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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-12-12 10:39 [p.16289]
Madam Speaker, as usual, I would like to say hello to the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are tuning in today. Unfortunately, I have to tell them that we are debating Bill C-24 at third reading this morning. This is one of those typically Liberal bills designed to satisfy special interest groups that support Liberals and lend credence to their ideological views.
I found it particularly interesting to see the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons champion the bill so passionately, but I do have questions about some of her arguments.
First of all, I wonder if, in defending the bill, the minister is putting on an act or if she truly does not understand the difference between ministers, who are responsible for portfolios crucial to the nation, and ministers of state, who are there to lend a hand and support other departments of national importance.
Five major federal ministers have always had a seat at the cabinet table, namely the Minister of Finance, the Treasury Board minister, the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, and the Minister of National Revenue. Those five cabinet positions have always existed, and they have always been important to the government's ability to govern well.
The minister also said repeatedly in her speech how important Bill C-24 is for gender equality among cabinet ministers. That is not exactly how many of her colleagues seem to understand it. At the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, which I was honoured to serve on for over a year in 2016 and 2017, many Liberal members thought that, on the contrary, Bill C-24 was not about achieving gender equality.
When the committee was hearing from witnesses for the bill's study, the member for Newmarket—Aurora said:
I'm not sure the purpose of this bill was at all to express gender equality....I don't think it's meant to be a tool that's going to address gender inequality, pay equity, or any of the other issues you raised...
The member for Châteauguay—Lacolle, who also serves on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, thinks that ministries of state should be called emerging ministries. This is another example that illustrates that the Liberals do not seem to understand the difference between ministries of state and departments critical to good governance, such as the Department of Finance.
The hon. Liberal member from Don Valley East told the witnesses:
I was as confused as you were about why we are even talking about gender equity....I thank you for being here, but I don't think we have the relevance to our study for Bill C-24...Let's not be disingenuous and try to say that [Bill C-24] has anything to do with gender equality...
I simply wanted to mention these small details to show that despite the speech by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons today at third reading stage of Bill C-24, a number of her colleagues expressed an opposite view in committee, that the bill had nothing to do with gender equity. It is just a tool to take up the House's time and distract from other awful realities that this government would rather not talk about, namely its capacity to break promise after promise since it was elected in 2015.
For example, the Liberals broke their promise to run a deficit of $10 billion a year. That is well known in Canada. Now they are running deficits of more than $20 billion. They also broke their promise to balance the budget by 2019. That has been put off indefinitely. They do not even have the honour or decency to announce a target date for balancing the budget. Then they broke their promise to move forward with electoral reform and to change the Canadian electoral system, which was a key election promise. They also broke their promise to restore home mail delivery for all Canadians by making Canada Post review its policy to stop home mail delivery. They also broke their promise not to introduce omnibus bills, which have been piling up over the past two years. As a matter of fact, we debated an omnibus bill in the House just yesterday. They also broke their promise to give veterans the option of choosing a lifetime pension by restoring the system that was in effect before 2005, or before the new veterans charter was introduced.
Those are just a few examples of the Liberals' broken promises. That is this government's track record. I am pointing that out because Bill C-24 is yet another attempt to hide another broken promise, the promise to have true gender parity in cabinet. When the Prime Minister formed his cabinet two weeks after winning the election in 2015, he was very proud to announce to the media at a press conference that he had a gender-balanced cabinet. When he was asked why, he responded “Because it's 2015”. It is already mind-boggling enough that a prime minister would not have a better explanation than that, but in the months that followed, journalists, Canadians, interest groups, and women's rights groups slowly became aware of something that the Prime Minister was trying to slip past them. His cabinet was gender balanced with regard to the number of men and women at the cabinet table, but not with regard to the importance of the positions they held.
At the beginning of my speech, I named Canada's most important government departments. For example, the head of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is a man. The same is true of the Treasury Board, the Department of Finance, and the Department of National Defence. The only other department that is undeniably important to the government is the Department of Foreign Affairs. Of the five major departments, only one is led by a woman.
Women were chosen to head a few other departments, such as the Department of Indigenous Services and the Department of Health. However, all of the other women in cabinet are ministers of state. It is not that they are less important, but they do not lead real departments with an office building, thousands of employees, a minister's office, and the tools needed to properly manage a major department.
