Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.
Ladies and gentlemen, we'll bring this committee to order, please. This is the 37th meeting of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.
We have five groups who wish to make presentations to the committee, and I am sure that our clerk, our very able clerk, has advised you on presentation time. You have up to ten minutes in which to make a presentation.
I'll simply go on the orders of the day, starting with Infrastructure Canada, please.
Thank you, committee members. I promise not to take the full ten minutes.
We're pleased to be here today to speak to the Government of Canada's G-8 legacy fund. Joining me today from Infrastructure Canada is my colleague Mr. Taki Sarantakis, the assistant deputy minister of policy and communications.
As the committee is well aware, Canada hosted the G-8 summit on June 25 and 26 of this year in the Muskoka region. This was Canada's fifth time hosting a summit since joining the G-8 in 1976. In budget 2009 the Government of Canada provided $50 million as a legacy fund to the Parry Sound--Muskoka region, which was the host of this year's summit. The funding was very much designed to assist the region to prepare for the hosting of the international summit as well as in part to compensate the region for the inconveniences of hosting an international event of this magnitude.
As the committee members present can surely appreciate, having a large group of world leaders and their respective delegations presents a number of significant challenges to the local population. These include dealing with the increased security, the media, and the sheer disruption of everyday life associated with this type of world-class event. The funding was intended to support projects that would enhance the visual and tourism image of the region and contribute to the successful hosting of the G-8 conference. This was not nor should it be seen as a traditional infrastructure program. It was very much a legacy to the region from the Government of Canada.
In total, we approved funding for 32 projects throughout the region, including for the G8 Centre in Huntsville and the North Bay Airport.
Sixteen different municipalities received much-needed infrastructure moneys to help improve their local roads and tourist attractions and beautify the downtown streetscaping to ensure that they were ready to host the world in June of this year. These municipalities worked night and day and mobilized contractors to ensure these projects were completed within the very tight timelines provided by the fund. These projects will help to leave a legacy for the region for both tourists and residents alike. They are to be commended for their efforts and the outcomes.
Mr. Chairman, the funding granted to the region for hosting the G8 Summit is consistent with the government longstanding tradition for this type of international event, mainly: the APEC Summit in 1997 in Vancouver, for which the Canadian government invested $60 million to widen route 1 and to make improvements to the Vancouver International Airport bridge, as well as to establish the new forestry centre at the University of British Colombia; the G8 Summit in 2002, in Kananaskis, Alberta, for which the government of Canada invested $5 million under an environmental heritage fund and built a passage for wild animals in Canmore along with the creation of a University of Calgary chair in fauna.
Furthermore, in Halifax in 1995 the Government of Canada provided $300,000 for the retrofit and rehabilitation of the Bluenose schooner; $8.1 million for local infrastructure investments to Halifax and Dartmouth areas, including local roads, beautification of the downtown areas, and streetscapings; as well as a $3.1 million contribution to retrofit Pier 21, which was provided to the community as a gift after the summit was completed.
That ends my opening remarks. My colleague and I would be more than prepared to answer questions.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen members of the committee, good day.
My name is France Pégeot. I'm the assistant deputy minister in Industry Canada responsible for the federal economic development initiative in northern Ontario, better known as FedNor.
I'm here to speak with you about the support provided by FedNor in the context of last summer's G-8 summit.
Before we deal with the issue of support, I would like to give you some context on FedNor, an Industry Canada initiative or program.
Since 1987, the government of Canada, through FedNor, has done effective work in collaborating with northern Ontario organizations and communities so as to promote and enhance northern Ontario economic development.
Through the northern Ontario development program, FedNor's principal funding program, and often referred to as the NODP, FedNor supports and promotes projects that benefit the economy of northern Ontario, namely by funding community economic development projects and by working with small and medium-sized enterprises to support their growth.
FedNor contributes to creating meaningful, long-lasting employment and more generally to strengthening economic development in the region. Since 2006 FedNor has approved over $156 million in support of close to 900 projects through the NODP to benefit northern Ontario's economy.
Tourism in its many forms is an avenue for economic diversification and a vital revenue stream for northern Ontario, and as a result is one of FedNor's priority areas for funding under the NODP.
To give you some background, I should point out that the tourism industry in northern Ontario has experienced and continues to experience some difficulties, most notably due to the economic downturn.
In 2006 to 2008, the total number of visitors to northern Ontario dropped by 15% and tourism-related expenses fell 12%.
The G-8 summit represented an opportunity to promote awareness about northern Ontario and what it has to offer. It was also an opportunity to leverage international media attention, and in turn increase tourism and investment activity in and for the region.
FedNor's main investments related to the G-8 were for four community economic development and tourism projects, worth approximately $2.6 million, which were funded under the NODP. These projects were deemed to contribute to economic growth and diversification, and that would result in short-term and long-lasting economic benefits to northern Ontario. All projects were funded from existing budgets and met the terms and conditions of the NODP.
Mr. Chairman, honourable members of the committee, good day.
My name is Renée Jolicoeur and I'm the assistant deputy minister of accounting, banking, and compensation of Public Works and Government Services Canada.
I personally became engaged with the G-8 and G-20 summits in November 2009 as the lead ADM for my department.
I have with me today Sandra Young, the acting regional director general for the PWGSC, Ontario region.
Public Works and Government Services Canada is the common service provider for multiple service lines for the Government of Canada and its agencies. We provide vital services such as accommodation, purchasing, information technology, and translation. PWGSC played a supportive role in the G-8 and G-20 summits through the provision of a series of services, mainly to DFAIT and RCMP, who were responsible for identifying and funding their requirements.
In fulfilling its responsibilities for the summit, PWGSC spent $32.1 million over the fiscal years 2009-10 and 2010-11. In terms of volume, we put in place 55 leases for a total value of $18.7 million, funded partially by PWGSC and partially by other departments. In addition, we put in place 150 contracts for goods and services totalling $94.2 million using a variety of contracting means, including the Government of Canada's public-tendering service, MERX.
Public Works and Government Services Canada unceasingly aims to acquire goods and services in such a way as to improve access, ensure competition, provide fair treatment for industry and foster value for money.
The department has committed to implementing a very competitive process, that is both open and fair, while respecting its obligations under national and international trade agreements as well as under government of Canada contracting regulations.
This is demonstrated by the fact that 93% of the total value of the goods and services contracts was competitively let.
In cases where a sole-source approach was taken on a specific requirement, we ensured there was a solid and fully documented rationale in place that complied with the Government of Canada contracting regulations. The reasons for the sole-source included national security, pressing emergency in which delay would be injurious to the public interest, the low dollar value of the contract, or only one person was capable of performing the service.
Wherever possible, options to reuse existing resources were sought. The table from the 2002 G-8 summit in Kananaskis was reused. Tables from the 2008 Quebec City francophonie summit were also used. We worked closely with our clients to maximize economies-of-scale opportunities.
When we learned of the possibility that a G20 Summit could be held at the same time as that of a G8, we sought to ensure that our G8-related contract could be used for the G20 as well.
I would also like to point out that we have made every effort to encourage small and medium-size companies to take part in the supply process for the summits. At the request of the Summit Management Office and local chambers of commerce, PWGSC's Office for SMEs provided information and seminars to entrepreneurs in the community on fundamental concepts of the sale of products and services to the Government of Canada.
As a service provider we can provide information on contracting processes and value of the contract. However, questions on what was required and why they were required must go to my colleagues in the respective client departments. It's also important to note that each department had specific contracting authorities that they exercised on their own.
As soon as we were engaged in the summit initiative, PWGSC began to formulate a robust governance structure and funding framework to coordinate and oversee our delivery on the G-8 and G-20. While we had previous experience in supporting summit events, this was the first time we were hosting two international events back to back, as well as a youth summit, a summit of global business leaders, and 29 preparatory events in the first half of 2010 in different regions across Canada.
Mr. Chair, PWGSC employees worked very hard, with the utmost dedication and integrity, and are proud to have been able to support our client colleagues and deliver on these goals.
I'm Mark Potter, director general responsible for policing policy at Public Safety Canada. I'm joined by my colleague, Hélène Filion, comptroller at the department.
Overall, for the G-8 and G-20 summits, Public Safety Canada played three roles: first, coordinating emergency management activities; second, coordinating public communications activities with partners on issues related to security and public safety; and third, managing the application of the security cost framework policy. The department's main responsibility was the third role of managing the application of the policy.
