At the end of June, President Barack Obama and leaders of the world's seven most powerful economies, as well as finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 countries, will meet in Ontario, Canada, for the Group of Eight (G-8) and Group of Twenty (G-20) summits. In an effort to ensure that world leaders remain safe, Canada's so-called Conservative government will spend close to US$950 million on security for the summits, which will last a total of three days.
In the wake of the riots during the 1999 World Trade Organization Conference in Seattle and the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York City, it is not unreasonable to ensure that government officials remain safe. Yet this Canadian stimulus program for police officers dwarfs the $25 million allocated by Congress for security at the 2004 G-8 summit in Sea Island, Georgia, and the $12.4 million that was reportedly spent on security during last year's G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.
Of course, the frivolous government spending doesn't stop there. In total, the Canadian government is expected to spend over US$1.15 billion, including millions spent on a temporary indoor lake to make international journalists feel as if they are in cottage country, even though they'll be in a convention center in downtown Toronto:
Journalists will be able to lounge in comfy Muskoka chairs on what is likely the only cottage dock in existence with bar service and high-speed Internet connections.
The loopy lake project is only part of a bigger prop called "The Canadian Corridor" being constructed inside the temporary media centre.
Foreign Affairs describes it all as "experiential and will provide the media with compelling stories, images and ideas that could form the basis of published and broadcast works."
Think: Drunk reporter falling in fake lake.
Foreign Affairs estimates the cost for the project will be $1.9 million, including draining the lake and dismantling the whole thing after three days.
At least, that's the bill so far.
Government documents show that just last month, the absolutely outside cost was supposed to be $1.5 million — an increase of almost 25% in 30 days.
At that rate, the public tab for plugging arguably the richest resort region in the nation will blow past $3 million like a blackfly in a hurricane.
In the age of video conference calls and Blackberrys, perhaps it would be wise to look at less costly ways for government officials to hold their meetings. In the mean time, considering America's steadily rising debt-to-GDP ratio, it would be wise for the United States, who will play host for the 2012 G-8 summit, to look at the Canadian example as a case study in what not to do.