The Commons: What price freedom? - Macleans.ca
 

The Commons: What price freedom?

In the absence of accounting, there are only laments


 

The Scene. “What’s this about?” Michael Ignatieff begged, verging on the profound.

The subject, for a second day, was the apparent cost of securing this summer’s meetings of world leaders in cottage country Ontario and downtown Toronto respectively. The sum is now said to be a few nickels short of a billion dollars. The Parliamentary Budget Officer is apparently thinking about checking the government’s math, and the Liberals and NDP have asked the auditor general to investigate.

In the meantime, and in the absence of such accountings, there are only laments—”It borders on indecency,” the NDP’s Olivia Chow cried this afternoon—and accusatory questions, most wondering if somehow government mismanagement might perchance explain the tab.

“Mr. Speaker,” said John Baird, standing in for the Prime Minister today, with his first attempt to refute this suggestion, “Canada is a very big country.”

“Ohhh!” the Liberals mocked.

It was unclear if the bigness referred to here was land-based or metaphorical; if this was meant to imply that the sheer enormity of our nation made the cost of securing it so high or that Canada’s global prominence made it necessary that we every so often spend an inordinate amount of money on a largely ceremonial celebration of ethereal ideals and notions (that was the official explanation for the Olympics, wasn’t it?).

Mr. Ignatieff tried again. “Mr. Speaker, there is a pattern of reckless spending that needs to be recognized,” he said.

The Conservatives mockingly laughed at this allegation of profligacy.

“This is a government that inherited a $13-billion surplus and turned into a deficit before the recession even began,” he reviewed. “Now it is spending more than a billion dollars of borrowed money on a summit because it could not even figure out where to hold it. Why are Canadian taxpayers footing the bill for this kind of incompetence?”

If Mr. Baird was to win the day, he would obviously need more than geography.

“Mr. Speaker,” the Transport Minister offered with his second try, “since 9-11—

“Ahh!” sighed the Liberals.

“—security has become a new reality for Canadians and for people in every part of the world,” Mr. Baird continued. “I think all members of Parliament, particularly those of us from Ottawa, were deeply concerned with the recent fire bombing not three miles from this chamber. We are going to work with international authorities to ensure that international leaders like President Barack Obama, like the President of China, President Hu, and to make sure that the people of Huntsville, Muskoka and most importantly the people in the large city of Toronto are safe.”

The opposition did not seem swayed. “Mr. Speaker, the handling of this issue is comical,” Mr. Ignatieff scoffed. “The Conservatives could not figure out a location. They could not nail down an agenda. They could not figure out who to invite. We would not organize a children’s party this way and now we are on the hook for a billion dollar security charge on top of a $54 billion deficit. Canadian families who do balance their budgets wonder why this incompetence has been allowed to happen.”

Strict constructionists will note the absence here of a question mark, but Mr. Baird rose to respond all the same. “Mr. Speaker,” he moaned, “the leader of the Liberal Party never misses an occasion to run down Canada.”

“Ohh!” the Liberals moaned back.

“You’re not Canada!” contended one opposition voice.

Mark Holland, the booming Liberal backbencher bursting with insistence, then debated Vic Toews, the consistently disappointed Public Safety Minister, as to who was more shameful in this particular regard.

“I notice that the Liberals on the other side are laughing,” lamented Mr. Toews after he had solemnly invoked the Royal Bank fire-bombing. “That is their attitude toward security. They are not concerned about security.”

“Mr. Speaker, shame on them,” snapped Mr. Holland. “Shame on them for using security to try to avoid accountability.”

The terms of debate are thus set. One side asks why we are spending a billion dollars. The other side asks what would happen if we didn’t.

The Stats. The G20, eight questions. Abortion, six questions. Ethics, firearms and Parliament, four questions each. The oil industry, infrastructure and securities regulation, two questions each. Foreign affairs, food safety, the economy and Omar Khadr, one question each.

John Baird, 12 answers. Rona Ambrose, six answers. Vic Toews, five answers. Pierre Poilievre and Christian Paradis, four answers each. Jay Hill and Lawrence Cannon, two answers each. Leona Aglukkaq, one answer.