In order to understand Public Safety's role in managing the security cost framework policy, it is important to understand both the policy itself as well as the broader context of providing security for the summits.
The RCMP is the lead agency responsible for policing and security for Prime Minister and minister-led international meetings held in Canada. For such events, the RCMP and CSIS conduct threat assessments and determine if there is a requirement for extraordinary security measures. If it is determined that extraordinary security measures are required, and the involvement of provincial and municipal security partners is necessary to provide the appropriate level of security, the Minister of Public Safety may recommend to the Prime Minister, along with the host minister, that the event be designated under the policy.
The summits were designated by the Prime Minister and this permitted the reimbursement, through contribution agreements, of eligible expenses incurred by provincial and municipal security partners.
Given the comprehensive security requirements of these events, jurisdictional responsibilities for policing, and the limited resources of the RCMP, the cooperative participation of provincial and municipal security partners is vital.
For the G-8 and G-20 summits the eligible partners were the Ontario Provincial Police, Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police, North Bay Police Service, Town of Huntsville, District of Muskoka, and Township of Lake of Bays.
Under the authority of the policy, Public Safety Canada officials took several steps to review partners' cost estimates. First, the terms and conditions of the policy were conveyed to the partners as the framework within which they could develop their cost estimates. Once estimates were received, they were reviewed and challenged to ensure that security partners pursued a reasonable cost approach.
Throughout this process of reviewing estimates, discussions were also undertaken with the RCMP to ensure that such estimates were consistent with the overall security plan. These activities took place over several months leading up to the summits.
Based on the estimates developed by provincial and municipal security partners, funding requirements totalling $278 million for the application of the policy were approved through the supplementary estimates process. Of this amount, $276 million was to fund the contribution agreements with partners, while the remaining $2 million was to administer the policy, primarily the conducting of audits. The majority of the partners' estimated costs were for police officers' salaries, accommodation, food, and equipment.
Although some interim payments have been made, final claims for actual costs incurred have not yet been received. As per the terms and conditions established in the contribution agreements, all claims are to be received no later than December 1, 2010.
To ensure compliance with the policy, independent audits will be performed on all claims before payments are issued. Once the audits are completed, Public Safety Canada will be in a position to confirm the total amounts reimbursed. The goal is to complete this process by March 31, 2011.
We appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today. My colleague and I would be pleased to answer any questions the committee may have.
I certainly appreciate all of you being here today and the work and efforts that you make on behalf of the Canadian people. I start by saying thank you for that.
Today's questions are going to be short and to the point, because I only have eight minutes.
We did bring along a map to help this morning in indicating what I'm talking about, so can we put that up on the screens, please? It's just a map of the area so that we can get a view of what I'm going to talk about.
This is for Infrastructure Canada, first. Under the G-8 legacy fund, you spent about $1 million upgrading sidewalks in Parry Sound. On the map, Parry Sound is number A. It's about 81 kilometres away from the existing site of the G-8 summit. You spent about $1 million in that area. I'm just wondering why it was needed to be upgraded for the G-8 summit.
As I indicated in my opening remarks, Madam Coady, this fund was very much set up as a legacy fund to compensate the region for the inconveniences associated with hosting this event. As I indicated earlier, it's not unlike—
Again, these were legacy investments made to improve the region, to improve the tourist appeal of the region, to improve the visual image of the region, as well as to facilitate the hosting. It was not all intended to support the hosting of the summit.
Okay. So it's not all intended to support the hosting. So what were the decision points around making those decisions?
We have Sundridge. If you look on your map, which is B on your map, it's 61.2 kilometres away, and it was $750,000. These are big, expensive projects, and they're all in one minister's riding.
I don't know if anyone from the G-8 actually went to see those, that sidewalk or the renovation in Sundridge, which is 61 kilometres away from Deerhurst. What did the bandstand have to do with the G-8?
—legacy projects were developed. I'm just concerned, because some of them are almost 100 kilometres away, an hour's drive away from the site itself. So how inconvenient could it have been for somebody in Parry Sound or Sundridge? Sundridge got a new bandstand, for example, a new bandshell.
Yes. I think you have to also bear in mind that when the G-8 legacy fund was established, the G-20 was not being held in Toronto at that point in time. This fund was specifically set up to support the G-8 summit. So there was no—
So it's a legacy project to support the G-8, but it had nothing to do with the G-8, and you've just established that.
How are the decisions made around this, then? Who decided, or how was it decided, that a bathroom 32 kilometres away or a bandstand 47 kilometres away were part of the legacy projects that were required for the G-8? They're all in the minister's riding.
So local municipalities.... That wasn't the question. The question was how could they relate to the G-8? This is additional money that was flowing into the minister's riding. It was a tremendous amount of money that you put in, tens of millions into these projects.
Yes. We also put money into the G-8 summit centre and the rehabilitation of the North Bay airport, which was at the time supposed to be the primary landing area for the G-8 leaders. It was only after the G-20 summit was moved to Toronto that this changed.
Infrastructure Canada's role in these projects was to review the projects vis-à-vis the terms and conditions of the program to ensure that the costs of the projects were eligible under the terms and conditions of the program and that the costs that were deemed part of each project were eligible for reimbursement.
So in Tony Clement's riding, there was an extra $46 million in addition to any other infrastructure spending and funding and any other economic action plan. There was an additional $46 million put into various and widespread areas around the riding that ultimately his department would have had some impact on deciding where they went.
I just want to ask DFAIT a couple of questions, if I may.
There is another thing that I find a little challenging. DFAIT bought a pretty fancy set of china for 24 people, dining room place settings. The place settings were $11,000 and glass charges were an additional $6,000. There were frosted glasses. It was a pretty fancy set of cutlery, and I'm sure there had to be silverware involved in this. What became of this set of china? Why did we actually need to buy a new set of china for 24? Wasn't this held at a Deerhurst resort? Wouldn't they have quality tableware?
Mr. Chair, I can answer that question. It was not china that was purchased. It was pottery from Lindgren Pottery, which is based in Muskoka. We did not have, and neither did the resort, a set that was appropriate for that number of people in order to serve them for all the official meals. The amount of--
--money that has been reported on the table is actually incorrect. I will be submitting an amendment. It's $1,000 less. Mind you, it's still approximately $10,000.
When the event was over, we went to the resort, they packed up the pottery for us, and we brought it back here to Ottawa. About two months ago we delivered it to the National Capital Commission. It will be reused here in the national capital region--
I would like to get back to issues raised earlier on by my colleague in questions to representatives from Infrastructure Canada.
We did note that several million dollars were spent in cities around Huntsville, cities 75 or 85 kilometres away. Funding went to everything from improving the lighting system on public roadways to building benches, enhancing streets, replacing sidewalks with interlocking brick, landscaping, and building heritage plaques.
I'm asking you this question once again because you did not quite answer my colleague's question. Who authorized these expenses?
Ah, okay, so it is the Minister of Transport, in collaboration with the Minister of Industry.
Why would these expenses be related to the G8, when we know that this money was spent in cities where, to my knowledge, no VIP, no head of state went for a walk on the sidewalk made of interlocking brick?
As I said earlier, the Government of Canada did the same thing for the APEC Summit in Vancouver in 1997, in Halifax in 1995, for the Pope's visit in 2002. So, there are a number of high profile international events that have taken place and for which there have been heritage projects.
Yes, I am absolutely comfortable. The program was established by the Government of Canada. We, at Infrastructure Canada, have done our job. We reviewed all projects to make sure they were eligible for the Heritage Fund. We looked over all costs to make sure they were eligible. That is my job as a manager.
I would now like to speak to the representative from FedNor. For G8-G20-related projects, FedNor projects, we see that the Muskoka Tourism Marketing Agency received $1.56 million for a branding strategy for the 2010 G8 Summit. What is that about? Did you do the G8's work? Did you do some branding for the G8?
FedNor is somewhat like the counterpart to Economic Development Canada for the regions of Quebec. So it is a northern Ontario economic development program. Our goal is to support projects that foster economic growth in northern Ontario. Tourism is one sector of economic activity that contributes to this economic development. So, in that context, we supported projects which benefited from hosting the G8 in the region, to foster tourism, to ensure that the region could build on these events to show what it had to offer and draw in tourists.
Perhaps I misunderstood, but the G8 and G20 were an opportunity to welcome people from other countries, but only on a one-time basis.
