For profit government

Wading into a discussion about rail service between Quebec City and Windsor, Conservative MP Jeff Watson ventures an interesting stance on government spending.

On Wednesday I asked Essex MP Jeff Watson, who sits on the federal transportation committee, why Canada couldn’t do something similar on the Quebec City-Windsor line – say, invest $100 million per year in the corridor to gradually boost speeds. “Why?” Watson shot back. “Rail is not profitable. Why would we invest $100 million a year in something that’s not profitable?”

The difficulty here would be applying this standard to spending on health care, the military or policing and law enforcement. With the exception of collecting taxes, is there much of anything a government does that turns a profit?