Friday, February 4, 2011

Vancouver Mayor not favoured in Furlong book

In happier times when the Vancouver Olympic Village reopened in May 2010 as Millennium Water, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson (left) and VANOC CEO John Furlong (Bob Mackin photo).

VANOC CEO John Furlong, in his memoir Patriot Hearts, takes shots at anyone who he thinks got in the way of VANOC and the 2010 Winter Olympics. Such as ex-NDP leader Carole James and ex-Olympics critic Harry Bains.

He also criticized the mayor of the host city, Gregor Robertson. Robertson came to power in fall 2008 and exploited the Olympic Village financing scandal that was exposed by Furlong's co-writer, Gary Mason.

On page 118:

"The new mayor didn't help by trying to play politics with the situation he inherited, making the NPA look as bad as possible in the process. He suggested that taxpayers had been left with a $1-billion nightmare. I thought it was a lot of overhyped rhetoric that wasn't particularly helpful or especially fair. In fact it would come back to haunt him a bit. By the fall of 2010, the Athletes Village was back in the news for all the wrong reasons."

Furlong doesn't mention it, but Vancouver city hall pushed developer Millennium into receivership over a $740 million debt on Nov. 17 2010, just a year before the next election.

Furlong also writes that politicians agreed to be spread out for the beginning of the torch relay hoopla in October 2009. B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell would be in Ancient Olympia, Greece for the lighting of the flame in the noonday sun. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson would be in Athens to witness the handover from the Greeks to the Canadians. And Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be in Victoria for the arrival in the host country.

On page 156-157, Furlong says:

“Initially everyone seemed good with this arrangement but one day I got a call from the mayor, who was freaking out about not being part of the ceremony in Olympia. He told me that Greek friends had informed him that part of the ceremony involved the passing of something or other from a representative from Olympia to the mayor of the host city. All news to me. Gregor said it was now vital he be there. He insisted on it. I was taken aback, as this change would mean more surgery to the protocol plan. 'Gregor,' I said, 'I think I would know if that was supposed to happen.' He persisted and I gave in. (The information Gregor received never was validated in Olympia.).”

Furlong thanks various politicians on page 328, but not Robertson or any other mayor.

Did you know: the Olympic torch relay was actually a five-country affair?

The flight from Athens, Greece stopped in Prestwick, Scotland because of “a problem with the plane,” Furlong wrote. It stopped in Reykjavik, Iceland for a crew change before the Oct. 30, 2009 Victoria, B.C. arrival. It even dipped into the United States when it crossed through the Peace Arch between Surrey, B.C. and Blaine, Wash. on Feb. 9, 2010.

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