Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jean Drapeau's Personal Collection May Provide Clues to His Thoughts on Olympic Debt

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jean Drapeau's Personal Collection May Provide Clues to His Thoughts on Olympic Debt

Article excerpt

Former mayor Drapeau and the Olympic debt


MONTREAL - Before his death in 1999, former Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau repeatedly said he would respond to a report critical of cost overruns at the 1976 Olympics.

But Drapeau, who was 83 when he died, never did end up writing his reaction to the Malouf commission report, which said he "must assume the greater part of the blame" for the runaway costs.

But clues into how the late mayor might have responded may have been found in a copy of the four-volume document that belonged to Drapeau.

It was among the photo albums, letters and Drapeau speeches acquired by Christopher Lyons, the chief librarian of rare books at McGill University.

He says he was led to the collection by accident last September at a Montreal antiquarian book fair, where he first spotted a red photo album with pictures of the Olympic Stadium being built.

The dealer told him he had other items at his store from Drapeau's library, which had been sold by the family.

"That's where I saw a bunch of the other stuff I ended up acquiring, including things like the Malouf report with Drapeau's annotations in it," Lyons said in a recent interview.

He said it was the report's first volume, with a summary of the commission's findings that was the most heavily annotated.

"Multiple lines in the margins look almost like they were done angrily," Lyons said. "This looks like someone who is really reacting -- maybe even arguing wih the text."

Lyons said Drapeau, who was mayor between 1954 and 1957, and 1960 and 1986, underlined in either pen or or pencil the first part of the Malouf report which put the majority of the blame on him.

But the part where the city administration was blamed, Drapeau underlined that in red.

"I find that fascinating because I think it's the only part that's ever in red in the whole thing," Lyons added.

The librarian said the red highlighting suggests it was Drapeau's way of indicating the massive Olympic cost overruns were not all his fault.

The 908-page report pointed a finger at the City of Montreal's administration at the time. It focused on Gerard Niding, the then-Montreal executive committee chairman. …

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