A couple of days ago some light was shed on the bush league decision of the organizers of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Board not to recognize the Leaders of the Opposition of the Canadian Parliament and Provincial Legislature at the President's reception on opening day of the Calgary Stampede.
There appears to be more to it than mere crass partisanship of the corporate and political establishment of the city of the Blue-Eyed Sheikhs (with acknowledgements to Peter Foster for coining the phrase in his excellent book on the Canadian Petroleum Industry of almost 30 years ago). As you might guess, the 'more' that was involved was - surprise, surprise - government money. Government handouts. Government handouts from both Special Ed and Bush's pal Steve.
Government handouts? - you say - surely the right wing Conservative boys who dominate the Exhibition and Stampede Board wouldn't be interested in government handouts? Are you kidding? The only thing these guys like better than tax loopholes are government handouts.
The further reasons for the boorish snub of Messrs. Dion and Taft at the President's reception came in a news release on Tuesday July 10. It was revealed that Federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice and Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister Lawrence Cannon, on behalf of Bush's pal Steve Harper, together with Special Ed, announced they intended to to give the Exhibtion and Stampede some money. There were a few strings attached, but nothing that couldn't be worked out.
Here's the deal. Under the Building Canada Infrastructure Plan Stevie's Feds would give the Stampede up to 15 million bucks towards the Western Legacy project. The project includes reclaiming a 14 acre inner city parcel of land to create a park, the development of a heritage interpretive center and the relocation of the traditional Indian Village of the Stampede in order to expand the interpretive program. In addition, the money would be used to facilitate a cross-cultural exchange with the participation of Treaty Seven First Nations.
Special Ed and his Country Boys (among whom are a small smattering of girls), is giving an additional 15 Million to support the expansion and upgrading of the Stampede.
So, getting back to the Friday reception, it appears that the Board showed their gratitude towards their government patrons by not allowing any lowlifes like the Leaders of the Opposition to share the limelight with Bush Lite or Special Ed. ('Don't bite the hand that feeds you,' 'they know what side of their bread is buttered,' 'you gotta dance with the guy that brung ya,' yada, yada, yada - you get my drift, I hope. If not, you're qualified to be a minister in Special Ed's cabinet).
In this connection, they may have been influenced by the usually brooding and surly PM, who detests Grits so much that he insults them at every opportunity with slashing contempt, the like of which has seldom been observed in Canadian politics (some of Stevie's more outrageous observations: the Opposition have more sympathy for the Taliban than it does for our troops; Liberals are not a friend of Israel; Paul Martin supports Child Pornography, etc., etc.). So, better not piss him off, before we have the bucks in the bank, right?
As to the class act of Special Ed, the Board could have known about an earlier action of the Premier when he refused to have his picture taken with Stephane Dion on the latter's courtesy first visit to the Premier's Office in Edmonton after becoming Federal Opposition Leader (See Darryl Raymaker Blog, January 10, 2007, 'FAST EDDIE AND THE QUESTION OF CHARACTER). Recognition of Dion at the reception would probably not be appreciated by the dithering, blundering, milquetoast farmer who was coughing up 15 million big ones of hard earned taxpayers' moolah for the Stampede.
The Stampede Board could also have been influenced by the fact that the Federal contribution under the 33 billion dollar Building Canada Infrastructure Plan appears to be a bit of a stretch. The proclaimed purpose of the Plan according to the press release is to provide long-term, stable, and predictable funding to help meet infrastructure needs across Canada. When common sense Canadians think of infrastructure they think of bridges, roads, rail transportation, and the like. They do not associate parks, Calgary Stampede indian villages, interpretive centers or cross-cultural relations with indians, with infrastructure. And so, it just may be that the proposed grant from the Feds may be on very shaky legal ground - all the more reason to make nice to the Prime Minster and shun his opponents.