Edmonton Expo 2017

In addition to Don Martin’s story in the National Post today, I’ve learned a few more details about the Edmonton Expo story:

The government’s top-line message on this has been one of fiscal restraint. This theme was starting to make rounds online last night and has been echoed by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Toronto today.

Shifting security costs were a main concern about the Expo bid. For example, original estimates of Olympic security had been about $175 million and rounded out to about $800 million when all was said and done. Organizers of the Edmonton Expo have projected security costs at $85 million, a figure which the Public Safety minister has dismissed as very conservative for a 90 day event. Actual security costs are projected closer to $1 Billion.

Alberta itself is in deficit and Alberta Finance minister Ted Morton released a provincial fiscal update describing a province in the red, projecting a deficit of $5 billion by year end.

The 2010 Shanghai World Expo had major cost overruns. Originally estimated to be $4 Billion, the cost ballooned to about $80 billion by some reports. Further, there is little evidence that a “world expo” does enough to promote the host country outside of its own borders. Olympic Games, however, are seen to be a major international success by most outside observers.

Don Martin has suggested that the nixing of the Edmonton Expo bid has also scuttled government funding for a Quebec arena. I’ve learned from sources in the PMO that this isn’t necessarily true. The government contends that funding for professional sports facilities remains the responsibility of the private sector. If any funding is to be granted it must be fair and evenly spread across the country. However, the government emphasizes that Canada is in a period of fiscal restraint.

The pulse of a nation

measured by Facebook

It was quite a game yesterday and one of those defining moments sure to be included on an updated version of the Canadian immigration quiz. I awoke yesterday hearing Foster Hewitt’s classic cry “Hennnnnderrrsssson” from the classic 1972 Canadian-Soviet series when Henderson scored with 34 seconds left in the final game, playing over and over in my head. I didn’t know then but it turned out to be a good sign.

When Zach Parise scored a tying goal with just 24 seconds left, almost 30 years to the day of the famed American “Miracle on Ice”, Canada’s heart felt a jarring palpitation as seen by the first spike of status updates in the chart above.

The second spike would come about half an hour later when Sidney Crosby scored the overtime goal against the US to enrich an already golden games for Canada.

ASIDE: I was somewhat amused (and actually impressed) by Jack Layton’s ability to find a camera as we all watched the gold medal game. Jack was watching at Gretzky’s bar in downtown Toronto and kept popping up in reaction shots when CTV would show different crowds watching the game around Canada. I missed it the first time, but our friends at the Torontoist show us Jack’s gold medal determination at a sport he has dominated for quite some time.

I believe / J’imagine Jack.

Amy Goodman sort of inadmissible to Canada?

This story piqued my interest in my news scans over the past few days. Amy Goodman, who most of my right-of-centre co-travellers would consider a bit fringe while others would consider solidly left-wing, was detained for questioning on Wednesday at a British Columbian border crossing. Goodman was questioned about her reasons for visiting Canada. The independent journalist and broadcaster cited a couple of speaking engagements in Victoria and Vancouver to promote her book.

Officials from the Canadian Border Services Agency were interested in whether Goodman would be speaking about the Vancouver 2010 Olympics games. Goodman responded no, but by her own account she explained that CBSA didn’t seem to believe her.

I contacted a spokeswoman for CBSA and they explained that while they cannot comment on specific cases, “all persons seeking entry into Canada must meet all requirements” set out by the CBSA. Applicants for entry must not have a record of criminality, for example.

I’d wondered if Amy Goodman had ever been arrested since I’ve known her to be something of an activist on issues. A quick Google search revealed that she had been arrested at the Republican National Convention in 2008 for “conspiracy to riot”. Here is a video of her arrest:

The charges were eventually dropped against Goodman as the St. Paul City Attorney’s office refused to prosecute.

