"Who's up for a weekend in Montreal instead?"
June 14, 2010 11:56 AM   Subscribe

The G20 summit is fast approaching (June 26-27), and already it's shaping up to be a very expensive pain in the ass. For anyone living in or coming to Toronto during the summit, a guide to How the G20 Will Affect Everyone, from Cyclists to Tourists.
posted by sayitwithpie (56 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Only the downtown campus of U of T is shutting down (not that those of us in the colonies are surprised that we've been forgotten again).
posted by Hildegarde at 12:00 PM on June 14, 2010

Riots and massive inconveniences - world class! Everyone remember - Toronto is always WORLD CLASS.
posted by GuyZero at 12:03 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

tl;dr version: It's going to be a massive pain in the ass for everyone concerned, an obscene waste of money and any agreements reached by world leaders will result in rich people getting richer.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

If trouble does break out during a demo that you’re participating in, you may be faced with a relatively new weapon in the police arsenal. Officially, it’s known as Long Range Acoustic Device.

No, no. That's just for announcements, don't you know.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:08 PM on June 14, 2010

It also canceled Roy Halladay's scheduled homecoming.
posted by rocket88 at 12:16 PM on June 14, 2010

Having survived the previous one, my advice would be to run away. Go visit friends. Go to the beach. If you stay, you won't be able to drive anywhere or take public transportation, the stores will all be closed and you won't be able to sleep because of all the helicopters.
posted by octothorpe at 12:17 PM on June 14, 2010

Yesterday the police harassed my brother here in Parkdale a few miles from downtown. They gave him hell for not carrying ID and had him sit in the back of the car while they ran his name. He has had trouble with the law but

Then they suggested he "Stay off the streets during the G20."

Our cops taken this opportunity to buy new crowd control equipment like the sound cannon to keep up with the other G20 host cities.

“It’s definitely going to be beneficial for us, not only in the G20 but in any future large gatherings.” Police maintain the four canons will primarily be used as “communication tools”.

Oh, I see I am low on the draw to mention the cannon.
posted by KS at 12:17 PM on June 14, 2010

WORLD-CLASS sound cannon! Come on people - Toronto has a reputation to uphold.
posted by GuyZero at 12:23 PM on June 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

I haven't read the articles yet, so it may be otherwise mentioned, but how does one become a host for this? Is it decided like the olympics, or is it shared out among the member nations? It seems more burden than boon. I mean, even things like the Olympics (which are generally positive and sought after) have huge costs that often aren't recuped.
posted by codacorolla at 12:26 PM on June 14, 2010

On the plus side, everyone's peeved about the fake lake, even Harper's supporters. So there's that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:27 PM on June 14, 2010

The most important thing to remember about these events seems to be that the police will beat and maybe kill you with impunity should you go near them, and then maybe arrest you for being beaten up by the police as well. I'd like to think Canada would be different, but, well, Harper...
posted by Artw at 12:30 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh man, I want to throw a jar of raspberry jam at those sound cannons so bad.
posted by Theta States at 12:32 PM on June 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

Mother Fucking G8/G20. At least if we got an Olympics bid we'd have some new subways and other infrastructure projects to show for the giant piles of money we're wasting. Also, people are for the most part pretty happy during the Olympics. Who likes the G8?
posted by chunking express at 12:37 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Basically you have to really, really hate your populace in order to host one of these fuckers. They should forced to go do it up a mountain or in a desert or somewhere.
posted by Artw at 12:37 PM on June 14, 2010

I never understand these meetings. Can't they just conference on Skype? Fuck, they could even wear their pajamas and no one would know.
posted by dobbs at 12:37 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

> I haven't read the articles yet, so it may be otherwise mentioned, but how does one become a host for this?

But then it all began slipping off the rails. The G20 was gaining in importance, especially as the world financial meltdown took hold. The original plan to hold the 2010 G20 in Seoul was cancelled and tacked on to the G8 in Canada.

