media. He is such a poor diplomat that he was unable to avoid the softwood lumber crisis with Obama. He is such a poor diplomat that he has supposedly had a wonderful relationship with Mr. Trump for the past year and a half. He speaks to him on the telephone I do not know how many times a month, but that did not prevent Mr. Trump from taking deliberate action against Canada, as we saw today with the tariffs on steel and aluminum.
I would like to make a comparison. We, the Conservatives, were a government of action. We negotiated 46 free-trade agreements. We sent Canadian troops to Kandahar to demonstrate our willingness to co-operate with NATO and the G7 and to make a show of military force. We invested hugely in national defence, increasing our investments from 0.8% to almost 1.2% of the GDP following the dark days of Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government. We settled the softwood lumber issue in 2007, during the last crisis. We implemented the national shipbuilding strategy, investing more than $30 billion to renew our military fleet, to renew the Canadian Coast Guard’s exploration fleet in the Canadian Arctic, and to renew the fleet of icebreakers. The first of these icebreakers, the majestic Diefenbaker, will soon be under construction.
Let us not forget that we also told Mr. Putin to get out of Ukraine. There is no doubt that we were a government of action.
When the budget was tabled, several journalists said that it was more of a political platform than a budget. I find that interesting. In their opinion, the political platform contained no concrete fiscal measures to prepare Canada for tomorrow, for the next 10 years, or for the next century, as our founding fathers intended in 1867. Rather, it contained proposals, in particular concerning social housing. The NDP must be very happy. The Liberals promised billions of dollars if the provinces gave their assent. That was a promise.
The Liberals also made proposals concerning pharmacare. Once again, they were conditional on studies demonstrating the usefulness of such a plan. That, too, was a promise. The promises go on page after page in the budget, and it is obvious that it is a political platform. That is why the Liberals used the word “woman” more than 400 times, 30 times on each page. That is just demagoguery and totally abusive.
I would like to quote a very interesting CBC journalist, Chris Hall. Since he works at the CBC, the Liberals will surely believe him. He said that the government recently spent $233,000 to organize round table discussions to find out whether Canadians understood the message, and not the content, of their budget. I will quote Mr. Hall:
In particular, the report said the findings suggest middle-class Canadians—the very demographic the Liberals have been courting since their election with both policy initiatives and political messaging—don't feel their lives are getting better.
They are correct in thinking that their lives are not getting better. Even Chris Hall concluded, in light of these studies, that the 2018-19 budget is not a document that provides guidelines, includes concrete measures, or outlines actual achievements in progress. It is a political document that proposes ideologies.
The budget also contains a number of disappointments and shortcomings, precisely because it does not contain any actions. It does not respond to the fiscal reforms enacted by U.S. President Trump that give American companies an undue competitive advantage.
The 2018-19 federal budget does not address the tariffs on aluminum and steel either, although we all saw them coming. It does not specify what measures will be taken to implement carbon pricing. Most of all, it does not say how much it will cost every single Canadian. You would think it would at least do that. Some analysts say that it will cost approximately $2,500 per Canadian per year.
This budget is full of proposals but has no concrete measures, and it perpetuates broken promises. Instead of $10-billion deficits for two consecutive years, we have $19-billion deficits accumulating year over year until 2045. This year, we were supposed to have a deficit of $6 billion, but it has reached almost $20 billion. The Liberals also broke their promise to balance the budget. This is the first time that the federal government has not had a concrete plan to balance the budget.
We were supposed to run up deficits in order to invest in the largest infrastructure program in history, because with the Liberals everything is historic. Only $7 billion of the $180 billion of this program has been injected into the Canadian economy.
This is a very disappointing budget and, unfortunately, dear people of Beauport—Limoilou, taxes keep going up and the Liberal carbon tax is just the start.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-03-20 13:21 [p.17750]
Madam Speaker, first of all, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the very honourable and very competent member for Mégantic—L'Érable, a beautiful riding that has a beautiful lake I swam in a few years ago. As I always do, I would also like to say hello to the many residents of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening to us today and those I meet in my travels, whether I am going door to door or attending events at community centres and so on.
