The G-20, everything you probably didn’t want to know (part 2)

Posted on June 12th, 2010 3 great comments. Room for one more!

…continued from part 1.

After researching what the G-20 does, I have to say, I really don’t think that they’re this evil body of leaders bent on taking over the world that some people suggest. I mean, I suppose it’s possible, and I guess you need to have some megalomaniacal qualities in order to get to that level in global politics, but it just seems like they spend most of their time sitting around eating munchies and making nice-to-do lists. I can’t begrudge them that, it’s what I aspire to myself.

But does it deserve the amount of money that our government is throwing at it? Will the, at present, C$1.2 billion be the sound investment that they’re saying it is?

Yes, that’s billion. I know, seems pretty high to me too, but to be honest I’ve never held an international summit so I wouldn’t know how much to ask for at the door. And, yeah, if we’re going to have global leaders here, we should probably buy them the good munchies, not the dollar-store crap. Presumably this second option is what was chosen in Pittsburgh, the location of the last summit, where they spent US$12.2 million (roughly C$13 million).

The costs over the past few summits (these are estimates because, apparently, these figures didn’t warrant detailed tracking or further study), are:

  • 2009 (U.K) – US$30 million (C$30,000,000)
  • 2009 (U.S.) – US$18 million (C$18,000,000)
  • 2010 (Canada) – C$1.2 billion+ — projected

It’s estimated that about half of this, or C$500 million, is being spent on security. That’s gonna be some security!

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According to a recent article in the Sun, security guards can earn up to C$1,000 for two weeks’ worth of work. With 1,100 people being hired for this task (and let’s assume they’re all earning top dollar), that’s about C$1.1 million. The security fence will cost about C$5.5 million … ah what the heck, let’s say an even C$6 mill. So, fences and security are costing just over C$7 million, which leaves about C$490 million (note how I’m being generous with a few million here and there).

Let’s say that the police are getting an even C$100 million just for staff, and the same for their new toys. No, let’s say C$200 million for new toys; we want nothing but the absolute best! So, a total of C$300 million for the Toronto Police.

Presumably this will include the new security cameras as well as that sound cannon thing. That’s new cameras on 20 intersections, and let’s assume they put four cameras per intersection just for fun. So, 80 new units plus a sound thingie comes out to an average of C$2.5 million per unit. So, like, really expensive cameras (even if installation for each unit costs a million).

Okay, so so far we’ve got four jewel-encrusted cameras being installed by millionaires (a good idea really—they have considerably less reason to steal the equipment) on each street corner, police who can easily retire after the event, and private security that can certainly afford to get paid better. I suppose some of that money could go toward even better security fencing, though apart from automated gun turrets I’m not sure how they could improve it.

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And we’ve still got C$190 million left over.

Let’s toss another C$100 million into the “miscellaneous security” pile just for good measure. In Winnipeg they purchased a new police helicopter at C$3.5 million, so that should leave our own force with enough dough (factoring in operating costs), to purchase at least 20 brand-new birds. That should still leave enough “miscellaneous” money to provide the entire G-20 security detail with diamond-studded uniforms and suh-weet pensions.

Shit, we’ve still got C$90 million left over. I’m at a loss to suggest how else this money could be spent; maybe a small security satellite launched into orbit?

Overall, if you break down the costs over a two-week period, we’re spending about 4 times as much on security as we are on national defence. In other words, G-20 security have the resources to easily take over Canada; our own army couldn’t stop them. Okay, I know, the Canadian army gets funding throughout the year so the financial comparison probably isn’t fair, but with most of those resources holed up overseas, a coup d’état would be relatively easy. And well funded.

At this point we’re at the halfway point in the spending. The rest, presumably, will go toward making everyone’s stays here comfortable and enjoyable.

The National Post estimates that about 10,000 people will be flying in for the summit, or about 500 people per country. That leaves ample room for each representative’s assistants to each be responsible for producing, spell-checking, and revising one word in the resulting G-20 publications (which might explain why they can’t seem to spell the organization’s name the same way).

