We are just a few days into the throes of the election campaign, and already infrastructure is having an early impact in the national discussion.
With that in mind, ReNew Canada is offering a glimpse at the key infrastructure issues that are likely to create headlines, raise eyebrows, and change a few voter intentions along the way.
How much will YOU spend?
Will the value of a party’s infrastructure spend play into this campaign? Likely yes, as record spending flowed from the federal government coffers during the Liberals’ term in office. At some point, a candidate, cabinet minister, or perhaps even the Prime Minister, will do a podium drop in front of a decades-long community infrastructure priority that finally got built under the Trudeau government.
It will be interesting to watch how the opposition parties will approach infrastructure spending. The Greens and/or the NDP are likely to promise an increase to the current Liberal spend, but all eyes are on the Conservatives on this issue. Will they match the current Liberal spending, or try and drop the budget in the name of a balanced budget?
The future of the Canada Infrastructure Bank
While there is no formal indication, at the time of writing this, that a Conservative government would scrap the Canada Infrastructure Bank, there is past indication they would do so. While in opposition, the party suggested that the current P3 model was already a successful tool in engaging the private sector in infrastructure development, thus making the bank unnecessary.
Unless a reporter like myself gets the opportunity to ask a question like this, we may not have an answer on their intentions until after the campaign is complete (and it’s already too late?)
Project promises that could swing ridings
We have already seen this tactic attempted in the first few days of the campaign, as NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told the people of Brampton he would make it his priority to ensure a new hospital for the community (the new IO P3 Market Update calls for a new hospital for the city, but the RFQ for it is not expected to be issue until 2023).
Any politician offering to spend a big chunk of change for something a community feels it desperately needs is bound to win a few votes. So where else could this happen. Let’s speculate on a few other locations:
- Richmond/Delta, B.C. – Could a candidate in one of these ridings suggest federal cash to help solve the impasse on how to repair/replace the George Massey Tunnel, or perhaps use one solution over another as a rallying cry to attract votes?
- Winnipeg, Man. – Could a federal commitment to help fund the North End Water Pollution Control Centre, which represents around $909 million of the city’s $994 million ask for provincial/federal funding for capital projects, swing some votes? We think it could.
- Vancouver, B.C. – It has been several years since the first request was made for a $100 million federal contribution to a new Vancouver Art Gallery. A prospective MP who figures out how to make that funding work could certainly secure some votes in the process.
Without question, voters in several electoral districts across Canada could have their votes swayed by promises of funding commitments for key capital projects.
Four years ago, this seemed like more of a fact of life rather than an election issue. But severe flooding in several provinces over the course of the past four years, especially in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, and suddenly this has the potential to be an impactful issue in the campaign.
If a party prioritizes flood protection, including new capital projects that will help lessen the burden of severe flooding on communities throughout Canada, this has the potential to swing votes in some key regions of the country.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has already called for a doubling of the gas tax fund, which provides consistent funding for capital projects for communities across the country.
This isn’t a sexy issue for any party, one that would go a long way to winning over the hearts and minds of the voting public. However, it would have the potential to sway key municipal leaders, people in a position of great influence in their community. That shouldn’t be overlooked.
No party has given a clear indication of whether or not doubling the gas tax fund is something they will move forward with, but in the weeks ahead, it wouldn’t come as a complete surprise for a party to do the math and understand the value of such an investment.
It will be a crazy few weeks along the campaign trail, and ReNew Canada will have you covered. Watch renewcanada.net at @ReNewCanada on Twitter for updates on what the parties are promising in terms of new infrastructure commitments.