Return to traditional meaning, focus of infrastructure: Conservative MPs
A Manitoba Conservative MP and her party’s finance critic told business groups Wednesday their party would return the definition of “infrastructure” to its original meaning and ensure federal investment focuses again on getting “hard assets” built across Canada.
Conservative shadow Finance minister Pierre Poilievre joined Candice Bergen (Portage-Lisgar) at a brief meeting hosted by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, to hear what businesses are looking for in the run-up to the federal election October 21.
Poilievre said the definition has migrated from the traditional understanding — buildings, transportation and other core infrastructure assets — to social programs, day cares, operating expenses and salaries.
“A lot of this money is just going into operating budgets. We need to get back to building cold, hard assets, incrementally and quickly.”
Bergen and Poilievre had no kind words for the Infrastructure Bank established by the federal Liberal government, noting it is a conduit of loan guarantees and equity holder. Poilievre said the better model is to finance P3s, where contractors take on the risk for success of a project, not the taxpayer.
Poilievre also said:
- 40% of federal infrastructure budgets lapse at the end of the year; provinces must stop substituting federal infrastructure cash for their owned planned investments.
- the business community must publicly support efforts to simplify environmental and regulatory regulations and processes around energy and resource development to push back on the public campaigns of social and environmental groups
- while not committing the party to a sweeping review of Canada’s tax system, he asked the business community to identify the precise goal of such reforms
- Canada’s tax system is overly complicated; regulatory burden must be reduced