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Canadian lawmakers slam plan to build $2 million fake lake for G20

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
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Critics decry Canada's 'fake lake'
  • Canada's G20 hosting plans include construction of fake lake
  • Left-wing politicians have criticized the government's lavish spending
  • Cabinet ministers say their plans will draw more jobs and investments
  • Meeting is scheduled for June 26-27 in Toronto, Canada

(CNN) -- Canada's Cabinet ministers are in hot water for their government's plans to spend nearly $2 million building a man-made lake for this month's G20 summit.

The indoor lake, designed as part of a new complex in downtown Toronto for reporters covering the meeting, was one of several items that drew sharp criticism from left-wing legislators during a question period in Parliament Monday.

"Instead of hosting world leaders, maybe the government should consider party-planning for Lady Gaga," Liberal MP Mark Holland said, claiming the country's budget for hosting the event also included paying for "dancers, singers, fiddlers and flowers" with $20 million Canadian (about $18.9 million U.S. dollars).

Critics said the lavish expenditures seemed out of place for a meeting that will focus on recovering from the global economic crisis. But cabinet members defended the Canadian government's plans as they faced shouts and heckles.

"It's a normal practice for the host country of an international summit to use the opportunity to showcase all their country has to offer, and that is exactly what we're doing...and we're going to be proud to showcase Canada to the world, contrary to what the Liberals want to do," Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said.

The G8 summit will take place from June 25-26 at a lakeside resort north of Toronto. About 3,000 journalists will cover the event from the media center in Toronto, which will also host the G20 summit from June 26-27, Transport Minister John Baird said Monday.

"We're proud of our government's efforts to showcase this great country so it can be a magnet for jobs, investment and opportunity," he said.

Toronto sits on the coast of Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes.

"We've got a government here that has to create an artificial lake, when Canada has more lakes than just about any other country in the world," said MP Jack Layton, Canada's social democratic party leader. "The taxpayers are going to end up at the bottom of the fake lake."