Mr. Speaker, I believe the NDP's motion today is very important; it calls on the government to split its mammoth Bill C-44. The budget implementation bill amends 30 statutes, is over 300 pages long, and was only allotted four days of debate.
Of those four days, one was a Wednesday, when we debated for an hour and a quarter, and another was a Friday, when we had one single hour of debate. Just seven of my NDP colleagues have been able to speak to budget Bill C-44.
This bill is of capital importance and we cannot even debate it. The fact is that, the shorter the debate, the less informed the Canadian public will be about all the measures being proposed that will hit them square in the wallet. This mammoth omnibus bill, this statutory juggernaut, is undemocratic.
The Liberal Party even bragged during the campaign that it would never introduce omnibus budget bills and that it would never resort to tactics to withhold information. In fact, that is precisely what the Liberals are doing.
We are talking about the infrastructure bank, which is really the privatization bank, because that is what this is about and what it is turning into. No members of the public were consulted.
Only members of private companies, billionaire companies, were consulted. They were some of the advisors to the Minister of Finance and they came up with a scheme to ensure that these companies would reap the profits generated by these infrastructure investment projects. It is clear that there is scheming involved. They discussed it behind closed doors. No one had access to these conversations.
We are asking that this part be taken out of the bill so it can be studied separately, allowing experts to study it, and so we can study it and let Canadians know what it is all about.
In fact, $35 billion in public money will be invested in this infrastructure bank. It is really important that we be able to debate this. I hope that the government will listen to reason and support this motion. If the government has nothing to hide, the infrastructure bank project should be studied in detail in committee.
Since they started in November 2016, discussions on the infrastructure bank have been dogged by controversy. This omnibus budget bill only confirms the fears we have had from the outset. The bank will certainly not serve the public interest. My colleague from Trois-Rivières said that public infrastructure must serve the common good and the public interest, that of all Canadians.
What we now understand is that the projects submitted to the bank will have to be profitable to the companies looking to invest. That will not be in the public interest.
When my other colleague spoke, he talked about renovating a kitchen that would be used by the owner. In order to fund the project, he would have to rely on private investors and thus have to pay a fee every time he wanted to use the kitchen. That simply makes no sense, and it certainly is not in the public interest.
What does this investment bank have going for it? How come the Liberals have such a hard time telling us how it might benefit small towns and ordinary Canadians?
All we know is that this bank will benefit wealthy businesspeople. The Liberals, however, were elected on their commitment to start investing in infrastructure and communities again. That is not at all what we are seeing in this mammoth Bill C-44, where the legislation setting up this infrastructure bank was sneakily included.
What is more, we do not know what the criteria for the projects will be. The private investors' criteria should meet the needs of Canadians, but instead, they will meet the needs of the investors.
This bank was created by the private sector for the private sector. We cannot blame businesses. They want to make money. That is their whole reason for being. However, we are wondering why the government chose to get companies to build our public infrastructure, which should be permanent, sustainable, and properly used. The money spent on infrastructure should be money well spent. I would like to remind members that $35 billion in taxpayer money is going to be used for this infrastructure investment bank.
An advisory council was created by and for the Minister of Finance. Its official title is the advisory council on economic growth, not the advisory council on the development of public infrastructure.
BlackRock, an investment fund specializing in the acquisition of infrastructure, is part of that council. It is important to remember that name. BlackRock is the world's largest private asset manager, and it examined and commented on a briefing on the infrastructure bank prepared by the Minister of Infrastructure before he presented it to private clients. This company worked with the government for three months to try to promote the bank to investors in Toronto. BlackRock had three months to discuss this bank, while the House had one day, thanks to the efforts of the NPD. How is it that the government discussed this project with private investors for three months? That does not make any sense.
Internal government files show that large multinationals like BlackRock were given unprecedented control over the development of the Liberals' so-called infrastructure bank. That is another troubling fact. That is serious. There are so many conflicts of interest here. Where is the public share? What role do members play? We cannot discuss it. We are asking that an independent committee be allowed to examine this issue.
Also on that council is Goldman Sachs, one of the investment banks that contributed to the financial crisis of 2008. Other notable mentions are oil companies, including Alberta's Cenovus, one of the country's largest oil companies.
Who will sit on this infrastructure bank's board of directors? There will only be private sector appointments. Not a single representative of federal, provincial or municipal governments will get to sit on the board, which is meant to be working in communities' interests. Not a single public voice will be heard. Great job!
It also seems as though the bank will have to ensure that all information relating to developers, private companies and institutional investors remains confidential. Anyone who dares disclose any public information would be subject to prosecution. This is scary stuff. It stinks.
Mr. Speaker, I forgot to mention that, if I have any left, I will be sharing my time with the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
Regarding this infrastructure bank's aims, the bill states:
The purpose of the Bank is to invest, and seek to attract investment from private sector investors and institutional investors, in infrastructure projects in Canada or partly in Canada that will generate revenue [profits, in other words] and that will be in the public interest by, for example, supporting conditions that foster economic growth...
Basically, profit comes before Canadians' interests. Nowhere does the government explain where, how, and to what specific ends investment projects will be approved.
We know that highways, toll bridges, and physical infrastructure such as airports and even pipelines will be funded with public money and managed by the private sector.
Who is on this advisory council? Brian Ferguson, CEO of Cenovus, one of the biggest oil companies, as I mentioned earlier.
I do not have much time left, but we have plenty of examples of how private financing can double infrastructure project costs. I am thinking of three big ones. The Auditor General of Ontario found that public-private partnerships cost taxpayers an extra $8 billion. The Auditor General of Quebec figured out that the province would have saved $10.4 billion had it built the CHUM with public money instead of turning to a public-private partnership.
I am out of time, but I hope the Liberals will agree to split the omnibus bill and have an independent committee do a thorough study of the infrastructure bank.