As reported by Bill Curry, there is a healthy debate emerging over the money being spent by government to bring the popular American program Regis and Kelly to Prince Edward Island. It is an investment with significant potential and could lead to a solid return for the province.
Some of my conservative friends will say and have said already we shouldn't spend money this way - the show should foot its own bill. While I certainly don't disagree that the preferable option would have been no public investment, I am happy to see development dollars spent on having millions of American eyeballs focused on the cradle of Confederation for a few days in July. While I don't have the current rate card for advertisements on the Regis and Kelly show, I imagine just in media exposure now and at that time of the show's airing the governments of PEI and Canada will already have gotten their money's worth. The $1-million buy is no doubt cheaper than running tourism ads in key slots for four days on a mainstream American television network. Never mind the creative cost of ad development.
Opening up Prince Edward Island this way to America creates further tourism, conventions and trade opportunities. Passport, currency and travel challenges aside, you don't turn down the opportunity to showcase your proven asset, the beauty of PEI, to the world when your chance comes and, pardon the cliché, the price is right. Past great tourism initiatives in this country have included fountains in Shawinigan and roads to nowhere. No offense to my buddies in Quebec and those still on the lost highways of the nation, but this current investment is a no-brainer. Good for Premier Robert Ghiz, federal ACOA minister Keith Ashfield and the federal minister for PEI, Gail Shea, for ponying up. You have to occasionally spend money to make money. They appear to get that.
There is a cute little political drama playing out here too. If you peruse Curry's story you'll note Winnipeg Liberal MP and blowhard Anita Neville is critical of this investment. But no comments from federal PEI Liberal MPs, Shawn Murphy, Wayne Easter and Lawrence MacAulay. I wonder if they share Ms. Neville's views? And what, oh what does Michael Igantieff think? As a former foreign television personality he might get the value of the investment. Sorry, my inner Tory demons couldn't resist.