VANCOUVER, B.C. – Ottawa is defending its decision to award an American-based company the contract to build the Canada pavilion for the 2010 Olympics.
Gary Lunn, the minister of state for sport, said Illinois-based Exhibitgroup/Giltspur won the contract through a public tendering process, and that its Canadian division will do much of the work.
“This company won the contract fair and square,” Lunn said in an interview.
Giltspur, which is based in a Chicago suburb, has offices across North America and Europe.
It has more than 60 staff in Canada and an employee at the firm who didn’t want to be named said the bid came out of its Toronto office.
The $9.29 million bid was awarded on Nov. 17 and announced Nov. 23, according to a government website.
Lunn said the request for proposal went out on Oct. 14.
But Joyce Murray, Liberal critic for the Vancouver Olympics, said she was told bidders only had two weeks to put together their proposals for the pavilion.
She said some people in the industry complained the time period was too short and didn’t bother bidding, feeling the government already had a contractor in mind.
“That is a complete mismanagement of the federal government’s responsibility to put a great Canada pavilion together,” Murray said in an interview.
She also questioned whether an American-led firm is the best choice.
“When it comes to interpreting Canada’s unique cultures, heritage and values to the world, does (Lunn) really believe that an American firm is the best choice for the job?” Murray told the House of Commons Monday.
She criticized whether there was enough time to build the pavilion properly before the Games begin in February.
Lunn said there is plenty of time to put up the temporary structure before the Games start.
“We are confident we will have a great pavilion open before the Games begin,” Lunn said.
Ottawa said in September that it would invest about $10 million in a Canada pavilion at the 2010 Games.
“This pavilion will help to leverage the economic opportunities that come with hosting a major international event and it will promote Canada as an ideal business, investment and tourism destination,” the government said in a release in September.
Each province has its own pavilion at the Games.
British Columbia had previously suggested a joint federal-B.C. pavilion to save costs, but Ottawa said no.
“That was never going to happen,” Lunn said Monday.
“It’s tradition that the host country of any Olympics have their own pavilion. We’ve been working on this for some time.”