Canadian Consulting Engineer

ACEC Has Six Questions for Canada’s Political Leaders

Prime Minister Paul Martin has laid out his government's mandate with February's Speech from the Throne and the March 23rd budget. In fact, the Liberals seem to be gearing up to ask Canada for a new mandate -- they are widely believed to be planni...

March 1, 2004  Canadian Consulting Engineer

Prime Minister Paul Martin has laid out his government’s mandate with February’s Speech from the Throne and the March 23rd budget. In fact, the Liberals seem to be gearing up to ask Canada for a new mandate — they are widely believed to be planning a spring election. Although at press time the election has not been called, Parliament may be dissolved in April in anticipation of a May election.

With that in mind, ACEC contacted Prime Minister Martin, Leader of the Liberal Party, Dr. Grant Hill, Interim Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, and Mr. Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party, to investigate how they feel about the consulting engineering industry’s priority issues, such as infrastructure funding and international development aid. ACEC will distribute the answers in its monthly Communiqu to help inform members prior to the election.

We asked:

1. If elected, is your party committed to sustainable federal infrastructure funding?

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2. If elected, is your party committed to establishing a long-term, national strategy to upgrade Canada’s infrastructure?

3. If elected, which of the following funding mechanisms will your party choose to fund Canada’s infrastructure?

Allocate funds from current budget for infrastructure

Give municipalities a portion of the excise fuel tax

Increase infrastructure funding through corporate tax increases

Increase infrastructure funding through personal tax increases

Other (please describe).

4. If elected, is your party committed to both municipal infrastructure and transportation infrastructure (highways, roads and so on)?

5. If elected, will your party support rebalancing CIDA funding to include investments in physical infrastructure, which is a priority for many developing countries and for which Canada was renowned in the past?

6. If elected, will your party support the concept of tied aid, which is requiring the use of Canadian goods and services in CIDA programs to ensure Canada’s presence internationally?

Highlights from February’s Speech from the Throne

In February’s Speech from the Throne, Prime Minister Paul Martin set out the government’s goals for the next few months. The speech identified several federal government initiatives that will have an impact on the consulting engineering industry. Of greatest importance to the industry is the Government’s commitment to cities and to sustainable development.

Cities and Infrastructure

The Government took immediate action on GST relief as part of the “new deal for municipalities” that Canada’s mayors have been discussing recently. The federal government will provide all municipalities with full relief from the portions of the GST they now pay (about $500 million over the next year and $7 billion over the next decade). The new deal needs to deliver reliable, predictable and long-term funding, and the speech took a good first step by promising 10 years of GST relief. The speech also promised that the Government will work with the provinces to share a portion of gas tax revenues with municipalities, or use fiscal mechanisms that achieve the same goals.

Environment and Sustainable Development

The Speech from the Throne promised that the Government will promote green technologies and will go beyond the Kyoto Protocol agreement to tackle climate change. The speech says that the Government will show leadership in “‘green technologies’ through more energy-efficient transportation and housing and through non-polluting industrial processes.” The Government pledged to develop an equitable national plan, in partnership with provincial and territorial governments and other stakeholders.

Besides its Kyoto commitments, the Speech from the Throne included an announcement that the Government will undertake a 10-year, $3.5 billion program to clean up contaminated sites, and that it will augment that clean-up with a $500 million program of similar duration to help in the remediation of certain other sites. Further, the Speech from the Throne announced that the government will engage the United States and the provinces to achieve more stringent national guidelines on air and water quality, commit the resources needed to ensure safe drinking water in First Nations’ communities and start incorporating key indicators on clean water, clean air and emissions reduction into its decision making.

Other Issues

The Speech from the Throne includes commitments to form stronger relations with newly emerging economic giants such as China, India and Brazil, and a commitment to debt repayment while avoiding deficit-spending. The Government also promised to do its part to ensure speedier recognition of foreign credentials and prior work experience.

To read the Speech from the Throne, go to http://www.pm.gc.ca/ grfx/docs/sft_fe2004_e.pdf

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