In practical terms, Bill C-24 would do two things. First, it would eliminate the positions of the ministers responsible for Canada's economic development agencies. Second, it would create eight new federal minister positions. Five of them would be ministers of state who would receive the same salary as full ministers, thanks to an amendment to the Salaries Act that is supposedly intended to ensure parity within cabinet.
We Conservatives have no choice but to oppose Bill C-24, if only because abolishing the positions of the ministers responsible for economic development agencies would have such a detrimental effect on the well-being of Canada and all of its regions.
Regional economic development agencies play a pivotal role in Canada. They help thousands of projects get off the ground in every province and major region. Canada is divided into five regions: the Atlantic region, Quebec, Ontario, the western region, and the Pacific region. Each of these regions has its own economic development agency, whose job is to determine the basic needs of its small and medium-sized municipalities and large urban centres.
The Liberal government's decision to eliminate the positions of the ministers responsible for these six economic development agencies is a clear attempt to centralize power in Canada. Every time the Liberal Party comes into power, its goal is to centralize power in Ottawa, within the federal administration. That is what it tried to do with the health agreements it recently negotiated with the provinces, when it made their funding subject to conditions. Now it is doing the same thing on a bigger scale by abolishing the positions of the ministers responsible for regional agencies.
For example, Mr. Denis Lebel, who was our political lieutenant for Quebec, was responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. Every year, the agency distributes roughly $200 million only in Quebec, specifically to revitalize municipal neighbourhoods, provide small and medium-sized businesses with new tools, and finance concrete projects in small airports to help local businesses get much faster access to major centres and even to other countries.
A minister in charge of a regional economic development agency is a bit like an MP. As members, we visit our ridings to understand the daily needs of our constituents. We participate in events and we do canvassing, not to mention the work we do in our offices, where we welcome constituents. This enables us to hear what they have to say about bills and government politics, and especially about pressing, local needs. A minister who represents a regional economic development agency has a similar job, but they do it for the designated region as a whole. In this case, I am speaking of Quebec.
Denis Lebel was the minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. His duties as a minister and political lieutenant included visiting companies and making ministerial announcements. He travelled all over the province, meeting citizens and entrepreneurs and visiting small and medium municipalities, entrepreneurial communities, or even community development organizations, in order to determine what they needed.
Like an MP, a minister responsible for an economic development agency must come back here to Ottawa and report to cabinet about the region he or she represents.
When Parliament is sitting, we are all expected to come to the House every week, whether it is fall or spring. We are expected to come here and report to the House or to our national caucuses on what our constituents, the various orders of government in our regions, our municipalities, and our ridings need. Collaboration and synergy between the different orders of government is always a good thing.
The work we do in the House is exactly what the ministers responsible for regional economic development agencies do in reporting to cabinet and ultimately to public servants and the Prime Minister. These people provide an essential link between the needs on the ground and the whole governmental and bureaucratic apparatus in Ottawa.
Every department that is responsible for allocating funds for projects across Canada is part of an extremely complex state system that is like an endless bureaucratic web. It involves 300,000 public servants in Canada, and the decisions they make often take a very long time.
The work of the ministers responsible for economic development agencies was therefore central to the actual funding allocated for projects, because they were there in Ottawa to establish a connection between the needs on the ground and government priorities and to navigate administrative and bureaucratic processes.
For example, the minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the regions of Quebec at the time, Denis Lebel, was handed a list of projects several times a month, and he had to approve the really big ones. His role and responsibility was to ensure that what he was hearing on the ground informed the public service's administrative priorities so that the most important projects got done as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, the Liberal government cut cabinet positions associated with various economic development regions in Canada and put one person in charge of all the economic development agencies in the country. That person is the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, an MP from Toronto who already heads up a major department. He is now responsible for being up on what is going on with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, for example. He also has to be aware of what is going on with economic development agencies for western Canada, Quebec, and Ontario. He is the person who is supposedly going to be familiar with the issues affecting every little community and every region across Canada and who is going to make sure they get money for the projects that matter most to them.
It is hard to understand how the Liberal government was unable to find one person among the 30 members from Atlantic Canada with the right skills and who would have been honoured to head the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
We can already predict what will happen. Projects submitted to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency were generally authorized or would move forward after about 30 days or so; we now see delays of more than 90 days. This centralization will have a major impact on how money is allocated to the communities and regions of Canada. It is impossible to believe that a minister from Toronto will be able to single-handedly grasp all of Canada's regional concerns.
