Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Bread Not Circuses Redux

If you follow me on Twitter, I apologize. I've been a total pain in the ass lately in my lonely effort to get Torontonians in particular and Canadians in general riled up about a proposed bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Though it's lonely work, I'm finding lots of interesting stuff. And today I found some stuff that is actually encouraging.

In 1989-90, Toronto's millionaire hucksters were really pushing to get the 1996 Summer Olympics, which were ultimately awarded to Atlanta.

Opposed to them was a coalition of women's groups, anti-poverty and housing activists, and labour unions. They called themselves the Bread Not Circuses Coalition.

It was led by Michael Shapcott, still a prominent housing advocate here, and supported, they claimed, by 300,000 people, including then-councillor Jack Layton.

Here's an undated archival recording from the CBC's Inside Track, featuring Shapcott, booster Councillor Kris Korwin-Kuczynski, and for some reason, "playwright" Rick Salutin.

There's a text summary at the link but the clip is only 8-1/2 minutes long and it's interesting, not least for the talking/whining points from Korwin-Kuczynski, which we will no doubt be hearing all over again in the near future.

That script -- jobs, tourism, phantom transit, feel-goodism -- doesn't change.

From the summary:

Toronto should try saying "no" for once. That's the opinion of Bread Not Circuses, one of the strongest anti-Olympic organizations in the world. The local group of anti-poverty activists is embroiled in an uphill fight to scuttle Toronto's bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Members argue that the money from the Games - short-term "economic steroids" - never makes it to those that need it most. The Inside Track examines the conflict between hungry markets and hungry mouths.

When Toronto lost the bid, anti-Games activists celebrated in an "Olympic-free zone" in the city's portlands, a location that would have become Toronto's Olympic stadium. [Canadian Olympic Committee President Paul] Henderson blamed the loss on Bread Not Circuses and left-leaning city councillors including Jack Layton (later leader of the federal New Democratic Party). Layton had made a point of publicly questioning the bid committee on social issues.

I happen to believe that the coalition was absolutely correct in its opposition but what stands out from this distance is what genius propagandists they were.

(Some say the "fix" was in for Atlanta, headquarters of Coca-Cola after all, but whatever.)

Some context: The greedy, corrupt IOC was still reeling at that point from the fiasco of the 1976 Denver Winter Olympics.

Never heard of them? Of course not. Because they did not happen.

It's a fascinating story of lies, skullduggery, and citizen opposition.

The usual Olympics story, but this time, as in Boston last month successful.

From the link above: "To this day, Denver remains the only city to reject an Olympic bid."

Yes, Denver had "won" the Games, then said "no, thanks." Innsbruck, which had hosted in 1964, had the facilities and stepped up to save the day.

So, even years later, the IOC was a bit jittery about citizen opposition and went so far as to meet with the Bread Not Circuses Coalition in Toronto.

Imagine that, fans of transparency.

Today, Los Angeles released its bid documents. Pretty snappy for a town that just got the word they were now US front-runners at the end of July.

Makes one wonder what was going on quietly behind the scenes.

And makes one wonder what's going on here.

Mayor Tory says he's still making up his mind, while supposedly consulting "community groups," a claim that would be more plausible if he hadn't broken his campaign pledge to make his schedule public. (Promise made in contrast to former Mayor Ford who had to keep his schedule secret because "doing crack" wouldn't have gone over very well.)

There is opposition forming here in Toronto. There's a website, a petition (now with over 250 signatures!!!!), and a hashtag, #NoTO2024.

We are small but growing, and feel honour bound to warn the IOC and local millionaire hucksters.

As before in Toronto, before in Denver, and very recently in Boston, the will, energy, and commitment of the people is discounted at some peril.

Previous DJ! posts:
Toronto Star and Olympics: Something Stinks

Toronto Councillors' Twitter Accounts

10 People on Twitter

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