Four members of the board of directors of the Organizing Committee of the Francophone Games of 2021 announced their resignation Wednesday afternoon, citing "undue controversy" surrounding the planning of the games.
CBC News learned last Thursday that the cost of games in Moncton-Dieppe had risen more than sevenfold – from an initial offer of $ 17.5 million in July 2015 to a now US request $ 130 million.
A detailed explanation of the increase in costs was not given.
The resignations were announced as provincial and federal politicians committed themselves to the media to fund the games – something the New Brunswick government needs to "take responsibility for," Ottawa said.
Organizers said that the original bid was based on a number provided in the guide of the International Organization of the Francophonie, and that a detailed business plan was not developed until New Brunswick won the bid to host the games.
"Over the past few days, media reports and public reaction to the proposed business plan for the games of 2021 have created what we believe to be an undue controversy over the planning and delivery of the next Jeux de la Francophonie," the statement said. of the press.
"This shadow of doubt is taking away the true story – the incredible benefits and opportunities these games will bring to our region."
Eric Mathieu Doucet, the council chairman, is resigning, along with members Mirelle Cyr, Eric Cormier and Kim Rayworth.
Radio-Canada learned that board vice president Linda Schofield announced her resignation earlier in the day, citing personal reasons.
The council consists of 11 members – five chosen by the province, four by the federal government, one by each of the cities of Moncton and Dieppe.
The five who resigned were chosen by the Province of New Brunswick in November 2017.
Renouncing members said they believed they no longer had the province's confidence to continue their mandate.
"We hope these waivers will allow partners to return to the negotiating table in a healthier political and media environment," they said.
Feds say the province needs to "accept responsibility"
The federal government went on the offensive on Wednesday, saying New Brunswick must accept responsibility for the games.
Prime Minister Blaine Higgs said the province would not pay more than the previous government had committed, despite the high costs.
"The provincial government does not seem interested in going beyond $ 10 million," said Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc in Ottawa.
"So let's put $ 10 million on our side – this brings us to $ 20 million. I understand that it's much, much less than necessary.
"If the provincial government, which has filed a lawsuit to host the Francophonie Games, accept its responsibility and increase its contribution, we will obviously increase the federal contribution accordingly."
Federal policy limits Ottawa's 50% contribution to international sporting events, and LeBlanc has said on several occasions that this is what the government will maintain.
His office confirmed to CBC News on Wednesday that an independent expert hired to review the application for funding returned with less than $ 130 million for the games, but the copy of the report was not provided and the number was not disclosed.
This expert submitted the report to the government in September, just days before the provincial elections.
"I did not get here through any of my actions"
Higgs repeated on Wednesday that the province will not invest more than $ 10 million, but it is not clear what would happen if the costs were not reduced enough.
"It's not my pull plug," Higgs told reporters. "You did not come here through any action of mine.
"We acknowledge that the commitment was made and said we will honor our commitment.
"I think there is an opportunity here, in relation to the federal government – it should not be a provincial issue, I think it can change from one province to another, but it must be a national event, a province can not afford to do that."
Moncton and Dieppe agreed to a $ 750,000 contribution plus a third of the cost of legacy projects, which consist of reclaiming Centennial Park tennis courts, converting the CN Sportsplex grass-to-synthetic football pitch, and building two new football in Dieppe. – together totaling about $ 10 million.