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View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, I rise today with the traditional Thursday question.
As this is the Thursday before Thanksgiving, I would like to take the opportunity to wish you, Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleagues from all sides of the House, the House administration, the staff and the pages a happy Thanksgiving.
For most Canadians, this will be the first Thanksgiving in a long time that everyone will be able to get back together. I know it will be especially meaningful for families from coast to coast. We have so much to be grateful for in Canada and it is a great time to reflect on that. Even as parliamentarians debate how we can make things even better, it is always worthwhile to take a few moments to appreciate what we do have.
The things we do have are getting more expensive. To help put food on the plates of Canadians, we would like to know if the government House leader will tell the House if, after the Thanksgiving break, we can expect any legislation that would cancel the Liberal tripling of the carbon tax to help make the essentials that Canadians need to enjoy Thanksgiving more affordable; and if he could inform the House of the calendar of what parliamentarians might be expected to debate when we come back after the break week.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to pay tribute to a long-standing member of the Speaker's team who has decided to take a well-deserved retirement from this institution. Becoming a bit of an institution herself, Heather Bradley has served five speakers as director of communications. We, and I, have benefited from her wisdom and expertise.
MPs are elected as members of a political party and sit as a caucus. As such, each member has a tremendous amount of support when it comes to communications, but speakers leave those teams and can no longer count on that network, so the need to have an effective communications director is all the more important.
Heather was an absolute joy to work with. Her extensive knowledge of the precinct, members and historical precedence was invaluable. Her ability to interact with journalists, and the trust she had built with all parties over the years, was essential in assisting the Speaker as part of a non-partisan office in the backdrop of a highly partisan environment.
I could always count on her for excellent advice, from issues of the board to the modernization of disclosure. She was there for Parliament's big move out of Centre Block, and, of course, the tragic shooting that occurred there. She was always calm, thoughtful and rational, and had an impeccable track record of honesty and transparency.
I would like to thank Heather for her many years of service to Parliament, supporting speakers dating back to 1994. I also would like to thank her husband, Mike, and her boys, Nick, Jake and Sam, for lending her to us. We are all the better for it. I wish her all the best in her retirement.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his support of this bill, and I would like to just quickly address some of the fallacies that came out of the government party in listening to the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader. I cannot remember which Winnipeg riding the hon. member is from.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Winnipeg North.
Hon. Andrew Scheer: Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is Winnipeg North. It has been a tough year for Regina-Winnipeg relations from a Saskatchewan point of view, given the Blue Bombers and Roughriders, but thankfully we will talk about something that should unite us all here: accountability.
Accountability should be the one thing that all members of Parliament embrace. I can never understand it, but only a Liberal would think that increased accountability somehow undermines confidence in an institution, even when showing Canadians more of what goes on behind closed doors and when showing Canadians more about why the bank took certain decisions, why it acted when it did and, most importantly, why it did not act when it did not. Only a Liberal would think that this somehow undermines the confidence in an institution. This is not surprising, because that is how we have seen the Prime Minister act with everything from access to information requests to redactions to refusals, even taking the Speaker of the House of Commons to court to cover up the scandal at the Winnipeg lab.
However, we are not talking about that scandal today. We are talking about the economic vandalism that has gone on since March 2020, ever since the Bank of Canada decided to create money right out of thin air to purchase government bonds, depositing that brand new money, not backed up by any growth or increase in production, into the bank accounts of the large financial institutions. The bank bought IOUs from the government, bought them from those large financial institutions and flooded those institutions with large amounts of currency through digital assets and digital currency. Of course, they increased the money supply in other ways, including by printing cash and running the printing presses.
My hon. colleague pointed out fallacy number one: Accountability undermines confidence. We all know that to be false. Accountability strengthens confidence in institutions.
Audits are already being done. As my hon. colleague pointed out, audits are being done but they are a different kind of audit than what this bill calls for. I wish the hon. member for Winnipeg North had taken the time to read that part of the legislation. This is not just about bringing in auditors like KPMG. It is about bringing in the Auditor General, who does performance audits and value-for-money audits.
While we are talking about value for money, did members know that the Bank of Canada, during the Prime Minister's tenure, for the first time in Canadian history is losing money. That is right. The state bank, the institution that has a monopoly on creating money in Canada, is losing money. That happened because when it bought government IOUs, when it bought those bonds, it did so at a time when interest rates were low. It put the new money as credits into the bank accounts of large financial institutions, and it has to pay interest on that. Now that it is raising interest rates, it is losing money on the money it received from the government because it has to pay even more to those large banks.
Can members imagine that TD Bank, Royal Bank and other large financial institutions that have these credits from the Bank of Canada are getting paid more from the bank than the bank is receiving in interest payments from the government? All that money just washes through the system, and the people who get the money first are the big winners. They can go out and buy a large number of assets, and when prices rise, they can sell them and make the difference on the spread.
My colleague, the hon. member for Winnipeg North, said that for the first time in Canadian history people are raising questions about the bank. This is not true. His former boss and former leader, Jean Chrétien, campaigned on firing the Bank of Canada governor in the 1993 election.
This is the point I want to make today. Institutions are only as good as the human beings who run them, and human beings are not perfect. We are all capable of making mistakes. We have someone who has so much power in this country, with the ability to affect the value of the money that Canadians have worked so hard to earn, and when they make such monumental mistakes, they have to be held accountable. This is not about punishing someone for a mistake. This is about replacing the Bank of Canada governor with someone who knows how to keep inflation low.
That brings me to my final point. My colleague from Winnipeg North said that there has been no failure at the Bank of Canada. He should tell that to the hard-working families that are using food banks for the first time because inflation has gone up so high. He should tell that to students who are living in homeless shelters because they cannot afford to make rent. If that is not a failure in managing our monetary system in Canada, I do not know what it would take for a Liberal to think it is time to take action.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe that if you check this side of the House, we were not withholding unanimous consent. We were not saying boo; we were saying boo-urns. Please allow him to continue.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
That, given that the cost of government is driving up inflation, making the price of goods Canadians buy and the interest they pay unaffordable, this House call on the government to commit to no new taxes on gas, groceries, home heating and pay cheques.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to this very important and timely motion.
