Edmonton Expo 2017

In addition to Don Martin’s story in the National Post today, I’ve learned a few more details about the Edmonton Expo story:

The government’s top-line message on this has been one of fiscal restraint. This theme was starting to make rounds online last night and has been echoed by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Toronto today.

Shifting security costs were a main concern about the Expo bid. For example, original estimates of Olympic security had been about $175 million and rounded out to about $800 million when all was said and done. Organizers of the Edmonton Expo have projected security costs at $85 million, a figure which the Public Safety minister has dismissed as very conservative for a 90 day event. Actual security costs are projected closer to $1 Billion.

Alberta itself is in deficit and Alberta Finance minister Ted Morton released a provincial fiscal update describing a province in the red, projecting a deficit of $5 billion by year end.

The 2010 Shanghai World Expo had major cost overruns. Originally estimated to be $4 Billion, the cost ballooned to about $80 billion by some reports. Further, there is little evidence that a “world expo” does enough to promote the host country outside of its own borders. Olympic Games, however, are seen to be a major international success by most outside observers.

Don Martin has suggested that the nixing of the Edmonton Expo bid has also scuttled government funding for a Quebec arena. I’ve learned from sources in the PMO that this isn’t necessarily true. The government contends that funding for professional sports facilities remains the responsibility of the private sector. If any funding is to be granted it must be fair and evenly spread across the country. However, the government emphasizes that Canada is in a period of fiscal restraint.

Alberta bound

I’ll be heading to Edmonton tomorrow for the Manning Centre’s Conference on Alberta’s Future where registrants will discuss and evaluate Alberta’s performance in the Canadian and global contexts.

The conference comes on the heels of the Stelmach government’s Throne Speech today and when renewed calls for increased opposition time in Question Period have been vocalized by both the NDP and Wildrose Alliance Parties. Leader of the latter party, Danielle Smith has confirmed her attendance at the conference so it will be interesting to hear her take on Alberta’s future now, especially now that she’s leading in the polls and may well have been Alberta’s next premier if an election were held today.

There will also be representatives from the government there to discuss their vision as well as members of the other opposition parties. Preston Manning wrote an article published in the National Post today suggesting that Alberta’s PC dynasty is on shaky ground. Alberta observers will remember that Manning was courted by many Alberta conservatives to replace Premier Klein. Yet, in the end, Ed Stelmach was selected.

Alberta, partly due to the economic downturn, finds itself in different financial shape as the province’s treasury faces deficits instead of surpluses. Still the economic engine of Canada thanks in large part to its still booming energy sector, Alberta’s future and potential political turnover is the sleeper story in Canadian politics.

If you’ll be in Edmonton this weekend, I hope that I’ll see you at the conference. If not, I’ll be doing my best to file video and blog reports with those that have shaped Alberta’s past and those shaping its future.