 

The Commons: What price freedom?

  1. "The Parliamentary Budget Officer is apparently thinking about checking the government's math, and the Liberals and NDP have asked the auditor general to investigate."

    The paper trail is, I think, going to lead to the RCMP, at which point all parties involved will move on to a more palatable subject. A billion dollars is a slap in the face to taxpayers.

    • Absolutely look at the RCMP. The RCMP are in the process of installing a new Digital UHF radio system province wide. I wonder if this is being paid for out of this Billion d

    • Absolutely look at the RCMP. The RCMP are in the process of installing a new Digital UHF radio system province wide. I wonder if this is being paid for out of this Billion dollar bill. Along with the Toronto Police Service getting nice new digital radios. Look into the costs of both and one would be shocked at that price tag. Mr. Page would probably find that both are being funded out of this Billion dollar costs.

  2. Just in terms of pure dollars and cents?

    This is WORSE than Adscam.

    • Unless the money here is going into Tory pockets, you're comparing apples and oranges. Adscam involved outright theft by Liberals of taxpayers' money and giving it to Liberals.

      This may be incompetence, overspending and all that, but there's no allegation of theft that I'm aware of. Are you?

      • Oh Dear! I'm just torn to pieces on this one. On the one hand, we have the claim that $40+ Million was stolen, on the other that incompetence has cost us $900+ Million.

        Hmmm…who should I be madder at? Maybe, in this case, incompetence should be a crime.

        • I'm not defending the Tories here one bit. I'm just trying to stick to the facts. Legally, there's a difference between criminal activity — i.e., theft — and sins of omission, which amount to civil negligence.

          Losing or mishandling money is different, at least in the eyes of the law, from stealing. If you can't understand that, then I at least hope you're not a lawyer.

          Of course I understand the amounts are far different and the bottom line impact for the taxpayer may be greater here.

          • Oh I'm glad you posted this because your other comment sure as hell sounds like you're defending the Tories. Still does actually…

          • I believe that you are defending them by suggesting that what they have done is the lesser of two 'evils'. I think in this case it is inadvisable to make that comparison.

            Whether criminal or incompetent, it is a waste and disrespect of taxpayer's money. The initial comment was that based on dollars and cents this is far worse. At that level, the commenter was right.

          • I did not say, or suggest, that what they've done (or perhaps failed to do) is the lesser of two evils. I said the comparison to Adscam was akin to comparing apples and oranges. You seem really eager to attribute thoughts and opinions to me that I do not hold. You're not a mind reader. So quit pretending to have that ability. You clearly do not.

          • I don't agree. Mismanaging money and purposefully stealing it are not the same thing–although when it is taxpayer's money it is the same result to the taxpayer. Orson isn't arguing about the result. Stealing the money means the thief gains. Mismanaging the money doesn't benefit the mismanager. And that would make a difference to me–am I sitting next to a stupid person, or a person who just doesn't give a damn about me in the face of his own greed?

            But here's another thing. Of course the bulk of this money is going to the RCMP since they are the ones doing the security. But how was the dollar figure arrived at? I mean to say, sure there are extra costs involved in securing large areas and stuff. But are the RCMP salaries included as well? Because, wouldn't these officers still be working even if we weren't hosting G8/G20? Similar to the radios. Is a whole lot of stuff that we procure now in order to better manage security (but which has a much longer useful life) being lumped into this figure? Does anybody even know who did the figuring?

          • Does anybody even know who did the figuring?

            Ministry of Public Safety and the Treasury Board, if I were to hazard a guess.

            Is a whole lot of stuff that we procure now in order to better manage security (but which has a much longer useful life) being lumped into this figure?

            I'd bet money that it is. Better communication devices (ie smartphones, upgraded radios), crowd control "equipment", et cetera.

            But are the RCMP salaries included as well?

            Probably. Officers involved in the security operation – whether uniformed or not – will likely be scheduled to pull shifts requiring overtime pay, much as they were during the games. Did I hear right that some of the more basic stuff is being contracted out to private security? That's also not cheap.

      • That's why I'm saying in pure monetary terms. Looks like this:

        Corruption results in a hundred million lost
        or
        Incompetence results in hundreds of millions lost.

