Hon. Gerry Weiner – Pace Immigration: Several years ago, my colleagues and I at Pace Law Firm developed ideas on how we could energize an investor immigration plan in Canada using an infrastructure program. That is, rebuilding Canadian infrastructure with new immigrant investor money. We have blogged about this numerous times.
One subject that spurred our thoughts was the government’s proposal of a new Canada/US bridge across the Detroit River.
At the time, the Harper government proposed a new bridge to replace the antiquated Ambassador Bridge. And no wonder. The truck traffic backs up several kilometres on the Canadian side of the bridge at a great cost to exporters and businesses on both sides of the border. However, neither the US government, the state of Michigan nor the private owner of the Ambassador Bridge had any interest in building a new bridge. But Canada certainly did. So much so, that Canada said it would carry the entire cost of building it.
Several years ago, the government committed to building the Gordie Howe International Bridge, with a projected completion date of 2020. It came with an initial price tag of $2.8 billion. That projected cost has now almost doubled. It will no doubt balloon more in the years ahead.
Prime Minister Trudeau has been warned that when the loonie dips, as it has over the past year, the cost of the bridge will go up to match. On top of that, companies are still bidding on contracts for the construction of the bridge, and nothing more than a preparation area has been built. The completion date of 2020 seems unlikely. Delays = more money. The money, of course, comes from the Canadian taxpayer. As mentioned, they are footing the entire cost of the Canada/US bridge, with hopes of recouping their costs through future tolls.
But do the taxpayers have to take on the whole burden? I think not.
The Trudeau government recently announced the formation of an infrastructure bank to finance projects in Canada:
Finance Minister Bill Morneau rose in the House of Commons Tuesday to deliver his fall economic update – kind of a mini-budget – and announced the formal steps towards creating a Canada infrastructure bank to help fund major construction projects across the country. Morneau said the Liberals will kick in $35-billion and hope to attract private sector dollars at a ratio of $4 to $5 in private funding for every $1 of federal money.
This sounds very close to the infrastructure fund that my colleagues and I had been brainstorming about. And while I wholeheartedly agree that an infrastructure bank is a great idea, I’ll go further by saying that it does not take a genius to see the potential for generating funds through investor immigration. If the Quebec program can ask investors for close to a million dollars in order to invest in their province, why can’t the Federal government request at least that much, and probably a lot more, of investors who wish to settle in the rest of Canada?
Build The Bridge
The payoff to investor immigrants would be investing with a government bank and speeding up their residency applications. The payoff for Canada would be to lighten the load on taxpayers’ bills, fast track the completion of projects, and create jobs.
Canada has shown itself to be an immigrant-friendly country that is progressive about refugee programs and family reunification. There is no reason why we can’t also be forward thinking about investor immigration and use it to help all Canadians through improved infrastructure and jobs. We should start by putting the money towards the still non-existent Gordie Howe International Bridge.