Remaining Rational on the Olympic Discussion

August 12, 2018

Last month, City Council approved the question and the date of the Olympic Bid plebiscite. On November 13, Calgarians will be asked the question, “Are you for or are you against Calgary hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?”, and residents will have the option to choose either “I am for Calgary hosting” or “I am against Calgary hosting”.

As far as I am concerned, the question is fair, valid, and without bias. 

There has also been a discussion on whether the vote is binding or not. Under Alberta law, no plebiscite question is binding. Section 236(1) of the Municipal Governance Act currently reads “a council may provide for the submission of a question to be voted on by the electors on any matter over which the municipality has jurisdiction”, and Section 236(2) “A vote of the electors under subsection (1) does not bind council.”

However, to suggest that Council won’t accept the results of the votes is ridiculous. Personally, I will honour and respect the results of the plebiscite, regardless of what they are. As an elected official, it is my duty to do so.

On the question of the Bid Corporation and perceived biases. As many of you are aware, Mary Moran was named the CEO of Calgary 2026. I’ve had the pleasure of working directly with Mary through my time as a Council’s representative on Calgary Economic Development’s Board of Directors. Mary is one of the most trusted, capable and skilled Calgarians, and I know she will be able to deliver accountability and transparency to the Bid process and beyond.

Last week, a false claim was made by another Councillor in the Calgary Herald that Scott Hutcheson, the Chair of Calgary 2026 and Mary Moran served on the Board of Calgary Economic Development’s Board together. In fact, this was never the case, and the Calgary Herald pulled the story. But this incident highlights the banality and callousness of the tactics some opponents of the Bid have resorted to. Others have criticized the perceived “compensation” Moran is set to receive for leading the Bid. As of this moment, it is my understanding that no contract has been signed. Therefore, the details of Moran’s compensation are speculative. 

I will not allow Moran, one of the most capable and accomplished Calgarians, to be the victim of a character assassination by those who refuse to remain rational and fair on this debate. Furthermore, I caution those on Council to allow the Bid Corporation and our own Council committee to do their jobs, as we must trust they will do their jobs right. 

Finally, there are some rumours that certain Councillors want to kill the Bid before it goes to a public plebiscite in November. This a preposterous idea. Money has been spent on the process so far. To drop it all before the public is given the right to have a say reeks of cowardice and malpractice. Given the public interest on the topic, and the potential legacy a Bid (and successful Games) could give the City, I reject the very idea of dropping the plebiscite. At the end of the day, the plebiscite must go on. As I’ve said before - I will honour the results of the vote, regardless of what they are and I demand the same from my fellow Councillors - as should you.

An editorial in the Calgary Herald this week finished with the following quote: “There is no upside to small-mindedness and pettiness”. I couldn’t agree more.

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