QUEBEC CITY – It’s yet another sign that the federal election campaign may very well be under way.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Quebec City Thursday to announce $7 million in government funding for a Tall Ships regatta.
Rendez-Vous 2017 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation and celebrate Canada’s seafaring culture.
“Canada has an extraordinarily rich naval and maritime history that contributed enormously to the development of our great country,” Harper said.
“I am therefore very pleased to be in Quebec City, one of the great historical ports of the world, to announce support for a tall ship regatta, as part of Canada’s 150th celebrations.”
Tall ships from around the world will visit several cities along the St. Lawrence River in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes between June 29 and August 20, 2017.
The full fleet will be in Quebec City from July 18 to July 23, 2017.
“With $7 million, we have what we need to attract at least 40 tall ships and organize a party,” said Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume.
Over 3,000 tall ship crew members will participate in the celebration, which will include music, dance performances and sporting events.
3E Évènement Expérience Émotion production house is responsible for the organization of the event.
Quebec City officials said they hope to erase memories of a disastrous 1984 tall ships event, which Le Soleil Municipal Affairs Columnist François Bourque recently called “a complete communications and budgetary failure.”
“Everyone was waiting for this,” said federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel.
“I’m very proud of what we announced today.”
It was also an opportunity for the Conservatives to take shots at their political opponents.
He accused Liberal leader Justin Trudeau of wanting to become “best friends” with Iran.
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair – who promised to pull Canadian troops out of Iraq if elected prime minister – wasn’t sparred.
“Their positions on the military mission in Iraq and the mission against ISIS is irresponsible electoral politics,” said Harper.
“I think that most Canadians understand that.”
The Tories hope to make gains in the Quebec City area at the next election in fall 2015.
A recent CROP poll placed them first in the region, just two percentage points ahead of the NDP.
The Conservatives are 20 percentage points ahead of the Liberals in the provincial capital.