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06/25/2010

Live blog: Friday, June 25

8:30 p.m., TORONTO: TOP BRIEFER

Kazuo Kodama is earning high marks at the summit's media centre in Toronto for his regular updates on the behind-the-scenes action at the G8 gathering in Huntsville. Kodama, the official spokesperson for the Government of Japan, is now on his third briefing of the day, each one stretching at least 30 minutes, offering reporters detailed reports of summit discussions and themes.

8:20 p.m., HUNTSVILLE: FORCED LANDING

A Georgian Bay Airways pontoon plane was forced to land Friday on Lake Simcoe because it was thought to present a threat to the G8 summit.

After being delayed by police at Toronto Island Airport even though flight restrictions don't start until Saturday, it was finally allowed to take off for Parry Sound. Shortly there after the radio failed and that alarmed security officials even though the pilot, Anne-Marie Chartier, called London tower to explain what happened.

She was then forced to land her craft in Cook's Bay near Barrie when her radio failed and the universal squawk code to report radio failure was deemed suspicious.

8:12 p.m., TORONTO: WALK TO THE HOLDING FACILITY

About 40 protesters are walking from Allan Gardens to the detention centre police have set up at the former Toronto Film Studios on Eastern Ave. They are seeking to assist a deaf protester whom they say was detained at about 2 p.m. after attempting to cross police lines to buy water; they say they want to ensure he is provided an American Sign Language interpreter and legal assistance.

8:00 p.m., TORONTO: MESSAGE ON A SHIRT

Seen at Allan Gardens, where 200 to 300 people remain:

Gandhi

7:49 p.m., TORONTO: TENSE MOMENTS DURING G20 PROTEST


7:30 p.m. TORONTO: ALLAN GARDENS

Protesters have returned to Allan Gardens. Some have erected tents; several dozen will likely be set up as part of a one-night "tent city."

Tentcity

6:55 p.m., TORONTO: HEADING BACK?

The protest has crossed Yonge and appears to be heading back to Allan Gardens.

6:47 p.m., TORONTO: GAS LEAK NOT G20-RELATED

So says the Integrated Security Unit.

6:45 p.m., TORONTO: ENERGY WANING

The protest has now crossed Bay St., heading east. At times the people at the front move too fast and others start shouting "sloooooowwww down!" The refrain echoes up the street and the leaders stop to wait for the stragglers in the back.

It seems, however, that energy is beginning to wane. One man wearing a marijuana flag on his back takes offence at the directive to slow down, complaining, "We don't wanna slow down! We wanna go home. Geez, the party is over."

6:30 p.m. UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE "WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS" Demonstrators continue to march through the streets. After a standoff, police redirected the crowd north on University and then east of College.

"It was really tense when it was a stand off, said the Star's Jennifer Yang. Energy levels of the demonstrators appeared to be waning, but then picked up as they continued their march, shouting: "Whose Streets? Our streets."

6:36 p.m. HUNTSVILLE: RUSSIAN PRESIDENT HAVING SOME FUN

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is letting the world in on his impressions of the Deerhurst Resort near Huntsville, Ont.

While he is likely discussing more weighty issues around the summit table, his official Twitter account www.twitter.com/KremlinRussia_E includes some casual photographs with light-hearted captions.

“The leaders of the G8 member states have landed at the summit, but they aren't the only ones,” says one tweet that links to a snapshot of a flock of Canadian geese hanging out on the golf course.

His first tweet after arriving at the Deerhurst Resort is a photograph of where the Russian delegation is staying, and the next one is a joke about the media following him around.

“While taking a picture of the house, I was also having my picture taken,” says the tweet, although a Canadian correspondent for a Belarusian media outlet said that is not entirely accurate.

In the photo, the lodge where Medvedev is staying is behind his back. He was actually taking a photo of the lake.

6:36 p.m., PROTESTERS SHOUT AT POLICE


6:30 p.m., TORONTO: INFO FOR COMMUTERS

Front St. entrances and exits to Union Station are now closed. Riders are supposed to use the Bay St. doors to enter and exit.

6:20 p.m.: GAS LEAK?

680 News reports that firefighters and hazardous materials team responders are responding to a report of a major gas leak at Elm St. and Murray St., right where the protest has been stalled.

6:12 p.m., Toronto: CLOWNING AROUND

The group has been blocked on Elm St. east of McCaul. Female protesters dressed as clowns dance, taunt and "try" to bribe a row of cops, batting their eyelashes coquettishly and squealing "please!" after each time the group chants "let us march!"

6:05 PM FENCE CLOSED
Fence around the security zone for the G20 meetings is now closed.

