As a new poll suggests Canadians are concerned about costs of funding the G8 and G20 summits, the Liberals are accusing the Conservatives of funnelling millions of G8 dollars into " projects" in the Muskoka-Parry Sound riding of Industry Minister Tony Clement.
The G8 will be held in Huntsville, which lies within the riding, but the Liberals say many of the projects paid for through the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund are far away from the meeting site and will not be completed in time for the meeting.
The Liberals held a news conference on Wednesday to highlight 10 projects that they say have gone to Mr. Clement's riding at the expense of needier ridings.
"Apparently he likes gazebos because there's a lot of them" that have been paid for with G8 legacy money, said Liberal MP Mark Holland. "This is apparently the land of gazebos. He's borrowed an enormous amount of money here on whatever trinkets he thinks he might like or might help his constituents."
A visibly riled Mr. Clement said he is tired of hearing the Liberals attack his riding.
Other ridings get infrastructure money out of different funds, Mr. Clement told reporters after the weekly Conservative caucus meeting.
Most of the Legacy funding went to pay for the G8 centre, he said. But money that was not spent directly on infrastructure near the summit in Huntsville has gone to pay for legacy projects, said Mr. Clement.
"They are not meant to be finished for the G8 because they are not being used for the G8, they are legacy for the G8," he said. "These are part and parcel of the infrastructure spending that we are doing across the country for various purposes."
Although Mr. Clement personally announced many of the projects, his spokeswoman pointed out that decisions regarding which projects would receive money under the G8 legacy fund were made in the office of John Baird, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure. Mr. Baird's office was unavailable for comment on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, a new poll suggests that Canadians are not particularly interested in the upcoming G8 and G20 summits and are unimpressed with the costs of security for these two meetings of international leaders.
Just 20 per cent of respondents to an Angus Reid online survey conducted late last week said the G8 and G20 summits are "very important" or "moderately important" to them personally. Three-quarters of the respondents said the meetings are "not too important" or "not important at all."
The poll suggests that Canadians are also concerned about the cost of security, with 78 per cent of those polled saying that the expected expenditure of nearly $1-billion is unjustified.
The respondents were somewhat more divided about the controls that should be placed on the large number of protesters who are expected to turn out to the events next week.
Three in 10 people polled (31 per cent) said they believe there should be no restrictions on protests during the summits, while two in five (42 per cent) would allow protests only in certain places and times. Five per cent said the protests should be allowed only if they have been approved by summit organizers, and 13 per cent would ban all protests during the summits.
Angus Reid conducted the survey on June 11 and June 12. The pollster questioned 1.007 randomly selected Canadian adults who are members of its online forum. A survey of this size is expected to accurately reflect the opinions of all Canadians within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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