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The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships wrapped up its annual conference in Toronto on November 23 with a lot of self-congratulatory talk over the success of P3s.

The theme of the conference was “Shifting into high gear” signaling the organization’s desire to use the global economic downturn and the resulting pressure on all levels of government to curtail spending to increase the number of public private partnerships in the coming year and ignoring concerns expressed over P3s by many communities across Canada.

Officials from PPP Canada reported that 73 projects have been submitted in the latest round of funding applications with interest from First Nations’ communities, hydro projects, rapid transit and the “untapped market potential in municipalities” primarily for water and waste water.

Awards were presented to various individuals for their role in project financing and infrastructure of P3s.  Most notably, the 2010 Champion Award went to Larry Blain, Chair of Partnerships BC. Blain has been the driving force of privatization in British Columbia, earning an annual salary of $503,424 a year (2007-2008). That’s his reward for selling off the public services and assets of British Columbia.

The CCPPP also released a public opinion poll, which claimed that two thirds of Canadians support the use of public private partnerships to deliver infrastructure and some public services. Closer inspection of the question explains why.

The survey asks, “If your access to services remained the same, if the quality of services was the same or better, and if the cost to you was no more than if the government was providing the services, would you support or oppose private-sector involvement?”

CUPE has long argued that that quality of service and cost are two of the primary reasons why P3s don’t work. The way the question is worded in CCPPP’s survey effectively removes all of those legitimate concerns and then asks for support. It’s like asking if you knew you’d never get in an accident, would you still need car insurance?

Other topics at the conference included discussions of P3s and First Nation communities, energy infrastructure, water and wastewater services and a review of projects across Canada.