Madam Speaker, on September 27, I asked why this government had not released about 85% of the spending details on the G8 and G20 summits.
To date, the Conservatives have disclosed only about $200 million of the costs associated with the summits. Now, about one month later, nothing really has changed. Despite the public safety minister's assurances that the government is prepared to release the cost of the summit, we have not received any new information.
In fact, after several meetings on the G8 and G20 summits at the public safety and government operations committees, we have learned that the government really does not know the final costs.
We have been told by the Conservatives that they will wait for the receipts to come in before telling taxpayers the total cost. Are they telling us that they have no real budget assumptions, no tracking of the costs, the overruns, or the matching of those expenses? I find this hard to believe.
Ward Elcock, the Privacy Council Coordinator of the G8 and G20 summits, told the members of the government operations committee, of which I am one, that “until you actually have a plan, you don't know precisely what the cost will be”.
The G8 and G20 summits are over with. I am sure they had a good plan in place. What we need to know is whether or not they actually knew the expenditures, the budget, and the associated costs. Surely they must have had some idea of what they were budgeting, how they were budgeting, and on what they were spending the money, on a go-forward basis.
We know that the Prime Minister's own department, the Privy Council Office, had the final oversight. They are the ones taking all the budgets and doing the integrated review. They have the sign-off on all the expenses and decision-making.
They signed off on $4.1 million to rent a quarry near Huntsville. They signed off on $27.5 million to rent, convert, and dismantle a building in Barrie. And they signed off on $334,000 for sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and bug spray.
I am sure that those expenses have been allocated, noted, and that someone is doing some cost comparison on them. I am sure the Prime Minister is not just handing out blank cheques on these costs.
This morning in the government operations committee we heard from the Chief Superintendent Alphonse MacNeil, the commander of the Integrated Security Unit in Barrie, Ontario. Superintendent MacNeil was quite clear. He said that if an event is done in one place instead of two, the costs will be lower.
That makes good common sense to me. The question becomes, why did the Conservatives decide to host it in two different locations? I think we are going to get some information on that over time, but the Conservatives made some political decisions to host this in two locations.
The other interesting point we should note is how late they were in telling the security people involved in this, the RCMP and the Integrated Security Unit, when the G20 would be held in Toronto. They did not know until just a few months before. In December 2009, they were told the G20 was going to be held in Toronto. They had to scramble. In scrambling, they probably spent money hand over fist to become prepared for a G20 summit that was going to be held in June.
First, why did we not know that we were going to be hosting the G20 summit? Why did Canada not plan to host the G20? Why did Canada not put forward a good process to ensure that the integrated security had time enough to plan properly?
Second, the costs associated with the G20 and G8 summits must be known by someone within government. They must have some details. We have some, about $200-million worth. Now we need to know the rest.