Tories say artificial lake will help 'showcase Canada'
Published Monday, June 7, 2010 10:07PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 1:52AM EDT
The foreign affairs minister is defending a $2-million display, including an artificial lake, that G8 and G20 summit organizers are building inside their Toronto media centre as a marketing technique to promote foreign investment in Canada.
According to government photos, the "reflecting pool" will be surrounded by canoes and Muskoka chairs, giving reporters a taste of Muskoka's cottage country where the G8 summit is taking place.
The scene, which NDP Leader Jack Layton called a waste of taxpayers' money, is part of a larger display that will include replicas of other Ontario landmarks.
"Didn't someone, anyone in government, think a $2 million, 72-hour fake lake to host a meeting on fiscal restraint was a bad idea?" Liberal MP Mark Holland asked during Question Period in the House of Commons.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon told CTV's Power Play Monday evening that the get-up is about seizing the opportunity to showcase Ontario and Canada to the more than 3,000 media representatives covering the summits.
"Canada is hosting the most important summits back to back that we've ever seen in the country, and we're using this opportunity to be able to showcase Canada…," Cannon said. "Because ultimately what we're looking for here is to find opportunities for people to come and invest in Canada after."
When pressed on the issue of the artificial lake, Cannon replied: "These are marketing techniques that have been put forward by our best people to be able to showcase Canada, and that's what we all want. We want to be proud of what Canada represents and what we can do."
A protest group is applying to the Geographical Names Board of Canada to have the lake named "Harper's Folly."
The Council of Canadians has called for Harper to cancel the summits.
"This lake must have an appropriate name, and who better to name it after than Prime Minister Stephen Harper who approved of this expenditure as well as another $1.1 billion to be spent on three days of meetings," the group says in its application to the board.
Meanwhile, other ministers were on the defensive about the summits Monday.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the controversial $1 billion security bill for the summits is just the cost of doing business if Canada wants to be a leading country on the world stage.
"You know, Canada is playing an important role in the world and Canadians have to decide whether that role in the world is worth playing," Flaherty told reporters in Toronto.
"In today's international environment, unfortunately, it's necessary to spend substantially to have security."
He said the United States and the United Kingdom have hosted previous events and it's now "Canada's turn."
Besides the security bill, the entire cost to Canadian taxpayers for hosting the summits has yet to be tallied.
Also on Monday, the new commander of NORAD , U.S. Admiral James Winnefeld, told reporters the organization will be monitoring the skies during the summits.
NORAD's mission "involves surveillance and assessment of potential threats and the intentions of aircraft that might be entering the airspace around those particular events," Winnefeld told reporters in Ottawa.
NORAD is the U.S-Canadian organization responsible for aerospace security for the two countries.
With a report from CTV's Roger Smith