Greetings, sir or madam! Here is your new hockey arena! You’re welcome!

WELLS: A proper de-codification of the Prime Minister’s latest pronouncements

by Paul Wells

Here at Maclean’s Prime Ministerial Semiotics Control (“Eighty-Seven Days on the Job Without a Workplace Parsing Accident”), we’ve taken out the calipers and the slide rules to attempt a proper de-codification of the Prime Minister’s latest pronouncements on the matter of a Quebec City hockey arena. The comments, and any account I can find, appear to have been made in French. But that’s not a challenge to the crack team of analysts here at MPMSC™. Let’s break it down.

• Professional sports is “the responsability, above all, of the private sector,” says the PM. Not entirely persuasive. I’m told he has raised the Nordiques file with Gary Bettman, so his eagerness to keep the public sector out of the file is limited.

• “If there is federal involvement, it must be equitable across the country and affordable, recognizing that we are entering into a period of economic restructuring.” Well. This is an awfully elaborate list of criteria, coming from a guy who could have said, “Not going to do it. Ask someone else.” If there is federal involvement, it needs to be (1) equitable (2) affordable (3) here’s what “affordable” means.

• The PM “in the same breath recalled the large number of infrastructure financing demands his government must analyze,” the reporter writes. Um. Why must the government analyze them? Why can’t it refuse them outright?

The only reason I can think of is that the analysis is a prelude to acceptance. But — but the economy! Not a problem, methinks: a stereotypical Anonymous Conservative had coffee with me last week and said (a) the super-highest priority this autumn for the government is the economy; and (b) that doesn’t mean anything. There is no need to rush into deficit reduction. On the contrary: Deficit reduction undertaken too briskly could come as a damaging shock to the economy. The proper way to do this is to ease into it. Say, by financing hockey arenas and football fields from coast to coast to coast.


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