Thank you, Madam Speaker. I did use the Prime Minister's name, and I apologize. I got a little carried away in my fervour, but I will not let that happen again.
Still, I can talk about former prime ministers, including former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin. Internationally, he was seen as indecisive, but he found ways to pass more legislation as he tried to keep his struggling minority government afloat. During his first nine months in government, 36 bills became law.
How about another one? During Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien's first nine months in office, 34 bills received royal assent in 1994, and 38 more were passed after the 1997 election. The current Prime Minister has managed to pass a mere 10 bills.
It is with that in mind that we begin our study of Bill C-29. This being a budget implementation bill, one would expect to find the government's promises in it. It should include massive infrastructure investments, a modest deficit, tax cuts for small businesses, home mail delivery, an agreement on diafiltered milk, a softwood lumber agreement, and plenty more. Unfortunately, none of those things are in Bill C-29.
No one could tell me where those promises came from. From the beginning, the opposition has been reminding everyone and repeating the same thing. I took the time to confirm everything and went back a year in time to see exactly what these infamous Liberal promises were. I found a lot. I do not understand why they have not introduced more legislation, considering all the promises the Liberal Party made during the last election campaign.
First of all, let us talk about modest deficits. On page 11 of the Liberal plan, or what I call the Liberal void, it states:
We will invest now in the projects our country needs and the people who can build them.
They do say “now”, and not in 10 years or five years. Page 12 continues:
We will run modest short-term deficits of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years to fund historic investments in infrastructure and our middle class.
After the next two fiscal years, the deficit will decline and our investment plan will return Canada to a balanced budget in 2019.
That is one promise the Liberal government has broken. There was another promise about modest deficits. It is worth reading. Page 73 states:
We will be honest about the government of Canada’s fiscal position, and base our projections on the recent report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, instead of April’s outdated budget figures.
If the parliamentary budget officer is so important to the Liberals, why did they refuse, about 50 times, to allow the parliamentary budget officer's reports to be tabled right here, before parliamentarians?
Once again, they say one thing, but then do the exact opposite once they are in power. There is another interesting promise on the same page:
We will run modest deficits for three years so that we can invest in growth for the middle class and credibly offer a plan to balance the budget in 2019.
That is just one more promise the Liberals have broken.
To sum up deficits, I will quote someone who is not an opposition member. A TD Bank representative said:
The federal government’s deficit this fiscal year will be about $5 billion higher than Ottawa predicted in its March budget...
That is what the TD Bank is predicting. It blames the sluggish economy. According to TD Bank:
Over a five-year span, the cumulative deficit is likely to be $16.5 billion higher than forecasted in the last budget.
The forecast in the last budget was not $10 billion. It was not a modest deficit of $10 billion annually, but $30 billion annually. TD Bank tells us it will be even higher:
The higher-than-expected deficit will soak up the $6-billion annual cushion and then some that the government built in to its finances to protect against unforeseen events.
This could go beyond that even. The Liberals promised modest deficits, but I have to say that they did not keep their word.
As such, when it comes to budget implementation, the opposition parties feel quite reticent about trusting the other measures contained in Bill C-29.
Nonetheless, let us move on because there were other promises in the Liberal plan, or the “Liberal void” I should say. The plan says, “As we reduce the small business tax rate to 9 percent from 11 percent”. Not only did the government not reduce the small business tax rate to 9%, but it imposed a tax on carbon, which will greatly hinder small and medium-sized businesses in Canada. That is another broken promise.
With regard to agricultural producers, we find this little sentence on page 16: “We will help Canada’s agriculture sector be more innovative, safer, and stronger.” How will they help the agricultural sector be stronger? They will “defend Canadian interests during trade negotiations, including supply management.”
The diafiltered milk problem was an urgent issue and a solution had to be found. The solution was simple, but it lay in the hands of ministers. Unfortunately, despite the numerous promises of the Liberal government and the fact that producers from all over Quebec and Canada came right here, to Ottawa, to practically beg for action on diafiltered milk, there is not even a single measure in the budget on this subject. There we have another broken promise of the Liberal government.
In the softwood lumber file, a file that directly impacts every region of Canada that has trees, those magnificent works of nature that grow and enable us to develop our economy, we were supposed to conclude an agreement. We had one year to try to reach an agreement with the Americans. Unfortunately, Bill C-29 contains absolutely nothing on the possible implementation of a new softwood lumber agreement.
However, the Liberal platform says, “Canada’s economic success relies on strong trade relationships with our closest neighbours: the United States and Mexico.”
Furthermore, the next sentence is really worth quoting: “Unlike the Conservatives’ short-sighted approach, our focus on rebuilding relationships will build a solid foundation for greater trade, stronger growth, and more job creation.”
