BC Liberals

Pigs at the trough, again

Time to bring this picture out of the archive, although I suspect we could link a story to it on many days.

Michael Smyth of The Province documents how BC Liberals are spending almost $1 million on tickets and comfy treats for politicians attending Olympic events. Smyth’s article is B.C. government spends nearly $1 million on Olympic tickets:

. . . the Gordon Campbell government is spending on Games tickets for politicians and their guests: $940,680. That whopper-of-a-number is bigger than what the government admitted to earlier. And here’s why the tab is so freaking huge: The government has gobbled up some of the priciest and most exclusive seats and suites available.

It includes $449,200 for executive suites at various Olympic venues. The deluxe suites, many featuring primo sight lines, private food and bar service and ensuite bathrooms, will be available to 1,052 government A-listers. The government is also spending $491,480 on 2,192 individual tickets to Olympic events. All told, the government is paying an average price of $290 for each of its 3,244 tickets.

Gordon Campbell and his minions play a dangerous game and they have played it too long. Populations can manage hard times if these are perceived to be unavoidable and shared by all. If they are not, history demonstrates that inequality slowly builds a social time bomb. The Vancouver 2010 games particularly emphasize British Columbia’s civil disequilibrium.

The Olympics present the best and the worst of human behavior. Everyone admires dedicated youth who put elements of life on hold to pursue athletic excellence, most with modest opportunities for monetary gain. But, athletes are apart from the sustaining Olympic movement, particularly the national and international Olympic committees. These insular, self-perpetuating organizations tolerate, perhaps depend upon, unethical and immoral behavior. Hidden rewards including bribes, kickbacks and demands for near-endless indulgencies are commonplace.

IOC president Jacques Rogge will stay in a five-star waterfront Vancouver hotel suite, with servants and car at beck and call. His rooms must be equipped by VANOC with floor-to-ceiling banks of television sets with video feeds enabling simultaneous viewing of all events of the games.

Not everybody enjoys good times though. The BC Government is laying off hundreds of civil servants. Schools are closing all over BC and Vancouver School District advised 800 school teachers of pending lay-off. In days, many of 26,000 seniors in extended care face unconscionable increases in monthly fees. Some care charges are rising by 30% or almost $700 monthly. At the same time, nursing staff is being reduced and Registered Nurses are being replaced by less qualified personnel. Pay more and die sooner; that’s the BC Liberal plan.

Justine Hunter says about the Finance Minister, “Every day Mr. Hansen sounds more like Eeyore, the gloomy donkey from the world of Winnie the Pooh.”

Liberals also cut funding for transition houses and services for women and children who have survived violence. Today, NDP Health Critic Adrian Dix introduced a senior who has been waiting two years for hip replacement surgery and a younger woman whose reconstruction surgery following cancer a year ago is delayed because of the Olympics. One third of all elective surgeries have been eliminated in February and March because of budget pressures or the Olympics, depending on whose story you believe.

I would prefer that 91-year-old Barbara Roberts got her new hip without more delay. Maybe Jacques Rogge could do without a few television feeds or walk down to the bar or even ride his limousine to the Broadcast Center when he wants to watch an event on TV.

Michael Smyth again:

The government’s near-million dollar ticket purchase is just the tip of this freeloading iceberg.

Other public-sector bodies buying Olympic tickets on your dime include: the federal government ($447,000); B.C. Hydro ($616,000); ICBC ($405,000); B.C. Lotteries ($396,000); City of Vancouver ($340,000); City of Richmond ($200,000); and City of Whistler ($37,000).

Total bill for Olympic tickets on the taxpayers’ tab: $3.3 million. And the government has still refused to say who’ll get ’em and which events they’ll attend. They’ll be easy to spot, though: They’ll be the ones wearing Olympic-sized smiles.

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