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On the take, Halifax style

Remember how the Harpercons got elected? They took over the reins after the Sponsorship Scandal (rightfully) made pariahs out of everything Liberal. They convinced a large enough minority of voters that they were more honest and less corrupt than those other guys. Really, they convinced enough rubes that the pot has every right to call the kettle black.

It’s time to reconsider their level of corruption. These boys are every bit as dirty as Chretien’s crowd, and Mulroney’s before him. Get a load of the local shenanigans going on with the so-called Stimulus funds, as detailed by the always enlightening Tim Bousquet at The Coast.

City officials had previously decided on the four-pad project over the objections of a PC-connected group (including then-PC MLA Len Goucher) who were building a private ice surface on Duke Street in east Bedford. Goucher’s group “borrowed” (without repayment) $1.5 million from the previous PC provincial government. Their ice surface is covered by an inflated “bubble” purchased, used from Ontario—which, I’m told, raised safety concerns in the HRM building department.

The four-pad application went into Infrastructure minister John Baird’s Ottawa office and, contrary to Peter Kelly’s April assurances, was rejected—without documentation. “We don’t get anything in writing to formally tell us that they’ve turned down our application, or why,” HRM finance director Cathie O’Toole tells me. “It typically comes as a phone call.” The city had already contracted out construction of the four-pad, and so the entire $35.4 million cost will unexpectedly be shouldered by city taxpayers.

The very day the city broke ground on the four-pad, October 14, the federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, which falls under Conservative MP Peter MacKay’s oversight, announced that it was giving $2 million to Goucher’s Bedford arena project. I can still hear the “Fuck you, Halifax council!” echoing from MacKay’s office.

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