Tag: dalton mcguinty

    Ontario, sanitized for your protection

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    The Toronto Sun newspapers had an opinion piece recently about Ontario, and how the government is trying to “protect us” (they called it a Nanny State). At one point, it uses Niagara Falls as an example:

    These days, the architects of our bubble-wrapped, peanut-free society have their sights set on the daredevil community.

    The nattering nabobs of nannyism at the Niagara Parks Commission won’t give permission to highwire walker Ken Wallenda to walk a tightrope across the Falls. Wallenda wants to start in Niagara Falls, N.Y., enter the mist, and re-emerge on the Canadian side. Fantastic!

    Stateside, politicians who want to help the economically depressed city of Niagara Falls, N.Y. have championed Wallenda’s proposal, and lawmakers in Albany have approved the stunt.

    But a snag has been encountered in — where else? — Nanny State Central. You see, Wallenda’s stunt isn’t being embraced by the testicular-challenged bureaucrats at the Niagara Parks Commission. Officials are frowning on what they deem to be a Falls folly.

    Doubling down

    Apparently, “risky business” in Niagara Falls, Ont. these days is confined to the rubes doubling down at the government-run blackjack tables.

    When Wallenda first proposed the stunt, the Commission’s Janice Thomson remarked: “Doing something for one day doesn’t seem like sustainable tourism. It harkens back to those early days when Niagara Falls was a carnival-like atmosphere. We have come so far away from that.”

    Egad! Has Thomson ever strolled up Clifton Hill, home to House of Frankenstein, Castle Dracula, and numerous other wax museums and freak shows?

    Niagara Falls isn’t exactly Vienna on the Rhine. Actually, it can be cheesier than a bucket of Bulgarian feta.

    Isn’t it disheartening that in our increasingly sissified culture the safety mavens are now turning their sights on daredevils?

    So much for Dalton McGuinty’s oft-repeated boast that Ontario is “open for business” — Wallenda’s stunt stands, or stood, to rake-in millions for the region.

    But that’s sanitized-for-your-protection Ontario — a province that wants bread, not circuses.

    Wallenda hopes to follow in footsteps of tightrope walkers

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    By Wednesday afternoon, Nik Wallenda will find out if he will be come the first person in more than a century to walk across the Niagara Gorge on a tightrope.

    The Niagara Parks Commission says it will announce its decision on Wallenda’s proposal for a cross-gorge skywalk at some point Wednesday. If they say yes, the 32-year-old American will move forward with his plan for a late-spring walk that he says will draw more than 125,000 spectators.

    If it’s a no, Wallenda plans to immediately appeal to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to overrule the decision.

    Either way, he plans to hold a press conference in Niagara Falls Thursday or Friday. “Hopefully, we’ll be celebrating the good news,” he said from his home in Sarasota, Fla., Monday.

    BALANCING ACT: Review city editor and Falls mayor debate merits of wire walk across Niagara Gorge

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    The Niagara Falls Review has a nice back-and-forth between their City Editor Corey Larocque and Mayor Jim Diodati:

    Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda wants to walk a wire across the Niagara Gorge next summer, but the Niagara Parks Commission, whose approval he needs, is cold to the idea.

    Mayor Jim Diodati is eager to see Wallenda get the green light. Diodati took the matter up with Premier Dalton McGuinty’s senior staff when the Ontario Liberals were in Niagara Falls on Saturday.

    But The Review’s city editor Corey Larocque is skeptical about using Niagara Falls for this spectacle.

    So, Diodati and Larocque recently hashed it out. This is an edited transcript of their debate.

    Premier: Niagara highwire bid ‘exciting’

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    From Canoe.ca:

    Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called Nik Wallenda’s bid to walk across Niagara Falls on a highwire an “exciting proposal” that warrants consideration from the agency that oversees the Canadian side of the falls.

    But the premier stopped short of saying whether or not his government would overrule the Niagara Parks Commission if it denies Wallenda’s request.

    “It’s an exciting proposal, but the responsibility rests with the commission,” McGuinty said at a provincial Liberal party meeting in Niagara Falls on Saturday.

    McGuinty then turned his support for the commission’s decision-making process into a comedy bit of sorts, seizing on the obvious pun.

    “They’re going to have to decide on that, so when I speak to the issue I have to speak about it in a balanced way, and I have to walk a fine line,” the premier joked, eliciting a faint groan and a few laughs from the reporters. “Get where I’m coming from on this?”

    Diodati wants to pitch Wallenda walk to premier

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    When Premier Dalton McGuinty comes to Niagara Falls later this week, Mayor Jim Diodati will have a message for him: “Let Nik walk.”

