The G-20 Blues

It’s one of the biggest international summits of the year.

It will play host to representatives from 20 of the (more or less) most prosperous countries in the world.

It’s 10 days away.

And it’s already making me tired.

G-20. Arrrrgh.

Lately when I hear that phrase, I have to fight the urge to let my eyes roll back into my head.

But I’m not the only one. It’s driving a lot of people crazy, for many different reasons.

The security precautions, for example.

As I left work Sunday night, workers were already busily erecting the linked fences that will comprise the security barrier.

Two Fridays from now, countless Toronto police and RCMP officers will watch for suspicious persons and check us mere civilians who either live or (have to) work within the high-security zone. A number of us will have to get special ID if we want to get around.

There’s also that list of dos and don’ts during the summit. The Globe and Mail’s special G8/G20 blog has it in its entirely. Or at least the highlights.

Some of them, I get. Others are completely ridiculous. Rocket launches? Parachuting? Kites?!

REALLY?

I know they’re taking precautions against potential terrorists, extreme crazies and whatnot, but still.

The price tag for Fortress Toronto: $1 billion.

Hand in hand with that are all the different groups and individuals that will be here to protest.

Originally, they were going to plop them in Trinity-Bellwoods Park, in the heart of Queen Street West, amidst neighbourhood homes and small businesses. Not sure who made that bone-headed decision, but the location was eventually changed to the huge lawn outside the Ontario Legislature.

I’m skeptical that this will necessarily make a difference. I’m sure some people will try their hardest to make their voices outside of the designated area.

I don’t mean to sound disdainful, but here’s the thing: It’s not the folks peacefully speaking their minds and hearts with whom I have a problem. It’s the shit-disturbers and self-named anarchists who will break and deface stuff in the name of being anti-establishment.

(Pssst! Hey! Anarchists! Explain to me HOW EXACTLY your disruptive antics help the African women looking after her grandchildren orphaned by HIV/AIDS or the humble farmers in India and elsewhere, trying to eke a living. ‘Cause I’m dying to know.)

It’s fine to be anti-corporation/bank/government/whatever. But when people channel that sentiment into damaging property, it’s not necessarily big, bad business that will be the target. Some of those stores and storefronts belong to small business owners who, by the way, WON’T be compensated by any governments or authorities if some people decide to defile them in the name of protest.

Speaking of governments: why IS it that they won’t help the businesses that generate revenue for this city … but they’ll plunk down $1.9 million towards a fake lake in the middle of a $23 million international media pavilion?

I understand, for security reasons, why no one will be allowed within 10 feet of the real lake that’s just next door.

And the government’s industry minister says they just want to show off the country.

But, as a colleague deftly pointed out to me on Sunday evening, there are tourism press junkets available to international journalists, for precisely THIS reason. They COULD HAVE done some advance junkets for people wanting to know more about Canada.

But, no. Instead, the cultural institutions that COULD show off Canada, will be closed. And we have a fake lake.

(A freelance journalist friend of mine the city’s mass consternation over the “lake” hilarious. She’s hoping to cover the summit and, if successful in getting accreditation, she’s threatened to spend her time in between interviews hanging out in the “lake”, floaties on each arm and a drink in one hand.)

The only thing that could potentially make this interesting, is if the “lake” was filled with vodka instead of water.

Sigh.

Sadly, I’m not one of the lucky people who have elected to flee town to avoid this circus.

So, I wait … both for my special security ID … and for this crazy global meeting to pass.

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