However, it is unclear as to whether charges without conviction is enough to create a “lookout” in the CBSA database. The CBSA spokeswoman also told me that criminality is certainly a red flag when it comes to determining a person’s fitness for admissibility.

Given the unprecedented security that is being put in place for the 2010 games, a less than perfect history with law enforcement may have given agents more pause when considering Goodman.

Despite the temporary detention, Goodman is likely not too upset about the whole affair. She was admitted to Canada for two days and has now received national media attention for the book she was promoting.

Canadian Olympic branding and competing visions of Canada

The branding for the Canadian Olympic team was unveiled yesterday by the Hudson’s Bay Company which runs retail outlets under the Bay and Zeller’s names in Canada. The company is the official outfitter for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Canadian team. Here’s their short video describing the brand and inspiration:

It’s a bit stirring isn’t it? But, as this is a political blog, let’s describe it in this context. For years, the Conservative Party in Canada has been trying to reset the image of Canada that had existed prior to a long-run of Liberal governments and the Conservatives have sought to push back against the rebranding of the Canadian image under that party.

There was criticism yesterday that the Canadian Olympic look and feel bore a striking resemblance to that of the governing party.


The Conservative Party logo (left), the Canadian Olympic logo (right)

First, it should be said that the Hudson’s Bay effort was completely independent of any government interference. This was confirmed by Gary Lunn, junior minister for Sport in the House of Commons yesterday in a response to a question by Vancouver Liberal MP Hedy Fry. After all, companies lobby government, it is unusual for government to lobby companies. You can see examples of other similar logos here, here, and here.

Despite the criticism about the branding similarities, and though in this case the government appears to be clear of any influence regarding HBC’s decision, the Conservatives in government have been working to recapture a certain sentiment among Canadians about their country.

That sentiment, stoked by Conservative branders, is pre-Trudeau(pian). Liberal branders would have you believe that this country was born after 1967, with the Montreal Expo, with a new red and white flag, healthcare and peacekeeping ingrained as our country’s greatest accomplishments.

Conservatives would remind Canadians that our country was born out of a pioneer spirit, hundreds of years ago, of brave individuals that carved out the wilderness and thrived in it. The Hudson’s Bay ad echoes this traditional vision of Canada.

Of Canada, Conservatives emphasize it’s history of fighting for King and country through early wars in Africa in the late nineteenth century and in Europe in the first great war. As Conservatives, we remember and acknowledge that we answered the call among nations to fight tyranny and totalitarianism in the second world war. Today, we recognize that the peace cannot be kept if it is not first made.

Our vision of Canada is one of individual determination and achievement over mushy collectivism. It was roughneck young explorers that mapped out the great expanse in the northwest of our country in search of new capitalist opportunities in fur, timber, ore and minerals.

The incremental rebranding of Canada by today’s government is not accidental. From the more organic maple leaf that adorns the header of every government of Canada website, replacing a more statist institutionalized version, to the rebranding of our armed forces to emphasize the role of the forces as not only the sharp end of the spear, but razorwire for troubled times rather than simply a career building opportunity, the Conservatives have made deliberate effort to remind Canadians of this more independent and rugged version of ourselves.

Under the Harper Conservatives, Canada’s image is emphasized as “the true North strong and free”, a country that defends and maintains its northern sovereignty rather than one that panders to a more European, globalized kid glove approach.

Michael Ignatieff has returned to Canada after quite some time abroad. A potential platform plank that he has been emphasizing is the regaining of Canada’s place on the world stage. In a speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa, he spoke with a tone a wistfulness for those times when, well, the world was different:

Multilateralism was the Canadian mantra. In 1956, Lester Pearson found a way out of the Suez Crisis and made peacekeeping our vocation. When he won the Nobel Peace Prize the next year, the Nobel committee said “he’d saved the world.” We cheered.

