PUT PUBLIC SAFETY FIRST AND REPLACE CHAMPLAIN BRIDGE: NDP - Federal officials admit decision to repair and not replace puts safety at risk

OTTAWA – New Democrats demand the Harper Conservatives put public safety first and replace the Champlain Bridge.

Before flip-flopping earlier today, Transport Minister Denis Lebel told the media he thought it was best to hide a new report on the safety of Montreal’s Champlain Bridge, rather than let Canadians know the truth about safety concerns for this high-traffic bridge.

“Minister Lebel’s comments were insulting to the people who use this bridge and he should apologize,” said New Democrat Transport Critic Olivia Chow. “But the real issue here is the Conservative’s decision to cut back on infrastructure investments – when they should be moving forward on crucial projects, like replacing this aging bridge.”

In an email obtained by the NDP, federal officials admit this bridge has “many deficiencies” and that the current repair plan “entails some risk.” New Democrats said this helps explain why the Conservatives initially refused to release a report that likely contradicts the government’s decision to patch up the fifty-year-old bridge rather than replace it.

NDP Deputy Transport Critic Jamie Nicholls worries the minister may be putting the public in danger by refusing to replace this bridge.

"Minister Lebel is refusing to face the facts: the Champlain Bridge needs to be replaced,” said Nicholls. "When chunks of concrete are falling down, it’s clear to everyone that continuous patching won’t work.”

“Hiding these problems won’t make them go away,” concluded Chow. “The government has a responsibility to be open and honest with Canadian families about any safety risks caused by their refusal to replace this bridge.”

For more information, please contact:
George Soule, NDP Caucus Press Secretary: 613-850-3448 or George.Soule@parl.gc.ca