Canada Spending $1B on Security for G8/G20 Summit in June


The Canadian government disclosed Tuesday that the total price tag to police the elite Group of Eight meeting in Muskoka, as well as the bigger-tent Group of 20 summit starting a day later in downtown Toronto, has already climbed to more than $833-million. It said it’s preparing to spend up to $930-million for the three days of meetings that start June 25.

That price tag is more than 20 times the total reported cost for the April, 2009, G20 summit in Britain, with the government estimating a cost of $30-million, and seems much higher than security costs at previous summits ­ the Gleneagles G8 summit in Scotland, 2005, was reported to have spent $110-million on security, while the estimate for the 2008 G8 gathering in Japan was $381-million.

These numbers are crazy. There simply isn’t any justification for this kind of spending.

By comparison, the estimated total cost of security for the 17-day 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver was just over $898-million.

Think of all the actual security you can buy for that money.

EDITED TO ADD (6/12): Two links detailing how the money was probably spent. Pittsburgh’s cost, less than a year before, was estimated at $18 million.

EDITED TO ADD (6/28): The total seems to be $1.2B. I haven’t found any breakdown of the spending that differentiates between operational costs and capital improvements. If, for example, the Toronto police all got new radios out of this budget, those radios will continue to provide benefits for the city of Toronto long after the summit. On the other hand, money spent on extra security guards for the week provides no ongoing benefit.

My best quote to the media: “If it really costs this much to secure a meeting of the world’s leaders, maybe they should try video conferencing.”

Posted on May 31, 2010 at 8:58 AM

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.