June 29, 2010
The Honourable Vic Toews, P.C, M.P.
Minister of Public Safety
269 Laurier Avenue West
Dear Minister Toews,
In the wake of the extraordinary costs and numerous violent incidents surrounding the G8 and G20 summits over the weekend, Canadians are left shaking their heads and wondering just who is responsible for this mess.
As Canadians now know, Prime Minister Harper made the decision to hold the G20 in downtown Toronto – a decision that led to exorbitant costs and a nearly impossible security situation for police.
As you are well aware, your ministry coordinated security for the G8 and G20 summits, in close consultation with the Prime Minister’s department, the Privy Council Office. Despite spending nearly $1 billion on security – three times more than the security cost of any other summit in history – you were unable to contain violence and prevent damage. It is particularly shameful on your part to leave Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair to explain what happened when the structure put in place by your government – the Integrated Security Unit – was coordinated from the PCO.
Following the violence and the large number of arrests on the streets of Toronto, Canadians want answers on the security decisions surrounding the G20. In particular, the public is asking why Stephen Harper decided to hold the G20 in downtown Toronto, and how could the federal government have so badly mismanaged security preparations.
As the minister responsible, I would like you answer the following questions:
1. Before the decision was made by your government to move the G20 summit to downtown Toronto, what security advice did the government consider?
2. Why did your government ignore the advice of the City of Toronto to hold the G20 at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds, which would have been easier to secure and would have caused fewer disruptions to business?
3. Who designed the G20 security plan?
4. Who approved the security plan and the detailed expenditures for it?
5. Who was ultimately giving security commands during the G20 summit?
6. Did anyone on the political side get involved – directly or through PCO – in operational decisions during the summit?
Over the coming weeks, through the House of Commons National Security Committee, I intend to get answers to these questions. I welcome your response as soon as possible.
Mark Holland, MP
Liberal Critic for National Security and Public Safety