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Blogspot | 18Nov2013 | blackrod

Fundraisers cry Mayday for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Fundraising for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has collapsed.

The museum's fundraising arm, The Friends of the CMHR, has managed to gather barely two million dollars in pledges this year so far.

Over the past 14 months, only 200 private donations have been received.

Given that donations are usually spread out over 5-10 years, that means they could have raised as little as $400,000 cash in 2013.  In that case the CMHR has officially slid into the abyss, with costs, including millions in unpaid back taxes, escalating faster than they can raise money to pay for them. The only thing that's propped up this White Elephant appears to be a wink-wink nudge-nudge $10 million slipped to the CMHR under the table by the federal government.

In 2011, after running out of money and while waiting for a government bailout, the CMHR stopped hiring and paying for the design of exhibits. In that way they underspent their $21 million annual operating funds by $10 million.

They, ahem, "re-profiled" this ten million the following year into capital funding to keep paying the cheques to construction workers. But that means that operating funds became capital funding, and the federal government's share of the cost of the museum went up surrepticiously from $100 million to $110 million, although government MP's will never acknowledge it.

And that's not counting the $35 million "advance" they gave the CMHR last year to save the project from bankruptcy.  You can bet the farm that will never be recouped either, although the CMHR says it's obligated to start making payments five years from now, just about the time everybody has forgotten they owe any.

That whole $35 million has been spent by now, and the CMHR is nowhere near ready to open in 10 months as they claim they will.  They were supposed to get a private loan for $35 million, co-signed by the Manitoba NDP government, to guarantee they open on time, but there hasn't been a hint of such a loan.

But get these gems culled from the museum's 2012-2013 annual report, which was quietly released  a week-and-a-half ago.

"As the Museum transitions from planning to operations, evaluation of projected post-inauguration operating needs is ongoing. Estimates and timing of the Corporation’s ongoing requirements will be affirmed through 2013-2014 as inaugural exhibits, programs, information technology infrastructure, operating systems and revenue-generating initiatives are finalized and implemented."

"In 2013-2014, the Museum will continue to refine its budgets for the five-year period following inauguration. Once the Museum is open and fully operational the Corporation will be in a position to more accurately assess ongoing operating needs."

"The Museum will continue to plan and account for factors including maintenance, capital repairs, inflation, and Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments."


They're giving you fair warning that after they get through evaluating their post-inauguration operating needs, refining their budgets and planning for factors like maintenance, inflation and taxes, they're going to ask for more money.  They already get $21.7 million a year in operating costs.

Taxes alone will add, by their calculations, $3.4 million a year. (They already owe $4.4 million, which would put next year's bill at almost $8 million.)

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