Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference, Friday, May 31, 2019 in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

VIDEO: We’ll work with cities, even when provinces won’t work with Ottawa, Trudeau says

Prime minister pledged government will keep working with municipalities on housing, climate change

Even with provinces and Ottawa not always seeing eye-to-eye these days, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged Friday that his federal Liberal government would keep working with municipalities to deal with the effects of extreme weather, housing shortages and climate change.

In a speech to members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities with an election-style tone, Trudeau also warned those gathered against Conservative policies.

“We are an election away from going back to the days when austerity was the federal government’s only policy,” Trudeau said. “We’ve seen conservative politicians do this before, so we can’t act surprised when we see them do it again.”

His speech came ahead of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s own address to the gathering of mayors and councillors later Friday.

Trudeau said the actions of provincial conservative governments show how far they’re willing to go to pursue small-government ideology.

“Over the last year, we’ve seen Doug Ford’s Conservative government withhold federal dollars from their citizens,” Trudeau told the municipal politicians in Quebec City, saying that in some Ontario communities, federally funded public construction projects have slowed or stopped completely.

“Premier Ford is playing politics with money that belongs to your communities and your citizens are paying the price.”

This week, the Ford government cancelled retroactive funding cuts to municipalities, but Trudeau said he’s not convinced the Ontario premier has really heard what local lawmakers are telling him.

In response, Ontario’s Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton shot back that Trudeau was “dead wrong.”

In a statement, McNaughton said 54 projects have been submitted to the federal government — critical work that includes $28.6 billion in road, bridge and transit projects that have yet to be approved by Ottawa.

“The federal government has said Ontario’s priorities are their priorities,” McNaughton wrote. “It’s time Prime Minister Trudeau put his money where his mouth is.”

Trudeau said his government has pushed ahead on more projects than the previous Conservative government did. While he said he’d prefer to co-operate with provincial governments, Trudeau said he is committed find a way to get funding to municipalities if the provinces don’t want to play ball.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver mayors take transit issue to Ottawa ahead of federal election

He pointed to a one-time measure in the latest federal budget that doubles the federal gas-tax transfer to help municipalities with infrastructure work this year.

“We got elected on a very clear promise to collaborate, to work together, to believe in co-operative federalism,” Trudeau said. “But if the provinces don’t want to work with the federal government and municipalities on infrastructure, we’ll figure out ways … of working with you, getting shovels in the ground.”

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

ARTS AROUND: Giant Book Sale has new date, new location

Book sale will take place in November at Alberni Athletic Hall

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Yukon writer reads at virtual Alberni Valley Words on Fire

Joanna Lilley will make her appearance on May 27

Port Alberni gift card site kickstarts post-COVID-19 economy

City, chamber of commerce collaborate on novel ‘shop local’ plan

Broombusters will clean up the greenery at Canal Waterfront Park

Volunteers are needed for Friday morning, May 22 to help cut down invasive plants

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read