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Conservative Minister Josee Verner answers a question in Ottawa on Feb. 11, 2011. The embattled Quebec City-area Conservative MP is defending Ottawa's decision not to help fund the city's new arena project. Verner says in an open letter today that the federal government had to act responsibly and not be swayed by the emotional debate over the proposed rink. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Sean Kilpatrick

The federal government has blacked out documents detailing discussions over whether to fund an NHL-calibre arena in Quebec City.

Documents obtained by the Canadian Press under access to information legislation offer few answers to those seeking to understand why the Conservatives decided against the project.

Nearly half of the roughly 60 pages handed over are blacked out.

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The Conservatives announced last week they couldn't help build an arena without more private-sector involvement.

Conservative MP Josee Verner defended the decision in a letter posted on her website, saying the government made it clear from the beginning it doesn't have a program to fund professional sports venues.

However the documents indicate the Conservatives studied the possibility of participating in the project, though it's difficult to determine the details.

Recommendations to Prime Minister Stephen Harper from the Clerk of the Privy Council are entirely crossed out. Only the date appears on pages titled "Options for federal support of professional sports facilities."

Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume has accused the Tory government of giving residents false hope that the feds would help fund the $400-million facility.

Mr. Labeaume felt he'd met the criteria necessary for federal funding after media giant Quebecor purchased naming and management rights to the arena, which is being built by the province and the city.

Most of the Tories' 11 Quebec seats are around the provincial capital, making it key to a Conservative majority in a future federal election.

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