As always, Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take the floor today, even despite the fact that we would much rather not have had to debate this issue here, in the House of Commons.
Indeed, from our perspective, the current government is making a big mistake with this infrastructure investment bank, which we do not even need since we already have at our disposal a similar mechanism that is better regulated, more appropriate and efficient. I am talking about PPP Canada.
The truth is this new scheme concocted by the Liberals will come with all sorts of roadblocks and red tape. Since its very inception, the infrastructure investment bank has shown potential as the future theme of Gomery 2.0, as the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska so skilfully put it during question period.
Any way you cut it, this infrastructure investment bank is a terrible idea. Let us not forget that a parliamentary committee is currently studying Bill C-44. This is the bill to implement the budget, but it is an omnibus bill that also contains non-budgetary measures. It bears all the hallmarks of an omnibus bill designed to conceal certain measures not included in the budget.
Do I need to remind my friends across the way that, nearly two years ago now, alas, they were elected on certain promises? On page 30 of their platform, they said, “We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny”.
However, that is exactly what they are resorting to with this infrastructure investment bank. They are attempting to avoid the issue being debated in Parliament by steamrolling it through, even though we believe that this scheme is fundamentally wrongheaded and should be shut down. If they want to go ahead with their plans, more power to them, but they will have to submit to Parliament's thorough scrutiny, just as they had committed to do. This is just another of the government's many broken promises.
That is unacceptable because it is in an omnibus bill, which means that this important part of Bill C-44 will get barely two hours of debate in committee. This is a big deal. This is $35 billion of taxpayers' money, and the government is talking about attracting foreign investment. The fact is that parliamentarians, who represent the people who are going to pay for all this, will be rushing this thing through. Two hours, wrap it up, thank you, good night.
We know that the Prime Minister, as usual, is holding quick little secret meetings with people in the private sector who are interested in this idea and maybe with foreign investors too. Once again, instead of doing things out in the open and having an honest debate with the people who represent Canadian taxpayers, the Prime Minister is meeting these investors in hotel rooms behind closed doors. Nobody knows what is going on, and everything is worked out in secret, thank you, good night.
That is not the right approach. Perhaps that is the Liberal approach, but it smacks of what led to the Gomery commission. We are warning the Liberals. They are on a path towards having another huge problem on their hands. If they do this, unfortunately, it will be Canadians who pay for this bad decision once again.
It is important to understand that everything must be done properly. While the ambition to create an investment bank is being hidden in a cowardly and hypocritical way as part of an omnibus bill—and I say it is cowardly and hypocritical because they are the ones who said they would not do what they are doing—and despite the fact that this bill has not even passed the House of Commons, people are already acting as though it is a done deal. They are deciding on the location, they are appointing organizers, they are appointing officials, they are appointing managers, and they are appointing executives. Enough already.
Could they at least have the decency to respect the work of parliamentarians? No, they are already proud to announce that it will be located in Toronto, which has raised the ire of many in Quebec.
I want to clarify something here. For us, it was never about whether it was located in Toronto or Montreal. We oppose the investment bank altogether. Whether they have it Montreal or anywhere else, we think it is just a bad idea. That is why the Conservative members from Quebec are not up in arms, saying that it makes no sense for it to be located in Toronto. The whole thing makes no sense, period. There should be no infrastructure bank to begin with.
This is bad form. The government introduced an omnibus bill, there was no debate in Parliament, the Prime Minister had secret meetings with people he barely mentioned in the House, and the government made its decision when the bill has not even passed yet.
Let us talk about the substance. The government crows about fine principles and says that this will help fund infrastructure. The Liberals say that they are being nice and are investing heavily in infrastructure. Need I remind hon. members that when we were in power, under the leadership of the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean, we put in place the largest infrastructure program in Canada's history, an investment of $80 billion over 10 years? Only, unlike the current government, we did this and still managed to balance the budget.
It is easy to hand out billions of dollars left and right when you run annual deficits of $30 billion and cannot even say when we will return to a balanced budget. It is not right to increase the debt and run big deficits after getting elected on a promise to run small deficits. Life is grand. There is a limit to taking people for idiots.
Unlike the current government, we introduced our infrastructure program as part of a balanced budget. It goes without saying that we support investments in infrastructure, but we believe they must be made within our means, in other words, in the context of a balanced budget.
Furthermore, we already have a mechanism similar to the one the government is promoting to further the Liberal Party's crass commercial interests; it is totally legal and above board, and notably, it does not rely on foreign investment or require billions of taxpayer dollars to be frozen. I am talking, of course, about P3 Canada, public-private partnership. This tool, introduced by our government in 2009, allows interested private investors to invest in infrastructure programs. The member mentioned some successful projects, just as the member for South Surrey—White Rock did. The tool works as intended, I am happy to say.
To illustrate my point, with a core budget of $1.3 billion, when our government set it up in 2009, P3 Canada managed to attract investments worth $6 billion. Has anyone heard of it being involved any scandals? Did it lose money? Did it do a bad job of serving Canadians? No. The Conservative government established this crown corporation in 2009, and it is working fine.
We do not have to move forward with the Liberals' new scheme, the investment bank. We are all for private investment when it is done right and goes through PPP Canada. We also do not object to foreign investment as long as it benefits Canadians and does not just line investors' pockets.
Just a few minutes ago, my colleague clearly illustrated in a pertinent, clear, and obvious way that all the risks associated with the government's investment bank will be assumed by Canadian taxpayers and any problems will be paid for by taxpayers and not the foreign investors. This is not a reasonable approach for those who have the taxpayers' interests at heart.
The government continues to repeat that it is investing in many infrastructure projects. Need I remind members that 94% of these projects have not gotten off the ground? The Liberals can talk all they want.
Unfortunately, we cannot rewrite history. However, had Canadians once more placed their trust in us 18 months ago, billions of dollars could have been invested in our infrastructure program established under the guidance of the member for Lac-Saint-Jean. All we are doing right now is listening to the Liberals talk. Need I remind members that 94% of their projects have not materialized?
I would remind members that in order to create this bank, the Liberals are going to hold on to $15 billion in taxpayers' money, plus another $20 billion, for five years. These billions of dollars will not be available to immediately respond to the needs and requests of small municipalities.
Another thing that does not make sense is that this bank will only fund major investments of more than $100 million. This morning, the member for Richmond—Arthabaska said that Canadian infrastructure projects cost $6.6 million on average.
What cities do we think of when that $100-million figure comes up? Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, of course. I have nothing against them, but what of every other Canadian municipality?
The government proposes to take $15 billion that should go directly to Canada's cities and towns and put it in a bank so it can cater to foreign investors, who will certainly not want to take any risks; taxpayers are the ones who will have to take the risk. It is not right.
That is why, in its current proposed form, the bank should not see the light of day. As KPMG, the firm originally commissioned by the government to assess the project, so scathingly put it, this is a disaster waiting to happen. The government must not go forward with its hare-brained, ill-conceived scheme.