As the Olympic plebiscite nears, many Calgarians still worry the city could be stuck with a huge cost overrun for security.

It’s a false fear.

Overruns could be caused by nightmares we’d rather not think about — a planned attack from bad people via cyberspace, from the air, or on the ground.

That becomes a national security crisis, for which the government of the host country is clearly responsible.

It’s been that way for every Olympics, including Vancouver in 2010. Nobody has ever imagined a national government sticking a host city with runaway security costs.

“When something bad threatens to happen, security people do what they have to do,” says crisis expert Jim Stanton, who worked on both the Vancouver Games and Calgary’s G8 leaders meeting in 2002.

“It’s like war. If you’re in the army and you need 10 shells to fire, you don’t ask if they’re in the budget. The dollars follow the problem.”

And in this case, the dollars are federal.

But senior security people hate talking about details. They do not want public release of budget numbers, or staffing details, or overall strategic planning.

That’s one reason Ottawa has been so exasperatingly vague and contradictory.

Federal messaging, such as it is, went badly awry when Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan suggested Ottawa wouldn’t pay for any overruns.

But it’s not her business. She shouldn’t even be talking about it.

The duty lies with federal minister Ralph Goodale’s Public Safety department. It’s expected to reach a firm, signed security agreement with BidCo and the province next month.

There may be some comment from Goodale’s corner before Tuesday’s vote.

“It would certainly be nice if he said it, but even if he doesn’t it’s my clear understanding,” says Mayor Naheed Nenshi, referring to the Ottawa’s responsibility to cover overruns.

Don’t expect much detail from the feds, though.

“If the bad guys have any idea about …read more

Source:: Calgary Herald

      

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