Monday, June 28, 2010

Okay, Toronto Looks Like a War Zone – Remind Me Why?

Much of the world’s media focused on Toronto, Ontario, Canada the weekend just past. Images of police cars on fire, masked protesters throwing things, and running rampant among a wall of poorly prepared heavily armed police and military personal – oh and American President Barack Obama was there too.

My favourite image – one which perhaps captured the weekend’s activities best – was that of an innocent bystander, just coming out of a corner store with a jug of milk, suddenly surrounded by a dozen or more police in full riot gear, throwing the poor local resident down on the grown, handcuffing her, and then tossing her into the back of a passing mini van, which then took off to destinations unknown.

Later, the poor person – who had all the proper identifications on her person when the incident occurred – was released without being charged from a temporary jail the police had set up at a former movie studio.

All of this thanks to a semi-regular gathering of the world’s most powerful political leaders from twenty of the most economically and politically powerful nations on Earth – the G20 Summit.

The G20 Summit was held in Canada’s largest city this past weekend, and for as long as these meetings of minds has been held, they are always overshadowed by the ravaging throngs of protesters, violently and without any regard for anyone – even themselves – destroying everything and anything around them.

All because they want the world peace.

Funny, when the protest movement began from its grass roots in the 1960’s, they really were peaceful, chanting pretty much the same slogans they screamed this weekend.

“NO Justice NO Peace!”
But back in the 1960’s, even up until the late 1970’s, most of these protests were peaceful walks down the street, with the occasional person being hauled off by police.

According to the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) which coordinated the security for the G20 Summit, over 900 people were arrested, and five temporary courts have been created to deal with the enormous backlog of cases.

Regardless of the numbers of protesters, the Canadian government estimates about a billion Canadian dollars have been spent on protecting the 20 world leaders and their support staffs for the weekend-long summit.

That dollar figure is expected to rise, as more police were called in than originally planned for, to handle the massive riots in Toronto’s downtown core – even retired cops were brought in to bring back the peace.

But that peace never came during the summit – all is quiet now that it is over. So one wonders just where that billion dollars went, because it certainly didn’t prevent one of the most peaceful cities in the world from becoming a war zone for two days.

Maybe that billion dollars will be used to clean up the mess which was left behind – storefronts were smashed, buildings spray painted, fences overturned, police cars burned.

Toronto Mayor David Miller obviously isn’t intending his city pay for the damage – today he told reporters that it’s unfair to expect anyone but the federal government to pay for the damage, as it was organized by the Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

And so another battle has begun – between Mayor and Prime Minister, as they hammer out the details of who takes responsibility for the mess left by the G20.

Hey, I’ve got an idea, wouldn’t it make more sense to have these G20 meetings virtually? What’s the worst that could happen if all the leaders participated in a virtual teleconference, or videoconference? The technology is very good – I’ve had videoconferences in the past and the quality is just like watching TV.

Then again, maybe the G20 leaders just like the attention, to fuel their egos.

“Look! Down there! It’s an Italian flag – they are fighting over me!”

“Non, non, that is obviously a French man, look at the cut of his bandanna.”

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