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By TOM BRODBECK -- Sun Media

So now we've seen the dumbest election campaign promise from the PC Party of Manitoba.

The Tories announced yesterday they want to "bring back the Jets" by floating government bonds and dumping undisclosed amounts of taxpayer dollars into the operation and perhaps purchase of an NHL team.

They don't say how they might bring an NHL club back to Winnipeg, how much taxpayers would be expected to bankroll it, who would own the team or exactly what role government would play in this high-stakes proposition.

Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen would only say he would form a partnership with Winnipeg's "young Turks" who, presumably, might be interested in buying an NHL team.

I'm not sure if he's referring to a Rod Stewart clone band or an early 20th-century Turkish reformist group.

But whatever it is, McFadyen wants to join it. And if I'm reading his news release correctly, he wants to contribute taxpayers' dollars to this mysterious organization.

McFadyen says he "will join the partnership and provide both capital and operating support."

How much money? McFadyen doesn't say. Money for what? To buy a team? Underwrite losses?

It doesn't say.


What it does say is if the Tories won the election they would sell government bonds to help raise capital for a team.

They claim it would be fashioned after the successful Manitoba Hydro builder bonds.

I don't know how that could be. Hydro, a Crown corporation, floats bonds to finance capital, like building or upgrading turbines.

They can guarantee a return on investment because they sell electricity abroad at a handsome profit.

It's relatively low-risk.

Buying bonds to finance an NHL hockey team, by contrast, is more wobbly than a Crocus Investment Fund holding.

Nobody's going to buy a bond to raise money for a team that may or may not exist unless there's a guarantee they can get their money back.

And the only way that can happen is if government guarantees the bonds and ultimately pays them out.

Ergo, more taxpayer involvement. "If you want to spark imaginations, you've got to be imaginative," McFadyen is quoted as saying in a party release. "At the same time, we must ensure government support from bond proceeds will be prudently invested. Our goal is to ensure that any government investment sees a return in economic spinoffs and is protected by ensuring the province is a secured creditor."

Yeah, I remember how well that worked out in the 1990s.

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