In­fra­struc­ture bank needs more re­view

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ap­peared in the Hal­i­fax Chronicle Her­ald:

It’s not that the govern­ment’s pro­posed Canada In­fra­struc­ture Bank is a bad idea. But given that the bank is sup­posed to plow $35 bil­lion into the econ­omy, this is cer­tainly a pro­posal that jus­ti­fies more than a cur­sory re­view by Par­lia­ment.

The gov­ern­ing Lib­er­als, it seems, would like to rush the en­abling leg­is­la­tion through a sin­gle, two-hour com­mit­tee meet­ing and pass it through Par­lia­ment as part of an om­nibus bud­get bill. This is wrong-headed on at least two counts. First, a leaked KPMG study raises con­cerns about the pub­lic ac­cep­tance and op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency of the pro­posed bank, which would op­er­ate at arm’s length from govern­ment as a Crown cor­po­ra­tion. The bank would work by lever­ag­ing pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment to get new in­fra­struc­ture built.

KPMG also ze­roes on the is­sue of pri­va­tiz­ing wa­ter util­i­ties through an in­fra­struc­ture bank. “Cat­alyz­ing pri­vate cap­i­tal to in­vest in Canada’s wa­ter util­ity in­dus­try is chal­leng­ing and would re­quire a trans­for­ma­tion of the in­dus­try as a whole,” the re­port says.

The Lib­er­als should in­tro­duce stand­alone leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate the bank and test the idea through full Par­lia­men­tary hear­ings.

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