As far as the gender-balanced cabinet is concerned, the Liberals are once again getting taxpayers to foot the bill for one of their political mistakes. The Liberals led Canadians to believe that theirs was a gender-balanced cabinet, but it is balanced only in terms of numbers. It is not balanced in terms of ministerial importance. To fix their mistake, the Liberals are telling Canadians that they will give every minister of state the same salary as “real” ministers.
Again, taxpayers are paying for a Liberal mistake.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-12-07 13:39 [p.16140]
Mr. Speaker, I took part in this debate a few weeks ago and I kept repeating the same thing in what I would call a philosophical critique of the bill.
First, I think that making cabinet gender balanced is a terrible idea because having qualified ministers should be more important than gender parity.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that parity is the Liberals' way to prevent women from advancing to cabinet. Under this bill, women will never be able to make up more than 50% of cabinet. Is that just or fair considering that, for decades, men made up 100%, 70%, or 60% of cabinet? Now, the very clear message to women is that never will they ever represent more than half the cabinet. That is an interesting way of looking at this and I would not be surprised if that were the Liberal's primary objective.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-08 19:08 [p.12349]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this subject this evening. In fact, just this morning, I attended a meeting of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, where the President of the Treasury Board appeared as a witness to answer questions on the use of vote 1c. Since November 4, 2015, the salaries of ministers of state have been increased under vote 1c so that they earn the same as portfolio ministers who have deputy ministers and hundreds of public servants working for them.
I will explain later why the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance are concerned about this.
I am increasingly disheartened by this government because it seems that, today in the House, we should not be talking about Bill C-24, which seeks to realize one of the federal government's unattainable fantasies. Instead, we should be talking about our duty as citizens, what we can do for our country, what we can do tomorrow morning to improve our community, what we can do to further honour our men and women in uniform, and how each of us can serve their country.
We could talk about regional fairness, since Bill C-24 deals with these kinds of discussions, as the Liberals decided to abolish ministers representing Canada’s various economic regions—Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, British Columbia, and the territories.
We could also talk about wealth creation. The Liberal government likes to go on and on about working for the well-being of the middle class. I have a problem with that, because we should instead be talking about wanting to make life better for all Canadians. I do not know why the government insists on focusing only on one class instead of talking about all Canadians. What I liked about the Right Hon. Stephen Harper is that he would always talk about all Canadian families. He did not talk just about only one social class.
That said, I am duty bound to oppose this bill today, and instead of talking about civic duty and serving one's country, I will speak to you about C-24.
Bill C-24 seeks to elevate ministers of state, some of whom do not have a portfolio or a department, to the same status as ministers who oversee an actual department with thousands of employees, deputy ministers, and teams of hundreds of officials, and all the real estate that goes with it. These are the real departments, National Defence, Public Services and Procurement, Transport, the list goes on. There are 25 actual departments, give or take.
They want to give the same minister’s salary to those who do not have drivers or real responsibilities; they want to give them the same salary as traditional cabinet ministers.
It is ironic because Bill C-24 would create eight new ministerial positions, including three “mystery” ministers, whose duties, objectives and responsibilities are not yet known. The bill would eliminate the positions of six ministers representing the regions; now, there is only one minister representing Toronto with a population of seven million; it is huge and that is a major responsibility. He will be the one now representing the Acadian people, the Acadian peninsula and their concerns about the fishery, lobster and crab. It does not make any sense.
Bill C-24 would also amend the Salaries Act, which is a good initiative. The government wants to correct a mistake in parliamentary law, or rather change parliamentary law so that it need not be in breach of it.
The very honourable senator Mr. Smith, chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, contacted me to bring the problem to my attention so I could raise it with the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The government is using the supplementary estimates to pay the additional salaries of ministers of state, when the parliamentary rules tell us that there are three reasons for why we must not do that.
For example, Beauchesne, paragraph 935, refers to page 8601 of the Debates of March 25, 1981:
A supply item ought not to be used to obtain authority which is the subject of legislation.
Then paragraph 937 refers to page 10546 of the Debates of June 12, 1981:
The government may not by use of an Appropriation Act obtain authority it does not have under existing legislation.
This is what the government is trying to do today. It is trying to use us to obtain an authority it does not have under the Salaries Act. Lastly, paragraph 941 refers to pages 94 and 95 of the Debates of February 5, 1973:
If a Vote in the Estimates relates to a bill not yet passed by Parliament, then the authorizing bill must become law before the authorization of the relevant Vote in the Estimates by an Appropriation Act.
