Holding the Government to Account
The House of Commons recessed for the Christmas break on Wednesday. As Members of Parliament head back to their ridings, it is a good time to reflect on the last year in Parliament. I am proud of the work that our Conservative Caucus has accomplished as the Official Opposition. We have had a strong, successful 2016 in the Opposition benches because we remained focused on being the voice of the taxpayer and holding the Liberals accountable for their misguided and risky economic plans. Justin Trudeau has had a lot of fun in his first year as Prime Minister, but now the fun is over and it’s time to get down to serious work.
This Liberal government has enjoyed talking about helping the middle class, but has shown it is all talk and no action. Since the Liberals have been elected, the Canadian economy has lost 30,000 full time jobs, meaning that there have been no new full time jobs created during its first year in government. With the election of Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau must get serious about securing Canadian jobs in the face of protectionism and lower taxes for businesses in the United States. Negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement with the United States would help secure work for the almost 400,000 Canadians in the forestry industry in 650 communities across Canada. Getting the Keystone XL Pipeline built will put over 2,000 Canadian energy workers back to work immediately while indirectly benefiting thousands of other jobs through the supply chain. Achieving these and other job-creating projects takes hard work that isn’t glamourous. Canadians are hoping that their Prime Minister will roll up his sleeves and trade in glamour for creating jobs.
Justin Trudeau has also enjoyed claiming that he’s reduced taxes, but the truth is that he has continued to pile new taxes on Canadian families. In his first year in government, Trudeau has slashed tax-free savings accounts and eliminated tax credits for kids’ soccer and dance classes, as well as for textbooks. Now he is bringing in a new carbon tax. The Canadian Tax Journal has determined that the Liberal carbon tax will add at least 15% to our natural gas bills, while the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has calculated that the tax will cost the average family more than $2,500 every year. For a riding such as Prince Albert where farming is a huge economic driver, there’s more bad news: CIBC Bank has noted that experts estimate that the total additional cost to the average farm will be $12,000 a year. This is $12,000 that farmers in competing economies such as the United States and Australia won’t have to pay. Canadian agricultural exports will become less competitive as a result.
Lastly, Justin Trudeau has enjoyed collecting big donations at parties with billionaires in exchange for access to him. The fact is that while Canadians believe that Trudeau’s cash-for-access fundraising is wrong, it is also potentially illegal. The average Canadian cannot afford to spend $1,500 to bring their concerns to the Prime Minister’s ear of to those of his senior Cabinet Ministers. It is also wrong that the rich from cities such as Toronto and Vancouver can get this kind of special access. Now that the Ethics Commissioner has stated her intention to investigate the Prime Minister, perhaps the Liberals will begin to think twice about this elite practice.
Our Conservative Opposition has said that we would keep our tone respectful, but come out swinging against a government that has shown shocking arrogance and elitism – a government that is not transparent and is not interested in the views of everyday working people and their families. In all of these areas, Conservatives have been hard at work doing what Canadians expect and deserve of their Official Opposition. We will continue to hold Justin Trudeau accountable for raising taxes, introducing policies that have stalled job growth and his questionable and unethical fundraising practices.