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S'enregistrer au Flux RSS Le Sénat du Canada
Blog > International > Harper: $875,000 for a fence in 2007 is good, but $5.5 million in 2010 is better!
Jun 11

Harper: $875,000 for a fence in 2007 is good, but $5.5 million in 2010 is better!



Public Safety

Security at G8 and G20 Summits

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

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

I think I am having a déjà vu. In 2007, the government began its experiment with so-called good financial management at the summit in Montebello. A fence surrounding the summit site cost $875,000, or nearly four times its market value.

Honourable senators, according to La Presse, the fence that will surround the G20 summit in downtown Toronto will cost $5.5 million. I am sure Canadians are dying to know why the fences from the Quebec City and Montebello summits are not being reused. According to the minister at the time, those fences were to go into storage.

Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us how many more millions of dollars have been budgeted to add to this fence? In order to provide absolute security to the heads of state, does the government intend to install an electric fence, trenches, searchlights, German shepherds, gate houses and barbed wire? I would like to know whether this fence is part of the government’s action plan or part of the G20′s security.


Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, summits are very expensive, especially in this day and age with the security threats that all governments face, and we are hosting back-to-back summits, the G8 and the G20.

With regard to the use of the fence, I am not certain whether any of the fences that were used previously are being put to use now, but there is obviously a large area that must be fenced off. The fact is that we have between 10,000 and 12,000 people coming to Canada to attend the G8 and G20 summits, more people than the number of athletes who attended the Olympics, with a security level much higher because many of the world’s leaders will attend these summits at the same time.

There is obviously a significant cost, but there is not a single security expert in the world who has criticized the government for the extreme measures that are being taken to secure the safety of our world leaders, their delegations and the large contingent of international media that will be attending as well.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I remind the leader that the World Trade Center disaster took place in 2001 and I am talking about a fence in 2007. I suppose if there was a threat, we would know about it.

To be more specific, when did the leader’s government file a request for the proposal for the fence? Who established the specifications? Who selected the supplier? Could the leader tell me the origin of the fence? At Montebello, the main supplier was from Alabama, to the great amazement of Canadian entrepreneurs who asserted they were able to supply the same product at four times less the price actually paid.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, we could get into trivial arguments about fences, but there is a significant difference between Montebello and where the summit is being held in downtown Toronto.

In addition, and I continue to point this out, the G8 and the G20 are back-to-back events. The security measures are being taken by the government on the recommendation of our public safety and security officials. We have outstanding public servants, outstanding police and outstanding experts on whom we are relying. Surely no one would suggest that the government should question the advice and the direction we are getting from security experts who are trained and skilled in this area. Surely no one would want us to question their advice to us when such important meetings are being held in Canada.


It is a chance for Canada to showcase this wonderful country to the world. Surely no one is suggesting that we take measures that in any way would jeopardize the safety of world leaders, their delegations and our other guests.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Since the leader belongs to a government that insisted, supported and drafted the accountability bill, at least she will understand why we hold them to account on these principles.

I would like to quote someone who has written about the G8, because the minister seems to attach a lot of importance to it and the fact that we spent several hundred million dollars for that event.


Today in La Presse, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner — who is not new to politics — had this to say about the G8:

Too much money is spent on these things. Billions of dollars is too much.

France’s top diplomat thinks the G8 is bound to disappear.

It is a meeting. We push some paper around and then we leave.

How does the government justify such an expensive tab for the event in Huntsville and why is it going beyond the expectations of the other heads of state?


Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am aware of the comments of the French foreign minister. These summits are expensive. I read his comments. He was talking about summits in general. That is how I interpreted what he said. I said in this place a couple weeks ago that it is true that these summits are very expensive. However, with the summit about to take place, we cannot be questioning security officials. The advice that we are getting with regard to what they are saying must be followed in order to provide security for the world leaders and for these large delegations that accompany them.

However, I can understand the French foreign minister’s concern, because next year France is hosting both the G8 and the G20 summits. When I saw his remarks, I did not take offence because he is realizing, as we are, that to host these meetings is hugely expensive. One would not expect any government to take shortcuts or question the advice that government is receiving from the people who are skilled in the areas of intelligence and security. That is what we are doing; we are taking their advice. Not one single security expert has told the government or suggested, either privately or publicly, that we are not taking this matter seriously. We will do everything possible to provide security for our guests.

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