How many Conservative cabinet ministers does it take to mislead Canadians?
Last weekend, Stephen Harper trotted out his own trusty troika — Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and Justice Minister Peter MacKay — for a photo op/announcement during the Halifax International Security Forum, a.k.a. Peter’s Playground (official cost: $2.49 million).
Days before a damning veterans’ mental-health audit, Nicholson triumphantly declared Ottawa would spend what everyone was intended to understand was “$200 million over six years” to combat mental illness in the Canadian Forces.
Whoopsie…. When opposition politicians began peeling back the layers of bafflegab, Ottawa’s real commitment turned out to be $200 million over … 50 years. Which is less than twice what Peter spent this year for his weekend of wining and dining his more-important-than-veterans friends. Thank you for your service.
July 11, 2012: Halifax developer Joe Ramia gathered Halifax’s self-anointed movers, shakers and we-are-the-future makers for a glittery festival of self-congratulation at Neptune Theatre.
His new $500-million Nova Centre, he declared, had its first official tenant. No matter that it was the already much-announced convention centre.
The project, he said, will be “substantially complete” by Dec. 31, 2015.
Whoopsie…. On Friday, Ramia conceded — an apparent afterthought to an upbeat update — that construction is nine months behind schedule. Blame the approvals process, design changes, winter. (Salty fog anyone?)
This week’s new drop-dead date is September 2016; January 2017 for the convention centre.
Jan. 23, 2014: the convention centre got its new logo and name. And Trade Centre Ltd. CEO Scott Ferguson unveiled his sweet 16 list of first conventions for the new digs.
Twelve thousand cash-splashing conventioneers, $18 million in new business…. Take that, you naysayers.
Concerns about completing the project in time?
Whoopsie…. On Thursday, Trade Centre Ltd. began contacting those same convention organizers to inform them of the … ah, new and improved “substantially completed” date.
“We will now be rescheduling” 17 events, explained Ferguson. He said he hoped many would decide to squeeze their events into the existing World Trade and Convention Centre spaces.
But if they can do that, why are we spending $164 million in public funds for a new convention centre?
Whoopsie. Again. Still.
This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber’s Halifax Metro column.