Thursday, June 9, 2011

Harper misled Parliament over G8 costs: AG

The Action Plan sign for the G8 Infrastucture Improvements sits behind the The Muskoka Information Centre which received 260,000 dollars, they resurfaced the parking lot, fixed the roof and bathrooms and added handicap access. The auditor general says the Harper government misinformed Parliament to win approval for a $50-million G8 fund that lavished money on dubious projects in a Conservative riding.

The Toronto Star:

Ottawa — Stephen Harper’s government misled Parliament and skirted spending guidelines as it sprinkled tens of millions of dollars across Muskoka to provide a G8 legacy, an independent probe has concluded.

The federal Conservatives passed off the $50 million G8 Legacy fund as part of an $83 million investment to reduce border congestion when they sought Parliament’s approval for funding, a report from the Auditor General of Canada said Thursday.

The result was that members of Parliament were kept in the dark about the Harper government’s dispersal of tens of millions of taxpayers’ funds, the audit concluded.

“This categorization did not clearly or transparently identify the nature of the approval being sought for G8 infrastructure,” the report said.

The Conservatives have come under sharp criticism after revelations that much of the $50 million meant to spruce up the Huntsville location of the G8 summit a year ago went to projects such as gazebos, new sidewalks, outdoor bathrooms and landscaping — all far away from where the world leaders actually met.

Depicting a slush fund without using those words, the audit reveals that more than 200 projects were initially hand-picked by a small team of insiders, led by local MP Tony Clement without the usual screening by federal government officials.

Officially, it was known as the “2010 G8 Summit Liaison and Implementation Team.”

In fact, this “team” was Clement, the mayor of Huntsville and the general manager of the Deerhurst Resort, where the summit would take place, according to the audit.

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