Gates shut


6:05: SKIRMISH ON COLLEGE STREET

Rink
A skirmish in front of the Winners at College and Yonge. Lucas Oleniuk/TORONTO STAR

6:00 p.m.: TOUGH COMMUTE

Rush-hour bus passengers at the TTC's Islington station were dismayed to get off the subway having escaped chaos downtown to find no buses. It turns out police had blocked overpasses on Highway 427 and the Gardiner while motorcades snaked underneath on their way to the G20 Summit.

"I'm 42 minutes late," one driver on the Islington South route confided as hordes of passengers piled aboard, several grumbling about missing 6 p.m. daycare pickup deadlines.

5:48 p.m., TORONTO: UNIVERSITY AND ELM POLICE BARRICADE

Police have blocked protesters heading south at University Ave. and Elm St. Officers on bikes have formed a barricade and eight officers on horseback are enforcing the line. Earlier, two Greyhound-sized buses carrying police officers arrived in the area; now, perhaps 100 officers in riot gear, banging their batons on their shields, are on the scene. Protesters are chanting "let us march, let us march."

5:31 p.m., TORONTO: PROTESTERS APPROACHING US EMBASSY

Protest headed south on university now. Demonstrators have just passed Mars building. One guy at the front earlier shouted: "Don't let them tell you you can stop - we're bigger than them, don't forget that."
We're approaching US Embassy now."

5:26 PM POSSIBLE ARREST

Canadian Press is reporting that at least one person has been arrested as police three-deep line the streets in what has become the most tense protest since demonstrations began. One protester broke the police line and was dragged into the foyer of a building, setting off an angry response from the crowd. Thousands of people joined in the march, and organizers are vowing to set up a tent city near the summit security zone. Protesters are now going south on University.

5:15 RIOT GEAR Police have donned riot gear and look daunting as they form a line at College and Bay. A cop told the Star's Jennifer Yang: "Move aside now. That's a clue." Crowd size is growing. Estimates suggest there are between 1,000 and 2,000 demonstrators.

Bay-college
A police phalanx at Bay and College Sts. Jennifer Yang/Toronto Star

5:05: INCIDENT AT THE MARCH

Protesters began chanting "let them go!" and "f--k the police" after a brief incident during the Justice For Our Communities march. Francis Harfoush, 16, said the incident started when police officers who had been standing at the side of the march forced their way into the crowd. One man who got “pissed off” shoved them; he was taken to the ground by officers, as was another man. But the incident has dissipated, and the march has continued.

5:02 TORONTO: EATON CENTRE EVACUATION ENDS

A 30-minute evacuation of the Eaton Centre has ended after firefighters knocked down a “minor fire” in one of the restrooms in the Level 1 food court at the Queen St. end.

A section of the food court will remain cordoned off while officials investigate, said Heath Applebaum, a spokesperson for Cadillac Fairview, which operates the centre.

4:50 TORONTO: PROTESTERS MARCH INTO DOWNTWON

4:40 p.m. TORONTO: SMALL FIRE IN EATON CENTRE FORCES EVACUATION

A level of the Eaton Centre was evacuated following a fire Friday afternoon. The fire broke out on the lowest level of the Yonge St. mall, near the food court, according to Heath Applebaum, manager of corporate communications and media relations for Cadillac Fairview. No word yet on what sparked the blaze or if there were any injuries.

4:35 p.m., TORONTO: CIVILITY REIGNS

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network has appointed police liaisons who negotiate with police officers as the march advances. A liaison named A.J. just asked an officer, "Is it okay if we move past Yonge?" The officer replied "yeah" before riding off on his bicycle.

4:25 p.m. SNIPPETS OF INTERNATIONAL NEWS COVERAGE:

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES: “As world leaders gathered to deal with the aftermath of the global financial crisis, President Barack Obama boasted about a congressional compromise on overhauling the U.S. banking system and called for an international effort to prevent future economic meltdowns.”

CNN: “The meetings are taking place against a backdrop of continued economic uncertainty, with demands for more government stimulus balanced against fears of runaway deficits. At home, the Obama administration is struggling to push a new economic relief package through an increasingly skittish, debt-wary Congress. Overseas - particularly in Europe - leaders are increasingly being forced to enact unpopular fiscal austerity measures.”

GUARDIAN: “Signs of deep rifts over how quickly to cut national deficits were emerging as world leaders gathered in Toronto for summits of the . . . group of rich nations today.”

REUTERS: “President Barack Obama urged world leaders to follow his lead on regulatory reform on Friday while other countries touted their swifter progress in tackling debt mountains that threaten the global recovery. Fresh off of an early morning victory when U.S. lawmakers reached a deal on regulatory reform, Obama prodded his Group of 20 colleagues to make good on their own promises to clamp down on the risky behavior by banks blamed for unleashing the worst financial crisis in 80 years.”

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: “David Cameron has made his strongest defence yet of Britain’s decision to tackle the deficit with swinging cuts and tax rises in the face of American warnings that pulling money out of the economy would threaten the global recovery.”

