Dieppe — Many were outraged last week when it was discovered that the upcoming 2021 Francophonie Games are expected to cost the province a whopping $130 million.
While the then-Liberal government had said that they were eager to host the event, they didn’t know that this sum was supposed to be in “English dollars,” according to former Finance minister Roger Melanson, who held a press conference on Friday.
“I’m as shocked and outraged as all of you,” he told the room of reporters.
The matter of funding has been a point of concern since 2015, when it was first announced that Moncton-Dieppe had won the bid to host the Francophonie Games, considered the largest sporting event in the French-speaking world.
“So, like, twice the size of your average round of ‘Duck Duck Goose,’ I’d assumed,” said Melanson, shrugging.
He recalled the day back in April when festival organizers came to him with their request, asking for the government to foot the steep bill.
“Shhoooorreee,” Melanson remembers saying, making air quotes and bobbing his wrists effeminately. “You can have 120 million doll-airrrrrres for your little contest.”
He explained that he thought they were asking for some kind of currency exclusive to the French, like “French Yen” or “Smelly Cheeses.”
“I mean, how can I be expected to understand a thing these friggin frogs ribbit, huh?” he put to the audience, miming an expanding air sac in his throat and croaking. “Bon-jore, Mar-Cii, See vu Plate….It’s nonsense.”
“But, aren’t you French?” asked Shary Reeves, a writer for the Telegraph-Journal. “I mean…your accent.”
“Accent?” said Melanson, giving her a quizzical, hurt look.
“Oh,” she said, looking down. “Never mind.” After a moment, she sat down slowly.
Premier Blaine Higgs, who came to power after the games were first announced, seemed much more receptive to the idea when he was contacted separately for an interview after the conference.
“Absolutely,” he told The Manatee. “They deserve that money! They’re a part of this province. Hell, they are this province. After all, the Irvings are the bedrock of—”
“No, no,” one of his aides corrected. “This is about the Francophonie Games.”
“THEY WON’T SEE A RED CENT!” he spat, standing and smashing a first against his desk.