    McGuinty will be in town from Friday to Sunday for the Ontario Liberal Party’s Provincial Council, a post-election get-together at the Scotiabank Convention Centre expected to draw about 450 delegates.

    He’ll be here to talk about the Ontario Liberals’ plans for growing the economy and following up on its election promises, but Diodati is hoping McGuinty can make time to listen to his pitch on what the mayor calls a “blockbuster event” for Niagara Falls. American highwire performer Nik Wallenda wants to walk across the Horseshoe Falls on a wire in the spring of 2012.

    Political parties not ignoring tourism, say candidates

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    Tourism may not be as prominent an issue in this provincial election as it was in 2007.

    But candidates representing the three major parties looking to form government after Oct. 6 are adamant they’re not overlooking an industry they say is so vital to Niagara’s economy.

    During the provincial election four years ago, tourism had its own section in the Liberal, Progressive Conservative and New Democratic platforms.

    For example, then PC leader John Tory promised more money for marketing.

    Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty pledged a “comprehensive competitiveness study,” which led to a $4-million report, which in turn led to the creation of regional tourism organizations tasked to make Ontario’s tourism industry more competitive with other destinations around the world.

    While there were specific promises for tourism in 2007, this time around, there are few.

    Ontario to loosen liquor laws

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    This isn’t directly Niagara Falls-related, but it will affect some different festivals that are held here, especially the big New Year’s Eve party.

    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    A beer outside a designated beer tent? An extra hour of drinking at a wedding reception? These new freedoms are just around the corner.

    Ontario has changed its alcohol laws in a move Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government says will create jobs and strengthen the economy.

    Announced Friday, the relaxed restrictions kick in on June 1.

    Among the new rules, drinking will be allowed outside of beer tents at festivals and events.

    “Local communities are free to customize the events to their needs,” said a government news release.

    Tourism group gets ‘exception’

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    Some “exceptions” to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s 2009 rule requiring all government contracts to be subject to competitive bids allowed Niagara’s tourism agency to spend $500,000 on an untendered contract to publish a promotional magazine, says Tourism Minister Michael Chan.

    “There are exceptions in terms of single-source procurement,” Chan said Wednesday in Niagara Falls where reporters asked him why the new tourism organization — created by the Liberals in 2009 — was allowed to commission a promotional magazine without seeking competitive bids from other publishers.

    Regional To u r i s m Organization No. 2 — a new agency responsible for promoting Niagara’s tourism offerings — in May hired Rev Publishing, a Niagara Falls publishing company to print 500,000 copies of “Niagara Today,” a 96-page “destination magazine” to promote the region’s tourism options.

    Chan’s ministry approved the expenditure by the organization’s “transitional” board, led by Joel Noden, a former Niagara Parks Commission executive, who said they didn’t have time for a “proper” tender if they wanted the magazine out in time to influence vacationers’ 2010 travel plans.

    Falls will feel HST pinch: PC critic

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    From Niagara This Week:

    Dalton McGuinty will have his hands in honeymooners’ pockets with the introduction of the harmonized sales tax, according to the Progressive Conservative party’s tourism critic.
    Ted Arnott, MPP for Wellington-Halton Hills, was in Niagara Falls Tuesday to talk tourism. Speaking to a group of residents and tourists at the bottom of Clifton Hill, he outlined some possible effects the new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) could have on tourism in the honeymoon capital.
    “It (the HST) is going to impact negatively on tourism,” said Arnott.

    Casino lease extension makes sense: Premier

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    Protecting the Ontario government’s own investment in Casino Niagara is the reason it has to be treated differently from the Maid of the Mist, says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, rejecting opposition calls to invite bids from property owners interested in hosting a casino.

    “There is a distinction,” the premier told reporters in Niagara- on-the-Lake Wednesday where he spoke at the Ontario Economic Summit.

    With Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s lease on the casino’s Falls Avenue location set to expire in March, McGuinty said his government’s preference is to have the Crown corporation continue negotiating an extension with landlord Canadian Niagara Hotels.

    The government has two options for Casino Niagara – renew the lease “at a reasonable rate” or abandon the Canadian Niagara Hotels location for a new location to be determined later.

    When Casino Niagara opened in 1996, Ontario Lottery and Gaming pumped $125 million into the old Maple Leaf Village site to convert a defunct amusement park into Ontario’s second commercial casino.

    Building a new casino would mean walking away from the initial investment and some smaller expenditures like the $12 million spent in 2005 when sports betting came in.

    “When you look at it that way, it really makes sense for us to do the best that we can to negotiate a reasonable new lease at the existing site,” McGuinty said. “It was a lot of money to build that casino inside that space.”

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