Canadian Consulting Engineer

Conservatives promise to spend on infrastructure

With the Conservative party looking likely to win the federal election on January 23, what should engineering compa...

January 20, 2006   Canadian Consulting Engineer

With the Conservative party looking likely to win the federal election on January 23, what should engineering companies expect from the party? How would a change in government after 12 years of Liberal rule affect the consulting engineer’s business prospects?
The Conservatives’ platform “Stand Up For Canada” was released on January 13. It included a section on at least one key area of civil engineering — infrastructure.
In the the section entitled “Stand up for Our Communities,” the preamble noted “Infrastructure is a crucial investment in our economic production and quality of life. Suburban commuters should not have to sit on gridlocked highways. Truckers carrying cargo vital to Canada’s economy should not be stuck at inadequate border-crossing bottlenecks. Rural Canadians should not have to dodge potholes for much of the year …”
To address these problems, the Conservatives promised they will:
– Maintain the funding for the New Deal for Cities and Communities and fully implement the transfer of the equivalent of five cents per litre of gasoline to cities and communities by 2009-10 for municipal infrastructure.
– Expand the New Deal to allow all cities and communities, including cities with more than 500,000 people, to use gas tax transfer dollars to build and repair roads and bridges to improve road safety and fight traffic congestion.
– Negotiate a new infrastructure agreement with the provinces to provide a stable, permanent Highways and Border Infrastructure Fund. They promised to commit $2 billion over the next five years to Highways and Border Infrastructure, reaching $600 million by 2010.
– Use the new Highways and Border Infrastructure Fund to work with the provinces to improve Canada’s National Highways System, with the Trans-Canada Highway as its centrepiece.
– Develop a national Road Congestion Index and work towards reducing congestion levels in municipalities across Canada.
– Maintain the existing federal infrastructure agreements that have been entered into between the federal government, the provinces and municipalities.
– Support the development of the Pacific Gateway Initiative, designating at least $591 million to the initiative, but giving greater freedom to British Columbia and the other partners to designate their priority projects.
On the broader environment front, the platform promises that a Conservative government will:
– Develop a Clean Air Act to reduce smog-causing pollutants such as Nitrogen Oxide, Sulphur Dioxide and particulates.
– Address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2 with a “made-in-Canada” plan, emphasizing new technologies and developed in coordination with the provinces and other major industrial countries.
– Ensure water quality by addressing the need for aquifer mapping, protection for the Great Lakes Basin and imposing substantial penalties for oil dumping, etc.
– Clean up federal contaminated sites and encourage the private sector to clean up brownfields.
The platform also outlines plans to “Clean up the procurement of government contracts.” It says the Conservatives would review all contracting rules and appoint a Procurement Auditor to make sure that all procurements are fair and transparent and to address complaints.
By January 16, polls showed the Conservatives were 13 points ahead of Paul Martin’s Liberals.


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