The fired former head of the Toronto Pan American Games says his controversial expenses, including a 91-cent parking charge, were simply "the cost of doing business."
Ian Troop, in his first interview since he was ousted in December, 2013, said there are reasonable explanations for all the expenses, which also included dress shirts from Harry Rosen and a wine tour. He also defended his record as TO2015 CEO, saying the organization saved tens of millions of dollars under his leadership by keeping venue construction costs under budget.
Pan Am organizers have written a letter formally exonerating him of any wrongdoing, saying none of his expenses were "improper."
"You're not putting on the Bobcaygeon summer fair here. This is a major international event with 10,000 athletes and officials," Mr. Troop told The Globe and Mail. "You've got this major discussion around 91 cents, good or bad. And yet the fact we saved $50-million in the Games budget … that barely gets a mention. We've got to have a balance around the fact that while we're chasing the ants, we don't let the ocean liner steam right in front of us."
Mr. Troop said he incurred the parking charge when meeting with a Niagara Region mayor to discuss Pan Am events in the area. He ordered the dress shirts, emblazoned with TO2015's logo, so he and fellow officials could give the Games higher visibility when they went to public events. The $109 wine tour was a social event organized for the spouses of visiting Pan Am officials, part of TO2015's entertainment obligations, he said.
A Pan Am organizers' letter, dated Jan. 29, backs up Mr. Troop's contention: "TO2015 is not aware of any improper expenditures made or authorized by Mr. Troop that violated TO2015 expense policies."
Pan Am chair David Peterson said the organization wrote the letter at Mr. Troop's request after the latter felt he had been unfairly maligned by current Pan Am officials, who have implied that his expenses were inappropriate. Mr. Peterson said Pan Am also believed Mr. Troop might sue them if they didn't issue a clarification.
"People picked up the wrong impression of him, and we wished Ian no ill will. We wanted to clear up to his satisfaction," Mr. Peterson said in an interview.
The issue, he said, was a matter of optics, and Pan Am has subsequently tightened its rules on expenses: "Sometimes these things happen and someone can make you look like a monkey. So you try not to, even if you're not breaking the policies, you try not to make yourself look like a monkey."
When Mr. Troop was fired 14 months ago, government sources said he and Mr. Peterson, who had taken over as Pan Am chair just three months earlier, had clashed behind the scenes.
Mr. Troop today says Mr. Peterson ousted him because he wanted to "put his own stamp on things." Mr. Peterson, a former Liberal premier, came in at a time of political volatility, with Premier Kathleen Wynne running a minority government and facing repeated attacks by the Progressive Conservatives over Pan Am spending.
"David brought a very different style, and I think that the real politicization of the Games increased dramatically in a very volatile time of provincial politics," Mr. Troop said. "There was a degree of sensitivity around how these Games were going to be viewed by Ontario and, with a minority government, how they will either help or hurt re-election hopes for Wynne."
He described Mr. Peterson as "demanding," but declined to go into detail.
Mr. Peterson would not offer any specifics on what he and Mr. Troop disagreed on.
"You don't understand because you don't know enough about it," he said. "I'm not going to get into the details of the discussion."
He said Mr. Troop's firing had nothing to do with the expenses scandal.