Councillor slams feds over G20 compensation
Toronto Coun. Adam Vaughan is apoplectic over what he calls the federal government's poor treatment of downtown businesses that lost money during last summer's G20 summit protests even as millions were funnelled to Muskoka ahead of the G8 summit.
"The federal government has let down businesses in this city in a way that I just think that are beyond shameful," Vaughan told CBC's Metro Morning on Tuesday.
Vaughan was speaking one day after the emergence of a leaked draft of a Jan. 13 report by Auditor General Sheila Fraser that alleged the Conservative government lavished millions on a prominent cabinet member's riding and "misled" Parliament. The QMI news agency reported later Monday that a February draft report it had obtained did not contain the words "Parliament was misled," but did have as one section title: "The funding request was not made in a transparent manner."
"When you start to see some of the excesses described in this report, it just makes the blood boil," Vaughan said.
According to The Canadian Press, the Jan. 13 draft reveals that then-Industry Minister Tony Clement, the mayor of Huntsville and the general manager of Deerhurst Resort chose the 32 projects that received $45.7 million in funding with no regard for the needs of the summit or the conditions laid down by the government.
Millions 'to thank' Muskoka
Conservative candidate John Baird told reporters Monday that that while some of the money was being spent on infrastructure directly linked to the G8, some of it was a gift to "thank the greater region of Muskoka for hosting the summit."
Vaughan said "they can go around building gazebos in Muskoka for all I care." But businesses in his Trinity Spadina ward that have applied for compensation from the government "have received pennies, if that, on the dollar," he said.
So far, the government has received 371 claims totaling $10,656,869. But Vaughan said several businesses are only getting a small fraction of what they asked for.
One business, he said, applied for $300,000 in claims and received a cheque for $6,000.
"Many of these files cost more money to actually file with the accountants than they got back in compensation," Vaughan said. "It leaves me speechless. And I think that Canadians owe it to other Canadians when events like this happen to back them up, to protect them, to compensate them."
Much of downtown Toronto was shut down for security reasons days ahead of last summer's G20 summit, and numerous businesses in and around the summit site at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre reported a steep drop in earnings. Some were vandalized during protests that turned violent during the June 26-28 meeting of world leaders.
The government has said it will not compensate any businesses for physical damage incurred during the summit. But restaurant owners can apply for compensation for revenues lost as a direct result of summit activity.
Only businesses that remained open during the summit, with the exception of those that were compelled to do so because of security reasons, were eligible to apply for compensation from the government.