Although Canada is sending one of its smallest summer games teams in decades to Greece, COA officials had plenty of excellent citizen-athletes from which to choose a flagbearer. Triathlete Simon Whitfield, the amazing hurdler Perdita Felicien, or – my personal choice – wrestler Daniel Igali.
Instead, they chose judoer Nicholas Gill.
Sure, he’s going into his fourth Olympics. But what clinched it for Gill, of course, is that he’s a Quebecer. And, as always in this country, the decision was made with both eyes on Quebec. It has since emerged that Gill voted Yes in the 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty, after years of receiving federal money to help him train. He’s on record in interviews as saying that he feels more like a Quebecois than a Canadian.
Fair enough. But you’d think that he’d at least have the guts to say “No Thanks,” and hand the flag duties over to someone less cynical. Instead, Gill now dismisses his support of Jacques “money and the ethnic vote” Parizeau’s secessionist dreams as a youthful flirtation, and in today’s Globe and Mail, he laughed it all off by saying: “I haven’t even voted since 1995.”
Wonderful. Much better. Instead of actively trying to break up the country, Gill now brags that he can’t be bothered exercising the easiest, most basic requirement of citizenship. This, from a guy who has been living off federal money for over a decade so that he can basically play sports. What a terrific role model, such a fine exemplar of Olympic ideals.
If COA officials had any sense, they would immediately hand the flag over to someone a little more deserving, a little more respectful of the benefits of living in this country. Like, say, Daniel Igali, who was so happy, so grateful, that when he won an gold medal in the last Olympics, he danced a ring around the Canadian flag, bent down, and kissed it.
Of course, unlike Nicholas Gill, Igali doesn’t think citizenship is a joke. That’s why he’s spent the last four years raising money to build a school in his home town of Eniwari, in Nigeria. He’s raised $250 000, and got another $200 000 from CIDA. Construction is underway, but he still needs $100 000 for computers and other supplies.
Those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation to the project can make cheques out to “Daniel Igali School Project” at:
Revenue Generation Department
2255 Carling Ave., Suite 500
Canada K2B 1A6
CUSO will automatically issue tax receipts for cheques or donations over $5.00.