Don't bank on Liberal idea

I was asked recently if it is difficult to come up with a different topic every seven days for my weekly MP report to citizens.

The challenge is not finding new topics to discuss but rather narrowing down the many subjects available to one or two that can be briefly covered with the limited space available in my reports.

This week, I would like to reference the Liberal government's efforts to muzzle the Parliamentary Budget Officer however a more pressing concern is the Liberals plans for a proposed $35-billion Infrastructure Bank.

Why is the $35-billion Infrastructure Bank a serious concern?

Canadians pay taxes to the federal government for a variety of different purposes and uses. One of the important uses of your tax dollars is building infrastructure.

The challenge here is that $35-billion in funding and guarantees that could be building Infrastructure in communities like Kelowna, Peachland, Penticton, Merritt or elsewhere will instead be diverted to create the new Infrastructure bank in the Liberal stronghold of Toronto.

The concern is that this Infrastructure Bank doesn’t actually build any Infrastructure.

The role of the new bank is to attract international investors to invest and privately build Infrastructure in Canada. In order to attract sophisticated and often international investors the government will be paying lucrative rates of return on large-scale projects with a minimum price of $100 million or more.

Why is this a concern?

For starters, the Liberal government is borrowing money it does not have at lower rates of interest solely to subsidize higher rates of return to largely private investors.

With a minimum project threshold of $100 million, many rural communities and even smaller to mid-size cities will not be able to afford projects of this magnitude.

Despite this fact the taxpayers who live within these areas will be saddled with paying part of the borrowing debt and high rates of interest even though they do not directly benefit from the projects.

Paradoxically this also comes at a time where new capital requirements put in place by a government regulator significantly limit the ability for sectors like Canadian insurance companies to invest in Canadian infrastructure.

There are other concerns however this summarizes some of the more significant.

This week the NDP will table a motion to remove the Infrastructure Bank from the Liberals' omnibus budget bill so that it can be debated and opposed on a stand-alone basis.

It isn't just the Opposition parties that oppose the bank. The former Parliamentary Budget Officer has also has serious concerns and questioned the need for a costly new level of bureaucracy to create a bank that borrows funds at relatively low interest rates to pay high rates of return to international investors.

It is my intent to oppose the Liberals new Infrastructure bank however I welcome your views on this topic.

Do you support the Liberals $35-billion Infrastructure Bank?


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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