Ceci accuses feds of 'moving the goalposts' on potential Olympic funding
'We’re happy to keep talking but we’re not going to engage in these kind of bad faith tactics'
Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci has accused the federal government of "moving the goalposts" after it announced it will match up to $1.75 billion in provincial and municipal funding if Calgary is chosen to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Officials confirmed Friday the federal government has authorized up to $1.75 billion in Olympic spending if the city goes forward with a bid and wins, an amount higher than its previous maximum pledge of $1.5 billion.
The province said last week it will commit up to $700 million in funding.
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It was the matching part of the announcement that had Ceci's ire.
"For the past number of weeks, along with the City of Calgary, we have been negotiating with the federal government in what we thought was good faith," Ceci told reporters at the Alberta NDP's convention in Edmonton on Saturday.
"We came to our $700 million number based on a federal commitment of $1.75 billion in 2018 dollars, without any kind of 50/50 arrangement.
"Yesterday, we found out through the media that the federal government is moving the goalposts in the fourth quarter and negotiating through the media."
Ceci said if the federal government "put the goalposts back, we're happy to keep talking, but we're not going to engage in these kind of bad-faith tactics."
"We need to balance any potential Olympic funding with many other priorities Albertans count on each and every day like hospitals, schools, roads," he said. "And we're not planning to change or increase our funding arrangement."
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued a statement Friday evening.
"We were surprised to see this number reported for a proposed federal contribution to a potential Calgary 2026 Olympics, as negotiations are still underway," Nenshi wrote.
Calgary 2026 bid corporation's media spokesperson said the group won't comment while negotiations with the government continue, but are encouraged that the federal government is "keen."
But a letter from federal Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan, tabled at the Sept. 11 city council meeting, says should a majority of Calgarians vote yes to hosting the Games, "our investment would match the combined provincial and municipal investments to the core costs of the event."
"As has been consistently communicated, and is outlined in the Federal Policy For Hosting International Sports Events, we are committed to considering a contribution of up to 35% of total event costs, and we will not exceed 50% of the total public sector contributions to the event," the letter says.
Plebiscite on Nov. 13
The city hasn't revealed its funding plan yet.
The federal contribution would be contingent on what the city and province provide, matching their combined total, to a maximum of $1.75 billion. That means the city would have to pledge $1.05 billion to get the full federal amount.
A plebiscite is set for Nov. 13, when Calgarians will vote whether they want to bid for the Games.
Calgary's bid corporation estimates the Games will cost $5.23 billion.
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