The Conservative government says it will help build a desperately needed bridge to a Manitoba First Nation, but won't promise to dole out the required cash — yet.
On Monday, Tory MP Joy Smith — who's not running for re-election — released a statement, along with musician Steve Bell, saying her party needed to do more.
"Shoal Lake 40 needs to have permanent infrastructure that allows its residents to have year round entry to and exit from their community," Smith said. "A commitment by the federal government to partner with the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba to build the Freedom Road, would accomplish this."
Shortly after, her office released another statement, saying the problem was essentially solved: Rickford, her caucus-mate, had just phoned Smith and "confirmed" that the federal government was committing "in principle" to helping build Freedom Road.
But in an email to BuzzFeed Canada, Smith said Rickford knew the day before that she would be releasing the statement.
The Conservative government isn't promising the $10 million yet because the figure could change, Smith told BuzzFeed Canada.
"The design process may reveal increased or decreased costs to build the road so committing a dollar amount at this point is not useful," she said.
Asked what a commitment "in principle" means, Smith wrote: "It's good to have an acknowledgement that after the design process there is a commitment by the federal government to build the Freedom Road."
Natural Resources Canada directed questions about the project to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. It responded with a link to Rickford's June announcement.
Meanwhile, the Tories spent much of the spring and summer announcing billions of dollars in funding for other projects.
In one week alone before the federal election was called, the Conservative government announced a total of $4 billion in funding, including $30 million to light up two Montreal bridges for Canada's 150th birthday.
For some, the fear is that the Tories won't follow through on their promise to help build Freedom Road.
Emma Loop is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Emma Loop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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