Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Pan Am Games

A letter to The Toronto Star. Unpublished

Re Time for Ottawa to help Games bid, Editorial June 10 (2008)

With regard to the 2015 Pan Am Games, you claim that everyone is in the game except the federal government. Everyone? What about the taxpayer who will ultimately pay for this $1.77 billion extravaganza? (By February 2012, the estimated cost has apparently been reduced to $1.4 billion.) History teaches that such cost estimates are critically understated. How can the voice of the people be heard when the discussions are held behind closed doors?

Among the benefits will be sports facilities and some swimming pools. Strange, as Toronto has just closed several swimming pools due to lack of funds. The taxpayer should be reminded of the financial fiasco of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Their municipal debt was not cleared off until 2006, and the city has been left with a crumbling Olympic white elephant to feed.

The taxpayer should be reminded of the still on-going financial mess of the Vancouver Olympics -- another financial fiasco.

The cost of 2004 Athens Olympics caused the debt rating for the entire nation to be lowered from stable to negative. The Greek debt will be paid for in part by people yet unborn. Because the boom in tourism promised by the Olympic promoters did not materialize, the International Monetary Fund has declared that Greece must slash wages and social spending.

And of course, members of the Canadian Olympic Committee are currently on hand promoting their agenda through the Pan Am Games.

Your editorial states that "spending by all levels of government could be spread over several years." Would you approve of a 30-year debt for Toronto taxpayers as happened in Montreal? Your hint at good things to come contains the hollow echo of those businessmen and media who promised that the SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) would not cost the public a cent. The Toronto taxpayer took a bath on that one.

If we really want the governmental transparency the media so strongly advocates, let's have public input on this mind-boggling expenditure. Why does the media not advocate public consultation for public expenditures?

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