It’s my understanding that the delegations will be paying their own way while they’re here over the weekend (plane trips, hotel rooms, etc.), so the C$50,000 per head price tag will be going toward some nifty grab bags and a frickin’ awesome convention room light show. Maybe some fancy napkins to go with the summit dinner too. Unfortunately, this part of the expense is the most hush-hush (national security, no doubt), so it’s tough to say exactly where and how the city will be spending C$25,000 on each person per day. What is quite clear, however, is that this expense will be roughly equal to the security expense for each person.

The fence and the security cameras are the only expenses that citizens will be able to actually account for.

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In fact, Canadian citizens, the same people paying for all of this, will be barred from even a hint regarding spending until after the fact. After that, when the money’s been spent and we’re all making up for it with a new tax, we may be allowed to know where some of that billion dollars went. Not all of it, mind you; that would be a breach of security for the next summit, and it’s why there are no hard facts or figures on G-20 spending since the thing started.

Okay, now, to be fair, we’re also hosting the G-8 summit at the same time. Correction, Huntsville is.

I have to be honest, that is a nice location for the G-8 meeting. It’s in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country, picturesque countryside that typifies the idyllic Ontario summer. I’ve spent a good amount of time up there (about an hour and a half north of Toronto), and as a backdrop for photo-ops, I don’t think we could do much better. The area (more commonly known as the Muskoka Lakes region, or just the Muskokas), is our version of The Hamptons – million dollar houses amusingly called cottages, unbelievably cute and (at this time of year) busy tourist towns, just the right amount of wildlife so that people can pretend to be out in nature, etc.

So while the statement that the summits will put Toronto on the map is utter bullshit (finally people outside of Canada will know about the city’s existence!), in the case of Hunstville I tend to agree. And the town has been granted C$50 million by the feds to do it up for the visitors.

The calculations I did for the G-20 only went up to the one billion mark so this amount is easily included in the 1.2 billion. Hell, they could quadruple their budget and still come in under the gun.

But I can’t help but wonder if any of the delegates or the international press will have a chance to see Ontario’s natural beauty, what with the fake lake that’s being built here in the city to mimic the Muskokas. There’s some debate whether the lake will cost C$2 million as initially reported, or C$57,000 according to recent statements, but that doesn’t really seem like the real issue here, does it?

Nah, says our government, it’s worth it. It’s not a lake, they say, it’s a reflecting pool, and it’s for all the media who won’t be allowed to go to Huntsville for the G-8. Plus, it’s not just for the pool, they continue, it’s also for a replica of the Toronto Stock Exchange — literally three blocks up the street – and other representations of Toronto. In other words, they’re re-building replicas of parts of Toronto, in the center of Toronto, to represent Toronto to visiting journalists. And, unfortunately, the citizens of Toronto won’t get to see how their “city” looks because it’ll all be torn down after the summits.

In the meantime, citizens will be barred from the area, businesses will be forced to close, and residents need to apply for special ID and be prepared to give security “good reason” for entering the security perimeter. Furthermore, police will be discouraging people from even coming close to the security fence, with traffic being diverted for several blocks outside of the outer security zone. In fairness, the fact that the roads in the area will be closed makes it, at least for this reason, sensible.

I asked police guarding the fence what laws I’d be breaking if I were to wander into the perimeter. What would I be charged with, in other words? Their answer was, “resisting a police officer’s orders”. I replied by saying, well, sure, I understand if I’m being rowdy or destroying property, even trespassing on private property or endangering my/someone else’s life, but what laws would I be breaking that would allow them to order me around in the first place, and hence charge me with resisting?

The answer, as far as they knew: none. There are no laws that say I may not cross the security barrier, that say I need to apply for special ID/etc., or that say I’m doing something illegal simply by being within the perimeter. But, if I do find myself there, I’m assured that the police can and will detain me.

