Toronto Under Lockdown For the G20 Summit
Should the G20 Be Held in the City?
Downtown Toronto looks like something out of a movie or a war zone with over six kilometers of metal fence forming a fortress between protesters and the head of states who are in Ontario for the G8 and G20 Summits on June 25 and 26 to 27. For many Torontonians, the presence of thousand of security, special agents and police officers, some dressed in riot gears present a picture that generate dread and intimidation. Not to mention the billion dollar cost for hosting the three days events. Many Canadians wonder if the outcome of the summit will be worth the taxpayers money or the inconveniences to residents and commerce.
The 2010 G8 Summit takes place in Huntsville, Ontario on Friday June 25 and the G20 Summit will be held in Toronto on Saturday and Sunday, June 26-27. Non government agencies, like Oxfam have expressed disappointment about the unfulfilled promises of some countries who have not met their pledges to maternal health care in developing countries. The conditions of world economy will drive the agenda of these summits where the debate will be the balance between stimulus strategies to get us out of the recession and restrained fiscal policies. It is also anticipated that major consensus will be reached on climate change and maternal health care in developing countries.
The G8 is comprised of the world's wealthiest countries, Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Italy and Russia. The Group of 6 was formed by France in 1974 and became the group of 7 when Canada joined in 1975 and in 1997 it became G8 as Russia became a member. Each year the group rotate its responsibility as host of the annual summit. The Huntsville Summit is the fifth G8 Summit (1981, 1988,1995, 2002 and 2010) held in Canada and twice in Ontario (1988 and 2010).
Outcome of the G8 Summit
At the end of the G8 Summit, on Saturday morning, Stephen Harper, Canada's Prime Minister reported that the summit focused on peace and the global economy. He reported that they discussed:
- nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea
- Afghanistan/Pakistan crisis - which involves a withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan.
- Climate Change
The PM also reported that 7.3 billion dollars were pledged as a five year commitment from G8 countries and other partnerships (World Bank, the IMF, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the International Labour Organization) for maternal health care. Harper also said that there will be an accountability report to ensure the G8 countries are fulfilling their promises.
The 2010 G20 was held in downtown Toronto from Saturday June 26 to Sunday June 27. The group was founded in 1999 as a forum for finance ministers and central bank governors who met once a year, usually in late autumn, to discuss international economic issues. In 2008 the G20 evolved to include heads of states as a response to the financial crisis and as recognition that key emerging countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance. The G20 is made up of 85 % of the world's economy includes the G8 countries plus Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, and Turkey. The group meet semi-annual to review and promote discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.
In 2010, Canada and India are co-chairing the Working Group on the G-20 Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth.
Working groups and experts groups currently exist in the following areas:
- Working groups
- Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth
- Reforming the Mandate, Mission, and Governance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
- Experts groups
- Financial Safety Nets
- Financial Inclusion (continued from 2009)
- Climate Change Financing (continued from 2009)
- Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions (continued from 2009)
Wrap Up of the G20 Summit
President of United States of America, Barack Obama wrapped up the G20 Summit this afternoon, June 27th at a news conference. He re[ported that the premier goal of the group was global economical recovery and outlines three goals coming out of the summit:
1. Make sure recovery is strong and durable:Coordinated efforts to increase employment. Commitment to free trade. Currencies driven by the market - China. Strategies to reduce the deficit by half by 2013.
2. Advancing Financial Reforms: New level of transparency and stress tests for the banking industry. Global framework for banks to hold enough equity to prevent further collapse and to protect consumers to be ready for the next G20 meeting in the South Korean capital Seoul in November of this year.
3. Security Initiatives:Reforms to the IMF and world bank so the emerging markets have more parity. Strategies to cut and phase out fossil fuel and create clean energy jobs. Fight against corruption which undermine the rule of law, destroys public trust and stifles economic growth.
Overall, some reporters say that the 2010 G20 Summit was a win for Stephen Harper, who has fought against European attempts to impose a global bank tax. The only scar on the Summits was the Saturday violence and vandalism that occurred on some downtown Toronto streets.
Vandalism and Violence at 2010 G20 in Toronto's Downtown
The images of protesters in Montreal and Pittsburgh remind us that security is crucial to safety of the attendees of the Summits. Many Torontonians although are cognizant of that fact, were shaking their heads at the sight of the fortress around the lock down areas. They wondered if this is the image that we would like to present to the world. They thought this is Toronto, nothing bad is going to happen here.Then all hell broke lose on Saturday as images of vandalism to private and public buildings are shown on television. The image of people with blood oozing from bodily injuries. Fire and smoke bellowing from police cars set ablaze by the anarchists. The smoke of tear gas as people scramble for cover; some wearing gas masks. Some reporters' vehicles were damaged by brick throwers. Many have been arrested, but many have escaped the police. These acts of vandalism and violence are the ugly faces of anarchists who challenged the security and safety of all concerned. The protesters who want to bring their peaceful message to the G20 have been shutdown as anarchists wearing black clothing ran rampant in the downtown core, smashing and spray painting buildings. Thank goodness the police and riot squad did not make the matters worst by rushing in. Instead they stood their grounds and waited for the craziness to quiet down. They have been criticized for not acting forcefully enough, but those critics should think that the outcome could have been far graver had the police not shown restraint. Then on Sunday we heard of hundreds of arrests; some of innocent bystanders.
Like many Canadaians, I am left wondering; who made the more lasting impression about this summit - the G20 leaders or the anarchists? Was the security worth the price tag?