The president of CUPE Nova Scotia is astonished and perplexed that the premier is touting the Confederation Bridge as a P3 success story in order to justify the provincial government’s latest foray into public-private partnerships.
“Confederation Bridge cost taxpayers $45 million more than it would have through public financing,” says Danny Cavanagh. “Haven’t we already learned from our mistakes? Wasn’t the P3 schools fiasco a hard enough lesson? Why are we spending even more public money to have a P3-friendly corporation research public-private options for our hospitals, jails, highways and other infrastructure?”
Local 2330 President Betty Jean Sutherland wrote to Premier Rodney MacDonald earlier this month questioning his decision to pay $200,000 to Partnerships BC to look at the viability of more P3 projects for the province. In his response, the premier cited Confederation Bridge as a “classic example of a successful P3 project.”
“Has Rodney forgotten the Auditor General’s report which declared the bridge a flawed deal that put the public finances at risk?” asks Cavanagh. “Has he forgotten about the broken promises such as the federal government’s vow that the bridge would be Canadian built when in reality the developer, Strait Crossing Development Inc., was 85 percent foreign-owned? Has he forgotten the secrecy surround the costs and details of the contract, which only came out through the Auditor General’s report? What about the immediate and dramatic increase in the tolls in the first year?”
Cavanagh says the plan to have the projects assessed by an agency that was set up by the Campbell government in BC to promote public-private partnerships is simply a smokescreen.
“If there was ever a recipe for being fleeced, public-private partnerships are it,” says Cavanagh. “How can anyone argue that the Confederation Bridge is a good deal, let alone the premier, who is supposed to be looking out for tax-payers?”