4:22 p.m., TORONTO: MAKING IT UP AS THEY GO ALONG

Police appear to have no idea of the planned route. It seems even the protesters, minus a select few leading the group, know where they're going. A group of cops huddled as the march began moving; one said, Just follow along, keep to the sides of the road and the sidewalk."

4:02 p.m., TORONTO: THE BANNER LEADING THE MARCH

The banner at the front of the Justice for Our Communities march west on Carlton St.:

Leading march

3:50 p.m. POLICE HEADQUARTERS: EVEN THE POLICE ARE TWEETING, TRYING TO IMPROVE THEIR PUBLIC IMAGE

"Police doing a great job protecting and facilitating the democratic charter rights of all to protest peacefully," tweeted Tim Burrows, Toronto Police Traffic Sergeant via TweetDeck. Burrows is also part of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit.

3:30 p.m., ALLAN GARDENS: DISSENT ON THE MENU - AND LUNCH

A table at the Justice For Our Communities rally has been stacked with enough food for 300 protesters. The menu: roasted potatoes with caramelized onions, cabbage and olives; chicken; couscous; bulgur salad; and mixed greens.

David Ferris, a 37-year-old who works in insurance and was present in support of women's rights, expressed surprise at the presence of chicken. "Usually these things are vegetarian," he said.

3:29 p.m. HUNTSVILLE: HARPER NOT IN BATHROOM FOR THIS ONE

Portrait2



 
The G8 leaders including (L-R) EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, U.S. President Barack Obama, France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and EU council President Herman Van Rompuy pose for a group photo at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville. REUTERS/Jason Reed

See our photo editors' selection of photos from Toronto and Huntsville in our Photo Desk blog.

3:22 p.m.: METRO HALL: THE NON-ETERNAL FLAME OF HOPE
Torontoist reports on the extinguishing on the extinguishing and covering up of the now-ironically-named "Eternal Flame of Hope" at Metro Hall.

3:05 p.m. HUNTSVILLE: MIGHT BE EASIER TO COVER G20 FROM YOUR LIVING ROOM

Throngs of media travelled by bus – some of them before dawn – from downtown Toronto to the site of the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ont. to catch the leaders in action, reports the Star's Joanna Smith.

That is not actually how it works, however. Official photographs and speeches are usually restricted to what is called a “pool”, which generally means one reporter, one photographer and a videographer or two from each country is actually allowed to be in the room.

The rest of us sit in the filing centre watching the events on television screens that broadcast live feeds of the events. But a few minutes ago, even the live feeds were letting us down.

The schedule said the G8 leaders were gathering for the ‘family portrait’ – remember the one that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was late for a while ago because he may or may not have been in the washroom? – but all we saw on the television screen in the corner of the room was some frustrating static.

That had broadcasters frantically trying to figure out whether anyone was missing anything. By the time the technicians fixed the problem (apparently by looping back the feed that had been piped out to Toronto), all we saw were the back of the leaders’ heads as they walked down a wooded path. We also heard crickets.

3:04 p.m., ALLAN GARDENS: "WHOSE PARK? OUR PARK!"

More than one thousand protesters have gathered in Allan Gardens as hundreds of police officers watch from a distance.

"Long live socialism, down with capitalism," some protesters chanted. One man played the theme song from the Rocky films on a trumpet while others nearby angrily shouted at police when they asked to search the bags of the three young men. "Whose park? Our park!" protesters chanted.

Protesters included communists, socialists, antipoverty activists, and vegetarians.

Gaetan Heroux of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty said Allan Gardens has a history of political activism dating back to the Great Depression.

"You're in one of the strongest protest neighbourhoods in Toronto," Heroux said.

2:58 p.m., TORONTO: CHOCOLATE CANOE PADDLES AND THE G20 WIVES

The Star's Michele Henry spent the day with some of the G20 wives as they discovered the joys of chocolate canoe paddles as well as learning how to make non-edible canoe seats from a master craftsman. For more on the G20 wives' activities, read the full story.

Canoe Royal York executive chef David Garcelon's pastry canoe. Toronto Star/Andrew Wallace

2:54 p.m., HUNTSVILLE: WORLD CUP FEVER

British Prime Minister David Cameron and his German counterpart Angela Merkel are making plans to sneak away to watch their countries face each other Sunday in the Round of 16.

"I'm desperate for us to win," Cameron said in Huntsville, where he is meeting with G-8 leaders. "I will try not to wrestle her to the ground during penalties, but we will have to see."

The winner of Sunday's match in Bloemfontein, South Africa, advances to the quarterfinals while the loser goes home.

England and Germany have long been bitter football rivals since England's 4-2 extra-time win over Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.

Merkel was cautiously hopeful that her team would hold its nerve: "It's a great challenge ... but I think we have a chance."

