Let's give it up, Toronto: this is getting downright embarrassing. Not that anyone is counting, but this is the fifth time in the past dozen or so years that we have set our sights on hosting a prestigious international event. Each time, we've been hauled down to earth with a thud. This year, Toronto was supposed to be bidding for the 2015 World Expo. It had made two previous attempts, for the 1998 and 2000 world fairs. And a lot of hoopla and raised expectations went into the bidding for the 1996 and 2008 Summer Olympics. The latest escapade, however, was by far the most humbling. By all accounts, we couldn't even get an official bid through the fax machine in time. And this with the Paris-based technocrats at the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) deigning to stay late by the phone. What went wrong? Politics, of course. The BIE requires national governments to guarantee that they will cover the financial losses of world fairs. But under Canadian policy, provinces are supposed to provide the backup. In the final days before the deadline, there was talk of a deal between the federal government, the province and the city. But at the 11th hour ('So, what is the area code for Paris, anyway?'), the big brothers suddenly developed cold feet. The bold new Conservative government in Ottawa hid behind a tight-fisted precedent set by its despised Liberal predecessor, while the provincial Liberals played pass the buck. Neither of them cared about Toronto because, in crass political terms, neither of them cares about Toronto. Canada's biggest city is, electorally, taken for granted. Those who seemed most upset about the aborted bid were the Parisians. According to the grapevine, the BIE wanted a strong Canadian contender, and winner, to help lure the United States back into the world's fair business. Whether the security-conscious Americans really want the whole world dancing merrily to their doorstep, or even to a nearby locale like Toronto, is not at all clear. In any event, ordinary Torontonians appeared to be treating the junked bid with a collective shrug. Even Mayor David Miller, in the midst of a re-election campaign, chose other targets to flail at. Civic boosters are not happy with this turn of events. They have long wanted to have some international recognition of Toronto's rightful place in the universe - if only to show that the city is in the same league as its more exotic rivals. Montreal hosted Expo '67 and the 1976 Olympics, while Vancouver will hold the 2010 winter Olympic Games. For some reason, that fact that almost 100,000 worldly souls arrive every year - to start a new life in Toronto - is not seen as recognition enough.