Saturday, June 19, 2010

G20 Summit --Downtown Toronto Gets Ready!

Next Friday through Sunday the G20 Summit is going to be held in Downtown Toronto, mere steps from where I work and a few short kilometres from where I live. All week we have been seeing the results of months of advance work, barriers being erected on the city streets to keep protesters separate from the VIPs and endless communications about procedures to us who are affected due to proximity to the venue.

There are quite a few thousand who work within the security zone many of which  are being told to take the time off or work at home the Thursday and Friday. We have also been put on notice to be prepared to start working from home earlier in the week if security measures dictate.

I am with RBC and they have been singled out for special protest attention.  An RBC branch was fire bombed in Ottawa on May 18th  by a group calling itself FFFC who claimed RBC was targeted for its sponsorship of the 2010 Olympics.  Excuse me, but does that sound stupid only to me?

All week we have been seeing groups of 4-6 policeman patrolling the area and construction guys busy erecting the barriers and fences.

I did a walking tour today after work to see what the area looks like less than one week before the Summit starts. So here you go:

This is the building where I work, it is right next door to CSIS Headquarters which is also next to the Metro Convention Centre where the G20 is being held.
It is inside the security perimeter and anyone who needs to get into the building during the summit has to have special security passes.  We are all doing our "Disaster Plan" work premise plans due to the concern for our security in the midst of perhaps violent protests.  For me, that means working from home (er, well actually working up north on the dock by the Lake. LOL)

When I come out of my building I pass a walkway that goes to the CN Tower.  This whole area will be a "No Go Zone" and the CN Tower and the Sky Dome are walled in and closed for the full week.

This is the view down Front Street, which is the street that the Metro Convention Centre is on (plus the CBC Building in this view).  Even though it is inside the Security perimeter - No one can access this without passes, there are two inner fences.  This whole area is bounded by an outer fence which is a block away.  I guess they are ready for anything!

This is Front Street looking down the other direction, just past Metro Convention Centre.  A busy day today with a baseball game happening tonight, but as of next Thursday this will be empty - closed except for Convention delegates and police.

This is what the fence looks like on the north side.

As the sign says....

I believe this is the road that the cavalcade of VIPs will be chauffeured in.

There are fences everywhere!

This is the main entrance to Metro Convention Centre

The City removed all garbage bins last week.  No where to hide explosives with clear garbadge bags tied to poles.
So What is all this Hulla Baloo All About?

According to Wiki:

The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (known as the G-20 and also the G20 or Group of Twenty) is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 economies: 19 countries plus the European Union. Recently summits meeting at level of Heads of government have been introduced. The 2010 chair country of the G-20 is South Korea.

The G-20 is a forum for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. It studies, reviews, and promotes discussion (among key industrial and emerging market countries) of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, and seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization.

So my next question is what are the Protesters protesting about? Again, thanks to Wiki:

The expressed reasons for protests at meetings, have included the following common issues: blocking neo-liberal efforts to undermine local democracy, workers' rights (especially in developing nations), environmental protection, and resistance to globalization which many protesters view as a manifestation of neo-colonialism. Protests have been ongoing since 1999, and continue to have violent elements.

The last word from Wiki is:
It is often argued that the G-20, although it provides broader representation than the G8, is not entitled to make decisions that affect the whole world, because its member states are selected arbitrarily. The G-20 does not have a charter and its debates are not public, making it an "undemocratic institution." Critics propose an alternative such as an Economic Security Council within the United Nations, where members should be elected by the General Assembly based on their importance in the world economy and the contribution they are willing to provide to world economic development.

I have to admit, despite what Wiki says, and the obvious truth of it, I am at a loss to understand why the protests are so passionate and violent.  It is a gathering of the world's economic leaders from the  largest and most stable nations - and I don't really see anything they might do as harmful to anyone.  The truth of the matter is we do have a globally interlinked economy and we do need to cooperate in its orderly management.  I have observed  that the United Nations does not seem very effective except to aid developing nations perhaps, and its "one country one vote" also generates criticism as the largest populated countries have the same vote as the smallest.  It  would be a stretch to expect them to set appropriate economic policy I think. If you are interested in how the G20 members are selected, check out the Wiki article -  it seems to make sense to me and is rational and reasonable - this is not a dictatorship we are talking about.  I think that the protesters should all fly to Somalia and have a big protest against Piracy!

Personally could think of many other World events/circumstances which IMO are more deserving of protest and am astounded at the amounts of money being spent on security and lost by local businesses as a consequence of all this, let alone any losses they might sustain through damages consequent to protests. 

I will be exiting the city on Wednesday as soon as I can leave work.  I can easily work from my Collingwood Shangri-La home and escape all the fuss and bother - and I will be very glad to do so!

1 comment:

  1. You will have a very long weekend at Collingwood. Don't work too hard :-)


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