G20 police action

Many voices are calling for a public, not police inquiry into the police action in Toronto at the G20. The latest is Tabitha Southey writing in the Globe and Mail yesterday.


There are comments to her article, including one from a chap who seems to think that we live in a police state where citizens can be arbitrarily ordered off the street by police. He seems to be confusing, as another reader pointed out, the police with the law. In one of Rex Stout’s novels, a policeman is demanding entry to Nero Wolfe’s house. “Open up, in the name of the law,” he demands. the character Archie Goodwin answers mildly, “As you Know, it’s the law that keeps you out.” It’s the law that allows protest that is peaceful.

I watched the protest on Sunday night of the G20 from beginning to end. I watched demonstarters and journalists, dog-walkers and cameramen being encircled, held for “processing’ and bussed off to ..?where? Unlike the day before, I saw no one in black masks( the sight of which enrages me); I saw no vandalism. I admit that for a while the people did occupy the center of an intersection as they were prevented from going forward with their march. I understand they were told three times to move. Apparently this is a magic number after which the police can move in with their circle of armed men.

Ms Southey says she was terrified. I can believe it. I, sitting in my safe living room at more than 100 kilometres away, was shocked and appalled. If the police and the politicians who set the rules have an explanation for the people of this country, let’s hear it. If they knew there were violent individuals, armed and dangerous, in the crowd, show us the evidence. Bring them to court.

Ms. Southey also reports individual policemen mocking the psychiatric patients who had come out onto the street. (I’m not sure how people on the street were being identifies as psychiatric patients. I don’t imagine they were wearing signs.)  Can anything have been more frightening to a disturbed mind than the sight of large men, dressed in black, with helmets and truncheons and guns, harassing and mocking? there appears to be a need for training on many levels.

Who were the police on the streets? Were they Toronto police, OPP(as those on the ground were reporting) members of police forces from other cities? Were they angry because of their experience with the Black Bloc the day before? Ms. Southey reports that they seemed to be spoiling for a fight.

For an another point of view, read Christie Blatchford in the same edition of the Globe and Mail at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/self-anointed-g20-journalists-should-get-real/article1627346/

In her article, most of which has to to with the journalists behaviour, she mentions that police were picking people up for a breach of the police or for a breach of the peace that hadn’t yet taken place. She says this is under the old common law. I believe that the rights and freedoms under the constitution supersede that.

It all took place on a sunny afternoon, in Toronto. Only nature, a severe thunderstorm, seemed to intervene and bring an end to all of it.

Black Bloc …again

So the message of the marchers is lost yet again, not because the people weren’t allowed to march, thousands of them, but because a group of so-called anarchists, thugs in masks who seem to move from city to city only to destroy, are the only ones whose voices are being heard.

Many, not all, of the leaders who are in Toronto, were democratically elected. The voices of their people are heard through them. Who are these men in masks? They represent no one.

Harper’s Fake Lake

The overspending becomes tedious, doesn’t it? First, the delegates are fenced into a small area of Toronto, and not the most attractive area, except for the lake itself. No, not the one in the Convention Centre, the real one visible from the hotel windows for those lucky enough to to have rooms on the South side. Second, they are surrounded by 1 billion! dollars worth of security (and there still is no accounting for where all that money is going). Finally, they and the reporters for whom this stage set was constructed, are walked past a cardboard cut-out of cottage country. As someone pointed out in the Globe this morning, they didn’t import the blackflies.

The priorities of this government are strange and speak to an astounding lack of imagination at the top. And it comes from the top. This is a government run by micro-managers, with the supreme micro-manager at the top. Remember all the directives about staying on message. This was the guy who preferred a US style press conference, with all the reporters standing up respectfully when he came in the room, and controlled questions from hand-picked journalists to the hurly-burly of the scrum. When you are looking for the guy who spent all the money that the former government set aside for a rainy day, look no further. Remember all the fiscal pain when Paul Martin was in charge of the government purse. The pain produced surpluses. They are all gone, spent to buy votes, and now we are left with deficit for years ahead. There was nothing  for the rainy day that came 18 months ago. Remember Harper denying how severe it was going to be.

No fiscal conservatism here, no transparency, and no  sense, common or expert. No wonder they took the Progressive out of the party’s name.

Harper’s control central

Harper’s message control is unprecedented, critics say – The Globe and Mail.

The funding for a retirement home, a mere 12,000 or so, is cause for a script, “to make sure everyone stays on message.” The message, according to this article in the Globe and Mail is heavily controlled, in an “unprecedented manner” citing former staffers of the Privy Council Office.

It doesn’t sound unprecedented to me. It sounds like the kind of control exerted in countries who don’t have democratic regimes. Harper got elected by saying his would be transparent government. It doesn’t seem to be transparent; it seems to be murky as hell. Why do they have to control so heavily. What is happening that we can’t know about? If we knew it, would we be calling for an election to throw them out?

No wonder they are spending one billion or so on security at the G20, when a few months ago it was three or four hundred million. They were spending too much time worrying about the 12,000 in Edmonton in the retirement home to pay attention.

And what does one billion in security buy anyway? Does anyone really know? Don’t expect an answer. It wouldn’t be on message.

Ten rules for writing fiction | Books | guardian.co.uk

A member of my writing group, the Internet Writing Workshop, posted a link to this article in the Guardian: collected lists from authors such as Margaret Atwood and Stephen King – their personal rules for writing. One rule is on all the lists – write and then write some more. Write, revise, write, make it as well. I must say I always get a kick out of Margaret Atwood’s. I like her advice to take a pencil on the plane as pens leak. Take two, she says, one may break. A link to her blog is to the right.
Another piece of advice, not in these lists, is to do something “writerly” if you come to a blank spot: look for an agent; write your blog; read about writing; read about grammar; read.

The Globe and Mail reports this morning that the G20 meeting is coming to Toronto in June. Much wailing about the disruption to the city, to commerce, to the life of the people who live and work downtown. It’s only for two days, people. The city has that much disruption from marathons for this cause, and parades for that.
The potential violence is another matter. Earlier this week I blogged about the Black Bloc, the criminals in facemasks allowed to march with legitimate protestors and commit random acts of destruction. I don’t understand why, if it is reasonable to assume that a person wearing a mask in a bank is about to commit a criminal act and should be arrested, or at least called to account, the same individual in the midst of a crowd of similarly dressed people – the Black Bloc – which has a history of random violence, should not. And no, I don’t think hiding one’s face with the clear intention of creating terror and avoiding responsibility for criminal acts is a civil right.