Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to once again rise in the House of Commons. It is great to see many members of Parliament returning to be in person in the House of Commons once again. It is great to see. It is great for camaraderie in the House to be able to connect with other members, not only within our own party but also with the parties across the way.
Throughout the summer, I did hear from many people who are worried about the cost of living, which is what brings us to the bill we have here today. Many people are doing their very best to survive. I am sure that all members should be aware by now that this is not only a regional problem. It is not only affecting my riding. It is affecting people all across the country. As a result, Canadians are worried about what is happening right now with our economy and where it is headed.
It has been a really difficult year for a growing number of people. We have seen our inflation rate reach levels not seen in almost 40 years, which would be before I was even born.
Back in the early to mid-eighties, my parents had to deal with buying their farm with interest rates at around 18%. We are already hearing some rumblings of a recession, which should take us back to that time once again. I know that many people are not too excited about the prospect of interest rates of even 8%, let alone 18%.
For a lot of younger Canadians today and, in particular, a lot of young farmers and ranchers in my riding, it is already hard to imagine ever getting ahead, finding opportunity or even achieving a dream as simple as owning a home. Now they have to deal with everyday essentials that are basically unaffordable, never mind trying to think about the future for themselves or their families, if they can start a family in the first place.
In response to this situation, we have Bill C-31 in front of us today. Sadly, there is no sign that the Liberal government will acknowledge the full scale of the problem.
They also do not want to talk about where the problems are coming from or admit that reversing their failed policies is part of the solution. Since taking power over seven years ago, the Liberal government has been short-sighted with promoting and developing our industries. Strengthening our economy simply has not been a priority, and some of our strongest assets, such as the energy sector, have consistently been punished instead of supported.
This left us in a vulnerable position, where we were unprepared for whenever a new crisis would eventually come along. As a result, Canadians continue to suffer the consequences of these bad decisions. At first, the Liberals were simply ignoring the issue for a while, but they cannot say that we didn't warn them.
Once it was clear that our national economy was getting into trouble, the Liberals went right ahead with their same old approach. As much as they try to pretend otherwise, big spending is not going to make our troubles disappear. It actually adds fuel to the fire at a time when the flames are out of control. That is what Canadians are seeing and living right now with their cost of living.
Last year saw inflation rise quickly and stay high above the target of 2%. After the Liberals could not ignore it anymore, they decided to downplay it. They would say, “Do not worry. It is just temporary.”
That is basically what the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance said back in January when I asked about their projections at the time. She said:
Inflation is currently higher than what we were accustomed to over the last decade. This is true in Canada and in many other countries around the globe. This is a matter of concern to the Bank of Canada and the government. However, most market observers around the world view the factors keeping inflation elevated to be temporary. As a result, the Bank of Canada expects inflation to ease back and to reach its 2% target by late 2022.
That was their prediction, on the record, and they have not really reconsidered it since then. Even though that clearly did not turn out to be the case, we will not hear the Liberal government take any responsibility for what Canadians are going through today. To this day, they will never dare admit that they have contributed to it. Anything or anyone else is to blame except for themselves.
After the budget, I asked again if the government had any plans to control inflation, just in case they were wrong in saying that it might not actually be that big of a deal. Once again, there was not much of an answer. Besides mentioning the Bank of Canada hiking interest rates, they pointed to the type of proposal we find in Bill C-31, along with national child care.
Over the summer, while Canadians faced worsening challenges, the government finally realized that it might start to affect them, after seeing some signs that it is losing public support over its approach. It tried to generate some new excitement in the media about how it was putting together a plan to help with the cost of living but, so far, the Liberal plan appears to be changing nothing from what they were doing before. There is no readjustment in sight.
That means that it is attempting to help with affordability in limited ways without fighting inflation, which should be a non-starter. If we look at Bill C-31, we will find that the Liberals propose to handle inflation with new programs that require a lot more inflationary spending. By definition, that will not make things better overall.
It might be a political price for a coalition with the NDP, but paying it will end up costing Canadians, who will continue to struggle with affordability. That is because none of this amounts to a full-scale plan or a serious effort to fix the root cause of something that is impacting all Canadians.
If that continues unchecked, it is easy for the problem to stay with us and get worse. After spending billions of taxpayer dollars, it could help the effects of inflation persist and cancel any net benefits to affordable living. If that happens, what will the government tell Canadians then? Even with affordability, the Liberals are missing the mark. They are well aware that food and fuel are two of the biggest things driving inflation, and they want to make things worse in both of these areas.
When Canadians started to see the highest gas prices ever at the pumps, Conservatives voted for a temporary suspension of the carbon tax, but the Liberal government refused to do it. We are dealing with food prices rising at the fastest pace in 40 years. At a time like this, I have to remind the government that it is our farmers who grow and raise it in the first place. The same carbon tax is hitting them year after year, and the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc are all comfortable with tripling it going forward.
Instead of changing direction, they are doubling down, even tripling down. The Liberals deny that it is doing any damage because the rebates are giving people more money back than they pay, at least that is the government's idea of affordability. Many Canadians know that is not happening for them, especially in small towns, particularly in rural Saskatchewan and especially for our farmers.
I have seen a bill from a farmer that shows the added cost of $1,100 in one month, just in carbon tax. It definitely does not match the annual rebate given for my province.
The Liberals are also bringing another attack on agriculture through an unrealistic target for fertilizer emissions. After being asked multiple times, they have not ruled out a restriction or a ban as seen in other countries. That type of policy would be disastrous for producing food, and it should be unthinkable when the world is already trying to avoid catastrophic shortages.
It should come as no surprise that the Liberals are not interested in prioritizing people's needs over their political projects. The real concern for achieving affordability has been noticeably lacking. How can Canadians believe the same government's claim that their new programs are supposed to be the answer? It all sounds more like an excuse. The government's past record speaks for itself.
Even with child care, as another recent example, the government's plan is designed for specific circumstances involving day care. What is it doing for any families who want to live on a single income and take care of their own children in their own home? The Liberals are the ones who removed income splitting, which helped these families afford whichever decisions were right for them. With the way it has been handling everything, the government's failed priorities have added extra pressure in the lives of these families and excluded different options for them.
Meanwhile, they are not addressing the larger problem behind the costs that all families have to deal with. That can only be done by actually fighting inflation and strengthening our economy as a whole. We are demanding something better for Canadians.
We cannot pretend the Liberals are offering any lasting solutions by simply repackaging their platform, a platform that has consistently been proven not to work.