The Tory government’s decision to toss out the whole idea of building a permanent home for the Portrait Gallery of Canada — which currently resides in a warehouse in Gatineau and sends touring shows out across the country — is a terrible blow, but it also saves us from something else: the Public-Private Partnership (P3) that would have built it.
Heritage minister James Moore says the decision was driven by escalating costs and the uncertainty of the economy right now. That may be true, but former Liberal Heritage minister Sheila Copps thinks otherwise, and we’re inclined to agree. A national portrait gallery should be a common good for all Canadians, owned by the public. It would be really great to build the portrait gallery in Calgary or Edmonton, in my opinion. But not if it’s going to be at the cost of outsourcing large chunks of a federal institution to private interests, which is what this plan would have done. With this rotten plan out of the way, we can focus on building the right one.
[image courtesy Banksy]