Thursday, February 05, 2009

There should not be Conservative infrastructure, it is Canadian infrastructure

Gerard Kennedy's research on how Conservatives are spending federal infrastructure money is quickly making the rounds this afternoon. It seems to be the latest proof that everything the Conservatives under Harper undertake is tinged with partisanship and with a view to their own electoral fortunes, not the larger interests of Canadians. Here's CP's first report on it:
The Liberals say more than three-quarters of federal infrastructure money doled out since 2007 went to Conservative ridings.

A Liberal analysis of the first $1 billion worth of specific projects financed by the Building Canada Fund concludes that 77.8 per cent of the money went to Tory constituencies.

Gerard Kennedy, the Liberal infrastructure critic, says 21 of 27 projects that received funding were in Conservative ridings,

He says that shows Stephen Harper's Conservative government is using the fund to reward supporters and punish regions that did not vote Tory.
This Liberal analysis of infrastructure spending now appears to confirm what Conservatives themselves have indicated to date about the partisan bent of the Harper government's spending. Recall that one of Harper's highest profile Quebec MPs, Jean-Pierre Blackburn, tipped us off to the Conservatives' questionable spending priorities back in October, on the heels of his re-election:
Jean-Pierre Blackburn saved himself in the last election campaign by repeatedly pointing out that he spread $247-million in federal pork as a member of the Harper government.

Now the Quebec MP and minister says that ridings that elected Conservatives on Oct. 14 will continue to be better served than those in the hands of the Bloc Québécois. In an interview, Mr. Blackburn defended his campaign tactics, which left some Conservative strategists cringing and the opposition parties fuming.

He said that his reminders of Tory largesse were factual, and that his caucus colleagues benefit from the current system.

“You can't give everything [to opposition ridings]. At some point, your colleagues also have files and you try to help them,” he said. “You have a more attentive ear and try to see if you can help them.

Mr. Blackburn pointed to a recent $112-million federal-provincial deal for twinning Highway 175 between Quebec City and Saguenay.

Do you a think a Bloc MP could have gotten the Saguenay-Quebec City deal?” he asked. “Do you know how many demands there are for roads in Quebec?” (emphasis added)
Thanks for the tip, Mr. Blackburn. Looks like your information has been well confirmed.

Highways in a Bloc, Liberal or NDP riding are obviously as deserving of funds as those in a Conservative riding. Every riding has its needs, infrastructurally speaking, and it is patently unacceptable that the Conservatives are looking after their own MP ridings in such lopsided proportions. Three-quarters of federal infrastructure moneys going to Conservative ridings is a very dubious record to have to defend to the Canadian public.