TARNISHED MEDALS Pan Am athletes’ awards come from Barrick Gold mines with bad track records

This article originally appeared in Now Magazine.

Barrick Gold is an official sponsor of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Games and the exclusive supplier of its first, second and third-place medals.

The company proudly noted the fact that it runs 14 mining operations in six Pan-American countries – including Argentina, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Peru and the United States – in the press release announcing its exclusive agreement with the Pan Am Games. “Like the athletes coming to the Games, our people across the Americas are committed to a culture of teamwork, perseverance and excellence,” says Barrick on the web page promoting its involvement in the Games. But just as the Games promote a false notion of unity between states, Barrick’s medals are, in fact, a product of the exploitation of communities across the Americas, including our very own backyard.  Continue reading

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Toronto Pan Am Games mascot has cost taxpayers $383,045 so far

This article originally appeared in the Globe and Mail.

The development and promotion of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games mascot has cost taxpayers $383,045 – and counting.

A Freedom of Information request filed by The Globe and Mail returned a spreadsheet of expenditures that spanned more than two-and-a-half years, covering everything from $26,862 for promotional stickers to $5,000 to license a song used as Pachi the Porcupine’s theme music. The largest expenditure was $134,550 to cover the wages of the part-time performers who wear the Pachi costume (there are 17 of them) and others who make up Pachi’s entourage during public events.   Continue reading

Premier Wynne defends bonuses for Pan Am execs

This article originally appeared in the Canadian Press.

Premier Kathleen Wynne is defending a $7-million bonus package for 64 executives organizing the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, saying it was necessary to avoid losing key personnel ahead of the event.

“We may think it’s out of whack in terms of comparing it with other endeavours,” she said Monday.

“But the reality is we were competing for multi-sport games with other jurisdictions around the Americas, and that’s the structure we put in place in order to be able to compete and draw the Games here. Continue reading

OPSEU protests outside Hamilton Pan Am soccer venue

More than 100 OPSEU member activists and retirees protested the slow pace of OPS contract negotiations and the threat to jobs posed by privatization outside the Tim Horton Field in Hamilton this past weekend. The stadium is the site of the Pan Am Games soccer competition.

The information pickets coincided with the opening soccer match on Saturday July 11, and the Canada-Brazil match the following day.

“$500 million on Pan Am Games but cupboards bare for OPS bargaining,” tweeted Region 1 vice president, Ron Elliot, who was joined at the protests with fellow Region 1 executive board members Len Elliott and Philip Shearer, and Region 2 VP, Deb Tungatt. Continue reading

OPSEU will take contract protest to Pan Am events OPSEU members are protesting Pan Am Games sites

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star.

Disgruntled provincial government workers are set to protest against the Liberal government at Pan Am Games events.

Angry over austerity measured imposed in the union and the privatization of their jobs, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, will be at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton on Saturday when Mexico takes on Columbia in women’s soccer, and at the Milton velodrome later in the week.

Continue reading

Pan Am Games over-spending billions, but it’s okay ’cause it’s public money

This article originally appeared on rabble.ca

If a group constructing a massive project for you set a budget of $1.4 billion, but later came back and said they were spending $2.5 billion, what would you do? Normally you would probably throw the whole team out the door, and perhaps sue them for the $1.1-billion overrun.

But in this case, the $1.1-billion overrun belongs to former Ontario premier David Peterson’s Pan Am Games organizing committee, and even though two officers were fired, expenses continue to climb. Continue reading

Fears of a Pan Am Games flop: Toronto faces empty hotel rooms, unsold tickets and angry locals

This article originally appeared in the Financial Post.

The mascot for the 2015 Pan Am Games, which open in Toronto next week, is a porcupine named Pachi. The porcupine seems an appropriate symbol. Many across greater Toronto have discovered that the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, like a porcupine, are an uncomfortable creature to embrace.

With a week to go, there are signs that these games, triple the price of the last Pan Am Games, will be an expensive flop — at least when looking at them through an unsentimental lens. It’s true that thousands of athletes will compete in the biggest sporting event in the history of Canada. And the games will give 1,500 accredited journalists a chance to describe the wonders of greater Toronto to viewers and readers from Alaska to the Caribbean and down to Tierra del Fuego. That’s one appeal. “This is a moment when Toronto will look its hot, sizzling, diverse best, and that will be broadcast back to viewers” across Latin America, says Andrew Weir, chief marketing officer for Tourism Toronto. Continue reading