Therefore, parliamentary rules tell us that ministers of state in the Prime Minister’s Office should not have gotten a pay increase effective November 4, 2015. They should not have had it until Bill C-24 was officially adopted. It will not be adopted by us Conservatives, but by the majority Liberals. Good for them!
The senators put it down in black and white:
Our committee is concerned about the recurrent practice of using supplementary estimates to pay certain ministers' salaries prior to the enactment of amendments to the Salaries Act, and raises this question in the context of Bill C-24.
A Senate committee has been studying these issues for several months and spending a lot more time on it than the House of Commons.
When it comes to parity, the Liberals like to implement government policies that fit with their ideology and how they think the world should be, but some of their actions may have unintended consequences that they do not even see because they are so blinded by their ideology.
They say they want a gender-balanced cabinet, but, having given the matter considerable thought, I have come to the conclusion that this ideal could have a very unfortunate unintended consequence. If we say that cabinet must be gender-balanced, this means that there will never be a cabinet with a majority of women, yet we have seen plenty of cabinets with a majority of men over the past 150 years. Now we are telling women that they will never be in the majority in cabinet regardless of their skills, their beliefs, and their political strengths. No, now we must have parity, 50-50.
I would even add that this means cabinet will never be less than 50% male. What a paradox. They say the goal is to protect and expand women's rights, but if we examine this from a political and philosophical perspective, it looks more like a way to rein in women's progress in the political arena. Is that not an interesting thought?
Instead of talking about parity in cabinet, since I have just shown that it is nothing more than a pipe dream that actually hurts the advancement of women in cabinet, we should be talking about parity for the founding peoples. That is what is important in Canada: French Canadians, English Canadians, the fact that Quebec has still not signed the constitution, and the fact that there are demands coming from all sides, whether in the west, which has reforms it would like to see, in the maritime provinces, or in Quebec. We should be talking about parity in our country in terms of English and French culture and making sure that everyone is comfortable in the constitutional environment. Instead, we are stuck talking about a bill that is meant to correct a mistake borne of blind ideological fervour.
What I find increasingly deplorable is this government saying it is objective and bases what it does on scientific facts.
First, it is an arrogant thing to say, because it suggests the party previously in government was not. The truth is that the Liberals themselves are so fixated on their own ideology that it is preventing them from acknowledging some of the significant impacts of their legislation.
Ultimately, I would like to say that, ideology aside, the Liberals cannot pay ministers higher salaries before the bill is passed, and yet, that is what they have been doing for the past two years, which is no laughing matter.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-04-06 16:39 [p.10295]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak this afternoon. I am pleased that you are the one in the chair right now.
I am rising today to share some of my thoughts and, of course, those of Her Majesty's official opposition on Bill C-25, An act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act.
It is important to begin by saying that this bill targets some 270,000 federally incorporated companies, which are, for the most part, small and medium-sized businesses that do not sell shares and to which the changes will not apply.
It is important to remember that the amendments proposed in Bill C-25 are the result of a legislative review that was conducted by a House of Commons committee in 2010, two Parliaments ago. Consultations were then held by our government and Industry Canada in 2014.
Like the majority of my colleagues who have spoken to Bill C-25, I think it is commendable and fantastic in many ways that the current government was open enough to use old legislation from the Conservatives' 2015 budget to develop Bill C-25.
However, what my opposition colleagues and I find a little unfortunate is the lack of substance in the bill we have before us at the current stage and, in fact, the lack of substance we see all too often in the current government's bills. I would even say the lack of bills, quite simply. No more than 50 bills have been tabled by the Liberal government since October 19, 2015. The minority government of the Right Hon. Stephen Harper had tabled three times as much legislation by 2007.
Certainly, the bills lack substance. In addition, there is a lack of real change. I will come back to the bill after this aside. The Liberals campaign slogan was “real change”. We can certainly change the things we say. That is obviously what the Liberals have done. However, Canadians expect legislative change, and that is not what we are seeing currently.
The Liberal government is missing several opportunities to do a good job in the House and bring in concrete measures for Canadian society, to address problems affecting workers, seniors, the unemployed, and corporate boards. This is how I am getting back to the bill.
We are delighted that the Liberal government is using legislation that the previous Conservative government worked very hard on. However, in committee, we brought forward two main amendments that, it appears, do not suit the opposition, or rather the government. Excuse me. I misspoke. I saw the future and called the government the official opposition. That will be two and a half years from now.
