IN THE HOUSE ~ on the NDP's non-confidence motion in the House of Commons on the growing prosperity gap

39th Parliament, 2nd Session
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hard-working member of Parliament for Windsor West.

I am very proud to be speaking today in the House on this motion for the NDP, which expresses no confidence in the Conservative government for its completely unbalanced economic policy.

It is no surprise that the Conservatives are continuing the same unbalanced economic approach that we saw from the former Liberal government and that we saw from the former Conservative government before the Liberals came to power. What we have seen essentially over the past 20 years is a steady economic degradation in the lives of working families from coast to coast to coast. The figures are pretty compelling. Most working families sitting around their kitchen tables tonight, after their shifts, are going to be talking about the fact that they are earning less now than they were even 20 years ago.

Two-thirds of Canadian families are earning less than they were in 1989 when the Conservative government pushed through the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Subsequent to that we have the Liberals pushing through, with the Conservatives, the NAFTA. We have essentially seen, through trade policy, that those agreements have benefited the wealthiest citizens in Canada. Most working families are earning less.

The trade policies that the Conservatives put forward, like the Liberals before them, are policies that are structured around the boardroom table and not structured with the interests of those who are sitting around kitchen tables.

Let us talk about what the results of the last 20 years have been, because the NDP has been very clear. We want to renegotiate NAFTA. It has not been in the interests of most Canadian working families and we have been very clear about that.

We are the only party in the House that says to Canadians that things have not worked, and the bottom line is that these trade agreements have failed and we are going to go back and renegotiate. Happily, as members well know, we now have the two leading contenders for the Democratic nomination in the United States, who are running for president in November, agreeing with the NDP and saying it has to be renegotiated.

As members also well know, the PRD, the major opposition party in Mexico, is also saying the same thing, so what we have is increasingly, progressive forces in all three countries saying it has not worked.

What has happened over the last 20 years is that middle class Canadians essentially have lost about $1,000 in real terms out of their pockets. They are actually earning less now, about a week's wages, than they were back in 1989. For lower middle class Canadians, they have actually lost even more, probably about $1,200, because they have lost on average two weeks of income for each and every year since 1989, and for the poorest Canadians, as my colleague from Sault Ste. Marie said earlier, the income decline has been catastrophic. They have lost a month and a half of income, on average, which is close to $2,000 for each and every working family across the country.

For the Conservatives to pretend that everything is fine is simply ridiculous, but they talk to the wealthy, and the wealthiest of Canadians now take half of all the real income in Canada and their income has gone up 20% in that same period, so if the Liberals and Conservatives are only talking to corporate lawyers and the wealthiest people in society, I guess they get kind of out of whack. They simply do not understand the economic fundamentals and the failures that we have seen from the current Conservative government and the former Liberal government.

The statistics are compelling. Two-thirds of Canadian families are earning less and we now have levels of income inequality that we have not seen since the Great Depression. It has been a catastrophic failure of economic policy, of economic fundamentals, and the most catastrophic impact is on younger Canadians, a generation that has been completely lost by both the Liberals and the Conservatives over the past 20 years.

We know full well now that we are talking about record levels of student debt, levels that are incomprehensible to people in this House who represent the NDP, who see how willingly the Conservatives and Liberals shovel money at the corporate sector in corporate tax cuts. They just never seem to be able to shovel enough money off that truck, yet for poor students in this country, the average debt level is now $26,000.

StatsCan tells us some other things about that younger generation, that those same individuals now come into a job market with far lower wages than existed 10, 15 or 20 years ago.

Most of the jobs that the Conservatives love to say they are creating are part-time and temporary. If someone has three part-time jobs for a couple of hours each a week, according to the Conservatives the workforce has been tripled.

It simply is not true because we have seen a hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs and family sustaining jobs. There have been one-quarter million jobs lost on their watch. At the same time what they have managed to create is part-time, temporary jobs, nothing that will allow students to pay off their record levels of student debt.

There is another thing the NDP opposes. It is the fact that those jobs, because they are part-time and temporary, do not come with pensions. They do not come with benefits.

The generation that we are sacrificing with record levels of student debt, created by the Liberals and continued by the Conservatives, are the same individuals who are earning less to pay off the debt and when they finally manage to get through the process of paying off their student debt, when they reach retirement age most of them will not have access to company pensions. What are we doing to the nation's youth when we mortgage them to that appalling extent?

Liberals and Conservatives have been doing the same thing now for 20 years. That takes massive change and that is why I think more and more Canadians are looking to the NDP.

I come from British Columbia where we have seen the effects of Conservative economic policies. I guess that is almost an oxymoron because there is nothing about policy in their economic approach. It is simply one of shovelling money at the corporate sector. We have seen the impact of the softwood lumber agreement. There have been 10,000 jobs lost in British Columbia since the agreement was pushed through with the support of the Liberals and unfortunately the support of the Bloc.

We have had a change in government that brought in the Liberal government in British Columbia and the median figures are very compelling of what the Liberals have done provincially, along with the federal Liberals and Conservatives, to British Columbia. For most British Columbians since 2001, since the B.C. Liberals came to power, their median income has gone down. This is for all age categories up to the age of 55.

We are seeing individuals at the age of 20, 30, 40 and 50 and their real income has gone down. They are earning less now than they were when the NDP was in power. These are compelling economic facts. It is the compelling economic bottom line.

In this corner of the House we are not economic cheerleaders, unlike the Conservatives and Liberals who like to say everything is going well because the wealthy in Canada are doing well. We are the ones who look at the hard facts. We look at the figures and we are the ones who say this has been a fundamental failure of economic policy and that is why we cannot express confidence in the Conservative government.

