Quebec Finance Minister Under Fire Over Montreal Casino Restaurant
Carlos Leitao, Quebec finance minister, is enduring heavy fire over the past few days after the confirmation that the province’s gambling agency Loto-Quebec spent $11 million on the construction and implementation of Joel Robuchon’s Montreal Casino restaurant.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon opened in December, but the government-run gambling operator remained tight-lipped on the financing of the entire operation.
Still, when a debate in Quebec’s National Assembly revealed that the whopping $11 million of public money was spent on the dining venue, an overwhelmingly shockwave of negative comments spread through the public. In an attempt to close the debate and this red-hot topic, finance minister Leitao backtracked his original comments on the $11 million price tag, stating he would not be drawn into discussing specific numbers. Needless to mention, his words sparked an even bigger reaction.
Robuchon’s restaurant remains the hot topic within the National Assembly itself with Quebec finance minister still getting plenty of heat from opposition members.
The Parti Quebecois (PQ) which is the province’s main opposition party, initiated another fierce debate this week when PQ’s Sylvain Page highlighted minister Leitao’s comments on why Robuchon was offered the casino restaurant over a local chef. Page and the fellow critics suggested that minister Leitao has placed an insult on Quebec-based chefs and culinary specialists.
“It’s like saying to you, Quebec chefs, you are not hot enough to bring Quebec to another level at the Montreal casino,” added the Coalition Avenir Québec MNA for Granby François Bonnardel.
Quebecers were treated with an exquisitely tasty debate which then saw finance minister Leitao claim that Robuchon’s restaurant will put the city’s reputation ‘on par with New York, London, Paris and Tokyo’, seemingly ignoring that Montreal is a significantly smaller city.
The entire culinary debate has gone on to become somewhat farcical eventually, with Carlos Leitao’s closing comments summing it up perfectly.
“This is a problem? That a chef with a planetary reputation is promoting Quebec’s gastronomy in foreign lands? My God! If these are the only problems we have to manage here, bring them on.”