Moncton defends keeping mega-concert details secret
Manager says releasing information would compromise city's ability to attract shows
Moncton's manager is defending the city's decision not to disclose how much public money has been spent on any of its nine outdoor mega concerts.
Jacques Dubé says the city has spent millions since 2005 to attract the concerts and admits that some of the shows lost money.
But he argues the city would never be able to attract another big act if it reveals details about the contracts.
"What you're asking us to do is to basically get out of the business," he said regarding a Right to Information request by CBC News.
Click here to see redacted copies of the contracts for the nine concerts
"You're saying to us, 'Well, just compromise your financial position, compromise your promoters' position, turn your backs on them and don't get any more concerts.' We're not going to do that."
CBC News requested information in September relating to how much Moncton has spent on attracting some of the world’s biggest concerts – from the Rolling Stones in 2005 to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in 2012.
The city agreed to turn over copies of the various concert contracts. But officials blacked out large portions of the documents, saying disclosure could harm third-party interests or the "economic or financial interests or negotiation position of the City of Moncton."
CBC News has appealed the city's decision to the Office of the Access to Information and Privacy Commissioner.
Contracts stipulate privacy
Dubé contends the promoters the city has dealt with, such as Live Nation and Donald K Donald, don't want details about the contracts released and the city has a contractual obligation to keep the information private.
He insists the city has made a profit in the past two years, but refused to divulge any details.
"You know we cannot release any information that will not only compromise our competitive position as we try to attract concerts, but also the competitive position of the concert promoters themselves," Dubé said.
"We're in the business of making money and we're going to continue to make money and frankly we're not going to compromise the promoters' financial interest by disclosing all those financial details," he said.
"We can either have it, we can either have a vibrant hospitality and tourism entertainment sports industry … if you want to have that, you have to play by the rules of business today."
Taxpayers have right to know
Reaction among taxpayers CBC News spoke to on Monday was mixed.
"You trust the people you elect to do the right thing while they're in office and if you're not happy with it, you can have your voice heard every four years, but to chase one thing over another … I'm not interested," said Stephen Hennigar.
Bruce Wood, however, felt differently.
"This should be public knowledge, obviously. It is our money," he said.
Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, agrees.
Lacey says taxpayers deserve to know how public money is being spent and notes other cities, such as Halifax, have released details about how concert funds are sent.
"Really what they're asking taxpayers to do is trust them and I don't think that's fair," said Lacey.
Dubé says the city isn't interested in subsidizing concerts and that there are external and internal audits performed each year to ensure taxpayer funds are well spent.
"I think the taxpayers can be comforted in the extent that it's not just the city manager saying this; we have people come in and look at the books," he said.
The concert contracts that were partially released are:
- The Rolling Stones (2005)
- Country Rocks the Hill (2006)
- Faith Hill and Tim McGraw (2007)
- The Eagles (2008)
- Bon Jovi (2009)
- AC/DC (2009)
- U2 (2011)
- Nickelback (2012)
- Bruce Springsteen (2012)
The city blocked access to any lists of funds paid by taxpayers to the bands, promoters or organizers, as well as any pre- or post-concert financial analyses.
The information was requested when New Brunswick’s Right to Information Act began covering municipalities on Sept. 1.