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John Baird spoke to the Auditor-General's report at a press conference in Ottawa on April 11, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
John Baird spoke to the Auditor-General's report at a press conference in Ottawa on April 11, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Baird defends G8 spending as putting a 'good face' on Canada Add to ...

Ottawa's $45.7-million G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund did not have to be spent on projects that were directly linked to the meeting of world leaders in Muskoka.

"We wanted to ensure that we put a good face on Canada," Conservative candidate John Baird said at a news conference.

Mr. Baird said the money was used in part to build or improve on infrastructure linked directly to the summit, while the rest of the fund was a gift to the region.

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"We did a bit of sprucing up to a part of Canada that is beautiful," he said. "There were legacy funds to thank the greater region of Muskoka for hosting the summit."

Mr. Baird said he had the final word on the projects that were approved, though he didn't deny that the Conservative minister from the region, Tony Clement, was involved in the process.

According to the federal government, the 32 projects that received funding included signage, road improvements and downtown-revitalization projects.

"Recipients were not required to report to Infrastructure Canada which facilities were used by G8 leaders," the federal government said in a written answer tabled in the House of Commons in February.

"Funding was allocated to infrastructure projects that would help the region prepare for hosting the G8 Summit, support the effective and secure hosting of the Summit as well as to provide a lasting legacy for local communities."

The Auditor-General of Canada has looked into the fund, as part of report that was delayed because of last month's election call. A leaked draft of the report has fuelled a battle between the Conservatives and the other main parties over the validity of the spending.

The opposition has criticized a number of projects, pointing out that a $17-million G8 centre that was not actually used for the event, and that the money was used to build public restrooms located 20 kilometres away from the summit site.

A spokesperson for the Deerhurst Resort denied its general manager, Joseph Klein, was involved in the decision-making process, as stated in the first draft of the Auditor-General's report.

"As head of the events host venue, Deerhurst Resort General Manager Joseph Klein was asked to participate in this committee as a liaison between the community leaders, the minister and the mayor of Huntsville. His role was to assist, like many other individuals, in sharing non-confidential information that could be helpful in the planning process," spokeswoman Anne White said. "Neither the general manager or anyone at Deerhurst was ever asked to evaluate or review projects selected for G8 Infrastructure funding. Deerhurst was not involved in this process."

Below is the full list of projects:

District Municipality of Muskoka

Muskoka Tourism Gateway Signs: $408,000 Muskoka Tourism Visitor Information Centre: $260,000 Road improvements: $1.8-million



Jack Garland Airport Corp.

Jack Garland North Bay International Airport Improvements: $3.5-million

Province of Ontario

Highway 11 upgrades: $350,000



Town of Bracebridge

Bracebridge Sportsplex Emergency Backup: $40,000 Gateway Signage: $150,000 Annie Williams Park Upgrades: $500,000 Downtown revitalization: $800,000

Town of Gravenhurst

Downtown beautification: $1.2-million

Town of Huntsville

Huntsville beautification and lighting: $106,000 Port Sydney beautification: $250,000 Reconstruction of Deerhurst Drive: $2-million University of Waterloo G8 Centre Expansion: $9.8-million G8 Centre: $17-million

Town of Kearney

Main Street beautification: $730,000

Town of Parry Sound

Parry Sound beautification: $178,000 Parry Sound downtown streetscaping: $1.1-million



Town of Sundridge

Sundridge pedestrian crossing: $125,000 Beautification of Sundridge: $750,000

Village of Burk's Falls

Improvements to Burk's Falls Town Centre: $150,000

Township of Georgian Bay

Port Severn Gateway feature signage: $1-million Port Severn streetscape/linear parks: $1-million

Township of Lake of Bays

All-season heritage plaque in Baysville: $39,000 Baysville community streetscape improvements: $117,000 Lake of Bays Band Shell and public washrooms: $300,000

Township of Muskoka Lakes

Tourism signage: $250,000 Bala Falls road upgrades: $386,000 Paignton House road upgrades: $424,000

Township of Perry

Road improvements: $100,000

Township of Seguin

Seguin Township beautification and streetscape: $745,000

Village of South River

South River community beautification: $65,000

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