Battle line drawn over Quebec arena

“What Quebec wants, Quebec gets”

In case there was any doubt about the political sensitivity surrounding possible federal funding for a new Quebec City pro-hockey arena, the NDP’s Pat Martin has lashed out at the very notion. “The first rule of Canadian politics is ‘What Quebec wants Quebec gets,’ ” said the Winnipeg MP. Martin’s angry remark came after reports that the Harper government is considering changing rules to allow Quebec City to use part of the tax on gasoline to fund the planned rink. The municipal portion of the gas tax has been earmarked only for basic infrastructure, like roads and sewers. “If Winnipeg had asked Stephen Harper to rewrite the rules so we could have federal funding for a hockey arena and an NHL franchise,” said Martin, “they’d have laughed us out of the room.” The city-to-city comparison is important. Both Winnipeg and Quebec City lost their NHL franchises, but Winnipeg built its new arena, the MTS Centre, mostly with private money. Martin now fears Ottawa might help Quebec build a facility that could hurt Winnipeg’s chances of luring back an NHL team. In fact, the Harper government hasn’t decided what to do, and the NHL has not made any plans to add new franchises.

Winnipeg Free Press

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