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S'enregistrer au Flux RSS Le Sénat du Canada
Blog > Economy > Security Costs at G8 and G20 Summits
Jun 10

Security Costs at G8 and G20 Summits

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

A few days ago, I heard a French news report indicating that the total cost for the G8 summit held in Deauville cost French taxpayers just under C$30 million. Compared to the numbers listed in the Auditor General’s report on the G8 and G20 summits that we received this morning, our figures seem to defy both logic and a key Conservative value, which is prudent fiscal management.

Let me put the numbers of both summits into perspective. First, according to the Auditor General’s report, the projected cost of security at the G8/G20 summits was $509.9 million. This number is 17 times as much as the total cost of hosting the recent G8 summit in Deauville.

Furthermore, the cost of hiring an extra 700 police officers, mainly from Quebec, cost the federal government $7 million. This number represents close to 25 per cent of the total costs of the G8 summit in Deauville.

Third, the Canadian G8/G20 summits hired a total of 20,000 security personnel to ensure the safety of all those in attendance. Compare this to the French who, under the orders of the Minister of the Interior, requested the use of 12,000 military and police officers to protect dignitaries from the increased threat of terrorism due to the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the suicide bombings in Marrakech. Who or what, besides black flies, poses such a serious threat to our national security?

Based on these numbers, can the leader explain how the Conservative government defines and applies the concept of accountability — a bill that is so dear to them — and what justifies these excessive costs and why they differ significantly from those of our close G8 partners?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I wish to thank Senator Hervieux-Payette for that question. The honourable senator is relying on media reports and only a portion —

Senator Mitchell: No, we are not — the Auditor General.

Senator LeBreton: — of those reports because, as honourable senators know, the G8 was held in Deauville, France, but the second element of these summits is still to take place, the G20, which will be held later this year in France. The honourable senator is comparing a portion of the cost as reported in the newspaper to the actual event that we hosted last year where we held the combined meetings of the G8 and G20 back to back.

As the honourable senator will recall, when the decision was made to add the meeting of the G20, the government relied on the advice of security experts. It was very important that we protected all participants at the G8 and the G20 and all of their guests, which numbered in the several thousands. There were estimates done at the time. I remember questions in this place based on the estimated cost, which as the Auditor General has reported is significantly less than the budgeted amount. That was understandable because of the speed with which the departments had to work up budgets in order to accommodate the two summits. The RCMP oversaw the security expenses and has publicly stated that the final cost will come in well under budget.


Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I would like to get back to the subject of security. As honourable senators are aware, hundreds of students, including many from Montreal, were arrested — they were probably the only ones capable of threatening the security of dignitaries attending the G20 summit.

Now that time has passed, could the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate how many of these terrible protesters who were arrested were convicted of a criminal offence, and what was the cost of the court proceedings?


Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I cannot answer definitively with regard to the actual charges. However, I will get that information for the honourable senator.

Again, it is hindsight where one can say only the protestors created the problem. We live in a dangerous world. As the host country, we had a lot of responsibility not only for the leaders of the G8 but then the expanded G20 and their delegations, which involved many high-profile public and business leaders representing the various countries.

As we know, the majority of the costs for the G8 and G20 were for security. As I have indicated, it will be coming in under budget, as the RCMP has reported.

With regard to the honourable senator’s specific question respecting charges and follow-up, I will take that question as notice.


Senator Hervieux-Payette: By way of comparison, the government can refer to the figures for the Olympic Games, an event that lasted three weeks, attracted a record number of visitors and cost only one-fifth the amount.

I read in the Auditor General’s report that we must ask some serious questions about the government’s transparency and its ministers’ accountability. We are talking about the riding of the former industry minister, Tony Clement, which benefitted from generous investments of close to $50 million for which the Auditor General is still trying to find the link to the G8 and the G20. The conclusion of the Auditor General’s report clearly summarizes the multiple issues related to this summit. She says:

In our view, the manner in which the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund was presented did not make clear to Parliament the full nature of the request.

If this does not constitute obfuscation, then I do not know what does.

By including the request under the item “Funding for the Border Infrastructure Fund relating to investments in infrastructure to reduce border congestion,” the government did not clearly or transparently identify the nature of the request for funding — that is, G8 infrastructure project spending.

She adds in paragraph 2.23:

We could not conclude on project selection because documentation was not available to show how projects were chosen. We found that Infrastructure Canada set up mechanisms to administer the contribution agreements to provide funding for the 32 approved projects. The Department examined the 32 projects to ensure that they met the terms and conditions of the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund and that agreements were made in accordance with government policy. Infrastructure Canada maintained project records and established project management frameworks.

What measures will the government take to improve transparency? When will Tony Clement be held accountable? In reality, he should resign as President of the Treasury Board since he clearly showed that he is managing taxpayers’ money in a non-transparent, ineffective and partisan manner, and that he is a risk to our country’s economic future.


Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator was not doing badly until her last comments.

We fully accept the recommendations in the report of the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund, which is a different question from the one concerning security at the G8 and the G20. There is no doubt that the report identifies areas for improvement, and the government will strive to respond to these areas.

It is important to note that the projects that received funding through the legacy fund ultimately reflected the priorities of the municipalities. These projects were put forward by the municipalities and approved by our government. Every dollar that was spent on these projects was appropriate and every penny has been accounted for.

1 comment

  1. alex cramer le 14 juin 2011 à 19h59

    Thank you Senator for exposing the waste in the cost of Security for the G8-20 summit in Canada last year.
    even if one has to include another $30 million for the G20 summit which is to follow in France, the total cost is $60 million not $500 million or $1 billion ( as the media reported last year) moreover even with this ridiculous cost the police did not prevent youths from breaking shop windows and looting- it was a bit like the Stanley Cup riots of Vancouver and Mtl. the police should have had a prescence all over the city and if they saw the anarchists congregating they should have been able to radio for reinforcements who should have come in buses and vans.
    Moreover the police and CSIS should have some of their young members infiltrate these organizations to find out what they are up to. if the Okrana,the Czarist secret police could do it a century ago why is CSIS so stupid- they should also be infilrtaing extremist Islamic groups,too.

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