During the committee stage of Bill C-25, the Conservatives proposed amendments that would have strengthened the bill. First, we proposed to define the word “diversity”, which is an integral part of the bill.
It is one of the key components of the bill since the other side of the House wants to impose diversity, which is still undefined, within various federally regulated corporate boards and institutions.
The amendment we wanted to bring forward would define the word correctly. The need for this was also raised by a number of the witnesses who appeared before the committee. The official opposition critic responsible for this issue and several of my Conservative colleagues met with these witnesses.
The second amendment would require a review of the diversity policy in three years.
There is a reason why the Liberal government did not accept this amendment, which would define the word “diversity”. One of the things this government most often does is present sweeping concepts that they do not want to define. In this case, it is diversity. In another case, it is the 1%. For the next two and a half years I will repeat that the 1% does not exist. We are one of the world’s fairest societies, one of the societies where wealth redistribution is unparalleled in the history of mankind. I really find it incredible. I had the chance to go to university and I can say that any professor or academic would tell you that there is no such thing as the 1%.
I would like to give a parallel example that will explain why imposing diversity could have consequences that are not necessarily what the government intends. I will go out on a limb: I assume that by diversity, they mean cultural minorities of all kinds. Today it is rather fashionable to identify all kinds of minorities, when what really counts is protecting the political minority, first and foremost. I will give an example of some of the consequences that sometimes result from a desire found only in rhetoric. When the Liberals talk about a gender-balanced cabinet, I see rather significant consequences. It is not in law, thank God, but if by misfortune the next government decides to continue with that, this would then become a convention. We would have a sort of parliamentary convention to have a gender-balanced cabinet.
According to the Liberals, having a convention saying that cabinet must be gender balanced means that women will forever hold half the power in the cabinet that forms the government. From another perspective, this also means that from now on, women will never be the majority in cabinet. Is that not a bit ironic to think that for centuries, cabinet was composed mostly of men, and now, with this convention we end up never seeing a cabinet composed mostly of women?
I believe this is a first consequence of this rather dangerous convention, based on misconceptions, dangerous social interpretations, and political capital, which, furthermore, in a way endangers—to put it bluntly—the possibility of having the best cabinet possible. I am sure that my colleague from Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, across the way, would make a wonderful minister. I was with him on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. He is incredible, clever and has an outstanding mind. However, because of gender parity, he will probably never be as close to me on the seating plan as he could be. We will never get the best by relying on sweeping misconceptions.
Creating such misconceptions of social reality that can be interpreted differently can have consequences. We therefore need to define the word “diversity” to ensure that this bill will not have negative consequences on corporate administration.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-04-06 16:52 [p.10296]
Mr. Speaker, obviously, liberalism and the capitalist system result in these kinds of problems. A good government must always ensure that wealth is redistributed in the best interests of all Canadians.
That said, if I were told that 30% of Canadians were a lot richer than others, I would say we are starting to have a problem. However, the concept of the 1% leads to dangerous political battles, since it makes Canadians cynical.
Canadians live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, one of the only countries where anyone, even the poorest of the poor, can do their best and succeed, since there is the crown government. Canada presents all sorts of opportunities. We need to stop talking to Canadians as though they were pathetic children. Quite the contrary, we need to show them that this great country is there for them and for their future. We especially have to stop coming up with sweeping concepts that create cynicism day after day in society.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-04-04 17:15 [p.10165]
Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here today. I will be sharing my time with my colleague from South Surrey—White Rock. I am starting to learn the names of all the ridings.
It is a great honour and a great privilege to rise in the House today, because it is my birthday. I am 31 years old, and this is probably the best gift I have ever received in my life, namely, to be able to deliver a speech in this democratic chamber on my birthday.
My colleagues likely knew what I was getting at when I asked my friends from Richmond Hill and Bourassa how much of the $80 billion allocated for infrastructure would be invested this year. The reason I asked the question is that, in fact, of the $80 billion that was supposed to be invested in infrastructure as announced by this Liberal government in 2016, almost nothing has been invested. In my mind, then, budget 2017 is a vote-seeking sham, and that will be more or less the subject of my speech today.
In fact, this budget is a false budget, a chimera. According to the dictionary, a chimera is defined as a thing that is hoped for or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve. This budget is nothing more than an ideological agenda. It is filled with endless meaningless rhetoric. For instance, on page 11, it talks about keeping Canada’s promise of progress. That is rather interesting. I do not really understand exactly what that means. It talks about innovation on nearly every page, and it also talks about a feminist budget and a green budget.
