Edmonton’s top civic politician and the leader of a provincial opposition party are publicly butting heads – over the other’s opinion of funding for the downtown arena.

They’re comments NDP Leader Brian Mason was not impressed to read in an Edmonton Journal article.

In the article, Mayor Stephen Mandel commented on Mason’s position to not put $100 million in provincial money towards the downtown arena – Mandel was quoted as saying that Mason, and Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith “don’t care about Edmonton.”

“I think he should withdraw those remarks,” Mason said Wednesday. “I think it’s unacceptable.”

Mason said his previous political work proves he cares about Edmonton.

“I was serving on Edmonton City Council for 11 and a half years, while Mr. Mandel was in business making his money,” Mason said. “I stood up for Edmonton, and I care about Edmonton.”

Mandel stood by his comments, but clarified that he was only referring to one issue.

“Every time that I’ve heard him say something, he’s not been supportive of it,” Mandel said. “So maybe he needs to respond to you where his position is on supporting Edmonton and its needs.”

“To make a suggestion that someone who doesn’t agree with his priorities somehow doesn’t care about Edmonton is offensive,” Mason said.

At last word, Mason and Mandel had not spoken directly on the subject – Mason told CTV News he had attempted to call Mandel Wednesday morning, but couldn’t get through.

Meanwhile, the province appeared to be budging slightly, after maintaining for some time that provincial money would not go directly towards the downtown arena.

“We’ve talked about doing a sports-select pool or something along those lines,” Provincial Finance Minister Doug Horner said. “That would allow every municipality to have a piece of that.”

Horner said if that happened, the money would still come from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative or MSI, the same mechanism the province uses to give cash to cities – it’s not clear how much money would be generated for Edmonton.

With files from Bill Fortier