It’s good of the PMO to send reporters a full transcript of Stephen Harper’s interview with a crew from TVA that included at least one accredited member of the Liberal/Bloc coalition media. The chat took place — here I am jealous of my colleagues — at Harrington Lake. The PMO went so far as to include a full translation with the transcript. None of this is a matter of routine when the PM gives an interview, so one must assume there was stuff in there the staff wanted widely read.
The prime minister addressed a lot of subjects, jumping into “I don’t want to start an election” before he was even asked. I’m struck by the bit about the hockey rink in Quebec City, because I keep looking for hints that this guy doesn’t want to spend the money, and I don’t see any. He sounds like someone who’s looking for a chance to spend it. A private-sector partner would make it easier:
RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: But the last time I discussed this question, this issue with the Mayor, he told me he would be looking to have Quebec City bid on the Olympic Games. And I encouraged him. Historically, that’s how Ottawa supports the development of large-scale sports facilities. There’s no federal program to fund professional sports facilities. Not now, not in previous decades. Pro sports are first and foremost the responsibility of the private sector, and I am encouraging the private sector to come up with a solution. If Ottawa did something like that, we’d have to do it across the country, and the list is long. Hamilton, Regina, Edmonton, even my home town of Calgary, everyone wants a new facility.
PAUL LAROCQUE: So to be clear, what you’re saying to Quebec City is no. Is that correct?
RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: I said that the solution mainly has to come from the private sector, and I’m awaiting actions to show that this project is truly feasible and that the private sector is ready to step up to the plate. Myself, I’m a big sports fan. I’d love to see NHL teams in Quebec City, Winnipeg, Hamilton, but the business community has to be ready to invest.
JEAN LAPIERRE: How much? Because what you’re saying, you’re talking about the private sector, is it 10 per cent, 20 per cent, 50 per cent? We don’t know how high you’ve set the bar.
RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: All I can say is that historically, federal participation in such ventures has been minimal. It’s been modest. And if that’s to change, it will result in every big city in Canada asking for the same thing. You have to be realistic. A project of this nature has to be affordable and fair for the entire country.
PAUL LAROCQUE: So when Jean Charest promises 45 per cent, he told us on Larocque/Lapierre a few weeks ago, he again asked you to match that 45 per cent. So the answer is no. Is that what you’re saying?
RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: I didn’t…I think I’ve answered the question. I’m awaiting developments in this file, and I hope that Quebec City ends up with a team.