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.

More thorns in Stelmach’s side

The Wildrose Alliance may be doing well in the polls in Alberta under its new leader Danielle Smith, but until recently, the organization of the party has been struggling hard to catch up to make the party a credible force for contending the next election.

Today, a key Morton organizer jumped over to the Alliance. I met Bill Bewick when he was senior staff on the Morton for PC Leader campaign. Bewick now joins Wildrose in the legislature as a senior member of its research staff.

The departure of the former senior supporter of the now finance minister comes on the heels of another important hire by the Wildrose. Vitor Marciano was an Alberta National Councillor for the Conservative Party and was even in contention for presidency of the party late last year. Marciano has been a staunch Harper supporter and his placement at the top of the Wildrose will enable the party to bring some professional organizing muscle to the mix and this will be important for bringing more conservative Albertans into fold of the provincial party.

All of this without mention that earlier this year we saw Wildrose begin its 2010 momentum with the poaching of two MLAs from Stelmach’s caucus.

Pollsters will tell you that the electoral trend favours Wildrose. Now we’re starting to see some of the real-world pieces come together.

Anne McLellan interview

Yesterday, I bumped into Anne McLellan at the Liberal leadership convention. I sat down with the former deputy Prime Minister to ask her about the convention, Maher Arar and the Alberta PC leadership race.

Ted Morton supporters will want to watch the video the full way through. Fans of the professor will be cheering by the end.