by Joel Smart (Sports Editor)
Only three days and over a billion taxpayer dollars have been tossed out the window. This year it was Canada’s turn to host the controversial Group of Eight (G-8) and the Group of Twenty (G-20) political meetings.The gathering, which features world leaders from designated countries, acts as a forum for the discussion of pressing global issues. However, not only was the event a waste of money, the promises made at these meetings are well-known for being broken. Though there is potential and goodwill behind these summits, in reality there are better, cheaper options that make a lot more sense.
Both summits took place in Ontario over the same weekend. G-8 took place on June 25-26 in Huntsville, while G-20 took place in Toronto, on June 26-27. Issues at G-8 ranged from discussion about the global recession and the economy, to international relations, nuclear programs, war issues and financial aid for poorer countries.
To discuss these issues, the meeting rooms were filled with 20 of the world’s presidents, prime ministers and leaders, including a king. Outside, though, a different discussion of rights and issues was taking place. Police brutality, free speech, and other civil liberties became the important topics of discussion, as many peaceful protesters were rounded up by police in riot gear and often arrested. If they were lucky, they weren’t first beaten with batons or riot shields.
Complicating matters were a small group of violent protestors known as the Black Bloc who were filmed smashing certain store windows and even lighting a police cruiser on fire. Of course, this became the only story the world would hear about the protests on television. Numerous YouTube videos circulating on Facebook newsfeeds told the opposite side of the story, with police violence seemingly at an all-time high. One video showed a group of violent protestors, one with a rock in his hand, trying to incite violence amidst a group of peaceful protestors.
When the crowd turned on the men, the police arrested violent protestors, but not before a camera caught the fact that the men were wearing police boots. Those are some pretty slimy tactics by the police, to go undercover and try to incite violence. Another video showed police on horses run down a journalist who was facing the opposite direction. There were also a bevy of videos displaying unprofessional activity on the behalf of police officers, including one officer who ripped a microphone out of the hand of a journalist and threw it on the ground. From the perspective many of the YouTube videos portray, the police are painted in an extremely negative light.
Given the fact that the police needed to protect 20 of the world’s most powerful men and women, some of the tactics and funding seem quite understandable. It does seem like the prime location for a terrorist attack. However, what would be even safer than spending a billion dollars would be to not bring them all to the same location at all. We do have the internet, in case you forgot. We’ve even got 3D televisions these days.
For an extremely tiny fraction of the cost, the world’s leaders could likely have conducted the summits from the comfort of their own respective countries on an extremely well-secured video conference call.
You never know, though, maybe without all the distractions they would be forced to actually get something done for once.