Not any more

Liberals call for G8, G20 spending to be revealed

In Canada on September 29, 2010 at 19:35

OTTAWA — The Opposition Liberals are on a mission to have all of the costs associated with the G8 and G20 summits revealed, predicting it will provide further evidence that the Conservatives “were spending like drunken sailors” and can’t be trusted to manage the economy.

The Liberals launched a new strategy Wednesday at a news conference where they highlighted some of the summit costs publicized last week — more than $200 million on hotel bills, rental cars, bug spray, box lunches and other items — and provided new numbers of their own that they said demonstrate how money was wasted.

The party is planning weekly “Waste Wednesday” announcements, aimed at showcasing government “waste, mismanagement and poor judgment.”

Liberal MP Dan McTeague said that $27.5 million was spent on a temporary police command centre in Barrie, Ont., midway between the Toronto and Muskoka, Ont., summit sites. He alleged that it cost $1.5 million to lease the building, $24 million to convert it into a command centre for the multiple police agencies that provided security, and another $2 million to dismantle the operation and move out afterward.

The need for a command centre is understandable, said Mr. McTeague, “But with the summit over, taxpayers were left with a bill of $27.5 million and absolutely nothing to show for it.”

The RCMP has a building in the north end of Toronto that could have been used, he argued. Or the agency could have bought the Barrie facility because it was already up for sale and the RCMP is looking for a new facility outside of Ottawa.

A spokeswoman for the RCMP said the Barrie facility was chosen because it “met our size and suitability requirements.”

The RCMP confirmed to Postmedia News that it spent $2.2 million to rent the 55,000-square-foot facility for two years, and another $14.9 million on a contract for “design, construction and restoration of the site.” That puts McTeague’s figures off by about $10 million.

When asked about the price tag for the command centre, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said it was justified. “We spend money in accordance with the request by security officials. If the security officials said it was necessary, it’s reviewed and then it’s spent,” he said.

When pressed about the costs in question period, Mr. Toews said Mr. McTeague’s figures weren’t accurate and he accused the Liberals of trying to score political points on the backs of police officers.

The Liberals, however, maintain the Conservatives engaged in “reckless spending” and are poor fiscal managers.

The party appears willing to continue to push this message as they try to position themselves as the alternate choice in the next election and will repeatedly remind voters that Prime Minister Stephen Harper “created the largest deficit in Canadian history.”

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