Tired of political games

MIKE RUTSEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:55 AM ET

You'd think by now bid guru Paul Henderson would be used to disappointment.

Having failed to land past Olympic bids for Toronto, Henderson yesterday lost out when Halifax was picked as Canada's candidate to bid on the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Halifax beat out Hamilton, Ottawa and suburban Toronto's York Region in a unanimous decision.

"As usual, Ontario gets nothing because we play these arrogant, petty political games," said Henderson, who was a technical sports adviser for the York Region group. "Halifax deserved to win. They did a great job and they picked the right city."

While Henderson had high praise for the Halifax group, he had nothing but scorn for the provincial and municipal politicians of Ontario and Toronto.

"I think that York Region had a better technical bid and we have the hotels and are the only bidder with a big hub airport but as usual we shot ourselves in the foot," Henderson said, sounding more resigned than bitter. "Halifax, meanwhile, had great support. Their premier (John Hamm) was co-chairman of their bid, he was front and centre, totally supportive."

And the Ontario politicians?

"(Premier Dalton) McGuinty and (Jim) Watson (Minister of Health Promotion), their original letter they sent was just terrible," Henderson said. "They played politics against the federal government.

"And (Toronto mayor) David Miller refused to give us a letter allowing us to use Exhibition Place, even though it's a public place. He was playing petty politics. He believes the city stops at Dundas Street. Most of us do not think you need a passport to go north of Steeles (Ave.).

One of the centre pieces of the York bid was to have been the creation of a National Sports Institute and now that dream is dead.

"The real sad part is we really, really need a National Sports Institute," Henderson said. "Whether it be at Downsview airport, which the federal government promised five years ago and after five years hasn't even delivered the land, let alone the rest of it."

"Maybe we should stop trying to go after these games. Maybe we should forget about all the politics because we're very bad at it. They're playing petty pot-hole politics and that's what kills us all the time. We cannot play on the international stage and we should stop doing it because we just tear our guts out. The people that care a lot tear their guts out and the politicians kill us."

Four Canadian cities have hosted previous Commonwealth Games -- Hamilton in 1930, Vancouver in 1954, Edmonton in 1978 and Victoria in 1994.

The 2014 Games host will be announced in November 2007 in Sri Lanka.


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