In the post-war era, we became the world’s leading peacekeepers. Up to 1988, there was not a single mission that we didn’t join. At the same time, we went to war in Korea, the Persian Gulf and Kosovo. We went to war when we had to. We kept the peace when we could. Blue helmets became an emblem of our identity. — Michael Ignatieff

Before one can regain their footing, one must survey the new ground. Michael Ignatieff is not ignorant to the new challenges that the world has faced since Pearson. He’s done the heavy thinking on the new role of the world’s remaining superpower and its place on the world stage. However, one surmises that the former academic is in need of the same deep reflection when it comes to Canada’s maturation on the world stage since the Suez crisis, let alone 9/11. One fears that instead of deep academic and analytical reflection on the topic, his new position as a politician has driven him to a knee-jerk, easy but antiquated Liberal view of Canada. Since he left, Canada’s role on the world stage has evolved and matured from the euphemistic “honest broker” to a respected decision-making voice that is sought after for advice and respected for its decisiveness. Canada is again a country that does the heavy lifting.

Despite our history and place earned from taming our own wilderness through sharp wit instead of the welfare tit, despite our nation’s proud history of our young men and women stepping up up for King and country, in the time post-Pearson era Liberals rebranded this country. Expo 67 was promoted as “Canada’s introduction to the world”, as we were recast into the role of confident but newly innocent debutante ready to walk on the world stage if only to give a proper and elegant wave.

Today, Canada finds itself changed, but somehow familiar. Canada grew up long before Pierre Elliott Trudeau declared its birth. Though we were recast as a global ingenue by successive Liberal governments that had us play the stoically unsung middle “nuanced” power, when Canada hosts the world in Vancouver 2010, it will do so with its regained voice and identity.

BC Hookers get media training for Olympics, paid for by the taxpayer?

According to the Times & Transcript,

VANCOUVER – Vancouver sex trade workers need to know their rights when dealing with cameras and reporters and will be offered media training leading up to the 2010 Olympic Games, an advocacy group said.

The Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education Society (PACE) will hold the session in November.

“We just want our members to feel safe in the neighbourhood in which they live and safe to work in the neighbourhood in which they live,” said spokeswoman Kerry Porth.

“We find sometimes that media attention to the area can be a little less than compassionate and we don’t want them to feel like animals in a zoo during that time.”

Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation asks on Twitter, “Hookers get media training for Olympics. Are taxpayers paying for this?” and provides a link to the T&T article.

Kevin, the answer is probably yes.

Oh Canada! :)

At first we were staring at an embarrassing goose egg as countries such as Togo and Uzbekistan were putting medals up on the board while Canadian athletes were coming short of realizing even bronze medals at the Beijing games.

Canadians, including your humble blogger here, were doing a gut-check; what was the cause of our poor showing at this year’s summer Olympics? Was it the cold Canadian climate, a sense of muted confidence, a culture that emphasizes equal outcomes over victory?

Turns out that our sports weren’t scheduled for the first week.

The National Post includes a summary and an interesting political angle,

Under the headline, “Summer Games Leaves Canada Out in the Cold,” a piece in The New York Times — filled with smarmy quotations from Canadian sports writers such as: “We’re being trampled by Mongolians,” or “Fourth is the new bronze” — had a few yucks at our expense.

Then the worst thing of all happened: The Prime Minister promised Canadians that we are a second-week team, and the medals would start coming soon. Great, a politician’s promise. Now the medals would never happen. There was only one problem.

Within an hour, between 4:30 and 5:30 a. m. Eastern time — three Canadian medals had been won. With a gold, silver and bronze, Canada had hit for the cycle on a tough day to be a columnist in Beijing.

That’s how fast it turned around this weekend in China — in about 55 minutes, by our count. Surely, the about-face came too fast for Canadian papers that go to press at about 10 a. m. Beijing time, with a day’s events ahead to make a sports writer’s observations sound even more foolish than usual. By the time the Sunday sun went down in Beijing, there were four more medals.

Let’s hope Harper’s still calling the shots (and doing colour commentary) in 2010.