Friday 25 June 2010

The G20 Summit in Toronto: I'll show you!

June 25, 2010

As the G20 summit starts in Toronto, Canada, the city's central core goes into lock down mode. Canada has shelled out over a billion dollars for the two summits, the G8 in Huntsville and the G20 in Toronto with supposedly the tightest security ever.

Unbeknownst to the general public, new legislation was passed with little fanfare that gives the police the right to demand to see identification of any person who is within 5 metres of the security fence which cordons off the high security area in which the summit is being held. Right off the bat, in today's paper, is the picture of a young man, Dave Vasey, arrested because he refused to I.D. himself to the police. I am sure that over the next few days, further details will explain both sides of this incident but I can't help wondering as "Fortress Toronto" braces for the influx of protesters, who are all these people, what do they hope to achieve and what will they actually achieve?

Canada is a democracy. According to various reports, Canada as one of the developed nations of the world ranks quite high as a good place to live. Nevertheless, it isn't perfect. I'm quite sure there is a lot to criticize, a lot to protest. However, do we or do we not have a process? One may put forward protest as a legitimate part of the process but how to explain protest when it degenerates into a riot?

A few days ago, I got off the subway in downtown Toronto and discovered a group beside a monument in the middle of the boulevard of University Avenue. A young woman with a bullhorn was talking with the crowd about protesting and saying to have a good time and let "them" know that "we are f**king furious". Somehow the inclusion of the F word seemed to kick it up a notch. I noted that the entire group was surrounded by police.

The very next morning, I couldn't take the subway because a suspicious briefcase had been found in a subway station. Obviously terrorism was very much on everybody's mind and part of the system was shut down while the police determined if this was innocuous or not. It turned out that the briefcase was harmless and had merely been forgotten by the owner; no more, no less. However, such an incident does heighten the level of tension over possible threats.

Thursday, June 24 at 1:41pm, Toronto felt a 5.5 magnitude earthquake centered north of Ottawa. It was quite unsettling to be sitting at one's desk while hanging lights waved in the air, glasses of water showed rippling and the floor felt as if a huge truck was driving by. Ha! I was in a 16 story office tower! How about that for adding to a general level of apprehension?

If it was that easy...

I have always been amused and I continue to be amused by those who in protesting, pretend to know what the right answer is. As a project manager, I know full well the power and problems of public relations. What is the actual problem; what is the perceived problem? My clientele get upset at a project not going quite right when in fact, outside forces have come into play. Nevertheless, it is still my fault; I still end up feeling their wrath and of course, everybody can certainly do it better than me. My point is this: if it was that easy, it would be fixed by now.

Barack Obama came into power on a wave of good feelings, hope for the future and optimism that everything was going to turn out alright. Right now the economy is in the toilet and the American people are very much upset at what is perceived as a huge expenditure to get the country out of its financial mess. Oil is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico at an unprecedented rate; an incident which is now being called the greatest ecological disaster in U.S. history. While Obama did succeed to get health care passed, the final result is very much watered down and will it in the end, give the U.S. people the much needed overhaul it so desperately needs?

If it was that easy, it would be fixed by now.

I have rights

It's the G20 summit. Canada has spent over a billion dollars to put it and the G8 together including the tightest security ever seen in Canada. Terrorism is very much on everyone's minds.

Dave Vasey is asked by a policeman to show some I.D. He refuses. Dave Vasey is arrested.

Dave Vasey in his picture looks to be under 30. I am 57. I understand the need for security. I understand the threat of terrorism. I understand the strong possibility of protests turning violent. If the police ask me for my identification, I am going to produce it forthwith and without hesitation. Dave Vasey now has to appear in court on July 28; I know I would receive a courteous "Thank you very much sir" and I would be on my way. Besides, I am not going down to the security fence; I am certainly not going to stand within the 5 metre limit of the fence and I am not going to by any stretch of the imagination decide to test my democratic freedom in front of somebody charged to ensure the safety of these important dignitaries from gawd only knows what threats. Canada is a truly great place to live but standing in front of a policeman dressed in riot gear armed to the teeth is not the time or the place to change the world; it is just downright foolish.

Do I have rights? Do we have rights? Does Dave have rights? The answer is a resounding yes. But for heaven's sake, pick the right time and the right place.

I want to change world

I have to chuckle. I'm 20 years old and I want to change the world. I'm 57 years old and I want to prevent the world from falling apart. If it was that easy, it would be fixed by now.

Apparently on Saturday, an anti-poverty group called Sense of Security, SOS will attempt to tear down part of the outer perimeter fence; apparently there are 2 fences, the outer and inner. This supposed statement of protest against this "symbol of militarization" will, in fact, do what? Julian Ichim, one of the organizers seems to have taken protest on as a full-time job, not the sort of person I would be following into the fray as redeemer of our society. After all, this is Canada. It may not be perfect but it is one of the best in the world.

I do not disagree with the points being brought up by the protests. Do we have a global economic problem? Yes, we do. Do we have inequality in the world? Yes, we do. Are we all working together for the greater good of the human race? Well, I'm sure we could do better.

However, I return to the idea that all this is just a tad more difficult than everybody standing out of the Oval Office can imagine. If it was that easy, it would be fixed by now.


Google: "Dave Vasey" Toronto G20 Summit

Toronto Star: Dave Vasey
Suite 101: Dave Vasey

Google: "Julian Ichim" Toronto G20 Summit

A critique: Julian Ichim

My Complete Photos and Videos of the OMG-20

Day 1: The G20 Summit in Toronto: I'll show you!

Day 2: The G20 Summit in Toronto: I'm shocked. Here?

Day 3: The G20 Summit in Toronto: Thank God It's Over!

Aftermath and Afterthoughts


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