Few Olympic freebies for local politicians

Local politicians have not climbed on board the Winter Olympic bandwagon, unlike their big-city counterparts in Vancouver.

While that city is spending thousands on tickets for its employees and politicians, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are not spending a penny to allow staff or politicians to go at public expense.

“As for the district buying tickets, speaking for one, it’s just not on,” Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said Tuesday.

The topic hasn’t even come up at council, he pointed out.

Daykin is going to a hockey game, though – as a guest of B.C. Lotto Corp.

The same goes for Pitt Meadows staff and council.

Mayor Don MacLean said staff may be buying their own tickets and attending Olympic events, but none have been provided by Vanoc to the city, and the city hasn’t bought any, either.

“It hasn’t been discussed at any level.”

MacLean even doubts he’ll be going to any Olympic events, unless someone offers him a ticket to buy. “I’m not a big fan of crowds.”

Government Liberal MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission Marc Dalton, who’s bilingual, said it’s still possible he could be asked to act as a host to take foreign guests to an Olympic event. He’ll likely be doing that for a least one cultural event.

But it’s unlikely he’ll be doing that for any sports events as the Feb. 12 start of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics approaches.

The B.C. government last fall bought about $900,000 worth of Olympic tickets for hosting purposes to ensure government members had enough tickets to invite guests, such as ambassadors or foreign politicians, for official purposes.

But Dalton has yet to be offered any and he hasn’t asked for any and said last fall most of those will go to cabinet ministers.

However, he is buying two hockey tickets from a friend for about $100 each to see Germany and Latvia face off.

Dalton said hosting makes sense and that the government will give a full accounting of how it used its tickets later.

Opposition MLA Michael Sather isn’t attending any Olympic sports events.

He’s enthusiastic about the Games, but when he sees $1 billion spent on security when there are so many human needs, he’s left feeling ambivalent about the Games.

The B.C. Liberals are cutting back on vital funding for mental health services, children’s sports programs and Special Olympics, and then spending close to a million dollars on Olympic tickets, he said in a news release last fall.

Maple Ridge MP Randy Kamp hasn’t received any freebies either.

He has, however, bought two tickets to curling from his daughter.

Kamp said the federal government bought some tickets and offered them for sale to MPs, but he doesn’t know who is going.

The Olympic Torch relay will pass through Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows on Day 102 of the relay, Feb. 8.