This Is What Democracy Looks Like?

I was in Toronto this weekend and saw this flyer on a telephone pole.

So, because I didn’t pay attention to the news and didn’t realize that the G20 summit would be held in Toronto, our weekend trip there went in a totally different direction than planned. No sightseeing in Toronto proper on Friday–just shopping in the Roncesvalles neighborhood (Polish food, cosmetics, media etc.) and some walking in beautiful High Park. Both areas are on the western fringe of the city–adjacent to our hotel in the suburb of Mississaugua, a town of 500,000 people with its own set of Polish, Asian, Middle Eastern etc. enclaves.–that’s where we spent Saturday. First time I’ve ever seen hotel employees actively discouraging guests to stay the hell away from town.

The G20 protests resulted in major portions of the highway system being shut down, hourly reports on what businesses and attractions were open or closed (most places shut down) and breathless reporting on arrests, tent cities and double-secret probation powers awarded to the police.

I’m not a fan of these types of protests–what is the takeaway? They know you’re pissed off, but what is actually accomplished? When we were doing the Wall Street protests, we had concrete demands–both legislative reform and changes to internal bank policies. The G20 is just a lot of hot air. A lot of folks also pointed out that the actions of some of the anarchists occurred when the police goaded folks into overreacting, so as to spur arrests and thus justify the new powers and the immense expense of the security.

There’s got to be a better way to discuss how to get industrialized nations to work together and to improve the lives of poor people than to waste up to $2 billion on security for street riots that accomplish nothing.


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