Magazine article Canadian Dimension

White Snow, White People, White Lies

Magazine article Canadian Dimension

White Snow, White People, White Lies

Article excerpt

Renaissance thinker Michel de Montaigne once remarked, "Mistrust a man who takes games too seriously; it means he doesn't take life seriously enough." Thankfully those brave protestors who disrupted a ceremony marking the three-year countdown to the Vancouver Winter Olympics haven't read Montaigne. They realize that the Games are serious, as they will impact life in Vancouver for a long time to come.

I've never been a fan of the Winter Olympics, quite obliviously the preserve of the rich: rich countries and rich people. It's not only the snow that's white every four years--it's the athletes and spectators, too. Most of the world's citizens have neither the weather nor resources to train athletes for competition in what should be called the Games of the Global North. And, while the poor can run, play soccer, or box with the best of them, they won't have access to the ski hills of Whistler or the bobsled runs of Western Europe.

Vancouver's Games will be particularly exclusive--not only the events themselves, but the impact this spectacle will have on the city. As critics have warned, the Winter Olympics threaten to place a massive burden on the public purse, a burden that will be paid with cutbacks to social services and further dismantling of an already fragile B.C. welfare state. This will happen despite the "social" rhetoric that accompanied the organizing committee's sales pitch to the B.C. public. They promised benefits for the broader community, poor and rich alike--business for some, housing and jobs for others. But Vancouver 2010 is shaping up to be the Games of white snow, white people and white lies.

For the business elite and their friends in provincial government, the Games are about selling Vancouver as a competitive city, a home for capital and investors of the Pacific Rim. …

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