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Miscellaneous: 6 Nov 2018
Federal government spent $23M on 631 new cars for G7 summit. Now, it's trying to sell most of them off
OTTAWA — The federal government spent $23 million buying more than 600 brand-new cars for use at this year’s G7 summit — and is now struggling to sell them off second-hand.
| A 2018 Chevy Suburban is listed for sale on the GC Surplus website.GC Surplus |
According to figures the Royal Canadian Mounted Police provided to the National Post, 431 vehicles were to purchased to be used for “motorcade” purposes, and another 200 for “administrative” purposes at the Group of Seven summit last June in Charlevoix, Que., where the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan and Italy met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Only 51 are being repurposed for use within the government.
According to the RCMP, buying the automobiles outright was considered the most affordable choice. “The RCMP conducted an analysis prior to acquiring the vehicles and concluded it would be more cost-effective to purchase rather than lease,” said Sgt. Marie Damian. “The analysis compared the cost to lease a vehicle over a one-year period versus the depreciation amount of a vehicle over a one-year period.”
Purchasing also made it easier to transport, register and outfit the vehicles with “the appropriate equipment” months in advance of the conference, she said. The RCMP did not address a question about why vehicles from its existing fleet, or borrowed from other police forces, could not be used.
“For security reasons, the RCMP does not provide details on the specific use of the vehicles; however, they were purchased based on the operational requirements,” Damian said.
For “motorcade” purposes the government bought 154 Chevrolet Suburbans, 140 Touring-model Chrysler 300s, 109 Toyota Siennas and 28 Dodge Chargers. It acquired 88 Ford Escapes, 43 Mitsubishi Outlanders, 32 Nissan Rogues, 30 Dodge Journeys and seven Ford Explorers for “administrative” reasons.
From August through October, the feds recouped about $6.3 million from selling 167 vehicles via a government surplus website, mostly out of Quebec City and Montreal. But the attempt to sell such an unusually large number of vehicles appears to be an uphill battle.
In the last two weeks of October alone, almost 40 of the vehicle listings received no bids from potential buyers.
“It’s good that they’re trying to recoup something from this but the fact that they’re keeping less than 10 per cent of the cars they bought suggests they bought way too many cars in the first place,” said Aaron Wudrick, executive director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
“Canadian taxpayers just paid for 500 new cars that we don’t need, that even if they sell them, I’m sure we’re going to take a haircut on. This is a straight-up waste of millions of dollars.”
In addition to the seven delegations from G7 member states, guests from another dozen countries and several international organizations were invited as observers. It is unclear whether the vehicles purchased for motorcades were used to transport all those delegations — it has been widely reported that U.S. presidents travel with their own motorcades, for example.
Regardless, Wudrick argued, purchasing what works out to 60 new motorcade cars per G7 country is excessive — “It’s the G7, not the G100,” he said.
Based on the Post’s analysis of 135 transactions on GCSurplus between the beginning of August and the end of October, the vehicles sold so far have had an average of just 1,726 km on them. Some have total mileage as low as 41 km.
The lowest-mileage vehicles are 2018 Chrysler 300s, which have a suggested market retail price of between $40,895 and $49,195 new, according to Driving.ca. Based on 29 sales over the past few months — almost half of which were for vehicles that had less than 100 km in mileage — bidders were paying an average of $27,780 per car.
At the higher end, buyers have been getting new Chevrolet Suburbans for an average $60,046, compared to a suggested retail price of $58,700 to $77,200. These, 26 of them, had been on the road for an average 1,698 km each.
To determine the best prices, Damian said the government uses the Canadian Black Book and takes into account the condition and mileage of the vehicle. The vehicles are too new and valuable to qualify for other options such as “gratuitous transfer or donation to non-profit organizations,” she said.
“If the vehicles are not sold as currently posted, they may be moved to other locations across the country and re-posted.”
As of Monday, just under 30 vehicles are listed for sale.
The total budget for this year’s G7 meeting was more than $600 million. The two-day summit ended in chaos as U.S. President Donald Trump, who left early, attacked Trudeau over his position on steel tariffs and disavowed a joint document his officials had already signed, which set out the group’s shared positions on international issues including free trade and Russian interference in Western elections.
Canada holds the rotating presidency of the G7 until the end of 2018, when it will be succeeded by France.
Marie-Danielle Smith-National Post/AA
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