Cameron pleaded for a straight-up win for his side: "I am not sure our hearts can take another one. So, no extra time, no penalties, please."

2:47 p.m., ALLAN GARDENS: RACE TO THE FINISH

Toronto Community Mobilization Network organizers have asked protesters to stay peaceful and keep to the group. The plan is to "get to the end," where they plan to throw a block party and set up a tent city.

2:31 p.m., TORONTO: REPORTS FROM THE PERMIETER

The Star's Liam Casey reports that the Toronto police are saying that the fence will close at 5 or 7 tonight.

2:30 p.m., ON QUEEN ST. W. BETWEEN BAY ST. AND UNIVERSITY AVE.

Just before 2 p.m. police officers posted signs saying that all vehicles must vacate the north side of the street -- a popular spot for chip trucks, ice cream trucks and tour buses. Police told the vendors they have to leave because of expected protesters by 2:30 p.m. and could possibly be back by Sunday. Ivan Tchohlev, owner of Mr. Tasty Fries, lamented the fact that police could tell him no firm information about when he should return. He said he would have to throw out all the food he’s already prepared.

2:27 p.m., TORONTO: DRINK UP, FRIEND

People entering Allan Gardens, the site of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network's 2:30 p.m. Justice for Our Communities rally, are being searched for weapons by police. A Star reporter carrying a water bottle was asked to take a sip as an officer watched.

2:22 p.m.

No insecurity here, non:

Shoes The shoes of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are seen as Sarkozy arrives at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville. Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

2:10 p.m., PM RIOT POLICE:

Just before 2 p.m., 20 police officers in full riot gear - 10 rows of two - made their way north on Yonge St. past Adelaide St., apparently headed toward Allan Gardens, where a major G20 protest is expected to start at 2:30 p.m.

2:05 p.m. HOW DO YOU SAY TIMBITS IN KOREAN? 

A group of Korean delegates – wearing their Canada 2010 accreditation tags around their necks – was spotted at Tim Hortons on Davenport Ave. near Spadina Ave. They came out carrying a tray full of Iced Cappuccinos and various other Timmies’ bags. One of the delegates stopped by a reporter explained that he works at the Korean Consulate. “We always bring visitors here,” he said, smiling. “In the summer we recommend the Iced Capp.” Why Timmies? “It’s the most famous café in Canada.”

1:50 p.m. Toronto

University and Dundas.

The trim stones are being removed by a bicycle cop from central flower beds and thrown in the back of a city truck. Who knows if they'll be replaced because he's not being gentle.

Police BILL TAYLOR PHOTO

1:38 p.m. Huntsville handshake

Obama Steve Russell/THE TORONTO STAR

Prime Minister Stephen Harper greets U.S. President Barack Obama at the G8 in Huntsville.

1:35 p.m. Washington

Hot on the heels of U.S. President Obama’s departure for Toronto and Huntsville, the Pentagon just announced that Saturday will see a major “interagency response exercise” involving an “active shooter scenario” at the famous five-sided military headquarters.

 Military sources are forewarning, “the general public may see an increase in police and other emergency responders.”

Best to do these drills while the Big Boss is out of town. Last Sept. 11, you may recall, the U.S. Coast Guard freaked out when CNN and plenty of others with a similar (but unannounced) exercise on the Potomac River just as Obama’s motorcade was rolling to a 9/11 remembrance event at the Pentagon.

1:30 pm. Downtown Toronto

Need to renew your health card or get a fishing license: At Service Ontario where you can renew your health card, get a fishing licence and apply for a birth certificate, the G20 summit had greatly reduced wait times on Friday. The waiting area was 25% full and it’s normally standing room only. People who need to renew their health cards were seen right away.
“It probably is the G20,” said the receptionist.
“Whatever it is, I like it.”


1:20 p.m. King and Bay Sts. 
Deserted: All the furniture, several couches and tables, removed from inside CIBC lounge area on main floor of Commerce Court West. Looks like an empty skating rink.


1:15 p.m.
Dinner for 45?Jump restaurant closed at Commerce Court, windows covered with some kind of white blind. About 45 police officers sitting and standing out front. Looking bored.

1:06 p.m. Observations from Star reporters in Huntsville

SPEED SHUTTLES: The U.S. press pool following the president of the United States, or POTUS, as they call him, were rattled by the speedy drive up to Deerhurst Lodge. One pool reporter said the golf carts were "driven apparently by retired Formula One racers to the Deerhurst front entrance--kicking up mud on the spongy lawn, we lurched onto the cart path, flushed a terrified groundhog into the hedges and lost two photogs off the back end of the cart ahead." "Damned pavement," said their driver, as they "hauled up to the previously placid, geranium covered stone fountain at the entrance of this bucolic resort."

