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Opinion: Stop Harping: $1 Billion for Summit Security is a Sound ROI

Stop Harping: $1 Billion for Summit Security is a Sound Return on Investment

Financial mismanagement has cost the world trillions upon trillions of dollars, resulted in the loss of millions of jobs, and has thrown global economies and governments into grave disarray; to wit Greece and the EU. $1 billion to ensure that world leaders can meet to discuss corrective measures and other matters of international import such as global warming, and do so in a secure environment, is a reasonable and comparatively trivial sum to pay. Although some seven fold the original estimate, the threat environment can and does change rapidly and in alarming ways causing unforeseen cost increases. Additionally, the cities in which these summits take place benefit promotionally and economically. Stop the harping and accept that this is the cost of doing business. Calls for Canada to increase foreign aid are legitimate. $1.4 billion over five years is justifiable and will contribute to alleviating poverty, improve the quality of life in developing countries, and reduce regional and global tension. Canada can and must do both.

Andrew Nellestyn

Ottawa

8 Comments

  • Rob MacEwen

    June 7, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Andrew. You sound like a security consultant.

    Your statement that the bank problem, which “Cost” trillions upon trillions, will never happen again because of a one day meeting is absurd. Regulation needs laws enacted which invariably require Parliments, not Heads of State, to sign off.

    Secondly, it would seem that many important issues, such as global warming, are being left off the agenda, although this is not surprising given the meetings will last less than 24 hours.

    I can’t imagine that the “Threat Environment” is changing rapidly at the moment, not in such a way that spending significantly more money is making anyone more secure. Choosing a different venue, even within Toronto, would have resulted in much lower costs.

    Given that foreign newspapers are saying Toronto is “Closed for Business” with the security fences going up, businesses closing, teams leaving, etc, it would seem that Toronto is not benefiting from any promotion or publicity.

    It will take a lot of tourists, spending much more than 5 billion dollars to generate enough tax revenue to give this project an “ROI”. That’s a lot of tourists. Even if you lower the amount based on some of the cost being Canada’s “duty” to the world, that’s a lot of tourists.

    Where has the G20 last been held? The 3 times before that? If you can remember, and have a desire to go there, then you have a better memory than most. All I can remember is a picture of some wing-nut protesters smashing things.

    All in all, $1,000,000,000.00 is a lot of money to spend. Given the loss of Tax revenue from shutting down Toronto for a weekend, potential losses to insurance companies, and the current poor press we’re getting because of it, I’d say that we’re so far from a “Sound Return on Investment” it’s silly.

  • Emil Bizon

    June 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Rob MacEwen sees things corectly. We need to apply the same logic to the floated military argument that we must spend ten billion to replace F-18 fighters with some new American contraption which will turn to junk in a few years. Our resources are finite and we should not be shipping them across the border to the Americans who are now skidding, at increasing velocity, to economic oblivion.

  • Binu Mukherjee

    June 7, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    While broadly agreeing with Bob, I would add that it would have been possible to choose sites to hold th meeting where security would not have cost anywhere near as much. In this as in so many other ways those now governing us are showing their lack of mental development.

  • norm kelly

    June 7, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Rob , Emil and Binu : Thank you ! Andrew , when you dismiss a seven fold error so blithely I am so happy you are not my mechanic , plumber , roofer , dentist , or my ex wife’s divorce lawyer.. the mind boggles….. Norm Kelly

  • andrew nellestyn

    June 8, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Gentlemen thank you for your comments. They are appreciated. I am not a security consultant nor do I readily dismiss a seven fold increase. What is fact is that security at this level does cost and must be exercised to the fullest extent. An accounting of the cost line items will indicate that the inputs are legitimate and necessary. While downtown Toronto is in a virtual state of lockdown there are economic and promotional benefits to be gained. What is also evident is the true cost which I must say have been fully detailed and available to the public. A comprehensive and comparative costing of G8 and G20 summits held elsewhere will indicate that Canada’s costs are not exaggeratedly different from those encountered by other hosts who have not released the tabs they confronted. And yes there is escalation caused by, to wit, riots in the streets of Athens, labour agitation in Spain, arson at a bank in Ottawa and other dynamics in the evolving threat assessment. Such gathering of world leaders, collectively and on a one-on-one basis, do add value and are, of necessity, appropriate in the climate in which nations and the global community find themselves.

  • Louis Allard

    June 9, 2010 at 11:54 am

    If security was truly a concern, I would submit that the organisers of world leader meetings should not pick the center of our most accessible terrorist target as a venue. This is not cosmic science: we have any number of excellent spots such as Iqaluit in Nunavut, where there is a perfectly good airport and where the “threat” is actually mitigated by the “environment”.

    I’m no engineer but I’m pretty sure 50 million or so would build a small world class hotel there with top notch facilities, providing a comfortable, safe and secluded environment for leaders to exchange without distraction from the multitudes.

    Again, we’ve missed an opportunity to put Canada’s North on the world center stage, where we could have provided G20 principals with a unique experience and a first-hand look at the fragile environment which is threatened by some of the big issues of the day. Where is Ottawa’s committment as expressed by PM Harper’s remarks during Op Nanook to “show that Canada has both the operational capacity and the resolve necessary to assert our Arctic sovereignty over land, sea and air.” Sure, there would be some requirement for additional security in an isolated venue, but with the much lower risk, it would have cost a pittance in comparison to a major metropolis! Op Nanook 2010, perhaps? We’re spending the money for training anyway…

    Oh, and regarding ROI, I find it a lot easier to defend spending a few million on infrastructure that will remain in place to benefit future users and attract visitors to our new frontier, than a billion spent today and gone tomorrow when security personnel go home and their fences are torn down. Somebody needs to wake up and smell the coffee!

  • Peter Penstone

    July 27, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    The G20 summit is and was nothing more than a big photo opportunity. The outcomes and press releases are developed months in advance. It could have been held at a secure location away from Canada’s biggest city. The political decision to hold it in Toronto, and the seven fold cost over-run is a testament to mismanagement of taxpayer money. Not a penny is being offered to business that were shut down, or vandalized by by violent thugs. A billion dollars is a sound return on investment??? Common’ That statement is in the same league as dropping money from a helicopter – where the author would say how good investment it was to buy the helicopter!!! This is one of the most absurd and convoluted opinions I have come across.

  • 4806 John Whitaker

    August 9, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Peter, how could the king of Saudi Arabia possible locate his 30 wives for the weekend to an obscure location where there was no Holt Renfrew?