The government's economic policy can be summed up in four simple words: smaller paycheques, higher prices. The cost of government is driving up the cost of living. What do the Conservatives mean when we say that? If we look at why prices are rising, it is directly linked to the massive deficits the Prime Minister has been racking up pretty much since his first day in office. In its first year in power, the government made a conscious decision to spend more money than it received and plunge this country into those deficits. That weakened our economy before the pandemic.
It is fair to say that nobody could have seen the COVID pandemic coming, but it is also prudent for a government to predict that the unknown could occur. We might not have known that it was going to be this crisis, but governments must be prepared for any number of world or global events that it might be forced to respond to. Plunging the country into those deficits when times were good was therefore a foolish thing to do. Obviously, in retrospect, it was massively unhelpful, as our country had to deal with the COVID pandemic from a weakened position because of the government's policies.
I know so many of my colleagues want to speak to this very important motion, because it is affecting people's lives in such a real and practical way, so I will be splitting my time this morning to allow for more members to participate in this debate.
How did the government's deficits lead to that higher spending? Well, the government had to go out and borrow a bunch of money that it did not have, so it turned to the Bank of Canada, and the Bank of Canada made a decision to underwrite the government's deficit spending by purchasing government bonds, or IOUs. When a government has to borrow money, it writes a promise to pay the money back. That is called a bond. Normally, individuals or institutions can buy those bonds and expect to get paid the interest, and the government pays the bond back at the end of the term. However, the Bank of Canada did something a little different: It created new money right out of thin air to buy those government bonds.
It started creating five billion dollars in new currency every single week, starting in March 2020, to buy those government bonds. That new money, not backed up by new production, not backed up by economic growth and not backed up by any extra production of goods or services, washed through the system.
There could be big winners when the government creates money out of thin air. The big winners are the large financial institutions that get the money first, because they go out and gobble up assets. They buy property and commodities. They do that with the new money before everybody realizes there is a whole new influx of currency in the system. When everybody else gets that money when it eventually makes its way through the economy, prices start to go up. Those large financial institutions and wealthy investors can then sell those commodities and make money on the difference. That is why prices have gone up, and it is also why we have seen record profits at large financial institutions like the big banks.
That is why we say that the cost of government has driven up the cost of living. Literally, the government's extra spending, wasteful spending, forced the Bank of Canada to underwrite those deficits, creating that new money and causing prices to rise. That is the higher prices.
What about the smaller paycheques? Well, what the government is planning to do on January 1 is take a bigger bite out of Canadians' paycheques with an increase in paycheque taxes. Canadians are going to be forced to pay more right off the top on their paycheques, and the government is going to take part of the extra tax it collects, scoop it out of the EI fund and spend it.
We know this. We know the government's plan for the EI increase is simply going to be gobbled up by regular government spending. In fact, the extra premiums the government will collect will put the EI fund into a $10-billion surplus over the short term, and all of that will be taken by the Prime Minister to finance his pet spending projects.
Where is a big chunk of that extra money going? It is going to the interest on our national debt. The Prime Minister has racked up more debt than every single other prime minister combined, and the PBO report indicates that just the interest on our national debt, which Canadian taxpayers will be forced to pay, will double. Soon, the portion of our tax dollars that go to pay just the interest on that national debt will be higher than the amount that is spent on the Canadian Armed Forces. That is the scale we are talking about.
What is the result? Well, we have all heard the heart-wrenching stories in our ridings. We have all heard from the seniors who have had to delay their retirement and watch their life savings evaporate with inflation. Thirty year-olds are trapped in tiny, 400-square-foot apartments in our large cities or, even worse, are still living in their parents' basement because the price of homes has doubled under the Liberals. Single mothers are putting water in their children's milk so they can afford the 10% year-over-year increase in the price of groceries.
It is no wonder that people are worried. Most are lucky just to get by, but so many are falling far behind. There are people in this country who are just barely hanging on. These are our friends and neighbours, and we in the House are their servants. It is up to us to take real action to address this Liberal-caused inflation crisis.
The Conservatives are bringing forward very simple and practical solutions to help Canadians across the country. Today, the Conservatives are calling on the government to not make the situation worse. The Liberals have already done damage with higher prices. They do not need to shrink Canadians' paycheques, which is what this government is planning to do. Not only are they adding inflationary fuel on the fire with their continued plans to increase spending, but they are reducing Canadians' ability to cope with the government-caused inflation by shrinking those paycheques.
A new poll out today is just jaw-dropping: 90% of Canadians are tightening their household budgets due to inflation. Almost half, or 46%, say they are worse off now than they were at the same time last year when it comes to their own finances, which represents a 12-year high. Over half say that it is difficult to feed their household, and this number rises to seven in 10, or 68%, among those with household incomes below $50,000. Canadians cannot keep up.
As for grocery prices, I have five children and our grocery bill is big enough as it is with a few teenagers in the house. Those prices have skyrocketed, up over 10% and rising at the fastest pace in 40 years. With inflationary pressures at this rate, the government's supports do not even help the problem but contribute to it, as that extra spending is added to the amount of money the government needs to borrow, which is causing that vicious circle of higher inflation.
The average Canadian family now spends more of its income on taxes than it does on basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothing combined. By comparison, 33.5% of the average family's income went to pay taxes in 1961. Thirty-three per cent of income in 1961 went to taxes and now that number is 43%, so more is spent on taxes than food, shelter and clothing combined. It is simply jaw-dropping.
On Tuesday, the Conservatives proposed that the government should cancel its plan to triple the carbon tax. The cost of everything is set to skyrocket as the government triples the amount that it charges Canadians on home heating and fuel, with all the effects that has on literally everything else that Canadians have to buy. Groceries, lumber and household items all go up when the government raises the carbon tax by 300%.
