Quebec gets act together

ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

After being told to straighten up and fly right by Hockey Canada last week, Quebec City appears to be back on course for the 2008 IIHF World Hockey Championships.

The Quebec group, crippled with problems ranging from public indifference to governmental posturing over who will pick up the final tab is set to announce some positive news.

French broadcaster Radio-Canada reported yesterday Quebec City mayor Andree Boucher will announce details of a new financial arrangement between the city, province and federal governments today.

STICKING POINT

All three levels are expected to contribute to the event if the event runs a deficit (the biggest sticking point for Boucher).

Earlier this week, reports indicated the Quebec mayor had approached Prime Minister Stephen Harper for $5 million in financial assistance.

Meanwhile, according to Quebec City newspaper Le Soleil, also expected to be announced is an organizational committee -- including a tournament chair. Details are expected to be made public today or in the coming days.

Organizers still need to receive a blessing from Hockey Canada, which gave the city a Wednesday deadline to reset its efforts and address a list of eight questions about their ability to the world-class hockey tournament.

Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson has stated his first choice was to keep the event in the Quebec capital so news of a new financial and organizational structure is a positive step in that direction.

Does that spell the end for Winnipeg?

Not yet, as the conditions might not be met, but the sunny skies of last week have certainly clouded over somewhat on the Prairies.

Proactive in putting the pressure on Quebec organizers, Hockey Canada officials visited the Manitoba capital just over a week ago, looking for assurances from True North Sports and Entertainment that it could step in should Quebec fail.

Already welcoming the 2007 IIHF World Women's Hockey Championships this April, the True North brain trust assured Hockey Canada they could handle the task -- short notice, the quick turnaround between events, and the possibility of an extended Manitoba Moose playoff run be damned.

ROLL OUT OF BED

Given the pending announcements, the predictable increased political involvement, and the feeling that last Tuesday's wake-up call has finally moved Quebec City to roll out of bed, it could be all for not.

Despite the universal certainty from Hockey Canada, True North, and anyone who has witnessed a one-off event in this town in recent years that Winnipeg would turn the World Championships into an undisputed success, indications are Quebec will retain its host status and co-pilot the 2008 tourney with Halifax as originally scheduled.


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