Monday, July 06, 2009

Conservatives determined to waste the 2010 Olympics

Sometimes one wonders just where the Conservatives have their heads at. And particularly the self-declared economist that leads them. Because the Harper Reformatories seem determined to blow the possibilities for economic spin off and business investment around the 2010 Games.

Given the money the taxpayers are investing in the Vancouver/Whistler games, shouldn't the government be doing everything in its power to leverage the opportunity? And to make the games a springboard to help drive Canada out of this economic downturn, and make Canada the leader they promise we'll be?

And yet, once again, reality gets in the way of their rhetoric, as the Vancouver Sun's Miro Cernetig reports:

For reasons it has not officially explained, Ottawa quietly scuttled an international conference of global business leaders that was to be held just days before the kickoff to the 2010 Olympics, setting back our chances of leveraging international interest and investment in Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada. The department of foreign affairs and international trade pulled its $1 million US sponsorship of the Forbes CEO Forum, scheduled for February 2010 in Victoria.

It's a move that has mystified provincial officials, who were shocked by the federal government's sudden pullout and were offered no chance for the province to step in.
He also wrote a column on the move:
Stephen Harper first blazed his political career under the theme “The West Wants In” — the slogan that propelled the Reform Party to the national stage and eventually led to westerners swallowing up the Progressive Conservative Party.

Which is why it’s puzzling Harper’s government has become so tone-deaf regarding the most important event to come to Vancouver in a quarter-century: the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The public investment in this sporting extravaganza is in the billions. Yet with the Games now only months away, the federal government seems to be unwilling to spend the few millions of dollars necessary to fully exploit an event that could be as significant to building the Vancouver and B.C. economies as Expo 86 was a generation ago.
One wonders where in the heck BC's Conservative ministers are on this file. Stockwell Day, you out there? James Moore? Gary Lunn?


Certainly the Liberal caucus from BC recognizes the importance of this, even if their Conservative colleagues don't. Or perhaps the Harper muzzle is on again?
“Instead of using the Olympics to market business and investment opportunities in British Columbia, the Conservatives have just told the world’s business elite to stay home,” said MP Keith Martin, Liberal Critic for the Vancouver Olympics.

Can there be a more striking example of the Harper government’s short-sightedness?” asked Hedy Fry, MP for Vancouver Centre. “In order to save the $1 million cost of hosting the conference, the Conservatives have thrown away hundreds of millions of dollars in potential economic growth for British Columbia.”

“Expo 86’s enormous economic legacy came from showing the world’s investors the best that British Columbia had to offer,” said Ujjal Dosanjh, MP for Vancouver South. “We’re wasting a golden opportunity at a momentous time in our province’s history.”

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Jan said...

Vanouver has already recieved millions from Ottawa. Don't blame the Conservatives for not wanting to pour in more money to a badly managed, overbudget Olympic games. If B.C. wants to "showcase" itself, then Tourism B.C. should be arranging that --it's not a federal responsibility. Here in B.C., we are sick of the idea we'll be paying taxes for the next 100 years for the Liberal's mistakes. Don't shift the blame--this one lies squarely on the shoulders of the Campbell government, where it belongs.

Jeff said...

That's stupid. These aren't BC's, they're Canada's games. And we have a federal trade department to promote trade and investment in Canada. Potential economic spinoffs are the reason government investments in the games. So to invest in them, but do little to nothing to leverage the opportunity to get a return on that investment, is the height of stupidity.