Friday, May 28, 2010

Jason Kenney's Ever Evolving Position on G20 Spending

AM-G7-Wrong-City, Bgt code:2; Budget; Espy AP, Reut; Tax group says Halifax wrong choice for G-7 Canadian Press Newswire Sun Apr 30 1995, 1:21pm ET
Section: National General News
Byline: By Steve Lambert
Dateline: HALIFAX

HALIFAX (CP) - The federal government was wrong to put next month's G-7 summit in Halifax because the city needs too many government-funded fixups, says a national taxpayers' lobby group.

The heads of the leading industrialized nations meet in the Nova Scotia capital June 15-17 and the federal, provincial and local governments are spending $8.1 million to spruce it up.

The federal government ``should have chosen a location which wouldn't cost that kind of money,'' said Jason Kenney, spokesman for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a watchdog group promoting cuts in taxes and government spending.

``There are conference facilities available, I'm sure, in that part of the world as well as across Canada that could have hosted an event like this without spending several million dollars to upgrade them.''

Halifax has a modern trade and convention centre, but the G-7 isn't being held there. Organizers have chosen instead two waterfront buildings - the brick Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and a nearby green-tinted office building that some locals call The Green Toad.

The infrastructure money is being used for everything from road repairs and a new outdoor stage to temporary parks that will cover vacant downtown lots. Boards around empty buildings will be painted.

``We're supposed to be a major industrialized country,'' Kenney said from Toronto.

``A major industrialized country surely has conference sites where it can host significant dignitaries without having to spend millions of dollars sprucing up the environment.''

Kenney's remarks are not the first critical pre-summit comments on Halifax or the province.

An article in the February edition of the magazine Stern - widely circulated in Germany, one of the G-7 countries - called Nova Scotia a ``dump'' and its people lazy.

The magazine said ``fish catches are unloaded and inspected in slow motion, and everybody has a minute to chat.''

On top of infrastructure spending, Ottawa will pay millions for security, accommodations and other costs.

But local politicians and some economists say they're confident that economic spinoffs and future tourism will more than make up for the spending.

``My feeling is that the biggest impact will be on the reputation of the city,'' said David Amirault, an analyst with the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.

The three-day summit is expected to pump $7.3 million into local businesses and the Nova Scotia government, and Amirault said images of Halifax broadcast around the world will boost tourism for years to come.

Kenney disagrees.

``I'm sure it will raise Halifax's name recognition throughout much of the world,'' he said. ``But apart from seeing some photo-ops with politicians, I don't know how this is going to promote tourism to Halifax.''

Now: G8, G20 summit costs climb, surpass $1 billion



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