As many know, the g20 was in Toronto recently. I looked on with curiosity here from Belgium.
As many outside Toronto might think: the protestors were violent and smashed things and burnt cars.
As Torontonians know, the protestors were pretty much all peaceful, with one group of vandals suspiciously allowed to run amok completely unpoliced, given access to bait-police-cars (cars abandoned in middle of street- intersections, unsurveyed by police, with with all equipment removed, windows rolled down, just begging to be burned.)
As individual accounts begin to surface, many Canadians are realizing that our constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms were effectively trampled all over, completely disregarded by our police and government during this time. And this was done not to people who committed any violence, or posed any threat, it was done to people protesting peacefully, to people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and even to tourists, bus drivers and restaurant patrons who happened to be in the "wrong places" when police decided to close in on people and detain them in incredibly inhumane manner for no lawful reason.
Amnesty International has called for a public inquiry into how security was handled at the summit. Canadians and Torontonians are calling for it, more and more of them as more first-hand accounts and media reports emerge. Stephen Harper (the Prime-Minister of Canada) has said that 99.9% of Canadians were happy with how the g20/g8 was handled. This statistic, as anyone inside Canada knows is pure bullshit. The premier of Ontario has been strangely silent about it all. The mayor of Toronto has said that of course things will be looked into, but that there is no need for a public inquiry.
As I read the reports coming from Toronto during the g20 I was fairly disgusted. As I read more of the first hand accounts after the fact from accredited media, and regular joes who were caught up in the insanity that was Toronto that weekend, and as I see YouTube footage complete with audio, badge numbers, and cops claiming that they have the right to disregard the charter rights and freedoms of Canadians, because "this isn't Canada" I have had to face the fact that this is a very dark mark on my country.
Who'd have thought this could happen in Canada, and to such an extent? A country that has always stood up for the basic human rights and freedoms of people, that believes in peace and rational discourse before violence went against all those principles for a weekend, and why? For what reason? To make sure the 1.2 billion dollar budget (courtesy of tax-payers) for security was justified? To be extra-sure that there wasn't the slightest of feathers ruffled by a wayward opinion being expressed peacefully, in a country where free speech is fundamental? I read and watch these reports, knowing that the security personnel are also Canadians, who are seemingly willing to disregard all the values they were raised to value because they are 'just following orders.' How can you live in your country and simultaneously spit on the system of values that has allowed you to live as you do up to that point?
I can think of other dark times where individuals have claimed they committed horrible acts because of "orders." Orders over basic reason, compassion, humanity and understanding of what is wrong, wrong, SO wrong in the treatment of other human beings.
I am disgusted, and I am expressing my disgust to all english-speaking people I know who will listen, because essentially, without a word of a lie: Innocent people, including non-protestors were treated like terrorists, detained, deprived of dignity, deprived of their legal right to make a phone-call, deprived of water, food, basic physical comfort and explanations for their detention. They were cooped like battery chickens out of my government's fear that they *might* express a dissenting opinion. And many of these people were not, AT ALL involved in any form of protest. Dinner patrons, tourists, people who believed the mayor that they shouldn't be afraid to go out and spend the night on the town despite the g20 goings-on.
A friend of a friend has written an account here, after his account he links to other accounts both by accredited media who got caught up in the crackdowns and detentions, and other individuals. There are far too many stories coming out of the g20, from disparate sources, that all sound the same and I can honestly say that it is this summit which causes me to fear for the future of my country like never before. There is a man at the helm who doesn't actually care that he governs a country based on the principles he betrayed that weekend. There are people below him in various positions of power who let him do it, and say little if nothing about it after the fact, in the face of overwhelming reports that surface now. In the face of looming class-action lawsuits by enraged Canadians.
Given that the democratic channels seem to have failed on this one, I'm hoping the capitalist ones will succeed. I would love to see a class-action take a huge chunk of money from the various police forces involved in the poor treatment, from those responsible for the organization of the detention centres, and so on. If their sense of national identity doesn't exist and therefore can't be hurt, maybe they'll at least wise up if they're hit in the pocketbook.
Stephen Harpers Canada is not the Canada I know and love. If you wonder what can make someone like me make such a declaration, click, read, and pass what you learn on to anyone who will listen and even those you think might not, Canadian or otherwise. If pressure inside the country regarding this abuse of rights doesn't result in action, maybe pressure from outside the country will.
If you don't want to read, watch these first person testimonials:
or read shorter accounts of disgusting treatment here.