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City of Toronto and the terrible, horrible, no good very bad days

Last month’s G20 summit really upset me, for many reasons.  For your convenience, I’ve compiled twenty of those reasons into a handy-dandy list.  (Aren’t I generous?)

(1) It was a waste of money.  Over a billion dollars on security, tens of thousands spent on a fake lake, hundreds of thousands spent on a 40-foot television screen (whose purpose was, ostensibly, to show the delegates what was going on in the outside world in between press briefings – such as the protests – but which was mostly dedicated to the World Cup matches. Not that there’s anything wrong with watching the World Cup, mind you, but c’mon…)

I always find it so interesting that governments will whine and moan and cry about how they have “no money” for things like, oh, I don’t know, affordable housing, arts programming, education resources, reliable transit, job creation, etc., yet any time there’s a chance to show off how big their balls are how awesome and amazing and wonderful they are, they’re suddenly flush with cash (yes, I’m looking at you, 2010 Winter Olympics).  Funny how that works, eh?

(2) It turned my city into a demilitarized zone… deliberately.

(3) It reminded me how much mainstream media thrive on sensationalism, rather than substantive reporting.

(4) It gave a bunch of whiny, immature, spineless tantrum-throwing idiots the opportunity to trash my city, and amplify the culture of fear.

(5) It cost local businesses thousands of dollars in lost revenue (due to closures) and/or damage repairs (due to the whiny, immature, spineless tantrum-throwing idiots mentioned above).

(6) It gave our police forces free reign to violate our civil rights, in all sorts of ways:

(7) brutality (just ask Guardian UK reporter Jesse Rosenfeld; or Torontoist reporter Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy)

(8) sexism (just ask the female reporters who were threatened with rape inside the G20 detention centre)

(9) ableism (just ask the deaf protesters who were jeered at and made fun of; or John Pruyn, the man who had his prosthetic leg ripped off)

(10)  racism (just ask Maryam Adrangi [scroll to bottom of page])

(11) unwarranted – in both senses of the word – searches (just ask John Booth, the veterinarian who was awakened at 4:00 am by a police officer pointing a gun at his face)

(12) the complete and total lack of respect for human dignity – and human decency – at the G20 Detention Centre

(13) It wasted invaluable time and resources, since it only served to reinforce the status quo:  rich countries will manage to stay rich, poor countries will continue to get poorer.

(14) It spat on decades of important work done by civic educators in both classrooms and lecture halls.

(15) It reminded me how useless Dalton McGuinty is as a leader.

(16) The stories about just how abhorrent was the treatment of our friends, colleagues, family members and neighbours made me want to vomit.  And I hate vomiting.

(17) It reminded me that, for all those stories we’re now hearing, there are countless others that will never capture the media’s attention, because they deal with people who don’t readily have access to the public sphere; people for whom brutality, abuse, disenfranchisement and marginalization are a daily reality.  In other words, for them (and for us), it’s “situation normal”.

(18) Past experience suggests that the calls for a public inquiry into the police’s behaviour that weekend will likely go unanswered.

(19) If, by some miracle, a public inquiry is held, past experience also suggests that nothing substantive will come of it.  The police will make a show of reprimanding a few officers, their senior staff may be shuffled around a bit, there will be no accountability for the government decisions that led to this fiasco, and then everything will return to business as usual.

(20) It reminded me just how thin the line between civility and barbarism really is.

And that’s the most painful reminder of all.


Full text of the final G20 summit communiqué

How Canada made the G20 happen

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