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Accountability & Democratic Renewal

G8/G20 billion-dollar boondoggle: Update

Posted on June 22, 2010

OTTAWA – The job of government is to make intelligent choices. The Harper government should have picked one summit location for both summits that could be secured most effectively, at a reasonable cost. This is what the Chretien government did when they held the last G8 in Kananaskis in 2002. That, too, was held in a post-9/11 world, and yet it cost less than $200 million for everything.

As protestors take to the streets of Toronto for the G20 summit, we are reminded again of how the Harper government has mishandled this summit from the start. With the media now calling Canada’s largest city “Fortress Toronto” and “Torontonamo Bay,” it’s clearer than ever that the G20 should have never been moved to this location.

Here are some recent developments showing just how little the government thought about the repercussions of their decision:

Low threat of terrorism – The Harper government is blowing more than $1 billion of taxpayer money on security, even though, as the head of Canada’s spy agency said, there is very low risk of terrorism at the summit. Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told CBC: “I think [there is] surprisingly little on the terrorism front. We don’t think there is anyone who is really interested in doing any harm from that perspective.” So why are we spending $1 billion on security? Does it really cost that much to guard against protestors?

Tax collection office – Even the government’s own tax offices have to be closed during the summit. Bad news for anyone wanting to do their part in helping the government pay for the billion-dollar G8/G20 boondoggle – or help pay down its record $54-billion deficit.

Dress down – People who work downtown are being advised to stay home during the summit, but this is not feasible for many working Canadians. Thus, police are advising those employees who do go to work to “dress down.” According to a media report, they should “wear your protester-type clothes and leave your suits and pumps at home. The idea is to look, feel, smell just like a protester — whatever that may be.” (Toronto Star, June 18, 2010)

School closures – Thousands of parents are scrambling to find last-minute daycare options as eight downtown schools have been forced to close their doors Thursday and Friday due to the summit.