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SMALL TALK: The chit-chats in front of cameras sometimes take delightful turns. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper met British PM David Cameron, Cameron interrupted the greeting to say it was his first trip to Canada. Harper praised him on his austerity budget, but Cameron was back to what's important in life: "It's good to be here to talk about how those countries with the biggest deficits, as a world, we will address the imbalances that we have. It's good to be here. I even had a swim in the lake this morning. Harper: Good for you! Cameron: A good fresh start! Harper: I don't get any of that free time. I don't know how you guys manage it. Cameron: It just means you get up very early.

*********************************************

MORE SMALL TALK: Harper welcomed Italian Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi in French, then English. And Berlusconi interrupted him as well. They had an inaudible chat. When the audible conversation continued, Berlusconi referred to himself as the elder statesman of the group.Harper, in French, said, "But you have the most energy." ("Avec le plus grand energie")

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FORTY WINKS: It has been a long and slow bus ride up to the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ont. so far. One woman must have nodded off because when an OPP officer boarded the bus at a security checkpoint to verify we all had proper accreditation, he had to wake her up. It took a few polite attempts of saying "M'am?" before she finally awoke.

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THE WAVE: Dimitri Soudas, Stephen Harper's director of communications, was doing the "Muskoka wave" as he briefed reporters at the outset of the G8 meeting in Huntsville Friday. A pesky fly buzzing the media room at the Deerhurst Resort repeatedly landed on Soudas' head, causing him to wave and bat the fly. Anyone who has been in Muskoka during black fly season can relate to the "wave and swat."

12:54 p.m. Lunch hour in downtown Toronto

Beautiful sunny day, perfect for lunch on stone benches in courtyard of Toronto Dominion Centre. Except for one man fixing small steel grate, one man drinking coffee and pacing security guards, the main courtyard is empty. Birds chirping.

 Doors of Bymark restaurant are boarded up with plywood, the upstairs windows of the bar above the restaurant are covered on the inside with thick sheets of paper. Man in dark suit, blue shirt and tie but no pass is speaking on cell phone. Turns out he is with the G20. "I should have my pass on."

12:50 p.m. Toronto

Security guard overheard speaking on phone (walkie-talkie style) to supervisor, "Sir, be advised the two women I saw are with the Toronto Star". Walks over. "Excuse me ladies, you have no reason to be here," tells us we have to leave because of the G20. "This is private property." Follows us to the sidewalk.

12:45 p.m. Toronto

Seven police officers standing around one young man in brown shirt and shorts. White plastic bag open on ground, clothing inside. York and King Sts. After a short while, they let him get on with his day.

 "I had some clothes in my hoodie and they thought I was a threat," said Chris Tiley, 26. "I deal with cops every day, because I am poor. That is the reality of living in poverty," said Tiley, who was very calm about the experience. "On a personal level they are nice people, but it is intrusive."

At King and York Sts., the Thompson Reuters sign is black and so is the ticker. At King and Bay Sts., Bloomberg staffer is taking photos outside of the BMO building. Security tells him to move his car on the north side of King because it is noon rush hour. "There is not a car in sight," he says. BMO ticker is boarded up with a perfect half circle of plywood painted pale gray.

12:40 p.m. Downtown Toronto

Star Reporter Katie Daubs has some thoughts on how to put your time to good use outside the security zone. If you have to get something done today and you don’t have to go into the security zone, go. There are hardly any line-ups.

The passport office - which normally has an hour wait time - is a five minute wait today, a guard said. “City Hall is a ghost town,” one woman remarks.

It’s not a surprise that in this ghost town the woman at the tax and water payment counter seems bored. Today you can walk up to just about any counter and get service immediately. Street parking permits, tax and water payments are made in minutes.

Having a gathering of 12 or more people in a city park? Come get a picnic permit at City Hall from the nice man at Parks and Recreation, it is a two minute wait. It’s 11 o’clock on a weekday and not a single visitor yet.

The one place that did have a line-up was the Employment Insurance counter. Good day to figure out EI? '[they] don't do us any favours,' said woman at Service Canada in City Hall. If you love hot dogs but hate waiting around, today is a great day to dine on tube steak as virtually all hot dog carts have no line-ups.

The man who owns the hot cart near the Eaton Center even had time to visit Kernel’s for some caramel corn, which he was offering to customers. Today might be a good time to get some shopping done, the security guard at the Eaton Center gleefully reports that mall traffic was extremely slow.

The city pothole repair crew can't believe their good fortune on Wellington St. near Victoria St. There’s no traffic – what a good day for potholes.

12:39 p.m.

RL_LCBO_0625_01 Richard Lautens/Toronto Star

The LCBO outlet on Queen's Quay in full lockdown mode.

12:20 p.m. On the perimeter of the fence

A lone protester stands at Front St. West and Simcoe St.

