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Harper's P3 System Is Still In Place

But Trudeau 'Ended' It In 2015?

by Daniel Johnson


While reading the National Observer's story about the Trudeau-Trump meeting in Washington DC on Feb 14, 2017, something caught my attention. 

"At the meeting, Trudeau stressed the value of multi-country North American supply chains; Trump took an interest when one business leader spoke about Canada's public-private partnership model for funding new infrastructure projects."

But didn't Canada abandon that approach, with much fanfare and applause, in November of 2015?

I remember the Council Of Canadians announcing it at the time.

It was of much interest to people who had campaigned against privatization initiatives in communities across Canada, with Regina's hard fought referendum as a sad example of how a P3 can accomplish an objective; that is, how a publicly funded private media campaign can convince people to vote against their own interests.  As an update to that, I should mention water bills have gone up in Regina since then, as Water Watch campaigners warned during the referendum campaign. 

So, I did some quick digging and found that the responsibility for the requirement has been transferred, and all major projects are being done through a new entity called the Infrastructure Bank.  

According to the pitch given in the budget announcement for 2016:

"The government is launching the new Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide innovative funding and financing for infrastructure projects and help more projects get built in Canada. The Canada Infrastructure Bank will be responsible for investing at least $35 billion from the federal government into large infrastructure projects that contribute to economic growth through loans, loan guarantees and equity investments. Part of this amount—$15 billion—will be sourced from the announced funding for public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation, and rural and northern communities. An additional $20 billion in capital will be available to the Canada Infrastructure Bank for investments which will result in the Bank holding assets—in the form of equity or debt. This $20 billion will therefore not result in a fiscal impact for the government. 

The Canada Infrastructure Bank will provide better results for middle class Canadians by doing things differently. By establishing a new organization capable of working with the private sector where it makes sense, public dollars will go farther and be used smarter, leading to better projects that create the good, well-paying jobs needed to grow the middle class now, and strengthen Canada's economy over the long term."

The Infrastructure Bank is basically a P3 project in itself, and is currently seeking more private sector investment.

But there is still a department called PPP Canada, the same department created by Harper to oversee P3 deals on major infrastructure projects.

Their site is less busy now than it was, has some outdated links, not much information on Trudeau's new Infrastructure Bank system, and like other government sites it hasn't had it's appearance updated since the Harper era, but it's still active.

In fact, the new all year road through Northwest Territories, announced January 11, 2017 is PPP Canada's most recent project, showing that the Harper era P3 Fund is still alive and well. 

So, first question: why did major media outlets including CBC give Trudeau credit for ending the Harper era P3 regime and then not follow up as he manouvered it back into place by the side door? 

Second question: if Trump decides to use a P3 system like Canada's to build his infamous wall, should we be proud that Canadian innovation is being copied? 

References (as appear in the links):

1. National Observer, 2017/02/2014, Pierre Trudeau, Ivanka Trump And How White House Meeting Got Set Up. http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/02/14/news/pierre-trudeau-ivanka-trump-and-how-white-house-meeting-got-set

 2. Council Of Canadians, Nov. 19, 2015, Trudeau Abandons Harper's Unpopular P3 Requirement https://canadians.org/blog/trudeau-abandons-harpers-unpopular-p3-requirement-infrastructure-funding

3. Media Coop, August 17, 2013, Regina Water Privatization Referendum: The Long Strange Trip So Far,  http://www.mediacoop.ca/story/regina-water-privatization-referendum/18620

4. CBC, Dec. 17, 2015, Regina Raising Fees In 2016  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/regina-raising-fees-in-2016-1.3369396

5. Government Of Canada Budget 2016 Announcement, Infrastructure Broadsheet:   http://www.budget.gc.ca/fes-eea/2016/docs/themes/infrastructure-en.html

6. Financial Post, Nov. 1, 2016, Trudeau Woos Investors With 35 Billion Dollar Bank http://business.financialpost.com/entrepreneur/fp-startups/trudeau-woos-investors-with-35-billion-infrastructure-bank

7. P3 Canada, http://www.p3canada.ca/

8. P3 Canada Press Release, Tłı̨chǫ All Season Road Achieves Important Milestone, January 11, 2017,  http://www.p3canada.ca/~/media/english/press-releases/files/tasr%20news%20release%20-%20final%20rev.pdf


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