Today, we have another practical solution: The government should get its hands off Canadians' paycheques and let Canadians keep more of their hard-earned dollars. It has already robbed Canadians of the purchasing power that they are already earning, and their existing paycheques are already devalued because of the government's inflationary policies. It is never a good time to raise taxes, but the absolute worst time to raise taxes on Canadians' paycheques is when they are already struggling so hard to get by with day-to-day goods.
I hope every member of the House supports this common-sense, practical motion to stop the government's tax hikes on Canadians' paycheques.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, there we have it. The Liberal message to Canadians is to thank their lucky stars it is not even worse. It is a bit like an arsonist saying to a homeowner, “Well, I know I set your house on fire, but look, your neighbour's house is even more on fire.”
I do not think a single Canadian is going to be reassured by that message. When it comes to what this party has supported, we have always supported tax relief for Canadians. We certainly did not vote in favour of the government's wasteful and corrupt spending, such as when it sent $1 billion to its friends at the WE organization or when it gave $35 billion to an Infrastructure Bank that has turned into a corporate welfare machine and has not got a single project built.
On this side of the House, we recognize that when Canadians work so hard for their paycheques, they should be able to keep as much of it as possible. That is why we are so focused on this measure. The government should cancel the upcoming paycheque tax hikes so that Canadians can keep more of their hard-earned dollars.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, the motion we are debating today proposes a concrete measure to help Canadians.
Today's measure is a concrete proposal. It is a very simple, straightforward proposal to help Canadians deal with the Liberal-caused inflation. It will allow them to keep more of their hard-earned dollars. The government is devaluing the dollars they are earning, so the very least it can do is to let Canadians keep more of the dollars they have worked so hard for in the first place.
We have to get back to the root cause. It will do Canadians and seniors no good to increase something with the left hand, but with the right hand take away all of that benefit with rising prices. As long as the government continues its vicious circle of increased spending and the borrowing that goes along with it, we will continue to have inflation. It will just make the problem worse. That is why we have to tackle the root cause of inflation.
I should point out that for several months we have had 8% inflation in this country. It is back to school time and I have been helping my daughters with their math, and 8%, I figured out, is just about one-twelfth. That is as if one were to go buy a case of beer, open up the first one and just dump it right down the drain. It just evaporates, or it is like working all month, day in and day out, and at the end of that month one finds out one worked for nothing. That is the effect of 8% inflation. Canadians are tired of working one month out of the year for nothing. The very least the government can do is to let them keep what they have earned the other 11 months.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
I have a very important question, Mr. Speaker. Can the hon. government House leader update the House as to the business of the House for next week?
I will point out that when the House leaders were given the calendar for next week, there were a couple of open days. I will make the suggestion, as the government House leader prepares his response to this question, that either one of those empty days would be a perfect opportunity for a piece of legislation to cancel the tripling of the Liberal carbon tax.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the motion proposed by my colleague in the Bloc Québécois. In light of that, and in relation to the motion we just adopted and the fact that all parliamentarians are committed to dealing with threats and intimidation, there have been discussion among the House leaders, and I hope I will receive unanimous consent for the following motion: That the House condemn the threatening remarks of Dale Smith, a member of the parliamentary press gallery, who responded through a tweet to a question proposed in the House by the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, stating, “When horses are this lame, you shoot them.”
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for raising this issue, which really affects us all. It was directed at him, and I certainly sympathize with how that must have felt, to see that member of the press gallery openly calling for him to be shot after he did not like the question that was asked.
I would like to point out that, as we move around the very building we are in right now, we can see that the House administration has put up signs in every hallway and near every entrance to stop harassment. They are signs with a big red stop sign that encourage all who work here, staff, MPs and visitors, to stop and call out incidents of sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation. I just wanted to flag that.
We have all been seized with this, as an institution, over the last few years, and members must, after every election, take training to make sure we are aware of the very highest standards of professionalism as to how we conduct ourselves individually, how we structure our offices and how we expect our staff to interact with each other. We gladly do that. In fact, members of Parliament from all parties got together to enhance the code of conduct for members and their staff.
As my hon. colleague pointed out, there is a direct relationship with the parliamentary press gallery. Its members' accreditations for security run through the House administration. I believe it is entirely reasonable for you and the Speaker's office to look into this matter to find a prima facie case of privilege. To not find a question of privilege, I believe, would seriously undermine the efforts that are constantly being made to make this building and this environment more safe and secure.
I sincerely hope that you, Madam Speaker, will find for my hon. colleague's question of privilege.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, yes, I have the one question everyone has been waiting for, the Thursday question.
I am wondering if the hon. House leader of the government could update the House as to what we can expect next week. Specifically, will he bring in legislation cancelling the Liberal tax hikes that are due to come into effect January 1?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, there seemed to be some confusion on the government's part during question period, so I would like to seek unanimous consent to table a document showing that combined CPP and EI premiums have gone up almost $700 under the current government. I would like to be able to—
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, the cost of government is driving up the cost of living. A half trillion dollars of Liberal inflationary deficits have bid up the cost of the goods we buy and the interest we pay. Inflation is running at historic highs and taking a massive bite out of the ability of Canadians to pay the bills.
Now, if one thought it could not get much worse, one would be wrong, because the Liberals are planning on raising taxes on the paycheques of Canadians by hiking CPP and EI premiums.
Instead of making the problem worse, will the government commit to cancelling its planned tax hikes and cancel its tripling of the carbon tax?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, the new measures proposed by the government will just get vaporized by continued sustained inflation. It is the cost of government that is driving up the cost of living.
Food is up 10% year over year, and four out of 10 Canadians are cutting their diets because of rising food costs. Canadians who have never used a food bank in their lives before are being forced to because they simply cannot keep up with soaring prices. Canadians are struggling to get by, and the government plans to raise taxes on gas, home heating, groceries and paycheques.
