OTTAWA - Canada's Conservative government was castigated Monday for spending huge sums to host G8 and G20 summits at the end of June, including $2 million on a fake lake inside the media center.
The artificial lake will reportedly include canoes, trees, lounge chairs and a fake dock.
It is being built in downtown Toronto to showcase the site of the June 25 to 26 G8 summit in Huntsville, 225 kilometers (140 miles) north of Toronto, which is to be accessible to only a small pool of journalists.
Some 3,000 other journalists are expected to cover the event from Toronto, where G20 leaders will meet on June 26 to 27 immediately following the G8 talks.
Liberal and New Democrat MPs ridiculed the Tory government in the House for spending lavishly on the prop, as well as earmarking nearly one billion dollars for summit security.
"We have a government here that has to create an artificial lake when Canada has more lakes than just about any other country in the world," quipped NDP leader Jack Layton.
"How can the prime minister justify wasting taxpayers' dollars this way? It is absurd," he said.
Liberal MP Mark Holland echoed: "Did anyone in government not think that (spending) two million dollars (on a) fake lake to host a 72-hour meeting on fiscal restraint was a bad idea?"
Outside parliament, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Peter Kent said the fake lake would provide a backdrop for newscasts from the summit. "It is part of the host's responsibilities to provide an adequate setting for the media of the world," he explained.