RCMP spent about $45,000 to police a private event last October that featured former U.S. presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and had been touted as being cost-free to Canadian taxpayers.
George W. Bush and Bill Clinton spent just a few hours at the $600-a-ticket economic meeting in Surrey, B.C. At the time, Mayor Diane Watts insisted the former leaders had their own security detail and their appearance wouldn't cost Canadians a penny.
But figures provided to CBC News under an Access to Information Act request showed that the visit — which ultimately involved more than 100 RCMP officers — cost plenty.
Overtime for police officers alone cost $28,889. The expense of putting two RCMP helicopters in the air was $9,310, and incidentals, from trucks to buses to meals, cost another $6,816.91 — totalling about $45,016.
Watts was adamant Wednesday that the Mounties were doing crowd control only.
"Let’s be clear here, they were not providing any protection whatsoever," the mayor said. "There were no additional costs at all."
Protesters stopped traffic
Dozens of protesters shouted at Bush and Clinton as their motorcade passed and later shut down traffic for a short time.
Surrey RCMP spokesman Cpl. Drew Grainger said officers were providing protection for the celebrity politicians.
"These visitors were internationally protected persons. It's our obligation to ensure their safety when they are visiting our area of jurisdiction," Grainger said.
Former Surrey mayoral candidate Vikram Bajwa, who challenged Watts in the last civic election, said the mayor has not been forthcoming.
"She misled the residents of Surrey on that, about that, how much the taxpayers are paying or not paying," Bajwa said.
Grainger said the bills for the event have been paid from the RCMP's operating budget.