MP Joyce Murray slams Harper government over infrastructure budget (Video)
Harper playing politics with Canada's economic lifeblood, says Liberal MP Joyce Murray.
"In the short run it will create jobs, in the long run it will create jobs... and in the end it will address our need to reduce emissions and our need to reduce [the number of] cars on the road."
(As an aside, Murray added that the huge mistakes made during the gong-show that was the Canada Line construction would not be repeated. Indeed, nobody involved with the current expansion projects wants to live through that again.)
Waiting for my ship to come in
These infrastructure projects, surrounded by their own local political atmospheres though they may be, are underway to make Vancouver a destination not only for people but for business: a real world-class city cannot resemble a gridlocked stretch of Southern California freeway, not if it wants to be taken seriously by companies spoiled for choice in where they can operate.
Murray then accused the Harper government of failing to implement its previously-announced plans. This version of the Building Canada Fund was announced a year ago, yet only two weeks ago did the government start talking parameters.
Same, said Murray, for Aboriginal education. Funding was announced last year "with great fanfare, but funding does not come until after the election.
Speaking as Liberal Party Critic for National Defence, Murray said, "Every single procurement project is in trouble. The timelines are not being met, the budget isn't adequate, and in many cases the capacity isn't there to deliver, and the requirements don't fit the budget." The result: procurements of vehicles for land, sea, and are "are in disarray".
Canada only has two supply ships: one for the Atlantic and one for the Pacific. One of those ships, the HMCS Protecteur, is out of commission following an engine fire last month. The Protecteur covered the Pacific, i.e. the big ocean.
A common thread, said Murray, is the Harper government's inability to properly consult beyond its own office walls. This, she argued, has led to "serious design flaws" in the Building Canada Fund as well as the sluggish defense procurement process. (Each year, by the way, inflation makes those procurements more expensive.)
Echoes of unrest
The Liberals plan to introduce an infrastructure fund, to the tune of up to one percent of the Canadian GDP per year; so roughly $18.2 billion.
Before crying "deficit", note that Harper's mantra of belt-tightening is disconnected from anything resembling a surplus: here are the numbers.
Murray is not alone in her criticism of Harper's approach to economics. John McCallum, Liberal MP for Markham-Unionville in Ontario, used the same chart to call Harper's math "A cruel accounting trick."
Last year, NDP Finance critic Peggy Nash accused the Harper government of cheaping out on infrastructure as well: “Jim Flaherty is playing a shell game with infrastructure. As the [Parliamentary Budget Office] has shown, the Conservatives are including unused money from old, delayed projects in their calculations of their so-called new infrastructure funds. They’re using their own incompetence to cover up their cuts – and that’s wrong. Canadians deserve better.”
(Jim Flaherty resigned as Finance Minister a few days ago, replaced by Joe Oliver; Flaherty remains in Ottawa as an MP.)