Affordability - a major issue!
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to represent my constituents, because
cost of living, affordability, is a major issue for many of them.
I hesitate to say that it is an honour to rise to speak to this motion. I
want to start by saying that I find the opposition day motions put forward
by the official opposition are, for the most part, very repetitive. They do
not add to the debate. They do not add to trying to solve these problems for
Canadians. Rather they seem to be yet another platform for Conservatives to
repeat the gimmicky phrases they have come up with, the cute little phrases.
They really do not seem to be addressing the issues. In fact, when I look at
this opposition day motion that addresses the affordability crisis, what the
Conservatives put forward as a solution is really not a solution at all.
What they say to all those listening, those people who are struggling with
the cost of living right now, is to ask for a pathway back to balanced
budgets. If anybody thinks that is going to help Canadians who are
struggling today, then they are sorely mistaken. People are struggling today
in my riding.
On this side of the House, we are working to put forward real programs,
many of which my colleague before me has discussed. These motions simply
serve to put Canadians down, to insult their intelligence, by putting
forward half-truths and hoping that by repeating the same phrases over and
over again, as is often done in question period, somehow this misinformation
will convince Canadians that these are facts and not simply half-baked
truths and beliefs, and political speech that is meant to hurt our country
by making people feel badly about Canada itself.
I find the negativity and the lack of true concern about coming up with real
solutions for Canadians to be disheartening. I find it a waste of time. For
a party that presumably puts a lot of emphasis on using scarce resources
wisely, I find the time in question period and in opposition day motions is
really an insult to this place and to Canadians. That is why I did not say
it was an honour to rise to speak to this motion.
Since I have risen to speak to this motion, I would like to address a few
things. We all agree that there are major challenges facing Canadians. Most
of the motion put forward referred to these challenges. Where we really
differ is when it comes to what the cause of that is and what should be done
The Conservatives like to say, constantly, that the reason we have inflation
in Canada is because of our deficits and because we are tackling climate
change. However, common-sense Canadians can look around the world and see
that inflation is not just a problem in Canada, it is a worldwide problem.
In fact, there are many countries that do not have a price on pollution but
have been suffering from inflation.
We can also look at the fact that inflation was 8.1% a year ago, and it is
now 4%. It has come down drastically. Yet, in that same time period, the
price on pollution did not change. If their explanation for why inflation is
happening is due to the price on pollution or the carbon tax, they need to
look at the numbers. I have mentioned it before, but there seems to be a
mistaken belief on that side of the House that, because something happens
during the same period of time as something else, it is somehow attributable
to that. Anyone who took introductory statistics understands the difference
between correlation and causality, and because something occurs over a
period of time, it does not mean it is caused by that.
I wish the messaging would stop being so simplistic and based on polling of
what slogan resonates with Canadians or gets them angry, and rather would
try to address the real facts here. Inflation across Canada and the world
has been caused by many things, and we all know that.
It has been caused by the climate crisis, it has been caused by the illegal
invasion of Ukraine by Russia and it has been caused by the post-COVID
economy. In fact, many economists say that this is a different kind of
inflation because a lot of it is from the supply side as opposed to the
demand side. Of course, as I am sure everyone knows, the inflationary
government spending, if we want to call it that, contributes to the demand
side, not the supply side. Therefore, much of this inflation has been caused
by the contraction of supply as opposed to an increase in demand.
Having hopefully corrected some of that, I also want to talk about the price
on pollution. We know on this side of the House that we must battle climate
change and that many of the inflationary pressures, the cost increases we
are seeing today, have been driven by the climate crisis. I think it was
only two weeks ago that many opposition members were quoting the price of
lettuce, carrots and onions. The increase in those prices has been mainly
driven by droughts in California. Romaine lettuce is mostly grown there. We
can look at what experts are saying and they will tell us that this is why
prices have gone up as much as they have.
Tiff Macklem, whom the opposition likes to quote when blaming inflation on
government spending, has said that the price on pollution is responsible for
about a 0.15% increase in inflation. We are talking about inflation that has
gone up by 6% or 7% and has come back down to 4%, but experts and economists
would tell us that very little of that has been caused by the price on
pollution. These same experts and many others would say that our price on
pollution is one of the most effective and efficient ways to battle
greenhouse gas emissions. Given that we have a climate action incentive
rebate, most Canadians get back more than they pay, so when we talk about
affordability, households are better off with this program.
If an opposition day motion were to put forward some realistic programs,
some plans that could contribute to tackling these problems and helping us
improve the programs we have in place, it would be welcome. However, to hear
the same rhetoric over and over again is tiresome, insulting and, quite
frankly, a waste of time. The Conservatives should contribute to the
programs we have in place or give us some ideas. We have, in fact, already
incorporated a few ideas that have been put forward. We welcomed them. We
want to better things for Canadians. We are fighting for Canadians every
day, and we encourage the Conservatives to join us in doing the same.