Scheer pledges to fold $35B federal infrastructure bank, reduce commute times

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said today a government led by him would bring transparency back to federal infrastructure spending by scrapping the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Conservative leader defends decision to break with other federal leaders and skip climate protests

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told reporters in Coquitlam, B.C. that if he is elected prime minister he would pursue infrastructure projects that reduce commute times. (CBC)

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said today a government led by him would bring transparency back to federal infrastructure spending by scrapping the Canada Infrastructure Bank. 

Speaking in Coquitlam, B.C., Scheer said the bank — announced as part of the fiscal update in 2016 and tasked with deploying $35 billion to draw private sector investment and partnerships for large infrastructure projects — has been a waste of public money. 

"I will eliminate Justin Trudeau's Canada Infrastructure Bank, a $35 billion failure that has not lived up to its promise," said Scheer. "This government-knows-best boondoggle in the making was supposed to boost investment and get more projects built. But two years after it started, the infrastructure bank has completed nothing."

The bank has so far committed $2 billion to a Go Train expansion in Ontario, $55 million to a high-speed rail project between Toronto and Quebec City, $128 million to expanding light rail in Montréal and $20 million for the Mapleton Water and Wastewater facilities in Ontario.

The agency also has signed a number of agreements for other projects and in some cases is providing advisory services for infrastructure proposals.

Scheer also announced that, if elected, he would revamp the way infrastructure projects across Canada are prioritized. Projects that reduce congestion and result in faster commute times would be pushed to the top of the queue, he said.

"These are the kinds of projects that make a difference in people's lives by reducing gridlock and speeding up commute times," said Scheer.

The Conservative leader pitched the move as one that would allow families to spend more time with their loved ones and less time travelling. Examples of projects that would be approved under this police include:

  • The George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project in Vancouver, B.C. 
  • The Ontario Line Yonge Subway Extension in Toronto, Ont.
  • The third link across the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec City.

Unlike the leaders of the Liberal, NDP and Green parties, Scheer chose not to attend any of today's climate change action protests across the country. Reporters asked him if announcing a measure to help reduce traffic congestion was tone-deaf in the circumstances.

People hold signs depicting Ontario Premier Doug Ford, federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and U.S. President Donald Trump as they march in Ottawa as part of a Global Climate Strike Friday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Scheer said he's encouraged to see so many young people engaged with an issue they care about.

"I'm here making an announcement today that will lower commute times, which means people will be stuck in traffic less, which means a reduction of emissions," Scheer said describing the move as "real concrete action" that would lower emissions.

The Liberal Party responded to the announcement by saying that the Conservatives were "cherry-picking projects."

"Scheer's infrastructure proposal is nothing short of a rollback of our commitment to building stronger communities," the Liberal statement said. "Conservative cuts hurt, and it is Canadian families and communities who will be affected by Scheer's five-year cuts plan."

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