July 01, 2006

I'll Stop the HRM Games, Because I Know What's Good For You

A few months ago, I posted my thoughts on my hometown's attempt to win the right to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. During that discussion, I mentioned a professional-looking anti-bid website called Halifax No Way, and another, um, less professional one called the Stop the HRM Commonwealth Games Site (or perhaps it's called "Index," I'm not quite sure).

The proprietor of the latter is one Bruce DeVenne of Lower Sackville. Mr. DeVenne found my blog and left a couple of comments to my post, which you can read for yourself. Our conversation continued by e-mail, and was quite civil, but I don't think that I managed to change his mind one iota. Mr. DeVenne continues to sing a one-note tune about the cost of hosting the Games. I've already expressed my thoughts on that argument, and I'll leave it at that.

Recently I paid a visit to Halifax No Way to see what was new in the anti-Games camp. From what I had seen before, they had presented a balanced view of the risks inherent in the bid, and fair criticism of the bid process.

Unfortunately, Halifax No Way is off the air. I was intrigued, though, by this disclaimer on their front page:

Take Note: The owners of this site are not associated with Bruce DeVenne nor do they support his effort to block Halifax from winning the bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth games.

Oh. I thought these were Mr. DeVenne's allies?

A little digging turned up more of the story. Mr. DeVenne has been frequenting (and I mean frequenting) at least one Scottish message board. This thread starts off with Glaswegians happily anticipating their own city's bid; Mr. DeVenne chimes in on about page 10. Soon thereafter, he's joined by several pro- and anti-bid voices from Nova Scotia, and the Scottish audience is treated to a debate on the merits of the Halifax bid.

Mr. DeVenne's strategy seems to be to undermine the Halifax bid by providing ammunition and encouragement to Glasgow's supporters. He posts quite a bit of material arguing in favour of Glasgow, and lots that is derogatory (although completely public as far as I can see) about the Halifax bid. He also ends up arguing quite a bit in opposition to the idea of hosting, period, which might undermine his goal, but I guess he can't entirely keep his true opinions to himself.

Now, I don't have any problem with people who think that Halifax cannot or should not host the Commonwealth Games. As I argued before, I'm not saying that it's a slam dunk — all I want is an argument that is framed in the proper terms. And if Mr. DeVenne thinks that he can convince his fellow citizens not to support Halifax's bid, well that's his right. The people of Halifax have the right to choose whether their tax dollars should be used to pursue this adventure.

But every opinion poll that has been conducted so far has shown overwhelming support for the bid. Mr. DeVenne's own on-line petition against the bid has garnered only 135 signatures, and there is no telling how many of those people are really on his side — as he told me himself, "The pro side has some people who aren't the brightest bulbs on the tree they are filling in pro games messages in the comment boxes but then voting to kill the games. People have to learn to read what they are signing."

This is all a bit hypocritical coming from a man who likes to portray himself as the little guy fighting city hall. In the absence of significant bid opposition from the public, he's decided that he'd better take matters into his own hands — the majority be damned. He'll stop the HRM games one way or another, because he knows what's good for us … I guess even better than we know ourselves.

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