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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guess who's coming to dinner?

IMG_0941I live in downtown Toronto. No, I don't mean somewhere generally East of Bathurst, West of Coxwell, or South of Eglinton. I mean, I live right in the downtown core -- a stone's throw from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where in late June, a bunch of world leaders will converge to have an international conference called the G20.

It's a somewhat significant affair, apparently. I mean, considering that my condominium corporation has taken to informing us on behalf of the police to have our papers in order. In fact, my family and I have been told that we will subjected to pat down searches by either police of military as my building falls within one of the security zones.

Why is the event being had in a place where more than 20,000 residents fall into the same category as myself? Well, because Stephen Harper wants Bay Street to be the showpiece of the event. That's about it.

This is despite the fact that the Mayor of Toronto and local City Councilors, when consulted, informed the federal government that having it here would be an absolute disaster for residents and businesses. They suggested the feds have the event on the Exhibition Grounds, where there would be minimal impact on residents and businesses. Nope.

I understand that I live in what is effectively the central business district of Toronto, and we're used to regular road closures and such during the summer time for large events that are put on in and around the city. But this is a whole other level. It's not a matter of walking out onto the street to the smell of street meat and revelers frolicking along a road closed to traffic. No, it's a complete militarization of the fastest growing neighborhood in Toronto. And without any care whatsoever to their opinion on the matter.

Now, being subjected to police searches is one thing. However, there's also the spectacle of the massive protests that anti-globalization, anti-capitalist and anarchist groups will be surely be bringing to the perimeter.

It may be one thing to have a security checkpoint to go through. But it will be a whole other level of danger and inconvenience to have to get past police-protester standoff lines. And I know this may be alarming for some folks, but many young families live downtown. I worry about my 18-month old daughter and my spouse, Sarah, safely being able to come ago.

Teargas, broken glass, high-strung riot police, water cannons, and such are not the kinds of things that you would want to have a young child anywhere near. And yet, thousands of families will need to make the decision to go out of town -- at great expense -- or face potential danger, police checks, and security barriers for no other reason that Party General Secretary Harper decided this would be a great place to have it.

The preparations have already begun. You can smell it in the air. Police surveillance cameras are being installed all throughout the area, the warnings have started going out, and left-wing university students are already planning out their "tactics". But for once, I almost hope the protesters mange to shut them down and push this G20 meeting out of town.

Posted by Mike Brock on March 28, 2010 | Permalink


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