Posts Tagged ‘G20 Summit’

The Bad Taste Of The G20 Still Lingers

I don’t think that many people enjoyed the carnage and damage a few vandals had during the G20. This heavy handed senseless action was followed up with heavy handed policing. Sure some perpetrators were rounded up among the approximately 1,000 mass arrests. The problem was that many innocent people, journalists and bystanders were beaten and arrested. All told, close to 800+ were released with no charges laid.

Yes, it is amazing that there were no life threatening injuries to the security forces or protesters (or vandals) but that hardly warrants blanket praise from council. There was good reason for yesterday’s 1,200 person march at Queen’s Park. There are masses of people calling for a public inquiry. Many feel each of the Toronto Police, Toronto Police Services Board or the Ombudsman reviews will leave too many questions unanswered. Questions over civilian oversight and use of force are valid considering what transpired.

The bad taste of the G20 will linger for sometime. Hardly the good PR campaign sold to Toronto by the Feds. The strategic bungling of a dual G8/G20 in cottage country, the failure to hold the “back up” Toronto G20 outside the downtown core, not to mention the Fed’s blank check given to security forces should have been foreshadowing enough. Glad the madness is over but a serious, although belated, review of the failings should take place.

A New Day Of Talks, A New Day Of Mayhem?

The evening hours saw another 480+ arrests of some of the key “troublemakers”. No doubt the saboteurs had played one too many games of Grand Theft Auto. I apologize, Black Bloc is the tactic used by the so called anarchists, not a particular group. No idea if their midnight Saturday Night Fever Dance party/ BYOBB (bring your own boom box) near the detention centre had any takers.

Looking forward for this mess ending. TTC service was to resume at 9am, GO Transit is still up in the air. Sad that the Jazz Fest, Pride Week and any number of other events had to endure this. This of course is one of the city’s biggest tourist weekends.

The G20 meetings should begin around 9:30am. The countdown to normalcy begins…

Big Divide In A Big City

Thankfully I was well clear of the hijacking of the peaceful march. Peaceful protestors have stayed clear of the vandals and their cyclone of disruption. There are varying accounts of the numbers of saboteurs (up 100 or 200???). Sad that 200 or so have blighted a massive 10,000+ peaceful march through the city.

Mayor Miller rightly branded these saboteurs as “criminals”. The news crews have all the catchy images of conflict they could have hoped for. A great negative feedback loop. We are up to about 6 Police cars torched by now. The security forces have managed to keep at least a one block perimeter safe and locked down. GO Train service is now non-existent and there are still small pockets of vandals between two different sets of solid Police lines. The ironic thing is that this small group of yahoos are relatively isolated.

Safe in the cage Mr. Harper is all smiles and entertaining his dinner guests. Such a contrast. Word is that the TFC game is still on.

Yonge and Dundas Square was another Black Bloc hotspot and Police are encouraging any stragglers to disperse from Queen’s Park (it’s unconfirmed whether they are now using force). I’m a block or so away from the Square and Queen’s Park and it’s business as usual. Many shops and grocery stores are still open. There are fewer cars and no streetcars but life goes on in the neighbourhood.

Public apathy? Perhaps. It’s more likely the fact that it a few bad apples are getting all the attention while most of us get on with life. Hoping that dialogue and issues take the spotlight tomorrow.

And Then It Gets Crazy…

All quiet along Yonge so far but Queen Street West is heating up. The troublemakers have started to mobilize and the Police have put on their masks. It appears that the Black Bloc and perhaps other militant groups like Southern Ontario Anarchists have started toying with flares, sticks and stones from gardens. Mailboxes have been dragged onto the TTC tracks and the Scotiabank near Much Music has had many windows smashed with hammers. Starbucks… Yep their garbage bins have been scattered.

Fearing the worst but not sticking around for the gas. Media vehicles, police cars have been trashed. Hard to say if the majority of these “crazy protestors” are going to tempt fate and march to the “cage”. Word is that they have made it to Wellington and Bay!

10,000+ marched today. Looks like a few hundred are looking for a fight. 100 plus police are marching in getting ready to bring it to them now that a police cruiser is on fire. Great!

Well the delegates are arriving at Royal York. Welcome to Toronto!

Don’t know why the Police have not defused this. This group sounds like they are way too close, a block away from the “cage” now. I can only guess that they are trying to get some damning evidence, clear the bystanders, and then mobilize the Police counter-attack. I’m not about to get anywhere near Union Station or the Royal York.

