How to spend nearly $1 billion in five days or less


Question: What costs an estimated $930 million, requires 10,000 police officers of various stripes and necessitates the construction of hundreds-of-metres of three-metre high security fence?

Answer: The upcoming G20 summit, being held in Toronto and Huntsville next month.

Given the mind-boggling financial and manpower figures being thrown around in regard to the four-day conference, it’s not suprising to learn that many groups are questioning the cost of the whole affair and asking if the money involved could be more responsibly spent elsewhere.

Count me in with Jack Layton and the NDP on this one.

As reported in today’s Ottawa Citizen, Layton’s party is outraged by the costs associated with hosting the summit and has pointed out some better uses for the money, such as: EI benefits for 159,492 Canadians, tuition for 189,140 post-secondary students, 1,270 hybrid buses for public transit and health care for 167,569 people.

Take a minute to let those figures sink in and then ask yourself how important it is to spend that much money on a summit that could be done via video conference. To his credit, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has come out in favour of considering this option. Toews says the various countries themselves need to ask themselves whether they are getting value for their money.

Good question, Vic. In light of both this spending issue and the attempted burial of Sheila Fraser’s report on gross overspending by MPs, Canadians are in no mood to see even more hundreds-of-millions of dollars of their tax dollars spent in such reckless fashion.

Don’t get me wrong, the G20 summit will no doubt be an important meeting designed to strengthen trade ties and promote the economic well-being of the member states, but it could be held in a more responsible and less costly manner during a time in which colossal overspending is very much frowned upon by a public still reeling from a brief but nasty recession.


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