Mr. Speaker, as usual, I would like to acknowledge the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening to us today. I am sure they have some serious questions with respect to all of the question period speeches they have been watching on television or reading about in the papers.
Canadians are all wondering the same thing: can we trust the Minister of Finance? As we debate the 2017 budget and the proposed spending to achieve the government's objectives, all Canadians are watching the Minister of Finance closely and wondering if they can trust him.
Indeed, over the past three months, the finance minister has done some things and shown some lapses in judgment that have been revealed by journalists, the official opposition, the NDP, and Canadians. Paradoxically, ironically, and sadly, members of the Liberal Party are still smiling and laughing about it today, and not taking it seriously. As my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil was finishing his speech this morning on yesterday's motion, which calls on the government to end the debate on the 2017 budget implementation bill, we saw several members of the Liberal Party laughing and dismissing it all as nonsense. Basically, they are saying the opposition is lampooning them and engaging in gutter politics, but that is not at all the case.
Since July, the Minister of Finance has been saying that he wants to stand up for taxpayers by going after people who cheat when filing their income tax returns to pay less in taxes. To that end, he implemented certain tax reforms, or rather tax hikes for small and medium-sized businesses, which create jobs for the so-called middle class that the government is always talking about. I have a problem with all of that. We should be talking about Canadians, not about classes. Meanwhile, the minister hid from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner that he had a company in France, which owns his villa there. He paid a $200 fine for that just under a month ago.
While he was trying to go after small and medium-sized businesses, farmers, mechanics, and hairdressers, among others, he made millions of dollars on his shares in Morneau Shepell, which he held until recently and were worth roughly $20 million. Instead of putting those assets in a blind trust, he hid them in a numbered company in Alberta. While he was going after small businesses that create jobs in Canada, he failed to disclose to the Ethics Commissioner the fact that he had assets in France and Alberta. What is more, he devised and introduced a bill that seeks to make changes to Canada's pension plans and will benefit three companies that specialize in pensions, including Morneau Shepell.
The Minister of Finance keeps spouting nonsense every time we ask him if we can trust him in light of the revelations from journalists and the official opposition. Yesterday, our venerable official opposition finance critic, the hon. member for Carleton, and several other opposition members, asked a very specific question. It takes a lot for me to feel discouraged, but I am starting to have serious doubts about the integrity of this Minister of Finance.
The hon. member for Carleton reminded him that he introduced a bill in 2015, after the Liberal government was elected, making changes that, according to the Liberals, would increase taxes on the wealthiest. That is not what happened. Several academic papers show that it is not the case. Ultimately, the wealthy are paying less taxes.
In short, two weeks before the announcement of the bill's implications for the stock market, the Minister of Finance—or someone else, but we do not know who—sold millions of Morneau Shepell shares in order to save about half a million dollars. If it was not the minister, can he tell us who it was? Yesterday, during question period, he did not answer.
The situation has only gotten worse over the past three months. After the villa in France, the $20 million in Morneau Shepell shares hidden in Alberta, and the bill that benefited Morneau Shepell, today we learned that someone sold shares to avoid the consequences of the proposed tax increase.
The Minister of Finance must stop playing ridiculous, partisan politics, which are no longer acceptable. It is high time he gave serious answers to the questions asked by the official opposition of Canada. We represent the Canadian people and we hold the government to account to ensure ministerial responsibility. The members of the Liberal Party of Canada must stop making light of the situation. Their Minister of Finance has committed serious violations. He must answer the questions and stop telling us nonsense day after day in the House.
I would still like to say a few words about the 2017 federal budget. Once again, it is a completely ridiculous budget and the Liberals are calling it a feminist budget. The budget should be for all Canadians, not just a special interest group. Of course, we know that the Liberals are centralists and that they work on behalf of special interest groups, including post-materialist groups.
What is more, this budget is in the red and speaks to the many promises the government has broken. Unfortunately, what has defined the Liberals over the past two years is a series of broken promises, including their promise on electoral reform. We are lucky that they broke that promise, because it would be a very bad idea to change the way we vote in Canada. We must retain our Westminster system of voting. The Liberals also broke another promise they made to their environmentalist base by keeping the same greenhouse gas emissions targets as our Conservative government.
Most importantly, the Liberals said that they would run a modest deficit of $10 billion per year in their first two years in office, when in reality they ran a deficit of $30 billion in the first year and $19 billion in the second year, 2017-18. What is even more worrisome is that they broke their promise to balance the budget by 2019-20, even though we are not in an economic crisis or at war. They themselves are saying that the economy is doing great. When we, the Conservatives, ran a deficit in 2008-09, it was because Canada was weathering the worst economic crisis since 1929 and 1930. Today, there is no economic crisis and no war, so there is no reason for the government to be running a deficit.
A recent article in the Financial Post indicated that, according to the OECD, household debt, particularly mortgage debt, is the highest it has ever been. For the past few years, the household debt ratio in Canada, including debt for houses, cars, and all the rest, has been the highest of all the OECD countries. This could have a serious impact on Canada's economic growth.
The Liberals say the economy is doing great. They keep sending Canadians an endless stream of Canada child benefit cheques. Despite adding up to thousands of dollars a year, they do not seem to be working, because Canadian households are more in debt than ever. This debt could be extremely dangerous for the country.
How can we expect Canadians to behave any differently, when the example they are given is a Minister of Finance who cannot be trusted and a government that urges them to spend as recklessly as it does? It is time for the Liberals to get a grip on themselves.