Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House to address an extremely important subject, that being the Liberals’ infrastructure privatization bank. I will explain why it is absolutely necessary that it be withdrawn from the omnibus bill C-44. We must be able to debate it and to hold a vote specifically on this infrastructure privatization bank, which is completely unacceptable. The people of Drummond do not accept it. They are shocked, and even furious, to know that the Liberal government wants to privatize our infrastructures.
Before going any further, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with my excellent colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
Before taking the debate any further, I would like to read the motion that my colleague from Beloeil—Chambly has moved in the House of Commons. It is an extremely important motion. It is not something that is easy for the layperson to grasp, but when we look at it in detail, the Liberals’ plan is quite clear. It is a plan that aims to support their cronies the private investors, and not the Canadian people, the middle class and those working hard to join it.
The motion reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of the House: (a) public infrastructure should serve the interests of Canadians, not work to make private investors rich; (b) during the election, the Liberals did not reveal to voters their plans to privatize investment in public infrastructure; (c) infrastructure built by private investors will cost more than public infrastructure; (d) it is a conflict of interest to allow private corporations, who will be the largest beneficiaries of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, to participate in the planning and development of the Bank; (e) the Bank will leave taxpayers with an unacceptable burden of fees, tolls, and privatization that will only make private investors wealthy, to the detriment of the public interest; and (f) the clauses concerning the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s creation should be removed from Bill C-44, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, so they can be studied as a stand-alone bill.
As I was saying, the part that is totally unacceptable, scandalous even, is that the Liberal government has broken yet another promise. It promised not to draft omnibus bills like the Conservatives did. Omnibus bills are undemocratic. They prevent MPs from doing their work properly, from analyzing all of the bills up for amendment, and from sending them to the proper committees for thorough analysis.
By including the infrastructure bank in this bill, the government is preventing MPs—preventing lawmakers—from doing a proper analysis and from sending the bill to a committee where expert testimony would enable them to pick apart all the ins and outs of the proposed infrastructure privatization bank legislation and reveal all of its possible negative impacts.
By putting all of this in a mammoth omnibus bill and breaking the Liberal promise to put an end to omnibus bills, they are making it impossible for this bill to receive proper analysis. They are depriving not only the members, but also the Canadian people, of the right to have full knowledge of and properly analyze the bills to be amended here. This is extremely serious. This is another broken promise of the Liberals, in addition to their broken promise to stop the constant tabling of time allocation motions.
What are we seeing? We are seeing the very opposite. The Liberals are well on their way to matching the Conservatives’ record for time allocation motions and gag orders, the same Conservatives who broke the all-time record, the worst record ever in the Canadian history. The Liberals, who had been so critical of that, are on their way to doing the same thing. It is truly deplorable.
What is more, they recently told us to get ready, because they are going to pass even more time allocation motions. I hope that the Liberal members will tell the government Leader in the House of Commons that the time allocations must stop, that they have fought their fight and promised to be much more reasonable about this. However, that is not the case at all at the moment.
What is an infrastructure privatization bank, and what is its main consequence? First of all, the profits are given to private investors, while the government assumes all the risk and all the downside. The government is not just the Liberals. It is Canadians who are going to pay for all this, including the people in the riding of Drummond, which I represent. They are the ones who will have to pay for this ill-considered infrastructure bank.
Another consequence of creating such a bank is that the regions are forgotten, since private investors, who are looking to make profits, will invest only in projects located in the big cities, where there is far more opportunity to make a profit and where there are enough people to make it worthwhile.
Regions like Drummond have no infrastructure that can generate a big return; the infrastructure there exists to serve the population. Therefore, cities and regions like Drummond are not going to benefit from an infrastructure privatization bank. The money generated by Drummond and other regions of Canada will be taken and they will be told that it is not going to be invested locally. It is a shame.
The regions that will be able to benefit from this bank will be charged tolls and other fees. More tax pressure is going to be put on the middle class and those aspiring to join it. It really makes no sense.
The money they are going to invest in the infrastructure privatization bank could have been invested more wisely. Right now, Canadians all over Quebec and Ontario are suffering as a result of the flooding, because there has been no planning to adapt our infrastructures. We must ensure that we are resilient and can adapt to the effects of climate change, since there are going to be more and more extreme weather events.
The 2017 Green Budget Coalition has made some very important recommendations regarding investment in natural infrastructures and ecosystems. The following is an excerpt from one of the recommendations:
The Green Budget Coalition recommends that in Budget 2017 the Government of Canada allocate 30% of planned phase-2 Green Infrastructure funding for investments to protect and enhance Canada’s vital natural infrastructure...
Rather than investing that money in an infrastructure privatization bank, which will not serve Canadians or the Drummond region, it could have been invested in green infrastructure and in climate resilience and adaptation for existing infrastructure. That is of the utmost importance, given what is happening to our regions.
For instance, near Yamachiche and near Gatineau, right here, people are suffering because of flooding, and yet no planning is being done to adapt to climate change. That is in the green budget, which the Liberals unfortunately did not read. What a shame.
In closing, the part of Bill C-44 that deals with the privatization of infrastructure must absolutely be taken out, so that we may debate it properly and study all the ins and outs at the appropriate committee, where experts could show that the bank is in no way good for the Drummond region. That is why we will be opposing the bill.