Ontario Premier stands behind big bonuses for Pan Am Games execs

Ontario Premier stands behind big bonuses for Pan Am Games execs

It is hard to defend some $7 million worth of bonuses set to be claimed by executives behind Toronto's 2015 Pan Am Games, but points to Premier Kathleen Wynne for trying.

The revelation that massive balloon payments are available to some 64 already-well-paid top executives who stay in their contracts through the end of the Games and manage to stay on budget fell like a ton of bricks earlier this week, landing squarely at the feet of the political opponents of the government hailing the upcoming event as a victory.

Considering Wynne had previously shown distress over various expense claims made by the same gang — things such as $1.89 Starbucks coffee and fancy Blackberry covers — surely she'd have something to say about six-figure bonuses. CEO Ian Troop, already making $390,000 per year, is in line for a $780,000 bonus, for example.

Apparently, Wynne sees it is simply the cost of doing business.

"We may think it's out of whack in terms of comparing it with other endeavours," she said Monday, according to the Canadian Press.

"But the reality is we were competing for multi-sport games with other jurisdictions around the Americas, and that's the structure we put in place in order to be able to compete and draw the Games here."

[ Related: Wynne defends Pan Am Games bonuses ]

The defence of the bonuses goes like so: It is the cost of doing business. The Vancouver Olympics used similar payment structure, as did previous Canadian events, in order to ensure high-talent executives stayed with the organization through the end of the Games. Having a key player leave for a better offer midway through the planning stages could be disastrous.

There may be is something to that argument. Big multi-sport Games are difficult to organize. With so many moving pieces, the schematics are hard to imagine. But the size of the potential payouts is enough to knock minimum wagers out of their seats.

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Remember, this is a government, albeit with a new leader, that attempted to spend its way out of a miscalculated gas plant strategy. This is the same premier who, just days ago, quietly gave $500,000 to a massive corporation to host a weekend-long event.

Here is that again, with details added: The Wynne government is giving $500,000 to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the $2.5 billion conglomerate that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, to help the company host the NBA all-star game in Toronto next year.

Practically everyone who analyzes or has an opinion on government spending vehemently opposed that payment as obscene, while Wynne defended it as part of what the government does to enhance tourism.

Now, some $7 million worth of performance bonuses are being dismissed as the cost of doing business.

The Wynne government will have to wear this one as well. It may be the cost of doing business, but they are the ones who decided to get into the business in the first place.

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