What you and the representative from Infrastructure Canada just said is that this one-time event was taken as an opportunity to improve infrastructure programs around Huntsville and to rebuild this entire region's image, essentially for the benefit of Ontario. That is what happened. Millions of dollars were given to Ontario to give northern Ontario an image. That is what you are both telling me. To study tourism at the 2010 G8 Summit there is a $24,999 amount. It is not quite $25,000, because had it been, it would have been open to bids. What you have just said is shocking.
It is just not right. Prove to me that all of these expenses were appropriate in the context of hosting the G8/G20, and that they were all strictly related to the G8/G20, rather than to a desire to boost the image of a province and of a region in particular.
Projects funded by FedNor were funded through FedNor's regular budget. No additional funds were granted for these projects. Events like the G8/G20 generally garner a great deal of attention from international media. So, in a northern Ontario economic development context, it was a unique opportunity to promote this region as a tourist destination.
I will close by saying that our researchers have done exceptional work in preparation for this morning's meeting. Regarding challenges with interpreting documentation on the cost of the G8 and G20 summits, we read: "It is not possible to determine, on the basis of the documentation submitted to the committee, whether the listed costs are the actual costs of the G8 and G20 summits..." further: "The expense categories used for the G8 and G20... differ substantially among the various departments and agencies."
Well, this morning, we realize that FedNor was involved, that its budget was used, its projects, to include these amounts within G8/G20 expenses. It is all so tightly woven, it is impossible to determine exactly who authorized the projects. I am shocked.
I appreciate each one of you coming this morning. We do appreciate your transparency and your willingness to come and provide us with details of the spending.
Today I would like to question Mr. Potter, if I may, on the agreement that was signed with the Province of Alberta, the contribution agreement for security. I believe you're probably the best person to answer questions regarding the agreement that was signed to provide security for these summits and the mechanism now under which the province will be repaid for the funds and the services that it did provide. Could you explain a little bit about the contribution agreement, who signed it, the dates those agreements were signed, and by whom they were signed?
As per the security cost framework policy, there is a requirement to enter into contribution agreements, consistent with the transfer-of-payment policy of the Government of Canada with respect to putting in place security arrangements with the municipal and provincial security partners. That's a process of negotiation in which one begins by sharing with them the terms and conditions, and thus the eligible expenses associated with the policy, and then negotiating the contribution agreements with the individual security partners, the seven partners that I mentioned earlier.
Depending on the amounts of those agreements, they are signed by different individuals, depending on the delegated authorities within the department. We have agreements that range from the neighbourhood of $10,000 or $15,000 to $144 million. The $144 million agreement, for example, with the Toronto Police Service was signed by the Minister of Public Safety.
Digging through my notes here, I could give you the dates upon which all of those agreements were signed with each of the seven jurisdictions, or--
My understanding is that there were two different agreements signed, one that related to the G-8 and one that related to the G-20, both of which were signed earlier this year, one in March and one in June. There has been an assertion by members opposite, including I guess some misunderstanding by even our chair, that was brought forward in the House of Commons yesterday related to these contribution agreements. There are some on the opposition benches who would state and have stated that there was a blank cheque written to the then commissioner of the OPP. Can you confirm if there was or was not a blank cheque written to the commissioner of the OPP?
There has been another conspiracy theory being developed on the opposition benches. According to this theory, the fact that the details of the spending of the OPP have not yet been disclosed has something to do with politics. Can you state for the record what the deadline is for having all those receipts turned into the federal government and if we have or have not come to that deadline yet?
In the case of the OPP, this proceeds through two contribution agreements with the Government of Ontario. These agreements were entered into at the Government of Ontario's request, because they involved other services, for example emergency management services, that went beyond the purview of the OPP. Both of those agreements, as you correctly noted, are with the Government of Ontario.
There is a capacity within the security cost framework policy to make both interim and final payments. In the case of Ontario, there has already been an interim payment of approximately $6 million. Two other interim payment claims have been received from the Government of Ontario, and they are currently being audited by Audit Services Canada. We expect in the near future to be able to make payments based on those audits.
As to a final payment to Ontario and all the security partners, the deadline for the submission of all invoices is December 1.
That information would be provided to the department and will be immediately shared with Audit Services Canada, which would conduct the audits. Once these audits have been looked at and a final payment has been issued, we would be in a position to share that information.
As the Minister of Public Safety has stated, the goal has been to be as transparent as possible with Parliament in regard to security cost estimates. My understanding—and I would have to confirm this with the legal services group in our department—is that there are certain limitations on sharing that agreement with another provincial government. However, I will look into this, and to the extent that these documents can be shared, we will make them available.
It is our government's belief that it is absolutely essential that there be full transparency as it relates to the cost of the G-8 and G-20.
We appreciate this testimony. Members of this committee would be interested in the texts of those agreements. If you are at liberty to provide that information to our committee, I hope you will make the agreement available to us.
Like my Liberal colleague, I think we should preface the remarks by saying that nobody is here to blame the people around this table for anything. Our questions or any rancour should really be directed at the political masters that we believe exceeded common sense in their spending. There's nothing new about political pork-barrelling or some minister featherbedding his own riding. But this really.... Frankly, we've never seen such a flagrant abuse of that. This legacy fund you talk about has nothing to do with a legacy for the G-8; it seems like a legacy to the minister. You did everything but build a statue to Tony Clement in his riding here.
It's pure political pork-barrelling, and you should understand, as taxpayers, why we're dumbfounded at some of these hare-brained ideas. Again, it's nothing new, but we've never seen it on such a grand scale. Everybody remembers l'Auberge Grand-Mère in Jean Chrétien's own riding, and people were taken aback. It became Shawinigate. But we've never seen this kind of disregard.
The only thing we can surmise is that they were trying to sandbag around a guy who won his seat by 46 votes, and they needed to wring every ounce of juice out of this G-8 summit to try to sprinkle government's grand largesse all over the region. That has nothing to do with the G-8.
As far as specific questions go, why did this infrastructure money—the $45.7 million funding 17 park, public space, and road improvements—come out of the G-8 infrastructure fund and not out of the Building Canada fund or Canada's economic action plan, or those other programs that were set up specifically for that type of project in a person's riding?
In budget 2009, the government decided to dedicate $50 million specifically for this purpose. So all the other funds you mentioned were also available to the region, but the government wanted to provide a legacy to the area for the G-8.
We don't even know where to start here, frankly. It just seems to us to be the most wild, irresponsible, cavalier, and offensive scattering of money that we've seen. What it boils down to is that they either think we're really dumb or they don't care what we think about them. Any objective outsider looking at this couldn't help but determine that this has nothing to do with Huntsville.
Again, it's hard to know how to question you, because you were simply implementing the directives from your political masters. But beautifying downtown or streetscaping and so on is one thing when it's in Huntsville, where we may in fact have G-8 visitors, but the rest of Muskoka is already beautiful. We don't need to brand it as a beautiful place.
Let me ask another specific question. How did we give a $1.3-million sole-source contract to Bell? Whose department would that have been? Our notes show us that Bell Canada got a $1.3-million telecommunications contract from Public Works. How did that go through with no competitive tendering process?
In that case, we had our information technology services group look at the networks available in the area, and given the infrastructure that was there, Bell used the existing infrastructure to provide those services. Given the short timeline, there was no other infrastructure available or company that could have put one in place in time for the G-8. So that's why it was Bell Canada.
I see. Can I ask you again then, in July 2009 Infrastructure Canada put out a press release, “New Projects to receive G-8 Infrastructure Funding”. In that press release you said the government stated the G-8 legacy infrastructure fund would generate long-term and significant economic spinoffs for the Parry Sound--Muskoka region. What do you mean by long-term significant economic spinoffs to fixing a toilet in Parry Sound? I mean, can you really defend what you're saying in your press release?
Well, I can still answer your question in that regard.
It's very clear if you do this.... Again, going back to the idea that this is a legacy to the region, significant amounts of investments were made to improve the local tourism, the visual image of the region. We also invested significantly in the North Bay airport, the G-8 centre. All of these projects had immediate economic impacts. We did not track jobs created or anything of that nature.
But these projects were all fully completed. People did work on these projects to get them done, and the view is that they will provide a lasting economic benefit to the region.