Will the government reverse its planned tax hikes and commit to no new taxes?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, what has been vaporized is Canadians' purchasing power as the government has caused the record-breaking inflation that is hammering Canadians' abilities to make ends meet.
The best way to stop inflation is to put an end to the deficits that caused it in the first place. Instead, the Liberals are going to make the problem a whole lot worse. Rising prices have robbed Canadians of the ability to heat their homes and fill their fridges, and in the coming new year, the government is planning on hiking payroll taxes and carbon taxes, meaning Canadians will have to spend more as they take home less.
Will the government simply cancel its planned tax hikes?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, it is always a privilege to rise in this House, but today I and all of our colleagues do so with the heaviest of hearts. At around this moment last Thursday, it “pleased Almighty God to call to His Mercy our late Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second of Blessed and Glorious Memory”, to borrow the words of the first of many accession proclamations made last weekend.
In the week which has intervened, we have witnessed and, indeed, ourselves have felt the shock, grief and reflections that have been felt in every corner of the globe ever since. For me, some of my own reflections have been upon the genuine honour and privilege I have had to have been received in audience by Her Majesty on two occasions. First, as speaker of the House, I was there with my counterpart, Noël Kinsella, speaker of the Senate at the time, to present the addresses which both Houses of our Parliament had voted to present to Her Majesty, on the occasion of the Queen's 2012 Diamond Jubilee and in 2013 following the birth of our future king, the current Prince George.
Since the House has adopted an address to our new King Charles III, the Speaker may find himself having an audience soon with His Majesty to present him with our Parliament's formal condolences. I am reminded of a personal anecdote of such an audience.
Before the Speaker meets the King, he will be presented with a briefing on protocol. We were all told what to do and what not to do. I asked the protocol officer how we would know when the meeting had ended. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “Oh, you will know.” Sure enough, at one point in the conversation when it was clear Her Majesty had exchanged enough pleasantries, out came a box with a button on it. She very gently pressed on it and moments later, the equerry came into the room and the meeting was over. I am sure there are many people throughout Canada who wish they had that kind of box when they are having meetings that they would like to get out of.
On both occasions when I had that privilege, I can say that Her Majesty's warmth and interest in Canadian matters remarkably shone through. Those various reports members might hear or read about Queen Elizabeth being incredibly well informed about Canadian and world matters certainly accord with my own personal experiences, yet her love of Canada was not just about being well briefed on the news. Canada was tangibly present in her life. She made 22 official visits as Queen and one as Princess Elizabeth, more here than any other country.
Her longest visit to Canada in 1959 covered 45 days and 24,000 kilometres. On that trip, she performed her official duties with equal parts grace and grit as she fought through morning sickness to complete her gruelling itinerary. Canada was very much her second home. On a royal tour in 1983 which included both the United States and Canada, as she prepared to fly from California to Vancouver, she told the press, “I am going home to Canada tomorrow.”
Some members may be aware that Her Majesty's favourite horse ever was Burmese, the first of the horses gifted by the RCMP, that was foaled in Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan. The Queen rode Burmese at every Trooping of the Colour for 18 consecutive years, from 1969 to 1988, and on many other occasions, like the time she was famously photographed riding with Ronald Reagan. When Burmese retired, the Queen never rode to the Trooping of the Colour again, preferring to travel by carriage. A statue of Queen Elizabeth riding Burmese can be found in Regina, the queen city, a city I proudly represent.
We know that the people of Saskatchewan were in her thoughts right up until the end. Her final public statement a little over a week ago was to the people of Saskatchewan, specifically of the James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, to tell them that she was grieving with them and mourning their loss. The day before that, we all saw the news and photos of her appointing a new British prime minister, her 15th. That Her Majesty, in her mid-nineties, was working right up until literally her very last days is a testament to her understanding of the responsibilities to which she was called by fate.
When she was 21, she gave a radio address that has been replayed many times in recent days. In it she declared, “my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service”. She was a young woman then, barely out of childhood, thrust by her uncle's unexpected abdication into a lifetime of service. It was an awe-inspiring promise for such a young person to make with such conviction. She knew even at that young age that there would be no relaxing retirement for her, however well-earned it would have been. Her duties would end only in death, as indeed they did.
In her last official photo she is standing beside the fireplace at Balmoral, and she exudes warmth and wisdom, though she must have known the end of her service was only a few days away. She was duty personified to the very last. That devotion to service, which our late Queen typified for the near century she lived and which she witnessed her father demonstrate so remarkably especially during the Second World War, was all the more remarkable since neither of them was meant to be the monarch from birth. It is the same example our new sovereign, King Charles III, witnessed and felt first-hand. I am sure we can have every confidence that His Majesty will follow in their footsteps and the footsteps of their many illustrious predecessors of the past thousand years.
The memories, reflections, tributes and appreciation expressed this past week have vividly recalled for all of us the majesty and magic of our constitutional monarchy, the continuity it provides and the bedrock of stability it forms. Other countries may pledge allegiance to flags, which blow unpredictably with the political winds, but our allegiance is to the Canadian Crown, which connects us in a direct line to the historic source of our Constitution. It is a living tradition of order and liberty that is renewed with each generation.
The other day I was recalling how the role of the Crown in our parliamentary democracy reminded me of the so-called parable of Chesterton's fence. In his 1929 book, The Thing, G.K. Chesterton wrote of a fence that some reform-minded folks would tear down because they did not understand its purpose, while other more cautious types would first seek to understand the original purpose of the fence and whether it was satisfying those needs. Basically, the lesson is do not destroy what we do not understand.
I suspect after this week many more will truly understand the meaningful role of the Canadian monarchy, A Crown of Maples, and that will be yet one more legacy of Her Majesty's remarkable reign. There is no doubt the Crown has helped shape Canada, but we should not view the monarchy or the Crown as some kind of foreign institution. Canada and the Crown are intertwined, and Canada has had an impact on the Crown itself.
