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Budget watchdog will examine soaring G8/G20 security costs

Parliamentary budget watchdog Kevin Page confirmed that his office will scrutinize the $930-billion security cost for next month's G8 and G20 summits.

The move is in response to a request from NDP MP Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway), who wrote Page, the parliamentary budget officer, and Auditor General Sheila Fraser yesterday asking for an investigation and audit of the security budget.

In March, the initial cost of security was estimated at $179 million. That ballooned to $830 million, according to an estimate released earlier this week, and yesterday, the government revealed the cost would be $930 million.

Davies said he was "stunned" when he heard the most recent figure, and said there is no explanation for the massive increase.

"That's the part that has us very concerned," he said. "They won't break it down in sufficient detail. That's why I asked for an investigation."

Davies' written request also asks for an investigation to show that increased spending is warranted and to "ensure that Canadian taxpayers are getting value for money from this spending."

According to a CBC report, for $930 million, the federal government could forgive the student debt of 71,538 graduates, pay for the entire 2010 Toronto police services budget, or provide a year's supply of maple syrup for every man, woman and child in the country.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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