By Dan Albas/Member of the House of Commons of Canada for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding

In 2021, floods badly affected places like Princeton and Merritt, BC, including nearby unincorporated regional district areas. In the following weeks and months, Prime Minister Trudeau promised these communities he and his government would have their backs.

In February of 2022 when the bills began to pile up for the critically needed flood restoration work, I again reminded the Trudeau Government of the promises they had made to “be there” and “have people’s backs”.  I was once again assured by the Minister,  that he and his government would continue to work with me and with the affected communities, “to be there for them and to help in the recovery.”

This week the flood-affected communities of Merritt, Princeton and Abbotsford have all learned they were denied funding from the federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Funding program (DMAF). The frustration that I have heard from Merritt Mayor Goetz and Princeton Mayor Coyne on the denial has been palpable.

After my invitation to have them present their challenges at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities Committee, Members of Parliament from all parties recommended to the Trudeau Government that smaller, vulnerable communities like Merritt and Princeton should be prioritized for disaster adaption funding. After being encouraged to apply to this fund, their communities spent their scarce taxpayers dollars in engineering reports to apply, only to be summarily rejected.

After three years of Prime Minister Trudeau’s promises only to be denied now is a completely unacceptable situation. As the local MP, I have partnered with other MPs whose ridings were also impacted by floods and have written to the Minister, asking for reconsideration of these applications.

At the same time, this has been going on this week the Office of the Auditor General has released reports 5 to 7 auditing the Trudeau Government created Sustainable Development Technology Canada program. This program is intended to provide financial “awards funding to support new technologies that promote sustainable development”.

The results of this audit are literally shocking. The Auditor-General of Canada found, and I quote “We found that the foundation awarded funding to 10 ineligible projects of 58 we examined. These 10 projects were awarded $59 million even though they did not meet key requirements set out in the contribution agreements between the government and the foundation.”

More alarming was the Auditor General’s finding that “we found 90 cases that were connected to approval decisions, representing nearly $76 million in funding awarded to projects, where the foundation’s conflict-of-interest policies were not followed.” Overall, this was a program that from March of 2017 to December of 2023 approved 226 Start?up, Scale?up, and Ecosystem projects to receive a total of $836 million. All of this was public money, being overseen by experienced Liberal Ministers.

While communities like Merritt, Princeton and Abbotsford who experienced devastating flooding, despite years of promises from Prime Minister Trudeau are being denied grant funding this program is handing out hundreds of millions to ineligible programs and in many cases ignoring ethics and conflicts of interest rules when doing so.

In all my time as an elected official, I have never been more disgusted by the corruption and incompetence of the Liberal Government than I am feeling this week.

My question this week: Do you think that the Ministers responsible for overseeing these programs, that were singled out by the Auditor-General, should resign?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.