Our francophone colleagues from Quebec are familiar with the history of our people here in North America, and they know that certain events had a significant impact on the Crown.
For example, it was the Quebec Act that first gave religious liberties to Catholics, paving the way for religious tolerance throughout the entire British Empire. That innovation that was used here in North America to help bring two peoples together changed the way Catholics, and ultimately religious minorities, were treated throughout the entire globe. We can take credit here in Canada for that legacy, the change that we effected on our system of government, and through it, the entire world and the entire British Empire. It was the Quebec Act that first established the principle that one can be loyal to the sovereign while still practising whatever faith one chooses.
When someone serves so diligently for as long as Queen Elizabeth did, it is tempting to think that they will continue forever. Perhaps that is why, although her death was not unexpected, it still moves us so deeply. We have lost someone who was part of the backdrop of our lives for as long as most of us in this House can remember. Although she is gone, we will be reminded of her for years to come. We will probably encounter her unexpectedly, when we empty coins from our pockets or rummage for stamps at the back of a drawer and we suddenly see that familiar regal profile again. In those moments we will pause and smile as we remember the life of an extraordinary woman and an exemplary Queen.
God bless Queen Elizabeth, and God save the King.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, I too would like to pay tribute to trade representative Winston Chen from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada. He is leaving his post after four years. We will all miss his dedication, thoughtful ideas and sense of humour.
Mr. Chen worked hard to strengthen the already robust ties between Canada and Taiwan. In addition to over $6 billion in bilateral trade every year, Taiwan is a democratic country that shares many of the same values and goals on the world stage. In an increasingly unstable world, developing closer ties with like-minded peoples is all the more important.
Mr. Chen really came through for Canada during the pandemic when he and his team helped with the donation to Canada of over 500,000 masks from Taiwan to Canada. His dedication to Taiwan’s participation on an international level was impressive, as well his work on establishing more resilient supply chains. These will serve both our countries, as well as many others, in the years to come.
We thank Mr. Chen for his hard work improving the relations between Canada and Taiwan, and we wish him all the best in his future career.
Zhù ni wèilái hao yùn.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, inflation is not like the weather. It is not something that just happens like a snowstorm in May. The inflation that Canadians are suffering from today is a direct result of the deficits the Prime Minister racked up, bankrolled by the money printing of the Bank of Canada.
When the Prime Minister ran out out of other people's money to borrow, he turned to the bank, and the governor was only too happy to oblige. The Bank of Canada created over $400 billion in brand new money to purchase the government bonds to pay for the out-of-control Liberal spending.
Any time we get more dollars chasing fewer goods, we get inflation. The decision to bankroll the government's deficit spending undermined the bank's independence. It has one main mandate: to keep inflation at 2%. It has completely failed and Canadians are right to demand accountability.
To restore the bank's independence, the leadership at the bank needs to stop acting like it is the Prime Minister's personal ATM. As Milton Friedman said, “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon”. We cannot expect the Prime Minister to know that. He brags that he does not even think about monetary policy.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
moved that Bill C-253, An Act to amend the Bank of Canada Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, it is truly an honour to rise today and speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-253, the Bank of Canada accountability act.
Members may know that the Auditor General is empowered, under the Auditor General Act, to perform audits on government agencies and departments. However, there is a special carve-out, an exemption, in the Financial Administration Act that specifically excludes the Bank of Canada from the oversight that the Auditor General provides.
We are all familiar with Auditor General's reports. It is always a big day on Parliament Hill when the Auditor General tables a report after an investigation on behalf of Canadians into various departments, agencies and programs. Of course, it was the Auditor General's report many years ago that first brought to light the excessive expenses of the long gun registry. It was thanks to her work, at the time, that Canadians got to know the billion-dollar price tag of that useless and ineffective program. We can all think to times when the Auditor General has identified massive problems with the government's handling of everything from immigration protocols to transportation, and that is what this bill is all about: Bringing the Bank of Canada into line with other departments and agencies to provide that oversight so that the Auditor General is empowered to do the same types of audits that he or she does on all other agencies and departments.
Many in the Liberal establishment are opposed to this bill. The Prime Minister once said that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”, and then he ran around pulling the shades down on all the windows to keep things hidden. He is afraid of accountability and transparency now. In fact, he is so allergic to it that he has made a deal with the NDP to help cover things up at committees and in the House. It is not a surprise that Liberal parliamentarians and Liberal politicians are opposed to this bill, but Canadians are demanding this type of accountability and oversight. They are demanding it, because we are seeing unprecedented action by the Bank of Canada and unprecedented decision-making that is directly affecting the value of the money they have worked so hard to earn.
Many of the arguments against this bill that I have already heard through corporate, taxpayer-subsidized and government-subsidized media and Liberal politicians are all bogus. First of all, one of the critiques is that the bank is already audited. That is true. The bank is already audited by private-sector firms in Canada, but those are not the same types of audits that the Auditor General does. The Auditor General does not simply do a balance-sheet audit. It is not like the Auditor General goes in and tallies up everything on the left side of the ledger and makes sure it balances with everything on the right side of the ledger. No one is assuming that someone is leaving the Bank of Canada with bags of cash over their shoulder. In addition to balance-sheet audits, the Auditor General does performance audits, and that really is the whole point of this bill.
The Bank of Canada has made many decisions that have had a profound negative impact on Canadians. It decided, for example, to buy corporate bonds. It had a corporate bond purchasing program. Now, if we go to its website, it spells out some of the general criteria of what minimum thresholds companies would have to meet in order to have their bonds purchased by the bank. I should point out that it is a huge advantage to a company to have its bonds purchased by the central bank.
A bond is basically an IOU. It is debt. It is a company saying, “We don't have the money today, but loan it to us now and we will pay you back later.” Corporations have to pay for that. They have to pay interest on those bonds. When fewer people are willing to buy the bonds, those corporations have to raise their interest rates to sweeten the deal to attract more potential buyers, and that costs the corporations more money. When the Bank of Canada comes along and says, “We'll buy some of those bonds”, that is a huge benefit to the corporation that is selling the bonds.