Fifty-year old Abdul Adam, originally from Ghana, was there to protest the death of his five-year old daughter who died on November 28th, five days after she had the H1N1 vaccine. Doctors told him his daughter died of arrhythmic sudden death syndrome.But he disagrees and believes it was because of the vaccine. He's out demonstrating to draw attention to the fact he believes the World Health Organization approved the vaccine for worldwide use before it was ready and more clinical trials were necessary. But why bring his protest to the G20 Summit? He believes the G20 leaders were complicit with the World Health Organization's rush to get the vaccine out. "This is a peaceful protest cause my daughter died peacefully," Adam said.

11:59 a.m. Huntsville

U.S. President Barack Obama has landed in Huntsville, Ont., the site of the G8 summit.

11:56 a.m.Toronto

 Toronto police chief Bill Blair was not only defending the sweeping police powers to detain people near the security barriers, he also clarified today's sound cannon ruling - which he prefers to call the “long range acoustical device because for us, it is not a weapon.”

The devise can emit an ear-splitting siren that will stop people in their tracks. An Ontario Superior Court Justice today limited Toronto police use of the cannons to the lower decibel frequency.

Blair explained that means the alert function should only be used for a maximum of two to five seconds to get the crowd’s attention before police communicate verbally with people; it can be used no more often than at than 30-second intervals and it cannot be used closer than 75 metres from a crowd.

 “For us, this is a communication device,’’ Blair said, adding police use it to keep the public and other officers informed or given instructions when large, noisy crowds congregate. “It’s very difficult sometimes to communicate with a large crowd in these very noisey demonstrations. So you have to be able to communicate above ambient noise. We have done so in the past by holding up banners, using loudhailers.”

11:50 am. Toronto International Airport.

A pool reporter travelling with the U.S. president's party seemed inexplicably surprised by the RCMP contingent meeting them at the airport."Wheels down about 10:30 a.m," wrote Elizabeth Williamson. "Potus (or as regular folks would say the President of the United States) greeted by US ambassador to Canada David Jacobson and wife Julie, Toronto mayor David Miller, protocol officers and--wait for it--Mounties.Looking sharp."

The U.S. party then travelled to Muskoka in four helicopters. It was scheduled to take 45 minutes.

11:45 a.m. Toronto

 Halton regional police officer stop a Star reporter at Wellington and York.

 "I noticed you've been taking a lot of pictures."

"Yeah."

 "Why?"

 "I'm with the press."

"Can I see some ID?"

 "Sure" then he checks my ID, lets a photographer walk by. And calls on his walkie-talkie to check my name.

While he waits, I ask: "Am I not supposed to be here?" "No, you are." "When does the fence close?" "I thought it was supposed to be closed by now."

 Reporter is stopped a second time at Front and John Sts. Police  fill out a form with his name, address, height, weight and driver's licence info. Meanwhile, golf carts whipping inside the security fence are providing food for officers on security detail. The carts carry two officers each, wearing police pants and red T-shirts that read, "Police Logistics."

11:35 am. Downtown Toronto

G20 by the Numbers

From Union Station starting at Bay and Front down Bay to Queens Quay to the Star at 1 Yonge Street.

56 very bored police officers

12 pedestrians

5 cyclists

2 dogs

1 Italian TV station

0 jaywalkers

p>11:30 a.m. Brasilia

Brazil's president has cancelled his trip to Toronto for this weekend's G20 summit because of massive floods that hit his nation. Since the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has become a voice of the developing world in demanding structural changes to the world's financial system, focusing on more power for poorer nations in multilateral institutions. (AP) 

11:15 a.m. Toronto

Scenes from the downtown core as observed by Star reporters wandering around the downtown core. At Front and York the music coming from Casey's restaurant, which has the infamous fence outside it's walls, is U2's: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" which includes the lyrics: "I have scaled these city walls."

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At Bay and Wellington 20 or so cops enjoy refreshment cart at Bay and Wellington. Meanwhile Mercatto, Sweet Lulu, Far Niente and Rodney's are all closed.

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Nine Dodge vans, chock full of police, are spied heading north on Bay.

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On the facade of the Sheraton Hotel G20 banners fly. Outside the hotel on the street delegates and OPP cars are lined up.

11 a.m.

Blair An exasperated Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is defending the police's sweeping powers to arrest anyone near the G20 security zone who refuse to identify themselves.

Blair has said repeatedly at a morning news conference that the law wasn't a secret, that is was published two weeks ago and that there is nothing sweeping about it.

"They have a right not to identify themselves. They may leave. If they try to force their way in, they will be arrested," Blair said.  "The five metre zone around the fence is to protect the barrier. We've all seen film of people trying to pull the fence down. we want to make sure people aren't pulling down the fence."

"It's not a new law, it's not a secret law,  if you Google Public Works Protection Act, Ontario" it's there, he said.

The Star reported this morning that a 32-year-old man was arrested under the new regulations. 


