Give or take $50-million - Macleans.ca
 

Give or take $50-million


 

The Globe’s James Bradshaw checks James Moore’s math.

The Conservative government backed away from a plan to house the Portrait Gallery of Canada in the former U.S. embassy because the price tag was going to grow to more than $100-million, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said last week, but government documents show the estimated cost of the project was about half that amount … government documents passed on to The Globe and Mail from Ottawa NDP MP Paul Dewar, a long-time advocate for the Portrait Gallery, indicate that estimates for housing the gallery in the former embassy never went above $45-million.

… Deirdra McCracken, Mr. Moore’s communications director, said there was “nothing inconsistent in the minister’s remarks. Costs for the Portrait Gallery had risen, as the minister stated, and in a time of economic downturn, our government chose to be extra prudent with taxpayers’ money.”


 

Give or take $50-million

  1. These guys have a real gift for converting minor issues of clarification or retraction into bigger deals than they need to be.

    • These things wouldn't be such an issue if the media didn't take what these people said at face value all the time. Had Jian Gomeshi asked Moore where the 100 million dollar figure came from, there would have been an opportunity to clarify a point of fact for his audience…and for James Moore himself.

      • Ah, I see. It's all Ghomeshi's fault. Thanks for clearing that up.

        • Not "all". But there seems to be a tendency to not ask questions about basic facts fundamental to a position the Conservatives take, especially when it comes to numbers.

          Especially when it comes to numbers, this government cannot be trusted – they have shown themselves over and over and over to play with, exaggerate or outright invent numbers.

          Take Harper's 90% of stimulus is out the door. Today in the National Post we learn that nothing – as in a big fat whopping zero – has been spent on the auto-bailout plan. And this is included in Harper's 90% out the door. The similar US program meanwhile, despite being much much larger and more complicated, has been out there helping the auto sector, helping small auto suppliers and helping save auto jobs for a while already.

        • Not "all". But there seems to be a tendency to not ask questions about basic facts fundamental to a position the Conservatives take, especially when it comes to numbers.

          Especially when it comes to numbers, this government cannot be trusted – they have shown themselves over and over and over to play with, exaggerate or outright invent numbers.

          Take Harper's 90% of stimulus is out the door. Today in the National Post we learn that nothing – as in a big fat whopping zero – has been spent on the auto-bailout plan. And this is included in Harper's 90% out the door. The similar US program meanwhile, despite being much much larger and more complicated, has been out there helping the auto sector, helping small auto suppliers and helping save auto jobs for a while already.

        • That wasn't my main point.. I was trying to add something different than what's already clear in this story..politicians lie or at best, say things they shouldn't, which requires dedicated staff to clean up after them, which often becomes another story in itself. And on and on it goes…

          The way to stop that is to demand that the news media be more careful, right from the start.

          • Are the Harper Conservatives ever accountable for anything they do? Ever?

            Is our loyal opposition accountable for their end of the deal? Ever?

            And since we're reading about the government's attempt to sidestep the lie/mistake on Moore's part, right here on a media site, I'm still confused as to how they dropped the ball. Unless you blame Ghomeshi.

          • I see other commenters have stepped, so I won't follow this line of inquiry much further.

            But remember….we all pay for this media. Even free sites like this, which is run off the resources of a print publication (which receives government support) and depends on the financial health of its parent corporation, Rogers…for which I spend a ton of money a year.

            We have a right…an obligation in fact…to be relentlessly critical.

            Politicians on the other hand, only have to care about us when it comes to elections. They'll never change.

  2. .. in a time of economic downturn, our government chose to be extra prudent with taxpayers' money ..

    They needed that $50 million for all the Action! Plan ads and, of course, for Stephen Harper's 24/7 Governing-by-Photo-Op Strategy.

  3. She's backtracking for what appears to be a. …. let's be generous and call it a 'mistake' …….by her minister.
    Is this another example of the Harpercrites letting ideology trump truth? If they don't want a national portrait gellery, then let them come out and explain that and why, and not invent excuses that are apparently 'untruths'.

    • Even the jump from 22 million to 50 million would provide reason enough to halt the project, if inflated budget is the line they want to take.

      • Right, but just to lie about the numbers? It makes no sense. Do they think no one will check?

        • Billion dollar HRDC boondoggle, $2 billion gun registry, $100 million missing from the the sponsorhsip program, Dingwall's $720,000 expense account; and that's BEFORE they formed the government (remember that $400 million surplus we were promised?). They have always been very dishonest with numbers.

          • We will never tax income trusts, we will remove resources from the equalization formula, no more unelected Senators…

          • Only budgets and main estimates will be matters of confidence, we will only have elections on fixed dates and when the government loses a confidence vote, we will appoint a Public Appointments Commissioner, we will appoint a Budget Chief that reports to Parliament, our staffers will not become lobbyists, we will not sole source, we will not govern by polls…

          • So we should hand a blank check to the current government? Allow them the same misdeeds? Really?

