The devil-may-care folks out Quebec City way have announced that the city of Quebec and the province will team up to build a new arena for the capital. It will cost something like $400 million, give or take a few million, and they’re going to do it all by themselves, with no help from those penny-pinching dullards in Ottawa.
Amazing, isn’t it? Quebec is the economic basket case of Canada, and yet they’re going to pump $400 million into an arena for Quebec City. And who will be the tenant for this arena? It’s going to be a non-existent National Hockey League team! Apparently, the thinking is “Si vous construisez, ils viendront.” Translated into English, that’s “If you build it, they will come”. (Or at least, that’s according to the English-French translation website I found. For all I know, it might actually say “Grapefruit library of my aunt.”)
Edmontonians my be wondering why we don’t do the same as Quebec, and just build the damn arena that we’ve been talking about since, oh, about 1962.
Here’s why. We’re not idiots.
Quebec is a mess financially. Consider this piece of information from a Conference Board of Canada budget analysis on the 2010 Quebec budget:
“In its 2010 budget, the Quebec government presents a clear and honest view of the dire fiscal situation that the province currently faces. For fiscal year 2009–10, the province is slated to post its largest deficit—$4.3 billion—since the recession of the early 1990s, and that number will rise to $4.5 billion in 2010–11. More troubling, Quebec expects its gross debt to rise to more than half of provincial GDP through the near term, peaking at 55 per cent in 2012. By 2011–12, debt-servicing costs will eat up nearly $8 billion of Quebec’s provincial budget.”
Let me translate: Quebec is screwed. The province is massively in debt and grossly overtaxed. The idea of spending hundreds of millions of dollars you don’t have on an arena that has a 50/50 chance of becoming a white elephant is absurd, but that’s Quebec thinking for you. Quebec has been on federal welfare for so long, that politicians there don’t think twice about spending on ludicrous projects like a possibly useless arena because it’s not really their money. It’s Ottawa’s money, which is another way of saying ‘our money’. Alberta, as one of the rich kids on the block, is a net contributor to Canada. Quebec takes. And if Quebec doesn’t get its way, then it will stamp its feet and pout until the government in power (Liberal or Conservative, it makes no difference) give it what it wants.
Pathetic. But that’s Canada.