The House of Commons passed Budget 2023 Thursday, ending a five-week-long 'filibuster' by Pierre Poilievre and the Opposition Conservatives. A thrilling 177 to 146 vote passed the cabinet's half-trillion budget bill.
"We have seen a massive, possibly unprecedented mounting of public and private debt," Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre told MPs in the Third Reading debate.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, Poilievre spoke for three hours and 35 minutes, likening deficit spending to a 'ticking time bomb.'
"If someone had a time bomb ticking away under their home, what would they do about it?" he told the Commons.
"Well, if the person did not know it was there, they would not do anything because they would have no reason to respond. Assuming the person survived its detonation, they would have to scramble to rebuild their lives."
Bill C-47, the Budget Implementation Act, introduces $496.6 billion in spending, with debt interest charges amounting to $43.9 billion this fiscal year.
The federal deficit is expected to reach $40 billion in 2023, almost $10 billion higher than forecast in the fiscal update. It projected a $4.5 billion surplus for 2027, but the recent budget now forecasts a $14 billion deficit that year.
Parliament has not balanced a budget since 2007, according to Blacklock's Reporter.
Debt costs will continue to rise yearly through 2028. The federal debt will total $1.2 trillion by the end of 2023. Debt interest charges will cost taxpayers almost $44 billion in 2023 and reach $50 billion in 2027.
"The question is why we have, up until now, not had a full-scale meltdown," said Poilievre. "The answer is obvious. It is because we have had such inordinately and artificially low-interest rates."
In his speech, the Tory leader told MPs that household debt levels in Canada continue to rise, worsened by rebounding inflation and rising interest rates since Parliament tabled Bill C-47 in March.
The Bank of Canada raised its benchmark interest rate to 4.75% on Wednesday, and Statistics Canada reported 4.4% inflation for April — up 0.1% from March.
"Even today, as rates rise, much of the debt that is in the current stock of the country is still locked in at lower rates, but that is not a permanent phenomenon," said Poilievre. "Every day, somebody's mortgage comes up for renewal, and the artificially low rate they had up until then renews at a much higher rate."
"I'm calling on [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] to do the honourable thing, to put aside his pride and ego and cancel this budget," Poilievre told reporters.
"Could he not put the mortgage payments of ordinary Canadians ahead of his tan or surfing lessons? I think he could."
"He should also cancel his summer vacation," said the Tory leader.
The House of Commons will depart for a summer recess on June 23 until September 18. However, Poilievre said his caucus wanted to amend the legislation during that time.
"Conservatives are prepared to work all summer long to rewrite a budget that balances budgets to bring down inflation and interest rates, and that cancels all increases in taxes," he said, adding Conservative senators would hold steadfast in the Upper Chamber.
"I'm going to inherit this mess as prime minister, but I'm going to do everything I can as leader of the opposition to mitigate it and make sure that we save our people's homes and financial future," continued Poilievre.
Ultimately, Government House leader Mark Holland rejected Poilievre's proposal to work through the summer to suggest amendments.
"I hear the opposition leader saying that he's ready to work through the summer, but on what?" asked Holland. "He has said he wants a new budget, but it's not up to us. We've already presented a budget — and by the way, it's supported by the House of Commons."
The Government House leader defended Bill C-47 and called out his Conservative counterpart for not relaying specific feedback.
"He's not saying what he would cut. He's saying that he doesn't support the measures in the budget. Well, what doesn't he support?" Holland told reporters.
"Does he not support dental care? Does he not support the grocery rebate? Does he not support workers or students? Does he not support the vast preponderance of what's in the budget for health care and changing to a new economy?" continued Holland.
Only the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois opposed the budget.
The Opposition filibuster tied up the bill for 37 days in the Commons finance committee and House, drawing ire from supportive MPs.
"What happens when you filibuster needlessly? Not for any real point," Liberal MP Terry Beech, parliamentary secretary for finance, told a May 26 committee hearing.
"The point is quite clear," he said. "The point is to obstruct the bill and to prevent it from passing or at least to delay it as long as possible."
"All the Conservatives are doing by continuing this filibuster is proving they intend to do nothing except obstruct for obstruction's sake."
"I am tired of these shenanigans," New Democrat MP Daniel Blaikie told the finance committee. "All the Conservatives are doing right now is pissing away our time."