Ontario’s Liberal government has not been able to explain to the opposition the cost for security and transportation for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Michael Chan, Tourism and Sports Minister, has come under repeated pressure at Queen’s Park for not being able to provide the related costs.
“We don’t have a finalized number on that. Look at the Vancouver (Olympics), where they had one number come out on security and they had to revise it about four or five times, so I don’t want to speculate,” Chan stated after Question Period to reporters.
Chan has been consistent in not wishing to publicly speculate on the costs while at the same time lashing out at the Progressive Conservatives for stating that the security costs could exceed hundreds of millions of dollars. “Mr. Rod Jackson (PC Critic) mentioned a lot of numbers but to me those are rubbish numbers, fantasized numbers, because at the moment I don’t have a number,” Chan said.
Chan’s comments are a startling admission. Whether the government has developed an internal estimate and doesn’t wish to release it or doesn’t have a budget is “appalling and terrifying” according to Jackson. The PC MPP was critical of Chan in an interview with Loonie Politics in October stating “My high school prom had a more detailed budget than the Pan Am Games.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has stated that, “It’s another example of a government claiming it wants to be open and transparent and not doing the basics like letting people know what the costs are at the Games. You can’t claim you want to be transparent and open and then not provide figures and information when asked by the opposition.”
In addition to not knowing the security and transportation costs, the Minister has come under pressure for indicating that the cost for housing ($700 million) was also not included in the original $1.4 billion Games budget in addition to questionable claims by the Game’s executives who are eligible for a total of $7 million in bonuses.
All in all the makings of another boondoggle? Say Ornge, e-Health or gas plant cancellation costs? Not sure (yet), and the Minister isn’t providing any answers.
Based on Minister Chan’s performance in committee and in Question Period, Premier Wynne might be thinking that a change in portfolio may be necessary for Chan. The government needs to get a better grip on what is happening for the Games and Chan does not present confidence.
PC Rod Jackson agrees. “This is a minister (Chan) who doesn’t have a grip, is a disaster on this file, and he needs to step down.”