Political Football

“I think he woke up this morning and said I am the Leader of the Opposition so I must oppose this project”

David Asper on Richard Cloutier Reports on CJOB April 1st, 2010 re: Hugh McFayden

Yesterday dreams of Blue Bomber fans like me were answered when the announcement of a brand new state of the art facility to be built for the 2012 CFL season. However, this joy comes with a healty dose of reality when the announcement included that provincial taxpayers would be footing the bill with the hopes that David Asper will find $90 million in 6 years with his new retail mecca to pay back this “bridge financing” from provincial taxpayers. If he fails to find the money then the City of Winnipeg has pledged that they will pay back the province in 2016 with money from property taxes. So for the province it’s win win, for David Asper it’s win win, hell for Bomber fans it’s win win.

So how come I only see it as loose loose?

Let’s look at the players in this drama shall we?

Sam Katz – Mayor of Winnipeg. He’s up for re-election in the fall of 2010 and this stadium gives him something positive to add to his platform. I have little faith in the estimation ability of a financial think tank that fails to estimate the snow clearing budget required in a place where snow can fall as early as October and as late as June. Katz has a rather high approval rating and this stadium deal will be a fine addition to his legacy win or loose this fall. Ultimately this is win win for him because should he not be Mayor in 2016 when the money is due the backlash of Winnipegers paying a $90 million dollar bill they didn’t even get a voice on will be directed to whomever is in office at that time.

“It’s OK to run a deficit, just like you do in your household,” Wowchuk told reporters during a budget briefing. “I’m sure none of you are immune to having had to borrow money at some time for your households.”

Rosann Wowchuk, Minister of Finance for the Manitoba NDP government March 24th, 2010.

Greg Sellinger – Premier of Manitoba and former Minister of Finance. The NDP government on March 24, 2010 told taxpayers they intend to run a deficit budget for the next 4 years (provided they survive election day in 2011). They have a $537 million shortfall, plan on increasing taxes on certain populations like smokers and folks that enjoy down time in a tanning bed, raised tuition, asked employees to take wage freezes or cuts all in the name of Manitoba. They want to reassure us that it’s o.k. to run a deficit because hell we all do it. Well Premier Sellinger and Minister Wowchuk I may have to take out a consolodation loan for my bills but I have to prove to lenders where I have the money to pay back the money I take out. I don’t simply get to say to a lending institution well I need to borrow some money. Not sure when I can pay it back or how but you know how these things go. This lovely budget predicts that debt of the province will go up 14.2% in the next 12 months. With such numbers I’d like to hear where this $90 million is coming from (even over 2 years we are talking $45 million/year). I am being told that taxes might have to go up, I am being told that if I don’t accept the NDP changing the balanced budget law I am going to have to accept loss of front line care in services. Ultimately Premier Sellinger knows he is not Gary Doer and these financial reports can and should cost him the job in the big chair in 2011. A nice new stadium with blather of progress will give  him something to put on his list of accomplishments and while we voters will be encouraged not to look behind the curtain as this stadium is a done deal and oh so shiny…. Sorry I was distracted by the shiny new stadium and lost my ire at the NDP for 10 years of driving my province into the ground. Well no, not really but I am sure that Premier Sellinger hopes most Manitobans will be.

David Asper – Last year at this time David Asper said he was going to spend $100 million of his own money to give Winnipeg a stadium and to achieve his boyhood dream of owning the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. This year Asper smiles for the cameras while taking no risk to achieve his dreams. Where did his $100 million go? I’m guessing that investors don’t want to touch him now that Can West Global entered bankruptcy protection at the end of 2009. I for one question his ability to run a business to make $90 million esp one that isn’t even built yet. Asper dreams of making his $90 million on a retail facility that he confesses he’s having issues drawing tenants to. The site for this retail mecca is to be where the Bombers currently play. So let’s break this down…The Bombers aren’t leaving until 2012 so that will give Mr. Asper 4 years to make $90 million from his retail venture…but wait…there’s more. First we need to take down the old stadium and actually build this retail mecca which could take possibly another 2 years (I’m in Project Management…I tend to over estimate) bringing us to 2014 so 2 years to make $90 million in profit. If Mr. Asper fails in this venture he looses nothing. He gets to live vicariously through this process pictured like someone who actually contributes to the project and is taking on the risk. He gets to smiles for pictures, put on a hardhat when they turn the soil over, and comment to the media about things he wants to do, options they want to add. If he doesn’t have $90 million by 2016 he can walk away disapointed that he won’t own the Bombers or be owner of a shiny new stadium. He has no risk in this venture the stakeholders and risk takers are the taxpayers of Manitoba and in 2016 the new owners…every property tax paying person in the City of Winnipeg. Sorry David but I won’t be shopping at The Elms I would rather spend my money at the new stadium and enjoy the return on my investment that way but I am sure that the Minister of Finance would be happy to borrow some money from her household budget to give you business.

Now there are some that will say that I am against progress. Hell I was already accused of being backwards on Facebook when I said if Mr. Asper wishes to do all of this then Mr. Asper needs to find his own financing and not expect taxpayers to cover it after a deficit budget. I love the Bombers, I am a Bomber fan and I love the idea of a state of the art stadium. I can tell you from personal experience that access for the handicapped is pitiful at best at the current home of Canad Inns Stadium. But at what cost progress? Median time for someone waiting for Prostate Cancer treatment is 4 weeks and total hip replacement wait time is 20 weeks and this is up from the median wait time of 14 weeks when I needed surgery in 2008. Also considering that median numbers are taken from the wait time of each person added together and then divided by the total number of folks to provide happy numbers. Someone waits 2 weeks and some one waits 40 weeks median wait time works out to 21 weeks. Hallway medicine still exists despite what the NDP wants to tell you.

Will a new stadium be enough for someone who is watching their loved one suffer from a disease where they are waiting for surgeons, treatment, bedspace? Is the person who wants me to leave a province I love going to be able to look a loved one in the eye and say that sure medical is lacking, students are leaving schools funtionally unable to do basic skills but that beacon of progress makes it all worth it.

I want a have province, I want a solid health care system, I want education for my kids, I want a new stadium, and I love my province so much that I want to work as an MLA and make it better.

I want politicians that see that I am the employer and not just the credit card. I shouldn’t be expected to foot the bill for someone’s dreams other than my own. I shouldn’t feel the need to remind the Premier that he works for all the citizens not just the ones that can make him look good when his government had done a fine job of looking bad. Mr. Katz I would like to say I’d rather the City of Winnipeg finally fix the water main issues on my street rather than band aid it one more time. I swear those workers are on a first name basis with us because they have to come rip up my front yard every year after the snow is gone.


About Shirley Robert

Wife, Mom, Politician, Project Manager, Arthritic, Blue Bomber Season Ticket holder, Mary Kay Rep, and Advocate. I'm a whole lot of different and proud of it! View all posts by Shirley Robert

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