The Liberals rushed legislation creating the bank through Parliament last spring in an omnibus bill. The Canada Infrastructure Bank Act doesn’t allow municipal, provincial or federal government representatives to sit on the board. Yet the Liberals have handed the bank $35 billion in public funds, and the bank will play a key role in large public infrastructure projects. It’s a fundamental imbalance the Liberals ignore in a press release praising the board’s makeup.
In May, CUPE warned the government about the dangers of handing bank oversight to a board stacked with banking and finance representatives – the very sectors that will profit from the CIB.
The Globe and Mail reports that several have Liberal connections, and donated to the Liberal and Conservative parties.
Two of the 10 members, Bruno Guilmette and Michèle Colpron, are directly connected to pension funds. Our union opposes pension funds profiting from P3s and other privatization.
Many other directors have close connections with privatization projects. Jane Bird was involved in the P3 Canada Line rapid transit project in Vancouver. The Trudeau government promotes the Canada Line as a success, but in reality it is a case study in what can go wrong when governments hand power over public infrastructure to private interests. Profit, not public need, ended up driving key decisions in Vancouver.
James Cherry was president and CEO of the greater Montreal airport authority, and has advocated for airport privatization. He was recently appointed to the board of the P3 McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. The federal government is studying airport privatization, but is refusing to release the analysis it’s commissioned, or any details about its plans.
Other board members work for private finance corporations, law firms that include a focus on P3s, or own companies that could be contractors on P3 projects.
Two directors have history with SaskPower and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Newfoundland and Labrador. A key bank target is large utility projects.
Transit privatization is another prime target. Another director worked with Metrolinx, the Ontario agency that oversees transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. Major system expansions managed by Metrolinx have been P3s, and former agency head Bruce McCuaig is now a senior advisor at the CIB.
With only the president and CEO position left to be filled, it’s crystal clear the bank will be pushing exclusively for high-cost privatization projects. This is a complete reversal of the Liberal’s election promise and mandate letter commitment to a bank that would help cities and towns with low-cost lending.
On the same day the directors were unveiled, the federal finance department announced long-term bonds with a 2.25 per cent interest rate. As CUPE economist Toby Sanger points out, when the Canadian government can borrow over 50 years at 2.25 per cent, it makes no sense for anyone, except the private lenders who will profit, for the CIB to use private financing which will double project costs.