The aftermath of the G20 Summit held in Toronto, Ontario has left a sour taste in many mouths! Many of the events that unfolded have over shadowed any positives of the G20 and in fact negated them, reflecting poorly on Ontario and ultimately Canada. Looking back on the events, who has lost and what are the implications?
- protest organizers - The anti-G20 protests began on June 25, 2010 with a large protest organized by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network. They would later organize the police brutality peaceful demonstration on Monday (June 28, 2010). Police have implied that the Black Bloc anarchist were associated the the TCMN and that the network helped them blend into the crowds. The organizers of some of the peaceful demonstrations are upset that the events of Saturday's riot overshadowed their message. They feel that people have focused on the violence of that day rather than the messages being given through peaceful demonstration.
- protesters - As with any demonstration cooler heads do not always prevail. Some peaceful demonstrators saw their voice squashed. Others were physically hurt by the many skirmishes and others still were wrongfully and more than likely illegally (remains to be seen) detained. The Black Bloc anarchists in particular got what they wanted - damage, violence, and media attention.
- the citizens of downtown Toronto - Those living and working the the downtown area of Toronto were the clear losers with a day of violence followed by the shocking events that unfolded the day after rioting. Store owners who had their stores damaged and/or looted have been told by the Federal Government, the very same government (aka Stephen Harper) that insisted the G20 be held in downtown Toronto despite even opposition from Toronto Mayor Dave Miller, that they will not be paying for any of the riot damage. It is unknown whether insurance companies will cover the damage either. Other citizens were arrested for being too close to the G20 security zone something that Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair would admit in a press interview on June 29 that the 5 metre arrest zone never actually existed yet police officers used the 5 metre mark as an excuse to arrest and/or search and/or detain anyone they wanted. Still other citizens would see themselves detained for about 4 hours in the pouring rain under the threat of severe thunderstorms at Queen and Spadina.
- the Toronto Police and Integrated Services Unit (ISUT) - The police are taking a huge hit from citizens, organizations and the media over their perceived inhumane actions Sunday night and rightly so. There was a large but peaceful demonstration Monday night decrying police abuse and abuse of power. They even denied reporters the freedom of the press! Organizations like Amnesty International are demanding a public explanation for the inhumane detainment of citizen and pressing for a public inquiry. At least one known lawsuit has been filed but I'm sure there will be many more. Those wrongfully detained for hours in the rain at Spadina and Queen on Sunday night are being encouraged to file complaints with the the Toronto Police Services, Office of the Indepent Police Review Director (OPRID) as well as seek legal council. Media sources are looking for individuals wrongfully detained to contact them and tell their story. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is pressing for a public inquiry. Their actions Sunday night have opened them up to intense scrutiny. Given that lawyers, reporters and members of the community who were not part of the protest were detained without explanation is reason enough for a public inquiry.
- Ontario government quietly granted extra police powers under the Public Works Act (1939) - This has left an extremely bitter taste for many. Premere Dalton McGuinty refuses to offer any explanation as to why the extra law was passed without public input despite the fact that this temporary ruling stripped any Canadian citizen within the G20 area of their civil liberties and rights guaranteed under the Canadian Constitution effectively turning the G20 security zone into a police state. Why should Dalton McGuinty answer to anything when he is hell bent on turning Ontario into a facist province with no civil liberties? If you think that sounds harsh that statement is rather mild compared to what many are saying. McGuinty forgets who elected him, who has the power to get him out of office and who has the power to hold him accountable for his actions. Mind you he also forgets his salary is being paid for by citizens of Ontario through their tax dollars. In my opinion the ON government actually put the police in a very bad position leaving them to take the blame for using the extra powers granted by the Ontario government. It also left the police hanging to interpret the new ruling to the point they wrongly detained and arrested Canadian citizens within a 5 metre perimeter of the G20 security zone even though the ruling did not give them that authority. There is even speculation that the Black This certainly has not gained Dalton McGuinty any terms of endearment from the Ontario voters!
- Ontario taxpayers - On the heels of the new HST that goes into effect on July 1 many in Ontario and even across Canada are questioning the billion dollar price tag attached to the G8/G20 Summits. Many are seeing this as one more way both the Canadian and Ontario governement are not willing to reduce spending. The problem is neither government is getting that we are getting tired of the heavy taxation with nothing in return. Now the G20 detainees that were charged will have to have a court appearance and likely legal aid and in some cases a trial along with incarceration all at the expense of Ontario taxpayers. The Ontario taxpayers will continue to pay for years for the McGuinty's govenment's decision to pass a bill quietly behind closed doors that ultimately will be drawn out in the courts for years.