The Liberals of course, as is their want, will continue to support the Conservatives, continue to prop up the Prime Minister regardless of what that means for ordinary working families, for the middle class or for poor Canadians. The Liberals will simply prop up the Conservatives but they have an opportunity now, given the hard economic facts that Statistics Canada gave to them last week, to actually stand up in the House and say that these economic failures mean that the government has failed and we need to go back to the Canadian people and have the Canadian people judge, based on what is happening to their family income and what is happening when they discuss things around their kitchen tables.

Mr. Speaker, a wise person in my riding said, “Yes, I guess the Conservatives are creating some jobs. I've got three of them”.

That is exactly the point. The Conservatives have created part time service jobs. A person can get a minimum wage job, or two or three of them for three or four hours each a week, but they cannot sustain a family, rent an apartment or buy a house with those crappy jobs.

The Conservatives are experts at creating crappy jobs, and they have destroyed the good manufacturing jobs, the softwood industry jobs, the jobs that sustain communities, the jobs that actually provide additional positions, because when we create one full time manufacturing job or one full time softwood industry job, we are creating another 2.5 indirect jobs that are good, wage paying jobs. This is the reality.

Because the Prime Minister learned his economics from a text book, he never had to balance a budget. He never actually had to do any real work. He never had to meet a payroll. He learned his economics from a text book and it shows the lamentable inability of the Prime Minister and the Conservative caucus to actually manage.

The bottom line economic results have been very clear. That is why we are expressing non-confidence.

Most of the jobs that the Conservatives love to say they are creating are part-time and temporary. If someone has three part-time jobs for a couple of hours each a week, according to the Conservatives the workforce has been tripled.

It simply is not true because we have seen a hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs and family sustaining jobs. There have been one-quarter million jobs lost on their watch. At the same time what they have managed to create is part-time, temporary jobs, nothing that will allow students to pay off their record levels of student debt.

There is another thing the NDP opposes. It is the fact that those jobs, because they are part-time and temporary, do not come with pensions. They do not come with benefits.

The generation that we are sacrificing with record levels of student debt, created by the Liberals and continued by the Conservatives, are the same individuals who are earning less to pay off the debt and when they finally manage to get through the process of paying off their student debt, when they reach retirement age most of them will not have access to company pensions. What are we doing to the nation's youth when we mortgage them to that appalling extent?

Liberals and Conservatives have been doing the same thing now for 20 years. That takes massive change and that is why I think more and more Canadians are looking to the NDP.

I come from British Columbia where we have seen the effects of Conservative economic policies. I guess that is almost an oxymoron because there is nothing about policy in their economic approach. It is simply one of shovelling money at the corporate sector. We have seen the impact of the softwood lumber agreement. There have been 10,000 jobs lost in British Columbia since the agreement was pushed through with the support of the Liberals and unfortunately the support of the Bloc.

We have had a change in government that brought in the Liberal government in British Columbia and the median figures are very compelling of what the Liberals have done provincially, along with the federal Liberals and Conservatives, to British Columbia. For most British Columbians since 2001, since the B.C. Liberals came to power, their median income has gone down. This is for all age categories up to the age of 55.

We are seeing individuals at the age of 20, 30, 40 and 50 and their real income has gone down. They are earning less now than they were when the NDP was in power. These are compelling economic facts. It is the compelling economic bottom line.

In this corner of the House we are not economic cheerleaders, unlike the Conservatives and Liberals who like to say everything is going well because the wealthy in Canada are doing well. We are the ones who look at the hard facts. We look at the figures and we are the ones who say this has been a fundamental failure of economic policy and that is why we cannot express confidence in the Conservative government.

The Liberals of course, as is their want, will continue to support the Conservatives, continue to prop up the Prime Minister regardless of what that means for ordinary working families, for the middle class or for poor Canadians. The Liberals will simply prop up the Conservatives but they have an opportunity now, given the hard economic facts that Statistics Canada gave to them last week, to actually stand up in the House and say that these economic failures mean that the government has failed and we need to go back to the Canadian people and have the Canadian people judge, based on what is happening to their family income and what is happening when they discuss things around their kitchen tables.

Les solutions ne relèvent donc pas de la magie. C'est très simple: cela prend des politiques sociales, des politiques industrielles, des politiques d'appui pour nos industries, incluant l'industrie manufacturière, l'industrie de l'automobile et l'industrie du bois d'oeuvre.

Cela prend une implication du gouvernement et du secteur public. Il n'y a que le NPD qui dise essentiellement — étant donné la faiblesse et l'échec total des politiques économiques depuis 20 ans — qu'il faut prendre une nouvelle direction prenant en considération l'importance du secteur public et qui considère important de hausser les revenus familiaux à travers le pays, plutôt que de les diminuer. Il n'y a que le NPD qui fournisse cette alternative économique.

Le député a tout à fait raison. Essentiellement, ce qu'on voit, c'est une politique de laisser-faire qu'on a vue chez les conservateurs tout comme chez les libéraux. Dans les deux cas, ce qu'ils font est de couper les impôts pour les grosses entreprises. Cela bénéficie seulement aux mieux nantis dans la société qui ont maintenant la moitié de l'ensemble des revenus canadiens. Toutes les autres familles canadiennes sont maintenant plus pauvres qu'elles l'étaient il y a quelques années, et sûrement plus pauvres qu'elles l'étaient il y a 20 ans. C'est un échec total des politiques économiques.