Saturday, June 19, 2010

my old washing machine reborn into G20 security fence

Security fencing around downtown Toronto. photo by Tara Walden, Toronto Star.

For weeks now, I, like many other democracy-minded Canadians, have been following the news about the upcoming G8 and G20 meetings being held in Ontario. If the fake lake they made downtown Toronto inside a new media centre wasn't infuriating enough (a fake lake with loungers to stare at a huge digital screen of the Muskoka cottage country region when Lake Ontario is right outside the door and Canada full of lakes!?), there is the security fence being built around downtown Toronto.

Every day, I am getting more outraged at the extent of the security that has been deemed necessary to protect the visiting dignitaries. My sister has an interesting point: why are these people seen as so special when they are the ones responsible for the destruction of the earth and many people's dreams and realities because of their corrupt neoliberal economics? Why are we rolling out the red carpet -- behind a steel fence -- for them?

It says that they are doing something wrong if they have to fear from people's legitimate protest of their policies.

I agree with Mary Ormsby who writes:"This divisive presence seems at odds with the spirit of the True North, strong and padlock-free. With all the wire, downtown Toronto looks like a city under siege, not the arm’s-open metropolis that has welcomed generations of immigrants." In Ormsby's article she discusses that the security fence is made from recycled steel which includes old cars and junked appliances.

This brought two things to mind:

1. so! we've made a new market to replace making cars: making security fencing from junked cars

2. Now I know where my old washing machines are! Protecting global thieves!

Can you see my old washing machine in this 3 metre high wall? Canadian Press photo.

What sort of Toronto experience will the visiting G20 troupe have when most of the city's people will be locked out? These global elites will be living in an illusion of Toronto as it is a false version of the city inside the bubble world behind the fencing. The Torontonians, tourists, workers, visitors, and the urban buzz of coming and going, the day to day life on the streets will be MISSING. Gone. Many businesses have told their employees to stay home. I guess so. How can you get to work if you can't get through the security?

That this was even an option, never mind having come to fruition, is simply mind-boggling to me. Who thought this up? 5.5. Torontonians locked out plus tourists, plus just people. I guess all the homeless and panhandlers will be out of site of these global I said, creating an illusion of Toronto for the G20 attendees. Seems more and more we live in illusion.

On top of the security fencing costing over $1 billion -- for a TEMPORARY fence that will be taken down after the meeting -- at a time when there are many, many needy Canadians and social and economic uses for $1 billion dollars, what about all the tourist dollars and lost dollars to restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, businesses, and so on inside the fencing that no one can access during the days of the G20?

Of course, the mainstream media and the government have turned the trick of normalizing protest as violence as businesses say that fear of vandalism from G20 protesters is the reason they are staying away from offices.

Coming on the heels of the security blitz at the Olympics which cost the Canadian taxpayer more that $1 billion, this latest expensive and expansive security that separates the people from those who make decisions is another example of Canada's increasing militarized collective identity. Our nation has been moving more and more into a security, policing, and military identity. Indeed, globally Canada has been moving more and more into the policing business. We are currently doing the business of training police in Haiti, Afghanistan, and the West Bank, in other words, we are training the police forces that will do the work of protecting neoliberal Western interests.

I thought to myself, I can see why so many Israelis don't do a damn thing about the Apartheid Wall (which they call the Security Wall) around the West Bank and the security fencing and walls around Gaza. They just go about their days. Unless they rise up and get out on the streets en masse to protest this, it just continues.

Like our security wall. Oh well. Just a few voices speaking out. But those in power have deemed this as necessary and needed. More jobs and money for security and policing industries. A security state is normalized. And the people? Next to no dissent.

Next to no dissent. I find that scarier than the security walls we build.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughtful post!

And in NS we're "celebrating" warships! No, this year, it's not the tall ships that will grace Halifax Harbour, it's warships! Visitors are welcome to visit them too


"2010 Halifax International Fleet Review
Halifax will be the gateway to the world as Canada’s Navy hosts an International Fleet Review as part of its Centennial celebrations. As warships from various nations arrive, they will have on board more than 5,000 sailors who’ve come to enjoy our maritime hospitality. Halifax will definitely be the “place to be” in the summer of 2010.

Many of the ships will be open for visitors, so members of the general public can experience what it is like to be onboard a navy ship and get a chance to rub elbows with some Canadian or foreign sailors. Mark your calendars from June 26 to July 2 to participate in the event of the summer."

Some of the multinational naval exercises take place a few kilometres from me in the Bay of Fundy....... doesn't it make me feel safer knowing those warships and fighter jets are practising their bombing skills out there? NO!

There is a protest planned later this week: PEACEFUL PICKET: NO HARBOUR FOR WAR. CANADA OUT OF NATO. CANADA OUT OF AFGHANISTAN. NO TO LOCKHEED MARTIN. (it happens after the weekly Friday Solidarity with Palestine picket.) I hope scores of people turn out for this..... in fact, I might have to make the 200 plus kilometre drive to Halifax for the event. Like you say, no dissent is scarier than the security walls and, I'd add, the "security flotilla" (which actually might have been useful if it provided protection and escorted the Gaza aid ships!).


P.S. Did you write messages of support for Libby Davies for speaking out on behalf of the Palestinians? She demonstrates such moral fortitude. I'm waiting for an NDP MP of Finnish decent to do the same! Wonder if she'll make it for the picket on Friday.

northshorewoman said...

hello Kaisa,

thanks for passing along this information about the warship party and the counter-party. Just yesterday at Midsummer dinner on the shores of Lake Superior with some friends, we discussed how militarism has become the new normal in the Canadian psyche. Through media and government discourses, being Canadian increasingly means being pro-military, pro-army, pro-security -- and of course the ideology works through calling up nostalgia of past wars as if there is a direct correlation between things.

It's quite frightening to me how commonsense this acceptance of war has become in the Canadian mind --even while they still cling to old-fashioned delusions that Canada is a peace-keeping nation. Contradiction, folks!

If I was closer to Halifax, I'd definitely get out to some of the public actions against this normalization of militarism.

Thanks for prodding me to sent that letter of support for Libby Davies; yes, this I must get around to doing as the kowtowing of all party leaders to her public tonguelashing is unconscionable.

Merche Pallarés said...

How interesting and revealing truth of Canadian society nowadays! A protective wall?? My, my...don't the workers, guards, Mounties, realize that they are also being gipped? That they're working for the FEW rich bastards that rule the world? C'mon CANADA wake up! Hugs, M.

Ari said...

Now the billion dollars' conference is over. What did they work out ? They were talking shit all the time. Very expensive shit. Do you really think that the plate of your old washing machine is good enough for the elite. They were surely using the most expensive special steel, what you tax payers will kindly pay like humble citizens usually do.

northshorewoman said...

Hello Ari,

Toronto this past weekend was the worst case scenario of what could happen. Only, thankfully, there were no deaths. The paramilitary violence was unprecedented. Most Canadians did not recognize either Toronto or Canada from what we witnessed on the streets or on our tvs this past weekend. Our governments' push into paramilitarism as the new normal is shocking. What has Canada become?