10:47 a.m.

A look at the Huntsville protests:

Huntsportes Huntsville community members protest on Friday, calling on the G8 world leaders to make water a human right ahead of the G8 meeting which will take place at the nearby Deerhurst Resort. Photo by Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS.

10:37 a.m.

The President of the United States has landed in Air Force One at Pearson airport, waved to the small crowd and boarded a helicopter for Huntsville.

10:21 a.m.

Police dealing with G20 demonstrators can  use sonic cannons for crowd control, but with restrictions, Superior Court of Justice Mr. David Brown ruled this morning, reports The Star's Peter Edwards. 

But he ruled Toronto police can only use the noise blasters at the lower decibel range. Ontario Provincial Police still have the discretion to use the cannons at both the lower and highest decibel settings, the judge said, because their guidelines for use are more cautious. That means the OPP can't come right up to someone and blast them.

  The justice stressed that the OPP were not permitted to use the cannons at random. "Their use requires very serious authorization," he said. Crowd safety would benefit from police having a quick and effective means of communicating with protesters, he said.

Civil rights groups had sought an injunction to stop the use of the cannons.

10:20 a.m.

680 News reports an Ontario judge has granted a limited injunction against Toronto police on the use of sound cannons during the G20 summit.

10:01 a.m.

Kilometres of fencing snake through downtown Toronto but the fence remains open and workers and tourists are passing through without challenge or credentials. Police say the fence will close "when the protesters show up." Tourists are having their pictures taken in front of the fence. Office workers are strolling in the sunshine, exchanging pleasantries with police. Officers are offering tourists directions to the nearest Tim Hortons.

Some banks inside the security zone have stripped their exteriors of identifying signs. Walter Beauchamp Tailors has boarded up its windows despite being inside the zone and having 10 police officers and RCMP standing outside.

9:50 a.m.

U.S. President Barack Obama is "wheels up for T.O." (media and Secret Service talk for the plane is off the ground) from Washington with entourage of Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, press secretary Robert Gibbs, National Security Adviser James Jones (the one dubbed "clown stuck in 1985" in an infamous Rolling Stone piece) and one unidentified other.


9:40 a.m.

In a case of massive understatement, Toronto police are advising people to please, not leave their luggage unattended.

Police evacuated about 200 people this morning from the Direct Energy building, site of the G20 media centre at the CNE, when an unattended suitcase was discovered.

“Before they could investigate the suitcase, the owner of the suitcase was found,” Integrated Security Unit spokesperson Michelle Murphy said. “Somebody had just set their luggage down.”

The incident took about an hour.

Speaking of media, quickie sex is getting headlines over the leaders meeting in Huntsville and Toronto this weekend to chart new paths for the globe’s economic and environmental future. Yup. The quickie sex was one of the Times of India’s top stories today. Ten minutes with a partner is apparently the ideal amount of romance time, in case you’re wondering (sorry Sting).

Other top stories from news organizations underwhelmed by the G20:

CNN is all over the launch of the newest iPhone, as is The China Daily and Japan Today. The Sydney Morning Herald reports ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tweeted his supporters to say thanks (Australia is sending its secretary treasurer to the meetings) and Corriere Della Sera cannot believe Italy’s shame as the defending World Cup champs were eliminated from the soccer extravaganza in South Africa.

The BBC, however, is giving the summit headline treatment, featuring a BBC interview with U.S. treasury secretary Timothy Geithner who wants Europe to focus on economic growth and spending cuts to reduce national deficits.

9:25 a.m. Toronto

So quiet outside the Princess of Wales theatre you can hear the birds chirping. Eleven pedestrians crossing Front and Bay from Union Station at what on any other morning would be rush hour. LCBO at King and Spadina boarded up. Police fueling up at the Starbucks near the Hyatt Hotel, most of them city officers but some with York Region badges.

At Front and Bay Sts., man with large cardboard sign, scrawled with about 50 words on both sides near group of about seven police officers. Can make out "Stephen Harper" and "Intolerant." Speaks with police, officer takes picture with cell phone and asks for his name. Man doesn't stop to talk, is told to have a nice day.

Second officer, smiling. "He has too many words on that sign to be effective. You can't even read it."

Thirty visible police officers at University and Front. Four street sweepers spotted along Front, tidying up for the international visitors.

Officers with Montreal and Ottawa uniforms near the Royal York.

Fazal Bhamany, owner of the International News convenience store just north of the Royal York on York St., reports only three customers this morning, but he will stay open this weekend because he's across from the Strathcona Hotel, which he has been told is full. There's a security gate on Wellington and York. If they close it, he's the only store open for the people at the Strathcona to buy things.

 His office tower clientele is down, he says, but he's seen a lot more police officers. "They mostly buy lottery tickets." The 6-40 prize is up to $100 million this weekend.

