The massive costs for hosting the G8 and G20 summits were driven by a $675-million security bill, including $700-per-room trailer accommodations for Mounties in Muskoka.
And the central government department that reports directly to Stephen Harper spent nearly $63,000 to hire a "strategic communications" adviser to help craft the government's message on the high security costs.
The federal government released a long list of still-incomplete summit bills on Friday, detailing $857-million in spending to host the two June summits of world leaders, the Muskoka G8 and the Toronto G20.
They include substantial bills for promotional items such as G8 pins and fleece sweaters, gifts for leaders, spouses and foreign officials, hotel rooms, restaurant bills, and even a set of 24-place settings of dishes for the G8 for $11,020.
The tally is not yet complete, but government officials insisted the final bill will be up to 25 per cent below the $1.1-billion the government set aside. Opposition politicians scoffed.
"If it's not a boondoggle of $1-billion, it's going to be a boondoggle of $857-million," said Liberal MP Denis Coderre.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on promotional items such as pens and pins handed out to youth groups and Rotary clubs. Another $30,000 was spent on leaders gifts, and, for spouses, $1,260 for stained glass and $3,039 for woven shawls; G8 political directors each received striped Hudson's Bay blankets, costing $2,559.
Still, most of the non-security cost of organizing the summits went to conference centres and hotels, and the 28 pre-summit meetings. One Lake Louise meeting in May of G8 sherpas - leaders' representatives - cost $201,175; the bill for a sherpas' dinner at Vancouver's Quattro restaurant was $4,604.
But the total summit cost was mainly driven by a $675-million security tab tallied by several police departments and the Canadian Forces, including $329-million spent by the RCMP.
Accommodations for the RCMP, who sent nearly 20,000 officers to the two summits, topped $65-million, including big bills from nearly every major hotel in Toronto.
But most of the accommodation cost, $57-million, went to a massive trailer camp in Muskoka - a cost of $700 per room per night, according to RCMP officials. The lack of available hotel rooms near the Deerhurst summit left no other option, RCMP officials said.
That's only part of the Mounties' bill: they spent $44-million on meals and travel, $35-million on leased command centers, and $33-million on private security guards. Another $15-million went to fences and surveillance equipment. Among the pages and pages of items they bought: a $22,800 Polaris Ranger all-terrain vehicle and $21,350 in leased golf carts.
The federal government also pledged big sums to compensate Ontario police forces: $144-million to the Toronto Police Service, $100-million to the Ontario Provincial Police, and $17-million to Peel Regional Police near Toronto.
The government obviously felt the bills would require some explaining: The Privy Council Office, the central co-ordinating department that reports to the Prime Minister, spent $62,870 to hire temporary help to provide "strategic-level communications advice" on summit security. A PCO official said that was cheaper than a new full-time staffer, but the Liberals called it a waste.
"You don't need to spend that much money to spin-doctor you guys," Mr. Coderre told reporters.