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  • Vancouver View: CBC Censorship Complaint, Olympic Sustainability Report


    CBC president Hubert Lacroix. (CBC)  
    CBC Stuck behind Great Firewall

    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation -- the Canadian rights-holder for Beijing 2008 -- has complained to the Chinese government about censorship of its websites in China.

    CBC president Hubert Lacroix wrote to China's ambassador to Canada Lu Shumin on April 4 with his grievances., the French service, has been blocked for six months according to the CBC. There has been no access in China to the English site since January.

    Lacroix's letter included a quote from China's Premier Wen Jiabao, pledging to "provide services of an Olympic standard to athletes, officials, spectators and the media in order to facilitate their participation and enjoyment of the Games."

    John Cruickshank, CBC News publisher, said the block against CBC "restricts the rights of all Canadians living in China, it restricts the rights of Chinese to get Canadian news and culture."

    Last fall, CBC and China state broadcaster CCTV collaborated in Vancouver to produce the China Canada Hand-in-Hand variety show promoting the 2008 and 2010 Games.

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not visited China, despite coming to power more than two years ago. China has expressed its displeasure with Canada for giving the Dalai Lama honorary citizenship and refusing to extradite Chinese fugitive Lai Changxing, who is accused of running a multibillion-dollar smuggling ring.

    Canada was excluded from Beijing 2008's global torch relay, despite being a three-time Olympic host and home to many overseas Chinese.

    Sustainability: Take Two

    The second annual VANOC sustainability self-report on March 31 says six offshore factories are banned from making licensed goods, pending critical assessments.

    Corporate sustainability officer Ann Duffy says U.K.-based Intertek conducted 80 audits and issued 74 "corrective action plans”. None of the factories were identified because Duffy said VANOC wants to "recognize early intervention and support continual improvement with our licensees."

    But Toronto-based labor rights group Maquila Solidarity Network, a Canadian ally of the global Fair Play 2008 campaign, advocates the identification of offshore factories and publication of audit reports and methodologies.

    VANOC's trailblazing licensee code of conduct mandates respect for the laws where factories are located, a fair minimum wage and overtime pay, proper workplace health and safety, and a ban on child labor.

    Vancouver organizers declined an ATR request to tour the Northern Gifts-contracted factory in China where the Vancouver 2010 mascot plush dolls are made. Both Northern Gifts president Bob MacKerricher and VANOC spokesman Chris Brumwell refused.

    Brumwell cited privacy and competitiveness concerns and added that overseas manufacturers "would be very sensitive to any media coverage."

    The sustainability report also reveals some difficulties in the social inclusion department.
    At the office of Vancouver 2010, the labor pool does not look like the B.C. population, according to a new survey. (ATR/B.Mackin)  

    The report says its 504-person workforce last July was gender equal. But 77 of 110 senior positions were filled by males. Women are outnumbered 15-5 on the board of directors. Only two of seven executive vice-presidents are female.

    A staff poll found VANOC's payroll is 1.2 percent aboriginal, 8.1 percent visible minority and 0.4 percent disabled. British Columbia's population, according to Statistics Canada, is 4.8 percent aboriginal, 24.8 percent visible minority and 14 percent disabled.

    VANOC Associate before Judge

    The North Vancouver provincial court trial of a high-ranking VANOC associate will continue June 6.

    Tewanee Joseph, CEO of the Four Host First Nations, and Bobby Bell are accused of mischief and uttering threats on April 8, 2007, at the Capilano Indian Reserve.
    Donald Joe Mathias, the accuser of Four Host First Nations CEO Tewanee Joseph at a Feb. 11 anti-Olympics protest in Vancouver. (ATR/B.Mackin)  

    Judge Thomas Dohm heard on March 31 and April 1 that the two men were suspected of being intoxicated and sent home from an unruly party by West Vancouver Police. Police appeared at the party after a fight broke out. Donald Joe Mathias admitted to biting Bell on the chest. He testified that Bell and Joseph showed up at his house before 5 a.m., tried to force their way inside and threatened to kill him and his family. He claimed Bell head-butted a window.

    Mathias, Bell and Joseph are former box lacrosse teammates. The court heard that Mathias was accused of threatening Joseph in October 2006, but the matter went to mediation instead of trial. Joseph's lawyer Greg McDade also cross-examined Mathias about his appearances at anti-Olympics protests and his previous troubles with drugs and alcohol and the law. Mathias' illegal cigarette shop on the Capilano reserve was shut down by provincial tax authorities in 2005.

    Triathlon Worlds Set for June

    Full speed ahead for the June 5 to 8 International Triathlon Union 2008 World Championship in Vancouver.

    On April 3, Vancouver city hall followed the parks board and approved the route for the event, which is expected to bring 3,000 athletes from 45 countries to swim, bike and run at Stanley Park and English Bay.

    Juniors (June 5), age group sprint (June 6) and corporate, Olympic distance and athletes with a disability (June 7) precede the main event on June 8. The 1,500-metre swim, 40 km cycle and 10 km run for elite athletes will be the final opportunity to qualify for the Beijing Olympics triathlon.
    ITU says the potential global reach for its tape-delayed coverage is 800 million. The World Championships will be webcast live on its website.

    "You couldn't find a better backdrop for the sport," says ITU executive director Loreen Barnett.

    "The water's clean, the air's clean. If the sun is out, it will be absolutely stunning."

    North Vancouver-based ITU is the only global sports governing body headquartered in Canada.

    New Solicitor General

    The Olympic province has a new Solicitor General to replace John Les, who resigned last month.
    John van Dongen, new B.C. Solicitor General.  

    On April 1, B.C. Legislative Assembly member John van Dongen took over the ministry, which oversees RCMP operations and Vancouver 2010 sponsors B.C. Lottery Corporation and Insurance Corporation of B.C.

    Les quit March 28 because of an RCMP investigation into allegations that he improperly profited from land deals while serving as mayor of Chilliwack.

    Van Dongen's third day in the job was the day ICBC president Paul Taylor resigned to take a private sector job. Taylor claimed it was not connected to a corruption scandal at the auto insurance monopoly's research center. Dozens of high-end cars damaged in auto crashes were bought by ICBC employees. Vehicle histories weren't disclosed in public sales. At least one vice-president under suspicion has left his job. The RCMP is investigating.

    Vancouver Briefs…

    Smokers have fewer places to light up after a new B.C. law came into effect March 31.

    Restaurants and pubs can no longer offer indoor smoking rooms or allow smoking on outdoor patios. Smokers must be three meters or more from open windows, doorways or air intakes. Retailers cannot display tobacco products where they can be seen by minors. Hospitals, recreation centers and schools cannot sell tobacco.

    LG Electronics is the new title sponsor for of the FIS World Cup snowboarding tour in a new deal that also benefits team Canada. The South Korean cell phone and HD TV giant announced the deal, which will last at least a year, at the Canadian Snowboard Nationals on April 4 at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver. LG also donated $10,000 to the Canadian snowboarding team. Athletes have had to pay their own transportation bills since Honda did not renew its contract for this season.

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not attend the Beijing 2008 opening ceremony, but he doesn't support a boycott of the Games. Harper told reporters at the NATO summit in Bucharest on April 3 that he has other commitments this summer. He didn't say who his replacement would be. "I would continue to urge China to respect human rights and peaceful protest, not just in Tibet, but everywhere," Harper said.

    With reporting from Bob Mackin in Vancouver.

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