This one really got by me as the revelation to the world was made on January 28th, but since it has yet to depart on its luxurious, first class jaunt across country, comments, on the ‘Journey of the Torch’, are thus far, not behind the times. One has to be amazed only $31 million dollars have been earmarked for the production and handheld propelling of the torch, replete with iconic emblem, from ‘sea to shining sea’ and as yet venues unknown. As the news release has scant information on the exact route, it would be a shame if the Torch does not visit the shores of the third sea – Arctic Ocean – although maybe this is one of Vanoc’s penny pinching efforts or a lack of hardy volunteers willing to brave the northern icebox. Still, I surmise that organizing committee, together with a couple of well heeled sponsors; have no concern with the costs involved – a mere pittance of $2583 per person or $886 per kilometre – 35,000 kilometres seems overwhelming - to ferry the Olympic flame hither and yon. Before anyone points out the money comes from companies, might I remind everyone who purchases a Coca-Cola product pays for the trip and RBC will reduce the interest on savings to finance their share. And let us not forget, Vanoc’s share gushes straight out of the public purse – the old tax bag.
But alas, this represents only a partial accounting of the true costs involved in staging this world class spectacle: the tab for security was neglected for the initial cost analysis; therefore, add in the expense of innumerable members of the RCMP, provincial and municipal police for the over 100 ‘shining days’. Remember most of the hours involved will be at premium overtime and not even gas is cheap these days, even in Alberta. And don’t forget the politicians, with their retinue of staff, taking time off their rigorous duties to attend the functions as they pass through their individual bailiwicks. Opportunities for ‘photo bites’ do not always fall so easily into one’s grasp; and as such, cost takes precedence over fiscal responsibility. Of course, these additional expenses will not be considered Olympic debt, but simply written off as petty cash charges allotted from countless slush funds. Might I pass along a suggestion to VANOC? Since the torch relay falls into the realm of Olympic business, prevent anyone – under threat of fine or imprisonment – except authorized photographers and cinematographers from capturing the sights, sounds and glory of the pageant; and then, sell these items and memories back to the public under the Olympic banner to provide bonuses for the hard working committee members and blatant handouts to the IOC.