29 February 2008

Maybe better planning would have helped...

Celebrations to mark the founding of Cupids, the first English colony in what is now Canada, are expected to generate $15 million of economic activity in the celebration year, 2010.

That's it.

$15 million.

And the nationalist-sounding, go-it-alone provincial government is willing to contribute the amazing sum of $2.0 million to the celebrations.


Yeah, Whoppee-ding.

Now, it seems that an event as significant as the 400th anniversary of the first English colony would be a fairly big deal not just locally but nationally.  The fact it happens to fall in an Olympic year doesn't bode particularly well for Cupids being the top tourist attraction in Canada that year, but it might make out all right.

It might make out if the provincial government actually paid any attention to the project.  For starters there's the tiny sum they've thrown into the planning for it.  When you are pulling in $2.0 billion in oil and mineral revenues and running billion dollar surpluses, $2.0 million bucks just doesn't say "serious".

And bear in mind that's not $2.0 million over each of the next two years.


That's $2.0 million, in total.

Doesn't sound very serious at all.

That's why it is getting tedious to listen to tourism minister Clyde Jackman rabbit on about how tremendously important these celebrations in Cupids are and why it is so important for the federal Conservative members of parliament to stand up for their province and wrestle federal funding for the whole thing.

It's tedious just writing a sentence that encapsulates the windy minister's windy complaint.

The whole thing would be a lot less tedious, though, if Jackman's boss would actually allow him to give some serious cash to match the serious level of whining coming from the provincial tourism minister.

And that's what it is:  whining.  That's all it is.

You see if the provincial government were that serious about Cupids, it would have tossed in more cash of its own up front. There'd have been great talk three years ago about the fantabulous festival in Cupids or some such.  We'd be Cupidsed to death just as we were cabotted in 1997 or impaled on Viking helmets another year.

And there'd have been cash.  Not two million in total, but two million a year to a maximum of eight or 10 or whatever the thing would cost. 

You see, Jackman made mention several times of the Quebec City celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of that city.  Jackman mentioned it in his talk radio calls today and in a news release that popped out late in the afternoon.  Jackman noted that the federal government had contributed $110 million to Quebec City but  - up to the time he spoke - the feds just hadn't come across with the seven million Danny had decided was the "ask" for Cupids.  Yeah, Jackman actually called it an "ask".

What Jackman didn't say is that the Quebec provincial government had ponied up $110 million of its own for the celebrations. They showed they were serious with hard currency.  They didn't look on the thing as a slip-and-fall injury settlement negotiation, complete with an "ask". The feds rose to the bait and put up their own cash to match, dollar for dollar.

Clyde Jackman can make as man calls to Bill Rowe as he wants.  He can send out as many "news" releases as he wants. The bottom is that if his boss was serious at all, he would have nodded to Clyde and let him spend provincial money on the Cupids celebrations. The feds would have followed suit.  Heck, a little bit of sweet talk and salesmanship might have stroked some more money from them in an election year.  Think about it.  If such a pathetic provincial outlay could generate $15 million, imagine what $14 million in total would do for the people of Cupids.

For some entirely unexplained reason, though, the provincial cabinet doesn't seem to want to spend any money on things like the Cupids celebrations or even on fixing up hospitals, for that matter.

Wonder where all the cash is going?