March 2013

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Page 27 of 67

Ontario Infrastructure Engine Chugging, But Feebly Deficits, unemployment, and politics plague Canada's most populous province, which badly wants a return to glory days. By Tom Van Dusen Jr. The words that anybody involved in construction and equipment sales wanted to hear were contained in the Speech from the Throne presented by Ontario's new government Feb. 19: Positive words about infrastructure – but no numbers attached. If there are any, they'll come later in the provincial budget. In the formal speech delivered in the provincial legislature, new Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and her colleagues presented their governmental game plan. It's the long-term vision of a minority government requiring cooperation from at least one of two opposition parties to retain power. "Your government understands that infrastructure is the underpinning of our economy and that if we continue to lag behind, then we'll never leap forward," the speech intoned. The document went on to suggest it's time for a "serious conversation" rather than major action about infrastructure, whether it be about better roads or stronger bridges, repaired underpasses or accelerated, integrated transit. With rhetorical flourish, the speech stated: "Your government believes that smart infrastructure investment can no longer be mired in political rhetoric." It emphasized that the issue adds up to a "race against time for Canada as a whole," requiring cooperation from all governments in advocating a national strategy on infrastructure. It's all music to the ears of lobby groups such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) that recently expressed satisfaction with the federal government in working towards infrastructure renewal. However, despite the encouraging Throne Speech words, provincial government disarray and financial despondency are likely to preclude many big new shovels in the ground in Ontario. There's no getting away from the fact that successful national infrastructure expansion needs Ontario at the core. FCM president Karen Leibovici has referred to potential long-term solutions in meeting Canada's "infrastructure challenge." These solutions were discussed, Leibovici said, during consultations between the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal government levels – including a 20-year rehabilitation plan – which she says must be included in the next national budget, paving the main road to new jobs and economic growth. Meanwhile, 34 Canadian members of Associated Equipment Distributors (continued on page 28) 26 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | March 2013 26_Ontario_feature_KP.indd 26 2/27/13 3:05 PM

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