During today's Question Period, the Opposition spent plenty of time picking on the government's expenditure of $1 billion on security for the G8/G20 Summits.
It came to light that $1.9 million was being spent on an artificial lake inside the Direct Energy media centre at the CNE which will feature a fake dock and a huge television screen showing off images of the Muskoka area and that $20 million was being spent on "dancers, singers, fiddlers and flowers" among other wasteful expenditures like a $1.8 million upgrade to sidewalks in Parry Sound, Ontario, 100 kilometres from the G8 site (coincidentally Industry Minister Tony Clement's riding). Back to the fake lake for a minute; since Canada only has 60% of the world's freshwater lakes, I suppose it really is necessary to spend the money to build a fake one so those affiliated with the G8/G20 don't have to worry about all those nasty mosquitoes and black flies like the teaming, sweaty Canadian masses.
In searching the web tonight, I found this little gem on the Industry Canada website:
"The projects, which together represent nearly $1.3 million in new investments in the heart of Parry Sound, are part of the G8 Infrastructure Fund. The projects include:
- Upgrades to Seguin Street, including sidewalk and tree replacement, at a cost of $1.1 million; and
- Market Square Park enhancements, including a large welcome granite stone for Bowes Street, new lighting for the concert stage and improvements to the downtown banner displays, at a cost of $194,000."
For those of you that aren't familiar with Ontario geography, Parry Sound is located 70 kilometres from Huntsville where the G8 summit is to be held. This means that it is extremely unlikely that any summit attendee or media personnel will ever see the upgrades to Parry Sound. What is most interesting about this expenditure is that they took place in Industry Minister Tony Clement's riding. Coincidental? I think not.
Since the Prime Minister was out of the House today, it fell to John "Stephen" Baird to answer for the government and defend their position on the expenditures. He repeatedly noted (to the point that I threw up in my mouth listening to such obvious talking points) that 3000 media from around the world will be in Canada, giving our government the opportunity to:
“...showcase the very best that this country has to offer, whether it is in the great region of Muskoka or whether it is in a world-class city like Toronto. We are proud of that. We are excited about that. We look forward to welcoming the world to this great country.”
I know that the comments that follow may not be popular with my readers in the Toronto/Muskoka area and for that I apologize. That said, I'd still like to suggest that Mr. Baird needs to step outside Ontario once in a while; he might be surprised to find that there are many parts of Canada that are equally as beautiful as (and maybe even more beautiful than) downtown Toronto. Come on John, we're really not that scary out here in Canada's hinterland. Okay, maybe a bit scary but nothing that a pit bull like you can't handle with a few well-chosen and loudly spoken words.
...and despite his protestations about the value of the G8/G20 summits to our country, Canadians are still aghast at the idea that security for any 72 hour summit could possibly cost $1 billion. My bet is that when all of the bills for all of the expenditures on these summits are tallied in the end, the $1 billion spent on security is going to look relatively small.