        Corruption vs. Incompetence. If I'm looking to save a buck, I'll take the corruption, sad as it is.

    • Of course, Adscam also implicated the Liberals in widespread corruption, graft, theft, misuse and misdirection of public funds, and other illegal and illicit activities.

      But you're right. The $1 billion tab to safeguard leaders of the world's 20 largest economies (representing $50 trillion in economic output, more than 80% of the world total) is indeed higher than the paltry $40 million stolen by Liberals in Adscam.

      • Wow. Was it really $40 million? I'd forgotten that the amount was that high.

        Where did it all go? Do you have a rough break down?

        • Ask him to list the Liberals who were charged while he's at it.

          • While I can empathize (or is it sympathize?) with your line of thought, I can't agree that the threshhold we want our politicians to exceed should be "Well, there were serious concerns with his/her behaviours and actions, but hey, not enough to bring a criminal charge against them, so everythings peachy!"

          • I don't think anybody here (at least anybody in their right mind) is saying that everything's peachy. There's that problem again with certain posters completely mischaracterizing or misrepresenting what other posters have said.

          • Uhhh, can you clarify who is being misrepresented or mischaracterized by whom?

          • No Liberals were charged because of the statute of limitations when charging political crooks.
            That law was changed by Harper in the Accountability Act.
            Liberals dodged jail time because of Chretien made sure the time had passed ( I think it was 3 years, not sure)

          • Really? The time frame for laying charges for some crimes was (still is for other crimes) only 3(?) years? That seems incredible to me, and surely did need to be changed.

            Btw, what was it that Chretien did to ensure that charges were not laid through that 3(?) year period of time?

          • Nope. Absolutely false. Why would you believe Wilson. Her job is to come here and confuse her nonsense with facts.

            There is no statute of limitations on an indictable criminal offence in Canada. People can be charged 20 years after the fact.

          • Well, that's a bit unfortunate….I hope Wilson will be back to help to straighten out this confusion; I'd like to try to understand how Wilson came to accept that misinformation.

            Thanks!!

          • Incompetence or corruption?

    • "Just in terms of pure dollars and cents?"

      Worse than AdScam but about the same as gun registry.

      "Sheila Fraser blasted the federal government 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." cbc, nov 2009

      • Hey, I'm not a big fan, but at least with the gun registry you get something tangible out of it.

        • A tragedy-free G20 summit seems tangible enough to me.

          • True, but how will we ever know if that result could have been achieved by spending a much smaller portion of the money that will be spent.

            Somewhat the same as how it is basically impossible to demonstrate how much harm has been prevented by the gun registry.

          • True, but how will we ever know if that result could have been achieved by spending a much smaller portion of the money that will be spent.

            Ontologically, we can't. However, it's not hard to identify wasteful spending, if one has access to the cost breakdowns and other details. Hopefully, we'll get more information very soon.

          • Good point, good point, we should be able to get some idea if the some of the G8/G20 costs seem wasteful, although we'll still be left wondering if we could have achieved the same result with half of the "legitimate" costs.

            Anyhoo, to your knowledge, was a similar analysis ever done regarding the implementation of the gun registry? On one hand that original estimate of $2 million seems very low, but on the other hand how hard should it be to setup a relatively simple database that needs to be populated with X million records? How much of the overruns were caused by the challenges of verifying incomplete or contradictory data and so on?

            [Edit]Some day I'll have to look up ontologically, it seems like a word that I might be able to use in the future! ;-)

          • I don't know enough about the gun registry to comment on the cost overruns. I'm really not sure exactly how it spiraled out of control.

            I would hope that we could achieve the same G20 security result for much less money, but I would need more information to be sure.

          • Without information pertaining to the actual cost breakdowns, the justification line of "we're doing it to protect people" sounds like "we're laying cheetah traps in downtown Toronto to keep the cheetahs away," and then suggesting, by the simple observation that there are no cheetahs in Toronto, that the traps are working.

  3. The $930 million in security costs for G8 Huntsville and G20 Toronto seems ridiculously high.

    On the other hand, it may be justified. I would urge the government to do a better job explaining why the figure is so high (half seems to be going to the RCMP directly).

