On the heels of hosting an extraordinary Winter Olympics, British Columbia Finance Minister Colin Hansen recently announced that “more than 800 new businesses were created Canada-wide as a result of the incremental economic growth stimulated by the 2010 Winter Games.” The BC Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Secretariat, an agency of the BC Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport, prepared the report on whose figures Mr. Hansen relied.
The BC Secretariat obtained the figure from a PricewaterhouseCoopers report on the Games released in November 2009 and reported on a Government of Canada website in which federal Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn and BC Minister of State for the Olympics Mary McNeil announced the results of the study.
Relying on PricewaterhouseCoopers econometrics, the number is theoretical – not actual – and no actual businesses could be shown to have been created.
Its one thing for economists to use models from which to base projections but it’s quite another for a politician to trumpet it as evidence as good public policy and point to a precise number of businesses being built as a result of hosting the Olympics.
Were it not for the astute reporting of Robert Matas of The Globe and Mail, 800 new businesses would be accepted as fact and relied upon by Olympics apostles when the figure is instead little more than an econometric estimate.