Guilbeault ignores House of Commons committee summons over 'no more roads' comment

The Transport Committee's Conservative motion for Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault to address his 'no more roads' statement within 14 days went unanswered by his department after the Wednesday deadline.

Guilbeault ignores House of Commons committee summons over 'no more roads' comment
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault made the executive decision to dodge accountability after Opposition MPs demanded testimony on his controversial 'no more roads' comment last month.

As reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, Guilbeault skipped a summons for questioning by the Commons transport committee despite receiving ample notice. 

On February 21, the transport committee approved a Conservative motion requesting Guilbeault's appearance "within 14 days of this motion being adopted" to clarify his statement. However, Environment and Climate Change Canada remained silent as the Wednesday deadline passed.

“He is now refusing to answer any questions,” said Conservative MP Mark Strahl, the motion’s sponsor. Canadians “are being kept in the dark over the Liberals’ plan,” he added.

“Roads are not a luxury for hard-working Canadians,” reiterated Strahl. “They are essential.” 

Guilbeault told donors at a Montreal fundraiser luncheon on February 12 that his government would stop investing in new road infrastructure. “The network is perfectly adequate to respond to the needs we have,” he added.

The minister claims further road expansions would encourage more car use, suggesting that it would lead to increased congestion and air pollution.

Strahl called it “a radical policy” at the time his motion passed unanimously.

“His divisive comments, his extreme position has set off alarm bells in provincial capitals, in cities, in remote communities and Indigenous communities right across the country,” he added. 

On February 14, Guilbeault attempted to walk back his comments. “We have programs to fund roads,” he clarified. “Maybe I should have been more specific.”

“What did you mean exactly?” asked a reporter. “That’s not what I said,” replied Guilbeault. 

Direct quotes from the Minister from a February 12 conference say otherwise. "Our government has made the decision to stop investing in new road infrastructure," he said, "there will be no more envelopes from the federal government to enlarge the road network."

“I can read it back to you,” said the reporter. “What I have said is the solutions to our transport challenge pass by many different things,” replied Guilbeault.

Liberal MP Chris Bittle, parliamentary secretary for infrastructure, tried to save face by stating “no change” had been tabled on road policy. “We are making historic investments across the country,” said Bittle.

New Democrat MP Taylor Bachrach did not find the official denials reassuring, reported Blacklock’s Reporter

Conservative, NDP and Bloc Québécois MPs condemned the controversial comments that have drawn the ire of Canadians across the country. 

“His public comments are shocking to hear as they have massive consequences on infrastructure development for Canadian communities and on the ability of communities to grow and prosper,” penned the opposition members in a February 16 letter.

“Canadians deserve to know how this decision will impact their communities and their ability to drive their vehicles and live their lives,” it reads.

Bloc Québécois MP Xavier Barsalou-Duval told MPs that Guilbeault appears to support a “militant vision” rooted in ideology. 

“The question is could you be any more out of touch? Do you not know people who need to drive to work on our road network? Do you not know people who drive their kids to school? Do you not realize that our supply chains are incredibly reliant on new roads and improved roads?” said Strahl.

”We don’t all live in downtown Montreal,” he added. “This is an alarming point of view.”

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