Mr. Chair, this is what happens when Liberals are exposed to accountability and transparency. They react very vociferously when they get backed into a corner, and they fear the sunlight that was supposed to be the disinfectant has become the thing that gives them some burns.
Where to begin? It's said that Canadians would lose out if the Infrastructure Bank ceased operations. Lose out on what? The bank has completed nothing. The only two projects this government can point to are projects that were already going to get funding. The government just made a political decision to provide funding through the CIB, and the parliamentary budget officer has revealed that there is no private sector investment in them.
We have here a first-of-its-kind type of arrangement whereby, instead of public dollars leveraging private sector money to get public infrastructure built, the Canada Infrastructure Bank has proposed a model in which private money has leveraged public funds to get private infrastructure built. Instead of having the private sector play a role in designing, operating or maintaining a public asset—something that Canadians own either through municipal, provincial or federal governments—this is now going to be an asset owned by a private sector company.
I could litigate every single point. I know Mr. Fillmore can recite lots of quotes from his ideological soulmates in various institutions who benefit from the Liberal government and support their ideology. If this debate goes on beyond this committee's meeting, I can come to the next meeting with lots and lots of quotes from ethics experts talking about this government's scandalous decision to grant a sole-source contract of almost $1 billion to their friends in the WE Charity; how the Prime Minister and his family personally benefited from the WE organization; how they benefited politically by giving the WE organization a platform.
I could stick to infrastructure and bring in Auditor General and parliamentary budget officer reports and read, not quotes from editorialists or columnists with their own opinion, but cold hard facts, black and white numbers. The reality is that what we offered in the last election was a recognition that this government had cut infrastructure through its lapsing of that funding. In the first few years of this government's existence, it lapsed $8 billion in infrastructure spending. That was commitments to municipalities, towns and rural municipalities and villages. They were going to get help to upgrade their water systems, expand their roads, all kinds of different types of assets that would improve the lives of people in those communities. This government lapsed that funding, effectively cut that funding by $8 billion in the first year, and continues to lapse that money year over year.
This motion has been referred to as a fishing expedition. By that logic if the CRA looks at anybody's tax return, then CRA is on a fishing expedition. We have mechanisms in our government whereby oversight is provided. That's not to say that every time a committee exercises its oversight function that it always uncovers something, but it's the fact that oversight exists to ensure proper behaviour by government departments. If this committee and other committees just decided they would never cast a second look or have another run at the numbers or the proposals, it would be hugely detrimental to the accountability and transparency our Parliament is based on.
We have discovered through all kinds of studies gross examples of missed expenditures. I submitted an Order Paper question asking about infrastructure cost overruns due to delays. I believed we would probably get some projects here and there in the infrastructure department. I was shocked to find out how much extra costs for the taxpayer Parks Canada has caused through project delays. I wasn't expecting to find it, but the very fact that I asked the question forced government agencies and departments to answer the question, and now we can see the millions and millions of dollars that Parks Canada has cost taxpayers by failing to manage its own asset. That's what this motion is all about.
As I mentioned at the last meeting, if private sector companies don't want to have these types of accountability measures imposed upon them, there are a lot of lenders who will provide confidentiality and secrecy to them. I believe it's safe to say that every chartered bank in the country has all kinds of commitments to its clients about maintaining secrecy and confidentiality about their clients' operations. This is different. This is the taxpayer who is funding this.
Mr. Fillmore wants to talk about cuts that the Conservatives promised in the last campaign. Let's talk about the cuts to corporate welfare that we promised, corporate welfare that this government just can't get enough of. Liberals and corporate welfare go hand in hand.
We've seen so many examples of hard-working Canadians struggling to get by during this pandemic. I know so many people in my riding who have lost everything, as I'm sure every member on this committee—regardless of party—does in their communities. These people have been forced to shut their doors because of the pandemic and have lost their life savings. Friends of mine have had to sell their homes to pay off the bills from their small businesses. They've owned restaurants that they're not allowed to open.
It's heart-wrenching and it's heartbreaking. Then, when you see this announcement coming on the heels of this government giving $12 million to Loblaws for fridges—multi-billion dollar companies—as well as $50 million to MasterCard.... A credit card company that makes its living off the backs of working Canadians who can't pay their full balance is getting $50 million in taxpayers' money. Now we have an example where, through its subsidiary, a private sector company worth billions of dollars gets a cheque for $655 million. This whole exercise is to find out why that decision was made and how the agreement is structured. That is what this is all about.
Now, I did mention in our last meeting that I was sympathetic to the argument about some types of information where there would never be an expectation of disclosure on the part of the third party here, ITC Holdings. In the spirit of co-operation, and inspired by Mr. Bachrach's enlightened compromise of 30 days rather than the original 20 days, I would propose a motion that was first put forward by Ms. Kusie. I can assure members that I have consulted with the law clerk's office today to ensure this is worded properly,
In the spirit of compromise and in trying to ensure that the motives of this are clear—that this is about accountability and understanding why this motion is necessary and the information from the committee is being asked for—I would propose the following amendment after the words “within 30 days of the adoption of this order”. We've just amended that with Mr. Bachrach's words. The motion would have the amendment added to it. I would have to amend that whole sentence as follows:
That the documents be provided in an unredacted form to the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel within 30 days of the adoption of this order;That the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel redact from the documents, except for the agreement itself, its appendices or schedules: (a) any information that constitutes a trade secret, (b) any information the disclosure of which could reasonably result in material financial loss or gain to ITC or a third party or prejudice their competitive position, (c) any information the disclosure of which could reasonably interfere with contractual or other negotiations of ITC or a third party, and (d) any personal private information;That the CIB, in consultation with ITC, may propose redactions to the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel respecting the information that should be redacted pursuant to this order; andThat the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel provide the redacted documents to the committee as soon as the redactions are completed.