Now we all know how it feels
Its a good class barometer, all those fences and pictures of cops in riot gear. If these measures give you an enhanced feeling of security, it's likely that you're middle or upper class, and if it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, the likelihood is, you're poor, maybe homeless, maybe marginally housed. It has little to do with a person's intent to demonstrate, but with the blunt and uncompromising show of power.
Still, as GO customers are warned to bring food and water in the face of what may be significant delays, as the US puts out travel advisories, as the downtown closes up shop, as windows are boarded and taped, and hospital patients sent home, as the billion dollar price tag for the privilege of being stopped and questioned by over-excited security guards and cops with dreams of arresting the next bin Laden, as all this goes on, it's an opportunity of sorts to put yourself in the shoes of those who endure the heavy-handedness of security even when there are no world leaders around to impress.
You too can feel like a "small person", an unimportant cog in the machine, someone who has to make way, step aside, stand in place, show identification, be refused entry or shown to the door.
The G-20 will be a great equalizer, for those left in the city, no matter if you drive a BMW or a ZIP rental, stalled on the highway till the motorcade makes its way through from the airport or hotels.
You can use the time to stretch your imagination to empathize with those countries who won't be dismantling fences or laying off cops any time soon, you can view the guns and tasers and noise cannons and think about tanks running down protesters in China, or the hell that is North Korea. We are very lucky, most of us, to live in Canada, to live in Toronto. Not so lucky on June 26th or 27th, it's true, but still.
I do worry though about those who are most vulnerable, those suffering from addictions and mental illness, those who can't find a place to sleep or a place to hide from all these heavily armed forces, I worry that not every one will make it through these few days intact, alive and breathing.
It was not our decision to turn our city into an armed camp. It's been done to us. There is no upside. And not only are we shut out of our city, we're paying for their privilege, and paying and paying even as we hear again about fiscal restraint from Harper, who surely has lost all credibility on the subject.
It's a good time to think about our city, what we love about it, the tolerance, the openness, the freedom. And how we could lose that by throwing away our vote, giving it to someone whose mantra is cut taxes, slash budgets.
(And George, a word. I heard your spokesperson say, in response to Ford surging ahead, that the voters need to wake up. That's precisely the problem, the attitude that says the voters need to change. George, it's your campaign that needs changing. Don't hand the mayoralty over to Ford, start listening to people, start practising some humility before we're all done. You can do it, you need to do it. )