Fake lake wake - Macleans.ca

Fake lake wake


Let’s get this out of the way off the top, while we’re waiting for some real news. I’ve now had the opportunity to see the infamous “fake lake,” tucked away in a corner of the cavernous Interantional Press Centre. As one of the first to fly off the handle over this without first checking my facts, let me be one of the first to confess this is a total non-story.

It’s not an “indoor lake,” as the first story I read suggested. It is a reflector pool, about the size of a backyard swimming pool, only no more than two inches deep. There can’t be more than 10 gallons of water in it, tops. It is bordered by a small wooden platform simulating a dock, with Muskoka chairs casually strewn about. There’s a bank of canoes on either side, and a large screen showing some quite breathtaking high-def footage of Canadian lakeland scenes. And that’s it.

It’s not extravagant in the slightest. Modest would be closer to the mark. The government puts the cost at about $57,000, which sounds about right: about what it would cost to finish your basement. Or to be precise, it represents just over two 100,000ths of one per cent of federal spending. All in all it’s rather a pleasant spot, a small oasis of calm and comfort away from the conference churn, and shows every sign of being a hit with the foreign press. A few minutes of that footage is bound to persuade more than a few of them to want to return, or to tell the folks back home.

It is, in short, a perfectly acceptable, if hardly vital, use of public funds, and should never have become a subject of controversy. The media got rolled on this one, the opposition ran away with it, and we all ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

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Fake lake wake

  1. The media got rolled on this one, the opposition ran away with it, and we all ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

    Well said. Thanks for coming clean on this.

    • Coyne's being sarcastic, as hopefully are you!

      • No, he isn't.

        • You gullible dweeb :-)

      • he must have a pretty nice basement.

    • The media and opposition have that habit (anyone remember the "bodybags" stupidity during H1N1?). But it is still an unnecessary extravagance when we're already going broke splurging on everything else.

  2. So it looks even less impressive than people thought it would, and yet it still costs the same? $57,000 is still $57,000.

    • Yeah, A King's Ransom. Whatever.

      • No, but two or three years salary for some Canadians. But since you find it such a paltry sum, how about we raise minimum wage across the country to half of that?

        I'm not sure how to impress this upon our politicians, but we are in a deficit. That means that every single dime you can not spend, you don't spend. It is good that journalists from around the world have a nice and relaxing place to go. Could we not have done the Muskoka chairs and "a large screen showing some quite breathtaking high-def footage of Canadian lakeland scenes." with maybe a table or two thrown in for a total of three or four thousand, instead?

    • It is a non story. But that didn't stop the Libs from making a mountain out of a mole hill! This is also the case with every other pseudo-scandal they have raised this year!

  3. Could be too late – this small body of water could represent a turning of the tide against the tories. And it is not just the lake, sorry, reflector pool, but rather a whole "boat load" of pork barrel spending.

    • Yes, it was built to be a symbol but is rapidly starting to symbolize something they never intended. And that's life in politics.

      • It symbolizes being a good host, even to the media.

        • I wasn't aware being a good host required a $57,000 reflecting pool. I shall have to send apology notes to all my recent house guests…

  4. Wake up, Coyne.

    The main issue isn't the ridiculous obsession the Canadian media seem to have regarding the cost of the "fake lake". Canadians care a lot more about the ludicrous security costs of this summit of over $1 billion. Clearly the inflated security price-tag is due to the Conservative's incompetence and mismanagement. Harper et al. thought they could have the G20 in Huntsville, and then drove the summit costs through the roof with the location switch to T.O. Why does the security for the G20/G8 cost so much relative to the Olympics, for example? Are all those hundreds of police officers on the streets really necessary, or are the police unions just cashing in with lots of overtime since they were given free reign? These are the questions the media should be asking instead of staring at their own reflection in the fake lake.

    • Wake up, Dee.

      PBO Page said there is nothing to see here. Move along folks.

      If crazy leftist Liberal Kevin Page doesn't see a problem then there definetly isn't a problem.

      Have a mice day! Best fishes!

    • I agree. The fake lake is really just a symbol of how all restraint and normal approval processes seem to have been thrown out the window during this summit. In this case, the issue is that the summit was so badly managed that journalists who were supposed to attend couldn't actually go to Muskoka to cover it, so the government had to build a fake Muskoka lake in a Toronto convention centre.

      The real dollars are in security costs, but it's all a product of the same bad management.

  5. $57,000 to finish my basement?

    If you don't mind, I think I'll get a quote from another contractor

    • Don't you get it? $57,000 is about right for elite Conservative apologists.