Note:

GO Transit have essentially shut down Union Station. Westbound passengers need to travel to Mimico, Eastbound trips now start/terminate at Danforth. Check GO Transit for more updates…

TTC have halted all streetcars in the core. Subways on the Yonge-University line are closed from Bloor to St. George Station.

A Showdown In A Ghost Town…

Thankfully I did not work in the core today. My uneasiness was reserved for my trip into the city from the 905. Arriving by GO Train to Union Station into what could have been the centre of madness, I was expecting the worst. Union Station and Front Street are bad enough on any Friday let alone the start of a weekend featuring a G20.

The suburban parking lot of the GO station was eerie and sparse. I had some snacks, my phone and a couple drinks. I hoped that I could endure at least a mild inconvenience. Got news that a scuffle between protesters and Police at Yonge and College as I reached the GO platform. Oh well, no turning back BUT that was to be one of my destinations tonight. I missed an earlier express train but crossed my fingers and took the milk run into “G20 land”.

In the end the GO train was exactly on schedule. It was somewhat inconvenient taking the western of the GO Station at Bay but I hardly wanted to venture anywhere near the “cage”. Seeing it from the double doors under the tracks was close enough. Testing my luck, I headed to the TTC toward College Station. By now the word was the police had brought in reinforcements and diverted the streetcars. Expecting the worst I headed up the Yonge TTC line and hoped for the best.

College subway did have a few police near the fare booth. No real issues from protesters, at least I arrived. I probably missed the worst the conflict on the street an hour before. I surfaced near the Winner’s store, not far where a man was arrested. A massive police presence but pedestrians could cross all crossings and vehicles were still being diverted West of Yonge.

My mostly uneventful trip made for the tastiest BBQ style burger ever. Guilty domestic bliss. Sad but true but just part of the kind of decompression most Torontonians must be experiencing after a high security, $50 Million an hour, international board meeting gets booked in your backyard.

So what happened. Everyone stayed home if they could. A few yahoos “tested the bounds” of authority. (Duh, what do you think happens if you breach a perimeter, push a cop or act like an idiot.) The majority of the protesters near the “problem area” and the city were peaceful. There may have been a few aggressive individuals at Yonge and College. Sad that the man that was arrested there was a deaf man (who probably didn’t hear the instructions from a scared and agitated security force). Worse still is that this man is being held in a detention centre without being provided an interpreter!

Despite the hype, I doubt the 2000+ protesters that congregated at Yonge and College were even headed toward fence forming the “cage”. The majority of groups involved in the “infamous scuffle” were from local activist housing and anti-poverty groups like Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty, OCAP and No One Is Illegal. Their installation of a Tent City at one of Canada’s highest concentrations of homelessness is meant to harken back to harsher times. Toronto’s erection and eventual evictions at a Tent City years ago.

In the end the city was a ghost town. Posturing and hype aside it could have been worse. Hoping for the best when festivities really kick in tomorrow.

Toronto To Host The G20?!

Toronto may be the new venue for the G20. The Globe and Mail is reporting that the Feds are now realizing that Muskoka may not have the resources to house and secure guests arriving for the G20. Oops. It should have been obvious that even a modest make over would fall short of delivering the necessary requirements.

The Conservatives have been trying to frantically upgrade Muskoka’s infrastructure via a $50 million G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund founded in February, another $5 million in security upgrades for the North Bay airport and other funding initiatives under the Economic Action Plan. More fuel to critics fire on the current government’s priorities favouring Conservative jurisdictions. This of course is Tony Clement‘s home riding.

The trough of course looked deep enough for locals, close to $450 million worth of applications were chasing $50 million worth of the gravy. On the upside some short term construction jobs have been created. It is hoped that local tourism would get a boost as thousands of officials and media types migrate up to the area. It’s more likely that when the summit kicks off next summer that rich government officials will be enjoying cottage land while high paid security police block off potential protesters, terrorists and cottage goers. At least the local communities will benefit by having new facilities to host future events along with improved infrastructure.

Sad that by trying to snub Toronto and move both the G8 and G20 events to cottage country they will have to put at one here anyway. All lot of added expense for nothing. No question there will be immense pain with such a move for Torontonians. Traffic and security for these events, a nightmare! Perhaps the Government were trying to minimize the numbers of protesters close to the meetings by moving the summit away from an urban area? Well a private web-chat or conference call would have been preferred to the mountain of wasteful deficit spending for this circus ride.

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