Sunday, March 30, 2008

"What did you know and when did you know it Mr. President?"

Tansi/Good Day Readers:

There are several aspects of the MMF's public pledge of $1 million to preserve the Upper Fort Garry site from commercial development which are very troubling:

(1) Were conditions required to guarantee the necessary funds could be raised already in place on the afternoon of Friday, March 28, 2008 when the MMF announced it was donating $1 miillion?

In a Thursday, March 27, 2008 article CTV News reporter Caroline Bargout interviewed Premier Gary Doer who suggested the Manitoba was ready to declare the site a provincial park opening the door for the rest of the funding to flow from provincial coffers.

At this point, Friends of Upper Fort Garry were about $3.7 million short of the amount need to purchase the property otherwise the developer had a legal right under terms of an agreement negotiated previously with the City of Winnipeg to acquire ownership

(2) On Friday afternoon Mayor Sam Katz indicated Crystal Developments had agreed to extend the time the Group had to raise the rest of the money by two years

(3) Some may remember the 1972 Watergate Senate Committee Hearings which ultimately led to the resignation of President Nixon. A group of Republican Party operatives had been caught red handed breaking into the Democratic National Committee Offices (Watergate Hotel Complex - Washington, D.C.) to install wiretaps.

North Carolina Senetor Sam Irwin chaired the Committee

He asked ever witness appearing before the committee, "What did you know and when did you know it?" which became an English lexicon. As a graduate student at the time, can still hear and see him

(4) Yesterday (Saturday, March 30, 2008) David Chartrand appeared on The Metis Hour Times Two funded (approximately $60,000 annually) by the MMF and hosted by local musician and failed Federal Liberal Candidate Ray ("Nice Hair") St. Gemain

"..... I would surmise that the donation is a multi-year deal and the CEO stated during his address no MMF programs woill be affected financially through this new initiative ....."
(5) The Manitoba Metis Feeration Inc. ("MMF") is a non-profit, non-share company incorporated pursuant to the laws of the Province of Manitoba on December 28, 1967 (MMF lawyer Murray Trachtenberg - April 18, 2001)

President Chartrand, our Readers would like to know:

(1) What did you know and when did you know it?

(i) Were you or were you not aware the Premier had agreed to declare the Upper Fort Garry site a provincial park when you publicly pledged $1 million of Canadian taxpayer dollars to The Friends of Fort Garry?

(ii) Were you or were you not aware Crystal Developments was prepared to extend the fundraising deadline by two years (shortly thereafter walking away from the deal) when you publicly pledged $1 million of Canadian taxpayer dollars to The Friends of Fort Garry?

(2) As a non-profit, non-share company incorporated pursuant to the laws of Manitoba, specifically from where will this money come?

Clare L. Pieuk
City Strikes Deal With Developer On Upper Fort Garry Site
Métis Group Makes $1M Donation
Last Updated: Friday, March 28, 2008 5:42 PM CT

CBC News

A deal has been struck to preserve the site of Upper Fort Garry, giving a heritage group more time to raise money and preserve the historic space.

The City of Winnipeg and the developer that has legal claim on part of the land announced the agreement on Friday afternoon. Mayor Sam Katz said Crystal Developments has agreed to stand aside for two years, allowing the group Friends of Upper Fort Garry extra time to raise funds to build an interpretive centre on the site.
The Friends of Upper Fort Garry's plans include a symbolic representation of the fort's buildings, and an interpretive centre that could host events about the fort's history. (Friends of Upper Fort Garry).

In December, a city committee gave the group until the end of March to come up with $10 million to pay for the centre on the site at Assiniboine Avenue and Fort Street, often referred to as the birthplace of Winnipeg or Manitoba.

The Manitoba Métis Federation made a $1-million contribution to the project Friday afternoon, but the group is still about $1.8 million short of its goal.

Crystal Developers initially received city approval to build an apartment block on land adjacent to the north gate.
However, a city committee reversed that decision in December, establishing the March deadline for the Friends of Upper Fort Garry to raise the money.

Last week, city councillors voted against a motion that would have extended the deadline.

Doer Proposes Park

Earlier in the day, Premier Gary Doer floated the idea of a provincial park on the downtown Winnipeg historical site.

"We believe that the operating cost of a provincial park has economic value for the plan," Doer said.

The province would pay to operate the park, he said — a cost that would add up to millions of dollars over the years. That should be considered a down payment on the $10 million, he said.

Manitoba MP Vic Toews likes the idea of turning the Upper Fort Garry site into a provincial park, describing it as a creative proposal that deals with the maintenance of the site, which sometimes becomes a financial obstacle to such proposals.

"Often, capital is much easier to obtain than money for cutting grass," he said. "Everybody wants something named after them — a building — but nobody wants to give money to cut the grass, and yet that is sometimes the most important aspect in terms of making these projects work."

Toews, who is also president of the federal Treasury Board, said the Harper government would support the final deal, whatever it looks like. The federal government has pledged $1.5 million toward the historic site.

Park Idea Won't Help Deadline

Katz received the park proposal this week — but not the cold, hard cash the group requires.

"It's not going to help build the facility," he said. "You don't have to be an accountant or lawyer to figure that out."
Upper Fort Garry, established in 1822, served as the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company in Western Canada and was the first seat of government for the District of Assiniboia and the Red River Settlement. The fort was seized by Louis Riel during the Red River Rebellion in 1870. Most of it was demolished in the late 1800s.

The rebuilt rear entrance to the fort, known as the north gate, remains on a small block of land across from the Via Rail station on Broadway.

The Friends of Upper Fort Garry's plans include a symbolic repersentatn of the Fort's buildings and interpretative cetre that could host events about the Fort's history (Friends of Fort Garry).


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