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Tony Clement makes no apologies for G8 spending

‘We got our fair share’


 
We got our fair share

Adrian Wyld/CP

At an all-candidates’ debate on Monday night in Burk’s Falls, a village of 1,000 in the Ontario riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka, Conservative MP Tony Clement stood at a small wooden podium, emphasizing the need for a “strong, stable majority government.” His promise to abolish the long-gun registry was, in this community of hunters, met with big cheers. Clement and three other candidates fielded questions on everything from CBC funding to industrial espionage, but things really heated up midway through the evening when local Liberal campaign manager Dan Waters stepped up to the microphone and asked Clement about news that was making headlines everywhere, it seems, but in Burk’s Falls.

Earlier that day, the Canadian Press had cited a draft report from Auditor General Sheila Fraser suggesting the Conservatives “misinformed” Parliament to win approval for $50 million invested in the riding for last June’s G8 summit, held at the Deerhurst Resort in nearby Huntsville. It suggested the process by which funding was approved may have been illegal. The story set off a firestorm, though by day’s end, a later, less damning draft was making the rounds—one that omitted suggestions of illegality or of misinforming Parliament, though it was still critical of the government.

At the candidates’ debate, Clement urged the crowd not to “jump the gun,” and to wait for Fraser’s final report. He then took a harder tack. “They’re suggesting that you or I have something to be ashamed of because we got infrastructure funding. Billions of dollars were spent across this country on roads, bridges, waterworks, you name it,” he said to loud applause. “We got our fair share, and I will never be ashamed of that.”

Campaigning across this riding in a minivan that shows a huge picture of his face—mocked as the “Tonymobile” by NDP candidate Dr. Wendy Wilson—Clement spends a lot of time “cake cutting and ribbon cutting,” says Bruce Hickey, who’s handling media for him. Clement, who claimed through Hickey to be too busy with local events to be interviewed for this story, has only spent two days outside the riding since the election was called. All this pounding the pavement has made an impression on people like Huntsville retiree Glen Vay. “Clement’s a Muskoka boy,” he says. “Who wouldn’t like having a high-profile minister in their riding?”

But critics have accused Clement—who won by only 28 votes in the 2006 federal election, and by about 10,000 in 2008—of using G8 money as his personal re-election fund. In the run-up to the G8 summit, the Tories were “spraying money around like drunken sailors in Tony Clement’s riding,” as Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff colourfully put it this week, spending on everything from beautifying Gravenhurst ($1.2 million) to “feature signage” at the Port Severn Gateway ($1 million). The draft report suggests that a team including Clement, Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty and Deerhurst’s general manager picked the 32 projects that were funded without necessarily considering the summit’s needs, but Doughty and Clement have publicly denied anything improper. (Even so, it’s hard to imagine the visiting world leaders took advantage of new public toilets built, at a cost of $274,000, 20 km from the event site.)

Huntsville’s new Canada Summit Centre, which cost the federal government about $17 million, houses an Olympic-sized hockey arena, a fitness centre and a 14-person hot tub. Nearby Deerhurst Drive, a picturesque road that leads to the resort, was fixed up at a cost of about $1.9 million, and is dotted with signs boasting of G8 infrastructure investment. Before it was reconstructed, the road had some “Muskoka texture,” says Doughty. “It’s much smoother now, so limousines and motorcades could fly along there.”

Clement’s “done a lot for Huntsville, there’s no doubt about it,” says Debbie, who lives near the Deerhurst Resort. (She asked that her last name not be used.) “When I moved here 34 years ago, there wasn’t even a swimming pool,” she says, adding that the Canada Summit Centre will hopefully help attract more young professionals to the area.

Most residents don’t seem to be complaining, and investing in prominent infrastructure projects is a well-worn political tactic. Even so, the news catapulted ethics back to the forefront—after being mostly ignored during the first two weeks of campaigning—as the leaders headed into the debates. And despite last summer’s cash infusion, Clement hasn’t yet convinced everybody in his riding. Marcia Kuehnen, who attends a playgroup at the Summit Centre with her eight-month-old son Wolfgang, admits to feeling “conflicted.” The building is “a beautiful feather in Huntsville’s cap,” she says, but she’s troubled by such lavish spending while poverty plagues other parts of the community. And while that G8 spending was “nice to have,” says Keith Hurst, a retired farmer in Burk’s Falls, “I didn’t see any of it up here.”

Vay, who moved to Huntsville from Toronto four years ago, welcomes the improvements. In fact, this July, he’s hosting an event he jokingly calls the “G60” at the Deerhurst Resort—his 60th birthday party.


 

Tony Clement makes no apologies for G8 spending

  1. A BIG F U Tony. you're a criminal

  2. A BIG F U Tony. you're a criminal

  3. Agreed. Tony is as phony as they come. Given how he has dealt with Copyright and how he left the CRTC untouched until it became political advantageous to do so (going against UBB), he really can't be trusted. Phony Tony can take his BS "iPod Tax" boogieman and blow it out his arse…

  4. Agreed. Tony is as phony as they come. Given how he has dealt with Copyright and how he left the CRTC untouched until it became political advantageous to do so (going against UBB), he really can't be trusted. Phony Tony can take his BS "iPod Tax" boogieman and blow it out his arse…

  5. Surprising that a high-profile cabinet minister has only spent two days outside of his riding since the election was called. I assume that means that he's worried about his support locally. And following the logic, i suppose it means that voters in the riding have higher ethical standards than he does.

