Public money, private players: The Coast uncovers the paper trail of where $8.5 million in public money was spent by the Halifax 2014 bid committee. by Tim Bousquet
This article first appeared in The Coast, on March 13, 2008.
A year ago last Saturday, Halifax’s Commonwealth Games bid collapsed in acrimony. Politicians pointed fingers at each other and the public demanded answers. But everyone involved in the bid—provincial, federal and municipal officials, and the executives they placed in charge—kept mum, and refused to say what happened to the $8.5 million in public money that went into the aborted Commonwealth Games pursuit. Citing “privacy concerns,” officials attempted to seal the record forever by locking up the documents and denying all requests for full disclosure.
That’s how it works here in Nova Scotia. On the one hand, government officials have more or less accepted that how they directly spend money—the details of a road paving project, or who waters the plants in City Hall—is a matter of public record. We can simply ask for an accounting and usually a nice clerk will provide the details we seek.
But when government officials want to keep information away from the public, they shuffle millions of dollars into a quasi-public agency that works by different rules. In this case it was an organization called Halifax 2014, which started as a self-appointed group of local businessmen but in early 2006 expanded to include appointees from the city of Halifax, the province and the Canadian Commonwealth Games Association, a federal agency.
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