Thursday, December 23, 2010

How The G20 Radicalized Me

Just a short thought for today. Although I am now at the stage of life where I have more years behind me than I have ahead, and have been an inveterate cynic for many years, I am now starting to wonder if there is just a glimmer of hope for the possibility of real change. Ironically enough, my smattering of optimism arises from the violation of our Charter Rights by the police during the G20 last summer in Toronto.

Much has already been written about that infamous weekend, and I'm sure much more will be, but what I find so heartening, much to the dismay, I'm sure, of politicians and police chiefs, is the fact that the public will not let the issue die. People are refusing to be placated by the usual platitudes such as 'mistakes were made,' and 'the police did their best under very trying circumstances.' While such bromides might have been effective in the past, judging by the wide array of societal engagement on this, they have clearly lost their currency. The fact that a rally at Queens Park is planned for January 8th to demand a full inquiry is yet another indication of public passion and engagement.

I read an article in the December issue of The Walrus, a reflection by Pasha Malla on the G20. In the essay, she interviews activist Jaggi Singh, who says:

 “In Toronto, with over 1,000 arrests, mostly arbitrary, many idealists were swept up in the police repression, or observed it close at hand. This was meant to scare those idealists into pulling away from radical politics. Some folks are definitely traumatized and scared. But many, definitely, have become radicalized, too.”

It is his observation about radicalization that struck a responsive chord for me. While watching the G20 events unfold, I was disgusted by the property destruction wrought by a small group, but I was appalled by the police repression and physical violence they perpetrated against the peaceful protestors. So I guess, to use Singh's language, I became radicalized, affecting, as it has, my decision not to vote for the McGuinty Government again, and reflected in the fact that I can't stop thinking, writing, and talking about how precarious our Charter Rights really are.

And I doubt that I am alone in reacting thus. I think the same has happened to traditional police media supporters such as Rosie Di Manno and Peter Worthington. The Globe's implacable Christie Blatchjford, of course, continues to downplay the gravity of what went on, but I find her musings less and less relevant today, one of the reasons I cancelled my longtime subscription to the Globe and Mail.

But I digress. The thought occurs to me that if people are being reminded of the power they potentially have through the ongoing outrage over the police in Toronto, might we not reach a point where we can apply that power to other pressing issues, such as climate change, sacrificing young people in a futile war, etc. etc. ?

Perhaps all we need are a few more epiphanous moments.

Just a few thoughts from a cynic whose hardened heart has started its journey back into the light.


  1. I will support any major party that strongly supports proportional representation. However, McGuinty can promise proportional representation; I will not vote for his party because he helped cause the human rights violations during the G20 weekend.

  2. @Skinney Dipper
    Will you not vote for Stephen Harper for the same reason. He was just as quilty as McGinty.

  3. They definitely overplayed their hand. Hopefully the rally will be meaningful and not some sad affair with a mere couple hundred people.

  4. Stephen Harper should shoulder the blame for the abuses that ocurred at the G20. He's the one who chose Toronto as the venue for this event despite being advised that security would be difficult and expensive.

  5. McGuinty is mostly guilty of not paying attention. This whole party was Stephen Harper's baby.