There are questions about the future role of the National Capital Commission now that the Department of Canadian Heritage has assumed control of events such as Canada Day and Winterlude.

The government announced in Thursday's budget that Heritage would take over events from the NCC to ensure "a broad, national perspective is brought to these celebrations."

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who is also responsible for the NCC, said residents and tourists shouldn't expect too many changes as a result and said it will help to bring event planning under one roof.

"I suspect for those people who go to Canada Day or skate on the canal at Winterlude they're not going to notice any difference whatsoever," said Baird.

With the move, some 60 to 80 NCC workers will move to Canadian Heritage.

The NCC will still act as a landowner in the region, and will continue to oversee Gatineau Park, the Greenbelt and the official residences.

Return to core mandate

Liberal MP Mauril Belanger fears the government has plans to privatize events such as Winterlude and said he wants a sign that the NCC won't be weakened further.

"It's been nine months since they've had a CEO," said Belanger. "If they were to find a strong trusted CEO, to appoint that person would send a signal to calm things. If they don't we're right to start wondering what's going on with the NCC."

Gilles Paquet, a professor at the University of Ottawa's Centre on Governance, said the shift means the NCC can focus on its mandate.

In a 2006 review Paquet determined the NCC's  primary role is to plan and develop a vision for the land it manages.

"You may want to have a role of co-ordination in general for the NCC, but the idea that they have to do the job on some of those carnivals and festivals is simply not central to their mandate," said Paquet.