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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
2017-11-28 11:55 [p.15688]
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.
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