I am OK with the province of Manitoba announcing it will not subsidise the NHL's return to Winnipeg. I am not OK with the double standard which continues in this country and the skewed debate over partial funding of NHL facilities.
I always hear the ridiculous claims that taxpayers should not be helping millionaire players and billionaire owners. The taxpayers already are! Tax and funding fairness is the issue here. I am fine with provinces and the federal government staying out of those situations as long as they stay out of all of them.
industries and companies all across Canada are regularly the recipients of government assistance and we all accept that as a way of keeping jobs and helping the economy and the communities in which these facilities are based. Often the companies who receive this assistance employ the same number of people (or fewer) than an NHL team. Generate the same (or less) to the tax base and don't come close to NHL teams in what they bring to the city in exposure, culture, entertainment, spin-off jobs and a sense of civic pride.
So what is the difference? Political optics. Politicians are less worried about fairness and more optics. When Senators owner Rod Bryden was looking for fairness it was pointed out that Cognos at the time employed about the same number of people in Ottawa and their top 25 employees made more than the Senators top 25 employees (players), but Cognos still qualified for Federal research and development grants but the hockey team was told to go suck eggs. The fact is much of the city of Kanata's development was due to huge tax breaks and federal grants to millionaires with names like Mathews and Copeland whose top 25 employees all made much more than the highest paid NHL players. Are we all OK with that too?
The optics are created by the average guys awareness of what an NHL player makes and what the owner is worth because the media regularly talks about both subjects. The media does not talk about the top 25 employees salaries or what Cognos owner (Mike Potter at that time) has in the bank. Potter is worth more than many NHL owners.
Governments at all levels routinely try to both entice and hold onto businesses to keep the jobs and the tax benefits that come from those paychecks. You should want to keep 25 millionaire hockey players in your town because they pay big personal income tax.
The debate about directing funds to hospitals and schools instead of the NHL is also a circular debate. The best way to afford more hospitals and schools is to try and keep millionaires in your town to pay taxes. When has it ever occurred that more money was put into hospitals and schools when an NHL team left? Ask Winnipeg and Quebec City if their hospitals and schools are better or worse off since their NHL teams left. The answer on that and every single level is NO! Thus the reason both are so interested in getting teams back.
If you don't want to help fund NHL arena's I am fine with that but the same rules should apply to every single for-profit business in this country. Its only fair. We would have said good bye to Bombardier long ago. Two of the three big Canadian auto makers would likely be dead right now. The list is very long.
This should be about fairness not optics.
but it is not and will never be because politicians are about optics first and fairness, well, that is well down the list.
See you at the rink.