Monday, June 28, 2010


The G20 summit meeting wrapped up yesterday in Bear's home town, Toronto, Canada.  This was the gathering of the leaders of the 20 economically-strongest countries in the world, which account for about 85 per cent of global trade. (I could watch the action, and still, after all the years of being away, figure out roughly where the people were.)

Three images stood out for me.

1. The Presidents and Prime Ministers — heads of the G20 nations — smiling, and waving, and chatting. Looking like they had been on a holiday! Political showmanship at its best. 

They had been arguing among themselves about how to keep the world's economy on a level keel, and apparently reached some significant plans.

2. Vandals, calling themselves anarchists, destroying property. Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, condemned their action, saying it was "not the Canadian way." And he was right.

3. Probably the strongest image for me was also picked up by veteran CBC journalist Susan Ormiston. She was reporting from "street-level" about protests, violent and peaceful. The image she was left with was one of seeing, wherever she turned, rows of "battle-ready" police — heavy gear, shields, clubs — three deep, waiting. Then often charging, and beating and grabbing people, often indiscriminately. At last count, over 600 people were arrested. It's turning out that many were simply on the streets of their community, the community where they lived, minding their own business, or watching, in wonder and amazement, as things unfolded. The innocent were simply scooped up with the supposedly "guilty." This was because of sweeping new powers quietly granted to police, by the Federal Cabinet, but never made public. (So much for transparency and accountability in government.) I could say to the Prime Minister, "that is not the Canadian way," either. 

Except it is.  I don't like this new "Canadian way" that Stephen Harper is bringing us. It feels too much like a "police state," perhaps a new blossoming of fascism.

Lord, hear our prayer,
and let our cry come unto thee.


Natalie said...

Scary times we live in, Bear. Sending love and peace from Oz.♥

potsoc said...

Rob, what do you expect from that almost extreme right governmemnt? Harper is more and more showing his true colors. I hope the Canadians will wake up before it's too late.
On the other hand, that Blackblock movement has to be dealt with, that is not anarchy, it's facism at it's best. Who finances those guys who give the police a ready reason to pounce on anything that moves and justify special powers?

Rob-bear said...

® Natalie: Yes, and thanks.

® Paul: For the first time in my life, I'm afraid of my own government. I understand fascism well enough to see it when it happens. Hitler may have lost the war, but has won the battle — the battle for peoples' minds (well, people with money).

Harper once said if he had a majority government, he would change Canada into something it had never been before, that people wouldn't recognize as Canada. Now we know what he's thinking about. I wouldn't be surprised if part of the billion dollar cost attached to summit security is a plan for effectively mobilizing police to stamp out any kind of dissent. That's scary!

ain't for city gals said...

First of all there is not enough money in the world for me to be a is truly like putting your life on the line each day..that being said I understand about the "police state"....just seems in the last years we are under the radar at all times...cameras everywhere..police cars everywhere tracking everything from speed to whatever on their computers in their cars...just seems so strange...what the worse thing about it is this genereation and the next have grown up like this..they know no difference....I'm not trying to be a doomsayer...just observing...getting old, I guess?

Rob-bear said...

® ain't for city gals: Thanks for dropping by this "peculiar" site.

If the next generation doesn't understand the difference between democracy and fascism, we ARE doomed. Orwell's 1984 perhaps, or Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.

® Paul: One other thought. With thousands of police around, there was no attempt by the police to protect the property, and lives, of ordinary citizens. I call that a skewed priority.

potsoc said...

They were there to arrest people, not to protect anything but the 5 meters before the fence.

Rob-bear said...

® Paul: True, sadly. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Gutsy Living said...

I had no idea this happened. Sounds a bit like the inteview on NPR today where striking Chinese workers outside their factory were being hit by the police and asked, "Why are you hitting us?"

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Seems many governments are using economic crisis to grab for ever increasing power. Very scary! Excellent post, Rob! It's time for all sleeping bears to rise with you! Thanks for the warning cry! Bear hugs, Janine

Anonymous said...

"The Presidents and Prime Ministers — heads of the G20 nations — smiling, and waving, and chatting. Looking like they had been on a holiday!"

The perfect explanation of why the police were needed. If they were having success in correcting the problems of those less fortunate than themselves, or even had an inkling of reality, there's no way they could have smiled and waved while those outside felt....well....outside.

In effect, the police were actually protecting the problem.

Off to sleep now. I've been up for two hours and that's a record lately.

Rob-bear said...

® Sonia: Good connection. Yes, there is a theme running here, and you understand it.

® Janine: Unfortunately, the world has been getting more and more like this since 9/11, which has been distorted all out of shape for political ends. Did you read the piece on fascism that is linked to the the word fascism (last word in my text)?

® Dana: Police protecting the bad guys. Sounds about right.

When I was still living in Toronto, the police adopted the motto "To serve and protect," which is still painted on police cruisers. Some bright sparks had something like bumper stickers printer up, and when they had the chance, applied them to police cruisers — not to the bumpers, to the sides. The revised motto: "To serve and protect the rich." Nothing much changes.

Rob-bear said...

® PS to Paul, from earlier: "Rob, what do you expect from that almost extreme right government?"

What do you mean by "almost"?

There's a story to the effect that Stephen Harper thinks Attila the Hun was a socialist!

potsoc said...

Attla and Stephen have one thing in commom: both are ruthless cold calculators.