Hypocrisy reigns in Manitoba

Hockey fans in and around Winnipeg are getting lathered up about the prospect of yet another version of the Winnipeg Jets coming back. It’s been 15 years since NHL hockey was played in Winnipeg and hockey fans have become somewhat content with the Manitoba Moose, an AHL team.
But recent murmuring about bringing the former Jets team, the Phoenix Coyotes, back to Winnipeg had hockey fans getting their hopes up. Those hopes were  no sooner dashed than talk of the Atlanta Thrashers coming to Winnipeg emerged.

This topic is near and dear to my heart, not because I particularly want the Jets back in Winnipeg, but because of some political history that I, in a small way participated in. Having the Jets back would be nice. I think so now and I thought so back in 2007 when during the provincial election, PC Manitoba leader Hugh McFadyen came out in favour of bringing back the Jets. I, and my wife Christine, were both candidates in that election and attended the announcement by McFadyen. Many people thought the campaign took a decided downturn after that announcement even though polling showed that things weren’t going all that well for our party, especially in the City of Winnipeg, even before the announcement. 

One can argue all they want about how the announcement was handled and how the media dumped on McFadyen, and on Tories in general, but the idea is still a pretty good idea. I remember gathering for the announcement and riding the bus down to the MTS Centre. Just as we entered the arena, we were told by the PC election media type people what the announcement would be. I remember stopping right in my tracks and asking the media lady, “How much public money is involved in this?” I was assured there would be none. Well and good, I could go along with that and still could today.

So the recent news that Atlanta might be coming to Winnipeg is still an okay idea but it had better not involve public money. On Wednesday, the news leaked out that millionaire businessmen Mark Chipman and David Thomson may be applying for some help from the province. If that turns out to be true, I can’t go along with it and will fight it tooth and nail.

Here’s some basic reasons public support should not be going to a hockey team.

Manitoba is in debt, deeply in debt.

Manitoba is going deeper into debt to the tune of half a billion a year.

The 2011 flood repair and compensation costs are going to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, money the province didn’t budget for and couldn’t really have budgeted for.

There are probably 50 communities in Manitoba that don’t have clean drinking water.

Every community has a huge infrastructure problem.

There’s five basic reasons that the Province of Manitoba should never back a hockey team or arena.

There’s a whole list of other things that shouldn’t have been backed when the above reasons against them are still looming large in our province. The list includes a stadium and a human rights museum but what is done is done and we can’t go back now.

But we can avoid future mistakes.

I personally would find it hard to blame aboriginal people if they responded with blockades or even violence if we don’t get off our butt and do something about clean drinking water and adequate housing.

There’s a whole range of things that can and should be done to help communities, but financing an arena or a hockey team isn’t one of them. We could send in the army and set up water purification units. The army does it overseas in times of disaster, why not do it here for our own people and keep our military teams practiced up. We could teach people how to run water treatment facilities and create a bit of employment. We could do more in housing.

We could axe the Indian Act. It’s the one good thing Trudeau and Chretien wanted to do but didn’t get it done. Aboriginals could actually have self government like the rest of us do if we axed the Indian Act.
If in fact the province actually puts money into the MTS Centre to finance a hockey team, I will be very, very angry. Angry because it’s not right and angry because the NDP and much of their media flunkies ridiculed McFadyen’s Jets plan.

Some say there’s hypocrisy in the Christian church. I say there’s a lot more in government. The NDP are lying through their teeth when they say they want to help poor people and aboriginal people and then they pour money into rich white guys’ schemes, toys and hobbies. Hypocrisy indeed!

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