Harper hates Toronto. If shit winds up getting real I'm quite sure he'll be delighted.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:39 PM on June 14, 2010

Well, Harper really does hate Toronto...
posted by Hildegarde at 12:40 PM on June 14, 2010

Hey, I have an idea! We should have a Toronto meetup next Saturday!

posted by Hildegarde at 12:43 PM on June 14, 2010

Jury acquits G20 protester accused of being ringleader in clashes - Rhona Friedman, defending, said: "This was a prosecution that should never have been brought. Footage and photographs show that Mr Brown was repeatedly struck by police officers without resorting to violent retaliation. "Members of the jury were seen to flinch at footage of police officers deploying baton strikes against people in the crowd. When asked to decide who was guilty of unlawful violence and who was not, the jury could not have more clearly decided in Mr Brown's favour."
posted by Artw at 12:44 PM on June 14, 2010

It's funny how things seem to have changed so quickly. The G7 (back before Russia was added) was hosted in Halifax when I was in high school and it was pretty fun. There was lots of tourists, people were friendly and there weren't any protests that I remember. I think it must have changed a year or two later - this was 1997 and by 2000, the WTO had huge protests in Seattle.
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:44 PM on June 14, 2010

On the plus side, everyone's peeved about the fake lake, even Harper's supporters. So there's that.

It's funny how similar the political trajectories of Harper and Bush have been.

In Canada we're currently in the phase of wringing our hands whenever a new scandal hits (every couple of weeks now it seems), and then scratching our heads when nothing ever fucking sticks.
posted by Alex404 at 12:45 PM on June 14, 2010

The most important thing to remember about these events seems to be that the police will beat and maybe kill you with impunity should you go near them, and then maybe arrest you for being beaten up by the police as well. I'd like to think Canada would be different, but, well, Harper...

Outright shootings don't play well. The taser has too much bad PR at present. Indiscriminate use of pepper spray is Cretien's playbook. Sound cannon here we come!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:45 PM on June 14, 2010

Pat Flood, spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said Canada spent $300 million Canadian on securing the 2002 G-8 summit it hosted, and noted Canada is hosting two summits back-to-back this year.

By comparison, the stated amount spent by Pittsburgh on security for last September's G-20 summit was $12.4 million. London's stated amount for the G-20 last year was $10.9 million.

Holy shit. Why? I guess I know why: to show prestige to other powerful nations...

Still, spending that much money to bid on an event that's basically "Global capitalism: yea or nay?", which will greatly inconvenience even your most apolitical citizens, possibly cause widespread property destruction, tie up your police force (turning them against the people they're supposed to serve), and even invite possible terror attacks (although I don't want to give any fear-mongering credence).

posted by codacorolla at 12:46 PM on June 14, 2010

I'll be there visiting family from the 18th to the 29th. Once again I am reminded of why I should think a lot harder before booking a seat sale.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:51 PM on June 14, 2010

Basically you have to really, really hate your populace in order to host one of these fuckers. They should forced to go do it up a mountain or in a desert or somewhere.

That is precisely how our glorious leader feels about Toronto and Torontonians - most of whom did not and will not vote for him.
posted by operalass at 1:05 PM on June 14, 2010

I still remember being at the APEC protests at UBC in 1997. When the tear gas came, it was quite a surprise, and to add insult to injury Chretien's response when asked about the teargasing of innocent students was "Pepper? For me, pepper I put on my plate." Years later, I got invited to a staff breakfast with Martha Piper at her UBC President's Mansion, and was told I was sitting at the very table where Suharto sat during the conference--I didn't know what to think.
posted by reformedjerk at 1:15 PM on June 14, 2010

From Card Cheat's link:
The critical wrong decision was made when it was decided that so many minor officials would be coming along for the G20 that little Muskoka couldn’t cope.

And this is where the security costs began to explode. Not one fence, but two. Not one massive operation, but two. While previous G20 summits in Pittsburgh and London had cost $18-million and $30-million respectively, the combined Canadian G8/G20 security costs ballooned to $1-billion or more.

This splitting of the baby – with apologies to King Solomon – between Muskoka and Toronto is said privately by one government official to have added as much as $400-million to the bill.
That's right, folks - it costs more than 30X as much to stage a G8 summit in southern Ontario as it does in London. The one in England with the multi-decade history of terrorist attacks. Not 20 percent more. Not twice as much. 33+ times as much.

This is what I really, truly can't fathom about the Canadian public these days. These Harperite dipshits fail miserably by their own small-efficient-government standards on almost every front. And yet you still hear regularly - even here on the blue - that at least they're doing a passable job as managers. (Not even to get into the fact that they actually have no vision for Canada on any other front aside from it containing a Parliament with a Conservative majority.)

