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Montreal Olympics: Judge blames Drapeau

Montreal's unforgettable '76 Olympics had more ups and downs than a high jump competition. From out-of-control financial disasters and controversial political boycotts, to Nadia Comaneci's "perfect 10" and Canadian high jumper Greg Joy's exciting final jump — Montreal's Games had Canadians on the edge of their seats. CBC Archives looks back at the 1976 Olympics: their preparations, their competitions and their continued impact on Montreal.

It took the Malouf Inquiry almost three years and $3 million to determine responsibility for the astronomical cost overruns of the '76 Olympics. But the verdict is now in, according to this report from The National. Judge Albert Malouf has concluded that Jean Drapeau is largely to blame. Malouf's report says the Montreal mayor commissioned excessively complex facility designs; he failed to appoint a project manager; and he gave too much freedom to Olympic Stadium designer Roger Taillibert.

In contrast, the report takes it fairly easy on Robert Bourassa's Liberal provincial government - much to the chagrin of the new premier, René Lévesque. Lévesque's government was the driving force behind the inquiry. He had hoped Malouf would lay more of the blame on Bourassa, Lévesque's predecessor. But Malouf concluded that the provincial government had little control of Olympic preparations at first, and that Bourassa stepped in to try and fix things as soon as he could. 
. In 1973, Drapeau stated that the Olympics would cost $310 million. By the time the Games were over, costs had soared to more than $1.5 billion.
. The Malouf Inquiry was initiated by Lévesque's provincial government in 1977. Numerous people were called on to testify, including Drapeau, former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa, and French architect Roger Taillibert.
. The 908-page Malouf Inquiry report was finally released June 5, 1980.

. In addition to blaming Drapeau as the primary culprit, the report was also highly critical of:
. COJO (Le Comité organisateur des Jeux Olympiques, or the Olympic Organizing Committee)
. the Canadian Olympic Association
. Olympic architect Roger Taillibert
. the construction workers and the contractors who hired them
. a political system that allowed municipal authorities to act independently, without another body keeping things in check

. Drapeau responded to the Malouf Inquiry's conclusions by claiming that he was just a scapegoat. He said the report showed "great ignorance of the technology used in the Olympic installations." He believed the report downplayed what he thought were the real problems with Olympic costs - inflation and labour strikes.

. Although many Montrealers were angry about the high costs of the Olympics, that didn't stop the city's citizens from re-electing Drapeau in 1978. He remained mayor until 1986, when he resigned due to health problems. He passed away in 1999.
. In a 1996 Montreal Gazette article, Drapeau confessed that his greatest regret about the Olympics was that too many people associate the Montreal Games with "waste of money" rather than "the spirit of Olympism as I had hoped."
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: June 5, 1980
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Chris Johnson
Duration: 2:17

Last updated: May 24, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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