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  • Vancouver View -- Canadians Head to the Polls, Protesters Target Spirit Train


    Prime Minister Stephen Harper is likely to return to power following Canada's elections. (Getty Images)
     Canadians vote Tuesday to decide the composition of the nation’s 40th parliament. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to return to power, but likely with another minority government. It remains to be seen, however, how this new government will impact the 2010 Games.

    The economy has been the dominant issue in the race, with some projected Vancouver 2010 costs surging past original estimates. In the final days, Public Safety Canada minister Stockwell Day revealed a new $400 million-plus estimate for securing the 2010 Games.

    Protesters Attempt to Derail Spirit Train

    The Canadian Pacific Spirit Train ends its national promotional tour for Vancouver 2010 on Oct. 18 in Montreal. The 10-stop tour began Sept. 21 in Port Moody, near Vancouver, and has been greeted by groups of anti-Olympic protesters at every scheduled stop.

    More than two dozen protesters promoting native and homeless rights for Games’ host province British Columbia blocked railway tracks near Mississauga, Ont., on Oct. 12, hoping to delay the train’s arrival for an Oct. 13 stop near Toronto. One woman even chained herself to the tracks.

    Some of the protesters were from southern Ontario and Quebec’s Six Nations Reserve, which straddles the U.S./Canada border and is known as a hotbed for militant aboriginals. A two and a half month-long roadblock by Mohawk warriors in Oka, Quebec made international news in 1990 when the Canadian army was called to end the standoff. One Quebec provincial police officer was killed in a gun battle.

    Meanwhile, anti-Olympic protesters in Halifax, the largest city on the country’s east coast, claimed on a blog to have smashed windows at Conservative and Liberal party offices.

    VANOC Ad Monopoly Questioned

    The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) complained Oct. 6 to federal Competition Bureau commissioner Sheridan Scott about VANOC's $40 million plan to buy all available out-of-home advertising space from Vancouver International Airport to Whistler during 10 weeks in 2010.

    BCCLA said VANOC’s“explicit
    Cops chase a Spirit Train protester in Edmonton, Alberta. (ATR)
    attempt to monopolize advertising space” would break federal law by denying non-Games sponsors a forum for both commercial and political speech.

    “VANOC did not buy all the TV, radio, magazines or newspapers [advertising], therefore adequate forms of advertising still exist for other advertisers out there,” said Simon Fraser University marketing professor Lindsay Meredith. “VANOC has not cornered the market for advertising itself and its partners.”

    VANOC is contracting TransLink, Pattison Outdoor, CBS Outdoor, Vancouver International Airport and for use of advertising space from Jan. 12 to March 23, 2010 on billboards, bus shelters, transit vehicles and airport baggage carousels. Blanket buys are standard in Olympic cities to prevent ambush marketing by non-sponsors.

    UBC Researchers Conduct Impact Project

    Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) will conduct the Olympic Games Impact Research Project for VANOC.

    The study, which is receiving a $258,000 VANOC grant, will gauge environmental, social and economic changes regionally and nationally for the period of 2001 to 2013.

    The five-year study is led by Dr. Rob VanWynsberghe, the former chair of Games watchdog Impact on Community Coalition. IOCC gave VANOC a D-minus in its 2007 report card based on inclusivity, sustainability and transparency rankings.

    Surrey Olympic Venue Trouble

    The building promised by Vancouver suburb Surrey to VANOC won’t be ready on time.
    Mayor Dianne Watts announced on May 26 that Surrey would construct a $9 million taxpayer-funded community center for use as the Games Preparation Centre beginning in February 2009. VANOC needs 5,500 square feet for workforce training and ceremonies rehearsals.

    Construction is not expected to begin until the middle or end of November on a vacant lot in a rundown area of Whalley, leaving three months to meet the Feb. 1, 2009 deadline.

    With reporting from 
Bob Mackin in Vancouver.
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