Saturday, August 04, 2007

Toronto Star: "National a Garage"

The Toronto Star is notoriously a Liberal paper in its reporting and editorializing. So it is not surprising to find the Star’s Peter Goddard lambasting the federal Conservatives over the National Portrait Gallery not being funded for completion in his column in today’s paper.

In the column, Goddard tells the tail of woe of the National Portrait Gallery having to be hosted in a garage located off a back alley in downtown Toronto. Goddard, in the column calls this fact the gallery is hosted in such awful conditions a travesty which is true.

Goddard only mentions, in passing, the idea of former Liberal Heritage Minister Sheila Copps idea of a opening the portrait gallery in the old US Embassy building being launched in 2001. Then, for some reason, he lays the entire issue at the feet of today’s Conservative government. Goddard is right to blame the Stephen Harper government for cutting the $44 million in order to launch the national portrait gallery. But he believes this to be “more Tory political payback”. But really, is it all Conservative party problem?

Sheila Copps launched the idea for a National Portrait gallery in 2001 and nothing happened except the old US flag came down and a new Canadian flag went up. Since then nothing much has happened to the building. So why didn’t the Liberals get the museum up and running? Was it because of lack of money? Not likely since Paul Martin stressed it was the Liberals who slayed the deficit and now were running significant surpluses. Surely some of the money from the surpluses could have been invested in the museum to get it up and running. But perhaps with the problems the health care system was seeing, funding a new museum was not politically palatable at the time. So hence the Liberals kept putting it off and putting it off.

Fast forward to today, and it seems, according to Goddard, the Conservatives are to blame for not funding this new museum. Goddard unfairly believes the entire problem is with the Conservatives. But why shouldn’t the Liberals, who were in power the majority of the time between 2001 and today (2007) also share the blame?

Goddard also mentions a further tidbit of information, $44 million. It takes forty four million dollars to get this museum up and running? Lets figure out what the forty-four million might be used for:

1. Purchasing land and a building? Nope, the Canadian government already became owner of the former US embassy in 2001.

2. Renovations of the building? I would suggest the building already meets fire code for an office building. Perhaps only some minor renovations would be required for space and accessibility purposes but that should cost more than two million dollars tops. Two million is also probably on the very high side.

3. Purchasing portraits and art work? The Montrose Portrait Gallery of Canada, on their website, notes “The National Portrait Gallery of Canada has thousands of lovely portraits and millions of lovely photos” already. So why spend more money to acquire even more portraits if thousands of portraits and millions of these photos are currently collecting dust?

4. All portraits need picture frame hooks. So perhaps a good portion of the forty-four million dollars is to go towards the picture frame hooks and the hammers needed to mount them on the wall. No doubt there will be highly paid union jobs needed to put these portraits up on the wall. The portraits placings, of course being a government operation, would require hours of special committee meetings and bureaucrats to fuss over. This doesn’t even include the time to discuss what paint colours to use for the walls itself!

So in order to save everyone time and money, I hereby volunteer to do my part for the National Portrait Gallery of Canada and volunteer my time and my hammer in order to get these portraits on the wall of the old US Embassy. I figure a team of 5 to 10 of us could each take a room and hang the probably already framed portraits on the walls of the old embassy building.

But of course the Portrait Gallery of Canada being a Liberal idea and a government operation, my suggestion will never see the light of day. But of course the spending of forty four million dollars down the toilet will never be the fault of the Liberals. The Liberals will only blame the Conservatives of course, once the Conservatives come to power that is. Otherwise, just like Goddard and the Toronto Star, while the Liberals form government, its all HUSH! HUSH!

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