    • Who cares, say it loud Liberals, say it proud, Boondoggle!!!

      Soldiers with guns. In our cities. In Canada. We did not make this up.

      • Okay. I'll say it.

        Soldiers with guns. In our cities. In Canada. Costing us a billion dollars. Over a few days. We did not make this up.

        • Ha. Perfect.

        • Um, not soldiers. RCMP with guns in our cities.

          • Boondoggle!!!

          • The army will be there as well.

    • It would be unforgivably and devastatingly tragic if anything were to happen to world leaders while on Canadian soil, so I am not opposed to providing a very high level of security. That being said, a billion dollar price tag sure seems very, very high.
      I agree that the government needs to do a better job explaining the expense, and IMHO, an analyses by Mr Page would provide full accountability.

    • Hmmm….any excuse and never miss a blame someone else rhetoric.

      9/11? Have they been talking to Rudy Guiliani.

      There have been several G20/G8's since 9/11. How in hell can they make that excuse?

      • I just want to point out that it wasn't the 'Toronto-loving Liberals' who are quoted as saying "people of Huntsville, Muskoka and most importantly the people in the large city of Toronto are safe.”

        Okay, Huntsville? That was the Conservatives who think you are unimportant compared to your Torontonian counterparts.

    • For someone to justify a price tag of almost a billion dollars, they're going to need to convince me that Toronto and cottage country in 2010 are 30 times more dangerous than London was in 2009.

      • LKO – I'm not defending anyone here, but take into account that London has a built-in infrastructure from decades of anti-terrorism experience. So let's be reasonable and set the bar at 20 times.

        • I should say too, that I don't have a big problem with security costing more here than last year in London or Pittsburgh. Maybe we legitimately needed more additions to our already existing infrastructure and personnel than those cities did.

          I just can't see any possible justification for going from the $30 million that London spent, to over 950 million for this year. This isn't Afghanistan. It's just not that much more dangerous here.

          • It could be, too, that they are lumping infrastructure spending in cottage country into the security mix. Again, though, it does seem like quite a jump

      • Well up in the near north, they have mosquitoes, giant rodents with large teeth capable of destroying trees, and moose just looking to block motorcades and cause generally cause havoc. I do not believe London has any of that (although some of the Brits are rather well endowed toothwise). At first glance, Toronto seems much safer although I have heard rumors of strange multicolored moose left by a crazed former city official roaming the streets.

  4. If there was one issue to galvanize the Liberals against the Conservatives this is it. It's clearly a huge waste of money due to governmental incompetence and/or mismanagement, and if there are some Canadians who aren't aware of the issue, the Liberals should make them aware of it during the summer. Your move, Iggy…

  5. I noted that Pierre Poilievre went all monotone tiny voice in his cameo appearances, evoking, as usual, gradually rising mayhem in the Chamber.

    What a dick.

    I hope the Speaker has a word with him about this disrespectful tactic, as he apparently did with Baird a bit earlier in the session.

  6. This is a perfect example of what so maddens and disappoints me about the Harper party.

    If they are such bloody good managers of the public purse as they continually claim (albeit often falsely), then I'm sure when faced with this security bill, Harper and/or his Ministers demanded complete briefings and explanations as to why the cost seems so out of control. Perhaps they even took some mitigating actions. If so, then in response to the completely legitimate opposition and media questions, how bloody hard is it for the PM to say:

    "Mr Speaker, I'm sure the opposition understands that security is a essential and considerable cost component of these important international gatherings. However, when confronted with these spending figures, I too was concerned and last month directed an exhaustive review of all G8/G20 security spending plan be undertaken. I received that review last week and will table it in this House tomorrow."

    Not bloody hard at all, Unless of course, they haven't been managing the spend properly or they have something to hide. There is just no damn reason to take grief on this sort of mundane issue unless you're hiding something.

    • Bingo.

      There is now not a SINGLE political party in this country that can currently claim to be sound managers of the public purse. Three parties fail on rhetoric, and one on conduct.

      And this country is the one the rest of the world is told to study as an example of responsible sanity. The world is in big, big trouble.

