There has been much chatter lately about the “need” for a new arena in Quebec City and elsewhere. Provincial and federal politicians of all stripes have been doing a cute little two-step trying to find just the right language to use to explain how it is that taxpayer dollars should/could/would be used to fund the NHL aspirations of a group of folks in the Quebec capital. This week the Province of Quebec sauntered up to the bar with its cheque in hand…daring the feds to say no. Subsequently, we read that the federal government is getting ready to strap on their helmets and join the game.
If it happens, it will be another nail in the coffin of efforts to control spending by this federal government, and will make such control more difficult again for future governments. It is very sad that all the hard effort and sacrifice of Canadians to help control government spending during the ’90s is being endangered since, as we know, the spending taps are a lot easier to open than they are to close.
MLI spelled out in our highly acclaimed book, The Canadian Century: Moving out of America’s Shadow, that we must not give up on what was started in the Redemptive Decade of the ’80s and 90s.
“These good beginnings, however, were only that. People in all regions and of all political persuasions have equally participated in the last few years in a dissipation of the momentum created in the Redemptive Decade. That’s the thing about redemption: it is not a permanent state and the possibility of falling afresh is ever-present. The work of putting Canada firmly back on the path that Laurier sketched out for us remains unfinished, yet the opportunity is doubled by America’s confusion and loss of direction.
The question now is whether Canadians will take up Laurier’s challenge and finish the job.”
One of the great achievements of that decade was Program Review, in which the feds subjected every piece of federal spending to some stringent tests to see if it fulfilled a vital national interest. We’re pretty sure that NHL arenas would not have passed muster… as John Manley discovered when he tried to funnel federal dollars to the NHL when he was a senior federal minister.
Posted by George Young