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

Just Posted

Parksville swimmer Bennett has sights set on 2020 Para Olympics

Canadian coach impressed with rapid progress of world-record holder

Manna hands out gift cards to those in need in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Volunteers say it makes a big difference during the holidays

Business increasing in Qualicum Beach, though labour can be hard to find

Business Walk hosted by Chamber of Commerce surveyed 61 businesses

Orca Place residents take time to clean up garbage in Parksville

‘We have to change all these people’s perspectives and outlook on us’

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Most Read