Olympic roof funding deserves a big, fat NO! Quebec needs to get priorities straight.

Par Beryl Wajsman le 7 avril 2015

Out of a $15 billion infrastructure envelope in the new budget we are seeing some ridiculous things. Worst among them is $220 million for the Olympic roof. Again.

It's nice to know that all our other problems have been solved. This useless expenditure comes on top of $400 million to the Beaudoin family for a needless cement plant in the Gaspé. And some $300 million for a phosphate strip mine in Sept Isles. Cement and phosphate prices have been plunging.

But natural gas. which is rising and in high demand and of which we have one of North America's biggest fields on the south shore, has been banned indefinitely. The oil under Anticosti Island, for which Shell and Exxon have offered to pay us to exploit is still not been produced. But somehow we have the money to pay two small Quebec based companies $150 million to "explore possibilities." And to top all of that off the Couillard government has banned uranium mining which has been going on for decades and is now facing a $400 million lawsuit by several companies. And Couillard campaigned against the Marois pledges on Gaspé and Anticosti.

It's clear we have enough customers at the door to generate new revenues and get our fiscal house in order. We have enough willing investors to create well paying jobs. We do not need to squeeze the bloodless stones of taxpayers. There is no more money M. Couillard. This is indecent.

How is it that all the "tax benefits" in the budget have mostly been kicked down the road until 2017, a year before the next provincial election, but inane expenditures are being done now? Aren't we being told day after day we have no money? It is time for austerity? As for the Olympic roof, what good is it? The instillation loses money. And even baseball fans must be aware that the major baseball team owners have said they may consider a Montreal franchise only with a new downtown stadium. Not a renovated Olympic one. 

Other cities build these superdomes in the 70s. When they outlived their usefulness, they were torn down because they were money-sucking behemoths. When Michel Labrecque, president of the Olympic Park, states that, “It's part of our history, and I cannot accept that 40 years after the Olympics, the only things we are looking for is to dismantle it,” he is exhibiting total psychological denial.

Quebec has among the gravest social ills on the continent. Just in this short space we've identified almost a billion dollars of needless spending. How about diverting it to boost seniors pensions which are generally half of what they are in the States. Quebec does not have generous social programs as politicians and bureaucrats like to repeat. We have the highest taxes to keep needless unionized bureaucrats employed to assure their votes. By 2020 30% of non-francophone Montrealers will be seniors and almost 40% have no private pensions or RRSPs. Yet their workers' pensions that they have spent a lifetime paying into have been virtually frozen since the late 1990s. Their future is the number one issue on our agenda of social justice. Yet we're fixing a stadium instead.

Small business failures are at numbers not seen since the depression. Yet no substantive help for them. Our roads in the cities have cavity-loosening craters more reminiscent of Sarajevo. Yet little money for that. And what about the Train de l'Ouest? It's budget is still to be approved.

So many priorities, so little attention. I guess this government, with the exception of Treasury Board President Martin Coiteux, is still wedded to the ancient Roman maxim of give the people "bread and circuses." But we seem to be getting more circuses and more and more not being able to afford the bread.


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Beryl P. Wajsman

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