The Canada Infrastructure Bank: Theft by Deception

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin .... No. 1334 .... November 29, 2016

The Canada Infrastructure Bank: Theft by Deception

Heather Whiteside

Both the Liberal government and its Advisory Council on Economic Growth are head-over-heels for the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), announcing with fresh-faced enthusiasm that it will be an innovative route for augmenting infrastructure finance, a flywheel of institutional capital participation, and an economic stimulus boon for the middle class. Beyond the euphoria is deception; there are no sunny ways to be found here, only shadowy figures and cloudy rationale. Let's decipher the fraudulent hype.

Innovative? Canada's current system of dysfunctional public infrastructure development would certainly benefit from a source of dedicated, pooled national savings. Yet the CIB's main ‘innovation’ lies in granting equity ownership rights to private capital through investment vehicles like public-private partnerships (P3s),... the self-same model tagged with adding $8-billion unnecessary dollars to Ontario's long run debt, or where borrowing through partnerships is doubling long run costs for BC taxpayers. Not only is that theft, it is deception. We have seen this innovative movie before, many times over. Canada imported the scheme decades ago from the UK where the much loathed and floundering Private Finance Initiative was masterfully rebranded by Tony Blair by turning privatization into partnerships that augment, rather than replace, public spending. Fast forward a few decades and many there are calling for a complete abandonment of the bankrupt partnership model -- a model as bankrupt as their NHS Trusts teetering on the edge of insolvency, saddled by private partners’ exorbitant fees.

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