LIMITED GOVERNMENT, LIMITLESS POTENTIAL
It is a pleasure to be back at the Economic Club, and back in Toronto, the beating heart of Canada’s financial sector.I want to thank you, James, for your warm introduction and say I always welcome the chance to visit Toronto. I’ve been struck by the city’s energy and vitality since I began spending summers with my grandparents in Mississauga as a young child. Toronto radiates creativity and ingenuity. And it stands as a beacon of opportunity for those seeking a better life around the world. Peter Munk, the business leader, philanthropist, and citizen of this city, who we sadly lost last year, understood this better than most. He arrived here in Toronto as a young man in 1948 after fleeing the Holocaust with next to nothing in his pocket and a limited understanding of English.In just a few years, he would build one of the world’s most successful mining companies, make numerous philanthropic contributions to the city, and most importantly, employ thousands and thousands of Canadians.Mr. Munk was humble about his success. He understood the role and impact of providence – in particular, that his escape from evil and economic ruin brought him to this city and this country, where the sparkling promise of a prosperous life has called forth throughout our history.As he famously put: “This is a country that does not ask about your origins but concerns itself with your destiny. ”Now, his success may be extraordinary, but his story is common. The promise of potential is what makes Canada unique and special. But we cannot take it for granted. It’s wrong to assume that it’s the natural order of things. Protecting and strengthening the conditions for future Peter Munks requires that we make the right choices. And it requires a strong, dynamic economy that provides work and opportunity for all Canadians.Today, I will speak about Canada’s economy: the gathering headwinds we face and the course we must chart to withstand an inevitable downturn.For me, and for Canada’s Conservatives, jobs, the economy, and making life more affordable for families are all linked together – and, together, they are our ‘job one.’
Getting by, not getting ahead
Justin Trudeau likes to tell Canadians that they’ve never had it so good. But that is not what I hear in my travels.He touts job numbers and debt-to-GDP ratios and trade statistics. The kinds of things that always go up and down.But the stories beneath the numbers paint a different picture.Two thirds of Canadians feel that they either can’t pay their bills – or feel that they have nothing left over at the end of the month after they do.Two thirds.Almost half of all Canadian households report being less than $200 a month away from insolvency at month’s end.Gasoline. Groceries. Home heating. Real estate. Debt. Everything keeps getting more expensive. But earnings aren’t keeping up. After 10 years of steady wage growth under the previous Conservative government, including a 12% average wage increase for women, earnings across Canada have stagnated since Trudeau was elected in 2015.Nearly 50% of all Canadians report being overwhelmed by their debts. They’ve stopped saving for retirement and are now just trying to keep their head above water.The economic indicators might say one thing. But the human indicators say something entirely different.People are barely getting by. And they’re definitely not getting ahead.So I ask you: what good is a supposedly strong economy if hard-working people aren’t benefitting from it?Canada must be a place where no ambition is too big, where no dream is out of reach, and where no government will stand in the way of people working hard to get ahead.And so, I will focus most of my remarks on the positive vision I have for Canada’s economy, and how, as Prime Minister, I will make sure that the government lives within our means, leaves more money in the pockets of Canadians, and lets them get ahead.But first, we have to talk about the problem.Canada under Trudeau is, sadly, failing on these important counts.Trudeau’s Canada is one that, despite all our incredible potential, despite the brilliance of our workforce, and despite our natural wealth, is falling behind.And the economic storm clouds are only growing darker and darker.Protectionism threatens free trade.Our natural resources are trapped.Other countries are beating us on getting investment to come to their jurisdictions.Consumer debt and affordability concerns are ballooning.And getting anything done is almost impossible.Canadians have less in their pockets.More than 80% of middle-income families are paying $800 more in taxes every year since he came to power.He’s hiked taxes on small business owners and he’s ended tax credits that made things like dance lessons and transit passes more affordable.And when Conservatives have caught him trying to raise other taxes, he’s found other ways to do it.That $800 a family wasn’t enough, he tried to get his hands on more.He tried to tax health and dental benefits for Canadian workers. And he even tried to tax employee discounts.He tried to scrap the Disability Tax Credit for diabetics,And he tried to hike taxes by 73% on small business investment.Now thankfully, we’ve caught him trying to do all of this and we were able to stop him.But make no mistake. He’ll bring those tax hikes back if he’s re-elected – when he won’t need people’s votes anymore but he’ll still need their money.So the question Canadians must ask themselves is: if we’re heading into an economic storm, do we really want Trudeau to be the captain of the ship?I would argue: not on your life.
