Tories spend $10M on North Bay airport for G8; no G8 planes actually landing there

Tories spend $10M on North Bay airport for G8; no G8 planes actually landing there

The passenger terminal at Jack Garland Airport in North Bay (Image: North Bay Airport)

We’ve got to hand it to the Star, which is being utterly relentless in following the G8/G20 spending debacle. Today’s front page features two stories about Ottawa’s runaway—or runway—spending in and around Industry Minister Tony Clement’s Muskoka riding. First up is a catalogue of Clement’s alleged pork-barrelling: at least $100 million has been poured into the region since he won the riding in 2006, and only half of that is for the G8/G20 summit. Next up: after spending $10 million on upgrades to North Bay’s airport in anticipation of world leaders flying in during the G8, no world leaders are expected to fly in to North Bay. They’ve all opted to land at Pearson instead. Ouch:

A senior official familiar with the summit planning confirmed that as of now, none of the leaders will be using North Bay’s airport. Instead, the plan is to have them arrive in Toronto and then travel to Muskoka, likely by helicopter.

The plan is a blow to North Bay, where hopes were running high the community would be playing host to U.S. President Barack Obama and Air Force One. Those hopes were fuelled in part by Industry Minister Tony Clement.

“We recognize the importance of improvements to North Bay’s airport with the world’s leaders coming to Muskoka in 2010 for the G8 Summit,” Clement said in a news release last year as he touted federal investments to improve the airport.

North Bay is hardly the only community to get excited at the mention of a possible Obama sighting—Ottawa went kind of nuts a while back—so maybe this is all understandable. In any case, Clement is now one step closer to honouring his old boss (and North Bay boy) by building Mike Harris International National Provincial Airport.

G8 leaders will bypass upgraded North Bay airport [Toronto Star]
Not just G8 millions pour into Clement’s riding [Toronto Star]