$1.1M for G20 posters ...
Summit wallpaper for behind podiums the latest bit of federal fiscal fun
By GREG WESTON, QMI Agency
Last Updated: June 10, 2010 12:00am
A pal who once served as a senior Canadian diplomat in Washington tells the story of having to change the locks on his diplomatic mansion to keep the government decorators from continuously renovating the place.
Canadian taxpayers, he says, have nothing to fear from the limo crowd more than an army of Foreign Affairs decorators all cashed up with nothing to paint.
This may help to explain how the federal government is managing to blow millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money on a fake lake and other ridiculous decorations for the coming G8 and G20 summits in Toronto and in Muskoka cottage country to the north.
The latest bit of fiscal fun at public expense is $1,102,500 — wait for it — for backdrops in the two meeting halls hosting the summits.
No joke: Foreign Affairs is shelling out over a million bucks for those really big banners and signboards commonly used as backdrops behind speakers’ podiums.
These will be used mainly to decorate the meeting halls in Toronto and Muskoka where the world leaders will be gathering for their gabfest and photo op.
An executive with the company installing the expensive props explains they provide suitable decor and messaging in camera shots of the leaders and other speakers.
It doesn’t seem to matter that most media toting those cameras won’t be allowed within several kilometres of either the Muskoka or Toronto meeting halls to shoot the million-bucks-worth of backdrops, much less the bigwigs standing in front of them.
The exec says that outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre there will be some really big billboards, presumably with catchy slogans such as: Welcome to the G8/G20 summit.
Aside from letting Barack Obama and his several thousands handlers know he’s in the right place, the giant signs will provide a security screen for leaders arriving in their limos.
Inside, the exec tells us, the company is creating and installing “all the backdrops that you’ll see on camera within the context of all the meeting rooms, etc.
“This is all the environment that is required in the space to outfit the rooms to make them suitable for the purpose.”
Translation: The company is putting up some really big pictures.
Not just any pretty pictures, of course.
The exec says: “Obviously we want to use the graphics as opportunities to focus on things that are iconic to Canada. So there’s a Toronto sillouette, there’s maple leafs (sic), and various other content.”
Please, sir, say that for a million bucks we are not showcasing the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Oh, no, no, no. This is about success.”
None of this, of course, should be confused with the fake lake and other Disneyesque nonsense costing taxpayers $2 million to dress up an entirely different Toronto convention hall being used as a media centre during the three-day confab.
If the insatiable Foreign Affairs decorators wanted to capture the true essence of the summits, they would have backdrops depicting a billion-dollar sinkhole.