A Regina Liberal MP is calling a major $5.8 billion infrastructure announcement by the Harper government Monday little more than the repackaging of previous spending commitments.

Ralph Goodale says this includes the federal government’s $500 million pledge to First Nations reserve schools which he says is not new funding.

Goodale calls the Conservatives’ infrastructure announcement to spend $2.8 billion upgrading such things as historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas a bunch of “hocus pocus.”
He says the Conservatives are starting to feel public pressure for their poor record on infrastructure and decided to simply re-announce some previous spending.

“I think they’re really feeling the heat on the deficiencies of their infrastructure program,” he says. “There was a major meeting here last week in Ottawa with all the mayors and municipalities from across the country and they were highly critical of the government because for the funding for municipal infrastructure there’s actually been a cutback this year.”

Goodale also says all details around the infrastructure commitment are highly suspect.

“It’s very suspicious money. If you’re going to make an announcement that purports to be a $6 billion announcement that would, in effect, put the government back into deficit again in one fell swoop, the question becomes, ‘Where did the money come from?’”

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office described the projects as “new funding” and said the money could start to flow as early as this year.

In an email Monday night, a spokeswoman for the Finance Department said most of the money is new funds that have not been previously announced.

(with files from The Canadian Press)