O’Toole pledges high-speed internet for all, to drop Liberal infrastructure bank

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is promising to scrap the Liberal government’s infrastructure bank, get shovels in the ground on massive public projects and ensure every Canadian has high-speed internet by 2025.

O’Toole criticized the Liberal government for sitting on billions of dollars in what he called the “failed” Canada Infrastructure Bank, which was established after Justin Trudeau’s win in 2015 to attract private dollars for public projects.

“Unlike the Liberals, we won’t condition funding so narrowly, to whether the project can be described as ‘green infrastructure,”’ he told reporters on Wednesday from his party’s downtown Ottawa broadcast studio.

The Conservative leader vowed to immediately dedicate the existing money to infrastructure that is ready to build and give cities and First Nations better access to federal infrastructure funding by cutting down on red tape.

O’Toole also promised that a Tory government would build the digital infrastructure needed to give all of Canada high-speed internet within four years.

“We’ve submitted our platform to the parliamentary budget officer as soon as we could,” O’Toole said. “We will update Canada’s Recovery Plan when the PBO gives us the confirmation back.”

O’Toole repeated his promise to balance the budget within a decade _ without making cuts _ by reining in federal spending and achieving his party’s goal of growing the economy by three per cent each year. Annual gross domestic product has leaped by that percentage only once since 2011.

election: O’Toole promises to do away with Canada infrastructure bank

The Conservatives have repeatedly criticized the government over the Canada Infrastructure Bank not having completed a single project. The Crown corporation was launched in June 2017.

In March, a stinging auditor general’s report found the federal government can’t show that the Liberals’ $188-billion infrastructure plan is meeting its lofty goals.

The 12-year plan was a cornerstone of the Liberals’ successful 2015 election campaign, betting that spending big on infrastructure would speed up economic growth, create jobs and improve Canadians’ lives through new transit, green renovations and social projects.

But the audit of the plan showed the promise has been plagued by setbacks, with billions left unspent or delayed until later this decade and the lead department failing to provide “meaningful public reporting” on the plan’s overall progress, auditor general Karen Hogan wrote.

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