06.17.2010 10:58 AM

The Economist on the G-Billion

A loonie boondoggle: Ostentation in a time of austerity

Jun 17th 2010 | Ottawa

FOR all his gifts as a political tactician, Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister, may have miscalculated how much Canadians want to pay to host the G8 and G20 summits from June 25th to 27th. As the government struggles to close a large budget deficit, it is spending C$1.2 billion ($1.2 billion) to host the world’s leaders-60% more than Japan, the previous record holder, coughed up for the G8 gathering in Okinawa in 2000.

Mr Harper points out that Canada is holding back-to-back summits-doubling the cost, he says. The government also notes that it can hardly be blamed for providing airtight security. It has built a steel fence around the woodland cottage resort at Muskoka that will receive the G8, and deployed special forces on overtime to lurk in the water and surrounding forest.

But critics counter that Mr Harper could have saved money by inviting the G20 to Muskoka as well, rather than receiving them separately in Toronto, 200 km (125 miles) to the south. Moreover, they note that much of the budget has gone on items of dubious utility and taste. The prime minister has become the butt of jokes for commissioning an artificial lake, complete with mock canoes and recordings of the call of the loon, for the G20 summit’s media centre-which sits just yards from the real Lake Ontario. In Muskoka taxpayers are on the hook for a refurbished steamboat that won’t even float until the summit is over, and new outdoor toilets 20km from the meeting site. So much for small government.


  1. Tceh says:

    But you have to admit this entire G8/20 situation has enourmously boosted the election chances of Tony “Slushy” Clement, King of the Pork Barrellers.


  2. J. Coates says:

    Why do we keep electing these idiots?

    More importantly: why don’t the Liberal shut them down and enable a general election.

    Heck, I could even see the Liberals winning a an urban Calgary seat.

    • Joseph says:

      Because the Liberals keep electing even bigger idiots to run against him 🙂

      • Michael Bussiere says:

        Right. “Idiot” is the first word that comes to mind when describing a Harvard professor and award-winning author of nearly 20 books. Not to mention the son of one of Pearson’s closest friends.
        Shame that such a guy gets called an idiot for not being a template politician who is comfortable with cheap tactics and shallow lake….er, theatrics.

  3. Michael S says:

    I suggest a theme song called “Fake Lake” with lyrics that go with the theme from “Grape Ape”.

  4. Wannabeapiper says:

    Now that he is the host, I hope Harper shows up on time!

  5. Nasty Bob says:

    Funny how the current PM ( with an econ degree no less) is constantly being criticized for his financial stewardship by said mag while the little guy before him ( I guess that really should be- the little guy before the guy before him) constantly earned praise for consecutive balanced budgets and paying down the debt.

    Oh how I long for the days when moose wore sunglasses !

  6. Robbie says:

    Profligacy untrammeled, taxpayers money spent without heed or restriction. Regardless at what level of government this occurs or which party does it, it is wrong and unethical. Not sure even Tim Powers, the legendary and immortal icon of all that is decent in conservative messaging, can put any spin on this putrid mess. I say that as a disappointed Conservative voter. I’ll admit the party warrants all the criticism it is getting.

  7. MississaugaPeter says:

    Sub 30% for Harper in 2 weeks. And nothing changes.

    Arrogant minority government. And nothing changes.

    $1B photo op not repaid for many, many years (after compound interest, maybe $2B). And nothing changes.

    On another note: WK, did Harper stop paying off Bourque? I know you probably don’t visit him anymore, but for a number of days he was suggesting 85% of the contracts were untendered.

  8. abe says:

    Canadians should be reminded how much 1 billion dollars actually is and what it could otherwise get you. For example, if I am understanding the quote below correctly, the Cons are spending in two days what is costs to finance the war in Afghanistan for a whole YEAR.

    “Canwest News Service was able to disclose in April 2008 that the yearly incremental cost of the war would top $1-billion for the first time since Canada?s military became involved in Afghanistan in 2002”.

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