Why deficits matter
By the end of this year, he will have added $71 billion to the national debt…with little to show for it.And the share for each Canadian family of that colossal $705 billion millstone is more than $50,000 a piece.The cost of servicing that debt will rise 40% to $34 billion in just a few years, almost the same as the federal government spends on health care.Now, with all due respect to many of the people in the room today, including many of the sponsors, bankers and bond holders might see that as an interest payment.But I see it as a spending cut. A $34 billion spending cut.So the next time a Liberal tries to scare you with supposed Conservative spending cuts – and you can mark my words, they will – just remind them of the track they’ve put us on.Runaway deficits, with no plan to balance, can only mean one of two things. A future tax increase, or future spending cuts.The previous Conservative government eliminated the deficit and paid down debt when times were good to cushion the blow of the next recession. While Justin Trudeau is doing the opposite.When times are good, he spends. When times are bad, he also spends.Remember the 2015 election? When Trudeau looked the country straight in the eye and said he would balance the budget by 2019?Well, it’s 2019.And, surprise surprise, the budget has not balanced itself.His so-called tiny and temporary deficits have become colossal and constant.Under Trudeau, there is no path back to balance.So on this point, there is good news and bad news.The bad news is that another four years of his runaway spending and we will have an economic crisis on our hands …… with debt and deficits forcing either massive tax hikes or deep cuts to essential services to cover the spending.Or, some terrible combination of the two.The good news is we have an opportunity to change course.Unlike in Ontario, where Trudeau’s ideological mentors Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty had over a decade to double the debt, Canadians can limit the damage by choosing a Conservative government this October.Now, I started this speech by talking about Peter Munk and the conditions for opportunity that he observed make Canada unique.One of the reasons that his story resonates with me so much is it captures so much of my own experience.And what I know to be the only tested and true way to create prosperity for all.
I grew up in a very middle-class family – in an end-unit townhouse in south Ottawa. My parents often struggled to make ends meet for me and my two sisters. And I would remember how stressed they would get when interest rates went up. Or when a special assessment from the condo board came in the mail. Or when the sewer backed up and we had to call in the plumber. I remember the trade-offs they had to make to ensure we didn’t fall deeper into debt. My parents were never rich in dollars and cents — but were very rich in common sense. They taught me that I had to choose. I could go to a football camp. Or baseball camp. But not both. I chose baseball camp and now I’m in politics – so maybe I made the wrong choice. My parents lived within their means and, because they did, I was able to chase my dreams. But as much as my story is about the discipline and sacrifice of my parents, which I’m thankful for to this day, it’s also a testament to the unrivaled human potential of the free market. After high school, I got a job waiting tables at a small family restaurant, owned by a couple that poured everything they had into their business. Because they took a chance, both on me as an employee and on themselves as entrepreneurs, I was able to pay my way through university. After university, I got a job in a small business in Regina selling insurance. The owners of that business were a husband and wife, who had sold the family farm and used the proceeds of that to buy the insurance firm. Now, I didn’t have any experience or training. They gave me a chance, they trained me up, and everybody came out ahead. They filled a need in their staff. And their business grew as a result. And I got my start in the workforce. And all without a government program. My point is this: A dynamic, market economy where businesses are forming, investing, and hiring isn’t merely about profits and stock prices, and market share. It’s so much bigger than that. A dynamic, free-market economy is a social institution that harnesses human creativity and ingenuity for everyone’s benefit. Its most important outcome is opportunity and prosperity. And there is not enough money in all the government coffers in Ottawa to replicate what entrepreneurs and risk-takers do every single day. So I want Canadians of all backgrounds, all regions, and all walks of life to be able to climb the economic ladder, as I have been so fortunate enough to do. To get there, we have to get the fundamentals right. We need lower taxes, predictable regulations, sound public finances, and smarter investments in areas like basic research and infrastructure.
Energy independent by 2030
Now, we can pretend that the world doesn’t need oil and gas anymore – as some would have you believe. But it’s simply not true. Even the most conservative estimates don’t have global demand for oil and gas peaking until 2030, with OPEC projecting demand to skyrocket past 2040. So we have a choice to make. Justin Trudeau has made his. He would rather countries like Iran, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia meet that demand and, in doing so, boost regimes that abuse human rights and take virtually no steps to protect the environment. And he would rather the United States fill the void in the North American market, ceding investment and jobs that should be ours to our biggest economic competitor. I would make a different choice. The world is no better off when dangerous regimes are able to ramp up their economies because Canada has vacated the market. And Canada is no better off when it allows its competitors to take the field uncontested. The fact is, Canada has more than enough oil – not only to displace imports from the aforementioned rogue states – but to put an end to all foreign imports once and for all. That is part of my vision: a Canada fueled exclusively by Canadians by 2030. An energy independent Canada would be a Canada firing on all cylinders – across all sectors and regions. And I believe we can do that. The world is no better off when dangerous regimes are able to ramp up their economies because Canada has vacated the market. And Canada is no better off when it allows its competitors to take the field uncontested. The fact is, Canada has more than enough oil – not only to displace imports from the aforementioned rogue states – but to put an end to all foreign oil imports once and for all. That is part of my vision: a Canada fueled exclusively by Canadians by 2030. An energy independent Canada would be a Canada firing on all cylinders – across all sectors and regions. If the United States can do it, so can we. So, ladies and gentlemen, I am an optimist. One of the things I hear most from people who like to tell me how to do my job is that I smile too much. And it’s true, I do. I smile a lot. But it’s hard not to smile. Because I continue to believe that Canada’s best days are before us. And that Canada must be a place where no ambition is too big, and no dream is out of reach. Where a kid who grew up in a townhouse in a family that didn’t own a car, whose grandparents lived in a two-room house with nine children when Cawthra Road was a dirt road, can stand here today running to be the next Prime Minister Canada was that place for me. I want it to be that place for everybody. But we need a new approach to get there. So let me tell you about mine.
Let’s Build Something Together