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Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Gatineau, Quebec April 29, 2010. (CHRIS WATTIE/Chris Wattie/Reuters)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Gatineau, Quebec April 29, 2010. (CHRIS WATTIE/Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Liberal ads take a swipe at Harper's 'boondoggle' summits Add to ...

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The Liberals are denouncing the upcoming G8 and G20 summits in Ontario as a $1-billion boondoggle and an ego trip for Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a new set of ads.

With a snarky voice-over, cartoonish images of a duck in a kiddy pool and a picture of Mr. Harper looking full of himself, the new Liberal ads aim to fuel the anger over the cost of the June meetings of world leaders.

"Harper's fake lake is part of his $1-billion boondoggle, Canada's most expensive photo-op at a time of massive debt and out-of-control deficits," the radio and television ads say. "So when you head to the lake this summer, remember you're paying for Harper's trip, too. An ego trip Canada can't afford."

In a statement, Liberal MP Mark Holland blamed "poor planning and pork-barrel politics" for the $900-million security bill and the rest of the summit expenses.

Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty defended the summit's cost Sunday and said the spending will benefit Toronto.

"I am the minister responsible for the Greater Toronto Area and the G20 will be a great economic boom for the Toronto area, and Ontario has been one of the hardest-hit provinces during the recession," he told reporters in Charlottetown, when asked about the Liberal ads.

The Minister said the high cost for security cannot be avoided with G20 summits and that other countries have and will be on the hook for similar expenses when they host the summit.

"It's our obligation if we're going to host a major international meeting with the leaders of the world attending - representing 80 per cent of the GDP of the world - that we have full and adequate security in our country and that's expensive. That's the world we live in today, regrettably," he said. "We're just taking our turn. Other countries will take their turn as the United States, the United Kingdom have. France will take its turn next year and it will be very expensive for France as well."

In another reaction, the Conservatives accused the Liberals of being out of touch with average Canadians, saying that not everyone can afford the types of vacations enjoyed by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

"The ad's premise is that the average Canadian can afford to spend weekends at the lake. An understandable assumption, no doubt, by someone who vacations outside Canada and owns a summer villa in the south of France," said Mr. Harper's spokesman, Dimitri Soudas.

"What Mr. Ignatieff fails to appreciate is that the vast majority of Canadians do not own recreational property. This is just another gaffe that shows he is grossly out of touch with the lives of ordinary Canadians."

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