Politics is, after all, the art of the possible. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a sit-down interview with CTV's Brian Williams on Saturday night where he didn't commit to "Own The Podium" beyond the two years it has left to run, although he didn't outright shoot it down.
"Well, we're going to continue, obviously continue to support our world-class athletics," Harper said roughly halfway through the eight-minute talk. "I think nothing breeds success like success. So, I 'd be very surprised, notwithstanding all the economic problems out there, if you see loss of sponsorships."
Harper hit on the same "playground-to-podium approach" national sports minister Gary Lunn articulated earlier in the week. Granted, this was all said in the afterglow of three gold medals, but the Harper talked about the Games being a catalyst for the "greatest outpouring of patriotism I can remember since the (1967) centennial year." There's no economic impact model that can justify the outlay on Vancouver 2010, but that has an intangible benefit.
That includes, in the PM's words, the "range of icons" children now have to emulate and how "the country feels confident in all kinds of ways." Harper and his advisors surely knew one poll released Saturday shows that 72 percent of Canadians support an increased public investment for a program like the "Own The Podium."
Some of the PM's other comments, such as, "Now we're in a new league. We're going to be world-class competitors from now on" and, "The next generation is really all about being on top and staying on top. I think that's the challenge and I think we can do it," made one wonder what's in store.
Meantime, Harper's highlight of the Games, pending the hockey result? The short-track speedskating wins on Friday.
"That men's relay was the most exciting event I've ever seen in my life," he said. "I almost had a heart attack. It was electric. I watched it on TV later and while you guys do a great job, it doesn't convey the atmosphere in the arena."
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper
- Brian Williams