It’s not exaggerating to say that this is the same (exactly the same, in fact), as the police telling you to get off a public sidewalk for no reason whatsoever, and if you don’t comply with their arbitrary demand, you will be arrested and charged – not with being on the sidewalk, but with not obeying the officer’s demand that you get off the sidewalk, which they had no right in making in the first place. And if they can demand that you follow some imaginary laws that they’re making up as they go along, what’s to stop them from making up other laws on the spot so that they can then charge you with not following them, and hence for resisting their orders to follow those made-up laws?

And I consider myself a supporter of the Toronto Police so it’s not like I want to butt heads with them.

There’s a legal precedent called “probable cause” under which police can do something like this – if it looks like you’re about to cause trouble, if you’re carrying a weapon, about to or in the process of breaking some law – but police need to show good cause for doing this, and for obvious reason. Once police stop you, they must have some legal basis for detaining you (again, you were causing trouble, carrying a weapon, trespassing on private property, etc.), but for them to hold you further, eject you from the area, or even charge you with resisting arrest, even though there’s no clear reason for them to have detained you in the first place, that’s setting an extremely unsettling precedent. And that’s what the police will be doing openly and publicly during the summits.

Without exaggeration, it’s fair to say that the police will be (and are), stripping Canadian citizens of their rights, without a basis under the law (let alone actual laws), to justify their actions. In other words, the police are making up their own rules and are enforcing them. I mean, if the cops guarding the fence don’t know the laws they’re supposedly enforcing, who does? And if they can’t cite the rules they’re enforcing, how am I supposed to be following them?

Moreover, why isn’t the Supreme Court of Canada stepping in and stopping this or trying to introduce some laws so that the police have something to lean on? Not like it’s a big secret or anything.

Pretty scary.

While I was having this chat with the cops (who were admittedly friendly and helpful), a construction chief working on the security fencing walked up to me and called me a “jerk” for questioning “the rules” (though she couldn’t tell me what, exactly, “the rules” are). I thought I was being polite and courteous – I’m sure I smiled and tried my best to assure the group that I had no intention of breaking any laws; I’ve never had a problem with the police and was simply asking what laws they were enforcing. I guess I was way out of line.

Maybe those protests aren’t quite so crazy after all.

3 Comments on “ The G-20, everything you probably didn’t want to know (part 2) ”

  • Stanya
    June 14th, 2010 7:58 am

    This is something what should finally open all the people's eyes. If all those so much cariing world's leaders have in their hearts beatitude only for all the nations how comes they have the guts to let our country spend so much on their security and by no means comming here at all? Wouldn't be smarter and more enjoyable for them sit down in their own office or home and chat with colleagues on Skype or if they have enough money on their accounts they can use a telephon and have their own comfort and drinks they are use to. If all the money so stupidly spent on something so ridiculous (few pages of nonsenses, which will not solve anything anyway) would be spent for all of us in Canada, I believe their goal would be achieved and Canada would make first step to become real paradise to live in. Right now benefiting from situation are relatively few people who are building those beauties around downtown which in my opinion are disgrace for the city and than all the Quardian Angels who will make sure that those valuable people pretending to take care of whole world will return home without scratch. Yes they will pack up their valets for now, but what about those millions who literaly will not benefit at all, they just have to via another taxes help to recover from this missery. And another yes,Toronto will become visible in whole world like the most wierd city where people are so stupid being willing to spend for visibility billions of dollars instead to invest them into better life style for their own people.

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  • nick
    October 31st, 2010 10:02 am

    they couldve just done it over the internet on video or something, with all the technology nowadays. I wonder where all the money went anyways? I think the black bloc people were police, so they could justify all the money they spent, not to mention stray away from the issues, because all the media talked about was the riot. Ever wonder why they introduced the HST or that eco fee? probably not to help the environment.

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  • Patrick
    November 1st, 2010 1:36 pm

    No doubt the police got some shiny new toys out of this, Nick. The HST is nothing more than a way to tax us in just a few more ways, and the Eco Fee — don't even get me started!

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