      • I just had to make the payment for my boss's (I'm in construction sub-trade finance at the moment) Conservative party membership renewal. (I guess conservative supporters can afford to pay others to do it. . .) The main pitch was that Iggy's alleged reversal of Harper's GST cut would cost the "average Canadian family" $1,200. Given a 1% change, that would put the average Canadian family's discretionary spending after non-GST items like housing, groceries & debt payments at $120,000 per year.

        I may not love Harper's vision of Canada, but I'd love to be his vision of the average Canadian. Then I could afford a $57,000 basement.

    • I thought the same, but then I figured Andrew threw in some high-tech toys like a large-screen LCD tv, a fancy sound system, and designer furniture.

      For 57 000$, you could build a garage extension to a house, complete with bedroom(s) and bathroom on the floor above. I think that would be a better comparison.

      • Go cheap. Holmes on Homes is looking for more episodes. And gov't grants.

        • I still think we should get Holmes to redo 24 Sussex. Good show, good renovation, good for us all.

          • Failing that, we could do Disaster DIY. Or given our current stability, Flip This House, even if it isn't Canadian.

          • Peter Fallico isn't Canadian? Say it ain't so!

      • Have you done any building recently?


      • Clearly, you're not familiar with the cost of labour in Alberta.

        • They moved the fake lake pricy puddle to Alberta?

          • Dead ducks optional.

          • I'm still laughing. I don't think that was quite the end to the "fake lake" story Coyne was hoping for.

    • Well, you are right it doesnt cost $57,000 to have a collection of beer cans and shot glasses from around the world on your wall.

    • If it's an up to code basement then $57,000 is little more than the hole and foundation poured.

      • I think finishing a basement is a little different than adding one

  6. Mr Coyne, nicely said and a class thing to do. Pity some of the comments are so nasty. As a matter of interest, am I correct in thinking that the whole "fake lake" malevolence was originated or at least popularized by the very loud-mouthed Liberal party critic who seems to be on the CBC political programmes with tiresome regularity? You know, the one that looks vaguely like Matt Damon?

    • agree we all need to avoid nastiness ( – including dissing certain politicians as loud-mouths maybe?)

      think about this, however, do u have any idea what the Sun chain would have done with this story if the liberals had been in power, omg, the world would be ending….

      • An hypothesis is the handy refuge of the unoriginal critic. Me diss a pol? Nevah. One thought one's comment was exquisitely flattering.

        • I am not entirely sure, but I may just have been insulted. My point is that the Sun and the tory war room would have had a field day with this story had the shoe been on the other foot – and I doubt that anyone would be backing away from the criticism now.

          Face it, the lake and a good deal of the other wasteful spending made the tories a laughing stock. O, BTW, it made the NY Times today.

      • The Sun? Is that the pinnacle of journalistic standards?

        Pick up a copy of the Globe and Mail, or any other respectable newspaper, and you'll see that they got "rolled" on this one, as Andrew states.

    • I agree Coyne's comments are classy and correct.

      The Liberal MP's name is Mark Holland. I think he is a jerk and find him obnoxious, but, to be fair, he is just doing the job any opposition jerk would do.

      I don't like it, but I have no doubt the conservatives would do the same thing thing were they in opposition. This is one of the things that makes politics so unsavory.

  7. We already know that you carry the Harper Conservative government's water, Andrew, but why do you have the troops ?

    • Don't shoot the messenger Mulletaur, don't shoot the messenger.

      Mulletaur pines for the good old days, when the media brayed in unison for the Liberal Party and all that was left/lib.

      Alas, those days are past now. Don't you know Mulletaur, a new cable news network will be bringing much needed diversity to Canadians. Different points of view. Scary thought, isn't it Mulletaur.

      The Liberals actually have to earn the privilege of governing Canada instead of having power handed to it by the monolith left/lib canadian establishment.

      • M is upset that Coyne is breaking the narrative. He must be tarred and feathered as an example to others. Respect and fear must be maitained.

    • Coyne does carry water for the Conservatives, more or less, yes. And Wherry carries the Liberals' water more or less.

      It's called balance (and in quite literal terms, too.) If you read both, you might see something people refer to as a "debate".

  8. small price indeed compared to the cost to any Canadian who does not understand what 5 m is and walks to close to a wall/barrier. I would think that anything would look better after a visit to a free bar. What else are you getting in your goody bag?

    • Ajd. Do you take your license with you when you drive a car?

      The overblown rhetoric undercuts any seriousenss that this issue might have had. I cant believe the Canadian Civil Liberties people used the War Measures Act as a comparison.

