A quick G20 rant, probably not the last

This is going to be a short post, because I don’t have a lot of time right now. I just learned that Toronto City Council voted “unanimously” to commend the forces policing the G20 Summit in downtown Toronto two weekends ago. I use quotations because, as usual, a handful of councillors didn’t show up to do the only job they get paid for. These are the same police forces that allowed a handful of violent anarchists to run amok in the city smashing storefronts and burning police cruisers, and the same police forces who then paraded around in riot gear and penned in groups of peaceful and legitimate protesters (along with journalists, bystanders, residents, people on their way to work, etc) and held them in the rain for hours, before arresting hundreds of them, holding them in an illegal prison, and releasing them hours later with no charges. Shame on them and shame on council.

Why is it that speaking out against what happened here has become akin to political suicide? Why are the few politicians saying anything about the police brutality being attacked for their views and told to be quiet? Get it straight: the people who were attacked by the police in Toronto during the G20 Summit were denied the rights guaranteed to them by our Constitution and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so many of the specific legal rights that I will not list them here. Whether or not you agree with protesters’ actions or how you feel about the politics of the Summit, every Canadian should be outraged at this infringement of basic human rights. Every politician in this country should be speaking out. Any politician that doesn’t speak out against what happened here in Toronto is either ignorant or a spineless coward. Yeah, I said it.

About Greg Burrell

Greg is an accountant, cyclist and political observer living in Toronto, Canada with too many cats.
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  • Hear hear.

  • Tom

    When the vote is 36-0, you know there is an issue. Goldsbie wrote about the challenge for politicians in speaking up. It is too easy to call this ‘cowardly’ behaviour when speaking up effectively means losing your council seat, or votes (if you’re a candidate).

    Show me a politician that can stand up to one of the strongest unions in the country backed by most of the population?

    Not going to happen, so best to think of compromises on this.

  • As anyone who knows me well, knows I do my best to attend all Toronto City Council meetings.

    Today was different.

    I anticipated my disgust at what turned out to be the likely outcome when Council spoke to issues surrounding the Police response to the G20 weekend.

    It would likely be that I may not keep my cool in Council Chambers during the debate and discussion.

    Following online, my gut feeling turned out to be pretty much correct.

    Thus far, online attacks on me because of my position on G20, are few, but they are there.

    I will answer them in due course.

    Thank you for your blog post Greg.

    HiMY SYeD

    p.s. ‘I’m not a number, I’m a free man! Oh wait…’ – http://oct25.ca/g20sp

  • Joe Seaton

    While Vaughan, McConnell and Giorgio did not vote because they are the on Police Services Board, it should be noted that all the NDP identified councillors: Perks, Davis, Mihevc, Fletcher, Bussin & Giambrone, either did not attend council or opted to leave to avoid voting. Perks was a particular coward, first objecting to Minnan-Wong’s request from Council to withdraw an earlier deferral motion, and then leaving before the vote rather than opposing it. Why not stand up for what you purport to believe in? You have failed us all of us. Another sad day for Toronto.

  • Tom

    Himy, good for you for speaking out. However, your comment about waiting to answer to your critics “in due course” is off the mark.

    You are now running for Mayor. It is an expectation that you make your rebuttals now. If you feel you need to wait to do so, then please explain why.

    Ambiguity is not good. If you wish to lead, then lead by actions and speak up (as you have been doing to some degree).

  • Tom, you made my point beautifully. Our elected leaders and contending politicians are supposed to represent the interests of the people. During the Summit, people’s supposedly inalienable rights were diminished, first by a small group of violent petty criminals, then by a massive force of overzealous police. To ask why the police didn’t respect our rights is speaking out in support of those rights, not against police. No politician should lose face for demanding an inquiry into why this happened, or speaking in favour of preventing it from ever happening again. However, Toronto Council’s motion to commend the police for their behaviour during the Summit is akin to saying that our rights don’t matter, and that sets a very dangerous precedent. Fortunately, I believe Cllr Carroll amended the motion to also commend the police for conducting their own inquiry, so I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Still, a fully independent public inquiry is needed.

  • Tom

    Greg, from what I’ve seen a couple of the mayoral candidates have been calling for enquiries with formal statements (whilst also naturally commending police as they must).

    I would consider that a decent step forward for a difficult political situation.

    Also, Miller has effectively asked the mayoral candidates to butt out of this. Something which I found inexcusable at the time, and am still somewhat unsettled by.