Harper & Co. are actually pretty weak-kneed, thin-stew ideologues, especially in the Tea Party era. But they are WORLD CLASS! incompetents. They should be shitcanned a for that alone.

By the way, for non-Canuckistanis, the writer in that link, Roy McGregor, built his rep on young-adult hockey books and folksy slices of workaday Canadian life. A reasonably decent barometer of dead-middle-of-the-road Canadian opinion, is what I mean. If you're losing Roy McGregor, I bet your hold on those crucial 905 (Toronto suburbia) voters is slipping, is what I mean.
posted by gompa at 1:16 PM on June 14, 2010 [13 favorites]

I have absolutely no proof of this, but I have a theory about this whole thing:

I think putting the G20 in downtown Toronto is an attempt by the Conservative party to punish Toronto.

My thought process is something like: the Conservatives have never made inroads into the city, which is a wall of Liberal and NDP seats. The Western wing of the party has a serious hate-on for the city. A few of the people who are now in senior Federal Conservative positions are guys like Jim Flaherty and Tony Clement; former Harris Tories in the Ontario provincial government. They have a serious hate-on for Toronto, too.

I've been trying to make sense of the decision to spend a billion dollars paralyzing Canada's largest city for several days - to the detriment of citizens and businesses large and small.

Viewing the G20 as the Conservative's chance to punish Toronto for voting left, turfing Harris out of office, and generally being, you know, Toronto, makes the whole thing much more sensible.

The Tories are just bloody minded enough to do it, too.
posted by generichuman at 1:22 PM on June 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

Jesus Christ. They're so damn worried about security, why didn't they just host it at the Kingston Max?
posted by hangashore at 1:24 PM on June 14, 2010

The Toronto Community Mobilizing Network has been coordinating opposition to the G8/G20 meeting. If you've got nothing to do this weekend, check out The People's Summit, "civil society's alternative 'counter summit.'"
posted by dustyasymptotes at 1:33 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and just for kicks, here's a lovely little slice of life in which the putative leader of the nation where the global CFC ban was signed just 20 years ago agrees to talk about climate change at the G8 only after being embarrassed into it publicly by the president of Mexico.

Really makes you proud to be a Canadian.
posted by gompa at 1:40 PM on June 14, 2010

I like the G20. If we could just close down the UN.....
posted by yoyo_nyc at 1:48 PM on June 14, 2010

Oh god, the fucking G20. I work about two blocks from the fence. This apparently puts us in the 'yellow zone', where you can't take a piss without multiple forms of ID.

A friend of mine works beside the fence; his entire company is being relocated to satellite offices in Mississauga and Thornhill for the entire week.

The disruption to tourism is insane. ACC? Fucked. CN Tower? Fucked. SkyDRogers Centre? Fucked. Blue Jays, Mirvish, AGO? All fucked. And what about the hospitals on University? No fucking way are the protesters going to stay on the north lawn at Queen's Park, and you can bet your bippy there will be protests winding their way up University to the legislature, killing the street and access to Mt Sinai, Princess Margaret, Toronto General... Sick Kids is probably ok as the ER can be accessed from Elizabeth street, but whoever needs it is probably fucked if they're coming from west of University. God only fucking knows what they're doing about the hundreds of trains in and out of Union Station every day, given that it is across the street from the convention centre, and indeed that the trains run on top of the centre for the final few hundred metres.

Businesses downtown, including ours, are being told to remove inside all patio furniture and basically anything not welded down. Oh, and board up your windows, too.

Are we being recompensed for any of this? Of course not! You have to show something like three years of revenues and show that you actually lost money. Since we opened late 2009, that can't happen.

According to a friend of a friend, who is generally fairly active in various activist movements, all of the high-profile Toronto activist types are getting the fuck out of Dodge for the duration. A lot of very stupid and violent lunatics are flying in to 'protest' (see: Seattle WTO riots for a template).

