Taxpayers to partly pay for Bill Clinton speech
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will be a main attraction at Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition this summer -- and taxpayers will be paying for a significant part of his lucrative speaking fee.
Clinton will speak at the BMO Field at the CNE on August 29, the second week of the popular summer fair.
Clinton's large fee -- he normally charges about $175,000 a speech -- will partially be covered by a portion of the Marquee Tourism Events program, a controversial federal stimulus fund that can deliver up to $3 million for a single event.
"A part of Clinton's fee is being paid for by taxpayers, and a part of it is being paid for by ticket purchasers. What a great use of stimulus money," David Bednar, general manager of the CNE, told CTV News.
The full funding announcement is expected to come Monday from Lisa Raitt, Canada's natural resources minister.
Opposition parties in Ottawa have already come out against the funding plan.
"You have money in the stimulus package to bring in Bill Clinton, why don't you have money to pay for a vaccine?" NDP MP Judy Wasalycia-Leis said at Wednesday's hearing on the swine flu vaccine.
CNE officials confirmed the date of Clinton's speech but did not mention who was paying the charismatic leader for his speaking engagement.
In a news release, officials at the CNE said Clinton's speech will be entitled "Embracing our common humanity."
Clinton, who has become a renowned public speaker since stepping away from the Oval Office, has the "ability to bring consensus where there was once conflict, and unity where divisions abound," CNE officials said Wednesday.
"His vision for the world is very much alive in Canada's cultural mosaic," said CNE Bednar. "As individuals and as a society, Canadians recognize that the interdependence of our communities is vital to living an enriched and rewarding life."
The BMO stadium seats more than 20,000 people. Tickets will be sold through Ticketmaster, according to CNE officials.
It will be Clinton's first Canadian appearance since helping negotiate the release of two American journalists that were being held in North Korea.