It’s Just Our Way: Controversy and Hand Wringing Post-G20

As the fences are being dismantled around what was recently the great meeting of the minds, Canadians are deeply engaged in the bitching, moaning and general hand-wringing that we are so exceptionally adept at. Reports of police brutality are being countered by salvos of testimony of police leniency and professionalism. Charges that the G20 event was a waste of time, money, and effort are being countered by assertion that successfully hosting such events as these increase our standing in the global community. And, not surprising to most, Mayor David Miller is simpering and whining for federal cash to compensate his poor, battered city.

Incongruously there is a movement to “Reclaim” TO, given that the city didn’t go anywhere and still occupied the center of all attention that it so loves to monopolize. But, is all of this fuss much ado about nothing, as the bard wrote, or do we have a right to be complaining?

The Toronto G8 and G20 conferences cost a combined total of approximately $1.1billion to prepare and secure, which is undeniably a massive sum of money. Proponents of the summit would argue that this is a reasonable expense considering that the primary occupation of a host nation is to ensure the safety of visiting dignitaries and the security of the proceedings. I still don’t know who in their syphillis-addled mind thought it was wisest to shut down the core of a major Canadian city and host the event right there in the middle, instead of moving the proceedings to a more remote and more easily secured outskirts location. Sure, maybe there’s more difficulty housing the unnecessarily vast number of functionaries, aids, aids to aids, pencil sharpeners and fluffers, but isn’t that another argument against the wisdom and efficiency of these meetings, rather than supportive evidence? But, given that the choice was made to host this event in the middle of a city, it’s not unsurprising that $1.1billion was spent to accomplish the task. After all, government isn’t known for efficiently spending money and demonstrating thrift at the best of times, fake lake aside.

I still doubt the effectiveness of these meetings. I still think that politicians have largely made their minds up and formulated their positions or ideas before they even touch ground in the host country. It seems downright sensible that they would instead come to a meeting around a table, surrounded by peers, and meaningfully and rationally discuss the issues without preconceived agendas and angles. But, if we accept that this is more than just a public relations stunt to show the world how important these powerful people think these issues are, and that they are quite evidently working on them, we’d have to say that the G8 and G20 are good. Of course, the prrof is in whatever tangible benefit is produced in world affairs from the decisions so publicly reached.

Toronto made a massive mess of this entire event. We don’t have damage estimates yet, but windows and shops were damaged, police cruisers were burned and destroyed, and the general destruction is bound to add up to something significant. There were over 900 arrests, not all of which are likely to be well considered or even necessary. Journalists were manhandled, bystanders were accosted, and stories are surfacing of people being treated entirely unreasonably for simply being present. This is bound to lead to a smudge on the reputation of not only the city, but Canada as the host nation. If any of the stories of police brutality and cruelty end up being proven true, the smudge will become a stain.

It’s not par for the course. As a story on Yahoo! points out, the conferences held in Pittsburgh resulted in $50,000 worth of damage and 83 arrests.

The media should definitely shoulder a good portion of the blame. The G20 conference was being desrcibed as a security nightmare weeks in advance, and predictions were being widely circulated in print, on the radio and television that there would be violence and destruction. Predictions made by the media have a way of coming true, since the dim-minded idiots that cause that kind of violence and destruction are always looking for the excuse and attention. When you couple that with the ominous photos and video of police armed and armoured to the teeth, and constant reminders that authorities were prepared to meet violence and destruction with force, the unspoken challenge and the promise of a media spotlight is like nachos to a stoner and draws the anarchist element to an otherwise peaceful scene like flies to… fly stuff.

Good on you, Toronto Police, for proving the anti-establishment types right. It is now being acknowledged that talk of surreptitious law changes to increase police authority and allow for arrest and detention without cause within a 5 metre are of the fence was all just false posturing. No laws were so changed, but the cops didn’t want anyone to know that, since thinking that they could do those things “kept the criminals away.” Genius move. Now all those kool-aid drinking anti-government types have a reason to point and say that mistrust of what the “man” says is justified.

And, good on you knee-jerk reactionary putzes who jumped to the defence of the police and said that they were well within their right to rough up and treat “protesters” like the garbage they are. After all, the theory goes, violence should be met with violence and force, and destruction should be stopped by any means necessary. Bravo! It’s because of small-minded and uncritical thinking like yours that the real trouble making element, such as the so-called “Black Bloc,” were able to completely invalidate any of the meaningful dissension that the legitimate and peaceful protesters voiced. Now all anyone cares about is the destruction wrought by the actions of a sub-group, and our lumpy leader can smile his Conservative smile and say proudly that the $1.1billion Canadian tax-payer dollars was put to appropriate use.

Lose-lose scenario.

As we approach Canada Day and the celebration of our nation’s birth, it’s entirely appropriate that we are experiencing this post-G20 hangover. All of this is what we do best. This bitching, moaning, debating and hand-wringing is something that we, as Canadians, are unmatched at in talent and proficiency. We may not be very good at learning from any of this, but that’s part of the charm, isn’t it? Like the protesters who quietly, peacefully and proudly sang “O Canada!” before being charged by riot police, Canada is a nation of people who stoicly occupy the middle of the fence when assaulted by reason from all sides. And I’d love us all the more for it, if only we could be a little brighter and a little more willing to show our government that we don’t like what they’re doing in our name. But, I guess you have to be paying attention and care before you can really form an opinion.

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