Today I want to talk about the stark realities of budget 2018. I would like to draw a parallel to the disastrous trip to India that my constituents have been upset about and have been talking about so much in recent weeks. This trip was not out of character for this government. The trip was ill-defined and achieved virtually nothing, other than having the Prime Minister dress up in ridiculous costumes—ridiculous only because it was the Prime Minister wearing them. The clothes themselves are not ridiculous; what is ridiculous is the fact that the Prime Minister of Canada wore them instead of wearing the type of clothing he should be wearing to such international meetings. He toured around India making a mockery of the office of Prime Minister, and he was the laughingstock of the international press. He then returned home after announcing hardly anything to Canadians.
This trip pretty much reflects how this government acts every day in the House. It is also exactly like budget 2018: a political agenda with no substance, with page after page of lofty words, and void of any concrete measures.
The Liberals and the Prime Minister, the hon. member for Papineau, brag about forming a government that is not cynical, that will put democracy back on track, that is more transparent, and that wants to restore Canadians' trust in the political system. In my opinion, one of the best ways to restore Canadians' trust is keep the most basic of promises. Not only have the Liberals broken key promises, such as changing the voting system, but they have also broken basic, structural promises that they made with their hands on their hearts in 2015.
The Prime Minister promised to run annual deficits of no more than $10 billion. He also said that in 2018, the deficit would not exceed $6 billion. Less than two weeks ago, the government announced that the deficit for 2018-19 is $18 billion, three times the amount that was promised during the 2015 campaign.
The second broken promise is just as important. The Liberals promised a return to a balanced budget by 2020. As my dear colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent always says in a delightful turn of phrase, never has a Canadian government ever run a deficit outside wartime, such as during the Second World War, or outside a major economic crisis, like the one we went through when Mr. Harper was leading the government. He was a great prime minister, by the way.
The Prime Minister is running major deficits and has no plan to return to a balanced budget, even though our economy is in a favourable position compared to most countries around the world. I will get into this economic situation a bit later. It is unbelievable.
Here is what the parliamentary budget officer thinks about it, as reported by the QMI Agency:
...Canada's fiscal watchdog notes that the federal government's vagueness about [balancing the budget] conflicts with the objectives set out in the mandate letter of finance minister Bill Morneau.
The PBO also notes that the mandate letter from the Prime Minister explicitly asks the minister to ensure “that our fiscal plan is sustainable by meeting our fiscal anchors of balancing the budget in 2019/20 and continuing to reduce the federal debt-to-GDP ratio throughout our mandate”.
Lastly, the article states:
However, in its 2016 budget, Ottawa abandoned its intention of reaching a zero deficit in 2019-20.
Ottawa confirmed two weeks ago that not only will a balanced budget not be reached this year, but it will certainly not be reached by 2023, or by 2045, based on forecasts.
As for infrastructure, it is the biggest joke of all. It is unbelievable. After the election, the government bragged about implementing the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history, a $180-billion program.
I am not the one saying this. Barely a week ago, the parliamentary budget officer said that only $10 billion had been released so far. The media has been covering this story for last few days, thank heaven. All the billions of dollars that should be spent on infrastructure by 2019 will be delayed until 2022, 2023, and 2024.
I will come back to balancing the budget and to deficits. When the Prime Minister promised deficits of no more than $10 billion a year, he brazenly insisted that these deficits were for infrastructure, not for international relations, or for climate change in third-world countries, or for endless funding for all of Canada's diversity groups. No, he said that they were for infrastructure.
The parliamentary budget officer said that the Liberals do not yet have a plan for how the federal government will spend $186.7 billion in infrastructure money over the next 12 years. Is this not the same Liberal government that keeps repeating that meeting environmental targets, for example, requires a plan? The Liberals have no plan for the environment, just as they have no plan for infrastructure. One of their flagship promises, which was so important that it formed the basis for the other promises, was to balance the budget in 2019 and to run annual deficits of $10 billion.