  6. Surprising that a high-profile cabinet minister has only spent two days outside of his riding since the election was called. I assume that means that he's worried about his support locally. And following the logic, i suppose it means that voters in the riding have higher ethical standards than he does.

  7. Canadians must also be reminded that one of Iggy's star candidates ( most would say another disgusting one) Publo Rodriquez who is facing serious substantiated criminal charges ( confessed liquor and car accident involvement) and gets a free pass from Ignatieff. He even continues to hold a critic's post in the Liberal caucus. Does Iggy have the blessing of MADD to keep this reprobate on his team? How sad that this abhorrent conduct is tolerated by a national leader.
    Again is it any wonder that the new Liberal crime policy will require no jail cells if they are prepared to allow drunken drivers on our streets and highways?

  8. I expect Igantieff and Liberals would like AG to dust off and release some of her other reports while she is at it.

    Liberals misinformed Parliament about millions spent on gun registry: AG
    Last Updated: Tuesday, May 16, 2006 | 4:30 PM ET
    2006 Report of the Auditor General of Canada

    The former Liberal government misinformed Parliament about millions of dollars in expenses incurred by the gun registry, Auditor General Sheila Fraser said.
    The largest portion of her latest report to Ottawa focused on how the government twice failed to properly record tens of millions of dollars worth of overspending at the Canada Firearms Centre.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2006/05/16/gu

    AG Fraser lambastes Liberals for blowing budget by a billion dollars on registry‏

    AG Fraser lambastes Liberals for blowing budget by a billion dollars on registry. When Canada's auditor general tabled her December 2002 report, she set her sights on Ottawa's controversial gun registry program.
    Sheila Fraser blasted the federal government, run by the Liberals at the time, for exceeding its estimated budget, saying that by the time the smoke cleared and all gun owners and their guns were registered, the program would have cost taxpayers more than $1 billion. Opposition critics were quick to point out that figure is 500 times more than the original $2-million estimate. A look at internal audits conducted by the Canadian Firearms Program suggests the cost of the program has been an issue from the beginning.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2009/10/06/f-

    • Wasn't this article about Tony Clement?

    • And the Liberals properly got turfed for it. So I take it you're arguing we should do the same to the CPC now?

  9. Wasn't this article about Tony Clement?

  10. Of course he doesn't make any apologies, hes conservative!!!!
    RISE UP CANADA, RISE UP and defeat these anti-democratic, tax stealing, law breaking, citizen ejecting, ballot box stealing, anti youth thugs!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBPOK9PIw-0&fe

  11. Of course he doesn't make any apologies, hes conservative!!!!
    RISE UP CANADA, RISE UP and defeat these anti-democratic, tax stealing, law breaking, citizen ejecting, ballot box stealing, anti youth thugs!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBPOK9PIw-0&fe

    • Recently a friend during a conversation about this election and the teflon around harper and his numerous scandal, said, he would actually like to see Harper win a majority. When I asked why he would entertain such a view, he said, then the Canadian people will realise how dangerous he is after he must have destroyed every fabric our of society. I reminded him that, it is very easy to destroy but very difficult to repair, especially looking back at every Conservative Govt. in the history of this Country. They destroy and the Liberals come in and do the heavy lifting, put the Country back in good standing. People seems to have a very short memory. I am scared at what my children and Grandchildren will inherit from five years and anymore of Harper. I am scared.

      • We are all scared of a Harper majority. Spread the word, take our country from this dangerous man.
        RISE UP CANADA!

  12. Recently a friend during a conversation about this election and the teflon around harper and his numerous scandal, said, he would actually like to see Harper win a majority. When I asked why he would entertain such a view, he said, then the Canadian people will realise how dangerous he is after he must have destroyed every fabric our of society. I reminded him that, it is very easy to destroy but very difficult to repair, especially looking back at every Conservative Govt. in the history of this Country. They destroy and the Liberals come in and do the heavy lifting, put the Country back in good standing. People seems to have a very short memory. I am scared at what my children and Grandchildren will inherit from five years and anymore of Harper. I am scared.

  13. We are all scared of a Harper majority. Spread the word, take our country from this dangerous man.
    RISE UP CANADA!

  14. Campaigning across this riding in a minivan that shows a huge picture of his face

    But they just spent $1.2 million to beautify Gravenhurst.

  15. Campaigning across this riding in a minivan that shows a huge picture of his face

    But they just spent $1.2 million to beautify Gravenhurst.

    • This is how they're balancing it out for the rest of Canada.

  16. And the Liberals properly got turfed for it. So I take it you're arguing we should do the same to the CPC now?

  17. This is how they're balancing it out for the rest of Canada.

  18. You're posting on the wrong thread. ;-)

  19. At least some of the money spent shows an end result/value- added…..what about all millions spent/went up in smoke with nothing to show for hosting the dang G8/G20 crap shoot???
    By the way, not gonna miss the G60 party…that Glen guy and his wife Sherry are quite the hosts!!!

  20. At least some of the money spent shows an end result/value- added…..what about all millions spent/went up in smoke with nothing to show for hosting the dang G8/G20 crap shoot???
    By the way, not gonna miss the G60 party…that Glen guy and his wife Sherry are quite the hosts!!!

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