Canada’s fake ‘lakegate’

Canada’s
recent announcement that it is spending a mind-boggling $900 million to protect
the two global summits it’s hosting this month was bad enough.

Now,
planners of the 72-hour diplomatic jamboree – the G-8 summit of industrialized
democracies and the broader G-20 that includes major advanced and developing
economies – are running into howls of derision for trying to showcase Canada’s
tourist appeal by building a media centre that includes an artificial lake with
canoes, trees, deck chairs and a fake dock.

Does
Canada, whose charms and natural beauty have hardly gone unnoticed by the
outside world, need to spend nearly $2 million on a theme park of itself? And
does that park need to go up in Toronto, just blocks from a Great – and real –
Lake? Many Canadians would agree with opposition politician Jack Layton’s
verdict: “Fakelakegate.”

Supporters
say it’s worth it considering that the G-20 countries control more than 85 per cent
of the world’s money, the terrorism threat is real, and the leaders are
confronted with a European debt crisis that could morph into another global
recession.

The
more than 3,000 journalists expected at the 25 -27 June events can’t all fit
into picturesque, tourism-friendly Huntsville, and most will cover the
proceedings from Toronto, on Lake Ontario. The display called “The
Canadian Corridor” is supposed to make up for what the media are missing
by being shut out of Huntsville.

But
Mark Holland, another opposition lawmaker, says it sets the wrong example.

“This
is supposed to be a meeting about dealing with the international debt crisis.
We’re supposed to be leading the world in showing austerity and we invite them
to our doorsteps to sit around a $2 million dollar fake lake. I mean it’s pretty
ridiculous,” he said.

Other
legislators reached for a headline. “The government’s half-baked fake lake
takes the cake! What a mistake,” Rodger Cuzner said in Parliament, to
raucous laughter.

“The
billion dollar boondoggle is ballooning,” said Layton. “And get this:
we’ve got a government here that has to create an artificial lake when Canada
has more lakes than just about any other country in the world. It’s the
taxpayer that’s going to end up on the bottom of the fake lake.”