Here is one last little sentence: “To underscore the importance of the United States to Canada, we will also create a Cabinet committee to oversee and manage our relationship.”
We have no results on the two issues that concern the Americans, softwood lumber and diafiltered milk. Where is this committee? What is it doing? Does it exist? Unfortunately, I must once again say that this is another unkept promise by the Liberals.
I still have many pages of broken promises to mention. Let’s talk a bit about Canada Post. On page 34 of the “Liberal void”, we read: “By ending door-to-door mail delivery, Stephen Harper is asking Canadians to pay more for less service. That is unacceptable.”
One year later, absolutely nothing has changed on mail delivery. The decisions that were made by the Canada Post Corporation, an independent organization, are still the same, and home mail delivery has nowhere been restored. Once again, these are false pretexts and another promise not kept.
This is what they had to say about Iraq: “We will end Canada's combat mission in Iraq.” They withdrew our CF-18s and sent our soldiers to the front, where they are in even greater danger. We had decided to send our jets to protect Canadian soldiers. However, they decided to withdraw our planes, for strictly ideological reasons, and to send our soldiers to the front lines instead, to help the fighters there do their part. Yes, Canada must be involved, but could we have the facts? Could we be told exactly what we are doing in Iraq? This is another promise that was broken by the Liberal government.
Last week, here, in the House, I witnessed some things that impressed me. Some Liberal members introduced very interesting bills that were given the nod by cabinet.
The bill to provide a tax credit for first aid courses was of interest to me. Cabinet members voted against the bill introduced by one of their own members even though we find the following on page 30 of the Liberal platform:
We will make free votes in the House of Commons standard practice.
We will give Canadians a stronger voice in the House of Commons by limiting the circumstances in which Liberal Members of Parliament will be required to vote with Cabinet.
I am convinced that cabinet members did not read these lines because they voted against the bill of one of their own colleagues. It did not happen once or twice, but three times. It is important to mention that the promise to have free votes is, once again, a broken promise.
The Canada child benefit will not give rise to any new administrative costs. It replaces and is based on the structure and success of the Canada child tax benefit.
In Bill C-29, the Liberals confirmed that they are going to index the Canada child benefit to inflation as of January 2020. The parliamentary budget officer estimates that indexing the Canada child benefit will cost $42.5 billion over the next five years. The parliamentary secretary said that they are going to move forward with the measure despite the financial pressure it puts on the public purse. The government did not provide for this indexing in the budget. The parliamentary budget officer showed that it will cost billions of dollars more than predicted per year. Where will the Liberals find that money? The Liberals have shown us where they will get it from the outset. They will find it in Canadians' pockets.
When the Minister of Finance introduced Bill C-29, he spoke about the future. He said that the purpose of the bill was to help Canadians. He spoke about a long-term plan and how things will be tough in the short term. In fact, this is going to cost Canadians a lot of money in the short term.
Let us talk a little bit about the vision of the Minister of Finance. I was shocked to read his comments in the Edmonton Sun this weekend. The article spoke about the Minister of Finance and talked about what young people and not-so-young people would do with all the time they will save as a result of technology. As everyone knows, today's technology allows us to do a lot more than before in much less time. Back in the day, we thought that would give young people more leisure time. However, the reality is quite the opposite. The Minister of Finance was asked some questions. I will read a brief excerpt from what he said, but before I do, I would like to say that I think that all young people should take the time to read this article.
The other day, Finance Minister...told Millennials, the generation most-addicted to high technology and social media, that they had best get used to a series of dead-end jobs and continuous retraining, coupled with bouts of unemployment, and a life where job security is a pipe dream.
That is unbelievable. What kind of message is the government sending our young people?
He called it “job churn,” as in never-ending job losses and job searches, resume rejections, and living day-to-day....
The Liberal plan for youth is to teach them to get fired, get a new job, get fired, get a new job, and so on. Is that the Liberal job-creation plan? Every new hire-and-fire will count as a new job. That creates zero jobs and puts us no further ahead.
The article quoted the Minister of Finance. Is that supposed to make young people feel hopeful?
The Minister of Finance said this:
“We need to think about, How do we train and retrain people as they move from job to job to job?”.... “Because it’s going to happen. We have to accept that.”
No, we do not have to accept that. Our young people have the right to stable jobs. Our young people have the right to work. Like us, they have the right to have a career, to succeed, and to hope for something better than going from job to job to job. The Liberal hire-and-fire plan is not good enough for us.
The economic forecasts are dismal despite the Liberal government's fine promises. The Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, and TD Bank all say that the economic situation has not improved under the Liberals despite their fine promises.
I will vote against Bill C-29, and I hope that parliamentarians will vote in favour of the amendment proposed by our finance critic, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent. His amendment amends the motion considerably, making it significantly more acceptable to Canadian taxpayers.