It is time that we began thinking about “bread” not “circuses”


[A look Into the Secret World of the Olympic Committee]

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Trying to reveal the inner workings of the Canadian Olympic Organizing Committee is not a simple task. While it is apparent that the group is known by most Canadians, very little is disclosed about the important stuff. Information such as how the inner circle came to power and the source details of the organization’s $7.5 Million annual operating budget.  Similarly, itemized details as to how the organization spends money are held close to the vest.

Let’s begin with what is known.  The source of the annual operating budget of $7.5 Million is listed as “donations”.  However, although the word donations has any number of definitions, the %7.5 Million in donations in this case is tax-payers’ money handed over by Federal sources.  Drilling down to find exact sources is another troubling and unnecessarily murky quest.  For example, I put my fingers on $696,000 of 2013/14 core funding flowing through a special Federal Fund designated as SSP funding which  is provided to eligible national and multisport organizations with an aim to develop athletes and coaches at the highest international levels, to provide sound technically based sport programming for all athletes, to increase the number of Canadians from all segments of society involved in sport, and to advance Canadian interests and values in Canada and abroad.

You could probably take the time and pin down each of the avenues of taxpayers’ money that finds its way into the coffers of the Canadian Olympic Committee. My point is that things ought to be transparent enough that such information should be clearly visible in the Olympic Committee’s books.

One of my favorite sources of information about similar not-for-profits has been an independent reporting agency, “Charity Intelligence Canada” (CAC).  CAC’s overall rating of the Canadian Olympic Organizing Committee’s report of the Olympic Committee’s accountability discloses that they have been assigned a rating of C Minus based on the charity’s public reporting of the work it does and the results it achieves and that the Olympic Committee does not disclose audited financial statements .  In fact, such statements are only available through official request for information from Canada Revenue Agency.

That is not very a forthright or transparent way of showing that trust is well reserved.

The organization is head quartered in mid-town Toronto on St. Clair Avenue a stone’s throw from the St. Clair subway.   The Toronto office is home to 5 employees.  One employee had 2012FY income of between $250,000 and $300,000.  The remaining four employees are grossing between $40,000 and $80,000 each.

Tory MPP Rod Jackson (from Barrie) ferreted out bits of the murky details about the Olympic Committee.  According to Jackson, “Ian Troop, CEO of the Toronto Organizing Committee for the 2015 Pan/ParaPan American Games, was paid $477,260 last year with an additional $30,091 in taxable benefits.  In all, 32 managers made it onto the Sunshine List which identifies public sector workers making more than $100,000 a year — an increase of 15 TO2015 Pan Am officials in one year[1].”

Top 10 of the 32 Pan Am games employees on the $100,000-plus Sunshine List:

Ian Troop, CEO — $477,260 ($30,091 in taxable benefits)

  • Barbara Anderson, CFO — $307,115 ($17,565 in taxable benefits)
  • Kathy Henderson, senior v-p — $307,115 ($17,565 in taxable benefits)
  • Allen Vansen, senior v-p — $303,530 ($17,565 in taxable benefits)
  • Murray Noble, senior v-p — $292,775 ($17,565 in taxable benefits)
  • Robert O’Doherty, senior v-p — $292,775 ($17,561 in taxable benefits)
  • Elaine Roper, senior v-p — $292,775 ($17,565 in taxable benefits)
  • Terry Wright, adviser — $290,026
  • Karen Hacker, senior v-p — $260,420 ($15,166 in taxable benefits)
  • Sean Barry, v-p — $241,378 ($8,702 in taxable benefits)

Things get even more tangled when attempting to identify those individuals that run the Olympic process in Canada.  What is known is that the Olympic Organizing Committee is often referred to as the “Olympic Foundation” and is comprised of a Board of Directors made up of nine appointed individuals headed by Marcel Aubut.  The remaining Board members are :  Wayne Russell, Glen Edgworthy, John M. Beck  (the  founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aecon Group Inc. Canada’s largest publicly-traded construction and infrastructure development company.),  John I. Bitove, Douglas Mitchell, Cailey Stollery ( the President of Angus Glen Golf Club), Perry Dellece and Hélène Desmarais (yes, same family as of Power Corporation fame).  One anomaly is that the “Foundation’s” web site lists[2] these individuals as “elected” though it is unclear exactly how one gets elected to a foundation that consumes tax dollars.

The TO2015 Pan Am fiasco has just added at least another $2.5 BILLION[3] to Ontario’s debt of $288-$300 BILLION.

There are worthy places in which such funds are badly needed.  Homelessness, tax relief for the working poor, an contract impasse with Ontario’s teachers that is putting students at risk.  And yet we now have Olympic chair, Marcel Aubut suggesting that Toronto make a bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.  The 2010 Olympics in Vancouver has a final price tag of over $6 BILLION and early estimates for Aubut’s Toronto Olympic fiasco are likely to exceed $7.8 BILLION.

Look, we all like sports.  This is not an argument about the virtues of sport.  What is needed is a long/hard look at priorities. Surely needs such s poverty and homelessness deserve much more attention than they are receiving. Unless there is a majority among us who are willing to say, ““Yes, we’d rather spend $6 billion on the Olympics than on homelessness or literacy or a million other worthy projects”.

We are not well served when a handpicked elite panel such as Aubun’s cabal is able to dictate astronomical discretionary spending.  It may well be high time to recognize that this is NOT 1837.  We are theoretically long past the days of the Family Compact when aristocratic were entitled to make such decisions. Maybe as Daphane Bramham (Vancouver Sun Columnist) said[4], it is not just the money but, “The biggest price is another bit of democracy lost.”

cropped-lloyd

Copyright   Thunderbird Rising 2015

 The above article is copyrighted.  You may use, copy or distribute this article conditional on attributing your source (Thunderbird Rising) and the author (Lloyd Fournier)

[1] Toronto Sun, Antonella Atuso, Aril 01, 2013

[2] http://olympic.ca/foundation/canadian-olympic-foundation-board-of-directors/

[3] Globe and Mail, Adrian Morrow, November 20, 2013

[4] Vancouver Sun, Daphane Bramham, January 23, 2009

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