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Will the costly puck stop with Stephen Harper?

Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail

Brian Gable

Stephen Harper's metamorphosis from tax slayer to reckless spendthrift is the subject of a petition now being circulated by the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation.

In a statement criticizing the Prime Minister for considering a $180-million funding proposal for a Quebec hockey rink, the watchdog group wants to know: "What the 'puck' is Stephen Harper doing with our tax dollars?"

CTF director Kevin Gaudet is unimpressed. "It is poisonous for politicians to spend money like this on projects like this," he told The Globe in an email. "Poisonous for Harper to say one thing while at NCC and then may do what he decried."

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Mr. Gaudet was referring to comments made by Mr. Harper in 2000 when he was president of the National Citizen's Coalition, which advocates for more freedom through less government.

"Canadians are being forced to subsidize millionaire hockey team owners and that's a misconduct," Mr. Harper said at the time. He was responding to the Chrétien government's short-lived scheme to help subsidize NHL teams in Canada.

Last week, however, he was singing a different tune. Not wanting to alienate Quebec, he left the door open slightly to funding the Quebec City rink.

"Now we are big fans like many Canadians, but we are also big taxpayers like many Canadians; it's time the Harper government got its priorities straight," Mr. Gaudet said in the release to CTF supporters.

"It's time for responsible management of our country's finances, a return to controlled spending and balanced budgets."

Mr. Gaudet has no figures yet as to how many people have signed the petition. However, he says he has received "a few" emails from Conservatives who have said they are quitting the party over this.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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