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Christy Clark’s $150,000 Yoga On A Bridge Cancelled After Widespread Backlash

Premier’s Insistence On Holding It On Burrard Street Bridge Was Called Dumbest Government Decision!

Clark’s insistence on holding a $150,000 Yoga event on Burrard Street bridge is being called the dumbest decision of her government, drawing criticism from all corners, even from children’s entertainer Raffi, as well as from the Indo-Canadian-Punjabi community, which is showing furious opposition to the Yoga event taking place on June 21, the International Day of Yoga. It was also revealed that the holders of the event, Lululemon and AltGas, have donated generously to Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal fundraising for a total of $36,785.

VANCOUVER– Premier Christy Clark’s mass Vancouver yoga event on Burrard Street bridge cancelled after widespread public backlash.

Clark’s insistence on holding a $150,000 Yoga event on Burrard Street bridge is being called the dumbest decision of her government, drawing criticism from all corners, even from children’s entertainer Raffi, as well as from the Indo-Canadian-Punjabi community, which is showing furious opposition to the Yoga event taking place on June 21, the International Day of Yoga.

It was also revealed that the holders of the event, Lululemon and AltGas, have donated generously to Clark’s Liberal fundraising for a total of $36,785.

The decision to ax the June 21 Om the Bridge event came shortly after Premier Christy Clark announced on Twitter that she wouldn’t be attending.

“Yoga Day is a great opportunity to celebrate peace and harmony – it’s not about politics,” she said.

In a subsequent statement to media, the premier thanked the event’s sponsors – which included retailer Lululemon, a major contributor to the BC Liberal party – for organizing what she described as a well-intentioned, inclusive event.

Clark lamented that the focus of Om the Bridge had drifted toward politics, “getting in the way of the spirit of community and inner reflection.”

First Nations groups said the planned event was disrespectful because it would have coincided with National Aboriginal Day, while watchdog group Integrity BC voiced concerns the BC Liberals were essentially giving Lululemon free publicity.

Clark pointed out that it was the United Nations that designated June 21 the International Day of Yoga, and said she’s pleased that both it and National Aboriginal Day will be celebrated at separate events across the province.

“B.C.’s greatest strength is our diversity. I hope June 21st will be about celebrating the best part of us all,” she said.

Lululemon and YYoga, a local chain of yoga studios, had already announced they were backing out as sponsors before the province made the official cancellation.

Critics had been brutal against Clark, saying given there are cut backs for schools along with a growing deficit so to use taxpayers’ money to waste on this idiotic event on a bridge is just plain stupid.

Yoga is great and there are plenty of beautiful and peaceful sites in Vancouver such as Stanley Park that could hold this event at no cost.  If attention is what they want, one frustrated Punjabi commentator suggested, they should take this event to Wreck Beach.

“This whole thing is basically a free ad for the Liberal party’s political backers at taxpayers’ expense. At the very least, Clark’s corporate sponsors should pay the entire bill, not stick it to taxpayers…It’s insane to shut down a critical piece of transportation infrastructure for a taxpayer-subsidized commercial for the Liberals’ political patrons,” wrote the Province newspaper.

What made the Burrard Bridge stunt even more infuriating is that Clark could have endorsed a wonderful series of community yoga events for free, wrote Province columnist Michael Smythe.

Nirmala Raniga, founder of the Deepak Chopra Addiction and Wellness Centre, was asked by the government of India to organize free events on June 21 to mark International Yoga Day.

About a month ago, she approached B.C.-government-operated Robson Square about holding an event there.

“We were told, ‘Yes, the space is available’ and we were so excited,” said Raniga, whose renowned Squamish centre uses yoga to help people recover from addiction and trauma.

“But then we had trouble getting further information,” said Raniga, whose group was prepared to rent the square and hold the free event with no taxpayer subsidy.

“Finally we were told there was a conflict with another booking.”

What Raniga didn’t know was that the government was busy organizing a competing yoga extravaganza, this one using taxpayers’ money and backed by two corporations that bankrolled Clark’s Liberal Party, Smythe wrote.

Lululemon just posted a quarterly profit of nearly $48 million, sending its stock soaring. AltaGas made $96 million profit last year.

Surely these wealthy corporations could come up with the 150 grand instead of sticking poor old taxpayers with the bill?

“Just so you know, the premier insisted on the event,” Vancouver city councillor Kerry Jang told an angry constituent, who shared the email exchange with Smythe.

Jang said city staff tried to convince the government to hold the yoga event in a park, but the government refused budge from the Burrard Bridge venue.

“Everyone tried to wave the province off,” Jang told Smythe. “But they kept insisting and insisting on the bridge.”

Mayor Gregor Robertson was briefed on Clark’s yoga idea in May and the city approved the event on June 4.

But city officials were notably absent from Clark’s news conference, and staff told Smythe Robertson will not attend the Burrard Bridge yoga class on June 21.

Why? Because Robertson will attend events marking International Aboriginal Day instead, avoiding Clark’s wastefully misplaced priority, Smythe wrote.

Clark drew harsh criticism from First Nations groups, who feel it’s disrespectful to hold the big Yoga event because it coincides with National Aboriginal Day.

To make matters worse, On Thursday Clark tweeted a photo of herself in front of a Tai Chi Centre, with the caption: “Hey Yoga Haters- bet you can’t wait for international Tai Chi day.”

Within minutes Twitter users started firing back at Clark’s tweet, wondering if it was actually sent by Clark. Others felt the joke was insensitive and insulted First Nations.

“I have lost all respect for you,” wrote Deborah Baker.

Raniga, who’s holding her community event at the Plaza of Nations now after the Robson Square venue fell through, said there’s room for everyone’s yoga mat. (There are free community events in Victoria, Surrey, Squamish and at UBC, too).

“Yoga is a journey of healing,” Raniga said.

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