Skip to main content

The Asper Stadium deal: a race to see who is the bigger fool

How apropos. The cobbled-together deal to finance a new stadium for Winnipeg was announced in the newspapers on April Fool's Day.

It's certainly made fools of everybody connected to the devil's bargain, but no one more so than newly elected Mayor Sam Katz.

They had barely swept up all the confetti from the victory celebration when Katz broke his only promise to the electorate.

Throughout the whole election campaign, Katz and his challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis were peppered with questions about the (even then) shaky stadium deal.

JustJudy (as she wanted to be called) was the more honest of the two.

She would, she told a CTV mayoral candidates forum, give David Asper a blank cheque to finish his stadium with the initial design. Spend whatever it takes, she told the public.

Katz chose to play coy, responding to all stadium questions with a packaged answer. The deal was for a $115 million stadium, he said smugly, and any change in plan would mean the deal had to come back to city council.

Taxpayers took that to mean that if the price of a new stadium exceeded the agreed-upon $115 million, then the deal was off. City council would then be tasked with coming up with a new idea for replacing the old stadium.

But it turns out Katz was only foolin'. Within a week and a half after winning the election he was up to his old tricks and neck deep in backroom dealing to rescue the stadium at the University of Manitoba.

^ Poof ^. His promise to return the deal to city council was broken in a second.

David Asper had managed to keep the true cost of his planned stadium secret until the election was over. Eventually, though, came the day of reckoning.

On Wednesday Nov. 3 he dropped his bombshell in a meeting with "stakeholders". Costs were way, way, way over what had been agreed to. And his "partners" (i.e. the province and the city) would have to dig deep, deep, deep into taxpayers' pockets to pay the difference.

The very next day, the secret was out in public. CBC reported that a "source close to the deal" said that the cost of the proposed stadium had ballooned to $160 million.

And the reaction of the politicians? Transparency be damned!

"Get over it," sneered Katz at everyone who had predicted just this scenario.

He and unelected Premier Greg Selinger then raced into the shadows faster than a Kennedy at a whorehouse to cobble together still another backroom deal which will be delivered as a fait accompli to city hall for its usual rubber stamp.

Only this time it must be different.

This is a new council filled with four new faces and an equal number of incumbents bruised by reelection battles over their public's anger at the weak, slanted or non-existent public consultations over major issues in their wards.

This council must tell Sam Katz "NO."

NO to backroom deals.
NO to his broken promise to bring the stadium deal back to council.

NO to any continued involvement by David Asper.

NO to spending money when you don't know what the project costs, what it will look like, or who's paying for it.

This city council must insist that the question of a new stadium for the city start over again at square one.

The template for the new council can be the excellent 8 Questions on the stadium asked in print by Colin Craig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

All options are open again. Remember, the very first idea was to rebuild the stadium in stages at its current Polo Park site. It was scrapped because the federal government wouldn't contribute money to sports facilities. But if the province is footing the entire bill through whatever ruse Selinger is using today, then this option becomes more viable than ever.

But, but, but....they've already dug a hole at the University of Manitoba.

Fill it it and send the bill to Creswin and David Asper.

We relied on Creswin's cost estimates. If they were so out of whack why should taxpayers get stuck? What is this---the Museum for Human Rights?

In fact, that would be the least of David Asper's concerns. We're picking up on comments left on message boards that suggest there needs to be a criminal investigation of the whole deal.

The initial pricetag for a new stadium to be built by Asper's company Creswin was $115 million. Asper was to pick up any cost overruns, at least that's what Sam Katz told the public, even after the day in August when Asper reneged on that promise as reported by Tom Brodbeck in the Winnipeg Sun. (Somebody's gotta pay, Winnipeg Sun, Aug. 30, 2010).
Dogged by questions about runaway construction costs, Creswin lied. (Emphases ours)

"For 10 days now, we have been fighting untrue, inflammatory numbers on stadium costs that are clearly being floated to media outlets in order to make mischief on the project. This conduct and inability to keep confidences while we work through the complex tendering process is both highly unprofessional and disturbing," wrote Creswin President Dan Edwards in an email to the Free Press. (Muddy pit becoming money pit, Gary Lawless, Winnipeg Free Press, Oct. 20, 2010).

Precisely 10 days earlier, guess who reported guess what?

Saturday, October 09, 2010
The tenders are in. Is the bill for new stadium $190 million?

As we see today, the numbers may have been "inflammatory" but they certainly weren't "untrue."

So, Creswin, which gets paid for the construction thanks to an untendered contract, lied to the public about the cost of the stadium before the deal was approved.

And lied after the deal was approved.

And kept the true numbers hidden until after the election, in the hope that the NDP candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis might win.

And saw a contract for pilings signed the day before the latest cost number was revealed, keeping the construction money flowing in.

And now hopes that Greg Selinger will bail the company (read David Asper) out of the jam. Or at least write a great big severance cheque. (Keep $13 million in mind.)

And Selinger is out to do just that.

He told CJOB morning radio host Hal Anderson:

"When the final decisions are made, everything will come out in public. The people will know the whole story."
Isn't that comforting? After Selinger and Katz make their backroom deal, they will inform the public.

But, then, Selinger has an ulterior motive. Don't forget he's already signed up David Asper as an NDP asset in the coming provincial election.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
David Asper hitches the Blue Bombers to the NDP bandwagon
With a barrage of insults aimed at the leader of the Manitoba P. C. Party, millionaire moocher David Asper has politicized the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team.
Asper was spitting mad at Opposition leader Hugh McFadyen on CJOB last Thursday for expressing doubt that Asper could repay the $90 million that the NDP is lending him to build a new stadium and become the team's owner.

