Tag Archives: Moncton downtown event centre

Under pressure, he’s still “Gallant”

DSC_0073

Apparently, the premier of New Brunswick and I are on a first-name basis. He’s 32. My daughter will be 34 this year. I’m turning 55 and feeling every inch the old scold these days.

So, Mr. Premier, you can call me “Dad”, though I don’t believe I’ve ever had the pleasure of actually meeting you directly. Still, at least you managed to get my name right (it’s not Alex, or Aleck, or Ozymandias) when you penned this remarkably courteous and circumspect note before emailing it to my personal inbox the other day:

“Hi Alec – I hope all is well. After reading your blog commenting on the Moncton Downtown Centre and my commentary, I just wanted to clarify why Mr. Goguen (i.e., Robert Goguen, MP for Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe) was mentioned in my commentary.”

I’m listening.

“The GMCC (Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce) announced it’s going to mount a lobbying campaign against myself and our government. I was completely surprised that its campaign would solely focus on us and not also target the federal government.”

Yes, yes. Do go on.

“The reason one may say the target should be only our government is because Mr. Goguen has said he is supportive of the project. But I haven’t heard Stephen Harper say his government is supportive. I haven’t heard the regional minister Moore say his government is supportive. And even if one of them did make comments to confirm support, the next question would be why is the federal government not providing a letter to the city confirming funding that would be conditional on the province being at the table? That is how any project like this would work.”

Hmmm. And how does that make you feel?

“The point I was, therefore, trying to make was why is the GMCC focused on just us and not the federal government since neither of us are at the table officially at the moment?

“That was my only point regarding Mr. Goguen. Perhaps I didn’t make that point clearly enough. I will try to do a better job in the future, and hopefully this email will clarify it for you. All the best. . .BG.”

Indeed, “BG”must be the most solicitous premier New Brunswick has ever enjoyed hosting (although history suggests Richard Hatfield and Hugh John Flemming were also pretty fine gents).

But this does not excuse Mr. Gallant from his responsibility to avoid partisan politics when the issue is nothing less than the future of economic development in New Brunswick’s urban jobs’ dynamo.

Personally, I don’t concur with every word that issues from Mr. Goguen’s mouth. He’s a Harper man, trained and true. When he insists that the feds are willing to invest in a Moncton events centre, he likely means that they are prepared to divert necessary federal infrastructure funds from sewers, roads and bridges in the tri-city area to fulfill their end of the bargain. Then, just watch them step through potholes to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony, plaudits and honorifics in hand.

But you, dear Brian (if I may be so bold), are better than that. You are already known for taking stands (fracking comes to mind, though we clearly don’t agree).

Take a stand on this one. You have the research. You have the evidence. Does a Moncton downtown events centre make economic sense? Of course, it does. Now say so, and make the project yours.

I hate to be a scold, my son, but at my age it comes with the empty territory where a brilliant meeting place, a gathering space, waits to rise.

Tagged , ,

Downtown events centre as political football

IMAG0604

Condescension, thy name is Brian Gallant.

With breathtaking gall, the premier of New Brunswick delivered a message to Moncton last week from the river-soaked banks of Freddy Beach where, apparently, rising flood waters cannot stem the tide of execrable political rhetoric.

In a commentary published by The Moncton Times & Transcript, Mr. Gallant intoned, “Much has been said about the Moncton Downtown Centre. . .To create jobs and have strong social programs we must invest our money strategically. . .This principle is an important one that requires us as a government to do our due diligence when making decisions. This includes the decision on whether or not to financially support the Moncton Downtown Centre. . .It isn’t responsible to rush into a $107-million project.”

Furthermore, the premier noted, “I have personally met with Downtown Moncton Centreville Inc., and a number of our caucus members have spoken and met with mayors and city councillors numerous times to discuss the project. The provincial government’s Jobs Board also met with approximately 15 Greater Moncton business leaders and municipal councillors. . .The decision will not be made based on a marketing and lobbying campaign aimed at putting pressure on us to ‘hurry up’.”

What workmanlike spin. What politics as usual. What utter tripe.

To be clear, much has not only been “said about the Moncton Downtown Centre”; much has already been done. For years, successive economic impact studies and public opinion surveys have shown, definitively, that not only would such a facility be inspirational – it would be a generator of economic benefits on orders of magnitude that far exceed its design and construction costs.

How, then, is anyone “rushing into” the project or putting pressure on the Province to “hurry up” after more than a decade of disgraceful, official foot-dragging (albeit by previous Grit and Tory administrations)? At most, Monctonians simply want government types, for once, to evacuate their bureaucratic bowels or get off the thrones they so dearly cherish.

What’s more, if, as Mr. Gallant warrants, he has personally met with leading proponents of the events centre, how, then, do we accept the implication of his argument that he is somehow being pressed into service without sufficient information to make a “responsible” decision on behalf of all taxpayers in New Brunswick?

Shall we convene yet another panel to investigate?

The premier wants solid information to justify a thumbs up or a thumbs down. And yet, he has it. He must know he has it because one member of his worthy Jobs Board, the freshly minted senior economist of the province, David Campbell, literally wrote the book on Moncton’s mythological downtown events centre.

Specifically, in 2013, Mr. Campbell – an independent economic development consultant at the time – had this to say to the Hub City’s council: A new centre will annually “attract between 317,000 and 396,000 people. . .generating between $12 and $15 million in spending.” In the process, he declared, it will “support retail, food service, accommodation and other services in the downtown,” where it “should also support residential growth.” In fact, the urban core “generates nearly 11.5 times as much property tax revenue, compared to the rest of Moncton, on a per hectare basis.” What’s more, “the cost to service the downtown is much lower compared to many other neighbourhoods and commercial areas around the city.”

Any more questions for the jury? Only one, perhaps.

Why does Mr. Gallant conclude his commentary with a partisan attack on local Conservative Member of Parliament Robert Goguen, who’s done nothing (and I mean absolutely nothing) to advance or retard the event centre’s cause?

Answer: Because that, friends, is what hauteur tends to do in the aromatic springtime of a premier’s ever-shortening life.

Tagged , ,
%d bloggers like this: