The Quebec government hopes to pay less than the $5 to $7 million planned for hosting Los Angeles Kings matches in the capital after an external audit which will establish its financial participation in the organization of these sporting events, the office of the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, indicated on Monday.
An external firm will examine the financial results of the operation once the two matches between the Kings and two other League teams in Quebec have been played. National Hockey League (NHL), in October 2024, said press secretary Claudia Loupret.
According to her, the government has already agreed with Gestev, a subsidiary of Quebecor which organizes the event, that its subsidy would not exceed 7 million. And the final sum “could be very different” from the estimate made by Mr. Girard, who had established his minimum participation at 5 million.
“Our objective is that it be much less, and that's why it requires a proper audit afterwards,” said the press officer.
It is, however, still too early to know to what extent the participation government financial support could be less than expected.
“This is what we hope, that the event will be a success and that excess expenses will be less in this context,” said Ms. Loupret.
Last week, Mr. Girard sparked controversy by announcing that the government would subsidize the hosting of two Los Angeles Kings exhibition games in Quebec, before the start of the official NHL season.
Mr. Girard then estimated that financial aid of 5 to 7 million would be used to cover the deficit of the operation.
“The audit of the financial statements will determine after the event the actual amount that the government is responsible for. If all goes well, it will be much less than that,” Ms. Loupret declared on Monday, specifying that the audit is a “standard” operation for this type of financing.
In a press release sent last Monday , Gestev did not mention the amount of funding from the Quebec government.
The government will pay its subsidy to Gestev through the Capitale-Nationale Region Fund (FRCN), in two installments, this year and next, indicated Mr. Girard's spokesperson.
Management of the FRCN has been delegated to the City of Quebec and the region's regional county municipalities on their respective territories.
Québec solidaire, for its part, officially asked the Auditor General of Quebec, Guylaine Leclerc, on Monday to investigate the process of awarding the subsidy to Gestev.
The party refers to an article in < i>La Presse which revealed on Saturday that the planned sums will go through the FRCN, whose capital is intended for local projects.
“None of the standards and [none of the] allocation processes normally applicable to the use of this fund would have been respected, in particular with regard to a ceiling of 3 million for a project held in a given year or [ to] decentralized management falling under local communities”, wrote MPs Vincent Marissal and Haroun Bouazzi.
The Parti Québécois has indicated its support for the Québec solidaire approach.
The interim leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Monsef Derraji, for his part judged that it would be superfluous. “We do not need an investigation by the [auditor general] to say that it is a very bad decision by the [Coalition Avenir Québec] to use public funds for a training camp hockey”, he said, specifying that Guylaine Leclerc is independent.
Mr. Derraji still deplored the fact that the government was using a regional fund initially intended to support projects by local businesses and non-profit organizations. “We must decry it loud and clear! Their record in the National Capital is totally catastrophic,” he denounced in a written statement.
Last week, the opposition parties asked the government to reverse course in this folder.