The day after the April Fool's announcement, Asper publicly threw his support behind the NDP against Hugh McFadyen. That's why Selinger will work to keep Asper's stadium dream alive, whatever the cost to the public.

And that, in turn, is why he's known as the dirtiest politician in Manitoba.

Sam Katz, meanwhile, can only lay claim to being an April Fool.
But the bigger fools will be city councillors who let him get away with it.

Popular posts from this blog

The unreported bombshell conspiracy evidence in the Trudeau/SNC-Lavelin scandal

Wow. No, double-wow. A game-changing bombshell lies buried in the supplementary evidence provided to the House of Commons Judiciary Committee by former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. It has gone virtually unreported since she submitted the material almost a week ago. As far as we can find, only one journalist-- Andrew Coyne, columnist for the National Post--- has even mentioned it and even then he badly missed what it meant, burying it in paragraph 10 of a 14 paragraph story. The gist of the greatest political scandal in modern Canadian history is well-known by now. It's bigger than Adscam, the revelation 15 years ago that prominent members of the Liberal Party of Canada and the party itself funneled tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks into their own pockets from federal spending in Quebec sponsoring ads promoting Canadian unity. That was just venal politicians and a crooked political party helping themselves to public money. The Trudeau-Snc-Lavalin scandal is

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. There, we said it.

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. Oh, you won't find anyone official to say it. Yet . Like relatives trying to appear cheery and optimistic around a loved one that's been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the people in power are in the first stage of grief -- denial. The prognosis for Hydro was delivered three weeks ago at hearings before the Public Utilities Board where the utility was seeking punishingly higher rates for customers in Manitoba. It took us this long to read through the hundred-plus pages of transcript, to decipher the coded language of the witnesses, to interpret what they were getting at, and, finally, to understand the terrible conclusion.  We couldn't believe it, just as, we're sure, you can't--- so we did it all again, to get a second opinion, so to speak.  Hydro conceded to the PUB that it undertook a massive expansion program--- involving three (it was once four) new dams and two new major powerlines (one in the United States)---whi

Crips and Bloodz true cultural anchors of Winnipeg's aboriginal gangs

(Bebo tribute page to Aaron Nabess on the right, his handgun-toting friend on the left) At least six murder victims in Winnipeg in the past year are linked to a network of thuglife, gangster rap-styled, mainly aboriginal street gangs calling themselves Crips and Bloods after the major black gangs of L.A. The Black Rod has been monitoring these gangs for several months ever since discovering memorial tributes to victim Josh Prince on numerous pages on, a social networking website like Myspace and Facebook. Josh Prince , a student of Kildonan East Collegiate, was stabbed to death the night of May 26 allegedly while breaking up a fight. His family said at the time he had once been associated with an unidentified gang, but had since broken away. But the devotion to Prince on sites like Watt Street Bloodz and Kingk Notorious Bloodz (King-K-BLOODZ4Life) shows that at the time of his death he was still accepted as one of their own. Our searches of Bebo have turned up another five ga

Nahanni Fontaine, the NDP's Christian-bashing, cop-smearing, other star candidate

As the vultures of the press circle over the wounded Liberal Party of Manitoba, one NDP star candidate must be laughing up her sleeve at how her extremist past has escaped the scrutiny of reporters and pundits. Parachuted into a safe NDP seat in Winnipeg's North End, she nonetheless feared a bruising campaign against a well-heeled Liberal opponent.  Ha ha.  Instead, the sleepy newspeeps have turned a blind eye to her years of vitriolic attacks on Christianity, white people, and police. * She's spent years  bashing Christianity  as the root cause of all the problems of native people in Canada. * She's called for  a boycott of white businesses . * And with her  Marxist research partner, she's  smeared city police as intransigent racists . Step up Nahanni Fontaine, running for election in St. John's riding as successor to the retiring Gord Macintosh. While her male counterpart in the NDP's galaxy of stars, Wab Kinew, has responded to the controversy over

Exposing the CBC/WFP double-team smear of a hero cop

Published since 2006 on territory ceded, released, surrendered and yielded up in 1871 to Her Majesty the Queen and successors forever. Exposing the CBC/FP double-team smear of a hero cop Some of the shoddiest journalism in recent times appeared this long August weekend when the CBC and Winnipeg Free Press doubled teamed on a blatant smear of a veteran city police officer. In the latest example of narrative journalism these media outlets spun stories with total disregard for facts that contradicted the central message of the reports which, simplified, is: police are bad and the system is covering up. Let's start with the story on the taxpayer funded CBC by Sarah Petz that can be summed up in the lead. "A February incident where an off-duty Winnipeg officer allegedly knocked a suspect unconscious wasn't reported to the province's police watchdog, and one criminologist says it shows how flawed oversight of law enforcement can be." There you have it. A policeman, not

Winnipeg needs a new police chief - ASAP

When did the magic die? A week ago the Winnipeg police department delivered the bad news---crime in the city is out of control. The picture painted by the numbers (for 2018) was appalling. Robberies up ten percent in  a single year.  (And that was the good news.) Property crimes were up almost 20 percent.  Total crime was 33 percent higher than the five year average. The measure of violent crime in Winnipeg had soared to a rating of 161.  Only four years earlier it stood at 116. That's a 38 percent deterioration in safety. How did it happen? How, when in 2015 the police and Winnipeg's police board announced they had discovered the magic solution to crime? "Smart Policing" they called it.    A team of crime analysts would pore through data to spot crime hot-spots and as soon as they identified a trend (car thefts, muggings, liquor store robberies) they could call in police resources to descend on the problem and nip it. The police