Today, in rather exceptional fashion, my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent said that even though they called it a feminist budget and a green budget, the Liberals nonetheless eliminated the public transit tax credit in their budget. He also rightly pointed out that 60% of the people who claim this credit are women, in particular elderly women. Thus, the Liberals are not walking the talk.
In terms of procurement, no significant investments have been made. Nothing has been said about balancing the budget. In fact, there are reports that we will be in a deficit position until 2051, which is shocking considering that Canadian families cannot be in the red at year's end.
Expenditures for National Defence alone are deplorable. Just in budget 2016, the Liberals deferred $3.7 billion in spending until 2020-21. This $3.7 billion was included in our Canada first program, which was inspired by the Conservative Party of Canada's plan, under the leadership of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, to bring Canada out of the decades of darkness of the Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin governments in the 1990s, and to revitalize the army, ensure that military infrastructure returns to good working condition, and to make significant acquisitions to meet all military needs. Instead of getting back on track, the Liberals announced in the 2017 budget the deferral of $8.4 billion in spending to 2035-36.
As I mentioned at the beginning, almost nothing has been spent on infrastructure to date. I suspect that the Liberals will invest the entire $80 billion in 2019 so that there will be construction cranes right across the country. We are going to be tripping over cranes and Canadians will think that this government is incredible.
The Liberals also broke their promise. They said that they would run a small deficit of $10 billion when they are actually running a deficit of about $30 billion a year. What is more, they have no plan to balance the budget, and they did not lower taxes for small and medium-sized businesses as promised during the 2015 election campaign.
Budget 2017 also significantly raises taxes.
When we, the Conservatives, had the opportunity and honour to govern the country, we were the advocates and defenders of taxpayers. We lowered taxes in many ways, first by decreasing the GST from 7% to 5%. We then created the universal child care benefit, the children's fitness tax credit, the children's arts tax credit, and the post-secondary education and textbook tax credit. We instituted income splitting for families, which the Liberals unfortunately did away with. We did all of that with the exceptional result of making taxes lower for Canadian families than they had been since the 1960s. That means that, under our government, after 10 years under a Conservative government, Canadian families were paying about $7,000 less in taxes a year than they were prior to 2004. That is not to mention the fact that we created 1.2 million jobs in 10 years, with the best employment rate of all OECD countries.
Unlike us, the Liberals are raising taxes for families, small businesses, and children. In budget 2016, they already increased taxes on gas and heating, increased taxes on Canadians' savings accounts, increased payroll taxes for businesses, and cancelled many of the tax cuts that I mentioned earlier.
Canadians, thinking it was going to stop there, were very saddened last month to see that the tax increases would actually start all over again. The government is going to tax public transit users by eliminating the public transit tax credit, Uber and ride-sharing, beer and wine, which basically comes down to introducing a weekend tax, as my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent so aptly put it. Donated medicine will be taxed, as will childcare, and small business owners will be saddled with an increase in payroll taxes. Oil and gas companies will be taxed, and so will tourism. In short, this is a disgrace.
I am an elected official from Quebec City, from Beauport—Limoilou. We can see that there is nothing in this budget for Quebec City, which is as surprising as it is appalling; there is nothing there for the Port of Québec, which needs $60 million to attract private investment and launch the Beauport 2020 project. There is nothing for the Institut nordique du Québec for political, social and anthropological research on northern Canada, research that remains very important. There is nothing for the National Optics Institute, a technology innovator in the heart of the Parc technologique du Québec. There is nothing for the Quebec Bridge, which was supposed to be dealt with before June 30, 2016. Finally, there is nothing about the SRB, the bus rapid transit system and there is nothing about the third link.
Conversely, in the last 10 years, the Conservative government, under the fantastic leadership of the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, invested almost $1 billion for the Quebec City region alone: in Gilmour Hill, in community infrastructure, in the Port of Québec, in l'Anse au Foulon and in the Ross Gaudreault terminal. A number of investments were made then, to be sure.
In closing, I would like to say that the government should focus on what will really give Canadians a vision and help them 100 years from now by balancing the budget, eliminating the deficit by the end of the year, and paying off the debt. How can we be one of the richest countries in the world and still have so much debt? We need to cut Canadians' taxes, not raise them.
If the economy were going well, MPs could take care of the important things, the things that help us all get along. We could talk about the Constitution, community, and Canadians' rights, but because of this government, we keep talking about the economy when we should be talking about other issues.
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