Saturday, August 8, 2015

Olympics for Toronto? Let the people decide

Letter to the Toronto Star, published July 31, 2015.

Re 61% of Torontonians want the Olympics, July 27:
The only poll that counts is the vote of the people. Any Olympic bid by Toronto must begin with the people, all of them, not just 755 as in this poll.  A referendum may well show that citizens have higher priorities for the spending of billions of their tax dollars.
The bid itself costs millions of dollars. The City of Chicago spent $60 million in its unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Olympics. Colorado was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics. Then the people were consulted, and they voted it down.

The history of bribery in mega-events is well known. All citizens of a free country deserve a voice with regard to unnecessary expenditures.


*   *   *

On August 8, Star columnist Royson James adopted his editor's promotion of the event. (Would a contrary opinion be allowed in that paper?)  James extols the Olympics in literary flights of fancy: "There is no greater test of a city's mettle: no more pressing and irrepressible mandate for success on a stage where the alternative is embarrassment; no more exhilarating gathering of the world's peoples."

On the other hand, James describes the opposition as "highbrow," those who "lack faith" and others "stricken with delusional self-loathing." And other forms of name-calling. Such are the flights of turgid prose. He cites the poll mentioned above as definitive. 

Mr. James' roster of miscreants must include Eric Reguly. By coincidence on the same day, the Globe and Mail's European Bureau Chief explained "why Olympic games remain money-suckling boondoggles."  Reguly tells why his home town does not need "a coming-out party," and that "winning them would be little more than an ego massage." Curious, these are two main reasons why the Toronto Star wants this event.

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