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The Globe and Mail

G8, G20 summit expenses started to mount before meetings even began

A new spending report shows the Harper government started racking up expenses for the G8 and G20 summits well before the June meetings even began.

A list of expenditures for preparatory meetings obtained by The Canadian Press includes more than $200,000 for a May meeting at Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta, more than $6,000 for photography services at a meeting the same month in Calgary, and nearly $13,000 in catering costs for an Ottawa dinner in March.

The preparatory meetings were intended to reduce the amount of time and resources required at the summit.

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While incomplete, the list offers an idea of the level of spending leading up to the summits.

An April meeting at Chateau Whistler in Alberta, for instance, totalled nearly $45,000, while entertainment for a February meeting in Yellowknife cost almost $9,000.

Critics say the spending goes against the intention of the meetings.

"These meetings were supposed to be about austerity," Liberal MP Mark Holland said Sunday.

"I see a lot of extremely expensive hotels on that list."

The government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The latest figures come following Friday's release of new departmental spending records for the summits, which included $100-apiece pens for the leaders, and more than $86,000 worth of lapel pins and zipper pulls.

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Despite the largesse, government officials have said they expect to come in well under their $1.13-billion budget for the meetings in Toronto and Huntsville, Ont.

But all the bills aren't in yet. There is still a question mark around the final breakdown for security, with policing bills not expected until the end of the year. Officials said they expect the final security bill to be $676 million.

Opposition politicians have already blasted the Conservatives for some previously revealed spending, most notably the $1.9 million "fake lake" pavilion, and $14,000 for glow sticks.

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