Inside Politics

Auditor general's G8/G20 reports coming June 9

The much-anticipated report from Auditor General Sheila Fraser on spending for the G8 and G20 summits will be tabled in the House of Commons on June 9, two days later than originally scheduled.

The auditor general's office confirmed Friday that the date had been moved. The original June 7 date had been based on an assumption that Parliament would begin sitting May 30. Parliament will return, however, on June 2 and the throne speech will be delivered the following day.

Fraser's term comes to an end May 30, which means deputy auditor general John Wiersema will be tabling the G8 and G20 spending audit. It is expected to stir up some controversy and could provide some fodder for the opposition parties to criticize the Conservative government over the millions of dollars that were spent last summer on two quick meetings of world leaders.

Copies of draft reports were leaked during the spring election campaign, and prompted demands for the full report to be released before voters went to the polls on May 2. Draft versions of the report seen by the media suggested the auditor questioned how the Conservative government spent millions of dollars through the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund. It also raised questions about whether cash for the fund was approved unknowingly by MPs.

Fraser refused to release the report early because the House of Commons has to be sitting for her to table audits, and she initiated an investigation into the leaks.

The release of the spring report from Fraser's office on June 9 will come on the heels of the Conservative government's budget, to be presented June 6.

It's going to be a whopper of a spring report. Here's the upshot of what's in it:

  • One chapter is on the expenditures of the G8 meeting in Huntsville, Ont., and the G20 meeting in Toronto last summer. It will look at what was budgeted for the meetings, what was spent, and whether the amounts spent were used for their intended purposes. Fraser's office notes that it did not look at the effectiveness of the summits or whether the items identified as "requirements" by the summit planners were justified.
  • Then there's a separate chapter on the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund - that's the fund that allowed $50 million to be spent on projects throughout cabinet minister Tony Clement's riding, where the meeting was held. Several municipalities in the Huntsville region got cash and spent it on "beautification" and other projects. The AG's report looks at how the fund was established, how it was funded and how projects were selected.
  • The third chapter is on how the Department of National Defence established a pension plan for its reserve force.

The AG's office will also table status reports on previous audits - seven of them, in fact. Those chapters cover areas such as the RCMP, Health Canada, First Nations programs and Treasury Board.

What this all amounts to is a heck of a lot of reading on June 9, and a lot of questions for Clement and the Conservatives on whether millions of dollars were wisely spent.

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