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'Steamboat Tony'

That’s what Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc called Industry Minister Tony Clement yesterday in QP. The reason: Tony has decided to take a 400 000 $ portion of the 1 billion $ price-tag it’s going to cost to host this G8/G20 summit and spend it on restoring a steamboat in his riding, named the “Bigwin” ironically enough:

That’s a photo of the Bigwin, which Tony wants to restore with G8/G20 taxpayer-funded expenditures. So, what’s the big deal? 400 000$ is chump change out of a 1 billion $ budget, right? Well, how about the fact that this restoration has nothing even to do with the G8/G20 summit, as reported by Aaron Wherry of Macleans:

Here, finally, did Mr. LeBlanc turn to the small matter of this mysterious marine vessel. “Mr. Speaker, let us look at one example of uncontrolled spending,” Mr. LeBlanc presaged the big reveal. “The industry minister is using $400,000 in G8 money to restore a vintage steamboat named, wait for it, the Bigwin. A vintage steamboat for what? To taxi the leaders from Muskoka to Toronto? Wait, it gets better.” That seemed inconceivable, but Mr. LeBlanc apparently had still something more.

“The steamboat will not even be in the water until after the G8 is over,” he reported.

There was relative silence from the government side. “Why,” Mr. LeBlanc finished, “are Canadians paying for Steamboat Tony’s latest ride?”

So we have Tony Clement spending taxpayers money on a project that has absolutely nothing to do with the G8/G20 summitt.  Tony isn’t finished there on lavishing gifts on his riding: the Liberals report he’s also spending 100 grand in a remote village to put a gazebo up in a vacant lot (must be one heck of a gazebo); a village that the world leaders won’t even be in to see Tony’s expenditure.

How many more of these “projects” are included in this 1 billion $ price tag for the G8/G20 summit? This is a  price tag that already is hundreds of millions of dollars more expensive then prior G8/G20 summits in other countries. I’d like to see item-by-item justification for the amount of money being spent – the Parliamentary Budget Officer or the Auditor-General should be given access to these expenditures immediately, to see how much of it is legitimate costs, and how much of it is being spent under the guise of summit spending, but really is being used as a form of pork-barrel politics by the Conservative government.

6 comments to ‘Steamboat Tony’

  • Alison S

    Disgraceful. Any inquiry into this will, no doubt, be met with the usual stonewalling.

  • Jan

    It gets worse – there’s 70 million being spent in his riding.

  • Something that a lot of people seem to be missing is that the $1 billion we keep hearing about is for security. That $1 billion is far from being the only money taxpayers are shelling out for the G8 and G20. Security costs do not include the rental of the Toronto Convention Centre, transportation of conference attendees and delegates, hospitality suites for various government departments, etc., etc., etc. There’s a whole other non-security slush fund with which pays for things like Tony’s steamboat.

    Harper’s visit this week to the UK, France and other European capitals is not part of the $1 Bn security budget. These “preparatory” meetings are, however, directly related to the G8/G20. Apparently, there won’t be enough time for Harper to make his case for the Canadian banks during the conferences and he must go out a pitch ahead of time… all on the taxpayer dime and all outside of the touted $1 billion security. A couple weeks ago, he sent a few high level cabinet ministers on the very same mission to the very same places. Despite all the taxpayer funded junkets, the EU leaders are remaining steadfast in their demand for a global bank tax.

    All that road work that was done last year and earlier this year in Clement’s riding was clearly stated to be in preparation for the G8 but none of that money falls into the $1 billion security budget.

    I hope that the $1 billion represents the bottom of the iceberg and not the tip. It sure as hell does not represent all of the money that Canadian taxpayers are shelling out for a hobnob session where men in suits make promises they never keep. All that money pledged to Africa at the Gleneagles G8? A fraction of it has materialized. How about we don’t have any more G8 or G20 summits until the promises from previous summits are fulfilled?

  • TofKW

    This is getting closer and closer to a ‘sponsorship’ style scandal. Does anyone here doubt that maybe one of these frivolous G8-G20 money recipients will end up being a political contributor of Clement’s?

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