      Soldiers on our streets and other purple prose.

      But I agree with you that the with all the mentions of the fake lake in the press, there has been no complaints about the amount of money spent to set up a bar for the media…..but that would be expecting consistency.

  9. I think it's important to remember that it was first reported at something like a million dollars, not $57,000, so the initial outage isn't entirely unwarranted. As to how that got reported…

    • It got reported by virtue of reporters being lazy, not doing their due diligence and blindly repeating Liberal Party of Canada talking points. Go figure.

      • Is that your personal opinion, or did you get that from somewhere. Wouldn't want you being lazy and repeating Conservative Party of Canada talking points.

        • I'm going from memory here, but I believe that it first emerged from the mouth of one Mark Holland, Liberal MP. I think it was reported in Maclean's or in these blogs that nobody bothered to check or look beneath that figure.

          And I'm not a Conservative or Conservative supporter, so don't even try going there.

          • Oh yeah, and one important difference between me (a non-reporter) and a reporter is it's their job to not be lazy, to do due diligence and try to report facts. That's the thing with a job. It comes with certain duties that you're supposed to perform, in return for pay. Commenting on a blog post is kinda different.

          • You're right, it does appear to come from Mark Holland. I watched the video, and interestingly enough there wasn't an immediate rebuttal of the numbers. That would certainly have helped correct the reporting. If you don't respond to an accusation, well…
            Sorry i took exception to your initial response. My tolerance for the so called talking point "left wing media" is waning.

          • My last point being your tone suggested a conservative supporter, that after reading numerous other conservative supporters here

          • I talked to some senior conservatives who acknowledged that they were not quick enough in responding to Mark Holland's initial barbs. This just shows that the PMO isn't perfect. What a surprise.

        • Come on Heinz, it was reported as 2 million initially and that was an error that some media went back on. However it got reported enough times that it any google search shows the fake lake as 2 million. The venerable Telegraph (soemtimes known as the torygraph) in the UK even reported it a couple of days ago as 2 mill for the lake…..makes a better story doncha know, even though it was wrong.

          It was a feeding frenzy…..just like wafergate, just like H1N1 or the aborted million dollars for posters…there are other examples. I dont really blame the Liberals, well not too much, it is their nature and the nature of opposition parties. The press corps….well, the neutral watchdogs are easily distracted by hotdogs thrown on the ground.

  10. The hint you in the media got rolled was when PM Harper said this was about "marketing" Canada. It reminded me of the best Campaign ever(which is basic marketing now). The 5000 dollar fine and ban for for MJ's shoes in1984/85 NBA season.

    I am not saying there is a straight line to this, and I wish I had a better link for the money it would have cost to get this publicity for nike that that fine and ban generated. But it is the same concept. Every media outlit coming to Canada is talking about this lake, then explaining the muskoka. The money it would cost to get this publicity for muskoka far outstrips the 5600 dollar cost. And even dwarfs the 1.9 for the whole media centre.

    As a bonus it makes the PPG look like complete idiots. On the down side there is a hit in the polls. But regardless of your political view, as a marketing campaign for the muskoka, it is brilliant. Wether intended or not..

    Now let the hate of this post begin..

  11. $57,000 ~ 2 x R&D kerfuffle ($30k)

    Btw, let us not forget, Weston put the cost initially at a wet $2 million. Was it worth $2 mill? If not, your initial reaction was right (notwithstanding the piling on w/o the "facts")

  12. Oh, it would be if it was a Liberal Fake Lake. You know it. The hypocrisy in this thread amazes me.

    • The marketing pavilion at the recent expo in China costs more. There are thousands of these tourism things everywhere.

      California puts television commercials on our screens that cost far, far more than this and they are going bankrupt.

      Supposedly economists say that the spending gets a good return in terms of tourism/investment.

      Whatever. Not a big deal for Liberals or Conservatives. Cats agrees this is a non-story, even if it were a Liberal PM.

  13. Lake, smake. Who cares?

    $1 BILLION DOLLARS. Think about that for a second. This is serious mismanagement of funds.

    • And you know what the nice thing is…..we wont have to spend it again for probably your lifetime since the G8 and G20 are unlikely to coincide again, and certainly not on short notice, and certainly not in Canada.

      The g20 wont be back here for at least 15 years and probably not for 20. So you can relax, we have done our duty, just like snacks at your kids soccer game or your protion of a progressive dinner.

      • No, the next G20 meeting is less than 5 months away (Nov 10/11) in Seoul.
        I wonder what pressing concerns couldn't wait until then? – and I'll be interested to hear about the major accomplishments resulting from this summit.

