Opinion column. FILE PHOTO

The problems with the Liberal’s infrastructure bank

The Liberal government’s 2017 Budget includes their plan to create a $35-billion infrastructure bank.

MP Kevin Sorenson/Battle River-Crowfoot

The Liberal government’s 2017 Budget includes their plan to transform the way that the biggest and riskiest infrastructure projects in Canada are funded by creating a $35-billion infrastructure bank. The almost 300-page budget has been labelled “omnibus” even though the Liberals promised never to table such a large piece of legislation.

Many have been calling for the Liberals to ‘sever’ the infrastructure bank section from their budget. However, the Liberals refuse, using their majority to pass their budget through the House of Commons. The Senate of Canada is expressing hesitation and may demand more study on the creation of the bank before they pass the budget. The Senate may want to separate the bank from the budget.

One of the biggest problems with the proposed infrastructure bank is that for any project it funds, taxpayers foot the bill for losses and investors are guaranteed profits. The rationale the Liberals are pushing is that this is the only way some of the riskiest infrastructure projects can be built. Many projects have not gone forward over the past decades because they are too large or the risks are too high. Seeking stable returns, investors are not coming forward for such projects.

This is typical of Liberal policy. On the election campaign trail, the Liberals out-promised their competitors saying they will do “everything” and “anything.” For example, they will legalize marijuana, despite the risks to Canada’s streets and highways and numerous other health, safety and social issues. They said they would plunge the nation into debt “and balance the books in three years” to pay off their funding of “anything” and “everything.” They are now insisting on building the riskiest infrastructure projects by eliminating risks for investors and putting all the risk on you, the taxpayer.

The Liberals have no choice but to force the taxpayer to “underwrite” risky infrastructure projects. There is no other way for the Liberals “to have their cake and eat it too”.

Nations do not plunge into tens of billions of dollars of debt without a national crisis or other reason. The Liberals promised to do this in order to get elected, whether or not there would be significant job creation or economic growth.

Investors are happy to have risks eliminated and guaranteed profits under this scheme. Some voters will be happy to see projects going forward that Canada could not otherwise have afforded without stable economic growth, near full-employment statistics and high levels of exports. Liberal elites will ensure their friends get these infrastructure contracts.

The Senate is having some real problems “underwriting” the Liberal’s new bank. Taxpayers can only hope that enough voters in the next election will want to shut down the Liberal’s bank and get Canada back to the real work of building our nation, reducing debt, lowering taxes, providing economic growth and creating real jobs for Canadians.

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