Thursday, July 15, 2010

There is Something Very Wrong With This Picture.

The Business Insider posted an article this week: The G20 Plan for Prosperity: Rubber Bullets and Shredded Social Safety Net.

The Toronto G-20 summit sent a message to poor and working people in Europe and North America. “You will pay for the global financial crisis through cuts to your social safety nets. There will be no taxing of those who actually caused the crisis and made fortunes in the various bubbles over the last decades.”

... This was bad enough. But there was another message, too, sent through the Canadian police: “If you don’t like it, how about a rubber bullet?” It looks like G-20 countries will deal with opposition to their plans through martial law and police brutality ... I was there in Toronto, where police turned the downtown center into something resembling martial law.

I mentioned this in another post, because the same thing happened in Ontario when Guy Giorno was chief of staff for Mike Harris. He is now chief of staff for Stephen Harper. The government cut 21.6% from welfare payments forcing many into the streets. Of those homeless people 22 died in those streets. Harris refused to address protesters but instead had his riot squad beat the crap out of them. Jim Flaherty later came up with a perfect solution. He was going to make homelessness a crime, but not by providing homes in the traditional sense. He was going to just throw them in jail.

Lisa Taylor, Associate Professor at the School of Education, Bishop’s University, wrote an op-ed piece for the Toronto Star, pondering what she could now tell her students about civil liberties, given that weekend's events:
Recently, a student newspaper reporter asked a professor what every undergrad should do as part of the university experience. My colleague suggested taking part in student cultural life — join a club, put on a play! Giving back to the local community — volunteer at a local community centre or shelter! And becoming an active citizen — develop informed views on the issues most important to you! Decide how to live out your values! Go to a demonstration!

Recounting this anecdote, my colleague asked herself: Would she offer undergrads the same advice now, after the largest mass arrest in Canadian history? Of course she would — but that teachers are asking ourselves this question this should worry us as Canadians. As educators, our job is preparing active citizens with a strong concern for civic institutions and a sense of duty to participate in democratic processes of public debate, community and civic organizing and shaping policy.

Given that we spent 1.3 billion for security and yet Toronto was anything but secure, we can only assume that the vandals were not the targets of the riot police. It was the civic minded.

With rumblings of massive cuts to social programs, is this government warning us not to oppose them? Will rubber bullets again be used to silence dissent?

Bob Hepburn also asks an important question: Why is Harper escaping G20 aftermath scot-free? I mean he was the one who decided to hold it in Toronto. He was the one who gave a 453 million dollar untendered contract to a firm with links to the oil industry. And he is the one who does not allow dissent.
Whether he likes it or not, Harper may well discover his election prospects forever entangled in the aftermath of the G20 summit. So far, though, he has managed to escape the post-G20 fallout, which includes calls for public inquiries into police actions that weekend, the threats of lawsuits against the City of Toronto and demands for compensation for lost business and destroyed property.

Indeed, since it ended nearly three weeks ago, Harper has said nothing about the summit. Instead, he’s spent the last weeks merrily travelling across Canada, enjoying the Calgary Stampede and hitting the summer festival circuit.
He has left the hapless Dean Del Mastro to try and clean up his mess.

Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20 now has 54,567 members and they have no intention of leaving Stephen Harper out of this. He used images of burning police cars to justify the expense and the abuse. He's got some explaining to do.

I want to leave you with something though. Back to the original posting about the effect of the decisions made at the G-20. Our government is going through with enormous tax cuts for corporations. They are planning on spending billions to implement their new crime bills, despite the fact that Canada has the lowest crime rate in our history. And they are handing out another untendered contract for 16 billion dollars to buy military jets.

This is from a letter to the editor in the Hamilton Spectator.
I was absolutely appalled at the image of a seven-year-old little girl standing in line at a soup kitchen in Hamilton. We don't live in a third world country and we should not have children going hungry in this city. Our politicians are spending so much time, effort and money to build a stadium. Our priorities are twisted. We think nothing of using taxpayers' money to spruce up our image. Why don't we filter some of that money to those who really need it? What's more important, stadium or hungry children? There is something very wrong with this picture.
800,000 Canadians currently use food banks. Of that number, one-third are children.

I agree. "There is something very wrong with this picture."

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