Halifax syline

How Halifax’s big dreams have become a nightmare, and what needs to happen to make the city a great place to live. by Tim Bousquet

This article was awarded the gold medal for Commentary at the 2013 Atlantic Journalism Awards. It was first published in The Coast, on July 11, 2013.

After “drop the bomb,” never have three simple words so devastated a place. 

The first reference I can find to anyone using the phrase “world-class city” to describe Halifax comes from 1994. That July, Fred MacGillivray was hired as president of the World Trade and Convention Centre, the provincial crown corporation now called Trade Centre Limited. Three months into the job, Halifax was picked as the site of the 1995 G7 summit, and on October 17, MacGillivray gushed to the Daily News about Halifax’s bright future.

“The problem,” MacGillivray told reporter Brian Flinn, “is that all the world doesn’t know where Halifax is. But hundreds of millions of eyes will be set upon Halifax during the [G7] conference. To me, that’s the biggest opportunity this city, this area, has ever been presented. No longer will we be deemed a small place in Canada. We’ll be seen as a world-class city.”

“MacGillivray’s description of the summit and its potential benefits is peppered with the term ‘world-class,’” explained Flinn in the news article. “It’s a piece of hyperbole that Torontonians have frequently used to describe their city, its institutions and its public buildings, in an attempt to assert their big-league status.”

Within weeks, the adopted hyperbolic Toronto phrase had permeated the local provincial and city bureaucracy. It was also bandied about by Haligonians in the business world who think of themselves movers and shakers, and by wannabe mucky-mucks running for office.

Read the rest of this article here.

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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