Member of Parliament for Beauce
For the past two days, I have received several demands to clarify my position on the projectto build a new arena in Quebec City, which would get 100% of its funding from governments. I expressed my main reservations about it yesterday in an interview with a Beauce radio station (the dailypaper Le Soleil published a summary of what I said in an article this morning).
As many people have told me, I can’t travel the country and make speeches about individuals and governments beingresponsible, about living within our means and reducing government intervention, while refusing to take a clear stand on an issue where these principles squarely come into play.
The hard reality is that wehave just been through a global economic crisis – which remains very preoccupying and is likely not over – and governments in both Quebec City and Ottawa are heavily indebted. Our government has justposted a huge $56-billion deficit and the priority is to get back to a balanced budget through reductions in our own programs, and avoid by all means getting involved in risky financial ventures.
Iwas not at all impressed by the Ernst & Young study, which concluded that the project would be “profitable” – but only on the assumption that governments provide full funding for the construction aswell as the repairs and renovations that will be necessary over the next 40 years. That’s a deceptive way of putting it. The conclusion should rather be that the project is simply not profitable andwill constitute a financial burden for taxpayers for decades to come, even in the best scenario. That’s why not a single private player has been found to invest in it.
Finally, one of the argumentswe’ve heard most often in Quebec City in support of public funding is that “Montreal got such and such investment,” “Toronto benefitted for this program,” or “Vancouver got that amount of money.” Since...