4 min

Funding fake lakes, but not Pride, is apparently good for tourism

For a government that is promoting the media centre for the G20 – complete with the “fake lake” – as a means in promoting Canadian tourism, their support for the tourism industry has been lacking. This was the charge laid by Liberal tourism critic Navdeep Bains during Members’ Statements in the House yesterday, when Bains was sure to mention that the government couldn’t spare $400,000 for Toronto Pride when they were spending $2 million on this “exhibition” at the media centre.

Mr. Speaker, it is Tourism Week in Canada, but with both the ideological cuts to festivals and the harsh Mexican visa requirements, it seems that the Conservative government wants to spoil the party.
Tourism generates $71 billion in annual revenue and $20.8 billion in revenue for the government. Yet our tourism industry continues to get no respect from a government that puts ideology ahead of economics again and again.
In fact, the government would rather spend millions building a G8 media centre that will not actually host the media or gazebos and toilets hours away from the summit. Yet when it comes to shelling out $400,000 to help make Toronto's pride more accessible, all of a sudden the government cannot possibly afford it.
For all these bad decisions, I should tell the government to go jump in a lake, but it would probably spend millions on building one just to show me up.
Canada's tourism industry deserves better.

Michael Ignatieff again kicked off Question Period by wondering what it is we’re paying for with these mounting G8/G20 costs, when the summit is already leaking that it won’t deliver on bank reform, climate change, or substantively on maternal and child health. What indeed? Harper defended the costs, and said it was the first time he’s seen the Liberals be against multi-lateral talks. (My theory: that he’s driving these costs up so that he’ll poison the well for all future G20 summits and make them unpalatable).

Mark Holland followed up on this issue, but Gilles Duceppe and Carole Freeman were more interested in the precedent set by the Prime Minister having his press secretary avoid a summons to a Commons committee. Did they not respect the law? Harper gave his facile (and split-hairs but largely false) answer that minsters were responsible for their staff, and in turn were responsible to Parliament. Jack Layton also asked this, but because he mentioned Harper’s war against a bank tax in his preamble, Harper chose to focus on that instead.

Liberals Siobhan Coady and Marc Garneau were back on the question of the costs of the G8 and G20, the Bloc’s Michel Guimond asked about a Conservative fundraiser with a troubling past (whom the Party continues to dissociate themselves from – even though they will apparently gladly take the money he raises), before turning back to the fake lake. Further questions included liabilities for oil spills in Canadian waters, the closing of the Shell Refinery in Montreal, getting an independent international investigation into the attack on the Gaza flotilla, the costs of replacing our CF-18 fighters, the safety of float planes, and those 500 missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Sartorially speaking, there was a fair bit of good in the House for a change, and I’d like to point out Judy Foote’s green and black leaf-patterned jacket, Nina Grewal’s black pinstripe suit, and Hedy Fry’s ruffled purple top with the beige suit with the scalloped edges along the lapel. I wasn’t a fan of Bev Oda’s orange dress with the brown smock, and France Bonsant appeared to be draped in a Persian throw rug, despite it not being chilly in the Chamber. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a back suit with a disappointingly dull mustard top.

Also, the House passed Bill C-9, the budget implementation bill, after some 30 Liberals were absent. It now goes to the Senate, where a number of Senators – both Liberal and Progressive Conservatives – are vowing to hive off the non-budgetary aspects of this omnibus bill and sent it back to the House. While the NDP were quick to rip into the Liberals for allowing it to pass, we could have found ourselves in an election if they hadn’t, and goodness knows we can’t have summer elections in this country. At least if the Senate hives off those sections and sends them back, they can’t bring down the government over it, being as they’re not a confidence chamber. This may end up being the plan the Liberals will have to go with, and perhaps what they’re counting on. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve been forced to have the Senate do their dirty work for them.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has unveiled his bill to crack down on fake immigration consultants who prey on those who want to come to Canada. NDP immigration critic says a law is all well and good, but make sure you’ve got the resources to enforce it.

The Canadian Press continues their examination of the use of Message Event Proposals by the government, and this instalment looks at the way they’re used to control messaging abroad – exerting unprecedented control over diplomats and the Foreign Service. Normally the PMO won’t write an ambassador’s speeches for him – not so under the Harper government. This is, after all, a government of one.

Further to my interview with Mario Silva yesterday, here’s another story on Dr. Jalal’s visit to Ottawa, and her message about what’s needed in Afghanistan.

PS – I’d like to add my own scepticism to the big CBC story about that proposed “merger” between the Liberals and the NDP. Aaron Wherry’s sources dismiss it. Andrew Potter calls it “somewhere between 98 and 100 percent bullshit.” And I heard from both Liberals and NDPers tonight who gave similar appraisals of the topic.  Considering that most of their sources were people that Evan Soloman quizzed on the issue, and then used the clips in succession as proof that people were talking about it (only after he asked them) makes this seem like a pretty manufactured story to me.
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