Meanwhile, taxes are going up for the fine constituents of Beauport—Limoilou. The average increase for middle-income families is exactly $840 per year, whereas by the end of 10 wonderful years of Conservative government, from 2006 to 2015, the average Canadian family paid about $2,000 less in taxes. There is an increase in Canada Pension Plan contributions, up to $2,200 per household, there is a carbon tax, up to $2,500 per household, and the cancellation of the family tax cut. This has a direct impact on the people of Beauport—Limoilou. All my neighbours in Beauport—Limoilou have children who play sports or take part in fitness or arts activities. For example, on Sunday mornings, my daughter takes music lessons at the Cascades school of music. It is a great place and I am proud to mention it today. They also cancelled the tax credits for education and textbooks, which could be as much as $560 per student, and they raised EI premiums. This does not even include the disastrous tax reforms imposed by the Minister of Finance, even though he himself wanted to hide some of his income from the federal taxman, frankly.
The sad part is that the debt keeps piling up. After three years in office, the current government has grown the national debt by $60 billion. According to projections by the Department of Finance, in other words, our dear, dedicated public servants, the budget will not be balanced until 2045, which will add $450 billion to the debt. A colleague opposite spoke about 3- to 17-year-old girls not being able to access this or that thing. I will tell her that, in 30 years, fully all of these girls will be paying the debt piled up by the current government. Only one thing is certain: men and women alike will be paying a lot more on the debt in 30 or 40 years, because of the bad fiscal management by this bad government, which, I hope, will be calling it quits in 2019.
What is even more unbelievable is that the government brags about having wonderful financials thanks to its prowess at managing public funds. That is not the case. We know full well that the current growth is primarily due to a recovery in the oil sector. That is good for the entire oil industry, but again, it is not because of the Liberals' sound management. In addition, house prices increased by 16% in 2016, bringing in additional revenue. Oil and gas exports went up. The Canadian dollar fell, and so did interest rates. All those factors combined to produce strong economic growth in Canada. What should we do under such circumstances, when the economy is doing well? We should address the issues and ensure that there is money for potential emergencies, such as the crisis in the aluminum and steel industries, the potential end of NAFTA in a few months, or a global economic crisis that could erupt at any moment.
When the economy is doing well, we must prepare for future crises. The current government is simply being reckless with the Canadian economy. The constituents of Beauport—Limoilou have a right to know.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-06 16:50 [p.15046]
Mr. Speaker, one of the key promises the Liberals made in 2015, before they were in government, was to invest $120 billion in infrastructure. The Conservative Party supported the idea from the get-go; indeed, it ran the largest infrastructure program in Canada when Mr. Lebel headed the infrastructure department. This program had planned investments totalling $80 billion, which was unprecedented in Canada.
That said, what I find interesting is that, today, two years after the election, very rarely do we hear about a specific project benefiting from the $120 billion that have supposedly been invested since 2015.
I wonder if my colleague is able to name a single project in a single province that has benefited from this $120-billion investment in infrastructure.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-06 17:22 [p.15051]
Mr. Speaker, I also have read that we have no assurance there will be any return for the people in Canada on the money we invest in Asian Infrastructure Bank. It is like a blind trust in the Chinese financial world. It is probably to get a deal on free commerce with China, which I kind of understand, but the Liberals should try to have better tactics to come to that end.
It is distraction after distraction. Two weeks ago, when we spoke about the finance minister, they came out with Bill C-24 to change the titles from ministers of state to ministers. It is complete nonsense. It has been like that for two years.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-19 11:16 [p.12892]
Mr. Speaker, I know it is very honourable to present a bill and I understand it is a private member's bill, but certainly, with all due respect to the member, we must not have read the same bill, because he stated twice—not once, but twice—that the bill would reduce red tape. However, on the contrary, small and medium-sized enterprises would now have to produce a report to the minister that specifies the community benefit, and it is to his discretion concerning which benefits there will be.
Can the member explain to me how he can actually see the bill as a reduction of red tape when it is contrary to what is in the bill?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-19 11:21 [p.12893]
Mr. Speaker, I will continue this debate in French. I wish to inform you that Her Majesty's official opposition will oppose this private member's bill and vote against it.
I hate to rain on anyone's parade, and I know the bill sponsor is not going to like this, but we will be voting against the bill for some eminently sensible reasons that I will explain.
I would like to comment on the member for Brampton Centre's speech. The government's role is to allow everyone to compete. When it grants contracts to third parties, parties outside the government, such as small and medium-sized businesses, big businesses, and organizations, it must ensure that RFPs are written so as to maximize everyone's opportunity. That means minimizing paperwork and constraints, which can be obstacles for some small and medium-sized businesses that want to bid. In Canada, such businesses have fewer resources than large construction companies, for example.
The member said the bill would provide flexibility in granting contracts. That is ironic, because the opposite is true. This bill will make the RFP process, which is open to everyone, more cumbersome.
He also said that this would help communities. I only wish that were the case, but after reading the bill, which contains almost no details and consists of only one page and three clauses, I can find no indication that any assistance will be provided to communities. What will happen, however, is that small and medium-sized businesses will be subject to greater constraints and more red tape. I would like to believe the member when he says he wants to help Canadian communities and municipalities, but that is not at all what the bill appears to do. I say this with some reservation, since that is my interpretation, although it is also how the opposition sees it.
In addition, speaking of economic benefits for local communities, the member referred to the Olympic Village in Vancouver. That was one of the largest projects undertaken in Canada in recent years, and it is hardly the kind of local benefits our colleague was referring to in his bill, in other words, infrastructure such as bridges and so on. The Olympic Village in Vancouver was a megaproject involving huge Canadian corporations that are accustomed to being very efficient and getting sizable returns. They have good relationships with the government and are capable of meeting project deadlines, as was the case for the Olympic Games.
Vancouver's Olympic Village was in fact the worst example that the member could have used to illustrate how his bill would benefit the community, or at least help small businesses.
The member said not once, but twice that this bill would cut down on paperwork and red tape and reduce the number of forms small businesses have to fill; that was the point of the question I asked him. In fact, the opposite is true. The specific focus of the bill is to now make small businesses fill out a form for the minister; the community benefits will therefore be at his discretion. The very purpose of the bill is to create paperwork. It is an incredible thing to say that it will cut red tape.
That was my introduction.
Last week, during my speech on the 2017 budget, I said that the purpose of most of the Liberal bills introduced over the past two years has been to benefit certain special interest groups.
These bills are not introduced for the benefit of Canadians in general, that is, all individual Canadians, but rather to help special interest groups. I believe Bill C-344 to be a prime example of this government’s legislative proclivity.
I would also like to remind members how the bill came to be. It was first introduced by the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship as Bill C-227. It was then dropped from the Order Paper a few months ago, after the member was appointed to cabinet, only to return to it later.
The member said that this bill was significant, fundamental and necessary for Canada in that it will allow communities to make their needs known given the expected benefits of a given project. If that were the case, why is this not a bill that the government would want to introduce? Why is it not a government bill?
While I can appreciate that this is not within the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship’s portfolio, why did he not bring this bill forward as quickly as possible? This could have been settled a few months ago. If this were such an effective and important bill, it could have been passed months ago.
The fact that the Liberals removed this bill from the Order Paper and then put it back shows that they likely thought it was inconsequential since there is not much to it. They probably figured that they would just hand it over to some MP so that he could introduce a bill. I know how it goes. It is good to give hon. members the chance to introduce bills, but this bill is essentially going to harm small and medium-sized businesses.
Let me get into the technical details of the bill before it is too late. We in the opposition have identified some problems. There are no criteria in this bill for how small and medium-sized businesses are to respond to the minister's mandatory assessment. There are no criteria, directives, guidelines, or substantive information in this bill indicating precisely how SMEs have to fill out the form.
