This is the first time I’ve ever agreed with Chief Bloc Head Gilles Duceppe.


The indoor fake lake planned for the G8 summit in a Toronto media centre — right next to Lake Ontario — is indeed “one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.”


The only thing funnier was that photograph of Canada’s national separatist wearing a shower cap at a cheese factory during the 1997 federal election. But I digress.


The fact that you and I are paying $2 million for the lake by the lake (complete with Muskoka chairs) as an amenity for international journalists who may be intimidated by a real lake and need to stay indoors is not so funny.

Nor is the estimated $2-billion price tag for both the G20 in Toronto and the G8 in the real Muskoka. That’s a lot of money for a meeting (well, two meetings). Haven’t these world leaders ever heard of Skype?

Especially when the meeting is about how to get out of the global financial glue. They should all be eating cheese sandwiches on park benches in Allan Gardens. The simple truth is they can’t afford any more. The U.S. national debt alone is north of $13 trillion, which is 90 per cent of its GDP. Do you have any idea how much a trillion dollars is? Neither do I, but to go through it we’d have to spend $1 every second for the next 31,000 years.

Or we could just get the U.S. government to do it for us: Washington will spend $1.6 trillion more than it makes in just one year.

Canada’s national debt is more modest — a mere $527.5 billion (and counting) but isn’t it bad form for a bunch of bankrupt oligarchs to be throwing around the peasants’ money on fake lakes when they should all be sent to bed without their suppers and no allowance for an entire month?

I realize the lion’s share of the cost for G8/G20 blowout is for security. Someone could fall into the fake lake, never mind the real one right next to it. But the Harper administration is sparing no expense to talk about the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Maybe the fake lake is an appropriate symbol after all. We’re all under water. And we have no idea how to get our heads back above the water line. Washington, for example, has started taking online donations. I kid you not: check this out.

Here in Canada, the Harper government doesn’t bother to ask. It’s enough to make a separatist smile.

Paul Sullivan is a Vancouver-based journalist and owner of Sullivan Media Consulting;