Saturday, July 01, 2006

Brooklyn Bridge purchase spans floodway 'story'

Ahhh, the Vic Toews connection continues to pay interesting dividends for the W. Sun.

Legislature Reporter Rochelle Squires mined her millimetre-deep pool of federal Tory sources to come up with a story Saturday that says the Harper government has "committed $42 million to help with cost overruns" for the floodway expansion.

The story then states that the money comes "along with a stern reprimand about cost overruns," and goes on to quote Vic ("The Old Vic") Toews, regional minister for Manitoba, as confirming a joint funding announcement is forthcoming.

"The province said they require the money by the end of June. We sent them a letter back saying they will receive it on a cost-sharing basis," said the tough-talking Toews. "(In the letter) we expressed our concerns about cost overruns and re-iterated our right to examine the expenditures."

The story notes that the feds have not yet paid their second-phase share of the original $665 million dollar floodway expansion project. But -- in some sort of bizarre instance of time-travel -- then draws the conclusion that the $42 million federal contribution is for "cost overruns."

Huh? Cost overruns on a project for which the federal government has yet to pay a dime of ORIGINAL phase II funding? A cost overrun, by the way folks, is money for costs over and above the original budget.

So for those scoring at home, the math according to the path blazed by Squires now looks like this:

- $ 240 million -- cost shared by feds and prov for first phase of the floodway expansion;

- $425 million -- second phase funding promised by feds, cost-shared with the province;

- $625 million -- the total budget for the project (phases I and II); and

- $42 million -- Saturday's Sun commitment by the feds for "cost overruns."

Now we wonder whether Squires is actually certain that 42 million is going for "cost overruns?" Or, will it in fact in the end be put towards the federal governments share of the base phase II funding? Will it be part of that original, $665 million total budget? Or will it be over and above the $665, and therefore, truly funding for a "cost overrun?"

'Cuz if it's truly for "cost overruns" - and not towards the original $665 million price tag - then we conclude that Manitoba can still expect some $200 million and change for phase II from the Harper government.

Addicts thinks the truth of the situation is that
Squires has been sold the Brooklyn Bridge by The Old Vic. And when it's announced that the $42 million is indeed for the second phase of the original $ 665 million project - and not to pay for alleged "cost overruns" - will the Sun run a correction? And will the Sun hold The Old Vic accountable for his mischief?