And the worst problem of all? This is win-win for Harper. As mentioned above, he gets to punish Toronto, and hard, for our liberal/realism bias. If riots go down (which I am quite certain they will), then he gets to say "told you so" and he, the RCMP, and Metro police suddenly get a perfect bit of political grandstanding for increased budgets and increasingly aggressive American-style paramilitarism. If riots magically don't go down, they get to claim it's because they were properly prepared and oh give us more money so we can stay prepared.

The entire thing is a fucking massive goatfuck of epic fucking proportions and is going to cause a significant blow to Toronto's economy, international reputation, and goodwill. Why they insisted on doing it downtown I will never fucking know. Shutting down the Island airport and using hangars there would have been significantly more cost-effective, more secure (as they could simply fly delegates directly in for the most part, or helicopter them from Pearson as I'm guessing the Island cannot handle e.g. Air Force 1), and most importantly wouldn't fuck up the entire fucking downtown core.

Even having it out at Pearson would have been simpler. I can think of two convention centres out there that rival MCC for space and facilities, are significantly easier to secure, and have three quarters of a shitload of hotels nearby for delegates. FFS, they could just house them in their state jets at Pearson and shuttle 'em over.

And that's only if you take it as a given that Ontario must be the host. Lake St Louise in Alberta has the facilities, though perhaps not enough hotel rooms for 114K delegates (what the gibbering fuck, by the way? That's nearly 6K support staff per G20 country). Several facilities in Quebec could handle it. And while politically it might have been seen as poor form to give another high-profile event to Vancouver right after the Olympics, most of the necessary infrastructure and security knowledge are already in place there.

This whole thing fills me with incoherent rage. There really is no other believable explanation but that it is indeed, as said above, punishment for Toronto.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:14 PM on June 14, 2010 [20 favorites]

Oh, and not to mention City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square. There's going to be protesters there too, naturally. So there goes easy access to Queen West for anyone who doesn't really know the TTC.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:15 PM on June 14, 2010

Sorry for the smug...

but I'm flying out on June 21, and not coming back until July 6 -- and I planned this months before I heard of the G20 coming to town. I have awesome timing.

that said, I would like the billion dollars back -- maybe we could have spent some of the money on maternal health in Canada, maybe send more midwives and doctors to places that have none in the North.
posted by jb at 2:16 PM on June 14, 2010

I try not to think about the G20 too much or I start twitching uncontrollably. I HATE YOU STEPHEN HARPER!!!!!!
posted by Go Banana at 2:22 PM on June 14, 2010

I lived across the street from the IMF and Word Bank during the late 1990s/early 2000s in DC and through multiple, big protests. I lived only a stone's throw from the national mall and experienced years of people gathering, from the protests during the 2001 inauguration to the Smithsonian Folk Festival.

The only time I really wanted to punch someone was during the Million Mom March.*

Last year I lived around the corner from the protester headquarters for the G20 in Pittsburgh.

I've lived as a bystander nearby to dozens of these gatherings, and I have to say that they're not all that bad. I always saw it as a chance to see people doing something, and maybe see a little slice of history. And if you have no where to be and a little patience, it's an opportunity to experience your city in a way that is different from any other time, whether it's chaotically loud or eerily quiet.

By all means, though, if you have small children, or live next door to the meeting center, or just plain don't feel safe I won't blame you for getting out of town.

Also, is it just me, or do the precautions the authorities in Toronto are taking seem like a lot? The Pittsburgh G20 protesters seemed very polite compared to pre-9/11 WB/IMF protesters.

*Folks, if you're going to attend a big gathering on the National Mall please use in the portable toilets provided, and do not seek out restrooms nearby office buildings. The only thing crappier than working on a weekend is having to stand in line to use the bathroom in a building that should have almost no one in it and then go back to work.
posted by Alison at 2:25 PM on June 14, 2010

All I know is that I'm pleased as punch that I just so happened to plan a trip to Montreal (clever title for this thread btw) and Ottawa for that weekend. I have already been affected though, as NO trains are stopping in Toronto that weekend, I can't even come back using Via Rail in SCARBOROUGH on the weekend, no 'Toronto' stops whatsoever, not just Union Station, so I have to come in mid-day Monday which is a bit of a fuck you.
posted by darlingmagpie at 4:50 PM on June 14, 2010

I have to drive to Pearson on the 25th to pick people up. Maybe I should pack a lunch.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:02 PM on June 14, 2010

I wonder how many security consultants told the Cons, "the best way to keep 20 heads of state safe is to not put them in one building at the same time" before they found one who'd say what they really wanted to hear: "Spend a billion on crowd-neutralization materiel under the auspices of the G20, and it'll come in awfully handy when you finally decide that democracy is obsolete."
posted by klanawa at 6:36 PM on June 14, 2010

Muskoka gets 50 million in infrastructure - parks, bridges, playgrounds, roads, etc. for the G8. Toronto gets a fence, the fake lake, and the hard core protesters. The only things that get left behind after the glass is cleaned up are the sound cannons.

