It has been two weeks since the wall came down. The G2O fences have been shipped out the city and the leaders are long gone. But the polarizing and frenetic debate about who to blame shows no signs of packing up with it.
Mud slings across our national headlines daily asking who can be held responsible and how the G20 cloud can be lifted for life return to the Canada we know and love.
As Margaret Atwood pointed out in Globe, the list of unanswered questions to which the public, media and politicians alike are seeking answers is endless. But her thesis is concise: these kinds of protest illustrate the desire by Canadians to be present but PASSIVE in the decision making process and that the outrage and demand for inquiry is connected to our egos and fear of tainted perceptions rather than our genuine distaste for the actions of either party.
As Canadians, we expect civility and peace, but such is not the nature of the G20 beast. Protest is inevitable when heads of state from the most powerful countries in the world gather. Under the headline “Police attack on G20 protests condemned across Canada”, the CUPE (written by G.Dunkel) accused the police of denying civil rights to those attending the protest in peace.
But how can the officers protect us when beyond the predictable patchouli scented protestors yielding two-fingered symbols illustrating their intentions, there are those who tag along? e.g. the Black Block.
To quote Mayor Miller, from David Riders piece in the Star Council Commends Outstanding Police G20 Work, the police were put in an “impossible situation”.
Yes, the apparent marshall law seems extreme on the surface (sometimes yielding unfortunate casualties like John Pruyn, the man identified in the MACLEANS piece titled ”G20 police seized man’s prosthetic leg, called it a weapon" no explanation needed) but without these powers things could have gotten a lot worse.
The point being neglected in the post-G2O discussion is: Wasn't this about as good as it could be?
As if in an effort to help me make this point, CBC quoted McGuinty reacting to the devastation this city suffered firmly stating “ there was some pretty serious property damage”. I will repeat. Property damage.
In fact, when juxtaposed against the 1999 G2O meeting in Seattle, later coined the Battle in Seattle, police ended up showering the crowds of protestors in tear gas before the true destruction began, our officers on duty could be said to have exercised restraint.
The fact that this whole event went over relatively seamlessly, with minimal civilian injuries and no large scale terrorist attacks seems to be overshadowed by the increasingly vocal forces demanding retribution and reconciliation. Our media outlets cant blog or tweet fast enough to keep up with the op-eds, media experts, lobbyists and activists insisting that someone take responsibility and that our reputation be absolved.
But we needn't look further than outside our borders for evidence that we are blowing this out of proportion. Trying to find coverage of the aftermath of the G20 here in Toronto on American or European news services is near impossible. There is no shred of evidence that the event was anything out of the ordinary on the NYtimes landing page or within their top 25 most read today. Apparently the rest of the world simply moved on as if the whole event went exactly as they expected.
If I were David Miller, Stephen Harper or Dalton MacGuinty I would say “I'll take your blame for now. You can thank me later”.