No sooner does Mayor Sam Katz raise your property taxes (you say levy, we say lie), than the usual panhandlers come crawling out of their holes.
Did someone say Asper? Oh. We did.
Yep, millionaire moocher Gail Asper has been circling City Hall for weeks, waiting for the trough to be refilled so that she can be first in line---- with Mayor Sam's help.
Katz intends to raise $14 million from a hike in frontage levy, the most regressive property tax possible. He blubbers that the money will be dedicated to street repairs. Except for the fact that the amount the city spends on street repairs won't be going up by $14 million. In fact, it won't be going up at all.
The higher levy will only replace money which will now be spent elsewhere---like the pet projects of millionaires.
Aka the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Gail Asper has her eyes set on at least half of the money you'll be paying for the increase in your frontage levy.
She desperately needs it -- to pay the taxes on the CMHR.
Remember, the CMHR stiffed the city on its tax bill last June--- until they were shamed into paying it by The Black Rod. With tax time just around the corner, they've got no money again.
So Gail has gone running to her new sugar daddies, Sam Katz and Greg Selinger.
She spilled the beans in an interview with Maclean's magazine released Wednesday:
Q: There are some concerns about the museum’s ability to pay millions in property tax to Winnipeg each year. Ottawa is providing $21.7 million annually in operating expenses, but said it won’t pay more. Who’ll cover the gap?
A: ...Museum management is in positive discussions with the city and the province for additional funding...
We'll just have to wait to see how positive.
Sam Katz went through weeks of an election campaign pretending ignorance about funding a new football stadium. No sooner was the campaign over than he announced he had made a backroom deal to pay David Asper, Gail's older brother, four million dollars to reward him for his failure to build the stadium privately.
At the same time, to win the election Katz repeatedly said he was against increasing property taxes because it would affect the poorest homeowners the worst. Then, after the election, he mocked the voting public by raising another property levy, a tax which will hit the poorest homeowners even worse.
Watch him pretend he knows nothing about the "positive discussions" to forgive the taxes on a millionaire's pet project while sticking it to the homeowners who have no choice but to pay for her, ahem, "vision."
As for Greg Selinger... the dirtiest politician in Manitoba. He will say and do anything to win an election. So borrowing more money to give to a millionaire is exactly what he will do if he thinks it will help him on the campaign trail.
Deceit has been the central theme of the CMHR project.
They lied to the Senate when they promised that private donors would cover the cost of all construction overruns. (Hey, that's the same lie spun by David Asper when he was soaking us for the stadium.)
They kept saying they were on target with private fundraising for construction until The Black Rod exposed that they were $50 million in the glue.
Here's just the latest whopper from Gail Asper in the Maclean's interview.
"The idea wasn’t that we were going to impose a human rights museum on Canada. The idea was that we were going to listen to what Canadians wanted and work with them to deliver something that everyone could embrace."
The public was NEVER asked if they wanted to fund Izzy Asper's $300 million-plus human rights museum. It was sold as a private project with some financing from the public purse. And suddenly, with no discussion, presto change-o, it was a public project with some financing from private donors.
When long-gone NDP Premier Gary Doer doubled the provincial contribution to $40 million, there was no public discussion, no "listening" to the taxpayers. It was inserted in the budget and, poof, the money was in Gail Asper's lap.
Every shred of evidence is that the CMHR was indeed "imposed" on Canada. Nobody knows that better now than the Ukrainian community which was tricked by Izzy Asper into supporting his museum by a bogus promise to treat the killing of Ukrainians by communists (the Holodomor) equally with the killing of Jews by Nazis (the Holocaust).
With the building well under construction, the Ukrainians discovered the design approved by the proponents of Izzy Asper's museum called for a stand-alone gallery to discuss the Holocaust, while the other mass murders of ethnic groups throughout history would be lumped together in something called a Mass Atrocity zone.
The Ukrainians got their hands on tender documents and, to their dismay, learned the extent to which they have been lied to.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress issued a news release Feb. 8, 2011. (You know, the one the Winnipeg Free Press NEVER reported.)
"UCC has obtained tendering documents from the Government of Canada’s MERX system which demonstrate that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has no intention of including permanent or prominent displays of the Holodomor or of Canada’s First National Internment Operations. They provide further evidence that the Museum’s content is set in stone and that it will proceed on the basis of the discredited Content Advisory Committee Report."
"The tender documents indicate that there will only be a single photo of the Holodomor in its electronic displays. A clarification issued to bidders illustrates that no floor space is being allocated to the Holodomor or to Canada’s First National Internment Operations, in stark comparison to other permanent galleries."
A shocked UCC President Paul Grod said,"They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case, the museum would like Canadians to believe that a single photo adequately represents the suffering of millions of victims and survivors of the Holodomor, some of whom are still living in Canada”.
One picture, eh. Well, it's better than a sign over a box of Kraft dinner and a Ukrainian Easter egg.
But the foundation of the CMHR is beginning to crack (metaphorically speaking.)
Step One: The federal government has appointed a Uke to the board of trustees of the CMHR. (What? You didn't read about this in the Winnipeg Free Press? That's funny.)
New board member Dr. Lindy Ledohowski, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at St. Jerome's University in the University of Waterloo. She's also described as a communications consultant. Dum de dum dum.
Dr. Ledohowski sports a B.A. (Honours) from the University of Manitoba, a B.Ed. in Secondary English and History from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto.
As far back as December the UCC had asked the federal government to reconstitute the museum's board of trustees to make it "more reflective of Canadian society.” Now there's somebody who can read the internal documentation with fresh eyes. Could that be a reason for...
Step Two: Two of the four top executives at the CMHR have hightailed it out with scarcely time for a buh-bye.
Victoria Dickenson was the "chief knowledge officer", a fancy name for curator. It's hard to describe her job, since nothing written about her actually spells it out.
The Winnipeg Free Press said she "headed up a team of researchers and exhibit designers who were working on programming for the CMHR." She was big on new media, we gather.
Angela Cassie, director of communications for the CMHR, told the FP that Dickenson left after "laying a museological foundation upon which we can grow and further develop our inaugural exhibits."
You read that right. The "director of communications" said the dear-departed curator "laid a museological foundation."
Can someone define 'communication' to Ms. Cassie.
Still, Dickenson thought it was a good time to leave the "iconic" museum that going to electrify the world to take a job at an art gallery in Kleinberg, Ont. No, we don't know where that is, either.
Dickenson disappeared swiftly and quietly only 3 weeks after the mysterious departure of Chief Operating Officer Patrick O'Reilly. O'Reilly had been a very public face of the CMHR for more than two years. He was a spirited liason between the gay community and the museum.
Representing the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at the inaugural Queer Hall of Fame Awards in Vancouver in 2009 he broke the ice with a riff on gay rights. (emphasis his)
"On that note, let me just say a word about “GAY RIGHTS.” Honestly, I’m not sure what a gay right is. I suppose if I were to joke it might be the right to be FABULOUS. Perhaps it’s the right to be butch, or the right to accessorize?"
He popped up this week on a panel at the University of Manitoba on creating safe workplaces and protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered workers.
As for why he left the CMHR so abruptly? Nada. But does it have anything to do with....
Step Three: March 31 is fiscal year end. The museum has to provide a financial accounting.
How ugly is it going to be, you ask? Well, there's....
Step Four: As we reported earlier this month, the federal government is cutting about $1 million from the museum's budget to trim spending and fight the federal deficit.
Which brings us to...where we started, at the top.