Now, if only Toronto had a cabinet minister who had a 28 vote plurality, we'd have been getting some of the good stuff too.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 7:01 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

darlingmagpie, if you're coming from Scarborough, take the Go instead of Via. Via's not going through Union, but Go claims it will maintain service. I'm pretty sure it's cheaper, too.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:27 PM on June 14, 2010

Maybe Democracy was just another passing fad in Western Civilization, like Phrenology or MTV rock-videos.
posted by ovvl at 8:39 PM on June 14, 2010

I might not get a warm reception to this, but at 1 billion dollars, I start to wonder whether the diplomat's security is worth it! Think about it, 1 billion could run a new hospital the size of Sick Kids for 2 years! I bet a lot more lives would be saved than could be potentially lost by letting people walk the streets freely next week.

If the governments of the world are so worried about their safety, why the fuck can't they just host the G20 on a military base somewhere? CFB Petawawa is fully secured, has loads of barracks and canteens to serve thousands. Heck, with the money we save, we could even put a couple of fake lakes in the mess hall.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:54 PM on June 14, 2010

A military base would be ideal in reality, but impossible in terms of political optics.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:13 PM on June 14, 2010

For 1 billion, I bet they could build themselves their very own skype call.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:09 AM on June 15, 2010

For $1 billion, they could buy a third of Skype.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:43 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I live near downtown Toronto in a U of T residence that's shutting down because it's too close to the official protest site, so they gave us two options - move to the Mississauga campus, or move to a different residence even further in the heart of downtown (right in the financial district).

I figured I'd pick the financial district because I work downtown, and there was no way I was commuting more than an hour each way to get to work when the TTC is already going to be excruciatingly slow and terribly congested.

Now my office says we can work from home, and suddenly the heart of downtown doesn't seem like the best place to be for half a week...

posted by Phire at 8:27 AM on June 15, 2010

It'll be all G8 meetups all the time.
posted by chunking express at 9:40 AM on June 15, 2010

Party at my place!

(Let's see how quickly we can scare away my roommate so I have the place to myself!)
posted by Phire at 12:00 PM on June 15, 2010

Oh man, you have not even seen how obnoxious I can be. She'll be gone in 5 minutes flat.

No, seriously.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:46 PM on June 15, 2010

You should have picked UTM, Phire! We could have toasted the town! I have wireless AND comfy chairs on my patio...
posted by Hildegarde at 1:59 PM on June 15, 2010

So after building a fake lake to show off Canada's beautiful nature, apparently the security services have been removing trees. Because the saplings could have been used as a weapon.

Harper is fast becoming Saruman.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:29 AM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

Toronto: I gave you the chance of aiding me willingly. But you… have elected… the way of… pain!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:08 AM on June 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Woohoo... One more benefit of no longer working in Toronto, but rather close to home in the burbs instead.

My wife works for a bank downtown, not even a BIG bank, just a small one, and her job for the last... week? Two weeks? Has consisted of the logistics of making sure that people can still do their jobs while the G20 is on. They are shipping a bunch of people to the Montreal office, a bunch of people are being forced to work at the disaster recovery site in Mississauga, and even MORE people are working from home. Hell, people who can't do their jobs from home are being given three free days off next week. So there's *that* financial aspect to the summit as well.
posted by antifuse at 1:26 PM on June 17, 2010

darlingmagpie, if you're coming from Scarborough, take the Go instead of Via. Via's not going through Union, but Go claims it will maintain service. I'm pretty sure it's cheaper, too.

Although, GO Transit is advising riders to "pack a snack" in case of delays so there's that to beware of.
posted by antifuse at 1:28 PM on June 17, 2010

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