Back in June CityCaucus.com sent in a freedom of information request to the City of Vancouver for a document that was apparently buried in the heap of data related to being the Olympic Host City. The document's cumbersome title is Recommendations for Olympic tickets in accordance with the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Tickets Management Policy, and as we can see it's a vaguely written one-pager listing most of the members of Vancouver city council and the Mayor, and their respective recommendations for who would get a free ticket to join them at an Olympic event.
Was there anything revealing in the lists provided by members of council? We think the choices by two members of council will have tongues wagging.
Councillor Suzanne Anton has the longest written list, and on the face of it the recommendations seem positively benign. When contacted Anton said she was asked to submit a list of who she might host at an Olympic event (it could be anything from a hockey game or a curling match), and so she did. Unlike her COPE colleagues, Anton didn't reject the ticket offer and still feels today that the hosting program was a valid expense for the City. In her case she invited two former city councillors (May Brown – who couldn't attend – and Marguerite Ford – who could), a representative of Greek Days, Vancouver Youth Soccer and the BC Paraplegic Association.
One other person Anton invited was a donor to the 2003 "pro-Olympic bid" referendum campaign who was passed over for any Olympic tickets. Anton felt she could set things right by inviting this person.
And so it goes down the list. Each city councillor and the Mayor putting forward the name of who, out of all the possible choices they have, they would spend their ticket allotment on. In almost every case the results are pretty predictable. Geoff Meggs hosted members of the bicycle advisory committee (the most powerful member of city council hosting the most powerful lobby group in Vancouver today). Other councillors hosted members of the volunteer advisory boards, with Coun. Woodsworth in the end deciding to not attend any events at all and Coun. Carbon Cadman AWOL.
Mayor Gregor Robertson, asked to consider who of all the people around the city and the region he might choose to provide a free ticket to attend an Olympic event, settled on a representative of Microsoft. You could argue that it was a good choice if Microsoft (not being an official Olympic sponsor) was passed over. But of course Microsoft have already set up their Canadian headquarters – in Richmond, BC, and being Microsoft they probably have a few dollars set aside for such things. But given that Gregor seems to think that US corporations will be the saviours of Vancouver's local economy, I guess we shouldn't be surprised at his preferred guest.
The last hosting choice of note was that of Councillor Raymond Louie, who out of all the people he could choose settled upon hosting the Consul General of the People's Republic of China.
Now, one supposes as one of the competing countries in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games that the People's Republic of China had a considerable allotment of tickets for their many representatives, including their Consul General. So why did Raymond Louie want to host their government's representative?
The two choices of Olympic guests by Mayor Robertson and Coun. Louie are worth noting in light of the recent controversy kicked up by the comments of Richard Fadden, the CSIS director who stated that BC municipal politicians are openly acting as the "agents of influence" of foreign governments. Our readers may recall the fact that the immediate assumption by several media – in particular the Globe and Mail Toronto bureau – was that Fadden was talking about China. It sent many reporters chasing after Vancouver councillors of Chinese heritage. Vancouver Courier writer Mike Howell recently reported about how an indignant Coun. George Chow and Kerry Jang wrote a letter of complaint to the head of Canada's spy agency.
Councillor Chow's letter to Fadden states:
Your unsubstantiated comments not only put all B.C. municipal politicians under a cloud of suspicion. But because of what you said and how you said it, the reactions from media and blogs overwhelmingly point to politicians from the Chinese-Canadian community, such as myself.
Not sure which blogs Chow is speaking about, but it weren't CityCaucus.com, folks. Councillor Jang, who professed not to read blogs a while back had a more alarmist view:
Not long ago Canadians of Japanese descent were placed under a similar cloud of suspicion and such fear mongering led to one of the greatest shames in Canadian history--the forced internment of Canadians for no reason other than the accident of their birth.
...on a more personal level, your comments put my integrity, loyalty and trustworthiness into question. This not only harms my career as a university professor, but also my work as an elected official.
No one has said how Jang, who does not speak Mandarin nor Cantonese, might be an agent of influence for anything or anyone, but clearly he felt smeared by Canada's top spy.
Who Richard Fadden might have been referring to, or which "BC municipality" has representatives who are openly conducting relations with citizens of a foreign power to influence public policy, is still not understood. But there is no doubt that the present and past actions of our current elected officials will be under continued scrutiny as a result of Fadden's words.
- post by Mike