Ontario Tories cry fowl over $120K for a giant rubber duck
Tourism Minister Eleanor McMahon on Monday defended the province paying for part of the cost to bring a 13,600-kilogram duck to the Redpath Waterfront Festival.
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A $120,000 grant that will help pay for a giant rubber duck is being roasted as a canard at Queen’s Park.
The tourist-attracting giant duck, said to be the largest in the world, is due in Toronto waters July 1. Its arrival is being funded in part by the province to celebrate Ontario 150th anniversary, but Progressive Conservatives are crying fowl over the price — a total cost of $200,000, with the rest raised by the Redpath Waterfront Festival.
“I believe that people who are struggling to pay their hydro bill, who are concerned about this government’s fiscal policy, will think that spending $200,000 on an expense like that is quack economics,” said PC Deputy Leader Steve Clark on Monday.
Tourism Minister Eleanor McMahon said she didn’t understand what the flap is all about.
“Sometimes that’s what cities and organizations do,” she told reporters. “They find something really fun and sort of quirky, and this is that. I think it’s going to attract people to smaller centres and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said festivals around the province “are the lifeblood of communities … they create a place where neighbours get to know each other, where people can meet and have fun and create a positive atmosphere in their cities and towns and I think that’s a good thing.
“I guess I’d be pro big-duck,” she said.
During Question Period, PC MPP Rick Nicholls asked what a giant rubber duck has to do with celebrating the country’s anniversary.
In response, McMahon joked that “on this side of the house, we’re not ducking any of these questions,” adding “this celebration is part of our 150th anniversary of our province and our country, a fact of which on this side of the House we’re enormously proud.”
The province has provided the Redpath Waterfront Festival with $121, 325, and said “for every dollar we spend, it triggers about $20 worth of ancillary investments, and we know that that’s important.”
McMahon said the event also provides other programming and activities at the waterfront.
“Again, we’re not quacking about anything,” she said. “We’re going to have fun this summer, and this is exactly the kind of investment we need to be making as a government.”
The rubber duck will also take to water in Owen Sound, Sault Ste. Marie, Midland, Amherstburg and Brockville. It is nearly 19 metres tall and weighs 13,600 kilograms.