Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole speaks to the media in Ottawa on Sept. 1.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is promising to scrap the Liberal government’s infrastructure bank and ensure every Canadian has high-speed internet by 2025.

Getting more shovels in the ground on massive public projects is one way he’s pledged to recover Canada’s economy from the COVID-19 pandemic.

O’Toole criticized the Liberal government for sitting on billions of dollars in what he called the “failed” Canada Infrastructure Bank, which was established after Justin Trudeau’s win in 2015 to attract private dollars for public projects.

Canadian federal election 2021: Latest updates and essential reading ahead of Sept. 20 vote

Justin Trudeau releases Liberals’ multibillion-dollar platform; includes 15% tax for high-income earners

“Unlike the Liberals, we won’t condition funding so narrowly, to whether the project can be described as ‘green infrastructure,”’ he told reporters from his party’s downtown Ottawa broadcast studio.

The Conservative leader vowed to immediately dedicate the existing money to infrastructure that is ready to get built and give cities and First Nations better access to federal infrastructure funding by cutting down on red tape.

O’Toole also promises that a Tory government would build the digital infrastructure needed to give all of Canada high-speed internet by 2025.

The promises are the latest to be rolled out from the Conservative election platform which was released on the first full day of the campaign, which the Liberals attacked for not yet being costed.

“We’ve submitted our platform to the parliamentary budget officer as soon as we could,” O’Toole said. “We will update Canada’s Recovery Plan when the PBO gives us the confirmation back.”

O’Toole repeated his promise to rein in federal spending to balance the budget within a decade without making cuts by achieving his party’s goal of growing the economy by three per cent.

Wednesday marked the first time during the campaign where the Conservative leader, who has had to answer about the conduct of his candidates, had to explain some of his own past behaviour.

Recently, a nearly two-minute video that was shared on Twitter showed O’Toole speaking to others on a Zoom video conference before he was elected leader last August.

In the video, he says defeating Peterborough, Ont., MP and Liberal candidate Maryam Monsef would be a “personal project.”

O’Toole goes on to call Monsef a “disgrace” and a “fraud,” adding that she’s not respected by her Liberal colleagues.

Monsef, who was born to Afghan parents who fled the country, said she was born in Afghanistan when she was first elected as an MP in the House of Commons. After the Globe and Mail reported her birthplace was Iran, she said she had recently learned that fact from her mother.

Monsef said at the time she had been under the impression she was born in Afghanistan because her mother didn’t discuss the issue after her father was killed, and that under Iranian law she wouldn’t have been considered an Iranian citizen.

Asked about his past comments, O’Toole said he let his “frustrations boil over” with the Liberal government.

“As I’ve said, I’m trying to run a very positive campaign based on the future of our country. I think our best years are ahead of us, but we need leadership. We need a plan to get there, and even I have to step up my game at some points.”

Follow the party leaders and where they stand on the issues this election campaign by signing up for our Morning or Evening Update newsletters.