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S'enregistrer au Flux RSS Le Sénat du Canada
Blog > International > The most expensive 72 hours in Canadian history!
May 28

The most expensive 72 hours in Canadian history!


Question period

Cost of Security for G8 and G20 summits

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

Canada is proud to be hosting the G8 and G20 summits, but I doubt it is proud of the Harper government’s spectacular ability to squander public money and run up deficits, which is one of the Conservative government’s bad habits. In the midst of a global economic crisis, the Conservative government plans to borrow — since the deficit already stands at more than $50 billion — over a billion dollars for a two-day summit.

I would like to compare the Conservatives’ so-called sound money management with the cost of past summits: $30 million for the G20 in Great Britain in April 2009; $110 million for the G20 in Scotland in 2005; $381 million for the G8 in Japan in 2008; and under a Liberal government, $190 million for the G8 in Alberta in 2002. The Harper government claims it needs to borrow $1.1 billion, with the interest. That simply does not make sense.

And security is just the beginning. The Conservatives’ favourite television network, CTV, has reported that on top of the $933 million — which seems a little short — spent on security, the government plans to spend another $161 million. The Conservatives have no reason to be proud of how they manage Canadian taxpayers’ money.

Can the Leader of the Government explain to us how the Conservative government has gone — in a few short weeks — from a spending estimate of $179 million to an actual expenditure of $1.11 billion, which will further increase our deficit?


Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. I read in the newspaper this morning what it cost for the G8 meeting in Italy. I hasten to remind the honourable senator that we are hosting the G8, and then backed right up against it is the G20 meeting.

Honourable senators, we have always stated that the final figure for the costs for the summits will be finalized after the summits are over. However, based on the best expert advice that the government was given and on a medium level threat assessment, we did in fact budget, as was stated on the record, $930 million for security. This amount should come as no surprise. It was already on the record that $930 million was budgeted and, of course, a few days ago a significant portion of this $930 million was accessed.


Canada, as we know, will host the world’s most influential leaders in June. The scope and magnitude of the security operations associated with hosting these two major summits back to back, as I mentioned, is unprecedented, and of course, it will represent the largest deployment of security personnel for any major event ever held in Canada.


Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I would like to point out to the leader that the difference between the estimated $179 million and $1.1 billion is $921 million, which is a 500 per cent increase.

Since the Conservatives are such good managers, it will not have escaped the honourable senator that with this borrowed $921 million, you could have continued supporting organizations whose funding you cut, such as the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and the FrancoFolies de Montréal — it is true that this has to do with culture; the gay pride festival in Toronto — it is true that this has to do with homosexuals; as well as the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women, the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women and the Réseau des tables régionales de groups de femmes du Québec — these are just women’s organizations.

Can the leader tell us how the Conservative government plans to improve the way it manages public funds, so that Canadians will not have to pay for its inability to control its spending? She might also ask the Auditor General to examine these costs and these funds and the advisability of committing them on Canadians’ behalf.


Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is incorrect in her statement. I have already said $930 million was budgeted for this event, so it should come as no great surprise that $800 million has been accessed for security at the summits.

Security is expensive. The experts we have to rely on base their assessments on low-, medium- and high-level security matters. We had a firebombing in Ottawa a week or so ago. Obviously, this firebombing has heightened the concern of security personnel. We will not allow thugs and lawless individuals to interrupt and disrupt the summit.

Senator Hervieux-Payette mentioned many programs that could have been funded from this money. We are hosting the summit. This event is something that is a reality. We must ensure the security of all world leaders who travel to Canada. However, if the senator wants to address what programs could have been funded in the past, she can ask herself what could have been funded from the $1 billion blown on the long-gun registry or the billion-dollar boondoggle at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, or the $40 million that went out the back door and we still do not know where it went.

We can address these specious arguments, but these monies were budgeted for the summit and, obviously, the safety and security of the world leaders attending the G8 in Huntsville and the G20 in Toronto are paramount. We must not sacrifice the safety and security of our summit. Unlike the Liberal leader, who said he is embarrassed by Canada, we are proud of Canada.

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