Stephen Harper’s Billion Dollar Photo-op

Surely there were far less costly ways for Mr. Harper and the Conservatives to offer definitive proof of the Conservative Party’s fiscal irresponsibility than the G8/G20 billion buck boondoggle?

Well, more accurately Billion plus boondoggle – $933 million (security bill) + $160 million (hospitality, infrastructure, food safety and extra staffing) + $?.?? (federal documents show further outlays are likely).

I suppose that Canadians should just consider themselves fortunate that Mr. Harper could not find a more expensive location to hold the meetings than in downtown Toronto or even more taxpayer dollars would be being squandered.

Yet no doubt, come the next election, Mr. Harper and his Conservatives will be claiming to behave in a fiscally responsible manner, despite having added this exclamation point to Harper’s profligate spending on everything except Canadians in need.

When the Liberal leader Mr.Ignatieff suggested “The numbers are off the scales” a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Ignatieff’s comments indicate no understanding of the reality of providing security to world leaders.

Given that security cost only $18 million at the G20 summit last September in Pittsburgh and $30 million at the G20 meeting last April in London, might I suggest that the fact the Canadian government is spending $900 million over the highest of the two costs confirms that if anyone has “no understanding of the reality of providing security to world leaders” it is Mr. Harper and his Conservatives?

Oh well, that makes it OK then.

I’s so glad that the government isn’t wasting $2 million on a fake lake.

No, for $2 million you also get fake cityscapes; fake dock with canoes, trees and deck chairs to go with the fake lake; and of course fake images and backgrounds for the media to use to file their stories.

All of which, according to Mr. Harper, makes dissipating taxpayer dollars in this manner OK.

Simply because Mr. Harper and the Conservatives have been claiming that one of the benefits of these meeting would be a boost to tourism, one certainly wouldn’t want the foreign press to be encouraged to visit real cityscapes, to travel the few blocks to a real lake – Lake Ontario or to use real backgrounds in filing their reports.

Probably just as well, since holding the G20 meeting in downtown Toronto has resulted in turning the downtown into a ghost town with the closing of most, if not all, tourist attractions and businesses in downtown Toronto.

Besides, if the media was away from the media centre they might miss covering one of Mr. Harper’s photo-ops. And when you are wasting, I mean spending, $1.1 billion you want to make sure no photo opportunity is missed.

Should holding the G20 meeting in downtown Toronto cause any difficulty for businesses or inconvenience for thousands of workers or anyone seeking to do business downtown, it is a small price to pay to maximize Mr. Harper’s photo opportunities.

At least in Harper/Conservative think.

Harper/Conservative think where there is no money (or need) for a nation housing strategy merely because Canada is the only G8 nation without such a strategy or because there is a affordable housing crisis in Canada or that homelessness is increasing or that poverty is increasing or that children’s poverty and hunger continuing to increase.

Harper/Conservative think – the mindset where there is $2 million to build fake cityscapes, docks, lakes and backgrounds for the foreign press but no $$$ to build real housing for Canadians

Harper/Conservative think – the mindset where the poor and the homeless are just Canadians, Canadians who probably don’t even vote having no fixed address, while the foreign press will allow Mr. Harper to assume his proper place on the world stage.

Harper/Conservative think – the mindset were leadership is about recognition and photo-ops; the mindset that cannot comprehend that with the state of the world’s economy, the need for austerity in Greece and other countries, the need to reign in runaway federal deficit spending and the numerous other economic challenges facing Canada and the world – real leadership would have been to hold a scaled back entourageless meeting on a military base to maximize security and minimize cost – without worrying that this would not maximize press coverage and photo-ops.

Harper/Conservative think – the mindset that has no appreciation of the value of a dollar or understanding of the financial/economic realities that the majority of Canadians live with day to day; thus unable to see anything wrong with a spending increase of 3100% on security or with spending $2 million on fake cityscapes, fake lake and dock and fake backgrounds for media reports.

Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table.

The most worrying statements are the repeated references to having Canada “take its rightful place”. As in “this is what it costs ($1 billion +) for Canada to take its rightful place”.

If it was ever necessary that Canada “take its rightful place” I would say that it was done on the battlefields of WWI.

Psychologists will tell you that bullying is rooted in lack of self esteem; that in a lack of self esteem lays approval seeking behaviour, seeking to “take ones rightful place’.

We need to set up a Stephen Harper Self Esteem Fund to raise money to ensure Stephen Harper can get the professional help he needs to build his self esteem to the point he no longer feels the need to engage in attention seeking behaviours in order to “take his proper place”.

A Fund so as to ensure Mr. Harper’s treatment is not interrupted and ensure that he can learn that respect is something one earns, not something one buys. Because Canadian taxpayers and the Canadian Armed Forces cannot afford the cost of Harper’s attempts to buy respect and his “rightful place”.

Perhaps once Mr. Harper moves into recovery vis-à-vis his self esteem issues, he will gain an understanding of what it means to be Canadian, rather than a wannabe American, coming to understand that childhood poverty, liveable wages, affordable housing and a health care system to rival the best among the industrialized nations, as opposed to being at the bottom of health for the industrialized nations barely ahead of the USA, are important – not billion dollar photos shoots.

With self esteem would, hopefully, come an understanding of what Kim Campbell meant when she said “Our first Prime Minister saw a country that would be known for its generosity of spirit. And so it is.”

Or was until Mr. Harper became Prime Minister.

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