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Ottawa announces $10 billion in infrastructure funding, reintroduces conversion therapy bill

Thursday, October 01, 2020 @ 1:58 PM | By Ian Burns

The federal government has announced $10 billion in major infrastructure initiatives as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery plan and has reintroduced a bill which would bring in criminal sanctions around the controversial practice of conversion therapy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB)’s growth plan Oct. 1, which he said would create approximately 60,000 jobs across the country. The plan aims to connect more households and small businesses to high-speed Internet, strengthen agriculture and help build a lower-carbon economy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

"By investing in infrastructure, we are strengthening our communities and ensuring good jobs for today and in the future,” Trudeau said. “We will continue to do what it takes to support Canadians through this crisis, safely get our economy back up and running, and get people back to work.”

As part of the plan, $2.5 billion will invested in clean power and renewable generation, with $2 billion each for broadband initiatives and energy-efficient building retrofits. A further $1.5 billion is allocated for agriculture irrigation projects and $1.5 billion for developing zero-emission buses. To accelerate the delivery of projects in which the CIB intends to invest, it will also allocate $500 million for project development and early construction works.

CIB chair Michael Sabia said one of the defining features of the bank is attracting private investment to new infrastructure.

“Every dollar of public investment in these initiatives is intended to attract additional dollars from private and institutional investors,” he said. “In that way, the CIB can have bigger impacts that benefit Canadians and Canada's economy.”

But opposition Leader Erin O’Toole slammed the move, saying Trudeau was “making empty promises and leaving millions of Canadians behind” and that he would scrap the CIB and “bring forward a real plan that gets job-creating projects built.”

“Justin Trudeau’s record on infrastructure is abysmal. In five years, the Liberals have failed to get money out the door and shovels in the ground,” he said. “Canadians are struggling, 90 per cent of small businesses can’t access government programs and we are entering a second wave of the pandemic. Justin Trudeau’s agenda is failing workers and businesses from coast to coast to coast.”

Justice Minister David Lametti also reintroduced a government bill on the controversial practice of conversion therapy Oct. 1. The bill, which had been brought forward in March but died on the order paper with the Liberals prorogued Parliament in August, would amend the Criminal Code by making it an offence to cause a minor to undergo conversion therapy and to force people to undergo the practice against their will, among other protections.

Conversion therapy aims to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or to change an individual’s gender identity to match the sex they were assigned at birth. Lametti called the practice cruel and “one that can lead to life-long trauma, especially for young people.”

“Conversion therapy has been discredited and denounced by professional and health associations in Canada and indeed around the world. It has no basis in science or in health-care practices,” he said. “Too many Canadians have undergone conversion therapy and have had to live with its harmful effects.”

According to the interim results of the 2019-2020 Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) Sex Now Survey, one in five sexual minority men have been subjected to sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression change efforts.

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