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Obviously it will be great to have a leader to rally around in Parliament after we pick a leader in December, but it hasnt affected our ability to be a strong opposition party.
Pique: As the Olympic critic, have things been moving along according to plan at the federal level or are there some issues of concern for you?
BW: Its moving along, but I have to say were really dragging our feet on (the Olympics), there are some important milestones government is refusing to move past. One example, obviously, is the $55 million in federal funding the federal government has to put forward to match the provincial government (for increased facility costs).
The Premier (of B.C.) is a strong supporter of the Olympics and (Conservative MP) David Emerson and the Conservatives have refused to make an announcement on whether or not the feds will come to the table and live up to our commitment.
The last Ive heard is theyve hired a consultant to review the process, but with the financial statements that VANOC has prepared it was not a surprise that the costs associated from the 2002 (Olympic) budget are different than the costs to date. I applaud (VANOC CEO) John Furlong for keeping the costs contained where they are; theyve done a good job keeping it down to $110 million (in additional construction funds). We really dont see the need for the Conservative government to review the file again with a consultant when the minister responsible and his staff can review the numbers and quickly come up with a determination.
Pique: Are there any other Olympic issues outside of the additional funding that VANOC has asked for? For example, are we doing enough to fund sports?
BW: Thats a big issue right now, but the secondary issue I see myself getting into in September and October, when we get a little further along, is reviewing how environmentally-friendly and sustainable the Games really are. Its one thing to say theyll be the greenest ever, but its another to actually deliver on that.
When we get back to the House in September I will require more documentation from the government as to what steps were taking to make the Games sustainable. Its getting to that time when we have to move beyond the rhetoric and deliver some concrete results have we done the geothermal portion, can we put solar panels over there or building cisterns to capture rainwater, are we building these facilities to LEED standards?
One of the issues Ive been pushing is the pilot project from B.C. Transit to put 20 hydrogen powered fuel cell buses in Whistler during the 2010 Games. Its a $90 million project, 50 per cent from the provincial government and 50 per cent from the federal government, and once again the province seems to be a lot farther along in coming on board with this than the federal government. Ive written letters about this plan to the appropriate ministers, sent what information I could, and Im waiting to see what the answer will be.
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