Well, if they were just economic action plan projects, which essentially are make-work projects to create local jobs, that would be one thing. But I presume--and it will be interesting to find out--there were also economic action plan projects going on in that riding. I'd be very surprised if Muskoka didn't get their fair share of the economic action plan money. Were you putting up those economic action plan signs with each one of these legacy fund projects?
Yes, we were. The goal of them was somewhat similar, in that they had to be constructed in a very quick period. In fact, a lot of the G-8 legacy fund projects had to be finished before the current infrastructure stimulus fund deadline.
Again, in budget 2009 the government decided to basically brand all of its infrastructure investments with one common signage or one common brand. So the decision was taken to apply that to the G-8 as well.
I'm sorry Mr. Warkentin is not here, because it may be his intention to wait for these details in relation to the $100 million of spending for the Ontario Provincial Police, but it's not our intention. After all, this committee did....
Oh, there he is. Pardon me. He was here and is sitting in the back.
The committee did pass an order several months ago requiring all this information to be provided to the committee. In relation to this, it seems that every other department has made their best efforts to get the information and the details to us--the details of the spending associated with the G-8, G-20 summits--and we haven't seen it in relation to this funding.
So I have a question for Mr. Potter. Why has your department so patently failed?
I think throughout the process, particularly the supplementary estimates process, the department and the government have been very transparent in providing to Parliament information with respect to the cost estimates associated with the various provincial and municipal security partners that were providing support to the RCMP for this event.
As you can appreciate, the jurisdictional responsibilities of, as you mentioned, the OPP are such that they are jurisdictionally responsible for the Huntsville area. They also have responsibilities with respect to the corridor between Huntsville and Toronto. So they were a key partner.
In light of their jurisdictional responsibilities and the limited resources of the RCMP, they received--and will receive--considerable funding based on the estimates they've provided once they've provided final invoices that are then audited and can be assessed with respect to their eligibility in terms of the policy--
It's nearly six months now since the date of the summits, and we're talking about $100 million. That's more than 10% of the supposed total costs for these two summits and we still are waiting for this. And you're telling us we should wait until December 1, which just happens to be two days after the by-election in Vaughan, where the former commissioner of the OPP, Julian Fantino, is the Conservative candidate. Did the minister or other Conservatives instruct you to help them cover up this information until after that byelection?
Mr. Paul Calandra: Point of order.
Hon. Geoff Reagan: You can answer the question yes or no. It's quite straightforward.
If it's the intention of the opposition to try to score some extraordinarily cheap political points to try to salvage something in a by-election by trying to make a gentleman who has a 40-year career of serving my community as police chief, the people of Toronto as police chief, the people of London, the tenth-largest city of Canada, as police chief, and a 40-year, distinguished policing career.... If it's their intention solely to try to smear an individual to try to win some very cheap, disgusting political points at this committee, when we heard the OPP, who were here to talk about the fact that they're actually coming in under budget....
We're here to talk about the G-8 and G-20, not the Vaughan by-election.
My point of order is that this is completely irrelevant. The Vaughan by-election is completely irrelevant. We'll let the people of Vaughan decide who the best person is. I'm going to suggest that a 40-year veteran of policing in this country, a hero to the people of Ontario, and somebody we will be able to rely on and that the people of Canada will be able to rely on.... If they want to score cheap political points, let them do it on the campaign trail and not in committee.
Mr. Chair, I don't know why a person who is so distinguished, according to Mr. Calandra, needs to hide behind Mr. Calandra and needs him to defend him. It's a simple question. I'm sure that Mr. Potter can answer it.
I'm very comfortable speaking to the policy and the process related to the due diligence surrounding the review of all partners' cost estimates, including the OPP in Ontario.
There was a lengthy process of due diligence. We had excellent relations with the OPP, with the Toronto Police Service, and with the other key partners, as did the RCMP, as I believe you've heard in previous testimony.
We carefully reviewed their estimates. Clearly, until a service is provided, you're not going to pay for it. Those partners are now in the process of collecting their invoices and doing the due diligence, on their part, with respect to salaries and so on for the services and support provided during the summits. They're pulling all this information together. They have until December 1 to submit that to us for final payment. It will then be audited, and on that basis, final payments will be made.
Again, it's nearly six months since the event, right? We don't have a single detail on this nearly $100 million. We have the details from all the other departments. From this big, huge, 10% or more of the overall spending, we have no data, no information whatsoever. Mr. Calandra says don't worry. Mr. Warkentin says that we're prepared to wait. Why shouldn't this committee hold your department in contempt? Give me one good reason.
I'd be very happy to give you a sense of the expenditures associated with Ontario and the OPP. They are for police officer overtime and benefits. They are for regular salaries for full-time, dedicated resources in the planning and demobilization phases. They're for the specialized equipment required by the OPP: telecommunications, infrastructure and equipment, travel and accommodation, vehicle rentals, air and marine support, and fuel. These are the major categories.
Once we see the final invoices and they are audited, they will be shared with Parliament, and you will have a full opportunity to scrutinize the details further.
Mr. Chowdhury, where did the order to choose Huntsville as the G8 Summit headquarters come from? Who decided for you that Huntsville would be chosen? How was this city chosen? Who suggested you choose Huntsville?
No, that's all right. Excuse me sir, I am not asking you to hold forth at great length on this subject. I understand it was not you, but it would have been good for you to know who gave you this order. I know the location was chosen two years ago, but someone made the decision. If I read your department's press release, I see that it is the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade that was mentioning the resort, meeting rooms, accommodations, transportation network, airport, adequate security characteristics and the need to have it be as least disruptive as possible to the local companies and the public.
I understand that it is neither you nor your department that chose the region. Based on the press release, all the roads were redone, the airport was rebuilt. If enhanced security was the issue, it should have been held at the G20 Summit site. I am sure someone within your department told you that there had been an order issued to choose Huntsville. Who gave you this order?
No, that's not correct. I would like to correct the record.
An interdepartmental committee made up of public servants from Public Works, RCMP, and DFAIT travelled around Canada and looked at five different sites in 2008, to see which ones would be appropriate to host a G-8 summit. We did a ranking, which we have released publicly, of different qualities of each of the communities to see which one could host a traditional G-8. Huntsville scored the highest in terms of the five areas we looked at, and that was the recommendation put forward.
Thank you, but I still have a doubt. I find this puzzling because if they had chosen that place by saying that it was the best and if millions of dollars were invested in infrastructure, I imagine that it was not the best place. And I still believe that an order was placed.
Who told Infrastructure Canada and Industry Canada to accept all those expenditures? Who ordered you to do this? Earlier, you mentioned Transport Canada and Industry Canada. Did some high ranking official tell you that all these expenditures, even though they were external...?
Mr. Conrad, you said that compensation must be given to the region. I have learned that it obtained a new arena, that the airport was refurbished by adding 88,000 square feet of surface and 2 extra storeys, all this for $30 million. Therefore, I think that we have been compensating with gusto.
Where did the order come from? Who said that all the other projects, in Barrie or elsewhere, for water pipes or other things, were accepted? During that period of time, all the other provinces and all the other municipalities in Canada had to turn to the Building Canada Fund and to the Economic Action Plan. All the others were separated out in shares of one third each. However, someone somewhere decided that this was not going to follow the same pattern as the other regions and the other provinces followed, and that it was not a serious matter if this was accepted for a few million dollars. Who told you to do this?
Mr. Conrad, I understand that a fund was set up for the G8, but the fund that was set up was set up for Huntsville, where the G8 took place. Refurbishing a boat in a place 70 km away to make it into a restaurant, in my opinion, this was included in the G8 program. And it was not even ready.
Why were the people in Huntsville and the surrounding area granted favours at the expense of every other region of Canada? The municipalities, the province and the federal government each had to pay one third of the expenses. Now, in this case, the federal government paid everything. Nothing was left up to chance, everything in the region was renovated. Someone must have authorized these expenditures. Even if it was said that $50 million would be provided, someone said that you should not go through these programs. I would like to know who instructed you in this way.
Before I ask questions of our guests I'd like to thank you all for attending this morning.
You know, it's rather interesting. I heard my friend Ms. Coady talk about what a delight it was to have you here today and how much she appreciated your service. I know that to be a sincere comment, and I appreciate that. Then I heard a colleague who I hold in regard, and as he asked questions of you, I frankly was shocked and sincerely disappointed. I heard comments such as “Why has your department patently failed?” I heard a second comment: “Why shouldn't this committee hold your department in contempt?”
