It’s only money

McGuinty defends spending $1 million to bring U.S. talk show to Toronto
TORONTO (CP) – Spending $1 million to bring NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien show to Toronto for one week is a “great investment,” says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
“Given the media coverage that we’re going to get and the viewing audience, given the fact they’re going to provide some great exposure to some Canadian talent, I think it’s a great investment,” McGuinty told reporters Thursday.
The federal and Ontario governments each kicked in $500,000 to relocate the cast and crew of the popular talk show to Toronto for the week of Feb. 10.
The provincial money is coming from a special fund to help the city’s tourism industry recover from the impact of last year’s deadly SARS outbreak.
“This city has gone through one heck of a year,” said McGuinty, referring to the devastating impact on tourism from SARS, mad cow, a higher dollar and even the Iraq war.
An official of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation had criticized the use of taxpayers’ money to pay some of the costs to relocate the NBC show to Toronto, rhetorically asking if the governments would want O’Brien to go out west next to help with the mad cow crisis.
Ontario’s Tourism Ministry expects the expenditure will help boost tourist visits to Toronto because of the five hours of American TV network exposure for the city.
“There’s going to be 20 million U.S. viewers there, and we look at that as a pretty good investment,” said ministry spokesman Jim McPeak.