Thanks Muskoka!

Hey, did you know that YOU, along with every other man, woman and child in this country coughed up a couple of bucks just to give a hearty “thanks” to the good folks of the entire Muskoka region of rural Ontario for hosting the frivolous G8 summit in the town of Huntsville last year?

The story has been reported before, but is resurfacing again in the context of an impending Auditor General’s report leaking out to the press, alluding it seems to charges of — quell surprise! — multi-million dollar deceit and deception by The Harper Government® in using the monumentally irrelevant and immediately forgettable event as an excuse to spray a golden shower of $50 million onto Industry Minister Tony Clement’s riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka.

Claude Doughty, mayor of Huntsville, the main site of the summit in Ontario’s Muskoka region, defended the program, saying some of the projects were meant more as a “thank you” to area municipalities for being host than as G8-related facilities.

“I don’t think there was ever any intent that some of them would be used by the world leaders,” he said. “You have to appreciate that a lot of people in Muskoka did a lot of work to prepare for the G8, myself included. And for those municipalities that went out of their way to really do those things, this was a bit of a token of saying, ‘Thank you.’ ”

However, some of the “legacy” items are largely unused. The University of Waterloo’s environmental research centre, completed 11 months ago, remains deserted and without signage. The echoing hallways of a summit centre are largely bare save for pieces of community art, while a brand-new seniors centre, banquet hall and drop-in daycare were empty on Monday afternoon.

The program also financed a gazebo and public washrooms that were far from the summit centre, as well as municipal and airport improvements that aimed to revitalize the area but not all of which were used by world leaders and their entourages.

I seem to recall a little thing called “Adscam” that sent the Harper Conservatives and their Bloggin’ Tory sock puppets into an absolute frenzy of wildly indignant outrage about the missing $45 million from that fiasco… I guess they’re pretty upset about this egregiously crass misappropriation of public funds by another self-serving government too, huh?

Update: Oh look, here’s a video of the CBC news report from our C-SPAN Junkie friend south of the border.