On the heels of a massive federal government loan/investment bailout for Air Canada, Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod wants increased transparency around large sums of money given by Ottawa to private industry.
The Conservative MP introduced a private member’s bill on Tuesday (April 13) that seeks to require the minister of industry to publish an annual report that includes details of grants, loans or contributions of more than $100,000 made by the Department of Industry.
The $100,000 threshold was chosen to prevent small businesses receiving business loans from being included.
McLeod described the current process around large loans, grants and contributions to private industry as “very elusive” and said an annual report would make the status clear, including specific details around which organizations/companies received money, what is happening to that money, whether loans are being repaid according to pre-determined terms and conditions and perhaps whether the government has written off such loans.
“I think it’s really a measure of accountability, transparency, ethics for the use of taxpayers’ dollars to support private business,” McLeod told KTW.
McLeod pointed to the WE Charity controversy as an example of unethical use of taxpayer dollars. Via a no-bid selection process, the charity was chosen by the federal government to administer a student summer grant program. Before the plan collapsed amid controversy, the federal government had agreed to pay WE Charity $44 million.
In addition, McLeod said, significant amounts of tax dollars have been doled out to other organizations and she wants Canadians to know who got the money, how much they received and, if it was a loan, whether it is being repaid.
“We are spending an extraordinary amount of taxpayers’ dollars during this pandemic,” McLeod said. “It will not only be the taxpayers today, but it will probably be the taxpayers of our grandchildren that will be paying off the debt that’s being incurred. And if there’s debt being incurred, where there’s a loan to accompany, I think it is absolutely the right of every taxpayer to know how the government spends their money on their behalf.”
McLeod said it is “critical” for the opposition to have tools — such as the proposed reports — to hold government to account.