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Collenette blasted for suggesting fuel tax increase

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Federal Transport boss, David Collenette, did some backpedaling yesterday after being blasted for s...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Federal Transport boss, David Collenette, did some backpedaling yesterday after being blasted for suggesting a fuel tax increase to help major cities fund transportation projects.

After suggesting a fuel tax increase to help big cities fund roads and public transit, Collenette was forced to reconsider his words after coming under fire from members of his own party as well as the Opposition.

"If we don’t like to go down that road, then let’s find some other way to give some sustainable funding to municipalities," said Collenette yesterday.

Finance Minister John Manley was among those criticizing Collenette for suggesting a fuel tax increase.

"I don’t favor the federal government collecting taxes on behalf of cities," says Manley. "At this point in time we’re not contemplating tax increases or tax changes."

The National Alliance’s transport critic, James Moore, was quick to point out Ottawa already takes in about $4.3 billion in fuel taxes with only 2.4 per cent going into the nation’s road system.

"Ottawa has the money, it’s already in their back pocket, and Canadians will not stand for higher prices at the pump to finance a tax-and-spend legacy-desperate Liberal government," blasts Moore.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) was also quick to condemn any increase in fuel taxes.

"Albertans already pay $700 million per year in federal fuel taxes and see only one per cent of that money come back to Alberta to pay for roads and infrastructure," points out CTF director, John Carpay. "The bottom line is that any talk of new fuel taxes to meet urban needs is irresponsible and hypocritical coming from our present federal government."

Meanwhile, Collenette appeared to be ready to look for a new way to raise funds yesterday after being tarred and feathered in the media from coast-to-coast.

"We have to get more money in the hands of cities," says Collenette. "We have provincial governments that have the financial ability to raise money, but they do not have the responsibility to deliver services, it’s the municipalities."

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