Canada’s Debt Crisis Dissected by Conservative MP
MP Pierre Poilievre, who represents the riding of Carleton in Ontario, was the featured guest speaker at the Vegreville & District Chamber of Commerce’s Annual General Meeting on February 11.
Poilievre is a six-term Member of Parliament and the Conservative Shadow Minister for Jobs and Industry. He held the portfolio of Shadow Minister of Finance for the last several years, and discussed Canada’s debt crisis and possible solutions at length with attendees who were listening in to the meeting virtually via Zoom.
He agreed to be the guest speaker for the AGM at the request of Lakeland MP Shannon Stubbs who introduced her colleague to attendees. Stubbs stated, “It can’t be overstated the value of him in the finance portfolio for the past few years, and now he is taking on the role I think is the most important in Parliament, and there’s no better person for it than to be fighting for jobs and free enterprise and industry and a path for economic recovery for Canada. What I want you guys to know is that Pierre is a completely reliable 100 percent champion and ally and advocate for Alberta and Albertans.”
Poilievre, who was born in 1979 and grew up in Calgary, recalled the first Trudeau dynasty. “A year and a half later Trudeau brought in the National Energy Program. It demolished the economy. He then, ultimately drove interest rates to 17 percent, inflation and unemployment both 12 percent nationwide for a combined misery index of 24 percent. The highest misery index in Canadian history. And when I was a kid I remember the desperation. Those were the very early years in my childhood and the desperation my parents had because of those interest rates.
But, you know what else I remember? Is by the mid-1980’s Mulroney had cancelled the NEP, (National Energy Program) begun to implement free trade with the United States of America. He also started privatizing state owned companies and opening up our economy to foreign investment, lowering taxes on our businesses and for the following 25 years. Politicians of all political parties undid the Trudeau legacy. Just tore it to the ground and replaced it with a big, wide open free economy led by Alberta and Ralph Klein. And you know what? We had the most prosperity of any jurisdiction on planet earth. Economic growth of six to eight percent. Paid off the entire Alberta debt. Built up a 40 billion Heritage Savings Trust Fund. Had the highest incomes anywhere in Canada, and the highest living standards anywhere on planet earth.”
Admittedly, Alberta has struggled in the past five years, but Poilievre believes the province still has a bright future and encouraged people to keep “hope strong and alive” and to “keep fighting” for the province, and to not give up despite the challenges it’s currently facing with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government. “I want to see Alberta leading Canada again. I want to see the pioneering free enterprise spirit of Albertans guiding the way for the rest of the country as so often happened in the past.”
Poilievre said the recipe to financial prosperity is clear, and outlined what needs to be done in order to unleash the power of the economy.
“We have a very strange opportunity right now. Because of the lock downs businesses and households were literally forced to save money. They couldn’t do the normal spending at restaurants or gas or on the normal shopping you’d expect them to do because they’ve been absent during the pandemic. Businesses and households built up about $180 billion cash just sitting in their bank accounts.”
To help solve the “underlying debt problem” he recommends people use that money to pay off their debts and for businesses to use that money to make income producing investments. He said there is 200 billion dollars more in the stock markets today than a year ago. “We need that money to move down through businesses and into factories, warehouses, plants, patents, software, pipelines. Pipelines. Did I mention pipelines? And other real assets that generate income that will help us overcome these massive debts.”
Other ingredients in the recipe, added Poillievre, is to reform the taxes and benefits system in Canada to reward work, investment and savings. He also said they need to change the amount of time it takes for businesses to receive building permits and to remove regulatory tax penalties so businesses and First Nations people can earn incomes and keep the fruits of those earnings in their communities rather than sending it to be devoured by the insatiable bureaucracy in Ottawa.
He said they have to repeal Bill C-69 and remove the west coast energy shipping ban so they can send resources to the world. “The single biggest infrastructure project in Canadian history is the LNG Canada project for $40 billion that will ship our clean green natural gas to the world. We have 1,220 trillion cubic feet of economically marketable and technically accessible cubic feet of natural gas that we could be selling on the world stage.”
He also said they need to issue a permit to Teck Resources to build the Teck Frontier Mine in the oil sands. “Oil is now creeping up on $60 per barrel and the world will be buying 100 million barrels a day for the next two decades. Another words, there is plenty of demand for what we make and we should approve it as quickly as possible.”
As far as the West vs. East divide, Poilievre said, “I believe the anger in Alberta is completely legitimate. Alberta is the number one net per capita contributor to Confederation. You pay far more in taxes than you get back, and have a Prime Minister who is kicking the hell out of your industry, so I don’t blame you for being angry. But, what I’m saying though, is that within Canada Alberta has prospered spectacularly before and we can do it again.
One positive aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the “Rural Renaissance” as they flee downtown to go and live in places where there’s more space and oxygen, and they’re realizing how little practical value there is in going into an office tower every day, stated Poilievre.
“We’re on the verge of a reversal of last 25 years of urbanization…We will start to see that more across Canada, more demand for real estate and how we serve people.” He feels Alberta is well suited because of the entrepreneurial spirit and practical skill sets Albertans have because of having NAIT and SAIT in the province.