fake lake gate

Funny what captures our anger. For weeks, we’ve been bombarded with the cost of the G8 and G20 summits. Bombarded. But it’s our turn, says finance minister. But it’s part of our strategy says industry minister. But it’s our opportuniy says Prime Minister, or something along those lines. But it’s our bill, says taxpayer.

I guess the canoes, and the muskoka chairs and the fake lake really just did us in. I mean, hello, how many lakes do you have to have before you need to build a fake one, asks my insightful neighbour. One? Two? Try over 30,ooo – too many to count, actually, that’s how many lakes we have in Canada. I mean, not that it doesn’t look cool, but still, looking cool and being cool is two entirely different things.

Photo credit: An artist’s rendering of the so-called fake lake that will be part of a display promoting Muskoka in the media centre of the G8 and G20 summits. (Lord Cultural Resources/Summits Management Office, Government of Canada)

Note: Government of Canada, that’s you and me by the way, so I’m taking the liberty of displaying this photo.

In my work, I always say to my clients “it’s not how much money you spend, it’s how you spend the money”. Which, if you’re following me so far, begs the question, how else could we have spent that money? Let’s see. Shall we?

Here goes.

The cost (or price really) because cost and price are also two entirely different things. And the difference if profit. The price of the fake lake and the tourism pavillion is (drum roll please) 1.9 million dollars. 60 cents each (if there are 30,000,000 of us). On the surface, no big deal. It sure would buy alot of milk for kids who go to bed hungry (say $5.00 per four litre) 380,000 or so four litres jugs (but not in Ontario or Quebec – they don’t sell 4 litre jugs and it’s WAY more expensive in Quebec). Let’s be less socially minded for a minute. 1.9 million dollars would buy the very best holiday for the top 100 news editors in the world. You could impress me with a $19,000 vacation. And I’d probably blog about it and tell a friend or two.

Let’s see what else it would buy. More or less 19 full page ads in the New York times. Two Superbowl commercials or so. Does that have the same value as the world’s eye during the summit? Hard to say. Even harder to measure, especially given the whole price tag of 1 billion for the summits themselves.

But next time I fill out yet another tax form for GST or payroll or corporation tax or personal tax, I will think about those brightly coloured canoes vs. the time and effort I spend trying to pay my fair share. Because fair and share doesn’t seem to fit very well of late. Sad but true. So welcome world. Enjoy your stay. And least someone is… I have to get my work done so I can pay my tax bill.

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