There is no indication of the criteria, the length of the form, or whether anthropologists and sociologists will have to analyze every little spinoff from the project, whether environmental, economic, or social. What is more, subclause 21.1(1) of the bill states:
...any other specific benefit identified by the community.
I think we can all agree that this could have a major impact on what could be required of small and medium-sized businesses when they fill out the form. For example, if a municipality decides to assess the community benefits for a certain historic group, such as indigenous people, the input of anthropologists and historians will certainly be required. Just imagine if a small or medium-sized business in Toronto, for example, where the member is from, was required to hire anthropologists and sociologists before building a bridge. That is completely ridiculous.
Another problem is that it is left up to the minister's discretion whether a form explaining the community benefits will need to be filled out. The minister will also decide whether or not to present the report on community benefits to Parliament. The bill cannot be that serious if the minister can choose not to apply its provisions. The bill states:
A contracting party shall, upon request by the Minister, provide the Minister with an assessment as to whether community benefits have derived from the project.
I will close by mentioning the worst part, which is that the minister could request a report on the community benefits after the bids have already been submitted and after the SME has already finished the work. However, we know that contracting parties need to have a good idea of how much things will cost before work begins. What the government is telling them is that, after the work is done, they may have to meet other requirements that will cost them more money.
This is a truly a bad piece of legislation as it now stands. It must be sent to committee or even killed because it is just a source of red tape and does not contain any clear directions.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-09 10:36 [p.12418]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance for her speech. I am not sure that people in her riding of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe are happy with the budget. Contrary to what she claims, this budget does not do anything for the ordinary Canadians who work hard every day and keep this country going. This budget helps the interest groups that make up the Liberal Party of Canada's electoral base.
I find it ironic that the parliamentary secretary thanked the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for its hard work in analyzing the 2017 budget implementation bill, since it is quite likely that the other place will ask that the infrastructure bank provisions be removed from this omnibus bill. We have many questions and concerns about the infrastructure bank, questions that have gone unanswered during question period and in committee.
The infrastructure bank protects the investments of private investors to the detriment of Canadian taxpayers. That is ironic since private companies pride themselves on taking risks. Entrepreneurs are the ones who have the moxie to take risks. They have the expertise, the ideas, the innovate spirit, and the courage needed to do things that way. Canadians are already paying taxes to keep the country running. It is not their responsibility to protect private sector investments. That is one of the things that we find worrisome about this bill.
What is more, the government has taken $15 billion away from community infrastructure projects to fund this new bank, a measure that my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent has decried before. He has said that the communities in Quebec's regions will not get any support from the infrastructure bank because it deals only with projects worth over $100 million. Rimouski or Baie-Comeau cannot afford a $100-million arena.
In reality, this bank will serve only the interests of big cities and those that have been especially selected on the basis of the votes for the Liberal Party in 2015. That was my opening statement.
The parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance had the audacity to say that it was a budget for people, for Canadians, when it is the complete opposite. Bill C-44, like the 2016 budget, targets Liberal interest groups, “post-national” interest groups that have very specific goals and that resort to the Supreme Court to argue their political positions instead of going through the House. This time, they certainly have the government’s ear, and their political demands are being heard loud and clear, because this budget does nothing but meet their needs.
There is something else that makes me extremely uncomfortable. The title of the budget is “Building a Strong Middle Class”. What it should have been is “building a strong country for everyone”.
Of course we want a strong middle class; I understand that, but I put myself in the shoes of millions of Canadians who are going to look at their pay and wonder whether they belong to the middle class. It is an open secret in Canadian politics that the Liberal government always talks about the middle class because most people want to be able to feel that the middle class includes them, even if they may not really be part of it, based on their income. It is a trick, a catch-all, but people subconsciously hear that the Liberals are working for the members of one class only, and not for all Canadians.
In my opinion, Bill C-44, which would implement budget 2017, does not really reflect Canada’s structural needs, both current and future. It is a bill that amends certain measures and sprinkles money here and there. There is really no overarching vision when it comes to the direction the country is going in. It is really an ideological, vote-seeking budget plan. What it actually offers is deficits and highly targeted expenditures to please a few interest groups. I will name some of them. I note in passing that these interest groups have all the right in the world to exist, but they should be not be the priority in a budget. The priority should be all Canadians in general.
