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Reaction roundup: leaders respond to the ballooning G8/G20 security budget

Billion-dollar babies: security costs for the G8 and G20 continue to grow (Image: Subterranean Tourist Board)

Just days after the Harper government announced that it’s preparing to spend up to $930 million on security for the G8 and G20 summits, the cost has ballooned to $1.1 billion, with further increases likely (read: inevitable). The mind-boggling amount has politicians and officials scrambling to either defend it or denounce it. In the process, they are taking the opportunity to champion their favourite causes. Here, some highlights from the weekend coverage.

David “Broken Record” Miller: still whipping the Transit City horse
“Would we use $1 billion to build a Finch LRT to serve the neediest people in Toronto, to create 10,000 jobs, to build public transit for 100 years, or would we use it for security for a two-day event in Toronto?”

Michael Ignatieff: Conservatives are incompetent
“We would not organize a children’s party this way, and now we are on the hook for a billion-dollar security charge on top of a $54-billion deficit… Canadian families who do balance their budgets wonder why this incompetence has been allowed to happen.”

Anarchists: this can only mean government oppression
“It’s oppressive, really,” Adrienne Pan, 28 years old, told the Post at an anarchist book fair. “That’s not going to help anyone. It’s totally an excuse to cut into social programs that do help people.”

Jack Layton: Harper won’t allow a pre-G20 election, so let’s screw him
“The opposition has the opportunity to do some tough bargaining with Mr. Harper right now… But for that to happen, Mr. Ignatieff has got to be a real Opposition leader.”

Transportation Minister John Baird: let 9/11 paranoia continue
“Since 9/11, security is a new reality, and we will not be intimidated by thugs and terrorists who would want to come to Canada and cause us harm. We are going to make sure that people are safe.”

Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada: what about international aid?
“It is painful to think a billion dollars is being spent on the security for a three-day event when we are capping commitments to international aid for the next several years because we can’t find the money.”

Auditor General Sheila Fraser: gimme your books
“Obviously, a billion dollars is a lot of money, but I think we have to recognize that security is expensive… I would expect we would have looked at this in any case, given the costs involved. And we will wait, obviously, until the summits have been held.”

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews: bring it on, Sheila
“[I] welcome the auditor general reviewing…I can assure you they’re real costs, and I believe that they are justifiable. It costs a lot to showcase Canada,” he added. “It costs a lot to bring heads of state to Canada.”