The famous ski resort of Whistler, British Columbia boasts 8,100 skiable acres, 200 trails, three glaciers and 38 ski lifts, and now it’s the only Canadian municipality to be “twice prorogued” – at the local and federal levels.
Accountability and democracy are taking an Olympic-sized holiday for 3.5 months as Whistler’s mayor cancelled council meetings from December 15, 2009 to March 23, 2010. Not surprising, our elected officials will still be receiving their regular paycheques and perks such as free jackets and gold medal mens hockey tickets.
Canada’s Conservative government under Stephen Harper has prorogued Parliament until March 3rd for the Olympics and to avoid accounability over other matters. Interestingly, Parliament did not shut down for the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
That leaves the B.C. provincial government, but chances are they’ll be on holidays as well, as B.C.’s public sector employees are seconded to VANOC for the Olympics.
Vancouver and Richmond are still holding regular council meetings before and after the Winter Olympics.
I’m sure B.C.’s Community Charter doesn’t state that democracy can be suspended for this length of time. This pivotal matter did not require the approval or assent of Whistler’s electors. Neither did the hefty pay raise that Whistler’s municipal employees received this new year. But we all know that “whatever VANOC wants, VANOC gets.”
There were no riots on Whistler’s streets or infuriated letters to the editor, despite double-digit property tax increases over the next three years and the loss of our democratic rights.
In the absence of a sitting local and federal government, “who will look after the local civil and human rights violations and arrests that will occur during the Winter Olympics next month?”
The 2010 Winter Olympics will be the largest and most expensive security exercise ever to be held in Canada. There’s a strong possibility that our civil liberties and freedom of speech will be violated as the police and military forces protect corporate interests over public space.
Our elected officials will be too busy boozin’ and schmoozin’ with the IOC family and Internationally Protected Persons, and/or being driven around in their limos with their personal attaches to notice what’s happening outside.