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Activist Communique: The G20 as an election issue?

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Before the dissolution of Parliament, MPs asked for a federal inquiry into the G8-G20 summit protests because of alleged rights violations.

Last week, just as the current Canadian government was falling apart, federal MPs were asking for a federal inquiry into G8-G20 summit policing because of alleged rights violations.

The Public Safety Commons Committee -- spearheaded by the NDP back in October, 2010 -- recommended that there be an inquiry which would review such policing issues around the G8/G20 as decision-making by all levels of government and police accountability. The request was tabled just prior to the non-confidence vote. You can read the report here.

The federal Conservative government has so far resisted any calls for an inquiry event though the actions of the RCMP during the June, 2010 protests are a federal affair.

This search for accountability up to the federal government level was noted by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the National Union for Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

James Clancy (President, NUPGE) -- in an interview just before the release of the joint CCLA and NUPGE document titled Breach of the Peace, said, "Unfortunately, it appears the prime minister is determined to sweep the whole thing under the rug. The G20 cost Canadians dearly, not only in the billions of dollars spent in taxpayers' money, but also in terms of damage to our reputation on the world stage. For Prime Minister Harper to deny Canadians a public inquiry is a clear indication that his government has a lot to hide about the role they played in this very dark moment in Canadian history."

Nathalie Des Rosiers (General Council, CCLA) also commented, "We think that a public inquiry should investigate the role of the RCMP in developing the strategy of policing deployed at the G20, we do not know about the relationship between the policing tone and abuses and any interference, counsel, complaints by political figures."

I wonder if the G8/G20 will become a federal election issue?

Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff did comment, while on the campaign trail in Toronto on Monday, that the G20 as a "$1-billion photo-op for Stephen Harper."

"Name one thing that got solved at the G8-G20 summit...We got nothing done. It wasn't just that it cost a billion dollars, it wasn't just that it shut down a whole city, it was that we didn't get anything done for Canada, for the people in the world who look to our leadership to get something done," Ignatieff said.

Liberal Mark Holland (MP, Ajax-Pickering), who was present with Ignatieff, noted that the "greatest symbol" of the G8/G20 waste was the fake lake built at the Exhibition Grounds at a cost of almost $2 million when Lake Ontario was less than a kilometre away.

In the past, the NDP have also called for an inquiry into the G20 summit regarding policing, spending and human rights concerns. Last autumn, Public Safety Critic Don Davies (MP, Vancouver Kingsway) said, ""At the end of the day, we had a summit that left downtown Toronto like a warzone, with smashed windows and burning cars accompanied by mass arrests and civil liberties being trampled on," said Davies.  "Most Canadians agree that this wasn't a billion dollars well spent and we need to know what went wrong and how it can be remedied." 

With both the Liberals and the NDP critical of what went down during the G20 summit in Toronto from a policing and political standpoint, I know I am hoping that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is kept hot to the coals on this issue in the coming weeks if it is true that the Opposition wants to highlight Harper's record of accountability and integrity.

I ask, will the Opposition throw Stephen Harper into the fake lake?

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