It's no small wonder sometimes that when people come in front of this committee they're not sure what they're going to get. I have not heard such badgering, intimidation of the highest order, and maligning of what I deem to be our dedicated public service. I am disappointed about that this morning. I have to share that with you.
I do appreciate the work you do, and I know people around this table appreciate what you do. The absolute intimidation is not acceptable, from my perspective--my standard. I would hope that we, as a committee, can ask serious questions in a serious and thoughtful way.
If I might, Mr. Conrad, you've taken the brunt of the questions this morning, and I think you've held your head up high. Could I ask you to focus on this issue of legacy funds? It is a question that's come back time and again. How do you define a legacy fund, sir?
This one was very much set up to provide funding for infrastructure projects that would help the Parry Sound--Muskoka region prepare for the hosting of the 2010 G-8 summit. It was also there to provide legacy, as I said, for the residents and tourists who would be inconvenienced by this thing. So in that regard, the fund supported projects that allowed for the secure and successful holding of the summit, enhanced the visual and tourism image of the region, and improved the security of visitors and residents in the region.
As I indicated earlier, it's not entirely unusual. In 1997, with the APEC summit in Vancouver, the Government of Canada invested $60 million to widen Route 1 to improve the Sea Island connector to the Vancouver International Airport as well as to endow its share--
Can you talk about Halifax, though? It's one of my favourite places. It's near Cape Breton, where my mother is from. Tell me about Halifax, if you would. What was the legacy that we left there in that great city?
Absolutely. Obviously I was not part of that fund, so I can only speak to it from what I understand and what I know.
There was $300,000 set aside to improve and restore the Bluenose. There was $8.1 million spent on infrastructure projects, including local roads, sidewalks, landscaping, repair and cleaning of major iconic Nova Scotia landmarks, and the construction of a world peace monument. There was a million dollars spent on marketing and promotional items, $250,000 in gateway tourism signage. And after the summit was over, there was a $3.2-million investment in Pier 21, which was very much considered a--
This was after the summit was over, presumably when leaders may not have had a chance to visit it, and I'm not sure members from Halifax and region would have objected to that kind of commitment to the region.
It seems to me that if I was going from one end of the city of Halifax to the other, not even necessarily during rush hour, it might take 40 minutes, probably the same amount of time that it might take from Huntsville to Parry Sound, give or take a bit, on a good day.
I share that with you because you talked about this as being a legacy for the region, and you've suggested that this is not extraordinary, that it was done with the Pope's visit as well, if I recall what you said. It's a gift to the region. It's something that stays behind, some way for all Canadians to say thank you to all parts of the country. And were that to be in Quebec, we would do that kind of legacy funding in Quebec, presumably, as we've done coast to coast. Is that a fair comment?
Again, I can't speak to what would be done in the future or what has been done in the past, but as I said, this legacy fund was certainly not unique. It has been done in the past when we've hosted major events.
Okay. I only have five minutes and I have four questions, but before I ask them I want to address something that my colleague Mr. Holder said.
Please don't think that any questions we're asking you are being asked of you as individuals. We're asking them because the Government of Canada and the ministers responsible for those departments are ultimately responsible. This is only for clarity, simply to make sure.
I want to go back, because I was a little concerned about the place settings. I know it's a relatively small amount of money. I think it was $19,500 for 24 people, and you said it's probably $1,000 less than that. In any event, it's a lot of money. My point here is, didn't Deerhurst Resort, which hosts weddings all the time, have enough for 24 place settings? Why would someone approve a fairly significant expenditure for 24 place settings? I'm trying to get a sense of why.
I only have five minutes and I have four questions, so could you be brief?
Okay, I want to go to another question, and this is something we just talked about, the legacy fund for the region. We talked about that significantly. I have concerns because of the distances. Sidewalk upgrades are all very important, tree replacements are all very important, but it was an hour away from the summit site itself in the G-8. Where's the legacy fund for Toronto? Toronto was very inconvenienced under the G-20. We had witnesses here from the Toronto Restaurant Association, and they were talking about lost wages. Some of them were talking about lost jobs because of the summit. We know there were windows smashed. Was there a legacy fund for Toronto?
In recognition of how limited the time is, I'll keep my answer brief. The answer is that Infrastructure Canada was given the purview and authority to manage the G-8 legacy fund for the Huntsville-Muskoka region.
I want to turn to Public Works. I said I had four questions to ask in five minutes, so thank you for pointing that out.
Item 168 on the spreadsheet is the fit-up of the quarry site near Huntsville for the RCMP. We understand or have been told that the government actually had to pay to have that site levelled not once, but twice. I want to know why the second levelling was necessary and what the additional cost to the government was of that second levelling. Again, I understand that the improvements to the site were dug up and obliterated after the G-8. Why was that additional cost incurred?
It was 168 on your spreadsheet. It was a fit-up of the quarry. You don't need the number.
Was the fit-up of the quarry done twice, meaning that the site was levelled not just once, but twice? Was there an additional cost to government because of that, and why was the second levelling necessary?
The total cost that's listed on the spreadsheet covers everything. I wasn't aware to the level of detail that they did it twice, but I can tell you that when we do issue contracts, there is a standard that is set and it is up to the contractor to bring the site up to that standard.
Well, again, all of that is factored in up front, and it was about leaving the site the way we found it. The owner has that decision. It was factored into the cost of upgrading the site, and all of that is factored in up front.
I want to turn to the transport and infrastructure questions again. I know that Infrastructure Canada allocated $50 million, I believe, for the G-8 legacy fund. How many applications were there? How many projects did Infrastructure Canada review, and what were some of the projects actually turned down?
I'm curious only because some of the ones, such as the lighthouse that was 20 kilometres away.... It's just interesting what was approved as opposed to not approved.
The short answer is that a large number of projects were identified as priorities by municipalities, as you can appreciate. Municipal governments supported each one of these projects via a council resolution.
We received more projects than we funded. I can tell you of one that I'm aware of that we deemed to be ineligible for funding simply because it amounted to general cleaning and debris removal from the—
Listen despite what you're hearing from the opposition coalition, make no mistake about it: what they're saying is that each and every one of you is completely incompetent, that none of you deserve to have the job you are doing right now, and that somehow—
I take personal exception to that, and I'm sure my other colleagues do. This is not a point of saying that anybody in this room is incompetent, especially our guests. We have the highest regard for our civil servants and we want to make sure they understand that. This is about the decisions this government has taken.
What they're suggesting is that the decisions you helped make in preparation for the summit were incompetent. For my part, as a member from the greater Toronto area, representing Oak Ridges—Markham, I think the summit was an extraordinary success for the people of my region. I think it was an extraordinary success for the people of Canada, and for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. They have had extraordinary success as a result of this summit.
I knew that when the Liberals turned on the TV today, I was going to have some trouble, because I didn't bring my tinfoil hat with me and I'm getting all of these conspiracy theory signals through the signals the TV is giving me. So let me just follow this line of conspiracy talk with a question, I guess, to Mr. Potter.
You said that a contribution agreement was signed in March of 2010 and a further agreement in June of 2010. Did you know in March that the member of Parliament for Vaughan, Mr. Bevilacqua, intended to resign his seat? Did you have some advance notice? Did he call you, did he confirm and confide in your department that it was his intention to resign his seat in September? And did you and your department purposely put in a date that would have an impact, because the Liberal member of Parliament for Vaughan called you in March and said, “Listen, I'm resigning, so you'd better pick a date in December”?
I can assure you that in terms of the work that I and my colleagues undertook there is absolutely no relationship between the process of due diligence and negotiation with respect to these contribution agreements and any electoral considerations.
Obviously Mr. Bevilacqua didn't call you, and he actually resigned in September. It was on September 3, I believe, after the summits were done and everything was completed.
What you have here, again, is a massive fishing expedition. My friend Mr. Warkentin, my colleague, always likes to talk about fishing expeditions. I'm sorry, it's a bit frustrating, because what you see is a complete disrespect from the opposition coalition. Not one of the people asking questions here has the absolute decency to have a GTA member asking questions with respect to the summit. And why is that? It is because they know, the members of the GTA know, that this summit was an extraordinary success for the people of Toronto. It was, as I said, an extraordinary success for the people of Huntsville.
We've had the OPP come in and tell us that they're coming in under budget. We've had the chief of the Toronto police, Chief Blair, come in and tell us that he'll be under budget and that it was an extraordinary success in terms of policing.
