Happy Police State Weekend!
As we head into Police State Weekend here in Toronto, it is apparent that convenience is a prerequisite for democracy in this country. They should've just made protesting illegal. That, at least, would've been honest.
We have designated areas where protests are permitted - the implicit meaning being we can be civilly disobedient as long as we are obedient about it. That the authorities deemed the designation of these so-called 'free speech zones' necessary also begs the question... what kind of speech zones are everywhere else? We also have a Toronto police force that, with municipal tax dollars, went out and bought a buncha' fancy sound cannons to disperse protesters with deafening, high pitched noise. Not sure you can truly call it a free country when citizens' tax dollars go to paying for weapons against their freedom of speech.
Today, though, freedom in Canada reached an all time low with news of the unprecedented power given to Toronto police for the duration of the G20 summit. This power was granted by a law passed by the ostensibly democratically elected Ontario government in secret, with no debate in the Legislature. In Canada, we have the right not to identify ourselves if the police have no grounds to ask us to do so. This right has been deemed inconvenient during the G20, however, so during Police State Weekend, the cops can search and arrest anyone within 5 meters of the security fence for no other reason than refusing to show ID.
That pesky Charter of Rights can be such a buzz kill for the boys in blue. It was so nice of the Ontario government to give the G20 cops a wider range of activities to break the monotony while they stand around wasting tax payer's money.
Police State Weekend...worst stat holiday ever!
Is this really the way it has to be? A security wall between us and the leaders we elected to serve us? A cosmopolitan city turned into a police state?
Because the leaders of G20 nations would find it too inconvenient, Toronto will not resemble a city in a democratic country this weekend. Letting citizens voices be heard would put rabbit ears in the photo ops and cause indigestion of the tax payer funded meals. The presence of these social and environmental activists at the party would be such a nuisance that they might as well invite each leader's most obnoxious drunk relative.
Imagine what a nuisance tackling worker's rights in the global economy would be. It'd be such a drag trying to draft a global fair trade policy that institutes a relative minimum wage and standards for working conditions that are binding and have a global scope. Sure, it'd be nice to address the exploitation of workers in developing countries and minimize the loss of manufacturing jobs in developed countries, but it'd be so rude to China that has largely built its economy on cheap labour.
Working on a serious strategy to combat climate change would be another social faux pas. It's just so much easier to pay empty lip service and come up with toothless non-binding agreements like the one they came up with at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Stephen Harper, good host that he is, was well aware of this and tried to keep climate change off the agenda entirely. It really is endearing how he always sticks up for his tar sands buddies, but attempting any actions that will seriously reduce oil consumption would also greatly annoy oil states like Saudi Arabia.
Or, how about a plan to eliminate international tax havens, wouldn't that be a total douche bag move? Yeah, getting rid of these tax havens that place a disproportionate burden on the working poor and middle class to pay for social programs by allowing the deadbeat wealthy to evade taxes would be great, but how lame would that be to the rich folks that foot the bill for those leaders' election campaigns? It's not like shafting the taxpayer s that are footing the bill for the G20, because what's the most that shmos like us could contribute to their campaigns, a couple hundred bucks?
If all you got is chump change, they're gonna treat you like a chump.
And, that's what it all boils down to, really. The rich have the money that the politicians need to get elected. The politicians get elected with that big IOU as the dark cloud hanging over all their best intentions. The police enforce the laws made by the politicians working primarily on behalf of the rich.
And, if you don't like it and wanna go out and tell them all you don't like it, be prepared to have your eyes burn with tear gas, your ears bleed from sound cannons, and your head throb from the blows of a baton.
Canada - like all so-called democratic countries - is only democratic when it is convenient, which is when it matters the least. When you cease to be obedient with your civil disobedience, democracy ceases to apply to you.
Have a great Police State Weekend everybody!