Politics and other sports

2010 LegaciesNow was one of three groups that paid for a half-page advertisement in The Vancouver Sun this past Sunday to thank the government for investing in sports. But the society, which has received $170 million in provincial taxpayer funding since 2003, says that ad wasn't connected to the election. "There was an announcement the previous weekend of $5 million invested in the sport system in British Columbia that the province had made," explained society communications director Karen McDonald. And three of the four parties receiving that money - 2010 LegaciesNow, the Canadian Sport Centre Pacific and Sport BC - "felt it was important to first of all recognize that commitment and secondly ensure the public was aware that these investments had been made in sport and that this is a priority for the health and welfare of British Columbians."

But this advertisement was placed two days before the writ was dropped. So did it have anything to do with the election? "No. It had to do with the timing of the funding announcement," replied Ms. McDonald. "The funding announcement happened the previous Saturday. So this was the earliest we could get. As you can imagine, trying to pull an ad together among three parties, it took us a few days to get approvals all around. And we wanted to run it to let the government know and let the public of British Columbia know this investment had happened and it was worthwhile. Had it been Coca Cola or GE or anybody else we would have done the same thing."

Ms. McDonald said cost of the advertisement - $12,000 - was divided between the three parties. She confirmed 2010 LegaciesNow's board - which includes Premier Gordon Campbell's former deputy minister Ken Dobell and former Vancouver city manager Judy Rodgers - had no involvement in the decision to place that ad. The following is a complete copy of its text.


Thank you

to the Province of British Columbia and the Ministry of Health Living and Sport

Your recent investment of $5 million into the B.C. sport system shows your commitment to healthy, active living in the province. We believe, as you believe, that participating in sport builds healthier lives and communities.

On behalf of:

* 700,000 amateur sport participants
* 160,000 volunteers in sport
* 65 provincial sport organizations
* 1,400 high performance athletes and over 100 high performance coaches

We look forward to building a culture of sport and healthy living in the province with your support.

The BC Sport Alliance is made up of organizations who believe sport and physical activity are the foundations for healthy living. Together, we are working to reposition the sport system by maximizing strengths that currently exist and showing the impact of sport on health outcomes and other important areas. Through the BC Sport Alliance and its partner organizations, sport programs for all ages are delivered in B.C. communities through leagues and clubs, and performance sport opportunities are delivered for regional, provincial and national level athletes.


So three organizations heavily reliant on public funding receive BC tax dollars, then spend $12,000 of said public money to congratulate the BC government -- two days before the same BC government issues a mandated and widely known election call. And it is just a coincidence.

Sometimes the spin put out by communications people is just truly awesome.

At times like these, I turn to Casablanca:

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!

2010 Legacies now is a mechanism for stashing government (aka tax payers money) which provides a platform for political announcements. Over the last few years, every time 2010 Legacies now made a public presentation or announcement about a grant there was a liberal MLA or cabinet minister in the photo opportunity.

Imagine if a group of social serving organizations, funded by government put an 12,000 ad in the paper thanking the government for their contribution? There would be outrage. The public would demand that those dollars be put to their intended use. 2010 Legacies now, just wasted $12,000 that could have funded sports equipment for poor children or an exercise program for pensioners. Clearly their priorites are photo ops. Shame on them.

It is also a little naive to think that a 12K advertising expenditure was not discussed even informally with board members.

2010 Legacies now, is not counted as part of the overall Olympic costs for government - even though it is primarly government money funding them - why is that?

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