|Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff speaks during a conference at the House of Commons. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)
OTTAWA – “Vague promises from millionaires” shouldn't get the feds to pony up cash for an NHL-calibre arena, Michael Ignatieff said Wednesday.
The Liberal leader waded into the debate over whether Quebec City's plan to build a $400-million arena and convention centre should include federal infrastructure funds.
“No public subsidies for the National Hockey League, no public subsidies for millionaires,” he said at a news conference in the House of Commons.
But a Liberal government wouldn't shut the door on forking over dough for a project with good business plan.
“The issue is whether there is a well put together business plan to renew a public facility and make sure it has a cultural use, a sporting use, an economic development use,” he said.
NDP Leader Jack Layton agreed with Ignatieff, noting tax dollars shouldn't go towards funding pro-sports teams, but said money could flow if it served the needs of a broader community.
Both leaders said if one region got cash, others should as well.
"It's got to be fairly accessible right across the country,” said Layton. “We can't do these one-offs."
Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau, whose media empire includes QMI Agency, confirmed last week he'd submitted a proposal in the tens of millions of dollars to help fund the project, a prerequisite to bring the Quebec Nordiques NHL franchise back to the provincial capital.
Quebec City and the province have pledged 45% of the estimated cost of the new rink, and the Conservatives haven't ruled out federal involvement.