Which bonds did the Bank of Canada buy? Why did it buy a bond from company A and not company B? Those are the types of things that we do not know. We do not know all the criteria that led to the decision-making. It could very well be that in very competitive marketplaces, say the airline industry, one airline's bonds were purchased by the bank and another's were not.
It is the same thing in the telecommunications sector. Perhaps one company's bonds were bought and another's were not. Let us be clear. It is not buying these bonds with its own money. The Bank of Canada creates money. When it buys these corporate bonds, it is creating new money right out of thin air, which has an impact on the purchasing power of the money Canadians have worked so hard to earn. In fact, it dilutes that every time new money is created.
In addition to the corporate bonds, it has been buying government bonds, and boy has it ever. It has been on a buying spree for almost two years. From the beginning of the pandemic, when the Prime Minister ran out of other people's money to borrow, he had to turn to the Bank of Canada, and the Bank of Canada was only too happy to oblige.
The Bank of Canada, since about April of 2020, has been bankrolling the Prime Minister's deficit spending to the tune of about $400 billion. That is $400 billion of new money created right out of thin air. That is what is causing the inflation today, and that is why Canadians have a right to know what the bank was doing and what criteria it was following, and report back to Parliament and ultimately to Canadians.
We have never seen this type of intervention in our monetary policy in our nation's history. Back in the great global recession of 2008, the previous Conservative government held the line on monetary policy. It was a difficult time. Many of my colleagues were in the House at that time. A lot of difficult decisions had to be made, but the previous Conservative government understood that if money starts to be printed out of thin air it makes an already difficult situation even worse.
That is what we are seeing today as we are coming out of the pandemic, after two years of hardship and the emotional toll it took on Canadians individually. People had to go long periods of time without seeing their loved ones. Many small business owners were watching their entire life's work evaporate as restrictions prevented them from opening their doors and serving their customers.
Coming out of that, now Canadians are being faced with punitive rates of inflation. Things that had cost $10 or $12 are now going for $18 or $20. One almost needs to get a pre-approval on a new loan to go grocery shopping these days as we see the prices escalating. Tools, lumber and all types of everyday purchases Canadians make are going up and up. The government would have us believe this is just something that happens and that it is like the weather: “We are going through an unexpected cloudy period, and inflation is up a little this quarter.” That is nonsense. Inflation does not just happen. It is a direct result of the monetary policy of the Bank of Canada working hand in hand with the government of the day. That is why this proposed act is so necessary. We need to restore the independence of the Bank of Canada.
The Bank of Canada's independence has been undermined by the government's decisions to bankroll its deficit spending with all that new money creation. That is why prices are going up today. It is actually rather simple. If we have the same number of goods but dramatically increase the number of dollars going around, prices will go up. It is not rocket science. In fact, these are basic laws of economics. More dollars chasing fewer goods equals inflation. That is precisely what we are seeing today.
The government will try to have us believe inflation is happening because of external factors. Do members remember when it tried to blame the war on Ukraine? It tried to blame inflation on Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine. Guess what? Inflation was happening long before the invasion of Ukraine. The previous summer, on the eve of the election, inflation was already ticking up to record levels.
We all remember the famous quote the Prime Minister said in the middle of an election when inflation was only at about 4%. Do members remember those days, when inflation was only as bad as 4%? Our party started to challenge the Prime Minister and the Liberals on this and highlighted to Canadians it was their economic policy causing the inflation. What did the Prime Minister come back with? He said, “you'll forgive me if I don't think about monetary policy.” Well, we do not forgive him. He should think about monetary policy. I guess he does not understand it, otherwise he would know that he is to blame for all that inflation.
Liberals try to say that it cannot be the Prime Minister's fault, that, yes, there is inflation in Canada, but there is inflation in other countries, too. That is true. Other countries that made the same foolish decisions to run the printing presses during a time of economic contraction are also experiencing record levels of inflation. Some countries did not do that. There are several countries around the world that preserved the value of their currency and are not experiencing the same punitive levels of inflation that Canadians are having to pay.
The government's argument is a little like if someone told me I was putting on a bit of weight and I might want to look at my eating habits, and I said that obesity is a North American problem, that obesity rates in North America are the real challenge and that it cannot be anything I do because I live in a continent where it is a challenge for a lot of people. No, of course not. It is because of the decisions of each individual, just like it is the decisions of each individual country that are causing the inflation we are seeing today.
At the end of the day, the dollars that we carry around with us, the ones and zeros in our bank accounts, have no intrinsic value. We cannot do much with a 20-dollar bill or a 100-dollar bill. The only reason why other people accept it as payment is that there is a level of trust. There is a level of trust that someone else will accept it as payment and give the same value that was received. When the Bank of Canada undermines that trust by creating all that money washing through our system, it devalues the value of the money that people work so hard for. It is a form of fraud.
If people agree to provide labour to an employer for a given salary and then at the end of the quarter or the end of the year the money they receive for the work they have done is worth less, they have been defrauded of what they agreed to. They cannot go back and take away 6% to 10% of their labour. They cannot go back and tell the employer that the dollars they were paid with are now worth less, so they would like some of their time and energy back. They cannot do that. They have already given that to their employer, and the money they receive is now worth less than what they agreed to. That is why inflation is the worst form of tax.
Of course, governments love inflation, because it makes the debt they have accumulated easier to pay off. Inflation is great for people who have the ability to borrow, and that is what we saw during the pandemic. As the Bank of Canada washed all that money through the system, the people who got the money first got to buy things before prices went up. These large financial institutions and investors who had access to that early money first were able to accumulate all the assets. By the time the rest of us get the money, through wage increases and other phenomena, the prices have already gone up and those wealthy investors get to sell at record profits. That is why there have been such big winners during the last two years. Members should look at the stock market and check what bank shares have done in the last two years. Bank shares have gone up dramatically since the start of the pandemic.
