Unwanted games latest example of entitlement ethos
Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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Unwanted games latest example of entitlement ethos

When it was announced the Pan Am Games would be coming to Ontario, anybody not in line to line their pockets knew it would be a financial fiasco: an over-budget and under-attended event met with yawning indifference, with a long list of hangers-on sucking at the public teat.
Now, with the games less than a year away, that’s exactly what we’ve got.
The latest revelations of mismanagement saw security costs more than double to some $250 million … and counting. And the release of expense claims showed the culture of entitlement – and eagerness to rip-off the public – to be alive and well among organizers. A sampling of the expenses include $1,300 for yoga apparel, $1,288 for dress shirts from the upscale Harry Rosen store, $8,220 for Toronto Argonauts tickets. That was joined by the requisite wine and food, caterers and restaurants.
And what self-respecting freeloader wouldn’t jet off to international locations? Although the games cover the Americas – it’s right there in the name – the travel featured stops on the other side of the Atlantic, including $3,800 for two adults and a child to head over to Italy.
Few of the expense claims were submitted with explanations, let alone supporting documentation.
And it was purely coincidental that the organizing committee waited until the very last day the law allowed in order to release the information demanded by the media through a freedom of information request. That day also happened to arrive just as Queen’s Park was winding down for the Christmas break. We’re assured, however, that the Wynne government had no hand in the timing, which only coincidentally saved it from having to answer embarrassing questions in the Legislature.
The budget for the games is $2.4 billion, up from $1.8 billion half a decade ago when Toronto and the province began their ill-advised foray into bidding on the games. We can’t afford even that, and you can be sure that number will blossom by the time the final bills roll in.
While the games will be held in the Golden Horseshoe, federal and provincial money taken from every citizen will be dumped into the event. The province has indicated it will cover any deficit – and there’s every reason to believe there will be one.
Given the recession, enormous deficits and the turmoil in the health care and education sectors – the government’s two largest mandates – there is certainly no money for this kind of spectacle.
While those in favour of the bid argue the spin-off effects could lead to the collection of billions in taxes, similar predictions have been made before when it comes to large-scale projects such as the Olympic Games – generally the budgeting is overly optimistic. That’s especially true of an event with no cachet whatsoever. Quick, where were the last Pan Am Games held? Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011. They’ve been hosted in Canada twice, both times in Winnipeg (1967 and 1999). Reports from the ’99 event show the games were overly costly and may have been a setback to the city and the province’s sports community.
At any rate, infrastructure money is already at a premium. With far more pressing issues on the table, a resounding thumping of those responsible would set the right tone for any subsequent efforts to tap the common purse.

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