OTTAWA, Ont. — Creating fake lakes for the amusement of reporters appears to be turning into a cottage industry.
Liberals have installed their own water feature in the garden at the Official Opposition leader’s residence in Ottawa.
And, they’ve done it for just $19.95 — a fraction of $1.9 million the Harper government is spending to recreate the look of Muskoka cottage country in a Toronto media centre for the G-8 and G-20 summits.
In the middle of Liberal Leader Michel Ignatieff’s yard was a blue plastic children’s wading pool. A cardboard plaque proclaimed it to be “Fake Lake Harper” and warned “No Diving.”
Another sign declared the pond to be a project funded by the federal economic action plan, “supporting Canada’s fake lake industry.”
Reporters were invited to lounge on vinyl Muskoka chairs and watch plastic ducks and tiny boats bobbing in the pond, while recorded loon calls played in the background. Life jackets were available for anyone who wanted to venture into the three-inch deep waters.
One boat — carrying muppet Ernie and his rubber duckie — was dubbed the “Captain Tony,” after Industry Minister Tony Clement, whose Muskoka riding has been flooded with cash in advance of the G-8 summit.
A remote controlled craft with a plastic action figure glued to its deck was dubbed the “Stuntwell Day” — a reference to Treasury Board president Stockwell Day, who once famously arrived for a press conference wearing a wetsuit and riding a personal watercraft.
Yet another craft, the SS Bigwin, was perched on a rock in the middle of the pond in honour of the vintage steamship in Clement’s riding which has received almost $400,000 in federal restoration funding — and which won’t be seaworthy until after the G-8 leaders have left the country.
In lieu of the Jumbotron that will broadcast images of Muskoka to international reporters in the summit media centre, the Liberals posted a small photo of a real lake beside their pool.