When we look at the Bank of Canada's balance sheet and the money supply charts, factoring in all the money in Canada, everything from the ones and zeros in our bank accounts and the digital money that we all have in our chequing and savings accounts to the cash and all the various credit products that exist out there, the rate of increase in the money supply tracks almost identically with the balance sheet at the Bank of Canada.
That is what this bill is all about. It is about providing the first steps toward accountability and transparency so that Canadians can have their confidence in the Bank of Canada restored. The independence of the Bank of Canada has been undermined by the political decisions of the Prime Minister. If we want to get our finances under control, if we want to get the value of the money that we have worked so hard to earn stable, we need this first step toward accountability so we can understand what the decision-making process was and what the costs were to Canadians.
I have one final point. We are going to hear arguments from the opposite benches about why this bill will undermine the Bank of Canada's independence. In fact, it is quite the contrary. The Bank of England is subject to parliamentary oversight through its equivalent of the Auditor General. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has the same types of audit provisions that I am proposing today. The European Central Bank has similar types of provisions, with its version of the Auditor General. In fact, Canada is a bit of an outlier in the fact that it is allowing its central bank, which has such enormous power over our economy, to be excluded from this oversight.
This bill is long overdue and I hope all members of the House will support it.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, I expect every member of my party to support it, because our party is in favour of accountability and transparency. The member has it all backwards. It is his party that has undermined the independence of the Bank of Canada. When Liberals turn to the bank and ask it to act as the personal ATM of the Prime Minister of the day to bankroll his spending decisions, that is what undermines the Bank of Canada. What I am proposing in this bill is simple, non-partisan oversight by the Auditor General, who provides that same function for all kinds of independent, non-partisan departments and agencies.
I do not know why the member does not welcome this bill. Canadians want to see what is going at the bank. That member should support it.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, I will let the member for Abbotsford explain what he meant, but this bill is about accountability and oversight. This bill is about empowering the Auditor General to provide the same type of oversight role that he or she provides for every other government department, agency and Crown corporation. That is what this bill is all about.
When it comes to the performance of the Governor of the Bank of Canada, the Bank of Canada has only a few core mandates, one of which is to keep inflation low, at 2%. Inflation has been well over 6% for several months now. Every other Canadian who missed the target by such a massive range would face some kind of accountability. It is not to punish the guy or get even with him, but on behalf of Canadians, they deserve to have a Governor of the Bank of Canada who understands that printing money during a period of economic contraction leads to inflation. It is that simple. This—
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, it used to be the case that transparency and accountability were something the NDP and the Conservatives could agree on. Back in 2006, when the Conservative government brought in the Accountability Act, we worked closely with the NDP. Those days are gone.
Now, the NDP has made a decision to prop up a government plagued by corruption scandals. If the member thinks this bill is ideologically driven because it would allow the Auditor General to audit the bank, does she think it is ideological to allow the Auditor General to audit Canada Post, the Department of Transport or any number of other departments and agencies? That is just nonsense. This is about allowing the independent, non-partisan Auditor General to do his or her job and audit the Bank of Canada.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, we are a couple of minutes in, and while I am a big fan of definitions of words and word origins, I would ask you to consider the point of relevance of the member's speech. He is going down a diatribe that has nothing to do with the actual technicalities of the bill.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for agreeing to share his time with me.
It is very important for Canadians to understand that the government's proposal to invoke the Emergencies Act is in no way connected to public safety, restoring order or upholding the rule of law. We know this because we know what it has done with previous protests and blockades. When the Prime Minister agrees with the aims of protesters, he does nothing. Actually, it would be unfair to say he does nothing. He does nothing to end the blockades, but he will send negotiators, who send government delegations to meet with protesters and even propose settlements and compromises when he agrees with the political aims of those protesting.
We know this because in 2020, anti-energy protesters, and anti-oil and gas protesters held up vital transportation links for weeks. At the time, the Prime Minister had a much different tone. Let us look at what he said when vital transportation links and rail lines were blockaded, crippling the Canadian economy for weeks at a time. He said, “Therefore, we are creating a space for peaceful, honest dialogue with willing partners.” Compare that to the rhetoric and inflammatory language that he has used over the past several weeks in 2022.
Make no mistake, the protests that are happening in Ottawa and have taken place across the country are a direct result of the Prime Minister's actions and rhetoric, and the demonization of people who are fighting to get their rights back. Canadians have had two years of incredible hardship, of politicians and government agencies telling them they were not allowed to have family members visit them inside their own homes, of governments telling business owners that they had to keep their doors shut and their employees laid off, of people not being able to use the various support systems they have had in their lives, such as relying on friends and family. Gyms were closed and activities for children were cancelled.
After two years of this, just as there is hope on the horizon, as other jurisdictions around the world and even here in Canada were lifting restrictions and easing mandates, the Prime Minister added a new one. He added a new restriction after two years of telling truck drivers that they were essential services and that they would be allowed to travel across the border to bring vital goods to our markets. After two years of deeming them an essential service, just as there was hope and reasons to lift restrictions and mandates, the Prime Minister added a new one without any data or evidence to back it up.
Then people started objecting to this. They were finally saying that enough is enough, they want their freedoms back, and it is time for the government to retreat back to the normal boundaries of government interference in their lives. When people started doing that, gathering to peacefully protest against government overreach, what did the Prime Minister do? He called them names and tried to smear them with broad brushes. He called them racists and misogynists. He asked the rhetorical question of whether or not we should tolerate these people. I would like to ask the Prime Minister this question: What does not tolerating these people look like? What he has done over the past few weeks has been shameful.
The Prime Minister has lowered the office in which he serves to unprecedented depths. In my 17 years of being a member of Parliament, I have never seen a prime minister or, for that matter, any other politician so debase the office that they hold, hurling insults at people and referring to a Jewish member of this House as standing with people waving swastikas. It is outrageous.
