G8/G20 summits to be most expensive three days for Canada

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Thursday, May 27, 2010

TORONTO - The G8 and G20 summits being held here next month will cost Canada a record $1.1 billion - the most expensive 72 hours in the country’s history.

With these summits become a magnet for anti-globalization protesters, Canada is spending as much as $933 million to provide security for the two summits which together will last three days.

Another $160 million will be spent on logistics and stay arrangements for the world leaders. Food alone for summit leaders will cost more than $1 million.

While the G8 summits will be held June 25-26 at the resort of Huntsville which is more than 200 kilometres from Toronto, the G20 summit will be held in the city June 26-27.

A number of groups, including Amnesty International, Greenpeace, World Vision, and the Canadian Labour Congress and others, are already gearing up to throw the G20 summit out of gear.

In the biggest security operations ever mounted in Canada, security and intelligence agencies are already questioning protest leaders.

Since it lies next door to the venue of the summit in the heart of Toronto, the University of Toronto - the biggest in the country - is shutting down, rescheduling exams and getting hostels vacated during the summit.

While critics have called the summits the most expensive 72 hours in Canadian history, the government says it is not going to compromise on security for world leaders.

Justifying the huge cost, Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Wednesday that Canada has an obligation to safeguard world leaders during their stay in the country.

With pitched battles between security forces and protesters on the cards, Toronto hospital officials also said Wednesday that they are making arrangements to deal with emergencies and high volume of injured patients.

To ensure that enough beds are available for injured people, all non-emergency operations are being deferred till the end of the summit. Apart from attending the G20 summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will also meet his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper for bilateral talks. It will be the first meeting by any Indian prime minister to Canada in almost one and a half decades.

Filed under: Economy

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