Should government subsidize for-profit business?
On May 1st, regardless of the current strike status of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), you must file and have your personal income tax returns received by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
This includes paying any taxes owed, or you will face penalties.
As Members of Parliament, we are responsible for keeping citizens informed about how the government spends their tax money. From my perspective, there is one area of spending that raises some concerns, and I will provide an example.
In January of this year, Prime Minister Trudeau visited a rare earth mine processing plant in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, for a ‘photo op’ and announcement.
The Trudeau Liberal Government had recently announced $5 million in funding to help establish processing and production at the facility. “Rare earth elements,” as the Government’s press release pointed out, “are a critical mineral used in clean technology like electric vehicles and wind turbines.”
This funding is part of the Liberal Government’s “Critical Minerals Strategy,” which calls for $3.8 billion in spending, or, as the Liberals would call it, “investing.”
This week, the same rare earth mining company in Saskatoon announced that operations were being “paused” while the company seeks “alternative funding sources and partnerships for a sustainable business model.”
The Financial Post also reported on this story and quoted the interim chair of the company’s board as saying there is “no economic imperative” to complete the project at the current time, citing higher costs, lower prices, and no market for what the facility aimed to produce.
It is unclear at this point what will become of the $5 million “investment” of taxpayer dollars.
This also raises concerns about what type of due diligence the Trudeau Liberal government does before handing out taxpayer money for a photo op.
This year, the Trudeau Liberals also announced they will “give Volkswagen up to $13 billion in subsidies over the next decade as part of a deal to ensure the automaker builds its electric-vehicle battery plant in southern Ontario,” as reported by the CBC.
The Leader of the Official Opposition, Pierre Poilievre, pointed out in response, “This money belongs to Canadians. Not to a foreign corporation. Not to Justin Trudeau. How much of Canadians’ money is he giving to this foreign corporation?”
The Liberals defend this spending by claiming it will be a good deal for Canadians because of the long-term jobs and economic benefits.
However, in 2020, the Trudeau Liberals made similar promises when they provided $173 million to a Quebec-based drug manufacturer supposedly developing a COVID vaccine. The parent company of this facility, the Mitsubishi Chemical Group, announced in February of 2023 that the plant in Quebec would be closing. It is unclear what the status is of the $173 million in taxpayer-provided funding.
The same goes for a $125 million deal the Trudeau Liberal government announced in a partnership with the Maryland-based drug manufacturer Novavax, which, in March of this year, also stated it has “substantial doubt” about its ability to survive here in Canada.
My question this week is:
What are your views on government subsidies for private, for-profit corporations?
You can contact me at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.