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Next time, G20 pooh-bahs should bring their own security

A caption below a photo of security in Toronto...” Welcome to Toronto. Shall we crush your head now, or later?

By Adrian MacNair  May 26, 2010 – 8:10 am

If the recent demand to conduct a performance audit on the $533 million spent by the House and Senate each year has your attention, then you may be interested to know Ottawa expects to burn through $833 million on the upcoming G8 and G20 summits next month. It practically makes Parliament look like a bargain in comparison.

The previous estimate of $179 million in March has since ballooned to nearly a billion dollars, reminiscent of the Olympic security fiasco originally budgeted at $175 million that ended up coming in at over a billion.

But while some folks might be understanding of the security arrangements for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the city of Vancouver to host the Olympic Games, it’s more than a little ridiculous to spend that amount twice in a single year. And for what? A meeting of political elites to discuss issues such as poverty, deficits, and out-of-control spending? You can’t make up irony this thick.

There’s something positively preposterous about spending $833 million on keeping poverty demonstrators at bay.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has even hinted that costs could rise by another $100 million — which means you can expect they almost certainly will — so the government has budgeted up to $930 million for a “medium-threat basis.”

What does that even mean? Does it really cost $1 billion to protect a bunch of politicians from people with placards? And if so, maybe it’s not worth hosting at all. What is the cost effectiveness of bringing together the equivalent of the world’s political aristocracy to talk about things they could have just as easily done via video feed? I mean, aren’t these the same leaders who filled the atmosphere with carbon emissions so they could gather in Copenhagen to discuss cutting carbon emissions?

Let’s face it. If it costs a billion dollars to bring together world leaders without having demonstrators tear them to pieces, perhaps we shouldn’t be doing it at all. And if it really needs to be done, why pick the most populous area of Canada to do it in? How much would it cost to rent out a banquet hall in Iqaluit?

I suspect that much of the security overkill is based on fanciful contingency planning and a preparedness to do battle should a Viking naval fleet decide to sack Toronto. Perhaps we should install a missile defence shield while we’re at it. Or an SDI system to thwart incoming nuclear warheads?

Maybe next time we should organize a BYOS event [Bring Your Own Security].

National Post:

Adrian MacNair is a Vancouver writer and blogger.

Bottom line...the G-countries could buy their own Caribbean island for much less but there’s nothing like spending tax payer’s money and sticking the tab in their face.

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