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Going for the gold

by Stephen Lautens

January 29, 1999

It seems that Canada can compete with the best of them at the Olympics - with only one exception.

We'd be lucky to get the bronze when it comes to bribing Olympic officials.

Bribery just never caught on as a way of life in Canada. That gives us a real handicap competing with other countries when it comes to greasing outstretched palms.

For example, our own Olympic bribery scandal just doesn't measure up.

Last week it was revealed that the Ontario Government gave the Finnish IOC member's husband a job in 1989.

Now was this a cushy office job with long lunches and a jet-set lifestyle? No.

According to former Ministry of Natural Resources managers, Olympic Bid team leader Paul Henderson recommended Bjarne Haeggman for a job looking at trees.

Did he at least give him a spectacular penthouse to live in? No.

The 1996 bid committee rented him a house in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. A nice town, but not the sort of place that makes a dazzling bribe.

I almost forgot - we also bought them a couple thousand dollars worth of furniture. From Ikea no doubt. With the quality of our bribes, we probably made them put it together themselves.

That's my point. We Canadians are no good at offering bribes.

Other countries dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars, lavish gifts and even scholarships for their kids.

Jean-Claude Ganga of the Congo is accused of accepting over $200,000 in goodies and cash.

If the Congo's vote is worth that much, how do you think our nickel-and-dime efforts stack up elsewhere?

So to help out our Olympic Bid Committee, I thought I'd make up a list of typically Canadian bribes we could offer. You know - the kinds of things that would make our hearts beat a little faster if someone offered them to us:

  • Autographed copies of Anne Murray's album "Snowbird"
  • A night of bar-hopping with Preston Manning.
  • Thirty-seven dollars in Canadian Tire money.
  • Two hundred and fifty Airmiles (enough to get you to Moose Jaw, but you're on your own to get back).
  • Copy of the Directors Cut of Anne of Green Gables, where she drives off the cliff with her lesbian lover.
  • A frequent user card at The Second Cup with seven boxes already punched.
  • A night of passion with Shiela Copps (cannot be combined with any other offers from Hustler magazine).
  • Coupon for a season of complimentary drycleaning to remove the winter salt stains from your pant cuffs.
  • Alanis Morrisette will ironically sing "Happy Birthday" at your kid's next birthday party.
  • Free late return of "Titanic", and no extra charge for not rewinding.
  • Contract to model long johns in next year's Bay catalogue.
  • Complimentary car battery boost.
  • Tickets to the Glass Tiger reunion concert.
  • Any three islands north of the Arctic Circle.
  • Guest appearance on the Mike Bullard Show.
  • Free haircuts by the guy who does the hair of every separatist politician.
  • Gillian Guess' home phone number.

I'd like to see the IOC turn down any of these great bribes.


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