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Blog > Economy > G20: How many millions for mosquitos?
Jun 10

G20: How many millions for mosquitos?



International Trade

G8 and G20 summits

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question has to do with the spending on security for Canadians during the G8 and G20 summits.

Every day brings a new list of items: $1.9 million for an artificial lake; $400,000 to restore a boat none of the delegates will board; a gazebo big enough for only half a dozen delegates; not to mention a $23 million arena that could probably hold all the journalists in the world, but where none of the activities are due to take place.

I question all these expenses for the security and well-being of the Conservatives and their international guests. To protect the dignitaries against the nasty Northern Ontario mosquitoes that could transmit all sorts of diseases like West Nile virus, how many thousands of dollars has the government included in its budget, in the name of security, to buy screens or mosquito nets, spray repellent and ointment to treat bites while these guests are in Huntsville?



Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, that is a typical question from the Liberals. Never let the facts get in the way of a pithy question. The fact is that the gazebo and the arena have little to do with the G8 and the G20. They are part of the Economic Action Plan infrastructure programs and were built with the stimulus, which, by the way, has worked.

In fact, the cases that the honourable senator mentioned are all projects approved under the Economic Action Plan and were built with funds contributed equally by the Province of Ontario and the municipality in which the facilities are located. Senator Hervieux-Payette can run around the country, and the next thing we know, there will be a hockey rink built in Quebec that she will blame on the G8 and the G20.

With regard to the marketing pavilion, the honourable senator knows full well there is no such thing as a $2 million lake. The marketing pavilion is where world media will be gathered, and it is no different than any other pavilion that has been built, whether it was at the Olympics or at the World’s Fair in China. The pavilion itself cost $2 million, and many of the features in it promote Canada. The actual cost of the so-called “lake” was $57,000. Those are all expenditures to promote Canada.

We are interested in showcasing Canada and pointing out to the world what a wonderful country we are.

Senator Mercer: You could have showed them a real lake.

Senator LeBreton: Before the Olympics, there were complaints about the torch run, the security, our pavilion, and then we got a complaint that the pavilion was too cheap because it was pre-fabricated and temporary. Then, to the great disappointment of those on the other side, I am sure, the Olympics turned out to be a tremendous success, a great success story for Canada, in which we won a whole bunch of gold medals. The G8 and the G20 summits will be a great success as well.

Senator Tkachuk: How many arenas were built in Quebec?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I have not seen any in my riding.

An Hon. Senator: How would you know?

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I go there every week.

The leader’s government is claiming that its fake lake will cost only $57,000. If we can at least clarify where the funding is being allocated, we will be making some progress. However, we must remember that the average Canadian income is only $44,000, and this Conservative government day after day is clearly living on another planet, preaching fiscal restraint but spending more than the average Canadian earns per year, according to Statistics Canada.

Moreover, turning to Canada’s Economic Action Plan that claims to invest in infrastructure and help Canadians find employment and stimulate the economy, I would like to know how many jobs the government has created in the fake lighthouse, the fake Canadian scenery and the fake lake.

Let me quote an editorial in The Globe and Mail:

Industry Minister Tony Clement may wish to view the lake as a “reflective pool” . . . but to many Canadians, it will be viewed as the perfect metaphor for the Harper government: shallow, artificial and costly.

When can Canadians expect the Prime Minister to show fiscal restraint and good governance when dealing with conferences as important as the G8 and G20, to stop thinking like Hollywood and acting from a script for movies or television, and to act in the interest of Canadians?

Senator LeBreton: Since the honourable senator is referring to newspaper articles, perhaps she could tell me whether the Liberal Party of Canada will take the advice of the lead editorial in the National Post this morning with regard to Pablo Rodriguez?

We all know that our job is to promote Canada, our tourism, industry and the country as a place to invest. This pavilion, which will have many visitors, will promote Canada, just as Expo 67 did, although we will not get into the costs of that event.

The honourable senator asked about jobs. According to Statistics Canada, 24,700 new jobs were created in May, the fifth straight month of job gains. Since last July, Canada has created almost 310,000 new jobs, and Statistics Canada has announced that Canada’s economy grew 6.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2010, representing the strongest quarterly rate of economic growth in a decade. With numbers like that, as economists have said, Canada shines.

The fact is that this marketing pavilion will attract people to Canada. The whole pavilion cost $2 million and the so-called lake cost $57,000, which is still $38 million less than the Liberals stole and gave to their friends in Quebec.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Would the leader tell honourable senators if she is happy with the unemployment rate at 8.1 per cent? We have not seen that for many years.

Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator had better check her facts. During the 1990s, the unemployment rate never fell below 9 per cent, except for one year, 1999. Unemployment at 8.1 per cent is a high rate. Much of it is because of the worldwide economic downturn, but when Canada’s debt to GDP ratio is compared to other countries’ debt to GDP ratio, we are shown to be in the best position of any country in the world. That is why the main thrust and purpose of the summit is the continuing growth of the economy and jobs.

At the same time, since these world leaders will be in Canada, we want to showcase our country to get people to invest in our country, which will create more jobs. We are proud of our country.

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