Calls to boycott contest ignored as cities prepare to bid

Yeah, right.


That sums up most Canadian cities’ reactions to some Ottawa councillors’ suggestions that other regions should boycott a federal competition to land the National Portrait Gallery, in order to ensure the national institution stays in the capital.


Ottawa has officially entered the bidding, but city councillor Clive Doucet, for one, said this week that the capital shouldn’t have to compete for a national institution and has urged other cities tempted by the gallery not “to play this game.” Yet Calgary, one of the first cities to declare its interest, begs to differ.


“I don’t know which other cities are interested, but at the city of Calgary we are interested,” said Calgary Alderman Ric McIvor.


McIvor said Calgarians do not see the competition as divisive, but rather as an opportunity for other regions to at last host one of the national institutions that all Canadian taxpayers’ money support.

“The federal government made a decision to make a cultural icon available to other cities in Canada,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to enhance the arts and cultural scene in our city and add to the tourist attractions that we have, and this would be a really nice way to do it.”

Rob Moyles, a spokesperson with the City of Edmonton, said officials there are meeting with private developers to see if a bid is feasible to bring the gallery to Alberta’s capital.

Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver have also expressed interest in submitting bids.

Ottawa does have one major ally in Toronto, which will not make a bid. According to Stewart Green, a spokesman for Toronto Mayor David Miller, the mayor believes national institutions belong in Ottawa.

Culture on the move

  • Decentralization of national cultural centres essentially started in 2005, when the former Liberal government announced that the Canadian Museum of Human Rights would be built in Winnipeg, said Janice Tober, with Destination Winnipeg.