Friday, June 19, 2009

Stephen Harper Gives Ontario Re-Fried Beans

Ontarians are saying something smells with all the good news about new infrastructure spending.

It's a case of deja vu all over again, as Harper's reunion tour has the same old material. We've just been waiting for the show promised two years ago.

So why wasn't the money allotted in 2007, spent in 2007? A little creative bookkeeping or a political move? Wait to give good news until you're really down in the polls, or did you spend the 2007 money on something else?

These Mike Harris flunkies learned from the best. They told us the books were balanced then, but guess what was hiding under the rug? A six billion dollar deficit.

Harper talks stimulus with Ont infrastructure plans, critics say it’s old money
Pictou News
May 15, 2009

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced more than a billion dollars for infrastructure projects and touted his stimulus spending plan Friday during a swing through Ontario, but critics noted that Ottawa was simply dipping into a fund that kicked in long before the economic crisis hit.

Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty first attended a photo-op together at a depot of the Toronto Transit Commission to announce a shared contribution of almost $1 billion to build a light-rail transit line in the east end of the city.

The two leaders then flew to Kenora in the far northwest of the province to make another infrastructure funding announcement — $100 million to widen a 10-kilometre section of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Harper said the moves are part of the federal government’s plan to get shovels in ground as soon as possible and steer Canada through the global economic crisis.

The focus of the government of Canada right now is on our economic action plan, which is designed to deliver stimulus today, designed to deliver money to projects that are ready right now,” he said in Toronto.

The Harper government committed in the Jan. 27 budget to dole out $4 billion over two years through the infrastructure stimulus fund — a reaction to the global economic downturn. The funding is to be matched by provinces and municipalities.

The federal contribution to the Toronto project announced Friday comes from the Building Canada fund, which began in 2007.

That makes it “old money” that the government never got around to spending, said Liberal critic Gerard Kennedy.

“It in no way shape or form can be seen as stimulus, which is supposed to be new money being spent to help the economy,” he said.

The cost of the Trans-Canada Highway project will be split 50-50 by Ottawa and the province and will create 700 jobs. It’s part of a long-term plan to twin all 40 kilometres between the Manitoba border and Kenora, which is cottage country for many Winnipeg residents.

“There is growing traffic on (the highway), and a lot of trade between Ontario, Manitoba and the northern states that border us,” McGuinty said. “Clearly, a two-lane highway no longer suffices.”

For the new transit line in Toronto, Ontario will provide two-thirds of the estimated $950 million cost, and the federal government will cover the remaining one-third, which Kennedy called “kind of chintzy.

“The federal government should not nickel-and-dime or put its political fingerprints on (the project),” Kennedy said.

When the Toronto press conference was first announced some had speculated the city might be getting the $1.22 billion it’s seeking for another project to replace its aging fleet of streetcars.

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