The current Canadian Club caper is nothing less than a most sagacious set of circumstances with all the markings of the downside of being on a sucker list.
Windsor’s position on such lists dates back to its readiness to abstain from common sense, and possibly even decency, by lavishing FINA, a rich foreign swimming outfit, with an estimated $20 million in taxpayer money to hold a minor swim meet.
Of such limited consequence, in the swim of things so to speak, it was conducted without even an Olympic pool.
When a community throws open its public vault and allows others to use forklifts to drain its contents, surely others stand up and notice. But, the most intriguing aspect of the caper is who is doing the noticing.
Windsor’s interim mayor, vowing to save the Canadian Club Heritage Centre, jetted off to Chicago at taxpayer expense, to plead with large distiller Beam Suntory. Beam owns the Canadian Club brand.
It does not own the actual distillery, however.
Pernod Ricard SA owns the Hiram Walker site and produces CC for Beam. Evidence suggests it has cost accountants adverse to dead expenses.
These are non-revenue producing costs, like a not needed railcar unloading facility which was recently demolished because grains now arrive by truck.
With the unloader gone, Pernod most certainly reduced its assessment and taxes.
Suffice to say, if Pernod could get the city to take over the impressive historic Canadian Club building, it could enjoy further tax reductions and Beam could reduce its operating expenses.
The Heritage Centre, a popular tourist attraction, is one of the city’s most prominent examples of Florentine Italian Renaissance architecture. In other words, it is not something amenable to demolition as easily as the unloader.
In a report on the Dilkens meeting, the CBC talked of him explaining, “… the city’s challenge of coming up with money to help save the building. Instead, he said council might be able to find other ways to make the centre more profitable, such as promotions and partnerships with Tourism Windsor-Essex.”
It also begs the question, why the city hasn’t been doing this anyway.
“I actually told them it would be near impossible for me to go to council and ask for a blank cheque,” Dilkens told the broadcaster.
That he would say such a thing smacks of someone suggesting the city take over the building. Here’s where the sucker list comes in.
Pernod is probably fully aware of the city’s willingness to hand money to outfits from afar. It is from Paris.
The plot might thicken as the days go by, but the outcome will probably mean Windsor the sucker will be writing taxpayer cheques.