Sunday, December 10, 2006

Harper playing pork barrel politics?

In all the excitement last week around SSM and the whole freedom fries thing this one seemed to fly under the radar. I still think it's worth bringing up however. After all, what's the point in being in government if you can't direct plum projects to your own riding, right Stephen? It's just too bad about that wasted $9 million in taxpayer dollars.

And just as background, here's a little more on the Harper/Encana connection. I hope Gwyn is doing well.


National Portrait Gallery: 'It's pork barrel politics'

Documents and leaks to an Ottawa MP point to the gallery being built in Calgary, home to the Prime Minister's riding, and partly funded by EnCana

VAL ROSS

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Although an Ottawa home for the proposed National Portrait Gallery is already under way -- more than $9-million worth of work has been done on a magnificent Beaux Arts building on Wellington Street -- an Ottawa MP says the gallery will go to Calgary.

NDP MP Paul Dewar had made an access-to-information request for documents related to the portrait gallery. All but two sentences in the 42 pages he obtained were blacked out, but Dewar says they, and subsequent government leaks, indicate that gallery will be built in the city of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's home riding, partly funded by energy giant EnCana. "It's pork barrel politics," Dewar told The Globe and Mail. "And no one is denying it."

(more)

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20 comments:

Anonymous said...

To even think that a project such as this should be built outside of Ontario is ridiculous. We should ignore the fact that $13 million a day go from Alberta to Ottawa. These projects belong in Ontario! Those ignorant hicks out west wouldn't know what to do with a portrait gallery.

Anonymous said...

You don't say! Shocking isn't it that a western-based company, through its head honcho, would put up the big bucks, instead of the taxpayer.

There must be a conspiracy. Surely.

I'd suggest we smile and say, "Thank you."

canuckistanian said...

i hadn't read about the blacked-out a-tip, that IS interesting. on what grounds could they redact this information? national security?? ;-)

very strange that the gallery would go to calgary after one is already built in ottawa. this story is fishy.

Locusta emersonia said...

I think it was Thursday that Oda stood in the house and said there has been no decision made.
Maybe she didn't get the fax...

Olaf said...

Jeff,

I think you're confused. Pork barrel politics is when you illegitimately direct public funds to your riding, not when you solicit private funds for the government ($30 million from EnCana). I mean, I know Ontario is the center of the universe, but if one were to disperse Canada's cultural treasures elsewhere in the country, God forbid, I'd say downtown Calgary is a pretty natural place to go.

Is there some reason why the tallest building in Western Canada shouldn't get the gallery, especially if the government can get $30m out of it?

Olaf said...

Jeff,

I think you're confused. Pork barrel politics is when you illegitimately direct public funds to your riding, not when you solicit private funds for the government ($30 million from EnCana). I mean, I know Ontario is the center of the universe, but if one were to disperse Canada's cultural treasures elsewhere in the country, God forbid, I'd say downtown Calgary is a pretty natural place to go.

Is there some reason why the tallest building in Western Canada shouldn't get the gallery, especially if the government can get $30m out of it?

Olaf said...

Jeff,

I think you're confused. Pork barrel politics is when you illegitimately direct public funds to your riding, not when you solicit private funds for the government ($30 million from EnCana). I mean, I know Ontario is the center of the universe, but if one were to disperse Canada's cultural treasures elsewhere in the country, God forbid, I'd say downtown Calgary is a pretty natural place to go.

Is there some reason why the tallest building in Western Canada shouldn't get the gallery, especially if the government can get $30m out of it?

A BCer in Toronto said...

To the first two anons, thanks. Now can you write something and I'll post a follow-up that completely misses the point you're trying to make too?

But seriously, I'm glad you have no problem with government projects being directed to ridings outside Ottawa. I wish you'd felt the same way when Liberals tried to do it, instead of getting on your pulpits about favortism and cronyism but still, welcome to the party.

What I'm taking issue with here though isn't the fact a government project is going to Calgary. I think that's great. I do find it amusing it's going to the Prime Minister's riding though.

But really, my issue is why is the project being relocated now, wasting the $9 million in taxpayer dollars that has already been spent to locate it in Ottawa? What's the justification for that?

Also, why was so much of the documents FOI'd blacked-out? As canuckistan asked, what are the national security implications of a portrait gallery?

And finally, I'm not sold on the idea of corporate sponsorship of national institutions. What's next? The Petro Canada War Museum? The Coca-Cola House of Commons?