  14. "A few minutes of that footage is bound to persuade more than a few of them to want to return, or to tell the folks back home"

    No European journalist is going find any merit in this. It'll be either not impressive enough or too low-brow. The Japanese on the other hand… might enjoy taking photos of a slideshow, commenting on the exactitude of the time-lapses

    And come to think of it, why would an envoy sent to report on the dealings of the leaders of the biggest economies in the world, be interested on reporting how pristine our lakes look on an LCD screen. You may have been raised – as a Canadian – to enjoy the wild, but most of these people are metropolitan urbanites.

    This has been the problem the problem with the Olympics as well, instead of taking ourselves and the event seriously we rely on cheap theatrics to tell the world "we can roll with the big boys, eh".

    How naive does one have to be to buy into "reflective pool" idea.

    • I guess you are there in the media centre actually speaking to some of them and observing whether it is considered a quiet spot or not.

      • I have seen other reports by some Canadian media that the foreign media are rather non plussed by concern and are pleased to have a comfortable cocoon to be reporting from. Also that more than few of them are asking questions like

        1) Woo, lots of construction cranes, how come
        2) Why are you so much better off than we are in this recession
        3) why does Toronto seem "to work", why does your country "work"

        Typical Canadians, naval gazing to the end, we cant see how good we have it till someone tells us how much they appreciate the change from their country.

    • I was in the media centre speaking with people daily, and many people who visited the fake lake, including European journalists, enquired about visiting the Muskokas. Many hadn't heard about them before, only the Rockies out west, and said they would be interested in visiting them. At worst, this has created a buzz and people in other parts of the world will want to learn more.

  15. Next time, just do the TV and the chairs, and raffle them off afterwards so the entire thing comes out to less than a grand, maybe two.

  16. Security costs are a function of the number of attendees, and the size of the crowds. If anybody is to blame it is the protesters whose pointless drive for attention requires serious investments in crowd control. I find it especially rich that many of the same organizations that protest the G8/G20 then lambast it for not spending enough to alleviate poverty or whatever.

    • Picking the financial centre of Canada, and its Central Business District as the focal point, was just boneheaded. Harper's ego. I bet he enjoys, at a personal/petty level, the disruption/cost he has caused. That'll show Alex Trebec and the Reach for the Top folks, circa who cares?

      • So a world leaders meeting that will discuss world finances is out of place in Canada's financial centre?
        If people would protest with their votes instead maybe they would get the government they want instead of griping that they don't get to personally discuss China with the Italian President.

        • They're also discussing maternal care – so why not have it in a delivery room?

    • I'm particularly fond of those protesters who are protesting the cost of the summit. That comes full circle – doesn't it?

      If we didn't have proper security and something terrible happened…what would the headline be? We can all appreciate protesters wanting to get their message out but inevitably, some will get violent and serious security is required. Why are there professional protesters? Because it's the violence that leads the evening news!

      Thank You Mr. Coyne for publicly eating crow. That deserves an "attaboy!".

  17. Lets ask Greg Weston and his buddy Mark Holland how they feel now. All the fuss seems pretty silly. Weston should be hanging his head in shame. The Libs always do this and the lazy media simply repeat their talkings points and they always get caught. Remember wafergate boys and girls. The same thing. The Libs lie and the media falls for it every time. No wonder Canadians can't wait for Sun TV News to hit the airwaves.

  18. No matter what it cost, it's too much. Because the idea itself is pretty damn silly. And embarrassing.
    Mr. Coyne must have a low opinion of the press gaggle if he thinks they'll be impressed by a Potemkin
    wading pool.
    What if he's right ? What does that say about their discerning coverage of the flow of press releases ?
    I need me some Maudie Barlow !

  19. Stephen Harper is still a fake democrat.

    • Based on this person's name and non-sequitur ad hominem attack, I'm going to go ahead and call this non-partisan.

  20. EDid Coyne enjoy his taxpayer freebies – booze and food?

    What the hell – rip the whole thing to pieces then backtrack?

    Well, if Coyne bitches about taxpayer money spent anymore – can we trust him?

  21. Memo to ConBots: Think about the possibility that Coyne's yanking your chains. Read the article again. Then, imagine Coyne smirking while typing it. He's having fun with you simpletons.

    • How many hours did you spend lining up for that moniker?

      • I wonder how much anon0001 paid for his/her avatar?

        • Probably one order of magnitude different than Anon 001 did.

  22. The government tries to invent an indoor scene to control the message and you think it's fine to spend only $60K? A government that won't just step in front of the media and answer questions? Do you have a need to be fooled/dominated?