This budget focuses on NGOs, groups that generate media interest, various civil society groups, and academic elites—the number of research chairs has grown. All universities are receiving incredible amounts of money. That is fine for research, but here again, that is not what helps average Canadians.
Next are the urban and financial elites, the environmentalists, the “post-nationalists”, who pretend that there is no culture or common ground in Canada, that French Canadians do not exist, and that they are just one group among many.
Then there are the civil liberties groups. The groups of litigants who have been going to the Supreme Court since 1982 to get preferential rights, to circumvent the House, to get faster decisions that change the course of Canadian politics in their favour. There are the anti-globalists, the social engineers who think that by changing social policy they will be able to make things better. They are doing it for purely ideological reasons without really stopping to think about the potential consequences of their actions, which are based on a world view rather than on rational facts and most importantly on a desire to help all Canadians.
What I am essentially saying is that Bill C-44 does not meet Canada’s continental challenges, the North American challenges we face on the economic, military, and social fronts. The bill also fails to meet the international economic, military, social, and even environmental challenges we are facing.
Since the end of the 1990s, we have been living in a highly competitive world. More than ever, the west, including Canada, is slowing down. We are seeing the emergence of new world powers, the BRICS we all know about, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. There is also Nigeria, with the largest population in Africa and an economy that is increasingly important in Africa and the world.
With their economic growth, their increasing military importance, and their now enormous populations—the countries I named easily represent half of the world’s population—these emerging countries want energy resources. In spite of what they may say in their speeches at the United Nations, they want cars, they want to be consumers, they want oil, they want to be mobile, and they want a western lifestyle. For the last 20 years, and this is certainly a good thing, we have seen a growing transfer of wealth from north to south. This is undoubtedly a consequence of the decolonization of the 1950s and 1960s. It is to be expected and it is a good thing.
However, we need a government like the previous Conservative government that understands international geopolitics and understands the major economic challenges that lie ahead. The economic crisis of 2007-08 was undeniably terrible and was perhaps the harbinger of other things to come.
There is a certain impoverishment happening in Canada, perhaps not so much for people, but in terms of infrastructure. For example, our icebreakers are completely obsolete, our highways in the Maritimes need repair, and our ports and airports should be updated, particularly Beauport 2020 in Quebec City, which really needs investments.
Sometimes I get the impression that Canada does not realize that it is losing ground in terms of its international role as an economic and diplomatic driver.
There is also the North American context. The United States is suffering from the emergence of the BRICS countries. That is one of the reasons why the current president was elected. Americans are extremely worried because 20 million people are unemployed in the U.S. Isolationism is taking hold again. The media talks about this as though it were a new phenomenon, but on the contrary, isolationism re-emerges in the U.S. roughly every 50 years.
In this isolationist context, there will be major tax cuts in the United States for businesses and individuals. This political context is reactionary on economic, social, military, and diplomatic levels. It is not up to us to decide whether this is good or bad. The Americans will develop their economic isolationism.
I see that in Bill C-44, which would implement budget 2017, the Liberal government does not seem to explain how we are going to deal with this new North American reality or how we are going to make sure that Canadian companies are competitive in the face of American isolationism and a less porous border that allows for less trade. Trade between Canada and the United States is worth $2 billion a day, so that is pretty significant. These isolationist American reactions, which will last at least three years and a few months, are going to have very significant effects on Canada, but we are not hearing the Liberals talk about this.
We are also seeing a Canadian context taking shape before our eyes. The economic health of the federation has been going downhill for two years. For example, we are astonished to see that the Liberals never talk about the significant loss of economic growth in Alberta and the major job losses for Albertans. They also do not talk about the employment problems in the Atlantic provinces. They do not talk about the importance of Montreal and Quebec City. Simply put, we are not hearing them really talk about the role of each province in our country’s economic unity.
