Tory minority government means few changes for construction industry, associations say

The return of a Tory minority government to Ottawa does not mean much of anything new for construction, say some industry officials.

"Things have not changed that much," said Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA).

"From a lobbying perspective, in a minority government, you do have to focus more on the opposition parties and committees are more important too."

The Conservatives are returning to the House of Commons with 143 MPs, but needed 155 seats to form a majority. The Liberals lost several seats while the NDP increased their seat count.

"They may have rearranged the deck chairs a little bit, but it is essentially more of the same," said Jeff Morrison, president and COO of the Association of Canadian Engineering Companies (ACEC).

Another Conservative minority is good news for some in the construction industry.

"We are quite excited about what the Conservatives announced during the campaign for completion incentives for apprentices to become journeymen," said Stephen Kushner, president of Merit Contractors Association Alberta.

"We think they were good providing support for apprentices and tool purchases in the last two years."

The Conservatives promised a $2,000 completion bonus for apprentices, who finish an apprenticeship program in a nationally recognized trade.

"From a western Canadian perspective there were concerns about the carbon tax and the oil patch as far as what impact it would have on jobs," he said.

"Today, we are not dealing with so much uncertainty."

However, the return of a Conservative government isn't music to the ears of everyone.

"Parties at the federal level will have to find a way to co-operate to keep the conservatives out," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

"There is no way the Conservatives should be in power with only 30 per cent of the popular vote. It's perverse that the prime minister has been rejected by two-thirds of the voters." The Conservatives received 37.6 per cent of the popular vote, with the Liberals getting 26.2 per cent and the NDP 18.2 per cent.

A labour leader from B.C. agreed with McGowan that this election will fundamentally change voting patterns in Canada.

"In the absence of a proportional representation system, trading and strategic voting will become more important moving forward," said Wayne Peppard, executive director of the BC Yukon Territory Building Construction Trade Council.

He said that infrastructure funding remains a priority.

"Major infrastructure projects got the economy off the ground in B.C., so the crucial concern for the construction industry is will funds be available for plans going forward," he said.

Journal of Commerce, Mon Oct 20 2008
Byline: Vince Versace

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