PM pledges funds for Quebec City airport

Stephen Harper said Wednesday Ottawa provide up to $50 million for expansion of Quebec City's airport, but said again he would not fund an arena.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, announces federal funds for expansion of Quebec City's airport as Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Josee Verner looks on March 16 in Quebec City. But Harper said again he would not fund a Quebec City arena. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Stephen Harper announced new federal funding for expansion of Quebec City's airport Wednesday.

Harper said Ottawa would invest $21.6 million, a "significant" amount of money, in the Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport, in a project to improve runways and to increase the capacity.

Work at the airport will widen and extend two paved strips, upgrade underground utilities and build an additional taxiway to connect the Delta and Golf taxiways, according to a news release. The upgrades are meant to improve airport service for domestic and international flights and increase airport efficiency and cargo capacity, it said.

The government has set aside $50 million for eligible projects at the airport, including the project announced Wednesday. The airport authority is matching the $21.6 million for the construction.

Before announcing the money, Harper took a strongly worded swipe at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's statement this week that a Liberal government would offer federal funds for an arena project in the region.

"There is no federal program for such an arrangement, therefore we took our responsibilities. We announced that our government would not participate in the construction of the arena," Harper said in French. "There will never be a double standard. We clearly discussed this in the Conservative caucus at the national level."

"We will not spend taxpayers’ money on a professional sports arena or stadium here in Quebec City. And we will not participate in such projects in Regina, Halifax, Edmonton, or my own city of Calgary. You either fund them all or you don’t fund any," Harper said.

Harper repeated his comments in English, saying, "This leader and this party does not say one thing here and something completely different in another part of the country."