9:02 a.m. Toronto

Group of four friendly police officers walking along Wellington, near York. Everybody responds to friendly good morning. Asked when the fence was closing. "Soon," replies one. When asked to be more specific, he gives a bit of a dry grin. "Even if we knew we wouldn't tell you."

Small clusters of people in suits in the area, tags prominently displayed. Streets mostly bare. Helicopter overhead. Courtyard at base of TD Centre clear, except for few security guards. Groups of eight police officers walking through Canadian Pacific Tower.

8:45 a.m. Toronto

Steven Barclay, 42, spotted at University and Simcoe. Barclay is a sales manager for the Sheaton Centre. "It is fine so far, quiet" he says of security prep at work.  "It is a ghost town down there."

Even the venerable Filmores has gotten in on the G20 act with a marquee that promises "free lap dances for heads of state."

Edmonton police officers spotted In an unmarked vehicle near Gerrard an Church.

  1. The traffic flowing into the city from the east along Kingston Road, Queen Street East,  the Lakeshore and Queen’s Quay was uncommonly light. For once, no radar traps as drivers approach the Gardiner on-ramp.

  1. The Lakeshore entrance to the Eastern Avenue detention centre has a heavy police presence. Two marked cruisers are parked near the bike paths, pointed towards each other on far east and west boundaries of the old film studio now being used as a holding tank. Two more uniformed officers stood outside the heavy gates with groups of officers inside, looking out. The only movement near them: Early morning joggers.

8:25 a.m. Toronto

Scenes from a deserted metropolis. Little traffic inside the security perimeter, a police forensics truck drives throught the intersection at Bay and Richmond. A middle-aged man walks east wearing shorts and carrying a golf putter. Bicyclist turns down Yonge from Richmond and passes police officers standing at every intersection, sometimes one or two, sometimes four or five.

 The large LCBO on Queens Quay, just one block east of Yonge, has its windows covered with huge planks of wood. The parking lot is empty, except for three marked Metro police cruisers. The LCBO warehouse immediately north of the retail outlet, fronting on Lakeshore Boulevard, has also boarded its windows.

The buildings are just a two-minute walk from the Westin Harbour Castle, where international delegates are staying and who are protected by two layers of wire fencing.

At the Westin, three dozen police cluster behind the fence, watching morning joggers and dog walkers. They're in the water, they're patrolling with dogs, they're jogging across the street to get coffee. The hotel has the flags of the G20 nations flanking the outside, barely visible behind the wires. Delegates line up politely in their suits, briefcases and badges to board buses.

7:20 a.m. Huntsville

Star photographer Steve Russell sent these pictures  of the security measure around the Deerhurst Resort as the G8 summit got underway.

Huntville
Huntsville
Huntsville3

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It's no surprise a Halton cop stopped you for not doing much... being from Burlington they've threatened me with arrest for not letting them search my knapsack when I've been walking down the street. All they do is give out speeding tickets in Halton, yet last year some kid got robbed at knifepoint across from their station. (No, I don't hate police or anything, but the Halton police enjoy ticketing for mundane things, while the Toronto police seem to practice more common sense).

In the days leading up to G20 summit, I've noticed a marked difference in the professionalism of Toronto/York Region police officers compared to those from other precincts. I walk by roughly 40 officers per day, and the GTA officers are far more friendly and understanding of the fact that the G20 is a massive intrusion for those living or working in the area. Meanwhile, some (not all, of course) officers from other districts seem to have an air of superiority about them and don't appear to understand that they are still supposed to respect the rights and dignity of local citizens. Please, don't threaten Torontonians with your inflated sense of power. Don't stare lewdly at women as they walk by (or in some cases, start to follow them). Don't act as if you are the sole gatekeepers to the fenced-off areas. And don't intimidate photographers who want to take pictures of this horrendous fence that blocks us from the core of the city. As the reporter mentioned, just exercise a little common sense, hmm? Thanks.

Fence at University & Wellington closing. Some police/EMS vehicles and unmarked vans are moving north on University

I would very much like to hear a statement from a police spokesperson on why the officers are banging their batons on their shield. What does it achieve, from a law enforcement perspective?

@ mm it makes them feel tough.


I don't watch much TV, I don't watch the news at all.
But when my son said Dad did you know of the G8 and of the G20 in Toronto. I said yeah I know it is there, But what do you know of it.

He told me he only knew it was there nothing else, I couldn't tell him what it was about or why they have it.

I turned on the TV and watched a Police car burn, then turned the TV off! I turned to him and said that's why I don't watch the news, Never a good heart warming story to teach our kids to be nice. That was Saturday June 27th, The only thing I have to say now is the media didn't help the G8 Or G20 by Broadcasting anything. All it did was flare up more hate to the PUBLIC. With saying that I think the army would of been a better choice for security, I know they would of scared me to think twice..

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