I was extraordinarily proud of the role that York Regional Police played in this, and I was very proud when I talked to my colleagues in other countries. I just had a parliamentarian from Italy who was talking about the success of the G-8 and G-20 and how envious he is of Canada and their position with respect to the global economic downturn.
I'm just going to show this. This is a G-8 vanity set and it's from L'Aquila, when I went to Italy. When I got to my room in Italy there was this and there was a whole host of items. I have to be honest with you, when I got there I thought I didn't need any of that, until you were in the corridor, and then you realize that if you forget something you're not just leaving the security area to go to Shoppers Drug Mart to get yourself a comb or a brush. Once you're in the security corridor, you're in the corridor. You're being protected. So that's why we have to provide all of the things the delegates might need to protect themselves.
--so I'll just say this. This government obviously puts a value on international relations. We put a value on international trade. We have agreements. We're starting agreements with India and all kinds of other free trade agreements. I think it's because of the success of these summits. What other jurisdictions in the world would do what the opposition would suggest: close our doors, not interact with foreign jurisdictions? Do you know of any other summits...? We don't even use paper plates and paper cups here in Parliament. Members of Parliament are talking about using plates, but here we use this. Here we have food for us in the back. What other summits in the world have you ever gone to where they use paper plates, where they don't feed the delegates, where they don't protect the people of international importance, and what other countries in the world are successful by closing their doors, by not engaging other world leaders and opening themselves up to trade?
Thank you, Mr. Chair. If I have a minute left at the end of my intervention, I will leave it to my colleague Mr. Vincent.
Let us be clear about this, ladies and gentlemen. This morning, we are showing our irritation, but it is not against you. We are irritated with the government decisions that were made at the expense of Quebeckers and Canadians who paid for a summit meeting. In fact, several summit meetings were held at the same time, including the Youth Summit.
Just now, Mr. Bryce Conrad told us that in fact, you were not necessarily involved in all the decisions. You had to put up with their consequences. You told us earlier that the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Industry had made the decisions, and these decisions favoured one specific region in one province. And, as if by chance, the industry minister's riding is in this region, in this province.
Consequently, we simply want to express our disagreement with certain decisions and certain expenditures that were made.
I want to put a question to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. You certainly have the documents that you sent to us. Besides, these documents are very hard to understand. Let me tell you why. Perhaps you are very good at finding your way around them, but on several occasions, there is mention of a media officer. What is a media officer? This is mentioned under different titles. What exactly is this about?
We hired a number of officers, for example, to serve as liaison with the media. We hired people in Toronto and Huntsville to act as liaison officers for the delegates. We used our officials as liaison officers for the heads of state, but we hired local people to act as liaison officers for the media.
Wouldn't it have been better to state that everything concerning advertising or dealings with the media cost such and such an amount? We are unable to figure out that $15,000 or $16,000—at $2,000 a shot—was spent on hiring media officers. We don't know exactly when or in what context. All that it says is Convention Centre. Then, for another item, it says media officer. Couldn't you have told us how much all the advertising cost, how much all the transportation cost? It's all mixed up.
That is why, madam, we included a summary at the beginning for each summit. For example, as concerns expenses for media and communications, I have a total amount on two sheets here, one for fiscal 2009-2010 and another for fiscal 2010-2011, with the total amount spent on communications. That should give you an overview of the global amount spent on communications.
You understand, ladies and gentlemen, that we are accountable to our respective populations and constituents. People want us to ask questions about the numbers. We try to ask questions, but we do not have your experience or expertise. It's difficult to figure it out. I find it very complicated.
Would there not have been a way to present the figures and information differently? I do find it quite complicated.
That is the question I asked you earlier. As my colleague says, I know you are not responsible for this. I know that someone told you to accept the $50 million and to spend it without going through the same procedure that all other provinces and municipalities go through. What we are trying to find out is who gave you this directive. It didn't come from you, someone told you to accept it.
If I understand you correctly, it was the government's decision to give precedence to one region and a number of municipalities, whereas the other regions and municipalities had to share the costs one third, one third, one third, period.
I am most interested in this notion of a legacy fund, because it's something new to me. I've been an MP for 13 years now, and I didn't know there was such a thing. You can do anything in a budget, I suppose, but to designate a budget line that says we're going to create this legacy fund sounds to me, with all due respect, more like a slush fund--we're going to spend $50 million extra in Tony's riding above and beyond what everybody else has access to.
To follow up on Mr. Vincent's question, were any one-third, one-third, one-third matching dollars associated with the legacy fund projects?
The short answer to your question, Mr. Martin, is that these projects were not funded on a one-third, one-third, one-third basis. From a federal perspective, I believe the impetus for the decision to overfund these projects is that the Government of Canada made the decision to host the summit in Muskoka. So in that regard, why would we be penalizing the residents of Muskoka and their local councils by forcing them to ante-up some additional funds for projects?
That's a pretty good answer. It's the best you could do under the circumstances. You were put in a tough job. You're trying to defend the indefensible, in my opinion. I don't envy you your job today.
What about Toronto? The restaurant owners and the guys who got their windows smashed, etc., want some help with those things, and I'm not sure they are going to get it. Was there a corresponding legacy fund for Toronto?
This is what we really find worrisome. It's hard not to think that the budget line was created to pave the streets with gold in Tony's riding. Yes, they were hosting the G-8, but it's almost impossible for you to make us believe that some of these things had anything to do with the G-8.
As the Liberals helpfully pointed out with their graphic illustration here, no G-8 participant would ever get anywhere near some of this spending. There's no need to beautify Muskoka; it's one of the most beautiful places in the country. But Kananaskis—you used other examples—there was like an $8 million—
I agree. But this is ten times the amount. But the participants actually went to Kananaskis and would probably be able to see with their own eyes the improvements made. You can't in all good conscience tell us that the G-8 delegates got to see those benefits.
Just to be very clear, over 45% of the fund was allocated to three very large, significant projects that played a part in the specific holding of the summit: the North Bay airport, the G-8 summit centre, as well as the reconstruction of Deerhurst Drive.
We're kind of splitting hairs here, but you see where we're going with this. There was still $20 million or $25 million spent on questionable things that were great news for the people of Sundridge, Deerhurst, Kearney, Severn Bridge, Dorset, and Parry Sound that had nothing to do with the G-8 summit.
You can tell we're not convinced. Again, I apologize for coming down hard on people like you, because we don't blame you at all for this.
I can tell you that all the Liberals voted in favour of the 2009 budget. Just now, someone asked where the decision came from. Ultimately, it is up to Parliament to decide how to grant a budget for this kind of event.
I would like to know the mechanics of money distribution. FedNor and Infrastructure Canada are somewhat similar to Infrastructure Canada and Economic Development Canada for the Quebec regions. You manage the funds, and FedNord distributes them to the participating municipalities. Please explain the mechanism to me, because I would like to know whether it is anything like what is being done in Quebec or if there is a difference.
No, it is quite different in this case. We at Infrastructure Canada are the ones who manage the program. We do not have the manpower with the projects, it is really up to the regional municipalities to make their own projects, and it is up to us, Infrastructure Canada, to approve these projects, to review the payments and the bills, conduct reviews, etc. We at Infrastructure Canada are in charge of managing this; but the fund itself is not involved.
All right. Thus the municipalities list their projects by order of priority, they submit them to Infrastructure Canada and Infrastructure Canada analyzes them and determines which ones are eligible. Is this how it works?
FedNor's intervention in the legacy fund was minimal. Basically, it was an infrastructure program and we helped by putting the projects into a database and by making catalogues of them according to certain themes. The projects that were funded with the FedNor funds are somewhat similar to the projects that would have been funded by Economic Development Canada for the regions in Quebec. Thus, just as the money from Economic Development Canada must serve to fund projects in Quebec, the projects that are funded by FedNor must obviously be in northern Ontario. All the FedNor projects were funded from the existing budgets. No supplementary budget was granted to FedNor to fund these projects.
It was for legacy projects that were not necessarily directly related. All of you are adults, you're distinguished people with homes and so on. When you get invited to someone's home, you usually bring a gift, right? A bottle of wine, a box of chocolates? But following the opposition's line of questioning, the only appropriate things to bring to somebody's home if you're invited is a coat hanger and a roll of toilet paper, because the closet and the bathroom might have been the only services you made use of.
