Not only is Canada spending more than $1 billion to host this month's G-8 and G-20 summits of world leaders, a $2 million "fake lake" is being created in downtown Toronto.
Some have called the lake "Harper's Folly," in reference to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose government wants the serene scene to show off Canada's tourism attributes.
The artificial lake — with canoes, deck chairs and a cottage backdrop — will showcase the site of the Group of Eight summit on June 25 and 26 in Huntsville, Ontario, about 140 miles away.
The temporary lake will be inside the Direct Energy Center that will host about 3,000 international journalists covering the G-8 meeting, as well as the summit of the Group of 20 financial leaders on June 26 and 27 in Toronto.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said this will show what Canada "has to offer."
Canada has "more (real) lakes than just about any other country in the world," New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton said.
"It's the taxpayers who are going to end up at the bottom of the fake lake with a fake Muskoka (tourism region) behind them," he said.
New penalties for citizenship fraud
Canada is getting tough with citizenship fraud by increasing penalties to $100,000 and up to five years in prison.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said steps will be taken to regulate "citizenship consultants" who sell how-to packages overseas telling of Canada's "free" health care and subsidized universities and colleges.
The proposed bill would ensure that applicants for citizenship have lived in the country for at least three of the previous four years.
The government is also moving ahead with a controversial refugee bill that would list designated countries to help determine genuine refugee applicants.
News in brief
• Some critics are saying the Canadian and Ontario governments are bribing taxpayers with their own money by giving out rebate checks of $1,000 for families and $300 for single people over the next year. The first of three payments went out in the past week to soften the blow of the harmonized sales tax to begin July 1 in Ontario and British Columbia. This combining of the federal and provincial sales taxes will include many goods and services not now covered by both taxes. British Columbia's government decided to keep the federal subsidy payment and will not give rebates to taxpayers.
• A 2007 Canadian coin with a face value of $1 million that's the world's largest gold coin will be auctioned on June 25 in Austria. The 220-pound coin, almost 21 inches in diameter, has the largest official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in solid gold, Guinness World Records said. Showing three maple leaves on the reverse, the coin has been on loan to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Facts and figures
Canada's dollar has advanced to 96.40 cents U.S., while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0373 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is 0.5 percent, while the prime lending rate is 2.5 percent.
Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 11,642 points and the TSX Venture Exchange down at 1,456 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 12, 13, 25, 30, 37 and 41; bonus 48. (June 5) 30, 31, 32, 34, 36 and 49; bonus 9. Lotto Max: (June 4) 3, 18, 27, 30, 33, 40 and 45; bonus 31.
• Montreal-born actor William Shatner is giving his support to a private member's bill in the House of Commons to protect British Columbia's wild salmon. Planned changes to regulations governing fish farms could harm the salmon, said New Democratic politician Fin Donnelly. Shatner, the former Star Trek actor, has been touted lately as an ideal candidate to become Canada's next governor general representing Queen Elizabeth II.
• Alberta's government is addressing U.S. environmental critics upset over the province's tar sands developments that extract oil from sand. Environment Minister Rob Renner is promoting the oil-rich province's environmental initiatives and clean-energy technology at meetings with policymakers in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
• Music professor Michel Cardin of the University of Moncton fears his treasured lute will never be the same after it was snapped in half by Air Canada baggage handlers. He has traveled the world playing the stringed musical instrument. Even if it is put back together, the sound of the lute may have "lost its soul," Cardin said.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com.