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Olympic cauldron, now with spy camera

Nearly 1,000 surveillance cameras were installed for the 2010 Winter Olympics, which were held in February amid the backdrop of Canada’s poorest neighbourhood.

Security and poverty intersected again on Wednesday at the Olympic cauldron in Jack Poole Plaza.

While technicians installed a spy camera under the cauldron’s central burner, Downtown Eastside activist Robert Bonner passed the Poverty Olympics torch to Manchester, England anti-poverty activist Elizabeth Hogg. London hosts the next Olympics in summer 2012.

“With this torch I shall take it to London and pass it on to the next generation and hope that poverty will be history!” said Hogg, holding the decorated toilet plunger above her head.

Local anti-poverty activists held the satirical Poverty Olympics annually from 2008 to 2010 in the Downtown Eastside and organized a pre-Games tour of B.C. last January and February.

Hogg said if governments solved poverty and homelessness, they could spend less on security.

Vancouver 2010 was dubbed “the surveillance Games” by Queen’s University sociology Prof. David Lyon. The RCMP Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit had a $900 million taxpayer-funded budget and spent at least $30.5 million on 900 cameras supplied by Honeywell. Honeywell subcontracted some of the work to American military contractor Science Applications International Corporation.

Bob Mackin reports for 24 Hours Vancouver.

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