Wed. Dec 6th, 2023

The Minister of Finance and responsible for the return of the Nordiques, Éric Girard, assesses the chances of an NHL team returning at 10% in Quebec.

Les Kings à Qué bec: the bill includes meals and travel for players

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Minister Éric Girard appeared before journalists on Tuesday to defend his government's subsidy for the Los Angeles Kings to come to Quebec in 2024.

  • David Rémillard (View profile)David Rémillard

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The subsidy of 5 to 7 million dollars granted by the Legault government for the arrival of the Los Angeles Kings in Quebec in the fall of 2024 will notably cover meals and travel for players, including those of the Boston Bruins and the Florida Panthers.

The Minister of Finance of Quebec, Éric Girard, appeared before the media Tuesday morning to respond to the severe criticism provoked by the financial assistance granted by Quebec for the holding of two preparatory matches of the Los Angeles Kings at the Videotron Center.

Answering questions from journalists, Mr. Girard admitted that the subsidy authorized by the Treasury Board and the Council of Ministers would cover the meals and travel for players as well as organizational staff. All that is included in there, he said.

Appearing annoyed on occasion, Mr. Girard insisted on the fact that the subsidy would mainly be used to absorb the loss of ticket revenue for the Bruins and the Panthers, who were to host the Los Angeles Kings during the preparatory calendar.

The government is committed to covering the deficit of Gestev, which is holding the event, at our request, and the loss of returned for the Bruins and the Panthers, who would have hosted the Kings, he explained.

The money will come from the Capitale-Nationale Region Fund, which is normally used to subsidize local organizations. While Québec solidaire is calling for an investigation by the General Auditor into the granting of the sums, Mr. Girard assured that everything had been done according to the rules of the art.

Despite the headwind that has been blowing for a week, Éric Girard continues to fully embrace his decision to spend to promote Quebec to NHL decision-makers. If we do nothing, we are doing nothing for the cause, he argued.

On this subject, the minister assesses the return of the Nordics as one in 10. Mr. Girard, who has done his calculations, considers that there is a 50% chance that the National Hockey League will launch an expansion process soon.

If this happens, five cities would be in the running, including Quebec. So at least five candidate cities: a one in five chance times 0.5. Grand total: 10%.

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The president of the Los Angeles Kings, Luc Robitaille, and the Minister of Finance of Quebec, Éric Girard, during the announcement of the games being held last week.

Far from giving up his mandate to bring back the Nordiques, the minister also mentioned that he was going to work to attract other National Hockey League games to Quebec. In particular, he invited the Montreal Canadiens to come and play regular season games at the Videotron Center.

The government is also targeting events such as the World Juniors and the Women's Hockey World Cup.

Mr. Girard continues to defend the holding of these matches in the capital and has praised at length the product offered to the population. Look at the rankings, he said. The Kings, Bruins and Panthers are all teams that could potentially compete for the Stanley Cup.

He concedes, however, that the price to pay was high .

Where I think the criticism is legitimate and solid is in terms of cost. […] I take responsibility for it, it's my project, I take responsibility for it. Don't go blaming my colleagues for that, the responsibility is here, I have the mandate, he declared. I have heard and taken note of the severe criticism.

The minister assures that he negotiated downwards, but that It was impossible to do better, for lack of a competing product. It was that or nothing.

Me too, I Would have liked it if it cost less.

A quote from Éric Girard, Minister of Finance of Quebec

On the timing of the announcement, while hundreds of thousands of people were making the announcement. state employees are on strike and food banks are asking for more financial assistance, Éric Girard recalled that there were commercial imperatives, such as the sale tickets.

I'll avoid the question of timing. The legitimate criticism is the cost, he insisted.

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The Los Angeles Kings will be at the Videotron Center on October 3 and 5, 2024. (Archive photo)

While the minister continues to justify himself, the opposition parties in the National Assembly are increasing pressure on the Coalition Avenir Québec. Québec solidaire is requesting an investigation by the Auditor General to understand the process that led to the granting of the subsidy by the government. The approach is supported by the Parti Québécois.

Tuesday, solidarity MP Haroun Bouazzi sent a motion to Minister Éric Girard. The member for Maurice-Richard and finance critic calls for the withdrawal of all subsidies and sums from public funds offered to the Los Angeles Kings to play two games in Quebec.

Present on the picket lines alongside state strikers Tuesday morning, PQ MP Pascal Girard was indignant at the government's inaccuracies on the final bill, which will depend on losses at the end of the two matches. p>

Not only is there no study of the repercussions which justified this expenditure, but there in addition we learn that the amount [paid by the government] will depend [on the success of the event], he decided. This folder is a mess from A to Z.

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