There wasn’t a lot of love for VANOC or the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit at Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre campus on Nov. 26. That may be an understatement.
Am Johal’s Impact on Communities Coalition forum on Olympic security and civil liberties lost its civil libertarian early when B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director read a scathing open letter to VANOC and V2010 ISU and dramatically departed.
VANOC commercial rights director Bill Cooper was part of the panel while vice-president of sustainability Linda Coady was watching from the audience, along with other staffers.
Eby read an eight minute, 17-second litany of historical VANOC errors of omission and commission and earned a raucous round of applause from the audience upon his exit from stage left. The VANOC and V2010 ISU types were not clapping.
Here are excerpts from his speech.
“The things our community says mean little to your organizations at this stage… nothing anyone says here today will make you change your plans and tactics.
“I’m concerned with your wilful and continuous disconnect from our community.
“It seems trite at this point to mention the Inner City Inclusive statement and report that you broke your promises. But I will. And you did.
“You promised to protect low-income tenants, you did not do so. You promised to leave a legacy of affordable housing, you abandoned that plan when it looked like it might cost more than anticipated.
“You promised ot arrange the Olympics so they did not make the lives of the poorest and most marginalized in our society worse. Then you said you’d arrest those who squatted in your secuirty zones. Your leadership endorsed the plan to arrest the homeless who refuse to report to shelters and you ran two Olympic lanes up the middle of Hastings Street. You promised to fund a watchdog to ensure that you’d keep your promises. That promise too is a lie and hardly a surprise.
“VANOC, an organization that is funded by government, the majority of whose board is appointed by government, whose business plan is directed by government, and who, despite this, spent tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars, convincing a court they are exempt from the Charter or Rights and Freedoms, that engaged in such a practice for the remarkable purpose of preventing women from competing equally in a sport that men compete in.
“What do you say to representatives of VANOC? A group already exempt from Freedom of Information laws, but who nonetheless pioneered the idea of a meeting where no minutes are kept, so that freeodm of information requests to government partners will not reveal what hidden policy agendas they’re pursuing. How can we as citizens demand any accountability when it’s simply impossible to know who’s steering the Olympic ship into the rocks at what time?
“This evening it’s my luxury to ignore your concerns…
“Just as for the last five years you had better things to do than listen to our community, this evening I have better things to do than to listen to you. I wish you a good evening.”
News and views on Vancouver 2010 (and beyond) from Bob Mackin.