    • Dalton McGuinty was on Steve Paikin recently and although I didn't necessarily agree with some of his answers, I respected that he willingly faced the grilling.
      At this point I can't possibly envision Stephen Harper doing anything unscripted and I fear Fox North is going to become the media wing of the PMO.
      Politicians should face the media – press conferences are the best as all reporters (left and right) can ask the questions.
      IMHO, that's how you sell ideas. Scripted press releases and interviews with Mike Duffy don't persuade me; in fact I find them sneaky and suspicious.

      • Nothing to do with this particular post (I gave it a 'thumbs up')

        …. but here are some interesting definitions of 'IMHO', especially among the 17 non-verified ones …….

        • IMHO: In my house! opinion

          There! I've officially become my Father!

  23. "got rolled"? by who? The media went off the deep end because there was a rhyming headline and it's easy to cut and paste copy.

    • I'm surprised nobody has tried a "rickroll" yet.

  24. Thank You Andrew. I get so tired of the non-issues that are discussed by the opposition in the house. I am proud of our PM and I think he is doing a pretty good job in an amazingly difficult world and domestic environment.

  25. If there was a beaver in there, it might be worth $57,000. Get back to us if you see any beavers.

  26. Well said! Let's just all remember to take a few days to confirm some facts the next time the Lieral Party of Canada tries to tell Canadians, through their media agents, that something which cost $57k should anger us for costing $1.9M. Facts aren't always what the Liberals spin.

    • The Liberals are certainly not the sole operators of the spinning facts machine – the Conservatives do one helluva lot of spinning too.

      • Like the prorogation issue in reverse?? They did it too!
        Funny, you Libs were all over us for that comparison and now you play the same game?
        How do you spell hypocrite??

    • "…to take a few days to confirm…"

      Not possible in this information age – it's still important to be the first to break the story so who has the time? We the readers want to know yesterday what happened today so getting your facts straight is not necessarily the first order of business.

      How does that saying go "Sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission"

  27. Having put together a number of trade show booths, which this is kind of the equivalent of. This cost isnt out of whack, especially for a unique one off.

    Bigger question is what happens to all of the materials afterwards. If the government wants to prevent yet another PR disaster they'll donate the canoes to kids camp somewhere.

  28. I am so tired of the whiney Liberals in this country. Suck it up! You lost the election! I hope Harper gets a majority next election, if for no other reason then to shut these whiney Liberals up for a while.

  29. A billion dollars for a summit, the G20, that was not necessary. The real work of the G-20 takes place next year in Korea and this extravaganza is just a meet and greet.. This was just a phot-op and an impulsive one at that at a big price to Canadian taxpayers. Next year may, hopefully, bring a whole new set of performers to the show. This is one costly tea party.

    • According to the website , the next meeting is Nov 11-12, this year

    • Except that the accord reached at the conclusion of this summit wasn't expected until the Korea summit. Read Ibbitson in the Globe. Given that result, is it worth it now? Or, on a relative basis, would it have been better for Canada to have avoided hosting because it's too cheap (going the bathroom with the cheque arrives, per John Manley)? I would agree with you if you said that Kananaskis or Whistler ought to host, but I'm told those conference facilities might not have sufficed.

  30. Remember in the old movie 12 Angry Men when, faced with strong rebuttals of all the evidence in the case, the juror played by Lee J. Cobb just repeats that evidence verbatim as if nothing was ever said against it?

    That's how I feel every time I look at the user comments on a newspaper or magazine's website. Partisan bigots — whatever their political orientation — don't care much for facts. Faced with a good article about how the "fake lake" wasn't much to be upset over after all, people make irreverent replies or move on to a separate topic like they never cared about the fake lake in the first place.

  31. And after the damage wrought in the summits in Seattle, Quebec City and Genoa, what did Chretien do? He held the G8 summit in Kananaskis. No security problems and smallers costs than holding it in a big city. Too bad Harper and the Conservatives didn't have the smarts to do the obvious. And now Canadian taxpayers are stuck with a bill of over $1 billion.

  32. Andrew,
    Thanks for the clarification. I always enjoy reading your articles. I might not agree with some but I usually understand the message you are attempting to put forth.
    It could be you London School of Economics training.

  33. You think the fake lake was a waste of money….Security was the real money sucker! I was here in Huntsville and there was a police officer every 10 feet, they could have solved every crime in Northern Ontario in one day! They say it was good marketing, but I guess I will have to see. Maybe it will help my friend sell some of his Muskoka chairs :D