Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One flu into the VANOC nest

Turns out I was wrong today. Perhaps just premature.

Concord Pacific was not the newest VANOC sponsor. Instead it was Alda Pharmaceuticals which markets hand sanitizer and other products to kill germs. The public company, traded on the TSX Venture Exchange, signed on in the $3 million to $15 million official supplier category, but hasn't reported the precise nature of its deal.

Regardless, expect to see thousands of litres of T36 Antiseptic Hand Sanitizer throughout Vancouver 2010 venues. VANOC and Alda are hoping a little dab'll do ya in the effort to keep H1N1 from ruining 2010.

For Alda, it's an aggressive step forward and a bid to establish a brand by attaching it to the five rings. Like bottled water, most consumers think all hand sanitizer is the same. For VANOC, it's another way to replace the goods, services and dollars missing after Johnson & Johnson declined to extend its contract past the Beijing Games. J&J's product mix included hand sanitizer.

Anyway, I'll have another chance in the next week. Deputy CEO Dave Cobb says one more sponsor deal is waiting in the wings.

Which also reminds me, Helijet president Danny Sitnam told me in the spring that his company was talking with VANOC. Helijet, in its early days, was a sponsor of the Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games. It even featured mascot Klee Wyck the orca on some of its equipment.

So, let's see if it's Concord Pacific or Helijet.

Will #61 have an asterisk?

VANOC is poised to announce its 61st sponsor after the July 15 closed-door board meeting in its city hall-owned, east Vancouver headquarters. Like record-breaking New York Yankees' home run-hitter Roger Maris, a snowflake-shaped asterisk could be in play.

A VANOC news release said it is a company, that's about all we know. Many months ago I confirmed that developer Concord Pacific was in talks with VANOC. Concord vice-president of sales Grant Murray said so. When I asked VANOC deputy CEO Dave Cobb, he declined to talk about the negotiations.

Concord has land that VANOC needs in the vicinity of B.C. Place Stadium and GM Place. VANOC needs space for storage, staging, security and transportation. Concord is a real estate developer and cash is tight during a recession because building has slowed down. That's one of the reasons why Concord is renting space to Hockey Canada, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan for pavilions on its northeast False Creek property for Games-time. It's a privately owned live site, in competition with the City of Vancouver's.

So, could VANOC's newest sponsor be a straight in-kind deal involving no cash?

Concord would be the third major developer on the sponsor roster. Aquilini Investment Group, which owns the Vancouver Canucks and GM Place, and Millennium, developer of the troubled Vancouver Olympic Village, are also sponsors. Canadian Metropolitan Properties, which owns the Plaza of Nations, is in talks with VANOC, according to vice-president Daisen Gee-Wing. Gee-Wing, however, said the deal on the table is a straight client-supplier deal with no sponsorship involved.

Uncapping Bud

Mickey the Mini Queen, meet Chief Bud.

On June 5, RCMP Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit chief operating officer Bud Mercer was in Ottawa to become an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces.

The career achievement award was for “outstanding commitment and achievements in policing.” Mercer was among 13 RCMP employees so recognized. Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean, who will declare the 2010 Winter Olympics open on Feb. 12, pinned the medal to Mercer’s red serge.

Mercer was inducted to the order as “Asst. Comm. Gary R. (Bud) Mercer.”

Mercer is in charge of a $491.9 million RCMP-led security force for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver. Bud's budget is the biggest slice of the $900 million federal Olympic security pie.

Mercer took over in 2007 from Bob Harriman who apparently neither quit nor was fired. A fuss about the budget -- originally $175 million -- was not the reason why Harriman couldn't complete his mission. Nosiree. Nothing to see here. Move along.

So who is Gary Russell Mercer, the soft-spoken cop with a piercing stare and sometimes dry wit who prefers to wear a finely tailored suit when under the media eye?

Mercer’s rise to top Olympic cop came after working his way through the ranks of the RCMP in B.C. His career is Forrest Gump-like, in that he was party to some of the most controversial policing operations in British Columbia history. He joined the Mounties in 1976 and has worked from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Very little about Mercer is contained on the V2010 ISU website, but a lot about Mercer can be found on the Internet by searching for just 10 minutes.

I discovered he held the rank of Corporal on Sept. 23, 1996 when he was witness number 41 on day 44 of the Gustafsen Lake trial.

Fifteen people were charged and convicted after the month-long, summer 1995 Gustafsen Lake Standoff near 100 Mile House in the B.C. Interior. Shuswap natives rebelled after a rancher denied them access to land for their traditional sun dance ritual.

Notes taken by court observers indicate he was, at the time, a 20-year veteran of the force who was on the emergency response team since 1984. He also had 15 years experience as a dog master, in charge of a five-person dog team in the Fraser Valley.

Mercer was called to Gustafsen Lake as an ERT member and arrived Sept. 10, 1995. He stood guard while comrades laid explosives on a road for the planned explosion of a truck the next day.

As a Sergeant, he was witness number 117 on Feb. 9, 2000 at the Ted Hughes inquiry into RCMP conduct at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit of Nov. 24-25, 1997.

Mercer was part of the police operation at the University of British Columbia campus outside the Museum of Anthropology where Prime Minister Jean Chretien hosted leaders from around the Pacific Rim. Students gathered en masse to protest the presence of Indonesian dictator Suharto and Chinese president Jiang Zemin on their campus. Mercer participated in the arrest of student activist Jonathan Oppenheim and joined Sgt. Hugh Stewart in the infamous pepper-spraying of students.

Hughes found police did not give students ample time to clear before unleashing the spray. Hughes also said the weapon employed by "Sgt. Pepper" and Mercer was unreasonable. (Stewart, by the way, was part of the security detail at the 2001 Summit of the Americas in Quebec City and came out of retirement to act as a senior planner in the formation of V2010 ISU.)

During the summer of 2000, Mercer became a player in the War in the Woods. Then an Inspector, Mercer was accused in September 2000 by Friends of Elaho Valley anti-logging protester Dennis Zarelli of aggravated assault. Zarelli claimed Mercer used a pruning rod to cut ropes supporting a platform that held protesters 50 metres above the forest floor near Squamish.

A Justice of the Peace approved the private prosecution, but it backfired. The charges against Mercer were stayed because of video evidence. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein cited Zarelli for obstruction of justice on Dec. 12, 2006.

On July 26, 2007, the B.C. government and Squamish Nation announced the old-growth Elaho Valley was saved from logging.

On Oct. 24, 2007, Mercer -- then-Deputy Criminal Operations Officer in B.C. -- was announced as the new chief operating officer of V2010 ISU. He was picked by a federal and provincial committee, the RCMP and VANOC.

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