In just a few weeks Toronto will play host to the world when the G20 economic summit comes to town. City officials and federal politicians are desperate to show the best that Canada has to offer but I’m afraid that all anyone will see is a tightly choreographed event full of hand-shakes and photo ops.
That’s not Canada’s fault, the whole idea that the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies would be able to sit down and agree on anything of substance in just 48 hours is ludicrous. We already have a long standing system in place where the world can come together and discuss issues of real consequence, negotiate settlements and adopt resolutions given the time and attention to detail that they deserve, we call it the UN. Of course the UN is a paper tiger that nobody pays attention to anymore and nobody really pays attention to the G20 either, but that’s a posting for another time. What is Canada’s fault, and the fault of every other host country in recent memory, is the way they are handling dissenting voices.
Last week the story broke that the bill to Canadian taxpayers for security alone at the summit will be nearly $1 billion. The lion’s share of that is not for security inside the venue, it’s for the crowd control required for the protestors outside.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has defined a security perimeter of 50 blocks resulting in widespread displacement of citizens and the cancellation of passenger rail service into the city. No ordinary citizen is going to be able to get close enough to even smell the venue, let alone disrupt anything. I work downtown and am considering taking a few days off just so that I don’t have to run the gauntlet of security check points to and from my middle class job.
You would think that by now some politician somewhere would start to wonder why these protestors keep showing up. There must be something going on that they feel strongly enough about to risk arrest and permanent hearing loss, (the city of Toronto bought three noise cannons capable of blasting 143 decibels in order to help disperse crowds), but thanks to the security personnel the world leaders won’t see or hear the protestors and will be able to remain blissfully ignorant to their cries.
It used to be that politics was local. You could call your MP or Congressman and be heard. Nowadays more and more of the decisions that affect ordinary citizens are made in corporate board rooms on the other side of the world. Not only are the politicians not listening, they have abdicated their power and they couldn’t save us even if they wanted to. (See British Petroleum)
Of course, when the big corporations get into trouble they turn to government for bailouts claiming that if they fail they’ll take the whole economy down with them. The sad fact is; that’s not far from the truth so government caves and the bill trickles down to the ordinary citizen. (See Wall Street Banks, and General Motors)
At the end of the day government mortgages our future to pay for a bankrupt past. Huddling for two days in a posh Toronto hotel isn’t going to solve anything. Sooner or later the loans will be due and the people who are going to have to pay are sitting behind a billion dollar fence over a mile away.