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Blatantly immoral

Submitted by
Ken Boshcoff M.P.

COMRIF was introduced by the Federal Liberal Government in 2004 to improve and renew public infrastructure in communities with populations of less than 250,000 by providing a three-year commitment of up to $298 million from the Federal Government. Last week, the Conservative Government announced the recipients of the final scheduled application process. In Thunder Bay-Rainy River, just two applications were approved totaling just over $703,000.
While I am pleased that Oliver Paipoonge and Thunder Bay received this vital funding, I am concerned that the communities of Rainy River, Fort Frances, and Neebing and the Local Roads Boards of Northern Light Lake and Lybster were once again unsuccessful.
In reviewing the announcement for the entire Province, funding totals show that the Conservative government is using the fund to disproportionately favour Conservative-held ridings. Of the total $46.4 million funding delivered in 2007, $40.5 million has been awarded to Conservative held ridings. In 2006, of $117.8 million in total funding, no less than $100.5 million was allocated to Conservative ridings.
This kind of blatant partisanship is immoral. Small communities across the province are in desperate need of infrastructure renewal. Clean water and safe roads must be available for all ridings – not just those that supported this Government in the last election.
Under the Liberal watch, COMRIF funding was much more equitable and was provided to ridings regardless of their political stripe. In 2005, opposition held ridings were awarded over 35 per cent of the funding allocation (a figure comparable to the number of seats held by each party) – not the mere 13 per cent provided by the Conservatives.
To add insult to injury, Minister Tony Clement’s riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka received over $8.2 million of the 2007 funding allotment. That’s a full 18 per cent of the total annual budget to the Minister who oversees the program.
I will be raising this issue in the House of Commons when we return to Ottawa at the end of the month. The Government needs to be held to account for their deliberate politicization of rural infrastructure funding.