26 May 2011

Tit rejects suck: no taxpayer cash for hockey franchise after all

On Day One, sports minister Terry French was laughing and chuckling as he talked about the possibility he’d be forking over cash to help his former boss bring a hockey franchise to Mile One stadium.

French knew a fair bit about the request but – as this quote from CBC shows – he didn’t have anything concrete:

I haven’t seen what they are looking for yet. I know they’re obviously looking for something. They tell me they will need the province involved in some way, shape or form

You can find much more on the story, including quotes from Danny Williams in the Telegram coverage:

“People want hockey here in the province, and basically I was involved in it before, so you know the people have asked me to get involved to see if we can bring a team here,” Williams said.

“If, in fact, the city and the province want the team then, you know, I can get it for them. But if they don’t want it, then it’s not going to happen, “ Williams said.

He said a travel subsidy from the provincial government — in the range of $500,000 annually — could potentially be a deal breaker.

By Day Two, French looked a lot less smiley.  Based on no more concrete information than he’d had the day before, the new answer to the hockey subsidy was “no”:

"We decided that we wouldn't go down that road," said French outside the house of assembly in St. John's.

"[We decided] that committing money to a professional hockey team was not the right place to be. We had said no to people previously so the decision was easy."

Williams is reportedly “deeply disappointed”.

So what happened?  That’s a damn good question.

Both opposition parties rejected the idea flatly from the start, noting that the provincial government had turned down health-related requests claiming they didn’t have the cash. Public opinion hadn’t firmly settled on the issue  - as a CBC streeter suggests – but if any national trends are a good judge people aren’t too keen on giving cash to professional sports teams.  The Tories own polling shows that health care is a major issue for the public so perhaps that connection by the opposition was enough to frighten them off the subsidy idea.

The dramatic flip-flop suggests the provincial Tories are extremely jittery in an election year.

Now politically, there is usually no problem with flip-flopping on issues so long as you flip or flop in the same direction as the electorate.

The problem comes when flipping and flopping becomes a habit or when you say one thing one minute and something else the next.

- srbp -

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1 comment:

Dave Adey said...

His flip-flop sure was noticeable. He musta got one big slap on the ass after he first spoke to the media.