Charlie Angus would like to say he’s “shocked” but he’s not.
The NDP MP, who has been doggedly pursuing the trail of money spent in Treasury Board President Tony Clement’s riding for the G8 Summit, told The Globe he has been hearing from “people on the ground that money was no object” when it came to sprucing up Muskoka for the international summit last year.
The Canadian Press came out with new revelations Monday detailing the $2-million spent to renovate Deerhurst Resort, the venue for the summit. This included $3,000 to raise a large chandelier and $1,600 to move a king-sized bed.
Nine months after the June 2010 summit the Muskoka lodge was sold to Skyline Hotels and Resorts. “Where is the accountability to Canadians?” Mr. Angus asked.
The MP brought up the issue – again – in the Commons during Question Period Monday. The government, however, has been fairly successful in controlling the controversy around the spending.
The Treasury Board President does not answer questions related to the G8. Rather, he sits in his seat while Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird stickhandles the issues. (Mr. Baird was infrastructure minister at the time of the summit and so was responsible for approving the spending.)
The pair appeared before a parliamentary committee earlier this month to defend the $50-million fund used for the infrastructure projects in Mr. Clement’s riding. The Treasury Board President told MPs the paperwork wasn’t perfect and he would try to do better. The Auditor-General has examined some of the projects and concluded the government should have been clearer.
But Mr. Angus is not even close to being satisfied. He believes there were even more millions spent in the riding. And he is in the process of poring over another 1,000 pages of documents from other municipalities in the Mr. Clement’s region.
“Tony Clement still has to come clean with the Canadian people,” Mr. Angus said, wondering how the Prime Minister continues to carry such “deadweight” on his shoulders.
As Treasury Board President, Mr. Clement is supposed to have the confidence of Canadians when it comes to government spending, Mr. Angus added.
In Question Period, the NDP MP accused the government of not having its facts straight after assertions the G8 spending was reviewed by public servants.
“The civil servants were not allowed to review it,” Mr. Angus charged. “It was reviewed by three amigos – there was the Minister who got to play Daddy Warbucks; there was a hotel manager who got a $2-million renovation right before they flipped the property for $26-million; and of course there was the mayor, who walked away with two giant white elephants.”
Mr. Angus demanded the government turn over the documents “that allowed this boondoggle to happen.’
Bob Dechert, the parliamentary secretary to the Foreign Affairs Minister, answered for Mr. Clement. He read from talking points, repeating that public servants reviewed “every invoice” and that “dividends” are paying off from the summit, such as on the maternal and child health initiative.