I'm making a bit of an observation here. But I want to talk a little about the timelines of the budget, because I think something is trying to be made of the fact that money was allocated for Huntsville but not for Toronto. My understanding is that when the $50 million was allocated, all we knew we were hosting was the G-8. I don't think the decision to host the G-20 was made until after that budgetary cycle had been completed, and before we got to the next budgetary cycle it would have been virtually impossible to put something together for a legacy project for Toronto.
Can you give us the timelines and tell us how that might have worked?
One of my colleagues mentioned Pier 21 and its significance. Parliament unanimously passed a motion or a bill to make Pier 21 a national museum. It's a place of national significance. Compare that to Parry Sound. I view Parry Sound as a special place. It is hallowed ground, because it's the birthplace of Bobby Orr. But I don't know that the sidewalk upgrade included his footprint or that the tree replacement done there had anything to do with him, let alone with the G-8 or G-20 summits.
Today we have nine witnesses from five departments. Witnesses will understand the reason for that, but perhaps the audience at home might not. If we had only one department, some of the questions we'd ask would have the answer, “You can't ask us that, some other department has to answer it”.
Let me ask this question about FedNor. On February 27 of last year, the industry minister announced that FedNor would be looking for G-8-related tourism projects. In fact, Minister Clement's release said that “FedNor is beginning a review of regional tourism opportunities associated with hosting the G-8 Summit in 2010 that will help the area put its best foot forward”.
Shortly after that, it was announced that the Bigwin steamboat would receive about $400,000 for restoration. The Bigwin steamboat eventually launched in July, several weeks after the end of the G-8 summit. If the boat wasn't ready for dignitaries, foreign journalists, or delegations, how can it be considered a G-8 tourism project?
The boat was funded within an existing budget from FedNor and it was funded for its touristic merit and was funded according to the terms and conditions of the northern Ontario development program. Part of the reason the boat wasn't ready was that the renovation of this boat required some very specialized services from a person who actually got sick and could not complete the work on time. So the project has been extended and it will eventually be completed.
So was there only one person who could do the work? You relied on that for this to be done on time. And how much was it? It was $400,000 right?
Okay, let's move on.
Of course in relation to the question of the OPP and its $100 million, you pointed out that the deadline that was in the original documents, or whatever, said it was December 1. It's not the department's fault that the Prime Minister chose to set November 29 as the by-election date, that he chose a date conveniently two days in advance of that date.
But let me turn to what was happening with FedNor. For both FedNor and the G-8 legacy fund, economic action plan signs were required. You've indicated that today. So both had the same requirements. I understand that money could not flow to any of those projects unless there was an economic action plan sign present there. Is that correct?
For FedNor, I'm not aware of that, but we can check that.
Again, the projects related to the G-8 funded by FedNor were funded under the northern Ontario development program, which is the existing program. So there were no additional funds given to FedNor for those projects.
I want to be clear that I don't want to disparage any of the civil servants here at all. My questions are directed in view of the fact that ministers are responsible, as the government, and if you want to talk about the government's appreciation for civil servants, we can ask Munir Sheikh, Linda Keen, Peter Tinsley, or Pat Stogran about that.
Are there any of the rest of you who can speak to that? It's all about the timelines of when we knew we were hosting the G-8, when the budget allocation was made for the legacy projects, when we knew about the G-20, and when that budget process started.
Obviously, the G-8 legacy fund, as we referenced a couple of times this morning here, was included as an item in the 2009 budget, which was, I believe, January 28, 2009. It is my understand that the G-20 summit location was not identified until in and around the Pittsburgh summit, which would have been in September 2009, so after the budget cycle.
Mr. Chowdhury, you talked a little bit about this dinnerware that was purchased. You said it was going to be redistributed. It's been brought back to the national capital region to be redistributed, is that right?
Yes. In fact, about two to three months ago it was shipped back from the Deerhurst Resort. We transferred the asset to the National Capital Commission and they have indicated to us that they will be using those items within their official residence network.
Can you give us any other examples? Are there any other examples of where these purchases that have been made might have to be redistributed? What's the process for disposition of these types of things that might be a one-use type of thing? How does the taxpayer get some value back on these one-time expenditures?
For example, as my colleague from Public Works pointed out, we were able to reuse tables from 2002, in Kananaskis. We actually used that in the Deerhurst Resort for the leaders because it's the right size for ten people to sit around the table.
Where possible, we keep all of our assets. For example, all of the furniture that we purchased and used in 2001 for La Francophonie and for other summits we reuse in our offices now. So we take it from the warehouse.
If we do a determination that storing something...or that an item has a one-time use, we try to sell it. So we have posted things on the government websites to try to sell it to the public. And we try to get the highest bid that we can to dispose of certain assets. But where possible we keep them. We have a warehouse here in Ottawa and we just reuse the things whenever possible.
That's right. The G-20 was a first for us, so we actually purchased a second-hand table for that from the U.S. Department of the Army. They owned the table in Pittsburgh, so we purchased that, because we didn't see the ability to create something that large that would function for the G-20 here in Toronto in the time we had and also at that price.
Great. I'm going to switch to some security-related questions. We've seen G-8 and G-20 summits in the past. These things have been overshadowed. Most of the media attention goes to.... You wouldn't even know what the leaders were talking about at the recent G-8 and G-20 meetings in Toronto. All you saw were people getting arrested, and you saw the media following the folks around the street who were smashing glass and so on. In other parts of the world, at some of these summits, people have had to be hospitalized; we've had security staff hospitalized. It's pretty serious stuff.
A lot has been made about how much security costs, but I don't remember any incidents of somebody being seriously injured or hospitalized. I know there were some minor incidents in which some security staff were a little bit banged up and stuff. Could you speak to that? Is there anybody here who can speak to whether or not, compared to previous summits, our security measures actually provided a safer environment than what other places have been able to offer?
I can refer generally to some of the testimony that I believe was made by Chief Blair with respect to what happened in Toronto, and his statements along the lines that to the best of his knowledge the injuries both to the police officers and to some of the citizens involved in certain activities were comparatively minor.
Again, because this is my last round, I'll say thank you to all of you for being here and for being prepared to be here today.
I have a number of kind of disjointed questions that have come up, so I'm going to try to get through them as quickly as I can.
I want to go back to Infrastructure Canada again. I know you allocated about $50 million for the G-8 legacy fund. We started to talk a little bit about the number of applications and the types of projects. Could you provide that to this committee, if you don't have it available right here and now? Could you provide a list of the projects in terms of the number of applications, the number of projects, and the types of projects there were?
I just want to go back to something you said at the end of my questioning. We talked about the legacy funds, and it was a significant amount of money, $50 million. In addition to the $50 million, there was the FedNor money, as well as the economic action plan money, so we're stacking up quite a lot. There's a lot of money being spent here. But there was no legacy fund for Toronto. Was there a reason for there not being a legacy fund for Toronto? I'm just wondering, because we did hear from the restaurant association how concerned they were about lost revenues and damage to their facilities. Was there any discussion concerning a legacy fund for Toronto?
So there was never a discussion around what was happening in Toronto, probably because it was coming up so quickly, as we've often heard. But again, there was nothing allocated for them.
I want to go back. I just mentioned to you FedNor and the G-8 legacy and the economic action plan. I think I heard earlier that projects under each of them needed to have economic action plan signs in front of them. As a matter of fact, I had somebody report on how the sign in front of the carved lighthouse--which I think was in the middle, about 50 kilometres away from the G-8 site--was so big that they actually couldn't see the lighthouse. But unrelated to that, we do know that for those economic action plan signs, the signs had to be tracked and erected before payment was made. Was that the same for the G-8 legacy fund?
Did we track signage? Signage is common. Governments of all stripes going back in time have always erected signage to demonstrate to taxpayers where the money is being spent. So the fact that we had signage is not unusual.
Thank you very much for coming. We have a ton of questions, as you can appreciate. I'd like to get to some of the dollar values around some of these projects and where they were located again, but I think we'll have to leave that for another time.
I want to follow up, Mr. Chowdhury, on something you said. You said that some of the place settings were being sent to the NCC for use in official residences. Presumably they could end up at the official residence of the leader of the opposition.
Let me ask you this. One of the things I see as a success of the summit, the G-20, and in particular the G-20 in the climate of a global economic downturn starting with Pittsburgh, was the ability of the world leaders--and in this case of the G-20, I think it was 20 of the world leaders representing 95% of the world's population--coming together to try to chart a course back to prosperity for the global economy, which seems to have worked.
