Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Langley—Aldergrove for his good work. He and I served on the city council together in Abbotsford. He knows budgets, and I am so pleased that he pointed out the gaping holes in the 2017 Liberal budget.
As the member of Parliament for Abbotsford, I have made it my priority to bring the concerns of my constituents to Ottawa, and to hold the Liberal government accountable for its actions.
Since the election of the Liberal government in 2015, our Conservative caucus has fought hard to maintain balanced budgets, avoid deficits, lower taxes on Canadians, and support our small businesses. These are the bedrocks of a strong and growing economy. Sadly, the recent budget does none of these things. In fact, the Liberals have thoroughly disappointed Canadians by littering their path with reckless spending and broken promise after broken promise.
For the second year in a row, the Liberals have blown past their pledge to limit the deficit to $10 billion per year, running huge deficits of $30 billion, and driving our country further into debt. Who has to repay that debt? Our children and our grandchildren. Effectively, what we are doing is spending recklessly on ourselves today and letting future generations pick up the tab.
As for balanced budgets, good luck with that promise. Remember the Prime Minister promising to balance the budget by 2019? Now the Department of Finance predicts that we will not see balanced budgets until 2055. There will be no balanced budgets for 40 years. That is a disgraceful performance. Let us not forget that our Conservative government, under Stephen Harper, left the Liberals with a balanced budget in 2015, having carefully shepherded Canada’s economy through the worst global economic recession since the Great Depression. That leads me to this obvious question: how can the Liberal government afford all this spending? The answer of course is higher taxes. That is after all what tax-and-spend Liberals do.
The Liberals have also completely abandoned our small businesses, which are the key drivers of our economy and create the majority of jobs in Canada. Budget 2017 does nothing to help those businesses. In fact, the Liberal budget mentions small business only six times. Let us contrast that with the last Conservative budget, in which small businesses were mentioned almost 200 times, and in which we laid out concrete steps the government would take to support their growth and success, including lowering the small business tax rate to 9%. Therefore, it is surprising just how quickly the Liberal government has made a mess of our tax system, and the supports we implemented for small businesses.
Just this week, I met with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which is still demanding that the Liberals make good on their promise to cut the small business tax rate to 9%. With new payroll and CPP taxes on the horizon, small businesses are worried that many of the policies implemented by our former Conservative government will be reversed. Why is this significant? Canadian businesses do not just compete locally, they compete in a North American and increasingly global marketplace. As the former minister of international trade, I know that. I have travelled all around the world. I have seen how Canadians are working hard to try to compete within the global marketplace. The Liberals are undermining that effort. Liberal tax and economic policies are chasing away investors and undermining our competitive advantage in the North American marketplace.
Also, the election of President Trump has really thrown a spanner into the works. The new president has announced that he is reducing the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35% down to 15%, and re-energizing the coal industry to deliver cheaper electricity to manufacturers. In Canada, we are going in the opposite direction, increasing taxes on our businesses, and foisting astronomically expensive electricity costs onto our job creators in places like Ontario.
Kevin Libin, writing in the National Post last week, commented: That is disgraceful, to take a country that was a leader in competitiveness when it comes to taxes and losing that competitive advantage.
This does not end well. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce implored the federal government to reduce business costs and improve Canada’s economic competitiveness. In fact, CEO Perrin Beatty had this to say: Investment crosses borders like light through glass. If we continue to allow a growing gap between what it costs to do business in Canada and the costs our competitors face, businesses will be forced to locate their activities elsewhere.
Let me repeat, “business will be forced to locate their activities elsewhere.” One organization that reached out to my office is the recently formed Ontario Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers. They include the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Baking Association, Food and Beverage Ontario, and a host of mostly mid-sized manufacturers across this province of Ontario.
Their founder, Jocelyn Bamford had this to say about the direction of the federal government: We’re standing on a beach with a tidal wave called cap and trade barrelling down at us, and our government still doesn’t realize that this tsunami will will destroy manufacturing and small businesses in Ontario.
She goes on to say: Businesses are terrified of what the federal government is doing. The government is supposed to help us but its policies are causing us to consider moving our growth to other jurisdictions.
Let me repeat, “moving our growth to other jurisdictions.” That means to other countries.
In the last 10 years, her company has experienced more than a doubling of its energy costs, undermining her company’s ability to do business. In her words:
We don’t worry about our competition anymore. We fear the government.
That is the Liberal government they are talking about. For so many manufacturers across Canada, the high cost of energy and the impact of carbon taxes are enough for them to look south to more favourable jurisdictions in which to do business and grow. That is shocking.
What the Prime Minister is doing is dramatically tilting the playing field against Canadians. This is about competitiveness and about the ability of our businesses to compete on a level playing field in North America and within the global marketplace. The Liberal government is failing on every account.
Is the Prime Minister listening? Canadian businesses cannot afford reckless policies that drive capital and small businesses out of our country. Will the government reverse its decision to impose a massive carbon tax on Canadians? Will the Prime Minister fulfill his election promise to reduce taxes on our small businesses?
Hard-working middle-class Canadians and their families, and let us not forget those working hard to join them, are also suffering. The Liberals have piled on by raising taxes on everything from public transit, to Uber, to beer and wine sales. They are even taking away the children’s fitness tax credit. It is unbelievable.
Not only that, the Prime Minister is significantly increasing the fees that Canadians pay for a wide variety of federal services, including things such as campsites and fishing licenses. If we want to take our grandchildren out to go fishing, they are jacking up the fees for that to make it less likely Canadian families get a chance to go fishing. They are also jacking up the fees on passport applications.
Here is another little dirty Liberal secret. Remember the massive carbon tax that the Prime Minister wants to force Canadians to pay? Well, he is also planning to have Canadians pay GST on that carbon tax. Members heard right, the Liberals want Canadians to pay a tax on a tax. In fact, it is already happening in B.C. where we are being charged a federal GST on the amount of carbon tax being charged by the provincial government. It is insanity.
The bottom line is the government is nickel and diming Canadians to death to pay for the Prime Minister’s out-of-control spending on his own vanity projects, like the $2.65 billion he spent on environmental projects outside of our country when the money could and should have stayed in Canada. There is a whole host of these. Is there any Canadian supervision over how that money gets spent? I have asked about it and have been told there is very little supervision, very little monitoring to make sure those billions of dollars being spent abroad actually do what they were intended to do.
The Liberals have failed Canadians miserably. They have saddled us with more debt, more deficits, more taxes than at any other time in our history. I repeat, this will not end well for us and for future generations. Is the Prime Minister listening?