Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise virtually, as we say.
I would like to start off by thanking my colleague from Carleton, on behalf of the constituents of Kootenay—Columbia, for his continued work to ensure there is accountability with the government. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this issue of the proposed wealth tax and believe it will ultimately yield a negative impact on hard-working, middle-class Canadians.
Our Prime Minister thinks of successful middle-class business owners as tax cheats. The Conservatives understand there is no Canadian economy without business and a hard-working middle class. It is really as simple as that. In fact, 45.1% of the GDP is what these hard-working, middle-class businesses provide to the Canadian economy every year.
Under the official opposition leader, we will continue to stand up for these entrepreneurs, and the workers they employ across Canada, to ensure they get the support they need to weather this health crisis.
As a condition of their ongoing support for the Liberals, the New Democrats have now demanded a super wealth tax of 1% annually on the net worth of Canadians worth more than $20 million. Why am I talking about the middle class? Let us review recent history.
In the 1990s, for instance, 12 of the 14 members of the European Union had wealth taxes. Now all but three have abandoned the idea. Why have they abandoned the idea of a wealth tax? They abandoned the idea because wealth taxes almost always fail, and when they do, governments turn to the middle class to solve their fiscal problems. Besides being ineffective, wealth taxes have proven to dampen savings and investments, which slows economic recovery and long-term growth. This impacts the middle class directly. This is the wrong move at a time when Canada is struggling as a result of the health crisis.
There are several reasons wealth taxes prove ineffective in raising tax revenues. The wealth tax is challenging to define and measure, which makes it difficult and expensive to administer. In fact, other countries have proven that at least half the money collected is used to administer the program. That is 50%, or up to $3 billion annually, according to the Parliamentary Budget Office, that will be used not to help Canadians who need it, but to allow the Prime Minister to pay for bigger government. Wealth taxes almost never raise the amount of money they are estimated to earn, and we know they are expensive to run, so I ask this question: What has more value to Canadian charities, the dollar provided by the philanthropist or 50¢ provided by the Prime Minister?
A wealth tax would be punitive to Canadian success stories and would only serve to restrict the flow of donated money to the very charities that are in need of the support. The fact is that people in need, who these charities serve, are already not getting the same level of service because of the health crisis. This tax would make the problem worse.
Charities across the country are suffering, and that is surely the case in my riding. Donations are down and many charities do not know where they will find the funds to continue. These organizations and businesses are passionate about the charity organizations they support, especially in their communities.
What this government is proposing is that somehow it knows better than philanthropists when it comes to how to redistribute wealth. I respectfully submit that the government does not. There are not too many examples where the government does a better job of running a business than the business itself.
On the surface, a wealth tax appears ideal and almost has a “Robin Hood” ring to it. Unfortunately, the examples that history has for us show otherwise and produce unintended consequences. Rather than putting money into creating jobs here in Canada, and thereby risking an increase in Canadian taxes, it is common for those impacted by a wealth tax to move their assets outside the country. The idea that a single wealth tax will provide the government with a silver-bullet solution to expand and pay for its spending is not rational.
A wealth tax is similar to a property tax, but instead of taxing real estate, it covers wealth in all forms: stocks, jewellery, artwork, cars, houses, boats, retirement savings, antique collectible guns, horses and hockey cards. The list goes on. It includes any asset of monetary value that could be appraised, which in itself raises questions.
The reality is a wealth tax will drive investment out of the country. How can we possibly expect to bring investment into Canada when the government is working through a wealth tax to chase away investors we already have?
Let us look at the numbers. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates the NDP wealth tax could raise $5.6 billion a year. The Liberals have pledged to add another $150 billion in deficit spending to the $350 billion already assigned. Even if the wealth tax did generate $5.6 billion in revenues every year, which other examples show it would not, it still leaves $490 billion that has to be raised elsewhere. Where will that come from? I am sure Canadians across the country would like to know how the government intends to cover the difference of $490 billion. The reality is that the differential, in one way or another, will be placed squarely in the hard-working hands of the middle class.
Middle-class Canadians cannot afford the current government. They cannot afford a financial decision-making Prime Minister who has never had to wonder how to pay a $300 utility bill with only $20 remaining in their account. Canadians are already struggling to get by. We need to start delivering meaningful solutions that will move our country forward, and the Conservatives are here to assist in that effort.
The current government and its approach to taxation transparency with Canadians reminds me of that story of the taxpayer who fell into the pot of hot Liberal taxation water. The government turned up the taxes slowly, starting with the wealthiest so as not to alarm the masses. In the end, what they were left with were soaring deficits, failed taxation policies and no option but to turn up the taxation temperature on the middle class.
There are times when we need to face a situation head-on and take the appropriate action when we have the ability to do so before it is too late. A fundamental difference of opinion exists in this House. The Liberals and the NDP want to tax our way out of the economic crisis, where the Conservatives want to harness Canada's most powerful economic tool: the Canadian worker. Winston Churchill, a British statesman, said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Well, here we are again. We know wealth taxes have failed across the pond, and yet despite all the evidence that history would have us learn from, the current government, with the support of the NDP, is working to allow history to repeat itself.
My Conservative colleagues and I have been providing solutions to the government since the onset of this crisis. This week, with the passage of our motion in the House of Commons, Conservatives have secured more help for Canadians harmed by a health crisis. As a result of our efforts, the Liberals will have to pause their punishing audits on small and medium-sized businesses until June 2021 and provide additional flexibility in the Canada emergency rent subsidy, the Canada emergency wage subsidy and other programs that support Canadian families and workers.
This builds on a Conservative track record of standing up for the working class and making the government's emergency programs better for all Canadians. This includes increasing the wage subsidy from 10% to 75%, advocating for changes to the Liberals' failed rent subsidy program and, now, postponing Liberal audits on small and medium-sized businesses.
It is shameful the Liberals failed to support our motion and instead voted for punitive audits on hard-working Canadians. While the Liberals think small business owners are tax cheats, Conservatives know they are the backbone of our economy. Conservatives understand that there is no Canadian economy without our middle class, many of whom are business owners and employers. It is as simple as that. Punishing success does not encourage investment.
We are at a fork in the road. We could choose to tax more and punish successful businesses or we could encourage economic investment, which would result in a safe economic recovery. Conservative leadership will stand up for the workers and the middle class across Canada and ensure they get the support they need to weather this health crisis. Let me be very clear: Conservatives will continue to stand in this House for the working family who needs help. We have been here for them since the onset of this health and economic crisis. We will continue to work on their behalf to refine and improve the current government's programs.