Evidence of meeting #43 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was remember.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

9 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

If you don't mind, colleague, I'll take just a little time to answer that question.

We deliberately chose to be transparent. This is the government's decision, to be transparent, and to indeed put all the costs forward. Every penny that was spent will be accounted for, but we will also make it transparent. That is our legacy, and that is indeed our political creed with the Canadian public.

In terms of the costing, my officials, as I mentioned before for our budget at DFAIT.... We had budgeted $180 million to be able to host them. We have recently reported, as of October 28, that $122,661,986.92 has been spent. We are looking at a variance of $57,522,013. That is what we expect as of October 28 in terms of the expenses.

There will still be some more bills expected to come in. We expect our surplus at the end of this whole exercise to probably be in the vicinity of between $35 million and $40 million.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

I would just answer that in the legacy fund, as was announced in the budget, there was some $50 million allocated. About $45.7 million, and I say “about” because there are still a few bills—municipalities have an opportunity, until the end of December, to get the rest of their final bills in. It will be around $45.7 million.

Just as an example, we signed a contribution agreement for $3.5 million for improvements to the Jack Garland Airport. They ended up spending $3.1 million. This is the kind of work that went on throughout the Muskoka region. Where allocations were made, I think municipal partners did a good job of contracting and overseeing the work that had to be done—and of course had to be done before the summit took place—and in this case came in under budget. Many of the cases came in under the amount of the contribution agreements.

So people weren't running up the bills; they were in fact keeping them in line. In some cases, such as this.... This is a good example of keeping it substantially under budget but still getting the job done, which is what we asked of them.

9:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair John McKay

Thank you, Ministers. Thank you, Mr. Warkentin.

Mr. Martin, you have eight minutes, please.

December 9th, 2010 / 9:05 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to both of the ministers for being here today. It gives me the opportunity on behalf of a lot of Canadians to tell you to your face that we think the two-day G-8/G-20 was a phenomenal waste of time and money, nothing but a rhetorical jamboree for leaders to come here. In fact, we missed an opportunity to demonstrate to the world how our country might tighten our belt and put on the leanest, meanest summit ever, to send out the signal that the era of wretched excess is over, the wretched excess that led us into this catastrophic economic time that we're in.

It's not only a phenomenal waste of money at the worst possible time for the country. I argue that the only lasting legacy out of this might be a couple of new gazebos for Landslide Tony out in his riding, and that the most lasting legacy is changing the image of Toronto the Good into something like that of Watts or the Detroit riots or Kent State, because the only thing people remember now about your billion-dollar gabfest is the image of protesters getting their heads split open by armed officers in a most egregious fashion. That's what they're seeing night after night on the national news.

You know, $50 million.... You come to us today with a straight face and tell us that you're proud that you didn't spend the whole $50 million, sprinkling it around to beautify the Muskoka region. It's arguably the most beautiful region in this part of the world already. It didn't need another gazebo. Tony needed a gazebo; Muskoka did not.

I know that you've done your homework to come here and put on the best face possible for what I think was a phenomenal waste of time, energy, money, resources, reputation, and image. What is it going to cost us in terms of PR to bring back the image people used to have of Toronto?

I see that burning police car that nobody bothered to put any fire retardant on for hours and hours. I don't see you, Minister, shaking hands with world leaders. That was gone in a heartbeat. The rest of it is still lingering like a bad taste in people's mouths.

I guess I want to ask specifically about the reasoning and the logic behind what you, Minister Strahl, say are 16 communities.

I asked a question of Bryce Conrad specifically: to itemize the towns and communities that enjoyed some of Tony's grand largesse. They only had 10 communities; you have 16. I don't understand.

The question I put to Bryce Conrad was what other infrastructure or Building Canada fund money, etc., Tony's riding got in that same period of time. They claimed they couldn't answer that question. Perhaps you, as Minister of Infrastructure, could shed some light on this.

How much Building Canada fund money, Communities Component top-up, recreational trails program, and infrastructure stimulus money did Tony receive, above and beyond the $50 million of unmatched money that went into his riding?

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Just briefly to respond to your opening remarks—and I imagine the Minister of Foreign Affairs may want to respond—frankly, to use your logic about things being very costly and about how we shouldn't do it, we wouldn't even participate in the United Nations if it were just a matter of not wanting to spend money.

We do things—and I think the foreign affairs minister will respond to this—because we have an obligation to host the G-8; we have an obligation and the honour to host the G-20. When we did it, as the University of Toronto study showed, there were huge benefits to the Toronto area and some $320 million in benefits to the Muskoka area. The benefits for the Toronto hotel association are clear; the tourism association is delighted with the impact. So I don't buy your overall argument.

On the number of towns and projects, you mentioned that there is a difference between the number of projects and the number of towns. Some towns had more than one project, but towns throughout the area—I have the list of them here and could read them out—benefited from projects that they proposed. There were initiatives passed in council meetings. This mayors' council, which was really the local area leadership group, came together regularly to set those priorities, and those priorities were funded.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

But Minister, the optics of that don't please me either. You know, here's Tony with his cheque book saying, “How much do you want? How much do you want? How much do you want?” A guy who wins his riding by 46 votes all of a sudden has a goodie bag of $50 million to spread around the riding.

But can I ask one simple question? Did we look at the cheapest possible option? Why didn't we put it on a military base? The Kapyong Barracks in downtown Winnipeg have 400 heated houses that we keep empty and heated so they don't go skunky on us. There are other military bases across the country that could be easily secured and have accommodation and parade halls and mess arenas where you can accommodate huge numbers of people. This was not the cheapest option, even though we're in the worst economic crisis that we've faced in decades.

Why did you throw aside all of the cheaper options to host this thing if we couldn't get out of hosting it altogether?

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

I can respond.

I'm sorry that certainly, colleague, you feel that way. I, for myself—and I think I speak on behalf of my colleagues—was extremely pleased by the work that Canada put forward—

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

You're about the only one, sir.

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

—particularly in terms of maternal health. That got a great deal of support, not only among the recipient countries but obviously between members of the world community, that Canada is doing its part to be able to be accountable in terms of commitments taken at the G-8. We brought in a new accountability mechanism. Surely, colleague, you should congratulate us on that, but probably you don't have it in you to do so this morning—

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Can you imagine what Randy White would say if he was still sitting? He would be wearing a Mexican sombrero—

9:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair John McKay

Mr. Martin, please let the minister answer.

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

I think that doubling our aid to Africa, being able to step up and work with other economies around the world to be able to get us out of the recession, to call upon countries to put forward stimulus packages to be able to well manage the debt as well as the deficit in the years to come--I don't think that is time wasted. I think, indeed, it's extremely important to do it.

Now I know that your party, colleague, is a party of protectionists. I know that your party would not deal with the outside world, that we would all be enclosed here around borders that are there. But you, unfortunately, colleague, are going to have to open the window and see exactly what's happening in the rest of the world. We're pleased and happy—

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

I believe in balanced budgets and not squandering the nation's precious finite resources—

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Pontiac, QC

—to be able to go forward and make sure that when we look at the economic circumstances around the world, we're in a position to be able to exhibit our leadership—

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair John McKay

Minister, could you finish your statement? Thank you.