The March 21 announcement that FIFA chose Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium as the site of the 2015 Women’s World Cup final
was both historic and underwhelming.
Vancouver’s nine games, including the championship final, will make this the biggest international sporting event in the city since the 2010 Winter Olympics climaxed with the men’s Olympic gold medal hockey game at Rogers Arena.
The July 5, 2015 final will likely have a bigger international TV audience, in more countries, than the biggest hockey game in history. FIFA estimated 62.8 million people tuned-in for Japan’s upset of the United States in 2011 at Commerzbank Arena, the Frankfurt, Germany stadium that inspired B.C. Place’s retractable roof.
The 2015 Women’s World Cup final broadcast will also draw 10 times more pairs of eyeballs than the anticipated audience of the 2014 Grey Cup.
The Grey Cup was announced March 8 with much fanfare in a B.C. Place news conference starring Premier Christy Clark (who didn’t mention Vancouver once during her speech). Nobody from Vancouver city hall was invited, not even Mayor Gregor Robertson. That was the end of a hell week for Clark, who was hammered with the Quick Wins Multicultural Outreach scandal and the Prince George plyscraper procurement scandal. Her handlers wanted a quick win before the weekend.
The March 21 Women’s World Cup news conference was a low-key affair, held at the Hampton Inn hotel across from B.C. Place. National Organizing Committee spokesman Richard Scott said top officials from all three levels of government were invited at the start of the week for the announcements in Vancouver and Edmonton, once it was confirmed that the Canada 2015 schedule would be on the FIFA executive committee agenda’s March 21 meeting in Zurich. (It was not on the agenda released March 13.)
Federal Conservatives were unavailable, because of the federal budget in Ottawa.
Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel hosted Alberta Tourism Minister Richard Starke at city hall in Edmonton, where the City of Champions was told it would host the opening match on June 6, 2015.
Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs subbed for Robertson, who was apparently out-of-town. Small Business Minister Naomi Yamamoto attended on behalf of the provincial government. Clark, Sport Minister Bill Bennett, Tourism Minister Pat Bell and Deputy Premier/B.C. Pavilion Corporation Minister Rich Coleman were all unavailable.
Normally, politicians would rearrange their agendas and flock, like moths to light, to a photo opportunity at a good news announcement about a global event coming to their jurisdiction. Evidently, Canada 2015 is not top of mind for the Liberals, because they may have no future after May 14, 2013.
Polling suggests the Liberals are en route to defeat and they are focusing on clinging to power in ridings that are in jeopardy of falling to the NDP. Additionally, too many big city reporters still have too many questions about the lingering Liberal scandals, whether it be public employees breaking rules by doing party work on government time, the Prince George plyscraper procurement or a new investigation by the Information and Privacy Commissioner into public employees using personal email accounts to elude the Freedom of Information act.
The 2013 Liberals would be foolish to neglect history. Demonization of the media was also a feature of the 1991 Social Credit Party and 2001 NDP. Those drunk-on-power parties went into election campaigns desperate and emerged decimated after voting day. The Socreds fell from 47 to seven seats, the NDP collapsed from 39 to just two.
Today’s BC Liberals have 45. For now.
Morning Interviews, Liberally Fixed
The last interview was with a Victoria station. The preceding eight were all with small market outlets where the Liberals could suffer defeat in the election.
Dec. 14: 7:30 a.m.-7:40 a.m. Dawn Tyndall, KISS FM Vernon, 7:50 a.m.-8 a.m. Brian Martin and Vicki Proulx, Sun FM Vernon, 8:30 a.m.-8:35 a.m. Kevin and Sonia, Sun FM Mornings, Kelowna; Dec. 18: 6:35 a.m.-6:45 a.m. Darren McPeak and John Helm, Mountain FM Kootenays, 6:45 a.m.-6:50 a.m. Bob Johnston and Bill Nation, The Eagle, Courtenay, 6:50 a.m.-6:55 a.m. Kyle Wightman, The Wolf FM Prince George; Dec. 19: 6:45 a.m.-6:50 a.m. Uncle Scotty, The River, Campbell River, 6:50 a.m.-6:55 a.m. Drex of Jet FM Comox Valley and 8:40 a.m.-8:50 a.m. Robin and Brian, Kool FM Victoria.
These interviews were part of a coordinated strategy, perhaps inspired by the Swing Teams playbook revealed by reporter Cassidy Olivier in The Province.
Bell, Bond, de-BID
Serious questions remain about the integrity of the procurement for this plyscraper. A representative of the BID Group responded on behalf of CEO Brian Fehr, turning down my request for an interview to learn more about the situation and his quotes that appear on Alex Tsakumis’s blog.
Fehr claimed Minister Pat Bell reneged on a pledge that his company would be shortlisted for the plyscraper job. On Tsakumis’s blog, Fehr is quoted as saying he met with the Premier, who apparently called, texted and emailed him about the project. Clark was quoted by the Vancouver Sun as saying “the issue has been handled by civil servants. It hasn’t been handled by politicians at all.” The NDP has called for an independent inquiry.
These are very serious allegations that deserve to be confirmed or denied, but my queries to Bell and to the Premier’s press secretary Mike Morton were met with silence.
According to meeting minutes that I received from the Evergreen Line Project board, Shackell’s final fairness report was received by the board on Sept. 21, 2012. That was six months ago. It has still not been published.
The Partnerships BC and the Ministry of Transportation media offices play an Alphonse and Gaston routine whenever I ask for the Shackell report on SNC-Lavalin.
I’m not amused.