          • Hmm… I think you guys missed my point. The Billion Dollar Boondoggle was indeed a matter of $100,000, the cost of the gun registry never approached $2 billion, the sums misappropriated from the sponsorship program were far less than $100 million (and none of it went "missing") and salaries accounted for three-quarters of Dingwall's "expenses". The Conservatives pulled those numbers out of thin air to smear the Liberals and confuse Canadians. They have always lied about the numbers, in opposition as well as government.

          • Agreed, I totally missed your point. It was there upon re-read.

      • Yes…..if a 'line' is what they are looking for.
        Way too often these clowns have their own ideological reasons for making a decision, then afterwards try to find facts that they can wedge into the narrative to justify the policy.

  4. Portrait Gallery is a nice to have at this time. I wouldnt believe even an inflated budget of $45 million…since the history of any high profile government cultural project coming in under budget is not good.

    That being said, I would rather the portrait gallery be in Ottawa rather than elsewhere…..Having recently been to washington DC and seeing the Smithsonian complex, including the portrait gallery, the concentration of these things is a good idea.

  5. Maybe there is a "Harper chill" – from experience if many know that to ask questions that are too difficult is to risk being blacklisted altogether.

    • Or maybe, the opposition (as it did in this case) could, you know, do their jobs. And, it seems the media has picked up on it and taken Moore to task.

      Ghomeshi is an arts and culture host. Why on earth would we expect him to grind things to a halt over a quoted figure from a minister?

      • "They" did not take Moore to task because "they" did not ask him, the "they" in this case being Ghomeshi. And his being an arts and culture host makes one wonder even more: he presumably would see the Portrait Gallery as a good thing, and the one single fact that is preventing this from moving forward is the $100M number (despite years of struggle, cost estimates well below $100M, comments from Conservatives challenging this project on ideological grounds, the Conservatives stopping the project altogether then starting it up through a new $2M RFP and then cancelling it when the bids were in).

        • Fine, it's all Ghomeshi's fault.

          • Again no.

            I think it is perfectly normal for an interviewer like Ghomeshi to not grill the Minister on this. Especially when, from all I can gather, Moore actually seems like a very decent and likeable guy.

            The point is, though, that we know that Conservatives are just making stuff up that bears no connection to real numbers. They have done it over and over and over. In that context, in this context, this kind of letting Conservatives off the hook and giving them soft interviews or, more accurately, public soapboxes is a sign of a distracted or fearful or weak media.

          • I don't mean to pick on Ghomeshi, but he gave a soft interview just like everyone else gives these guys soft interviews. It's not about Ghomeshi, but about the trustworthiness of the Conservatives and their games with numbers.

          • I'm not picking on Ghomeshi. I really like him for the type of who he does (which generally doesn't interest me). I'm just pointing out the lack of critical inquiry.

            Don't be so emotional.

          • Funny how this has become a defend/attack ghomeshi post, when nice guy/not really James Moore is the one who should be grilled, slowly and over some hot coals preferably.

          • Moore should've done the Billy Bob Thornton thing with Jian

  6. Reminds me of how the Bush administration cancelled a pilot clean coal facility because they screwed up the discounting of future costs.

  7. Somehow I'm not convinced that championing a new $50 million gallery in fat-cat Ottawa will win the Liberals many new votes in most parts of Canada. I think their priorities are strange.

    • Huh? Is this a Liberal priority? I didn't read anywhere that they are 'championing' this.
      But IS defintiely a priority for the media to point out government falsehoods and mis-truths.
      Bravo to Bradshaw on this.

      • I just assumed that because Wherry posted it that it was a Liberal priority.

        • Remember what happens when you assume: you make an ass out of u. Me, I try to at least read the body of the post before feeling qualified to comment on it.

    • Paul Dewar is with the NDP. I didn't read anything about the Liberals championing it, are they?

      I think the main thing I take away from this article is that the Conservative have once again fudged with the numbers. Be it large (the existence of a recession) or small (this), they don't seem to have the stones to just take a position on something. They'd rather hide behind inflated numbers.

  8. It was a $100,000 "boondoggle" in the end and that pales in comparison to the $12 billion boondoggle that is the "Cash for Cons" stimulus program.

    And just what kind of a defence of Harper's graft is it to say "yeah, but a decade and a half ago some, three PMs ago and 5 Liberal leaders ago, and after we punished them for it in the polls… the Liberals screwed some things up"???

  9. We are being progressive by purporting, through press releases, to spend lots of money to stimulate the economy, and conservative, by not actually spending the money.

    Progressive. Conservative. Progressive. Conservative. Progressive. Conservative.

  10. OK – I'm confused. If they don't spend that money, how come Flaherty says we have a 60 billion dollar deficit? I understand that revenues are down, by design (GST) and by circumstances (recession) – but are revenues down that much?