Anonymous said...

bcerintoronto, has there been such a project under the Liberals that private funds paid for, similar to this one by Encana?

The Asper museum-thingy in Manitoba is covered by the taxpayer, for the most part I believe...but you might know better...

Anonymous said...

You write: "What I'm taking issue with here though isn't the fact a government project is going to Calgary. I think that's great." Can you point out in your sarcastic original post where you state that you think its great such projects might go to Calgary? How could a reader ever glean that from your original post? As far as the $9 million goes, the project was now estimated to cost another $40 million. If the cons cut it off now and let Encana pay for it, it won't cost us a penny more. So it cost $9 million, at least we will save $30+ million more.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

So is this Morgan guy the appointments commissioner, or did Canada's New Government find someone else for the position? (It doesn't look like the pay is to great.)

deryk x

Anonymous said...

"(too great)"

i think

deryk x

A BCer in Toronto said...

Can you point out in your sarcastic original post where you state that you think its great such projects might go to Calgary?

Can you point out where I said I though it wasn't great?

this Morgan guy the appointments commissioner, or did Canada's New Government find someone else for the position?

When it became clear he wouldn't be confirmed Harper withdrew Morgan's name. I don't recall them filling the position.

Olaf said...

Jeff,

Can you point out where I said I though it wasn't great?

Touche. But can you point to a point where anon pointed to a point of yours where anon said that you didn't say you thought it wasn't great?

Just kidding.

But if I understand the issue (and that's always a big if), the $30m which Encana would invest, would more than make up for the lost $9m dollars. All told, and by my rough calculations, the government would come out... um... carry the one... x equals t minus q squared... somewhere around $20m up in this scenario.

Furthermore, if Calgary was going to have a cultural institution, it would have to be downtown, which IS Harpers riding. It's not like there would be an equally attractive place up in the North East somewhere.

Anonymous said...

>>Can you point out where I said I though it wasn't great?<<

Of course. Right here: "After all, what's the point in being in government if you can't direct plum projects to your own riding, right Stephen? It's just too bad about that wasted $9 million in taxpayer dollars."

Pretty sarcastic whiny praise. The difference about this plum project which goes totally over your head, is the fact that the government is not paying for it. It will be housed in the tallest tower in western Canada and won't cost the taxpayers a cent. The fact that the cost of the original Ottawa site has now risen to $40+ million is even more reason to move it.

Kyle G. Olsen said...

Calgary's downtown isn't in Harper's riding, just to let you know. It is Lee Richardson's, former PC whom lost his seat in '93.

angela said...

im not going to calgary to view portraits - thats one thing they really should have kept in ottawa. dc has an effing great setup with all the smithsonians.

so silly.

not to become your eternal code critic, but something is amiss with your sidebar. im one of those who likes it when people let me know i have poppyseeds stuck to my teeth, toilet paper trailing from my shoe, mysterious wet spots on my clothing ... etc.

Anonymous said...

Gwyn Morgan, a major donator to Harper's election, who was to be Appointments Commissioner - give me a break. Cronysm at it's worst.

There is alreadt money spent in Ottawa for the portrait gallery -could they not come up with another "Canadian" project to be centred in Calgary?

I thought I heard Dewar say that this deal includes an office for Harper in the building.

If a corporation was to partner in this it should be one that has NO connection with Harper and the Conservative party.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Thanks Angela, I think it was a problem with the Liblogs aggregator, hopefully they'll work it out soon.

Pretty sarcastic whiny praise.

Sarcastic? Guilty as charged. Whiny? I think not.

Anyway, my aside about plums to Harper's riding would have been made by me whether Harper's riding was Calgary, Toronto or the Yukon.

I love Calgary. I had the best arena food I've ever had at a Flames game at the Saddledome. I think they called it the Pocket Rocket or something. It was a sausage stuffed inside a partially-hollowed-out baguette, with cheese sauce and what not. And because the bottom of the baguette was crusty, no cheese sauce messiness. Mmmm, so good.

Anyway, there is still the matter of that $9 million of taxpayer dollars down the drain. And Olaf, I don't think that can be overlooked just because Encana is now picking up the tab.

Olaf said...

Jeff,

The point is, it's a net gain of $21m that wouldn't have been gained had the government stuck with its Ottawa option. Right? It's not like they could have not wasted the $9m and still received the $30m.

It's a net gain, how do you complain about a net gain? It's like me making an investment, sinking $9m dollars into it without getting anything in return, and then turning down an opportunity to gain $30m, but declining, because I already spent that first $9m. How does this make sense?