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NDP MLA who proposed hosting Olympics pans games

It's Premier Gordon Campbell and Prime Minister Stephen Harper jostling to be front and centre at the Olympic opening, but it may be Delta North MLA Guy Gentner who deserves the credit, or blame. This according to a 1996 article in the Vancouver Province.

“Few will remember where or by whom the idea was first presented,” wrote Kent Gilchrist in a Jan. 4, 1996 sports section column. “Long forgotten will be B.C. Transit driver Guy Gentner of Delta, who wrote a six-page Olympic bid proposal way back in November of 1995 to get the wheels in motion.”

Gentner wrote the proposal for the Fraternal Order of Visionaries, a group of Simon Fraser University friends, before passing it on to Norm Lortie, then the NDP MLA for Delta, who brought it to his government colleagues, the column said.

The original proposal was to host the 2004 summer Olympics, though Lortie acknowledged it might have to be a later games. "Guy's a dynamic individual and I'm acting as a facilitator for him," it quoted him saying.

Observed Gilchrist, noting it was unclear how seriously NDP cabinet ministers were taking the proposal, “Just think how many more Johnny-come-lately types can get on board and measured for their blazers if the actual bid is for the 2008 Games . . . They'll be elbowing each other off the podium it'll be so crowded with self congratulators.”

Gentner was first elected as a New Democratic Party MLA in 2005. He delivered a response to the throne speech today that was highly critical of the B.C. Liberal government's management of the games, noting that it had gotten far away from the original vision for a low budget event.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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