MP questions government funding for projects with for-profit corporations

Where has the money gone?

On May 1, regardless of the current strike status of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), you must file and have your personal income tax returns received by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

This includes paying any taxes owed, or you will face penalties.

As Members of Parliament, we are responsible for keeping (Canadians) informed about how the government spends their tax money. From my perspective, there is one area of spending that raises some concerns, and I will provide an example.

In January, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited a rare earth mine processing plant in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, for a “photo op” and to make an announcement.

The government recently announced $5 million in funding to help establish processing and production at the facility. "Rare earth elements," as the Government's press release pointed out, "are a critical minerals used in clean technology like electric vehicles and wind turbines."

The funding was part of the government's critical minerals strategy, which calls for $3.8 billion in spending, or, as the government calls it, "investing."

This week, the same rare earth mining company in Saskatoon announced operations were being "paused" while the company seeks "alternative funding sources and partnerships for a sustainable business model."

The Financial Post reported on this story and quoted the interim chair of the company's board saying there is "no economic imperative" to complete the project at the current time, citing higher costs, lower prices and no market for what the facility aimed to produce.

It is unclear at this point what will become of the $5 million "investment" of taxpayer dollars.

This also raises concerns about what type of due diligence the government does before handing out taxpayer money.

This year, the government also announced it will give Volkswagen up to $13 billion in subsidies over the next decade as part of a deal to ensure the automaker builds its electric-vehicle battery plant in southern Ontario.

Conservative Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre pointed out, in response, that the money belongs to Canadians.

“Not to a foreign corporation. Not to Justin Trudeau. How much of Canadians' money is he giving to this foreign corporation?" asked Poilievre.

The government defend the spending by claiming it will be a good deal for Canadians because of the long-term jobs and economic benefits.

However, in 2020, the government made similar promises when it provided $173 million to a Quebec-based drug manufacturer, supposedly developing a COVID vaccine. The parent company of the facility, the Mitsubishi Chemical Group, announced in February the plant in Quebec will close. It is unclear what the status is of the $173 million in taxpayer-provided funding.

The same goes for a $125 million deal the government announced in a partnership with the Maryland-based drug manufacturer Novavax, which, in March, also stated it had "substantial doubt" about its ability to survive here in Canada.

My question this week is:

What are your views on government subsidies for private, for-profit corporations?

You can contact me at [email protected] or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

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.

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

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

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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