Friday, September 10, 2010

This will make for an interesting chapter in his hockey book

“Canadians are being forced to subsidize millionaire hockey team owners and that’s a misconduct."
-Stephen Harper, 2000

"Errr...."
-Stephen Harper, today



Off the top, let me say that I'm not dead set against the idea of the government playing a role in the return of the Nordiques. I'm a sports fan, and the first website I ever made up was a tacky little "Save the Expos" tripod thing - I get what it's like to lose a team. So if we were talking about a loan or investing a few million dollars to get the Nords back, I think the payoff would be worth it.

But the proposal on the table is for $185 million, and it comes with no guarantees of a team. Gary Bettman has blocked several attempts to move teams north and likely would again.

It simply isn't a good investment and it's no secret the only reason Harper is even considering it is to save his Quebec City MPs. Choosing politics over policy isn't anything new for Harper, but I'm not even sure this is good politics. Consider the ramifications.

Money for Quebec City could rekindle memories of Mulroney's CF-18 deal in Winnipeg. In Alberta, where the Flames and Oilers are looking for new arenas, the editorialists are already describing this move as "almost Liberal in its optics". That's about the worst insult the Calgary Herald can dish out. And if Roughriders fans are willing to drive hundreds of miles, paint themselves green, and wear watermelons on their heads in support of their team, surely they might be willing to change their vote if the Tories choose Quebec over Regina.

Then, what do you do with Hamilton (and the many swing seats in the region), if they get a team? Does Balsillie get the same housewarming gift as Peladeau? And, as the joke goes, if Hamilton gets an NHL team, we can be sure Toronto will want one too.

Given all this, we should not be surprised to see many Conservatives skating gingerly. Maxime Bernier has broken ranks, though that's not a huge surprise - the man breaks ranks with the Conservatives over decisions on what to serve for dinner at their caucus retreat. More concerning for Harper are the "anonymous" western MPs voicing their displeasure.

I can understand the alure of the Quebec City swing seats. But this is a government that has been bodychecked on massive deficits, G20 spending, and an expensive jet contract. If Harper's plan is to run on his credibility as a sound financial manager, then he's skating on thin ice.

And while it's tempting to end this post with the "thin ice" line, I do have to add that it's positively baffling the Liberals haven't given more than a shoulder shrug on this one. They have nothing in Quebec City to lose but their deposits - hell, I'd imagine there are at least a few Quebec City residents who'd rather their tax dollars go to childcare than Karl Peladeau. The Liberals were burned on this issue in 2000 and they've been handed a golden opportunity for payback. As they say - if you've got a clear shot, take it.

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15 Comments:

  • 1) GM Place (Rogers Arena): built with private money.
    2) BC Place revitalization: no federal money, and will be paid for development and casino funds.
    3) Empire Field: No federal money, and a darn good facility for a temporary stadium.
    4) Abbotsford Arena/Victoria Arena/Langley Event Centre. All built without federal dollars.

    Get out of my wallet and build your own bloody arenas!

    By Anonymous fersure, at 5:38 PM  

  • How about we come to a national agreement that no tax dollars will go to sports facilities OR the CBC? None of this "I support my subsidy, but yours is wrong".

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 8:51 PM  

  • This one post is a brilliant example of why this is the best Canadian political blog anywhere. It was funny and insightful.

    As for the subject at hand, Quebecers are mostly ignorant of how much of their money comes from outside Canada. It's 25% of your budget folks -- coming from provinces that don't have as many doctors, teachers or daycare spaces.

    I really think Quebec ought to pay for it's own things. Figure out how much they pay into federalism, and invest that much back in. And if they want to waste it on hockey arenas, fine.

    As for the extra, it's one thing to give them more daycares, doctors and teachers than the rest of us, but it's quite another to give them hockey arenas. At the very least we should name it "Le Colisee Tarsands" so they know where the money's coming from.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:19 PM  

  • Maxime Bernier has broken ranks?

    Max was Harper's point man in selling the de-criminalization of the long form census.

    Hopefully Max can rally the Quebec Tea Party so as they will ask Charest why he is using the healthcare user fees pushed thru in June, to subsidize a hockey team!

    By Blogger wilson, at 11:00 PM  

  • What I want to know is, can Harper even skate? Does he play hockey with the guys? Is he really into hockey, or was that all pre-set just for this bribing of Quebecers? Who is ghost writing his hockey book?

    By Blogger Toe, at 12:26 AM  

  • Harper sat in his Mommy's basement and played Dungeons and Dragons (not that there's anything wrong with that)... If he could skate, he'd have done it by now... and photo-oped with his son...

    By Blogger WesternGrit, at 2:14 AM  

  • "I do have to add that it's positively baffling the Liberals haven't given more than a shoulder shrug on this one."

    When your enemy is shooting himself in the foot, don't help.

    By Anonymous The Uber-Liberal, at 2:08 PM  

  • "Le Colisee Tarsands"

    Ha ha. Gold!

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:31 PM  

  • I only heard about this last week via Chantal Hebert... it's a poor idea, and I expect it will probably go ahead.

    I'd imagine there are at least a few Quebec City residents who'd rather their tax dollars go to childcare than Karl Peladeau.

    Good point... maybe someone in the LPC will hear you.

    By Anonymous jacques Beau Verte, at 3:10 PM  

  • "Le Colisee Tarsands"

    I second that emotion... that's a T-shirt worthy winner!

    Quebecers are mostly ignorant of how much of their money comes from outside Canada.

    I think I get you here, but just to clarify, you mean from outside Quebec, right?

    I always am under the strong impression the feds give Quebec a lot of their provincial budget, though I know there are some who insist tooth and nail that Quebec gives more to Ottawa than it receives. I'm unconvinced, though they have a lot of numbers. (Stats can say anything)

    By Anonymous Jacques Beau Verte, at 3:15 PM  

  • Robert, re: "It's 25% of your budget folks -- coming from provinces that don't have as many doctors, teachers or daycare spaces"

    Is saying they (provinces) don't have as many based on per capita, or absolute numbers? My understanding of equalization payments is that the INTENT is to ensure that ALL Canadians receive roughly equivalent levels of services, no matter which province they live in.

    Now, I'll grant that the intent is not always followed through, and I'll also grant that some provinces, through their particular fiscal policies, may actually distort the need for equalization payments.

    But can we at least agree that the intent of equalization payments is laudable, and that until we can figure out a better way to ensure that all Canadians receive roughly equal benefits of living in Canada, we're sort of stuck with the system we currently have?

    By Blogger Party of One, at 3:50 PM  

  • "But can we at least agree that the intent of equalization payments is laudable, and that until we can figure out a better way to ensure that all Canadians receive roughly equal benefits of living in Canada, we're sort of stuck with the system we currently have?"

    No, we can't. I see nothing laudable about the residents of other provinces effectively subsidizing Quebec's daycare program. We'd all be better off if we simply killed the equalization program and forced the "have not" provinces to get their act together.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:59 PM  

  • pls provide the actual quote where the government /PMSH said he subsidize this arena.

    He never said it . . another faux scandal invented by the MSM.

    Now on the other hand, Bob Rae DID say he is for it . . . he came out of his Liberal closet long enough to let his inner NDP out of the bag.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:47 PM  

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