Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

If this election was Olympic, Campbell would deserve only silver medal

There’s no place like the best place on earth.

Where else can an Opposition leader promise the most open and accountable government and, after eight years as premier, fail on both counts?

Where else can the finance minister also be the pompom-wearing Olympics minister and say everything is fine while the world economy collapses?

Where else can a convention centre with a $495 million price tag and a scheduled summer 2008 opening end up costing $883.2 million, open on April 3, 2009, and then spring a leak before its first month is over?

Where else can a $175 million budget for securing the biggest winter festival on the planet balloon to $900 million?

Where else can the roof of the taxpayer-owned Olympic stadium be allowed to rip and collapse because nobody cares to turn on the snow-melting system in a snowstorm?

Where else can a provincial workplace safety investigator find two years after said disaster that workers are still not trained properly and, thus, are putting those on the worksite at risk?

Where else can a Crown corporation get approval to spend $365 million renovating said stadium before and after the Olympics without releasing to the taxpayers a detailed business plan or funding formula?

Where else can one of the wealthiest, healthiest corners of the planet also have thousands of homeless people, thousands of impoverished children and perhaps the most lawless, filthy ghetto in the developed world?

Where else can friends of the premier, having helped elect the party and premier, lobby the provincial government for contracts without filing a registration?

Where else can friends of the premier sell lobbying services to a foreign government, namely Washington State, on Olympics-related services with literature that claims they have special access to both the government and the Games’ organizing committee?

Where else can a document called the Multiparty Agreement state that the taxpayer-funded capital budget is only for Olympics competition, practice and support venues?

Where else can the Multiparty Agreement be ignored when the taxpayer-funded organizing committee cuts a deal with a gambling company to upgrade power supply at a facility that will be used for neither competition, practice nor support?

Where else can the details of such a deal be shielded from the public?

Where else can the organizing committee be allowed to hold no public board meetings, issue no minutes or even disclose the names of those attending board meetings?

Where else can a premier pretend to seek reconciliation with First Nations by cutting short-term, Olympics-related side deals and circumvent the treaty-making process struck to enable permanent settlements to 19th and 20th century land claims disputes?

Where else can provincial Crown corporations sponsor the organizing committee and hide the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on thousands and thousands of tickets – tickets the public wants to buy?

Where else can the provincial auditor-general, out of frustration, withhold an audit of Olympics costs for lack of government co-operation?

Where else can the provincial auditor-general accuse the government of overstating benefits and understating costs and risks of the Olympics?

Where else can the premier run a government that spends $29.5 million on government advertising, implements a gag law that restricts the freedom of speech of citizens and then spends even more taxpayers' dollars defending the ban in court?

Where else can that premier, a former three-term Vancouver mayor, seemingly abandon the public service ideals that spurred him to enter politics and become motivated by a self-serving golden goal? That golden goal being to win the premiership hat-trick so he can supplant W.A.C. Bennett in B.C. political lore, have the best seats at the Olympics and collect the most photos with world leaders and autographs of gold medal winners before announcing his retirement.

Where else, but British Columbia.

The Best Place on Earth.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Olympic official, hockey head under scandal suspicion

The International Olympic Committee is no stranger to scandal. This one could harm VANOC.

Rene Fasel is the most powerful winter sports executive in the world. Not only is he president of the International Ice Hockey Federation and president of the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations, but Fasel is the chairman of the coordination commission that monitors, advises and approves planning and organization of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

Zurich, Switzerland newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported May 10 that a company run by a childhood friend of Rene Fasel received more than $1 million from 2004 to 2008 from Infront Sports and Media, the International Ice Hockey Federation’s broadcast and marketing agency. Infront president Philippe Blatter is the nephew of FIFA president and IOC member Sepp Blatter.

An English translation of the German-language newspaper said Fasel’s friend since kindergarten, identified only as Y.S., is principal of a company called Proc AG which received payments on “business contracts, especially to national and international winter sport federations.”

IIHF president Fasel, an IOC member since 1995, is a 59-year-old Swiss dentist and former hockey referee. He denies any involvement in the alleged kickback scheme.

Fasel told reporters at the world hockey championship in Bern, Switzerland that he “helped a longtime friend with offering his services to Infront,” but denied receiving any commission or bonus.

A spokesman for the IOC said it is aware of the report, but deferred comment to the IIHF. IIHF is investigating the matter and may have more to say on Monday morning.

VANOC CEO John Furlong issued this prepared statement on May 10: "Rene Fasel has been a long time leader in the world of sport and has been a strong supporter and advisor to me and to our whole organizing committee as we prepare for the 2010 Winter Games. We understand that he supports a decision by the IIHF to investigate recent reports involving him and out of respect for that investigation will refrain from further comment."

Blog Archive