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MPs call for Guilbeault to testify after controversy erupts over comments on road funding | CBC News



MPs call for Guilbeault to testify after controversy erupts over comments on road funding | CBC News

The federal transport committee is calling on Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault to testify after his comments last week about federal funding of large road projects ignited controversy.

Following an amended motion put forward Wednesday by Ontario Conservative MP Dan Muys, the committee voted to hold a meeting with Guilbeault to discuss infrastructure in Canada.

The motion also invites Housing Minister Sean Fraser and Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez to testify before the committee. The ministers are being asked to testify separately for one hour each within 14 days of the motion being passed.

On Feb. 12, Guilbeault said the federal government will stop investing in new road infrastructure. He said that while the government will be there to support provinces paying for maintenance, it has decided that existing road infrastructure “is perfectly adequate to respond to the needs we have.”

The comments triggered an immediate outcry from the Opposition Conservatives and some premiers, including Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

Guilbeault clarified his statement on Feb. 14, telling reporters that he should have been “more specific” by saying that Ottawa will not put up the cash for “large” road projects.

“Of course we’re funding roads. We have programs to fund roads,” he said.

On Wednesday, several committee members again attacked Guilbeault over his remarks.

“It’s an out of touch comment. It’s an offensive comment,” said Conservative MP Mark Strahl, who represents the riding of Chilliwack in British Columbia.

“The government has started this war on people who need to drive their cars to live their lives,” he said, adding that those in rural communities do not have access to the same infrastructure as those who live in cities.

WATCH: Guilbeault’s comments on road infrastructure, explained     

No funding for new roads? The environment minister’s controversial comments, explained | About That

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said at an event in Montreal on Monday that the federal government ‘has made the decision to stop investing in new road infrastructure.’ About That producer Lauren Bird breaks down Guilbeault’s remarks and why they’ve led to confusion and outrage across the country.

Strahl went on to refer to Guilbeault as “radical,” a word echoed by other Conservative MPs throughout Wednesday’s committee meeting.

Strahl proposed the initial motion, which called on the committee to undertake a study of the state of Canada’s infrastructure lasting no less than six days. It also invites others to testify, including Finance Minister Christina Freeland and Ehren Cory, CEO of the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

In response, Liberal MP and associate committee member Chris Bittle argued that the federal government has “provided historic investments in infrastructure” and will continue to do so.

“We saw immediately that the minister of the environment clarified his statements … This is not a change in government policy,” he said.

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