Colleagues Gohier and Wherry have more on the Great MTEP Cash Bonanza Giveaway Thing of Aught Nine. First up, Deux Maudits Anglais has a summary of what seem to be the official talking points on Divers/Cite’s rejection, as delivered by an unnamed staffer in Industry Minister Tony Clement’s office:
* The program is oversubscribed. It has received many more applications than available funding.
* Just because an application meets the criteria does not mean it will receive funding, because there is not enough funding to go around.
* This is a national program and we need to ensure that it benefits festivals in all parts of Canada. To date, approximately 41% of the funding has flowed to events in Ontario (with approximately 18% of total federal funding going to Toronto) and approximately 42% to Quebec (with approximately 28% or total federal funding going to Montreal).
* This program is a federal program, it is important to have regional balance.
* We strongly encourage all festivals that did not receive funding this year to apply next year.
He’s also got the reaction from the Bloc, so you should really click over and read the whole thing.
Meanwhile, Colleague Wherry has a transcript of this morning’s chat between the minister himself and Calgary talk radio host Dave Rutherford, in which Clement also breaks out the Quebec and Ontario/Montreal and Toronto vs. The Rest Of The Country funding breakdown. He also assures Rutherford that Diane Ablonczy is, in fact, doing a fine job, and has a really big project with the whole national tourism strategy:
Rutherford: You know, Minister, looking at the Ablonczy situation, I’m going to move on to other things, but we were baffled by the fact that Ablonczy was up doing the check-handing-out, distributing some of the money for the Marquee Tourism Events Program and then taken off after Brad Trost complained about Toronto. Are you saying there was no connection between those two events?
Clement: I guess what I can tell you is we’re reviewing the file. I think that’s my place to do that. When I say file, I mean all of the Marquee Tourism file. That’s my place as Industry Minister and, yeah, I think Diane’s doing a great job as minister of state for tourism and she’s still minister of state for tourism. She’s got a really big project on this national tourism strategy and that’s what she’s spending her time on.
Rutherford: Because money was given to gay pride parades in the past, right?
Clement: Not from this program because it’s a—
Rutherford: —Not from this program, but from your government.
Clement: Heritage Canada, they’ve had various programs where they’ve given money for artistic festivals and things like that. So, you know, I think what we’ve got to make sure is that we’re fair to everybody and I want to make sure not all the money goes to Toronto, not all the money goes to Montreal. Some of it should of course because they’re major tourist centres for us. But we’ve got to also balance things out and make sure that Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, you name it, if they’ve got a viable project that meets the criteria, they should be able to get a crack at the funding too.
Here’s the full list of recipients from Industry Canada, so you can see for yourself. Actually, now that I look at that, it’s not, in fact, the full list — it doesn’t seem to have the most recent announcements, but you can find those via Marketwire.
(Sidenote: Uh, what the heck has happened to the Canada Action! Plan website? It didn’t look like this last time I dropped by, which would have been during the last fracas over marquee tourism funding. It’s — different, I’ll say that. “Different” is a synonym for “hideous”, right?)
Anyway, from what ITQ can tell, the numbers seem to match what Clement and his office are saying, as far as the breakdown goes — although as far as the number of applications goes, only the department would have that information, so we don’t really know what the success rate is. ITQ would assume, not, she thinks, unreasonably, that smaller events would probably request smaller sums of money, which is why you can’t necessarily conclude that big bad Toronto and Montreal are hogging the program simply because events located in those cities get more money than those in smaller communities.
That said, we’ll be waiting to see whether Black & Blue will make the cut as far as the current round of announcements. Oh, and in answer to the question that will almost certainly arise in the comments: No, we’re still not entirely convinced that it was pure coincidence that the PMO bulletin announcing Ablonczy’s removal from the program — and the ensuing “review” that Clement is conducting as we speak — came out just four days after Charles McVety launched his Stop The Sex Parade Madness letter-writing campaign. But on this one, we would very much look forward to being proven wrong.
UPDATE: The so-fabulous-if-she-was-a-festival-she’d-totally-get-funding Jennifer Ditchburn of Canadian Press has more on what looks suspiciously like an attempt to stoke regional resentment:
Luc Fournier, director of an umbrella organization for Quebec’s major international events, says the department has known from the outset that the province’s festival circuit is the most powerful in the country and might scoop up a large proportion of the funds.
Just for Laughs and the Montreal International Jazz Festival received half of the Quebec total of $12-million. Only large-scale events across Canada that could prove they attract significant numbers of tourists met the criteria to apply.
“I told them many times that with the criteria they had, they wouldn’t be able to fund events in the Maritimes and the Prairies, or very few,” said Mr. Fournier, of the Regroupement des evenements majeurs internationaux .
“If Industry Canada is saying that Quebec is getting more, well, with the criteria that we received we already told them that.”