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Budget 2022

April 7, 2022

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

Honourable senators, my question today is for the government leader in the Senate. It concerns one of the many leaks that appeared in the media detailing items that will be found in the “NDP budget” later this afternoon — the first NDP budget in Canadian history.

According to Reuters, the “NDP finance minister” will bring forward a growth fund for new and green technologies. It will be run by professionals at arm’s-length from the government. It has no clear mandate. It hopes to attract $3 of private investment for every public dollar invested, and it will contain $15 billion in taxpayers’ dollars.

Does that sound familiar, leader? Every single taxpayer should be concerned about the similarities between this new scheme and the Canada Infrastructure Bank, something I asked you about yesterday. Why on earth would you want to repeat your failed infrastructure bank?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for your question, senator. I’m not yet privy to the budget, so we’ll have to wait one more day to find out what the government is proposing.

The comparison with the Canada Infrastructure Bank is an interesting one. Despite the fact that the projects are not yet completed, there are 35 projects under way, as I think I mentioned at another time, and they are important projects, Senator Plett. They include the Manitoba Fibre broadband project that will bring broadband services to nearly 50,000 households in rural Manitoba, an issue that our colleague Senator Patterson has underlined on more than one occasion. It also includes work to advance the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link, which will provide a vital energy and communications link between Manitoba and Nunavut.

Every dollar that Canadians are being asked to spend through the government on those infrastructure projects is creating jobs, attracting investment, fighting climate change, promoting social equity and building the economy of the future.

Of course, the similarity in those projects is that not one of them is completed. Perhaps, leader, someone in the New Democratic Party should be taking our questions today.

According to the media, they have been briefed on the contents of the budget. As Senator Martin mentioned on Tuesday, the Canada Infrastructure Bank has never attracted private investment, something the Prime Minister claimed it would do. They’ve completed no projects in five years but have spent over $46 million in salaries and other compensations, including $10 million in bonuses.

Leader, if the NDP-Liberal government is intent on going ahead with this scheme, at the very least will you commit to withholding incentive bonuses where there is nothing to show for it, yes or no?

Senator Gold [ + ]


Hon. Denise Batters [ + ]

Senator Gold, as Senator Plett mentioned, it is being reported today that members of the NDP were briefed earlier this week on measures that will be found in this afternoon’s federal budget. It has also reported that the NDP briefing came before members of the Liberal caucus received their briefing on the contents of this “NDP budget.”

Senator Gold, you are the Liberal government’s representative in the Senate, so could you tell us if you have received a budget briefing yet? If so, did it take place before or after the third place opposition party in the House of Commons received theirs?

Senator Gold [ + ]

Thank you for your question. My understanding of what took place was there was a conversation between the Prime Minister and the leader of the New Democratic Party, as you would expect there to be in the context of the relationship that has developed between them. To the best of my knowledge, that is the appropriate way to characterize what you have characterized otherwise.

Senator Batters [ + ]

Senator Gold, you need to answer for us whether you have received a budget briefing, after all, you were sworn in as a Privy Council member and the NDP are not.

I noticed recently also that you’re no longer listed on the PMO website as a member of the Trudeau government’s Cabinet Committee on Operations. Is this actually true? If so, why? Did Jagmeet Singh take your spot? Why does this Trudeau government have more respect for the NDP, which holds only 25 seats in the House of Commons, than it does for its own government leader in the Senate and by extension the entire Senate?

Senator Gold [ + ]

Thank you for your question and for your concern about the respect with which I am held. But your facts are wrong. I remain a member of the Operations Committee, I attended most recently on Monday. I can’t explain the website. I have other things to do than look for myself on the web.

I repeat, senator, with respect, my understanding is that there was a conversation, there was no formal briefing. Neither I nor my team nor anybody else — unless we attended the budget lock‑up which we organized for all senators, I gather, one senator attended. But apart from that, no, I did not receive any briefing, as none of us would have. Thank you.

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