One of the things that the local businesses in my riding of Oak Ridges—Markham said was most beneficial to them was the ability to connect with other people. In particular, what followed after was the state dinner with the Prime Minister of India. Of course our government has recently entered into free trade negotiations with India. We've really revitalized the relationship between Canada and India. And I have to believe that international events like these, the G-8 and the G-20, offer us an incredible opportunity to develop these types of relationships in the lead-up to the events. The G-20s are not just three-day events. There's a lot of work that goes in beforehand with the ministers of finance and other officials. Am I right on that?
Yes, you're correct. In fact, we had 29 different meetings in the lead-up to the actual summits, all held across Canada in different places to prepare for those summits. So we had a number of visitors from the different countries here throughout the year visiting Canada.
Mr. Conrad, it was said that you were a bit uncomfortable earlier. I thought you were comfortable. I thought you'd been very good and very open with your answers.
I note, of course, that there have been other legacy funds. We've talked extensively about the legacy fund that was in Nova Scotia, and I think they were great projects. I don't know if any of the world leaders in 1995 visited the Bluenose. I don't remember that. I don't remember if they actually toured the peace monument. In 1995, I think it was our government that finally recognized the importance of Pier 21 and put resources into it. So this is the usual course. Legacy funds are something that's done in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs. We highlight local artists, we bring tourism to a region. This is the normal course for events of these types.
I guess my final remark is more of a comment than a question.
We heard the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association identify the summit as its stimulus, as one of the most important opportunities to bring people into the city of Toronto to their hotels and restaurants. It was not just the summit itself, but the lead-up to the summit.
I talked to my chief of police, Chief Armand La Barge, about the success of the York Regional Police in cooperating with respect to the summit and how well it worked in getting police forces from across the country to work together.
I've heard nothing but success after success. I think the work done by the departments is truly unbelievable in the short timeframe we were given--the international summits, the implementation of economic action plans.
What has happened in this country since 2008, since I've been elected, has been truly remarkable. I would suggest that if those regions of the country are so against holding summits you could bring the summit to my part of the country any time you like. York Region is always ready, willing, and able to host international summits and to host the people of the world.
As a final comment, I'd say this. The provincial minister of public safety and security is a gentleman by the name of Rick Bartolucci. The commissioner of police in Ontario was a gentleman by the name of Julian Fantino. The former member of Parliament for Vaughan was a gentleman by the name of Maurizio Bevilacqua. I wonder, if these gentlemen didn't have Italian last names, if the opposition would be so willing to say these people were corrupt--
Thank you. It's entirely out of order, and on a point of order, I don't think you can stop there, Mr. Chairman. You can't let that go without asking him to withdraw those remarks. It's offensive to all of us here.
There are members of this committee who find different things that are said from time to time to be offensive, and oftentimes they find it offensive if it's true. When the opposition came up with a conspiracy based on individuals, of which there is no evidence, of which the evidence actually speaks to the contrary of the conspiracy they're bringing forward--
--as to what may be offensive and may not be offensive to members, I think we're opening a discussion that will only inevitably lead to debate.
There are several things that I found offensive that were brought forward by the Liberals today, and by you, Mr. Chair, in bringing forward this conspiracy in the House yesterday. I find it very, very offensive.
I didn't bring a point of order. I believe the facts speak for themselves. If the honourable members believe that the facts speak for themselves, they'll leave it--
As you will recall, I made an original motion for all the documentation around the G-8 and G-20 summit. One we have not received yet is the Ontario Provincial Police details and all their associated costs. For clarity, I'd like to ensure we move the following motion. Do you want me to read it into the record?
Just that we have the details of the Toronto Police Service and we have all the other details. The one we're missing is the Ontario Provincial Police. I don't know why we haven't received that when we've received Toronto, for example.
Yes, I think the testimony today provided a reason for it. The details are not required until December 1. The folks who were here explained to us that we haven't received all that information yet. It hasn't been received by the department. The department has no reason to mislead you, Ms. Coady, and if you respect them as much as you say you respect them you'll believe them when they say all the details haven't been brought forward yet and it would be impossible for that department to release information they don't have.
If you're calling on the Government of Ontario to bring forward information faster than what they agreed to do in the timeframe, we'll have to ask if the Ontario government has the capacity to bring forward that information sooner than the prescribed timeframes within the agreement.
I think that's exactly the point. We're asking the Ontario Provincial Police to provide that information to us, just as the Toronto Police Service has done. We can respect the department if they have not received it yet, but when we had a representative they were most accommodating. They had a list of details they were prepared to give us at that time. I'm sure they have details they'd be willing to give this committee.
The agreement is with the Province of Ontario, so I think we'd have to ask the Province of Ontario to expedite these details. I'm not in any position where I can support this, because it contradicts the agreement with the Province of Ontario. Even though it is a Liberal government, I still have full respect for the authority of that province and I don't believe the Province of Ontario is undertaking any kind of sinister action as to why they haven't brought forward the full details. So I can't support that. It would bring forward an undue and an irresponsible obligation onto a provincial government in contravention of an agreement that's been signed between the two governments. Therefore, I won't support it. And I believe that in due time we'll have all those details.
I'm not going to support the motion. I want to explain why.
They've signed an arrangement to say they will have things at a specific time. I accept them at their word. I'm not going to impute a motive as to why we're trying to elevate a timeframe beyond an arrangement that's already been committed to. Some might think there's some political motivation to that, and I'm not going to suggest that. I'm not, because that will be a question some might ask.
But it strikes me that this is not urgent. This is a function of their having already committed to a timeframe; they have a process in place. And I haven't heard a compelling reason why it needs to be expedited for the sake of some days. We're already at November 18. They've committed to doing this in the next dozen days, so I'm not sure, frankly, that I understand what the difference between that dozen days and somehow making it nine or ten days would be, unless there was a motivation I just don't understand. Maybe Ms. Coady could explain it.
Thank you very much. I will respond to your comment.
When I put forward the original motion, I asked for the production of papers, as you will recall. We gave two extensions to the government to produce those documents, and they did so publicly without the courtesy of sending it to the committee first. But that's okay, they did that.
In that documentation we have everything else but the Ontario Provincial Police's. When the colleague was here from the Ontario Provincial Police, he had a list; he told us during the committee process that he had the documentation there before us. What we're merely asking—and quite frankly I don't understand why we don't have it—is would the Ontario Provincial Police, knowing they have it, because he had it with him that day, provide it to our committee?
We're in the midst of studying this. If we're hearing it's going to government December 1, then if government takes as much time to get it to us, we're well into February before we get any documentation, because obviously we don't sit during the month of January. So I'm not quite sure why we couldn't ask the Ontario Provincial Police. Toronto gave it to us, as did everybody else. Why couldn't they give it to us so we have the documentation in the midst of our study?
I was the one who asked the question. It's almost like, when is a deal a deal? So when it doesn't suit us, we change the deal.
We have an arrangement. We're talking 12 days from now. Frankly, if it's ahead of that, it feels politically motivated, Siobhan, I have to tell you. It feels like that to me. Maybe it isn't, from your perspective, but it feels absolutely that way to me, the way you've described it, because we're talking about 12 days.
They've signed an agreement that they would have it by then. They've committed to doing that, and frankly, anything other than that, it just--
The clerk has brought to my attention a couple of matters. The first has to do with the word “orders”. Generally speaking, it's a request before it's an order. Is that appropriate, to change the word “orders” to “requests”?
Well, when we put them forward before, we asked for them as expeditiously as possible. If you'd like my clarification, I would like to have it by next week, if I could. I want it by the middle of next week. If that's five parliamentary days, then so be it.
I would just appreciate knowing, because what's being discussed here is not what I have written on the notice of motion that I have on paper in front of me. Would you do me the courtesy of reading, in English, the wording of the motion exactly, please?
“The committee requests”, and then there's a second word further down at the bottom “that the committee orders”, so we're just changing that language, so that “requests” and “requests” is consistent language.
The Committee requests that the Ontario Provincial Police provide it with the details of all their costs associated with the G8 and G20 Summits, including for goods, services and overtime salaries, providing for each contract (i) the name of the contractor, (ii) a description of the goods or services provided, (iii) the value of the contract, (iv) how the contract was awarded, (v) whether the cost was associated with the G8, G20 or both; and that the Committee requests that this information be provided in both electronic and paper form within 5 calendar days.