"Recent Winter Olympics have been orders of magnitude more expensive," said the United Conservative Party leader. "Didn't they spend over $40 billion in Russia? Maybe that's an extreme example, but I think we really need to see the details that are behind these projections and the estimated margin for error.
"I think most Calgarians would love to see the Olympics in principal but are asking themselves if this is affordable at this time."
Calgary 2026, the bid corporation, has predicted $5.23 billion would be needed to host the event and $3 billion of that would need to come from various levels of government, with the remainder paid for by Games' revenues.
Kenney made the comments in a scrum with reporters following a noon-hour speech at the Canadian Club in downtown Calgary.
His comments to the crowd centred mainly on the province's oil and gas industry, something Kenney said Albertans should stop being "apologetic and defensive" about.
"As you know, last Friday, we experienced the biggest price discount in the history of Canadian energy," he said. "West Texas Intermediate was priced at over $70 a barrel, Western Canada oil was selling for $20 a barrel, a $50 discount that represents a loss to Canada's economy of $100 million a day, $37 billion a year."
"As our energy production has increased in the past decade, we have been incapable of getting an incremental barrel of oil, or even of natural gas, to coastal markets, so the United States gets to choose what to pay us for our oil," he said.
And more and more oil is being transported by rail, said Kenney, which is "crowding out other commodities."
"I believe, this is an issue which can and should unite Canadians across a partisan and regional spectrum within Canada," he said.
Looking forward to the next provincial election, Kenney said a "realistic platform" will be released by UCP in the spring, which will "reignite the economy and get to a balanced budget in first term of government, in a thoughtful and careful way."
"Albertans understand that there is no alternative," he said. "The only alternative is massively raising taxes, and that kills more jobs. What we're saying is, either we keep kicking the fiscal can down the field, or we deal with it through some fiscal responsibility."
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Tue, Oct 9: Alberta's official Opposition leader says he still hasn't seen any hard numbers regarding a possible Calgary bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Alberta’s Opposition leader says he wants to see hard numbers about what it would cost the province if Calgary hosts the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Alberta has committed $700 million if Calgary bids for and wins the right to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
It’s about $300 million less than what was expected — the bid corporation was asking for $3 billion in public investment as part of the $5.2 billion pricetag.
The federal government won’t provide more than $1.5 billion under a policy for hosting international sport events, and has yet to say how much money it would chip in.
United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney says he remains “skeptical” about the pricetag and wonders about governments putting a hard cap on funding commitments.
“When there’s a cost blowout, somebody’s got to pay the bills,” Kenney said after a speech in Calgary Tuesday.
Kenney praised the NDP for setting a firm contribution and allowing the process to be subject to Freedom of Information laws.
“I do know historically the NDP here and across Canada have not been boosters of major international sports events,” said Kenney.
“I don’t think New Democrats are typically really jazzed about spending lots of money on big sporting events.”
Calgary city council could pull the plug on a bid at any time, but is unlikely to do so before a Nov. 13 plebiscite that will ask Calgarians if they want to host the Winter Games.
The International Olympic Committee will accept 2026 bids Jan. 11. The host city will be selected in June.
The federal government is expected to announce how much it’s willing to contribute in a matter of days.
“At the end of the day there’s only one taxpayer,” he said. “A lot of Ottawa’s money comes from the wallets of Alberta taxpayers.”