UCTE members have been loud and clear in our opposition to any further profitization of Canada’s airports. We believe that the existing Local Airport Authority model provides the best benefit for our communities and the travelling public. But that model is under threat from not just corporate interests who want to drain revenue from the system, but by our own government who is seeking to finance their new infrastructure regime.
Last year the federal government announced their intention to seek advice from investment banker Credit Suisse AG on whether to undertake more sell-offs of crown assets like airports and federal ports. They linked this announcement to the creation of the Canada Investment Bank which they hoped to use to lure more foreign capital to Canada. The problem is that they intended to allow those international investors to buy up our valued crown assets.
Since that time UCTE has been fully engaged in a high-profile campaign to persuade the government that this move is not in the best interest of anyone, especially Canadian taxpayers who have already paid for their federally regulated private airports. To that end, UCTE prepared a policy paper and held a series of meetings with Members of Parliament from all parties, including a meeting between UCTE President Dave Clark and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as pictured above.
We have also been working closely with many of the Airport Authorities who are actively opposing this move as well as our partners in the labour movement and at the Canadian Labour Congress. Finally, the UCTE National Office is working with the PSAC Anti-Privatization Campaign to garner public support for our position. This has included sending postcards to the Prime Minister, writing to municipal governments across Canada asking them to take a position on the further privatization of airports and meeting with local members of parliament in their ridings.
Our concern moving forward is that the federal government continues to work on their Infrastructure Bank and that they won’t rule out further profitization of Canada’s airports and other public assets. Of particular concern was the unveiling of the Board member of the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has reviewed this list and in an article on their website said that it looks like this board is “primed to privatize”.
They note that that the majority are connected to the world of privatization and private finance and that many of them have close connections with privatization projects. One of the highest profile members is James Cherry, former president and CEO of the greater Montreal airport authority, who has been a vocal advocate for airport privatization and is also on the board of the P3 McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.
We urge UCTE members to stay vigilant and to continue the fight to keep Canada’s airports in community hands and control. UCTE will continue to monitor this situation and provide regular updates and communication as information becomes available. We will also take every opportunity to raise our concerns about the impact of profitization.
If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions, please send them along to the UCTE National Office. We’d love to hear from you.