My hon. colleagues on the Liberal benches have often admonished their political opponents for even sharing the same postal code as someone who may be holding an offensive flag or a placard with unacceptable language on it. When Conservatives denounced that, it was not good enough for members of the Liberal Party. They say we are supposed to paint the entire group protesting with that broad brush, but they do not hold themselves to that same standard.
I see many hon. members across the way, some of whom I have served with. I know them to be honourable people. I do not assume that they are all racist because their leader has performed racist acts by putting on blackface so often in his life that he cannot remember how many times he has done it. We do not paint every single Liberal member of Parliament with that brush. They have no problem being photographed with the Prime Minister, despite his history of racist acts, neither should members of Parliament paint the entire group of people who are protesting for their freedoms with that same broad brush.
Let us look at the lengths to which the government goes, and indeed not just the government, but many of its friends in the corporate media, to paint every single person who is protesting and demanding an end to the restrictions and the mandates with that broad brush. They go to great lengths to discredit and dehumanize those people, who are just fighting for their traditional civil liberties.
We could look at this in two different groups. On the one hand, we have people who are saying that after two years of hardship, sacrifice, and being forced to comply with unprecedented government intrusion in their lives, with government telling them where to go and who they can have in their house, which is a level of government interference of the like we have not seen in recent Canadian history, after two years of that, they just do not believe they should be fired for making a health care decision.
On the other hand, there is a group of people who are saying that anybody who holds that view is a racist, a misogynist or an insurrectionist. There is a group of people who are saying that government should have the ability to tell people who they can have in their house, and whether or not their business is allowed to stay open.
Which group seems more unreasonable? I would say that after two years, those who are fighting against the government intrusion in their lives have a legitimate case to make. Whether or not we agree with them, we must respect their right to advocate for their views. The Prime Minister has not provided any legitimate justification for bringing in the Emergencies Act. He asks us to trust him. He says we should not worry, that the government is going to make sure everything is fine with the courts and that everything is compliant with the charter.
This is the same guy who fired his attorney general because she would not go along with his plans to interfere in a criminal court case. Pardon the members of the Conservative Party if we are not going to take the Prime Minister's word that he is not going to abuse the power that he is granting himself.
He points to specific instances that the Conservatives denounced. We denounced the rail blockades in 2020 and we denounced the border blockades in 2022. We do not believe that the right to peacefully protest should mean the right to infringe on the freedoms and rights of other people. We raised that point in 2020, calling on the government to do something about the rail blockades when it was the anti-energy workers. By the way, there have been a lot of radical left-wing protests across the country where we could see all kinds of placards, including anti-Semitic placards and banners advocating violence against police officers, and we do not see the government rushing to crack down on those.
The government is talking about foreign funding. What about the foreign funding that is pouring into Canada by the hundreds of millions of dollars to help groups fight against energy projects and natural resource projects across the country? That did not seem to bother the government then. Now, all of a sudden, it says it has to do something about it.
It is a little like the scene in Casablanca when the inspector comes to Rick and says that he has to close the place down because there is illegal gambling going on, and then the croupier comes over and puts his winnings in his pocket. That is what the government is doing. For years, it has relied on foreign funding coming to help its allies in the political spectrum fight for its goals and fight against Canadians and their interests.
This is the exact same playbook that we have seen dictatorial governments use across the world. They dehumanize their opponents. They invoke threats of foreign influence. Let us remember, the Berlin Wall was ostensibly built to keep others out. Governments always talk about their good intentions when they take away rights and liberties. I am asking Canadians not be fooled by this.
I am asking members of the Liberal Party who actually believe in civil liberties, who actually do believe in the natural limits of government, to do—
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, the member comes from a caucus whose leader sent a delegation to protesters. He is saying that I should not have waved back to people who waved to me. His government actually sent a minister with a mandate to negotiate.
I am Canadian. I will wave to people when they wave to me. I will say hello to people who say hello to me. When I have constituents who have left their homes to come and fight for their freedoms, I will listen to them. I will be civil because, if the government had not started off this whole thing with that type of attitude, we might not even be having this debate today.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, I will start my remarks by thanking the member from the Bloc Québécois because we disagree on many things philosophically, but it is nice to know that, even if we disagree on policy, that there is still some common ground on our principles about using the sledgehammer the government has brought in.
The member is invoking a series of events that happened in 2012. The Conservative Party did not bring in the Emergencies Act in 2012. It is legitimate. There are going to be protests across the country, across time, where various parties are going to agree with the aims of the protests or disagree. We can all express our opinion about whether or not those protests should be happening, but the government should not be bringing in this massive sledgehammer to crack down on dissent when there are existing laws.
The Prime Minister talked about the Coutts border crossing. It was resolved with existing laws and tools that law enforcement have. There is no need for this act.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, I believe the hon. member may be the only member of the House who was actually arrested for participating in an illegal protest. She is now somehow justifying the Emergencies Act. Would she have appreciated, while she was breaking laws and getting arrested, if the government had the power to freeze her bank account? Would she have appreciated anybody who made a donation to the Green Party at that time having their bank accounts frozen for supporting her illegal activities? I doubt it.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to clarify the record. I misspoke during my questions and comments in regard to the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. I indicated she was the only member of the House to have been arrested for protesting illegally. I completely forgot the image of the Minister of Environment in his orange jumpsuit. He too was arrested for illegal protests and I—
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, in 2020, when anti-energy protesters were blocking vital transportation, ships were backed up in ports and trains were stopped, the Prime Minister did not stop them. In fact, he actually sent a government delegation to meet with them, but now that the protests are about something that he disagrees with, the Prime Minister uses inflammatory language, hurls personal attacks and makes a massive power grab.
We know that the PM finds democracy inconvenient and that he admires China's dictatorship, so will the Prime Minister admit that this is all just a move to crack down on dissent?
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