  7. And will spending all this money guaranteed the security of the visiting heads of state? The answer is no.
    A nation could spend multiple billions and still not prevent the completely unexpected. and unpredictable.

    • the completely unexpected. and unpredictable.

      FWIW, very, very, very few occurrences meet that criteria….

  8. "We would not organize a children's party … "

    I would be careful with this line of reasoning, Iggy. We all remember the clusterfcuk a couple of months ago when Libs defeated their own abortion motion. At least Cons manage to not vote against themselves.

    • At least the Libs didn't spend a billion dollars voting against themselves.

      • Anon…..no but they succeeded in blowing at least $1 billion on a long gun registry that was suppose to cost $2 million net.

        There is lots of room for criticism of any government. However, do you think Harper invented the security needed for the summits or do you think he took the advice of the experts? Careful it is a trick question.

    • And, actually, given the absolute insanity some parents have displayed as they blow the kid's college fund on ponies and clowns and magicians and caterers for the look-how-stupidrich-we-are bragging rights against the Joneses, there is a not inconsiderable number of people who would organize a children's party this way.

      • It would't be so bad if we were actually getting ponies and clowns and magicians and caterers for all this money.

    • We like it when Parliamentarians actually have a mind and a conscience of their own. You Conservatives might try getting candidates who don't NEED the marionette strings in order to do stuff.

      • That argument makes sense if you suspend the reality that parties whip their MPs' votes all the time, Jenn.

        • Ah, but that is one of those English language things, MYL, and I think you know it.

          When we are talking about the Conservative caucus, "all the time" means every time.

          When we are talking about the other parties' (or I guess I should say the Liberals since that's the only one I actually know about) "all the time" means regularly, but not every time.

          • Fair point. I intended "regularly" and should have used that term.

          • "Prime Minister Stephen Harper will vote against a private member's bill promoted by one of his own MPs that would add new Criminal Code penalties for those who coerce women to have an abortion.

            A senior government official also says that while the prime minister will not "whip" or demand Conservative MPs vote as he votes, it will be "very strongly recommended" that Conservatives vote to defeat the bill." CanWest, May 20, 2010

            When Liberals defeated their own abortion motion the other week, it was not due to a free vote of conscience, it was incompetence in Iggy's office.

            And please tell us more, Jenn_, about how the Con caucus is told how to vote every time.

          • Sure thing, bergkamp.

            So, the Auditor General asked for permission to do a value-for-money audit of MP expenses. The Board of Internal Economy or whatever it calls itself turned her down. The Bloc (as a party) said they were open to have her come and examine the books, and slowly, one by one, several Liberal and NDP MPs popped up to say they have no problem with it. . . . then . . . finally, Harper said he'd approve a meeting between the Board and the AG to negotiate something. Not one single solitary member of the CPC Party had the guts? Initiative? vocal chords? to come out with the other MPs and say it was okay with them. And remembering that the CPC MPs number more than either of the Liberal or NDP MPs.

            Because they had to wait to be told "how to vote" (in this case that should be "what to say")

  9. Harper. The most expensive PM ever.

    • Why are Canadian taxpayers footing the bill for this kind of incompetence?

      Because, my dear Iggly-Wiggly, you keep voting confidence in him.

      • That bit of truth telling got you two minus points? Here's one back.

  10. Security from a few thousand young anti-globalization, pro-human rights demonstrators hurling epithets and rocks followed by a wrestling match with police after they take a face-full of RCMP Staff Sgt. Hugh Stewart's famous 1997 vintage spicy pepper mix? They'll be kept so far back from the action by 20 foot high chain link fences that they'll never see a G8/G20 leader let alone be heard by any of them. Sure, there could be a "Squeaky Fromme" -type of incident but the chances of that are probably greater in the home countries of the leaders than it is in Canada.

    Waste not want not.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2010/05/g8-g

    • Open_Democracy….do you want to take a chance? Canada needs to ensure it provides the protection that is necessary for the leaders. In fact I would suggest that some countries dictated what security arrangements they wanted to protect their leader and delegations.

      • You're right, hollinm. We'd better not chance it. Let's call the whole thing off.

