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Two-day G7 summit in Charlevoix to cost $224.6 million, the equivalent of 20 water treatment plants

The Council of Canadians brought a ‘scrap the summits’ message to the G8 summit in Huntsville, Ontario on June 24, 2010.

The Council of Canadians has long argued that the so-called ‘Group of’ summits are expensive and undemocratic.

Expensive because the meetings cost hundreds of millions of dollars (the three-day G8 and G20 summits in Huntsville and Toronto cost more than $857 million) and undemocratic because the meetings include only the richest countries in the world (and not, for instance, the 54 countries in Africa or the 12 countries in South America).

We have argued that G-summits should more inclusively be G-195 summits (all countries represented in the United Nations General Assembly) and that it would be more cost-efficient for them to take place at the UN Secretariat Building in New York (where the costs of security measures would be minimized because of a consistent location).

The Toronto Star editorial board agreed with us in 2010 when it wrote, “At root, the G8/G20 summits are about a handful of leaders pressing the flesh together. That needn’t cost the earth, or require legions of retainers. These affairs are sinking under their own weight. It’s time to lighten the load.”

Now, the CBC reports, “Hosting top world leaders at the upcoming G7 summit in Quebec’s picturesque Charlevoix region is expected to cost Canadian taxpayers $224.6 million dollars. According to spending estimates tabled [by Treasury Board president Scott Brison] in the House of Commons Monday [February 12], the price tag for hosting the gathering of world leaders, and the meetings leading up to it, will be steep.”

The article adds, “Security provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is expected to eat up $125 million of that budget on its own. ‘The majority of the funding … will support security measures, including deployment of RCMP and military personnel, support of provincial police and necessary equipment. Funding will also be used for logistical needs such as leasing of space, temporary staff and upgrades to the local communication network.’ For example, the Public Safety department will get $18.9 million and National Defence will receive $9.6 million to help the RCMP ensure security at the event.”

As such, the G7 summit this coming June 8-9 would cost $112.3 million per day or about $4.7 million per hour over the 48 hour period.

To put this in context, it will cost about $11.2 million to build a new water treatment plant and related infrastructure at the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation near Port Perry, Ontario. This First Nation has had irregular access to clean drinking water since 2008. It is not a stretch to say that the cost of the two-day G7 summit could instead be used to build 20 water treatment plants on First Nations across this country.

Other concerns

We are also concerned that the RCMP has announced that they plan to set up ‘free speech zones’ for the G7 summit. Our argument is that all of Canada should be considered a ‘free speech zone’ and that it’s a violation of democratic rights for people who want to protest on key issues of our day to be kept out of sight of leaders making decisions about their lives (notably, G7 decisions about climate change that affects us all).

And we are also very concerned that the G7 summit will be US President Donald Trump’s first visit to Canada.

Justin Trudeau’s objectives for the summit include “advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment” (it defies credibility that Trump could contribute to this discussion); working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy (Trump has described climate change as a hoax, has submitted formal notice to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and has opened almost all US coastal waters for oil and gas drilling), and “building a more peaceful and secure world” (Trump has tweeted his nuclear-launch button is bigger than the North Korean leader’s button).

There is also evidence that Trump has committed hate crimes (Columbia University Professor Hamid Dabashi has argued Trump’s bombing of Iraq and Syria should be seen as such) and sexual assault (fifteen women have made accusations against Trump ranging from sexual harassment and sexual assault to lewd behavior).

As such, we initiated this online petition opposing Trump’s visit to Canada. It was launched one-month ago today and has now been signed by 21,761 people. Please help us reach our next target of 25,000 people signing the petition by March 8, International Women’s Day by clicking here now.