Canada grilled over "half-baked fake lake" at G20

Mon Jun 7, 2010 6:06pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's government found itself in hot water on Monday after it emerged that the media center for two international summits this month will feature a $1.9 million artificial lake, complete with canoes and a bar.

Opposition legislators, already unhappy with the $1 billion security tab for the Group of Eight and Group of 20 meetings, ridiculed the government's explanation that the lake would impress foreign media.

"The government's half-baked fake lake takes the cake. What a mistake," Rodger Cuzner of the Liberals told the House of Commons, prompting loud laughter.

The official Atlas of Canada says there are 31,752 lakes larger than 3 square km (1.2 sq. mi.) in the country.

The Toronto press center lake is supposed to be a copy of those in the picturesque Huntsville region north of the city where leaders are set to meet for the G8 summit.

Tight security means most of the 3,000 accredited reporters will get nowhere near the area. The G20 summit will be held in Toronto -- on the shores of Lake Ontario -- right after the G8 gathering.

"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. It is the taxpayers who are going to end up at the bottom of the fake lake," said Jack Layton, leader of the left-leaning New Democrats.

Federal Transport Minister John Baird said the summits would be "an amazing opportunity" to market Canada.

"We want to showcase the very best that this country has to offer," he told the House of Commons.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)

<p>An artists rendering of an artificial lake at the press center for the upcoming G8/G20 summits in Canada. REUTERS/Lord Cultural Resources/Summits Management Office, Government of Canada/Handout</p>