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05/31/2010

U.S. security expert criticizes G8/G20 spending

Canadians aren't the only ones criticizing the $1 billion security price tag for the G8 and G20 summits this June.

Bruce Schneier is a security technologist who has written several books on security issues and is frequently quoted by international media.

On his blog today, he describes the $1 billion sum as "crazy" and says "there simply isn't any justification for this kind of spending."

Quoting an article from the Globe and Mail, Schneier writes:

Amazing:
The Canadian government disclosed Tuesday that the total price tag to police the elite Group of Eight meeting in Muskoka, as well as the bigger-tent Group of 20 summit starting a day later in downtown Toronto, has already climbed to more than $833-million. It said it’s preparing to spend up to $930-million for the three days of meetings that start June 25.

That price tag is more than 20 times the total reported cost for the April, 2009, G20 summit in Britain, with the government estimating a cost of $30-million, and seems much higher than security costs at previous summits ­ the Gleneagles G8 summit in Scotland, 2005, was reported to have spent $110-million on security, while the estimate for the 2008 G8 gathering in Japan was $381-million.

These numbers are crazy. There simply isn't any justification for this kind of spending.

By comparison, the estimated total cost of security for the 17-day 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver was just over $898-million.

This, too. Think of all the actual security you can buy for that money.

A ton of "actual security," yes, but as Susan Delacourt wrote in Saturday's Star, $1 billion could also pay for improved health care in developing countries, tuition cuts for university students and 11,000 new construction jobs, just to name a few.

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Hate to be a pedant, but that's Bruce Schneier.

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