Government Waste…Again!!

Blog - No Comments » - Posted on May, 30 at 9:43 am

From Greg Weston, Toronto Sun:

Today’s tour of the federal funny farm takes us to the department of talkathons and tear-gas festivals where no expense is being spared on the G8 and G20 summit meetings in June.

There we find government genius transforming a relatively fruitless gathering of international leaders into an historic billion-dollar boondoggle for Canadian taxpayers.

Let’s begin at the site of the planned G8 meeting in rural Huntsville, north of Toronto.

This is fabled Muskoka cottage country where a million bucks buys a piece of lakefront at least big enough for a tent.

Amid so much destitution, the feds have kindly dropped more than $50 million to spiff up the place for the seven leaders during their 36-hour yap and photo op with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

At least that was the idea.

Turns out, the one place all that money is not going is the only venue the leaders will actually see, the Deerhurst Resort where they will meet, eat and sleep.

In fact, most of the $50-million of improvements to Huntsville and construction of new “summit facilities” have squat to do with the summit.

Meet the local MP, federal Industry Minister Tony Clement.

Nicknamed “Landslide Tony” for his knack of winning elections by a recount, Clement has spent the past two years paving his riding in federal “summit funding” to a degree that has embarrassed even some of the locals.

For instance, Clement recently cut the ribbon for a spiffy $23-million community complex in Huntsville, officially renamed the Canada Summit Centre.

The former community centre was apparently gutted and is now sporting a new pool, an Olympic-sized hockey arena, new conference facilities, a seniors’ centre, pre-school facilities, and lots of other stuff certain to please local voters.

But “summit centre” it ain’t.

The leaders will never see the place, and even plans to house international media there during the summit were scrubbed when the government decided to keep journalists hundreds of kilometres away in Toronto.

Instead, Canadian taxpayers have shelled out $23 million for temporary desk space for summit bureaucrats, and a fabulous new community centre for depraved Muskoka.

It gets better.

Almost $12 million has gone into an apparently stunning new environmental research centre in Huntsville — for the University of Waterloo, located hundreds of kilometres away.

What that has to do with Harper’s meeting Barack Obama and six other leaders to discuss maternal health in Africa is anyone’s guess.

Ditto for the rest of Clement’s summit largesse: $2.6 million for a new park with soccer, track and tennis facilities; $1.2 million for a new fire hall; $1.8 million in paving; $250,000 for “beautification” of a hamlet outside Huntsville.

Toss in another $10 million in roads, bridges, landscaping and miscellaneous stuff in the riding — little wonder some locals have started calling their MP “Uncle Tony.”

The bad news is the $50 million so far showered on Huntsville — think of it as $1.4 million an hour during the G8 meeting — is a drop in the sea of red ink compared with what’s ultimately coming at taxpayers.

For a start, it doesn’t include the cost of security, a staggering figure the Harper government now admits will top at least $900 million for both the G8 and G20.

Which brings us to the nuttiest plan of all — hosting 20 world leaders smack in the heart of downtown Toronto the day after the G8.

There we can expect to find the largest security force ever assembled in this country, effectively barricading the downtown of the nation’s largest city against the inevitable onslaught of protesters and hooligans.

All that stinks won’t be tear gas — your thoughtful federal government has promised to compensate all businesses hurt by either of the summits.

Think about it: Close downtown Toronto, start tossing the tear gas, and just try to do the math on what it could cost taxpayers for every affected hotel, restaurant, bar, office, store, service — even cancelled baseball games at Rogers Centre.

By the time all the bills are in, calling this three-day windfest a billion-dollar boondoggle may be an understatement.

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