Privatization isn’t the only way to fix problems at Canada’s airports

Originally published: March 20, 2017

As befits tradition, Finance Minister Bill Morneau showed off a new pair of shoes on Monday, acquired for the delivery of the federal budget on Wednesday.

Here’s hoping Mr. Morneau treads in them carefully as Ottawa looks for piggybanks to smash in order to fund its much-vaunted infrastructure spending.

Pre-budget speculation has swirled about whether the federal government might seek to cash in on the country’s 22 largest airports. The C.D. Howe Institute has estimated that privatizing them could raise as much as $16-billion, depending on how existing debts are dealt with.

The Finance Department has another study in hand, which it commissioned from an investment bank and has yet to release publicly, that doubtless arrives at similar conclusions.

Whether such a privatization plan is announced now or later, the expectation that one is coming is real and growing.

There are good reasons to privatize the major airports, which for three decades have operated as not-for-profit, non-share corporations that pay hefty annual rents to the federal government.

Read the rest at The Globe and Mail.