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News Analysis Oct 14, 2020 3:24 PM EST

Shady Infrastructure Bank is Trudeau Liberals' next big scandal waiting to happen

Despite large investment made to the Bank, the actual list of accomplishments that can be attributed to it remains short, if not non-existent.

Shady Infrastructure Bank is Trudeau Liberals' next big scandal waiting to happen
Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

Yesterday, New Democrat MPs served noticed that they would be seeking Parliamentary hearings into the Canada Infrastructure Bank, according to Blacklock's Reporter.

NDP MP Taylor Bachrach said he will ask MPs to "undertake a study related to the mandate and activities of the Canada Infrastructure Bank including a review of projects the Bank has supported" through four separate hearings.

The Infrastructure Bank, created in 2017, has seen its share of troubles since its inception. The Bank, which was launched with a $35 billion to grant, funds private investment in public works. Both the chair and the CEO of the Bank abruptly resigned last April. Despite the large investment, the actual list of accomplishments that can be attributed to the bank remains short, if not non-existent.

This has been criticized by MPs from both the NDP and Conservatives. In 2019, Conservative MPs attempted to call upon Infrastructure Bank executives for questioning, with MP Matt Jeneroux criticizing the Bank's total lack of transparency, saying there was "nothing really public about it at all."

The Infrastructure Bank was put back in the spotlight after an October 1 announcement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, and Bank Chair Michael Sabia, wherein a $10 billion infrastructure plan was announced that would take place over three years. The Trudeau Liberals said the investment would create 60,000 jobs.

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole criticized the Bank's function, saying: "Three years, $35 billion and zero projects completed... That is failure."

"Has it taken some time to build the foundations for an organization? Yes," said Sabia, the newly-appointed chair. "It has taken some time, but it does take time to build an organization from scratch."

"The new chief executive will be in place in the coming weeks," Sabia continued.

Lack of transparency has always been a burden on the Bank. Large sums, including taxpayer-funded bonuses, remain unknown. Bank Chief Financial Officer Annie Ropar told Commons on June 22 that bonuses were subject to "confidentiality."

"Unfortunately I cannot comment on a specific individual's payments or terms," said Ropar "That is subject to confidentiality obviously of their employment agreement."

Conservative Shadow Finance Minister Pierre Poilievre called the confidentiality "unacceptable."

"I can tell you every member of this committee has their compensation disclosed. The chairman has compensation, all of us as MPs have different compensation. Everybody knows what we’re paid... Why do you think you and your other executives should be able to keep your compensation, which is funded by taxpayers, secret from those same taxpayers?" asked Poilievre.

"We're actually following the exact same guidelines that other Crown corporations follow," Ropar replied.

When MPs asked in May how much the former CEO of the Bank took in through benefits and bonuses, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna's said that "The CEO’s bonus is set by the Bank and it is public knowledge."

This, however, was an untrue. Bonuses were never made public, and her staff had to clarify her statement.

The Bank's lack of transparency rings true to much of the Trudeau government's antics, though the prime minister would like you to believe otherwise. Yesterday, Trudeau criticized Conservative MPs for continuing their snooping into the WE Charity scandal, something Trudeau said his government had remained "open and transparent about."

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