Canadian Media Attack G20 Security

Published: June 29th 2010
in News » Local

Protesters on Carlton St. in Toronto during G20 summit
Pic: YouTube

Most of Canada’s major media outlets seem to uphold a similar take on this past weekend’s G20 summit which took place in Toronto. The overwhelming consensus seems to be that the local troubles suffered by Toronto over the course of two days outweigh any international triumphs made at the summit.


In his editorial published on Monday in The Toronto Star, John Cruickshankcalled the summit a “brutal spectacle” which he claimed “failed a city and its people”. Cruickshank attacked the security policies which he believed are at the heart of said failure, and said that the strategy was “spectacularly successful at cocooning the world’s leading politicians and staggeringly ineffective at protecting the property and peace mind of Torontonians.”


According to Cruickshank, the error in thought regarding security created “a ghost town in the heart of our city.” He explained that this was caused by bringing in heavily armed security officers and barricading regular traffic, moves which he claimed frightened off Toronto’s citizens.


Cruickshank added that keeping protesters away from where deliberations were going on was a move that was “perfect for the political leaders” but “less than perfect for the city, its businessmen and its inhabitants.” According to his theory, the real individuals who can prevent mayhem in a city are its inhabitants. He went so far as to compare the security procedures to bullying.


The “critical lesson” that should be learned from the security failures at the G20, according to Cruickshank, is that international political conferences that are as explosively charged as the G20, should not be held in the heart of a major city. “Canadian authorities created a city no citizen could recognize and no visitor could admire. Then, they allowed a pack of brutes to trash it,” concluded Cruickshank.


The Globe and Mail in its Monday editorial seemed slightly more complimentary of Toronto’s law enforcers, applauding security for accomplishing the task of securing the world’s leaders and allowing summit talks to run smoothly.  At the same time, said the Globe, the security work had a negative impact on Toronto’s citizens, and especially on Toronto’s economy, which raises serious questions on how future summits should be handled.


The editorial addresses the main problem with the G20: On the one hand, due to its scope and size, it must be held in a major city such as Toronto. On the other hand, holding such an event in a large city makes that city “a fertile environment for radicals, with plenty of support, places to hide and easy targets.”


The lesson to be learned, according to the Globe, is that while such gatherings can only be held in major cities, future G20 gatherings “should not produce another Toronto, with its great security costs, massive disruption, and temporarily curtailed freedoms.”


A different view regarding security at the G20 was brought by The National Post’s Jonathan Kay, who wrote about the G20 in an article published Monday. Kay, who was biking downtown at the time of the summit, claimed that he saw no violence. “They just advanced, in a line, several officers deep, toward the heart of Spadina and Queen,” said Kay.


Kay expressed his belief that that all the money spent on G20 security was worth it. This is due to the fact that because of the large number of police forces present, they were able to control the crowd with no violence – “just a stare-down,” as he put it. “Eventually, the protestors got bored and simply walked away,” he added and praised the work and professionalism of security officers, who only intimidated the crowd but did not scare it away.


By the end of the weekend, close to 900 arrests due to security violations were made. Was it all worth it? Only time will tell.


With files from Bev Spritzer.

Related articles: (G20, security, protests, National Post, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail)

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