MP Report: Working in a minority government

Examining how infrastructure is funded

With Parliament now actively underway the new dynamics of having a minority government are beginning to become more defined.

Back in late December, despite the Liberal government voting against it, a special Parliamentary committee with the mandate to “conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship including, but not limited to consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations,” was created.

This new Canada-China committee is now established with meetings being held this week.

I was also honoured to be one of the twelve Members of Parliament to be named to sit on this important all-party committee.

Much as the Canada-China committee was created by an opposition day motion, this week another opposition motion was tabled from the official Conservative opposition.

This week’s motion is summarized as:

“That, given the Parliamentary Budget Officer posted on March 15, 2018, that “Budget 2018 provides an incomplete account of the changes to the government’s $186.7 billion infrastructure spending plan” and that the “PBO requested the new plan but it does not exist,” the House call on the Auditor General of Canada to immediately conduct an audit of the government’s Investing in Canada Plan.

It is often said that Infrastructure is a “not sexy but important” part of government spending.

I would submit it is critically important for many reasons.

As an example infrastructure costs are historically split three ways with local, provincial and federal governments usually equally splitting one-third of the cost of the project.

This is an important point because citizens all pay taxes to those three different levels of government.

When either federal or provincial or in some cases, both sources of funding are not made available, it means a local government must pick up either 66 per cent or possibly 100 per cent of the total infrastructure project costs.

These costs are then downloaded onto local taxpayers who continue to pay taxes to Ottawa and Victoria.

The absence of federal infrastructure funding can significantly raise costs for local citizens, more so in smaller rural communities with a limited tax base.

For whatever reason, the Trudeau Liberal government has not been very successful in delivering infrastructure projects despite having announced $187 billion in infrastructure spending plans.

Rather than speculate on the reasons why the Official Opposition Conservatives have tabled this motion.

With such a large amount of money being spent, bringing in the Auditor General to fully investigate will ensure there are clear answers.

Canadian taxpayers deserve accountability and transparency on how their tax dollars are spent.

Thus far it appears that once again the other opposition parties in this minority government are supportive despite the Liberal government‘s opposition.

My question this week:

Do you support the opposition motion to bring in the Auditor General to audit the Liberal government’s infrastructure program?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. Email dan.albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

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