    Anyway, I'd love to know how much money this government has been spending in advertising since January – and compare it to previous administration.

    The Conservatives transparency is certainly a big sham. No one knows anything anymore, and the minister of finance in particular about the finances of this country.

    The Portrait Gallery is not a partisan affair. It is government of Canada affair, like national defence. It is not even art – it's closer to archive.

    • Which is why the government's decision to keep the collection under the care of Library and Archives Canada actually makes sense.

    • Which is why the government's decision to keep the collection as a program of Library and Archives Canada actually makes sense. The collection doesn't need a whole gallery; but its not being thrown in the dumpster either.

      • "but its not being thrown in the dumpster" Obivously you've never been in leaky the basement of the library and archives building…..

  11. A million here a million there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.

    $50M in government terms is almost nothing. The important point is that this time it was money saved, rather than money spent.

    Also, why the burning desire amongst some for a National Portait Gallery – because there are ones in Britain and America?

    Portraits are a subject of visual art, why do they need their own gallery? Why not a National Landscape Gallery – surely that would make more sense for Canada? Why not a National Gallery of 19th century interiors? A National Gallery of Post-modernist Sculpture?

    Seriously, I visit the National Gallery 3-4 time a year, and other galleries somewhat regularly. Why the special attention for portraits? Many are not much more than the equivalent of 19th century rich folk family photos.

    • "Many are not much more than the equivalent of 19th century rich folk family photos."

      I think that is the general appeal of them: these are real people – either real Canadians or Canadians who painted real people – from the past.

      Personally, I'm with you. I've been to the British Portrait gallery and, while it's interesting to a certain extent, I just found it, well, an odd collection and an odd way to organize paintings. I learn a lot more about the history, the art and the artist when the work is organized by time period, or a theme within a larger gallery.

  12. Continued…

    But it is not a "burning desire" for a Portrait Gallery that is the issue. This was a project that was all ready to go, had hopped through all of the hoops over the years, convince enough people that it was worthwhile and even raised some private capital if I'm not mistaken. Then along came the Conservatives and immediately canned it. Then after some controversy they went through this dance that they didn't can it, they only wanted to start the process again. And now they come up with this excuse. Believable? Hardly. And proven now to be untrue.

  13. Why would it cost $45 million to hang some paintings on the wall?

    • Oh I don't know:
      1. Paying for purchase/rent/upkeep of a building worthy of a "national" institution
      2. Preparing said building for housing and maintaining priceless works of art
      3. Costs of preserving priceless works of art
      4. Paying for staff such as curators, researchers, security guards etc. etc.

      This question really does make it seem like you don't know much of anything.

      • LOL, are you a testy one, your highness, I hope your street is paved with gold so that it is worthy enough for you.

        I can assure you, there are lots of galleries in Ottawa that cost less than 45 million (like, for example, all of them, save for the National Art Gallery and the Museum of Civilization). I guess they're all not worthy for your highness and our regal kings and queens of the political establishment.

        • {Psst. SCF. Stop digging. You are only making it worse.}

          • Is that so? Do you have a copy of the budget?

      • LOL, are you a testy one, your highness, I hope your street is paved with gold so that it is worthy enough for you.

        I can assure you, there are lots of galleries in Ottawa that cost less than 45 million (like, for example, all of them, save for the National Art Gallery and the Museum of Civilization). I guess they're all not worthy for your royal highness, and for our regal kings and queens of the political establishment. How many I serve you better, your highness? Shall I bow before your magnificent, elitist, snobbish idiocy?

        • Well, I think my comments in the thread above indicate that I actually don't think the portrait collection is deserving of its own gallery at any cost. However, your clever sarcasm will not deter me from the opinion that if we were to create a National Portrait Gallery that it would be worth doing properly.

          Surely there are plenty of galleries in Ottawa that cost less than $45 million, but I would bet that most of the nationally administered ones – National Gallery, Civilization, War, Nature, Science and Tech etc. cost that much or more.

          I make no apologies for thinking that national cultural institutions should be grand.

          • Careful, Matthew. Your desire for excellence may earn you an accusation of "just visiting".

    • The plan is to house it in a (govt-owned) heritage building on Wellington St. (It's actually a very good location for a gallery that won't itself be a primary draw — it's basically a value-add for visitors to Parliament) Restoration and retrofitting of heritage buildings is inherently expensive.

      And, please note the PM's plan is to in any case restore & retrofit this same building, but for official PM use only. So really, canning this gallery won't save its cost; a good chunk of that money (not all, but a hefty part of it) will be spent on this building anyway — just not to any direct public benefit.

  14. harper is the real problem here, he needs to be leaving politics altogether.

  15. harper is bad for the country.

  16. Moore forgot his briefing. He was supposed to give fake percetnages instead of fake amounts.