Gail Shea stomps on Stompin Tom museum decision

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Former Egmont MP Gail Shea, left, and Tignish Initiatives general Manager Anne Arsenault announcing last July 31 that funding had been secured for the Stompin’ Tom Connors commemoration project at Skinners Pond. Work on the project is on hold at least until a review of the overall project is completed. The review was triggered when Canadian Heritage rejected Tignish Initiatives’ request for a $350,000 contribution. 

Former MP says department could have found way to move Stompin’ Tom project forward

The former member of Parliament for Egmont has expressed disappointment that Canadian Heritage has rejected an application for funding for a proposed Stompin’ Tom Connors Commemoration Project.

It’s a project proposal, Gail Shea admits she had been trying to secure for close to two decades. On Aug. 3, just the day before the 2015 federal election was called, Shea, who, at the time, was the minister of fisheries, participated in the unveiling of plans for the Tignish Initiatives commemoration project at Skinners Pond. The house where Tom Connors lived and the school he attended as a boy were to be part of the project. A cultural and entertainment venue was to be added.

“The bulk of the funding was secured by last June and so the announcement was made because, as you know, all goes on hold during what was a very long election campaign,” Shea explained via an email response.

By getting the announcement made prior to the writ being dropped, she explained, it allowed Tignish Initiatives to get started with some of the planning for the project.

Canadian Heritage subsequently rejected Tignish Initiatives’ funding request. They were counting on $350,000. The shortfall has prompted other funders to order a review of the project, thus putting preparations on hold at least until the review is completed.

The refusal, Shea maintains, was based on a technicality.

“My understanding is that Heritage Canada told the group that, because they didn’t have ‘heritage and culture’ as part of their mandate, they could not qualify.

“My understanding is that Tignish Initiatives added heritage and culture to their mandate at their AGM last year,” Shea said.

As the clock ticked towards the election, Shea said Canadian Heritage displayed a willingness to work with Tignish Initiatives on the project, only to deny the application later on grounds that heritage needed to be part of the group’s mandate for two years.

“If Heritage Canada can’t find a way to support a project that commemorates Stompin’ Tom Connors, a legendary Canadian, a true patriot of our country, who wrote and sang songs about every corner of our beautiful country, who has been recognized by the Queen, the Governor General; whose family was presented the Canadian flag from the Peace Tower on his passing, who had his own Canadian postage stamp and who was made an officer of the Order of Canada, then maybe Heritage Canada has some changes to make,” Shea said.

“They obviously don’t understand rural Canada. We don’t have multiple organizations that drive community development.”

She expressed her belief that the project can still go ahead as planned, if elected representatives want it to happen.

Organizations: Canadian Heritage, Stompin Tom museum

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

    February 19, 2016 - 09:09

    Wow , a promise made by a politician a day before the election , an election I hasten to add that cost hundreds of millions of dollars because of the long duration of said election . Buying votes with tax payers own dollars . Good Greif !!! And Good-Bye to these losers !

  • jean hallis
    February 18, 2016 - 22:05

    If a commemoration project for Stomping Tom is to be build than the monies for it should be taken from his estate fund as he made lots of it.......The public should not have to pay for it...

    February 18, 2016 - 11:53

    Way to go Gail. This was strictly a Liberal put up job because Bobby didn't get to make the announcement. How dispicable of him to treat a Canadian icon in this fashion. It just shows you what Morrisey is all about. It's all about Bobby. Instead of getting behind Tignish Inatatives with his support, he cut them off at their knees so he could get the credit.

    • Truth
      February 19, 2016 - 05:43

      I think you are right politics are involved. But not sure which side is telling the truth. This was a big announcement before the election when the Conservative knew Gail was in trouble. Her comment makes it sound like the Conservatives would have bent the rules to make it happen. If they would do it on this small project, just imagine how they would have done it for something large in their interest. If rules don't matter why have them.

  • Lisa
    February 18, 2016 - 09:40

    Complete waste of money!