“I believe the future of our country is going to be set in our communities, large and small.  In a world where people can live and work wherever they want, a country’s success depends on the degree to which our communities are the places where people want to plant their roots and raise their families, where they want to invest their energies, their hopes, their dreams and their ambitions.  They are where Canadians live their lives, where critical social and economic decisions are taken; and where in many respects the national interest is made – or unmade.”  

- Paul Martin, Making History -- the Politics of Achievement: a framework of Prime Minister Paul Martin's broad visions and ambitions for the country (November 2003)

Cities and Communities

The Liberal Party of Canada recognizes the important role that our cities and communities play in the social and economic fabric of our country.

Paul Martin has been at the forefront of furthering this agenda since speaking about “A New Deal for Cities” at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ [FCM] 65th annual conference in Hamilton in May of 2002. The issue was a prominent part of his own policy document, Making History: the Politics of Achievement, released while he ran for the Leadership of the Party.

After becoming Prime Minister of Canada in December, 2003, he named, for the first time, a Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with special emphasis on cities.  John Godfrey, a veteran MP representing the urban riding of Don Valley West, was elevated to the Privy Council, and received access to Prime Minister’s and Privy Council Office resources, including the new Cities Secretariat in the PCO.

In the new Prime Minister’s first Budget, March 7, 2004, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale eliminated the GST on municipal expenditures, transferring $7-billion of unconditional funding back into municipal coffers over the next decade.
Paul Martin returned to speak once again to the FCM almost two years to the day since his 2002 speech, this time in Calgary, Alberta on May 28, 2004.  It was the major speech of the first week of the Liberal Party of Canada’s 2004 national election campaign.

In Calgary, he announced the Liberal election commitment to invest up to $1.5-billion in additional funds over the next five years to stimulate the growth of assisted housing.

“The fact is our quality of life is measured on our streets, in our parks, within our neighbourhoods.” – Paul Martin, speech to Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Calgary, May 28, 2004

The Liberal Party’s 2004 Liberal campaign document, Moving Canada Forward: The Paul Martin Plan for Getting Things Done, spelled out the New Deal commitments, echoing the 2004 Calgary speech:
“A New Deal for Canada’s cities and communities means that a Liberal government will:
• Recognize municipal governments as partners in implementing Canada’s national agenda. This means, for example, that municipalities will be formally included in pre-budget consultations.
• Build on the successful development agreements with Winnipeg and Vancouver as models to extend co-operative partnerships among the federal, provincial and municipal governments right across Canada.
• Decide on a plan to provide, for the benefit of municipalities, a share of the federal gas tax (or its financial equivalent). Beginning in 2005, the amount will be ramped up within the next five years to 5 cents per litre, or at least $2 billion. This revenue will be a source of stable, predictable funding so that municipalities can make long-term financial commitments to undertake major new infrastructure projects.
• Ensure that an equitable share of funds is available both for large cities and smaller municipalities.”

“Canada’s communities, large and urban, rural and small, face very different challenges and require very different solutions.  (…)They’re struggling with the challenge of coming to grips with the need for affordable housing. Our government understands this. And we’re doing something about it.”            
- Paul Martin, Reply to the Speech from the Throne, October 5, 2004

Shelter is a basic need and a foundation upon which healthy, secure, socially inclusive communities are built.  Adequate housing also fosters stability in all aspects of life, particularly in school and work performance.  It is also critical to the successful settlement of new Canadians and to ensure supportive environments for Aboriginal people.”
“Combating the homelessness that destroys lives and blights our cities” was a stated goal in Paul Martin’s personal Leadership campaign document, Making History: the Politics of Achievement.
 

The 2004 campaign platform, Moving Canada Forward, pledged that:
“A Liberal government will do more to stimulate assisted housing by providing a further $1 to $1.5 billion over the next five years to:
• Extend and enhance existing vehicles – including the Affordable Housing Initiative.
• Support innovative initiatives developed in consultation with provinces, territories and stakeholder groups. This could include a “Housing Works” foundation to leverage contributions for new affordable units from various levels of government, community groups and the private sector.”

After Canadians re-elected the Liberal government on June 28, Prime Minister Martin elevated his Parliamentary Secretary John Godfrey to the Position of Minister of State (Infrastructure and Communities) further strengthening his commitment to the cities agenda.

Liberals know that our cities, large and small, are the core building blocks of commerce, learning and culture. Our goal is that every Canadian city and community be an even greater place to live, providing affordable housing, good public transit, quality health care, excellent schools, safe neighbourhoods, and abundant green spaces.
Liberals believe that Canada is strongest when all of its parts are strong.
Action is required. 

Liberals are working co-operatively with provinces and municipalities to use new financial resources and innovative capital investment techniques to reduce the infrastructure deficit in our cities, and ultimately to eliminate it.

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Further references:

“Making History: the Politics of Achievement” http://www.liberal.ca/PDF/politics-of-achievement_e.pdf
“The Choice is Clear: Cities”: http://www.liberal.ca/news_e.aspx?type=news&news=857
“Speaking notes to the Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Calgary, May 28, 2004” : http://www.liberal.ca/news_e.aspx?site=news&news=546