Friday, May 28, 2010

G20 budget madness and mayhem

Toronto is getting an early taste of the mindless vandalism that plagues large international meetings. One person has been arrested in connection with anti-G20 graffiti spray-painted by vandals on bank walls, windows and ATMs overnight. As many as six banks were targeted in the Spadina-Dundas and the Spadina-College areas.

Canada will be hosting a meeting of the leaders of the G20 countries at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on June 26 and 27, and, according to a report on the National Post’s website, the federal government does not plan to cover the bill for broken windows and other property damage suffered by homeowners and businesses as a result of protests attached to the G20 meeting next month.

When I first heard the summit would be costing Canadians over $1.1-billion, I was sure that enormous figure would have to include an estimate for compensation to homeowners and businesses who suffer property damage. But apparently not. How then can this meeting and the G8 in Huntsville together cost more than the $900-million our government estimated it spent on security during the whole 17-day Vancouver Winter Olympic Games?

“We are on track to host a safe and secure G-8 and G-20 summits, two separate summits back-to-back. Unprecedented. The cost is expensive but the security is worth it.”

- Public Safety Minister
Vic Toews, MP

This is patently absurd. The amount reportedly spent by Pittsburgh on security for last September’s G20 summit was $18-million. And London, England spent a trivial by comparison $30 million for the G20 last year. London is one of the worlds most expensive cities, how can we be spending 30 times more after only one year of inflation.

Let’s be generous and say we should spend ten times more than the Brits because we’re holding both the G8 and the G20. But no, our government plans to spend over 30 times London’s figure and does not plan to include compensation to homeowners and businesses who suffer property damage.

Even Public Safety Minister Vic Toews when appearing on CTV was hard pressed to defend the cost, saying instead that Canada has an obligation to make sure world leaders are safe while visiting Toronto and Huntsville. In other words, rather that explain the costs, he pretty well ducked the question.

This latest government billion-dollar boondoggle puts the Liberal’s long gun registry shenanigans to shame. When it comes to spending tax money, our guys in Ottawa don’t have to take a backseat to anyone.

Think about this: Ottawa plans to spend over $321-million on RCMP involvement at the summits; $262-million on what they call “public safety and preparedness;” $63-million on National Defense and almost $7-million on “others,” whatever that is. This sums to $834-million, an estimate given to CTV May 25. This figure is already out of date and more recent estimates are that the costs will exceed an eye-popping $1.1-billion.

According to the National Post, for $1.1-billion we could “…hire 2,500 [police] officers for five years, buy a million advanced Tasers, pay a year’s salary for 23,00 soldiers, procure a total of 366 LAVs or purchase five Black Hawk helicopters for every hour the leaders are yakking.”

Is this just a spectacular show if incompetence by some of our government officials or has our country lost its ability to get things done at a reasonable cost? Can our MPs be so divorced from the reality of Canadian life that they believe that this can be acceptable on any level? Apparently so.

During the next federal election campaign, when Tory volunteers go door-to-door canvassing for their candidate, how will they ever explain this one?


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  1. I predict that this wasteful nonsense will hurt the Tories very badly.

  2. I don't get the London and Pitsburgh numbers,
    of 18 and 30 Million.
    (2008) ''Japan spent an unprecedented amount on hosting the G-8 Summit.[102] Although a full accounting has not been announced, the estimated total budget was more than (¥60 billion) $285 million.
    The Times reports that the estimated cost of the Hokkaidō summit topped $285 million''

    And that's with 2000 G8 delegates.

  3. I share your opinion - it is absurd. How is it that London, the target of bombings in 2005, was able to host the G20 four years later and deal with 35,000 protesters for $30 million? How is it that the United States, the target on 9/11, has been able to hold the G8 and the G20 (twice!) without incurring costs that anywhere approach ours?

    Canada hosted the first G8 summit to take place after 9/11 - nine months later, in fact. As the summit had already been scheduled, I wonder what effect the events of 9/11 had on the budget.

  4. You don't get it.

    I'm not going to say anything until after the events.

    You really shouldn't be so presumptuous over the value of whats spent until the final costs are settled in this case.

    I'm sticking with the "I know something you don't know x10" until then.

    I'm sure our capable government has a handle on things. I don't think this'll be like other G8/G20's.
    I hope it'll be more civil but I expect it won't... anarchists do tend to be rather predictable.

    By the way...

    An estimated cost of gun registry:

    Heres a brief excerpt:

    Despite its estimated $2 billion cost to date, the firearms registry
    remains notably incomplete and has an error rate that remains embarrassingly
    high. As a result of its many failures, particularly its failure to reduce
    gang violence or stop senseless killings such as the recent occurrences at
    Dawson College and Mayerthorpe, Alberta, the firearms registry has not been
    able to win the trust of either the public or the police.

    How can you even compare the two?

    I would say that the LRAD purchases were a bit much but I think it was the Toronto Police services that made that call.

    Unless they deployed them to the right areas. Business districts come to mind especially since many will be having their employees work off-site or with earplugs.

    Should keep them away the apartment buildings and the like.
    Stick the good ol'pepper ball guns (and etc) and the occasional water cannon use.


    "I think Canada is one of the rare countries that has actually been transparent about the security costs," he said. "For example, CSIS costs will be there as an item in the list. In many countries they don't publish the security costs associated with their intelligence agencies."


    Taken from

    Consider: If, for example, 2000 members of the military are going to be assigned to duty specific to this event, one reasonably could allocate the cost of their wages from the moment they leave the base, often days in advance, until they return, usually days later. But, are they getting paid extra for this service? No. In fact, they're going get paid the same amount if they never leave the base. This adds up to considerable figure on paper, but is it actually an additional cost being picked up by taxpayers? No, of course not. But nevertheless, there is an argument to be made that this represents a real cost of security for said summit...particularly from a "transparency" point of view. The usual suspects are well aware of this; they just don't care if we are. As in, why screw up a golden opportunity to make political hay.