In early 2010 the Vancouver Organizing Committee put up a nine-foot chain-link fence around the Olympic Flame—a barricade better suited to a minimum-security prison, critics claimed, than to an international celebration.
Maybe VANOC knew what it was doing. Such is the conclusion to be drawn from the rioting that erupted on June 15 after the Canucks' 4--0 loss to the Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Allegedly egged on by what Mayor Gregor Roberston identified as a small group of "anarchists," bands of overserved, deeply disappointed hockey fans pillaged the downtown area, shattering windows, looting department stores, flipping and torching parked cars. No one died, but 150 people—including nine police officers—were injured.
These riots were more serious than the unrest that erupted following the Canucks' Game 7 loss to the Rangers in the 1994 Cup finals. Then, as now, it was shocking to see mob violence take hold in Lotus Land, as the rest of Canada refers to this (allegedly) enlightened, warm-weather enclave.
The combination of smartphones and social media that enabled citizens to flash images of the ongoing riot around the globe may well be used by law enforcement to identify suspects. That's the hope of furious Vancouverites. "I'm so proud of my city," said singer Michael Bublé, who launched an ad campaign encouraging citizens to turn in rioters. "It's crushing to have a legacy like that tarnished by some losers."
The wanton acts of a few have been overtaken by the selflessness of many. Facebook pages were set up to mobilize volunteers for the cleanup. More than 10,000 people pitched in. Last Saturday morning The Bay—a department store that had been looted—held a pancake breakfast to thank the volunteers. They may live in Lotus Land. But they're still Canadian.