The Budget

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today as the member of Parliament for Durham to speak in this important budget debate. What is most important about this debate is it is the first budget for the new Liberal government. It shows areas that it will focus on and as an opposition member, it shows areas that I am concerned about for our economic future. My remarks will be about that.

I will start off in a manner that my mother always taught me to do. She used to tell me that if I did not have anything nice to say, then I should not say anything at all. However, I will say something.

I was proud to see the government continue the legacy of Jim Flaherty, who recognized the unique strain placed on families dealing with young children with disabilities. I applaud the government for continuing the practice he started and for including extra support in its new child benefit for families with disabilities. I know first hand the late Jim Flaherty’s passion on that subject and the impact it has had on families. The Liberals will continue that tradition and I salute them for it.

However, with that out of the way, the budget is built on a house of cards. When the Prime Minister was the leader of the third party, he did not support running a deficit. We have heard speeches from some of his brand new Liberal MPs, and I congratulate them on being here, but they do not know the position the Prime Minister took previously. For many years, he indicated the importance of a balanced budget. That was his position. That was the legacy he tried to take from Paul Martin and people like David Dodge. Members will hear them mentioned a lot. His position was that it was the responsibility of a government to keep a balanced budget.

In the middle of an election campaign, really to take advantage of a weak position of a party on the left, the Liberals started saying that they would run a modest deficit of no more than $10 billion. In reality, there will not be a deficit lower than $10 billion over the course of four years. In the first two years, the deficit will be roughly $30 billion and around $14 billion in the final year. Not only does this break his promise about no more than $10 billion; it also breaks the promise about balancing the budget within his four year term. My remarks will show that some of that spending will have no long-term job creation impact on Canada at a time when that has to be a priority.

The other house of cards is this. The budget is built upon an election document. All senior civil servants have essentially been given their marching orders from an election document. The Liberal government brought in a senior member to the Privy Council who wrote the election document. Had the last government done any of that, there would have been riots on the streets of Ottawa, but it seems to be acceptable by the Liberal team. The other fallacy was that Canada was in a recession and that was why the government needed to do it. That was not true.

We saw that just a few weeks ago when job numbers and GDP numbers were announced. We would all like to see more jobs, particularly in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, provinces that have been impacted by resource prices. The economy is growing modestly so the whole premise for running that no more than $10 billion deficit was also false. Why is that so important? Because it is building an economic plan for the new government that is built on a house of cards. The Liberal government is putting my children’s future at risk by making poor economic decisions.

A deficit in the midst of a global recession with a plan to get back to balance is prudent. A massive deficit during a time when the economy is growing with no real emphasis on job creation is reckless. In fact, very little of the infrastructure money will stimulate job creation. Most observers have been profoundly disappointed.

I am happy there is some infrastructure spending, building upon the build Canada plan of the last government. However, virtually none of that spending will be stimulative, so there will be no jobs from it. There is no extension of the auto innovation fund or the parts innovation fund brought forward by the previous government to help Southern Ontario, to help areas in Oshawa and my riding of Durham, working with industry to modernize, to increase productivity, and to create jobs. There is none of that.

That is a broken promise on the job front to small business by reversing their position on the small business tax rate, another broken promise, in fact almost the unheralded or unheard of position of not meeting with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and getting direct budgetary input amid the consultations the Liberals claim to have, I guess on Facebook, to help the hundreds of thousands of independent and small businesses in Canada.

In fact, leading economists will say that amid those tough global years of the recession, it was small to medium-sized employers that helped us make it through, which was why the previous government had a strategic plan to do away with some regulation and red tape for small business, but, more important, make their tax rates competitive and incent them to hire. If every small business hired two people, that is equal to a new shift at a plant in Oshawa or Windsor, or more. Therefore, letting down small business and having no plan for jobs is a profound concern when running billions upon billions of dollars in deficit financing for Canada.

I will now speak for a few minutes about a few areas of particular concern. I am the public safety critic. It was shocking to have a budget delivered the day of the terrible terror attacks in Brussels. The finance minister was gracious enough to acknowledge that terrible attack on our friend and ally at the beginning of his speech, but with $30 billion in new spending, how much is there for front-line public safety and security? There is zero, nothing.

There has been some talk about a few good initiatives such countering radicalization, those sorts of things, which the Conservatives support, even though we have not heard anything from the minister. However, there is nothing for front-line members of the RCMP, CSIS, CSC to keep us safe. That was very concerning, and the minister has not explained why.

Now I will move to the Canadian Armed Forces. I am proudly wearing my RCAF pin. There was an RCAF reception on the Hill this week and I was proud that a lot of members attended. We have entered another decade of darkness. I had dinner last night with some friends of mine who I went to military college with and we called it “decade of darkness II”, like the sequel we never wanted to be made.

Why is it as bad as the 1990s? Because there is a $3.7 billion cut to the procurement budget. One of the members from Winnipeg is laughing. The aerospace industry in Winnipeg is looking to him and the government for some leadership. The F-35—

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