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Flaherty tells mayors to "stop complaining" about infrastructure woes 
Politics Watch ® News Services
November 21, 2007, updated 5:15 p.m.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty  

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says many of Canada's cities have no one to blame but themselves for their aging infrastructure. 

"One of the realities is in the areas of high growth, like the (Greater Toronto Area), some of the municipalities did not keep up with their infrastructure needs and did not establish adequate reserve funds and that's their jobs as a government," Flaherty told reporters after a Conservative caucus meeting on Wednesday.

"We're not in the pothole business in the Government of Canada," he added.

Flaherty's comments come a day after the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) issued a report concluding Canada's roads, sewers and bridges were on the verge of "collapse." 

The FCM estimates Canada's infrastructure deficit at $123 billion. 

Flaherty, however, pointed to the federal government's $33-billion, seven-year Building Canada infrastructure plan announced in the last budget.  

"(Municipalities) should be going to their provincial governments, working with their provincial governments to access the federal dollars available," he said. "So let's get on with the job and stop complaining about it and do their job."

NDP Leader Jack Layton, who is a former FCM president, blasted Flaherty's comments. 

"Mr. Flaherty has gone back to his old Mike Harris days when he was minister of finance (in Ontario) and he had a lot more fun poking people in the eye than he did actually trying to solve problems," Layton said after question period. 

"Why doesn't he spend a little more time making sure that the money he always talks about -- the $33 billion that he loves to talk about -- why doesn't he get some of it out of the door and into the communities?"

The FCM acknowledges the $33 billion in federal infrastructure spending but says the money goes mainly to the provinces which have different infrastructure priorities than municipalities. 
Liberal cities and communities critic Paul Zed told PoliticsWatch that his party disagrees with the federal government's infrastructure approach that focuses more on the provincial governments than the local governments.  

"Basically what they've said is 'We're washing our hands of municipalities. We're pretending you don't exist and we'll deal only with the provinces directly and you as the province, you can deal with the various municipalities,'" he said. 

In an attempt to make the Conservative government look hostile towards Canada's cities, the Liberals announced Wednesday the creation of an "urban caucus." 

The caucus will be comprised of MPs who will focus on issues facing Canada's cities, such as public transit, affordable housing and infrastructure.  

:  Related Links

> Infrastructure debate heats up in the U.S. and Canada 

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