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Summiting by candlelight?

A large power outage hit downtown Toronto today, leaving 20,000 people without electricity in the middle of the day. The blackout was caused by a cable fault and affected a large chunk of downtown Toronto -- stretching from Bay St. to Frederick St. (just east of Jarvis St.) and Shuter St. to about Lake Shore Blvd. -- and darkened downtown office towers and snuffed out traffic lights.

As news of the power outage spread across the Twitterverse, many wondered whether the blackouts might be related to G20 preparations:

"Toronto power out at Victoria and Wellington. Transformer blow out? G20 practice ?" asked BonoBC

"There have been rolling power outages all over the city lately. I've overheard that it's clandestine #G20 preparedness stuff." wrote MichelSavoie.

According to summit security, today's blackouts have nothing to do with summit preparations. The outages do beg the question, however: what would happen if Toronto were to blackout as world leaders and dignitaries convened at the Metro Convention Centre?

Michele Paradis, RCMP spokesperson for the summit's Integrated Security Unit, said she can't discuss details relating to specific  security preparations but assures us G20 security is prepared for the possibility of a blackout.

"I can tell you that is all part and parcel with our planning, not just for G20 but also for the G8," Paradis said. "It will be one of the things we’ll be looking at to ensure the integrity of the power system – if the power were to go down, the summit could go on."

"We would be able to have a plan B," she added. "We always plan for every eventuality."

According to Tanya Bruckmueller with Toronto Hydro, the hydro company always has emergency crews on standby but will staff additional crews during the G20 weekend, just in case. She also said Toronto Hydro is always concerned with maintaining security at its power stations but she "guarantee(s) that we've been looking at security at all our locations."

Well, nice to know everyone's prepared -- just imagine the freakout if Barack Obama were to get trapped in an elevator somewhere.





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