  11. Is anyone able to corroborate Toews assertion that this figure was always expected and that the $160m that was originally estimated was only a partial estimate?

    Cause I don't believe him for a second.

    • Even if it was budgeted, it's still absurd.

      • Yeah, there's absolutely no way that a billion dollars for security is just the "cost of doing business".

        (in comparison, the feds ponied up $1.2 billion for the Olympics)

        • Here's a theory that I shall posit: the RCMP has effectively had its budget frozen – at the very least, its labour budget frozen – for the past few years, and will for the forseeable future.

          This (conceivably) means that federal enforcement – like white collar crime, human trafficking, drug trade, etc investigations all kinda stall, because there's no longer room for any overtime (on surveillance, for example), or "overages" of any sort, including updating technology and the tools of the trade.

          Is it at all possible that this ballooning is a way for the Treasury Board to somehow make up for the shortfall in other areas?

  12. I think 1 bil is insane, but I'm delighted to see that the Liberals and their supporters here have suddenly become so budget conscious.

    • I guess somebody took notes at the ThinkFest when the notion that ongoing fiscal insanity is unsustainable was raised.

    • Yeah. Liberals know nothing about budgeting.

      Or surpluses.

      It was all deficit spending and borrowing against our childrens' future when the Liberals were in charge. Yup. Historic deficits and runaway spending. That's what we always got from the Liberals.

      And we've ALWAYS been at war with Eastasia

      • Throwing out an Orwell reference? You better believe that's a thumbs up!

    • Undercover cops posing as rock throwing protesters?

  13. Good idea for Kevin Page to do an audit of how prepared Canada is in the event of a terrorist attack.

    The cost of assets, like riot control gear and equiptment (like fancy radios and a command center to monitor the situation), crowd control fences and training of personel in dealing with protestors/riots/terrorist cost big bucks, but well spent.

    I have no doubt that Harper has used the meetings as leverage to get the equiptment and training Canada needs to prepare for a terrorist attack, cuz gawd knows, there is no way he could get Parliament to pass a bill to fund $1 B in domestic security needs, in this minority parliament .

    • Oh, good. It's nothing serious then.

      The government's just lying to us because they think there's no way that our elected representatives would allow them to spend our money this way if they told us all the truth about what they were really using it all for.

      That makes me feel much better.

      Is there anything else you think the government is lying to us about because they know we'd freak out if we knew?

    • Are you the "Wilson" from that Tom Hanks movie? 'Cause that would explain a lot. ;-)

      Seriously, if Harper has a legitimate explanation, then why the hell doesn't he have the courage to stand up and say it?

    • Why not? He would just have to explain himself.

    • If that's what he's doing Wilson why wouldn't he present it that way. Of course that would mean we've been at risk all the time he's been in power, including during the Olympics. The TO police chief said he was offered the equipment being purchased at half price, but he said he hasn't got the budget for it and so won't be keeping any of it. When this much money is being spent in such a hurry, you have to worry how prudently the money is being spent.

    • Right, because it is proving so very difficult for Harper to get legislation passed.

  14. I have no idea whether the cost of security for the summits is excessive or not. Of course the opponents of the government will automatically say it is and there must be something wrong. How do you conduct an audit on something that hasn't taken place. If the wages for police are the wages for the police how do you say they should have had less police?

    This is absolutely stupid. We have the world leaders coming to Canada in unprecedented back to back summits. Harper and the government have an obligation to ensure the event goes off without a security incidence.

    Unless the opposition can prove the money is being wasted it sounds like the hysterics surrounding the H1N1 issue.

    • "I have no idea whether the cost of security for the summits is excessive or not.'

      If you had a dollar, and you spent 50 cents…
      how much money would you have left?
      About 70.
      – Seventy cents? – Seventy cents.
      – So much for NASA. – We should go to Kmart.
      After this, Ray.
      400 Oak Street.
      Do you know how much a candy bar costs?
      – About $100. – $100, huh?
      You know how much one of those new compact cars costs?
      About $100.

      For context, here is a list of the Most Expensive Things Ever Built:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world%27s_mo

      OMG, this is funny, someone has already added the summit to the list on wikipedia, it wasn't there last week.