For example, we have been telling them for several months now that it is incomprehensible that there is no free trade between the provinces in Canada, when it is right there in the Constitution. That is why we have asked them to make a reference to the Supreme Court to have the judges interpret the Constitution as it is written, and give us a definitive judgment that sets out, in black and white, that we should have free trade among the provinces. That would certainly help our businesses everywhere in Canada.
There is a real need to complete major projects for the next 100 years. Once again, this budget tell us about building a strong middle class, but it does not contain any major projects that will ensure there will be even more wealth creation in 50 years. All the interest groups that the Liberals favour in their platform and their budget are systematically opposed to any long-term major projects.
I always like to take the example of the premier of Quebec, Mr. Bourassa, who created gigantic hydro-electric projects in the 1970s, dams such as had never been seen in the history of humanity. Recently, the record was topped by a dam in China, but until very recently, we had the biggest dams in the world in Quebec. That means that today, we in Canada and Quebec are the ones who pay the lowest prices for electricity. That is one of the few things that we pay the lowest prices for, but because of that, we have a healthy welfare state in Quebec and services that are overall quite adequate.
What is there in Canada at present, however, that guarantees that in 50 years—I will still be here if I am lucky—our children and grandchildren will enjoy rising wealth? There is nothing in this bill that guarantees us that, because it focuses only on the present moment and aims simply to please vote-getting groups that make up the Liberal voting base, which is slowly but surely crumbling.
According to my own and my Conservative colleagues’ analysis, Bill C-44 shows that the Liberals are working for the financial elite of the infrastructure bank of Canada and the social elites who want to make major policy changes, not to create jobs, but to suit their own world view. There is nothing there for working people, however. That is why the Conservative opposition has a moral and political obligation to be the voice of taxpayers in the House.
As I said in the House yesterday, we might be better off talking about the responsibilities of citizenship, the Canadian Armed Forces, and how we can serve our country. Instead, we have no choice but to talk about the importance of lowering taxes and creating jobs because those two things are in peril under this government.
Taxes keep going up. This year alone, Canadians' tax burden is going up by nearly $5 billion. That includes taxes on public transit, carpooling, beer and wine, also known as the Friday and Saturday night tax, medication, child care, small business owners, oil and gas companies, which represent millions of jobs in Canada, and tourism. That is a very long list of taxes, and the government is breaking one promise after another.
Worse still is the $29-billion deficit, which has nothing to do with economic conditions. Unlike the deficit at the time of the 2007-08 economic crisis, this deficit has nothing to do with a need to stimulate the economy and create jobs. This deficit exists because the government wanted its budget to cater to the needs of the interest groups I mentioned at the beginning of my speech. Plus, these deficits have no end date.
This is the first time that we have a Canadian finance minister who is incapable of answering a simple question: when does he plan to eliminate Canada's fiscal deficit? Will it be in 2017, 2018, 2020, 2030, or 2040? He has no idea. He does not take the economy as seriously as he should.
It is important to remind Canadians that the deficit has exploded over the past two years. Through words and actions alike, the Liberal government is creating budgets to take money away from taxpayers and spread it around to certain special interest groups, rather than all Canadians. The government is trying to divide Canadians by saying that it is working for the middle class, and not for everyone else. It has no overall vision for Canada, particularly when it comes to continental and international challenges. In addition, it keeps introducing outdated bills in the House, like the one to raise the salary of ministers of state.
They should be focusing on more important matters. I am sure you are also concerned about this, Mr. Speaker, but you can rest assured. Until 2019, we will continue to stand up for Canadian taxpayers every day, until midnight if necessary, and we will make sure that this government does not win another term, so that 60 years from now, Canada will not reflect this terrible mismanagement.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-05-11 12:28 [p.11071]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
Out of the $120 billion promised and planned by his government after the election, how much, to date, has been taken out of the treasury to be invested in infrastructure? To my knowledge, it is almost nothing.
How is the infrastructure bank going to make sure that the $120 billion promised for infrastructure is distributed to the various projects as quickly as possible?
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