Guilbeault's 'no new roads' comment 'so stupid it drew ire from across the political spectrum'

Sheila Gunn Reid looks at how condemnation of Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault's remarks about the federal government no longer funding new roads was a rare moment of political unity.

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Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault's suggestion the federal government would stop building new roads was an idea so bad it brought a rare moment of unity in Canada.

“Our government has made the decision to stop investing in new road infrastructure,” Guilbeault said on February 12, the Montreal Gazette reported.

“Of course we will continue to be there for cities, provinces and territories to maintain the existing network, but there will be no more envelopes from the federal government to enlarge the road network. The analysis we have done is that the network is perfectly adequate to respond to the needs we have. And thanks to a mix of investment in active and public transit, and in territorial planning and densification, we can very well achieve our goals of economic, social and human development without more enlargement of the road network,” he said.

By Feb. 14, the environment minister was suggesting he misspoke.

As reported by the Globe and Mail:

He said he had been referring to large projects such as the Third Link in Quebec City, a controversial proposal to build a link for public transit only between Quebec City and the community of Lévis, across the St. Lawrence River from the Quebec capital.

The project was originally budgeted at $6.5-billion, but has been recast to serve public transit and not automobiles.

“Does this minister understand that most Canadians don’t live in downtown Montreal? Most of us can’t just head out the door in the snow and rain and just walk 10km to work each day,” wrote Alberta Premier Danielle Smith on X, wondering whether Guilbeault could return to the “real world.”

“He doesn’t care that you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. I do. We’re building roads and highways, with or without a cent from the feds,” remarked Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

“I just urge the prime minister to clarify this issue for us,” added British Columbia Premier David Eby.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempted to add further clarity to the controversy, saying that “this federal government has stepped up massively on investing in infrastructure right across the country.”

On Friday's Rebel Roundup livestream, host Sheila Gunn Reid ridiculed Guilbeault's comments and Trudeau's defence of his cabinet minister.

“It is true, [Guilbeault's comments was] so stupid that it drew ire from across the political spectrum. David Eby is no conservative, that's for sure. I think he would be to the left of a socialist in B.C.,” she said.

“Doug Ford, God only knows where he's at today. I think he would be closer to a Liberal than a conservative, like federal Liberal, I think he would probably align himself with them than he would with Poilievre.” 

“He [Trudeau] said his government has made infrastructure investments — it's not investments, you don't invest taxpayer money. Spending, is what he's talking about,” she said. “But he was elected in 2015, late 2015, so he's taking credit for infrastructure 'investments' — spending — that the prior government made.”

As a conservative, Sheila says she's skeptical of infrastructure "investments" because of how much money was wasted by the Trudeau government through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

A 2022 House of Commons report into the it made one recommendation: abolish the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

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