      • By any chance, was it you who added it?

        • No, I had been looking at that list a few days ago to try to get a comparison for the $2 billion parliament renovations. I suppose there is an edit history with IP addresses if you're still curious.

    • Security costs for some of the more recent summits:

      G8 summit Gleneagles, Scotland, July 2005: $110 million
      G20 summit London, April 2009: $30 million
      G20 summit Pittsburgh, September 2009: $18 million US

      I'll give you one thing, this IS absolutely stupid.

      • Maybe Toews got a decimal wrong. That's got to be it.

      • Pittsburgh costs were Homeland security costs ONLY and did not include military costs nor policing costs — which were picked up by the State of Pennsylvania. I am not sure how the other costs compare, but it is important to be careful to compare apples and apples. London, for example, already has a ton of security cameras in place — and other "terrorist preparedness" measures, some dating back to the IRA days.

    • How about we keep it unprecedented and keep our billion?

    • "I have no idea whether the cost of security for the summits is excessive or not."

      And you, who referenced a certain registry earlier, must then have no idea whether it 's costs are excessive or not.

      After all, according to the 'police' you invoke to backstop your fallacies, said registry is helping them in their work, yet you and your fellow travelers shout them down from every sturdy hiding place you can muster.

      Could 'the opposition' at the time of said registries' introduction and implementation 'prove' the money was being wasted? It's doubtful. Yet still, it was scandalous. Hysterically so.

      And, "If the wages for police are the wages for the police how do you say they should have had less police?" means less than nothing. Bafflegab,

      London managed to pull this kind of stunt off for less than 2 cents on the dime we're being conned for.

      Boondoggle!

      • when comparing, don't forget how CRAZY expensive London is, too.

  15. One billion for security and given Harperite history, at least 40% spent without tender, involving, "friends", of his paraty. This to go along with 50 million spent on advertising harperites during the Olympics and what? Now 100 million on polling?
    This after years of holier-than-thou, ad nauseum, " accountability", Harper is beyond contempt; this is open, nose-thumbing theft of taxpayer money!

  16. The cost may or may not be excessive for security. The really stupid decision was having the meeting in downtown Toronto in the first place. That's why the damn thing is costing so much. If they'd used their brains and just held the event somewhere not surrounded with countless sniping positions (dozens of condo buildings), it would probably cost 5-10% of current estimates.

    That no one in the government stopped this and said "this is stupid" reflects poorly on the thinking skills of everyone with decision making power involved. Not being shocked and embarrassed at this horrendous waste of money says a lot about their party and their unwavering defenders, too.

    It's nice to see that at least the odd conservative on here is principled enough to call bull on this. I guess there really is a big difference between being a Conservative and being a conservative.

  17. Nice little distraction from the MPs' expenses' audit question, perhaps?
    Or have I become a little too cynical due to the machinations of our UK MPs in the near past?

  18. For me, this has gone beyond partisan politics and into the realm of genuine curiosity. How is it possible to spend over a billion dollars on security? I'd like to see an itemized list of costs, if only to know how this sort of thing could happen.

    • And, for 72 hours only

    • Laser Narwhalcopters

    • Each G20 leader has been assigned a personal body guard of 10 Jack Bauer-type counter-terrorism experts at the low, low cost of $5 million per agent, to use to supplement their own security.

      It works out to a bargain at less than $1.6 million per day (per agent) with the extra $300,000 per agent going to the 200 black Ferraris each of the agents will be driving around in during the Summits, which I believe they get to keep.

  19. I went to see the fun surrounding the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City (2001 I think) and let me tell you, that ammount of tear gas costs a lot of money.

    I believe the costs for fencing off most of downtown Quebec City and providing security to that summit came to about $100M.

    The Bloc should be outraged that they're spending ten times that to protect Toronto.

    FYI to anyone who happens to be in Toronto next month. Don't wear any of you favourite clothes that weekend. You can wash something a dozen times but you'll never… ever quite get all the tear gas out.

  20. Has anyone ever captured a photo of John Baird in any legislative body where he isn't snarling, sneering, or spitting?

  21. Baird is an A$$ Hole